Trying to get by...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Everyone said the bill would pass. The masters of the universe were already making celebratory dinner reservations at Manhattan's finest restaurants. Personal shoppers in Dallas and Atlanta were dispatched to do the early Christmas gifting. Mad Men of Chicago and Miami were popping corks and toasting each other long before the morning latte run.
But what they didn't know was that hundreds of thousands of Americans woke up yesterday morning and decided it was time for revolt. The politicians never saw it coming. Millions of phone calls and emails hit Congress so hard it was as if Marshall Dillon, Elliot Ness and Dog the Bounty Hunter had descended on D.C. to stop the looting and arrest the thieves.
The Corporate Crime of the Century was halted by a vote of 228 to 205. It was rare and historic; no one could remember a time when a bill supported by the president and the leadership of both parties went down in defeat. That just never happens.
A lot of people are wondering why the right wing of the Republican Party joined with the left wing of the Democratic Party in voting down the thievery. Forty percent of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans voted against the bill.
Here's what happened:
The presidential race may still be close in the polls, but the Congressional races are pointing toward a landslide for the Democrats. Few dispute the prediction that the Republicans are in for a whoopin' on November 4th. Up to 30 Republican House seats could be lost in what would be a stunning repudiation of their agenda.
The Republican reps are so scared of losing their seats, when this "financial crisis" reared its head two weeks ago, they realized they had just been handed their one and only chance to separate themselves from Bush before the election, while doing something that would make them look like they were on the side of "the people."
Watching C-Span yesterday morning was one of the best comedy shows I'd seen in ages. There they were, one Republican after another who had backed the war and sunk the country into record debt, who had voted to kill every regulation that would have kept Wall Street in check -- there they were, now crying foul and standing up for the little guy! One after another, they stood at the microphone on the House floor and threw Bush under the bus, under the train (even though they had voted to kill off our nation's trains, too), heck, they would've thrown him under the rising waters of the Lower Ninth Ward if they could've conjured up another hurricane. You know how your dog acts when sprayed by a skunk? He howls and runs around trying to shake it off, rubbing and rolling himself on every piece of your carpet, trying to get rid of the stench. That's what it looked like on the Republican side of the aisle yesterday, and it was a sight to behold.
The 95 brave Dems who broke with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were the real heroes, just like those few who stood up and voted against the war in October of 2002. Watch the remarks from yesterday of Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Dennis Kucinich. They spoke the truth.
The Dems who voted for the giveaway did so mostly because they were scared by the threats of Wall Street, that if the rich didn't get their handout, the market would go nuts and then it's bye-bye stock-based pension and retirement funds.
And guess what? That's exactly what Wall Street did! The largest, single-day drop in the Dow in the history of the New York Stock exchange. The news anchors last night screamed it out: Americans just lost 1.2 trillion dollars in the stock market!! It's a financial Pearl Harbor! The sky is falling! Bird flu! Killer Bees!
Of course, sane people know that nobody "lost" anything yesterday, that stocks go up and down and this too shall pass because the rich will now buy low, hold, then sell off, then buy low again.
But for now, Wall Street and its propaganda arm (the networks and media it owns) will continue to try and scare the bejesus out of you. It will be harder to get a loan. Some people will lose their jobs. A weak nation of wimps won't last long under this torture. Or will we? Is this our line in the sand?
Here's my guess: The Democratic leadership in the House secretly hoped all along that this lousy bill would go down. With Bush's proposals shredded, the Dems knew they could then write their own bill that favors the average American, not the upper 10% who were hoping for another kegger of gold.
So the ball is in the Democrats' hands. The gun from Wall Street remains at their head. Before they make their next move, let me tell you what the media kept silent about while this bill was being debated:
1. The bailout bill had NO enforcement provisions for the so-called oversight group that was going to monitor Wall Street's spending of the $700 billion;
2. It had NO penalties, fines or imprisonment for any executive who might steal any of the people's money;
3. It did NOTHING to force banks and lenders to rewrite people's mortgages to avoid foreclosures -- this bill would not have stopped ONE foreclosure!;
4. It had NO teeth anywhere in the entire piece of legislation, using words like "suggested" when referring to the government being paid back for the bailout;
5. Over 200 economists wrote to Congress and said this bill might actually WORSEN the "financial crisis" and cause even MORE of a meltdown.
Put a fork in this slab of pork. It's over. Now it is time for our side to state very clearly the laws WE want passed. I will send you my proposals later today. We've bought ourselves less than 72 hours.Yours, Michael Moore MMFlint@aol.com MichaelMoore.com
Diploma mill degree recipients
Almost 10,000 people spent $7.3 million buying phony and counterfeit high school and college degrees from a Spokane diploma mill. The complete list of buyers, which the U.S. Department of Justice has refused to release to the public, has been obtained by The Spokesman-Review and published July 28.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
LESSONS LEARNEDRANDOM LESSONS LEARNED FROM 15 Years of activism by Mazin Qumsiyeh Everything that happens in life is exactly as it is supposed to happen. Our free will gives us the ability to react to it in different ways. That is freedom which no one can take away from us. Further, watch carefully these things that happen in your presence for it is sometimes the prepared mind that captures the opportunities that are presented to us. I cannot count the times (in the thousands) where I found success by paying attention and following the clues left for us (by God or fate or mere chance) You can sometimes learn far more from someone who never finished high school (e.g. Bill Hill who drives the Wheels of Justice bust tour) than from a president of a university or a governor. Change is good. Life is good. The two are inseparable. Some people can take away our jobs, our family members, our friends, our homes, our lands, our belongings and much more but as long as we do not get infected with their hate and fear, we will continue to love and be content and hopeful. In this lies the fact told by many philosophers that secrets of our happiness is within us not in those ephemeral things that happen to us. You can think those who do evil things are guided by evil forces (Satan) or you can think they are guided by their own upbringing and circumstances. In either case if you reflect rationally on the causes of their actions and cannot convince them of the errors of their ways then what can justify hating them or fearing them. Isn't that the only real way they can harm you and rattle your tranquility. Corollary: things and events and people cannot make me lose tranquility or happiness.. only I can do that! No person is worth more than any other. Some people are more fun and far more worth hanging around with (to me) but this is due to my own circumstances and life. Just like if you have food and do not share with those who need it, it is also with having "wisdom". But it is always wise to remember to be humble and that the old teachers taught us well only when we wanted to learn. There are really very few people who know how to live with love. Love makes them act in courage and speak truth to power. These are the teachers we should learn from. Some people can eat a tortured lamb while treating their cats and dogs better than children are treated. Others go pray in a church to the prince of peace (Jesus who asked us to love our enemies) and then drop a 1000 pound bomb on a city obliterating hundreds of lives. We could cite hundreds of other such things that make good material for stand-up comedy (or drama). But my responsibility is to reflect on my own behavior. Strive to live life free from hypocricy, envy, self-indulgence, jeolousy, vanity, and frivolty. When given a chance to eat good food- do it When given a chance to drink good drinks- do it When given a chance to dance- do it When given a chance to have fun- do it When given a chance to help others- do it when given a chance to do all the other things that life gives us to do (love, share, laugh, etc), do it! As the sages wrote "eveyone dies but not everyone lives" so live life to the fullest. Activism is the best antidote to despair. A good friend is great to have. A good spouse and a good child also. Having a spouse and a child who are also best friends and confidants are gifts beyond words. A million dollars can make some men feel poor while a few essential belongings or a good meal can make another feel rich. Thus it is not what I have but how I feel about what I have. No one and no comfort or pain can make me feel as happy or as unhappy as I can make yourself. It is all under my ultimate control. Correct your errors, repent (and if harmed others provide correct recompense and apology) and then forgive yourself. If you are able to do that and understand your circumstances then why would you ever think ill of anyone else. To quote Howard Zinn "To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A personal history of our times, p. 208) Don't take yourself too seriously :-) Having many good friends that you can trust with your life (and vice versa) means you have learned to be a true friend and that you have learned to let go of your ego. There is evil and goodness in all human traditions and strains of thought (e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Western Civilization, socialism, capitalism). If we learn to look honestly at each thing on it own and not on the box it was contained in at one time, we will not be in the least bit harmed but be enriched by the knowledge. An old saying in the fight against segregation in the South was "free your mind and your ass will follow". Shakespeare wrote: "assay the power within you, our fears make traistors of us all" Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.” The highest purposes in life is doing our duty as human beings, part of this social network of human beings. That is why doing something good for another should n=be its own reward. Looking for and receiving thanks and recognition actually diminishes the goodness of the act. When tempted by our petty egos to do that, it is best to remember that these things do not add one thing to what you gave. When death comes and afterwards, all these things will be forgotten only the ripple effect of the actual action might persist. First do no harm, second, third.. and last do no harm. In between do some good. A touch or a tear is far more powerful than any statement in expressing the emotion behind it. Do not thus be afraid to let your emotion express itself in the best way it can. Most of us are more scared of our abilities than disabilities. We are scared of success more than of possible failure. Failure is used an excuse but it is only a lesson. We can do far more than what we even imagine if have courage (in its true decent sense). Many of these lessons were available to me as child if I chose to see how for example my grandfather lived. It is the nature of things that we absorb things with age and only fully understand them when the ripeness of time and with other experiences they come to to the forth and become clearer (just like a binoclar focuses on an a fuzzy objects in the distance). Making many mistakes is the price of learning. It is for a good reason that many religions and traditions hold patience and hope as the highest virtues (ofcourse when accompanied with doing what you are able to do). For the alternative vices of impatience and dispair only lead to destruction. Further, patience and hope are virtues associated with freedom because the outside world can enslave us only if we internalize our external difficulties and exude the negative. Negative waves can only be countered with positive ones. Those who support racism (though think of themselves as not racist) and those who support war crimes (though they justify it in their mind) need to be challenged with facts and figures but if they chose to remain where they are then we should neither assign blame to them or to us for failing to convince them. They are like patients who refuse to recognize their illness or its treatment, they are only to be looked it with compassion. This is true even when those people try all sorts of techniques to cause us harm. For again, they can only alter the circumstances external to us and if we are well grounded, they cannot cause us any harm (a real harm is one that I can only inflict on myself by accepting that which I claim to reject). Others may hate me, despise me, be jeolous of me but these things should only concern me if they are based on a real defect in my behavior. In that case, that should not distress me since I could/should correct such defects. If they are not based on real defects, then that also should not cause me distress. Similarly, some may love me and admire me. If that is based on real good characters in me then why should that please me. Isn't having good character a reward in itself. And if they are mistaken then also why should that please me? Do not seek the convoluted explanations. Sometimes the simple ones and the first ones are more correct. That is Occam's razor. It applies also to your thinking about others and their behavior. Make sure to increase your love and diminish your hate. Increase your kindness and diminish your selfishness. Increase your hope and decrease your scepticism. This will make you live better. Real change and the one that is most significant is what happens within us. Change in our circumstanced is of far less importance. Because of this it is also true that people can change circumstances of other people but only people themselves can affect the more important change within ourselves. For those who were there along our path and whose actions helped us reach the correct internal change, our debt is great. As the Buddhists say: let us work to "have joyful participation in the Sorrows of this world". Doing our duties and expecting nothing in return other than the privilege of participation IS our path to joy. Make sure you make your life a good journey; the destination is dust! Let us contemplate our lives and always strive for maximum humility. What I do not like about others, they may not like about me. As a scientist, I believe there is no certainty in anything. In fact, the defintion of scientific hypothesis (e.g. that there is gravity, that the earth is spherical, that speciation by evolution occurs) is that it is FALSIFIABLE. So if someone asks me if I have considered that what I think of this or that matter maybe entirely wrong, the answer is: yes! Maximum objectivity is not equivalent to maximum certainty. The only people absolutely certain of their positions are actually those who lead us to wars, oppression and destruction.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
أنا كويتي.. وأنت وافد الأربعاء 20 أغسطس 2008 - الأنباء
ذعار الرشيدي كم نحن عنصريون، خمسون عاما وهم يعملون معنا ويشاركوننا بناء بلدنا ولم نقل لهم شكرا، نصف قرن أفنى غالبيتهم زهرة شبابه يعمل ويذهب صباحا إلى عمله الذي يعود في النهاية نفعه أيا كان حجمه في دائرة تنمية البلد، تزوجوا هنا وأنجبوا أولادهم هنا، حتى أن أولادهم اعتقدوا أو يتملكهم اعتقاد أنهم كويتيون، وهم فعلا كويتيون بالمولد، لم نكن لنقفز هذه القفزات الكبيرة خلال خمسين عاما لولا أنهم جاءوا إلى بلدنا وشاركونا البناء والتعمير والتأسيس.
خمسون عاما وهم في جميع القطاعات الحكومية والخاصة، مهندسون وأطباء وصيادلة ومحامون وعمال وميكانيكيون وأساتذة جامعة ومدرسون وطباعون وبناءون ومقاولون وبائعو فاكهة وخضار وملابس وفنيون واستشاريون بل وحتى «طقاقات» وبائعات في سوق «واجف».
خمسون عاما عانوا مما عانيناه وربما أكثر، فعندما استيقظت الحكومة يوما وأرادت أن تعدل التركيبة السكانية لم تضرب على أيدي تجار الإقامات ولكنها توجهت إلى الوافدين ووضعت قيودا وشروطا عليهم وعلى أقاماتهم ووضعت التأمين الصحي على أدمغتهم «ذلك التأمين الذي لا يسمن ولا يغني من جوع»، فلكي يعيش أحدهم مع زوجته وثلاثة من أطفاله عليه أن يتحمل تأمينهم الصحي وتكاليف إقامتهم بمبلغ يفوق الحد الأدنى لراتبه رغم أنه لا توجد حدود دنيا للرواتب في الكويت ولم تحدد يوما، وكأن الحكومة عندما أرادت أن تكحل التركيبة السكانية أعمت عيون الوافدين، كانوا ولا يزالون الحلقة الأضعف والطريق الأسهل لأي قرار أرادت به الحكومة تعديل أخطاء تجار الإقامات من المواطنين الذين يتحملون المسؤولية الكاملة عن كل أخطاء التركيبة السكانية منذ عام 1980 وحتى اليوم.
بدلا من أن تضرب الحكومة على أيدي تجار الإقامات، ضربت الوافدين بقرارات جعلت البلد أقرب إلى بلد من المغتربين العزاب.
50 عاما والوافدون يأتون ويرحلون، يبنون ويعمرون ويشاركوننا العمل والبنيان، ولم تتكون لدى العامة من المواطنين فكرة سوى أن هؤلاء الوافدين جاءوا بحثا عن الدينار وكأن المواطن ملاك منزّل لا يأكل ولا يشرب ولا يبحث عن الدينار «ألم نقم الدنيا ونقعدها وحُل مجلس أمتنا الماضي بسبب 50 دينارا؟».
في نظرة أخرى للوافدين نقول عنهم «جاءوا ليشاركوننا لقمة عيشنا ويأخذوا وظائفنا»، رغم أن دستورنا كفل لنا التعليم والصحة والتوظيف وهم «يا بخت» من يجد منهم وظيفة بالكاد تسد رمقه حتى آخر الشهر. 50 عاما وأغلبهم سمع هذه الجملة «أنا كويتي...أنت وافد... هذي ديرتي»، نفس عنصري عالي النبرة، ونسينا أن من يلوح لنا بالعلم الأحمر في الطريق أثناء الإصلاحات به كحماية وتنبيه لنا هو وافد يقف في عز الظهيرة بينما نحن نستمتع بهواء مكيف سياراتنا، ونسينا أن من علمنا ودرسنا وافدون ومن بدأ حركتنا الفنية من الوافدين ومن أسس صحافتنا «الحديثة» وافدون، ومن عالجنا وافدون، ومن أعلى البنيان هم من الوافدين.
50 عاما واستكثرنا خلالها حتى أن نقول لهم شكرا.
من القلب شكرا لكل وافد جاء أو عاش في هذا البلد حتى ولو لم يفعل سوى أن دق مسمارا في لوحة إرشادية على جانب طريق مظلم.