Joseph Palermo: In 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown , Simon Johnson and James Kwak point out that in September 2008 the high-flying masters of the universe were at their weakest point and had no choice but to do whatever the government demanded of them. Never mind the supreme irony of Wall Street bankers who claimed government had no place interfering in the miracles of the market begging the government to save them, it was at that time when we should have cut them down to size.
Joseph Palermo: Thanks to the resourceful dumpster diving of two CSU, Stanislaus students, Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, the public was finally able to get a glimpse behind the curtain of Sarah Palin Land. Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown has promised a thorough investigation. These two young people should be commended for their civic mindedness and citizenship.
Joseph Palermo: He still wants to blame a “few bad apples,” instead of looking at his own role fanning the flames and pouring gasoline on the fire while the $8 trillion housing bubble was being pumped up. Greenspan said AIG’s problems were with insurance, but Born countered that if CDSs had been insurance they would have been regulated. Greenspan is bullshitting us again.
Joseph Palermo: And what did those who formulate United States foreign policy learn from the carnage in El Salvador? The same thing they should have learned from Vietnam: Whenever the United States sticks its nose into another country’s civil war it only raises the level of death and destruction making the politics all the more intractable. And in the end it achieves very little other than what could have been worked out peacefully in the first place.
Joseph Palermo: President Barack Obama Tuesday morning gave Democrats a blueprint for what to do in November: back in your districts surround yourself with ordinary Americans who would be denied care if the federal government did not step in to bend the corporate imperatives of profits and share prices to fit the human needs of people who pay their taxes, play by the rules, and whose only “crime” is to have gotten sick.
Joseph Palermo: Peter Baker’s profile of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the New York Times Magazine raises some interesting questions about President Barack Obama’s top aide. For Emanuel, it seems that all politics are electoral politics. He wouldn’t know a social movement if he saw one.
Joseph Palermo: he Boomers have contributed so much to the world and transformed it in so many amazing ways — technologically, sociologically, emotionally, etc. (made possible by the investments in education of their parents) — Yet they’ve decided to let their children fend for themselves. They’ve so failed us. The Boomers have made more money collectively than any generation in human history but they appear intent on hogging it all.
Joseph Palermo: Sadly, the clear winner in recent years has been the California of small things and small ideas. Through an outdated flaw in the structure of governance, one-third of the Legislature has a stranglehold on the state’s finances. The other two-thirds (the majority) knows the state is heading in the wrong direction. Yet given its lack of control over the purse strings, it’s left flailing around passing a lot of symbolic laws that go nowhere.
Joseph Palermo: With the hoopla at the CPAC convention and the hyperventilating on FOX News you’d think the Republicans are worried about something. With Citizens United and the Supreme Court in their pocket, and with the billionaires’ club and corporate America backing them, they’ll be back in power faster than you can say the words “President Marco Rubio.” That’s why the Democrats can’t afford to fail now.
Joseph Palermo: The invasion of Iraq was the greatest terrorist recruitment program ever. It destabilized one of the most important big cities in the Arab world. It fueled pan-Arab nationalism as well as jihad against the West. It caused a sectarian bloodbath because of the jolt given to power relations by external military force.
Joseph Palermo: he Republicans, who control the state’s finances through the “two-thirds rule,” tell us every day that in a $1.8 trillion economy we can’t do anything but cut, cut, cut because we simply “don’t have the money.” They tell us that a $19 billion budget deficit — about 1 percent of the state’s GDP — requires us to dismantle the higher education system, lay off teachers and social servants, close parks, and demolish public institutions that took a generation to build.
Joseph Palermo: Unless the Congress moves some progressive legislation quickly there’s going to be trouble this fall because any political party that is stupid enough to allow a couple of shmucks like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, or the outcome of a special election in New England, to unravel its governing coalition doesn’t deserve to be in power.
Joseph Palermo: The Democrats must pass a lot of legislation before the midterms or they’re going to be very sorry. Soon enough, given the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, we’re going to see campaigns where our choice for U.S. Senator will be between the “Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips” candidate and the “Pepsi/Pizza Hut/KFC/Frito Lay/Taco Bell” candidate. Former President George W. Bush is raking in the bucks speaking at the National Grocers’ Association. First he defiled the presidency by getting John Yoo to turn the Justice Department into a law factory for monarchical presidential powers, now he shares the stage as an inspirational speaker with Terry Bradshaw. Our elections are about to become a satirical skit that Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report did a long time ago.
Joseph Palermo: What the United Kingdom is dealing with is the hangover of the crimes of George W. Bush, crimes that have been conveniently swept under the rug on this side of the pond. Blair was Bush’s poodle and now he finds himself in the hot seat defending the actions of his former master. Seeing a former Prime Minister grilled is a wonderful thing. We’d never see a U.S. president in a similar predicament because, ironically, the president is now more of a monarch than any executive in Britain.
Joseph Palerrmo: I saw Howard speak in Ithaca and in Santa Cruz and his talks were always so emotionally powerful and sensitive to human suffering and injustice. But he could also be hilariously funny, with a comedian’s sense of timing. And he had the most developed sense of irony — and the ability to convey irony — of anyone I’ve ever seen or read.
Joseph Palermo: With the latest Supreme Court ruling by the “fabulous five,” Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a single corporation will be able to disfranchise a million citizens. What’s to stop these conglomerates from implanting their servants at every level of municipal, state, and federal government?
Joseph Palermo: The Obama Administration cut far too many deals with the same corporate special interests that have dominated Washington since the Reagan years. Obama watered down his agenda. The Democratic base stayed home. The Republicans were energized beyond belief. And the Democratic candidate in a Democratic state lost the “Lion of the Senate’s” seat.
Joseph Palermo: When the television cameras stop whirring and the famous correspondents leave Haiti and move on to the next Tiger Woods scandal, we should take a hard look at the power relations between the United States and Haiti that not only tolerated but helped create the Western Hemisphere’s best known economic, medical, political, judicial, educational, and ecological disaster long before the natural disaster hit.
Joseph Palermo: Schwarzenegger’s hackneyed “State of the State” address was pathetic and unconvincing. If it weren’t for his acting chops and his ability to emote on cue, he couldn’t get away with the simplistic platitudes that roll off his tongue. Then again, if he couldn’t act he wouldn’t be governor either.
Joseph Palermo: We can call the 2000s the “Worse Than Zero” decade or the “Big Zero,” or anything we wish, but what characterized it most for me was the near total control of corporations, especially over our civic institutions. All of the terrible economic and governing ideas from the Reagan era crested and then crashed in the last eighteen months leaving something far less than “zero” in their wake.
Joseph Palermo: And after urging the United States military to do the dirty work Kuperman believes there would be an international deterrent effect from the U.S. military aggression “because the American military has global reach, air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be [nuclear] proliferators.”
Something, anything, has to be done at some point to show that the Obama Administration is not just the latest group of good people with good ideas that are absorbed into a system that makes Hamid Karzai look like a clean government activist. The corporate money so clogs the arteries of our body political the whole damn thing is sclerotic, choked off from the life-giving oxygen of democracy.
If Washington is the place where “good ideas go to die,” as candidate Obama liked to say, then the Senate is the slaughterhouse. This white millionaires’ club where the biggest egos on Earth tell us how goddamn important they are has just screwed the middle class in this country — a middle class that is reeling after years of being beaten down by these Senators’ masters in private industry.
President Obama’s Nobel lecture might have showed us that the United States has reached a turning point: either the national security monster we’ve created is going to eat us alive by bankrupting the country or we’re going to have to shift course. We must begin to spin off the 700 or so military bases and installations around the world and focus on building a better life for our own people here at home.