Friday, April 22, 2011

Our economic abyss

As I walked through downtown LA today, I passed Wall Street. No, I'm not horrifically lost or high. There is in fact a Wall Street not too far from where I live, and as I saw it, I paused to take a picture. What if the Wall Street we all know looked the same way? Ironically enough, a few blocks up is Main Street, newly renovated with multi-million dollar lofts, art galleries and boutique coffee shops and clothing stores. How I wish that was prophetic...but I don't think it is.
While the Senate will more than likely squash Rep. Paul Ryan's horrendous bill that passed the House last Friday, that's just the beginning. We're in deep shit. And I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that, just like we didn't need Standard and Poor to tell us that - the same people that gave two thumbs up to mortgage-backed bullshit securities until the actual day the housing bubble burst. However, as the Chicago Tribune writes, the possible demotion of our credit rating is a "disturbingly big deal." If we get docked a notch, the remote stories of Greece and Ireland could become all too real. And just as physics suggests, when the big ones fall, they fall hard, and that hard fall will reverberate throughout the global economy. Supplement that with the fact that we are rapidly approaching our $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, unsure if it will be raised before we turn into the economic equivalent of cat food.
So, what words from the wise wizards on Capitol Hill? "lja^%%(IHUTFJYKiasdf896uyy%EW*&)IIUFUDUmhgasuk8ii7t%Tj"
That's a direct quote...
might as well be.
Politicians from the lowliest Senator to Obama have yet to say anything worth its weight in gerbil testicles about this economic precipice. They do continue to banter - oh my, do they banter. House Republicans have even threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling until Democrats agree to slash spending. Meanwhile, Democrats are attempting to get through their tax hikes while Republicans flatly refuse. Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever taken a fucking MATH class up there?
Numerous economists, having gone through Ryan's bill, mark the money saved against what it would cost to blindly slash all government funded programs, employees, grants, etc. It will cost them MORE - that's right, it will fucking end up being more money to pull the rug out from under us than to let us stand with the little pride and dignity these corporate cunts allow us to have. And on that same note, tucked in the folds of his bill, is a repeal of the Dodd-Frank law: protect taxpayers from having to bail out failed financial institutions. So in effect, taxpayers would be responsible for all future Wall Street fuck ups...I wonder how much Ryan is getting paid to rape us on that one.
Hmmmm, meanwhile: tax cuts for the rich, no tax hikes for anyone, well...maybe the remnants of the middle class.
I need to punch something...
Here we are, standing at the abyss , closing our eyes, repeating the age old arrogant mantra, that we, are too great to fall. As Michael Schuman in Time Magazine pointed out, we are one of the very few debt-ridden economies with absolutely no "credible plan to control deficits and debt." We find it much more fun to play politics, hopping in those company cars and playing chicken with each other while the road crumbles underneath. What the fuck people?!
I take it back - maybe I am high.
Because I can't seem to understand how an entire nation of people can be wholly oblivious and/or OK with this cluster fuck of a situation! This is beyond fucked!
Let's not even ask how the hell we've managed to outrun a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling because I might burst a blood vessel - but seriously, how do we not just make a decision. I have to say that as much as I hate Republican ideas, they are bold and they get the spotlight - enough so the apathetically ignorant American will lean towards the right, if only because they're the loudest. You need to raise taxes right now - you can not just pull out government funds from necessary programs - you just fucking can't. All studies and research suggest that's a terrible idea. But here we are. And as much as I'd like to be optimistic (I really do try), I can't seem to muster up enough bullshit psychosis to believe that Republican ideas will be struck from the eventual bill. The experience trained cynic in me suggests that we will sink deeper. We will barely squeak by with a below average solution that keeps us out of the fire until the next guy comes into office. Then, we'll do the same.
We will continue on this road until the captains of industry look out over their graveyard of homicidal works: an American people crippled by lack of money, livelihood, education, health care and above all, rights and freedom. And that's where we'll be - you and me, a sad, pathetic representation of the arrogant behemoths we today claim to be.
We have to stop treating this like it's a fucking video game - it's not. The people made to represent us aren't. And we pay them to - indeed we do. The problem is, we don't pay as much as corporate lobbyists. In effect, our own employees are fucking us over with money stolen from our pockets by racketeers in business suits. Think about that.
If that doesn't piss you off - if that doesn't make your insides writhe, you have no central nervous system.
This is our country, these are our problems, and they will not go away.
We HAVE to Do Something.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saving Face

Last summer, France passed a law banning all full-face coverings...that law is now in effect. Guess my American flag mask wouldn't be too popular...
However, believe it or not, masked revolutionaries is not where the controversy lies. While the law gives no direct mention to the niqab or a burka, masked Anarchists aren't exactly roaming the streets of Paris. Muslim women, in all their cloaked glory, are.
Now that the law is in effect, the question is, how do you enforce it?
I can't see French police galloping through the streets stripping women of their niqabs in the name of freedom...maybe in the late 1700's - now, ehhh.
Even Emmanuel Roux, the General of the Union of Police Commissioners isn't quite sure how to react. When asked about the laws enforcement, he said that he would definitely try and talk a Muslim woman into taking off her head scarf but if she still refused, he admitted he would "call the prosecutor and ask him what to do."
Well, that sounds resolute.

The law has been covered (pun intended) with controversy since its inception. It's quite clear that it stems from a move to limit extremist Muslim practices in France. However, does an extremist practice warrant an extreme law? Many have made the case that while the Muslim veil does in fact represent female oppression, it has become a way of life for many women, something they have grown accustomed to and therefore unfair to forcibly remove. Others make the point that becoming used to oppression is no reason to allow it to continue.

My thoughts: let's take a page from the biggest book of fuck ups: US.
Our incessant need to impose our way of life on the world far outshines the French law. Our cultural diplomacy makes theirs look like an olive branch wrapped in a head scarf.
That being said, does demanding change, even if it is "good for them," actually good?
Does telling women they simply CAN'T do something not encroach upon their rights ever more? Does it not make them feel ostracized in their religion as well as their adopted home? Would it not serve a greater purpose to educate and enlighten rather than throw the book in their veiled faces?
I personally abhor niqabs, burkas and any other instrument used to hide a woman from the world. It is an extremist practice found nowhere in the pages of the Quran, an instrument of control and oppression. At this point tho, it has become a part of their culture, something ingrained in their identity, for better or for worse. Yes, some women toss off their veils with glee, but others feel at home behind them, just as I'm sure some female boomers still wince at the thought of working independently, not having dinner ready by 6, not caring for children, etc. Oppression is not something that is lost immediately. Oppression can only be immediately thrown off by use of oppression, a difficult conundrum.
Education and cultural engagement comes over time. It is better to focus energy on uncovering the pros of anti-niqab practices for these veiled women, instilling in them the concept of beauty unveiled, unfettered by tradition or cultural confines.
For in the end, no matter how much we want these people to assimilate, it takes time. Again, look at US - the Italians, Chinese, Irish, Russians, Polaks, Swedes, and now Hispanics hold onto their culture, whether it be "politically correct" or not. They hold on to tradition while assimilating. Hardship is a requisite of immigrating to a new country, but forced, complete assimilation need not be included in those hardships.
This is surely a different time and place, but that theory can still apply. If you allow these people into your country, you expect certain things: learn the language, respect the customs, the laws, the people and tradition. And while we can promote equality, promote justice to all regardless of whether they have a penis or a vagina, we can not force those beliefs all the way into the closets of our citizens. France does and should continue to crack down hard on atrocities such as honor killings, beatings, domestic violence and public humiliation surrounding Muslim culture. Protect women from the heinous traditions they left behind, but do not be the aggressor. The veil must be brought down by assimilation, it must come off slowly, delicately, by the hand of the woman, not by the hand of the state. By allowing her to remove it, you empower her far more than by ripping it from her yourself. You give her something she never had: choice. That is true freedom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Two faced

Well, the news is just a-bustlin' this week isn't it?
I'm sure we're all very excited that the stop gap bill has now grown up to be a real bill. And we're stoked that we have to raise the debt ceiling otherwise we're gonna default on government payouts. I'm personally also very excited that NATO has promised to keep fucking around in Libya until Qaddafi dies, quits or escapes, as Qaddafi ramps up his attacks on civilians and it's impossible to tell from the sky who the fuck is who. Not to mention American Idol was on last night, Coachella just started and there's a new YouTube video of a dog running into a wall.
So, it's no surprise that something like American funded revolutions would slip under the radar.
Yes indeed, the anti-activist, Muslim fearing, establishment supporting US of A is behind much of the training and funding of the revolutionary groups responsible for spawning the Arab Spring, particularly in Egypt. An interesting concept considering Mubarak and friends received $1.5 billion worth of US economic and military aid, annually.
Hmmm...I wonder if we could cut that from our crippled budget? No, no, much better to cut the budget that supports the crippled - sorry, got confused for a second.
Evidence of training leaders of opposition movements such as the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Yemeni activist, Entsar Qadhi has seeped through the intelligence cracks. It actually began years ago, with training sessions worldwide. Several activists attended a program in New York in 2008, sponsored by the likes of Facebook, Google and the State Department.
The real funding for these programs however, came from you and me: The International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and the non profit human rights org, Freedom House, all government sponsored. The Republican and Democratic institute were spawned by Congress, and financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, an NGO based on promoting democracy and freedom around the world - a little arrogant, but from my research, I can't find anything overly fishy or corrupt about their dealings. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets most of its income from the US government, however, it only gets about $10 million. Together, these groups have trained many of the political activists, even setting up programs in the lions den - such as a sessions held in Yemen focused on using social networking to spread their message and assemble like minded youth.
Many activists are very thankful for their training and attribute much of the success of their revolutions to the instruction they received. Of course, the US organizations behind the training insist that they never meant for it to amass to a revolution. Stephen McInerney, the executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy said, “We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking.” That's kind of the same thing. You don't teach someone how to shoot an arrow and not expect them to ever hit something.
The Project on Middle East Democracy describes its tenets such that: democracy is an inalienable right and it is the duty of the US to support democracy worldwide. "To be true to its basic principles, America must consistently and credibly support democracy abroad." OK - arrogant pricks. However, the last tenet back pedals a bit, ensuring that their necks aren't stretched too far over the line of fake diplomacy: "The U.S. can and will help but, ultimately, stable and secure democracies in the Middle East can only be built from within." Hmmmm, then doesn't that mean that outward forces have no fucking business forcing it upon people? Iraq is of course the classic example.
And to be honest, as asked in an NPR peace, "is democracy in the Middle East a good idea?" These cherubic young students waving American flags aren't necessarily in line to the throne - er, presidential seat. The Middle East is a hot bed for extremist activity and with good reason. Under these US supported regimes, many extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood were quieted by force. Now that the Arab Spring is upon us, whose to say that the winds of freedom won't kick up some extremist dust that will settle in the hearts and minds of protesters. I mean, in reality - it's not hard to draw up a list of our trespasses in the Middle East, even if we have engaged in peaceful training sessions, gleefully poking and friending activists on Facebook between talks with Mubarak on military posts.
As Flynt Leverett, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and former director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council said, "The legacy of 20th century colonialism in the Middle East, oil concessions and all the rest, mean that it is not popular for regional regimes to cooperate with hegemonic power. While there is no evidence that democracy reduces the incidence of terrorism, there is ample evidence — from places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia — that holding more open elections in these and other societies would produce governments that are more anti-American than incumbent regimes."
Interesting, so basically - we're supporting a movement that could further damage our already shit stained reputation in the Middle East. Wait - people in the Middle East don't like us? But, but - we're so cool!
Bashem Fathy, a driving force behind the Egyptian uprisings had this to say about the double edged sword:
“While we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us.”
Hmmmm, tricky. So, the question remains - why the fuck do we bother? If the comments of Leverett and Fathy are any indication, we're not making many new friends here. Extremists love a revolution, and they will find their way up to the podium, with a list of grievances with our name on it.
A revolution is a mental shock to a nation - the people are open to ideas that support their original ideologies for protest: freedom. And freedom won't be portrayed as Uncle Sam calling the shots. We supported these revolutions, we egged them on, we've been trying to tidal wave through the Middle East since at least 2005 when these programs first started. We knew exactly what they would lead to - we wanted them to. No way in hell are we gonna allow all that hard work to go to waste with self governing democracies, particularly if that means we don't get to economically and militarily ricochet around their country like an inflatable bounce house.
Bottom line: democracy is not a divination we can crusade around the world, "saving" poor lost souls with. What is this, the 12th fucking century? The CIA could wrap itself in Lion Heart's clothes and you'd scarcely know the difference. Our religion is democracy, one we ironically don't follow very well on our own. But I guess the most corrupt priests are the ones most vehemently religious...When you pit religion against religion (Islam being theirs), you will never win. Religion is not logic based, and neither is our incessant invasions of countries, whether that be with tactics or tanks. It's about power, always has been. We crave power, and our two faced dealings in the Middle East have satisfied our addictive need, but at what cost? And we haven't even gotten warmed up yet.
The Arab Spring is in full swing - what happens when the fall and winter come around. Will we get the cold shoulder from the freedom loving masses we so philanthropically helped? Call me a cynic, but I don't see parades in our honor.
Arrogance is dangerous, made even more lethal when attached to a faith.
God help US.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Land of the free?

In keeping with American tradition, I am going to completely ignore the current events in the Ivory Coast, the overthrow of Gbagbo, the nearly thousands of dead civilians - burned and tortured, and the waves of protests and underground mutterings regarding French involvement and the future reign of Ouattara.
Because they don't have oil and their religious feud is far less interesting than the quagmire that is the Middle East.
So, let's talk about the Middle East, a subject that never gets dull due to the constant train of broken promises, dead soldiers, dollars and cents.
First of all, the 2010 deadline has clearly already passed to bring troops out of Iraq and now it looks as though this year might not reach that glorious milestone either. Excuse me while I feign surprise. I was highly suspicious of that bullshit laden speech as soon as it wafted out from Obama's mouth. Now that he's building his re-election campaign however, he'll have to come up with something good to avoid the glaring truth that he furthered an unpopular war and has not stood by his promise to end it....umm...I suggest the good old fashioned "It's our safety at stake here. We're preventing terrorist attacks."
Meanwhile, in Syria, a country that until recently seemed immune to the "Arab Spring," is now entering into the cyclone of public disapproval and mass protests. Rallies keep escalating as the death toll of civilians killed by the government surpasses 100 people. What critics say is making President Bashar al-Assad (successor to his father, Hafez) really nervous is that the epicenter of these protests is in Daraa, a highly conservative town, as opposed to towns such as Hama or Aleppo, where the banned Muslim Brotherhood has a slew of supporters. Needless to say, it's only a matter of time before the dominoes really start crashing. The interesting thing, once again, is the eerie parallels between Syria and our own city upon a hill. While their chants call for freedom and democracy, the economy is the real source of their outrage. The agricultural regions of the South have been battered by a drought while the entire country suffers from shitty money management. Unemployment for young citizens is a huge issue, most young graduates with advanced degrees do menial work such as drive taxis. There's also much grievance with corruption in the upper echelons of society, particularly targeting Assad's cousin, Rami Makhlouf, a tycoon infamous for pocketing government kickbacks.
Hmmmmmm...sounds so familiar....wait, don't tell me...holy shit! It's like us! Ha, small world huh?
Here's where it actually starts to differ - the President has in fact begun to make some concessions towards the will of the people: he has released jailed protesters, fired his entire cabinet and tossed out the publicly loathed governor of Daraa, Faysal Kalthum. He's still on thin ice but clearly realizes that he is not immune to the power of public opinion. It's not quite clear if Syria is on track to completely overhaul their government or if reform is enough to quiet the uprisings. We wait with bated breath...
Meanwhile, in Yemen, the US is now putting pressure on President Saleh to step down. It's been a tricky call for us, considering that Saleh has been a main player in fighting the Yemeni branch of Al Qaida. We waited while his supporters fired on unarmed demonstrators in the streets, hoping that it would all just go away like a bad dream and we could go back to playing puppet master in the sand box of the Middle East. Unfortunately, no play time on the horizon. Protests continue to escalate so we now have made public our reluctant suggestion for Saleh to cede power to a deputy, while simultaneously keeping his relatives in charge of counterterrorism...ummmm..OK. I think the point is to just oust the whole fucking house of cards, dick sticks, but by all means, place your agenda at the forefront and move your pawns accordingly. The "little people" of Yemen are not too pleased by the US's eventual commentary. Tawakul Karman, a leader of the anti-government youth movement said, "We are really very, very angry...We feel that we have been betrayed." Well done US. Your diplomacy is about as effective as a doggy door in an elephant cage.
Onwards to Libya where Qaddafi toys with the idea of escape, but only if he receives full immunity, something NATO forces are not completely tossing out. If they can get Qaddafi the hell out of there and try to begin the rebuilding process, NATO feels that it might be the only way to save lives. Meanwhile NATO has quieted their guns due to the confusion brought on by a recent bombing of Qaddafi's tanks, which had been overtaken and were then manned by the rebels...oops. So, the rebels are pissed b/c they're not getting much back up anymore and NATO is pissed b/c they don't know who the fuck is who and don't want to guess, risking the lives of not just soldiers but hundreds of civilians.
And, by the by, who are we really fighting for? I'm all for democracy and peace, but something has to fill the vacuum, and I'm guessing it won't be hippies with flowers in their hair and love in their hearts. While rulers like Qaddafi and Mubarak were cruel dictators by trade, they knew how to keep a lid on extremists, at least to a point...kinda like Hussein. Yeah, remember him? The truth of the matter is that although extremist groups like Al Qaida are not widely popular in countries like Egypt or Libya, the turmoil is perfect for their kind of rhetoric. Get rid of the Western leaning secular swine and replace him with an Islamist ruler. It really doesn't sound far fetched - particularly when you consider that there have been mutterings of Al Qaida involvement with the rebels in Libya, even by NATO's commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis.
It's kind of like the Tea Party here - it's not that the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with their extremist views, it's just that they are the loudest and they jumped into action at the perfect time - grabbing key support and raising their bullshit agenda above the seemingly lost sheep of the rest of the country. Something similar may be happening in Libya, particularly when you consider out track record in the Middle East is an easy target for new recruits. You don't have to travel far to find a bomb or gun shell with our name on it.
So, in the end, maybe we should've at least done a little more research before we sent our monster planes over to save the day. But, as Bush and friends will tell you, planning takes time - time we don't have b/c the terrorists are after us...ooooo - don't look now but the Boogie Man outside is holding a Quran.
Bottom line: you save more lives with intelligent diplomacy than you do with air raids. It just makes for less exciting television.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stop and go

Well, we averted a government shutdown. Feel free to go to a National Park and celebrate. Better do it in the next five days because that's only as long as this stop gap bill lasts. In that time, politicians are expected to really "dig in" and read all the fine print, written behind closed doors in the caverns of the White House at the eleventh hour. They are to vote on the bill this Wednesday to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year in September.
This marks the seventh stop gap decision by the rival House and Senate. Basically the stop gap means that it delays real decision making further. It's like procrastinating on your homework until the day before finals when you realize you don't even remember what fucking class it is that you're taking. But imagine that your decisions on that final affected 300 million Americans. Pretty fucked huh?
That's what politicians are saying. But of course, instead of criticizing their own side, they cast blame on the "other side," saying the Democrats aren't realistic about spending cuts, and Democrats claiming that Republicans are on an ideological rampage, slicing and dicing according to their far right ideals and not based on possible economic growth. In the end, Republicans let go of their demand for no government funding for Planned Parenthood (except in DC where they got that thru) and the effective castration of the EPA. Meanwhile Democrats gave way on pretty much everything else from medicaire and medicaid to education, infrastructure and oh by the way, tax cuts for the wealthy once again got in there...funny how that keeps popping up. I wonder how that'll help the Lewis Black said, the Republicans are a party of bad ideas and the Democrats are a party of no ideas.
Succinct and painfully true.
Think about it: SEVEN stop gaps to bring us to this - this limbo? We haven't even gotten anywhere and they're up on the hill congratulating their friends on being able to go to the fucking Washington Monument. Obama held a press conference in the Blue Room of the White House, a glorified living room - why? Because it has a great view of the Monument - he waxed poetic on the meaning and the symbolism, something he's always been good at. What he has trouble with is turning his utopian poetry into tangible prose.
The Washington Post remarked that this is the "first battle" between the Republican run House and the Democrat held Senate, and both parties seemed determined to stand their ground, meanwhile Obama attempting to be the "calm mediator." Biden lost his cool during the talks, can't say I blame him, exasperated with the non stop back and forth, saying "Well fine, let the American people decide this issue." Well Joe, that's probably not a bad idea. Since it seems that you guys over there in DC can't tell Obama's ass from Palin's elbow, maybe you should hand it to the people it really effects.
Particularly considering this is only the "first battle" in what will no doubt be a long line of bullshit arguments that end up costing more time, more money, resulting in, at best, a mediocre solution for a behemoth issue.
Listening to NPR this morning, Republicans and Democrats alike said in interviews that they're not sure they're going to vote for this bill, saying that they really need to read it carefully and make sure it reflects the interests of their party.
Ummmmm....your party? Fuck your party dick stick, it's the people you should be reading for. This isn't a fucking pissing contest over women's vaginas and tree huggers, this is about billions of dollars that go to running our country, well, at least in theory. Due to this stop and go bullshit, many government agencies and programs have been warily working their day-to-day, not sure if they're gonna have work tomorrow. It's not just about avoiding a shutdown, it's about reaching a fucking final decision so that people can work, get paid, get their due benefits and services without constant sputtering from the powers-that-be.
Let the people deal with the issue...wouldn't it be nice? In reality, you guys up there on the hill are supposed to be the people - in that perfect utopian paradise Obama's speeches spend so much time in. This bill was written behind closed doors and now it's being opened to the "public." In the past half hour of a google search, I can't seem to find any information on where citizens might be allowed a glance. The cycle continues: our apathy feeds their secrecy and back door dealings, loopholes and fine print which further builds the monster that is our privatized government which fuels the helpless notions of an economically battered, dumbed down people which in turn breeds apathy.
Unfortunately, they're not gonna change. If this seventh stop gap is any indication, we are in for a long haul of back and forth bullshit banter from two sides equally entrenched in figurehead politics spearheaded by the top 1% of this country. So, once again, it falls on us to do something. It falls on us to do our own homework and expect no consult with the people who govern us. I hate to rip the sugar coating off, I know it hurts, but they legitimately don't give a rats ass.
So, to enter into the poetic musings likened to our president, grab your flag and head out to a National Park, gloriously still open after the hard fought battles of our fearless leaders. Go and sit on a federal park bench and bemuse the dealings of the elite, ponder the events past and to come, written in your name...and then do me a favor, ask yourself if that's what you want? If that's what you expect in a "free" country, a developed, educated nation...and then when you arrive at your conclusion...Do Something.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Saving trees, killing dreams

It's no secret that I abhor big banks. They are a gleaming stone in the centerpiece of all that is evil and corrupt in this country. And when I feel as though there is no possible way that I could emotionally be filled with any more disgust, any more hatred, any more vehement abhorrence, something else comes up.
This is particularly grotesque, so if you need to pop some heart meds or take a little nap before you read this, please do so now...
Banks foreclose and have been foreclosing on about 1 million houses per year since the "Great Recession" started. Families can't pay their bullshit mortgages and default on their payments, handing over their American Dream to the greedy little shit birds in the top office. In order to make this possible, the proper paperwork is obviously required.
Wall Street authored these subprime mortgages and forwarded them to the banks who made the loans. Now, the housing bubble that burst was a result of too many of these mortgages being doled out after the peak of the bubble in '05/'06. After that, it was a downhill spiral. And Wall Street knew it, so they threw out as many of these horse-shit mortgages as they could to as many poor saps that would take 'em.
And, in order to save on time, they decided to cut out some steps. Namely, the contractual step.
No, I'm serious.
These banks completely left out the part where it states that they own the loan, that they own the fucking house they're taking from you!
Again, I'm serious.
So, as you sit there, dotting your "i's" and crossing your "t's", trying desperately to keep your home, they don't even have a piece of paper with "i's" and "t's" on it. So, in reality, they have no right to take your house.
Thousands of homes, bundled into securities and traded back and forth from investor to investor, done so without a trace of paperwork. And with good reason: you can make a shit ton of money with just a few keystrokes on the computer - why wait for signatures and faxes, overnight document delivery - when you can press "Enter" and make enough for a sweet family vacation?
For example, Lynn Szymoniak, a lawyer and fraud specialist who went to court over the attempted foreclosure of her home. As she got to court, the bank admitted that it didn't have some key documents for her home, including the keystone: the assignment of mortgage document, which details who owns the loan.
A year later, the bank "found" it and all the other pertinent documentation....
Considering her profession, Lynn asked for copies of all these documents and checked 'em out.
The glaring fraud wasn't even covered up well. On her assignment of mortgage document, the date of acquisition for the mortgage was about 6 months after they sued her for foreclosure. So, somehow they pre-emptively sued her for a mortgage they didn't even have yet - how American of them. What the FUCK?!
And that's just one example. Ready for some more?
Realizing that they needed to get these documents out ASAP, banks outsourced some of their magically appearing paperwork. One of these companies was DocX, a company that hired people at $10/hour to sign fake contracts as Vice Presidents and Asst. Vice Presidents, Witnesses and Notary Publics (you know, the people who are supposed to validate a document's authenticity)!
These people worked in a relative signing sweatshop - signing up to 4,000 documents a day, with of course, fake names. One example, Linda Green, so chosen because it's short, easy to sign and simple. Going through documents, Lynn found that there were a myriad of "Linda Green" signatures, obviously signed by a myriad of different hands.
Of course, DocX has since been closed down and all the big banks deny having any knowledge of these shady dealings. And that's where those questions seem to have what the fuck?!
To further showcase their arrogance, the contracts themselves were drawn up using language such as "Bogus Assignee" instead of the actual name of the homeowner. Um, fucking really?
Furthermore, instead of writing the name of the bank, many contracts would say random names, such as "Bad Bene" obviously not a bank I've heard of, or would fucking borrow from!
And these contracts were passed off as the real deal - went through COURTS OF LAW as legitimate assignments of mortgages, being the difference between keeping a home and losing it. People became homeless because of pieces of paper with literally bogus names and bogus signatures on them, about as real, and cloaked with lies as the American Dream.
And like I said, that's where it ends. That's where the 60 minutes special left us off.
How the FUCK can it end that way?
Is that it?!
Is that just how it is, like we're reading a fucking story?!
Is this acceptable?!
1 million homes - how many were bogus? Aside from the fact that the mortgages themselves were bogus to begin with - how many were compounded with fraud by not even having the paperwork to prove that they're assholes?!
I mean, come the fuck on!!!
Are we, as a people, going to sit here and apathetically shrug our shoulders, react by cursing to the wind and then DO NOTHING?!
Does their arrogance deserve no vengeance? Does their complete and total disregard for human life and rights deserve no retaliation?
Do they deserve their golden pedestals and diamond lives, while we struggle to survive? Do they?
Are we that low? That insignificant - that storied proud people, lower than shit?
I sure as hell am worth more...and every family that has had to suffer from the greed of the few is worth more, and the many must DO SOMETHING.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Faith breeds Hate

Well, Terry Jones just couldn't help himself. After promising that "not today, not ever" would he carry out his dumb shit ploy to burn the Quran on the anniversary of September 11th, Terry Jones, like any good man of God, broke that promise. On March 20th, he put the Quran on "trial," found it guilty and then through a multiple choice questionnaire, found that it should be sentenced to burning.
No, I'm serious. About 30 people attended the event live, where Pastor Terry Jones supervised Pastor Wayne Sapp burning the Quran, after finding the holy book "guilty of crimes." But wait, it gets better: apparently, just to be fair, there was a Dallas Imam present at the burning to act as the defense for...a god damn book. Surprisingly, he didn't win, and members of Jones' congregation chose from four sentences, after deliberating for less than 8 minutes: burning, shredding, grounding or firing squad. I personally think firing squad would have been more creative. Would they have gotten a little blindfold for the book? How many people would have been in the firing squad?
As it happened, they just doused the little fucker with kerosene and set it on fire with a grill lighter - how charmingly southern. At the time, there was no media coverage of the event, leaving it to Jones himself to spread the word about his hateful extracurricular activities. Having his actions condemned by everyone from President Obama to General Patreus, and defense secretary Robert Gates, stating that such a stunt could risk the lives of NATO forces in the Middle East, Jones went ahead and not only burned the book but put it up on facebook, YouTube and any other social media site he could find. Thus forcing his escapades onto the international media stage, and so surprisingly, causing an uproar in the Middle East.
On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators marched towards the UN headquarters in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Aside from burning effigies of Jones and the American flag, the protesters stormed the UN building, killing 10 foreign staff members, beheading two of the victims, and killing five Afghans. At least 24 people were injured.
Meanwhile, Jones takes no credit for the violent uprisings in Afghanistan, saying that "We find it very tragic any time that someone is murdered but we do not feel any responsibility for that. It definitely does indicate that there is a very radical element of Islam."
Hmmm...I wonder what Terry Jones calls his "element" of Christianity...
Bottom line, both sides have radicals. Actually, every religion with a book as contradictory as the Bible, Quran or Torah will house extremists from both sides. And as I've said before, the violent, insane extremists tend to make the most noise and the most trouble.
Take this for example, from the Bible:
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you"
(Luke 6:27-28).
Awww, how sweet.
How about this, also from the Bible (also of the Torah) (and ironically also the home of the 10 commandments, of which one is Thou Shalt not Kill): "and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy" (Deuteronomy 7:1-5)


From the Quran: "If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear God, the cherisher of the worlds. (The Quran, 5:28)
Also from the Quran: "Fight them (unbelievers) until persecution is no more and the religion of Allah reigns supreme.”
(The Quran 8:39)

Hmmmm....getting some mixed messages here too.

However, having read most of all three texts (New and Old Testament and the Quran), I have to say that the Quran is the least violent of all. The bible enjoys reveling in violence, relishing each detail. For example, there's no passage in the Quran detailing the night long gang rape of a girl. There is in the Bible. And in the Quran, the prophet Muhammad, prohibited the killing of women and children. Interestingly enough, if Jesus were around to ask, I don't think he'd be a big fan of it either...but therein lies the trouble.
All of these books are so hypocritical. They solemnly declare one thing and then completely contradict it only a few passages later. They allow people to pick and choose what to believe, what to take as gospel and what to cast aside. They leave room for do-gooders and terrorists, casual believers and violent extremists.

When a news anchor asked Pastor Terry Jones if the Bible doesn't say to love thine enemy, Jones agreed that it did, but that that had nothing to do with this event.
And there you have it. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism base their religions on books that see-saw back and forth, making it nearly impossible for a free thinking, well educated mind to be fully ensnared by their doctrine - because no one can fucking agree what that doctrine is! Should I kill, or not kill? Should I forgive or not forgive? Judge or not judge? Sell my daughter as a slave or stone her to death?
I mean, come on people - what the fuck!?

If we're putting the Quran on trial, we should sure as shit put the Bible and Torah up there too. But instead of burning them, why don't we read the damn things - cover to cover, then decide that they're all fucked, and put 'em snugly in the Fiction section along with Lord of the Rings and Compassionate Conservatism.
Knowledge is not a danger. What is dangerous is when we use stories, unsupported by fact or truth, as an excuse to create laws, start wars and judge other cultures and people.
Faith breeds hate - not because of these stories, but because they are absolute, because they employ no use of the human mind, of logic. They cast that aside and rely fully on emotion and faith to wield their message. And that, is dangerous, very dangerous. It means that neither side can win, for nothing will ever be able to kill faith. The more bombs you drop, the more resolute they are. Governments will fall, but faith, blind, stupid faith, will endure as long as there are people to endoctrinate. It will breed hate for the "others" and intolerance for "enemies." It does and will continue to breed hate.

I'm over trying to convert. Since there is no logic in faith, that argument will never be won. People must see for themselves the evils incorporated in religion, and move away of their own volition.
What I'm interested in now is educating. The quotes up there are but a minuscule example of the hypocrisy in our beloved holy texts. Take a look, read through those books, educate yourselves on what people hold as gospel, so that you and your MIND can argue against blind faith.

And finally, burning books doesn't prove any point other than bigotry and intolerance, something we could all use a little less of. And whether Jones wants to admit it or not, he has blood on his hands and not a shred of decency in his soul.
Books, no matter their genre, are meant for reading, not burning. Read, do not blindly accept. Research, do not blindly hate.