Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Animal House in Washington Has Got to Go

I am sure everyone has heard the economic adviser for Senator John McCain and former Texas U.S. Senator Phil Gramm’s words of wisdom last week. Apparently Mr. Gramm is impatient with the American people and he graciously volunteered to serve as our personal life coach and economic counselor for the day.

It sure is nice when one of our former U.S. Senators decides to descend from the bubbly stratosphere of wealth where 1% of the nation’s people reside. Those of us below should feel blessed when a resident of this realm decides to pay us a social call. And we should feel especially grateful when the bubble dweller decides to give us a little pep talk and reassure us about our financial well-being.

According to former Senator Phil Gramm, the media covers only the negative news about the economy. Gramm insists the economic news is nothing more than fabricated doom and gloom. According to him, the economy is fine, it is humming along splendidly and therefore we should all be very happy. Any pain we think we might experience at the pump or at the checkout lanes of the supermarket does not exist. It is all in our heads. You see we are in the state of a “mental recession” according to the former U.S. Senator. We are becoming a nation of whiners, Gramm admonished.

I suppose that us the unformed serfs, I mean, Americans should be happy to pay over $4.00 a gallon for gas and at least $50.00 more each week for groceries for our families. You see we are not really paying over $4.00 for gas or at least $50. more per week for food. We’re making it up. It’s all in our heads. Stop complaining!

Next time I go to the gas station I will tell the attendant the pump must be broken because it charged me $40.00 instead of $20.00 to fill my tank. And I will tell the cashier at the supermarket that $50.00 of the total due is absolutely impossible. The scanner must be screwed up.

I guess we are supposed to be happy, too, that our jobs could be outsourced to a third world country without a moment’s notice and forty-seven million Americans do not have health care insurance.

We should be happy that we’re hooked on oil and we are going to stay hooked on oil as long as greedy, self-serving oilmen have carte blanche to do whatever, whenever they want at any time. We should also be happy that we suffer the environmental and health related costs of unregulated industry. But, as long as it’s good for bidness, it’s good for us because all of the benefits will trickle on down to us whiners. Be happy folks!

We should be happy that there is very little or absolutely no government oversight or regulation of the banking industry, or any industry for that matter. And it is AOK for lending firms to do sales hit jobs on gullible and uninformed Americans who merely dream to own a home of their own. If a family has to foreclose and move they aren’t really losing their home. They’re just bellyaching about a bunch of silly nothing.

Yes indeed, it sure is comforting when one our former Senators comes on out of his bubble to give us a little old pep talk.

Everyone in Texas knows, of course, that Senator Gramm and his wife Wendy profited enormously from their relationship with and role in Enron. I suppose others at Enron who were not so lucky, especially those whose life’s savings went poof, should be as happy as the Gramms. Don’t whine about lost life’s savings. It didn’t happen.

These Republican politicians who have enjoyed cozy relationships with business and lobbyists have done quite well for themselves over the years. In fact, lawmakers did such a great job in looking out for their own self-interests that all of them forgot about the needs of their constituents, i.e. us the whiners.

Case in point: Our self-appointed personal life coach and financial advisor for the day, Phil Gramm, played no small role in the current sub-prime debacle.

According to a piece in Mother Jones last week:

It was Gramm who used a sly legislative maneuver in late 2000, when he chaired the Senate banking committee, to pass the Commodity Futures Modernization Act--to which practically no one but financial industry lobbyists were paying attention in Washington. This bill prohibited federal agencies from regulating financial products called swaps, which have been used to back up the mortgaged-based securities that caused the sub prime crisis. Michael Greenberger, who directed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's division of trading and markets in the 1990s, says these unregulated swaps have been at "the heart of the sub prime meltdown." He and others point to Gramm as being chiefly culpable for their deregulation.

Wow. What a track record. Now we learn Gramm, McCain’s economic advisor and former profiteer of a criminally broken Enron, has also played no small role in ushering in the sub-prime fiasco. Like most out of touch politicians Senator John McCain sure lacks sound judgment when choosing competent advisors who are not ethically challenged.

Now that the former Senator has admonished us for whining and suggests we’re all supposed to be as happy as clams all of the time because everything is just peachy, one may wonder why the American people are being encouraged to drink the happiness Kool-Aid.

I think the Era of Happiness, at least for the bubble dwellers, started when former cockroach killer, and hot tub dude Tom Delay became The Hammer in the House. In this role he subjugated, bullied and threatened any colleague who dared to disagree with him. Next he threw open the doors to our Congress and its lawmaking process and swept in the corporate raiders, loan sharks, Wall St.’s high rolling gamblers, fat cats, the oil boys and all of their lobbyists, including Jack Abramoff. Anyone capable making big money at anything was invited to join the party. “Let’s have a party!” declared the former bug killer. “Don’t worry! You won’t have to pick up the tab. The taxpayers will!” All clapped and cheered as the champagne flowed freely.

And what a party it would be. Our Republican lawmakers and their new soul mates were itching to tear down more walls in their newly anointed Animal House because they wanted to throw bigger and better parties. President Clinton held the party animals off for a spell, but real trouble started for the American people when Clinton left Washington. Once W., the party-boy-extraordinaire, arrived on the scene in D.C. the walls were quickly demolished, one by one. Let the bigger and better parties with more and more invited fat cats begin! The good times are gonna roll!

With W. and Cheney securely installed by the Supreme Court, the Animal House could rock with raucous abandonment 24/7. And it did. The lawmakers and their new friends became drunker and drunker on greed tonics. In fact, they grew so addicted to the greed tonics that they couldn’t get enough of them. Jack Abramoff had to find additional caterers to bring in fresh batches. Wild orgies rocked with tax cuts for the wealthy, tax cuts for big business and the gutting of government regulatory agencies. Other independent agencies within our government, i.e. The Justice Department, joined the party and started drinking the greed tonics too. Law books were taken from the shelves and used to clean up the spilled greed tonics. Oil boy Dick Cheney invited his dearest and closest friends including Kenny Boy Lay to his private office in the Animal House’s Veep Tower to write national energy policy. The boys needed more money for themselves. They just could not get enough of it. Dick and his oil boys have had enough of the tonics, by the way. They prefer the real serious hard stuff. It is called crack crude and once hooked on it, addition can last for generations.

Meanwhile, outside the gates of the Animal House, after picking up a few tossed crumbs of cake, the American people headed off to fight terrorists in Afghanistan after 9/11 and then to Iraq to fight W./Cheney’s oil war. The Iraq war ushered in the beginning of a dream Cheney has had for decades: a fully operational, locked and loaded military/industrial complex. And Hot Damn! Halliburton would get most of the no bid contracts. Cheney and Co. couldn’t stop salivating as they dragged Rummy away from the crack crude table. They were anxious to cook up a really splendid shock and awe event. All that fuel burning, pricy high-tech bombs exploding, cool new killer missiles, faster fighter jets. Oh man. What a Cheney dream come true.

And meanwhile back at corporate headquarters in Houston, the fat cats decided it was OK for our military in Iraq to shower in sewage

While Cheney plotted and schemed to pull off more shock and awe events, and the party continued to rock inside the Animal House, Americans continued to lose jobs. Too many of us have difficulty holding on to our homes. Worse, the sub-prime debacle threw thousands of Americans into foreclosure, destroying their financial security, hopes and dreams. Gas and food prices continue to rise. We have become a debtor nation because The Animal House crew broke the nation’s piggy bank to pay for Iraq. They’ve also bankrupted the economic futures for too many Americans.

Fortunately the 2006 Election wasted some of these party animals. And the electorate is far more informed since it finally dawned on us that we are the ones who are paying the price for six years of the Animal House’s drunken brawls and oil orgies

As with his soul mates inside the Animal House, Senator Gramm has been drinking too many of those greed tonics and ingesting a tad too much of crack crude. Our doctors tell us that moderation is the key to staying healthy, both physically and mentally. But it appears as if our poor Mr. Gramm and most of his colleagues have indulged in excesses of everything.

Obviously he and the GOP are evidently completely unaware of the plight of many if not most of the American people.

Mr. Gramm, with all due disrespect, you are the one who is whining. What is your problem? Haven’t you accumulated enough wealth in your lifetime already? Or do you need more, can’t get it and so it’s our fault? Do you have an addiction problem?

It is you, sir, who should stop the whining Senator. Crawl out of your bubble in Fantasy Land. Feel real pain and suffering. Let your credit card max out while you are buying groceries to feed your family or purchasing gas to get to work. Pack up and move because you cannot afford to keep your home. Borrow money to pay your light bill. Go to the doctor, find out you have a chronic disease that requires medication costing $200.00 per month. And you do not have health care insurance. And this is only the tip of an iceberg of suffering. Come on Phil, come out a do a bit slumming with we the real people.

The stark reality is, Senator, that you and yours need immediate psychiatric intervention for Severe Narcissistic and Delusional Disorder. I hate to be the first in the world outside of your bubble to break it to you, sir, but you and Party members are not kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, barons, baronesses or lord nor ladies. The American people are not your subjects.

We know now that your happiness Kool-Aid is toxic.

There is an election in November at which time the American people will pay your Republican colleagues in office a social call.

Your Animal House is coming down.

Not convinced? Check out a little Animal House event
right here You probably will not see this story covered in the MSM, by the way, so I urge you to click on the link.