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“Oh, say can you see?…May Day, May Day!” (2008)

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

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* The first time this collage was exhibited was last night at the Occupy Venice Art Crawl in Venice, CA

“Oh, say can you see?…May Day, May Day!” (2008)

– Journalistic Art 

The 4 feet by 8 feet collage on cardboard canvas consists of newspapers and magazines representing the George W. Bush era. Many of the articles accompanied me during my move from New York City, where I gained a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University in 2005. After graduation, I reported on mergers & acquisitions as well as initial public offerings on Wall Street. When I moved back to my home state of California at the end of 2006, I started selling solar electricity for homes, from San Francisco to San Diego. Of course, I then added to my growing stockpile of “newspaint” with articles from local papers, like The Contra Costa Times in the Bay area.

I have culled the most poignant pictures and salient written reports from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Economist, The Week, etc., in order to present a view of the Iraq War, the Financial Crisis and the Bush years as it was all happening. I have also used various, highly accredited, named sources to present different perspectives and maintain journalistic integrity. Every section of the newspaper is represented, including Arts, Sports, and the Sunday Comics, so that the viewer gets a well-rounded feel of the era preceding the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG, WaMu, General Motors, and on and on.

I was inspired by the freedom of thought and reinvented forms exhibited in the artworks of Robert Rauschenberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel when I started making the collage, but then I added a twist from Marcel Duchamp’s playbook. The collage is a living history made from a scarce and precious medium–the original printed newspaper articles and the original printed magazine covers. No one would be able to replicate it, and therefore it is unique because of its medium. It was sealed with a protective cover on May 1, 2008. Thus came the title “Oh, say can you see?…May Day, May Day!”

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Unfortunately, the picture on the makeshift wall at night did not turn out as well as the one taken against the tree during the day, before the official curating began. Although, the event coordinators did provide adequate lighting for in-person viewing and gave me a prominent location next to a piece done by Shepard Fairey – famous for the “Obey” (Andre the Giant) street art and the Barack Obama blue & red image from the 2008 election. Some people actually stood still and read the articles on my collage. : )

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FAH-Q Grover Norquist

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

FAH-Q = For All to Hear & Question. ; )

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PROBLEM: The greedy, self-serving Superwealthy and their enablers in Congress.

SOLUTION: Vote out everybody who signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, which means replace 98 percent of House Republicans.

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source: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-the-gop-became-the-party-of-the-rich-20111109

BEGINNING OF EXCERPTS from Rolling Stone magazine:

How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich

The inside story of how the Republicans abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent

by: Tim Dickinson ….

But Reagan wound up sowing the seed of our current gridlock when he gave his blessing to what Simpson calls a “nefarious organization” – Americans for Tax Reform. Headed by Grover Norquist, a man Stockman blasts as a “fiscal terrorist,” the group originally set out to prevent Congress from backsliding on the 1986 tax reforms. But Norquist’s instrument for enforcement – an anti-tax pledge signed by GOP lawmakers – quickly evolved into a powerful weapon designed to shift the tax burden away from the rich. George H.W. Bush won the GOP presidential nomination in 1988 in large part because he signed Norquist’s “no taxes” pledge. Once in office, however, Bush moved to bring down the soaring federal deficit by hiking the top tax rate to 31 percent and adding surtaxes for yachts, jets and luxury sedans. “He [George Bush, Sr.] had courage to take action when we needed it,” says Paul O’Neill, who served as Treasury secretary under George W. Bush [Jr.]….

In retrospect, the true victor of the midterm elections last year was not the Tea Party, or even Speaker of the House John Boehner. It was Grover Norquist.

“What has happened over the last two years is that Grover now has soldiers in the field,” says Bartlett, the architect of the Reagan tax cuts. “These Tea Party people, in effect, take their orders from him.” Indeed, a record 98 percent of House Republicans have now signed Norquist’s anti-tax pledge – which includes a second, little-known provision that played a key role in the debt-ceiling debacle. In addition to vowing not to raise taxes, politicians who sign the pledge promise to use any revenue generated by ending a tax subsidy to immediately finance – that’s right – more tax cuts.

Norquist insists the measure is necessary to force Congress to rein in spending. “I’m not focused on the deficit,” he says. “The metric that matters is keeping spending down.” But in the real world, the effect of Norquist’s oath is to prevent the government from cutting the deficit by ending tax breaks to the rich. All told, tax breaks cost the government $1.2 trillion each year – far more than defense spending ($744 billion), Medicare and Medicaid ($719 billion) or Social Security ($701 billion). And most of the breaks – think of them as government subsidies delivered through the tax code – go to the wealthy. The richest one percent of Americans receive a 13.5 percent boost in their incomes from such subsidies – almost double the benefit the bottom 80 percent receives. Under Norquist’s pledge, lawmakers are forbidden from ending any kind of tax break – mortgage deductions for luxury vacation homes, subsidies for giant oil companies, lower tax rates for private-equity millionaires – without using the money to pay for another tax cut. “If you can’t get rid of tax expenditures – if old Grover is going to call that a ‘tax increase’ – it’s not just ludicrous, it’s deception,” says Simpson, the former GOP senator.

Ludicrous or not, Norquist’s intransigence on tax expenditures killed the “grand bargain” that President Obama proposed during the debt-ceiling standoff. In return for $1 trillion in cuts to social spending and national security, plus another $650 billion in reductions to entitlements like Medicare, Obama asked Republicans to get rid of $1.2 trillion in wasteful tax subsidies. “Democrats weren’t talking about raising taxes – they were talking about eliminating tax expenditures, for God’s sakes!” says Voinovich. “Many of them should have been eliminated a long time ago.” But with so many Republicans committed to Norquist’s anti-revenue pledge, Boehner was forced to walk away from the deal.

“Grover’s got ’em terrified,” says Simpson. “I always tell Republicans, ‘Hell, Grover can’t kill ya. He can’t burn down your house. The only thing he can do to you is defeat you in re-election – and if re-election means more to you than your country, then you shouldn’t be in the legislature.'”

The battle over the debt ceiling underscores the GOP’s rapid evolution into the Party of the Rich. The budget savings projected from the compromise that Republicans wound up agreeing to – $2.1 trillion – won’t even begin to pay for costs incurred by the Bush tax cuts. In their first decade alone, the cuts wound up depriving the Treasury of $2.5 trillion – with 38 percent of the money now going to the richest one percent of Americans. For all their talk of cutting the deficit in recent years, Republicans have spent far more of the public’s money to subsidize the wealthy.

Indeed, since Republicans began their tax-cut binge in 1997, they have succeeded in making the rich much richer. While the average income for the bottom 90 percent of taxpayers has remained basically flat over the past 15 years, those in the top 0.01 percent have seen their incomes more than double, to $36 million a year. Translated into wages, that means most Americans have received a raise of $1.50 an hour since the GOP began cutting taxes during the Gingrich era. The most elite sliver of American society, meanwhile, saw their pay soar by $10,000 an hour.

America became a great nation with a prosperous middle class on the strength of a progressive tax code – one that demands the most of those who benefit most from our society. But the Party of the Rich has succeeded in breaking the back of that ideal. Today, says Johnston, “the tax system ceases to be progressive when you get to the very top of the wealthiest one percent.” Above that marker, the richer you get, the lower your relative tax burden. “We have moved toward a plutocracy,” Warren Buffett warned in a recent interview. “As people have gotten richer and richer, they have been favored by taxation – and have gotten richer to a greater degree.”

Far from creating the trickle-down economics promised by Reagan, the policies pursued by the modern Republican Party are gusher up. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the House’s radicalized GOP caucus is pushing a predatory agenda for a new gilded age. Every move that Republicans make – whether it’s to gut consumer protections, roll back environmental regulations, subsidize giant agribusinesses, abolish health care reform or just drill, baby, drill – is consistent with a single overarching agenda: to enrich the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, even if it requires borrowing from China, weakening national security, dismantling Medicare and taxing the middle class. With the nation still mired in the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, Republicans have categorically rejected the one financial policy with a proven record of putting the country back on a more prosperous footing. “You hear the Republicans say that you don’t dare raise taxes in a weak economy,” says Stockman. “Ronald Reagan did – three times.” Not even the downgrading of America’s debt – which placed the world’s only superpower on credit par with New Zealand and Belgium – has given GOP leaders cause to reconsider their pro-wealth jihad. In August, as the so-called Supercommittee began its work to complete the debt-ceiling deal by reducing future deficits by another $1.5 trillion, Cantor issued the Party of the Rich’s marching orders, insisting that Republicans not buckle under the “tremendous pressure” to hike taxes and instead target spending cuts in “mandatory programs.”

END OF EXCERPTS from Rolling Stone magazine.

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Question: Do we need financial regulation?

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Answer: Does a bear shoot the shit with a bull on Wall Street?

Comic Relief – Joe Pesci in The Super

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Comic Relief Tags:

Representing the 99 percent is not Socialism; representing the 99 percent is Democracy!

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Libertarians are anti-Government; Libertarians are anti-Civilization.

Government = Civilization; Civilization = Government.

Go back through your history books, and open your eyes to what is going on circa 2011 on planet Earth. Government and Civilization go together like fingers and hands.

The anti-Government policies promoted by the Koch-heads and the Ayn-Rand acolytes, like Ron Paul, are designed to let the rich steal all of the loot and not to benefit the majority of Americans. Ron Paul could not give a f*ck if you do not have affordable health care. Like Matt Taibbi said about Randians, they believe “pay for your own f*cking schools.”

Government is good; Civilization is good. Both Government and Civilization are good.

* We need taxes to pay for our schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and on and on.

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“Ron Paul Calls Elizabeth Warren a ‘Socialist,’ Says Government Goes Too Far”

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/11/ron-paul-view-of-government-opposes-socialist-elizabeth-warren/

Ron Paul is a sophist, which means he presents steaming hot piles of horseshit as the truth; but when he’s feeding them to you, at the time, they don’t smell like the droppings of a farm animal. It’s only after you spit his words back out and parse the meanings of them that you can open the verbal turds and smell the odorific nonsense putrefying right under your nose.
 
EXCERPTS:
 
“He responded to Warren’s argument that a wealthy person has benefited from government in areas like security and roads and should give back.

‘She’s a socialist,’ Paul said. ‘She wants the government to do all this.”

‘When the state runs things that is a socialist [Bullshit! That is called government…as in government pays for schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and on and on. Ron Paul incorrectly calls all of that socialist] that it should be a collective,’ he said. ‘I preach home schooling and private schooling and competition in schools.’

[Hello! We all pay taxes so that we can pay for our schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and on and on. What scrambled Ron Paul’s brain not to understand how civilization works in a democratic society?]

‘But what she forgets – she’s right. By the use of force…the government comes with a gun and they take money from you and they build a highway that incidentally you can use because you don’t have any other choices.’
[Perfect example of demagoguery – playing on people’s emotional biases. Exaggeration/hyperbole: no physical gun has been presented by our government to take taxes from us; the IRS sends letters in the mail and our elected representatives in Congress, as designed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, “lay and collect Taxes” in order to “To establish Post Offices and post Roads” and “To regulate Commerce,” among other things.]

[* And I drive on surface streets all the time, instead of using highways. I’m glad the highways are there, of course.]

‘Governments are always destructive in the production of wealth,’ said Paul. ‘They pretend they are going to take care of us like – well the government is going to give us a house – look at what happened to the house. The big guys all got bailed out who ripped us off and the derivatives in the bank, they’re still being protected. Middle class lost it and they lost their houses, so her whole argument is wrong.’”

That rambling dither rolling off Ron Paul’s tongue is called “Leading To False Conclusions” or “Constructing A False Argument” or “A Non-Sequitur Argument”…To explain: because the Perfect Shitstorm of George W. Bush’s policies of Tax Cuts that mainly benefited the Superwealthy along with a Ron Paul/AynRand-like ideology of “no regulation” on the financial sector led to a Bush/Paulson bailout of the Wall Street banks and little-to-no help for underwater home-owners does not mean that we should stop collecting taxes to pay for our schools, hospitals, roads and bridges, along with our military, and on and on.

That’s what Dogma looks like folks. Twisted, contorted, demagoguery, sophistry and right-wing propaganda that has been proved wrong many times. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush tried “Trickle-Down Economics,” but both Reagan and Bush 2 left the majority of Americans with deficits and stagnant wages. “Trickle-Down” does not “Trickle-Down.” You can’t pull the wool over my eyes three times.

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Remember: Republicans and Conservatives will lie, cheat and steal.

Fande = Fact & Evidence; Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration

Bring your Fande, leave your Cande!

Follow the money…

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/first-lady-postpones-houston-fundraiser-at-home-of-ex-enron-exec/

First Lady Postpones Houston Fundraiser at Home of Ex-Enron Exec

[John] Arnold, 37, one of the 400 richest Americans according to Forbes, was one of Barack Obama’s top financiers in 2008, bundling between $50,000 and $100,000 in contributions for his election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  He has personally given the legal maximum — $5,000 — to Obama for 2012, records show.

An Obama campaign official said the Houston fundraisers would be rescheduled as soon as possible. They were to benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account run by President Obama and the Democratic National Committee.  Ticket prices for the Arnold event ranged from $10,000 up to $35,800, the combined legal maximum.

The first lady will still travel to New Orleans Tuesday to attend a campaign fundraiser and an event for her ‘Let’s Move’ initiative, the White House says.”

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Reminder: Enron – the bankrupt and criminal energy company – was the single largest campaign donor to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000.

Question: Does a monetary contribution to a presidential campaign come with strings?

Answer: Does a bear shoot the shit with a bull on Wall Street?

Reminder: Republicans and Conservatives will lie, cheat and steal

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The Superwealthy are now in full-swing trying to dismantle pensions for public employees on their way to attempt to dismantle Social Security.

The rich own everything: real estate – the land and the buildings – as well as some roads, highways, oil & gas pipelines, utility companies, parking meters, and on an on. And it’s never enough for these greedy, self-seving, SuperRich.  I’m talking about the Koch Brothers and former Enron trader, John Arnold. All of these Superwealthy out-of-staters fund twistedly “conservative” candidates and causes to stick it to the average American. Koch Brothers funded Scott Walker’s campaign in Wisconsin, and then Governor Walker walked over to the public employees and took away their bargaining rights. Koch-heads also funded Proposition 23 in California in 2010, along with the Texas oil companies – Tesoro and Valero – in an attempt to stop California from using renewable energy standards. John Arnold is now funding right-wing propaganda to dismantle public employees’ pension plans in California.

John Arnold donates to both parties, and specifically he donated/donates to President Obama. Is Obama a Conservative President if he is funded by Conservative Money? Remember: Republicans and Conservatives will lie, cheat and steal. How much of the middle is Obama straddling? Does Obama lean to the right?

The true meaning of conservative has no relationship with the current Republican party. The members of that party and its representatives in our government, for the most part, defend corporate profits and tax cuts for the Superwealthy above everything else. For real.

IMPORTANT: “Fix Pensions First,” aka “The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility” is NOT a highly accredited source of information.

sources:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/09/koch-brothers-global-warming-prop-23-climate-change.html

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/node/8975 

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/why

http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/texas-billionaire-funds-california-pension-overhaul-group-12050

http://californiawatch.org/about

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/11/05/opinion/sunday/2011106_McFadden_Cartoon-.html?ref=opinion

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/opinion/sunday/worldly-philosophers-wanted.html?ref=opinion

EXCERPT:

“Is it fair that those who suffer the most from such downturns have their safety net cut, while those who generate the volatility are bailed out by the government?”

Problem: The self-serving Superwealthy are up to no good for the majority of Americans; the Superwealthy know it takes money to make money, so they spend money to influence elections.

Solution: Vote for Democrats, because Democrats work to benefit the majority of Americans.

Reminder: Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – the only president to be elected four times – gave us Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance benefits after three consecutive Republican presidents led to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/wisconsin-scott-walker-koch-brothers

EXCERPTS:

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

The Kochs also assisted Walker’s current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker’s assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent $6,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.

Walker’s plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers’ playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker’s collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state’s Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment—even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved—the Koch brothers’ investment in Walker appears to be paying off.”

http://www.ssa.gov/sf/FactSheets/wepgpoteach.doc

EXCERPTS:
 
“As a California teacher, you do not pay Social Security taxes.  But you may have paid enough Social Security taxes in other jobs to qualify for a Social Security retirement benefit.  That benefit will be reduced because of your teacher’s (STRS) pension.  The law requiring this reduction is called the ‘Windfall Elimination Provision.’
 
Why the offset?
Benefits we pay to wives, husbands, widows and widowers are “dependent’s” benefits.  These benefits were established in the 1930s to compensate spouses who stayed home to raise a family and who were financially dependent on the working spouse.  But as more and more couples both worked, they each earned their own Social Security retirement benefits.  The law has always required us to offset one retirement benefit against another.  In other words, if a woman worked and earned her own $800 monthly Social Security retirement benefit, but she was also due a $500 wife’s benefit on her husband’s Social Security record, we could not pay that wife’s benefit because her own Social Security benefit offset it.  But if that same woman was a teacher who did not pay into Social Security, and who earned an $800 STRS pension, there was no offset and we were required to pay her a full wife’s benefit in addition to her teacher’s pension. 
 
The Government Pension Offset rule exists simply to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.
 
Exceptions
This rule affects almost all California teachers who do not pay into Social Security.  But there are some exceptions.  For a list of those exceptions, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10007.html
 
An important Medicare message
Even though you may not qualify for monthly cash benefits on your spouse’s Social Security record, you still can get Medicare on that spouse’s record if you are 65 or older and if you can’t get Medicare on your own record.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/02/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20101102

EXCERPT:
“Maggie Ellis spent more than 20 years as a teacher, including 10 at a public school, before she learned a dirty little secret: She won’t be getting all the Social Security she would be entitled to in retirement.
Ellis’ current job, as a fifth-grade teacher in the Elk Grove Unified School District, isn’t covered by Social Security.”

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