Monday, September 29, 2008

September 25, 2008

Dear Sis~
If I'm irritated sitting on death row, then the average American out in the free world should be really outraged over this $700 Billion bailout for Wall Street. You're looking at the largest transference of wealth (from the public sector to the private) in the shortest amount of time in the history of the world. That's taxpayers' dollars (future obligations on the next generation) going into private banks and financial institutions. Keep in mind that this $700 Billion is only a guess, and a conservative one; the actual cost may exceed one trillion dollars. Also keep in mind that Bush and his Republican cronies in the SEC and Treasury Dept and the Federal Reserve have already, over the last month, committed $480 billion in taxpayers' money (another conservative estimate) to bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. That's well over a trillion bucks already, at a minimum. This entire "financial crisis", which was entirely predictable, given the pigs-feeding-at-the-trough mentality prevading Wall Street for the last decade, rests on the shoulders of the Republicans. We've had a Republican president for 8 years, a Republican Congress for 12 of the last 14 years, and the heads of the agencies (SEC, Treasury, Commerce, Federal Reserve) are all rich Republicans, appointed by our Republican president and confirmed by our Republican Congress. These agency heads invariably came from Wall Street (Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury, for example, was chairman of Goldman Sachs, where he earned over $20 million per year) they are wealthy Republicans, and they are implementing Republican policies, intended to protect and enrich their fellow Wall Street brethren. These policies can be simply described as "hands off" or "minimal regulation". This lack of agency oversight is directly responsible for the current alleged crisis, and now you have these same folks trying to stampede the Congress (hurry! hurry! rush! rush!) into coughing up this $700 billion to rescue their Wall Street buddies who caused the problem in the first place. I, for one, do not believe their doomsday predictions ("If we don't get the money immediately the financial markets will collapse and the world will fall into a horrendous depression!"). This is the same crew (Bush and company) who stampeded the nation into the Iraq invasion with lies and fabricated evidence; and now we're supposed to just accept their statements at face value? Obama should be able to easily hang all of this on the Republicans, including John McCain who was, for many years, the Chairman of the Senate Committee where he diligently campaigned deregulation of the financial markets. But, Obama is not making his case very well; he's failing to capitalize, failing to make Republicans own this crisis. What kills me is that a bedrock principle of Republican politics is a staunch commitment to "free markets", an insistence that government should never interfere in the markets and that the market will "self-govern" or "self-correct". They love to proclaim their belief in "free markets" as an excuse to not help common folk. But as soon as Wall Street needed a bailout, Bush and his buddies abandoned their alleged belief in free markets! Suddenly, government is no longer the enemy (as Republicans love to assert); suddenly government money (taxpayers' money) must be used to save the Wall Street fat cats from their own stupidity and greed). A moron could hang this whole thing right on the Republicans' doorstep, right where it belongs, but Obama is doing a very poor job of connecting the dots so that Joe Citizen can understand. I'd love to debate McCain on this issue, to make him wear it like an old coat. (McCain has already publically admitted that he "does not really know much about economics". He just takes his clues from the wealthy Wall Street fat cats who constitute his "economic advisors"). This is an issue (the economy in general) which can win the election for Obama if he plays it right (in the end, all Americans really care about is their money. As Clinton was famously instructed 16 years ago, "It's the economy, stupid"). We'll see if Obama figures out how to exploit it to his advantage (so far I'm unimpressed)...
Ok, Sis, I've vented enough. It's past my bedtime (Nightline just went off) so I'm gonna hit the hay. I'll see you soon!
Light & Love,

Friday, September 19, 2008

September 16, 2008

Dear Sis~
Two more days until my birthday (I've read that, statistically, more people are born in September than any other month) and at the top of my list of things I'm thankful for must be the fact that I'm alive. Being a glass-half-full type of guy, I'm in accord with the old maxim that every day above ground is a good day. Having said that, things continue to deteriorate here in a general sense. Our already terrible food has gotten even worse under the current budget crisis here in Virginia (the governor has told all state agencies to cut their budgets by up to 15%). The portions are tiny and the quality abysmal, mostly cold and starchy. The vegetables and potatoes are consistently rotten and full of sand, the "meat" is all fake ( a soy-based mystery meat which makes you gag) and all the food is served cold 90% of the time. We get these rotten potatoes with every meal, including every breakfast. You already know we get a "bag lunch" (a single bread bun with rotten lunch meat and 2 slices of fake American cheese) and on weekends we only get 2 meals a day (no lunch at all). Now, the latest budget move is that we are no longer issued a bar of state soap each week; we have to pay for our soap now. Traditionally, in all jails and prisons, the state provides soap and toilet paper each week (in some prisons, this extends to toothpaste, paper and envelopes). This is because most prisoners are dirt poor, with little or no money on their books. Now soap is no longer issued (as with most prisons, the soap we were issued were bars of crude, lye-based soap made by prisoners themselves). From now on, unless you have no money on the books you cannot get a bar of state soap, you must buy your soap from the canteen. Those who qualify for a bar of state soap will have a lien placed on their account, so when ever do receive any money, the cost of the state soap will be deducted from their funds. Rumor is that toilet paper will be next, but fortunately so far, that is just a rumor (first they'll have to start selling it in the canteen, something not presently done). I'm not a chronic complainer (I know things could be a lot worse) but things are really bad here now and destined to get worse. And yet, I'm still alive for another B-day, so in the end, it's all good!
Give the doggies a hug for me and give my regards to C.P. (at 90 years old, he's in better shape than many guys 25 years younger).
Love, Bill
P.S. We will be going on quarterly lockdown at the end of the week.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sept 1, 2008

Dear Sis~
I watched the nightly one-hour installments covering the Democratic convention in Denver over the last four nights and it was a well-produced and excellently organized production. From the Democrats' perspective I don't see how it could have gone any better (I still vividly recall sitting in our living room in August 1968 and watching the utter chaos of the Democratic convention in Chicago with the riots and police beatings both inside and out, and how that led to Nixon's election that November). I was impressed with Hillary's speech and performance which only reinforced my view that Obama missed the beat when he didn't select her as his VP. Obama will probably win in November, but with Hillary on his ticket it would be damn near a slum dunk. Having said that, Joe Biden will prove to be a formidable campaigner and an excellent vice president. I've followed Biden's career for decades because he's always sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee (along with Senator Patrick Leahy, a great protector of the constitution) and, given my own legal interests as a long time paralegal, I pay attention to the legal forces and personalities who select and confirm our federal judges and who write our federal statutes. Biden and Obama, once elected, will ensure that real federal judges are appointed to fill the many current vacancies, and begin correcting the tremendous imbalance in the federal judiciary which is currently dominated by extreme right-wing conservative Republicans. More than any other single thing, the rectification of this imbalance is what I look forward to from a Democratic presidency. Of course, given my situation, my interest are more narrow and focused than any other citizens' concerns, though I too welcome the coming of universal healthcare (or some version of it), energy independence and a more ecologically oriented administration (as opposed to the standard Republican policies which evince a near hatred for our planet and the creatures inhabiting it and seemingly relish the plundering of all natural resources). I fully expect an Obama victory in November and with it, a great breath of fresh air.
Love & Peace,

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Answer to Jesse's Comment

I just received your comment on one of my posts in August. Being born and raised in Miami, I'm a life-long Dolphins fan. As for Brett, I'm all for him continuing to play; I just wish he was playing for someone other than the Jets, our AFC East nemisis. The Packers organization was put in a tough position. If they had kept Brett they probably would have lost Aaron Rodgers forever and they were thinking long term, not short term. As it is, everyone is now more or less happy, except diehard Packers fans unable to imagine life after Brett. Life goes on though, and you have to adjust to change; change is the only constant in life. Maybe Rodgers will become the next Brett Favre! -Bill