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How Bushenomics Raped Our Nation

Posted by jeremiasx on January 21, 2008

REPOSTED ENTIRELY FROM ALTERNET

Originally Titled “The Fraud Of Bushenomics: They’re Looting The Country!”

by Larry Beinhart

The New York Times made it official. The Economy is a problem!

So, now, at last we can discuss it.

Not just discuss it, in rapid order “recession” became the word of the day, from White House, Congress, the Fed and the media.

It’s blamed, mostly, on the subprime crisis.

But that’s not the problem. It’s a symptom. It is the logical, and probably one of the necessary results, of Bushenomics.

Along with low, or no, job growth. Little or no business growth. Depressed wages. And the crashing dollar. (The president has a different vision of the economy. In his vision it’s booming! And the number of jobs is growing! Though there is this little blip.)

The idea under which Bushenomics was sold is this:

  • The rich are the investor class.
  • If the rich have more money, they will invest more.
  • Their investments will create more business.
  • Those businesses will create more wealth, thus improving everyone’s lives and making the nation stronger. They will also create new and better jobs.

Whether or not the people who say such things truly believe them, I cannot say. But that’s their pitch, and the media certainly seems to buy it, as do most of the establishment economists.

A more realistic — and less idealistic — view of Bushenomics is that the Bush administration and its cronies came at the economy with the attitude of oilmen.

  • They inherited a vastly wealth country.
  • They looked at it like the oil under the Alaskan wilderness. They craved to pump it out, turn it into cash and grab as much of that cash as possible.

Wherever possible, they literally sold off the assets. This was called privatization. Our biggest asset — in terms of size — is, of course, our defense establishment. With privatization, one dollar out of every three for direct military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan goes to private contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater. So when someone says, “Support the troops!” with budget appropriations, they should really yell, “Two-thirds support to the troops! One third support to Halliburton, et al.!”

This is just an estimate. The degree of privatization is unknown. Presumably, that’s deliberate. Nor does it count the amount of money the military spends with private purveyors to supply the troops and their operations. It is only the amount that goes directly to private contractors.

But for the most part, the assets of the United States, our collective wealth, could not be sold off in such a direct manner.

In order to turn them into cash, what the administration did was borrow against them.

That is, they cut taxes while continuing to spend lavishly, creating debt.

The debt is owed by all of us, the collective people of the United States.

The tax cuts hugely favored rich people. They also favored unearned income (dividends, capital gains, inherited money) as opposed to the kind of money people have to work for. The very richest got richer.

The spending was — to the degree possible — directed to themselves, their friends and their supporters: Big Pharma, the medical industry, insurance, banking and financial, among others. And, of course, Big Oil, from whom they have spent close to a trillion dollars of our money to conquer a big oil field for private exploitation.

Now let’s take a look at some numbers.

The numbers will tell us if their idealistic tale about unleashing the capitalists to create a better world for us all is correct. Or if it’s a fairy story that masks uncaring greed.

The big number is that the economy has grown.

As measured by the GDP it has. From 2001 to 2007 it went up by 35 percent.

GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product. It could more accurately be called Gross Domestic Transactions, because it is the sum of all the financial transactions in the country.

Now let us look at job creation.

In the first six years of the Clinton administration, 13.7 million jobs were created. In the same period, under Bush, only 3.7 million jobs were created. Barely keeping up with population growth, if that. (Source: Fox News)

Now let us look at median income. That’s as opposed to average income (If Bill Gates walks into a bar with 10 people, the average income of everyone in the room goes up by $17,5000,000. But the median income just moves up half a notch, from between the fifth and sixth person, to the sixth person’s income). From 2001 to 2005, median income, for people under 65, went down $2,000.

That’s worth restating. From 2001 to 2005, the income of the average working person declined by $2,000.

Now, let’s look at the value of America’s businesses.

A good rough measure of the market value of America’s best businesses is the stock market. Under Clinton, the Dow Jones went up 324 percent. Wall-to-wall, after the dot.com bubble burst, it more than tripled in value.

Bush arrived in 2001. Since then the Dow Jones is up just 10 percent. Adjusted for inflation, that’s absolutely flat. (It was briefly up 23 percent. It is now below the 10 percent mark, and tumbling down as this is written). Just pain, no gain.

If jobs have not increased, salaries have gone down, and the value of business has not risen, where is that 35 percent growth in the economy?

There is a number called the M3 money supply.

The M1 is basically cash, plus checking and “current” accounts. The M2 adds savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs up to $100,000. The M3 adds in the big CDs, Eurodollar accounts and other large exotics.

Already rising very fast, the M3 took off like a rocket after 2001. The Fed stopped publishing the M3 in 2006 (conspiracy theorists, please note.) But a quick look at the chart of its growth, and assuming its trajectory continued, clearly shows that the M3 grew by something in the range of 35 percent.

The entire growth of the economy under Bushenomics is accounted for by growth in the money supply.

The administration did not directly inflate the economy by 35 percent.

They pumped it by the size of the deficit. The rest happened this way.

When a government is “printing money” (running big deficits), the big fear is inflation.

Particularly in the financial community. Bankers make their money on interest, and inflation eats their profits, point for point.

The administration, very proudly, grew the economy (or at least the amount of money in circulation), without inflation. Which actually is a pretty good trick.

In part, they were able to do so precisely because the policy was a failure.

If it had created business growth — actual business, not just financial business — that would have created jobs. Then there would have been inflationary pressure. Especially if they were good, high paying jobs. If salaries for ordinary people go up, even a little, the total is a big sum because there are so many of us.

But due to free trade, outsourcing, bad economic policy, policies aimed at keeping wages down, and relentless union busting, good jobs were lost, to be replaced with low-wage jobs, when they were replaced at all. The proof is in that median income figure (down $2,000 per worker).

Due to free trade and outsourcing, consumer goods mostly went down too. The exception being in favored industries like pharmaceuticals, insurance and oil.

Finally, and this the key to the next step in the process, the Fed kept interest rates down.

Low interest rates mean that it’s cheap to borrow.

The administration largely believes in supply-side economics (otherwise known as “trickle down,” or “piss on the people.”); if you increase the supply of something, consumers will appear to buy it.

The actual results are a perverse triumph of the idea.

The supply of money was increased. The price of money was kept artificially low.

Think of borrowing as buying money. It is.

People (and businesses and corporations) did rush forward to buy it. Once they had it, what was there to do with it? There was no new trend, no dot.coms, no high techs, no bio techs, no nothing.

So they went out and sold money. That is, they made loans.

There are two big retail loan areas, credit cards and housing loans. Both were pushed very aggressively. With cheap, cheap money available to finance home buying, that market heated up. At the same time, commercial interests started aggressively buying up loans, packaging them together, and reselling them as financial instruments. That created more desire to make more loans (sell money). Financial institutions bought more money (borrowed), in order to sell it at a profit (make loans). Since the loans were quickly resold — and profit taken off the top — the quality of the loans didn’t matter to the people who made them. The housing market — or rather the loans that fueled it — grew into a bubble.

The subprime crisis, the housing bubble, whatever you want to call it, is not the problem.

It’s a symptom of pumping in money with no place to go.

Other symptoms are no job growth, no business growth, no stock market growth, falling median incomes, disappearing pensions and health plans, and the fall of the dollar.

When Bush came into office, a Euro cost 95 cents. Now it costs a $1.50. The Canadian dollar (the Loony) was 70 cents. Now it costs a dollar. Most mainstream economists and pundits will opine that a low dollar is good for American industry, because it will help us sell our goods. That’s only true if we’re producing things that no one else is — or producing them better or cheaper — and we’re not.

Also, many foreign exchange rates are being kept artificially low against the dollar. Some, like many of the oil countries, are pegged to the dollar. They’re making up for it by raising the price of oil (currently traded in dollars). Others, like the Asian manufacturing countries, are keeping their currency down to retain their edge in selling here, thereby canceling whatever advantage we’re supposed to get from declining currency.

One way to think of what the administration has done, is as a leveraged buyout. That’s when someone buys a company, using the company itself as the collateral for the loan used to purchase it, usually at very high interest, then pays off the interest by cutting the work force and salaries, selling outsets and even breaking up the company.

It’s good for the guy who makes the deal, skims the cream off the top and gets rich. (The company that Mitt Romney got rich working for specialized in doing that.) It’s good for the lenders, who get a good return (if the buyer is able to squeeze enough money out of his purchase), but it’s bad for the work force, bad for the company, and, if no one comes along to replace it, bad for the business as a whole.

We’ve experienced a leveraged buyout of the national economy.

Our politicians, the media and economists are just now waking up to the fact that the economy is in trouble.

The current numbers make it clear that we are probably in, or probably headed for, a recession.

Also, the polls show that people are concerned about the economy, and it’s an election year. The people are out ahead of our governing and media and professional economic classes on this, because they live in the real economy, the one that’s been leveraged, and the professionals are either in, or work for, the investor class that has been doing well.

So there is, at last, talk about doing something about the economy.

The Feds will cut interest rates!

George Bush wants a stimulus package. Tax cuts, tax cuts and make my tax cuts permanent! After all, that policy has worked so well. He said the cuts must be at least 1 percent of the GDP. That will be $145 billion.

Harry Reid and Nancy Policy (the King and Queen of Effective Politics) will offer a competing one (tax cuts, tax cuts!). Although they promised pay-as-you-go economic policies from a Democratic legislature.

Pundits in the media talk about a crisis in consumer confidence. And how the fix is to restore it. So we will go out and buy. Presumably on credit.

How about consumers think there’s a problem because there is one. Not because they’re weird emotionally. They reasonably see themselves so overextended, with so little hope of being better earners, that they won’t be able to pay things off. Not even with a one-time government check of somewhere between $300 and $1,200.

In short, most of those solutions will go to making things worse.

The real solutions are pretty obvious and pretty simple.

First, we have to make a choice: Do we want a sound economy for all of us and a strong America? Or do we want to have a few people of unlimited wealth who use that wealth, among other things, to control the government so that it helps them milk more money from the rest of us?

By the way, this is not a call for socialism! Or other ism! Except a call for sensible and effective capitalism. Based on what we’ve seen work and seen fail.

In the real world, there are no such things as free markets.

In the real world, business people manipulate and conspire to control markets, and governments both control and collude with business, while tax policies and government spending have a major affect on the economy.

Let us accept that, and then the argument is only over how best to do it.

Simply giving money to rich people doesn’t work.

Bob Novak, the conservative commentator who calls the investor class “the most creative class,” is flat out wrong. As we’ve seen, outside of their ability to buy influence in politics, the media and the law, the rich are like the rest of us, relatively passive and unimaginative, prone to putting their money in the easiest place that promises a return, in whatever bubble is in fashion at the moment and wherever some salesman who gets their attention tells them.

Money has no mind of its own. It has to be directed toward areas that will generate and support business and good jobs at good wages. As it happens, our economic goals are on the same road as the social good.

The No. 1 target has to be alternative energy.

Energy that can be produced here, in the United States, renewable, nonpolluting, and not, like corn-based ethanol, requiring as much petroleum to produce it as it replaces. One-third of our balance of trade deficit is oil, year in and year out. If the United States can become the world leader in alternative energy and conservation technology, we will, at last, have something to export.

The No. 2 target is infrastructure.

By it’s nature, infrastructure has to be largely produced here with local labor and it stays here.

Hard infrastructure, like roads and bridges, cleaning up New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, protecting our coasts from future storms, internet and phone service as good as Europe’s, Japan’s and Singapore’s.

Soft infrastructure, like education, youth services, parks and recreation programs, public safety, and a saner criminal justice system. The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the incarcerated population. That’s expensive. And wasteful. Unsafe streets and high crime are expensive and wasteful.

Infrastructure makes doing business easier, quicker and cheaper. It becomes an invisible subsidy for all businesses. Try to imagine, for example, Fed Ex, that entrepreneurial triumph, without a national web of airports, flight controllers and roads.

The No. 3 target is health care.

Health care in the United States costs at least 50 percent more than the next-highest spending country and double what it does in most other modernized countries. All of them have better health than we do. They live longer and in better condition.

The difference is that they have national health plans. Mostly single-payer, usually tax-supported. Our plans are based on a hodge-podge of a thousand private insurers.

A single-payer national health plan should cut the costs of our health care by at least 25 percent, possibly 50 percent. That’s an astonishing number. That money could go to more productive things. Or to even more health care.

American businesses who supply health care to their employees claim they are noncompetitive with companies from countries that have national health. This will make them more competitive. This will make American labor more competitive.

The No. 4 four target is a balanced budget.

There are, in fact, times for deficit spending. Just as there are times in our personal lives to borrow and times for business to borrow.

This is probably not one of them.

There is an ocean of money sloshing all around the world, looking for a home. If there are real business opportunities in America (like taking the lead in alternative energy, bio tech, and whatever is next around the corner), it will come.

Especially if there is a sound business environment and dollar investments return to being the most reliable in the world. That means paying down our debt.

How can all this be done?

Raising taxes…on the wealthy. And on corporations. That’s not class warfare. That’s simple practicality.

After your first $20,000, how much of the next 20 do you need, to live, thrive and survive? Damn near all of it. After your first 20 million, now much of the next 20 million do you need? Not a nickel.

The rich will whine, writhe and scream that they won’t do business, they’ll be driven out of business, that business will collapse. Bullshit. If they dislike keeping 20 or 30 or 40 cents of each dollar of profit so much that they won’t take the dollar, someone will come along who gladly will. That’s how markets work.

All of this is pretty straightforward and common sense.

The illogic of Bushenomics is obvious. The results were foreseeable. After all, similar effects took place under Reagan and Bush the Elder, until they reversed courses.

The alternatives are equally obvious. The facts bear out the theory. Go back to Hoover and Roosevelt, then look at the down, up, down, of Bush the Elder, Bill Clinton, and Bush the Lesser. (We do note that there are minor industries dedicated to proving that Franklin Roosevelt was, in the words of CNN’s Glenn Beck, “an evil son of a bitch,” that the New Deal really, really, really didn’t work, and that Bush the Elder was really, really, really responsible for the boom of the Clinton years and that Clinton was responsible for the first recession during the reign of Bush the Lesser. But they are like people who see the image of the Virgin Mary in bread sticks and crullers.)

None of our politicians, pundits or economists are addressing the fundamentals.

The last time we switched from the nonsense of worshiping unmitigated greed, disguised as free marketeering, it took a market crash and the Great Depression to move us out of our public relations-manufactured delusions and make us understand that when we all do well the rich get richer too, so let’s start with the common good.

Based on the dialogue as it stands now, we will go with tinkering and twaddle, doing more of what doesn’t work. And only if the whole things collapses will we address the real problems.

Larry Beinhart is the author of “Wag the Dog,” “The Librarian,” and “Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin.” All available at nationbooks.org.

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Posted in Activism, America, Arkansas, Censorship, Cheney, Civil Rights, Conspiracy, Democrats, Dissent, Economy, Education, Federal Reserve, Finance, Freedom, Freemasons, George Bush, GOP, Impeachment, Investing, Journalism, Law, Law Enforcement, Liberty, Life, Media, Money, News, Newton County, Opinion, Patriotism, Politics, Poverty, Prophecy, Protest, Religion, Republicans, Resistance, Revelations, Revolution, Ron Paul, Society, Stock Market, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Wall Street, WTC | 4 Comments »

Financial Armageddon (Pic)

Posted by jeremiasx on January 21, 2008

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Posted in Comedy, Dissent, Economy, Education, Federal Reserve, Finance, Freemasons, Funny, George Bush, Investing, Journalism, Life, Money, New York, News, Opinion, Prophecy, Society, Stock Market, Uncategorized, Wall Street | 1 Comment »

GAO Comptroller David Walker Warns Of Financial Crisis

Posted by jeremiasx on January 12, 2008

This guy has been running through the streets ringing alarm bells for YEARS now…not that Bush would have anyone know that or dwell too much on it in the past.  

Via BlackListedNews

Posted in Activism, America, Bizarre, Censorship, Conspiracy, Democracy, Democrats, Dissent, Economy, Education, Federal Reserve, Finance, Freedom, Freemasons, George Bush, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Impeachment, Investing, Journalism, Life, Media, Money, News, Opinion, Politics, Poverty, Prophecy, Random, Republicans, Resistance, Revelations, Revolution, Ron Paul, Society, Stock Market, Uncategorized, Wall Street | 1 Comment »

Faux News W/Frank Luntz FRAUD EXPOSED (Video)

Posted by jeremiasx on January 7, 2008

I found this over on Digg posted by “VoteRonPaul” a bit ago…they (FOX NEWS) are SO BUSTED. Watch it! Sorry for all the tags…but hey…I want maximum exposure and PLEASE REPOST this FAR AND WIDE. OH YEA, DROP FOX NEWS FROM YOUR CABLE SERVICE…it’s time they pay for this masquerade as a “fair and balanced” news program. I hear their stock is dropping anyhow. Might as well throw some well-deserved salt on an open wound while we’re at it, right?

Posted in 9/11 Truth, Activism, Al Qaeda, America, Ann Coulter, Arkansas, Bill O'Reilly, Bizarre, Brit Hume, Censorship, Cheney, CIA, Civil Rights, Comedy, Conspiracy, Conspiracy Theories, Democracy, Dissent, Economy, Education, Energy, Environment, Federal Reserve, Finance, FISA, Florida, Football, Fox News, Freedom, Freemasons, Funny, George Bush, Global Warming, GOP, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Human Rights, Immigration, Impeachment, Investing, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Journalism, Justice, Karl Rove, Law, Law Enforcement, Liberty, Life, Masons, Media, Medicine, Military, Money, Music, Myanmar, MySpace, NAACP, New Hampshire, New York, News, Newton County, NSA Wiretapping Scandal, NYC, Opinion, Pakistan, Patriotism, Peace, Politics, Poverty, Prophecy, Protest, Psychology, Race, Rainbow Family, Random, REAL ID, Religion, Republicans, Resistance, Revelations, Revolution, Ron Paul, Science, Society, Sports, Stock Market, Technology, Television, Terrorism, Turkey, TV, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Unexplained, US Attorneys, US Attorneys Scandal, Wall Street, War, War on Drugs, War on Terror, Weird, WTC | 2 Comments »

Burnin Down Teh House…

Posted by jeremiasx on December 27, 2007

Two thumbs up for creativity and timeliness.

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HOUSTON (Reuters) – A home where President George W. Bush lived as a young boy with his parents in Odessa, Texas, and that is now part of a presidential museum there was damaged on Thursday by a fire that investigators blamed on arson.

“I can tell you it has been determined that it was intentionally set, but I cannot discuss anything about evidence or possible suspects because this is an ongoing criminal investigation,” said city of Odessa spokeswoman Andrea Goodson.

Museum administrator Lettie England said no motive for the blaze had been determined and there was no reason at this point to believe it was a political act. She said there were no notes or messages left at the scene. (authors note: I believe the act speaks for itself…lolz…)

England said in a telephone interview from the west Texas city that the arsonist spread some kind of flammable liquid on the door and front windows and set the fire.

The then 2-year-old Bush lived in the two-bedroom home from September 1948 to April 1949 with his father, former President George Bush, then a trainee for an oil company, and his mother, Barbara Bush.

The Bushes had come to Texas from the Northeastern United States after World War Two to get into the oil business.

Goodson said the front door and windows and the attic were badly damaged.

Posted in Activism, Bizarre, Cheney, Civil Rights, Comedy, Democracy, Democrats, Dissent, Education, Federal Reserve, Freedom, Freemasons, Funny, George Bush, GOP, Impeachment, Investing, Law, Law Enforcement, Liberty, Life, Media, Music, Opinion, Patriotism, Peace, Politics, Prophecy, Protest, Random, Republicans, Resistance, Revelations, Revolution, Ron Paul, Society, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Unexplained, Weird | 1 Comment »

Wall Street Pic De Jour

Posted by jeremiasx on October 22, 2007

So…what’s in YOUR 401K?

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Posted in Activism, America, Arkansas, Comedy, Conspiracy, Democrats, Dissent, Economy, Education, Federal Reserve, Finance, Freedom, Freemasons, Funny, George Bush, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Impeachment, Investing, Journalism, Life, Media, Money, News, Politics, Poverty, Prophecy, Protest, Random, Resistance, Revelations, Revolution, Stock Market, Technology, Tyranny, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Political Football Review: CBL vs. Empire State

Posted by jeremiasx on October 1, 2007

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In a quick wrap…I caught the last few minutes of the game, and I haven’t watched football since the Dallas Cowboys were America’s team…but I was bored and eating pizza and had a few home brews earlier…so it seemed appropriate.

Here it is, in a nutshell.

The EAGLES quarterback went over the line, though only a little most folks might say…but over nonetheless. The touchdown that could have signaled a glimmer of hope was taken off the board…but there was one more crucial down for the team, but Justice failed them by an illegal move while trying to block for the quarterback…and the Empire State was basically able to run down the clock on the City of Brotherly Love…

Oh well…I’m bored with football again…and a shame. I used to LOVE to play…my team in high school went the farthest our town ever has in over 30 years all the way to the “big game” – at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. 

Posted in 9/11, 9/11 Truth, Activism, Al Qaeda, America, Amnesty, Antichrist, Arkansas, Astrology, Bizarre, Censorship, CIA, Civil Rights, Comedy, Conspiracy, Conspiracy Theories, Dissent, Eagles, Ed Brown, Education, Environment, Federal Reserve, Finance, FISA, Florida, Football, Fox News, Freedom, Freemasons, George Bush, Giants, Global Warming, GOP, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Hillbilly, Hitchhiking To DC, Homeless, Human Rights, Impeachment, Investing, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Journalism, Justice, Karl Rove, Law, Law Enforcement, Liberty, Life, Masons, Media, Medicine, Military, Money, NAACP, New York, News, Newton County, NYC, Opinion, Patriotism, Peace, Pennsylvania, Poetry, Politics, Poverty, Prophecy, Protest, Rainbow Family, Random, REAL ID, Religion, Republicans, Resistance, Revelations, Revolution, Ron Paul, Society, Sports, Stock Market, Technology, Television, Terrorism, TV, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Unexplained, US Attorneys, US Attorneys Scandal, US Forestry Service, Wall Street, War, War on Drugs, Weird, WTC | Leave a Comment »

Skinning Roadkill In The Bush Economy…

Posted by jeremiasx on September 29, 2007

But not just for fun…one has to be willing to do whatever is necessary in this Bush economy. This fawn got creamed down the road from my house this morning and I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity…it was a tough road to hoe getting the meat off this little sucker though after it’s guts were sloshed during the accident. Messy. Whatever it takes though, brothers.

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Posted in Activism, America, Arkansas, Bizarre, Civil Rights, Comedy, Democrats, Dissent, Economy, Ed Brown, Education, Finance, Freedom, Freemasons, George Bush, Hillbilly, Hunting, Impeachment, Investing, Journalism, Liberty, Life, Media, Money, Newton County, Opinion, Outdoors, Patriotism, Politics, Poverty, Rainbow Family, Recreation, Resistance, Revolution, Society, Tyranny, Uncategorized, US Forestry Service, Weird | 2 Comments »

Jeremias X Goes To Washington (Part 3)

Posted by jeremiasx on September 28, 2007

My fourth day began in the pre-dawn hours on a park bench in front of the church that George Bush attends about once a month, from most local accounts. It wasn’t the coziest sleeping place in the world, but it certainly allowed me some time to close my eyes and reflect upon my time walking in front of the White House.

I wouldn’t call what I did on that 4-foot bench technically “sleeping.” I’d say it’s about the same type of sleep one usually gets in a forward fighting position or perhaps a deer stand on a blustery fall morning, troubled and uncomfortable. Any type of bed would be preferable, but I reminded myself that many people (including the six men there besides myself…I assumed from their level of familiarity with this courtyard and each other) well…they sleep outdoors MOST nights. I caught a wink or two. I needed it.

Giving in to the beckoning of the golden arches, I slipped into Mickey D’s (on New York and 12th?) to change my underwear, clean my face and hands, and enjoy a little greasy city slicker breakfast food. It sure wasn’t breakfast in bed with my lovely wife, no bacon and eggs with homemade biscuits and jelly to speak of. One makes do with what’s available at the time, though, I suppose…I made the most of the free refills in my small drink cup thankful for the Powerade on tap to get me hydrated for the coming day.

The majority of this day was spent exploring the DC midtown, speaking with locals and travelers, and handling my personal hygiene and dirty laundry…I had a little help in these noble but mundane endeavors. After stopping in at this place for directions and at the local valley for a refreshing shower and very pleasant chat with the secretary and steward…

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…I felt refreshed and even human again…and then left those magnificent places and I traveled further West into the Latino neighborhood not too far away to do my laundry at a local lavenderia…the locals who had been maintaining the temple grounds were happy to walk me halfway there. Muchas Gracias, Muchachos!

They pointed me to a really nice little joint that had clean machines in good repair, and an owner who I believe was an African Muslim because when I put on a clean T-shirt that had Farsi on it, he seemed quite thrilled and beamed a smile at me…he checked on me several times to make sure my experience in his establishment was a great one. I love it when people run a business with pride. This man had it in spades. Unfortunately, he had to point out to me after I spent more than one quarter drying my socks that I had it set on “fluff.” Oops.

I strapped my sign to my backpack again (I had to take it on and off any time I needed anything out, but fortunately I’m not that finicky with my gear) and walked back to the White House through an Arabic neighborhood, and I think most people there all were quite receptive to “the message.” Smiles and good-natured nods abounded.

I finally made it back to the White House north lawn and joined my new friends and sisters Patricia and Laurie (who gave me the two excellent black t-shirts you’ll see me wearing in various photos here, check out some of her fine work here) in a small ad hoc protest and show of solidarity between ourselves and another man who drove the magic bus all the way from San Fransisco for the march. We were all excited about it and hoped for a good turnout.

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Patricia is a professional photographer and I’m going to go ahead and use this wonderful photo she took that afternoon in this very blog, with full acknowledgment and humble gratitude, and I’d suggest that each and every one of you check out her other art at her website.

After a few hours of enjoying smiles (mostly) and occasional mindless rhetoric (VERY rarely…maybe once or twice over a period of several hours and several hundred visitors) from O’Reilly-Rush-Hannity automatons we were pretty Bushed for the afternoon. Even though the chickenhawks proliferate on the internet they seem a bit sparse in reality. They also seemed to be hesitant to talk their typical loud-mouth bullshit in person.

Most NORMAL folks seemed just fine with us being there and asked us questions and we were happy to oblige them to photo sessions (especially the Japanese…ALL of them were happy to see our protest…or at least seemed to be…they were stereotypically wonderful shooting rounds and rounds of memento photos posing there with us, smiling, and throwing peace signs to us and each other.)
Patricia and I headed to a WONDERFUL little Italian restaurant where she most kindly treated me to pizza and salad. We had a deep and meaningful exchange of ideas and I think her dedication to her pet cause (avoiding war with Iran) is inspiring at the very least.

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She will be seen at first by many passersby as a distinguished looking lady in a motorized wheelchair, but her level of integrity, truthfulness, and the beauty of her spirit elevated her in my mind…head and shoulders above the walking while slumbering public. She loaned me her poncho for the evening as it looked like it might rain and offered to charge my camera batteries at her hotel room so I’d have a fresh set for the protest.

I returned once more to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and I found myself wondering more and more about the little white tent across the street with the signs and placards to each side. I’d passed by it more than once and had even been admonished by Start Loving to drop in there, but the man named Thomas had not been around during the first few days I was in town. I’d see his wife, Concepcion, and another man whose name I learned was Troy…but no Thomas, and that’s the man I was sent to talk to.

I decided to overcome my initial shyness and walked on over to check out and see what they were about. My curiosity got the best of me, and I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole.

A man sitting cross-legged and quiet as a monk caught in the midst of a moment of deep reflection sat there stroking a long and braided goatee (sp?) and being very neutral about his entire presence in such an austere location. This was, after all, 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue, the hottest piece of real estate in all of DC. (The sidewalk directly across the street from the White House, front and center.)

I asked him his name and introduced myself to him, and we proceeded from there to have one of the longest and most unusual conversations I’ve had in quite some time. It was the kind of conversation that I had hoped for the entire time I’d been in DC. I learned much during those hours. I’d learn so much more in the day to come.

At the end of the evening I was searching desperately for a payphone, as the ones in Lafayette Square are all disconnected. I guess they don’t want folks gabbing on the phone that close to the White House…maybe they think it’s tacky or something. Anyhow. I had to walk several blocks in the rain first to find a bathroom (it’s pretty tough living on the street, don’t ever fool yourself on this one…ever) and then to find that phone to call home and let the wife know everything was fine.

I literally checked a dozen donnikers (port-a-johns) and found no trace of toilet paper. I had left my pack at 1601 with Troy. I had nothing. I was desperate. I finally found a late-night Vietnamese joint and walked inside wondering what the toll would be. I quickly saw my opportunity in the drink case (can sodas with your noodles!) and bartered with the purchase of a V8 (about one federal reserve note) to gain admission into the mens’ room. All was well.

Upon returning to Lafayette’s square, I picked up my pack and walked over to the stage being set up for the ANSWER coalition event the next day, and I introduced myself to some young and seemingly nervous young folks who would be camping out on the stage…seemed like a groovy spot to me but their level of security was such that I couldn’t chill with them there.

I felt a bit sad as I was hoping to lend a hand and do some interviews in the process but I understood why they had fear…it was after dark…and most folks are shot through with it *fear* these days and who can blame them with the state of the world? Between the general uncertainties of life, the quiet and sometimes desperate struggle with the meaning of our own existence and trying to find our place in the universe and the rotten or nasty people and institutions in divers places…it *the world* certainly helps to perpetuate the phantasmal (mind) killer. *inhales sharply and exhales…run-on sentence*

I finally settled on a park bench in the farthest northwest corner. I tarried there for some time and was pleased to meet a few deaf students from the local school (Gaullatin) who were chilling there and having a few drinks whilst getting stoked to the gills about the march and rally to be held in this very place twelve hours later. For many of those gathered, including the organizers, aides, workers, and security it was their first major demonstration. I thought that was great. It was my first as well, and I just knew it would be fantastic.

Eventually the hours dwindled on and after wearing out my thumbs on these kids’ blackberry discussing patriotism, family issues, and life in general…a couple more young folks showed up with a man wearing a Che Gueverra shirt. Could be DC undercover, could be cool folks…but the Che shirt wasn’t really much of a shocker considering the event coming up. I put my “Papa Bear” Bill O’Reilly brainwashing aside for a moment, and I tried to make the angels of Ann Coulter and Anne Malkin on my shoulders be silent and to still my beating capitalist red-state redneck heart…and I met some of the coolest folks on my trip yet.

The man and his two sons were Puerto Rican (Americans) and fine exemplars of some of the finest and most refined lessons in humility, honor, duty, and charity that I encountered in my journey. To quote Pantera…”Is there no standard anymore?” The youngest son was mostly into video games and MMOs (like my misses) and it turned out the older brother supposedly has a forum staffed by those who are haters of his character in WoW…lolz…anyhow he is also a Staff Sergeant in the US Army…and his job is to bring the soldiers home from the war. The soldiers that J.P. brings home don’t get to be with their families any more in this world…he drives them in a horse-drawn carriage through Arlington cemetery to rest with the other unsung, mostly forgotten, and (to Bush and Cheney) seemingly disposable heroes…of this current travesty in the Middle East being waged under the banner of mealy-mouthed and Mickey Mouse imperialism that has produced the one positive effect of being a lesson in worst-case foreign policy and practices. Then there are those who pay in anguish every day.

jasonhicksarlingtonphoto.jpg

Upon learning of my personal circumstances, they offered to allow me to share their dwelling and told me they’d take me out for breakfast at a swell joint down by Arlington. I was able to update some folks on the net and I must admit that J.P.’s setup is the uberbomb for gaming with a large flat screen for maximum optical enjoyment. I remember the cool toys I bought in the service. I still buy one every year or so now. I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a minimalist these days.

I slept like a baby on that hide-a-bed…and dreamed of freedom and justice.

***-end part 3 part 4 coming soon – check back and check my other posts. My archives are extensive and at your disposal. Education is freedom. Feel free to email me.

Part 1 Part 2 Photo Essay

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Jeremias X Goes To Washington (Part 2)

Posted by jeremiasx on September 24, 2007

My ride with the trucker named Dennis got me all the way to Rock Point, Maryland. After quickly ascertaining that trying to move about in the DC metro area by the thumb was a ludicrous and insanely futile prospect, I decided to check out the public transit system. The bus pulled into a large mall parking deck and I ran across the parking lot to catch it, pausing along the way to note a young Chinese kid on a double-length skateboard with in-line wheels…transportation evolves in some venues quicker than others.

I was delighted to find that my trip over to the rail station would cost under a dollar, and then further surprised to find that I could take the subway into the heart of DC for less than two bucks. The subway station was clean and so were the cars themselves, a far cry from the sinister zombie express that one sees in the horror flicks. I enjoyed the ride, which only took about fifteen minutes. I bet anyone driving would have taken an hour or more in serious traffic. Public transportation FTW.

I noticed upon disembarking at the Metro Center Station in DC proper that the entire station was plastered with a recurring theme of picture-ads…on the walls, the sides of the rails around the escalators, everywhere (even in the mens’ room I’m sure, though I was a little nervous of running into a Larry Craig or someone of their ilk in a public DC restroom upon first arrival.) Just kidding. A little.

The theme of the ads was surprisingly not for any corporate slogan for cola or some new wonder drug for the masses…well not exactly. The ads were for a group promoting the idea of universal health care access. The most noble campaign effort I’d seen in quite a while, especially on such a large scale.

I stepped out onto the DC sidewalk and was immediately struck by the prevalence of homeless people. Not just the obvious ones laid out with all their gear on park benches, but the much less obvious dirty and shady characters hanging in the shadows of the rail station entryway bumming cigarettes and change, the silent and sick ones who huddled in the alleyways cursing God and themselves, and the youngsters who still had the knack to hustle a buck and wear designer clothes that were impressive even if days unwashed.

I was able to head straight towards Capital Hill on the advice of the subway entry attendant, the public information officer or whatever…nice fellow. I paused at various places of interest for short periods to rest my blistered feet, drink water from the public fountains (which are abundant in DC) or even take pictures of things I thought were interesting, such as the blocked up entrance to the Department of Justice…no access there for sure these days.

By the time I reached Capital Hill my feet were really worn out, though I felt a new sense of purpose as I paused to remark with fellow tourists and travelers about the dismal state of the nation. I guess liberals hang out at the Capital reflecting pool like they supposedly do in the media…or whatever.

I caught a couple free t-shirts and made a new friend before I ever went up the steps. I made positive remarks on her “Arrest Bush” t-shirt and she asked me if I wanted one…I said sure, but I have no money for a donation because I hitchhiked up here and have limited funds which weren’t really set for buying souvenirs. She insisted I take two shirts nonetheless and affirmed her faith that others would give more to make up the difference. The second shirt has the motto “We Will Not Be Silent” in Farsi with English underneath, and is a message that alludes to the White Rose Society in the Nazi German era in which many Jews were speaking out against their perception that their race was being singled out for persecution unjustly. It alludes to a point in time when something could have still been done easily to avoid the rise of the powerful Nazi state that crushed this type of dissent in concentration camps with the silent murders of millions, once things had progressed to that point. The seeds of democracy and the seeds of tyranny are long planted in the heart of every state…

I was told to stop and visit with “Start Loving” at the Cannon Office Building, and I made my way over there under the watchful eyes of what seemed to by fifty or more Capital Police armed with everything from the walkie-talkie to fearsome looking riot-action shotguns…I bellowed out a happy Arkansas “howdy” to many of them and received an interesting variety of responses…which was typical of my entire visit, really.

Upon arriving at the Cannon Office Building, I encountered a sight that made my heart merry and sad at the same time. A man with three crosses tattooed across his forehead wearing placards saying “Don’t Bomb Iran” and “Hunger Strike”…

I sat down next to him and we had a wonderful conversation about the prospects of peace and the idea of self-denial as a means of focus in the quest for self-actualization and attainment of a higher understanding of spiritual purity. It was apparent to me even after a few minutes that this man was operating on a much higher level of faith than I, and I had thought myself to on solid ground as it were already. For instance, the three crosses on his forehead comprise what he understands to be the name of God…love…the middle cross says “Start Loving” and he has adopted that as his name of preference. He will factor into the story again later. I sat there and shared my experiences with the world and we laughed and wept together for some time. On one note we did have occasion to disagree…I told him of my plans to talk to the people there in DC and around the country, and he admonished that I temper my righteous anger with peace and love. I reminded him that in one of my favorite New Testament stories, Jesus sat down on the temple steps and braided a whip to drive out the money changers and those who defiled the place and works of God. We acknowledged that the Divine does work it’s wonders in manners both creative and destructive. We parted agreeing in solidarity that peace was the best cause worth pursuing as an extension of love, which is God. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers can dwell in peace.”

I ascended the steps to the House and Senate offices there by the Capital with a feeling of surety that something was amiss in DC…and I found out quickly what it was. The policymakers, the Congressmen and Congresswomen…were not “in the office.” They had taken an early break and were all conveniently “away from their desks.” I stopped by office after office of the people I came to talk to…and was turned away each time with the same story of the “holiday to evade protests and activists” which I assumed by the end of the day had to have been declared in some secret midnight session.

I left them all notes. On their own stationary…that way they would know I had been there in person. I told them how disappointed I was to have come all that way and not had the opportunity to tell them to their faces all the ways in which I believe they have absolutely dropped the ball with the American governmental process. It’s a sad joke, the state of things in our government right now, in case you already DIDN’T KNOW.

My note at Harry Reid’s office was probably the most scathing. It went something like, “The rumors had it that you had a spine…I guess that’s the way of rumors.” I signed them all and I expect responses…I’m not an anonymous loonie who just goes around writing cryptic messages for Congressmen to baffle themselves over for hours. My message was clear. The people do not want this war. It’s time to leave the Middle East. It’s time to hold Bush and Cheney accountable, and on that one everyone needs to stop passing the buck. It’s time to do your jobs, Congress…any day now would be fine. The people demand representation and are NOT GETTING IT.

I trekked the other way down Pennsylvania Avenue to what I discovered to be the “backside” (The South Side) of the White House. On my way I found a new way to circumvent the poster ban…I strapped my poster advertising the march on 9/15 to the back of my pack. Most folks stopped to see what it said…I hope some of the same showed up due to my getting the word out the only way I could. Turns out there were also thousands of handbills passed out by dedicated members of the ANSWER coalition and the Iraq Vets Against The War…everybody does what they can, I guess.

Anyhow, the poster advertising the march comes into play on the south side of the White House…I took off my pack and sat down cross-legged to hang out and smoke a cigarette right front and center where everyone congregates to take pictures and enjoy the view of the South Lawn…I was immediately accosted by a Capital Police officer, whose name I didn’t write down unfortunately, who TOLD me to immediately produce identification. I told him I would be happy to give him my name, address, and date of birth…but that I knew of no law requiring me to either carry or produce state-issued identification upon the mere routine request of a law enforcement officer. He told me that in DC there WAS a law on the books that said I had to. I complied but as I handed him my ID I told him that if that were truly the case, the Founding Fathers would have even more to be ashamed of that evening as they rolled in their graves. I don’t think he liked that.

He came back over and tried to play a little verbal volleyball with me, and after a few minutes of getting his ass handed to him by a weirdo with a sign on his backpack he finally conceded that I had the right to sit there on my ass and smoke cigarettes as long as I so desired. I reported his attempt to enforce a statute I’d never heard of (and probably doesn’t exist) to the Captain of his White House detail during the Code Pink protest, a man who I came to admire for his seeming virtue and dedication to his job. He was also the most knowledgeable and intelligent of the DC cops I encountered, and conceded that I had a point about the guy hassling me for ID behind the White House without any probably cause or even suspicion, and that he would “look into that for me.” An AP reporter snapped a shot of our conversation, which he might have interpreted to be a heated political debate, but the reality was that we were trying to talk over the airhorns and drums of the Code Pink protest happening immediately behind me.

The Code Pink ladies amuse and impress me equally. They have such a keen sense of humor and political irony, and such a way of expressing themselves publicly with confidence and solidarity of values. I was happy to meet many of these ladies who were invariably kind, considerate, and thoughtful to the extreme. I was proud to have been present to witness a far more humble act than my own when two 23-year old kids who walked 4,000 miles from San Francisco (walked, not hitchhiked) sat down on the sidewalk and were peacefully arrested in an act of civil disobedience to protest the war and protest for impeachment to be put back on the table.

After Code Pink vacated the sidewalk the DC police took down the police lines and reverted to the typical regulations regarding protests there, which include the stipulation that there be no static protest between the two light poles in the center of the sidewalk in front of the north side of the White House, the side most of us see in the movies with the lights and the fountain out front…anyhow, between the poles one must keep moving, and I thought it to be an odd and absurd regulation…so I protested it.

I walked in circles talking to the DC police, Secret Service, and closed circuit TV cameras until about 4:30 in the morning that first night. I had long and interesting conversations with the authorities, the passersby, and even a guy claiming to be a TV reporter from Virginia.

The conversations I had with the law enforcement officers were the most rewarding. I pointed out how ludicrous it was that I was walking in circles in front of the White House in the wee hours of the morning, and how equally ridiculous that our tax dollars were paying them in double capacity to make sure I kept moving to enforce the statute. Some were stoic and tried to ignore my rant, but I would hook them in with an impromptu game of hopscotch or even doing the Michael Jackson “moonwalk” at one point…I know he grinned on that one but I bet he’d never admit it to this day. I wasn’t surprised that with hours of helpful instruction, lessons in recent and ancient history, and kind reminders of the virtue of truth and integrity…many of these gentlemen conceded I was the sanest person they’d ever seen walk in circles in front of the White House until the wee hours of the morning.

I talked with a couple of old Jewish ladies who were vehemently pro-Bush (imagine that) and they both walked away in disgust after I managed to counter every single point they made. (It’s easy to defend peace. It’s hard to defend war.) Many more came up to me and shook my hand and walked with me as we discussed everything from health care to gun control…to the mysteries of 9/11 and the continuous proliferation of the tools of destruction unabated across the face of the planet for profit.
I eventually wore my feet down to nothing but pulsating, blistered stubs and had to call off my all-night vigil in favor of some much needed rest. I chose (by accident?) the church two blocks from the White House where I AM TOLD President Bush himself attends about once a month, with great fanfare and motorcades and advance teams in front of the procession sweeping the homeless from the area with neat and quiet ease.

The night in question was not a night for Bush to come to the garden to pray, apparently, and there were half a dozen homeless men and myself sharing the park benches out front. Those park benches are not meant for sleeping, by the way. They are about four foot long. My feet were on the ground and my pack was on my chest in my tight grasp as I nodded in and out of consciousness, aware of the stares from both the homeless “regulars” and the pedestrians of the early morning hours in DC.

I am a stranger in a strange land, and always have been. More to come.

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