Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
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"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-changes … aqua dog …


Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-changes … it’s day 154 of the Obama Presidency, the presidency of “change we can believe in” and Knucksline feels it’s time to take a look-see at what’s changed so far:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … surely we remember this stuff; the one we got into at the “wrong time for the wrong reason” … and the other we got into because of the Taliban (or maybe it was Bin Laden) … I do remember this being a fairly big issue during the presidential campaign season and perhaps the economy took center stage after Wall Street decided extortion was the way to go … but we’re still in both Iraq and Afghanistan—supposedly easing off in one so we can ratchet it up in the other.

We’re not sure if it’s change or not, but the media doesn’t seem to take notice anymore.

Health insurance … there was a big to do about this issue as well during the presidential campaigns and although single-payer seemed to be the best policy (worldwide), we’re now learning that the new President isn’t getting much done on this front either. His party had proponents of single-payer health insurance arrested at a Congressional hearing (where those doing the “debating” were all representatives of the health industry). There was even some talk about health providers being willing to help tackle the problems of health costs but that talk seems to have faded away; or maybe the Dems on the hill have started to focus on mid-term elections (after just 154 days of a new administration) and have decided that providers are the ones to appease once again.

Yes we can?

Loan availability … well, now that they have all the loot they lost (thanks to a pair of Presidents and a Congress so willing to give our money away), I guess the banks just don’t see the point in making some of it available after all. Another “deal” gone bust, it looks like to Knucksline (although banks like Goldman Sachs have certainly seen fit to reward themselves with record bonuses and salary increases over in the UK and banks across the board here in the US aren’t hedging on managerial salaries in the banking industry either). The Secretary of the Treasury is so confident things are back to normal he DEREGULATED executive compensation for BAILED OUT banks. Yep, remember all the hoopla about CEO’s walking away with $20 million in golden parachute compensation or having multi-million dollar salaries while they bankrupted the system? Well, now that the angst over that issue is long forgotten (probably because most of us are too busy trying to survive and others of us are too brain dead watching reality television), the big boys have their toys back and nobody in government seems to want to OVERSEE anything ALL OVER AGAIN. Aren’t the Dems in the majority (still)? Is the President a Dem? Aren’t the Dems the party of the little guy?

Maybe it’s just us at Knucksline, but we’re not seeing the “little guy” being taken care of in any of this so far. In fact, we’re still trying to figure out if the Republican Party (supposedly the only one that represents Big Business) ever left the building.

Unemployment … well, that continues to skyrocket … double digits in California and a few other states … knowing those banking managerial salaries are also skyrocketing and remain DEREGULATED must make those unemployed feel better (especially those living in tent cities in CA).

401K penalties … one of Knucksline’s big beefs with the lack of protection this government provided to its taxpayers (the ones paying for their mess), has to do with the inability of taxpayers (after suffering huge losses on their retirements funds) to access their 401K’s and the like—what might’ve been left of them) without having to pay penalties. You would think the government, in its frenzy to give away so much of our money, would permit us to either take or borrow what is still ours without penalty AT LEAST until the banks, et al, PAID BACK THE MONEY THEY JUST BORROWED FROM US. Perhaps it would’ve required Congress actually read the proposed legislation before they gave our money away … or maybe putting it to a nationwide referendum would’ve helped OUR (the taxpayers) cause. But some didn’t bother to read the legislation and some just didn’t care and now the banks have our money and won’t lend it back (how absurd is that?) and … we get taxed for borrowing our own 401K money (whatever is left from what they already lost), except should you have already done that (borrow your own money) and then were laid off, they want the money returned IMMEDIATELY.

You can’t make this stuff up.

The other things that drove us at Knucksline a little bat-shit has to do with lending our money to companies that then lay us off … and/or outsource our jobs. We didn’t understand that. We still don’t. And as far as the UAW getting 55% of a failed company, well, that’s sort of like being sold a heating pad in the desert.

Then there’s the wiretapping issue … gay rights … and so on … and we still don’t see much of a change (if any) on those fronts either.

So, Knucksline asks, what has changed?

Well, for one thing, the new President is better looking, much more articulate and intentionally funnier than the last president (we doubt anyone will ever be unintentionally as funny as George W. Bush). And Obama sure knows how to woo the media by inviting them to the White House for chit-chats.

As far as the “little guy” goes, we don’t see much of a change in anything but the insanity of the political blogs … on the (so-called) left, we have die hard Democrats still vilifying the Republicans and patting themselves on the back for finally winning the White House. Some of the blogs actually find fault with those pointing out Obama's flaws (or flaws in his policy) because they seem "gleeful" about it. Good to know they have their priorities straight, I guess, but it sure does seem as though Obama's charismatic appeal has hypnotized some of his constituents beyond reproaching (him). And then there are the blogs that continue to attack the former Ms. California (the same week the Dems back down on health care).

And over on the right, blogs call Obama a radical.

A Radical? Are they smoking something illegal? Obama a radical? If anything, he's playing radically to the middle you ask us at Knucksline. Obama a socialist? Me thinks if the generalissimo took the keys to this car, the right might leap off a cliff. If there has been welfare (and/or socialism) it has been to the benefit of big business ONLY. Both sides attacking each other so absurdly leave us with the status quo ... whatever screw up administration happens to be driving the car at any given time. Right now it's the Dems, but based on their voting and legislation thus far, it might as well be the Reps.

Until today, I really believed the Republican party was finished; dead in the water and as irrelevant as home run statistics from the steroid era. Today I changed my mind. If there is one thing the Democratic party has proved to me over the last 20+ years or so (that it actually CAN accomplish), it is to ruin it for itself. If they haven't been voting like Republicans since 2006 (when they first took control of Congress), I’m not sure what they’ve been doing. So far Change We Can Believe In is looking an awful lot like the same old same old. Wall Street has already begun to reward itself while unemployment seeks new monthly historic levels. As good a trap as Ellen Degeneres had set for John McCain on her show when she asked him why he didn’t view gays like everybody else (she didn’t bother asking Obama the very same question, to which she would’ve received the very same answer), Wall Street seems to have set a better one through the Democratic Party (i.e., “Hey, you guys go tell them there's another depression around the corner unless we get our loot back and we’ll start lending again so you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.”)

Now, Knucksline isn’t insane (well, some on staff here aren’t) and we know why a guy like Ralph Nader isn’t permitted on Presidential debate stages—from fear what he has to say might actually provoke CHANGE), but we’re just not willing to let those in power (at any given time) off the hook quite as easily as our national media (or those whacky so-called left wing blogs). To that end, every once in a while, we’ll bore you with a Keith (how I can't stand that carnival barker) Olbermann-like update (counting the days) of the Obama Change We Can Believe In presidency.

The way we understood it, Obama was going to Washington to change it. So far, we think Washington has changed him. If that was the change we could believe in, it worked.

It’s a damn shame, but it worked.

Aqua Dog … the Principessa Ann Marie and his whaleness were sipping beers in our mini-sauna Saturday night when all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, Rigoletto became aqua dog and dove head first into the bubbles … the boss had a near heart attack and quickly grabbed him as his snout broke the water line and I couldn’t stop laughing.

It does a man proud to see his offspring leap with such wild abandon.

Not to be outdone, Spartacus took a quick dip in the bathtub Sunday morning and you could hear Ann Marie scream all the way in Brooklyn where I was picking up mama Stella for her first visit to casa Stella … she’ll be moving in with us just as soon as we put in a first floor bathroom with shower … and I’ll be moving in with Spartacus, no doubt, a few days later.

Belated Happy Father’s Day to all yous fathers out there.