Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This picture was used today in a headline at Huffington Post. Click to enlarge to get the full awfulness of the image. The young cop helping the man with the walker out into the snow looks like any of a number of Key West cops I know well. I dread the day.The article accompanying the picture was wondering why we have wasted so much treasure to "fix" the banks and not the mortgage foreclosure chaos. Good question. Clearly the picture struck a nerve.

Volcker Rule

There is a rule proposed in Washington that would prohibit banks from engaging in speculative investment strategies. It would in effect shut down the derivatives trades that forced we the people to bail out the banks that are too large to fail. Except, fail they would, had our government not stepped in with our money. The more time passes the more this seems to me to have been a truly duff idea. Looking back at my posts I hesitated to support to TARP funding but like legislators, Republicans were in charge at the time, I eventually agreed in my own mind that the bailout would probably save us extreme grief in the long run.

I guess I was wrong. The grief looks set to continue, as those same bankers are now saying they don't like the Volcker Rule, it is too restrictive and they bitch about Depression Era Big Government regulations and so forth. The funny thing is that thus rule comes from the Grand Old Man of Federal Reserve caution, Paul Volcker, not any one of President Obama's inner circle of Goldman Sachs alums who give him their financial advice. What a sorry bunch of Marxists these people are. Dear Leader continues to insist we give the store away to the bankers because they will save us from ourselves. Even as the complaints flow in that ordinary people are walking away from failed housing investments as though that is some moral failing. The social contract has been broken by the banks, not the homeowners, in my opinion. My aggravation at this situation has got some backing, unwittingly from Elizabeth Warren, the academic truth teller who has been quoted thusly:

"The problems could not be more obvious, and quite frankly, the solutions are just about that obvious, but we just can't seem to get the two together...The reason that we are not changing things right now is because the banks have lobbyists in Washington in numbers I have never seen...People who just want to advocate for American families, people who want some changes to level the playing field do not have that kind of lobbying power. And so what we are really watching here is a David and Goliath story."

The most frustrating thing about this ongoing and worsening economic death spiral is that solutions seem obvious, implementation seems simple enough. Yet we can never seem to quite get there, which would give weight to the explanation that lobbyists are blocking our path here as in health care reform. There is an absence of morality in all upper echelons, in business and industry most especially and for a citizen like me to suggest that there should be a moral component to financial decision making sounds extremely quaint indeed. That's how far into this morass we find ourselves. It no longer matters to our rulers that people are going hungry, that people are unemployed, that people have no access to health care. It may matter to President Obama but clearly he is as much governed by Goldman Sachs as we are in our misery.

Perhaps I am jumping the gun but I do wish there was an alternative, not just to Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens but to the Tea Partiers too. For though they peddle freedom as their watchword their social attitudes are anything but free unless you are white straight and Christian. If there is a revolution in the air it bodes nothing any good to those of us that want the freedom to be immigrants, gay and literate. It seems we are sidelined, those of us that prefer our politics with a touch of humanity and old fashioned decency. We face a future as serfs of the corporate profit machines or at the hands of proto-fascist Republicans in a minor key who want to lead us through revolution to a brave new world that I am pretty sure is not where I want to spend my golden years. even if my golden years are looking pretty brass-colored about now. Bloody hell I must be felling moody tonight. Someone tell me I'm wrong.

Jack Flats

An almost empty plate of bean and corn enchiladas at Jack Flat's restaurant on the 500 block of Duval. A pile of salsa a splotch of sour cream and a leaf of lettuce was all that was left after the vultures out drinking had devoured it.Somebody was ordering pitchers of Yuengling and I kept finding a full glass in from of me. My wife loves the bean and corn deep fried things served here and at Fogarty's as both places have the same owner . Ashley brought by a plate of nachos: For this is bar food in a sports bar. You know it's a sports bar because of the multiplicity of televisions. Hard core sports fans were taken aback by the sight of snow mobiles racing on water.It seemed like an odd sport to me but the racers were having fun. I expect if they stopped having fun and stopped their machines they would sink.Being the gloomy gus I am I looked at this stupidity and wondered if this was the bread and circus equivalent we have been warned about right before the end of the world as we know it. In the event it turned out not to be, and I had time for another Yuengling.Scott, Lars, his son Josh, wife and me lurking in a dark recess at Jack Flats. I must have had my guard reduced by beer to allow this picture to be taken. We were playing tourist though so perhaps it was in the spirit of the afternoon.I am not sure but I believe Jack Flats makes one of the best burgers in Key West.I am not very keen on walls lined with televisions as is the norm in sports bars but Jack Flats has it's own style of decoration and as it includes lots of old pictures of life in the Keys I quite enjoy taking a look: It was a decadent afternoon for the wife and I- fried food and beer in the daylight hours:And the men's loo offered all sorts of alluring promises for a good time on the water.And sporting nonsense too for those that know what this means:It may have been light outside but it was dark enough inside:
A quick look at a couple more pictures and we were out in the sun.The beer had taken it's toll on Josh struggling with his blackberry:And Scott:
A place and a time for a drink. A time and a place for a designated driver. My wife complained bitterly on the way home I am a terrible back seat driver. What can I say?