Friday, November 26, 2010

Rick Raw: Foreclosure Debacle Continues–Chaos Reigns
By Rick Grant Commentary

Since the economic apocalypse of 2008, foreclosure rates have continued to raise exponentially. Millions of homes in states like Florida and Nevada, specifically, Las Vegas, are sitting empty. Their former mortgage holders have just abandoned their homes because they owe much more than the house is worth.

Recently, a new scandal has log jammed the foreclosure process. Because the original mortgages were bought and sold so many times, documents have gone missing, and Federal investigators have discovered unauthorized signatures, and fraudulent loan applications. It’s a hurricane of worthless paper.

Consequently, the whole foreclosure system is overwhelmed by these problems that have exacerbated the resolution for millions of foreclosed homeowners. In other words, it may be years or never before these empty house are ready to be resold.

Meanwhile, the former owners have moved on to renting apartments or houses. Some or all of these missing mortgage documents may never be found. Some owners have just stayed in their home waiting for the ax to fall. In some case, these squatters have lived mortgage free since 2008.

Vast subdivisions are now suburban ghost towns with thousands of empty homes. They sit like abandoned movie sets. These houses could be renovated and offered to low income families to live in and maintain at reasonable rental rates.

Having people living in the houses would be preferable to letting the them decay or be targets for vandals. Yeah, but banks and financial institutions are not known for their logical thinking.
What’s worse, the banks blatant incompetence and fraudulent practices will go unpunished.

Furthermore, these chisseling, bumbling fools were rewarded with multibillion dollar bailouts at taxpayers expense. They caused the crisis and received a windfall. The middle class sank to the bottom.

Some courts have sent the banks packing, at least temporarily, and the banks themselves, such as JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, have suspended foreclosures while they untangle the paperwork mess.

If the Federal agencies can prove that the banks that made these questionable loans can’t substantiate the signatures or find the documents, the banks face a financial tsunami of buying back tens of billions of dollars in missing or unauthorized loans.

Meanwhile, the whole culture of middle class suburban living has disappeared, scattered to the four winds as people lost their jobs and walked away from the upside down mortgages. These wastelands of empty houses stretch for hundreds of miles in Florida. Yes, and the home owners paid for this disaster with lost hopes and dreams.

The whole foreclosure debacle has continued to wreak havoc in the real estate markets, which are still severely depressed. If one thinks that the great recession of 2008 is waning, think again. It’s still raging.

Turning the millions of empty houses into immediate rental property would be a interim solution. However, the ghost subdivisions sit as a grim reminder of the lost culture of the middle class that were trampled by the greed addled banks selling bad mortgages, hastily put together with bogus signatures, then sold and resold, again and again, like commodities.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rick Raw: Pot Goes Mainstream as Medicine–One Small Step to Pervasive Legalization

By Rick Grant Commentary

Just as the gangsters of the 1920s didn’t want Prohibition to end, the licenced medical marijuana growers of California didn’t want Proposition 19 to pass. It mandated legalizing pot for recreational use.

If Proposition 19 had passed, it would have brought in the agribusiness conglomerates to grow pot on a big scale. The mom and pop growers couldn’t compete with agribusiness’ capital.

So, ironically, the growers sided with law enforcement in the Proposition 19 initiative. Medical marijuana has become a multi-billion dollar business in California. Anyone with a prescription can buy marijuana legally in California and selected other states.

Florida (the penis state) is still the epicenter of the Bible belt and ultra-conservative philosophies to make even medical marijuana legal. Floridians would rather have a known crook–Rick Scott--as governor than legalize pot. Dumbasses!

Pot is such a hot topic, a marijuana joint was featured on this week’s "Time Magazine" cover.

The benefits of medical marijuana are well known to chemotherapy patients. It relieves the nausea and boosts the patient’s appetite. Hip women have always known that pot relieves the symptoms of premenstrual cramps and PMS.

More significantly, marijuana has been linked clinically to relieving the onset of depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Pot also relieves migraines, insomnia, back pain, and for what ever reason, lack of appetite–the well known muchie factor. And, of course, pot relieves the pressure on the optic nerve of glaucoma, from which I suffer.

Other symptoms of common maladies that marijuana relieves are irritable bowel syndrome, Tourette’s, muscular dystrophy, herpes, diabetes, gonorrhea, eczema, and weight loss for eating disorders. Presently, there is a study that THC (the active chemical in marijuana) slows down the progress of Alzheimer patients.

In California, it’s easy to get a prescription for pot. Just make an appointment with your primary care physician and complain of pain, and presto, go to a marijuana boutique and buy pot. There is a limit for each customer.

In contrast to pot’s wondrous medicinal properties is its high or buzz that regular smokers of the "evil" weed seek. The legal marijuana boutique owners of California tout the different types of high that each variety of buds (the most saturated with THC part of the plant) to give the customer. There is the spiritual high; the psychedelic high; the creative high; (musicians like that one) the sexual high, et al.

Medical marijuana patients use sophisticated methods to get the most out of their supply of weed. They use bongs or breathing bags that blow up with smoke then the smoker can hold the smoke in the bag until he or she wants another hit. This way, no smoke goes to waste, like in a burning joint.

Patient testimonials can be accessed at, this would imply that in legal medical marijuana states, there are legions of happy pot smokers. But what’s the downside? Nothing serious. As any pot smoker will tell you, loss of short term memory is no biggie. No one has ever ODed on marijuana–it’s impossible.

However, anything done in excess has negative effects. Serious pot-heads tend to be unmotivated couch potatoes. But not always.

Willy Nelson chain smokes joints all day and into the night. He’s a heavy user and he still functions normally, performs concerts, and remembers his lyrics. He told Larry King he had smoked pot right before going on his show.

In Willy’s case, his body has built up a tolerance and his sensitivity to getting high has stabilized at a certain level. If a non-pot smoker did that, he or she would be out-of-it for a couple of days.

So the nationwide legalization of marijuana debate rages. Yes, I’ve inhaled a lot of pot smoke in the past and enjoyed it. But in my book "The Mind further Out," I advocate a drugless high from meditation which is a more satisfying spiritual experience. But, if someone gave me a joint today, I’d smoke it.

As for marijuana’s medicinal properties, if I needed pot to relieve symptoms of a major illness, I wouldn’t hesitate to get it anyway possible. But the "killer" weed has come a long way from the documentary "Reefer Madness." In some states, like Florida, marijuana offenses carry heavy sentences. It just depends on what state in which you’re inhaling.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rick Raw: Al Qaeda Gaining Strength as Date of American Pullout of Afghanistan Draws Near

By Rick Grant Commentary

As the date for the Afghanistan draw-down of U. S. Troops nears (July 11, 2011) al Qaeda is gaining strength and power in the Arabian Peninsula, Samolia, and other unstable countries, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The movement grew from its roots in the Afghan mountains to a global force of Jihadists seeking to destroy western civilization, returning the world to Medieval times.

When we invaded Afghanistan right after 9/11 with special forces and surgical bombing campaigns, it played into al Qaeda’s hands.

Suddenly, al Qaeda’s sworn enemy flooded into their backyard so they could conduct assaults on American positions, and melt back into the mountains.

Bin Laden was delighted that Americans had come to fight on his turf. It enabled him to recruit an steady flow of Jihadists from Pakistan into the no-man’s land of the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

When the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will gain political power. In fact, the shaky government of Afghanistan is already negotiating with the Taliban to include them in the government and give them territory. As savvy observers know, the Taliban is in league with al Qaeda because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Our departure of both Iraq and Afghanistan will only broaden the Taliban and al Taeda’s recruiting drives and their political power. It’s well known that both the Taliban and al Qaeda are receiving sophisticated arms from Iran, which will be a greater ally of the Jihadist movement in the future.

With no attacks from the U.S. on al Qaeda’s bases of operation in Afghanistan, they’ll have plenty of time, resources, and arms to plan terrorist strikes inside the U.S., Britain, and the rest of Europe.

The recent interception of the UPS cargo mail bombs were mailed from Yemen to two Chicago synagogues. These were sophisticated explosive devices using high grade explosives packed in printer cartridges.

Here in the U.S., we can expect more attempted attacks from al Qaeda bases of operation. For every hundred attacks that are thwarted by U.S. intelligence, they only need one to get through.

It make take years or months, but al Qaeda is not going to stop. They’re in it for the next Millenium.

It’s inevitable that sooner or later we can expect large scale terrorist attacks on our subway systems and other soft targets like large malls or synagogues. All Westerners are targets, especially Americans and Israelis.

In Kuwait’s "Al Seyassah" newspaper, Ahmad Abdal Aziz Al-Jarallah said, "The Saudi’s have developed a unique way of dealing with Jihadists. The royal family knows that by targeting innocent civilians, al Qaeda damages orthodox Islam."

"They have implemented a multipronged strategy to stamp out extremism. Security measures are just one part. Equally important is psychological counseling of extremists to correct their religious behavior. "

They even mentor families of those who have been lured into extremism.
In other words, they deprogram these brain washed youth that throwing away their lives in a suicide bombings is a mortal sin against Islam.

So, how do we fight them when we pull out of Afghanistan? We must cut the head off the snake by finding al Qaeda’s central command bases, spread out over the globe.

More ground intelligence is needed using undercover Arab spies. When we find a central command, we take it out with a Predator drone. But we have to verify its authenticity as a legitimate target. That’s where ground intelligence is needed.

It will be difficult and will require the cooperation of other countries like Pakistan, which harbors al Qaeda/Taliban sympathizers who secretly support their operations with money and arms.

More importantly, we have to send regular Muslims into the extremist enclaves to counsel them to break the bonds of their extremist beliefs as evil not a religious crusade. Of course, we should kill bin Laden ASAP. He’s breathed our air long enough.

(Certain facts and a quote gleaned from "The Week." editorial "Is Al Qaida stronger than ever")

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Rick Raw: Politics has Degenerated Into Bitter Acrimony That Paralyzes Progress

By Rick Grant Commentary

American politics has always been an underhanded ugly game. However, in recent years, anything goes in the Body Politic, from proven crooks running to stupid women winning primaries. People have lost faith that politicians have our best interest in mind and for good reason.

In reality, today’s swine on the Hill could care less about their constituents. All they care about is getting rich and being reelected. The divisions between parties have widened into an unbreachable chasm.

Recently, minority whip John Boehner said that "My whole focus in the next two years will be to defeat President Obama in 2012." He didn’t say that he would help to solve the nation’s many problems and help establish new jobs for Americans. The evil bastard is brandishing his sword. Boehner’s reason for being is all out warfare against the Obama administration.

So we send these clowns to Washington to supposedly represent us, and all they do is fight to get a majority in Congress to wield power, and get reelected. Is it any wonder that a third of all Americans describe themselves as independents.

However, voting independent is tantamount to throwing your vote away. Yes, we’d all like a third viable independent party. Yeah, and fools rush into the black hole. History proves that it’s not going to happen any time soon. So, these people who say they’re independent are expressing an idealistic dream.

The partisans of the Left and Right try to shape the national agenda through inflammatory cable TV shows, attack ads, the Internet, talk radio, (which is mostly conservative) and various advocacy groups. There is no middle ground any more.

The war between partisan sides makes compromise impossible. So, voters get pissed off and decide to throw out incumbents without realizing that they are voting in the same scoundrels as before.

In this election, it’s like throwing out the baby with the bath water. And, we end up with a bunch of bitter Republicans who want to dismantle all of Obama’s accomplishments. So, the end result is: The war on the Hill continues ad infinitum.

So the angry voters throw out the majority of Democrats. How long will it take before they feel betrayed? Not long. Then the cycle starts all over again. If there was some Jesus-like white knight who rode into town with all the answers, perhaps he could change things? Nope, he’d hit the gridlock like all the rest.

The sorry bunch of people running for office keeps declining in intelligence, morals, and ethics. We get women who don’t know that Africa is a continent and other candidates who don’t know the minimum wage in their state. Yet, voters like their looks.

It’s like the judge who sentenced Ted Bundy to die in the electric chair. He praised Bundy’s legal skills and said he would have been a great lawyer, but he had chosen the wrong path. The judge missed the point. Bundy was a ruthless serial killer who killed over 40 young women, and then had sex with their dead bodies. The judge should have said: "You’re an evil demon and you should go straight to hell."

Many voters are like the incredibly stupid women who fall in love with serial killers and even marry them. Some women actually carry on married lives with incarcerated men without conjugal visits.

Dumb voters vote for a certain candidate for the most trivial reasons. To wit: They’re good looking, they flirt with women voters, they seem to be very conservative, while they cheat on their wives with other women or men. Or, they just look convincing on television.

The whole process of our Body Politic is corrupted by stupidity and deception. So what if the Republicans get a majority in Congress, it won’t change a thing. It will be an impasse until 2012, when Obama faces his biggest crisis–getting reelected.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rick Raw: Decline of American Optimism

By Rick Grant Commentary

Today, the mood of the Zeitgeist is somber and defeatist. Of course, the general malaise caused by the aftermath of the economic apocalypse of 2008, which has dragged on into 2010, is justifiable. Consequently, American optimism has been dealt an almost fatal blow by the slow recovery and failure of the Obama administration to solve the post-economic disaster problems.

Granted, the Republican sabotage of Obama’s agenda is mostly to blame. The GOP’s unyielding determination not to compromise on important issues has led to an impasse on the Hill.

Nonetheless, the indomitable American spirit has been seriously wounded by a broken political system, corrupted by special interests and bipartisan war on the Hill. Political agendas are narrow and unyielding on both sides of the aisle.

More significantly, the complex 19,000 pages of the IRS tax code is inefficient and a burdan on the once thriving middle class. This tome is so complicated, only specially trained tax lawyers understand its totality. Loopholes that allow favors to special interests abound on every page.

In an essay in "Time," Freed Zakaria states. "The tax code represents the deep, institutionalized corruption at the heart of the American political process, in which it is now considered routine to buy a member of Congress’ support for a particular narrow provision that will be advantageous for your business."

The big American global conglomerates like Coke are thriving. However, these mega-corporations’ global success has come at the expense of the American middle class, which has taken a fatal hit after the economic collapse.

This brave new world economy has changed the dynamics of the American working class. Today, manufacturing is high-tech. Workers have to be retrained to operate the complex computer operated machines that make everything imaginable. There are competitive apprenticeship programs in which the applicants have to show a basic knowledge of computers, math, and design. Some of these programs require college graduates.

In contrast, the wages for American workers have steadily declined, even in unionized jobs. Unions have had to make compromises to prevent large scale layoffs by accepting reduced benefits and wages–a bitter pill to swallow. That’s because of globalization has established lower wages in foreign countries like India.

Today corporate executives echo the mantra, "do more with less,." which means fewer workers are working harder for less pay. Gone are the days when assembly line workers at Ford enjoyed a middle class life with a nice house and car. Those jobs have disappeared–taken over by robots.

Today, the world has gone through a technical revolution as robotics have advanced and manufacturing has been computerized. Workers who lost heir jobs during the economic collapse of 2008, will never get those same jobs back again. They will have to face reality, and retrain or start their own businesses.

Some companies have offered free retraining to get these workers back on their feet. But what do the bread winners live on in the meantime when they’ve run out of unemployment benefits and gone through their savings?

The economic collapse forced American workers into the vortex of vast a paradigm shift from middle class to a struggling lower class existence. For some of the older workers, adjusting to this drastic changing situation may be impossible. They won’t have the resources to retrain or move to where the new jobs are located.

Freed Zakaria says in his "Time" piece, "There are reasons for optimism. The U.S. faces huge challenges, but it also has enormous advantages, It is still the largest, richest market in the world."

Yes, I believe we’ll get through this dark time but people will have to lower their expectations about jobs and wages. It’s a time for people to get creative and think outside the box. Invent something or start your own business are optimistic priorities.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rick Raw: IRS Parasite Crawled Up My Ass and Twisted My Mind
By Rick Grant Commentary

The dreaded IRS parasite has invaded my brain like a pork worm. The Evil Empire once again had to remind me that they have me locked in their chains to the tune of 10,000, dating back to 2004 through 2007.

Yes, the American Gestapo likes to do things in a grand way. So they sent me 8 letters to let me know that my debt is growing exponentially in interest and penalties. An individual letter was mailed to my wife and me–both duplicates of each year and each separate amount. Of course, the IRS shylocks know that this will royally piss me off.

Those Visigoth barbarians think nothing of wasting paper and printing charges by sending out reams of paper, when one sheet with the total amount would have sufficed. The bureaucratic nitwits love to waste paper.

The government printing operation has numerous buildings in Washington D.C., cranking out mountains of paper to document the Recovery Act, the Budget, The Tax Code, which is over 2,000 pages, and all other printed gibberish that rolls off their presses.. It’s the biggest printing operation in the country, costing millions of dollars.

We all watched the televised hearings in 1997 featuring a parade of citizens who had been the victims of IRS abuses. With great fanfare, legislation was introduced and passed "reforming" the agency.

The orchestrated media blitz painted the IRS as a kinder gentler fire breathing dragon. The spectacle came off like "Reefer Madness," the now famous low budget cult film showing the evils of pot, showcasing Grade B actors.

The whole IRS campaign to convince the public that the IRS was our friend was a smoke screen to draw attention away from the corporate-banking lobby being in cahoots with government conglomerates. It’s a system of slavery and oppression, as well as the fraudulent tax system that supports it.

After receiving the tsunami of paper from the IRS, I called them to find out my status. The lady said that my status was "uncollectible" because my income has gone down to almost zero. However, my interest and penalties still go up daily.

The Beast’s ace in the hole is: Last year a female IRS agent filed a lien on my property, even though I don’t own any property. That was a spear through my heart because the lien effectively ruined my credit and any chance of getting back on my feet financially. The lien is a ball and chain.

Every day I curse that shedevil, and pray that bedbugs crawl up her skirt and suck blood from her private parts. (The IRS offices were infested with bedbugs.)

The truth is: The now fractured middle class has always suffered the burden of paying the IRS quotas. Corporations hire teams of tax lawyers that find loopholes in the tax code. Consequently, most big fortune 500 companies pay no income tax.

Hidden in the 1997 reform bill were provisions giving the IRS more power to collect debts from the beleaguered middle class now crumbling under the massive foreclosures. Now, there are millions of people like me who are deemed "uncollectible" and tied up with the dreaded lien, while their IRS debt increases daily.

Thus, the IRS has me and millions of other former middle class folks locked in a debtor’s prison with no way to pay them back. We all loathe the bloated agency that hires female collectors who are officious and rude.

Many connected movers and shakers have tried to introduce a flat tax bill to Congress. It’s a simple and fair system that would take only a fraction of the present IRS’ personnel to run. But, the IRS has a powerful lobby on the hill and the flat tax idea dies in committee every time. The thousands of unnecessary IRS bitches would lose their jobs. Now we wouldn’t want that? Hell yes.

It’s time to dismantle Jabba the Hutt IRS worm. It’s archaic and overly complex. Meanwhile, the IRS Gestapo has us lined up against the wall ready to give the order to fire. Kill the Beast is my mantra.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rick Raw: Homophobia 2010–Still Rampant

By Rick Grant Commentary

Here we are in 2010, many years after gays living with society-wide oppression came out in the 1960s as fierce advocates for their own cause. Indeed, they have made much progress in acceptance by factions of the population.

But incredibly, in the mainstream population of the United States, there is still deeply ingrained homophobia, that has lately caused 4 suicides in 19 days of young gay boys, and a brutal gang rape and torture of 3 gay men by a gang of thugs in NYC. Justifiably, 8 men are charged with a litany of felonies and committing a hate crime, which makes the case Federal.

Ellen Degeneres was so upset by the latest gay bashing and bullying incidents she made a special PSA pleading with young gays to seek help and guidance from many organizations devoted to helping them. She said that these organizations will help them without telling their parents, if that is what they want.

She even invited them, if all else fails, to call her, and she will help each individual. Of course, Degeneres knows first hand how difficult it was growing up gay. It took her a long time to come out on her series "Ellen."

Jodie Foster led a secret life for many years until it was obvious to everyone that she was a lesbian. But she never came out willingly. She was outed when the tabloids were tipped off to her breakup with her long time significant other. It would have never mattered. Her monster talent supercedes her being gay by many times.

The school kids that committed suicide were taunted by classmates and their lives were a living hell. The schools involved did nothing to stop the bullying and harassment. Many of these kids were too afraid to tell their parents. They felt they had nowhere to turn to stop the emotional pain.

William Lucas, 15 was a freshman at Greensburgh High. He hanged himself in the Family’s barn. Someone commented on his Facebook page that "everyone at school made fun of him and he couldn’t’ take it anymore." Where was the help and support that he needed? No one came to his rescue.

Tyler Clementi, 18, was a freshman at Rutgers. His roommate suspected he was gay and started spying on him with a hidden video camera, eventually posting a video on the Internet of Tyler having sex with another man. Tyler couldn’t take the humiliation and jumped off a bridge. Another promising life gone because of homophobia.

Asher Brown was just 13 when he used his stepfather’s gun to shoot himself in the head. His parents said he had been relentlessly bullied by his schoolmates because they assumed he was gay because he was effeminate and his parents were poor and he couldn’t afford trendy clothes.

The case in NYC was one of the worst hate crimes against gays that the police had ever seen in the city. A loose-knit gang of thugs went berserk after learning that a 17-year old recruit was gay. The thugs stripped him, and beat him senseless, then sodomized him with a wooden plunger handle and a kid’s baseball bat. The torture went on for hours.

Then the gang members in a crazed frenzy of depravity grabbed a second gay teen and tortured him. The 3rd attack involved a 30-year old man who was lured to the apartment, sodomized and tortured.

Given that these thugs have less than 6th grade education and are as dumb as a box of rocks, the level of violence was shocking to the police and Mayor Bloomberg, who said, "I was sickened by the brutal nature of these crimes and saddened by the anti-gay bias that contributed to them. Hate crimes such as these strike fear into all of us."

The defeat of the appeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" by homophobic Republican lawmakers like John McCain, was a setback for gays in the military. It seems that when gays take 2 steps forward, bigoted factions of our society force them to take three steps back.

It’s 2010. By now our society should have come to terms with homosexuality as not being a lifestyle choice, but a genetic imperative. In other words, gays are attracted to members of the same sex just as strongly as heterosexual people are attracted to members of the opposite sex.

These latest incidents of gay bashing and bullying can not be tolerated in our country. It has to be stopped!