Wednesday, December 3, 2008
My Uncensored Interview with Deepak Chopra
Friday, November 21, 2008
Clinton Decides to Accept Post at State Dept., Confidants Say
I can appreciate Obama's penchant for Lincoln's "Team of Rivals", but now the latest is that Bill Richardson is being considered for the Commerce job? Really?
AP source: Richardson serious Commerce contender
And after picking off all the top Dem players at the federal and state levels for cabinet positions, doesn't this leave openings for the Reps to move in? Not that I'm a big party politics backer, but it does look like the same ol' same ol'. Kinda disappointed but reserving full judgment. I'm sure the conservatives are gagging while having a field day at the thought of being able to drudge up the tired, old Clinton lines again. And Letterman, Leno, Stewart and all the other comedians are screaming, "Thank you, God!"
Why Obama Wants Hillary for His 'Team of Rivals' and all the baggage that comes with it...I have a bad feeling about this.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Sitting on Top of the World
Wednesday 12 November 2008
by: Garrison Keillor, The Chicago Tribune
The city of Chicago is celebrating the rise of one of their own to the office of president of the United States. (Photo: Getty Images / AFP)
Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation. It isn't gloating, it's satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning. He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool. Chicago!!!
We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor - he said, "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher." The French junior minister for human rights said, "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes." When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.
The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos, and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back. He'll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law. I just can't imagine anybody cooler.
It feels good to be cool, and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he's going to see "United States of America" and look up and grin. Even if you worship in the church of Fox, everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama, and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.
And the coolest thing about him is the fact that back in the early '90s, given a book contract after the hoo-ha about his becoming the First Black Editor of The Harvard Law Review, instead of writing the basic exploitation book he could've written, he put his head down and worked hard for a few years and wrote a good book, an honest one, which, since his rise in politics, has earned the Obamas enough to buy a nice house and put money in the bank. A successful American entrepreneur.
Our hero who galloped to victory has inherited a gigantic mess. The country is sunk in debt. The Treasury announced it must borrow $550 billion to get the government through the fourth quarter, more than the entire deficit for 2008, so he will have to raise taxes and not only on bankers and lumber barons. His promise never to raise the retirement age is not a good idea. Whatever he promised the Iowa farmers about subsidizing ethanol is best forgotten at this point. We may not be getting our National Health Service cards anytime soon. And so on and so on.
So enjoy the afterglow of the election awhile longer. We all walk taller this fall. People in Copenhagen and Stockholm are sending congratulatory e-mails - imagine! We are being admired by Danes and Swedes! And Chicago becomes The First City. Step aside, San Francisco. Shut up, New York. The Midwest is cool now. The mind reels. Have a good day.
Garrison Keillor is radio host and author.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Democrats of 2002 and 2007 haven't gone anywhere
"The solution is federalism."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Secrets of the 2008 Campaign
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
What Sank McCain
Just wanted to offer my congratulations to you guys on last night. It was a hard-fought race with much nastiness and negativity coming from two candidates who promised at the outset not to do such things. McCain could not have been more gracious, positive, healing, and on-target in his concession; since he lost, all he has are words without responsibility. One might argue that made it easy to say them, but I believe he was sincere and did the nation much good in speaking them. His speech should give pause to anyone who villified him during the campaign. He wasn't my first choice of candidates, but he is a good and honorable man who loves his country and the people in it. Obama spoke beautifully also, which we've come to expect. Unlike McCain, he now has the responsibility to follow through on his words and fulfill his promises of post-partisanship and healing. That has to be something more than, "All you Republicans, come on over here to the far left wing side of politics so we can march together toward posterity in harmony," for that is NOT harmony at all; that is hegemony. Granted, he has a mandate, and all the responsibility that goes with it. How he handles that mandate, though, will determine whether he seeks to be a great president for all the people or not, whether his talk of bringing people together is based in anything more than rhetoric. Publius, in Federalist #10, points out rightly that the suggested solution to the problem of faction in politics of having everyone follow the same line fails because it is unrealistic and impossible to achieve. Rather, we need a multiplicity of interests to cut across our divisions and give us opportunties to come together instead of focusing on what pulls us apart. The job for shepherding that effort inclusively instead of exclusively now falls to President-Elect Obama. As John McCain said, he's now my President. That's the right perspective and how things should be done here in this great democratic republic of ours (though it would take me no time at all on YouTube and Google to come up with countless examples of folks - prominent and not - who failed miserably at this eight and four years ago). I begin this transition to the Obama Administration with nonpartisan appreciation for the great moment in history that took place last night. Thomas Jefferson - philosopher, politician, statesman, President, slaveowner - wrote of the race issue in the United States as like having a wolf by the ears: you can't let go for fear of what it will do to you, yet you know you also can't hold on forever. As much as my vote for John McCain had nothing to do with race, my appreciation for President-Elect Obama's victory celebrates the great step forward on race that we took as a nation in electing him. I pray we will someday see the day when the every voter will cast a ballot for a man or woman of any race based purely on the ideas and policies they profess. While the ideas and policies candidate Obama professed cause me great concern, I hope that his election moves us closer to that ideal. More broadly, though, I hold out hope that President Obama will, indeed, forge a legacy as a unifier and not as a divider. That is up to him, not simply to be skilled enough at manipulation to craft support for his far-left agenda, but to recognize, value, and include what those who hold ideas different from him believe as we move forward together. I believed John McCain would do that as President, and doubted that Barack Obama would. I now wipe clean the messy slate of the campaign and maintain the audacity of hope of that President Obama will include me and others like me in shaping his plan for America, rather than merely offering me the ultimatum of jumping on his bandwagon or getting left behind.
Thanks for all your civic participation through the campaign. This is what it's all about, friends.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
The keyword there being "association" which was a very gracious and subtle reference to move forward and away from the negative campaigning that had been waged. From NYTimes.com:
Obama Victory Speech (video and text)
McCain Concession Speech (video and text)
Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Douglas Wilder, Condoleeza Rice and any other key figures in African-American history who I have missed, on their shoulders Obama stands as the next president of America! Hallelujah! This is a great day in American history!
Yes, We Can! And Yes We DID!
Hey, Osama bin Laden! America will come after you with Obama-Biden!
Monday, November 3, 2008
In the first paragraph, he makes the claim that the era that Pearl Harbor spawned was brought to a close by the end of the Cold War. From that erroneous thesis, he goes on to argue that 9/11 has already been forgotten by Americans as they are about to elect Obama for president. How so? Because the "War on Terror" is still on, and the terrorists are not "susceptible to transcendence" and will not be "mollified by Mr. Obama's middle name. Nor will Iran be deterred from developing nuclear weapons because a President Obama will restore faith in "brand America." " Huh?
First off, Pearl Harbor drew America into WWII, but it is the ominous climax of WWII by the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan and the subsequent nuclear capability of the Soviets that spawned the Cold War. Pearl Harbor, as far as I see it, has never been nor will ever be forgotten. News flash! We are NOT engaged in a cold war but a very hot war against terrorists in Afghanistan and a misguided war of choice in Iraq. So I wonder if Mr. Stephens is advocating that an escalating war against the entire Muslim world is necessary to truly merit a proper remembrance of 9/11. If so, he must have an insane war-hawk fascination for Dr. Strangelove.
It was al-Qaeda that perpetrated 9/11, and I'd agree with Stephens on his point that 9/11 should be more accurately called an "outrage" instead of a "tragedy," but is it not tragic how so many civilians were killed? It seems that these conservatives will refuse to stop painting with a broad brush. Iraq and Iran did not cause 9/11. The Democrats and Obama understand that al-Qaeda must be rooted out. Don't make some stupid right-wing revisionist historical connection to argue that they will be weak with respect to our national security. How insulting!
It is also important to note that Palast makes the point that he is "wary of" Obama, but I would guess he is for affirmative action. Conservatives are already calling Obama the first affirmative action president. And my and presumably Palast's reply to that would be, "And your point is?"
Vote for him - because he's Black
by Greg Palast for HuffingtonPost.com
No question, Mr. Bruce was my favorite teacher in junior high.
I went to this Loser-ville school in the San Fernando Valley. It was all Chicano kids and working class white losers like me. Everyone had to take 'metal shop' so we could work the bottom-end jobs in the Chevy plant.
My brain was dying - until Mr. Bruce showed up, the new science teacher. DOCTOR Bruce, actually - the only Ph.d teacher in the place.
At lunch hour, instead of hanging out in the teachers' lunchroom, Mr. Bruce would invite me and my friends into his classroom. Over coffee made on a Bunsen burner, he would talk about topics from Einstein to Buddha while munching on this strange stuff called "organic" food.
He was simply like no adult I'd ever met - an exceptional guy who could make us dull-brained students sizzle.
My parents had him over for Sunday brunch and he talked about his work as a 'honey-dipper' in the Deep South where he grew up. The honey-dipper was the guy who hunted for lost glasses and whatever else was dropped in outhouse cesspools. Dr. Bruce said he enjoyed the work because it taught him pleasures of quiet grace, of dignified acceptance.
The kids were crazy about him, but not all the parents. Some called to complain about the school hiring him.
So he left. Months later, Mr. Bruce mailed me a letter from Japan where he'd taken a university post.
It's odd, but it was only this year that I put it all together: his exclusion by the other teachers, his job as a honey-dipper, his need to escape America.
Dr. Bruce, of course, is Black.
So, I'm going to do something that Dr. Bruce would think little of. I'm going to vote for the Black man. Because he's Black.
The truth is, I'm wary of Barack Obama. His cozy relations with the sub-prime loan sharks who funded his early campaign; his vote, at the behest of his big donor ADM corporation, for the horrific Bush energy bill.
But there's one thing that overshadows policy positions, one thing he cannot change once in office: the color of his skin. The same as Mr. Bruce's.
I'm going to say something that I know the Obama campaign will just hate; but that many others are feeling but won't say out loud. We must vote for Barack Obama because he's Black.
For four centuries, our nation has poisoned itself with the corrosive venom of racism. From the slave trade, to our still-segregated schools, to the Bush family stealing the White House by cynically, and sinfully, calling Florida Black voters felons; to the exile of a brilliant science teacher four decades ago.
The time has come to cleanse the wound that will not heal.
Greg Palast's investigative reports appear on BBC Television and in Rolling Stone Magazine. Palast is the co-author, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., of "Steal Back Your Vote," the investigative comic book available for no charge at StealBackYourVote.org and www.GregPalast.com
Palast is a Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation Fellow for investigative reporting.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
One from the left, Talking Points Memo, that accuses the Bush administration of leaking the immigration status of Obama's aunt. It is interesting to note that the Times of London broke the story on October 30th, a Murdoch newspaper:
Breaking the Law for McCain (the link to which was broken at the time of this writing; it appears the entire site is down, perhaps from a denial-of-service attack from the right ;-)
The other from Michelle Malkin, who's fast becoming my favorite right wingnut, which the article's title says all:
Obama’s illegal alien aunt (and campaign donor!) is a deportation fugitive; Bush administration moves to protect her
The fury and the frenzy! Am I the only one who is amused by all this? Oh, well... I suppose one can hope that some good can come out of this by the candidates actually debating about the immigration policy.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Is this the Republicans game plan for wining? Steal the election (Again)?
What do you all think?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Cover this! Inside the nastiest ’08 rumors
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
I obviously can't attest to the accuracy of the story, but it certainly sheds some light on why Powell endorsed Obama. From The Daily Beast:
The Man Who Helped Drive Powell Away From His Party
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Donating hard earned money to the Republican party during times of economic distress? The look on his face, when he learns how his money was spent, PRICELESS.
L.A. Times Article (Posted by Patt Morrison on October 22, 2008 in Campaign 2008 , Patt Morrison , Public Shaming , Sarah Palin | Permalink):
Bill Clinton and John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore -- you can thank Sarah Palin for showing us what pikers you are.
Multi-hundred dollar haircuts? Earthtone clothing consultations? Four-figure hair styling sessions? So '90s. So downmarket.
Now here's real makeover money: ''Politico'' reports that the Republican National Committee has evidently spent more than $150,000 in less than three months to dress and style Sarah Palin and her family. Whoever came up with the nickname ''Caribou Barbie'' got it more right than he knew.
Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York got a combined $49,425.74 from the RNC, and they don't sell Arctic hunting gear there. There were a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis --one of them for $75,062.63 in early September! I feel so stupid -- I was at the St. Paul convention, and I didn't even KNOW there was a Neiman Marcus in the vicinity! Not that there might have been anything left for me after La Palin's Grande Shoppage.
And there are costs for what looks like just one month of hair and makeup. There were no hair and makeup expenses reported in August, so the $4,716.49 reported through September had to be just September, and the only difference between August and September for the RNC was the appearance of the Wasilla Family Palin.
The First Dude has been wearing a really nice suit, and Levi Johnson, Bristol Palin's newly affianced beau, appeared for his command performance at the RNC in spiffy new duds.
By contrast, the people of Alaska got the Palin family for a bargain. The AP is reporting that Palin charged the state for her children's travel expenses, including those to events the kids hadn't been invited to, and that expense reports were later changed to declare that it was official business. The tally for 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights for her three daughters: a comparatively cheap $21,012.
That kind of change would buy about 40 pairs of John McCain's favorite Ferragamo loafers, $520 a pair at Neiman Marcus. The difference -- you just know that McCain wouldn't be charging the RNC for his footwear.
Don't get me wrong; I've been thoroughly enjoying this experience, and I'm not trying to be apologetic. I'm just trying to figure out how to get you guys to jot down some thoughts on this election, politics and current events in general. Is it a matter of time for an Obama presidency? What will be the next move for McCain? Might he unload Palin at the last minute? Is there still an October Surprise in waiting? So many questions, so little time.
In trying to encourage or incite comment from you, I think I may have done the opposite--creating yet another wordy blog to sift through the blogosphere. Perhaps I made my posts too long and verbose to digest quickly in our busy schedule, and maybe I unintentionally placed an undue expectation on what should be posted. I can understand that you may be tired of talking politics on a regular basis. One thing I discovered through this is that I LOVE reading, talking and writing about politics more than I thought (maybe it's my calling). I think you guys do, too, and it's fine to do it in your own style and pace.
Whatever the case, I hope that you will take a bit of time to join the dialog, however short or long. This blog is for us to do as we please, and I'm just saying that I think we have forgotten that we started this as a flurry of email. Feel free to change the subject with a new post or comment on a post; do whatever that strikes your fancy. I miss the vibrant and furious back-and-forth dialog it was. Anyway, here I go getting verbose again. Thanks for reading and look forward to your thoughts.
P.S. On the right column of our blog, I've assembled what I believe is a fairly good (but by no means an exhaustive) list of political news, op-ed and blog sites. I have attempted to cover the spectrum of biases and opinions from left to center to right. I hope you enjoy them. Below each site link is the most recent article or post at that site, so you can refresh the page to see what the latest posts are.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Report from the Socialist International Conspiracy
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Let's start with McCain's class rank at the Naval Academy--sixth from the bottom. From what I've read, most of that was intentional by being one of the Bad Bunch--screw-ups. Next, I've heard that as a pilot he crashed his plane five times. The last one of which led to his imprisonment by the North Vietnamese. OK, I'm not saying that the crash was entirely his fault, but I am alluding to a pattern in his life, albeit this one may be a stretch.
Soon after he came home from captivity in the Hanoi Hilton, he divorced his wife who waited for him while he was a POW. His ex-wife was quoted as saying that McCain did not want to grow up and be mature. His own memoir unequivocally places the blame on himself for why his first marriage failed--yet another screw-up.
Only a few years into his senate career, McCain was involved in the Saving and Loan scandal as one of the Keating Five. Senate Ethics Committee specifically mentioned that he "exercised poor judgment." He apologized for his conduct saying essentially that "I screwed up; please forgive me." To his credit, his senate career since the scandal earned him his now-questionable "maverick" moniker.
It is well-known that his 2000 presidential campaign lost steam due to unethical tactics by the Dubya supporters in South Carolina primaries, but before folding his campaign he accused the extreme left and right wingers as the "agents of intolerance," naming Farrakhan, Sharpton, Robertson and Falwell. A screw-up and a political miscalculation for which he would eat his words, after he agreed to speak at Falwell's Liberty University. He realized that he has to kowtow to the extreme conservative base in his party if he is to become the leader of GOP, and it took a while for that base to warm up to him and some still do not like him at all.
McCain announced his 2008 run on the Letterman show in February 2007. He neglectfully embarked on a bloated, money-leaking campaign that relegated him to a non-factor even before the 2008 primary season began. Once again McCain took full responsibility for not overseeing his campaign more closely--a screw-up. But he ended up winning New Hampshire and the maverick was back, even earning the tag "Comeback Kid."
Through belt-tightening campaign strategies, town hall meetings and a certain amount of luck, McCain became the GOP nominee, but then picked an unknown Sarah Palin as his VP running mate. Both liberals and conservatives have stated how unqualified Palin is to be VP, let alone president. He has yet to apologize and take full responsibility for the pick, but I would guess that that will come in a matter of time.
Then comes Powell's point that McCain's economic policy approach was unstable and erratic. "The fundamentals of the economy is strong" to "We're facing an economic crisis" to "Fire the SEC chairman" to "Let's halt our campaigns and postpone the debate to workout the rescue plan" to "The government shouldn't just bailout Wall Street" to "The government needs to buy up all the bad mortgages." During the financial crisis, he cancelled the Letterman appearance and just recently came back on the show and said, "I screwed up." Calling this a screw-up doesn't fully describe his roller coaster approach and thought process to his policies and intentions.
I realize that what I've laid out is a mixture of McCain's personal, public and professional lives, but they all count especially to conservatives who love to harp on character. His pattern reminds me of a Steve Martin routine many years ago when he said that there are two words that can get you out of any trouble, like poor performance on the job or an IRS audit: "I forgot. Just say, I forgot." And if that doesn't work, then he would tie it into his patented line, "Well, excuuuuse ME!" In McCain's case it's three words: I screwed up. "I'm the one at fault. I hope you can forgive me, again and again." How many screw-ups will it take before the country turns him away?
If the electorate will not accept his apology this time, then perhaps his infamous temper will fire back, "Excuse ME!" (ironically, he did jokingly say "excuse me" at a Wisconsin rally when an angry supporter wouldn't sit down and told him sternly, "Please let me finish." You can find it on YouTube) No, I suspect he will again say, "I screwed up." Is this the quality we want in our president? Can we afford to accept this pattern of behavior in our president at this time? No way, no how, no McCain. Didn't mean to end with a Hillary line, but I like that one. Oops, I don't mean "that one." I screwed up.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
McCain gives Letterman his biggest audience in years
The blog headline doesn't do justice, I'm afraid. I think it was on the caliber of Murrow vs. McCarthy--ironic that it's another McPolitician. All right, don't go knee-jerking now, saying that I'm comparing McCain to McCarthy, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say that there are some echos of McCarthyism in the Ayers accusation, wouldn't I? "Are you or have you ever been associating with terrorists?"
Friday, October 17, 2008
WFB Would Be Proud
"The truth few wish to utter is that the GOP has abandoned many conservatives, who mostly nurse their angst in private. Those chickens we keep hearing about have indeed come home to roost. Years of pandering to the extreme wing -- the "kooks" the senior Buckley tried to separate from the right -- have created a party no longer attentive to its principles.
Instead, as Christopher Buckley pointed out in a blog post on thedailybeast.com explaining his departure from National Review, eight years of "conservatism" have brought us "a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance."
I'm telling ya, that last line from CTB has staying power.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Library will include:
The Hurricane Katrina Room , which is still under construction.
The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
The 'Tax Cut' Room with entry only to the wealthy.
The 'Economy Room' which is in the toilet.
The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.
The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
The Supremes Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
The 'Decider Room' complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
The museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate the President's accomplishments.
So, what do we know?
Well, apparently he does not have a plumber's license. He considers himself a Republican. He owes back-taxes. Other unsubstantiated rumors include, his connection to the Keating Five. He is not listed in the phone book (probably not good for business). He is not registered to vote. He has been convicted of domestic violence on multiple occasions? And yes, he is a single dad-what a surprise.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
McCain is trying to shore up the right-wing conservative base, but he really is a moderate, especially on social issues. Instead of looking at Palin as his final conversion to the right, I think it says more about his actual opinion of the extreme right; i.e. “I don’t agree with you, my friends (as he likes to say), but here’s someone to make you feel better and support me during the campaign." If McCain becomes president (God forbid and that’ll be the day I look for work in Canada), I would bet that Palin will become your typical VP, hard to locate and seldom heard from, much like Dan Quayle was to Bush 41 (see, he wasn’t really a social conservative, either. Quayle was just there for window dressing and that’s what she is--a Quaylin). I'd also bet that Palin will have ZERO influence on any administration policies or initiatives; she'll practically be the Second Lady. Am I being sexist? Perhaps, but I'll leave it to the Reps to herald the first uninfluential, token female VP ever. Clarence Thomas, anyone?
Unfortunately for McCain, I believe his best chance to win is if he acts more like a moderate than an angry conservative, and it’s too late because the battle for the center is most certainly going to Obama.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The unfortunate reality is that he should be telling his campaign operatives and the more extreme Reps to keep things respectful. Apparently, there have been letters sent out that says Obama is an Arab. I do feel sorry for the woman who called Obama an Arab, Gayle Quinnell, as she should not be the focal point of this campaign exchange; she is only relaying the fear and misinformation coming from the McCain camp, given her limited knowledge and comprehension ("He's got Muslim in him"), but it is frustrating how some people just can't let go of false information: Post-rally conversation with Gayle Quinnell
Then, there's this from a Michelle Malkin, apparently a regular on Fox. Here's her defense of the McCain rally rage, basically that the left wing crazies do the same or worse about McCain/Palin/Bush all the time. Somehow that justifies the name-calling from the McCain supporters and the right in general, justifying intolerance with more intolerance, hate with more hate; has she heard of "two wrongs don't make a right"? Seems to me a typical conservative rebuttal, not exactly denounce the attacks from your side but point out the equally abhorrent venom from the other side, albeit none of them from an actual campaign rally or a town hall meeting.
Fair warning that some images on this blog are very crude and offensive; I did not bother to verify that they all came from the left wing extremists and are valid. Take a gander at some of the comments to the post, also (kinda my homage to Palin's frequent "also"). It indicates how far apart many of us are in how we view the world and how we should go about changing it:
Crush the Obamedia narrative: Look who’s “gripped by insane rage”
Why such vehement opposition to even a hint of socialist policy? That typifies the knee-jerk conservative reaction, doesn't it? Is free-market capitalism what makes America great? Is that why we're having a global financial crisis? The Europeans and Canadians have instituted socialist policies; are their societies crumbling because of socialism? Do they have people who must go bankrupt to pay for cancer treatments?
What is THE conservative creed? Isn't it really about "I get to keep what I make" because those liberal, hippie nutjobs have no respect for the money that I earn and the personal property that I possess? I saw an image on a conservative blog of two stick figures; a red figure holding a gun to the head of the blue figure holding a bag of goods/money, with the caption "Socialism". That attitude is the ugly root of class warfare, not the liberals looking for redistribution of wealth for the greater good of the nation. This is how conservatives incite class warfare, but then blame the liberals for starting it. Tax the crap out of the rich! Karl Rove was quoted as saying that under Obama's plan the top 5 percent will pay an increase of $131 billion in taxes, according to the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. And the bad news is? I say that's friggin' patriotic; they should be happy to pay more taxes because, as Palin would put it, "America has so blessed and privileged us"!
And, what is the point of laundering all of the mugshots of leftist activists/extremists, let alone whether they were justly arrested in all cases? That the liberals should be marginalized as rabid America-haters, like Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk brainwash their audience every single day? That there are crazies of equal numbers on the left and right? That America has become a fascist state where dissenting opinions cannot be tolerated? That the status quo is indeed biased to the right so that only the leftist actions are criminalized? Who holds the trump cards in this society? Is a fascist oppression preferable over a socialist one?
There's so much to glean from the Malkin blog, especially this comment that somewhat reflects our earlier discussion on how conservative opinion can be dismissed, except that the writer misses the point that prejudice goes both ways (copy/pasted as posted):
On October 12th, 2008 at 1:52 pm, feebiebabe said:
THE GREAT HYPOCRACY OF OUR TIMES: Anytime a conservative enters into a debate with a liberal the first given is when said liberal realizes you are conservative…liberal will find some way to throw out any one or ALL of these tired phrases;”White Trash, Uneducated, Ignorant, Racist, Warmonger, Neocon or Redneck”. This happens to me ALL the time in California, and most often times I have done absolutely zero to warrant it, most times all I say is, “I’m a conservative” – and let the tongue lashing begin. Its creepy. I live in a blue state and work for a company where most people are unabashedly “Socialist”.
The other day I had a man walk up to me because he overheard my conversation I was having with a co-worker about a Herman Melville novel (Bartleby) and Atlas Shrugged by Ann Rand. When he approached me later he said I must “NOT be voting Republican because you are obviously an elitist who reads”. AND he meant this as a compliment - creeeepppyyyyy!!! My answer, “Why I do read, but what do you mean by elitist?” “Oh, Republicans are so uneducated; people who read literature I most often find to be liberals and intellectuals and are never ever Republicans”. I imagine I am the ONLY red vote on the floor (as usual) so I bit my tongue and just said “Is that so?” Does anyone else see the absolute irony in his thinking?!
Oh yes, and then there is the violence. Yes, the “Peace, love and happiness hippies” are only spreading “Peace Love and Happiness” selectively, to those who agree with them. And their Love-O-Meter always seems to go off the charts the more someone bashes this country or says they want to kill us. Talk about an abusive relationship!!!
Now, Madonna (“Hi, I name myself after the Virgin Mary to be irreverent, feed my delusions of grandeur, because I suffer from inadequacy and because I think no one will notice I have no talent”) . “Im gonna kick Palin’s ass!?” ROFLMAO. This coming from a woman who has been living full time in England and developed the WORST fake Brit accent next to her pal Gwennie –She couldn’t look Palin in the face let alone kick her ass (aside from the fact I am pretty sure one of her brittle body parts might just fall off her crusty frame by the impact of such an event). This woman is insufferably arrogant, ignorant and is bitter- she has NO talent and has to show her boobs to sell her records. Give me a break….what is Madonna three years old? What a loser. I think it really gets to Madonna that Palin is a REAL Woman and comfortable with herself, while Madonna is a hateful, malnourished, washed-up, ex-pat who has absolutely zero talent.
It's rather amusing but sad how her anecdote/argument quickly deteriorates into a rant bashing Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. This is an example of why I would not want our blog to be open to the Internet public for comment (actually, I did open it up to registered users of the blog world, but obviously we're not exactly in a high-traffic area nor worthy of it, and that suits us just fine all the same).
My hope is that our small speck in the blog universe can provide a more thoughtful dialog and work to achieve a better understanding and a common ground in the midst of the left-vs.-right, liberal-vs.-conservative echo chamber noise.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Crux of the column, if you can get past the not-so-subtle condescending remarks, seems to be, "Is Obama a leftist radical or a cautious pragmatist able to reach out to the center and the right?" My personal opinion is that he is a mix of and capable of both, and given the current state of the nation, the economy and the world, I hope that he is more of a pragmatist in the tradition of FDR. My liberal preference also hopes that he will bring much needed socialist policies to reign in the runaway-greed capitalism, to enforce a loophole-less progressive tax code and to institute a healthcare system closer to a universal, single-payer model. Without a pragmatic approach, he will not get much done through legislation or achieve much in military objectives and diplomatic initiatives, if/when he is president.
Unfortunately, given McCain's campaign I have no confidence in how he would run the country as president. In other words, the liberal case on doubts about McCain will take some time to write down, so I'll save it for another post. To be fair, I have yet to find a good case for the McCain presidency that explains his policies and tendencies, beyond direct attacks and negatives on Obama.
From The Daily Beast:
Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama
Some choice excerpts:
I am—drum roll, please, cue trumpets—making this announcement in the cyberpages of The Daily Beast (what joy to be writing for a publication so named!) rather than in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column. For a reason: My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”
As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.
John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” pace Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famous comment about FDR. As for his intellect, well, he’s a Harvard man, though that’s sure as heck no guarantee of anything, these days. Vietnam was brought to you by Harvard and (one or two) Yale men. As for our current adventure in Mesopotamia, consider this lustrous alumni roster. Bush 43: Yale. Rumsfeld: Princeton. Paul Bremer: Yale and Harvard. What do they all have in common? Andover! The best and the brightest.
Obama has in him—-I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—-the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.
Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but "we are all in this together" and "God save America", indeed. Unfortunately, some of the comments on his column at the website still show that bipartisanship has a long, long way to go.
This is perhaps the last thing that needs to be said about the Biden/Palin debate. I think the British Press has nailed it!
Flirting her way to victory Sarah Palin's farcical debate performance lowered the standards for both female candidates and US political discourse
Friday October 3 2008, The Guardian
At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience. Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single-handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night.
By any normal standard, including the ones applied to male presidential candidates of either party, she did not. Early on, she made the astonishing announcement that she had no intentions of actually answering the queries put to her. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said.
And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she was supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack lines, platitudes, lies, gibberish and grating references to her own pseudo-folksy authenticity.
It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.
In pronouncing upon a debate, they don't try and determine whether a candidate's responses correspond to existing reality, or whether he or she is capable of talking about subjects such as the deregulation of the financial markets or the devolution of the war in Afghanistan . The criteria are far more vaporous. In this case, it was whether Palin could avoid utterly humiliating herself for 90 minutes, and whether urbane commentators would believe that she had connected to a public that they see as ignorant and sentimental. For the Alaska governor, mission accomplished.
There is indeed something mesmerising about Palin, with her manic beaming and fulsome confidence in her own charm. The force of her personality managed to slightly obscure the insulting emptiness of her answers last night. It's worth reading the transcript of the encounter, where it becomes clearer how bizarre much of what she said was. Here, for example, is how she responded to Biden's comments about how the middle class has been short-changed during the Bush administration, and how McCain will continue Bush's policies:
Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? ... My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary Schoo l , you get extra credit for watching the debate.
Evidently, Palin's pre-debate handlers judged her incapable of speaking on a fairly wide range of subjects, and so instructed to her to simply disregard questions that did not invite memorised talking points or cutesy filibustering. They probably told her to play up her spunky average-ness, which she did to the point of shtick - and dishonesty. Asked what her achilles heel is - a question she either didn't understand or chose to ignore - she started in on how McCain chose her because of her "connection to the heartland of America . Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how
are we going to pay those tuition bills?"
None of Palin's children, it should be noted, are heading off to college. Her son is on the way to Iraq , and her pregnant 17-year-old daughter is engaged to be married to a high-school dropout and self-described "fuckin' redneck". Palin is a woman who can't even tell the truth about the most quotidian and public details of her own life, never mind about matters of major public import. In her only vice-presidential debate, she was shallow, mendacious and phoney. What kind of maverick, after all, keeps harping on what a maverick she is? That her performance was considered anything but afarce doesn't show how high Palin has risen, but how low we all have sunk.
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
If you have any questions about this email, please contact the guardian.co.uk user help desk: email@example.com.
Also, in this months Reader's Digest, there is an article on if the world could vote. To list a few for Obama: Netherlands 92%, Germany 85%, Taiwan 81%, Brazil 78%, Australia 76%, Spain 76%, France 75%, Finland 71%, Mexico 70%, Poland 65%, Canada 64%, etc.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Yahoo 2008 Elections
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Reinhold Niebuhr Quotations
You have probably come across different versions of his prayer in many circles; I just didn't know until now that it was from him:
The Serenity Prayer (ca. 1942)
This has often been attributted to others, including St. Francis of Assisi but without sources. Though similar prayers may have existed, the work seems to be Niebuhr's. He never copyrighted the prayer and it has been used in many variants.
One of the most famous variants:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Niebuhr's preferred form as declared by his widow:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, courage
to change the things which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Full version of the original (c.1942):
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Sarah Palin and her bid to be a heartbeat away from being President.
The old rancher said, "Well, ya know, Palin is a post turtle."
Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was.
The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."
The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain. "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with."
Remember, September 15, 2008:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Addressing today’s news of upheaval in America’s financial markets, McCain said this morning that, despite fears over the "turmoil" on Wall Street, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
Despite all of his efforts to win the election--picking Palin, accusing That One of lying and associating him with radicals and terrorists--This One has to continue to debate That One. How outrageous! Don't people know that This One deserves to be president over That One? Why don't they realize that That One is not like This One or Us? I can hear This One saying, "That One is one of Them, not Us. Come on, America! Pull your head out of That Butt. Real change is coming. I'm a reformer and a maverick. I'll get Osama bin Laden. I'll get him. I know how to get him. I'll get him no matter what. But I have to get That One first." Such poetry in prose.
Stick a fork in McBush, or at least a thermometer. I believe he's done. How long before we hear "you people" coming from This One? Some Reps are even happy to use "That One" to refer to That One, saying that This One came up with a great line in the debate. Incredible! This is what "grasping at straws" looks like in political campaign terms, but I'm not even close to celebrating until all the votes have been counted.
Here's a post from the Huff Post and our panelist Mike's response:
John McCain has shown us what kind of conciliatory figure he would be - making dismissive derisionary comments like "that one" whenever he disagrees with someone. I think McCain put it best when he said "I'm not the most popular person in my own party let alone the Democrats." If you've alienated yourself from both sides, how exactly is it that you are going to bridge divides and get things done?
Posted 02:16 PM (ET) on 10/08/2008
Anyone else remember that old McDonald's TV ad with the boxing trainer trying to get his guy fired up to win the bout?
The trainer says (words to the effect), "Remember when you were seven years old...and someone stole your French Fries and you never found out who it was?" Well, it was him (gesturing to the opponent on the other side of the ring)."
After two debates, I'm convinced that someone told McCain that Obama stole his French Fries.
Posted 02:43 PM (ET) on 10/08/2008
Were those Freedom Fries that That One stole from This One? Sorry, Mike, I wish I could remember the commercial so I could enjoy your comment more.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
BAYARD vs LIONHEART
July 26, 1920
One discerns in all the current discussion of MM. Harding and Cox a certain sour dismay. It seems to be quite impossible for any wholly literate man to pump up any genuine enthusiasm for either of them. Each, of course, is praised lavishly by the professional politicians of his own party, and compared to Lincoln, Jefferson and Cleveland by the surviving hacks of the party press, but in the middle ground, among men who care less for party success than for the national dignity, there is a gone feeling in the stomach, with shooting pains down the legs. The Liberals, in particular, seem to be suffering badly. They discover that Harding is simply a third-rate political wheel-horse, with the face of a moving-picture actor, the intelligence of a respectable agricultural implement dealer, and the imagination of a lodge joiner, and that Cox is no more than a provincial David Harum with a gift for bamboozling the boobs.
These verdicts, it seems to me, are substantially just. No one but an idiot would argue seriously that either candidate is a first-rate man, or even a creditable specimen of second-rate man. Any State in the Union, at least above the Potomac, could produce a thousand men quite as good, and many States could produce a thousand a great deal better. Harding, intellectually, seems to be merely a benign blank—a decent, harmless, laborious, hollow-headed mediocrity perhaps comparable to the late Harrington, of Maryland. Cox is quicker of wit, but a good deal less honest. He belongs to the cunning type; there is a touch of the shyster in him. His chicaneries in the matter of prohibition, both during the convention and since, show the kink in his mind. He is willing to do anything to cadge votes, and he includes in that anything the ready sacrifices of his good faith, of the national welfare, and of the hopes and confidence of those who honestly support him. Neither candidate reveals the slightest dignity of conviction. Neither cares a hoot for any discernible principle. Neither, in any intelligible sense, is a man of honor.
But it is one thing to yield to virtuous indignation against such individuals and quite another thing to devise any practicable scheme for booting them out of the synagogue. The weakness of those of us who take a gaudy satisfaction in our ideas, and battle for them violently, and face punishment for them willingly and even proudly, is that we forget the primary business of the man in politics, which is the snatching and safeguarding of his job. That business, it must be plain, concerns itself only occasionally with the defense and propagation of ideas, and even then it must confine itself to those that, to a reflective man, must usually appear to be insane. The first and last aim of the politician is to get votes, and the safest of all ways to get votes is to appear to the plain man to be a plain man like himself, which is to say, to appear to him to be happily free from any heretical treason to the body of accepted platitudes-to be filled to the brim with the flabby, banal, childish notions that challenge no prejudice and lay no burden of examination upon the mind.
It is not often, in these later days of the democratic enlightenment, that positive merit lands a man in elective office in the United States; much more often it is a negative merit that gets him there. That negative merit is simply disvulnerability. Of the two candidates, that one wins who least arouses the suspicions and distrusts of the great masses of simple men. Well, what are more likely to arouse those suspicions and distrusts than ideas, convictions, principles? The plain people are not hostile to shysterism, save it be gross and unsuccessful. They admire a Roosevelt for his bold stratagems and duplicities, his sacrifice of faith and principle to the main chance, his magnificent disdain of fairness and honor. But they shy instantly and inevitably from the man who comes before them with notions that they cannot immediately translate into terms of their everyday delusions; they fear the novel idea, and particularly the revolutionary idea, as they fear the devil. When Roosevelt, losing hold upon his cunning at last, embraced the vast hodgepodge of innovations, some idiotic but some sound enough, that went by the name of Progressivism, they jumped from under him in trembling, and he came down with a thump that left him on his back until death delivered him from all hope and caring.
It seems to me that this fear of ideas is a peculiarly democratic phenomenon, and that it is nowhere so horribly apparent as in the United States, perhaps the nearest approach to an actual democracy yet seen in the world. It was Americans who invented the curious doctrine that there is a body of doctrine in every department of thought that every good citizen is in duty bound to accept and cherish; it was Americans who invented the right-thinker. The fundamental concept, of course, was not original. The theologians embraced it centuries ago, and continue to embrace it to this day. It appeared on the political side in the Middle Ages, and survived in Russia into our time. But it is only in the United States that it has been extended to all departments of thought. It is only here that any novel idea, in any field of human relations, carries with it a burden of obnoxiousness, and is instantly challenged as mysteriously immoral by the great masses of right-thinking men. It is only here, so far as I have been able to make out, that there is a right way and a wrong way to think about the beverages one drinks with one's meals, and the way children ought to be taught in the schools, and the manner in which foreign alliances should be negotiated, and what ought to be done about the Bolsheviki.
In the face of this singular passion for conformity, this dread of novelty and originality, it is obvious that the man of vigorous mind and stout convictions is gradually shouldered out of public life. He may slide into office once or twice, but soon or late he is bound to be held up, examined and incontinently kicked out. This leaves the field to the intellectual jelly-fish and inner tubes. There is room for two sorts of them—first, the blank cartridge who has no convictions at all and is willing to accept anything to make votes, and, secondly, the mountebank who is willing to conceal and disguise what he actually believes, according as the wind blows hot or cold. Of the first sort, Harding is an excellent specimen; of the second sort, Cox.
Such tests arise inevitably out of democracy—the domination of unreflective and timorous men, moved in vast herds by mob emotions. In private life no man of sense would think of applying them. We do not estimate the integrity and ability of an acquaintance by his flabby willingness to accept our ideas; we estimate him by the honesty and effectiveness with which he maintains his own. All of us, if we are of reflective habit, like and admire men whose fundamental beliefs differ radically from our own. But when a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental—men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack, or count himself lost. His one aim is to disarm suspicion, to arouse confidence in his orthodoxy, to avoid challenge. If he is a man of convictions, of enthusiasm, of self-respect, it is cruelly hard. But if he is, like Harding, a numskull like the idiots he faces, or, like Cox, a pliant intellectual Jenkins, it is easy.
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Why This Could Be Worse Than The Republican Great Depression
At its core, the problem with the banks today is twofold. First, we don’t make anything anymore. Which means we don’t “create real wealth.” More on that in a minute, but the bottom line is that we don’t have any sort of bottom line – there’s nothing to catch us as we fall, because we don’t have a manufacturing base to fall on like we did in the 1930s.
Second, all our cash is either gone or in a very, very few hands. If the former, we’re really screwed. If the latter, and those people decide their interest trumps that of the nation, we’re also screwed, but probably not quite as badly. It looks, though, like all our cash is gone.
Let’s take these one at a time. The British knew that manufacturing was the core strength of a nation, which is why they forbade the Colonists in 1770 from manufacturing most items that could be imported from Britain, and famously forbade the good people of India from even turning their own cotton into cloth and clothing (those processes had to be done with Indian cotton shipped to England, woven and sewn, then sold back to India as finished clothes).
The colonists of America overthrew the economic tyranny of the British, and in short order (1791) Alexander Hamilton presented to Congress a detailed and specific plan to turn America from an agricultural backwater to a manufacturing giant. We should discourage the import of foreign made products and promote the manufacture of American made goods by taxing imported finished goods (a tax called an “import tariff”). We should encourage the import of foreign raw materials, and the export of finished goods, with low tariffs on these items. We should invest government money – extensively – in infrastructure that would build our monetary and industrial base. We should be protectionist, hard-working, and refuse to cede to anybody our right to make whatever we damn well wanted.
Hamilton was so successful that 100% of the income of the federal government from our founding to the Civil War came from tariffs – and we learned to manufacture just about everything we needed in this country as a result. His policies were continued after the Civil War – tariffs represented two-thirds of all federal revenues from Reconstruction to WWI, and as government exploded in size to fight WWII still represented a third of all federal income.
Import tariffs on manufactured goods averaged – from 1791 until the 1980s – around 35-40 percent. As a result, we made things here. The benefit of “making things” is that you add value more rapidly than is possible in any other way. You get richer – both individually and as a nation – faster than by any other means. Turning a $50 ton of raw cotton into $5 million worth of designer clothing can be done with only a few tens of thousands of dollars worth of labor and a million dollars worth of machinery/factories. Turning a few dollars worth of iron ore into millions of dollars worth of luxury cars is incredibly profitable.
But the Reagan Revolution changed all that. Conservatives didn’t think making things was the most important consideration of an economy – instead the goal should be for “individual incentives” and “greed” to drive companies and individuals to “maximize profits” regardless of the impact on the nation as a whole. Labor was cheaper in China and India, so after a few hundred dollars worth of lobbying and a few cheerleading (but deeply flawed) books like Thomas Friedman’s “Olive Tree and the Lexus,” we dropped our average import tariffs into the realm of 2 to 3 percent, where they remain today.
The result was easily predicted. Most of our manufacturing was shipped overseas, while the profits from the sale of foreign-made goods concentrated in a few hands (think the Walton family and General Electric, the respective companies that first and most proudly drove China and India respectively into our manufacturing and service sectors).
While we didn’t make anything here any more, we still had a lot of cash and other “real assets” – real, physical wealth – left over from the two centuries when we made everything here. The share of that wealth in the hands of the middle class was mostly in the equity in our homes, cars, and pensions/savings.
And so the predators among us turned their sights on these last reservoirs of wealth in America. Phil and Wendy Gramm (he is McCain’s chief economic advisor) pushed through both a deregulation of banks and investment companies, but also a deregulation of how commodities (real things) were traded on margin (using money borrowed against the value of the commodities).
Alan Greenspan enthusiastically jumped into the game, dropping interest rates so low they were below the rate of inflation for the biggest institutional borrowers – giving the Masters Of The Universe all the cash they needed to gamble with, thus driving up the cost (but not the value) of commodities from houses to oil to food.
In the process, the American middle class got into the act by borrowing in a slightly similar fashion, but instead of billions they only borrowed against the value of their houses and cars and the line of credit on their credit cards.
But then we began to run out of wealth – real wealth. Because we didn’t make anything any more, about all we could sell to the world were IOUs, debt-based “instruments” made up of bundled mortgages. And when the world stopped wanting to buy them, looking instead to put their money into real assets like gold or oil or manufacturing plants, it all began to unravel.
The last time things unraveled like this was during the Republican Great Depression of 1929-1938. That, too, had followed a series of Republican administrations that had radically deregulated banking and securities rules, leading to wild speculation and asset bubbles, starting with a real estate explosion in Florida in the early 1920s. That Florida real estate bubble burst in 1927, and by 1929 it had spread to Wall Street. What we are witnessing today is the death of neoliberalism (e.g. Friedman/Greenspan/Thatcher/Reaganomics), although few in the corporate media will call it out.
The recent semi-nationalization of Freddie and Fannie were, in fact, clear demonstrations of the failure of privatization of institutions essential to the commons (a primary purpose of government), but at the time it seemed that none of the corporate media would dare refer to it as such.
Today we're seeing the logical culmination of deregulation; steps recommended by Friedman/Greenspan and started in the last years of the Carter administration, put on steroids by Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush, reaching a peak with Phil and Wendy Gramm's rollback in 1999 of Glass-Steagall allowing "investment" companies to behave like "banks" without regulation (making them, in reality, neither, but instead merely financial schemes).
"Roosevelt is dead," Limbaugh famously intoned at the appointment of GW Bush as President, "but his programs remain, and we're in the process of doing something about that, as well." Indeed.
Let's start calling this what it is - the total discrediting of the economic theories of Von Hayek, Milton and Thomas Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and borrow-and-spend Reaganomics/Bushnomics. The failure of "globalization," deregulation, and privatization. And let's begin to honestly identify today's events as a clear and clarion call for a return to the common-sense policies FDR put into place that saved capitalism from itself and its predators (and led to four decades of sustained growth of both the economy and the middle class) three generations earlier.
Now we are again "rediscovering" the lessons of the last Republican Great Depression...and if we don’t QUICKLY begin to move manufacturing capacity back into this country (and have it owned by American companies so the profits don’t just end up in Japan or Germany) we will be, within five years, far worse off than Americans were in 1934.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Mike forwarded me this thought-provoking, albeit pro-Obama, set of questions that allude to the various issues regarding how the electorate views these two candidates:
What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said 'I do' to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?
What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5*?
* The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election
numbers would be as close as they are?
With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a weakened dollar, all-time-high prison population, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc.; which team would you hire?
Columbia University- B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
University of Delaware- B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor(J.D.)
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho- 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College- 1 semester
University of Idaho- 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism
Now, which team are you going to hire?
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Talking Politics in the Office
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet
Monday, September 22, 2008
And here's the link to his blog full of information:
RGE - Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor (registration required for full text)
Last Year's Big Five Wall Street Bonuses
So many people are worried about "How are we going to pay for this bailout of investment banks, etc?" I'll tell you how. Fleece the crap out of those rich people who got big fat salaries and bonuses. Obama says increase taxes for people making $250K or more. Fine. I'd say anyone making a million or more gross should pay 50% income tax or more, especially if you worked in any of these firms that are getting bailed out. Sounds simple to me. Socialism? So what? Class warfare? Why not? It's time we put an end to this 30-plus years of deregulation bullshit and start re-distributing the wealth to people who can manage it properly--the responsible middle class. No more of this rich-get-richer; it must end now! Pay for the freakin' mess you created, Wall Street and DC! There should be a financial martial law enforced by the IRS, FBI and the Federal Reserve!
Meanwhile, another distraction has been efforts to make the most of my involvement as we get through the last weeks of the campaign. Among the things I "cling to" is political participation, and I've found myself in the middle of an effort to supplement activity in northeast Ohio by starting a PAC...new means of participation for me, but very interesting to be involved with it and experience firsthand the relationship between unaffiliated PACs and campaigns - what we can do to achieve our ends and what we have to do / can't do to keep the FEC happy. Busy times. I'll keep chiming in as time permits. Meanwhile, keep it up! My kids are into scary stories these days, so it makes for good bedtime reading for them when I can give them shivers with accounts of what the mean oooooollllllllldd troll McCain and his evil witch partner Palin would do if they ever got past the castle walls.
Friday, September 19, 2008
The Biggest Financial Story of the Past 50 Years
I repeat his best question in the piece when he captures patients who are literally dumped on homeless shelters by other hospitals, "Who are we?" Why is it that this superpower nation of ours cannot afford the healthcare needs of its citizens (and aliens, guests, visitors)? It is beyond me. Universal healthcare, NOW! Do something! Support H.R. 676 (single-payer system)! Is this still being debated, or has it died already? The level of greed in the insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industries should be made a crime.
You gotta see "Sicko" if you haven't, regardless of your opinion of Moore. Sometimes, I just feel like quitting my job and get out there to fight for some real change and to make a difference. But I'm just a mortgage-paying, debt-ridden coward, like millions of us.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"In his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For,” he wrote, revealingly, “I didn’t decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. . . . In truth, I’d had the ambition for a long time.”"
"There’s an argument that all this compromise wasn’t necessary: some very smart political analysts believed from the outset that McCain could win the nomination by sticking with his old self. And they still believe that McCain won the nomination not because he gave himself over to the base but as a result of a process of elimination of inferior candidates who divided up the conservative vote, as these observers had predicted. (These people insisted on anonymity because McCain is known in Republican circles to have a long memory and a vindictive streak.)
By then I had already concluded that that there was a disturbingly erratic side of McCain’s nature. There’s a certain lack of seriousness in him. And he does not appear to be a reflective man, or very interested in domestic issues. One cannot imagine him ruminating late into the night about, say, how to educate and train Americans for the new global and technological challenges."