Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama Gets Chewed Out By Bartlet

This is a fun read that Mike forwarded to me. Maureen Dowd has Sorkin down pat (or did he actually write it? If he did, she shouldn't get a byline on that, should she?). Maybe she should've helped him on that promising-but-ultimately-awful "Studio 60". I miss "The West Wing"...:
Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet

Monday, September 22, 2008

Move Over, Greenspan, for Prophet Roubini

Nouriel Roubini seems to be the man generally credited as the first prominent economist/soothsayer to foresee the current Wall Street collapse. An NYT profile article on him: Dr. Doom

And here's the link to his blog full of information:
RGE - Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor (registration required for full text)

Tax the #$%@ Out of the Rich!

Here's more complete BS as perpetrated by the so-called investment bankers and executives:
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!

Sorry to be away...

It's been a busy time in the last few weeks. First, I was focused on organizing my grandmother's 90th birthday in MN...a rather challenging feat to do event planning from 750 miles away for a 115 person party at a site you've never seen. Then I drove to MN (and spent an evening with James Kim and his kids...just spent a couple minutes with wife Lisa when she got home from a pottery class before I took off), did some family research at the state historical society with my mom on my grandfather's weekly newspaper column "Outdoors in Minnesota" (running from the mid-40's into the 50's), and had on-site party prep to do. After the party, I planned to drive home in one day, but ran into the wake of Ike's pillage of the Great Lakes states and had to stop when I-94 was flooded out between Chicago (IL) and Gary (IN). Finally made it home late the next day, but found the internet out. Cox Communications made it out to our place at the end of the week, diagnosing the problem as squirrels having chewed the cable on our house and on the street, which left them (the cables, not the squirrels) prone to flooding in Ike's rains. Now I'm back on line and can read what's going on again.

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 Motley Fool Explains the Financial Chaos

The Motley Fool always explains matters financial well for people like me who didn't go to business school nor is an investment banker. I haven't gone through all of the links, but they look like great sources and insights to understand the current Wall Street scramble. For your edification:

The Biggest Financial Story of the Past 50 Years

It's the healthcare, Sicko!

Watched "Sicko" for the first time last night. Michael Moore does it again. He knows how to pull the audience's strings, and I'm not sure about the dramatic license he took on the sequence where he megaphones toward Gitmo and the siren blares, but the whole healthcare in Cuba part was awesome.

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

McCain the Next Nixon?

This op-ed by Elizabeth Drew, author of “Citizen McCain”, certainly brought up images of Nixon for me, especially in the sections below. This hadn't occurred to me, but I've come to realize more and more that many Rep conservatives are shaped in the mold of Nixon instead of Reagan: How John McCain lost me

"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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brief Reflection on 9/11, Then and Now

Never forget the fallen of September Eleven
Seven years ago our nation was hijacked
Never again a day like any other day
Not since the Day of Infamy 60 years before.

Unreal images of fireball and smoke
Attack on plutocratic twin monoliths
Attack on a wall of the Pentagon defense
Tearing down our pride, might and arrogance.

Crashed remains strewn on a green field
To save the hallowed institutions of DC
Heroes of United 93 immortalized.
Could I have been as brave in their place?

Necessitating a swift and firm response
Chased the evil-doers to Tora Bora caves
As near to the gates of hell but
Mission remains unaccomplished.

Bearing false witness and
Distracted by uncertain intelligence
We moved lockstep toward Babylon
Marveling the shock and awe
Ignoring the innocent lives lost and fleeing
Proclaiming mission accomplished
As the death toll rises while
The nation turns to issues domestic.

Now at the precipice of a historic election
Looking for solutions at home and abroad
Same old politics reign again
Accusations of dishonesty and distortion.
One promising change for our future
Other now re-branding maverick change.
Follow the aging senator with POW past?
Or believe in the new face of audacious hope?

Who will honor the fallen of 9/11 and hence
Without mendacity, demagoguery and hypocrisy?
Without reckless zero-sum-game machinations?
Americans and the world watch and wonder
As we remember the eleventh of September.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quindlen: "The GOP Finds Feminism"

Didn't seem right to bury this Anna Quindlen article as a comment to another post. This one deserves another post in that Palin is to feminism as Clarence Thomas was to affirmative action. THIS is the sort of "doublespeak" and political truth-twisting at which the Reps excel. All the coddling and kid gloves used by the McCain camp to prevent any gaffes by Palin is an insult to feminism and is by itself a practice of sexism. Cue the Thompson Twins' "Lies": The GOP Finds Feminism

Monday, September 8, 2008

Liberal Media Bias?

From: Brian Adamson
Subject: Liberal Media Bias?
Date: Monday, September 8, 2008, 11:37 AM

Hi: Really agree with this article. Let me know what you-all think?

We're Gonna Frickin' Lose this Thing (Adam McKay: The Huffington Post)

"Stop saying that!" my wife says to me. But this is not a high school football game and I'm not a cheerleader with a bad attitude. This is an election and as things stand now, we're gonna frickin' lose this thing. Obama and McCain at best are even in the polls nationally and in a recent Gallup poll McCain is ahead by four points.

Something is not right. We have a terrific candidate and a terrific VP candidate. We're coming off the worst eight years in our country's history. Six of those eight years the Congress, White House and even the Supreme Court were controlled by the Republicans and the last two years the R's have filibustered like tantrum throwing 4-year-olds, yet we're going to elect a Republican who voted with that leadership 90% of the time and a former sportscaster who wants to teach Adam and Eve as science? That's not odd as a difference of opinion, that's logically and mathematically queer.

It reminds me of playing blackjack (a losers game). You make all the right moves, play the right hands but basically the House always wins. I know what you're going to say " But I won twelve hundred dollars last year in Atlantic City!" Of course there are victories. The odds aren't tilted crazy, but there is a 51%-49% advantage. And in the long run, the house has to win. The house will win.

So what is this house advantage the Republicans have? It's the press. There is no more fourth estate. Wait, hold on...I'm not going down some esoteric path with theories on the deregulation of the media and corporate bias and CNN versus Fox...I mean it: there is no more functioning press in this country. And without a real press the corporate and religious Republicans can lie all they want and get away with it. And that's the 51% advantage.

Think this is some opinion being wryly posited to titillate other bloggers and inspire dialogue with Tucker Carlson or Gore Vidal? Fuck that. Four corporations own all the TV channels. All of them. If they don't get ratings they get canceled or fired. All news is about sex, blame and anger, and fear. Exposing lies about amounts of money taken from lobbyists and votes cast for the agenda of the last eight years does not rate. The end.

So one side can lie and get away with it. Now let's throw in one more advantage. Voter caging and other corruption on the local level with voting. Check out the article here on HuffPost about Ohio messing with 600K voters. If only five thousand of those voters don't or can't vote that's a huge advantage in a contest that could be decided by literally dozens of votes. That takes us to about a 52 to 48% advantage.

I'm not even getting into the fact that the religious right teaches closed mindedness so it's almost impossible to gain new voters from their pool because people who disagree with them are agents of the devil. I just want to look at two inarguable realities: A) we have no more press and B) the Repubs are screwing with the voters on the local level.

I'm telling you, we're going to lose this thing. And afterwords we'll blame ourselves the same way we did with Gore and Kerry (two candidates a thousand times more qualified to lead than W Bush.) Just watch.. McCain wins by a point or two and we all walk around saying things like "Obama was too well spoken." "Biden wasn't lovable enough." "I shouldn't have split those eights." "Why did I hit on 16? Why?!"

So what do we do?

1) We give definitive clear speeches like Biden and Obama gave the other day about how no one talked about any issues at the Republican Convention and how they outright lied. But we do them over and over again. 2) We use the one place where it's still a 50-50 game -- the internet -- as much as we can. 3) But most importantly we should bring up re-regulating the media and who owns it and what that conflict of interest is a lot more. By pretending there's no conflict of interest we're failing to alert the public that they're being lied to or given a looking at a coin at the bottom of a pool slanted truth. Every time a pundit or elected official is on any TV news program it should be a polite formality to mention that GE has made such and such billions off the war in Iraq by selling arms or that Murdoch is a right-wing activist with a clear stake in who wins and who taxes his profits the least. Disney, GE, Viacom, and Murdoch -- all want profits and the candidate and agenda that will get in their way the least.

Obama and Biden should also create a "master sound bite sentence" and repeat it hundreds of times. It should be so true that even the corporations can't screw with it when it makes the airwaves. Here's my attempt: "Katrina, four dollar gas, a trillion dollar war, rising unemployment, deregulated housing market, global warming...no more."

This race should be about whether the Republican Party is going to be dismantled or not after the borderline treason of the past eight years. But instead it is about making the word "community organizer" a dirty word and a beauty queen who shoots foxes from a plane. Someone is not in any way doing their job and it's the press. Or more specifically, that job no longer exists.

Probably the worst offenders are the pundits who take the position that it's all just a game and say phrases like "getting a post-convention bump" or "playing to the soccer Moms." This isn't a game of Monopoly or Survivor. There are real truths that exist outside of the spin they are given and have an effect on lives. 250,000 Iraqi civilians are dead because we let our reality be distorted by the most effective propaganda machine in fifty years, the corporate American press. Money and jobs are flying out of this country as our currency becomes worthless and we're talking about the fact that McCain is a veteran. If someone busted into your house and robbed you would you then forgive them if you found out they were a veteran? Of course not. So why are we forgiving McCain for selling out his country by supporting the Bush agenda?

This is it folks. If McCain takes power we fade and become Australia in the seventies: a backwoods country with occasional flashes of relevance. Except we've got a way bigger military and we're angrier. People will get hurt and we'll pay the bill for the bullets. I'm telling you, unless we wake up, we're gonna lose this frickin' thing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How the Republicans Win

A quite thorough article about the roots and schemes of the Reps to win the presidency over the last 40 years, by Robert Parry of Consortium News: How the Republicans Win.

I found it educational and accurate. I blame the Reps, but I also blame the Dems for their choosing indirectly complicit silence over cries of outrage. I also blame all of us for blindly accepting the state of the nation as it was and is. This is how long the country has been on the wrong track. Wake up, America! The Revolution WILL BE TELEVISED!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah's Big Night Palin Comparison to Obama

It's beyond laughable that the Reps insist on comparing Palin to Obama (ok, so I've been dying to use the "pale in comparison" pun ever since she came on the scene). She's hardly qualified to be VP, and they claim Obama does not have any experience to be president (O those haunting refrain of "Zero, zero, zero"!). It's also ridiculous how the media are now fawning all over her barely mediocre speech of no substance or content. And there's no doubt where the "fair and balanced" mouthpieces stand: see Politico article Media swoons over Palin's fiery speech. An AP article even has the headline, "Palin delivers star-turning performance at RNC". To be sure, there's no substitute for low expectations. Giuliani even said the presidency is decided not by the elite or Hollywood celebrities but by the American people. The elite and celebs who live in this country are not Americans? Yet another example of infrahumanization by the Reps. America doesn't want some Ivy League-educated president? That should've disqualified the entire Bush family by default. The Reps love to bash the liberal elite and the Hollywood celebs, but they love a lying political performance even more.

It was difficult to watch the typical elite-hating, media-bashing, liberal-baiting, flag-waving circus the Reps like to put on. I did love the part where she took credit for Alaska's budget surplus (boy, that's feat in pipeline country) and how she put the state jet for sale on eBay (this here Internet is somethin' else). As I've heard other people say, we are the laughing stock of the world. But, hey, the GOP will never apologize for America! Yeah, good luck with that.

At the Politico site above, I particularly enjoyed this rundown of RNC myths vs. facts by a Democratic responder:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."
THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform _ not even in the state senate."
THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."
THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded. Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families. He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.
THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state _ by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.
THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."
THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right _ change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington _ throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."
THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.
John McCain...is this the best the fascists on the right can do?

That last line is from the blogger, not me. It's the same ol' negative campaigning from the right. How could it be anything else, regardless of what Obama and even McCain try to do to keep it on the issues? Oh, right, I forgot:
"This election is not about issues," Davis told The Washington Post this week. "This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

It's time for "It's the economy, stupid", part II.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beware of Rove-ellian Trojan Horse

Here's a very interesting article from The New Republic I found. As I have mulled over the Palin pick in my head over the last few days, I believe the Dems and liberals are falling over themselves into the Rove-ellian political trap:
The Case Against the Case Against Palin

The article ends with this:
"Sarah Palin is a living reminder that the ultimate source of political power in this country is not the Kennedy School or the Davos Summit or an Ariana Huffington salon; even now, power emanates from the electorate itself. More precisely, power in 2008 emanates from the working class electorates of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Sooner or later, the Obama camp will realize that the beauty pageant queen is an enormously talented populist in a year that is ripe for populism. For their own sake, it had better be sooner.

The McCain camp has managed to re-define the theme of this election once again by re-invigorating the Culture War: Palin reignites culture wars

This is why they picked someone like her. She represents a lightningrod, a liberal flystrip, if you prefer, that will make all those left-wing liberals who attack her look like they're elitists alienating the working-class, heartland 'Mericans. Obama camp had better watch out and step around this political excrement-in-a-flaming-paper-bag that the Rove Sith-apprentices have put down on their doorstep. This is like "Bob Roberts" politics where an assassination (a character assassination in this case) is faked, and liberals are all too easy targets to fall for it.

Palin symbolizes the return to "God, guns and gays" political game at which the Reps are experts. This is a Simpsons' episode where the townfolk chant "Monorail!" in the Music Man cadence; a South Park episode where the townfolk misplace their anger shouting, "Dey took 'r jobs!" The Dems cannot compete in this game because the 'Merican public will never accept liberals as the defenders of their beliefs, values or culture. And don't forget the good ol' conservative whipping boy, the liberal media. McCain camp knows this and knows that this is the only way that the Reps can stranglehold the presidency.

It is truly despicable that they are going down this road again, but will the third time be the charm? I can officially declare that I have zero respect for McCain. Maverick? Hardly, just another opportunistic politician who will do and say anything to be president. Maverick McCain died a quick death prior the 2008 election season. It is also quite sickening to see the Reps pat themselves on the back for putting Palin on the ticket, as if they have accomplished something new and progressive, as if she somehow can even be a torchbearer for the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" that Hillary created.

The best course of action for Obama-Biden is to stay away from the culture war trap (as I saw Biden say repeatedly on C-SPAN tonight, "Children are off-limits!"), and let Palin be Palin. Looks like she's got a lot of political loose ends with which to fashion a noose for herself: See Campaign money hurts Palin's outsider image. I realize it'd be highly unlikely and a political suicide, but I'll go out on a limb to say that Palin's VP nominee days may be numbered.

Plus, the latest Gallup poll says Obama has hit the 50% mark. Mere post-convention bump perhaps, but thank the Lord at least half of the country is able to see through the Rove-ellian politics-as-usual smokescreen.