Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bobby Jindal - Just Another Republican Liar

From Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False by Zachary Roth:

Looks like the game is up.

Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night -- about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn't actually, you know, true.
Read the rest here.


The way we were.

From From One-Party Rule to Cry-Baby Caucus by Greg Saunders:

To sum up the last eight years, we’ve had one-party rule in Washington D.C. which had “fiscal conservatives” feeling entitled to spend taxpayer money like drunken sailors (which exacerbated the very fiscal crisis that the current Congress is trying to address). When the minority party tried to insert themselves in the legislative process, they were not only shunned completely, but the GOP leadership would shut down meetings until they left, hold open votes for hours until they got the results they wanted, and would actually call the police to have Democrats removed from meetings. Where the HELL do these guys get off complaining about partisanship?

Rush Wants Women

From Rush Announces Female Listener Summit to Discuss EIB Gender Gap:

So we'll have a female summit, with breakout groups discussing and reporting back to me over several intervals in time as we try to ascertain what I must do to attract women. Isn't this much the same as what our conservative intelligentsia has asked, "What do we do to attract the Hispanic voters? We have a huge ethnic gap in the Republican Party," they would say. So we'll do that. I don't know if we'll do it tomorrow because we got Obama's big speech tonight, but we might. So, you ladies be on standby. Be ready at any moment for me to declare the summit officially underway, and we will take calls only from women who want to seriously discuss the proposition of this giant gender gap that I have, and what I could do to close it. In other words: What could I do to attract a higher favorability rating among more women in America? I own the men, and what must I do now to own women? And who better to ask than women? Including some of those who may agree that that I'm unfavorable. So stand by for that.
Perhaps the first two women that Limbaugh should try to win over are Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. He thinks that Hillary “sounds like a screeching ex-wife" and that Chelsea is a dog.

For the record, Mr. Limbaugh, you do not own me, you never have and never will.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Who Cares About Lava?

Bring Your Gun To The Tea Party

The extreme right wants you to bring your biggest guns to their tea party. Their idea of democracy is a strange one. The losers in an election have the right to incite violence against the winners. How civil of them. How insane.

From Good Odds that Rupert Murdoch Will be Responsible for the Next Timothy McVeigh or Assassination Attempt by Mark Karlin:

Yes, with the civil war talk on the program of the recently acquired FOX News demagogue, Glenn Beck, inflammatory talk by Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh's nativist rants that equate Obama to something akin to an amalgamation of Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler, the right-wing media is stirring up the dangerous angry white male resentment to a dangerous frenzied pitch.

And we all know where that ended up with Timothy McVeigh and the militia movement of the '90s, which was enabled by the right-wing media barons -- such as Rupert Murdoch -- to create a literal armed militia movement against the government of the United States.
But when the armed angry white males decide to act because of the Murdoch/Limbaugh et al. incitement to rise up ringing in their ears, the blood will be on the hands of Rupert and his fellow right-wing corporate media barons -- and he won't be sorry for it.

He'll only feel one thing: Mission accomplished.
"Glenn Beck is one bizarre right-wing-nut."

Who Is Bobby Jindal?

From Bobby Jindal's moment in the spotlight by Ewen MacAskill:

He was born and raised a Hindu, but converted to Catholicism and also has links to Protestant churches. Unusually for a Rhodes scholar, he believes in creationism, a viewpoint that increases his appeal to Christian evangelicals.

Jindal's politics are firmly on the Republican right: he is opposed to abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage and the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling.

One of the most controversial incidents from his past was a claim to have witnessed an exorcism, though he has since partly rowed back on that.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Awesome Power Of The Word Clean

This dose of reality brought to you by the Coen brothers.

The Reality Blog.

John Boehner Tells A Big Lie

John Boehner reacting to the Obama Budget:

On Tuesday, the president called to Congress to make fiscal responsibility a priority, and Republicans agree. That’s why it’s ironic that on the very next day, House Democrats would pass a $410 billion appropriation bill, 8 percent above last year’s levels, and including some 9,000 earmarks. I think we’ve just got to admit it. We’re broke, and we can’t continue to pile debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids. The president campaigned against wasteful spending, and he ought to veto this bill.

As you know the president sent his budget to Congress today. Middle class families are making sacrifices and cutting their expenses. It’s time for Washington to do the same. We need to do that by stopping out-of-control federal spending.

The American people know that we can’t tax and spend our way to prosperity. That’s just the formula that appears the president’s budget is relying on. The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it. The administration’s plan -- I think, it’s a job killer, plain and simple. And it raises taxes on all Americans while we’re in the middle of a recession.
Perhaps Boehner doesn’t think that any Americans make less that $250,000 dollars a year. What a bonehead Boehner is. Obama wants to cut taxes for those Americans that make less than $250,000. Stop lying, Mr. Boehner. The American public is tired of all the lies.

Why didn’t Boehner speak out against his former boss when George W. Bush piled “debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids.” We are broke. Whose fault is that? Why not take a look in the mirror, Mr. Boehner? It is not the fault of Barack Obama. We were broke under George W. Bush. Why didn’t you complain then, Mr. Boehner? It is better to tax and spend, than to not tax and spend.

The era of big government started a long time ago. George W. Bush and John Boehner did nothing to make government smaller. It is misleading to say that Obama is responsible for big government.

From Obama unveils $3.6 trillion budget for 'new era' by Robert Schroeder:
Tax increases for the wealthy -- those individuals making more than $200,000 and families whose incomes are over $250,000 -- wouldn't kick in until 2011, Obama's budget director said Thursday, rejecting charges that the administration is raising taxes during a recession.

"That's just factually wrong," budget director Peter Orszag told reporters. "We're not doing that."

Jaw Dropping

Here is some of what Mary Matalin said on the Today Show this morning:

I, I, well, this is a different kind of presidency, isn’t it? Although these are old-timey policies, the likes of which, though, at this, of this magnitude we’ve never seen. And to pay for this, we are going to not just raise taxes on the rich — two-thirds of whom are small business owners who create three-quarters of all the jobs — but now we’re gonna eliminate tax deductions for that same class of people. We are absolutely going to discourage investment, savings, job creation, and we’re going to — he says he’s gonna reduce the deficit, cut it in half, which is still a greater deficit than George Bush ever had. It is, it is jaw-dropping. That’s a good word for it, Meredith.
Old-timey policies? What the hell does she mean by that?

Like George W. Bush, Mary Matalin does not know what a small business is. It is small, it is not large. The rich are large business owners. The poor and the middle class own small businesses. If two thirds of the rich “are small business owners who create three-quarters of all the jobs” then why do we care so much about the possible failure of large banks and large automakers? Let the big businesses fail, let everyone go work for all the small businesses.

Who cut taxes drastically for the rich? George W. Bush. Who screwed the economy and left it for Barack Obama to try and fix? George W. Bush. Who kept things like the wars off the books to try and make himself look better? George W. Bush. Bush screwed everything up terribly. Bush let rich people get even more rich and what happened? Nothing trickled down to the poor and middle class, and the banks tanked, and the home builders tanked, and the mortgage lenders tanked, and the auto makers tanked, and the economy tanked. Obama is trying to undo the damage Bush has done, and Mary Matilin doesn’t like it? She wants to continue doing the same things that Bush did? What is wrong with her?

I hope that Matalin’s jaw drops far enough so that it falls off. Then we won’t ever have to listen to her mindless drivel ever again.

The right-wing-nuts love to lie in concert.

From Matthews did not challenge Ehrlich's false suggestion about small business taxes:
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews did not challenge former Gov. Robert Ehrlich's false suggestion that President Obama's proposal to let the Bush tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers expire would increase taxes on a large percentage of small businesses. In fact, Obama has proposed raising marginal income tax rates and reducing income tax deductions for individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and for couples earning more than $250,000 per year, and according to the Tax Policy Center, just 2 percent of tax returns that reported small business income in 2007 are in the top two income tax brackets, which include all filers with taxable incomes that would be affected.

Chris Matthews Sees God

Chris Matthews thinks that Bobby Jindal is God.

The Jack McBrayer Response To The Internet Response To The Republican Response To The President's Address To Congress

Arkansas And Atheists

From Anyone Have Smelling Salts? by Tom Flynn:

Last post, I mentioned one brave legislator’s campaign to strip obsolete but discriminatory language from the Arkansas constitution that bars atheists from holding public office or testifying in court. On Feb. 17, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty—a legal advocacy group that usually comes down in favor of accomodation between church and state—sent a letter to the Arkansas legislature coming out foursquare in favor of amending the state constitution.

How about those smelling salts? Just pinching myself doesn’t seem to do the trick.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Et Tu, David Brooks?

Good God Almighty, I actually agree with something David Brooks said. Ready the smelling salts, I’m feeling faint.

From Republicans, Democrats criticize Jindal's speech by Beth Fouhy:

Insane. Childish. Disaster. And those were some of the kinder comments from political pundits about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his response to President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on Tuesday night.
David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist who has criticized aspects of the stimulus plan, nonetheless called Jindal's arguments "insane" and tone-deaf given the dire economic challenges the country faces.

"To come up in this moment in history with a stale, 'Government is the problem, you can't trust the federal government' is just a disaster for the Republican Party," Brooks said on PBS' "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." "It's not where the country is, it's not where the future of the country is."


Barack Obama had "Reagan-esque" moments last night? Then why do Booby Jindal and the rest of the Republicans hate him so much?

Supernatural Verbiage

Do we all believe in the same God?

Overall I liked Obama’s speech last night. Here is my least favorite part:

God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
I voted for Barack Obama. He is supposed to represent me, as well as all the other atheists in the United States. It is my audacious hope that atheists will one day not have to listen to supernatural verbiage from any politician ever again.

Living Our Values

Do we all share the same values?

Overall I liked Obama’s speech last night. Here is my favorite part:

To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend, because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. And that is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists, because living our values doesn't make us weaker. It makes us safer, and it makes us stronger.
I trust that when the president says “our values” he means the “values” that are the exact opposite of the “values” of George W. Bush. That is my audacious hope. Telling lies, killing people, invading other countries, taking from the poor to give to rich, ignoring people in desperate need, and so on, are not my values.

Not All CEO's Are Scumbags

From Banker in Obama speech recognized for his generosity:

More than two dozen guests joined first lady Michelle Obama at the president's speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

One person on the first lady's guest list was Leonard Abess Jr., a Miami banker who received a $60 million bonus from the proceeds from the sale of shares of City National Bank in Florida and gave it out to his 399 workers and 72 former workers.

During his speech, President Obama said Abess didn't tell anyone about his generosity, but when the local newspaper found out, Abess simply said, "I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."

Abess demonstrates the kind of "responsibility" the president has called for from high-profile financial CEOs, the White House said.

Obama contrasted Abess' story with the greed that he said got the country into the problems it faces now.

Let's Disinfect Wall Street

Wall Street needs to have some very bright sunlight shone on it.

From Commentary: Investigate Wall Street by Julian E. Zelizer:

Partisan warfare in the 1990s, including the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, made many Americans cynical about congressional investigation, as it seemed to be just another tool in the bitter culture of Capitol Hill.

But Congress can help us learn. We need another Pecora Commission, another Fulbright Committee, another Sam Ervin to use the power of Congress to shed light on the causes of our current economic meltdown.

Congress needs to learn more, not only about the kind of criminal activity for which Bernard Madoff is being charged, but also the legal practices -- such as risky home loans -- that created dangerous bubbles and put families at risk.

If voters and politicians are going to be able to evaluate legislation that is being proposed on a weekly basis, citizens must understand what has gone wrong.

This will be the first step toward restoring the confidence that the country needs if it is to start a better day.

How Low Can You Go?

From Penny Stocks? Small Change For Big-name Companies:

_ General Motors shares have fallen from $30.30 to $2.22, less than the cost of a standard spark plug (about $3.79).

_ New York Times Co. shares have fallen from $24.27 to $3.95, cheaper than the $4 cost of its Sunday edition.

_ General Electric Co. shares fell from $30.30 to $9.08, cheaper than a GE two-slice bagel toaster at Wal-Mart, selling Tuesday for clearance price of $12.

_ Office Depot is down from $38.27 to $1.26, less than a 12-pack of medium point Papermate BallPoint Stick Pens that run $1.89.

_ US Airways has fallen from $53.89 to $3.66, less than the current $4 cost of two in-flight coffees.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heart And Soul

Where was Rick Santelli when the banks and mortgage lenders were promoting and practicing bad behavior? Would Santelli have favored a computer voting system allowing all Americans to vote on all the issues when Bush was president? Why does Santelli think that commodities traders (or are they stock traders?) represent America? When was the last time you saw someone driving a ’54 Chevy? Was it fueled by water? Why are the anchors (or whatever they are) encouraging Santelli? They refer to the National Guard, the police, and the mob behind him. The weird woman anchor even tries to stage outrage. It falls flat. Why the hell are they doing that? Isn't it against the law to incite a riot?

Does Santelli remind you of the loud, belligerent drunk at your local bar?

There have always been people who could not afford their homes. There have always been foreclosures. This wasn’t a problem in the not so distant past. The lenders themselves minimized the number of foreclosures by being responsible lenders. It became a problem when the number of foreclosures skyrocketed. The lenders themselves encouraged people to take risky mortgages. They had become greedy, and in the process they had become irresponsible lenders. (And no, I don’t think it was the government that caused this, although they could have prevented it.) People like Rick Santelli want to blame everyone except the banks and the mortgage lenders. Are they really that innocent? In other words, the lenders used to deal with the “losers” (Santelli’s word, not mine) pretty effectively. What changed? Was there a sudden increase in “losers” or did the lenders simply allow more “losers” to participate?

The problem with foreclosures becomes worse when they spread like a contagion. Pretty soon everyone becomes susceptible, even if they don't become infected. Doctors try to stop the spread of infectious disease. Obama is trying to stop the spread of foreclosures. Mr. Santelli should not be so arrogant to think that he is immune from this. Given enough time, perhaps even he will become infected. If this happens, my guess is that he will come running to the government for help, just like the investment banks and the automakers have done. No one and no thing is too big to fail. That includes Rick Santelli. (And no, Mr. Santelli, that is not a threat.)

I really don’t know if what Obama is trying to do is the right thing to do. I am willing to give it a chance. I am also willing to give a little now if it means that I don’t have to give a lot (or everything) later. At least Obama is proposing something more than “rebate” checks (I call them bribes) and cutting taxes as a solution. It is a fact that certain American municipalities are in dire straits because of foreclosed property. Foreclosed property is already costing all of us money. Why isn’t Santelli talking about that?

For a very long time the government (and a portion of our tax dollars) has helped those that are less fortunate than the rest of us. Once upon a time the majority of Americans thought this was a good thing. Maybe since many of them had lived through the Great Depression and World War II they had a first hand knowledge of hardship and sacrifice. In other words, they knew what it was like to suffer, and therefore did not like to see other people suffer.

Rick Santelli has no soul and no heart. I’ll let you decide about his brain.

From This is not your father's country anymore by Jack Cafferty:

This is not your father's country anymore. And we had better all start getting used to it.

On the bright side, our history shows that times of shared national sacrifice have resulted in our greatest national achievements. It's been a very long time since we have been called upon to make any kind of serious sacrifice. We were overdue until one day in September, when Lehman Brothers collapsed. We're not overdue anymore.
Right-wing-nut inspired riots or shared national sacrifice. Which will it be? Kill your neighbor or help your neighbor? Which will it be?

I read a transcript of Santelli’s rant and to my dismay discovered that he was referring to Cuba when he spoke of the ’54 Chevy. So he was making some sense at this point. And the comment about running them on water makes some sense as well. If Santelli talked like a normal person I probably would not have made this error.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Numbers

Barack Obama is trying to not be the liar-in-chief. I don’t think that George W. Bush ever told the truth about anything. Except for the time he talked of the need to “catapult the propaganda.”

From Obama Bans Gimmicks, and Deficit Will Rise by Jackie Calmes:

For his first annual budget next week, President Obama has banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller. The price of more honest bookkeeping: A budget that is $2.7 trillion deeper in the red over the next decade than it would otherwise appear, according to administration officials.

The new accounting involves spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Medicare reimbursements to physicians and the cost of disaster responses.

But the biggest adjustment will deal with revenues from the alternative minimum tax, a parallel tax system enacted in 1969 to prevent the wealthy from using tax shelters to avoid paying any income tax.

Even with bigger deficit projections, the Obama administration will put the country on “a sustainable fiscal course” by the end of Mr. Obama’s term, Peter R. Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Thursday in an interview. Mr. Orszag did not provide details of how the administration would reduce a deficit expected to reach at least $1.5 trillion this year.

Mr. Obama’s banishment of the gimmicks, which have been widely criticized, is in keeping with his promise to run a more transparent government.

Fiscal sleight of hand has long been a staple of federal budgets, giving rise to phrases like “rosy scenario” and “magic asterisks.”

The $2.7 trillion in additional deficit spending, Mr. Orszag said, is “a huge amount of money that would just be kind of a magic asterisk in previous budgets.”

“The president prefers to tell the truth,” he said, “rather than make the numbers look better by pretending.”
Good for Obama. Now if we can get the corporations and banks to follow suit…


From Math Wizards Working on Spells to 'Cure' by Scott Patterson:

The financial engineers are at it again.

Critics may complain that these math wizards started the trouble in the first place by designing securities that couldn't withstand the market's turbulence. But they also may have the expertise to help fix the problem.

"Airplanes fail, too," says Peter Cotton, founder of Julius Finance, a structured-finance firm in New York. "That doesn't mean you don't fix them."

Mr. Cotton is one of many such engineers trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem before the government: how to design a system for buying up assets shunted into a massive "bad bank." The government doesn't want to pay too much and banks don't want to sell for too little.
Mr. Cotton says the models most banks and ratings firms used to price CDOs were poorly designed. "They are superficial," he says, and "often spit out prices that don't capture the underlying value of the assets."

Using those same failed models now, says Mr. Cotton, most banks are "essentially just making up numbers."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Careless Glenn, Bizarre Glenn

Glenn Beck is one careless right-wing-nut.

From Be Prepared by Glenn Beck:

If you believe this country was founded on divine providence — like our founders did — you believe that freedom was important enough that God got involved personally.

That's why this country was set up in a very specific way. Our rights and liberties come to us from God and we lend them to the government. Washington currently seems to have a different spin on that: government is god.

But, if you believe in the founders' ideals, it makes sense that God would give us an early warning system. That's your gut — don't dismiss it.
The whole “the founders founded America as a Christian nation” has become extremely tiresome, but this particular Glenn Beck version is simply too outrageous to ignore. Either Glenn Beck is careless, ignorant, or lying. How can one prove that God was personally involved in the founding of our nation when one cannot prove the existence of God?
Remember: The impossible sometimes turns into the reality quicker than you can imagine. Ask anyone who is running a bank or flipping houses.
By definition, something that is impossible is always impossible. If Glenn Beck meant to write that what appears to be impossible can sometimes turn out to actually be possible, then why didn’t he write that? And why didn’t God help him with his poorly constructed sentence? I think that maybe God is on the side of the atheists, don’t you?

Glenn Beck is one bizarre right-wing-nut.

Here is a video segment in which it appears (sometimes I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about) that Beck wants us to be prepared for an armageddon by arming ourselves so that we can actually make that possible armageddon into reality. Glenn Beck is afraid of some imagined scenario. He wants us to share his fear. I can’t do that. I’m already filled with fear of the reality that is Glenn Beck.

Funny how much Beck is behind the times and disconnected from reality. I remember when many Americans felt “anger and discontent at home” and felt “disenfranchised” and were feeling “isolated from their political leaders” and were “betrayed over and over.” However, the year was 2000, not 2014. Beck doesn’t envision the internet connecting like-minded people until 2014? He doesn’t envision militias until 2014? What planet is this guy from?

From Crazy Glenn Beck by Tom Tomorrow:
…the week after that plane landed in the Hudson, Crazy Glenn Beck was talking about how it was a sign from God for us to stay calm in these uncertain times. And he didn’t mean it as some sort of metaphor — it was literally a message to Americans from God Almighty not to panic, that He is here with us and we will survive the current economic turmoil.

Kind of a roundabout way for Him to get the word out, but okay, whatever. But then shortly afterwards came the horrible plane crash in Buffalo, which, of course, no one survived. Unfortunately I didn’t listen to Crazy Glenn Beck after that one, so I’m not sure what follow-up message God was allegedly sending us there.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Can You Afford Illegal Drugs?

With the way the economy is in the United States, who can afford anything, let alone illegal drugs? I think that the only people who can afford them are the people on Wall Street who “deserve” to make at least $500,000.00 a year because they are so “talented.”

From State Dept. Cites 'Large Firefights' in Travel Alert on Mexico by William Booth:

According to the alert, the threat of bodily harm is part of the ongoing drug war: "Mexican drug cartels are engaged in an increasingly violent conflict -- both among themselves and with Mexican security services -- for control of narcotics trafficking routes along the U.S.-Mexico border. In order to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed troops in various parts of the country. U.S. citizens should cooperate fully with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways."

The alerts are a poke in Mexico's eye as well as a source of friction. As Mexican commentators point out, the country is fighting to stop drugs heading to the world's largest consumer nation -- the United States.

Real Talent

Hank Greenberg thinks that the majority of Americans are not talented.

From Hank Greenberg's latest targets: salary curbs, AIG fire sale by Colleen McCarthy:

Former American International Group chairman Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg criticized the Obama administration’s steps to restrict executive compensation for firms that receive federal aid, saying the move will result in an exodus of talent.

“What kind of people are you going to get for $500,000? Anyone with real talent will just go elsewhere,” Mr. Greenberg told an audience in New York Thursday. He spoke as part of a panel discussion, sponsored by New York-based Source Communications, on the current financial crisis.
Isn’t greed what got us into the mess we are in right now? Perhaps “real talent” might be found in a person who thinks of ethics, morality, and the good of the country as being more important than how much money he can make. Or should I say, how much money he can steal?

By the way, just exactly how talented is Mr. Greenberg? I mean, AIG has just been such a rousing success, after all.

Taleb And Krugman

From U.S. must 'save capitalism' from the banks: Nassim Taleb:

And a bit like an Old Testament prophet, Mr. Taleb is angry and wants those he thinks are responsible to suffer.

“I want them poor and they deserve to be poor. You can’t have capitalism without punishment.”

Oh, and another thing, he wants Bob Rubin, who trousered millions while chairman of Citigroup, to cough up.

“I want Bob Rubin to return his $110 million dollars to the American taxpayer.”
What about Sandy Weill? What about Chuck Prince? What about Vikram Pandit?

From Bailouts for Bunglers by Paul Krugman:
Question: what happens if you lose vast amounts of other people’s money? Answer: you get a big gift from the federal government — but the president says some very harsh things about you before forking over the cash.

Am I being unfair? I hope so. But right now that’s what seems to be happening.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the Obama administration’s plan to support jobs and output with a large, temporary rise in federal spending, which is very much the right thing to do. I’m talking, instead, about the administration’s plans for a banking system rescue — plans that are shaping up as a classic exercise in “lemon socialism”: taxpayers bear the cost if things go wrong, but stockholders and executives get the benefits if things go right.

When I read recent remarks on financial policy by top Obama administration officials, I feel as if I’ve entered a time warp — as if it’s still 2005, Alan Greenspan is still the Maestro, and bankers are still heroes of capitalism.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama And The Huffington Post

From Interpreting Obama's nod to Huffington Post by Jon Friedman:

"I have noticed the reaction to it," Stein told me. "It's not unexpected. There had been a tradition of which reporters get to ask questions to the president. It's historical, and worth noting. I'm happy. It's a refection of how the media landscape is changing in a good way. There are more outlets, different viewpoints and different questions."

For veteran media watchers, Obama's action was a signal, at the very least, that he would be doing things differently than his predecessor.

"President Obama calling on a Huffington Post reporter is only 'revolutionary' if our frame of reference is President George W. Bush," noted Ken Auletta, the New Yorker media critic.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Noam And George

Noam Chomsky, from the book Understanding Power:

[A] few years ago George Will wrote a column in Newsweek called "Mideast Truth and Falsehood," about how peace activists are lying about the Middle East, everything they say is a lie. And in the article, there was one statement that had a vague relation to fact: he said that Sadat had refused to deal with Israel until 1977. So I wrote them a letter, the kind of letter you write to Newsweek—you know, four lines—in which I said, "Will has one statement of fact, it's false; Sadat made a peace offer in 1971, and Israel and the United States turned it down." Well, a couple days later I got a call from a research editor who checks facts for the Newsweek "Letters" column. She said: "We're kind of interested in your letter, where did you get those facts?" So I told her, "Well, they're published in Newsweek, on February 8, 1971"—which is true, because it was a big proposal, it just happened to go down the memory hole in the United States because it was the wrong story. So she looked it up and called me back, and said, "Yeah, you're right, we found it there; okay, we'll run your letter." An hour later she called again and said, "Gee, I'm sorry, but we can't run the letter." I said, "What's the problem?" She said, "Well, the editor mentioned it to Will and he's having a tantrum; they decided they can't run it." Well, okay.
Thank you Jonathan Schwarz.

I Know The Feeling

That smirk, combined with the jokes about serious matters, are two of George W. Bush’s worst qualities. (Of course, there are many more.) Instead of throwing shoes, which would have only broken my television, I frequently gave Bush the finger. It made me feel better. I feel empathy for Muntadher al-Zaidi. I have never felt empathy for George W. Bush.

From Iraqi shoe thrower: Bush's 'soulless smile' set me off:

Muntadher al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist on trial for throwing his shoes last year at then-President George W. Bush, said the former American leader's "bloodless and soulless smile" and his joking banter provoked him.

Al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at Bush during a December news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Neither shoe hit the president, and other people in the room quickly knocked al-Zaidi to the ground before security officials arrested him.

He explained his actions in an hour-long appearance on Thursday at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. Asked if anyone pushed or motivated him to do this, al-Zaidi said he was spurred on by the "violations that are committed against the Iraqi people."

"I could only see Bush and feel the blood of the innocents flow under his feet, as he was smiling that smile -- as if he had come to bid farewell to Iraq and with the last support and more than 1 million martyrs," al-Zaidi said. "At that moment, I felt this is the man who killed our nation ... the main murderer and the main person responsible for killing our nation."
"I had no intention to kill the commander of the occupying forces ... even if I had a weapon ... I was expressing my inner feelings and those of all the Iraqi people from east to west and north to south and the feelings of hatred they hold for him," he said.

Al-Zaidi told the judge that he had intended to humiliate Bush in the past. As Bush listed the gains made in Iraq during the mid-December news conference, al-Zaidi said he was thinking about the millions of civilians who had been killed, widowed or displaced. He talked about the sanctity of mosques being violated, the rape of women and daily humiliations.

"I don't know what accomplishments he was talking about. The accomplishments I could see were the more than 1 million martyrs and a sea of blood," al-Zaidi said. "There are more than 5 million Iraqi orphans because of the occupation. ... More than a million widows and more than 3 million displaced because of the occupation."
I can’t help but think that it is unlikely that I would be arrested if I went to one of my local town meetings and threw my shoes at my mayor because I was upset with him. Where is the justice in this world if Muntadher al-Zaidi is punished for a non-crime and Bush is never punished for his many crimes?

Some people simply refuse to listen to what others have to say if it doesn’t fit their point of view.

Bailing And Stimulating

Put simply, I think that I am more in favor of stimulus and less in favor of bailouts. Sometimes I wonder if the news media even bothers to make any distinctions between the two. It also seems to me that the Republicans are more in favor of bailouts and less in favor of stimulus.

From Sen. Graham on the Stimulus: 'This Bill Stinks ... We're Not Being Smart'

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We only have about 45 seconds left. Is this going to pass? I mean, the president has -- there are a lot of Democrats in the Senate and the House.

GRAHAM: I think...

VAN SUSTEREN: They own the two houses.

GRAHAM: If we can make sure that Republicans will insist on a better process, where Republicans ideas are heard, there are enough Republicans that will meet Democrats in a responsible way to get a spending bill that cuts -- a bill that cuts taxes and spends on infrastructure and help people who (are) out of a job. If this bill passes, I think the Obama administration has governed completely different than the way they campaigned, and the Democratic Congress will be reinforcing the public's view of them in a very bad way. We can do better. I want a bipartisan bill, not this bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so if this passes, you're going to get a bumper sticker that says, "Don't blame me."
Republican ideas have been forced down our throats for what seems like an eternity. As far as the economy goes, make that idea, rather than ideas. Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts… Other than tax cuts and obstructionism and whining, what are the Republicans offering? What are the great ideas that they want people to listen to?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bad Obama

From Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas by Charlie Savage:

Even as it pulls back from harsh interrogations and other sharply debated aspects of George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism,” the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor’s approach to fighting Al Qaeda.

In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A.’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.

And earlier this month, after a British court cited pressure by the United States in declining to release information about the alleged torture of a detainee in American custody, the Obama administration issued a statement thanking the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information.”

These and other signs suggest that the administration’s changes may turn out to be less sweeping than many had hoped or feared — prompting growing worry among civil liberties groups and a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies.
From Charlie Savage on Obama's embrace of Bush/Cheney "terrorism policies" by Glenn Greenwald:
We don't place faith in the Goodness and kindness of specific leaders -- even Barack Obama -- to secretly exercise powers for our own Good. We rely instead on transparency and on constant compulsory limits on those powers as imposed by the Constitution, by other branches, and by law. That's what it means to be a nation of laws and not men. When Obama embraces the same abusive and excessive powers that Bush embraced, it isn't better because it's Obama rather than Bush wielding that power. It's the same. And that's true even if one "trusts" Obama more than Bush.

We Don't Do No Stinkin' Multitasking

GOPer: We Can't Investigate Bush Because of the Bad Economy

The Bush Administration Still Exists

The Bush Administration is still capable of doing damage to the average citizen of the United States. They are still out there. They are still capable of influencing government policy. Many have simply morphed into lobbyists.

From Watchdog: Bush ex-officials used leverage in private sector by Greg Gordon:

All told, 17 of 24 former Bush Cabinet members have taken positions with at least 119 companies, including 65 firms that lobby the government and 40 that lobby the agencies they headed, a liberal-leaning watchdog group said in a report Monday.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that the group's six-month investigation "has shown that most of these former Bush administration officials have cannily leveraged their time spent in the public sector'' and "made a mint on the backs of American taxpayers."

"It may be legal, but it is certainly not honorable," she said.
This should be against the law. Lobbyists have destroyed democracy in the United States. Bribery has replaced democracy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Missing Papers

From Homeowners' rallying cry: Produce the note by Mitch Stacy:

Kathy Lovelace lost her job and was about to lose her house, too. But then she made a seemingly simple request of the bank: Show me the original mortgage paperwork.

And just like that, the foreclosure proceedings came to a standstill.

Lovelace and other homeowners around the country are managing to stave off foreclosure by employing a strategy that goes to the heart of the whole nationwide mess.

During the real estate frenzy of the past decade, mortgages were sold and resold, bundled into securities and peddled to investors. In many cases, the original note signed by the homeowner was lost, stored away in a distant warehouse or destroyed.

Persuading a judge to compel production of hard-to-find or nonexistent documents can, at the very least, delay foreclosure, buying the homeowner some time and turning up the pressure on the lender to renegotiate the mortgage.
Read the rest here.

The First Shall Be Last

From Watching Republicans grieve by Mark Schone:

I remember 2004, when they said that the Democrats were in the permanent minority. And now look. So, I think that the minute we write them off, the more we diminish their power, the stronger they're going to be in four years. I think sometimes losing empowers you more than it defeats you. And I found a lot of people who are so unhappy with Obama as president that they are going to do everything they can to help Republican candidates defeat what they see as the liberal takeover of America.
Those are the words of Alexandra Pelosi, Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and daughter of Nancy Pelosi.

Generational Theft Revisited

Are there any Republicans complaining about this?

From A 'fraud' bigger than Madoff by Patrick Cockburn:

In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme.

"I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad," said one US businessman active in Iraq since 2003.

In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in "pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills" to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money. He is among the few US officials who were in Iraq to be convicted of fraud and money-laundering.

Despite the vast sums expended on rebuilding by the US since 2003, there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy and others rusting beside a half-built giant mosque that Saddam was constructing when he was overthrown. One of the few visible signs of government work on Baghdad's infrastructure is a tireless attention to planting palm trees and flowers in the centre strip between main roads. Those are then dug up and replanted a few months later.
The end of the Bush administration which launched the war may give fresh impetus to investigations into frauds in which tens of billions of dollars were spent on reconstruction with little being built that could be used. In the early days of the occupation, well-connected Republicans were awarded jobs in Iraq, regardless of experience. A 24-year-old from a Republican family was put in charge of the Baghdad stock exchange which had to close down because he allegedly forgot to renew the lease on its building.
Read more here.

Congressional Republicans voted in favor of all of this. Congressional Republicans supported Bush's war policies. Now, all of a sudden with a Democrat in the White House, they are concerned about taxpayers' money? Rush Limbaugh may want Barack Obama to fail. George W. Bush did fail.

Of course the war profiteers (including Rush Limbaugh) probably don’t see Bush as a failure.

Quote Of Note - Bernie Sanders

If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. Bernie Sanders

The Too-Big-To-Fail Doctrine

From Free Market Myth by Dean Baker:

In the context of a too-big-to-fail principle, the removal of restrictions on leverage (investment banks were allowed to leverage their capital at a ratio of forty-to-one compared to just ten-to-one for commercial banks) and the relaxation of other prudential regulation (the nominal value of credit default swaps, a new class of derivative instruments, grew to more than $70 trillion in a nearly unregulated market) essentially gave the banks a license to wager with taxpayers’ money.

Banks did exactly what economic theory predicts. They took huge risks, leveraging themselves to the hilt with questionable assets, knowing that they would gain as long as the housing bubble held up. And the banks did so with willing accomplices among pension funds, hedge funds, and other investors because these investors knew that the government would rescue them if things went badly.

Deregulation can be a principled position held by true believers in a free market. But Wall Streeters all wanted one-sided regulation that provided them with an enormous government security blanket without any costs or conditions. None of the Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan crew ever went to lobby Congress for an explicit repeal of the too-big-to-fail doctrine. And while many on Wall Street lost their jobs when the bubble burst, the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars that banking executives earned during the good times are theirs to keep. Even with the market collapse, the vast majority of them are almost certainly better off than they would have been had they done honest work over the last decade.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How Selfish Are Republicans?

Do Republican politicians even want the economy to recover? Are they placing their own self-interests before the interests of their constituents? It seems to me that all that the Republican politicians want to do right now is to try to make Barack Obama look bad. Good luck with that. Instead of making Obama look bad they are simply digging their own graves. They are continuing the terrible Bush legacy of pettiness, bullheadedness, and assholeness. The American public eventually caught up with how bad Bush was, and eventually they will catch up with how bad the remaining Republican politicians are.

These petty bastards should put partisan politics aside and actually try to do something to help this country and its citizens!!! In other words, stop being assholes!!!

From Opposing Obama on Stimulus, Republicans Party Like It's 1993 by Jon Perr:

Ultimately, of course, history was not kind to the Republican obstructionists who put politics before public policy. Reagan's massive 1981 tax cuts led to even more massive budget deficits, forcing the Gipper to later raise taxes twice. George W. Bush, too, saw the federal government hemorrhage red ink and presided over the worst eight-year economic record of any modern American president. Meanwhile, Democrat Bill Clinton's tenure in the 1990's witnessed rapid economic growth, low unemployment, balanced budgets and projected surpluses.

As for Barack Obama, it's clear that he's in for more of the same treatment as Bill Clinton. No doubt with a twinkle in his eye, Karl Rove said Thursday of the Republicans' stimulus stonewalling, "they are playing their hand extraordinarily well." Through their onstructionism, he said, "House Republicans have used the stimulus bill to redefine their party." And Bill Kristol, who almost single-handedly rallied the GOP to block the Clinton health care plan in 1994, last week called on Republicans to give Barack Obama a repeat on the stimulus - and just about everything else:
"But the loss of credibility, even if they jam it through, really hurts them on the next, on the next piece of legislation. Clinton got through his tax increases in '93, it was such a labor and he had to twist so many arms to do it and he became so unpopular...

...That it made, that it made it so much easier to then defeat his health care initiative. So, it's very important for Republicans who think they're going to have to fight later on on health care, fight later on maybe on some of the bank bailout legislation, fight later on on all kinds of issues."
And so it goes. Even in defeat, the Republicans want to party like it's 1993.
When will the remaining Republican voters wake up to the fact that Republican politicians put themselves first, corporate America second, and American citizens last?

Why is Karl Rove a weekly op-ed writer for The Wall Street Journal, a Newsweek columnist and writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster when he should be in jail?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fiscal Conservatism At Work

Why isn’t it “generational theft” when Republicans spend billions of dollars?

To be a Fiscal Conservative (actually a pretend Fiscal Conservative, not a real one) means you vote for government spending when your party is in power and complain and whine about government spending when the other party is in power. It means you vote for wars that send money out of the United States, allowing huge sums of it to be stolen or lost. It means you don’t vote for a stimulus package where the money would stay in the United States and be used by and for United States citizens. To be a Fiscal Conservative means you are unscrupulous, unethical, uncaring, unthinking, and unwise, because all of this will only come back and bite you in the ass in the long run. The Republicans are suicidal.

Go Forth And Use Birth Control

From The Five Year Ban: Because A Billion Less People Is A Great Place To Start by Steven Kotler:

We have spent the past 4000 years trying to shrug off the nightmare that is Biblical advice. We no longer sanction slavery or believe it okay to stone a woman to death for wearing sexy clothing or any of that other nonsense—but go forth and multiply?

Got to be the worst advice in the history of the world.
But wait, there's more: The Five Year Ban: Global Over-Population Part II.

I Broke The Law And The Law Lost

I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with nuts

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rush Rants On Lincoln And Obama

From President Obama Attaches Himself to the Mythical "Bipartisan" Lincoln:

RUSH: Right, so Barack Obama is bringing Abraham Lincoln to a whole generation that's never been taught about Abraham Lincoln, and they're learning he might have been gay, that his wife was nuts, that he suffered from depression, that he was a racist. Thank you, President Obama. Thank you, CNN. You are doing the job that everybody expects of you: taking every tradition and institution that defined this country's greatness and trying to rip it to shreds.
RUSH: There's one more point I gotta make, I have to make about Abraham Lincoln. Sometimes my patience wears thin when I see these frauds, these pretenders like Obama try to attach themselves to the greatness of Abraham Lincoln. (doing Obama impression) "They would want us to behave in a bipartisan way, in the same way that he saved America." Abraham Lincoln put his opponents in jail, and I'm about in favor of us doing the same thing pretty soon. During the Civil War, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. That meant you could be thrown in jail without being told why. All they had to do was suspect that you were subverting the Union effort to win the war, and they could jail you!
Has Barack Obama ever actually used the word “bipartisan” to describe Lincoln? Haven’t Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush already taken “every tradition and institution that defined this country's greatness” and already ripped them to shreds? If Mr. Limbaugh thinks that a whole generation has never been taught anything about Abraham Lincoln perhaps the lack of government funding for public education under Republican leadership has something to do with it.

Speaking of education, perhaps Rush could stand to have some himself. One is not supposed to use a singular pronoun when referring to something plural in the same sentence. Do you only criticize others Mr. Limbaugh? Perhaps you need to turn some of that criticism towards yourself.

Mr. Limbaugh, you are behind the times. The stigmas against gays and people suffering from depression continue to fade into oblivion. Only ignorant people like you are hanging on to them for dear life. Lincoln was a racist in a time when perhaps the majority of Americans were racist. Lincoln used his intellect to change his mind and become less racist. Lincoln used his eloquence to convince other Americans to change their minds and become less racist. For someone who admires Lincoln you certainly don’t seem to want to try to emulate him. Try to use your intellect, Mr. Limbaugh, change your mind and try to embrace reality for a change.

Rush Limbaugh thinks that Abraham Lincoln didn’t try to unite the North and the South after the Civil War because he suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War? Is that what he is saying? How absurd can one get? It was Ulysses S. Grant who suspended habeas corpus during the 1870’s, not Lincoln. Has Rush even read the Gettysburg Address? Does he have any idea of its meaning? Lincoln was trying to unify the country, like Obama is trying to do now. Rush thinks Lincoln is great. Why? He has no sense of the historical facts of Lincoln.

I do not understand the Limbaugh mindset. He appears to like the fact that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and that he put his opponents in jail (actually the country’s opponents.) This is not exactly what most people think of as Lincoln's crowning achievment, but not good old Rush. Rush admits that he would like be able to put his opponents in jail as well. Somehow, in Limbaugh’s mind, this turns Obama into a fraud. By using a strange form of twisted logic Rush chooses one of the things that Lincoln did that appears on the surface (but perhaps not in reality) to be against uniting the country. Rush says, because of this, Obama is not like Lincoln. Rush ignores (or lies about) the things that Lincoln actually did do towards unifying the country. These are the things that Lincoln and Obama share, of course, the things that prove that Obama is not a fraud in this instance.

Rush is Rush, and truth is truth; and never the twain shall meet.

More Stimulus Response Behaviour

The ability of certain Republicans to sound dumber and dumber over and over again never ceases to amaze me.

From $787B stimulus package passes through U.S. Congress:

"The bill that was about jobs, jobs, jobs has turned into a bill that's about spending, spending, spending," said House Republican Leader John Boehner on Friday, tossing the 1,071-page document to the floor in Congress.
Isn’t spending the very definition of a stimulus bill? Didn’t that guy who used to be president before Barack Obama want everyone (including the government) to spend all the time? Didn’t he say it was good for the economy? Wasn't he a Republican?

From Huckabee: Stimulus is 'anti-religious' by Andy Barr:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee warned supporters Tuesday that the $828 billion stimulus package is “anti-religious.”

In an e-mail that was also posted on his blog ahead of the Senate’s passage, Huckabee wrote: “The dust is settling on the ‘bipartisan’ stimulus bill and one thing is clear: It is anti-religious.”

The former Republican presidential candidate pointed to a provision in both the House and Senate versions banning higher education funds in the bill from being used on a “school or department of divinity.”

“You would think the ACLU drafted this bill,” Huckabee said. “For all of the talk about bipartisanship, this Congress is blatantly liberal.”

“Emily’s List, radical environmental groups, etc. all have a seat at the decision making table in Washington these days,” he continued. “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are in charge and they are working with an equally ‘progressive’ President Obama (remember his voting record is more liberal than Ted Kennedy!).”
It is hard for me to decide whether Huckabee is extremely dumb, or extremely smart. I do know that he is simply wrong. Huckabee needs to be reminded that the non-religious, the ACLU and its supporters, liberals, the supporters of Emily’s List, “radical” environmental groups and progressives are all made up of American citizens. American citizens that are supposed to be represented in Washington. He doesn’t like that they are being represented in Washington now? How Un-American of him. I say it’s about time. Obama wants to include Republicans in the political process, why can’t Huckabee include Non-Republicans in the political process? Let’s remember that we are all in this together.

Stimulus Response Behaviour

From Idaho Republican thinks he woke up in 'Bizarro World' by David Neiwert:

Republicans are having a tough time dealing with the realities of not having even a shred of remaining power. There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth the past few days as Democrats have proceeded to impose their political will in the form of Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.
Meanwhile, what seems to have him (Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho) most irate is that America is no longer a "center right" nation and we are moving forward to fix our problems with progressive solutions. All Mike Simpson and his fellow Republicans had to offer as an alternative was more of the same old garbage that wreaked this mess in the first place -- tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, and oh did we mention tax cuts?
From Ownership by digby:
The Republicans are hedging their bets. They want to be able to use the stimulus as a bludgeon (just think of the pork stories!) and want to be on record against it for 2010. But just in case the pointy headed economists are right, they do need to take care of their rich benefactors. If America's owners really didn't want this to pass they would have twisted some corporate Democrats' arms. (Conversely, if they really wanted it to be bipartisan, they would have twisted some Republicans' arms.)

The Gross Bust

From How We Can Restore Confidence by Charles T. Munger:

Our situation is dire. Moderate booms and busts are inevitable in free-market capitalism. But a boom-bust cycle as gross as the one that caused our present misery is dangerous, and recurrences should be prevented. The country is understandably depressed -- mired in issues involving fiscal stimulus, which is needed, and improvements in bank strength. A key question: Should we opt for even more pain now to gain a better future? For instance, should we create new controls to stamp out much sin and folly and thus dampen future booms? The answer is yes.

Sensible reform cannot avoid causing significant pain, which is worth enduring to gain extra safety and more exemplary conduct. And only when there is strong public revulsion, such as exists today, can legislators minimize the influence of powerful special interests enough to bring about needed revisions in law.
Read more here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Other Party

From Just Give It Up by Josh Marshall:

I think what most people see here is one side of (the) equation trying to put together a bill with big majorities, which means necessarily ones that wouldn't be his own parties wish list. The other party has used the overture exclusively as a vehicle for scoring political points and, more poetically put, being dicks.

Left And Right And Good And Evil

I like moments of clarity and definition. Sometimes a book, an essay, a television interview, a poem, or a discussion with a friend can give you a moment of clarity and definition. Hopefully the moment will endure in your memory; because you have been given words and thoughts that clearly express something that was hazy and foggy before. It is strange to read someone that you think is totally wrong in their thinking and have it lead to a moment of clarity and definition. That’s what happened to me yesterday. (For the curious it was this and this that I read.)

The end result of all of this is a theory, or perhaps it is simply an observation. There is a fundamental difference between those who lean to the left politically from those who lean to the right politically. The difference is defined by the word potential. The difference is defined by the words good and evil.

Pick a topic of contention between the left and the right. The left sees the potential for good, the right sees evil to be feared. Let’s use welfare as an example. The left sees the welfare recipient as a potentially good person down on their luck, someone who needs a helping hand, someone who is a contributing member of society in their own right, someone who may potentially contribute even more to society in the future. The right sees a bad person, a leech sucking at the government teat taking away all of their money.

Let’s try another one. There is always “the big scary other.” For the right this is a seemingly never ending category. It could be the scary black man, the scary Mexicans, the scary “terrorist”, the scary atheist, the scary person out to steal their jobs, the scary gay person… and on and on. Once again, the person on the left sees potential and the possibility or actuality of good people. The person on the right sees evil people. (The person on the right even sees an “axis of evil.”) The person on the left thinks that prisons and drug treatment centers should rehabilitate, that our neighbors are our brothers, and that diversity is a good thing. The person on the left is willing to talk to the “other” even if some label him a “terrorist.” (“One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.”) The person on the left believes in freedom of and from religion, and the separation of church and state. The person on the left believes that we all deserve the chance to work to support ourselves and our families. The person on the left sees good people no matter what the color of their skin, no matter what their creed, no matter what their sexual orientation. The person on the right sees people out to get them. The person on the right thinks that diversity is a bad thing and is afraid of those who are different. The “big scary other” will someday kill them, rape them, take their job, torture them and then kill them again, take Christmas from them, force them to stop believing in Jesus, take marriage away from them, and the biggest fear of all: take away some, perhaps all, of their money. (Even taking away a little bit seems to be intolerable to the person on the right, hence the reason why they will vote for tax breaks above all else.)

Let’s try another. Abortion. The left sees a woman who will agonize to make the decision that is right for her and her fetus. The right sees an evil murderer.

One last example. William Ayers. The left sees someone who made mistakes in the past, someone who has always been passionate in his beliefs, someone who is currently doing many good things. The right sees a terrorist who should be destroyed, someone to be used for their own political gain.

The left wants to give people other than themselves a chance to make something of themselves, to contribute to a better society. They see that in the long run this will benefit us all. The right sees people who should be left out on the street to fend for themselves, or put in prison to fend for themselves, or be killed. (Or in the words of Arlo Guthrie “…all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things…”) The right cannot imagine how improving the lives of those with less could possibly be of any benefit to them. The left tends to put the welfare and reputations of other people ahead of its own political gain. The right tends to destroy the welfare and reputations of other people for its own political gain.

The left imagines good and sees potential, the right imagines evil and wants to kill potential. When the left imagines others looking at the left, it sees what it would want others to see. When the right imagines others looking at the right, it sees only itself, and is afraid of what it sees.

I choose potential and hope over fear and killing. I choose to see good before I see evil.

All of this helps to explain why I detest people like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. They have used the fear of “the big scary other” for their own personal material advancement. They view other people as either commodities to be used for their own gain, or as enemies that must be defeated. They don’t see fellow human beings. Worst of all, they have convinced millions of others to believe as they do. Even though I said that I choose to see good before I see evil, in the cesspool of Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh/Coulter and their ilk, I only see evil.

Quote Of Note - Keith Olbermann

“…Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years…” Keith Olbermann

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good God Y'all

Sarah Palin's 2009 calendar is the #1 Amazon office supply

After Life

From Shermer, Michael:

I once saw a bumper sticker that read: Militant Agnostic: I Don’t Know and You Don’t Either. This is my position on the afterlife: I don’t know and you don’t either. If we knew for certain that there is an afterlife, we would not fear death as we do, we would not mourn quite so agonizingly the death of loved ones, and there would be no need to engage in debates on the subject.

Abe And Charlie

Happy 200th birthday to Abraham Lincoln and to Charles Darwin.

“…government of the people, by the people, for the people…” Abraham Lincoln

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge…” Charles Darwin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm With Bernie

From Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Why Not Fire Failed Tycoons?

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) challenged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on why Wall Street chief executives, such as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, have been allowed to keep their jobs.

"You have a person who made hundreds of millions for himself and he led his institution and helped cause a great financial crisis. We have put as taxpayers $10 billion to bail him out and we have no say as to whether or not he will stay on the job?" Sanders asked Geithner.
"We're not going to fire the leadership?" an incredulous Sanders persisted. "We're going to keep these same guys who caused the crisis in power and who made huge sums of money?

"I think the American people -- if they're going to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into these institutions -- want a new slate of leadership."
What a novel idea! Fire people when they screw up! Of course, how many bosses fire themselves?

Bush Was No Lincoln

From Lincoln was a virtuoso with a pen by Fred Kaplan:

Our most recent previous president obviously had inferior speechwriters. George W. Bush had little facility as an editor, and his command of language often veered into ungrammatical at best and incoherent at worst. Not even his political partisans would make a case for him as a role model for teaching young students respect for our language. Sometimes the problem was what he said; it was always how he said it.

As a Republican, his model should have been Abraham Lincoln, the most gifted writer of all American presidents, who wrote every word published over his name. Ironically, the modern president who has fully embraced Lincoln as his role model is a Democrat, Barack Obama.

Why that difference? Part of it is temperament. Stubborn and opinionated, Bush limited his counsel to those who agreed with him. He had little regard for rational and deliberate formulation of public policy, the very opposite of Lincoln. One reason for this is that Bush as president had no talent for, and little respect for, language.

Times Is Hard

From Loudon Wainwright III composed a brand new song for NPR's All Things Considered:

Times is hard. Times is tough.
Nothin's easy. It's all rough.
There's not much right; so much gone wrong.
All I can do is play this song.

You're watchin' the news. It all looks bad.
The worst half-hour you ever had.
What in God's name is goin' on?
All I can do is play this song.

You're losin' your job, your house and your car.
Hittin' rock bottom don't feel that far.
Nothin' good is gonna come along.
All I can do is play this song.

Folks are scared watchin' that news.
Folks feel bad. They're gettin' the blues.
My poor stomach, it ain't that strong.
All I can do is play this song.

Times is rough. Times is hard.
Take a pair of scissors to your credit card.
Circuit City just said, 'So long.'
All I can do is play this song.

Who's at fault? Who gets the blame?
Let's string up Bernie what's-his-name.
And ask Alan Greenspan to come along.
All I can do is play this song.

They want your gold, and they'll pay cash.
The only silver lining is the price of gas.
Money's short and the odds are long.
All I can do is play this song.

The factory's closed. The bank is bust.
On the money it says, 'In God We Trust.'
So pray for all your stocks and bonds.
All I can do is play this song.

Outta luck. Outta hope.
I'm wonderin' why I even cast that vote.
I took that sign offa my front lawn.
All I can do is play this song.

There's a new man down there in D.C.
They say he's gonna help you and me.
They sure know how to bang the gong.
All I can do is play this song.

Last man in D.C., he had eight years.
Now the whole damn country is in arrears.
We got two, three, four wars goin' on.
All I can do is play this song.

Times is hard. Times is rough.
I guess you folks need some cheerin' up.
Well it ain't me babe. You got that wrong.
All I can do is play this song.

You heard it here. I sang it first.
Don't feel so bad; things are gonna get worse.
Consider yourselves all strung along.
All I can do is play this song.

All I can do is ...


I am weary of indignant Congresspeople holding hearings where they “question” those involved in our economic problems. Congress is as much to blame as anyone. In fact, they probably deserve the most blame. They changed the regulations and rules of the money game. They allowed Wall Street to go berserk. They voted for two illegal wars that have consumed huge amounts of taxpayer money. I wish they would stop grandstanding and acting holier-than-thou. If they don’t like the way that the Wall Streeters have behaved then put some of them in jail, stop giving them more money, and shut the hell up.

From What Did the Banks Do With Your Cash? by Matthew Jaffe:

"We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recently said from the Senate floor.

"I'm mad," she said. "Everyone I work for is mad."
Congress is the problem. I’m mad at them. Congress has allowed Wall Street to kick sand in the face of the American taxpayer. Instead of reminding us of what we already know, Congress should stop the sand kicking. If they don’t have the power to do this, who the hell does?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quote Of Note - Joe Scarborough

“…we don't know what we're talking about." Joe Scarborough

Paying The "Best People" On Wall Street

From Pay curbs a right of ownership by David Weidner:

Maybe the biggest mistake made by the likes of Smith, Thain, Tiger Management's Julian Robertson or former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, when defending bonuses, is they forget that making the rules about pay is part of the right of ownership and an essential part of capitalism and free markets.

After doling out more than $350 billion to acquire stakes in investment banks and commercial banks, the U.S. government -- you and I, as taxpayers -- definitely own the biggest banks on Main Street and Wall Street.

Put it this way: Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. each received $40 billion in cash and more than $360 billion in guarantees. Yet, Citigroup has a market value of only around $22 billion. Bank of America is valued at about $34 billion. Morgan Stanley is worth about $24 billion.

The list goes on, but you get the picture. The government either has effectively bought majority stakes in these companies or put more cash into them than they are worth. If these companies did not want the government exercising its right of ownership, then they should have not accepted the cash and prepared a bankruptcy filing.

It's true firms that haven't taken government cash will have a competitive pay advantage. That's how it should be. Firms that are run right should have an advantage. Why would we reward banks and bankers who got it wrong?

All this nonsense about Americans not understanding compensation on Wall Street is a bunch of elitist posturing. We understand it perfectly well, thank you. We know that even the most troubled of firms will look for ways around the new pay caps. We know that some people will flee for riches at smaller banks or hedge funds. We can live without the high flyers.

Quote Of Note - Paul B. Farrell

“Washington's run by 40,000 lobbyists not 537 elected politicians.” Paul B. Farrell

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama Press Conference

I am listening to Obama’s Press Conference right now. The first thing I notice is that I don’t immediately want to give him the finger. That was my first reaction whenever Bush appeared on television.

Unlike Bush, Obama sounds intelligent. He is a vast improvement in that regard.

I think that Obama is right when he says that what America needs right now is jobs. Government spending that may result in more Americans working is something I’m willing to give a chance. Bush’s way was simply a transfer of wealth to the richest Americans. The TARP program gave billions to the banks without much oversight. It wasn’t what I wanted to see, more money given to wealthy bankers. At least Obama seems to want to focus on regular working class Americans. They are the true backbone of this country, and it’s time the government stopped giving them the shaft.

A lot of people in the press haven’t changed, however. Many of them still sound like idiots.

"The paradox of a Rush Limbaugh"

From Bill Moyers is Insightful, Erudite, Impassioned, Brilliant and the Host of PBS' "NOW":

BUZZFLASH: Have we created a circumstance where we have little perspective beyond the most recent news cycle? The words of the White House on one morning, for instance, may be contradicted by events in the afternoon, but the news coverage rarely seems to bring any information or comments from the past to compare them to the unfolding news of the moment. It's almost as if news no longer has a historical context.

MOYERS: Down the memory hole, as George Orwell would describe it. And yes, it's all about stimulation now. Watching the opening of the second game of the World Series, I was struck at how effectively the Fox producers mixed patriotic imagery with prurient promotions for upcoming programming in what amounted to a sedation of the viewer's critical faculty. It's a fitting metaphor, I think, for what's happening in politics as the mainstream media have been silenced and the partisan media have turned propaganda into "news." Wave the flag, stroke the sentiments, stir the prejudices -- and you can keep the masses distracted from the real game happening out of sight, behind closed doors in boardrooms and oval offices.

BUZZFLASH: And what is that game?

MOYERS: Class war. The corporate right and the political right declared class war on working people a quarter of a century ago and they've won. The rich are getting richer, which arguably wouldn't matter if the rising tide lifted all boats. But the inequality gap is the widest it's been since l929; the middle class is besieged and the working poor are barely keeping their heads above water. The corporate and governing elites are helping themselves to the spoils of victory -- politics, when all is said and done, comes down to who gets what and who pays for it -- while the public is distracted by the media circus and news has been neutered or politicized for partisan purposes.

Take the paradox of a Rush Limbaugh, ensconced in a Palm Beach mansion massaging the resentments across the country of white-knuckled wage earners, who are barely making ends meet in no small part because of the very policies of those corporate and ideological forces for whom Rush has been a hero. I recently came across an account of the tabloid era of British journalism in the late 1950s when the Daily Mirror, for one, presented itself as the champion of the working man, fearlessly speaking truth to power, when out of sight its gluttonous and egomaniacal chairman was demanding and extorting favors from frightened or like-minded politicians and generally helping himself to greater portions of privilege like any other press baron. It's the same story for Limbaugh, Murdoch and his minions, and the tycoons of the megamedia conglomerates. They helped create the new Gilded Age to whose largesse they have so generously helped themselves while throwing the populace off the trail with red meat served up in the guise of journalism.

As Eric Alterman reports in his recent book -- a book that I'm proud to have helped make happen -- part of that red meat strategy is to attack mainstream media relentlessly, knowing that if the press is effectively intimidated, either by the accusation of liberal bias or by a reporter's own mistaken belief in the charge's validity, the institutions that conservatives revere -- corporate America, the military, organized religion, and their own ideological bastions of influence -- will be able to escape scrutiny and increase their influence over American public life with relatively no challenge. Eric calls it "working the refs," and it's worked.