Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You know, When I saw that the House had rejected the compromise bailout bill, and that the stock market had tanked, I found myself laughing. Maybe I shouldn't find this so amusing, but I do.

I think Michael Moore agrees with me.

When I read some of the comments from the floor of the stock exchange, I laughed even more. Talk about a nation of whiners!

I know that the stock market crashing kind of makes the world suck, I guess. I don't know. I'm the kind of guy that is a skilled worker that can make enough salary to afford to buy a modest house. I'm also the kind of guy mortgage lenders were tripping over themselves trying to lend $400,000 to. I'm also the guy that's been getting credit card offers for the last 20 years, offering unsecured credit lines up to $20,000.

I didn't do most of that, though I have built up quite a bit of credit card debt trying to take care of my family.

But a lot of people said yes to those offers, and bought a new $25,000 car on top of that. All those bad mortgages created a real estate frenzy that probably inflated the price of my house by a factor of two - and I live in Texas. It's a lot worse in California.

Basically, we have an economy that has been running at this high, artificial level because it's based on people buying things they can't afford. The Wall Street guys have been playing this game and making money off of it... hoping that someone else is left holding the debt when its true nature is revealed.

I think I'm laughing because they got caught with the bad debt. They tried to transfer it onto the taxpayers - and failed.

I think we are overdue for a correction. And it's not bad for everyone.

There are wealthy people with so much old money that they are largely immune to recessions and depressions, except to the extent that they are so obsessed with money they get really upset about losing out on $20.

There are these sort of upper middle class folks that have gotten pretty wealthy with high level managment jobs in the banking, finance, and corporate sector, through high salaries and investments. These people will be hurt the most. They have been upper middle class/borderline rich for a long time now, but they will become middle class in a hurry.

These people are the people that can actually afford houses in the 300K - Several million dollar range.

See, I'm not one of those people, but I was unable to buy a house in the neighborhood I wanted to live in because there were so many of these people. These are also the people that are freaking out on Wall Street. I think that's why I'm laughing.

There are middle class people that will lose their retirement funds, and may lose their jobs, and may end up with less income. They also may lose their houses, but in a depressed market, I think they will find housing again. I also think the Government will eventually come through with mortgage relief for these people in line with the new, deflated value of their homes. These people will hurt, and will go through change, but I think they will be OK.

For the working poor, that don't make high wages and that don't own property, I don't think this really hurts them all that much. In fact, some things get better for them because they won't be pushed around and squeezed out by all these upper-middle-classers.

And the good thing is that we will all break our dependency on cheap, easy money and will be forced to really work together to make our lives better. That starts with paying attention and learning about what's really going on in our community and in the country and in the world, and making real, intelligent, informed choices when we decide where to get our news from, and when we go to the voting booth. And that will revitalize our democracy.

We will all be poorer, but we will all be happier. That is my prediction.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Since 1992, 'recession' has been such a poison concept politically that it's been considered prudent economic policy to borrow money to avoid it - and to relax regulations that prevent the market from becoming a big ponzi scheme, where wealth is created by 'hoping' someone else will be left holding the hot potato (the hot potatoes being bad mortgates and credit default swaps and such things).

Though this is a bit different from 1929, I'm afraid we're in a similar boat. Natural recessions have been staved off for so long that we really have an awful lot of wealth built up on nothing. Should we take steps to avoid another Great Depression? Sure, If we can. But I don't know if it is possible to avoid a huge correction in the markets. This bailout may just make the eventual, inevitable correction worse.You cannot sustain a life built on credit indefinitely. There has to come a time when the money is paid back. There's now a huge amount of money out there that's never going to be paid back. Therefore it's not. really. money. Oops.

I think that most 401K's and a lot of pensions are going to be lost. A lot of jobs are going to be lost too, and a lot of companies are going to go under. There will be inflation and wages won't increase. But I think we're going to be all right, because we will live in a world of reality again. Read this - it made me feel better: http://www.hpol.org/fdr/inaug/

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It was a little hard to watch last night. I was so worried Obama was going to mess up in some way. I didn't like the way he talked about the Russia-Georgia thing.

But really, he didn't mess up, I don't think. He seemed reasonable, studied, and authoritative. I think his deep, sonorous voice is the essence of his charisma. I think he quite possibly won some people over in the debate. Voting for a young black guy that says we've been doing everything wrong for the last eight years is a pretty scary thing for a swing voter. But I think if anyone can make them feel more secure, it's Obama.

Especially because McCain doesn't come accross too well. I actually think he sounded more sane than he has acted over the past few weeks, and that might help him. But my first impression was that his suit was too big, and that he seems unable to lift his arms.

Were Palin a more formidable candidate, this might not hurt him so much. But people are really beginning to get a little scared of her. That Couric interview was , ooo, woooof. Couric isn't exactly tough, but Palin couldn't even handle it. It would take a pretty nimble politician to dance around the dissonance between McCain's occasional populist rhetoric and his actual record. She's not that sophisticated that way. It's not just that she doesn't have experience in national affairs -she's never had an interest in it and it shows. I've never met a foreign head of state either, and I'm younger than she is (a little), but I think I could project a more reassuring image than that.

I think McCain's peaked - and Palin may get a little bounceback from that VP debate if she exceeds low expectations and Biden gaffes, but it's going to be tough for McCain to make up ground. But there's still the fear of black people out there that could be unpredictable, and there is still all the caging and purging of the voter rolls, and finally the electronic voting tabulation that undoubtedly will be tilted in McCain's favor in several states. Obama needs a sizable lead, and the press, historically, is not going to want to let that happen because it takes the suspense out.

What Obama has going for him is that the mainstream punditry is like McCain's jilted lover. They were deeply in love with him, and now they feel wronged. In their collective stupidity, they feel he has betrayed them, even though it was really their own shortsightedness and weak sense of journalistic ethics that did them in. And those things are very much still in play. They may start to feel sorry for McCain, and want to even this thing out.

But the people are starting to sit up a little. I really like how the bailout got derailed. I think the politicians were emboldened by enough of their constituents saying 'No'. That's the way things should happen. The press didn't really help - the people did that on their own.

At this stage in the election, a little fear will go a long way. In 2000, Gore made a late push, and when Bushs' DUI came out, people started getting a little scared of him, and Gore made a pretty historic popular vote victory when the polls indicated he was behind. In 2004, people were still very scared of 9/11, and they were scared of a Democrat being in charge. But there were plenty of reasons to be scared of Bush too, and I think Kerry's major mistake was that he didn't attack Bush's character hard enough. If he had, he could have set himself up as the safe choice. In the convention, he instructed everyone not to attack Bush's character. Despite cutting and effective criticisms of Bush's policy, in the last debate, he got all magnaminous and said that Bush was a good father and a good person in the end. I think that made it close enough for them to steal.

In the fear game, Obama starts at a disadvantage, being a Democrat and being young (and even younger looking) and, of course, being the first black candidate. But as the campaign goes on, it is he and Biden that are reassuring, and McCain and Palin that seem unstable and anxiety causing. Most peoples' minds are made up at this point, but I see Obama with a distinct advantage. Bank failures are scary, and I don't see how McCain gains any credibility on the economy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

some more good shit

I think this is well written, and that you should read it.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm learning about the economy

This is good shit right here:


Monday, September 22, 2008

Toward a Coherant Economic Stance

OK, I'm making a ridiculous number of posts today, especially considering that no one reads this blog.

Here is a good explanation of the subprime crisis:


The more I think about it, the more I get insensed by the idea of bailing this out.

Basically, banks took a risk by lending money to people that didn't have a great chance of paying the money back. But they mitigated the risk by immediately selling the loan for cash. The buyer figured they could resell it too, and they did. But basically, this was a game of musical chairs. Someone was going to end up without a chair at some point.

Any institution that took on this kind of risk is, in my opinion, not very smart. Someone's going to lose, eventually. You want to gamble everything on the idea that it's not going to be you?

Government should regulate this kind of behavior, because it creates a whole pool of house buyers that really can't afford a house. And that drives house prices up. When a bunch of those end up foreclosing, there's a lot of houses on the market that few can afford, especially now that subprime loans are no longer available. That drives house prices down. Then, the foreclosing bank cannot recoup its investment by selling the house. The bank runs out of money, and cannot pay its depositors.

Then what? Do we pay 700 billion dollars to the stupid bank for these undervalued assets?

Or do we let the bank fail, pay the depositors through insurance, and take control of the properties in question?

And then, once we take control of the properties in question, we can renegotiate the terms of the mortgage according to the house's real value, rather than its over-inflated hypothetical value. Net result - same real estate recession, same Government expense, but people get to stay in their homes. Then you create regulations that prevent this from happenning again. That's a winner.

Also, others that might venture into the banking business learn a lesson. Don't do stupid things with other people's money.

The purpose of regulation is not to strangle business, but to control situations where competition forces companies to do destructive things to keep up with the other company. The purpose of regulation is to keep the focus on the long term. As Michael Moore says, to deregulate completely would mean that it would be legal to sell people crack cocaine. This would make a fabulous profit in the short term, and those companies that chose not to sell it would probably go out of business, but eventually the country (and the company) would be awash with non-productive, desperate, sick people.

Which is pretty much what we have now - but the drug is credit, not crack. The net effect of this whole business is that society has been thrown into turmoil, all of which is going to end up being very expensive and difficult to fix. Meanwhile, the executives of these institutions made off with a lot of cash. Now the taxpayers are supposed to fork out $2300 each to keep these institutions going? No way. These executives should be out of a job. In some sense, it's not all their fault - they were competing in the marketplace that existed. But there is so much lobbying going on from these companies, and most of it is focused toward deregulation. Which is also an incredibly stupid, short-sighted thing to do.

We should re-institute regulation for the long-term health of industry. And we should consider a Constitutional Amendment making it highly illegal for a private company to attempt to influence an elected official, or an election. That's really where this mess begins. When you influence elected officials and get them to legislate deregulation, your competitor is deregulated as well. There is no inherent advantage, except perhaps in the short term.

Unless, a Government buyout of the eventual collapse is part of the scheme.

Which is why we shouldn't contribute one thin dime to the survival of these companies. Damn the consequences. We can still grow food, we can still sell goods and services, we can still build and maintain housing. We, as a country, can survive this.

And then we have to do something so that it never happens again. The stupidity and short-sightedness of human beings is a constant. The Constitution is a great document that has saved our society at large from the effects of this stupidity on many occasions. But its flaw is that it was written before the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalist power.

It needs to be amended to protect the citizens from this sort of upheaval. Or, the upheaval itself must be allowed to happen without bailout. Those are, or should be, our two choices.

This is from my dad, who submitted it to the New York Times Op-ed page. The Times, like most mainstream institutions, is run by a bunch of idiots these days, though there are still some smart people there... Or at least Krugman. Anyway, here it is:

A Taxpayer's Manifesto

By Ira Glasser

Socialism has now come openly and explicitly to America. And it has come to save free market capitalism. What else can one call it when the government takes over entire huge private sector entities for the good of society; when hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are pumped into failed private sector entities; when the government decides which entities shall die--Lehman-- and which survive--A.I.G.; and when the stock market is "rescued" by talk of creating a permanent government agency to do all that on a vast and permanent basis? OK, I accept all that, as conservatives and liberals alike seem to be doing. These recent actions by the government are necessary for the greater good of society. OK, fine. But then here are some things I never want to hear again from free market ideologues:

1. That the free market is self-correcting;

2. That the free market must always be protected from government regulation and control lest its growth, and the growth of the American economy, be stifled;

3. That any regulatory constraints on economic activities to prevent calamitous excesses is forbidden, while massive government takeovers to remedy those excesses is welcome;

4. That universal single-payer health care, like Medicare for everyone, is socialized medicine, to be avoided like the plague, and that health care should be left instead to the mystic genius of the free market;

5. That school voucher systems can provide the poor with better education through that same mystic genius;

6. That Individual Retirement Accounts invested in the stock market will provide ordinary people with retirement security better than Social Security;

7. That corporate defined contribution retirement plans that give employees their very own 401(k) accounts to manage and invest are better for ordinary people than defined benefit pension plans in which the employer assumes the long term risks and benefits of market fluctuations;

8. That greed and self interest, unregulated and unconstrained, is the surest way to economic paradise, and that government intervention is a road to serfdom;

9. That Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan were economic saviors, as opposed to John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal;

10. And finally, that Republican de-regulators are interested in cutting taxes for ordinary Americans, when the taxes cut are vanishingly small next to the hundreds of billions of dollars of debt the government has now assumed that will have to be paid by those same taxpayers, their children and their grandchildren.

If this is morning in America, perhaps it is time we all woke up.

I registered my agreement, and was inspired to type this:

This is just the final act of the big scheme where a bunch of wealthy people annoyed by democracy got together, masqueraded as politicians, and stole every penny that the United States of America had. And then they ran up our credit cards and pocketed the money. And when it started to look like we couldn't pay our credit card bills, they sold our children's future wages to China.

This deal will make the budget deficit for 2008 exceed one thousand billion dollars. That's a trillion, isn't it? Let's go back to 1980 when Reagan was attacking Carter for running up deficits of 80 billion. They've gradually desensitized us to these insane, ridiculous amounts of spending.

But this is the Bush Grift. It's what they've always done. Take over a company (or in this case, a country), run it into the ground and run off with the loot.

I've somewhat calmed down. I'm still pissed off about this 700 billion bailout. I have yet to coalesce a coherent economic theory. But this gladdened my heart.


I think George Will is a putz, especially when he talks about baseball. But reading this article, I have new respect for him. At least he is consistent in his conservatism. The fact that he is saying 'let them fail' makes me feel better about letting them fail. And I also thought his criticism of McCain was illuminating.

To use a baseball analogy, Will is like a Yankee fan that has always been a Yankee fan - not one of those front-runners that follows the Yankees because they happen to be winning. This bailout might be akin to the Commissioner of Baseball demanding the C.C. Sabathia and Johan Santana be given immediately to the Yankees to avoid the horror of a Yankee-less postseason.

Or maybe it's like giving the Yankees 10 games in the standings.

Yankee Stadium will never host a baseball game again. And the Republican Party as we know it may be finished.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

financial crisis

Yes, so,





To save the economy? I don't understand.

So, basically, a bunch of banks gave out loans for people to buy houses. They made a bunch of financial desicions based on the idea that these loans would all be paid back. They spent all the money they did have, much of which was depositors' money.

Now, it turns out, a lot of these people are not, in fact, going to be able to pay these mortgages back. So we're supposed to give a whole bunch of money to these banks so that they don't fail?



I think.

Can somebody tell me - what happens if we don't bail them out? Do we lose all our savings? I don't have any savings. I guess I would lose my 401K. Oh wait, I cashed in all my 401K's last year, because I knew something like this was going to happen.

I mean, people losing their retirement funds - that sucks. But how is putting 700 billion into the economy going to help keep this going? So we borrow another 700 billion from China? What if they demand the money back?

I think that the people that invested their money in this big bullshit scheme that the economy has been for the past decade should take their lumps. 401K gone? I'm sorry, but maybe you shouldn't have believed your employer and the Republicans that told you it was such a great idea.

We still have seeds. We have soil. Much of the country has water. We can grow food. We have a fair amount of oil. A lot of people might lose their house. And then there will be a lot of houses on the market that no one can afford. And then they will drop in price. And then those same people might be able to buy back their house.

We can survive this. We won't be able to act rich anymore, but we should still be able to eat and heat our homes in the winter. We shouldn't sell our souls to China so that we can keep the party going for another couple of years.

I kind of feel like we should just let it play out. People will feel a lot of pain - that will suck. But when they see that corporate CEO or that corporatist Republican politician walking down the street, maybe they will get angry at that person and string them up.

I think THAT's what they want to pay $700 billion to avoid.

Again, what is the consequence of NOT bailing out the economy? Will someone tell me? Inflation? Well, if you ask me, it's long overdue. I think the consequence of not bailing them out is that the big corporations will lose their ability to control society and produce everything we purchase. I think their big party is over, because they got too greedy. Are we going to REWARD them for that?

I am not thinking coherently. I am freaked out about this. I'm supposed to have a $100 co-pay for a hospital visit on my insurance, but I just got a bill from the hospital saying I owe $440 on top of that. I'm sure there was some de-regulation that happened that made this legal. Good for them. But at some point there isn't going to be any blood left in this stone. And I think that might end up hurting THEM more than it hurts ME.

I need Paul Krugman to explain this to me. We need Paul Krugman and James Kunstler in positions of authority to lead us through this mess. We are still people - we still have hands and brains, and we still have some materials to work with here. I think we really need to get back to reality, and do the work it takes to survive.

Because really, this American life of leisure, where we can go out to eat, and where we have all kinds of fancy electronic equipment, where we can go up the street and buy every kind of fancy food from all over the globe... where we can slack off in an office and make $50,000 a year.. Where we can just go out and buy something new and throw the old thing in the trash... this life is bullshit. They've been selling us the idea that this is sustainable, so that we borrow borrow borrow and spend spend spend money we don't have. And the money goes into the pockets of the few that actually DO have. And we end up with the bill, and we can't possibly pay it, and someone's going to get angry, but again, there is no blood in the stone. We have all been idiots. We're going to have to work out a way to survive and build community again. There is no Santa Claus. Well, maybe there is, but he doesn't come EVERY DAY - he comes ONCE a year, and he can't fit 5 billion 92 inch HD TV sets in his sleigh, so you're probably just getting a CARD.

Friday, September 19, 2008

mccain psychoanalysis

What's the deal with McCain? Why does he sometimes seem like he has independence, only to end up agreeing with the powers-that-be? That independence is quite convincing. It seemed once, to me and to a lot of other people, to be convincing. Russ Feingold believes it. John Kerry believed it.

Man, I'm totally unqualified to do this, but it hit me today like a ton of bricks.

McCain was a rule-breaker at the Naval Academy. He got in trouble - he didn't get good grades. He didn't particularly respect rules or regulations. Once he was a pilot, he broke rules and lost planes. He was rebellious.

What happens to a person like that when they are captured and subjected to torture for five years?

It seems to me he would have been rebellious with his captors. He wouldn't have respected their authority. And he would have been tortured, over and over and over. They would have tried to break him. For five years.

What does this do to a man? How does it change his relationship to authority figures? Is he, as a result of this experience, conditioned to immediately cease his rebellious behavior when an authority figure walks into the room? Is he naturally rebellious and deeply traumautized by the results of his rebellion as a prisoner of war?

I mean, why, why did he abandon his contrary stance to the Bush Administration just as Bush's popularity began to tumble? It could be a calculated political move to try to win a primary, but it still doesn't seem to make sense to me. The way I see it, McCain won the primary by taking the moderate vote while the conservative vote was split between several flawed candidates. His primary victory alarmed conservatives. They still believed he was moderate, and he had to pick a conservative VP to mollify them.

McCain's behavior, to me, is bizarre. And yet, there is a certain logic to it considering his personality and his life experience.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

todays rant

I really think that if Obama manages to win this thing, he has to go ahead with investigating and prosecuting the various questionable actions this administration has undertaken.
Lying the nation into a war is only part of it. The expansion and flexing of unprecedented Presidential powers has been unprecedented. It makes Nixon look like a jaywalker in comparison.

I think Clinton's biggest mistake was that he let Iran-Contra drop in the name of getting his agenda going and making things better. It's vintage Clinton really - he was trying to earnestly concentrate on making things better for people and not worrying about wasting time on finding justice.

Unfortunately, history shows that when you let a bully off the hook, instead of them paying you back by leaving you alone, they take it as license to bully you again.

A lot of the players in Iran-Contra could have been smacked down, humiliated, and kept out of Government for the rest of their lives. Instead, they walked away for a while, walked back in, and commenced going even farther this time.

Since the primary, Obama has worried me with this 'moving beyond partisanship' stuff. I was worried that Obama was going to magnaminously let the Republicans off the hook and move beyond into earnest Governance. Even though his opponent in the primary, Hillary Clinton, was a Clinton, I felt that it was more likely she would pursue prosecution of those lawless bastards. She seemed more angry about it and I thought maybe she had learned the lesson of what appeasement does. Also, though she is married to Bill, she is not the same person. All in all, I thought it more likely Hillary would prosecute than Obama. That's the main reason why I voted for her and endured the ridicule of most of my friends, who were convinced Obama was the progressive standard bearer and that Hillary was on a par with McCain or worse.

I don't know who was right. I'm solidly behind Obama and I think he'll make a good President. He has the desire and intelligence to make this country better. But I'm concerned about the campaign. I think he should be painting the current Republican Party as a cesspool of corruption - as a bunch of compromised, unethical crooks. Not because it could win him the election, but because it's true. Yet he is not slamming the Republicans this way - only Bush.

I'm sure there are a lot of Republicans and Republican politicians that care about this country's future and have a conservative and earnest idea about policies they think will make things better. I used to believe McCain was one of them, but I'm pretty sure he isn't. From Keating through his current lobbyist connections, he has shown that in the end, he will suck up to powerful interests and do their bidding, putting the welfare of the people second.

The major Republican politicians of today are, for the most part, exhibiting a form of 'Governance' that seeks to increase the power and wealth of those that are already powerful while decreasing the power of the average voter. They are anti-democracy, and that's anti-American. There are many, many examples of this. The best one is how they try to get African-Americans and other likely Democratic voters off the voter rolls. They fight tooth and nail against paper ballots and other checkable forms of voting. Another example is the secrecy with which this administration does business. The true goals are always obscured, because the true goals are things which hurt the majority of Americans.

When Republicans complain about progressive tax structures or regulations on business, my reply is that we live in a Democracy. If a majority of the people want to tax rich people more, and you're a rich person, then too bad for you. Move somewhere else if you don't like it. The peoples' will rules in this country, unless that will wants to do something specifically forbidden by the Consitution and Bill of Rights. The rich and powerful will always be at a disadvantage in a democracy, because most people aren't rich and powerful.

A party or politician that represents the rich and powerful is inherently anti-democratic. I think it is clearly demonstrable that the Republicans are the preferred party of the rich and powerful, and that the Republicans enact policies that allow the rich and powerful to make more money and amass more power.

The Republican Party is so dominated by these types right now that to cede ground to them is pointless. They are not looking for compromise and consensus. Those are democratic values. They don't like democratic values. They want the pesky hordes to get out of their way and allow them to operate unfettered. They're never going to be happy with halfway.

They're anti-democracy, they're anti-American, they've gotten to the point where they've committed actual demonstrable and provable crimes, and they need to be prosecuted and removed from Government. To fail to do so would be to enable this sort of behavior and to put yourself in danger.

It's like if someone tries to strangle you in your sleep, but you woke up in time and fought them off you. Are you going to go back to sleep? You'd have to be crazy! No, you find them, and you tie them to a tree with about 8 miles of rope. Then you can sleep. That's the responsible, prudent thing to do. That's how you survive. That's how the United States of America survives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


It's interesting that people like Sarah Palin favor the teaching of creationism in schools alongside or instead of evolution. There's an irony in it.

Once upon a time, people who were honorable and talented and ethical rose to positions of authority. Once upon a time, people that couldn't add 2 and 2 found themselves out of power and out of influence. If you couldn't balance your family budget, you ended up hungry. If you couldn't work hard and effectively at your job, you ended up out of a job. If you lied to people, or wronged them, you were no longer trusted and no longer listened to.

Nowadays, with runaway consumer credit and deflated prices for goods (as a result of cheap labor and cheap oil), and with the rampant government borrowing, it is possible for people to have luxuries without working that hard. It is possible for people to disregard realities like 2+2=4, and to be lauded and promoted for saying things like 2+2=5, and you never have to give up the extra one. And the people who cry that 2+2 still equals 4 are shouted down by these arrogant, shortsighted dorks. These ASD's are rewarded for their stupid behavior by the real holders of power, because the loud, obnoxious, overconfident ASD's help to keep the 2+2=4 crowd from amassing power.

This is getting very conceptual. But in the fields of journalism and politics, the ASD's are in control now, and lesser ASD's like to vote for them. They're all scared of 2+2=4.

But in a real, non-warped world, these ASD's would be muttering drunks in a bar - they'd be homeless people begging for change - they'd be the ne'er do well uncle that you keep having to bail out of jail. They'd be the ones who would never procreate - they'd be the runts of the litter.

I think the captains of industry - the real, super-rich power brokers - are still smart people, even though they may be completely ruthless, insane, and self-centered. But the people below them - the middle managers of this world - the CEO's, the big news pundits, the governors, the small town mayors, et cetera et cetera (a list that now includes the President of the United States)- the majority of these people are now ASD's. They are very useful, to the big powers, as long as most decent people continue to believe that these ASD's actually deserve to be in authority.

In other words, you have to believe that somehow, Sarah Palin deserves to be Governor of Alaska over everyone else in the state. You have to believe that Maureen Dowd or some other columnist has a better grasp of what is going on in this world than some blogger. I have a cousin who lives in Alaska. He's a decent guy - he works hard and he takes care of his family. You know, I think he'd make a better Governor, but he's probably more concerned about making sure his kids are OK. And I think I'm more qualified than Maureen Dowd or most of these people writing for the mainstream media.

But there will always be one of these middle manager ASD's out there that will make some statement, and back it up with some 'proof', that 2+2=5. And since the mainstream media is now full of 2+2=5ers, they won't tell you it's wrong. Even if they want to, they probably won't know how. Because the people who do have the strength and power to do that are out of power in the mainstream media. They're blogging, like Bob Somersby, or maybe they're flipping burgers, or working some other low-level job where truth-telling and integrity is not counter-productive to success.

So how do you know? In the end, there will be someone saying '2+2=5' and someone else saying '2+2=4'. We also have a few people out there (Hi, Olbermann) who are saying '2+2=3'. Without an authoritative arbiter, how are you to know who is right?

It just comes down to your gut, I guess. It just comes down to who you believe. As the house of cards built up by 2+2=5 falls down (the banks fail and the scheme is unraveled), we are increasingly going to have to balance our checkbooks. When we do so, we will see that, yes, 2+2 does equal 4. And this will make the choice in the elections come into focus for us.

For McCain and Palin, they are hoping they can keep the illusion propped up for another few weeks. I'm not sure they will be able to do that.

We will all become poorer. We will all become smarter. We will recognize and respect the smart and the honorable among us. We will feel pain, but when we feel joy again, it will be real joy, not the empty joy of the cocaine high.

I'm not surprised that people like Palin don't recognize the truth of evolution. They have risen against natural selection. The irony is that these folks have arisen out of the Republican Party, who used to be the 'Social Darwinism' crowd.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You're no maverick!

I was going to write something about this, but this guy over at dailykos did it right:


Obama, please have Fontaine Maverick out on the campaign trail with you.

This makes me so mad


This is a huge, huge problem that has affected the outcome of the last two Presidential elections. A State Secretary of State is also serving as the state chairman of of the Republican campaign.

This person is responsible for administering the election - including maintaining the voter rolls, allocating voting machines, certifying the election, setting standards for registration, et cetera et cetera.

Florida, 2000: Kathleen Harris
Ohio, 2004: J. Kenneth Blackwell
Wisconsin, 2008: J.B. Van Hollen

Could there be a more blatant conflict of interest?

Obama needs to call attention to this now.. so that when there is problem with the Wisconsin vote - and there will be - he will have had the first say in the issue.

Here's a suggested press release:

'We all want to have a fair election with results we can trust, regardless of the outcome. Even though the Presidential election is a national election, the voting is administered by each individual State. The most important person in a State with regard to ensuring that elections are administered fairly is the Secretary of State of that State.

Usually, this person is appointed by that State's Governor, and is usually either a Republican or a Democrat. That's largely unavoidable. However it has come to my attention that in Wisconsin, the Secretary of State, Mr. J.B. Van Hollen, is also the State Chairman of John McCain's Presidential Campaign. The Secretary of State is responsible for maintaining the State's voter rolls, setting registration guidelines, allocating voting machines, and a host of other responsibilities. For this person to be an official of one campaign or another is an unacceptable conflict of interest.

In Florida in 2000, Katherine Harris was the Secretary of State. And the State Chairman of George Bush's campaign. In Ohio in 2004, J. Kenneth Blackwell was the Secretary of State. And the State Chairman of George Bush's campaign. In both cases, there were documented cases of decisions being made both before and after the elections that suppressed voter turnout in Democrat leaning areas.

I am calling for the resignation of J.B. Van Hollen as Secretary of State of Wisconsin. It's not sufficient for Mr. Van Hollen to resign from the McCain campaign. His objectivity has already been brought into question. This election is too important to entrust to agents of one campaign or another. All of us, Republican or Democrat, are Americans first. And we must ensure that this election is truly a Democratic one.

The people that serve on my campaign believe in me and my vision for America with passion, and I am grateful for that. But those people wouldn't be the best qualified to make impartial decisions with regard to elections. That's why none of my State Campaign Chairs are also serving as Secretary of State*. As Democrats, we believe in fairness. It's about how good you are, not about who you know, or what your connections are. I hope that John McCain shares that sentiment, and will join me in calling for the resignation of J.B. Van Hollen.'

*I hope that's true.

yay jim hightower


Not watching TV news, I was only dimly aware that some idiots were referring to Palin as a 'populist'. What is the point of having words at all? I think that Obama should begin to refer to himself as 'Conservative'. It's absolutely true. Look at Obama and Biden. They're pretty normal guys, hawking standard American positions. McCain and Palin are definitely a couple of freaks by comparison.

So, is Wasilla the meth capital of Alaska or not? I'm wondering about those buggy eyes.

I shouldn't say such things, but I do get offended when a Corporatist steals the word 'populist'. Hell, I don't even think Obama is a full populist. Russ Feingold and the late Paul Wellstone would be two examples, to me, of populists, and they made it as high as the Senate, but no higher. Has a populist ever been President? It's hard to say - perhaps Teddy Roosevelt. Perhaps FDR became one once in office. Abraham Lincoln might fall into that category as well. I don't think he was an abolitionist, really, though he wasn't pro-slavery either. I think he freed the slaves as a tactical move in the Civil War, but once he saw the affect that it had, he embraced the populism of it. And then he got shot shortly thereafter.

I don't think that McCain and Palin are particularly ideological about politics. Palin seems to be ideological about religion, but when it comes to policy, I think they're just the sort of politicians that are drawn to political 'status' positions like moths to a flame. They do seem to think that people with 'status' and/or money are inherently better, but it's not that they necessarily have evil intent. They just like getting into that power position and then they just let themselves be influenced by the big players. They like it. They really have no agenda and they're just happy to be there. And the big players loooove politicians like them. They're like empty vessels. They occasionally take a position or make a stand (McCain enjoys doing this once in a while, though he usually backs down), but for the most part they can be relied upon to do nothing to upset the powers that be.

Now, Clinton, he liked cozying up to the powers that be and having them sit at the table, and he loved to compromise with them, but he was a representative of the people at that table. I think Obama might be about the same, though many feel he does want to kick the powers that be out of the room. I hope that's true, but either way, I feel he has an interest in representing us. For both of them, though, deep down, they run and acheive positions because they have a desire to make the world a better place for people, and they want to leave their mark on the world that way. They may enjoy the process and the fame and the adulation, but deep down that populist desire exists. I don't think it does for McCain or Palin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

With friends like these...

Observing this election cycle, it's become ever more clear that the mainstream press are either unwilling to list facts - or, perhaps, they want to, but simply have no idea how to do it. The mainstream news provides exposure and publicity for candidates, but if a candidate tells the truth, there will be essentially no verification. Therefore the system rewards liars. A columnist hoping to help Obama and hurt McCain could make their point quite well listing and explaining facts. But they screw that up too.

This article http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1839724,00.html is very negative toward Sarah Palin. As an Obama supporter, I guess I should be happy. But faced with a situation where simply listing and explaining the facts would cast Palin in a negative light, Kinsley instead takes a very negative, dismissive tone while doing a pretty bad job of explaining himself. The result is that it comes across as a hit piece. Instead of walking away thinking 'Sarah Palin is not so great', I walk away thinking, 'Kinsley really doesn't like her'.

KINSLEY: Palin has continued to repeat the already exposed lie that she said "No, thanks" to the famous "bridge to nowhere" (McCain's favorite example of wasteful federal spending). In fact, she said "Yes, please" until the project became a symbol and political albatross.

Actually, she didn't actually say "Yes, please". Instead of making up a cute "quote" to make his point, he could have said that she continued to support the bridge project for more than a year after it became a symbol and political albatross. The facts make the case much better, if reported correctly, than his snarky cuteness.

KINSLEY: Back to reality. Of the 50 states, Alaska ranks No. 1 in taxes per resident and No. 1 in spending per resident. Its tax burden per resident is 2 1/2 times the national average; its spending, more than double. The trick is that Alaska's government spends money on its own citizens and taxes the rest of us to pay for it. Although Palin, like McCain, talks about liberating ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, there is no evidence that being dependent on Alaskan oil would be any more pleasant to the pocketbook.

Unfortunately, I, the reader, am thoroughly confused. The tax burden of Alaskan residents is 2 1/2 times the national average? And Alaska's spending more than double? How much more than double the national average? Less than 2 1/2 times the national average? Meaning they spend less than they take in? So why do they need Federal funds? What's he trying to say? I feel like it's Kinsley tricking me rather than Palin.

Oh, Okay. Now that I've re-read it for the fourth time, I think he might have meant that Alaska's spending is more than double their tax revenue. It was very clever to bring in the subject of dependence on foreign oil - cleverer still to come up with the hilarious phrase "pleasant to the pocketbook". If only he was clever enough to explain the situation without confusing the reader. Thanks, Michael Kinsley, but no thanks. See? I can do clever too. Can I have my six figure salary now?

Bridge to Nowhere timeline....

Great timeline posted over on http://dailyhowler.com

OK! I have simplified it:

Summer 2005: Congress directs Alaska to build the bridge using federal funds.

November 2005: Congress rescinds the order for the bridge, allowing Alaska to keep the money and use it elsewhere.

November 2006:, Wasalia Mayor Sarah Palin, running for Governor, says she favors building the bridge.

September 2007: Palin cancels the bridge project, saying Congress wouldn't give any more

How this turns into 'I told Congress thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere' is quite the trick. It's a Rove-type trick: Grasp and distort the narrative which could hurt your candidate and turn it into a positive before your opponent can bring it up. To describe this with that tired old Kerryism 'She was for it before she was against it' (Oh, the cleverness!) is really a very poor argument*. What happened was that she took a pro-pork position in opposition to an anti-pork political firestorm. She was a maverick, all right - a pro-pork maverick! In fact, upon cancellation of this project her words suggest that she asked Congress for EVEN MORE PORK once the original funds were spent on other things!

*Not to mention, insulting to Kerry and the Democratic Brand. It's a capitulation to Republican efforts to turn Kerry's actions at the time, which were totally reasonable, into flip-flopism. Used this way, it describes Palin's actions, (lying about taking an action against something she actually favored), into mere flip-flopism.

I am a political blogger. I keep sending these things in email to my friends and/or other bloggers i admire, and now I'm just going to post them here.