Friday, November 14, 2008

This Week's Winner: David Brooks

Would someone please explain to me what the position of business and political conservatives (as opposed to social conservatives) is on evolution? On anarchy? Mr. Brooks seems to adopt a Darwinian model for the markets (Darwin called in "natural selection," Brooks calls it "creative destruction") as well subscribing to the notion of economic anarchism (AKA laissez faire).

Regardless of the logical flaws in being both a conservative and a Darwinist, Brooks told Detroit it could collectively fuck itself, positing that the $50 billion dollars needed to bailout Ford, Chrysler and GM would "grant immortality" to the Big Three. He asserted that, "This is a different sort of endeavor than the $750 billion bailout of Wall Street. That money was used to save the financial system itself. It was used to save the capital markets on which the process of creative destruction depends."

Apart from being a weak, transparent argument, his Op Ed piece lacks a substantial element: integrity. Why has he not decried how the $700 billion bailout has prevented the "creative destruction" of AIG, much less how Paulson's (possibly illegal) changes to Section 382 of the Tax code have turned BofA, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan&Chase monopolistic behemoths, even bigger than the banks that were, supposedly, "too big to fail."

The failure of GM isn't creative destruction any more than the failure of JPMorgan&Chase would be right now. The failure of either would make space for new industries, but, according to economist and Nobel Lauriat Paul Krugman, it would also prolong the recession, and possibly even sink us deeper into depression. What many social Darwinists, like Brooks, fail to understand about the economy is that it is no more of an example of natural selection than domestic livestock; rather, it is the opposite: artificial selection. The economy is a product of culture, and as with domesticated plants and animals, there are consequences for poor stewardship.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paulson and the $140 Billion Bait and Switch

This is old news, but it wasn't in the paper until yesterday.

As AIG continues to spend taxpayer bailout money (in the same fashion that put them on the dole with all the other Wall Street welfare bitches), yet another under-reported story of the exploits of one Henry M. Paulson has come to the fore. While the U.S. Congress was responding to yet another dose of Bush Administration shock doctrine--give us $700 billion, no questions asked, or risk a financial Chernobyl--Treasury Secretary Paulson was altering tax code section 382, which prohibits the purchase of failing businesses as a tax shelter. The result is yet another tax break for the wealthy, once again sticking taxpayers with the check. Even as our current lender, China, is failing industrially and the ability to round up what remains of the $700 billion bailout package is in question, Paulson has removed $140 billion from next year's Federal kitty.

If this doesn't piss you off, it's either because you're a Wall Street welfare bitch, or it's time to stop taking your Prozac. Write your Senators and Representative and demand they put Paulson in prison.

While you're at it, tell them to hold AIG's feet to the fire about their spending habits. So far, AIG has spent $869,000 (that we know about) on luxury retreats alone: almost immediately after receiving $85 billion in bailout assistance, $440,000 was spent on a week-long retreat at St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, CA; then, after receiving an additional 37.8 billion in aid, they spent an additional $86,000 on a hunting trip in England; their latest junket at Phoenix's Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort cost us $343,000.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mormons in Glass Houses and the Consequences of Throwing Stones

For those of you that are a little behind on your Territories History, Mormons, at one time, were not allowed to vote in the Territory of Idaho. A Republican named Dubois (pronounced doo-boyss) was able to define marriage as "between one man and one woman," making polygyny and polyandry illegal. For the mass of people within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) faith, this law was not an issue; the rules for polygamy in Church scripture required men who engaged in plural marriages to house secondary wives and children in separate homes, a financial burden that few could afford. But the law required Mormons who wanted to vote to renounce their faith, which many did--much to the chagrin of the Salt Lake City Herald. It is worth mentioning that, at that time, Mormons were, by and large, Democrats, which was the real reason Dubois and his fellow Republicans wanted to deny them the right to vote. In spite of taking the "test oath" and publicly denouncing their faith, Dubois, in a desperate attempt to defeat his opponent, Hawley, sent Republican county officers to arrest the former Church members for perjury. Many were released after a judge, satisfied that they were sincere in there oaths. Some were successful in voting, and others were successfully prevented. But the damage was done. Dubois won re-election.

The preceding narrative might explain why Mormons are now disproportionately Republicans. It might describe part of the history of voter suppression, as per the Republican Party. But its real purpose is how one group of people was singled out by men in power, preying on the fears and prejudices of an uninformed electorate to serve a political agenda.

Were Mormons aware that the definition of marriage as being "between one man and one woman," could be used against them? Clearly they've forgotten how the Evangelicals rejected Mitt Romney, though he was the best and most logical candidate to run for President on the GOP ticket. Clearly they've forgotten their own history of persecution and disenfranchisement.

Or perhaps they haven't. What's the saying? if you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Well, they should be proud of themselves--for now:

Think this is harsh? Think again:

There's not much we can do about a Constitutional Amendment, but there are existing laws--including the Amendment most Californians just voted for--to make California a very unwelcome place for a church of division. By using the pulpit to urge their members to contribute to this discriminatory campaign, they have used their tax-exempt status for political purposes, and hence, they have forfeited that status. With a liberally-controlled executive branch, the new Attorney General could easily decide to push the issue. I will be lobbying the new Attorney General to do so.

Perhaps more disturbing than the narrow margin by which Proposition 8 passed was the comfortable margin by which Propostion 2 passed--meaning that the California electorate is willing to extend rights to animals, while taking them away from some people.

I was allowed to marry the person I loved. I cannot, in good conscience, deny that right to others.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Best and Worst of Election 2008


McCain admonished his party toward their better instincts, saying "We are the party that came to Washington to reform it, but were corrupted by it." I think if anyone could have cleaned up the 'pubs, it was McCain.

McCain's story of how he was broken in Hanoi, ashamed, but not alone, how he found strength through his brothers in arms, and was nursed through this trial by his love for his country.

Obama talking to us about race like we were grown-ups.

Obama's epic of 106 years through the eyes of a black woman and his challenge to us to advance our country as our nation advanced through the lifetime of Ann Nixon Cooper.

Ben Affleck's impression of Olbermann.

Tina Fey's amazing impression of Palin.

Screwing wiith the dudes who follow talking points online. After a while, they won't even talk to you.

Rachel Maddow suffering from Election post-traumatic stress disorder--she drove me nuts!

Olbermann's nightly comments during the last two weeks leading up to the Election.

The Chaffey Community Republican Women's racist "Obama Bucks" graphic.

The constant allusions to John McCain's age and melanoma.

Sarah Palin--EVERYTHING!

California Prop 8 passing. Do the Mormons know the people they were funding hate them, too?

Mitt Romney prostrating himself before the Evangelicals, who didn't support him anyway.


What were your best and worst of Election 2008?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Day Before the Election: Obama Dominates the Polls, But Will it Matter?

There is a guarded optimism among progressives that, provided individuals brave the long lines, combat the electronic voting machines until their vote stops flipping from Obama to McCain (or McKinney) and take video of their voting experience, Obama might actually win. Cue voter suppression efforts: get any emails or phone calls telling you to change polling locations? Changing your voting day from November 4th to November 5th? Seen any fliers warning you that you'll be arrested for unpaid parking tickets, etc, if you turn out to vote?

It's all stock-in-trade for suppressing the vote in minority and poor neighborhoods. The logic goes that poor whites and minorities are likely to vote Democrat, so these dirty tricks advantage the Republicans. But if the long lines for early voting are any kind of barometer, it doesn't appear to be working this time. And Gallup's Tracking Poll indicates Obama widening the gap among registered voters (53-40), expanded likely voters and traditional likely voters (53-42). Curiously, Senator Obama remains vigilant, refusing to let up in his efforts to persuade people to vote; conversely, Senator McCain is not only optimistic, but incredibly, he has enthusiastically assured his supporters that he will come from behind and win the Presidential election. It's not surprising that McCain would say he'll make a comeback, but it's quite another for him to believe it.

Does John McCain know something that we don't?

That depends on who you ask. According to a post in Brad Blog by Stephen Heller, Michael Connell, Republican IT Guru is being deposed today, regarding allegations of electronic election fraud in Ohio in 2004:

Confidential sources indicate that Connell has been blackmailed by Karl Rove to take the fall under threats that Connell's wife, Heather, will be prosecuted for alleged violations of lobby law. If Connell confirms this story, Karl Rove can forget about hiding behind Executive Privelege.

Regardless of who goes to jail, this is the biggest political scandal since Watergate. Will the mainstream media pick it up? Something tells me this is highly unlikely, even if Senator McCain makes an inexplicable, eleventh-hour comeback. That's why we're going to need to get off our asses and do something about it.


I've said it before: in hard times, the patriots aren't ones with their hands out, but with their fists up. No one is going to give you your vote back, you're going to have to take it. Click the link, pledge your support and take a stand for democracy.