Friday, October 15, 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The kerfuffle on The View (video at link) yesterday is interesting to watch, but moreover to ponder. Bill O'Reilly was attacking the so-called "mosque" (really a YMCA with a gym and a cafeteria and...well, you know how I feel about it) yesterday. The debate was getting hotter and hotter. Now, O'Reilly is hardly a shrinking violet, altho he is clearly mentally deficient, and the panel on The View were chosen because they ain't about to go quietly either. Sparks were bound to fly. O'Reilly, as you know, made one of the single most ignorant comments I've ever heard, and two of the panel became so offended they walked off.
I'm tempted to say bully for them, standing up to a bully like that. The audience applauded loudly, and I suspect that O'Reilly got a first-hand take on what the country really thinks of him outside his airtight enclosed little bubble of yes men (you can read a further analysis of Herr O'Reilly starting here. You'll have to scroll down a bit to capture the links to the following chapters.) The View crowd is not a flaming liberal audience, as there are all points of view allowed and much of the audience is suburban housewives.
But here's the thing: it wasn't until Barbara Walters chided her co-hosts and O'Reilly apologized that the larger point was brought up: does O'Reilly really think that "Muslims killed us" on 9-11, when it was 20 extremists and they killed people from around the world? In other words, how deep does his paranoia really go? His delusion of grandeur, that 3,000 people somehow equals 300 million Americans and 19 radical extremists somehow equals 2 billion people of a particular faith, most of whom admire America, is disturbing.
And O'Reilly's considered a moderate wingnut! Imagine what some jackwagon like Pam Atlas thinks!
I'll get back to this point in a second, but I really wish it had been Joy Behar or Whoopie Goldberg who took a breath, swallowed a little and asked what Walters asked. The progressive case could have been moved forward a little if that had happened.
A further question could then have been raised: since the right is willing to extend to all Muslims terrorist sympathies and to all Americans the right to claim victimhood because of that attack, what about Oklahoma City? Surely there's a church within a half mile of the Murrah Building site. Should that be moved? Should white American men be barred from opening business establishments there? What if we limit it to even the ideological ones? Should conservative whites be barred from opening a business there?
This persecution complex that the right has is staggering. Rather than accept the Constitution as a living document, they want two things: to roll it back at least a hundred years and to kill it for anyone but those they approve.
But, see, the ultimate goal of the Constitution is to protect the rights of individuals and minorities from the tyranny of the majority, the TRUE Original Intent. O'Reilly keeps screeching about the "70% of Americans don't want that mosque built!" but this nation was founded on the backs and sweat of that other 30%! You know, the folks that left Europe seeking a better life for themselves, because they were truly being persecuted. 
Why is American history so lacking in a group that swears such deep allegiance to its values and heart?  
2) Ben Bernanke's magic bag of tricks is empty. Note to Ben: try giving money away to the people who need it. Circumvent Congress, you can do this because you aren't a government agency, and just give money away. You can start by seizing the $144 billion in bonuses Wall Street is paying its employees.
3)  "Yeah.....after that I used to go round his flat every Sunday lunchtime to apologise and we'd shake hands and then he'd nail my head to the floor"
4) I haven't really focused on the new controversy regarding funding for the Teabaggers, specifically the US Chamber of Commerce's sleazy foreign financed attack ads and the Koch brothers blatant lie about financing the Teabaggers, but it seems to me this is the October Surprise for 2010. The story has the feel of being rolled out and orchestrated to deliberately lead into a climax a few days before the midterm elections. Watch carefully. I suspect some surprising names will find themselves deep in hot water.
5) China's doing it. Why can't we?
6) Y'know, it's only a matter of time before we see some ugly business going on in this nation. A little exposure in a national news magazine is not going to dissuade the nutbags portrayed in that link to stop their activities. Will the conservatives who have egged these assholes on stand up and take the blame? Of course not.
7) Really, Daily's just overkill now. There are real stories in this country, in this city, that could use the laser-like focus you've given to Paladino.
   To: Democrats
   RE: Election 2010
   See? Roll out The Big Dog! He's the first and last politician who can speak to the people in a way that connects to them, and he's a guaranteed draw and election boost.
9) Nutbag Californian clown (see photo) says "Dixie" a patriotic song. NAACP squirts lapel flower back at her.
10) It's Bacon Week! Wait, what???

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Picking Up The Gauntlet

I've been challenged to come up with areas where I disagree with President Barack Obama. It seems that my blog posts mocking the moronic right wing of this country have been taken to mean I'm a buttboy for the current administration. I'm not.
First, in my defense, so much anger has been wrongly directed at the President. Much of what people are whining about-- higher taxes, job loss, a struggling economy-- are either patent bullshit or misinterpreted. Also, in my defense, so many other have jumped on the Bash Barack bandwagon that I haven't felt a need to point out the obvious flaws in his programs and policies. Third, where I have disagreed with him, in areas like environmental policy, bank bailouts, and energy programs, I've posted about those programs, and incidentally criticized the President within.
None of this should imply that I do not support Barack Obama as President. I do. I think he was dealt a shitty hand by an administration and political party that doesn't give a crap about the nation apart from how it can be raped by itself and its corporate overlords. Further, I think this cancer has infested Obama's own party to the extent that not only patriotism has gone by the wayside, but even party loyalty, the one thing a political party should at bottom expect, has been devoured.
I'm looking at you, Ben Nelson...Blance Lincoln. 
Obama is regularly and hyperbolically accused of being far left wing, of having a leftist agenda, of leading the country into socialism.
Bollocks. If anything, Obama has been right-centrist in governing. He has consistently sided with corporate interests over populist fervor.
Would a socialist bail out mulitnational banking corporations, the very heart of the capitalist system? And if he did, would he expect a return on that investment?
Wouldn't a socialist have nationalized AIG, the insurance company that is (or was) a linchpin to the entire frikkin' American economy, to ensure it never failed again? Instead, Obama bailed that out, too, and practically handed it a blank check of government guarantees, something any insurance company would have wet dreams over. Imagine, a company that deals in risk being absolutely risk-free! 
Would a socialist allow the heatlhcare reform system to genuflect to anti-baby factions that demanded that ghost pro-choice "measures" be stricken before dialogue could even begin? Or to allow the very problem with our private insurance plan, the greedy and rapacious HMOs, a seat at the table of reform?
Would YOU eat dinner with cannibals?
Here's some of the areas I've disagreed with Obama, vehemently:
1) The TARP program should have been focused on bailing out homeowners. Period. Take the $350 billion, cut it by two-thirds and give troubled homeowners a break in terms of paying down their mortgages. At the very least, this buys the economy a little time to swallow the inevitable foreclosures, allows consumers to actual spend a little more money, and gives us all time to wean ourselves over the enslavement we've subjected ourselves to, in the form of easy credit and rampant "shoved down our throats" consumerism.
Indeed, Cash For Clunkers, that amazingly successful program, is all the proof you need to see that Americans want to buy stuff, but there's deep uncertainty about jobs and the future. So another third of that TARP money could have gone to public works programs, shovel-ready infrastructure improvements that would have employed people at all levels. Yes, some of that has occured and thank god, or else employment numbers really would have hit Great Depression levels, instead of settling in at levels seen only during Republican administrations. We needed more. We'll get some more, but there's a problem, that I'll get into in a moment.  
Some banks would have need bailing out, to be sure, but it's idiotic that we gave money to banks that not only could have paid us back at any time, but eventually paid us back ahead of schedule. Clearly, those banks did not need that help! The S&P 500 is still overvalued, so there's still fat in the stock market. We could have let other investment banks go, we could have eevn let some of the money center banks go as well. really can't blame Obama for this: Bush and Hank Paulson had already pushed the bank bailouts front and center. It would have been next to impossible to avoid the final step. And in Obama's defense, TARP has been wildly successful thus far: something on the order of a ten percent default rate. Given the size of the fund and the deep troubles in the economy, this is a victory.
But my plan would have been more successful, less expensive, and more important, would have helped the people who really needed it. Now, those folks will never get help because Republicans have successfully branded the Bush bailout as "Obama's failure." It would be toxic to go back and ask for more money.
So fuck you, Rick Santelli and the Teabaggers you rode in on! I hope you all get foreclosed.
2) Taxes, but also Jobs: In addition to the above outline, a jobs program should have been front and center on Obama's agenda when he took office. Even if it meant reviving the Civlian Conservation Corps and paying people to pick up trash along the roadside, it would have helped. Right now, the private sector has added a net of one million jobs in 2010. It took Bush SIX YEARS to reach that level of hiring.
People are underemployed and the underlying truth is, people have stagnated in jobs and salary for thirty years, all sacrificed at the altar of tax cuts for the rich and the retarded (sorry, Trig) idea that somehow making the rich richer helps the middle class.
It doesn't. It might help the abject poor, but it does nothing, nada, zilch, zero, for the wage earners of this nation. A true jobs program would demand the rich start putting money back into the economy and stop hoarding it.
You know what the rich have done with all that tax "relief"? Stuck it in a mattress. Literally. That's not my opinion, that's what Moody's discovered. They haven't pumped it back into their businesses, hiring workers. They haven't spent it on their mansions and yachts, employing tens of thousands of Americans (but plenty of undocumented workers). They've stuffed it into investments that likely are off-shore, meaning that China is getting that money too. These assholes are raping our country twice, once on the tax bill and once by profiting from foreign exchange and debt financing, and I don't know about you, but if someone wants sex from me, it's going to cost them.
Ass, gas, or grass, no one rides for free! Soak the rich? OH! HELL! YEA! Because god knows, they soak us at the drop of a zipper.
3) War: Iraq should have ended in 2009. Afghanistan should have been the focus immediately, and we should have been out of both already. Period. You can make the case, and I have, that we broke them so we should fix them, but you know what? We can't fix the unfixable. We can put it on its feet, brush its coat off and get it back on the road, and then move the hell out of the way.
By the way, these assholes who are whining about deficits and national debt and tax cuts...where the fuck were you when Bush was spending us into the poorhouse and wasn't even honest enough to budget for it? Ten trillion in national debt doesn't appear overnight when the total of the budget deficit in 2009 was "only" $1.1 trillion! Bush took office famously with a budget surplus and a national debt of just over $3 TRILLION!
4) Energy policy: I was intrigued to see a form of this floated a few weeks back, but my energy plan is simple. To wean America off fossil fuels, offer a bounty of one billion dollars (or maybe now, since that's stopped being real money after the Bush bailout, ten billion) to the company that can come up with a renewable energy source that is as BTU-efficient as fossil fuels and that doesn't degrade over long transmission distances. But...there's a catch to that ten billion dollars. That technology immediately becomes licensed to the Federal government. The company can sell the energy or the technology but in order to maintain the grid at uniform levels, there has to be an accountability. The government, unlike its other R&D arm, the Defense Department, gets to clamp down on how the technology evolves, scientifically AND economically. The deregulation of the utlility industry was supposed to lower our electricity, phone, and gas rates. It has not. I would reinstitute the profit limitations on energy: you can charge whatever you want, but you can only earn a set percentage. This means, you have to reinvest in the infrastructure, and is a powerful incentive to maintain cheap rates.
5) Economic Stimulus: I've said or referred to this in at least two places already, but here we go again. Economic stimulus in America has always, ALWAYS, come from the bottom up. Give money to the people who have needs, and they will spend it. Give money to those who don't have needs, and they'll sock it away. Yes, both grow the economy, but giving it to people who spend grows it far faster. 
The national debt will take centuries to pay down to manageable levels, I'm afraid, barring of course a war of conquest that sees us taking over China and India, then exploiting their resources by slavery. 
But we can balance the budget, and in the next few years. We can start. And we can expand social programs to protect those who have been harmed badly by the corporatocratic Republican party.
Give every family in the country $5,000. Let's assume 100 million families, and we're talking about  $500 billion. Compared to the bank bailout, that's small. But here's the kicker: Of that $500 billion, much if not most of it would be spent, and it would be spent in such a way that it would immediately impact every industry in America, from travel to electronics to banking to education.  
Let's assume then a 25% average tax rate (including payroll taxes), so the government would see at least $125 billion back within a year. A small downpayment on the economic recovery to come. $375 billion is infused into the economy, and that now starts to grow the way money in the economy grows: an investment here, a few jobs there, and next thing you know, that $375 billion is back at $500 billion and the government gets another piece of that.
And we're all better off for it.
6) Healthcare reform: I have no problem with private healthcare as a concept. Japan has it, and has 100% coverage, at lower rates than we do, and has 3,000 insurance companies competing for policyholders. The catch?
Japan puts a lid on profits and rate increases.
My preference would have been single-payer national healthcare, of the sort they have in England and the rest of the civilized world. I realize that may be more than this nation can swallow, but there it is. You want socialism? That's as close to socialism as you're going to find on this planet, comrade, and it's one stinking sector of a few countries who have been around a lot longer than our upstart nation, and oh by the way, they've debated this and found our system wanting.
They're the smart ones. We ought to be taking lessons.
I realize this has gone to greater lengths than I imagined it would, so I'm going to close it here. To say that I am in total agreement with Obama because I defend him is ludicrous and inane. Clearly, he's just another right wing corporatist tool to me.
But he's a damn sight better than the other guys.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pot Calling The Kettle Negro President

Well, well, well, Jonah Goldberg  really doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut, does he?

Even though the incident made headlines for no discernible journalistic reason, it was noteworthy as a succinct example of Obama's arrogance problem. Rather than make a self-deprecating joke, he opted instead to make a self-inflating one, as if to say that the title mattered less than the man.

First, the joke was actually funny: he was standing at the podium giving a speech as President of the United States, the most recognizable office in the world.

Whomever holds that office is automatically inducted into that pantheon of recognition not because of who he is...underachieving President Bush was the absolute walking truth of that...but because he holds the office.

Rather than stop the speech he made a joke about the event, passed over it, and continued the speech.

According to Fudgie the Whale, this is somehow indicative of Obama's "Outsized Ego". Interesting. By stating the obvious truth, Obama = President, which is why everyone was there in the first place, this indicates a weakness of character.

Had it been Bush, it would be in Fudgie's head no doubt that this was Bush being a real man, that he was firmly in control of the situation. A self-deprecating joke would have had the PNAC crowd scratching their heads, wondering if it was time for Seven Days In May. 

Fudgie? The only outsized ego here is yours. Your projection of your insecurity, no doubt related in large part to your undersize penis, is telling. That you somehow could make a federal case out of a passing impromptu and unscripted joke is, well, paranoia at its finest. Your dual delusions of both grandeur (that anyone in the world beyond your Mommy gives a rat's ass about your opinions) and persecution ("Scary black man with stereotypically honking big penis is shoving things down my throat!") are both disturbing and comforting.

Your mom felt empowered by exploiting two young women into a futile distraction of the Greatest. President. In. History. You seem determined in some squick-producing Oedipal rage to topple his successor (I notice you have this tendency to ignore the intervening Presidency...something you share in common with many of your psychotic state) to one-up your mommy.

Sad. Truly.

I could write a book about your narcissistic tendency to view the world as a playground that only you are entitled to enjoy, and your paranoia about sharing it with people who differ from you and your "peers".

I use the term loosely. The only reason you folks are lumped together is so the rest of us don't have to work too hard keeping track of you. Kinda like why we keep sheep and cattle in herds. The collective bleatings and mooings give us comfort, knowing you're secure and safely locked away in a pen. 

When the world outside that fence intrudes, it's Katie bar the door for you folks. Rather than accept the world as it is, you attempt to edit it to your liking. Obama makes a joke? It's not a sign of self-confidence or wit, no, it's a character flaw, a trait that he must wrangle under control!

I am often reminded of the Republican party mantra: never complain, never explain. Republicans are the ultimate disciples of Frederick Winslow Taylor: there can be only one way to optimally perform a task or behave in a given situation and anything else is inefficient. This obsession with efficiency concerns me in society-- it's what free markets are all about-- but for you, Jonah?

Considering how hard mommy had to work to teach you to tie your shoelaces (I was going to be even more Freudian, but...), I think it's the safest place for you. It makes you...predictable.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scary White Men

It's kind of an odd twist of fate in a nation terrified of a YMCA that the scariest group of people are the squeaky wheels of the Tea Party.
(side note: how is it that an editor at Cracked is the most coherent spokesman on the subject of the Islamic community center opponents? But I digress...)
And yet they are. Intentionally. When you strip away the frothing "anger" at tax hikes (because as we all know, Obama has actually cut taxes for 98% of Americans) there's really nothing there except hatred, bigotry, homophobia and, to be blunt, a fucking bunch of loons who would be the first against the wall when the revolution really does come.
Hatred, masked by the call for tax cuts. We may see a day when "tax cut" becomes a quaint phraseology of the moronic marshmallow appeasement faction of the right, much like "separate but equal". The Teabaggers talk about "taking the country back" but from whom? The 53% majority that elected Obama? Sounds to me like they're talking treason, which of course renders the question why in the hell the media hasn't covered this aspect of the movement from day one?
Oh. Right. I keep forgetting. We have a radically conservative media that pays lip service to the progressive point of view, and when things on the right get really hairy, enlist Paris Hilton to show us her boobs.
There was a time when Republicans would "work the ref", to borrown Al Franken's delightful phrase about Republican campaign rhetoric and legislative manner. They'd make the case for their side, then whine about liberal bias whenever a media figure pointed out the truth of it. Now, Republicans own the dialogue and guess what? They're STILL whining!
Despite the likelihood the Teabaggers are going to wake up the morning of November 3 with much egg on their faces, we should welcome any Teabagger victory as one more nail in the coffin of conservatism. I concur with the sentiment that the possilbly the best thing that could happen to Congress would be a Republican victory in one or more houses. Of course, many would say that was Ralph Nader's point...
Sure. Taxes may get lowered on the richest. But far better, far funnier, is the damage the Republican party will undergo to its image once the Teabaggers start obstructing the agenda beyond tax cuts.
Neither party will have either a filibuster- or veto-proof majority. That much was can be certain of. And as seems likely, if the Dems lose control of either house, it would likely be the House of Representatives.
Meaning, for all the bluster and bullying, nothing will get done. And in 2012 when the Teabaggers go back, hats in hand with all the corruption they've acquired in two short years, to their constituents, those constituents will just be angrier, and moreover, angry at them for being part of the problem.
More to the point, the GOP will have to caucus with people who will demand no quarter in their dealings with Democrats. This will make funding pork a rather interesting conundrum, since it is pork that drums up campaign contributions and it is pork that wins re-election.
Some would say that Teabagger faith-related issues would tide them over as their representatives pressed the radical agenda of Teabaggery. I say "bollocks". There are precious few Congresscritters who can honestly say they have been unsullied by the power and money of holding elective office, from Sarah Palin to Michele Bachmann to Rand Paul, all of whom are Teabagging darlings and all of whom have demonstrated an inordinate desire to scam money from the Federal government.
The election strategy of Democrats in individual races has been a good one: force the spotlight onto social issues and expose these cockroaches as the blustering idiots they are. The more photos of Teabaggers in Nazi uniforms, the better. Hell, I'd run TV ads linking these asshats to Glenn Beck, then show Beck on the cover of his "best-selling" book!
I mean, the Teabaggers are all a sham anyway, so why not expose them?