Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Creative destruction for the better half

From Greenwald:
Anyone arguing that [the people's] views should be ignored, that their judgment be overridden by the decree of the wiser, superior ruling class (see David Brooks and Kevin Drum as good examples), is simply endorsing the continuation of the predominant framework for how our country has been run for the last decade, at least. Whatever else that is, there's nothing "wise" about that framework. Even if one believes in principle that the country is best entrusted to the elevated wisdom of a magnanimous and superior ruling class, and that majoritarian opinion should be systematically ignored, our ruling class -- the one we actually have -- is anything but wise and magnanimous. It's bloated, incestuous, reckless, inept, self-interested, endlessly greedy and corrupt at its core. Ye shall know them by their fruits. It's hard to imagine anything less wise than continuing to submit to its dictates.

Liberation from -- one could say "destruction of" -- the system run by that ruling establishment class is of critical importance.
Yesterday was the first shot. Round one.

Tomorrow, the Senate.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wall Street's Lifeboat Ethics

I hear on the news that the Obama campaign already has an ad out using clips from last night's debate. Entitled "Zero," it highlights the fact that McCain never once used the words "middle class." Implication: The omission speaks volumes about McCain's priorities. That, and having his campaign staffed by lobbyists.

More striking was this clip of an exchange this week between Larry Kudlow (CNBC, National Review; formerly with the Reagan administration, Freddie Mac and Bear-Stearns) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders:

Sanders mocks free-marketer Kudlow as a socialist for supporting the disaster capitalist bailout of Wall Street. Ordinarily, government expenditures designed to help Main Street pay bills or provide health care for families are non-starters for Kudlow and his fellows. Benefiting Main Street is irrelevant. Such actions are un-capitalist. They present a moral hazard and tilt the country towards socialism. Conservatives oppose such actions on principle. "Oh, no!" Sanders mimics. Yet here Kudlow argues, "Every twenty or thirty or fifty years, I'm okay with it." Yes, when it is his friends in peril.

Kudlow argues [1:59] that a taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street moguls will "first and foremost help Main Street, middle-class people." Why the sudden concern for you and me?

"Wall Street went bust! I mean, look what happened. Bear-Stearns went under. Lehman Brothers went under. Merrill had to sell," argues Kudlow [3:58]. When Wall Street is in trouble, government must not blink before rushing to the rescue.

Uh, huh. When New Orleans went under (water) and people drowned, conservative pundits and bloggers argued that taxpayers had no responsibility for bailing out people who "irresponsibly" lived in a town established below sea level in the eighteenth century. Bush promised help. New Orleans is still waiting.

These are Wall Street’s lifeboat ethics. As the titanic U.S. economy lists badly, Wall Street brokers, bankers and speculators of the second Gilded Age want those of us in steerage to buy them lifeboats - to the tune of $700 billion - promising to come back and pick us up after the ship goes down.

We have seen that movie.

Friday, September 26, 2008

If BS were currency

"If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself." - conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, National Review Online

Parker has thrown in the tiara, and calls for Palin to step aside for the love of her country and good of her party:
Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Do You Say?

Paulson: "Drop your opposition! Now! You have no chance of escape! Come forward with the $700 billion! If you wish to save your economy! This is your last warning! The choice is yours!"

Colonel Trautman: "What do you say John?"

Rambo: [loading his gun] "Fuck 'em!"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Have They Got That I Ain't Got? - Part 2

The Times of London has it straight from recent studies, that a person's positions on hot-button political issues "can be predicted accurately from the way their bodies respond to frightening stimuli."
The results, which are published in the journal Science, revealed significant differences in both responses, which corresponded with people’s political views. Those with “markedly lower physical sensitivity to sudden noises and threatening visual images” tended to support liberal positions, while those with strong responses tended to be more conservative.

This would fit with the hypothesis that people who have more fearful responses to perceived threats are more likely to be conservative, while those who have weaker responses develop more liberal views.
I have noticed an obsession with fear for some time now among leading conservatives. Weakness, especially showing weakness or fear is a cardinal sin. The world is a tough place, goes the thinking. So you'd better grow up quick and grow up mean, so your fists get hard and your wits get keen (a political philosophy with all the sophistication of "A Boy Named Sue"). Thus, the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Palin obsession with not "blinking" or "cutting and running," with issuing belligerent statements and making John Kerry seem "French," etc. It is a projection of their own weakness, something I was getting at (less scientifically than Science magazine) with this post from last week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Been there? Done that?

"Losing your job is more than a state of mind. It means staring at the ceiling and wondering how in God's name am I going to pay the mortgage payment and not lose my house. It means looking at your pregnant wife saying how in God's name am I going to come up with the thousands of dollars just for a normal birth, and God forbid I have a premature child that's going to cost me $250,000 ... Ladies and gentlemen, it's not a state of mind. It's a loss of dignity. It's a loss of respect, the loss of more than just your economic well being." - Joe Biden, this week in MI. (19:25)

Monday, September 15, 2008

A record to run on

From Andrew Sullivan, 53% of Americans favor a ban on torture.
A new survey of global public opinion [PDF] reveals the appalling truth. Americans are now among the people on earth most supportive of government's torturing prisoners. The United States is in the same public opinion ballpark as some of the most disgusting regimes on the planet:
Support for the unequivocal position was highest in Spain (82%), Great Britain (82%) and France (82%), followed by Mexico (73%), China (66%), the Palestinian territories (66%), Poland (62%), Indonesia (61%), and the Ukraine (59%). In five countries either modest majorities or pluralities support a ban on all torture: Azerbaijan (54%), Egypt (54%), the United States (53%), Russia (49%), and Iran (43%). South Koreans are divided.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Biker for Obama

I stopped by the local Obama HQ yesterday to drop off the name of a volunteer who wanted to be on the e-mail list. A big biker with arms like hams walked in, smiling broadly. He was on his way home to Yancey County after his ride and had seen the Obama sign. He just had to stop in, he said.

At first, he said, he wasn't so sure about Obama (being a black man, and all). But he started listening to him and realized he was the man. Let's hope there are many more like him at home.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Conservative patriotism

We stopped for a half gallon of milk last night while walking home after eating cheap Mexican. My wife chit-chatted with the store manager and lamented the early appearance of Halloween candy.

“It all comes from China,” he explained. They have to order it early. It comes in shipping containers, and since the warehouse isn’t air conditioned, they end up with it in stores early to prevent it from melting. Christmas merchandise, too, comes from China and must be ordered early.

Sarah said it was a shame that we didn’t put more Americans to work in factories making it here instead of sending our money to a “communist” country. It seems like, for the cost of shipping, we could pay Americans to do it.

“We couldn’t get people to show up,” the manager explained, “and they expect too much money even before they prove what they can do.” On the other hand, Hispanics are hard workers, he observed. They’ll do anything you ask them. But they’re illegal. If we could just make them legal...

Let’s recap. All flag-pin rhetoric to the contrary:

• Americans workers aren’t the best, most competitive workers in the world.
• Americans workers are slothful and greedy.
• The immigration issue is about the legal risks for employers hiring illegals.
• Illegal workers are more desirable than American workers because they work hard, come cheap, and do what they’re told.

Conservative patriotism.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What Have They Got That I Ain't Got?

A guy I once worked with fancied himself quite the stud. Trim, he wore a combed-back, black mullet. In his cubical he kept photos of himself water skiing barefoot. He made guttural noises in his throat when women walked by his cube. He also made extra money on weekends as a male strip-o-gram. But walk by his desk and lisp, “Hey, sailor. How’s it hanging?” and he would jump right out of his skin, fists clenched.

Thong riding up there a little, cowboy?

Those obsessed with displays of manliness are sometimes, like the Cowardly Lion, deeply unsure of their own. The thing liberals never seem to grasp is that for leading conservatives and neocons these electoral contests are not about issues or what is best for the country. They are about seeing which dog can pee highest on the tree. Power is like heroin, and the only thing that keeps what they fear most at bay - and it is not liberals.

One word from Obama would set the neocons and their enablers into crimson-faced spasms of rage: COWARDS. Far more than al Qaida, the thing they fear most, the thing they cannot face in themselves nor abide in others is weakness. Weakness is unpardonable. It is why they take such delight in tactics meant to emasculate their rivals. Find an opportunity to drop the C-bomb and watch their heads explode.

Push the button, Barack.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Type, Baby, Type

Tom Friedman was just on Meet the Press, hawking his new book in his usual full-of-himself way. He said that the next, great revolution beyond the IT revolution will be the the ET revolution: Energy Technology.

We'll need a mix of technologies going forward, including oil (as everyone agrees). The GOP's mistake is placing oil at the center of their energy "plan." When the GOP convention exploded in chants of "Drill, Baby, Drill," he said, imagine how the Chinese, Venezuelans and Saudis would have responded had they been sitting in a sky box.

Conventioneers might as well have been chanting, "IBM Selectric Typewriters! IBM Selectric Typewriters!"

Monday, September 01, 2008

At the Fair

I walked the Hendersonville, NC Apple Festival parade route today beside Democratic senatorial candidate, Kay Hagan, and her daughter, and behind Congressman Heath Shuler, who walked carrying his daughter (at least part of the way). I've done the parade before, but this time I saw no "thumbs down" or scowls, and the only "boo" was kidding from somebody's friend. Still, I noticed that there was a good bit of applause heading into downtown. It tapered off and got quiet in the thicker crowds in the middle of Main St. Then the applause picked up again as we headed out of downtown. The folks on the fringes tended to look less well-to-do.

On the way back up the parade route, I got my first-ever glimpse of Sen. Elizabeth Dole. She was with Republican gubernatorial candidate, Pat McCrory, riding high above the street on a colorful float.

We walked. They rode.