Posts Tagged ‘Economy

10
Apr
09

Why Bush, Cheney – and those damn Tea Partiers – Aren’t Smart

Forgive me for stating the obvious.

In the April issue of Real Simple magazine, science writer Jonah Lehrer pens an article entitled, “10 Ways to Be a Better Thinker.” It was quite interesting. My favorite was #5 – Take Long Showers, which says “moments of insight often arrive when you’re not aware that you’re thinking of the problem.” This is probably why my best blog ideas come to me right before I’m about to fall asleep and there’s no way in hell I’m getting out of bed. Suffer for my art? Please.

But #8 and #10 were the most interesting to me in terms of analyzing our political leaders, which I’m wont to do quite often. The eighth suggestion is to Study Your Mistakes, “One common trait of successful people is their willingness to focus on their fumbles.” And, on a similar note, Ten advises us to Think About Our Thinking, “Metacognition, as this is known, is a crucial skill. Many scientists argue that the best predictor of good judgment isn’t intelligence or experience; it’s the willingness to engage in introspection.”

These appear to be simple, basic concepts regarding the quality of thought. Yet, when you look at the majority of our political leaders, you will find a demographic either devoid of the capability of such improved mental activity or you find people simply unwilling to admit fault and self-analyze. So many of these dolts seem to have one speed of thought, with self-imposed blinders preventing them from the most important of decisions: how to change for the better.

We are witnesses to such blocks of immovable concrete when we see Republicans on television refusing to understand the realities and results of the decisions of the last eight years. They keep calling for lower taxation for the upper economic echelons and increased deregulation. There is absolutely no acknowledgment of fault or quality instances of introspection.

W. Bush says in Dead Certain, a great look at the man’s presidency by Robert Draper, that he HAD to believe that his decision to go into Iraq was correct. He would never allow himself to even consider the idea that perhaps the war had been a mistake. When you’re playing with thousands, perhaps over a million people’s lives, this attitude seems almost criminal for those with their fingers over the red button.

But that was the biggest criticism of Bush, wasn’t it? That the man wasn’t intellectually curious, probably due to the fact that he wasn’t introspective. His foot was on the accelerator regardless of whether there was a brick wall in his path or not (while the rest of us are in the back seat). It was only a “disappointment” that weapons of mass destruction weren’t found in Iraq. When asked what went wrong with Katrina, Bush immediately asks whether he should have landed Air Force One instead of simply flown over the area.

There is a grave, almost developmentally challenged inability by Bush to analyze situations in their totality or through the lenses of those with differing opinions. And his supporters have the same problem. Even now, many across the media’s various forms insist Iraq was a success and is now doing fine. Five soldiers died today in Mosul in a suicide truck bombing. There is widespread violence still and the region is extraordinarily unstable. Ask an Iraqi if they think the war was a success. It’s their country, after all. And these are real people! Over a million Iraqis have died since the war started and Bush talks about them like they’re little Lego men in one of his Lego forts. It’s despicable.

This lack of critical thinking skill is also what led Cheney to declare in May of 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes or that Obama is making us less safe because he is changing Bush’s policies. Cheney will never acknowledge that their administration’s policies allowed Iran’s influence and power to increase exponentially and caused an explosion in global hatred toward America.

People can disagree with Obama’s policies, as I do with some, all they want. But read the man’s books, look without prejudice at his decision-making process and you will see an increased capacity for deliberation, introspection, intellectual curiosity, consideration of mistakes, and appreciation for not only differing views, but everyone’s views. That’s why we elected him. Whatever you say about his policies, the man’s process is an ocean of improvement over our last commander in chief.

And all these little Tea Party shenanigans Fox seems to be orgasming over – the ones calling for the impeachment of Obama before he has even been in office 100 days – reveal how simple-minded the radical fringe of the Bush supporters are. None of them would give you a decent assessment regarding the mistake they made reelecting Bush. Nor would they be introspective enough to appreciate change or understand that the rest of us deserve a president who

This is what Im talking about. Reality has left the building.

This is what I'm talking about. Reality has left the building.

represents us as well. None of them would ever recognize that the policies they support, the ones that were instituted over the last eight years, have brought our country dishonor, ill-repute, economic woe and autocratic policies. They have committed a great harm and the rest of us have stood up and said no more.

I understand the pendulum swings politically. Right now, the Far Right Wing should have some dignity, grace and allow the rest of us – the majority of us (for now) – to institute the policies we believe will not only rescue us from this iniquitous past, but improve our now and our future. They should be a little introspective and come to grips with the fact that most of us do not agree with them, most of us support Obama at this point, and we have a right to resist the oppression they would impose.

23
Feb
09

Best Videos From Last Week 2.23.09: Fox’s Right Wing Agenda, Concentration of Wealth, Regulation

There was some good TV happening last week, here’s what I found notable (hint – read the stuff at the bottom. really):

  • With more and more voters edging toward the left or moderate (and, ahem, away from the Radical Religioner Party), Fox is having a harder time hiding their right wing agenda. CNN’s Howard Kurtz catches the latest Oh No, They Didn’t! moment on Fox.
  • MOST WORTH WATCHING: I very much appreciated this 20 minute clip of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski on Morning Joe as he discusses the concentration of wealth over the last few years. It is important for the public to understand that Republican policies enable the top few to get richer off the backs of the lower masses and unless we want the government to determine labor costs (we don’t), it is up to the public themselves to deflate the culture of extreme corporate wealth. Watch the video.
  • CLASSIC GO GET ‘EM! CLIP: Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero goes off on Fox over the suggestion that laborers have to shoulder the burden when companies lose competitiveness (many times due to executive decisions). Lots of talking over each other, which is annoying and Bernero obviously had an agenda when he went on the show, but still…it’s a good clip.
  • Repubs are already lining up their big guns against the upcoming attempts at health care reform. Some of the guns are not new and this one in particular, Betsey McCaughey, is having a clear problem locating the truth. Warning: it’s a Keith Olbermann clip, so if you don’t like him…watch the clip anyway.
  • IF YOU HAVE ITUNES: Dan Rather Reports aired an excellent program on the housing crisis with an even more excellent interview with TARP watchdog Elizabeth Warren. She is one of the few honest heroes of the Wall Street bailout. If you don’t have Itunes, you can get the transcript at the bottom of this page – I recommend the PDF version because the online version has formatting issues. Here are some highlights from the interview that are extremely worth a read:
    • RATHER
      Well, you’ve written– a great deal about family economics and the middle class. Are we in danger of– for all intents and purposes– losing the middle class? Or is that too much of a fear?
      WARREN
      No, I think that’s the real fear. So, here’s the– here’s what’s happened over a generation. Somebody out working 40 hours a week is making less than he was making 30 years ago. Household income has gone up a little. How? Because we put the second earner to work– if she could do it. But that has now flattened out. There’s no one else to put to work. We’ve put to work as many moms as we can possibly do. So, where we stand now is income has flattened out again. But core expenses; housing, health insurance, transportation, child care and taxes, because they’ve got these two salaries, have all gone up. And that’s left the basic family with less money than they used to have a generation ago. So, then we hit the skids of this recession. The bottom falls out of the housing market. They can’t tap home equity. These crazy mortgages for many of them are forcing their expenses up. They’re losing jobs. And that means we have not a few people, we have literally tens of millions of Americans, hard-working, play-by-the-rules, middle class people; people who got decent educations, people who got decent jobs, people who got married, moved out, bought houses, the backbone of what we are as America, those people are now hanging on by their fingernails.
    • RATHER
      If we lose the middle economic class do we have an America approaching anything what we’ve known in my lifetime and yours and our father and mother’s lifetime?
      WARREN
      No. It’s a different America. It becomes a two-class America. It may actually have a larger upper class. You know, maybe– maybe that moves to ten percent of the population who really do quite well. You know, the kids; you can send the kids to college with no debt and they graduate with no debt. They do fine. Nobody gets sick. You know, that’s the group that works. And then what we have is a big underclass. It’s folks who just live basically paycheck to paycheck. If– if you can hang on, if you don’t get a layoff or a cutback in hours
      RATHER
      Or you don’t get very ill?
      WARREN
      If– and one of the kids doesn’t get sick, if grandma doesn’t fall and break a hip, if you don’t get divorced or have a death in the family, you might be able to skirt through. But if anything goes wrong, you’re living one pink slip, one bad diagnosis away from complete financial collapse.
    • RATHER
      You did a special report on regulation. Take us back quickly over the last 25 years. What’s happened to regulation or supposed to have happened to regulation.
      WARREN
      So– so, here’s one way to look at it. In 1792 our young republic, George Washington is president, hits its first economic crisis. And credit markets freeze. Does this sound familiar?
      RATHER
      Yes, it does.
      WARREN
      And– it almost brings the country to its knees. And here’s what happens. About every 15 to 20 years we have another crisis. We call them panics. We have different names for them.
      RATHER
      Depression?
      WARREN
      Depression. But they happen about every 15 to 20 years for 140 years. The pattern is just unmistakable. Then we hit the Great Depression. And coming out of the Great Depression we put three new regulations in place; Glass Stiegel, which divides our community banks basically from the Wall Street investment banks, FDIC insurance, put money in the bank and know that it’s safe and some SEC regulations so you can invest on Wall Street and they can’t cheat you too directly. That’s what we put in place. For 50 years we have no bank failures, no major crises. It works. Now, there’s innovation. There’s change. It’s time to change regulations. It gets to be the early 1980s. And what do we do? Instead of saying new products, we need to change regulations to adapt, we take a different path. We say–
      RATHER
      We let banks to go in the insurance business and vice versa?
      WARREN
      Let’s deregulate. That’s exactly right. We begin to break down the old regulations. We say, “Who needs regulations? They’re so pokey. So old.” So, we go with this idea of let’s get rid of regulation and what happens? Late 1980s, savings and loan crisis should’ve been a warning. Late 1990s, remember long term capital management, hedge fund? Should’ve been a warning. But we let it go. Early 2000s, Enron, bad books, not telling the truth. Should’ve  been a warning. But we let it go. And where do we end up? In the biggest crisis since the– Great Depression. Markets are wonderful. They produce great wealth for us. But they are by their very nature something we call pro-cyclical. When they’re going up, they chase themselves up. Hey, wow, it’s doin’ great! Up they go. And when the go down, they chase themselves down. And they go lower than actual supply and demand would suggest. Now look, we can live in a world all ups and downs for the rest of our lives. We can say, “Who needs regulation? Let’s just ride that roller coaster wherever it goes.” But, you know, we have to remember when it goes down, it doesn’t just take down the people who gambled. It doesn’t just take down the people who invested on Wall Street. It takes down everybody who’s got a pension. It takes down folks who have jobs in construction industries and– and other industries that get hit by this. It takes down– in this case, it takes down homeowners, people who thought they were doing the right thing to protect themselves for the future. It takes down the prudent along with the gamblers and the wild ones.
      RATHER
      Which is where we are today?
      WARREN
      Which is exactly where we are today. So, we could say, “Hey, no more regulation. That’s fine.” But look what it’s brought us. We are not willing to let these big financial institutions fail. We’ve got this too big to fail notion. So we are going to shovel billions of dollars in their direction and still take the position we shouldn’t regulate them? I– this is a world that may be a lot of fun for
      the high flyers who get theirs and keep theirs. But it’s not a world that works very well for ordinary families.
17
Feb
09

Proof God Does Support Gay Marriage

Remember when Jerry Falwell said to Pat Robertson on The 700 Club, regarding 9/11,

But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”?

And remember when John Hagee said regarding Katrina,

All hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.?

Well, if large-scale catastrophes are the result of the God of Abraham’s wrath and California is now in an economic free-fall and nearly out of money, this must be retribution for the only recent atrocity the state has committed: approving a legal ban on gay marriage.

It’s so clear! If California wants to overcome this economic Armageddon, their voters must quickly approve the court-upheld Constitutional legality of gay-marriage. Then baby jesus will be happy.

**Might I also suggest altering the state congressional process by which a budget or increase in taxes requires a 2/3 vote? That shit is jacked up.

16
Feb
09

Stimulus Debate Revealing Republicans To Be Out Of Touch Crackheads – But What’s New?

The ugly last few weeks of stimulus debate among our nation’s leadership has left one thing clear: Congress has essentially become a douchey, senior-citizen version of The Real World mixed with Laguna Beach. Seriously. We basically a geriatric high school with bitches galore  and those lame duck leaders have abdicated any sense of responsibility to the American citizen as they are solely focused on the next election – which is especially true in the case of the Republicans.

Anyone who has taken Psych 101 (me) has likely been watching with jaws on the floor the Right Wing Parade of crackhead after crackhead. Singular focus on electoral demographics has allowed them to form some insane force field of failed ideology divorcing almost the entire Republican leadership from reality. To repeat the words of John Judis in The New Republic, “Congressional Republicans either don’t know any economics or are willing to put the country at risk to advance their own party’s fortune.” I’d go with both.

In case you’ve been under a rock, here’s the deal, pickle. The country is hemorrhaging jobs – almost 5 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits, which doesn’t include all the unemployed who are not collecting benefits, nor those who are underemployed because their hours have been cut. Temporary jobs – an indicator of economic health – have all but dried up. The wealth of the average American family is now less than it was in 2001. And the second wave of mortgage defaults is starting to hit the country, because option ARMS are beginning to hit their due dates for interest rate increases. AND, and – the country’s top intelligence officer says the global economic crisis poses a greater threat to U.S. stability than terrorism.

You got it? Good.

Now, what are the crackhead Republicans suggesting will fix this crisis? It they spend most of their whining about the lack bipartisanship (which is odd considering Bush only met with Dems 3 times during his administration and Limbaugh equates talking to Dems to talking to snakes…), hoping the president fails, attempting to obstruct any potential solution to the problem and creating fun, new, misleading terms like “generational theft.” Would you expect any different from a group of people who values the opinions of the likes of Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Joe the Plumber, and Rush Limbaugh? Right.

Somehow, you’d think right wing leaders smart enough to reach national office would be able to acknowledge the reality of the situation and choose to address these issues with realistic proposals instead of ideology proven to not only fail, but worsen the country’s economic troubles. You’d be wrong. Repub leaders have decided – as though they live in bizarro world – that if they oppose the stimulus and the stimulus fails, they can ride it all the way to victory in 2010. How wonderful of them to lift their collective, wrinkled middle finger to the lower 95 percent of America’s economic class.

And just to appear as though someone told them if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the what? Problem!, they are attempting to present a few weak ass proposals of their own: corporate tax cuts, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and payroll tax cuts.

Let’s address these “ideas.” First of all, government spending stimulates the economy much faster than tax cuts. Remember how much tax cuts for the wealthy helped over the last 8 years? The wealth was hoarded at the top and did not trickle down. The top 400 wealthiest Americans doubled their wealth, the poverty class grew while the middle shrunk drastically and jobs dried up.

Next, let’s take a look at corporate taxes. Republicans love to wave their hands in the air, shouting about America’s record corporate tax cuts. As they well know, because of the myriad of loopholes in tax legislation, the majority of U.S. corporations do not pay federal taxes. Therefore, lessening the tax burden on businesses that don’t pay taxes anyway will have zippo improvements on the economy. Are you paying attention Hatch? McConnell? Cantor? Boehner? Or your heads too far up your ass to hear me?

And lastly, payroll taxes are a good idea – but not by themselves. As with the stimulus checks Bush sent out last year, Americans are saving or paying down debt with any extra buck that comes their way – not shopping. Without consumers spending, businesses cannot stay afloat, retain employees and no reduction in payroll taxes will reverse that trend.

Which leave job creation as the strongest ladder out of this quagmire. Yet, Republicans, cuddled in their failed ideology and refusing to acknowledge data, evidence and reason started harping on every little non-roads related portion of the stimulus bill. Condom distribution, for example, was one of their main target. Yet, condom makers, condom packagers, and companies who ship the condoms will be stimulated. I could answer in much the same way with every “earmark” the Republicans attacked with unhelpful rhetoric, like “porkulus.”

Paul Begala had a good idea in his address to South Carolina Gov. Sanford, who opposes the stimulus, “If Republican politicians are so deeply opposed to President Obama’s economic recovery plan, they should refuse to take the money. After all, if you think all that federal spending is damaging, there are easy ways to reduce it: Don’t take federal money.” We’ll see how many uneducated poor – or, as I like to call them, Limbaugh listeners – turn out to vote for Repubs in 2010 in the areas where they looked to corporate tax cuts to help them out of the economic rut.

Bush proved what a detriment it is to cloak decision-making in political ideology alone. Data, information, logic, evidence must be understood and solutions cannot simply stand on theory – especially after the data show that theory has already failed. It is a desperate shame Republican leadership only cares about election returns and refuses to learn the lessons of the past. It seems so elementary and yet they fail to grasp the most simplest of realities. I’m sure  Republicans willing to work with Democrats, like Crist, Snowe, Spector, Collins, and all the  mayors who are seeing the jobs dry up right before their eyes will probably do okay the next election go ’round.

But with each new report about massive layoffs – that are weekly now – most Republicans will find that the only thing they know how to do, obstruct, will begin to sour among those feeling the pinch. Which is everybody. The Right wingers thought they were getting a little traction by throwing mud in Obama’s eye – but reality is hard to overcome and the Republicans have no solutions to our national problems, no helpful manners, and are making no improvements. To say they are a party of the past is putting it kindly. And I’m hoping all their bitchy congress people fail out come the end of this term.

05
Feb
09

Politicians: Corporatocracy Whores

It seems most politicians are members of three clubs: former big biz, lawyers, and academics. Of course, there are exceptions. Ron Paul, Bill Frist, Howard Dean, and Tom Coburn were also doctors. California offers up actors from time to time, and Jesus give us his peeps:  Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mike Huckabee. Sarah Palin crawled out from under a rock in White Trashville, as will have Joe The Plumber when he undoubtedly attempts to run for some public office.

Maybe we need to take a closer look at where our politicians come from and what type of background offers the most successful selections. By successful, I don’t mean longest-serving or highest-ranking. I mean most effective, the politicians that benefited the American people the most.

In pondering this topic, the most pessimistic observation regarding the state of our government is that there is an undeniable rotating door between government and big business. As I’ve said, this is not a democracy, but a corporatocracy. Lobbyists and politicians are one and the same and this is true of both Republicans and Democrats.

Sure, this is a well-known reality. So, what could have triggered my need to blog on the topic today? Well…

On Morning Joe this a.m. Joe Scarborough, in his usual pithy tone of egotistical disgust and certitude, derided Obama who, just like Bernanke, Joe said, is a professor. They’re just professors. And this is true. But maybe, just maybe, it’s not a bad thing.

Yesterday, Robert Scheer pointed out in his Huffpo blog entry, Runaway Wallstreet, that Geithner’s choice for top aide is Mark Peterson, Goldman Sachs VP and lobbyist. “It was confirmation that Goldman Sachs runs the Treasury Department–no matter which party is in power.” He also sites The NYTimes’ “The Guys From ‘Government Sachs'”, which details Goldman alumni in the government – Paulson, of course, but also Joshua B. Bolten, Neel T. Kashkari, Robert Rubin, World Bank Pres. Robert Zoellick, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a BUNCH, bunch more.

Goldman Sachs is one of the many Wall Street, financial institutions with a revolving door between itself and the Treasury Dept., the Fed, the SEC and more. What about Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg? And, most recently John McCain was greatly considering naming shamed former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain – you know the one who spent $1.2 million redecorating his office – for his Treasury Secretary. How can our government be expected to enact the best policy when they are all big biz wankers who have no priority over increasing wealth among their ranks?

The financial industry isn’t the only extreme conflict of interest in the government. Remember Dick Cheney? Yes, that ex-Halliburton CEO called in major energy execs to help write the government’s energy policy. No wonder Bush thought Kyoto was a bad idea. No wonder Bush wouldn’t let California set high fuel emissions standards. No wonder Detroit refused to acknowledge the growing demand for greener autos. No wonder Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and other companies close to Bush & Cheney received no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions while our underfunded military continued to fight wars on two fronts. Nothing new – former head of Enron Ken Lay would trip over himself licking the heals of Bush I, leaving little surprise that the company was able to get away with manipulating the California energy market before its bubble collapsed.

Where do you think Tom Daschle went after his senate career? Yeah, a lobbying firm with clients in the health care sector. He would have made a great health care secretary. No conflict there. And you know how recruited him? Bob Dole. Even Bill Frist went to work for a health care investment firm after leaving the senate.

And there’s always a new crop of big biz lackeys knocking at the door all the time: Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and  Meg Whitman are biding their time, waiting to make their big break on the national circuit. But it’s not just the politicians – it’s their spouses, their children, congressional aides, government inspectors for the FDA, SEC, CDC and more – everyone around these politicians are in bed with lobbying firms and corporations. Lower level government employees, eying big dollar jobs in the private sector, push their bosses toward pro-biz legislation and deregulation. The mainstream media, dependent on sponsor dollar, rarely publicize the siamese twins our government and big business have become.

And the American people suffer for it. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mandated the vaccination of teenage girls with Gardasil – interesting because of his ties to Gardasil’s maker, Merck. The governor thinks he can issue executive orders regarding the health of our children, ordering them to take a new drug with multiple questions regarding its side effects. The man should be jailed. He also tried to rush the building of coal plants before new “clean coal” (cough, cough lie) regulations were put in place. Yeah, we got a winner down here in Texas. Hey Perry – this isn’t a fucking autocracy! Asshole.

Now, sure most of the Democratic politicians are lawyers  – funny how they want to study law before becoming professional legislators. And many other government participants are academics. The main attack line against these people – and we heard it quite a bit this last election – is that they never ran anything. Somehow the recent big biz execs are winning elections to become today’s politicians on platforms that they were in charge in the business sector. And the last eight years have been the most pro-biz in recent history. Do you see what I’m getting at?

Maybe before we jump to criticize these professors and lawyers, we should take a look at how well the big biz peeps fared. Last I looked, our civil liberties were greatly reduced, we spent far more on a war sold with lies than we did on education the children of our country, a credit bubble formed and popped, health care costs became astronomical, unaffordable and the leading cause of bankruptcy, speculation drove oil & gas prices sky high and unemployment reached record levels.

At least the top 400 richest people doubled their wealth while Bush was president. The poverty sector grew by leaps and bounds, but who cares about those people? We have a corporatocracy on our hands and until we establish policy on data, information, evidence and reality and leave ideology and theory in the books where they belong, we will continue to suffocate the middle class. And without a healthy middle class, a healthy American economy cannot exist. The idea of a free market has become a joke, a myth. There’s nothing free about our market. It’s very, very expensive. And it’s not the rich who are paying for it.

29
Jan
09

No Repubs in House Vote for Stimulus

It’s funny when Rush Limbaugh said the Republicans are expected to bend over and grab their ankles for Obama. That’s exactly what the Democrats did for Bush. And I’m all for the Republicans presenting a reasonable opposition to a stimulus package with a lot of government spending. It drives debate and discussion and after 8 years with a federal government that shat out one bad policy after another, it’s good to see both parties sitting across the table from one another.

But not one Republican in the House voted for the stimulus package. And Obama made some concessions for the Republicans. Some family planning spending was taken out. Tax cuts were strengthened – despite numerous data indicating that infrastructure spending strengthens the economy much more quickly than tax cuts.

And yet not one Repub said Yea. The Republicans didn’t give an inch, not a millimeter. They demanded their way as if the majority of the American people voted to support them. I don’t know, perhaps they were all smoking crack together on Nov. 4. At least that would be a logical explanation for their current behavior.

So, now we’re looking at a future in which the Democrats give a bit to appease the constipated blowhards on the right – something the Repubs never did for the Dems did during the failed Bush Era – and Republicans still withhold every ounce of support. Obama will extend the olive branch again and again and make concessions and the Republicans will bat it away like the immature dittoheads they are.

How many concessions will Obama give before he finally says, if you are not willing to cooperate in the most minute manner, I will stop asking for your opinion entirely? Obama is not a small man, so I doubt he will never say these words that would make my inner child gleeful.

I prize common sense decisions and reason and it goes without saying that to do the same thing over and over expecting different results in an exercise in insanity. We tried it the Republican way for eight years. Bush met with the Democrats only three times during his administration. Obama has already met with the Republicans twice. If that doesn’t tell you who has more character and is a better decision-maker, then we likely disagree about much, much more.

The Repubs had their chance and failed immeasurably. They are now the party of yesterday. On the wrong side of history, as Obama says. Dying off. Rush looks like he could keel over any minute – then the Repubs would have to get some actual leadership. It doesn’t surprise me that the party would try to stay relevant by being obstructionists. They’ve been doing it the last two years.

As they are now, Republicans are shameful and harmful and pitiful, broken and soon-to-be-forgotten. And I am so thankful I am not one of them. I doubt they will change, put down the crack pipe and join the rest of us acknowledging and responding to reality. I have hope that the younger generation of Republicans are not the brittle crackers of a ruinous ideology the current leadership reveals themselves to be.

19
Jan
09

With Less Than 24 Hours to Go, I Say NEVER AGAIN

With just one day to go all I can say is I never thought this day would come. This is my long accounting of George W. Bush and that which he wrought upon our nation. It’s not a full catharsis, but merely the start so that we may say Never Again.

2000 Election – My Confessional

I can remember exactly where I was the moment the news stations called the 2000 election for Bush. On a treadmill in Perth, Australia. Everyone in the gym looked in my direction to see what the lone American thought of her next president. Mind you, this was before the news stations realized they had committed the media blunder of the century and we’d have to wait for characters like Katherine Harris and hanging chads to become famous before the Supreme Court decided who our next president was.

Having recently graduated college and, thus, deciding to party like a rock star, I was too clueless to get my act together and send in an absentee ballot to participate in the election. It’s the only one I’ve missed and will carry the shame until dementia erodes my cognitive abilities. I would have voted for Bush, though. Gore was such a lame douchebag (not to mention Lieberman) and I had yet to fully shed the Republican shackles of my youth. Hell,as a University of Texas student, Bush had been my neighbor. No one knew the gravity of the election and most people I knew were eager to see our governor succeed.

During the campaign, Bush kept saying the U.S. had to stop being the world’s policeman and scale back our military entanglements around the globe. Having recently studied the Vietnam War, international diplomacy, nuclear weapons policy and the fall of the Soviet Union – his rhetoric hit home with me. How was I to know he’d do a 180 once he had his finger over the red button?

This was before the convenient days of Google and Wikipedia. And I was clinging to the bubble of youthful ignorance with full force, which meant I did not research W’s history. I did not discover that he was an utterly failed businessman who had skated through early adulthood like many rich kids on his daddy’s name without forging a worthy identity or principle. I did not know the man was a hollow shell with only a pre-determined ideology and a daddy complex to steer decisions that would determine the fate of millions.

2004 – Was Bush Sent to Make this Nation Atone for Sins of its Past?

By 2004, it was glaringly apparent that Bush was incapable of the necessary consideration and deliberation to benefit this country or any other. In the primaries, I voted for Wes Clark, thinking him to be the only Democrat candidate who could reasonably compete with Bush for votes while the Iraq War of choice was being waged. Instead, John Kerry walked away with the nomination and I knew Bush would be reelected. Kerry was a non-starter, running on an “I’m Not Bush” platform, echoing the dismal reality that the Democrats had no voice, no testicular fortitude, no message.

Our country was to be held hostage for another four years by the evangelical, anti-intellectual far right and their moronic leader. I truly believed (living in Oklahoma, at the time) that the majority of this country were actually uneducated hicks who cared more about their guns than community service and thought it more important to have a big dick than humility. It was as though the America I thought existed was being suffocated by the intolerant and selfish and stupid.

I immediately bought a “01.20.09” bumper sticker, proudly displaying my patriotic desire to alter the direction of our nation. I wasn’t alone. Every time I saw another car sporting the same sticker – more than you’d expect here in north Texas – my heart leapt for joy. The peeps were waking up.The tide was turning, biatch.

THE WORST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY

It has been a most painful four years. Gay marriage bans, attempts at abortion redefinitions, no repentance for sending thousands to die for a war of choice – a war based on lies and deceit and salesmanship, and almost every department under the Executive Branch in ill repute for either illegal activity or preventing progress.

Bush is so smug with pride over the fact that the U.S. has not been attacked since 9/11. “I’ve kept America safe,” he repeats. But another leader of higher caliber could have kept us safe without sacrificing our dignity, integrity and honor. A better leader would have questioned his decisions, would not started or outsourced a war designed to establish a legacy. A better leader would have known things are not so simple, not so black and white, and not easily designated “good” and “evil.”

How many Americans did Bush keep safe from Alzheimer’s and diabetes and paralysis by supporting the limitless possibilities of embryonic stem research? How many teenage girls turned to abortion because Bush decided federal funds would support abstinence-only programs proven time and time again to fail, aptly demonstrated by the 2008 Republican V.P. nominee herself? Bush’s legacy entails auctioning off national protected lands (why?) and hindering the listing of many species (including polar bears) from the endangered species list.

At every turn available, the Bush administration sold out this country and it’s citizens to the mega-corporations designed to bleed every penny we have and every penny we’re approved for from our shrinking wallets. He sold the war and soldiers’ safety to Blackwater, Halliburton and myriad of other war profiteers. He sold our energy policy to the energy companies, the EPA to business hell-bent on raping the environment. Even the FDA is a joke, a corporate gimp with a failed record for protecting the consumer.

Under Bush, our nation became a budding autocracy who spies on its citizens at home and abroad. The Justice Department was politicized, the State Department was a Yes Man, the Defense Department was the epitome of incompetence, Homeland Security is a theatrical presentation, FEMA is a mythological black hole, the CIA is a plaything of the Executive.  The FCC has multiplied its interference in our “freedom of speech” a thousand-fold.

There has been no shining light from this President. No progress. No national greatness achieved. He came to office promising to unite and instead tore our country asunder.

With less than 24 hours to go it almost doesn’t seem real. Probably because it will take a generation repair the endless damage that clouds the horizon.

Obviously, I do not believe history will smile on George W. Bush. Unlike others, I do not think that his legacy will mirror the future of Iraq. The Iraq War empowered Iran like nothing else could for centuries – and history knows. In this age of information, ALL the destruction by this administration is on record and serves as a reminder that it does matter who the President of the United States is. Their character and integrity and intellect matter. Their decision-making matter.

We must remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. We cannot let time sweeten the memory of the last eight years. We must record it and remember it for the sake of future generations. So that we may say with conviction: NEVER AGAIN.

Is it real? It doesn’t feel real.

12
Jan
09

Why Are Oil Prices So Volatile?

Hint: It ain’t supply and demand.

Last night, 60 Minutes aired an invaluable report explaining the roller coaster oil prices – a must-watch (or must-read, if you prefer the trascript) for anyone confuzzed by the inanity of the energy market.

Spoiler: those manipulative bastards from Enron make a comeback.

Video and transcript here. Really, watch it or read it.

21
Nov
08

First Golden Parachute of the Bailout

At least, I think it’s the first. Pro Publica reports South Financial Group, a bank in South Carolina, has been approved to receive $347 million as part of the federal government bailout of the financial sector. Founder and double-decade CEO Mack Whittle retired two months early (coincidence?) and walked away with an $18 million severance package. His retirement comes before restrictions on golden parachutes will affect SFG’s receipt of taxpayer money.

Certainly $18 million pales in comparison to the parachutes rampant in big business’ golden showers. Still, Whittle oversaw the poor decision-making that has brought the SFG to the brink of failure, dependent on government money to stay afloat. Why he’s entitled to a $133,920 auto allowance and $75,000 for financial planning, only Beelzebub knows.

The delicious silver lining? Apparently, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) is calling for an investigation into Whittle’s early retirement, accusing him of “gaming the system.” According to Talking Points Memo, Whittle had grown dissatisfied with Sanford’s treatment of the business sector and backed another cat’s effort to unseat the governor in 2006.

These corporate executives who are looking for the huge pay-day as unemployment numbers grow into the millions better watch out. Their greed and mismanagement has brought the world to a global meltdown – to radiate a “let them eat cake” attitude will surely earn them an “off with their heads” response. The electorate is growing tired of the hoarding of wealth at the top of the economic totem pole and surely our representatives are on the receiving end of their rightful earful.

Whittle, like the rest of us, should have saved for retirement and faded into the sunset full of self-doubt over his leadership spanning the housing boom. There’s enough blame to go around and he should grow up, exit Neverland stage left and eat his fair share of the shit pie he helped cook.

28
Oct
08

Financial Meltdown Puzzle – Another Piece

There are a myriad of reasons out national economy has hit the skids (and is taking down the global economy with it). While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are on the receiving end of partisan finger-pointing, they aren’t the entire story. Not even close. They were a symptom, not the cause.

In my quest for knowledge regarding this financial bailout, a main theme keeps emerging: lack of regulation. I’m sure you’ve heard the term.

Well, this weekend, 60 Minutes’ “The Bet that Blew Up Wall Street” gave a very comprehensive explanation of yet another piece of the meltdown puzzle: the legalization of the derivative markets, which basically “allows you to wager on financial outcomes without ever having to actually buy the stocks and bonds and mortgages.” Side bets.

The rocket fuel was the trillions of dollars in side bets on those mortgage securities, called ‘credit default swaps.’ They were essentially private insurance contracts that paid off if the investment went bad, but you didn’t have to actually own the investment to collect on the insurance.

Dinallo (Eric Dinallo, insurance superintendent for New York) says credit default swaps were totally unregulated and that the big banks and investment houses that sold them didn’t have to set aside any money to cover their potential losses and pay off their bets.

‘As the market began to seize up and as the market for the underlying obligations began to perform poorly, everybody wanted to get paid, had a right to get paid on those credit default swaps. And there was no ‘there’ there. There was no money behind the commitments. And people came up short. And so that’s to a large extent what happened to Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and the holding company of AIG,’ he explains.

The derivative market, basically gambling, was illegal for most of the 20th Century. A few lobbyists and campaign contributions later and the lame duck Congress in 2000 – when Bill Clinton was president – signed the bill that reopened the markets for these side bets. Without regulation, there was no body to even track how many of these bets were made or for how much.

I wonder if this next Congress will allow the law to stand, thus continuing to weaken our fragile Wall Street.

In any case, it’s worth having the knowledge and understanding of the role these derivative markets played in the meltdown, so I’m including Steve Kroft’s piece because it truly was an eyeopener. Very much worth the watch:

You can view the video here or read the transcript here.

07
Oct
08

Go Negative, McCain! And Then Go Home!

With only 28 days left in the election, I’m hearing a lot of people saying they can’t wait until this is all over. Granted, these people are all anti-Obama. But, all politics all the time can be hard on people who are not political junkies. Unlike me.

I’m reveling in this constant political news stream. Even all the mud-slinging can’t rain on my parade. I suppose this is because the person I do not want to win will have to pull a rainbow with a pot of gold out of his ass to take home first place. After constant analysis of the men before us, I have to admit that I’m more ANTI-MCCAIN than PRO-OBAMA and really wish the left wouldn’t romanticize Obama because he’s going to have such a cesspool of crap leftover from Bush to be an extremely transcendent president – at least in his first term. Obama does have less experience than other viable Democratic candidates, his FISA vote pissed me off, he’s against gay marriage, he supports faith-based initiatives and has other “issues” which have garnered my disappointment. But as we say every four years about our respective candidates, “He’s a helluva lot better than the other guy.”

Also, this is the first time it looks like I’ll be on the winning side of a presidential election. I’ll admit it – I voted Dole in ’96, would have voted Bush in 2000 (was out of the country and didn’t get my shit together for an absentee ballot), and voted Kerry in ’04. After growing up in Texas, I was originally a Republican, but naturally moved to the left as I grew more informed – first as a social liberal/fiscal conservative, then even more to the left as I realized the lack of financial regulation results in the United Corporatocracy of America.

I’m not a straight-ticket voter by any means and support the multi-party system more than the Democratic Party, which is why I still may vote Nader in the general election as Texas is almost guaranteed to fall into McCain’s pocket despite the switch of Hispanic voters to the Democratic side. If Texas were a toss-up, I would by all means vote for Obama. Either way, I support a McCain loss above all.

Which is why I love his negative attacks. And Palin’s for that matter.

If they want to load their stump speeches with tales of domestic unrest during the turbulent 60’s – ahem, FORDEE years ago – while the U.S. is embroiled in two wars and the major financial crisis of our times, that is peachy with me. It only ensures a greater loss for them come November. There are legitimate economic policy disputes between McCain and Obama. McCain has every opportunity to present to voters a forward-looking, encouraging picture of where he wants to take the country.

Instead, he calls Obama a liar and dishonestly claims Obama wants to avoid answering questions about his record.

It’s not working. And it won’t work.

The ridiculous charade of McCain’s campaign has found their credibility on a downward slope that has paid little attention to the poll numbers. Instead of a plausible campaign on policies, McCain has given us infamous cannon fodder of stunts: the ads linking Obama to Paris and Britney, naming Palin his running mate, one dishonest ad after another – including an ad that claimed Obama wanted to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners, repeating the lie that the surge was responsible for the decrease in violence in Iraq, once again trying to win an election on his POW experience, the fake suspension of his campaign and attempt to take credit for a bailout legislation that failed to materialize according to McCain’s timetable, and – most recently – linking Obama to William Ayers’ activities decades ago. His campaign isn’t legitimate, it’s a joke.

The problem for McCain? The internet has provided voters quick and easy access to fact-based information, allowing people to call bullshit much earlier on lies for the sake of political expediency. Stunts are far more transparent than they were just four years ago. Would the Swiftboaters have succeeded under the current umbrella of the proliferation of information? I don’t want to give American voters too much credit, but I don’t think so.

McCain never gave his policies a chance to shine. He never gave his stance on the issues an opportunity to appeal to voters. He went Hillary on Obama way too early and the stubborn refusal of his campaign to see the error in this tactic is their death knell. Regardless of my disagreement with their policy proposals, they don’t deserve to win it. They tried generalities about his experience and his “maverick” record, but they forgot the specifics about what they are promising the American people. Basic chants about “cleaning up Washington” and “rooting out ineffeciencies” (though Palin forgot the “in” in “inefficiency” a bit too many times in interviews) and “Obama’s the most liberal Senator” don’t work. People want to know what you are GOING TO DO. Future tense, McFly.

From a politically scientific level, it’s been suicide again and again. From a leftie level, it’s been glorious.

Every time another speech by Palin or McCain is carried live on television and they are talking Ayers and calling Obama a liar, I giggle – then press the mute button. Each day they waste with these failed distractions is just another nail in the coffin of their campaign.

So, go negative, McCain! Go negative all the way! Because that road leads to second place. And when you’re looking for bozos to blame, don’t just hurl your spittle towards all the former Bushies you hired, remember that you sold your soul and with it any chance you had to win. I’m looking forward to see you do well, but not good enough, in tonight’s debate. We’ll finally get to see that Town Hall you’ve been clamoring for. Enjoy it. Maybe Bush will meet you afterward by your jet with a cake.

30
Sep
08

Blogging About the Bailout From the Netherworlds of Anti-Obama Territory

I was on the road all day yesterday driving from Houston to Pensacola to visit my parental types with my sister. Besides all the damn convoys of electricity and tree-trimming trucks heading back home after helping get Houston power back up following Hurricane Ike (my sister says thank you) driving in the left lane trying to give me an aneurysm, the ride went pretty well. All I’m saying is that I don’t know what South Texas and South Louisiana did to make baby jesus mad. Who knew hurricanes were such a useful tool of divine justice?

As I’m playing Highway Commando and trying to make good time, we get a call that the House voted against the bailout. Against the bailout! We immediately turned my new XM radio (which rocks hard) to the news stations – which was fun because the first thing we heard was Boehner and his fellow boners blaming Pelosi for the failure of Republicans to vote for the bailout package. Apparently, Pelosi gave some partisan speech, which pissed off quite a few of the Repubs so much, they forgot their vote would affect the entire U.S. economy and that of the rest of the world and decided to use their vote for political gamesmanship and spit in Pelosi’s glossy eye with a “Nay.” What word am I thinking of? It’s another word for donkeys… Oh, yeah – Jackasses!!

Who gives a shit about people’s retirement packages? Who gives a shit about companies being able to meet payroll? Mortgages, car loans, grocery bills…who cares, who cares, who cares? The American people have been fed a lot of baloney about the free market and American capitalism and decided to call their representatives, instructing them NOT to vote for the bailout. And the House reps actually claim they listened to these people – these people who have not one iota of understanding about how the markets work and what a catastrophe it will be if the bailout fails and allows the markets to wallow, freezing credit and large portion of the exchange of monies. Even my Republican family – who is watching the retirement upon which they currently live head toward the drain – was astounded at the stratospheric stupidity of these politicians.

Just real quick – the House Repubs are LYING when they said they’re voting no because of their constituents. They’re voting no because of lobbyists. As we speak, K Street is in a tizzy over golden parachutes and regulation and anything that might redistribute wealth in this country and is threatening all those little Congresspeople up for reelection. Three words: constituents my ass. Don’t insult me. I’m mean, I’m a blogger, for chrissakes.

I don’t think this current situation is altogether a bad thing.

Pick your jaw up off the ground and take a breath.

First of all, the level of education of the American public in the areas of economics, finance, credit, etc. has increased immensely. If we have to feel pain now so that our entire country operates with a few more smarts and a tad more responsibility, it is worth it. The people of this country have been told that their monthly income should not determine their standard of living. Credit was the answer to everything, and was easy to access, encouraging every Tom, Dick, Harriet, Rumor, Tallulah and Scout to spend those george washingtons without any attention to budgets and saving. Economic retards, as it were. I used to be one. These are my people.

Well, I’ve moved on – slapped in the face by a low FICO score, and it’s time for the American people to do so as well. Hopefully, this economic crisis will move us in that direction.

So, have a margarita, a mojito, a martini, a miller lite or whatever it takes to get your blood pressure down; then save money, diversify your investments, purchase cars and homes  beneath the amount you are approved for, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, learn the language of finance and grow old, fat and happy (well, not fat).

That’s silver lining numero uno. The next, OBVIOUSLY, is the political fallout.

How fun! How tickling! How fucking hysterical!

The Democrats are about to take over the majority of the House and the Senate and get the Executive branch. And what happens? The House Repubs group together to collectively shoot themselves in the foot and take McCain down with them. Well, yeee-fucking–haw! I didn’t think this election season could get better AFTER McCain’s fake suspension, but I was gloriously mistaken. If I wasn’t in my parents’ Republican household, I’d be cranking up all the angry liberal commentary on the boob tube I could and just enjoy watching the conservative avalanche. God, it’s like Festivus came early this year. I don’t have anything else on my wishlist.

And it only gets better. The icing this week will be the Biden-Palin debate. Even if Palin does well – and I hope she does – Biden will be drowning our little sassy Republican VP candidate in facts, names, dates, details of overseas trips. And I love Gwen Ifill. Seriously, I think we would be friends in real life.

Ultimate conclusion 09.30.08: Keep yer panties on, because the economy will do much better under Obama than McCain – so get out there and make sure your vote is on the right side of future prosperity.

And wish me well as I try to keep my angry, foul liberal mouth in check just a little bit. Because my mom (who is not crazy conversative) still hits. Backhands, to be more specific. (As my sister will testify.)

25
Sep
08

Top Ten Anti-McCain Slogans II

Since my first Top Ten Anti-McCain Slogans has received so many views, as has my Anti-McCain Funnies, I’ve decided to add ten more slogan-things (they might be a little too long for slogans) plus 1 and will try to continue to do so until the election. Enjoy and laugh cause this whole election is getting my blood pressure way too high. At this point, there ain’t enough alcohol in the hemisphere to put me in the mood to party like it’s 1999.

BONUS: Is it just me or is John McCain channeling Jack Nicholson in a few good men, “You can’t handle the truth!…My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives… I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.”  Jeez, that is so 1992.

10. McCain: With all due respect, when I was a POW, I couldn’t debate. My captors didn’t allow rebuttal periods. Also, POW, POW, POW. And POW.

9. Baby jesus, all I want for Christmas is for John McCain not to be president. If you make someone – anyone – else president, I swear to god I will not watch any soft porn on skinemax for, like, the whole rest of the year. Or a whole month or something like that.

8. If Obama were white, he’d be 15 points ahead, you fecking feckers.

7. McCain: The fundamentals of the economy are strong. And by “fundamentals” I mean “robber barons.”  Yeah. I’m bringing that phrase back.

6. Sarah what? I can’t hear you over the po-po kicking me out of my house.

5. Watching Obama’s daily increase of gray hair is more interesting than watching McCain read from a teleprompter.  “blah…blah..boring shit…blah.”  SHUT UP!! You’re killing me slowly……ack.

4. McCain: Doesn’t holier-than-thou, smug sonofabitch look good on me? I’ve ordered it in five different colors. They all include a prominent lower mandible.

3. Religious Right: Hey – once they’re out of the womb, fuck ’em!

2. Obama: I wasn’t a member of the Keating 5; I haven’t had aggressive cancer 4 times and refuse to release my health records; I didn’t choose a candy striper as my running mate; And I DON’T have a comb-over. What more do you people need?!

1. McCain: If this campaign suspension stunt doesn’t work, I’m hiring that OxyClean guy.

UPDATE: Anti-McCain Slogans III (McCain Fantasy Cabinet Included)

15
Sep
08

Common-Sense Regulation is a Good Policy

Republican philosophies colliding with reality: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and, now, Lehman Brothers.

You hear it all the time from fiscal conservatives: limited government, free market, no corporate regulation. It sounds good. Hey, if these policies actually worked, I’d be all for them. Why would anyone want an unnecessarily large government? They wouldn’t. So, it’s time to acknowledge that Republican policies, when put into practice, do not materialize in a healthy economy. Today is Black Monday, but there will be many more black days to follow because of the George W. Bush economic policies (which McDumbass will continue).

The Nation, a leftie publication, offers a brief, but good synopsis of the evolution that lead to our current economic shitstorm. It’s an informative read, even if you hate italics:

The housing bubble was the result of the Ponzi-scheme antics of those other financial entities: commercial banks, stockbrokers and hedge funds, which were allowed in a GOP-deregulated market to get into the “swap” business. Through the rampant reselling of loans, the obligation to collect on a loan was divorced from the act of selling it in the first place, so who cared if the recipient of the loan was not at all qualified or the appraisal of the property value was inflated, as long as the paper was traded away, or insured, before the moment of foreclosure?

As with any Ponzi scheme, the perps, who included the legislators as well as the bankers who exploited the loopholes they provided, expected to bail long before the bubble burst. The role of the legislators, Republican-led but with far too many Democratic running dogs, was critical to the success of the scam.

The mortgage swaps distancing the originator of the loan from the ultimate collector were made legal only as a result of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which former Senator Phil Gramm, R-Texas, pushed through Congress just hours before the 2000 Christmas recess. Gramm, until recently co-chair of the McCain campaign, also had co-authored the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which became law in 1999 with President Bill Clinton’s signature. That gem, which Gramm had pushed for years with massive financial industry lobbying, destroyed the Depression-era barrier to the merger of stockbrokers, banks and insurance companies. Those two acts effectively ended significant regulation of the financial community, and no wonder we have witnessed an even more rapid and severe meltdown in housing values than during the Great Depression.

Not surprisingly, Gramm was rewarded for his service upon retirement as a senator and as head of the Senate Banking Committee with a top position at the Swiss-based UBS bank, which is close to drowning in the subprime mortgage nightmare he helped create. These folks have no shame, as was evidenced when the senator’s wife, Wendy, was named a director of Enron, whose roiling of the energy market had been made possible only through yet another provision of Gramm’s Commodity Futures Modernization Act.

Appropriate regulation is key to a healthy business sector that benefits the entire country, not just just the peeps running the show. Even the Democrats won’t tell you that because they are in big-business pockets as well and uninformed Americans have been duped into thinking that regulation inhibits growth. Not so, as proven by the fact that our economy grows more per capita under Democratic presidents.

Republican candidates and fiscal conservatives repeat the myth of trickle-down economics and oppose regulation, increasing the minimum wage and essentially “looking out for the little guy.” What they don’t share is that unregulated corporations collude, allow greed to motivate business decisions, lack transparency and horde wealth at the top, giving CEO’s outragous wages while the same companies’ bottom-level workers cannot even afford health insurance. These policies increase the wealth gap and weaken the middle-class.

Regulation needs to stop being a bad word. Common sense regulation protects the U.S. economy and Americans themselves. It is not bad for a corporation to profit. It is bad for a corporation to profit at the expense of employees and consumers.

10
Sep
08

Saving U.S. Dominance and the Environment

Hegemony [hejuh-moh-nee] – leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.

The Washington Post reported on the upcoming report “Global Trends 2025” by Thomas Fingar, “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” in which Fingar predicts U.S. dominance will decline in the coming decades. Fingar goes on to say that U.S. military strength “will ‘be the least significant’ asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because ‘nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force.'”

“The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished,” Fingar said, according to a transcript of the Thursday speech. He saw U.S. leadership eroding “at an accelerating pace” in “political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas.”

In the years ahead, Washington will no longer be in a position to dictate what new global structures will look like. Nor will any other country, Fingar said. “There is no nobody in a position . . . to take the lead and institute the changes that almost certainly must be made in the international system,” he said.

The predicted shift toward a less U.S.-centric world will come at a time when the planet is facing a growing environmental crisis, caused largely by climate change, Fingar said. By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.

CNN’s Farheed Zakaria makes a very good point, WaPo points out, in his book, “The Post-American World,” in which he claims that the decline in U.S. dominance is due more to the rise of other economies (China, India) than an actual slide by the U.S.

The world is in fluctuation and always will be. What this means for Republicans – especially Old School

Republicans – who follow the “Might Makes Right” theory is that their views are growing antiquated and useless. The United States, especially under George W. Bush, has engaged in an arrogant, isolationist foreign policy that does not take into account global geopolitical currents or world opinion. McCain is obviously of the same fabric and same blind mindset. The United States must interact with and seek cooperation with foreign countries rather than spouting our view and vilifying those who disagree with us. It’s petty and unproductive.

Now we face a declining economy – which will result in a weakened military. And instead of working on new technologies, as Americans have always done, to progress our country and kick start our economy again, the Republicans are stupidly chanting “drill now, drill now.” By burying their heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the importance of alternative energy development, they are attempting to forfeit our future – and not just environmentally.

Alternative and clean energy development could be our next Dot BOOM, it could be our next technological breakthrough and economic stronghold. Americans have long dominated innovation and technological progress. Of the 4,222,954 patents in the world, 2,460,775 have come from the U.S. We are creatures of development – the discovery of electricity, the light bulb, the steam engine, the telephone, the television, the car, the computer – you name major technological advances in the last 200 years and the U.S. almost always has its stamp on it.

And its time we did again.

Let’s discuss our oil industry. Gas prices have risen so steeply largely due to growing global demand for oil – especially from China and India. Now that prices have slid a bit and the oil industry is learning where America’s pain threshold is in regard to oil prices – at least when we’re in an economic downturn – they will not allow prices to return to the days of cheap fuel.

Just today, OPEC decided to reduce overall output by 500,000 barrels a day to offset the recent decrease in prices – even though Ike is barreling toward the Texas coast. You see, even when prices are “outrageously” high, OPEC will still make sure that profits are maximized. So what’s the answer? Well, you saw what Republicans wanted to do.

The problem? First of all, drilling now solves nothing because we do not have the refining infrastructure to handle the increase in fuels – largely due to inattention by Washington and the whole Not In My Backyard argument. About a month ago, when a McCain spokesman (can’t remember his name, but he had ring-around-the-head and a goatee) was asked about the infrastructure issue, he said, “One problem at a time!” So, he was basically saying drill first, ask questions later. Not smart policy.

Secondly, oil companies are given leases – areas of land upon which they may drill – for around 10 years. There is plenty of hydrocarbon-rich land available to the oil companies now, but these lengthy leases reduce the competition by the oil companies and many hang on to the available land without ever drilling.

Our domestic oil companies like high prices as well and as soon as prices begin to slide because “we’re not dependent on foreign oil,” they will slow production enough to drive demand and squeeze more money from the consumer.

So, Americans are not just held hostage by oil-rich foreign countries, Americans are also held hostage by our own domestic oil companies.

But no one wants to tell you this – not Barack Obama and certainly not John McCain because they enjoy corporate donations.

What’s the answer?

Alternative, reusable, natural and clean energy. Not only does it lessen the grip oil companies have on our wallets and our economy, the entire world is in desperate need and want of alternative fuels. If we develop the technology that our global partners are clamoring for, we can not only save the environment, we can save our standing in the world.

We must not let the Right Wing – with their Big Oil cohorts – kill the most viable option we have for America’s future by closing the door to new clean energy. Furthermore, the dumbing-down of our children by the Religioners and their assault on our science classes has got to stop. We have a major fight brewing in the Texas Board of Education regarding the introduction of Creationism or at least the doubting of Evolution into our schools and I’m sure this is occuring in many other states. This will hurt America – culturally, economically and globally. Ensuring the best and brightest and most-prepared students emerge from our educational institutes should be a major priority because their actions will dictate whether our nation progresses or withers.

You want to protect America? Protect science classes, encourage serious scientific education, and support the development of clean energy.

03
Sep
08

Reaction to Night 2 of the Repub Convention

It really wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. Obviously, it was a bit of a limpy sleeper – but you couldn’t expect much after Gustav threw all the RNC’s plans into chaos. I wouldn’t have expected much anyway – the audience of the Repub conventions look more like that of a nursing home than a fired-up electorate. The venue was smaller than the Dem’s and there where still empty seats, but that’s just minor details, right? The cameras did manage to find five black people to display for the cameras, reminding me of those “Where’s Waldo” books. But as far as galvanizing and rallying voters, I’d say they’d have a better shot if they held BINGO games before, after and inbetween the speakers.

Kerry Waghorn

Fred Thompson was a bit hard to get through. He plodded through McCain’s POW story – never get tired of that one (not) – and threw some shots at Obama. Can’t remember any specifically, but what I do remember his incessant clearing of the throat. Talk about torture! Even evil liberal Keith Olbermann noticed and said later he cleared his throat no less than 70 times. Hellooo, get that guy a lozenge!

Art Link Mutlimedia

Lieberman looked like he was going to fall asleep onstage; he was monotone, there was hardly any facial expression in his delivery and he leaned on the podium quite a bit. Of course, he’s lost all credibility with Democrats. Talk about bitter! He’s really getting those Dems back for abandoning him during his senate race by flipping on all the policies he’s ever valued to back McCain. Yeah, his entreaties to Independents and Democrats were really taken seriously. As if anyone with his record could actually support Sarah Palin for VP. His tone was so pervy, he’s like the creepy guy in the white van saying, “Come here, little girl…I’ve got some candy for you…” Ick.

One of them spoke of how Obama wanted to cut off funding for the troops! Can you imagine?! They didn’t mention the Repubs handing billions upon billions of dollars to military contractors instead of taking care of troops in the field and when they return. Must have slipped their mind. All that Alzheimers among all those old white men…

At least we were treated to another of Bush’s crappy speeches from the White House again. Won’t be too many more of those, thank baby jesus. He stuck to his usual MO using the politics of fear, claiming there will be another attack if McCain isn’t elected. What a Rovian douchebag. Like the country’s so much safer after he lied us into war with a country that wasn’t even a threat to us, compromising our military and strengthening Iran, when there were much larger security concerns on the horizon. I’m sure it made rational viewers collectively feel like hurling.

Than he claimed that those Vietnamese captors could not break John McCain’s resolve, so the “angry left” never will. Are you kidding me? First of all, after Bush – our right to privacy has been compromised by unConstitutional wiretaps, the economy is in the shitter with tax cuts going to big business and the rich, illegal activity and intimidation is rampant among departments headed by the Executive branch (EPA, CDC, Justice Dept., State Dept., Pentagon, CIA, etc.), illegal government sponsorship of christianity has increased, the US has used semantics to avoid Geneva Convention rules and torture prisoners of war, which they call “detainees,” and refuse them proper trials – I could go on forever.

cafepress.com

The point is, that after eight years of Bush, if you’re not angry, you’re either uninformed or not paying attention. The left is angry – and thank you for noticing, Mr. Worst President in Modern History. I am proud of my anger, wear it as a badge and will continue to funnel this emotion into productive activities aimed at increasing democracy in our land and fighting the Right who want to diminish it. It’s laughable that the Republicans are the party of limited government.

One thing is clear – and that’s the emergence of the Republican strategy to label their opponents “the angry left” so that Independents won’t want to be associated with them. This is a strategy easily turned around on the Right in a Reaganesque manner the way Obama did with the whole tire-guage thing, saying the Repubs were proud of being ignorant. Chuckle.

The second new strategy to emerge is to claim sexism everytime a question of Sarah Palin’s experience comes up. Tucker Whatshisface claimed Campbell Brown was “belittling” Palin when Brown was quizzing him on the VP pick’s executive decision-making. The McCain camp threw a major hissy over that one. Now any questioning of Palin by the media is a sexist attack! What an unclever, dirty little trick. If you guys are going to give us a pitiful VP pick, then grow a pair and have the courage to have the debate on her resume instead of running around like sissies with their heads cut off yelling “sexism!” Aren’t you guys supposed to hate political correctness? Stop playing the GENDER card.

The dirty old white men think parading a pro-life uterus onstage is historic. She would never have been picked had she been a man. They won’t even let her stand on her own two feet in an interview until she’s had a crash-course in dodging questions. It is so sexist and misogynistic of these men to think women are so dumb, they would fall for such a lame charade. We vote the most. We graduate college the most. We’re educated and knowledgeable and proud. And Palin agrees with every anti-women and anti-family stance McCain holds. Their ridiculousness knows no bounds.

Well, Giuliani and Palin will put on a good show tonight and I look forward to it. It’ll be fun to see the biggest cheers erupt during the pro-life chants (not by pro-choice Giuliani, of course). The Economy Sucks! We’re Fighting an Unnecessary War and Your Children are Dying In it! The Credit Industry is in Crisis and the American Dream is Now IMPOSSIBLE For You and Most Americans! But None of IT Matters as Long as No One Can Have an ABORTION and GAY PEOPLE Don’t Have Rights!! Yaaaayyyyy!!

Good job, Republicans. Way to do what’s best for the country. Jackasses.

12
Aug
08

U.S. Voters Are Default Republicans

The vast majority of Americans in the recent past, now, and for the foreseeable future are and will continue to naturally lean Republican. As a country, our immediate political tendencies are to side with the Republicans and only when we feel the Republicans have screwed it up enough, do we vote Democratic. However, we will always default in favor of Republicans when our lives are not extraordinarily painful and there are no wide-sweeping movements in favor of civil rights of one group or another.

MONEY

We are a nation of consumers. Pro-business government, incorrect free market assumptions and the quelling of consumer protections have largely given way to a corporatocracy in which corporations are not accountable for legal violations or unethical activity as long as they put enough cash in the pockets of the decision-makers. These corporations have spent oceans of dollars studying how best to target American buyers, purchasing every morsel of information on every purchase and convince us the world is our oyster – leaving out that we’re selling our soul and justifying their behavior with claims of free will.

The television tells us from the time we are young we can have whatever we want. International trade has flooded our markets with cheap goods, encouraging those on the lower economic echelons to live high on the hog like those rich people across town. The credit industry has convinced people that the size of their paycheck should have no bearing on their lifestyle. And our natural inclinations toward competition, narcissism and self-centeredness has evolved into an ostentations consumerism and a culture toward monetary dominance over ones’ neighbors.

Republicans naturally feed our desire to have the biggest, best and brightest of everything by claiming (falsely, most of the time) they will not tax us and the Democrats will. Republicans call upon the politics of personal responsibility, convincing voters that their hard-earned money should never be taken by the government only to be wasted in amidst the bureaucracy or dolled out to the undeserving poor who are actually just lazy drug addicts who want to mooch off society.

Despite the growing wealth gap and widespread publication of wealth statistics indicating the top one percent of Americans earn far more than those in lower economic classes (the top one percent of Americans earned more than the total income of the bottom 20 percent of Americans from 2003-2005), the majority of Americans are convinced that they could make as much money as they want easy as pie and the Democrats simply want to tax them into poverty and ruin their chances to achieve the American dream.

Disturbingly, term after term, Republicans insist on policies that make the rich richer and give businesses more powerful tools to vacuum money right out of American pockets. Republicans are vastly responsible for legislation that weakens the dollar and helps to grow the impoverished population. Yet, time and time again, these voters fall for Republican machinations of representing and protecting the working class.

WHO IS A DEMOCRAT?

Democrats, on the other hand, tend to lay claim to the more educated, community-minded and globally exposed voters. While many votes are determined by familial culture, most Democrats become enlightened that coexistence is inevitable and, thus, adopt the philosophy that we must think of others and not just ourselves when casting a ballot or were taught this philosophy as a child. In basic terms, the competing presidential considerations are “Who would be the best president for the country and the world?” vs. “Who would be the best president for me?”

In times of peace and economic prosperity, the move across political lines is most likely from Republican to Democrat. Many are born Republican – especially in the South – but grow and go farther for college and work. Travel has become cheaper and easier, allowing more and more Americans to discover foreign nations and appreciate cultures across borders. The isolationist nature of Republican doctrine becomes short-sighted and distasteful to them.

Certainly, there are abdications. Many professional athletes who may have grown up in poorer neighborhoods or belong to minority demographic groups begin to vote Republican as their income grows. The same development applies to business people. Also, Republican “philosophy” of limited government draws many uninformed voters who believe the party’s false promises of protecting basic American freedoms – even now as a Republican administration stompes on one civil liberty after another.

DANGER = REPUBLICAN VOTERS

In times of war or danger, the gut reaction of Americans is to protect their own and vote for the Republicans, who follow “might makes right,” invasion of democracy, sealing our borders and market their ideas with utterly ridiculous notions like “Freedom Fries” and patriotism = character, encouraging their uneducated followers to viciously attack and morally assassinate anyone who should utter an opposing viewpoint (2006’s Shut Up and Sing about the Dixie Chicks is shocking and infuriating).

This reactionary culture of Americans plays right into the Republican’s hands as they take advantage of the politics of fear, whispering about attacks around the corner as Lieberman did in June and using verbiage indicating it is because of Bush and Bush alone the U.S. has not sustained another terrorist attack since 9/11.

The politics of fear, however, doesn’t simply pertain to physical insecurity, but also cultural attacks. Republicans, who are largely populated by white-bread, uneducated or very rich, christians, scurried to the polls when convinced that the possibility of gay marriage would somehow reduce the value of their own marriages (again, the voting mindset that only takes into account the ballot-casting individual rather than the community as a whole) and is a danger to the basic foundations of American culture. While it wasn’t surprising that Republicans would stoop to such levels to win elections, it is dreadfully disappointing for the rest of us to watch these unenlightened Americans play right into their hands without so much as a second thought.

Certainly, when a demographic group has felt oppressed enough to risk their lives in the creation of a national movement, as the African-Americans did in the 60’s, the result is widespread education and information proliferation among voters, driving up Democratic numbers. Because the gay community cannot rely on the organization of the religious institutions to aid in their battle, as African Americans could, their attempt to educate and reach voters will progress much more slowly. But take into consideration the decades and decades of injustice faced by African Americans and it easy to understand that progress may be slow, but it is inevitable.

DEMOCRATS SUCK AS POLITICIANS

Democrats could counter this American gut culture more than they do if they were more concerned with governing well and speaking loudly and passionately for that which is right. Instead, as with Republicans, Democrats are singularly concerned with winning and join the ranks of lobbyist-dominated degenerates. They allow the shadows of polls and assumptions of voter whims to lead them into capitulation and, subsequently, domination by the Republicans as the Democrats’ hypocrisy and weakness become palpable. Democrats try to stay out of Republican mud, but never fully grasp their ability to claim victory on the issues with cleverness and clarity. Each election becomes a theater of errors and disheartens those of us who want to fight the good fight, driving us to register as Independents.

And so the United States will always lean Republican. And when the Republicans screw things up enough, the voters look to the Democrats to clean up the mess. Which they do. And once the country is enjoying smooth sailing, Americans fuck everything up again by voting with selfishness and refusing to acknowledge the complete discord between Republican promises and the actual results of their leadership.

The pendulum may swing back and forth, but it will always linger on the right. I try to counter this by raising my voice and refusing to be afraid of offending people. That annoying bumper sticker “If you’re not angry, you’re not informed” is right, though. Education is the key to altering the immediate reaction of the U.S. to look to Republicans for answers. Because the Republicans will never do right by everyone – only by themselves.

25
Jul
08

McCain ’08 Campaign Obituary

In 3 1/2 months, the 24-hour cable news channels, the major newspapers, the sea of blog-happy political junkies and basically every Republican voter will be speculating ceaselessly over “what went wrong” with the McCain Campaign. Remember the week of rehash after rehash of Rudy Giuliani’s failed primary strategy skipping Iowa and New Hampshire? Remember all the talk of Hillary hitting her stride too little, too late? That’s what we’ll be going through just as soon as the election returns present a modicum of decisiveness on that first Tuesday in November. This time, the focus of all the pity, all the shoulda-woulda-couldas, all the tsk-tsks will be McCain and the campaign managers he bet his lot on.

Presently, the McCain campaign is ridiculously painful to watch – he has become the Britney Spears of presidential nominee trainwrecks, complete with a tawdry adulterous past the press and leftie-527’s have graciously left outside of their coverage – if for no other reason than that they haven’t needed it. In much the same way Britney chomped on her gum and cried over her treatment by the paparazzi (despite having courted those very photographers while in search of Madonna-esque pop fame), McCain – through his surrogates – stomps his feet and shamelessly whines over a media lack of concern that is only seen by those who want to see it.

It is already clear this Grand Old Candidate and his crippled elephants will lay the blame at the feet of everyone but those with scarlet “M”s on their chests. The question, however, of the day seems to be “Is McCain even capable of presenting the political passion and potential even us lefties once worried would challenge our chosen candidate?” Well, that’s my question.

To be clear, despite his Mav reputation, his presidential hopes seemed DOA last year. And, yet, miraculously enough – he pulled off a primary victory; though it is still unclear whether he would be representing the Right had Giuliani not perpetrated one of the worst political fumbles in recent history.

In truth, I was hoping McCain would bring it home on that side of the aisle. Of all the Repub candidates, McCain – incorrectly or not – seemed to have a shred of character the other front runners lacked. My husband and I gave serious consideration to moving abroad if Romney or Huckabee clenched any shadow of success.

Perhaps I was being naive, but I truly thought he would give the Democratic nominee a run for their money. Sure, with this political atmosphere, almost ANY Democrat could beat a Republican – Hell, I’d put my 7 year-old Quaker nephew up against any of those pretend “limited government” schmoes – but this ain’t McCain’s first rodeo. And despite the fact that he’s separated from much of the team he worked with in the past, I thought the septuagenarian would be primed for this contest. But, it is unendingly surprising what a terrible candidate John McCain has turned out to be for the Republicans.

And, dammit, I’ll say it: Romney would have been an exponentially better candidate (speaking in a politically scientific manner). Even with all of Romney’s hollowness and cheap mix of flip-flopping and pandering, he would have been new, hopeful and, at the very least, coherent.

But here we are and, face it, Republicans, you have hit the motherload of crappy campaign candidates.

They would have lost in November anyway, but at least Republican hopes would still be alive at this point in the game. With McCan’t, all the Republicans in my vicinity (which is quite a bit, being in Fort Worth) reluctantly sigh that it looks like Obama’s gonna win. And they’re right.

The first sign that McCain wasn’t up to snuff was his failure to take advantage of the lengthy Democratic primary. Instead of presenting a litany of hopeful ideas, solutions and alternatives to the reality presented to the American people by Bush, he cozied up to our failed leader in a predictably bungled effort to curry favor with evangelists and Bush family donors.

Though it was difficult to compete with the press and voter obsession of the duke-out between Hillary and Obama, McCain didn’t even try to be a transcendent page-turner. With a plethora of problems assaulting the assumed American way of life – housing crisis, decreasing dollar, increasing gas prices, attack on civil liberties, growing concern for the environment, disapproval of the Iraq War – McCain’s answer was nada, nada, nada, nada AND nada. Without exaggeration, McCain had every opportunity in the world to own the forefront of the presidential race.

Instead, his focus was in the rear view mirror – the 2000 loss to Bush (sign Rove up even after all his evil shenanigans), the lack of command of the evangelical base (even with his pro-life stance) and his stubborn refusal to cede national security to the economy as the most important issue of the campaign.

This past week, more than any other before it, has brought to the surface McCain’s inefficacy and inability to present a galvanizing and motivating political force. The obvious geographical and historical gaffes need no explanation. Certain realities should be so inherent in a presidential nominee’s subconscious, one should NOT say “Iraq/Pakistan border.” Nor should they mistake the chronology of the single subject upon which they are basing their credentials.

And, worst of all, at a time when his opponent is out of the country and he has been served on a silver platter an unchallenged opening to present a unique, original and energizing plan to take this country beyond the reality before us and heal the deep wounds wrought by Bush and Cheney, he and his campaign resort to nitpicking at Obama’s heels and pettily chant “I was right. He was wrong.” about a topic Americans relegated to “who cares?” a long time ago.

At this point, surge, surge, surge is to McCain as 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 was to Giuliani. And none of us believe – including the least informed of Repubs – that he authored the surge; so his incessant claiming of credibility for the strategy is old, stale and distasteful. At least he’s off the teleprompters that just ruin any ability for the audience to perceive McCain as vibrant and presidential.

McCain is over. So over a VP announcement can’t save this clusterfuck. Even if it is Old Spice Romney. Ain’t nothin gonna help this political Titanic. The Convention in LarryCraigSexInABathroom Headquarters of Minnesota won’t even provide a blip on the electoral poll radar. And, let me let you in on a little secret. When polls routinely suggest that Obama is only 6 points ahead of McCain, they are not polling just REGISTERED VOTERS or those likely to vote. Merely polling Americans of voting age does not provide a proper sample upon which to base candidates’ likelihood of success. It’s easy to SAY you’d vote for McCain, but to actually do it is a different thing altogether. He’s done. I’d say stick a fork in him, but I don’t know that he’d survive it.

The bottom line is that, as a presidential nominee, you have to give Americans a reason to get off the couch, walk through the rain, wait in line and deal with the volunteers from the old folks’ home to practice a voting power they have long taken for granted. All told, this is not an easy feat. I would suggest $50 gift certificates to Wal-Mart, but I believe that may violate some obscure ethics laws.

My main concern now is the potential development of a new vocabulary of verbs, nicknames and childish titles referring to the McCain campaign failure. Political junkies well know “Willie Horton” and “Swiftboated” without any context whatsoever. Gaffe-gate? Gaffe-o-rama? Gaffe-a-rusky? The Night the Lights Went Out in Old Timersville? Smackdown of the Septuagenarian? Obama’s Octagon of Hurt on the Old Man?

I have no idea. We’ll probably have to leave it to the results of a top-secret meeting between the nude, bald leaders of cable news in an intensely foggy steam room of some exclusive health club in Manhattan. Apparently, their most recent meeting yielded an abdication of any mention of Sunni payoffs by the American government. Good times.

Perhaps this obituary is presumptuous. I don’t care. This is reality blogging, baby, and I’m through retching over “reputable” news agencies failing to acknowledge the current state of this election. It’s time we realize which direction our future is headed and start holding Obama’s feet to the fire of political righteousness. And let’s start with a rethink of the FISA vote. The clean-up of W. will call into question many Constitutional breaches and Obama needs to remember that we are through with unaccountable Executives.

UPDATE: 07.28.08 – Every sound bite the media plays of McCain is McCain criticizing Obama. He went to the gym instead of visiting troops (McCain campaign ad). Obama’s meeting today with economic leaders was just a photo op. Obama doesn’t want to drill. Obama this, Obama that.

Who are the yahoos in McCain’s campaign who think this is helpful? Any political neophyte would know that McCain is allowing Obama to determine the discussion because all McCain does is “respond” to Obama developments. McCain must try and LEAD the discussion. And, yet, every time he’s in front of a microphone, he’s yapping about Obama.

This is a LOSING strategy. He should know this. His surrogates should know this. And his campaign staff sure as hell should know this. Pathetic.

21
May
08

SHAMEFUL: 16 Percent of US Science Teachers Believe in Creationism

According to ABC news, 16 percent of U.S. science teachers believe human beings were created by a god in the last 10,000 years and one in eight teach creationism or intelligent design as a valid alternative to Darwin’s Origin of Species.

This correlates directly with my recent post of the rise of anti-intellectualism in the U.S.

What a ridiculous set of circumstances in which we have allowed fundamentalist religion to place our country. The lack of appreciation for math and science is largely due to the attack on science by christian leaders and churches across the U.S. It is shameful and is leading to the deterioration of the U.S. stronghold on technology and innovation. This, in turn, will lead to the further slowing of our economy and continued reduction in our influence globally. Can the rest of the world really take us seriously when so many Americans, including the president, take the bible so literally and as the irrefutable word of god and source on all relevant matters??

I reference Atheist Universe in which author David Mills asserts that creationism is in direct opposition to the scientific Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy. While there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support creationism or intelligent design, there is in fact much evidence to dispute it.

There is also a mountain of historical and scientific evidence to refute the accuracy and truth of the bible. And yet, the ridiculous notion that it is a true text worthy of belief continues to permeate our society. Perhaps this can be attributed to the lack of reading, increase in video game play and television-watching by our children, or rise in the influence of religious leaders. We even had a serious presidential candidate this year who said we must bring the Constitution in line with the bible!

Make no mistake, unless we recognize that the privilege we have given christianity and other religions has led to the educational, and thus economic, downfall of this country, we will continue to see our global position deteriorate. Researches are scrambling to find out why our math and science scores are crumbling; until they look into the effect of religious fundamentalism on our educational system, I doubt they’ll find the true source of the corrosion.

Related articles:

U.S. Teens Trail Peers Around the World on Math-Science Test (Washpo, 12.5.07)

Study Compares States’ Math and Science Scores With Other Countries (NYT, 11.14.07)

Math/Science Education in a Global Age (InternationalED.org)

06
Mar
08

News of the Day 080506

  1. Legislative opposition to online gambling is slowly fading, according to Patrick O’Connor on Politico. Wooohooo! This has been a ridiculous regulation (perpetuated by those crafty “limited government” Republicans. Remember kids, the word is “hypocrisy”) for a longtime that prevents the government from making a lot of money and adults from making adult decisions.
  2. OPEC tensions on the rise as the organization refuses to increase production, citing mismanagement of the American economy as being largely responsible for the increase in oil prices. In fact, many OPEC countries were thinking of cutting production to drive oil prices up in order to compensate for the weak dollar. It’s good to know the providers of the world’s equivalent of “mothers’ milk” continue to use their control over the valuable resource to bend consumers over. I swear to god I’d buy some solar panels if my house wasn’t covered by a massive pecan tree!
  3. Freakonomics posted this paper by a few economists saying, “smaller businesses create more jobs, on net, than larger ones. It’s a long, boring read – but the result are interesting. And it’s pdf, so it might take a little time to load.
  4. Rolling Stone endorsed Obama today, I’m sure you heard. Should we revisit this culture of news publications (which Rolling Stone isn’t, necessarily) endorsing candidates? I get why they did it back in the day when access to information was limited and they thought they were doing a public service (albeit, motivated by bribe monies much of the time). But these days?? When the public has widespread access to information and can easily make up their own minds? All the major newspapers in Texas endorsed Obama. Didn’t do him much good and aren’t they supposed to be unbiased? Interesting topic for debate and discussion. I must marinate on the topic a bit more.
  5. Experts are returning to their professional dominance after years of tyranny of the masses on the internet, according to Newsweek. “In December, Google began testing Knol, a Wikipedia-like Web site produced by “authoritative” sources that share ad revenue. The sample page contains an insomnia entry written by Rachel Manber, director of Stanford’s Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine center. In January, BigThink.com, a self-styled “YouTube for ideas” backed by former Harvard president Larry Summers and others, debuted its cache of polished video interviews with public intellectuals.” Us neophytes with our misinformation are going to be relegated to the netherworlds of the web where we belong!!



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