Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The pure over the practical

Op-Ed Columnist - Revolt of the Nihilists - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com
Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.

I’ve spoken with several House Republicans over the past few days and most admirably believe in free-market principles. What’s sad is that they still think it’s 1984. They still think the biggest threat comes from socialism and Walter Mondale liberalism. They seem not to have noticed how global capital flows have transformed our political economy.

We’re living in an age when a vast excess of capital sloshes around the world fueling cycles of bubble and bust. When the capital floods into a sector or economy, it washes away sober business practices, and habits of discipline and self-denial. Then the money managers panic and it sloshes out, punishing the just and unjust alike.
This has been my point again and again... Free-markets are not panaceas. They need rules and regulations. Without them you end up in endless cycles where the rich and powerful -- the well-connected -- use the system to line their pockets at the expense of everyone else... That is system the nature of free-market competition: if you can leave someone else holding the bag, why not?

The dogmatism in the GOP created this mess -- and will (hopefully) be the end of that party as we know it...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Protect Sarah!

Maybe McCain has a good reason for not letting her speak to the press... incompetence anyone?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who's crying now...

Policymakers: Congress Must Move Quickly to Avert Damage - washingtonpost.com
The nation's top economic policymakers acknowledged this morning that an already extraordinary series of government actions has failed to stabilize global financial markets and said that Congress must act quickly on a proposed bailout plan to avoid dire consequences for the U.S. economy.
Funny how that works... One day you are complaining that government is on your back -- the next you're asking for billions to keep your house-of-cards together.

The Republican matra -- at least since Reagan -- has been: get government out of the way... Well, now we see what happens when we do it: the drunk frat-boy party gets rolling... and like anyone living on credit cards (we now allow banks to "leverage" there cash like they did back in the 30's) it eventually catches up to you...

Wll, looks like the boys have woken up hung-over -- and now they want the parents to pick up the bill for the damage.

How is it that those making the most noise for less regulation now have the gall to use hundreds of billions of our tax dollars to bail out the very people who's greed caused the problem in the first place? Is this the "free market" we keep hearing about from Republicans?

And to top it off they have the nerve to say "trust us -- we need to do this quickly -- without oversight or strings attached -- we need $700 billion ASAP."

Maybe they do ... but maybe taking a breath and putting a rational plan and system of oversight in place would save more pain down the road.

Maybe people will finally realize that we're not here to serve markets... they are here to serve us ... to serve society.

But I doubt it...

This country deserves the government it gets.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I can't say it better...

So I'll just quote Sam Harris' words:

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and Elitism | Newsweek Politics: Campaign 2008 | Newsweek.com
We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter's microphone, saying things like, "I'm voting for Sarah because she's a mom. She knows what it's like to be a mom." Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Palin's most conspicuous gaffe in her interview with Gibson has been widely discussed. The truth is, I didn't much care that she did not know the meaning of the phrase "Bush doctrine." And I am quite sure that her supporters didn't care, either. Most people view such an ambush as a journalistic gimmick. What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know—or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain's advisers. What doesn't she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin's ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.

The very idea that McCain could choose someone so unprepared to succeed him should be proof enough that he isn't sane enough to be president... Yet for about 40+% of Americans, his choice -- and her qualifications -- are proof that's he "gets it".

Where do I get off?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Socialism a-la Bush

This administration's policies and actions have resulted in the largest move toward socialism in this country since the New Deal ...  The US gov now owns more than 50% of ALL US mortgages... has an 80% stake in the country's largest insurer and there's more to come.

So much for the "champion of free markets" -- if this is the end result of "conservative policy" (a la Gramm, McCain and other -- including democratic -- deregulationists) socialists and far left liberals should continue to elect Republicans... If Democrats proposed these policies (from the left) there would be an outcry of Marxist/socialist like the country has never seen!

... but we get it all for "free" with conservative... (Of course, we'll pay for it later -- with interest.) Talk about (corporate) welfare...

Who's up for more republican rule?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The tale of the tape...

A picture is worth a thousand words...

So why aren't most American's appauled at the choice?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More & more

So we get to see the effects of deregulated markets more and more each day...  And its costing us more and more each day too -- as we continue to bail out companies that made bad or bought bad loans...

Funny how McCain - a champion of deregulating financial markets -- is now calling for regulation.
A decade ago, Sen. John McCain embraced legislation to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace that proponents said would result in greater economic growth. 
We got the growth all-right -- growth on a house-of-cards. The DOW was at 10,100 in Jan 2000 -- that's where it is today... Also glad my retirement isn't completely in stocks... whew. That's 8 years of zero growth if your port. follows the index.

I thought the "free market" was supposed to reward good decision makers and punish bad ones? Interesting how the corps get bailed out, but the average Joe in bankruptcy doesn't.

All these anti-Free market Bush (conservative) appointees are killing us with these bail outs!! When are we gonna put a real conservative in office?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From the right...

I don't often quote David Brooks -- although he does write the most even-handed op-eds "from the right" that I've read...

He's right on the mark with his latest column:

Op-Ed Columnist - Why Experience Matters - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com
In the current Weekly Standard, Steven Hayward argues that the nation’s founders wanted uncertified citizens to hold the highest offices in the land. They did not believe in a separate class of professional executives. They wanted rough and rooted people like Palin.

I would have more sympathy for this view if I hadn’t just lived through the last eight years. For if the Bush administration was anything, it was the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice.

And the problem with this attitude is that, especially in his first term, it made Bush inept at governance. It turns out that governance, the creation and execution of policy, is hard. It requires acquired skills. Most of all, it requires prudence.

What is prudence? It is the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events — the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight.

How is prudence acquired? Through experience. The prudent leader possesses a repertoire of events, through personal involvement or the study of history, and can apply those models to current circumstances to judge what is important and what is not, who can be persuaded and who can’t, what has worked and what hasn’t.

Experienced leaders can certainly blunder if their minds have rigidified (see: Rumsfeld, Donald), but the records of leaders without long experience and prudence is not good. As George Will pointed out, the founders used the word “experience” 91 times in the Federalist Papers. Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

The idea that “the people” will take on and destroy “the establishment” is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.

Monday, September 15, 2008

They "brew'em up good" in small town America

WASILLA - The Matanuska-Susitna area is the methamphetamine capital of Alaska, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
In 2003, authorities uncovered nine meth labs in the area. Last year, the number increased to 42, said Kyle Young, an investigator with the troopers who works with the Mat-Su narcotics team.

Officials with the Office of Children's Services in Wasilla said the problem affects children. The office receives about 40 calls a month from people reporting abuse or neglect involving some aspect of the highly addictive drug...

When authorities surrounded a converted bus housing a meth operation in Big Lake in January, a 13-year-old boy who answered the door bragged that his mom cooked the best meth in the valley, according to the troopers.

During a 2003 bust at a house outside Wasilla, officers discovered five children living inside, all younger than 8 years old.

The calls about meth to children's services in Wasilla accounts for as many as 40 percent of the agency's total monthly child protection calls.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reality vs Rhetoric...

I couldn't say it better --

The GOP Loves the Heartland To Death - WSJ.com
the red-state myth that Mrs. Palin reiterated for her adoring audience owes far more to the venomous spirit of Pegler than it does to Norman Rockwell.

Small town people, Mrs. Palin went on, are "the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars." They are authentic; they are noble, and they are her own: "I grew up with those people."

But what really defines them in Mrs. Palin's telling is their enemies, the people who supposedly "look down" on them. The opposite of the heartland is the loathsome array of snobs and fakers, "reporters and commentators," lobbyists and others who make up "the Washington elite."

Presumably the various elite Washington lobbyists who have guided John McCain's presidential campaign were exempt from Mrs. Palin's criticism. As would be former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, now a "senior adviser" to the Dickstein Shapiro lobby firm, who hymned the "Sarah Palin part of the party" thus: "Their kids aren't going to go to Ivy League schools. Their sons leave high school and join the military to serve our country. Their husbands and wives work two jobs to make sure the family is sustained."

Generally speaking, though, when husbands and wives work two jobs each it is not merely because they are virtuous but because working one job doesn't earn them enough to get by. The two-job workers in Middle America aren't spurning the Ivy League and joining the military straight out of high school just because they're people of principle, although many of them are. It is because they can't afford to do otherwise.

Leave the fantasy land of convention rhetoric, and you will find that small-town America, this legendary place of honesty and sincerity and dignity, is not doing very well. If you drive west from Kansas City, Mo., you will find towns where Main Street is largely boarded up. You will see closed schools and hospitals. You will hear about depleted groundwater and massive depopulation.

And eventually you will ask yourself, how did this happen? Did Hollywood do this? Was it those "reporters and commentators" with their fancy college degrees who wrecked Main Street, U.S.A.?

No. For decades now we have been electing people like Sarah Palin who claimed to love and respect the folksy conservatism of small towns, and yet who have unfailingly enacted laws to aid the small town's mortal enemies.

Without raising an antitrust finger they have permitted fantastic concentration in the various industries that buy the farmer's crops. They have undone the New Deal system of agricultural price supports in favor of schemes called "Freedom to Farm" and loan deficiency payments -- each reform apparently designed to secure just one thing out of small town America: cheap commodities for the big food processors. Richard Nixon's Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz put the conservative attitude toward small farmers most bluntly back in the 1970s when he warned, "Get big or get out."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Palin is an idiot

Anyone can govern a state where the biggest budget battle is "how big a rebate check should we give our citizens this year?" ...

Most govenors spend their time battling it out over spending priorities -- in debate with the legislature. So how hard can it be to fund all your initiatives and still have to "decide" how much to give every man, woman and child in the state?

Besides - she actually thinks creationism is worth "debating" along side evolution as a viable alternative "theory"...

On Aug. 29, the Boston Globe reported that Palin was open to teaching creationism in public schools. That's true. She supports teaching creationism alongside evolution, though she has not actively pursued such a policy as governor.

In an Oct. 25, 2006, debate, when asked about teaching alternatives to evolution, Palin replied:

Palin, Oct. 25, 2006: Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject – creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.

Sorry folks: She's an idiot. Maybe we should also debate that the One Tree supports the world as Odin taught us centuries ago... Or that Joe Smith really did find gold plates in NY -- and that Jews migrated to North America about 800 years ago where they set up a civilization!!

There is simply no room for such non-sense in science class. There is no evidence for "creationism" at all... to give it any credence undermines children's understanding of what science is all about.

Believing this stuff is akin to believing the world is flat.

Here's another example -- she doesn't know anything about finance -- even less than I do:

Ignorance is bliss, which perhaps explains Gov. Sarah Palin being so confidently wrong about the root cause of the federalization of most of the nation's mortgage market. But what is Sen. John McCain's excuse? Both act as if the financial meltdown of the U.S. economy has nothing to do with the policies of the political party they represent—but she at least may not know any better.

Referring to the government's bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Palin opined that the two had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers," displaying abysmal ignorance of the fact that only now will those privately owned banks become a huge taxpayer obligation, as the federal government takes them over. Nor can the meltdown of home values be traced to those two beleaguered institutions, because they did not make the original subprime mortgage commitments.

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?

Fannie and Freddie essentially operate as nearly completely deregulated financial "repackagers"... And while their CEO's are getting 9-14 Million in golden parachutes, we (the tax payers) are gonna have to pay for that lack of Federal oversight... But Palin wants to either 1- make you think it's gov inefficiency that created the problem-- or 2- she DOESN'T know what she's talking about.

Why in the world do people want a house wife one step away from the presidency?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Red state red-ass...

Conason points out the obvious about Palin's daughter's pregnancy...

Truthdig - Reports - Why Bristol’s Pregnancy Matters
...let us first stop pretending that this is good news. There are excellent reasons why we discourage teenage pregnancy and motherhood, and none of them have disappeared simply because the Republicans are about to put Sarah Palin on their ticket.

Adolescents are rarely prepared to take on the challenges of raising a child. Often they drop out of school as a result, and usually become dependent on their own parents for support (which may be complicated for a family whose mom is running for vice president). Pregnancies in adolescence are high-risk, and the babies born to teenage mothers tend to have more illnesses during their first year of life. Teenage marriages—whether or not they occur because of an unplanned pregnancy—have a tendency to work out poorly, too. ("I don’t want to have kids,” noted Bristol Palin’s prospective husband, Levi Johnston, 18, on his MySpace page, according to the New York Post, and at his age, why would he?)

But such is life in the red states, where sensible sex education and availability of contraceptives are discouraged for adolescents, even though they are just as sexually active as teenagers everywhere else. Despite the supposed religious purity of the evangelical right-wingers who today regard themselves as the base of the Republican Party, rates of teenage pregnancy and divorce tend to be higher in their domain than elsewhere in America. To the extent that their values would dominate for another four years of Republican rule, those pathologies can be expected to prevail. During the past four years of the Bush administration, teen pregnancies have increased for the first time since 1990, when they began a 14-year decline.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pander above policy

I find it interesting that the "experienced" candidate now obviously puts pandering to women and evangelicals above the country... McCain's pick for VP demonstrates just how far he's come from the time in the senate he spent fighting budgetary pork. Now he's adding pork to the ticket to try an garner a few extra votes.

The sad truth is that it may work.

Mr. McCain now has an undereducated hockey mom from Alaska as his "backup". Considering his age (72), the odds that Mrs. Rapture will be swept into office during a McCain term is not insignificant.

What is it with American's and the desire to have "someone like me" in the Oval office?

When average isn't good enough - Los Angeles Times
Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the “Who would you like to have a beer with?” poll question in 2004, and won reelection.
While Obama has a similar lack of government experience, he at least appears to be educated -- and he does have a history of working in the community. Palin apparently believes the earth is only 6000 years old:
Many McCain supporters have written to say that (1) Obama is also unqualified (or even less qualified than Palin) and (2) I have shown myself to be a hypocrite by not objecting to Obama's religiosity. Briefly: My criticism of Palin should not be construed as uncritical acceptance of Obama. Needless to say, I find Obama's religious pandering repulsive. The suspicion that he is pandering, out of obvious necessity, and not quite as religious as he makes out, is somewhat comforting, however. But even if Obama were precisely as religious as he appears, he is not a Creationist, Rapture-Ready blockhead. Palin, by all appearances, seems to be one. This is a difference worth noting. Whatever you may think of his politics, Obama is very intelligent and reasonably well educated. Palin thinks the universe is 6000 years old. Unfortunately, I wrote my article before some of the most disturbing signs of her religious extremism came to light.
My concern is not that Mrs. Palin is a woman. My concern is that she is a totally unqualified and poorly educated woman who was added to the Republican ticket as a token woman (and Creationist wacko).
Pass the beer and pretzels... the popularity contest for president is getting into full swing. And it looks like the wacko's have their fresh meat.