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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion
Mon Jul 25th 2011, 02:54 PM

71% Oppose GOP Refusal To Raise Taxes

Americans are unimpressed with their political leaders' handling of the debt ceiling crisis, with a new CBS News poll showing a majority disapprove of all the involved parties' conduct, but Republicans in Congress fare the worst, with just 21 percent backing their resistance to raising taxes.

A plurality opposes Obama's handling of this situation -- 48-43

A strong majority opposes the Dems' handling -- 58-31

But an overwhelming consensus opposes the GOP's insane resistance to raising taxes on the rich -- 71-21

This is mind boggling. Obama and the Dems have the Republicans by the throat and can bury them for a generation -- all they have to do is give the public what it obviously wants: a return to progressive taxation. Of course few poll respondents are up on the details, but the simple reality of the last 30 years is that taxes on rich people and corporations have been reduced to an utterly unsustainable level. Even a majority of Republican poll respondents (51%) oppose their elected representatives on this budget issue.

Why is there even a discussion about this? All Obama has to do is say this:

President Bush and the GOP Congress in 2003 cut taxes on rich people and corporations by an unrealistic amount, and the results have been catastrophic. We are now looking at massive budget deficits. The Republicans in Congress now refuse to face the consequences of their own irresponsibility and are threatening to destroy America's credit rather than ask the rich to give back the extravagent gift that George W. Bush gave them.

This is a democracy. It is not right for a Party that controls only one half of one branch of Government to dictate policy. And it is worse than not right -- it is the height of irresponsibility -- for them to try to dictate this particular policy of favoring the rich over everybody else by playing a game of chicken with our nation's credit rating.

So we make this challenge to the GOP -- let the voters decide. Let the people elect a Republican President and Senate and let the people re-elect the GOP House of Representatives, and you can do what you want with the budget. Cut spending as deeply as you like -- if you can persuade the public to support your ideology.

Until then, I will veto any budget that leaves the Bush gift to rich people intact.

Isn't it obvious to everyone that the reason why at least 48% oppose every dog in this fight is that the entire conversation has been about appeasing the Republicans who are pushing a totally absurd proposition?

Isn't it equally obvious that the poll results mean less than nothing to our political "leadersship"?

Isn't it painfully obvious that there is another order at work that operates in spite of democracy?

I have seen a lot of weird shit in my 58 years, but this is the single most bizarre politcal scenario I have ever seen. The operating logic of our government is simply -- Screw the People.
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion
Sun Apr 24th 2011, 04:18 PM

Times/USC Dornsife poll: Californians support tax hikes to help close budget gap

By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times

April 23, 2011, 4:15 p.m.

Reporting from Sacramento— California voters agree with Gov. Jerry Brown that tax increases should help close the state budget deficit, and they want to vote on his plan for raising the revenue, according to a new Times/USC Dornsife poll.

The Democratic governor has been traveling the state to tout his proposal for a balance of spending reductions and tax increases since it stalled in the Legislature last month amid a bitter battle with Republicans. He had wanted an election in June on a renewal of several tax increases that will have expired by July 1, but he now hopes for a vote in the fall.

Sixty percent of those surveyed, including majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, said they back such an election. The alternative being pushed by most GOP lawmakers — forgoing an election and balancing the budget by cutting more from state services — was supported by just 33%.

Polling always fascinates me, even as I take a dim view of the psuedo-science that supposedly attests to its validity. The most significant of many objections I have to polling is the question of whether the interaction with respondents measures a preexisting opinion or creates a response on the spot to something the subject has never before seriously considered. This objection goes far beyond the obvious truism that the phrasing of poll questions can determine the result -- Do you favor surrender to the terrorists or do you favor strong action to reduce the threat of terrorism?

No, even assuming integrity and honest curiousity by the pollster, you can never know how much if any thought the respondent has given to the issues being surveyed. The closer you get to election day, the more likely it is that your subject will actually have an opinion regarding her vote. But when you conduct a poll like this one, you have no way of knowing whether the poll is creating the response.

In answer to this complaint, you will see many polls that seek to measure initial reactions, and then proceed to "inform" the respondent of the facts surrounding the query before asking the question again. Often this leads to a significant change in the percentages. I take the pollsters as being sincere when they go through this drill, even as it seems to me to call their whole project into serious question.

Thus today's polling story in the Times reports:

Support for the cuts-only approach dropped to 25% when voters were informed that it would probably require reductions in school funding, according to the survey conducted for The Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.


Nearly half thought the budget had grown in that period, with more than 1 in 4 saying it was "much bigger." In fact, general fund spending went from $103 billion in the 2007-08 budget year to $92.2 billion in the current year.

The artcle quotes several experts in support of its main thrust that Governor Brown is winning the public over to the idea of raising taxes. In contrast to a similar poll taken by the same organization just five months ago when a strong plurality favored spending cuts without tax increases, these results show that a strong majority supports increased taxation to avoid further cuts to education and even social welfare spending.

I believe that these poll results fit with the pattern of other national surveys indicating a rejection of Teabag nonsense. I seriously doubt that very many folks even yet understand the nuances of budget math, economic growth or the costs of entitlements. But what everybody has heard about -- inspite of desultory coverage in the Main Stream Media -- is that the 2011 GOP has launched an unprecendented political attack on the social compact. And these polls, along with the recall petition campaigns in Wisconsin and the ongoing campaigns of resistance in several other Teabag state capitals, demonstrate a visceral rejection of this attack.

For the last several decades, California has led the nation politically and socially. Reaganism and Howard Jarvis' philosophy took root here first, before it spread to the rest of the country. In the new century, we are now the bluest state -- and Governor Moonbeam is buidling the political consensus to reject the anti-tax bullshit that has bankrupted our governments and devastated our social fabric.

Teabag shit is just too weird and it is trashing the GOP brand.
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Dec 24th 2009, 02:17 PM
Liberals know everything in the fucking universe except how to govern, how to make real things happen in the real world. We know the hell out of how things should go. Yeah, we are the Masters of the Should Universe.

That’s why we are always so depressed, us liberals. What shoulda happened, well it coulda happened – and it damned sure woulda come true but somebody somewhere sold us out. Decade after decade, liberals always have our agenda of necessary changes to make in the status quo.

But they never happen.

They never happen because somebody always sold us out. Some politician caved in when the opposition said boo, and we are fucked, fucked, fucked.

Thus as it was with JFK and civil rights; LBJ and Vietnam; Jimmy Carter and his whole loser administration; Slick Willy and his triangulating – whenever our guy gets to the White House, he gives in to the opposition on key points of liberal principle.

Now it is Barack Obama who is letting us down.

Our opponents never have any problem getting their way. They don’t even care what their way is, so long as it is not our way.

Look at GW Bush. He won two razor thin electoral college victories, and he did whatever the fuck he wanted for eight years. His core supporters never turned on him, even as his bizarre combination of ruthless mendacity and bumbling incompetence wrecked our national finances while getting us stuck in two un-winnable wars.

Despite the democratic reality of losing the 2006 elections, while polling showed that everybody but those core supporters were disgusted with the whole operation, they just kept rolling along doing whatever the fuck they wanted to do.

Obviously there is an asymmetrical relationship between the left and the right in the USA.

My question is not whom to blame.

My question is what are we going to do about it?
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Sep 13th 2009, 12:33 PM
This summer, we have been inundated with a tidal wave of right wing mendacity -- almost all of it so preposterous that even the Main Stream Media occasionally debunks it. Of course, this debunking only occurs after the lies have been repeated countless times.

This is nothing new.

About 60 years ago, Joe McCarthy made a speech while waving a sheaf of papers that he said displayed the names of 205 "Communists" who were currently employed by the United States State Department. John F. Kennedy was greeted by the accusation of "Treason" in a full page ad in the Dallas newspaper on the morning of the last day of his life. Five years ago, the Swift Boat liars managed to take center stage in a Presidential campaign by making the bizarre claim that the US Department of Defense handed John Kerry some medals that he never earned.

Four years ago, Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and our incompetent Republican President dithered and postured while immense suffering overwhelmed hundreds of thousands of American citizens. Watching that catastrophe moved me to post these words on Democratic Underground:

The Second Civil War started in Miami Dade County when a farcical band of Republican apparatchiks disrupted the counting of ballots by the force of their own blubbery persons -- coupled with the explict threat to bring in "Cubans" as re-inforcements.

At the time Jim Baker was on TV almost every day, laying the ideological groundwork for the Restoration of Rule By The Bush Family Business. Baker pompously, ponderously and sarcastically expounded the post-modern conception that there is no such thing as Objective Reality -- that a person could not be trusted to look at a cardboard ballot without letting her "bias" determine her assessment of which Presidential candidate should get credit for it.

This premise that power determines reality shortly thereafter became the per curiam rationale for putting Bush into the White House. Rather than applying the rule of law (which incidentally, with a little intellectual effort, could have supported their decision) the Supreme Court just blew an ultra-cynical 5-4 raspberry at Al Gore and the majority of Americans who did not want Bush to become President.

Throughout that miserable month of political disputation in Florida, we saw a continuation of that faux-riot in Miami: a relentless array of shouters from talk radio; Fox News; and the internet; plus ever larger numbers of Mainstream Media voices -- all expressing the exact same message at the exact same time.

Having been a professional labor organizer my whole life, I have to tip my hat to the iron discipline and rock solid unity of this Chanting Machine. I really would not want to emulate this inherently fascistic technique, but we would all be blind fools not to recognize the depth, breadth and perfect unity of the right wing organization assembled behind the Bush Family Business.

In our own disorganized way, liberals, progressives and leftists have tried to come to terms with this Leviathan -- only to get our ass kicked at every turn.

The one dimension that makes absolute unity possible for them and what makes anything remotely resembling unity impossible for us is what Baker expounded in Florida -- their denial of Objective Reality. To them "reality" is a party line dictated from above. For us objective reality is a dozen mutually exclusive interpretations of how smart or dumb is the individual named George Walker Bush.

Our belief in the significance of Objective Reality leads us into holding our end of a perpetual "debate" in which we all speak our own minds while they spout off their Party Line in unison.

Our belief in Objective Reality also leads us to pine for a "Free Press" that adheres to the principle of objective journalism.

Well, there is no escape from the challenge they pose. It is a frontal attack on the premise of democracy and constitutional government.

This past week brings the grim reality to a crisis point. The hurricane is a dose of Objective Reality that no amount of chanting in unison can alter. Caught without his brain trust at his side, the grinning pestilence of George Walker Bush did not know what to do about the human catastrophe that engulfed a wide swath of the USA.

People suffered and died while Bush ate cake and strummed a guitar.

By the end of the week, the game plan was finally cobbled together and you will hear it blasting out of your cable TVs and car radios this week -- it was Somebody Else's Fault.

It does not matter that this is absurd on its face. It does not matter that, even if absolutely true, it would not absolve Bush or FEMA or the DHS of their dithering under fire. It does not even matter that this shows when Al Qaeda does launch its next attack within the USA, our government will go into Instant Blame Game mode rather than address the human suffering caused by terror.

No, we are dealing with a tightly knit organization that has no patriotism, no respect for law and nothing but contempt for truth. Contempt for the truth is what put them in power and it is what keeps them in power.

What we need more than anything else is to realize that there is no reasoning with these people. I hate writing these words. It contradicts everything I have believed in my 52 years on this planet.

I remain a pacifist and I firmly believe that a non-violent campaign to restore Respect For Truth will have a chance to succeed while violence would cause more grief and accomplish nothing.

But until we realize that the other side is fighting a civil war AGAINST US -- particularly the people of color among US -- we will continue to be frustrated, disorganized and, at bottom, losers.

That is what sustains them, by the way. The only belief they have on this earth is that they are winners and we are losers.

Since I wrote those words, we have been winning the elections -- but nothing else. The losers continue to dominate the news, and the winners cannot unify around anything meaningful.

No one should be surprised that their one and only tactic is to shout lies in unison. That is how they have always operated. So long as our response is to get indignant and tell each other what liars they are, they will continue to win, even as they lose elections.

We need to wake up. It is long past the time to wake up and face the reality that screams at us.
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Aug 08th 2009, 10:20 AM
Lyndon Johnson is said to have known that passage of the Civil Rights legislation would give the country over to the Republicans for a generation. It turned out to be an even longer reign of racial backlash.

My own theory about Florida in 2000 was that the Bush family and their more sophisticated henchmen realized that changing demographics were destroying the Nixon-Wallace-Reagan white majority and the only way to regain the White House and to maintain a corporate dominated Congress would be to control the voting process. They succeeded and prolonged right wing power for another eight years, and they managed to rip off several trillion dollars during the their last few years of total control.

As a white man born in 1953 who grew up in Dallas, Texas, I have seen my own view of the racial divide in this country evolve decade by decade. My parents were "liberals" by Texas standards and I complacently looked at myself as an un-racist, not having a clue about how many stupid racist assumptions I had absorbed simply by living in this extremely race conscious country. Getting to know some African Americans provided considerable education, as did reading some of Malcolm X's thoughts on the subject. So I definitely agree with the thoughts expressed by many on this thread that black Americans have a much better handle on how racism operates than do white people.

Yet I also agree that racism is not the only motivation behind the uncivilized acting-out by these Palin supporters, teabaggers and town hall hooligans. I would say that racism provides most of their energy in 2009, and not only because of Barack Obama's ethnicity. Based on my experience with wingnuts in my family and among my old high school friends who still live in Texas, I think the grievance crystallizes in their heads that they are "losing the country." Obama is the biggest symbol of this phenomenon, but their resentment goes far beyond his personality. This is no longer a White Country and that is what pisses them off the most.

There are other elements than race within this plaint that they are "losing the country." Homophobia plays a very large role. So does resentment of women who have attained positions of power. Religion and hostility to abortion are also significant motivations for our strangely behaving fellow citizens who cannot cope with the changes that keep rocking their world.

The one thing I cannot agree with on this thread is the notion that nothing of significance has changed. It led to an unfortunate exchange between posters accusing each other of denial. As far as I am concerned, change is the only constant in the universe and to claim that anything is not changing is a profound mental error. I can respect the fact that people with skin darker than mine will know a hell of a lot more about how racism manifests itself than I do. And if my brothers and sisters of colour tell me that racism is still a daily experience for them, I am not about to disagree. But it does not follow from this that racism is not changing or receding -- as everything under the sun changes with time.

I have to agree with the poster who reminds that Barack won. Surely you cannot say that means nothing. Of course it does not mean that racism is gone. But, dammit, Barack won and that victory means something. And in the broader sense, we are making "progress." I have no quarrel with anyone who is dissatisfied with how well that "progress" is going, but I just can't buy the assertion that none has occurred. I know better, based on my own interactions with people of colour.

And I am troubled by the air of fatalism I detect in the OP and in some of the posts on this thread. The assumption seems to be that racism is some implacable force that will never yield to reason or love. Martin King did not believe that to be so. And I was moved last year by Barack Obama's retort to the Revernd Wright flap -- that he disagreed with the idea that America could not transcend its racial differences.

Sure, Barack is a politician and his intentionally vague pronouncements about things like "hope" are vulnerable to some pointed criticism. But he is our leader now. And I choose to follow him on the road to racial reconciliation.

I do not think it is impossible. What it is, is necessary.

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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Jul 08th 2009, 12:30 AM
I have successfully avoided the actual Palin announcement of her retirement, but I have nosed into some of the punditry that she provoked. And it seems to me that the most salient message that she got across was that being governor is a hindrance to her desire to improve the country. Aside from the easy joke that her resignation will certainly improve Alaskan government, I think this is a fascinating example of how The Base perceives reality.

The non sequitur has emerged as the primary intellectual mode of conservative expression, and Sarah clearly reflects the wingnut zeigeist with her claim that quitting her job is the way for her to avoid being a quitter. Liberals of course will hoot derisively at this oxymoronic proposition, but The Base understands her perfectly. Politics to the modern wingnut is not about effective government -- as Reagan set forth the doctrine a generation ago, government is not the solution, government is the problem. Grover Nordquist famously opined that the fundamental goal of conservatism was to shrink the government enough that it could be drowned in a bathtub. Sarah's notion that staying in the governor's chair would be quitting fits perfectly into this wingnut tradition of denigrating government.

Vote for me to run the government because I don't want the government to exist has proven to be a winning pitch, at least through the election of 2004 -- and the demographically dwindling GOP Base still responds to the proposition enthusiastically. Sarah's seeming illogic actually embodies the party's philosophy. How can you oppose Government when you are running it?

From 1994 through 2004, Limbaugh, Gingrich and Shrub dominated American politics by mastering the art of attacking the idea of Big Government while simultaneously making that Government bigger and bigger and bigger. They won most of the elections during that span by separating the idea of a campaign from the reality of govermental operations. Sarah has now brought this basic strategy to its logical conclusion -- she brazenly maintains that being Governor prevents her from serving the public. Her function is to campaign for conservative values.

What we call The Base has always been a pretty thin minority. The Karl Rove strategy was to get these people to turn out in much higher percentages than the reliable democratic constituencies like African Americans or union members. This worked to make the elections of 2000 and 2004 very close -- close enough to be decided by controversial vote counts in Florida and Ohio respectively. Squeaking out those two elections and thereby dominating public life for most of this decade made The Base seem to be the most significant electoral bloc in the country -- recall how so many people were calling Sarah a "game changer" when she burst on the national scene and energized The Base. But as the 2008 election played out, even though The Base got all lathered up about Sarah and even though The Base responded enthusiastically to the desperate (and hysterically funny) attacks on Obama the Arab, Muslim, Socialist who pals around with terrorists -- when the votes were counted the GOP got creamed.

The wall to wall disaster of Bush's second term coupled with the ongoing shift in demographics toward a younger multi-ethnic polity combined to bring the era of The Base to a full and final stop. Obama may fumble away his huge political advantage, and if he does, The Base could be a part of a new governing coalition someday. But the basic Karl Rove strategy of feeding these idiots a diet of Teri Schiavo and gay bashing will never win national elections again.

Sarah's illogical babbling does not hurt her with these folks, and her basic point that being Governor of Alaska keeps her from serving the conservative cause is the truth. And the more that she gets mocked, the more popular she will become with this faction.

I have a hard time seeing her, as an individual, having the marathon runner's discipline to win the GOP nomination in 2012. But if she gets the right handlers -- and listens to them -- she can easily win the nomination. And the fact that she quit as Governor will be a net plus for her, because at the end of the day, her constituency doesn't give a flying fuck about who is the Governor of Alaska.

Obama is one lucky sumbitch when it comes to GOP opposition.

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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Nov 01st 2008, 12:54 PM
As the last few days of the election campaign play out, I think it is a good time to take a deep breath and try to gather in the overall picture of what has happened. We have seen a fundamentally different political dynamic unfold, and I think that underlying dynamic will gather momentum in the next few elections -- and the nervous concern over Sarah Palin and the angry "base" of the Republican Party will turn out to be a waste of energy.

The last two elections were very close, close enough for vote counting anomolies or manipulations to determine the winner. Voting blocs seemed to be frozen as the country was divided between red and blue, urban and rural, religious and secular, white and black. When an historically unprecedented proportion of the GOP base turned out in 2004, the balance was tipped ever so slightly toward Bush, and the high water mark for the alleged "movement" of conservatism crested in 2005.

Since then the right wing governing majority has unraveled: the political debacle of trying to "reform" Social Security; the bizarre stubborness of Shrub's staying the course in Iraq; the shame of Katrina; the frog march parade of GOP congressmen toward the crossbar hotel for bribery; the repeated exposure of GOP hypocricy on the subject of homosexuality; the further hypocricy of the GOP on the topic of immigration; the gathering avalanche of debt at all levels of our utterly un-conservative society; the rout at the polls in November of 2006; the embarrassing spectacle of transparent frauds like Romney and Guiliani kowtowing to that "Base" -- and finally, spare part John McCain securing the nomination for no other reason than all the other candidates were jokes.

Four days before election, it is theorically possible that McCain might still pull out the election -- even if he does it does not subtract from the fact that Obama has assembled a majority of the electorate during this campaign that overwhelms the Bush/Rove strategy of 2000 and 2004. Micro-strategy in the final 100 hours that somehow manages to get voters to bail on That One does not change the underlying dynamic that built Obama's lead in the first place.

It is based on three factors:

1. Demographics -- the young and the unwhite do not respond to the sexually fixated right wing obsessions with abortion and gay rights. Nor do they respond to the relgious right's assertion that this is A Christian Nation. The young and the unwhite constitute a growing portion of the electorate and there is no cohort coming to replenish the ranks of the religious right.

2. Howard Dean's Contribution -- Dean identified and mobilized the educated, urban progressive millions and turned them into a fundraising alternative to the corporate fat cats. Obama built on that precedent and has raised unbelievable amounts of money. Dean also pushed the idea of a 50 state strategy, which Obama is following with a vengence. Karl Rove's electoral college map is now history.

3. Economic Reality -- debt has changed the economy forever. Both Clinton and Bush were able to point to an expanding economy, although Clinton's numbers were dramatically better. However, in both cases, the success came from a series of debt inflated speculative bubbles. For a generation, the USA has consumed far more than we have produced, and the result that finally crashed down upon us this fall was inevitable. The daily headlines will fluctuate with the fluctuations of the various stock and commodities markets, but the happy ride on borrowed money is over. This means that the GOP siren song of Tax Cuts as well as the macho appeal of foreign wars are now beyond our economic means. The big crash helped Obama this fall, and probably decided the election. The new economic reality will decide the next several elections as well.

Since Reagan established right wing dominance in 1980, the GOP has enjoyed a huge majority of the white vote, and it has cut taxes and fought wars both cold and hot, establishing itself as the party of national security. Of course, in my personal opinion kicking Grenada's ass was proof of weakness rather than strength, but that is not how a majority of the white majority looked at it.

Obama's majority is based on an entirely different set of social, political and economic realities. Even if last minute Bradley Effect racism suddenly rears its head like Putin over the Alaskan sky, the future does not belong to the Republican Party.

It is up to us to live up to the challenge of holding power. Personally, I think Obama will get us off to a great start.

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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Oct 09th 2008, 03:46 PM
This is the Big One folks. No more smug dismissal of Chicken Little -- the financial crisis is in free fall and the underlying dynamic is leading us toward a global economic shutdown. Before 1929, these periodic crises of capitalism were not called depressions or recessions. They were called panics. And we are in one now.

Since about 1:30 EDT last Friday, here are gruesome numbers from Wall Street:

S & P: 1152 ---> 909 aggregate loss = 263 (-22.8%)

Dow: 10,772 ---> 8579 aggregate loss = 2193 (-20.3%)

Governments all over the world are throwing trillions of dollars worth of promises into the teeth of this panic to no avail whatsoever. European and Asian exchanges are seeing a similar debacle.

We started this thing with our idiotic appetite for tax cuts, wars, trinkets and houses that were all bought on credit. We have polluted the world's well of credit with our childish refusal to live within our means at every level -- governmental, corporate and consumer. Everybody who has any liquidity is too terrified to let go of it, for fear of never getting back.

This is a crisis of confidence based on the very rational skepticism that anybody will be able to pay them back -- not even the governments and central banks who are trying so desperately to calm the world down.

A proposal from a citizen:

1. Bush should ask the NYSE to close down until Tuesday.

2. Bush and Cheney should resign and Nancy Pelosi should assume office long enough only to nominate a coalition replacement of a moderate pair of Senators like Lugar and Feinstein to fill out the terms of Bush and Cheney.

3. Paulson should be replaced with Warren Buffet or some other big name financier who has a clean record of hostility to unregulated paper speculation.

4. Before Tuesday, the new Secretary should announce plans to revamp the bailout package to funnel the relief money through the debtors to the holders of bad paper, rather than just bailing out the criminals and idiots who caused the crisis.

5. The new Secretary should take firm control of the entire banking and financial services sector of the American economy to make sure that businesses that need short term credit to function can keep their doors open.

6. Barack Obama and John McCain should sign a joint statement that whoever wins the election will aggressively push a legislative program of re-regulating the financial markets to make sure that the concept of credit-worthiness be re-established as a requirement to borrow money.

Do I think this will happen? Of course not.

My question is why not?

This is no joke. We may all be scrounging the streets for discarded hamburger buns in a couple of years.
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sun Sep 28th 2008, 07:29 PM

"Give us a trillion clams or we'll crash the economy."

It is hard to think of a scenario that is any more galling. But the real question, it seems to me, is how real is this threat of the economy crashing? As with every other shake down operation, pride and your sense of justice make you want to tell the gangsters to go fuck themselves. But pride and justice are not much consolation if they send your spouse and children home to you in a box.

I think the threat of a world wide run on the banks is plausible. And if it happens, there will be a global depression that will last for a decade or more, causing untold grief.

What makes this scenario even more frustrating was the stupid ass deadline that the Congress imposed on itself so that they could all go home to campaign for re-election. Exhibit 176 in the case for a Parliamentary system. Without sufficient time to work out a coherent plan for making credit more available to ordinary borrowers who need money, we saw this Keystone Kops affair this week leading up to a very ill thought-out plan.

On its face, this plan is intended as a stopgap. Whatever.

Next January, we need to have a huge social movement pushing Obama and the new Democratic controlled Congress for re-regulation of the financial system. And we need to have a parallel push for economic reform that returns the USA to a production rather than consumption economy. Tall orders.

But I don't think there is any realistic alternative.

Other opinions?
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Posted by DaveT in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Sep 26th 2008, 06:08 AM
is the fear of a run on the banks.

In boom times as well as the most miserable busts, if everybody asks for their money back at any given time, the whole financial system collapses. This is because saving and investing are based on the banking miracle of one dollar being in two places at once -- in the simplest form, you put part of your paycheck into your savings account, while the bank loans money to people who buy houses. Only a fraction of your money sits idle in the bank, while borrowers use the rest of your money (and every depositor's money). In accounting terms, your deposit in the bank is a "liability" to the bank -- it owes it back to you; while the money it loaned out is an "asset" because somebody else owes the money back to the bank.

Although the bank owes you your money back, you don't look at it as a debt. You look at it as "your" money. Meanwhile the borrower has the cash in hand to buy things. Thus one dollar is in two places at once.

Confidence that you can get "your" money out of the bank is always based on the fiction that your money is "there." One of the Depression Era reforms was Deposit Insurance -- a promise by the Government to step in and give you "your" money back if the people running your particular bank turn out to be idiots or crooks who loan out your money to dead beats. If word gets out that the bank is unable to collect the money it is owed, it gives all the depositors a reason to run and not walk to the bank to get to the window before anybody else does to get "your" money out before everybody else gets "their" money out. The Deposit Insurance program has done an excellent job of preventing such a run on individual banks because people know that they don't really have to race to the bank because the government will stand good for insured deposits. Thus confidence remains and fear has been banished.

This system protects the depositors of individual banks. Obviously, if all the banks in the country faced a simultaneous run from all the depositors in the country, Deposit Insurance would not work.

So, with the pathetic reality that most of the banks and other lending institutions have simultaneously been run by idiots or crooks, there is a serious danger that a run may start against the banking system as a whole. The only thing that EVER prevents such a nationwide run on the banks is the ephemeral psychology of "confidence." Regulations once upon a time helped to shore up that confidence with things like reserve requirements and standards of creditworthiness for borrowers to keep the banks from giving its depositors' money to deadbeats.

The idiotic and nakedly corrupt politics of "deregulation" have now obliterated "confidence." And Paulson figured that the way to restore that confidence was to put out the word that $700 billion dollars was now on the case. Nobody could possibly know whether this would "work" because their is no empirical way to measure "confidence."

Such a move would probably have calmed the skittish colts who drive the Dow and Nasdaq up and down by hundreds of points in a day -- and a case can be made that nosediving stock prices might well precipitate a run on the banking system as people see their equity investments disappear, and draw down upon their allegedly safer bank deposits to keep from running out of money altogether.

Who knows?

The problem for our debased and corrupted political system is that there is no way to know for sure what it will take to restore confidence in the banking system. As I mentioned at the outset, even in the best of times, confidence is based upon the commonly agreed upon lie that "your" money is safely stored in the bank.

Obviously, there has to be a long term solution to the problems created by the corrupt lunacy of deregulation. Otherwise we sink sooner or later into Depression because the banks really are run by idiots and crooks.

The problem that our dimwitted Members of Congress are now wrestling with is that meaningful re-regulation does nothing to put more money into the banks to stave off the wide spread fear that one had better get out while the getting is good. But putting more money into the banks does nothing to assure people that the people running the banks are any more competent or secure than they are today. Unfortunately this is a Catch-22.

This Catch-22 also explains why Krugman's very insightful column does not offer a specific solution either. He only hopes that some "adult" will step in and provide that answer.

It will not happen. A crisis created by too much unsecured debt will not be solved by more unsecured debt. And with the Federal Government running a structural deficit, that is exactly what any bailout scheme is -- more unsecured debt.

I have heard people argue that such Federal "fiat" money is not really unsecured because the US Government has a huge store of fixed assets that are far more valueable than the aggregate national debt. Watch, friends, as the final turn of the screw comes when Hank Paulson runs the Federal Goverment another trillion dollars into the red and the next crisis is how do we prevent a run not on banks but on Treasury Bonds, Notes and Bills. In order to calm the markets and keep those skittish colts from turning a T Note into a Junk Bond, we have to turn the Grand Canyon over to the People's Republic of China.

Let me repeat my principal argument -- a crisis caused by too much unsecured debt will not be solved by more unsecured debt.

Somebody please show me where I am wrong. I want to be wrong.

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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Sep 20th 2008, 01:32 AM

McCain Derides Obama Racism
Latest Role Reveral From GOP Candidate

Detroit, Michigan
September 20, 2008

By Simeon Rice

Senator John McCain derided Barack Obama for his “long time support for the Ku Klux Klan” in a blistering new attack against his Democratic opponent, in a speech delivered today in Detroit, Michigan. “My friends,” the GOP Presidential nominee said, “people forget that he is half white – and, sadly, his white half is as racist as the day is long.”

Speaking before a largely African American audience in this economically depressed automobile manufacturing hub, McCain condemned Obama’s attendance at several cross burnings during the late 1980s. “We cannot afford to put a cracker like that in the White House,” the Arizona Senator proclaimed, to a largely indifferent crowd of bystanders in the downtown area of the Motor City.

The Obama Campaign angrily denied that he had ever been a member of the Ku Klux Klan – a claim that McCain spokesperson Khaleel Washington dismissed as “outrageous cowardice and pure fiction. Barack is a redneck peckerwood from the waterhead state of Hawaii, and African Americans are waking up that fact.”

Some observers find this accusation bizarre, in view of the fact that Obama is usually described in the media as “African American.” Professor Gus Gillis of Howard University said, “Obama in the Klan? Give me a break – that is totally insane. What’s next, George Bush nationalizing the banking industry? Sorry, but that chihuahua won’t hunt.”

The McCain campaign nevertheless perseveres in making its case that Obama’s white half is both predominant and virulently racist. Undeterred by several news stories debunking the cross burning allegations, the GOP candidate demands that Obama come clean about his racist tendencies and tawdry history of Klan activity. “I call on the Senator to admit the role he has played in helping to keep black Americans down,” the Senator said at the rally in Detroit.

Barack Obama declined to be interviewed for this article.

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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Aug 16th 2008, 03:25 PM
What are the odds that the war between Georgia and Russia will escalate into World War III? Not all that likely, really. Maybe five percent? Two?

Who knows? But the chance is definitely not zero.

Bush, Cheney, McCain and the neocon punditocracy's hollow posturing about how we have to stand up to Russia is nothing more than election year bullshit, right? The GOP has no prayer of winning the election on domestic issues, so trouble in a far corner of the world that most Americans cannot find on a map offers a nice opportunity to remind people of how "dangerous" the world is and how important it is to have one tough hombre as "Commander in Chief."

So here we go again, with the internet aflame with the factual dispute of what happened on the ground in some place that I had never heard of, called South Ossetia. The tireless propaganda machine that backs Bush and McCain and the national policy of perpetual war tells us that They Started It; other sources from all over the world breathlessly work to debunk the official narrative. No, no, no -- Georgia started it, with the connivance of the Bush Administration!

Hell, I'm ready to buy the premise that the Bush government hoked up this war. It fits with everything else they have done in world affairs since taking office.

But my question is this: What difference does it make who started it? Let's say the warmongers are dead right, just for the sake of argument. Let's say that Russia has been angling for months toward re-conquering Georgia, the birthplace of Uncle Joe Stalin.

So what is the United States of America going to do about it?

We are currently at war in two other countries, and we are borrowing the money to pay for both wars. This fiscal insanity is playing into a parallel borrowing binge by corporations, speculators and consumers that has already crashed major banks and is threatening to destroy the dollar.

Other than sporting an arsenal of nuclear weapons, the USA has nothing to fight with -- no economic leverage, no political support from other nations, no functional military presence in the area. We are a paper tiger.

When the McCain Candidacy puts forth the proposition that we need a strong hand on the tiller during these dangerous times, what the hell is The Commander in Chief supposed to do?

Of course it would be political suicide for Obama to acknowledge the reality of American weakness in the world. The main stream media would pulverize him -- and millions of people who are leaning toward voting for him would probably bail out.

As a nation, we have been top dog for so long that we cannot imagine a world in which we are just another country. Instead, we lie to ourselves.

We have only one option if our Commander in Chief's big talk leads us into a confrontation with Russia -- to blow up the world.

I thought that Katrina would lead ultimately to the impeachment and removal of GW Bush from office. His policies have made our nation weaker in every way, and his performance in a crisis demonstrated that he is not up to the job of dealing with a crisis. But our political institutions have failed us. We are led by a schoolyard bully who does not know how to back down from anything.

God watches out for drunks, fools and the United States of America. We will probably get through this thing without blowing up the world. Probably.

We are indeed a nation of idiots.

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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Jun 22nd 2008, 12:42 PM
The hardest thing for an activist and advocate is to keep in mind two contradictory notions about social change. We have to win the next election, but winning that election will not address the overwhelming majority of problems that we absolutley must resolve if we are to survive as a democratic republic.

The "next" election always is upon us, and it always pits two candidates who are both creatures of the status quo. One will always be worse than the other, but it is always a challenge to find a positive way to look at the candidate that we need to win.

This time around, it is less bad than the last several election cycles, but there are many problems with the Obama candidacy. You have this chickenshit vote -- and many other issues as well. My pet peeve has to do with the speech he recently made to AIPAC, which promised war against Iran if other means do not prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. I really do appreciate the difference between Obama and the alternatives on that subject -- and I anticipate that the diplomatic and multilateral initiatives that President Obama will take will probably succeed in keeping Iran out of the nuclear club, without going to war.

But what the hell ever happened to deterrence and containment? This was the consensus national security policy of our country for 54 years and it successfully defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War. We had a nuclear monopoly for a few years after Hiroshima, and many bloodthirsty cretins within our power structure regarded it as suicide and treason for us to sit idly by while first Russia and then China developed nuclear weapons. But in those days we did not start wars, because that is not the kind of people we were.

Despite the smashing success of our bipartisan policy of deterrence and containment, Bush and the neocons tossed it out the window in 2001 and replaced it with the doctrine of pre-emptive war -- the idea of conquering a country before it does anything hostile on the theory that it might make trouble later if it has the weaponry to do so. This was the logic of Tojo and Hitler -- and we hanged men for starting unprovoked war at Nuremberg. It is the primary reason for impeaching, convicting and incarcerating Bush and Cheney.

Not only is this policy of preemptive war simply evil, the experience of Iraq proves it to be incomparably stupid as well. Rather than using our supposedly infinite power to dictate the terms of the social and political order in the "defeated" Iraq, we are hopelessly enmeshed in a political morass that will probably lead to the eventual establishment of a more dangerous and unstable regime in that country.

Given all that -- the evil and the stupidity of preemption as national policy -- Barack Obama embraces it as if it made sense. Why? Because the mainstream media and political culture have accepted it as gospel that we dare not let the smoking gun turn out to be a mushroom cloud.

Yet I am going to vote for him, donate money to him and do what I can to help him win. Why? Because his election will improve things rather dramatically from what they are today. It will not even undo all the damage that Bush has done, but it will be better.

While looking at the next election and voting for a creature of the status quo, we have to keep in mind the bigger picture of just how well Organized Money has solidified its control over almost every aspect of our society. The corporate owned integrated information delivery system has a stranglehold on how most Americans get their view of the world -- and my nostalgia for deterrence and containment means absolutely nothing in 2008, a relic as quaint as the idea of Congress exercising oversight by compelling testimony by employees of the Federal Executive Branch under oath; as quaint as the idea that the Constitution applies to Guantanamo Bay; as quaint as the idea that the Government has no business reading my mail.

The tools of democracy are still intact. We can communicate with each other on the internet with greater reach and speed than ever before. We can organize ourselves to match the power of Organized Money -- and we are doing so.

But if we think that winning a single election will break the lock that Organized Moeny has on our political culture, we are dooming ourselves to defeat.

There are no final victories in politics. Fortunately, there are no final defeats either. The struggle over how we shall live goes on and on . . . .
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jun 10th 2008, 11:27 AM
The invasion of Iraq was sold to the Congress and the American people as a response to the development of weapons of mass destruction by a potentially hostile state. Since there were no WMDs in Iraq and since it is relatively easy to prove that the Bush Government hoked up the alleged evidence in support of the proposition, the overwhelming majority of the criticism of the Iraq War focuses on the mendacity of the propaganda that Bush and Company deployed to justify this war of choice.

This formulation of Bush's misconduct overlooks the most radical aspect of the decision to invade Iraq -- the abandonment of deterence and containment as the basis for American national security. Rather than continue the bi-partisan consensus in place since the end of World War II, Bush asserted that the 21st Century called for an embrace of pre-emptive war. The most vivid political soundbite employed in the political campaign to lead us away from the policies that defeated Communism was the infamous notion that we dare not wait to see if "the smoking gun turns into a mushroom cloud."

That mixed metaphor successfully shifted the focus of discussion from the abstraction of policy to the concrete evaluation of facts. Since the facts were not facts at all, but lies, few observers bother to go back to the policy revolution asserting that we have the power and the right to prevent other countries from having the same kind of weapons that we have -- and that our national security depends upon us starting wars with countries before they can attain nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Once upon a time, we had a nuclear monopoly. At the time, some voices within the American power structure argued vehemently that we should use our advantage to prevent the Soviet Union from becoming a threat. And then, after the Soviets tested their first atomic bomb, those same voices urged us to use our superiority to put an end to communism and the threat it posed to our way of life. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I and Clinton all totally rejected that kind of thinking as absurd. Instead we waited out the Communist Experiment and it died its own death due to its internal contradictions.

Deterence and containment provided the greatest national security triumph in our history.

We could have conquered the world when we were the only nation to have the Bomb. We did not do so for only one reason -- we were not that kind of people. We hanged Germans for committing the crime of starting a war of conquest. We have our faults and we did not live up to our ideals throughout most of the Cold War. But we did not wage preemptive war against Stalin or Mao, and I am proud of that.

Bush and his NeoCon propagandists assert that Islamic Extremists are not reachable through the logic of deterence and containment, that they are somehow more bloodthirsty than Stalin and Mao. Of course they are lying -- they do not believe anything of the kind, and the suggestion is absurd on its face. Between the two of them, they slaughtered tens of millions of people in the service of their respective visions of the future. But while the NeoCon lies about Saddam's WMDs have been exposed for all to see, this far more dangerous lie about the supposedly depraved nature of Islamo-Fascist mentality has been swallowed whole by our body politic.

Even Barack Obama has bought into the premise. This is from his recent speech to AIPAC:

The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program and
prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to
have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we
should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained
and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our
primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.

I voted for Obama in the California primary and I will proudly cast my ballot for him in the fall. And I appreciate that he couched his threat to take military action to prevent Iran from securing a nuclear weapon within a context of diplomacy and international cooperation. But the bottom line remains that our Democratic Candidate for president has bought into the premise that we have the might and the right to start a war against Iran to prevent it from attaining the same kind of weapon that we have had for over 60 years.

As activists, we need to keep our eye on the ideological disaster of the Bush Years -- and recognize how thoroughly the NeoCons have corrupted our political discourse.
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Posted by DaveT in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun May 11th 2008, 08:55 PM
With six months to go before the general election, lots of people on DU note the various polls measuring potential contests between Obama or Clinton against McCain -- frequently pointing with glee to the weekly fluctuations that sometimes favor one candidate or another. I hope everybody realizes how silly that is. Six months is an eternity in politics and May polling is just about worthless in terms of predicting how the election will go.

For a quick reality check, here is one of the more extreme demonstrations of this obvious reality to come along in a while:

Poll: Black Support Helps Clinton Extend Lead

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead over Sen. Barack Obama, her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, is growing among African-American voters who are registered Democrats, and particularly among black women, a poll said Wednesday.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is the top choice of African-American Democrats, a new poll suggests. Among black registered Democrats overall, Clinton had a 57 percent to 33 percent lead over Obama. That's up from 53 percent for Clinton and 36 percent for Obama in a poll carried out in April.

CNN -- October 17, 2007

Things change, don't they?

As we move closer to the general election, the mass of people who do not vote in the primaries or pay any attention to the perpetual cable news gab fest will take a look at the two candidates, and the election will be decided by how that shakes out.

You can make reasonable arguments based on a wide variety of polls taken this far out -- and the general negative mood that shows up definitely bodes well for our party's chances this fall. But, presidential preference polls right now mean next to nothing.
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