Keopeli's Beach Hale
Ten years ago I sat with friends in the Spring of 2001. Since Bush had taken over and the economy had tanked, things were getting worse quickly. The old Millennium had gone out with a bang. At that time I was saying things like, "Ten years ago, people told us we couldn't get rid of our deficit. But, we did, by raising taxes on the rich. The Dems took a lot of heat for that, but they were right. And now we have, for the first time, a surplus. With the advent of the internet, America is set for great new things."
Yet, I had warned all of my dear Republican friends at the time that Bush was a dishonest broker who had any number of hidden agendas that conflicted with the good of the American people. The writing was on the wall, as I saw it. Anyone who WANTS to be President by decree (via the Supreme Court...it was Bush v. Gore, after all...not Gore v. Bush), should be considered suspicious and untrustworthy. Never mind the dirty politics, calling McCain the illegitimate father of an African-American child, hanging chads, etc., Bush was quite happy to represent less than the majority of the American people as long as he was behind the wheel.
Just like Obama, the moment he took office everything changed. Gone was the "Compassionate Conservative" candidate; in came the man who wouldn't stop Enron (of Texas oilmen) from bankrupting California. And, I was not alone in my thinking. Most Americans agreed, though we seemed to just put up with the virtual coup that had happened, perhaps hoping after 4 years, it would just all go away. Squandering our surplus in a tax break for the wealthy was to be overshadowed by the military agenda that he pursued.
I don't know if it was just luck that made 9/11 happen on Bush's watch, but because we'll never get through all the conspiracy theories that surround it, let's just assume it was sheer luck. Bush wanted to go to war so badly, he named a former Defense Department Secretary as his V.P. and a war general as his Secty. of State. He was pissed at Saddam for something and he wanted our guns in that country. I personally think he felt he had to do Afghanistan as a prelude to Iraq...like a warm up. Truthfully, he never paid much attention to Afghanistan. But, he sold that war with a lie, just like he did with Iraq. Only, this lie was one all Americans wanted. Like offering a child candy, Bush said we were going into Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden. Less than 6 months after 9/11, he was done with OBL. He had moved on to our next great catastrophe...Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
But, hold on a second there, because while Bush was doing pretty much whatever he wanted and lying to get it done, Americans really DID want something. We wanted Osama bin Laden brought to justice. He was Hitler-esque. He was dangerous and elusive.
One thing Obama has always said was that we had not pursued our original policy in Afghanistan. Now, today, ten years later, President Obama has finally brought this chapter to a close. It could have been done many years ago and saved many American and other lives as well as precious treasure, resources and, perhaps most importantly, time. But, now it is done.
President Obama, you managed to accomplish what your predecessor could not. You focused on the problem and created the solution. Thank you.
(After being informed that the call was being recorded and screened, I interrupted her prepared script to spare her, and myself, the time.)
Forgive me for interrupting your script, but let's get to the point. I've given heartily to you for the past several election cycles. But things have changed. I've learned that you take money from Progressives like myself and give it to elect conservative Democrats in other places who vote against my interests, while depriving Progressive candidates of funds needed to win contests. My own US representative is a Republican because of this very issue, because you didn't give enough support to Darcy Burner, who could have won.
For the past two years, conservative Democrats who receive the lion's share of my money have voted against the public option, healthy bank reform, strong stimulus spending, and a litany of other progressive issues that have passed the house yet been stalled or squashed in the senate. Half-hearted measures and lip-service paid to my priority issues, such as repealing DADT, closing Guantanamo, holding officials accountable for wiretapping and other broken laws, have been delayed or ignored. Even today, the senate will not pass a jobs bill because of conservative democrats.
From now on, I will give money only to specific candidates whom I support. I've lost my trust in the party's ability to distribute the funds in a way that will support my views.
(At this point, she said we could lose control of the Senate and the President's agenda could be in jeopardy.)
I can't help that. The President's own chief of staff, Rham, thinks I'm worthless. Sen. Lincoln won her contest in Arkansas fair and square and good for her, but Rham said I had flushed my money down the toilet because I wasn't supporting his views and his candidate. Rather than learning from the message that the President's base is very unhappy and disgruntled with his and the Senate's performance, he sends his top man out to spit in our face. And now you want me to give you money.
I don't want the Republicans to win and I'll fight against it. But I can no longer trust you and the Senate and the Democratic Party to do that for me. After all, you despise me. You only want my money so you can elect people who support your agenda and not mine. Well, I'm not that dumb and I won't do it. I'll help the Democrats to win, but I'll do it my way, and if my candidates can't win for our party, then it's the same as losing to me.
(I'm sorry you feel that way, she said. There's someone screening this call and you're not the only one saying this type of thing to us. People are hearing what you say here today.)
I hope so. I really do.
(Thank you for your time.)
That last part was odd to me. Are they really listening? I seriously doubt it, but I thought it was odd she would make a point of saying this. In any case, I don't think they will cross me off their list just yet. But I definitely have a big goose-egg by my name right now.
Source: KOMO News (Seattle, WA)
REDMOND, Wash -- The man who wrote a book called "Drugstore Cowboy" is now accused of being a drugstore cowboy.
Redmond police say Jim Fogle and another man were caught in the act after tying up pharmacy workers and trying to make their getaway.
Jim Fogle's book and subsequent movie was all about a guy robbing pharmacies to feed a drug habit. Police say life imitated art.
In the movie, Matt Dillon gets the drugs, but in this real life story, police say they got Fogle and his accomplice, 45-year-old Shannon Benn, while the armed robbery was in progress.
Read more: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/9496721...
Life imitates art, or vice-versa! This took place at the pharmacy next to my partner's workplace. I love the movie! Apparently, Fogle, who is 73, has a long rap sheet. When the police arrived, he had two large plastic garbage bags full of pharmaceuticals that he was about to steal.
A customer that came to the door just at closing (and after Fogle had taken the employees hostage) was sent away by an employee locking the door. The employee whispered to the customer to call 911.
Side note: The KOMO TV van that arrived broke down and cause a major spill of diesel fuel into the lot that took all night and well into the morning for a haz-mat team to clean up!
Will the 2010 Election become popcorn time on the internet for Democrats?
The Teabaggers (aka Teabag Party, Tea Party, Teabag Movement) was created completely by the Republic Party. It started with Sarah Palin, who quit her brief job as Governor of oil rich Alaska to harness the social conservative base of the Republican Party.
The social conservative wing, which includes funding groups by people like Dick Armey with LOTS OF MONEY, are represented to the public by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who have focused on ruining Obama. Rush uses his traditional "white, southern, smart-ass, know-it-all, god-fearing redneck" shtick while the new Glenn Beck appeals to the libertarian minded folks and militia movement fringe groups that supported Ron Paul in 08.
In the heady early days of Obama's presidency, the Republics were recalcitrant. Ailes used Fox News to self-promote small gatherings, including early Tea Party events. They bused in participants, printed protest signs, choreographed crowd participation for the cameras and lied to viewers about the size of the crowd, all in an attempt to make it look bigger than it really was. They chided other media for failing to cover the Teabaggers (aka...etc).
One caveat the Tea Bagger Society poses is that they don't like Republics any more than they like Democrats. (Well, a little more, but not much.) After all, they spend too much. (In 2012, this theme will fit nicely with the Republics planned (losing) strategy - gut social security.)
It is now the beginning of the 2010 election season and Republics are making a strong appeal for clemency to the Tea Bagger Party. They paid Palin to go talk to them and ask them to vote Republic. They paid Beck to keynote the CPAC event and tolerated him saying "Republicans are no better than Democrats" when it comes to spending. They are passing a Republic Purity Test which vows that they will not increase spending and will cut taxes (and won't have sex until they're married and only with women.) The Teabagger community is saying that they might give the Republics "one more shot" before they form a third party.
In other words, the Republics are trying to formulate their own "mea culpa" for their free-spending habits of the last 30 years. Never mind that they've been saying "Read my lips...no new taxes" since the 1980s and breaking that promise ever since. They think they deserve another shot.
In 06 and 08, the voters sent a clear message that they were fed up with the Republics and their wasteful spending over a 30 year period. In the worst economy since the Depression, with the worst Republicans in memory obstructing Congress, all the Democrats need to do is pass some effective legislation on health care and jobs. They have both the time and the votes to do it.
The question then becomes how far the Republics are willing to commit to the orthodoxy of the Teabaggers. Because a line has been drawn in the sand by none other than Glenn Beck himself: all Republics elected after 2010 can not raise taxes and can not increase spending. Every time they do, they risk losing the Teabaggers and, more importantly, Glenn Beck himself.
This Tea Party Monster has already scared the Republics to death. They even let Cheney out of his cave to speak at CPAC just for the torture loving lot of them. Everyone BUT the Republics were surprised at the outcome of the straw poll at CPAC: Ron Paul. Hmmm...
The Democrats do have a difficult electoral climate in 2010, but that doesn't mean Republics have an easy one. Their fractured party is so tenuously strung together that, should the Democrats fortunes turn around even slightly by summer, liberals and progressives might enjoy the election season after all...as a spectator sport.
In my view, one of the biggest problems with the US Congress in 2010 is the recalcitrant minority.
In the past 3 years, Americans have given a clear mandate via elections, not for a political party, but for relevant issues that need to be addressed. A few of these can be acknowledged by the vast majority of Americans:
- Reform the Health Care system to control costs and provide for universal coverage.
- Repeal Bush-era interrogation violations (i.e. torture)
- Address energy cost and commodity issues (includes $4/gl. gas, climate change, foreign oil dependence)
- Address runaway spending
In the last 50 days of the 2008 election, the Great Recession hit full force. The Bush Administration took steps (TARP) they would never have to be responsible for. Now, this too is a major topic, including unemployment. No national election has addressed this topic.
The Democrats, almost by default because of the recklessness of Republicans, gained the largest Congressional majority in modern memory. Their strategy has always been one of conciliation to their opponents. As President Obama stated on the campaign trail, he wanted to bring a new tone to Washington. By definition, this meant changing the partisan rancor that was so prevalent.
The Republican Party and their massive media machine decided from the beginning that their best strategy was to play the recalcitrant opposition. In a move unprecedented in Congressional history, they have placed stumbling blocks on EVERY piece of legislation in the Senate. Such was their destruction that it is impossible to count the number of bills they prevented from coming to the floor. For the first time ever, the Senate Leader needed 60 votes to actually BRING a motion to the floor.
The Democrats did not develop an effective counter-opposition to the Republican strategy. Since they actually had 60 senators, they attempted to "shoot the moon" (so to speak) and pass only what could maintain 60 votes. This had never been done before and, though the political climate at the time may have made such a strategy seem possible, the inertia of the political wave that brought the Democrats to power would soon wane.
Tell-tale signs have been ignored by Democratic leaders and President Obama that could have been used as an opportunity to change course. Scattered regional elections early on provided mixed reviews. Delays in the summer of 2008 were ignored. Critics were marginalized rather than debated. Finally, a Senate seat switched in the Republicans favor and the 60 vote possibility was no longer relevant.
Since 2010 began, very little has emerged from Congress. The Democrats are revising their strategy. This is a 'last chance' opportunity for them before the 2010 Elections. They have to pass legislation that Americans want or they are likely to lose terribly in the Fall (in spite of the fact that the opposition will do more damage than ever to our current woes).
The Republicans have been called out time and again by Real Journalism (mostly online; no broadcast news included) for their hypocrisy. There is no reason to believe anything they are saying is what they actually mean. While this can also be said to be true of the Democrats, we know from very recent memory what the Republicans will do with leadership. The Great Recession is brought to us by the Republicans. The Democrats' new strategy must be to call-out and even demand an opposition party.
Democratic leaders, starting with President Obama, in no uncertain terms, must begin using phrases such as the following:
- The Great Recession, brought to us by the Republicans
- On health care reform, we want the whole thing, including the public option and medicare over 55. We'd love it if the Republicans would agree to talks and compromise, providing they both TALK and VOTE for what they propose.
- In the U.S. Congress, a hand-shake should mean something. Republicans think it doesn't.
- On jobs, we want it all. We want a second stimulus for Main Street. We'll pass it with reconciliation. We'd love it if the Republicans would agree to talks and compromise, providing they both TALK and VOTE for what they propose.
- We want joint talks on legislation. We want compromise and agreement at these talks, not political strategy. When we're done, we want an immediate press conference. This is the 21st Century. We think everyone deserves to know right away what their Congress has decided to do next.
When asked what you'll do if Republicans won't come to the talks, tell them:
If Republicans won't come to the talks, we'll do it ourselves and we'll reason what's best for everyone to the best of our abilities.
We want all Americans in districts represented by Republicans to be represented. We have invited your representative. When your party is in power, we hope you'd do the same. If you don't come, it's a tragedy for those Americans you represent and it's questionable leadership, in my opinion.
We've always been ready to compromise and members of our own party think we're crazy for doing it. We DO want a different tone in Washington. We DO want a jobs bill. We DO want to fix health care. We DO want to curb spending. And we ARE willing to both TALK and COMPROMISE, as we've made plainly evident in the past. However, what we will no longer do is sit paralyzed by a minority party unwilling to engage, unwilling to represent their constituents who elected them to do just that.
This is important legislation. We WILL pass it. I highly recommend to my Republican colleagues that they stop making appearances on TV talk shows and start making appearances in Congressional meeting rooms and offices. Then, in November, the American people can choose who is helping them and who is standing in the way of progress.
If the Democratic Party wants to maintain their positions in the U.S. Congress, they need to pass significant legislation in the next 6 months. Many members are afraid, recalling the legislation passed in 93 that raised taxes. That legislative 'fix' lead to the incredible economic successes of the 1990s, but the lack of a political response left them vulnerable at the polls and they lost control of the Congress for 14 years. Apart from the fact that this Congress was elected with a mandate to address these very problems, this "Demand an Opposition" strategy is meant to allay these fears. By having a strategy, you can both pass the legislation and combat the Republican opponents politically.
Editors Note to DU: I wrote this from a moderate perspective, meaning I deliberately refrained from elaborating on several facts that many here already know. (e.g. I know that wanting "everything" in health care legislation means much more than just a PO and 55+ for Medicare.) It's not because I'm unaware, but because I think the 'clean slate' idea won't happen in time. I also know that compromise and bi-partisanship is a pipe dream. That's not the point. The point is to find a way to turn the tables on the Republicans and make them look like the bad guys they really are. These are just my thoughts at how Dems might get themselves out of this political pickle (to put it mildly). If you got this far, thanks for reading! ~Peace
Former Guantanamo Prisoners Believed Behind Northwest Airlines Bomb Plot; Sent to Saudi Arabia in 2007
Let me say first that I always keep my eye out for military psy-ops in our own media. It would not surprise me to learn that the whole story of two former guantanamo prisoners being behind the 09/12 Attack is being planted. Still, with a dose of skepticism, it's reasonable to assume this could be true because:
1. Prisoners released in 07 were under the watchful eye of Bush*. Thus, anything is possible.
2. Because of the multiple violations of international laws and human rights, the US has been unable to prosecute any of the suspected Al-Quaeda members they caught in 2002. Even our conservative Supreme Court was unwilling to reverse centuries old judicial precedent to overlook the abuses of the Bush* administration. By the end of the disastrous Bush* years, with no choice left but to put the prisoners through the US judicial system or release them, the administration released them (knowing their mistreatment would justify acquittals if they went to go to trial).
Even if these prisoners had no affiliation with Al-Quaeda before they were held without trial and tortured for so many years, it's not a far stretch to believe that, once released, a former prisoner would be easy fodder for the anti-American movement.
In the U.S., the political winds were blowing hard against the Bush* Administration and against Guantanamo in 07 and 08. Candidates for public office that wanted the facility closed won the elections. By the time they arrived in office, they would learn that intelligence was showing that released prisoners were joining Al-Quaeda.
Suddenly, the rush to close the facility would become much more difficult. No longer could those who had been tortured be simply released to Arab countries where they would simply join Al-Quaeda and turn again to attack the US. Guantanamo itself had become a terrorist creation operation and shutting it down would ensure more attacks on the US. Even sending the prisoners through the U.S. justice system would likely release them, perhaps directly into the US itself.
Now, I'm doing some speculating here, of course. I'm also drawing conclusions. But the scenario is plausible.
So much of what we hear is only an echo of the truth. The most relevant point in this scenario is that all these mistakes were made by the Bush* Administration and inherited by Obama. When we learn that the closing of Guantanamo must be delayed, or that our effort to defeat Al-Quaeda abroad and in Afghanistan is being increased, it's important to remember that these decisions are still in response to the situation that Obama inherited, which was a catastrophe for the US. It could take years for us to correct our course from the many terrible decisions made by Bush* and Cheney*.
Where we must find our comfort is in knowing that the person(s) behind the curtain now is no longer Bush*, but is a whole new crew of people thanks to the will of Americans like you and me. That act alone doesn't fix the system or right the wrongs, it doesn't eliminate corruption or make all future decisions the correct ones. But it does give us a new chance - a new hope. It IS a change. The kind of decisions being made now are very different from those of the past.
No 'red alert' security warnings. No 'buy duct tape' nonsense. No 'bring it on' or 'you can fool me once...' or 'shock and awe' crap. No 'unpatriotic' name-calling. No calls to attack Iran.
I believe it IS our job to keep the fire under the feet of the Obama Administration to fix the problems and right the wrongs, to close Guantanamo and to end torture (already done, hopefully). But I also believe it is unreasonable to expect these solutions to happen overnight, given the catastrophic state of affairs left to him by his predecessor.
These two ex-Guantanamo prisoners are just two more of Bush's chickens who have come home to roost. I expect there will be many more in the years ahead. I hope Obama will address some of these in his upcoming State of the Union address.
The final markup of the Senate bill for Healthcare Reform descended the week before Christmas. If you don't want people to pay attention, it's a great day to do it. Only one milestone of change remains: Conference Committee. We know that it's the Public Option from the House Bill whose life we are fighting for next year and Howard Dean chose sides (good for him!) What we DIDN'T expect to see was that Obama chose sides, too. He is definitely opposed to the Public Auction. His public chiding of Dean was the tell tale sign. Gibbs could have said, "Dean is entitled to his opinion," but he did not.
Make no mistake, Obama has Joe Lieberman in his pocket. Joe is Barry's best man in the Senate today. Who's to say otherwise? Isn't Rham a hardnose DLC guy? This IS politics, right? The very last thing needed was a Great Compromise from the Senate to "save the day" for everyone. Does anyone really think Joe Lieberman was ready to take that kind of heat for just anybody?
The question becomes why Obama is opposed to the Public Option? He has favored it until now. Will he say that it was sacrificed in compromise? If so, then the left sacrificed everything and the companies gained the mandates. Is this the genius of how Obama negotiates? Always let the other side win?
The People sacrifice everything (single-payer, public option, medicare buy-in)
The Insurance Industry sacrifices nothing, actually gains mandates and billions of dollars
It's not our Senators we need to convince here. They are being lead by Obama, there is no doubt about it. It's Obama who needs to hear from us this Christmas.
In the new year, please use your extraordinary community organizing and oratory skills in the final Conference Committee phase of the Health Care Reform bill to insure that the campaign promise you made to us, that every American has access to affordable Health Care, by reminding our Congressmen that, if the bill has mandates, which was your nod to the Republicans in your September speech, then the bill will have the Public Option, which was our nod to the Democrats. We don't sacrifice all and let the other side walk away with a win. That's not how we play this game. I'm confident that your leadership will help the great variety of personalities in our Congressional Party to understand this concept.
In the meantime, thank you for your hard work this first year and Merry Christmas to you and the First Family.
Posted by keopeli in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sun Oct 25th 2009, 11:01 AM
Krauthammer actually endorsed John McCain on October 23, 2008, about 10 days before the election. However, he famously penned an OpEd on October 3, 2008 that basically conceded to contest to Obama as not only having run a far better campaign but even as being a reasonable candidate for a liberal. Krauthammer was not alone in his public separation from all things McCain - many conservatives at the time were doing the same if not fully endorsing Obama: i.e. George Will, Colin Powell. It would be difficult to argue that this highly critical statement of 'non-support' for McCain a full month before the election was less effective than the endorsement he gave 10 days before the event.
Nevertheless, I stand corrected. Thank you to tyngsalty at the SeattleTimes for the headsup.
Posted by keopeli in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Oct 24th 2009, 01:49 AM
From the Seattle Times
At first, there was little reaction from other media. Then on Thursday, the administration tried to make them complicit in an actual boycott of Fox. The Treasury Department made available Ken Feinberg, the executive pay czar, for interviews with the White House "pool" news organizations — except Fox. The other networks admirably refused, saying they would not interview Feinberg unless Fox was permitted to as well. The administration backed down.
This was an important defeat because there's a principle at stake here. While government can and should debate and criticize opposition voices, the current White House goes beyond that. It wants to delegitimize any significant dissent. The objective is no secret. White House aides openly told Politico that they're engaged in a deliberate campaign to marginalize and ostracize recalcitrants, from Fox to health insurers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
There's nothing illegal about such search-and-destroy tactics. Nor unconstitutional. But our politics are defined not just by limits of legality or constitutionality. We have norms, Madisonian norms.
Can you believe it? Krauthammer, a Fox News regualar, preaching about Madisonian norms?!
We should acknowledge certain recent facts as we discuss Mr. Krauthammer's editorial. For instance, Mr. Krauthammer endorsed Barrack Obama for President in 2008. While this does not disqualify him from rigorous dissent, we must admit that this is the devil he chose.
President Obama has always shown a public disdain for the journalistic style attributable to Fox News' management. The organization uses a completely different code of ethics and style than any other major news organization in America. Born from the same part of the world whose philosophies gave us the theory of Evolution, Rupert Murdoch's philosophy for Fox news is married with the ideals of both conservatism and the Republican Party. Because we are dedicated to freedom of the press in the U.S., there is nothing about our system that excludes the right of Fox News to take this perspective.
There is equally nothing wrong with President Obama, a Chicago politician of extraordinary skill, making a political move against a political machine. Is there anyone reading this chat that believes Fox is NOT designed to appeal to conservatives and Republicans?
President Obama is making the point that Fox News has been stepping beyond the bounds of journalistic ethics for some time now. It is one thing to report the news, both as fact AND as opinion, as an independent outsider who is looking in. It is another thing entirely to report either news OR opinion as an insider looking out. When you do that, news and opinion, especially the two combined, becomes useful rhetoric for the political opposition.
Presidents have often if not always criticized elements of the Press. While President G. W. Bush criticized and shunned the press relentlessly, especially in his first term, he gave unprecedented access to Fox News.
President Obama, when he was candidate Obama, refused to participate in a debate that was hosted by Fox News. He later conceded and participated, but he had made his point: Fox News is run by insiders looking out. It's business philosophy is to trumpet well-coordinated Republican talking points and to highlight News stories that emphasize and/or re-iterate these issues. Obama thinks Fox News is a political tactic by Republicans, not an independent News station.
It's fair to point out that the Obama administration does go on Fox News. They do engage with them and do interviews, but they are much more selective and deliberate than they are with all other news organizations.
In other words, they treat Fox News like a political arm of the Republican Party, because the channel uses much of its programming to reinforce if not directly state Republican political objectives at the exclusion of any other. An interview with Fox News is like being interviewed by the Republican Party. It's not like an interview with independent journalists.
All they are doing now is letting us in on what their policy is toward Fox News and we are watching Fox News trying to make big news out of this. The more noise they make, the less people are likely to understand what Obama is trying to say. We're even watching other journalists rally to their support. But, this is just a political move.
Obama and his administration will continue to engage with Fox News. The never said they wouldn't. They've simply said how they view Fox's philosophy as having a major political component, which makes them treat Fox News differently. Sometimes, they will exclude Fox News from a round of interviews, like during the Health Care weekend. Why would you go on Fox News? Not one Republican supported it. The Republicans had lied openly about "death panels" and set up protests like 9/12, all of which could not have been done without Fox News. To allow an interview on Fox News at that time was to invite your political enemy to attack.
At other times, they may favor questions of less political organizations, especially when Fox News has already shown an open bias.
If the press, which was once composed of independent parties covering the government, is now to become insiders whose message is controlled by the political wings of the elected officials these people are supposed to be interrogating, then it must be perfectly fair thar the opposition party's elected officials treat that press differently than an independent press organization.
That just makes sense to me.
In case you didn't already know, Judge Benjamin Settle was a Bush* appointment that received only a 'qualified' rating from the ABA, vs the highest rating of 'well qualified' or the lowest of 'not qualified.' Quelle surprise...
State appeals decision blocking release of R-71 signers
Secretary of State Sam Reed on Monday formally appealed a federal judge's ruling that blocks the release of names of people who signed Referendum 71.
In its filing (Emergency_Motion_(09-14-09).pdf">PDF) to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the state argues that Judge Benjamin Settle's ruling Thursday that people who sign referendums or initiatives have the First Amendment right to engage in anonymous political speech is fundamentally flawed. R-71, which will be on the November ballot, seeks to overturn the state's new "everything but marriage" same-sex domestic partner law.
"As a petition signer, a citizen acts in a governmental capacity, joining with others to propose legislation for consideration by the electorate. The signer's act is inherently public," the appeal says. "There is no basis for extending the narrow First Amendment exemption developed in the case law, protecting the disclosure of the names of the members of organizations engaged in private activity, to the context of the public activity of signing a referendum petition to invoke a public legislative process."
Gay rights activists want to post the names of people who signed R-71 online, encouraging supporters of same-sex unions to discuss the issue with people they know.
link to Seattle P-I
We live in a global economy.
Since this perspective is universally viewed, and because the need for a solution is pressing, defense for this assumption must be postponed. Thus, if a reader disagrees with the assumption, the remaining argument fails to take the initial pose needed to proceed convincingly.
To resolve the current market confidence crisis worldwide, there must be a unifying event.
The world is currently in a storm with two fronts: the global financial situation is in recession, and the U.S government has caused a collapse of confidence in a previously reliable system of market evaluation.
How did this happen?
How did the U. S. cause the collapse of confidence? Allow me to summarize a more enlightened viewpoint than my own.
Because the U.S. currency and economic system has been built on a foundation of regulation and self-scrutiny together with a protracted history of growth (over 50 years), much of the world, including the most recent contributor, China, has invested heavily into the long-term stability of the U.S. economic system.
Many different steps over a course of years by two classes of people precipitated this event. The first is a class of fraudsters. It goes without saying that many people come by large sums of money through fraud. Fraud is the antagonist of confidence. When fraud prevails, confidence erodes and vice-versa.
The second are a class of ideologues who believe that the government should not in any way oversee or regulate economic affairs. This is not to condemn those who believe this as a philosophy to be sound overall. This is only about those who, in the face of real hard evidence to the contrary in an individual circumstance remain staunch in their idealistic position without leaving room for the variables that life affords. That is what makes one an ideologue.
In the U.S. political climate since the mid 1990s, the Republican party has been increasingly composed of these such ideologues. Through a course of successive ventures which solidified their position and entrenched them against any negotiations or discussions (i.e. the overtaking of both houses of congress for the first time in over 50 years, the successful gutting of regulations in various industries including how public resources are used and distributed, how laws are applied and enforced and how financial institutions are composed and regulated).
The same cannot be said of the Democrats. Although there may be some that concur with the principle of abandoning government’s traditional role, they were not in power during the crucial years that created our current conundrum.
The years in question are from December 2000 to January 2007. Note that these years are marked by complete control of both houses of Congress and the Executive Branch by the Republican Party.
*I recognize that in December 2000, Clinton was President and Congress was Republican. However, they key event in question was legislature inserted into an 11,000 page budget bill that The Republican Congress passed and Clinton signed during his lame-duck period before George Bush took office (and after the Supreme Court chose George Bush as the victor in the election). Clinton was in no position to veto a bill while Congress was in recess and he had one month remaining to serve. It was up to the next President to determine if there were problems with the legislation that needed review, just as today Obama is responsible for reviewing legislation that has passed since his election in November at the very least.
The period from January 2001 to December 2002, when republicans had near complete control (the Senate was evenly divided, ensuring deadlock at the very least) there were two historic reductions in revenue by the U.S. government. Taxes were reduced by unprecedented amounts which caused the country to go into debt…a lot of debt. (Ironically, this is the issue the Republicans ran on in the 90s and won – that the U.S. should not be running a debt but balancing a budget. During a speech immediately following Reagan’s term in 89 at Pepperdine University that I attended, he espoused that his number one wish for the future of our government was to adopt a balanced budget – a goal Clinton and a bi-partisan Congress achieved a few years later).
The Republicans gained full control of both the Congress and Executive in total in January 2003. Note that, not only is that precisely when the Iraq War began (a multi-trillion dollar proposition originally billed as a low-cost affair that would pay for itself), but it is also when the first subprime mortgages began to appear under the fraudulent terms of Ameriquest. It is also when the S&P and Moore’s security ratings detached themselves from oversight responsibility and simply rated mortgages and derivatives by what they industry said the value was. Congress, for their part, removed themselves from oversight by defunding the SEC – the body that oversees and regulates securities. The Executive, full of ideologues mentioned above, was pleased with the downgrade in regulation and concurred.
Then, in January 2004, the wolves were turned loose. Massive defunding of oversight by the SEC permitted the growth of dubious firms that practiced fraud by praying on the elderly and less-affluent, selling them mortgages they could not afford with terms that required no money down and were structured like time bombs to explode a few years down the road with massive interest rate increases.
By doing this, they created monetary instruments with no value – because they had no equity. To explain, consider this: what is the value of a normal house sold to a normal qualifying individual? What is the value of that mortgage if things go bad? First, there is the value of the property itself. By reclaiming the property (foreclosure) a bank or funding body can recoup at least a portion of their investment. Secondly, there is the initial deposit required. Normally, a 20% deposit is required in cash for a mortgage. Why? So that, if things go badly, there is some value in the mortgage. This cash infusion along with the property value and the steady employment of the individual create the equity for a mortgage.
When mortgages were given to individuals with no down payment, the first leg of the three-legged stool was removed. Alone, this might be ok. But, there was fraud in the lending practice. Without SEC oversight and because S&P and Moore’s stopped actually monitoring instruments to rate them and instead trusted the companies, fraud entered into the picture – a lot of it. Companies, knowing they would not be scrutinized, lent to people whose jobs did not qualify them for the mortgage. They could pay it as long as the interest rate was 0 with no money down. Once the rate increased dramatically, they could no longer afford to make monthly payments. This fraud knocked out the second leg of the stool. But the third remained – the value of the property.
In January 2007, precisely when Democrats returned to control both houses of Congress (ironically due to the Iraq War mess, though the economic issue was more prescient), the truth about the fraud began to emerge. A fear among Wall Street Investors caused the value of many companies to plummet and confidence to fall. This occurred at the same times that many mortgages began to default due to the fraud perpetrated. As a result of this calamitous meeting of two unpleasant realities, the value of the properties that had been mortgage began to fall precipitously. Worse, there grew a lack of confidence in any valuation of the properties because the fraud had created a lack of trust. But, the solvency and reputation of the Central US Banking system reassured investors that their investments were secure.
By this time, the US economy was receding. The only principle holding investors’ confidence was the sound U.S. banking system’s backing of these institutions. That backing disappeared on September 12, 2008 when Henry Paulson, head of the Treasury, refused to back the sale of Lehman Brother’s to a potential buyer. They said they could not guarantee the value of their subprime mortgage investments (and there were a lot of them). Suddenly, investors looked at their current portfolios and did not know what the difference was between Lehman, Bears, Merril Lynch, etc. What’s worse, Lehman Brothers accounting was reportedly quarterly like everyone, but was scheduled a month ahead of most everyone else. Since the market had been declining, would all the other investment banks report disastrous losses in the coming month?
Confidence in the U.S. treasury and investment industry froze. There was no equity left in the many many subprime mortgages. Worse, current trends allowed (even encouraged) by the US Congress while in complete Republican control permitted instruments like subprime mortgages to be bundled with hundreds and hundreds of other instruments, so much so that separating them to value each became impractical. As such, all of the investment portfolios of all banks who held these combined instruments were called into question.
All lending froze…literally froze. With a US election one month away, the economy had completely frozen. When the outcome of the election saw the Republicans lose their last lever of control, the Executive, the Treasury made a final move of “harry-karry” when Paulson refused to dedicate the almost 800 Billion Dollars that the Democratic Congress had coughed up to restore confidence to bolster the subprime mortgage instruments. Instead, he said banks could do whatever they chose with the funds. Of course, this did nothing to restore confidence to investors. While it made some bankers very happy (and more rich), it did nothing to solve the problem and, in fact, made matters worse.
How do we overcome this problem?
Each leg of the stool must be replaced which will take time. The most important is confidence. Investors across the globe must initially believe that fraud is no longer being practiced. Second, the instruments in question must be weeded out of the system and revalued, then re-introduced into the system. This can only be done by the government, since all confidence has been lost in the private sector. This is why you hear about Bank Nationalization so much. The government must acquire, evaluate and re-distribute these toxic debts. Then, she can release them back into the private sector after the job is complete and confidence is restored. Finally, a system of oversight regulated by a broad swath of professionals who are mandated by law and chosen by both political and independent as well as global representatives must be established.
The first step is to realize that the value we had 10 years ago, the REAL value, is still there. All of the property, intelligence, people and resources are still there. While investors can see no bottom since they have no confidence after these horrible losses, the common person can see their house, the ground around them, their property, their jobs, their community and see that all this does have a great deal of value, even if an exact price can not be placed on it today. That REAL value is the bottom of this current crisis and is exactly where we should want to be.
It is no surprise to the author that ALL of the major factors contributing to the current crisis were implemented under the pens of the Republican Party. It should come as a surprise to no one that greed and idealogoy as well as some lingering social resentments and partisanship is what undermined our economy. In the 2000 election, the major theme of the Republican’s was “stop counting votes”, perhaps the most un-Democratic policy ever pursued. Any true Democracy wants every valid vote fairly counted. The Republicans accomplished their anti-democratic “stop counting the votes” meme by suing the Democrats in the Supreme Court (Bush v Gore…not Gore v. Bush) and winning with the support of 5 conservative Republican judges. The Republicans publicly courted the business community over societal interests through an abuse of lobbying that has seldom before been seen. A party who unilaterally entered into a war that, at best, was based on completely false information and, at worst, was deliberately undermining the autonomy of the U.S. so that oil and global US companies could profit.
Fortunately, we are finally arriving at a point where we can begin to see the big picture regarding the problem. Short term financial incentives, such as the 800 Billion Dollar law just passed in Congress, will help. But long term reparations will take many years. It is possible to see corrective measures produce positive results in as few as three quarters under new leadership, which allow for time for laws to be created, funds to be made available, oversight to be implemented, investments to be reviewed and rated, fraudsters to be caught and removed and sound business to resume. 2010 is an ambitious goal to see a turn around. The more likely scenario is that by 2012, the global economy should see recovery as apparent.
Why have you voted for Republicans in the past? Did you know they were demolishing our economy actively? Were you’re / Are you’re primary political concerns value issues, such as loosening marriage license restrictions, advocating birth control measures and education for the poor, government regulation of the health care industry by standardizing insurance schemes and regulating medical companies, etc? If you had known 10 years ago what you know today, would you have felt the same way about the way you voted in 00, 02, 04? Finally, will you change what you consider to be important as you may election decisions in the future?
I hope, for all of our sakes and the sake of our children and future generations, that we eliminate religious rhetoric in politics and demand accountability, oversight and effective government for our great country.
I was reading the news about about how the news isn't reporting news about Iraq.
It's no wonder. After the 2006 election, when they really did some reporting on Iraq and even made the military change tactics, conservatives cried out that all the news from Iraq was bad news, when there was plenty of good news. Going into the next election, a Presidential election, the US Media is scared to death about being blamed by whoever ends up losing. It's happened before.
Tired of the constant bickering between Hillary and Obama, and worried by McCain's frequent senior moments about the war of all things, I started digging for news from Iraq.
One report told of the ubiquitous electricity problems in Baghdad. I wondered, do they enjoy TV as much as Americans? Does the Iraqi President come on and talk about problems with Turkey and Syria or maybe even Iran?
Truthfully, it must be miserable trying to live in a war zone with little to no electricity most of the year. I realized that, if I was an Iraqi, I wouldn't care at all what Maliki or any other Iraqi official wanted to say (sort of how I feel about Bush, but worse). In fact, I would want to hear from the rich Americans who are basically the Iraqi Army and Police who had caused all these problems with their terrible planning in removing Saddam. I would want to hear directly from the US President about what the plan is to fix this mess.
So, has Bush ever addressed the Iraqi people? Has he ever said how we were going to solve the electricity problem that we caused by blowing the place to smitherines in 1991? Has he given a speech to them about racial tolerance, the way Obama did last week for the US?
Wouldn't it be great if the next President was willing to talk directly to the Iraqi people and tell them what the plan is for them, instead of always insisting that any talk would compromise national security?
Even wars started for the wrong reason can go well. But, we've done nothing but f*@& the Iraqi people over. It's why the rest of the world hates us so much. All we seem to be able to do is break things really well.
If we're going to spend three trillion dollars for this project, I'd like to leave it looking pristine. I doubt that can be accomplished by a military that won't even listen to a gay man's perspective.
Posted by keopeli in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu Mar 13th 2008, 03:31 AM
For anyone with access to electronic information (that's you and me), the world can change very quickly based on instant information. This isn't new - it started with the radio. But that was just a hundred years ago.
Long, long ago, it used to be that all information was shared in oral discourse. People memorized stories and stories became legends. This was undoubtedly easy for we humans to learn to do. I can teach my cat to make sounds that I make. I sing with the birds. I help people sing with their voices as a profession. It's safe to assume that humans learned language quickly - and regionally.
It was the Phoenicians who learned to write it all down. This was a difficult step to do, because it required inventing a language and requires others to know the symbols. Codifying a spoken language is a difficult thing. Imagine this: write down your favorite song in a way someone else will understand. Then have that person sing it back to you - not so easy.
If that wasn't enough, it also had to be taught. The written word was imperfect because it varied with each author and often each copy, and it has yet to come together. Today, languages offer us much of the diversity we experience and, understandably, it challenges our realities.
Then, a German man, in an ingenious moment of clarity that's so monumentally simple it has perpetuated the memory of his humanness, Gutenberg invented the printing press. Suddenly, the legends could be written down. Now all you had to do was teach everyone to read! And the first thing that was printed? The Christian Bible. It's still the most printed book ever.
This did happen. We learned to read. You're reading. (I should say most of us have learned to read, since many people around the world are still live without reading at all.) This was when (many) humans became "enlightened." Such knowledge among all people gave birth to art, music, business, government, and urban development. We became much happier and we had a LOT of children.
It would take another several hundred years before the most curious among us would learn enough from reading and, thus, reasoning, to discover and invent new things: Ben Franklin, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein et.al. Electricity. Light. Public utilities. Radios. TVs. Computers.
Our means of communicating knowledge has become so fast that it can't be imagined. For everyone who has learned to access and use this means of communication, the world is very, very big.
This access has happened in the past 30 years. But, something is different this time. This time, we don't have to learn a new language. This time, we don't have to learn to read. This time, everything is just out there for us to absorb in our minds and very little instruction is given.
The fact is that the Internet is like cable TV on steroids. Those who partake benefit greatly. Yet, there is a great divide, in the US at least, between those who either ignore the internet, don't have access to it or don't know how to properly search the internet to learn and those who do. It's the classic battle of the old paradigm verses the new one.
But surely we can agree on this: we are all electing our new celebrity role model. For at least the next four years if not twelve (that's 2020), we will have this figure in our living room and on every newspaper we see. We're all affected by the presence of electronics in our lives, whether TVs or computers (even if you have none in your home). We all want our next generation to be lead by someone who reflects what we are and what we hope our next generation will be like. And we want them to be outstanding on TV...don't we?
If there was one thing I wish we could all agree, Democrats, Republics and Independents alike, it would be that we all agree to proceed unafraid. What we crave together is to be engaged in what's going on. We have so much information now that we're all prepared to take action and move forward, so let's do it unafraid. We'll all be better for it.
If there is one thing that never changes, it is reality. The Reality Based Majority that won the US Congress for the Democrats in 2006 was an educated bloc of voters that could see the reality of the Iraq War and its consequences on the US and could easily match reality to the politicians that told the truth about what was going on.
When the US population is educated with unbiased media coverage, the outcome of elections is predictable. In 1992, Clinton won because he was being honest about the economy and the media presented a lot of information honestly. (Remember Ross Perot's charts?) The Republican reaction to this failure to "get out the lie" was to create Fox News! However, in most other national elections of the past 40 years, the media have shown disdain for reality. They choose, instead, to trumpet falsehoods and confuse the electorate into voting against their own interests. The most recent example, the swift-boat lies told about Kerry, is typical. Other notable examples include Gore's "internet" creation, Dukakis' buffoonery, and Carter's character. From a safe distance, each of these falsehoods seems ridiculous, yet they actually decided national elections because the media failed to educate with the truth.
The Democrats have hung on to reality for about a year and a half, swinging with the winds of escalating climate change, escalating deaths overseas in war, escalating financial crises at home and escalating lies from Bush the Lesser. It is very difficult for politicians to embrace reality, because reality changes constantly. Politicians want consistency, lest they be called 'shifty' by opponents.
Today, the newly elected Democratic Congress let go of their hold on reality and asked their constituents and supporters to accept a bald-faced lie.
It seems much more difficult for Democrats to get away with lies than Republicans. Perhaps it is the soldier mentality of conservatives that both prevent them from learning the truth for themselves and compel them to support their leaders unquestioned. The Democrats have the more difficult position of appealing to activists and patriots (in the true sense of the word). Democrats are far from perfect, but they do seem to try harder to educate themselves to the truth.
As the media uses words like "capitulate" and "cave", loyal supporters and operatives among Democrats have distributed the word that this is Bush's War now. Sen. Reid said, "The Democratic Party will never, never, never give up."
And, with a few words, the Democratic leadership have detached themselves from the Reality Based Majority and, in so doing, have divided the majority itself. Blind followers of Democratic rhetoric try to sway realists into believing the lie, but their consciences can not. The typical accusations fly quickly that realists are being divisive and, ironically, unrealistic. "We didn't have the votes. This is the best we could do." We hear the excuses and wonder why that is not the message given to the media? Why must we digest and regurgitate the lie that, "This is Bush's War now" and "(we'll) never give up!"? Why is it wrong to tell the truth, even if it hurts. Isn't it the truth that sets us free? Aren't we the truth-tellers?
By choosing a lie, Democrats discredit themselves, much as Bush has done for the past 6 years (albeit, very slowly). Pundits and prognosticators suggest that the Democratic leadership is being very wise in planning to win the 08 election by loosening the rope and letting Bush hang himself. They don't seem to take into account that Bush will no longer be running for election.
The obvious question is, did the "Democratic Leadership" consult any of the Democratic Leadership? or the Presidential Candidates? There are only 2 or 3 among them who think this is a good idea. The rest are all publicly bashing their own party as gently as possible. Yet, when the Reality Based Majority points out the mendacity of saying, "the leadership is being smart" at the same time as almost all the leaders oppose this action, Democratic loyalists and campaign personnel begin to pummel the truth-tellers with insults and slurs.
"Why are you trying to hurt the Democrats?" The questions repeat themselves over and over. "Why are you doing this to us?" The questions are rhetorical, because the asker has already drunk the kool-aid. They simply can not accept that their leaders have just given 120 Billion Dollars to the Iraq War and, by so doing, have purchased a large investment in the endeavor. It becomes obvious that the innocent realist has become the scapegoat for a very bad decision by the "Democratic Leadership."
Reality based voters are still out there, but they have certainly lost the majority with today's decision to buy shares in the Iraq War. There are obviously plenty of Democrats who do not mind having blood on their hands, as though this is the only way to win against the villainous Republicans. While freedom from tyranny often comes with a blood-price to be paid, every battle has two sides - and it is the truth-tellers who will prevail in the end.
Will the truth re-emerge as political capitol once again? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Posted by keopeli in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue May 22nd 2007, 05:12 PM
In 06, I donated quite a bit to the Democrats, every time with the caveat that, if they win, they'll stop the war and control Bush.
It only took me 20 seconds to say, "I told you in 06 you had my support so you would stop Bush and end this war. Now, the Democrats have caved to Bush the Lesser and you want my money? No way. You should be asking the White House for money - that's who you are supporting, after all. Don't call me again until you get a spine."
I can only imagine that they are starting to get a lot of calls like this. I'm very sad about this. The Republics were finally on the defensive, raising less money, fighting off legal charges, etc.
Now that the Democrats have shown they are not really serious about ending the war, I believe the tide will turn again. I'm sad that it has happened so early, but it's the just fruits of the Democrat's inaction.
I've written Reid, Pelosi and my senators and representatives to let them know they've lost my support once they sign their name to fully fund the war. The blood of many Americans and many more Iraqis are now on their hands.
Shame on you, Democrats. Shame on you.
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