Thursday, September 25, 2008
So now that we're here, what do we do? I am massively conflicted about this bailout program. The idea of government stepping in to bail out international banks that were reckless with their own business literally makes my stomach churn. We are privatizing gains and socializing losses.
As George Will wrote this week: "Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism."
Unfortunately, he's right. In fact, it would have to take an absolute disaster to make me even consider supporting something like this. Welcome to that absolute disaster.
I will have to say that I have absolutely no strong opinions about Wall Street or "the Market" in general, as I just don't understand it much. I'm inclined to think that I don't understand it because it's not a logic-based system, but more of a faith-based belief system in a faith language that is foreign to me.
Full disclosure: I don't invest. I don't have an IRA or retirement fund. I plan on working until I die. I'm not hung up about it and if it feels okay to you, then I'm not upset that others do the investment thing, it's just not something that fits within my belief system.
Partly, again, because I don't understand it all.
So, my inclination is to say: What the heck's going on? Why are we even thinking of giving hundreds of billions of dollars to for-profit corporations?? While I don't generally agree with Beck, this sure sounds like we've privatized profits and are considering socializing losses? What gives?
Now, I understand that some say that this kind of "disaster" might mean (or WILL mean) that many (millions?) of regular people will lose their money or some of it and for that reason, we ought to support this sort of bail-out.
I remain skeptical, but am concerned for the regular folk who might be hurt, if that is indeed the case.
So my one thought and two questions are:
1. If we even consider this bail out, there ought to be a good many strings attached.
2. Wouldn't this kind of thing argue against the privatization of Social Security?
3. Can anyone explain this to someone like me who is not a part of the capitalist religion?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Today, I thought I'd try to tackle a book that has a different sort of "feel" to it than many of the other passages: Genesis. In Genesis you will find "heroes" who happen to be wealthy - such as Abraham...
So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.
He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.
And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.
~Genesis 13: 1-6
They also took Lot [that is, Lot was kidnapped], Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.
Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now, he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.
When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.
~Genesis 14: 12-16
Abram/Abraham's stories show Abraham to be a rich man - as shown above - but I don't believe the Bible makes the case that this was necessarily a good or bad thing, just that it was the case. There are verses like Genesis 26: 4, that say, "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" - indicating that God is giving Abraham and his descendents land and blessing Abraham, but that isn't to say that material wealth is what Abraham was blessed with...
There are also passages like this:
"When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.
"This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary, half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD.
"Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.
"The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves."
~Genesis 30: 12-15
Sort of the "flat tax" approach to paying tithes/tributes. Which is interesting, because elsewhere in the Bible, you have more progressive-sounding ideas, like in the story of the Manna ("And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.") or with the Jerusalem church collection ("The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea." and "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.")
Anyway, I'm including these passages in here for what they're worth, as they are part of what the Bible says about wealth and poverty issues. Thoughts?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I'm tired of the presumption of a nation divided between rural and urban populations whose interests are permanently at odds, whose votes will always be cast different ways, whose hearts and minds share no common ground. This is as wrong as blight, a useless way of thinking, similar to the propaganda warning us that any environmentalist program will necessarily be anti-human.
[When asked to write an article about this supposed divide, Kingsolver replied:] Sorry, but I'm the wrong person to ask: I live in red, tend to think blue, and mostly vote green. If you're looking for oversimplification, skip me...
Berry's excerpt below touches on this, in that he points out it's not a Democrat vs Republican issue, not an urban/rural issue, not liberal/conservative. Rather, it's an Industrial vs Holistic, a Centralized vs Decentralized debate. Or, at least that is how I'm reading it. What do you think?
To the corporate and political and academic servants of global industrialism, the small family farm and the small farming community are not known, not imaginable, and therefore, unthinkable, except as damaging stereotypes. The people of "the cutting edge" in science, business, education, and politics have no patience with local love, local loyalty, and local knowledge that make people truly native to their places and therefore good caretakers of their places.
This is why one of the primary principles of industrialism has always been to get the worker away from home... The office or the factory is the place for work...
The industrial mind is an organizational mind, and I think this mind is deeply disturbed and threatened by the existence of people who have no boss...
The industrial contempt for anything small, rural, or natural translates into contempt for uncentralized economic systems, any sort of local self-sufficiency in foor or other necessities. The industrial "solution" for such systems is to increase the scale of work and trade. It is to bring Big Ideas, Big Money, and Big Technology into small rural communities, economies and ecosystems...
The result is that problems correctable on a small scale are replaced by large-scale problems for which there are no large-scale corrections. Meanwhile, the large-scale enterprise has reduced or destroyed the possibility of small-scale corrections. This exactly describes our present agriculture.
Forcing all agriculture localities to conform to economic conditions imposed from afar by a few large corporations has caused problems of the largest possible scale, such as soil loss, genetic impoverishment, and groundwater pollution, which are correctable only by an agriculture of locally adapted, solar-powered, diversified small farms - a correction that, after a half century of industrial agriculture, will be difficult to achieve.
The industrial economy thus is inherently violent. It impoverishes one place in order to be extravagant to another, true to its colonialist ambition. A part of the "externalized" cost of this is war after war.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
One of the gravest dangers to us now, second only to further terrorist attacks against our people, is that we will attempt to go on as before with the corporate program of global "free trade", whatever the cost in freedom and civil rights, without self-questioning or self-criticism or public debate...
Starting with the economies of food and farming, we should promote at home, and encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency. We should recognize that this is the surest, the safest, and the cheapest way for the world to live. We should not countenance the loss or destruction of any local capacity to produce necessary goods...
The key to peaceableness is continuous practice. It is wrong to suppose that we can exploit and impoverish the poorer countries, while arming them and instructing them in the newest means of war, and then reasonably expect them to be peaceable...
Excerpts from Wendell Berry, following 9/11
IF this means that in the future, Republicans are more concerned about sexism, that would be a good thing, but it just seems that this is nothing more than a Rovian attempt at Machiavellian politics and it's thoroughly disgusting.
This latest "pig in lipstick" fluff put forth by the McCain camp is just ridiculous. McCain himself used that expression when talking about Hillary Clinton last year. Was he being sexist? Where were the scores of Rightwing pundits and enthusiasts coming out to blast McCain for sexism when he did the same thing with Clinton (well, not exactly the same thing: Obama was clearly talking about McCain - not Palin - in his comments)?
Obama is absolutely right to go on the attack about this cynical silly blather. How dare the GOP try to use the serious problems of sexism for pathetic attempts at political gain? It undermines the Democratic process. This is exactly the sort of politicking from which Obama represents a change.
We've too many serious problems to deal with to allow the Republicans to try to change the subject to a non-issue. Shame on them.
For what it's worth, I did a google search on "republicans on sexism," "republicans sexism 2007," "republicans sexism 2000," "republicans sexism 2003," "republicans on sexism quotes," and a few other terms so I could check to see all the many quotes where Republicans complained about issues of sexism and gave speeches saying that sexism needed to be addressed. Then I checked "sexism mccain quotes," "sexism mccain 2000," mccain on sexism 1996," etc, etc.
I could not find ONE SINGLE quote pre-2008 where the Republicans talked about sexism.
So how 'bout this? I'll start a contest:
FIND THE REPUBLICAN QUOTE ON SEXISM!*
Prizes and fame ** to whoever can find a SINGLE Republican quote where they rail against the evils of sexism anytime in all of history, prior to August 2008.
The Republicans have been a party since the 1850s, I believe. Surely at SOME point in all of the last 150 years SOME Republican had SOME kind words to say in defense of women's rights?
Anyone? One quote?
[* "I dig chicks," does not count as speaking against sexism...]
[** Well, "prizes and fame" may be a bit of a stretch, how 'bout a pencil sharpener and a kind word from me at this blog? Not that I'm especially concerned that a quote will be forthcoming...]
Monday, September 8, 2008
“She’s governor of a state here in the United States.” Rice told CNN’s Zain Verjee.
There you have it, folks! Some straight talk from the Republicans!
And Rice is absolutely right! No spin, there. Palin IS the governor of a state here in these United States. Undisputedly so, as far as I know.
Stay tuned for more clear, true and absolutely factual statements from the Republicans…
(…I’m hoping to make this an ongoing series. Or at least have one more clear, true and absolutely factual statement from the Republicans before the November election. Don’t let me down, Republicans…)
And, finally, a word to Sen. Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it -- we'll go at it over the next two months -- you know that's the nature of this business -- and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and my admiration.
Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that's an association that means more to me than any other.
We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. No country -- no country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Sen. Obama and his supporters for their achievement...
...Please, please, please. My friends, my dear friends, please. Please don't be diverted by the ground noise and the static.
You know, I'm going to talk about it some more. But Americans want us to stop yelling at each other, OK?
Very classy and right on. This part of McCain is the part that I've seen in the past that I can respect and appreciate. Just as I appreciate Obama's consistent striving to stay on the high road. Congratulations to both candidates for that.
Now, if McCain's and Obama's followers would heed that call to remember that we're all on the same side, that we're all Americans, and keep the debate to actual positions, not character attacks and misrepresentations.
I would point out that this portion of McCain's speech would have held more water if he'd called on the carpet those from the night before who were engaged in exactly the sort of ugly campaigning that he's calling his party to avoid.
McCain is right: Let's stop yelling at each other, demonizing the Other. I hope he heeds that call himself and demands it from his followers.
McCain went on to articulate his Campaign Premise: CHANGE IS COMING.
This, I must say, I find a bit less inspiring. We desperately need change. People want us to move away from the politics of divisiveness and away from the arrogance and ignorance that was a cornerstone of the Bush administration. We've HAD eight years of the Republicans having their way and change IS desperately needed and wanted.
What I didn't hear from his speech is an answer to the obvious question: IF change is needed after eight years of neo-conservative Republican rule, how is placing another neo-conservative Republican in office going to effect that change?
So, in short, I agree wholeheartedly with McCain that we need to stop the ugly divisive politics that too many on both sides have engaged in in years past. Amen. AND, we DO need a change from the current direction of US policy as implemented by Bush and supported by McCain.
Let's make it so.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I've been reading around some sites seeing the Religious Right just gleefully rejoicing in this Palin selection and saying things like, "The Democrats are running in fear now! Bwa ha ha!"
I'm sorry, but I think those who think that are just living in a dreamworld. Mostly, I think the Dems are laughing at this choice. As if McCain wasn't already losing, he's saddled himself with a probably unelectable Veep choice. She has been a huge hit with the 25-30% Religious Right and she has energized them, but I just don't think they see what a poor choice she is. It's like they listened to the speeches given at the Republican Convention and took them seriously!
As I've already said: I just don't think McCain really wants to win this election...
A quote from Palin at a commencement ceremony at her home church in Wasilla:
But our most important natural resource of course is our people, and I’m thinking what I need to do is strike a deal with you guys as you go throughout Alaska. I can do my part in doing things like working really really hard to get a natural gas pipeline, about a $30 billion project that’s going to create a lot of jobs for Alaskans, and we’ll have a lot of energy flowing through here. And pray about that also. I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that...
...My son Track, he’s a soldier in the United States Army now. He’s an infantryman, and, um, so Track also sends his love to his former nanny Christy. And Track — pray for our military. He’s going to be deployed in September to Iraq. Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan...
On the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP):
Todd Palin was a member of the party from 1995 to 2002. Sarah attended the group's convention in 1994 and 2000 and sent a videotaped greeting for the AIP in 2008.
Here's how the group's founder, Joe Vogler, described his political beliefs:
"The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government," Vogler said in a 1991 interview. "And I won't be buried under their damn flag. I'll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home."
The AIP participated in a conference of secessionist movements held in Vermont in 2006. "The First North American Secessionist Convention," was the official title. Attendees included the neo-confederate League of the South, messianic Christian Exodus and the libertarian New State Project.
In her 2008 address, Palin said the AIP "plays an important role in our state's politics."
[what role is that, I wonder? -dan]
Republican apologist Peggy Noonan and friends accidentally talking about the Palin nomination while the mic was on...
Chuck Todd: Mike Murphy, lots of free advice, we'll see if Steve Schmidt and the boys were watching. We'll find out on your blackberry. Tonight voters will get their chance to hear from Sarah Palin and she will get the chance to show voters she's the right woman for the job Up next, one man who's already convinced and he'll us why Gov. Jon Huntsman.
[CUT AWAY - SUPPOSEDLY...]
Peggy Noonan: Yeah.
Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys -- this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it's not gonna work. And --
Noonan: It's over!
Murphy: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.
Todd: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.
Noonan: Saw Kay this morning.
Todd: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --
Murphy: They're all bummed out.
Todd: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?
Noonan: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --
Todd: Yeah they went to a narrative.
Murphy: I totally agree.
Noonan: Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it.
Murphy: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.
Todd: This is cynical, and as you called it, gimmicky.
D'oh! ...was that on??
Noonan said it best: "It's over!"
This last snippet I found over to Geoffrey's fine establishment, What's Left in the Church.
What I suppose it may come down to is this:
If the American people can be swayed by fear, bitterness, hatred, division, demonization, half-truths and outright lies, then the Republicans have a chance at the White House.
IF, on the other hand, the People are truly tired of the sort of bile-filled ugliness demonstrated in last night's hate-fest by the Grand Old Potty, then Obama will be our next president.
I'm relatively convinced of the latter, and pray that it's not the former.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
"This vetting controversy is a faux media scandal [! dt] designed to destroy [!!? dt] the first female Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States who has never been a part of the old boys' network that has come to dominate the news establishment in this country."
So says senior adviser Steve Schmidt in a memo sent to reporters today, according to CNN.
Paranoia, so soon?
Does the McCain camp REALLY think that there is a vast "good old boys" news establishment that has "designed" a "Faux media scandal" with the express intent of "destroying" Palin because she is a woman??
That's a pretty serious charge. Where's the evidence? Who confessed? How far up does this conspiracy go? Are all the media involved in this conspiracy?
Do they ever think how foolish and plain ol' nutty they look when they start accusing the media of conspiracies with the intent of destroying people?
Seriously folk, the media is a vast conglomerate made up of all sorts of folk from all sorts of backgrounds and political persuasions. Sure, some media may be made up of folk with a more progressive background, but it is not a monolith. There are no secret meetings where plans to destroy people are written up and enacted.
when you start making these sorts of claims, you just come across as paranoid and goofy. And for this to come from a major presidential campaign is troubling and they ought to be called on it.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Jack Cafferty, in a CNN op-ed piece agrees. He says...
NEW YORK (CNN) -- This week the Republicans gather for their convention. For four days, they will labor under the illusion their party is still relevant. It's not.
It is entirely fitting that the headliner for this masquerade is a feeble looking 72-year-old white guy who doesn't know how many homes he owns.
It's more than symbolic that when a million Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure, the Republican candidate for president has lost track of his holdings.
McCain surrounds himself with people like former Republican Sen. Phil Gramm who called America a "nation of whiners" and said we are only suffering a "mental recession."
That's the same problem the Republican Party has. It has lost track of what it used to stand for: small government, a disciplined fiscal policy, integrity.
In a way, the perfect storm of a rapidly changing population -- old white people aren't going to be in the majority very much longer (and isn't that who most of the Republicans are?) -- has combined with the total abdication of principles, Republican or otherwise, of arguably the worst president in the nation's history to mark the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as we know it...
In support of this view, the Census Bureau has noted that by 2050, "minorities" will be the majority in the US and white folk will be a minority.
What do you think? Are demographic changes and current Republican leadership going to cause the Republican Party to dry up and blow away in the next few decades? Will this election be their final hurrah? And if so, what would replace it?