Tag Archives: congress

Why are bombs ok, but not condoms?

3 Mar

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of how the conservatives held a one sided “hearing” on birth control where not a single woman was able to testify. Here in America, reproductive health is not viewed as a legitimate issue, and women are not women, rather they are a sum of parts to be regulated. (At least in the eyes of our politicians) One such sum of parts was a Georgetown law student named Sandra Fluke. She was supposed to go to the hearing to testify on why reproduction is part of human health (seems obvious) and thus should be covered by healthcare. Unfortunately the conservatives barred her from testifying.

Bombastic conservative icon Rush Limbaugh the proceeded to call this woman a slut and a whore for wanting healthcare to cover contraceptives. He went further to say : “if we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

I’m not sure if Rush is aware, but it takes two people to have sex. Actually, Rush might be aware seeing as he was stopped when trying to re-enter the US after a trip to the Dominican Republic because he had a massive quantity of Viagra. What were you doing in the Dominican Republic with all that Viagra Rush? You weren’t married, and according to you, unmarried women who have sex are sluts and whores. Were you on a sex binge with prostitutes? Of course not. I’m sure it was somehow related to a church mission to help the poor.

Conservatives are decrying contraception coverage as symptomatic of the nanny state, a big government waste of tax payer money so others can have sex.

Lets exam this:

1) The government isn’t paying for the birthcontrol. Healthcare companies are.

2) If healthcare companies covered contraceptives, it would save you money. Pregnant women are expensive for healthcare companies. The fewer pregnant women in your healthcare pool, the less a healthcare company has to charge to pay for them and you.

3) It is ok for healthcare to cover Viagra so old men can still get a hard-on and have sex, but it is not ok for healthcare to cover birth control, which some women take as a hormonal treatment and not just so they don’t get pregnant?

Why aren’t conservatives calling men sluts and whores and decrying how healthcare is paying them to have sex? Why aren’t they demanding sex tapes of these individuals online? Like Rush Limbaugh for example. (Hint: Answer starts with H and ends with ypocrisy)

Viagra is used to treat one thing, limp dick. The pill treats a number of issues besides preventing pregnancy.

4) Why is it not “nanny state government” for the government to regulate who can marry, who can have what types of sex in their private homes, and what a woman can do with her body, but it IS “nanny state government” for healthcare to have to cover contraceptive?

5) Conservatives claim that they want to stop abortion. Birth control stops unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortions. If A=B and B=C, A=C, thus birth control stops abortions. (That’s a liberal conspiracy called logic)

A rational person would think that if someone truly wished to lower the amount of abortions per year, you’d invest heavily in birth control and stop the problem before it starts. Surely that would be the most effective use of resources.

6) Lastly, if conservatives can refuse to pay for life saving healthcare, can liberals refuse to pay for their bombs? Why is it ok for us to be forced to pay for you to kill people, but not ok for you to be forced to pay to make people’s lives better?

I’m sure a conservative will try to counter that last point with “national security. Killing people overseas makes us safer” but that’s extremely debatable. A liberal could easily counter with how fewer unwanted pregnancies = fewer unwanted children = fewer crimes = safer America.

Let’s be honest. This isn’t an issue of tax payer money going to fund wild sex parties. This is an issue of conservative sexism, hypocrisy, and disdain for women.

Trying to understand the rules of the game

2 Jan

Natural selection is the engine that drives evolution, but within the heart of natural selection is a concept that is central to all of existence; there are rules to the game that determine who wins.

This concepts of rules exists in every aspect of our lives. The rules may change from scenario to scenario, but nonetheless there are rules. We are born into this game not knowing what the rules are for each scenario, and as we grow up we hope to uncover little by little what those rules are. In order to survive and prosper you must understand the rules of the game, for it is only then that you can manipulate and maneuver through them.

The most immediate and glaring example of the existence of these rules is in evolution, from whence we first discovered the concept of natural selection.

In evolution, the goal of the game is to survive and pass on your genes to your children. Nothing else matters. Anything that hinders you in this process will be phased out. A bird better adapted to catching a worm will survive and have children more successfully than a bird more poorly adapted to this task. Those are the rules. That which is most efficient in helping you achieve the goal of the game wins. There is no mercy or tolerance for anything less. Such is the brutality and indifference of nature.

One of the biggest challenges we face growing up is uncovering the true rules, the true mechanics of the game which are often hidden under the more palatable false rules.

For example: “Just work hard and you will succeed” portends that the most efficient and best way of achieving the goal of succeeding is by hard work. Surely the harder you work, the more you will succeed.  While hard work is definately needed in a lot of situations in life, this is a misleading explanation of the rules.

In 2010 Nike’s CEO Mark Parker made 13.1 million dollars. The average Vietnamese Nike sweatshop worker makes $.26/hr. In order for the sweatshop worker to make the same as the CEO, she would have to work nonstop for 5,748 years. Most of these workers are trapped in sweatshop jobs with the choice to either work 40 hours in overtime a week or starve to death on the street.  Obviously in this scenario the notion that “hard work equals success” is a delusion.

A less extreme example is in the American workplace. Yet again, as children we are told that the rules are “hard work equals success” and that knowledge gives us a leg up. While these are both true in some degree, we quickly learn that this is not how the game functions. In order to achieve the goal of getting a promotion and being “successful” it is more important who you know than what you know.

We see the same thing in the dating world. From the onset guys are told that in order to succeed (ie, have lots of sex) the rules are “be sweet and caring.” Yet what it takes years for some guys to figure out, and others never learn, is that maximizing sweetness and caring in an attempt to maximize success fails because sweetness and caring equate to boring, and boring = death. Hence why aggressive asshole guys are more successful in having lots of sex because, while they might be assholes, they’re interesting.  (Now if the goal was to have a stable and healthy relationship and not just copious amounts of sex, then the rules would change and sweetness and caring would be more important)

Another great example of the concept of rules and false rules in action is politics. Ostensibly politics is about how to best lead the nation, how to best maximize the quality of life for the people who pay taxes and make up that nation. A naive person who still believed this would likely also believe that the rules would favor politicians and legislation best suited to this end. (I was once one such naive person) However, if you closely follow politics long enough, you will quickly discover that this is not the goal of the game, nor how the game operates. The game has never been about “the nation and the people who comprise it.”  That is just glittery lip-service every politician gives to half-heartedly mask the true mechanics of the game, namely the self-enrichment of the powerful players (the politicians) within the game.

In politics, as in much of life, those with the most money win. It is the cold and indifferent fact of the game, no different than the fact that the slower bunny will be dinner for the wolf. We may cheerfully delude ourselves with David and Goliath stories, but in the end the mechanics are what they are, irregardless of your strongest desires.

This is why nothing more than PR campaigns and package re-branding will ever be done about global warming until the problem is so severe it starts seriously hurting profit margins. (By which time it will be too late and our life sustaining eco-system is destroyed) This is why despite a 70% approval of a public option in healthcare the measure was defeated. Competition would have been bad for business for those who were writing the congressmen’s checks.  This is why America’s deficit will never be brought under control. Politicians will pay lip-service and feign outrage over the debt and then turn around and add $3.9 trillion in debt over the next 10 years by giving taxcuts to themselves and the other richest people in America.  That is the reality of the politics game and how it is played.

So the question then becomes “Is there a way to change the rules?” I honestly don’t know. The only example I can think of where we’ve changed the rules slightly is in basic survival. Over the centuries science has developed new technologies that increase our life span. Child mortality has fallen drastically in most parts of the world, and many people who normally would not have survived thousands of years ago do. Chances are you’re one of them. I know I am. I have poor eye-site; if it were not for the science of optics, I would be blind to everything 5 feet away from me.

Even if the rules pertaining to human survival have been tempered by technology, the rules regarding prospering and politics have not. Ultimately the rules regarding those two games effect the rules regarding basic survival. (Earlier I gave the example of global warming) So far we as a species have been unable to effect the rules governing politics and prosperity except by temporarily resetting them through violent revolutions.  “Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders become cruel.” I’m not sure if it is possible to effect a paradigm shift other than regularly tearing everything down. But I digress.

I just wanted to reflect on the existence of these rules that govern every scenario and how one task of growing up is discovering these underlying principles through experimentation and observation.

GOP leaders don’t care about USA

2 Dec

As much as these red blooded “Americans” like to beat their chest and scream of patriotism, the GOP leadership doesn’t give a shit about America. Actually, let me define my terms because according to them, they ARE America. By “America” I mean the 300 Million people living within the 50 states that make up the nation’s territory. To GOP leaders, “America” is themselves and the companies that own them. Think that’s an outlandish statement? Here’s the proof they don’t give a rat’s ass about the people that make up this country:

Currently America is in an extemely bad position. Unemployment is nearly at 10%, the education system is collapsing, prisons are overcrowded, our immigration system isn’t adequate, we’re fighting two wars, possibly a third and fourth in Korea and Iran, and we’re trillions of dollars in debt. These are just some of the massive problems facing congress. However, when the republicans took control of the House of Representatives was their top priority fixing any of these problems? NO.Instead top Republican Mitch McConnell came out and said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

That’s right. “America can go fuck itself, we want political points.” You see, you’re naive if you think the game is about running the country in a way that best improves the lives of those who populate that country. No, that’s just the nice little lie, the scraps they toss from the table to appease us while they go about business as usual. “Yes, yes, daddy loves you, now go and be a good child and play outside.” As long as the politicians and the companies that own them get what they want and can retire to the Caribbean, that’s all that matters.

Obama, like a moron, spent the first two years of his presidency trying to compromise with people who viewed him as the anti-Christ. Now that the democrats no longer have the majority needed to pass any legislation that the voters asked for, the republicans have come out and publicly stated what has been their policy all along. No compromise. Right after the election another top republican, Mike Pence, echoed McConnell’s sentiment: “This election wasn’t so much about getting things done as it was about getting things undone.”

Earlier this week Obama had his first meeting with the republican leadership since they took power in the House. The meeting was called to find where they could compromise. This was actually the second time the meeting was called since the elections. The first time it was cancelled because the republican leadership told Obama to go to hell.  They got together this time to say a lot of pretty things, but with the underlying message of “go fuck yourself.” To make sure the blind, deaf, and dumb Obama got the message, the very next day the republicans sent a letter promising to filibuster EVERYTHING unless they got the tax cuts for their rich owners.

The absurdity of this “we’re going to deny everything no matter what it is just to stop the next 2 years from happening” view is starting to have it’s consequences.  Up for debate now is the New Start Treaty, a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia that would cut the number of nuclear weapons we both have. We already have enough nukes to sterilize the planet five times over, so cutting back has no downsides… except that Obama likes it. That’s right, for this sole reason the republicans are going to vote down the bill. Nevermind that it’s a win win situation, nevermind that it would help stabilize the planet; Obama wants it and that means no.

There is one republican who is fighting the madness: Dick Lugar. Dick’s served five terms in the senate and is an ardent conservative. With his track reccord, no one can question his conservative credentials. However, times are changing. Earlier this week Lugar came out and said that if the republican party has slipped so far to the right that they are going to veto this treaty, then they are “beyond redemption.”

Do you know how the other conservatives responded? They told him he was a dead man. They threatened him with a primary next election cycle. They’re going to replace him with someone who will tow the crazy line. They have gleefully vaulted off the cliff face into insanity and they don’t care if they take the country down with them.

Why I’m not voting in November

25 Oct

Hear me out before you respond with how I’m neglecting my civic duty.

I am not going to vote this November. It will be the first time I have ever not voted. Contrary to how this  might sound, civic engagement is very important to me and I am not apathetic about this. In the last presidential election I drove my friend home, four hours away, just so he could vote. In essence, I care. This is exactly why I am not voting this November. How the hell does that make sense? I’ll explain:

I am furious with the democrats in this country. I am furious with Obama. No matter how loud you scream, they just don’t understand; it’s like they’re in a sound proof bubble. This is where the three major political parties in America fall on the spectrum:

As you can see, the democrats are a center right party. The Obama administration is currently fighting against all types of liberal causes. They’re fighting the legalization of marijuana in California, they’ve fought against gay marriage (likening it to pedophilia), they continue to torture and extradite prisoners, the list goes on. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the democrats as a whole never miss an opportunity to cave to the republicans. I cannot stress this enough! Despite controlling the congress and the white house, the democrats collapse at the mere thought that they might hurt the republicans’ feelings. Obama (who idealizes Reagan btw) is notorious for compromising to the republicans. He’s a fucking imbecile for doing so because the republicans, knowing he’ll compromise at any cost in a desperate and misguided attempt to appear “bi-partisan”, then ask for the most insane shit!

A perfect analogy is haggling with a merchant. He starts with asking for 20, you say 10, he offers 15, you accept. The merchant was never expecting to get 20, he really wanted 15, but he knows how to play the game and so he asks for higher than he wants, knowing he’ll lower it to 15 and you’ll feel like you’re getting a deal. The republicans are doing the same thing! They know how to play Obama and the democrats to get what they want! That’s why everything the democrats pass is extremely watered down, if not slanted in favor of the republicans.

The rest of the progressive base sees this and we’re furious. But pay attention because this is the worst of it: Instead of comprehending what we’re upset about, the democrats see everyone’s anger and think it is because they are not conservative enough! It just makes my head want to explode! “Golly gee wilikers! The people are mad! Maybe we’re not being like the republicans enough!” And so they move farther to the right.

There is no way to get them to move towards the left. They have conceded in their hearts that the republicans are right, that they are un-American frauds, that to be liberal is to be a dangerous radical. You can hammer on their bubble till every bone in your body breaks, but they will not hear you. Even worse, Obama is disappointed in the base for being disappointed in him. That’s right, the elected democrats are chastising the progressive base because the base is mad with them.

But here is the central reason why I am refusing to vote, and this is very important. I will not let myself be blackmailed. That is exactly what the democrats are doing; they are blackmailing their base. You would think that if you threatened not to vote for a party, that party would be concerned about the reasons why you are not going to vote, but no. Instead the democrats respond with threats of their own. That’s right: they are threatening their own base! “You don’t have a choice! If you don’t vote for us, the republicans will win!”

Newsflash: you are the republicans. Liberals are offered two types of shit. One is to vote for the republicrats and the other is to vote for the flaming radioactive shit that is the tea party. But the democrats are wrong. I DO have a choice. Casting my vote for a democrat, even if cast in fear of the tea party, is still an endorsement of the democrats. I refuse to endorse them.

So no, I will not be voting this November. In effect my refusal to vote is in a way voting. There will be those who will completely not understand my reasons, no matter how simply I try to explain them, they will continue to accuse me of being apathetic and unpatriotic. In reality I am refusing to vote for exactly the opposite reasons.

A very valid question to ask of me is how I expect to change things by doing nothing. I would argue that I am not “doing nothing;” I am doing quite the opposite. My silence is my action, and hopefully if enough liberals remain silent in the face of this blackmail, that silence will be deafening.

I want the tea party to win by a landslide. I want Obama to crash and burn. I want the entire house of cards to come crashing down. As horrible as it is, the only way to save the liberal cause is to let this virus run it’s course. Only when this country is turned into a conservative theocratic hell-hole will people rise up in a liberal backlash. It’s the only way to shatter the democrats’ bubble and get us out of the conservative doldrums.

*** Edit***

I’m starting to think that last paragraph is a bit extreme. I don’t actually want the tea party to win by a landslide, that would be my worst nightmare come true, I just don’t know what else would jolt people into electing real progressives who do something other than cave to the republicans.

Tea party craziness

5 Oct

Ok, we  know that the tea party claims to be about smaller government and doesn’t officially take a stance on social issues. We also know that the tea party complains that “the main stream media” maligns them by calling them racist extremists. Maybe the media only showed pictures of a few crazy people with Obama=Hitler signs and the rest of them are calm, rational people who only care about economics. I doubt it, but it’s possible. All that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the tea party says they stand for, and it doesn’t matter how the media portrays them. What does matter is who they elect to office and support. Their actions transcend any superficial image they may or may not be projecting. My interest is in the tea party’s social agenda and whether or not the candidates are sane. I may have some libertarian leanings when it comes to economics, but for me, social issues will always trump economics. So lets look at some of the tea party canidates:

Sarah Palin. I don’t need to say anything. You know. We’ve been talking about her since the 2008 elections. There are posts all over about her draconian social policies, her anti-woman’s rights stances, her end-times theology, and various other scandals. So, moving on.

Christine O’Donnell: “Aka, younger, dumber Palin” This woman is a strong social conservative christian. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about her anti-masturbation stance and seen the old video clips of her talking about masturbation and the bible, along with her claims to have “dabbled in witchcraft”. Back in 2006, while running for another office, she claimed to be privy to secret information obtained by christian missionaries in China that revealed China had an elaborate plan to take over America! Recently Palin advised her not to give any national interviews (gee, I wonder why?), but before she shut her mouth she said that god was keeping her campaign alive. She’s strongly anti-science, thinks mice have human brains, and believes birth control is “anti-human”.Where you got your college education is not overly important when running for office, but O’Donnell has managed to make it a huge issue by repeatedly lying over and over about her education background. She’s claimed to have her college degree for years, yet never graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University until last month. She’s claimed to have done graduate work at Princeton, Oxford, and Claremont. All liesEven Karl Rove thinks she’s insane! Look, I could go on and on about this lady who needs to be put in a straight jacket.

Jim Demint: Another winner. A senator from South Carolina and the tea party’s man in congress, he’s fiercely homophobic and believes unmarried women should not be allowed to teach in schools. He’s also strongly anti-woman’s rights and fits nicely into the conservative christian mold.

Michelle Bachmann. Like Sarah Palin, she’s been around for a while and there are so many posts on just how bat shit insane she is that I needn’t bother. Just google her. Here, if you’re lazy, are 10 quotes from her, only 10, and she’s been at this a long time so there are plenty more.

Chuck Devore: Running in California, not nearly as crazy as the above people, though on legislative score boards he’s received a 0% from Equality for California, 18% from Planned Parenthood, 30% from the California National Organization for Women, and 29% from the Lambda Letters Project (LGBT), so he’s also votes socially conservative.

Trent Frank: Strongly Conservative, Anti-choice, and anti-gay equality. He also believes that current abortion rates in the black community means black people were better off as slaves.

Glen Urquhart: I quote “”The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ASK THEM WHY THEY’RE NAZIS!” He’s running in Delaware like O’Donnell. He is also a strong social conservative and is backed by the anti-woman’s rights group “Concerned women for America”, the National Conservative Fund, and the vehemently homophobic Family Research Council.

Sharron Angle: You might have heard of her. She’s running against Harry Reid and thinks healthcare reform should be replaced with the barter system. She’s also counseled rape victims and women who might die if they carry a pregnancy to term to go ahead and carry the baby. You can find a list of her crazy history here.

Carl Paladino: Thinks housing poor people in prisons is a great idea: “These are beautiful properties with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities!” He also threatened to kill a NY Post reporter. Lately he’s been in the news for a slue of racist e-mails and e-mails containing porn and women having sex with horses.

Steve King: Thinks Al-Qaeda supports Obama and cheered his election. He is also an extremely strong social conservative. Best friends with Bachmann, even shares congressional staff with her.

Louis Gohmert: Wants to overturn the birthright citizenship part of the 14th Amendment, believes there is a secret plot to have terrorists born in America and then trained to attack in 20-30 years.

Lamar Smith: Feels the greatest threat to America is not a recession or terrorists, but the “liberal media”. It’s all a conspiracy you see. He’s also another extreme social conservative.

Joe Miller:  Encourages people to bring guns to rallies, called his female running opponent a prostitute, and believes women should be forced to carry their rapist’s child.

Ken Buck: Also would love to force women to carry their rapist’s baby, opposes birth control, believes a 13 year old girl raped by her 14 year old brother should be barred from the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy, and wants to tear down the wall of separation between church and state. Yet another religious nutter.

Dan Maes: Despite also having resume issues with lying, like O’Donnell, he is best known for revealing what his is certain is a dastardly conspiracy to deliver Colorado to the “Marxist United Nations” by ways of a bicycle sharing program!

Mike Lee: Like Gohmert, also wants to over turn the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship if you’re born in US territory. Also wants to get rid of a woman’s right to control her body, and is against marriage equality.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. It doesn’t matter if the tea party claims to be focused on only economic issues, if and when these people get elected, they will have to deal with those issues. It is important to know where they stand. It doesn’t matter how the tea party started out, if the core founders where socially liberal and economically conservative libertarians or not; what matters is what the tea party has become. It’s been hijacked by people who were so fringe, the republican party didn’t want them. It’s been hijacked by 9/11 truthers, birthers, people who believe Obama’s a secret muslim, and other conspiracy theorists of all stripes. It doesn’t matter what they claim to be, but the people who they put up for election and those already elected whom they support.  The people they have put up so far on the national level have muddied pasts with problems writing factually correct resumes, believe in draconian restrictions on women’s rights, wish to repeal parts of the constitution, view the civil rights movement as a black spot on US history, and support a host of conspiracy theories from Chinese takeovers to Trojan bicycles. While I might like to see a smaller government and less debt, I could never bring myself to vote for a party that tries to shift focus off their barbaric social and religious policies.

Just a few minutes ago I stumbled across this study done by the Pew Research Institute looking at how religion and social values factor into the tea party. Really interesting stuff and confirms my suspicions.

Why Obama is a fool

20 Aug

Last presidential election I voted for Obama. During the the previous 8 years under Bush, the political pendulum of the United States swung far to the right. Here, I thought, was a chance to swing it back and correct for the damage done in those 8 years; it was hard not to drink the Obama “hope kool-aid”. Did the pendulum swing equally far to the left after the election as it had swung to the right? No. If anything, since his election, Obama has shown himself to be pragmatic to a fault. So far he has proved to be extreme only in his mediocrity. He keeps playing to the middle of every issue, and he’s an idiot for it. Why is this foolish? Simple: he’s neglecting his base and breaking promises he made in an attempt to appease and include his opposition.

Normally, trying to compromise with your opposition and reach an agreement would be a good thing, but that’s assuming your opposition also wants what’s best for the country. Here’s where Obama goes wrong when trying to work with the republican leadership: The republican game plan is to make everything as horrible as possible in the run up to elections. Since the democrats are in control, they take the blame for when things go wrong. The republicans see that Obama is a push over and so they suggest the most damaging and radical ideas they can think of. They know they won’t get all of it in, but they can count on Obama to try and compromise, thus bad ideas get pushed through. When everything goes to shit, the republicans then through up their hands and go “See! What did I tell you? Government can’t make anything better, especially when the democrats are in charge! Vote republican!”

It’s brilliant really; brilliant and extremely sadistic at the same time. The fact is, despite all the drum beating and flag waving, republican leadership doesn’t give a shit about the rest of the country. All that matters are the super rich, the poor guy can go to hell. Off the top of my head, look at the unemployment relief package that just passed. $30bn to give aid to people who can’t afford to feed their families because they lost their jobs because of  mismanagement of the economy by super-banks. The republicans flipped out! They started crying about the deficit, suddenly caring now, in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. (Where were they when Bush sunk us after Clinton’s surpluses? Oh wait, we were killing foreigners with the money so it was ok) You don’t cut government spending in a recession. The government is the only one around with the credit rating and ability to pump money into the system to jump start economic activity. You pay down the deficit during an economic boom as Clinton (D) did. But while the republicans were howling at spending $30bn to help the hardest hit families in the country, they started to dig in their heels on the issue of Bush’s tax cuts. Reinstating Bush’s tax cuts would cost us around $607bn dollars. That’s more than if we passed the unemployment aid 20 times over. The republicans are now trying to get popular support for the tax cuts from their gullible base. The fools see “tax cut” and think it’s a tax cut for them. It’s not. The tax cuts were for the richest Americans in the country. The rank and file republican voter won’t get shit, but he doesn’t know that.

Obama keeps giving in to these people while swatting away the very people who elected him. If he actually grew a pair and pushed the political pendulum back to the left, then things would start to get better, but he keeps trudging through this lukewarm crap. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m starting to think I should have voted for McCain. “Whoa! How the hell would that make things better?” Simple. Obama winning the election was the best thing that happened to the republicans. During the 8 years under Bush, republicans had fucked things up so badly, that they knew it was all going to come crashing down on the next president. (They really started to see this when the economy first started coughing up blood right before the election) It was like this looming tsunami that would inevitably crash on the next president, who would undoubtedly take the blame for all of it. Had McCain won, the entire house of cards, the effects of 8+ years of solid republican rule, would have come crashing down on him. It would have been the death of the republican party. But no, we elected Obama out of desperation and “the audacity to hope”. Predictably the shit hits the fan, and this gives the republicans the perfect fear filled fuel to fire up their base and regroup.

“Look what happens when you elect a liberal! The country goes to hell!” (Even though Obama is a really conservative liberal, and what’s happening now was set in motion long before he was elected; but the American electorate are stupid children with Attention Deficit Disorder) So now the republican base is frothing at the mouth and can see blood in the water. Elections are fast approaching and the democrats are going to lose BIG. With a yet again a republican controlled congress, Obama will quickly become the conservative’s bitch in his desperate bid for approval from the people who despise him. A dark time for progressives indeed.

Just watched “Capitalism: A love story”

7 Jun

I will state up front that I consider myself a socialist. Not the “Zomg! Obama’s a fascist/socialist/communist/racist/muslim!!!11” kind that the people with tinfoil hats seem to think is socialism, but the one of the actual kinds of socialism.

To be completely honest, I’m not quite sure exactly where I fit on the socialist spectrum. I think I land somewhere between “progressive” and “democratic socialist“.  (At least those were my top too according to this test)

I’m of the position that a government, formed by the people, should be charged with conducting itself in a manner that best protects the interests of the people as a whole. In other words, the government should work to make sure the greatest number of people possible have the best standard of living possible. (Yet the rights/views of minorities should be protected, hence why I don’t believe in direct democracies that lead to mob rule, but I digress)

I feel that hard work should be rewarded, and that people should benefit from their labor. But then this is where my views get confusing, even to me. I do not feel that the wealthiest people in America are necessarily “hard workers”. I feel they cynically game the system much the same way welfare freebooters game the system.

My view that the wealthiest people unfairly manipulate the system was really confirmed by this movie. Now before you make the assumption that I am some Michael Moore fan boy, there was a lot about this movie that did not sit well with me. I felt the lion share of this movie was an appeal to emotion, which makes sense, Moore is trying to outrage you into action, yet I would have preferred he focus more on facts rather than sensationalist teary-eyed families being forced out of their homes.

The facts that are in this movie should speak for themselves. The most compelling part of the film is when Moore weaves together the story of how America became a plutonomy starting with the recession of the Carter years and the capturing of the government by Wall Street during Reagan’s presidency. The scene where Don Regan tells president Ronald Reagan to “speed it [his speech to the NY stock exchange] up” is amazing.

The whole tale of a calculated and organized hijacking of the nation by Wall Street’s CEOs seemed to smack of conspiracy theory. It’s an amazing, and infuriating, story, but I would like to find some evidence outside of Moore’s documentary in order to decide for myself if it’s true. There is one thing, however, that this conspiracy story has going for it that others don’t:

In most conspiracies, the actors are the government. The problem with this is that the government is notoriously incompetent.* The “9/11 was an inside job” conspiracy is extremely improbable merely because of the high level of planning and competency required to pull off such and act and then cover it up. A government is just not capable of that level of finesse. (Especially under Bush’s incompetent reign) In this conspiracy story, however, the actors are not some clumsy government, but a small collection of some of the smartest, most brilliant people in America, the CEOs on Wall Street.

“But wouldn’t market competition dictate that different CEOs be working against each other?” Yes and no. While they most assuredly were in competition with one another, it makes more sense for them to work together on something that would benefit them all greatly. (Like no regulations) However, the ultimate “winner” was Goldman Sachs. Under Clinton and Bush, Goldman Sachs managed to fill top Treasury Department positions with its “former” employees, including even the position of Secretary of Treasury with Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs. (His net worth was $700 million when he left to become Sec. of Treas.) With this superior posturing, Goldman Sachs was in prime position to pressure its will on the government.

(Goldman Sachs also had their CEO in the Sec. of Treas. position with Robert Rubin. (Who also served as CEO of Citigroup) The current Sec. of Treas., Timothy Geithner, is a protegee of Rubin’s)

The most shocking and outrageous part of the film for me came when Moore discussed the recent bailouts of the super banks.  Two months before elections, Sec. Paulson drew up a 3 page plan to bail out Wall Street. (Keep in mind, usually legislation passed by congress is hundreds, if not thousands, of pages long) In that plan Paulson stipulated that all laws, including court review, would be waived:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Checks and balances anyone? The American people were rightfully outraged, but Paulson and his goons ramped up the fear factor, hoping to cram through the bill with a little debate as possible, just as Bush had done for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. Amazingly, for once, the American people fought back and the bill was defeated, by 12 votes. Congress then went home to prepare for elections.

Here is where I become really furious: Enter the democratic party leadership. Paulson and company rush back to DC and enter in backroom deals with the democrats. Promises are made, futures are sealed, and then congress does a complete 180, the American people be damned. Paulson gets the key to our pockets and makes off with 700 Billion; proof Wall Street has muscles to flex over our government.

The film is very thought provoking to say the least. It’s clear that our “free market” system is being manipulated to the benefit of a very select few. Employment near 10%, thousands of people being evicted from their homes, corporations making millions off of “dead peasant” policies, meanwhile banks take billions in our money, only to send their executives on luxurious vacations and the CEOs retire with unholy amounts of money. This isn’t working, but what’s the answer?

Despite the film being directed by Michael Moore, a person people on the right hate as strongly as they love Reagan, I feel a large portion of the movie would appeal to the right as well, especially the Tea Party movement. The fact that we’re being universally fucked by our leaders is something we can all rally behind, and I think this is one of the great points the movie tries to make. Moore references a Citigroup memo that was leaked where Citigroup explained to it’s top investors that they [Wall Street] had successfully turned America into a plutonomy, and that it was no longer a democracy. (Seriously, go read it, it’s scary) The memos explained that the top 1% of America now had more wealth than the bottom 95% COMBINED. Here’s the real kicker: Citigroup states in the memos that the biggest threat to their “gravy train” (yes, that is a direct quote) would be if society demanded a more equitable share of the wealth. The biggest problem was that despite having more money, a rich person can only cast as many votes as a poor person, 1. In other words, if the peasants realized that they were never going to get that carrot, the “American dream” of wealth, that they would revolt and vote the puppet government out of office. (Seriously, go read the memos)

I certainly feel communism is just as evil as American style unregulated capitalism. While we have vast economic inequity, communism, as practiced as a political system, is totalitarian and oppressive. I want there to be a middle ground, that’s why I call my self a progressive socialist. But do my views work? I don’t know. To be honest, I’m not sure how closely my views fall to those in Europe. I’ve always dreamed about moving to Europe because there they work to live, whereas here we live to work. Unfortunately, Europe is going through a financial crisis right now because Greece took that to the extreme, completely unbalancing their budget. I’m interested to see how European style socialism weathers this crisis.

*unless you work for the Coast Guard