Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can't afford the health care you or a loved one needs? Take a chicken to the doctor.

If you don't want to solve a problem, then the tried and true political system is to drown it in irrelevancies and get the media to focus on your inane irrelevancies instead of discussion of actual solutions. Here is Nevada politician Sue Lowden putting this truth into practice.

Sue Lowden brought the chicken to the debate because she wanted to be involved in discussing health care, but had nothing relevant to say. She has been handed her head for it, and now she can only join the debate by presenting something relevant to the discussion.

Since she is a conservative politician appealing to conservative voters, her ideology automatically blocks her from championing anything useful or relevant, so she is in a real quandary.

Her choice is either (1.) to drop out of the conversation completely and quite wasting the public air space (impossible for a politician when the political environment is skewed towards solving the problem of so many people with no access to health care) or (2.) to present something actually relevant to the discussion instead of attempting to derail it. Her potential electoral base and her funders will abandon her if she chooses option (2.)

For years conservatives have simply chosen to spout the kinds of inanities she is now in trouble over. The result has generally been to fill the political atmosphere with fear, uncertainty and doubt and to drown out any effort to actually solve any of the problems of health care. The election of Obama as President has changed to political atmosphere so that addressing this set of problems has become a national priority and the nay-sayers and conservatives have made themselves irrelevant.

American people are considered more important than growing the wealth of the fat cats. Sue Lowden is on the wrong side of history. It's morning in America for Americans at last!

Sue Lowden is American political conservatism hard at work avoiding solving the many of the real problems America face.

Besides drowning the political discussion in irrelevancies, another conservative tactic is to shift the discussion to one of moral failure and to suggest that the only solution is for people to look into their hearts and become morally pure.

The two tactics are similar in that they (1) have no measurable cause and effect connections between the problem and the proposed solution and (2) they both allow the wealthy to continue to build their wealth without regard to the needs of the workers or the customers who are being exploited to allow them to build up that wealth and the power that goes with it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lewis Black takes on Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's

Once again Lewis Black is hilarious. Enjoy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

The delayed investigations into Wall Street are getting started!

At Last! The government is beginning to look at the securities that set off the current Great Recession! This is from the Guardian (London):
The New York attorney general is investigating whether eight Wall Street banks misled ratings agencies to inflate the grades of certain mortgage securities.

The attorney general of New York, Andrew Cuomo, sent subpoenas to eight banks last night, according to the New York Times. The paper named Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch – now owned by Bank of America – Morgan Stanley and UBS as the banks under scrutiny.

The companies that rated the mortgage deals are Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service. The agencies have come under fire for overstating the quality of mortgage securities that later slumped in the wake of the housing collapse, helping to trigger the financial crisis.

The attorney general's inquiry suggests that he thinks the agencies may have been duped by one or more of the banks under investigation. He is scrutinising the rating agencies' fees arrangements, which allowed banks to shop their deals among the agencies to secure the best rating.

Cuomo is also looking into the practice of bank mortgage desks hiring rating agencies employees to help create mortgage deals that may have secured better ratings than they deserved.

[Highlighting by the WTF-o Editor.]
This is very significant in the effort to find out exactly what happened to nearly throw the U.S. and the world into a second Great Depression. A number of very important points are being addressed in this investigation. First, it has been clear since the Wall Street banks collapsed in September 2008 that a central pillar of the fraud in mortgage securities that set it off was the inflated reports of the rating agencies, So far it has been eighteen months since the financial collapse in September 2008, and there has been no public investigation of the activities of the rating agencies.

That leads to the second question this report leads to. This investigation is being led by the New York Attorney General, NOT by the federal government. This financial fraud and the resulting disaster was nation- and world-wide. Why is the New York Attorney General, a state officer, the taking the lead in this investigation? The corrective actions, which will include regulation of the rating agencies both for their transparency and the manner in which they are chosen and paid for their services, will have to be primarily federal. Otherwise the banks will simply go state-shopping to find the least regulating state for them to operate in, just as the banks do with choosing the states they issued credit cards from.

This investigation is going to be worth following closely. Expect the Wall Street banks to take every possible action to shut it down or shut it up.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Conservatives will automatically oppose any Obama nominee or legislative initiative. Plan on it.

The cultural clash between American liberals, mostly represented by Democrats these days, and American Conservatives grows clearer every day as the conservatives complain about whatever the Obama administration does. Case in point from Ed Whelan of the NRO (National Review Online.) Ed objects that the current candidate nominated this morning by President Obama for the Supreme Court seat John Paul Steven's retirement will leave is Elena Kagan. The complaint is not that she is not a competent lawyer, a claim that would be laughable in the face of her credentials. Ed complains that since she grew up in New York City, she did not learn to drive until she was into her twenties.

So what's wrong with that? The job is to be Justice of the Supreme Court, not NASCAR driver. Here's Ed's complaint:
3. There is a striking mismatch between the White House’s populist rhetoric about seeking a justice with a “keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people” and the reality of the Kagan pick.
This supports my position that the core of the so-called liberal-conservative political split in America today is really a culture clash between America's rural culture and the newer urban culture of the big cities. The farm boys really don't like the more sophisticate city types, and they hate losing power to them. Growing up on a farm on in a small town, the car is a necessary tool to get around. In the city there is almost aways public transportation that makes driving a car a lot less necessary. so Ed's complaint is that Elena Kagan is "out of touch with average Americans" because she has not grown up dependent on the automobile from an early age. For her the driver's license at age 16 was not a rite of passage to life as an adult.

Matt Gertz at Media Matters points out
Kagan grew up in New York City, which is one of the most walkable cities in the country and has one of the best public transportation systems nationwide. You don't need a license if you live in NYC, and in fact a large percentage of New Yorkers don't have one: New York City has 5.6 million residents over age 25, but only 3.3 million residents have drivers' licenses.
Somehow to Ed Whelan this means that Elena Kagan cannot understand the "average American."

What Ed is really saying, though, is that he is a rural hick who fears anyone who is somehow different from him. People living in urban areas who have adapted to the urban culture have to be much more tolerant of diverse cultures and behavior than people from smaller towns who simply don't meet and interact with as great a variety in a week or more as someone who lives in a large, walkable city will. The Conservative/Liberal dichotomy really means a rural/urban culture clash.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The tea baggers got Bob Bennet's scalp - they are on a roll. Or are they?

Three term Utah Senator Bob Bennet lost his bid for renomination to the Senate seat he has occupied for nearly 18 years, and which his father before him also held for three terms. Does that mean the Tea Baggers are growing in power?

Utah is a bad test. As the Christian Science Monitor points out, yesterday's vote for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat was conducted by 3400 delegates to a Republican convention. These are the purest of the pure hardline Republicans in the most conservative state in the union. Those delegates were chosen specifically because they were the most hardline conservatives in the conservative bastion we call the state of Utah.

That suggests that if there is any state in the union that the purist antics of the tea baggers is unlikely to split or even severely weaken the Republican party, that state is Utah. But they are also going to provide an example to the rest of the nation just how right-wing the tea baggers really are.

Here, from the recently adopted Republican Party Platform of the state of Maine, we get an example of just how far out in la-la land these people really are.

How nutty are they? Here's a few of their proposals.
I. To Form a More perfect Union

  • a. All legislation must adhere to the restrictions outlined in the Constitution to protect the individual from intrusive government.
  • b. Direct the State of Maine to join with other states in asserting our 10th amendment sovereignty rights which protect us from unconstitutional federal government intrusions.
  • c. Insist on strict adherence to our 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms.
  • d. Pass a “Read the Bill” act, to insure clarity, and eliminate the corruption associated with side issues, earmarks, pork or riders.
  • e. Oppose “Localism and Diversity”, the Fairness Doctrine or whatever else such attempted restrictions are labeled. Any restriction on speech is by definition NOT free speech.
  • f. Reject the Employee free -choice Elimination- act, as an unconscionable affront to the right to a secret vote.
  • g. Restore integrity to the electoral process:
  • i. Prohibit any public funding of advocacy groups such as ACORN, no matter what it or its affiliate organizations rename themselves; New York Communities for Change, New England United for Justice etc.; Conduct thorough investigation of their activities and voter fraud and prosecute violations.
  • ii .Eliminate motor voter and other voter fraud mechanisms; institute secure voter registration and identification systems.
  • iii. Reject any effort to give foreign citizens the right to vote in the US in any situation or capacity.
  • h.Oppose any and all treaties with the UN or any other organization or country which surrenders US sovereignty. Specifically:
  • i. Reject the UN Treaty on Rights of the Child.
  • ii. Reject “LOST” the Law Of The Sea Treaty.
  • iii. Reject any agreement which seeks to confiscate our firearms.
  • i. Restore the process of assimilation of immigrants to preserve the benefits of an advanced educated and prosperous society. Rescind Maine’s sanctuary State status. No amnesty, no benefits, no citizenship -ever- for anyone in the country illegally. Arrest and detain, for a specified period of time, anyone here illegally, and then deport, period.
  • j. Pass a Congressional reform act which includes the following provisions:
  • i. Term Limits: 12 years only, in any capacity.
  • 1.Two Six year Senate terms
  • 2.Six Two year House terms
  • 3.One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms
  • ii. No Pension
  • iii. Congress participates in Social Security under the same rules as the general public.
  • iv. Congress can no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
  • v. Congress participates in the same health care plan as the general public. No preferential plans or treatment.
  • vi.Congress is subject to and must abide by all the laws they impose on the general public.
II. To Establish Justice:
  • a. Restore “Constitutional law” as the basis for the Judiciary.
  • b. Reassert the principle that “Freedom of Religion” does not mean “freedom from religion”.
III. To Insure Domestic tranquility:
  • a. Promote family values.
  • i. Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.
  • ii. Parents, not government, are responsible for making decisions in the best interest of their children, whether disciplinary, educational, or medical.
  • iii. We recognize the sanctity of life, which includes the unborn.
IV. To Provide for the Common Defense:
  • a. Discard political correctness, make public the declaration of war (Jihad), made against the US on 23 Feb 1998, and fight the war against the United States by radical Islam to win.
  • b. Seal the border and protect US citizens along the border and everywhere, as is the prime directive of the Federal Government.
V. To Promote the General Welfare:
  • a. Return to the principles of Austrian Economics, and redirect the economy back to one of incentives to save and invest.
  • b. Cut spending, balance the budget, and institute a plan for paying down debt. Proclaim that generational debt shifting is immoral and unconscionable and will not be tolerated!
  • c. Pass and implement Fed bill #1207 (Introduced by Ron Paul), to Audit the Federal Reserve, as the first step in Ending the Fed.
  • d. Return to transparent and honest reporting of economic statistics free of gimmicks and distortions.
  • e. Require the government and all its agencies adhere to the same GAAP accounting rules that businesses must follow.
  • f. Restore the provisions of welfare reform removed with the stimulus bill.
  • g. Defeat Cap and Trade, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion.
  • h. Freeze current stimulus funds, prohibit any further stimulus bills, and apply all unspent funds towards the debt they created.
  • i. Promote energy independence aggressively by removing the obstacles created by government to allow private development of our resources; natural gas, oil, coal, and nuclear power.
  • j. Institute Zero based budgeting on all programs.
  • k. Espouse and follow the principle: It is immoral to steal the property rightfully earned by one person, and give it to another who has no claim or right to its benefits.
  • l. Clarify that healthcare is not a right. It is a service. As a compassionate society we will aid those in need. However, the government takeover of healthcare is not only unconstitutional, but detrimental to the entire healthcare system. Only market based solutions will solve the problems.
  • i. In the state of Maine:
  • 1. Remove the restrictions on health providers, (as was done in New Hampshire), to increase competition, drive down the costs, and increase the options available.
  • a. Bring Maine standards in line with national average.
  • b. Allow purchase of insurance across state lines. LD 290
  • c. Enact tort reform as exemplified by Texas.
  • d. Eliminate Dirigo

VI. To Secure the Blessings of Liberty:
  • a. Restore a vigorous grounding in the history and precepts of liberty, freedom, and the constitution to the educational process. As Thomas Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
  • i. Eliminate the Department of Education and restore schools to local control as specified in the constitution.
  • b. Repeal and prohibit any participation in efforts to create a one world government.
The state Republican Party platform in Texas from two years ago matches the current one from Maine in idiocy. Here is a link to the 2008 Texas Republican Party Platform. (In .pdf format.)

I can understand that the conservatives think they should be the government, and if they aren't no one else should be either. This is a combination of the libertarian ideas of no government other than the military and police, with no social or economic regulation at all. That puts the wealthy oligarchs into control since the only effective power in the absence of normal government operations to keep the economy on an even keel and no social regulations at all. That means back to Segregation until some of the wealthy realize that slavery can also be returned with no difficulty under these circumstances. Naturally, women become second-class beings (not citizens, just beings) and homosexuals become an actively despised and oppressed minority.

The end result if these ideas were put into practice and left there for any period of time would be that America would become a non-existent nation just as Somalia has been for the last two decades. Instead of a single nation it would be ruled by a few warlords based in major cities. The economy would of course totally collapse, with the survivors fighting to get accepted into one of the militias that keep the local warlords in power.

Long before the worst of those predictions come to pass there will be another civil war to remove the conservatives from power.

That's not an effort to move back to the better days of the past. That's an effort to create a fantasy land that has never existed and never can.

Monday, May 03, 2010