Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A new Iranian Hostage crisis.

I was getting tired of complaining, as I often complain, but the stupidity and blind immorality of the Republican adminstration and its rear guard in the Senate have reached a sort of crescendo this week and the family has gotten darn tired of me ranting. So here is a week's worth all in one go.

Did you notice:
  1. Iran is like the US?
  2. The Senate has some of the yellowest chicken hawks that ever clucked for plucking and stewing?
  3. President Sonofabush is a hostage taker?
  4. We don't give Dubya the credit he deserves.
  5. Pragmatists say talk of impeachment is a waste of energy and frail consensus that the progressive left hasn't the power to pull off. All the progressives have really accomplished, it is said, is moving the power leftward enough to put it in the center of moderate Democratic party establishment. If that is so, who are the voters that are with this establishment? and what truly effective recourse to an unresponsive dictator with advanced war lust do the pragmatists offer us?

Well it is all so. Let me explain.
In one of his typically insightful essays, Paul Krugman wrote in in the NYTimes that there is a strong parallel, and hardly a coincidental one, between the feckless f**kup of Iraq's reconstruction and the corrupting and blunting of the federal government as an agent of any real help to its citizens. Cul gives the essay a better title. The link, as Krugman sees it is that in both the US and in Iraq, our tax money, by the truckloads, has been largely put in the hands of those who could at least feign faith and understanding of the Bush Way and incompetence was no object. For instance, in Iraq this is the sort of deliberation that went into choosing contractors. And in the US, FEMA director Michael D. Brown is just the most easily recalled of thousands of bad, and expensive, personnel choices. But I see an even deeper parallel between the US and the country Bushco have in their sights: Iran. In the US, a once basically democratic government and impartial civil service is now surmounted by an insular power hungry despot and his gang helped to power by a reactionary religious minority. In Iran, a people who had and to some extent still have an inclination to democracy greater than most of their neighboring Muslim countries now have a toy parliament and the shots are really called by a small theocracy perched atop and separate from the elected government. That theocracy is helped to stay in power by the most reactionary elements of the society. Iran also went backward and I do not refer to the demise of the Shah. Would two countries so similar be at war with each other? It could happen if they were not democracies, and neither is properly functioning as a democracy at the moment. And if there were an Iranian front, wouldn't it be easy for Bush to hold more troops hostage?
This was the last straw. The Republicans in the senate being afraid to face a vote about their pet war makes me furious. You could send some money to MoveOn to remind them people other than lobbyists are watching. If your senator is one of the dickheads that is trying to snuff out the wave of reform that broke over them in November, CALL them now and often and remind them that even more cowardly than letting an idiot president scare you with phony stories about a bogeyman Iraqi dictator, even more cowardly than sitting in your plush senate office figuring out how to spend the campaign money from the oil lobby while more young Americans are sent to pointless deaths in Iraq...far more cowardly is being afraid to admit you were wrong.
The sonofabush presents his joke of a budget: slashing ever deeper into vital services in favor of fulling funded warfare. See his cynical plan? He can order troops into the field virtually on his lone say-so and then congress is forced into a position of supporting the troops, the troops for which it clearly has more sympathy than does the administration. Bush is willing to make our soldiers hostages to his sick ends.
I seriously think we owe dubya some gratitude. He is a severe f**kup and neither sees, nor cares to employ anyone who does see, how his little plutocracy is ruining the country. But though the lesson has cost us terribly, consider the alternative: Would the those who were disaffected with political involvement really have showed up at the polls? Maybe we need an obviously arrogant servant of a narrow minded minority to make life hard for us before we yet again rediscover the value of political involvement? When we have thrown over the dictator from Crawford, will we still have the fire in us to make real reform happen?
There are far more who dislike abused power than crave power.
I am not disagreeing with a guy like Matt Stoller, he's got the numbers right there in HTML. And he was the guy who got the perfectly sane and sensitive Ian Welsh a bit wrought up on the topic of impeachment with the same sort of "realistic" view of the power progressives really have. At the time the comments were made, I sided more with Matt. But I was simply unprepared for the depths of murderous insularity to which Bush could descend. Not only does he now show a willingness to pointlessly sacrifice American lives in defiance of popular and congressional wishes, he is rapidly dismantling the last working pieces of a fair and constitutional government. I had said we should get the congress to do the easier jobs first: the domestic crises of neglect could be undone fast. But the threat of impeachment seems like the strength of medicine our malaise requires. How else to get a response from the son of a Bush will listen to no one and is actively destroying America's well being and world peace?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The World Why'd Webb?

Of all the things Senator Webb could have said in response to the president's SotU address, Iraq was an expected topic but the economy had a few people asking "Why that?" The NYTimes' David Leonhardt asked and could not find simple and clear answers but quotes various observers to the effect that indeed, as Webb asserts, the health of corporate bottom lines means less and less to working Americans when much of the profits shown are owed to increasing amounts of cheap offshore labor going into the products.

Ten years ago already, when the congress was in the grips of the Gingrich-lead contract on America, the often and widely repeated slogan that liberals were guilty of financially reckless "tax and spend" policies was known to be not merely wrong but quite the opposite of the numbers. In a word it was a lie then. The big spenders were the Conservatives up until 97 and in the intervening decade, the Bush borrowing binge has made the claim a yet more pale lie.

Why is that so? Why wouldn't a liberal congress continue or enhance a spending binge if it is aware of Senator Webb's concerns and reads the NYTimes? I am not a particularly well informed political commenter nor schooled at all in economics but I have an intuition: the liberals know who pays the taxes that get spent. Its the wage earners. We who live off of earned money have no place to hide from the IRS. The conservatives get their votes from the likes of NewsMax readership: people who quake in dread of some mysterious "them" who want to steal from trust funds and savings by hiding behind the tax man. Owning a pile of money is so different from hoping to earn a pile of money that it nearly creates two distinct species of political animal.

I grew up in a household where the democratic party and most of the candidates it offered were reviled. And "union" was a dirty word. A full accounting of how I wound up on this side of the Blogosphere would be a ridiculously long post and I have left many attempts at it in the "draft" state, you should be grateful. But just let me share one thing I have noted along my way: the association of organized labor with the politics of the Democratic party was once strong, weakened exactly during the peak years [see the NYTimes excellent chart in the linked article] of real, inflation adjusted, wage income. And now that wages are whittled away labor, though a wan shadow of its former self, has at least rediscovered were its political heart should be. How would I, well paid old engineer who never worked any place where an organizer could set foot, even know this? Simple. When vested money wants advice and its advisers lay out the "enemies list" I treat that list, [which is the conservative adviser's mistake], as the honor roll of liberal forces. Don't ask who your allies are, just check your enemy's target list. One John Browne offers an investment advice column to NooseMax readers. The following is from a recent article:

In our opinion, any further reductions in the prices of residential real estate will prove to be damaging to consumer confidence and therefore to aggregate demand of U.S. consumers.

This will hurt forecasted corporate earnings in certain sectors, raising today’s market average PE ratios to “expensive” levels.

Compounding the real estate crisis, is the bankruptcy-threatening situation facing Ford, one of America’s industrial icons and former blue-chip companies.

General Motors, once the largest company in the world, also faces serious financial problems.

To some extent, both of these giants have been brought low by the unions and their demands for wages and benefits (including pensions and health care) that were increasingly unsupportable by the long-term competitive positions of their products. (In the early 1970s, I was working with Morgan Stanley & Co. and saw first hand how union pressure caused managements to cave.)

Even if his other advice is sound, would you want to live in a country where capital was safe and workers, though no longer guaranteed much of anything in exchange for their work except their wages, were held to blame for all ills? Are you a worker or are you capital? Who votes, capital or workers. Two species of political animal, I tell you.

And let me give you a little more motive to read the Leonhardt article: Back in August he took a look at how the economy was going to work for Republicans in the then-upcoming election. He got it right.

I will not give new smacks the courtesy of an actual link. I take their newsletters just to keep in touch with what the lower half of the old rich people are hearing and fearing. And compared to most of my readers, I AM old and rich...its url is newsmax[dot]com if you must satisfy your morbid curiosity.

Friday, January 19, 2007

And it keeps happening every day ...

...until we get wise to the problem.

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occur on the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition of events: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication while the other involves a groundhog."

The dirty sumbitch cannot ignore congressional direction to get out of Iraq without doing something a hell of a lot more impeachable than taking a blow job.

[hat tip to prolific emailer of great political jokes: Joe B.]