Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow,
Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Lewis Black

Listen to:
Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes,
Tom Hartman, Ed Schultz, Mike Molloy

These Aren’t Conservatives

February 7th, 2009

I just have to share with you a “discussion” thread I participated in on Facebook.  It really demonstrates the

Does your mother know you talk like that?  Photo: LA Times Blog

Does your mother know you talk like that? Photo: LA Times Blog

intellectual challenge we have in putting this country back on the right track.

The names have been removed, to protect the participants.  I can’t in good conscience refer to them as innocent.

For those keeping score, Me is… me!

TH is woman in Los Angeles who’s a big news watcher, loves makeover shows, loves animal planet, discovery, stuff like that according to her profile.  And from her picture, she does look… big.

RL is a woman from North Dakota.  She hides her profile, but she does have that kind of Marilyn Quale look.

EM is a young man from Orange County with more mouth than sense.  He, too, hides his profile.  His photo looks like Clyde Barrow, looking over his shoulder at the cops pursuing his car.

DB, on whose profile page this appeared, is a man living in Los Angeles who actually works for a media company.  He advertises that he’s not PC.  I’m disappointed he didn’t have more to say, or more positive things to say.  But he didn’t.

The discussion was sparked by a Glenn Beck video about Pres. Obama introducing socialism to the nation.

TH at 9:28am February 6
Like I’ve been saying for years…one syringe at a time! Only those who are capitalist can see it, for those who are already socialist…dont care to see it.

RL at 10:11am February 6trust me ..The liberals DO NOT GET IT.

E.M. at 11:26am February 6
exactly, liberals do not uderstand the fundamentals of socialism.

Me at 3:35pm February 6
Glenn Beck is a tool. :~)Outside of Ollie North, which one of these conservo-pundits has actually SERVED his country? And in North’s case, I think there are some ethical issues (Iran Contra, for example. They don’t say much about that at the Ronald Reagan Museum).

See what an American serviceman had to say to Mr. Beck after one of his more vitriolic tirades about Ron Paul…

I particularly loved the part when this decorated Marine – that’s his own description, not mine – pointed out to Beck that “Seeing as we are both forty-three I think it’s safe to say that while I was serving my country, you were much more busy becoming a drug addict and practicing to become an alcoholic, correct?

Fox News is ENTERTAINMENT mislabeled as news, folks. Treat it as such.

DB at 3:55pm February 6
regardless of what you think about Glenn beck to show a few video about someone that didn’t like what he said and act like the entire military feels the same way is foolish. Second, Fox news is the only news station that actually has NEWS. I’m not talking about Hannity and Bill…they are entertainment. I am talking about REAL news with news anchors that don’t show their bias or even talk about who they will vote for unlike those idiots on MSNBC and CNN that get chills down thier legs when they see Obama.  —— you are simply attacking things from a liberal point of few and not really with any fact.

TH at 3:58pm February 6

I am so sick and tired of explaining to people the difference between the Bias NEWS media and the difference between a commentator and a news anchor…REALLY PEOPLE!!!

EM at 4:13pm February 6
never take advice from a liberal when it comes to political commentators and who to trust… like everything else, they don’t know what they are talking about. watching CNN and MSNBC is like watching Al Jazeera. feel free to buy into the propaganda, i wont. I dare you to watch Fox NEWS for an entire day, lord knows i’ve given CNN and MSNBC plenty of chances to redeem themselves. They disappoint every time. but you’ll notice something, maybe you will become more open minded?! you’ll definitely identify the bias from those two stations.

RL at 4:22pm February 6

I like to turn it to MSNBC and CNN for just a few minutes to get a good laugh. Strap on your depends and take some tranqulizers in order to calm down from what you’re about to hear.I must admit I’m a person who prefers not being lied too most times.. FOX NEWS is the station to watch when you like to hear the truth.

Me at 6:07pm February 6
Okay, for all you media experts and Fox lovers.– Does anyone know what the Fairness Doctrine was?
-Does anyone know what the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules were?
– Can anyone describe the transforming role of the FCC in the wake of their removal
– Does anyone know how the repeal of those regulations have changed and reshaped the media that you see, particularly in the news arena?
– Have any of you viewed news about Iraq and Afghanistan, about the fiscal meltdown, from any news source other than Fox, and perhaps even from outside of this country?
– Do you just assume that anything on Fox is gospel and Al Jazeera is incapable of delivering a weather report that is truthful?
– Is there a reason we can no longer see images of our military dead when they are received in Dover, DE?
– Is there a reason reporters must be embedded with troops that they cover, like escorted, censored reporters in the Peoples Republic of China?

Just curious.

Me at 6:26pm February 6
From the Journal Science, researchers from Virginia, Nebraska and Texas. Liberals…

Political views have been thought to arise largely from individuals’ experiences, recent research suggests that they may have a biological basis. In a group of 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs, individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq War. Thus, the degree to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appears to indicate the degree to which they advocate policies….

I suspect the RNC is aware of this, since their political advertising makes great use of fear, shock

EM at 6:38pm February 6

I’m no media expert, though i could be, and i’m a fact lover, hence the reason why i watch FOX News. Clearly you don’t. because you if you were a fact lover, which comes with being a FOX News viewer, you would know the answers to all those questions smart guy. i suggest you look it up. and don’t use wikipedia either, thats a user created sourse, people who provide that “information” do so because they have an agenda… like those as CNN and MSNBC, looks like its working on you. and for the couple personal questions, i read constantly and interact with sources all over the world. take your pick between Pakistan, Israel, Labonon. You think you know something because you watch the BBC, thats real cute. FOX is not gospel, there is one gospel, but you wouldn’t know that becuase MSNBC IS your gospel. And you probably get off on seeing dead military members don’t you. if they were alive i bet you would spit on them. is that why you ask? most liberals are not embarassed by their ignorance

EM at 6:39pm February 6

wow, a pool of 46 people, and thats science. you should go make a movie about global warming based on that too!

Me at 7:05pm February 6

That sounds like a self-justifying argument based on circular reasoning. Why don’t you set out to prove that, using an exotic tool called… logic.Did you know the world isn’t flat? And the Journal Science, unlike Fox, doesn’t usually print unsubstantiated bullsh-t?

Your comments about my liking to get off on watching dead soldiers and spit on them are embarrassing and insulting. I grew up in the military. I went to the Air Force Academy with my father, who was a liaison officer. I stood in the draft for the Vietnam war. I didn’t serve, because by then it was clear it was a meatgrinder that wouldn’t be won.

You stated “most liberals are not embarassed by their ignorance…”

Actually, yes we are, and we strive to remedy it; but we’re more embarrassed by yours, because when you inevitably flout it, it reinforces the image of the ignorant, arrogant American.

DB, TH, RL this is one of yours. Does he make your heart swell with pride? I’m done.

EM at 7:18pm February 6

You should be embarassed, so remedy quick. looks like i got to you buddy. enjoy your weekend smothered in hate.

RL at 7:54pm February 6

Boys Boys,
Be nice to liberals.
Yes he is right. Lets be logical about this whole thing. Lets examine this frustrating thing called liberalism.
They drink the Kool Aid and they believe. It’s not there fault they are like this. It’s all in the DNA and early brain development.
We do now this about liberals. Most were bottle-fed, not breastfed. Ahhhhh poor things.
They got ripped off right from the start. Now they want to rip us off subconsciously.
They don’t even realize what they do and why they do it?
Early childhood nutrition is VERY IMPORTANT for normal brain health.
We also know many of them were heavy pot smokers, acid dropping hippies from the 60’s? The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Then we find they were over vaccinated. Ahhhh
.I’m guessing there was a high incidence of their Mothers using strong drugs during childbirth to ease pain too. Thus resulting in a phenomenon we now see as LIBERALISM. The problem is the DNA damage gets passed on thru the genes??

EM at 8:07pm February 6

ahhh, yes… i just did a 12 person study and the results concluded that most liberals in the study did not react to gunfire or bombs going off due to their overuse of drugs (mostly recreational) and childhood over innoculations, which results in their zombie like docile behavior.
I bowed out of this Charlie Foxtrot.  I’ll probably “de-friend” DB, not because I don’t like him, but who needs to have this crap thrown in your face, day after day, while the country is perched on the edge of the abyss?  I guess I should know better than engage these people.  And I do have some remorse for taunting EM, who clearly is a few cards short of a full deck.  But I am an optimist, and I do hope that sometimes, if you can keep talking with people, maybe try to have a little fun, you can make some headway.

Clearly, I was mistaken and the job of putting this country back on track after 8 years of Bush is going to be tough.  That’s no reason not to take on the job.  It’s a task worth tackling.

What’s more disturbing is the level of malice, hatred, disdain and disgust these “conservatives” have for anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  Their tendency to ignore issues and arguments, and just go for the groin.  If a dog behaved like that, Animal Control would probably euthanize them.  Here, in this great country, they get to vote.

There’s no self-examination, no question of whether the other person might have a valid point.  There’s no doubt and no curiosity.  That’s frightening, particularly when you consider we had one of those for the last 8 years with a nuclear football within reach.  That’s almost as scary as a terrorist with a suitcase bomb.

I have friends who are conservatives, military, law enforcement, and we’re capable of reasonable discourse.  They’re smart, decent people, and I think they percieve me in the same way.  We can argue, disagree and not even think of stooping to personal attack or derogatory language.  We accept our differences and let it go.  With respect, and affection.

Maybe it is the Internet.  This is social media.  It’s sort of like booze or grass: you get braver or less inhibited.  At least I hope that’s what it is.  But I have a sneaking suspicion these people would be pretty much like that if I met them face to face.  Just as mean-spirited and lacking in self-awareness as they were online.

All I know is that if I ever meet EM, one of us better have a great dental plan.

May the Higher Power of your choice gird your loins for the battles ahead.  They’re clearly going to be doozies.

What Reagan Knocked Down, Dubya Helped Rebuild

February 5th, 2009

According to the Christian Science Monitor and 50,000 other “liberal rags” President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of

Thanks, George.  And get your eyes checked...  Photo: LA Times

Thanks, George. And get your eyes checked... Photo: LA Times

Kyrgyzstan says he intends to close the Manas airbase to the US. This is the last US military base in former Soviet Central Asia.  Where was this announcement made?  In Moscow.  Sitting next to Russian president Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev.  Medvedev is a proxy for Vladimir Putin, the man into whose soul George Bush peered, reporting with great certainty that this was a good man.

“Manas, a sprawling installation that houses scores of US fighter planes and transport aircraft about 1-hour flight from the Afghan capital of Kabul, has been a key staging point for NATO operations in Afghanistan. Losing it would be a severe blow to Washington as it prepares to boost US forces in the region and searches for alternative supply lines to replace the troubled route through Pakistan.”

By tying our resources and forces down in a misguided war in Iraq and an under-resourced policing action in Afghanistan, and having to rely on Putin for his half-hearted support in the war on terror, Russian ambitions of regaining its former status were encouraged.  The massive rise in oil and gas prices funded those ambitions, at the same time as our economy was being weakened by spiking energy prices and sagging economic growth.

The Monitor reports “A US spokesman suggested Bakiyev’s gambit is aimed at wresting more cash from Washington, since rent for Manas has been poverty-stricken Kyrgyzstan’s biggest single source of revenue.

“I think it’s political positioning…. We have a standing contract, and they’re making millions off our presence there,” Colonel Greg Julian, US military spokesman in Afghanistan, told journalists.

But it’s clear that the power has shifted from Bakiyev to Putin, and that’s who President Obama’s team will have to deal.

Ronald Reagan, pounding on a progressive Russian leader Micail Gorbachev, helped bring down the Berlin wall and the Iron Curtain of Soviet domination.

George W. Bush, sputtering in the face of an emboldened Russian hardliner, has helped lay the foundations for new walls and an increased Russian influence over its former satellites.  Strident words were all we could manage when the Russians invaded Georgia.  What else was there?  All our resources are committed, and we’ve stretched our military beyond the breaking point, fighting the wrong wars in the wrong ways, at a terrible cost in blood and treasure.

If you voted for Bush once, you can be forgiven.

If you voted for him twice,  you should be ashamed and should lend your support to a new President.

If you’d vote for Bush again, you really should wake up, get some serious therapy and look at what the voting public said.  Maybe you need to re-evaluate your ideological fixation.  Because this isn’t the 19th century world of global empires.  It’s the flat, crowded and sweaty 21st century world, and America needs to reposition itself as a moral leader as well as a superpower.  The values of Enron, Worldcom, Blackwater and Haliburton can no longer stand if this country is going to.

Change is coming.  Change is essential.  Get out of the road, and get on the bus.

Pres. Obama and Vice President Biden: Investigations and prosecutions are required.  Make the hard decisions and put the prosecutors to work.  Show that the rule of law matters and that no one is above it.

May the Higher Power of your choice guide your thoughts and contemplations.

It’s Time to Break Out the Grapes of Wrath

January 20th, 2009
Next on the docket... Photo from Et Cetera

Next on the docket... Photo from Et Cetera

It’s inauguration day.  Time to sweep out the old, sweep in the new, with all the hope and faith we can muster.  The nation, in fact the world, is in crisis.  While we can’t put all our faith in one man, we’d better be prepared as a nation to back him.

It’s time to break out the Grapes of Wrath.  The last 8 years have been a very bad vintage, Demokrazi from Maison Bushe y Cheney.  Not only should we throw all vestiges of that slop out, we need to go back and finish the job. 

Joe Biden said he was going to pursue investigations.  We need to hold his feet to the fire.  There were acts that were clearly criminal and conspiratorial in nature.  They need to be investigated and those who were responsible for failure in oversight, in advocating lax policies, in manipulating intelligence leading to war, in leaking top-secret information compromising our intelligence, abuse of power and any of the myriad high crimes and misdemeanors of this regime NEED TO BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE.

Read this in The Nation:

Yes, they need to be brought before the bar, they need to be given their day in court and, if found guilty, punished to the full extent of the law, whether they were in the White House, or in the Bureau of Land Management office in Denver.

It’s not about vengeance, it’s about public justice and deterence.  Maybe the death penalty won’t deter all murderers, but it will certainly give many of them pause.  If, in the future, politicians, bureaucrats and party apartchiks know they will be held accountable, that ethical conduct is the bottom line, maybe we have a chance at reform.

Speaking of reform, campaign finance reform would be another item to add to the list.  Along with reversing that insane legal concept that political contributions from labor or management is somehow considered “political speech” and not to be regulated.

Punishing the guilty won’t solve all our problems.  But it may ward off a few in the future.  It may make someone think twice before allowing or soliciting that gratuity as a quid pro quo for performance outside of the professional, ethical and legal boundaries.

Break out the Grapes of Wrath.  Let the liberte nouveau vintage flow over this country, and spread around the world.

And on this historic day, may the Higher Power of your choice shine light, joy and prosperity on you and those you hold dear, and may that number be many.

Bush’s Last Stand

January 12th, 2009

In President Bush’s last press conference, he seemed thoughtful, almost jocular.  A long way from “I am the Decider” and the self-convinced stridency of most of his eight year term, though glimpses of that creepy spectre sneaked out from time to time.

When queried about the current state of the GOP, he cited previous declines – including after his father’s presidency – and also periods of ascendancy.  He seemed confident it would happen again, but cautioned that the party needed to convey a message of compassion, of openness.

The problem with that is his focus on the message rather than the reality, the words versus the actions.

Ths “compassionate conservative” has been neither. 

Policies of pre-emptive war, massive transfers of wealth to the elite, opposition to and undermining of long-fought and hard-won regulations to protect the environmental and economic welfare of the nation, gutting of the middle class in support of free market and free trade principles are not compassionate, any more than campaigning against the lifestyles of people whose values are different from yours.  And conservative values – smaller, less-intrusive government and fiscal responsibility and accountability – don’t seem to have a place in his world, except insofar as they benefit people like him: white, wealthy,  heterosexual and part of the power elite of this nation.

Much of the rest of his press conference was spent explaining and rationalizing the blunders and miscalculations great and small, as examples of leadership.  And while not claiming his choices would be vindicated by history, he still seemed to have little sense of what a tragic impact his lack of leadership has had on this nation and the world.  America is poorer, less safe and more embattled on more fronts than at any time that we haven’t been involved in a global war.  Human rights and the valued privileges of American citizenship have never been more imperiled since the McCarthy era.  The shadow of Gitmo loomed large in the background.

One thing that did give me heart was the following statement by the soon-to-be ex-president:

“When I get out of here, I’m getting off the stage.”

It would not cause me much concern if he exited the stage and began dedicating himself to a worthwhile task: defending himself against charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.  Unfortunately, he and his defenders may be able to shield themselves with assertions of inability to foresee, ignorance, being misled by bad intelligence and other such hogwash.

I hope that the Obama administration will support Vice President Biden, and that the American public will hold them to the promise to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice those involved in the acts of ill-will and criminality that have so severely damaged our country, at home and abroad.

May the Higher Power of your choice support you and all Americans in the long effort before us to rebuild a nation that can proudly claim to be “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”.

Where Are We Going From Here?

December 20th, 2008
Detroit's Finest       Photo: NY Times

Detroit's Finest Photo: NY Times

It appears that the auto industry will be getting a bailout package, this one with strings, unlike the deal Hank Paulson got for the financial industry.

I find it amazing that as of today, some polls find 55% of Americans oppose the bailout.  Not the best thing, but considering the alternative – even more disruption to the financial landscape while the banks sit on their hands and the first installment of their “stings-free” bailout money – it’s probably the best course of action available for now. Chrysler, which received a bailout decades ago, rebounded to become a much stronger company.  I think there is potential for that to happen again.  But that’s only one small asset of our national debacle.

Now that we’ve established that the automobile industry and the oil industry are not simply innocent bystanders in the global credit crisis but active participants in their own demise-based-on-avarice, what do we have to look forward to?

Elizabeth Kolbert in her article in the New Yorker (11/5/07) Running on Fumes, noted that renewable energy is the main problem, and that “If someone, somewhere, comes up with a source of power that is safe, inexpensive, and for all intents and purposes inexhaustible, then we, the Chinese, the Indians, and everyone else on the planet can keep on truckin’. Barring that, the car of the future may turn out to be no car at all.”

I’m not sure that everyone here or elsewhere on the planet should “keep on truckin'” as we have for decades.  Cars should be less central to our transportation model, and perhaps expanded car sharing systems and enhanced public transportation should get a bigger slice of the pie.

That means we need to pay a realistic price for our energy, so that we can make market-based choices considering time and money.  It seems to work in regard to tobacco.  Though there are die-hard puffers out there, economics and health education seem to have had a significant impact on smoking.  Why not on transportation and energy?

Maybe the kind of cars we drive is something we should take a look at: do you really need a Chevy Suburban to run to the market for milk?  Could you maybe get by with an electric neighborhood vehicle?  Or, heaven forbid, walk or ride a bike?

Maybe the fact of car ownership is something to look at.  Most of our cars are expensive pavement weights for most of every 24-hour period, and I don’t seen any danger of the pavement blowing away.  Maybe car sharing for when you need a car, using public transportation when possible, and utilizing good old muscle power are worthwhile alternatives.

If you’re going to San Francisco from Los Angeles, do you really need to fly, or would you be better of taking a much more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly high-speed train?  After years of wrangling, that may be a possibility now that the political tide has turned in California.

Maybe we should consider and support the concept of a down-sized, more efficient and more responsive auto industry, as opposed to having another manufacturing industry disappear from our shores, along with millions of productive jobs.

Industry in this country survives on quarter-by-quarter returns.  Government is here for the long haul.

Industry is here for profit.  Government is, or should be, of, by and for the people.

Who are both industry and government supposed to serve?  Us, the people, not the entitled elite.  Not feed us from cradle to grave, but to choose wise policies that look to the future and that don’t increase the yawning gap between the haves and the have nots.

What do we traditionally call high government officials?  Leaders.  It’s time for them to lead.

Government should be leading, not being led around by the nose by industry and other well-funded special interests.

Now, with a Democratic president and potentially a nearly filibuster-proof Democratic majority, lets see if a different party can make a difference.  Not by toeing the party line, but by reaching across the aisle when it counts, not just for photo ops.  Lets see if they can do what the GOPlicans promised to do.  And not succumb to the siren songs of power and ideology.

In closing, I have to admit aht it is rich that a Republican Administration is administering the fiscal impetus to automakers over the opposition of the Republican legislators, and that Democrats are supporting the Bush Administration in rescuing Detroit.  Life is full of surprises.

If you like what you read here, share it with five friends today.  It’s how the word gets out, because I had to let our Madison Avenue ad gurus go. (smile)

May the Higher Power of your choice help you choose enthusiasm and optimism, because those are sentiments and perspectives we’ll need in the days to come.

You Want Me to… Lead?

November 25th, 2008

Where was our government when the auto and energy industries were stealing our nuts for their larder?

Basically, our leaders were toadying up to the corporate buffet table.

Detroit leaned on legislators to give it a nearly two-decades long “pass” on raising CAFE (corporate average fleet economy) standards and they fought efforts by states like California to make vehicles cleaner.  California had, for decades, held the right to maintain higher air quality standards for vehicles sold within the Golden State, even though it was consistently challenged by the auto industry and the oil industry. 

It was only when California attempted to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to global warming that the auto and oil interests, backed by oilmen in the White House, finally broke the back of this historic exception.  The auto industry presented the regulation of GHG tailpipe emissions as a back door attempt to force higher fuel economy standards, a power reserved to the federal government.  The result of GHG emissions reduction would have required higher fuel economy, since CO2, the most common GHG, is a direct byproduct of fuel combustion: less fuel burned, fewer gases.  The courts finally crippled California’s hard-won and long held right.  Just in time for our latest energy crisis.

In 1993 the U.S. government and the U.S. automotive industry joined in a partnership, the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) (see Wikipedia and to establish U.S. leadership in the development and production of affordable, fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles that meet all customer needs. The partnership involves 7 federal agencies, the national laboratories, universities, suppliers and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR); DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp.  The goal was to build a passenger car capable of 80mpg with the kind of performance, comfort and amenities consumers wanted, and presumably at a price they could afford.  While automakers and government laboratories fiddled on experimental vehicles, it was clear that this was a publicity stunt.  The PNGV petered out, eventually coming up with a best effort of a 62mpg vehicle which no one would ever make.

Then there was the notorious SUV loophole in the tax code, which allowed any small business – not just the farmers and construction contractors it was designed for – to purchase a truck or SUV over 6,000lbs and get a nearly 100% tax credit for the purchase.  That’s why every accountant, pimp and rock star had one or more of the gas-sucking beasts in their garage, and why Detroit could keep selling these monsters with the fat profit margins.  Talk about a transfer of wealth via the tax code…

Beyond that, government requirements for fleets to invest in alternative fuel vehicles when they replaced or expanded were ignored.  Not even the Department of Energy, the agency charged with overseeing the implimentation of the fleet rules, followed the guidelines.  The DOE was called on repeatedly to take action and refused until a coalition of environmental organizations took them to court in 2005 and finally won in 2007.  Even so, the Bush junta has punted this and all other significant environmental enforcement to the Obama administration.  The recent upgrading in CAFE standards is almost laughable.  I’ll call it only chuckle-worthy, since some progress – however late and lame – is better than none, particularly when the state of the planet is at stake.

Where should government have been?  Government should have been looking to the future, seeing that oil wasn’t limitless, that our national and economic security was based on access – not the ungodly cheap right – to affordable energy, notably petroleum or petroleum substitutes.  It should have seen that part of its role was to encourage and if necessary require and incent research and development to wean us off foreign oil imports, and move us toward a cleaner and more efficient transportation model.  It should have recognized and acted on the fact that the U.S. public was NOT paying the true costs of its petroleum dependency, that the pump price didn’t include the cost of health care and environmental degradadtion related to smog and tailpipe emssions, the political and military costs involved with ensuring the continued flow of black gold to this country, the costs of replacing petroleum and its derivatives in our services and products.   

In not pursuing this role, the U.S. government not only failed the people of this country, it also failed the business community.  Part of the government’s role is to provide an organized and stable marketplace.  No, that’s not in the Constitution, but neither is not taking a dump in the middle of Main Street.

Where does that leave us?  More on that next time.

Don’t forget to visit our online storefront at CafePress.  Hold on to some of the images of this memorable election cycle and support our efforts, and remember: the job is not done.

May the Higher Power of your choice guide your reflection on what you want from our leaders, then kick you in the butt to go out and demand it.

Where the Free Market Fails Us…

November 20th, 2008

If you look at our auto and energy industries and the state they are in today, they are perfect examples ofYou want me to... what? where market forces failed us.  They are. at the least, strong arguments that the economic Darwinism that free marketers promote may result in stronger markets in the long run, but that the path they take can have brutal consequences for people living under and functioning in those markets, for whom those markets presumably exist and are meant to serve.  Maybe we could accept a little less growth for corporate entities and a little better quality of life for human entities. 

In the 1970s, we in the U.S. experienced the oil embargo.  Long lines at gas stations, skyrocketing fuel prices, economic recession and a real wake up call that our dependence on foreign oil was a huge Achilles heel.  Republican president Richard Nixon declared a war on energy dependence, promising a future of alternative fuels, greater fuel efficiency and other efforts to break the stranglehold of Middle Eastern oil on our economy.

Then fuel prices went down, and the investment market dried up for all these efforts and solutions.  Government programs and incentives dried up.  America went back to its old habits.  And the percentage of oil we import has been growing ever since.

The American auto industry promised new, better quality and more fuel-efficient cars.  In the 1970s, Detroit offered few if any models that could be remotely considered fuel-efficient or environmentally friendly.  The Big Three turned to foreign automakers in Japan to supply small, economical vehicles, while developing some pretty sad versions of their own.  Anyone remember the Ford Pinto or the Chevy Vega? 

And then, when gas prices dropped, Detroit went back to its old ways, only returning seriously to the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and lower emissions vehicles when foreign competition and government environmental regulation beat them – the domestic auto makers – like a rented mule.

Detroit, which had killed the electric car, suddenly found itself confronted with hybrid gasoline electric vehicles.  Dragged kicking and screaming to the party, Detroit finally started to see the light when its market for gas guzzling SUVs and pickups started cratering.  It gingerly stepped into the hybrid game more than half a decade after the first Prius showed up in the U.S.

And where was the government?  

More on that in our next installment.

And don’t forget to forward this to your friends, family and socially aware people you know.  It takes a village to raise a child.  It takes a global community to empower an idea.

May the Higher Power of your choice motivate you to do something today that will make a difference.

Beware of Neocons Bearing Gifts…

November 17th, 2008
The Grinch Who Stole Freedom - J. LeFrancois

The Grinch Who Stole Freedom - J. LeFrancois

The gift we’ve gotten from the Neoconservative junta in Washington just doesn’t stop giving.

Opaque, unregulated betting at the global crap tables by the economic elite has brought us to the edge of a substantial abyss.

It’s brought the global credit and financial system to its knees, and when a global superpower like General Motors is contemplating bankruptcy, one might think this is a gift we should have declined. Not that Detroit wasn’t hip deep in sowing the seeds of its own destruction, buying decades of freedom from fuel economy and emissions reduction requirements, fighting anything remotely progressive fork and tong while European and Asian competitors continued developing more efficient and cleaner vehicles. Even when Detroit gets its act together and retools for hybrids and electric vehicles, there may be some nasty surprises: lithium-ion batteries, on which the global auto industry is pinning its hopes, may become even more expensive as the proven supplies of lithium are limited, and one of the biggest supplies on the horizon is in Bolivia, where the government is none too friendly to Washington.

Even China, with it’s nova-hot growth, is being forced to inject economic stimulus into its economy. And remember, these are the guys who hold a substantail amount of OUR debt.

But if world leaders have anything to say about it, there will be some substantial changes.

For one thing, the G8 is now becoming… the G20. Does anyone think that will increase America’s influence in world affairs?

France’s Sarkozy is looking like a statesman, and George Bush is looking like a lame duck with a price on his head, or maybe the Grinch who obliterated Christmas 2008.

If this is what the proponents of The Project for a New American Century have brought us with their policies and initiatives for freedom and global influence, I wish we had just said, “No thanks!” in 2000 and 2004.  I did, and half the country did.  But there are still some slow learners out there…

As it is, let’s hope we can stand with resolution and say to the proponents of unregulated capitalism, “never again”.  However, human memory is short, and human nature is reliable and consistent.

I only hope that we can get some of this right before we start spreading humankind to other planets.  When is the Starship Enterprise set for launch?

This is when American character will be tested.  I remain optimistic that as a nation, we are up to the challenge.

May the Higher Power of your choice help restore both the nation’s confidence and sanity, and start generating some good will and compassion in the coming holiday season.

It’s Nice When My Conservative Friends Suggest Topics…

November 13th, 2008

Well, I’m back from a brief respite, post election.

I have to admit, it was nice to relax for a few days, and let the waves of desperation and hope wash over me.  Then from out of the blue, one of my conservative friends – YES, I have them! – sent me this, spurring me to action.

“I know it’s probably crazy for me to suggest a topic for your blog, but I heard some news that made me think of you and made me furious at the same time…

“American Express is now considered a bank holding company!”

“Here is quick link that summarizes the info:

“With this new status, it allows AMEX to borrow money from the Fed to continue its operations.  It’s a travesty and a scam.  They cut their card holders off at the knees and then want to borrow money at a discounted rate from the Fed which is funded by tax payers which are their card members!  The absurd has become real….”

Considering my recent experience with the company whose name rhymes with Contrarian Sex Dress, my friend’s missive was just the tonic I needed to swing back into the saddle.

Although I’m a Democrat, from a long line of Democrats – well, I think my black sheep brother may have been won over to the other side, now that he’s successful and married into a Texas family with ties to the “erl bidness” – I don’t see this as just a Republican problem.  Though I love Bill Clinton, he was not exactly a bastion of virtue in the area of regulation, or in any number of other areas dear to my heart.  But it’s like Bush & Co.  were just waiting for the opportunity to push the regulatory rollercoaster over the top, plunging headlong into the depths of deregulation hell.

Oops.  There are some missing rail sections down below – I guess the war cut into the maintenance budget – and we’re going to fly screaming into the depths of Lucifer’s kingdom for fiscal idiots, because of someone’s screwed up visiton of how this country is supposed to work and who it’s supposed to work for.

Watching this financial meltdown is like watching a sadomasochistic version of the Keystone Kops robbing the Federal banking system.  You hear about something like the American Express story my friend spoke of, and I really, truly and sincerely wonder:

Where is Hunter S. Thompson when we need him?

I love Thomas Freedman and I’m currently reading Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew. but somehow the world just seems hollow without the primeval howl of Thompson baying at the various emperors and czars tiptoeing around in their latest finery, confident we won’t see their flacid, bloodless flesh on display along with healthy doses of hubris. 

The sad thing is, a signficant percentage of our population doesn’t see through the facade.  The phrase, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” and visions of pledge hazing flash through my mind.  There are actually people who’d vote for Bush again.  Gluttons for punishment, aren’t they?

When are our leaders going to wake up to the blindingly obvious fact that you cannot hand money unfettered to these corrupted Brahmins?  Lack of restraint and the absence of accountability is what got us here.

So, while my friend was angered by this revelation about American Express, I can say I’m not surprised in the least.  Disgusted, yes.  Outraged, yes.  Offended?  Highly.  But not angered nor surpised.  I expect no less, and that’s sort of what Thomas Frank gets around to in his book.  Either the neocon agenda is to so undermine peoples’ faith in government, or else we’ve got a bunch of ideolog babboons who think they’re speaking to God in the White House.

What difference does it make?

I am buoyed to see the rising confidence in Obama, and that people think we’ll be better off in four years.  Because with houses dropping 30-50%, with gasoline approaching the lowest prices we’ve seen in years, it’s clear that so much of the debacle gripping us now is what Roosevelt warned us of: the fear of fear itself

And if those people at the Contrarian Sex Dress company think I’ll forget what they did to me and millions of other cardmembers – a nice phrase for indentured servants – they don’t know who they’re dealing with.

As my friend Taylor Bledsoe would say, “Never underestimate the power of an ornery critter”.  I can be pretty ornery when I put my mind to it.

Contrarian Sex Dress Co., consider yourself warned.

May the Higher Power of your choice watch over you and your loved ones – and your stock portfolio and 401k – in the days to come.

Enjoying the Moment…

November 5th, 2008

An acquaintance with whom I’d sparred vehemently during the latter days of the political race sent me a

The torch is passed to a new generation

The torch is passed to a new generation

message this morning, in the aftermath of the Obama landslide.

“Enjoy the moment. :)”

I really didn’t know how to take this because despite the heat of our exchanges and the polar disagreements we engaged in, it could have been entirely genuine. But just saying that without any qualification or explanation left a big question mark for me. He had also recently become a citizen, and this was his first presidential vote.

I tried to respond in a way that acknowledged what I hoped was a genuine well-wishing that also honestly expressed my feelings in the aftermath.

Thanks, ___. I did.

Our country took a giant leap into the 21st Century, electing a young African American candidate in a landslide that dwarfs anything his predecessor even approached. In addition to millions of new voters, Independents and Republicans crossed over to make that happen.

The moment is over.

Now the work begins to dig us out of the bottomless pit that eight years of George Bush’s policies has dug us into. I can tell you that I am NOT better off today than I was four years ago, and a helluva lot worse off than I was eight years ago. If you’re not worse off, then God bless you, because you’re in the minority. Obama has an unbelievable task before him, and I think we all need to pray that he’s up to it.

Congratulations on your citizenship and on your vote. We can either all row in the same direction and get through this horrid rough patch, or we can continue pulling in different directions and break up the boat.

I enjoyed the moment. The work awaits.

I prefer to think that my acquaintance was sincere, and that he realizes what we all have at stake. Because if Obama fails, we all fail. And we’ll be taking a lot of other people who didn’t have the power of a vote in the US Presidentail campaign with us. That is precisely what has happened under George Bush, and is both the threat and the promise when any American is elected president.

I just hope that my vote was well cast, and that we can all look back in eight years and say we’re living in a safer, more peaceful and more prosperous world, where the US economy is healthy again and part of a rejuvenated global economy. A time when the money we send overseas won’t be for oil and war, but to help lift up others and to spread the OPTION of demoncracy.

Sadly, I don’t think that all the cultures and countries of this world will ever embrace democracy; but if we can lead by example and provide an illustration of what a regulated capitalistic system operating in a free and democratic framework can achieve, we’ll have done what we needed to do.

You can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I’ll be interested to see if my acquaintance is willing to drink from the real waters of democracy, where we don’t always get what we want, but where generally, we get what we need. In this election, the needs were great, and the will of a clear majority was expressed.

Obama not only won the electoral vote, he won the popular vote. He is the choice of Americans representing all races, creeds, colors, religions, ethnic origins and socio-economic status. I hope those who disagreed with the outcome will, nonetheless, support the man elected to the highest office in the world. The future of the nation and possibly the world hangs in the balance.

May the Higher Power of your choice bless Barack Obama and guide his decisions. Although the affairs of men are of little note in the great scheme of the Universe, they’re pretty damned important to me.

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