Monthly Archives: February 2009

-6.2%

Annualized in 08Q4. 10% is one marker of a depression.

So, it’s worse and now a poll shows 2/3rds of Americans of both parties think we will need another stimulus. Obama chess. Nice.

The next stimulus should include Medicare for everyone.

I've got your tea party right here.

So, Bobby The Page, how about this:

1. New Jersey ($0.62)
2. Connecticut ($0.64)
3. New Hampshire ($0.68)
4. Nevada ($0.73)
5. Illinois ($0.77)
6. Minnesota ($0.77)
7. Colorado ($0.79)
8. Massachusetts ($0.79)
9. California ($0.81)
10. New York ($0.81)

This information shows how much each state gets back per dollar it sends to the federal government.

Notice anything about these states in the bottom 10? Every single one is a 2008 blue state. Every. Single. One. And yet we have to listen to fucking conservative assholes from the welfare states whine about California spending beyond its means? Give us our 19% back you motherfucker and we wouldn’t have a deficit.
How about we enforce a dollar for dollar rule on federal taxes? It will never happen, but it’s ludicrous for these stupid mutherfuckers to say anything when they are sucking our money away and they criticize *US* of being the leeches.

Go to hell, Jindal. California should demand that number be changed to at least .90.

Banks

Sure, the CATO institute isn’t going to be in favor of the government owning one share of any bank, let alone have 100% control. And technocrats know that all that would happen is that the banks would be cleaned up and spun back off.

That’s not the problem.

The problem is the clean up, whether it’s done just by regulation or by internal control. The couple of thousand people at the top of these banks that would be purged are rich, yes, and that counts for a lot, yes, but they have a direct line to power in both parties. You know, these guys that sauna with Geithner and know that he has a huge mole somewhere private.

So, Krugman et al. know what we need to do. I know what we need to do. Obama probably does too. But the reality is, we’re just not there politically yet. To get there, there must be more pain.

You can know everything you need to know about banking and economics to fix this situation. But unless you know your politics, you can’t project whether those solutions will be implemented timely.

Just consider global warming. Everyone knows about it. People denying it know its real, but just want to shit on liberalism or continue to pollute cause it makes them money. Everyone’s known about it for 20 years, and anyone who pays any attention to science knew about it 30 years ago. And nothing has been done, in fact, it’s only been made worse. The reason is simple: the politics of fixing the problem don’t exist. Even if there was a syncronicity of governments in power with the will to pass a real global warming treaty, most of them would fall when the consequences hit those countries. Only when people see a disaster or two will they act.

Same with the banks. Difference is we’ll see the banking disaster this year.

Columns From A Parallel Universe

This article

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/feb/24/california-republicans-cpac

claims that it’s California’s liberalism that has resulted in crumbling schools, pollution, and fiscal collapse. Clearly this guy isn’t from this universe…

…where the Republicans have held the Governor’s mansion for 13 of the last 42 years, where the right has pushed and funded a number of right wing “reforms” that have caused this mess. For some reason, to guys like this, the Democrats have always run California.

The reason these “reforms” have been passed is the right has constantly pushed to limit further and further the power of their perceived liberal oppressors in Sacramento. Well, it worked. They have given the Legislature so little power to adapt through their “reforms” that it is essentially unable to function.

California needs reform, but the idea that liberals are to blame is nuts. Republicans working the refs because they can’t win elections on ideas is to blame.

25th Whacko To Propose California Split

http://downsizeca.org/Home_Page.html

These plans are always brought by tinfoil right Republicans, and they will never happen (it would just add two GOP senators). But, I’m down.

I would alter his proposal to include ALL of the coastal counties north to Oregon in California and let the state of Fresno (haha) have everything else. So, LA, Ventura, Santa Barabara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda, Solano, Napa, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte.

I’d hate to imagine what those assholes would do to the Sierra and the water sources, but it would be worth it to be rid of them.

UCR, UCSD, UCI, UCM, and UCD are in Fresno. California would keep Berkeley, UCSF, UCSC, UCSB, and UCLA. That’s a bummer, but if we could get rid of those redneck fucks we’d probably have five new UCs in 10 years.

Check and Mate

“I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.”

May have noticed that the Conservatron legs were a little creaky in rising for the applause line in bold above. That’s because their entire ideology is predicated on some people loving their country more than others, or somehow being more American than others. Of course, in the unofficial State of the Union context, no Conservatron could sit through that statement, even as it drove a stake through their fetid dark hearts.

All that leaves the Conservatrons is Bobby Jindal the Page, sounding like he is reading a children’s book full of false choices and nonsense, having his own McCain Green Screen moment.

The T1000 Dies

At the end of Terminator 2, when they put the T1000 into the molten iron his death throes consist of fleeting changes into the forms of the people who he has killed in order to assume their shape.

This is more or less what is going on with Conservatism right now. The last election put their asses in the iron, and they’re in their death throes. And they are ugly, and they are violent. It’s funny, because the media is playing along like they’re still relevant. Unless you count all 41 Republicans senators as part of the Far Right (I don’t) they are totally, utterly irrelevant in Washington D.C. right now. Except for the fact that they still seem to get more air time and column inches.

But people are more or less ignoring the pundits right now. More than usual.

Like the T1000, the Conservatives are flashing through their multiple personalities. Fiscal budget slasher. Heroic deregulator. Defender of those who play by the “rules.” Tax cutters extrodinaire. “Serious” foreign policy advocate. Monocled robber baron. Ecstatic evangelical.

But each face that presents itself does nothing more than scream before it exhausts itself.

We are hearing a bunch of light weight Governors play Orval Faubus and try to keep the n— lovin’ federal troops away, not from desegregating schools, but from putting people to work because the money is “wasteful.” FAIL.

We then hear a fraud pundit who everyone takes for some kind of intellectual because he wears a bowtie (to me it’s just evidence—more evidence—he belongs on the short bus) deny global warming as a hoax. FAIL.

There were even some ironic rumblings from rubberstamp Republicans of the Bush era (I’m looking at you Walnuts) complaining about deficit spending. Haha.

There was that piece of shit on CNBC complaining about “paying losers’ mortgages” and there’s a Limbaugh fan at every watercooler telling you that “you’re paying” for all of these bailouts. The latter group appear only when non-bankers need bailouts. Odd phenomenon. Hypocrisy FAIL.

All of this seems so threatening, like the right is building a head of steam. Really, they’re just reorienting themselves to their natural place: the loud and whiny opposition. This is exactly what they sounded like in 1964. It’s exactly what they sounded like in 1992. Rinse, repeat.

They complain and sabotage until the governing consensus folks lose power, then they come in and fuck shit up one way or another, so we take their toys away and they cry.

Having a “just say no” policy towards Obama is going to get you a lot of high fives from the douchebags who still listen to Rush and who attend Republican conventions, but it’s not going to get you any votes.

The Republicans would be wise to look at a guy like Schwarzenegger, but of course, they hate him and their in the process of lynching him and anyone else who tries to govern. In California, Democrats even act like they’re the Governing party when they’re not—and it gets them screwed.

Old habits die hard—like the T1000 in the iron.

How do they keep doing this?

How is it that for all of the populist rage at the bank bailout that you hear around the watercooler (which used to include “where’s my bailout?”) we now have a torrent of people complaining about—well—their bailout. The constant refrain is that “they’re paying for it” because they are “taxpayers.” Were you not paying for it when you paid credit card interest? Were you not paying for it when your 401(k) tanked?

We’re always paying for it.

The question is whether the government should act to fix the system, or just reinflate the bubble.

California is falling apart

As we speak, the California government is falling into chaos. The Democrats were about to give the farm away to the minority in order to remove their veto, given by virtue of the state’s 2/3rds requirement to vote on anything of substance. California is on the edge of default.

California Fail.

You really have to see this to believe it. It’s 1 a.m. and both houses of the California legislature are in session. Passing and not passing and reworking and reworking a series of bills designed to give the state a budget. What they’re about to pass is going to do serious and long-lasting damage to this state.

2009 Will Be More Like 1933 than 1993

The Stim will soon be passed with fractional Conservatron support. The sample size is small, but two situations similar to this one offer potential guidance on how the politics of this will play out.

Example One is 1933 when FDR passed a substantial part of his New Deal legislation with minimal GOP support. The media back then was owned almost entirely by the same class of people that attempted a fascist Coup against FDR. In spite of the negative reaction from the out-of-powers-that-be, the Democrats expanded their majorities in the 1934 mid-terms and FDR won more states and total votes in 1936 than he did in 1932. This neat feat was accomplished even as the Depression dragged on because, regardless of what the Conservatron elite claimed, the New Deal made things better. Where once there was no job, now one was a part of the CCC. You didn’t have electricity, but after the New Deal, you did. This self-evident improvement was the cornerstone of the Progressive Populism that reigned over the American polity until 1968.

Example Two is Clinton’s Balance Budgeting of 1993. The 1993 recession was not as bad as the Great Depression; but personal desperation is personal desperation, regardless of how society at large is fairing. Clinton came into office without a popular majority and could not get a stimulus bill through Congress and had to nix the Middle Class tax cut that he had campaigned on. The Budget Bill that finally passed reduced taxes on the poorest Americans, raised them on the richest Americans, and cut the budget. Although the economy soon recovered it did not begin producing many new jobs until late 1995. Without the stimulus or the Middle Class tax cuts, and with typical venal negativity from the Conservatrons and their water carriers in the media, the lot of most Americans did not appear to improve. The Democrats got trounced in the 1994 mid-terms and Clinton had to largely play defense for the rest of the 90s.

The Great Economic Collapse is closer to the Great Depression than the early 90s recession, but in many ways self-evident improvements are harder to establish. Developing and deploying non-GHG emitting energy through an Apollo style program would better the lives of everyone on the planet and probably set the stage for an economic boom. It would also take several years before the benefit became obvious.

My instinct (and it is just that) is that the full extent that America is screwed economically has not become entirely apparent yet. While the Stim is probably not enough, it is something, and could well be just about the only game in town for quite sometime. More importantly is includes most of Obama’s promised tax cut. Conservatrons can poo-poo the $13 per week nature of it, but having an additional $26 in each bi-weekly paycheck will make a tremendous difference to this typical American because it extends, for one day, the amount of time at the end of a pay period when I am not broke. That the Conservatrons cannot grok this demonstrates just how far through the looking glass they have fallen.

The Stimulus will create or preserve jobs for millions of Americans, and it will put some important extra dollars in the pocket of everyone. It will be up to Obama and the Democrats to keep on pointing out these benefits to underline them for those that are not directly assisted. With the economy lagging but the Stimulus bill providing a few sparks of sustenance the Democrats should be poised to win a few House Seats and, more importantly, a couple more Senate seats.

With over sixty Senators Obama may be able to complete the New Deal/Great Society and pass Universal Health Care, thereby providing the last technologically feasible self-evident benefit to everyone and setting up a landslide reelection in 2012.

For Once, The GOP Is Outflanked.

Chess games are usually measured by their cost or benefit in relation to losing one pawn. Just looking at the board on the basis of a pawn for pawn exchange is much like playing checkers. Sometimes you can sacrifice a little bit of material and end up in a position to win the game as a result, even if you are behind in material. This is called a gambit.

Obama and Pelosi attempted to deal with Republicans, who then cast zero votes for the Stimulus in the House. The Senate got its usual narcissistic Old WASP Male attention time, and now it’s done with three Republicans scrambling to be the two that form a coalition with Democrats, leaving the Broken Record GOP making motions for a trillion dollars in corporate tax cuts.

Then, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (!) backs the stimulus. Obama goes across country and people hear about the woman living in her car and Caterpillar’s pledge to rehire workers it’s about to lay off if the bill passes. “Centrists” paid for their time in the spotlight by being hit with tough criticism from both side. Have we ever heard so much trash about Ben Nelson before?

That’s all brilliant, but it’s not as brilliant as this part (despite what it might look at upon first read, this is nor sarcasm): the stimulus is nowhere big enough. It’s maybe 33-50% of what’s necessary to fix the problem. How can I say that with so much confidence? Because the states are mostly screwed. California alone is making $17 billion in cuts. And so, why is this brilliant? Because the Republicans are now branded as the party that made this too small. Believe me, when the economy doesn’t come back, we’re not going to blame the stimulus. If things don’t get better, people are going to demand more, not less. Even Democratish tax cuts (middle class income tax cuts as opposed to estate taxes) pretty much only benefit working people. If there is 15% unemployment, that ain’t going to cut it.

And next time Obama can say we’re not going to deal with them much because they limited it too much last time. The fact that two weeks were spent negotiating with just three or four Republicans—well, next time, after Al Franken gets in, it will only take 1. And guess what? Prisoner’s Dillema time. “Well, Arlen, we’d love to work with you, but we only need one more vote. So, if you can make us a better offer than Susan or Olympia, we’d appreciate your support. Do you want to be on the wrong side of this when you’re up for reelection? The right wing isn’t going to save you. They’re going to try to primary you again. If you don’t get some crossover support, you’re toast.”

And in the end he mostly got what he wanted. Obama 5, Congressional Dems 2, Senate Dems 0, Senate Republicans -3, House GOP -6.

We’re not at the bottom yet. A few states will probably have to go bankrupt for serious action to be taken. And, oh boy, when we hear that happened because of Hoover economics. Wow.

I know it’s early and I know there are things that have been bumpy the first two weeks, but they will be forgotten. Obama will get to appoint 2 Supreme Court justices in his first term. I think we may get 60 senators in 2010. I think that means we might get healthcare in 2011.

Israel's Epic Fail

Everything that makes Israel intellectually defensible (as opposed to the raw emotion appeal of a Jewish homeland) rests on Israel’s status as a democracy. Sure, it’s not a perfect democracy. But who is? Yes, they have problems with their minority population that they displaced. But that’s not unique. Just ask a Native American, an Irish person, or even a Lappish person. Judging Israel by harsher and stricter standards than we judge other western nations shows a huge bias against it.

Saying they’re our ally isn’t enough. Lots of brutal dictatorships are our “allies.” What makes Israel defensible is that it is a western-style democracy, warts and all.

So, when Avigdor Lieberman wins control of a block of swing votes with the intention of ethnically cleansing Israel (and I’m fairly sure by “Israel” he means at least part of the Palestinian territories too) of Arabs, and both major parties are trying hard to include him in their coalition, you have to wonder.

You have to wonder whether Israeli democracy is undergoing a crisis. It’s not hard to guess why. Just look at the US in the several years after 9/11. Israel has a 9/11 level event all the time. The Israelis believe that Iranian government, which has sponsored terrorist groups that attack them daily, is developing a nuclear weapon to attack them. They are living in a highly charged state of fear. They aren’t wrong to be that way.

Funny store. A new left wing party in Israel may have diluted Kadima’s vote just enough to make their best hope of a coalition (including Shas, a religously conservative but somewhat socialistic party) only must 60 instead of 61 votes. Shas and Lieberman strongly dislike each other, so if Lieberman tried to form a government with Netanyahu, Shas might have had an urge to join Tzipi. That won’t happen, because the 61st vote is in an Arab party, and, well, that can’t happen. (Could it happen in the US? No.)

So, the right wing is going to come to power there, and may undermine all of the intellectual defenses of Israel, leaving only the religious, emotional, and racial ties to the place. I’m not sure I can do that.

Why I Read The Guardian

The Guardian:

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on September 11 2001 and July 7 2005, a noble impulse seized the British liberal left. Politicians, commentators and activists united to say to their fellow citizens that, no matter how outraged they felt at the loss of civilian life they had just witnessed, they should under no circumstances take out that anger on the Muslim community. Progressive voices insisted that Muslims were not to be branded as guilty by association, just because the killers of 9/11 and 7/7 had been Muslims and had claimed to act in the name of all Muslims.

They urged Britons to be careful in their language, not to generalise from a few individuals to an entire community, to make clear to Britain’s Muslims that they were a welcome part of the national life. One week after the 7/7 London attacks, a vast crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square to hear a call for unity led by then mayor Ken Livingstone, who said Londoners should not start looking for “who to blame and who to hate”.

It was the right reaction and I am glad that, writing on these pages, I shared it, denouncing the surge in Islamophobia that greeted either a terrorist attack or the revelation of a terror plot. Yet there’s been a curious silence in the last few weeks. Once again many are outraged by the loss of civilian life they have witnessed – this time in Gaza. Yet there has been no chorus of liberal voices insisting that, no matter how intense their fury, people must not take out that anger on Britain’s Jewish community.

The reason for this is quite simple. The Left doesn’t understand Antisemitism because it is not something that was overcome by leftists. Rights for African-Americans, women, and gays are all part of the Left’s legacy. Jews, on the other hand, just sort of trickled into normal society. There was never any Jewish affirmative action, never any Jewish civil rights laws. Mostly, Jewish emancipation was made complete by reaction to Word War II and the upward mobility of Jews made possible in part by their own work and in part by assimilating enough to enjoy white privilege.

It’s not that different in England. And England, like America, is sick and tired of the fighting in the Middle East, sick and tired of imperialism, sick and tired of neo-conservative America dragging them into wars. So, Jews/Israel get shunted into something that the Right Wing sticks up for.

What’s ugly is associating all Jews with Israel, all Israelis as Zionists, all Zionists as Neoconservatives, etc. Really, the attack on Gaza was provoked and exaggerated by Hamas, and Israel responded when it did due to the political realities of Israel and the US. In other words, it has more to do with Hamas’s leadership and some of Israel’s ministers than it does Jews or Muslims.

And then when there’s any “permission” to act antisemitic, the crazies come out of the woodwork. It’s all social psychology. Being pissed about Gaza gives social permission to others. If you try and act like the two aren’t connected then you hate science.

Here’s the other thing: amateurs and grassroots folks always look at the upside. People in power look at the downside more if not as much. The upside of being right about Palestine is Peace In The Middle East®. The downside about being wrong is more Islamic terrorism. Wanna face that? Haha.