Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's Wrong with This Picture?


If You Don't Know What's Wrong with this person's idea about the relationship between making “more than the minimum payments" on her credit cards each month, then you don't understand how we Americans got into the financial mess we're in.

It's Never Too Late to Learn. But it's long-past time to get started.

Recommended Reading: The book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, is a fun, easy-to-read guide to essential principles of income and outgo, assets and liabilities. The book may understate some of the risks involved in various types of investing, but it provides just the best basics

Can the American People Learn the difference between spending and investing? Between assets and liabilities? Can we, the American people, learn to control our spending on things we can't afford?

We, the American People, Decided by Vote in last-November's presidential election:

"Yes, We Can!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sentimental Value Is Not Lost on Us: What Does Your Insurance Company Do For You?





Recently We Received This Piece of Advertising Mail from a familiar source. In a previous era, we would not have thought much about it at all. But now that we all seem to be investors in this insurance company deemed to be absolutely essential to the well-being of the world financial markets, it was a hard advertising pitch to ignore.

“Sentimental Value is Not Lost on Us,” either. We never knew that $152,000,000,000 of our money could touch our hearts so deeply.

And As for the Big Question that that big, ol' sentimental insurance giant, AIG, asks us in that blue picture up at the top of the page—

Well, It May Be Best if we just keep our comments to ourselves.


Friday, November 21, 2008

NEWS FLASH: The New York Times Attacks President Bush Again!

[From the pages of today's edition of The New York Times:]


Global Forecast by American Intelligence
Expects Al Qaeda’s Appeal to Falter

“WASHINGTON — A new study of the global future by American intelligence agencies suggests that Al Qaeda could soon be on the decline, having alienated Muslim supporters with indiscriminate killing and inattention to the practical problems of poverty, unemployment and education.*

Leave It to The New York Times to report on the Islamist terrorists of Aghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle Eastand at the same time, to find new ways to take a jab at the lame-duck presidential administration of George W. Bush.


*The New York Times, 11/21/2008, p. A13 (Italics ours)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fool Me Thrice?

We Are Not Fans, generally speaking, of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In particular, we remember her untimely partisan remarks during the first vote on what ultimately became the Troubled Assets Relief Program [TARP].

But:

We Would like to Offer up Our Compliments for her leadership at yesterday’s press conference concerning a proposed additional bailout of America’s Big 3 automakers. (These automakers, as you probably know, have come to Congress asking for another $3,000,000,000 of taxpayer money, with a promise that this time, the solvency-rescue deal might possibly work.)

Following Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s two previous and powerfully urgent appeals for taxpayer handouts—the “bazooka versus squirt gun” incident and the recent TARP “rescue”—Congress now is finally getting wise.

“Until They Show Us the Plan,” said Speaker Pelosi at the press conference, “We cannot show them the money.”


What a Relief It Was to Hear That.


This Congressional Recalcitrance Harkens Back to the early days of the Bush administration, of course, when President George W. Bush famously said, “Fool me once: shame on you. You fool me: we can’t get fooled again.”

You Really Ought to Look at This, which sheds a lighter humor on the currently dark economic situation:



It Is Never Clear Whether our lame-duck president has learned any such “fool me twice” lessons. But at least someone apparently has....

America Currently Has a Lame-Duck Presidency, a lame-duck Congress, and a lame balance in the Treasury. The auto industry will probably get its money—and probably it should, if only to retard our downward economic spiral for a while. Maybe by slowing things a bit, the recession heading down may be passed by the next economy recovery, going up.

And If That Next Recovery Doesn’t Come Soon-Enough, then the American auto industry, as well as the general American public, may descend into insolvency anyway.

So: the Auto Industry and We, the People, may be inherently broke. But at least for now—

We’ve Still Got Our Hands on That Three-Billion Dollars!

And We Can Say Thanks to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the rest of the American Congress for that.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Secretary Paulson Re-Strains Credulity

What in the World Can One Make of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson? We mean this without rancor or sarcasm, and with all respect due to a member of the cabinet of a sitting president of the United States.

But What Can Anyone Make of It?

Back in September, Channeling Barack Obama™ addressed the confusion created when Secretary Paulson’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee directly contradicted the contents of his short proposal for bailing out Wall Street. In that circumstance, the man said that his proposal did not try to prevent oversight of the Treasury Department. But the wording of the proposal clearly did just that.

See our previous posting, from 09/24/08, here:

Either Secretary Paulson Lied, or he is incompetent at understanding the English language. (Which incompetence would beggar belief.)

Now Secretary Paulson, speaking yesterday before the House of Representatives, says that to use the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) for limiting mortgage foreclosures “would violate the intent of the rescue approved by Congress.”

Congressman Barney Frank challenged Secretary Paulson on this statement, pointing to TARP language that allows Treasury to, “use loan guarantees and credit enhancements to facilitate loan modifications to prevent avoidable foreclosures.” [Source: The New York Times, 11/19/2008, p. A30]

So What’s Going On? Why does Secretary Paulson's testimony once-again seem to contradict the facts?

What Is the Difference Between capital injected into banks indirectly to encourage “loan guarantees and credit enhancements to facilitate loan modifications” and similar loan modifications made directly to homeowners to facilitate their staying in their homes and paying off their mortgages?


TARP Funds for Homeowners Rather Than to Banks

One Proposal for Mortgage Modifications would place a TARP agency in an intermediary position between homeowner and mortgage-holder. The agency would extend the term of the original mortgage to a greater length, lessening the homeowner’s monthly payments, while yielding a greater total payment over all. The agency would collect the homeowner’s monthly payment, add to it the difference between this payment and what the mortgage-holder gets, and make the full, original payment.

The Basic Premise Underlying this proposal is that, over time, the underlying value of the home will appreciate in value above what is owed, including any additional principal resulting from the TARP contribution. At sale or transfer, the American taxpayer is made whole—including a profit on the additional money.

This Proposal Allows More Americans to stay in their homes and protect their own financial interests, as well as those of the taxpayer.

The Fewer the Foreclosures, the higher the “floor” that is placed under the prices of American houses overall. Which leads to a shortening of the current economic recession and credit crisis.

How Does This Proposal Mesh with Secretary Paulson’s ideas for loaning funds to troubled banks, so that they in turn can buy up other distressed banks? Under the Paulson plan, housing prices will continue to go lower for quite a while, and it is the banks—not the risk-taking American taxpayers—who benefit the most from the taxpayers' risk.

We Are Looking for Some Guidance, some evidence of any kind, to show that current Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson is neither a flagrant liar nor a profoundly incompetent public servant.

Here, We Invite Secretary Paulson to contact us and explain the apparent discrepancies between his previous testimonies in relation to the Troubled Assets Relief Program:

Secretary Paulson, the Floor Is Yours.

And Regardless of Any Appearances to the Contrary, we appreciate your service efforts on behalf of the American people.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Which “Master” Do One-Issue Christians Truly Serve?

[This one is a stretch. It requires editing. If you can do better justice to the idea, please post it as a comment. Thanks.]


Conservative Christians Remain
solidly in the camp of Americans who vote Republican, according to The Wall Street Journal.* Issues such as gay rights and gun control seem to play some role in this voting choice. But the definitive issue is: abortion rights.

Apparently, Such Conscientious Christians Believe that war and torture and starvation and capital punishment and all other issues in the world pale in relevance, when compared to laws that allow people to choose abortions and thus to wrestle with God's judgment afterward.

This Is by Way of Saying that God can’t do a good-enough job on His own. The Lord can’t keep His children from committing this particular form of killing act. And so these so-called Christians feel compelled to help Him.

While the Lord Has Bestowed on Us “Free Will”—with which to make our sinful choices and pay a sinner’s price—Conservative Christians would interfere with that God-given freedom. They would take away this God-given right, in their service of some other purpose.

This Is How the One-Issue “Christians” might put it for themselves:
“Let the abortion-seeking heathens seek the greatest evil in their hearts. It is no matter. For we, the judges and guardians of God’s earthly kingdom, decree that such persons, determined to sin in this mortal matter, shall be obstructed thus from sin-dom.
“The rest of God’s earthly kingdom can suffer its various aspects of an ignominious existence, such as impoverishment and genocide. The Lord may work in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold. But we won't let Him in this instance.
“We, the Conservative Christians of the world, proudly vote, at each and every opportunity, to show the Lord who’s really the boss.”

If These So-Called Conservative Christians find this way to work around the commandments of the Lord, our God, then their work is “really in the service of some other master.

Now, There's One Aspect About The Other Master of these Conservative “Christians” that is not mentioned in the Bible:

No One Really Knows whether he, this “other master,” votes Democratic or Republican....



*Citation currently unavailable.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Lesson in Conservative Economics


Few in America would have imagined a time when Democrats and other Liberals would teach Republicans and other Conservatives the economic realities of capitalism. But on this topic, something said by MSNBC’s Morning Joe host, Joe Scarborough, today caught our ear once again.

Said Mr. Scarborough, “If we're going to invest in new technology, that's one thing. But roads and bridges: that's last century.”

The Allusion Here Apparently referred to various economic-stimulus programs enacted under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the form of job-creating, infrastructure-producing programs such as the WPA and the CCC, back in the days of the Great Depression.

Some Might Find It Ironic that Conservative Republicans would so-readily reject this particular time-proven method of the last century. But with Mr. Scarborough now on record as dismissing the viability of this remedial option, an extremely brief analysis of those New Deal programs—the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)—may be in order.

Especially Now That We Seem to Be Wading through such another Republican-led, “last century”-type of swamp.

Here Is a View on the CCC Contrary to Mr. Scarborough’s “roads and bridges” argument, taken from a history of America’s national parks:

“While the CCC is no longer around, we have all felt its impact. We have driven past its camps, its fire lookouts, its bridges. The sweat and toil of more than 3,000,000 young men is now embodied in CCC-built facilities stretching from Maine to California. The federal government spent more than $3 billion on the CCC, and its investment is still bearing fruit every time people visit parks such as Great Smoky, Yellowstone, Mount Rainer, or hike the Appalachian Trail.”
(from “The Spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps,” which may be found at: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/09/park-history-spirit-civilian-cnservation-corps)

The Legacy of These Parks and Buildings testifies to the frugal American sensibility. Anyone driving across our beautiful nation witnesses the combination of durability and attractiveness displayed in countless WPA projects and CCC structures—built through the “New Deal” as part of FDR’s cure for the Great Depression. They represent a substantial portion of the physical national infrastructure that serves us still, more than seven decades later.

How Would One Calculate the combined value of the residual American infrastructure? It’s certainly beyond our economics ability.

One Thing the Recent Past Has Taught Us, though, is that when the world places bets—on top of bets—on top of bets—on top of bets—to the extent that those bets overwhelm the value of the underlying pieces of paper (such as the net worth of Iceland)—it’s a good time to have something around that is more-substantial than “investment-grade” paper. Something like roads and bridges.

Each Road and Bridge and School Gym and National-Park Structure built during those difficult times has freed up investment capital. This freed capital has contributed to the tremendous great economic growth that we have enjoyed for the last sixty-five years.

When a Nation Thinks Only of Today, whether in terms of financial infrastructure or in terms of Islamist terrorists, the shortsighted results lead to economic disaster.

“Go out and Shop,” Said Small-Government President George W. Bush.

“Invest for the Future,” Is What Tax-and-Spend President FDR Said.

History Seems to Judge the differences for us—right now. And who would have imagined it, during these interesting times?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Republicans to Search for New Mythology

[Kudos to Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC's Morning Joe, for pointing out that while Barack Obama and the Democrats are working to save the nation, the Republicans are still focused just on trying to save the Republican Party.]


The Republican Mythology Defined

Over the Past Twenty-Eight Years, since the 1980 Reactionary Revolution, the Republican Party has pinned its star to the Libertarian-like hypothesis of government as problem, such that government must be kept as small as possible....

....and that markets should be kept as unrestrained as possible....

....and that free markets encourage competition and growth....

....and that the efficiency of markets reins in the otherwise-inevitable
bubbles and recessions and depressions
that wreak havoc on the economy of a country.

Oh, yes: and that taxes must be driven lower and lower, to stimulate the economy and produce consistently increasing tax revenues....

All This “Voodoo Economics” Has Formed the Mythology of the Republican Party for longer than many Americans can remember.


Now, the Mythology Has Been Exposed

The American Markets Are in Ruin.
None of this is news.

The “Free Market” Turns out to Cost about $12,000,000,000,000 more than the Republicans, including former-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, thought.

The Perennially Lowered Taxes Turned out to Be a Tax Deferral, not a tax decrease.

In the Words of Alan Greenspan, the Republican side of things is discombobulated into “a state of shocked disbelief.”

The Arguments for Lower Taxes and Higher Tax Revenues, and unfettered and efficient markets–these arguments are over.


The Free-Market, Low-Tax Mythology of the Republican Party Is Dead.


As Long as the Underlying Premises Remain Null and Void
—and so long as the failure of those premises remains unacknowledged—the Republican Party will remain stymied in its efforts at “trying to save the Republican Party.”

The Republicans Just Need to Go Back to the Drawing Board and figure out something completely different. They need an entirely new way of looking at things.

And While the Republican Party Is Kept Busy saving its own ATM card–

–the Democrats and the rest of “the Real America” will continue paying off all that debt, and otherwise working to save the country.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Does President Bush Hate America?


It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush
eviscerated the moral standing of the United States of America by attacking, with insufficient provocation, the sovereign nation of Iraq. This act of a bullying nation, the richest, most-powerful nation on Earth, destroyed a two-hundred-and-twenty-five-year history of America taking the high road.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush took us to war against Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for it, but instead emptied out the Treasury and now hands the bill to our children.


What Makes George W. Bush Hate America So Terribly Much?
What Has America Ever Done to Him?


It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush, instead of leading us to support our troops—those sacrificing limb and life far across the world—told us to go out shopping.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush was AWOL on September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Centers fell, and on August 29, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed one of America’s greatest treasures, the city of New Orleans.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush appointed his unqualified friends to public positions requiring capabilities that his friends failed to meet.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush led the nation down the road to torture.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush created an eavesdropping machine to destroy the privacy of every American who uses the telephone or the Internet, even going so far as to listen in on the intimate conversations of our military personnel stationed so far from home and so deep in harm’s way.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush creatively navigated a path to deny Constitutional rights—such as habeas corpus and a right to privacy—that Americans believe are the inalienable, God-given rights of every human.


What Makes George W. Bush Hate America So Terribly Much?
What Have We Ever Done to Him?


It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush sent out his Secretary of the Treasury to indenture the future treasury, under great duress, so that our children’s children will be repaying this debt for generations to come.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush, the most-cowardly president the United States can imagine, sent out every force and deviousness that he could imagine, exporting war and terrorism to innocent peoples around the world. To peoples already victimized by the failures of their local governments. That President Bush deliberately exported the “War on Terror” to foreign shores to keep himself and his family physically safe at home.

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush
put wealth and safety above the essential American values of “liberty and justice for all.”

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush
thus made a mockery of the words, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

It’s Not Enough That George W. Bush
has pulled the rug out from under the Republican Party, so that the party of small, responsible government, of free-trade, of individual responsibility, now plays the role of the fool on the political scene.

All This Is Not Enough.

Now George W. Bush Wants to Clean Out the Corners of American Government, by further weakening our laws. By undermining America’s ability to protect what’s left of her environment and to begin the job of rebuilding.

As Avery Palmer of CQ Politics Puts It:
“The Bush administration is poised to finish a series of controversial, last-minute regulations before leaving office, and Congress will have to decide whether to exercise its rarely used authority to rescind the new rules.
“On his way out the door, Bush may complete a host of environmental, health and labor rules....which could have a lasting impact on endangered species protection, air pollution standards, workplace safety and family and medical leave, among other areas.”


George W. Bush Has Previously Said that he serves with the American people as his boss.

On November 4, 2008, the American People Gave George W. Bush His Walking Papers. The American people said, “George Bush, you're fired.”

Now George W. Bush Is Loading up a Political Moving Van with all the staplers and ink pens and paperclips that he can put his hands on. The water-cooler, the desk, the sofa, the credenza, and even his secretary’s furniture. The portraits of his forty-three presidential predecessors that previously hung on the wall. George W. Bush is rolling up the carpet and he’s ripping out the bushes in the Rose Garden.

George W. Bush Is Taking Everything That He Can Put His Hands on and stuffing it into the moving van as fast as he can, before the American people can stop him.

If George W. Bush Has His Way, when he is out of the White House, nothing of value or decency of America will be left.

All That We, the People of the United States of America, will be left with in the wake of George W. Bush is a question:

Why Does George W. Bush Hate America So Much?



Sunday, November 9, 2008

TERRORISM NOW AND THEN

What Can We Learn from Former Domestic Terrorist” Bill Ayers?
[WARNING: If you are one of those “We don’t talk about terrorists” kind of people, please leave the room. This piece will not interest you in the least. It will only make you angrier. Go on back to the Reactionary Lounge. This room is the Room for Change.]


American Anti-War Sympathy for Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, back in the 1960s, tells us something we need to know for defeating Islamist terrorism today.

Back in That Vietnam-War Era, Countless Americans Opposed the War, but couldn’t do much about it. We marched, we protested, and the war continued.

The Weathermen Did It Differently. They used bombs to disrupt draft boards and the Pentagon.

This “Domestic Terrorism” Was Unsuccessful. But it was their most-powerful weapon against our immensely powerful government.

Many Against the War Did Not Condemn the Weathermen at the Time. Back then, we sympathized with their politics, even when we opposed their methods.

Right Now, Islamist Terrorists Survive Only Because Their Citizens share a view about the West. If we can change the way that terrorist-sympathizers see the United States, we will be more than halfway toward winning the so-called "War on Terror."


Channeling Barack Obama™ Opposes Islamist Terrorism. And we do not endorse “domestic terrorism,” past or present.

But It Always Helps to Understand Your Enemy. And the sympathizers who hide him....

As Long as Terrorists Have Civilian Sympathy, the terrorists will be able to hide. This is what makes these wars the hardest to win. Whether in Vietnam or in Iraq and Afghanistan, or even here at home.

If We Don't Care What the Rest of the World Thinks of Us (as the Bush administration insists), we will continue making enemies around the world. And those enemies will find sympathy among their people.

Only by Considering the Opinions of Others—and then deciding what we can change and what we cannot—only then can we win over the hearts and minds of those who might otherwise oppose us.

And That Is the Best Lesson We Can Learn from the example of the Weatherman, and former-terrorist and current Chicago educator, William Ayers.


NOTE: To Read What Bill Ayers Has to Say About His Role in the Recent Presidential Election, go here:





Saturday, November 8, 2008

“Home of Brave” Overcomes “Politics of Fear”


While So Many Jubilant Americans Have Been Busy celebrating the final end of the era of second-class citizenship for some Americans and the renewal of an American comity of hope, many Conservatives have been quick to jump on the “My God! I Can’t Believe He’s Doing That!” Express.

In the Case of the Pundits,
this knee-jerk negativity likely comes from the need to talk about something. But for the rest of America, it’s the proverbial “sad commentary on the times.”

Those of Us Who See in Barack Obama what we want to see (those of us who are “Channeling Barack Obama™,” as it were) may be completely wrong, completely blinded, totally hoodwinked about the kind of person he is and the kind of president that he will be. However, so far no evidence has come out that indicates any weaknesses or ideological biases on the part of President-elect Obama. Other than a bias toward America, and the people for whom she stands.


On One Hand, How Many Cynics Among Us have already begun to tear down this newly elected leader?

On the Other Hand, How Many Former Cynics
here see a quality of person higher than we have ever seen before?

The Failed Campaign of John McCain
must have disappointed many outside the actual McCain campaign tent itself. But Senator McCain’s public words and actions lacked any genuine enthusiasm for the future of the people that he wished to serve.

One Needed to Have Faith in an Authentic John McCain, hiding behind the campaign mask, in order to make a positive Republican vote.

In the Alternative, Fear Must Have Governed You
in order to vote for the hapless, previously known quantity, rather than for the compellingly steady new guy who seems, even after his first appointments and press conference, almost too-good to be true.

Is Barack Obama the Real Thing? Or would we have been better off with the man who kept telling us of his good qualities and leadership promises, and made a couple of pretty bad decisions during the campaign, while Barack Obama showed us so much more?

Time Will Tell.

But as for the Prospects of Living in an America Governed by Fear, we have had more than a quarter of a century of that. And look where it has gotten us:

Much of the World Fears Our Feckless Military Power, seeing America no longer as a beacon of liberty in a darkening, intolerant world

Our Economy Borders on Collapse, threatening to take the rest of the world with it.

Some Vocal McCain-Palin Supporters Fearing to Vote for the Democratic candidate because he might be of Middle Eastern descent or he might actually associate with terrorists.

And a Generation of America’s Children Keeping No Faith—having grown up under the Bush administration's yoke of “terror” in this new century—no faith in the ability of politics or government to do anything constructive for the American constituency.


The Politics of the Right have been the “politics of the fearful.” On Tuesday, November 11, 2008, the majority of Americans voted to conquer their fear and to try something new, something hopeful that looks pretty good so far.

America Is “The Home of the Brave” Once Again. We have shaken off the debilitating Conservative yoke of terror.


Who but the American Liberal Would Have Believed?


Friday, November 7, 2008

Republican Pot Calls Democratic Kettle "Black"


Speaking on his MSNBC Talk Show, Morning Joe,
former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough today used the Bush White House as an example of how Republicans use government mechanisms—such as “pork barrel spending” and “you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours”—to over-extend the national pocketbook. These are the same mechanisms that Democrats historically use to get the work of government done, and judging from Mr. Scarborough's explanation, there is not much difference.

Telling How it Happened that the Bush White House and a Republican Congress lost sight of fiscal Conservative ideals, Mr. Scarborough explained that President George W. Bush needed a hands-off policy for his War in Iraq, and effected a reciprocal hands-off policy in relation to whatever else the Republican Congress chose to do on behalf of the American people.

President Bush Got Away with the War in Iraq. And Congress got away with economic murder.

This De Facto Treaty Between the Executive and the Legislative Branches of the Federal government meant that President Bush did not veto Congress’s legislation. In return, Congress gave the President free rein with the Iraq War.

In Other Words, per Mr. Scarborough, the government mechanisms of “pork-barrel spending” and “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” played the same role for “post-9/11” Republicans that these mechanisms played in the Democratic era of the “Great Society,” under Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Ideologies of “Tax and Spend” and “Defer and Spend” may sound different to the ear, but the effect on the national economy is virtually the same.


History Now Judges LBJ's “Great Society

The Grand Result of the “Great Society” culminated in this week’s election of Barack Obama as president-elect of the United States.

The Cost of LBJ’s Many Programs, simultaneous with the costs of the war in Vietnam, was high. It included a political switch toward the Republican Party, with the South abandoning the Democratic party completely until this year, and it gave ascendancy to the Conservative theories of Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush.


The Future Will Judge the “War on Terror”

The Result of “This Republican Era” will be judged by history, too. As LBJ’s Great Society has now finally been judged. Let us hope that the final verdict of the Bush extravagances will be as high.


How Both Sides Want It Both Ways

But the Important Thing to See, as far as American politics are concerned, is that we really are one nation, with comparable policies and ways of doing things:

We All Hate it When the Other Guy uses the Federal government to supplant States’ Rights, and we all hate it when States’ Rights trump progress best-available to the Federal government.

We Love Term Limits When the Other Party Is in Power, but when our party is in power, we see how essential are the advantages gained from continuity.

We Hate It When One Party Governs by “tax-and-spend,” and we hate it just as much when the other party governs by “defer-and-spend.”

“Pork-Barrel Spending” is only “pork” when it benefits genetic studies of fruit-flies to help cure autism, but not when it benefits the families of children with special needs. It’s “pork” when it goes to what you want, but it’s essential government spending when it’s for me and mine.

In Sum, the Democrats under Lyndon B. Johnson and the Republicans under George W. Bush are pretty much even, as far as overextending the Federal government for benefit of a perceived greater good is concerned, during the time of an unpopular war.


How Government Gets Done

“You Scratch My Back, and I’ll Scratch Yours.” According even to conscientious Conservative Joe Scarborough, it’s the way that government works.

And Not Even a Staunch Conservative
Like Joe Scarborough
Describes for Us a Better Way.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Shock of Recognition (A Late Post-Mortem)

We Were Taken by Surprise Election Night, watching everybody at Grant Park and at Spelman College, hearing the cheering go up when the Obama win was announced.

We Had Thought All this Time about the Need for America to Defeat Bush.

What We Hadn't Thought About was the significance of an African-American winning the election.

When Jesse Jackson First Appeared in the Crowd On-Screen, he looked stern, angry, and it was easy to imagine him thinking about the unfairness of Obama achieving what he himself had never come close to. But then we realized, as we saw Mr. Jackson pressing down hard on his lips with an index finger, that he was just wrestling with the emotion that was provoking his tears. And then our tears finally began to come as well.

We Have Tried Countless Times over the decades to write about the dysfunctional effect of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This act suddenly took a people—always considered sub-human by their neighbors—and said to them,
“Okay. Now you're human. You're one of us. Get over it.”

How Would Any Person Deal with Such a Thing?
If we were such people, we would have wanted to go around and ask every white person we saw,
“What happened? What changed? How could a law change the way you think about us?”

But the Question Could Not Be Asked,
and it must have been subconsciously on the minds of African-Americans always. At least for people old-enough to have experienced that 1964 change.

More Questions:
“How about you?”

“Were you one of the ones who thought I wasn't fit company yesterday.”

“But now I can drink out of the same water fountain? Please: can you explain?”

White America Should Try to Imagine That Sense of Not Knowing. Of not comprehending.

If an Anglo-American Treated an African-American the same as he or she would an Anglo-American, that mode left out the acknowledgment of this pre-1964 legacy. So the African-American couldn't really ask,
“How about you? Were you one of them?”
And the Anglo-American Couldn't Volunteer,
“I just want you to know that I don't think you're any lesser of a person or different species of person than I am.”
And Thus the Fact That So Many African-Americans continue to live lives similar to pre-1964 practices, with broken homes and absent fathers, etc.: in light of the post-Civil Rights Act social dysfunction, these legacies of the debacle of slave culture make sense.


Thus, on So Many Televised Faces,
Black and White, we saw tears and we saw shocked disbelief. It hit home to countless Americans of all backgrounds, this surprising thing:

When the Ultimate Barrier Fell, at the end, on the evening of November 4, 2008, there was so little to it. It seemed so simple.

The Citizens of the United States of America, Black, Brown, White, Yellow, Red, said by vote that all Americans have the equality of opportunity....

What We Saw on All Those Televised Faces was the sense, not just that African-Americans had achieved equality of opportunity, but that this achievement is finally made public.

The Expected Jubilation at the Defeat of Reactionary Republicanism was overcome by the unexpected awe and wonder at this other, larger thing that we, the united American people, finally achieved.


Well, America Does Finally Have an African-American as President. And it has been unquestionably a non-condescending appointment. And also—last, but definitely not least—the long nightmare of the Bush years, and the longer nightmare of the reactionary Conservative debacle, should soon come to an end, too.

What a Long and Glorious Trip It Has Been!


[For Your Better Understanding of Jesse Jackson's Emotions on the Night of the Obama Election, we recommend that you read a brief biography such as the one found here:

http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9351181



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

[Last Post to be Posted Last]

[We Have Been Overcome with Surprise at the emotion generated by Barack Obama's winning of the election.

[It Is Not at All the Jubilation at the end of the Conservative error {sic} of the past twenty-eight years, that accidental “evil” of undermining the confidence of the American people at our ability to overcome all obstacles and to rise ever-higher. But instead, it is the sense of awe that all people of color in the United States have, within the one day, become recognized as fully equal in the eyes of America.

[This Self-Realization Was Personal, we believe, for most African-Americans, that she or he could recognize her or his independent equality, and that was the big surprise. No more can any American blame race, creed, etc for limitations on personal achievement. Anglo-Americans have believed this to be the case since 1964, but the oddness of passing the Civil Rights Act kept African-Americans from having any way to believe this. Now, immediately, we are united, Black and White, in believing this great American reality.

Justify Full[Regardless of the Reasons, we have not been able to write the post that we wished to write about all this. We intended one final post before shutting down this election-effort blog. If and when we manage that final post, we will put it up.

[Until Such Time, This Will Have to Suffice. The America that we knew and loved as a child, back in the 1950s—back before we knew about bigotry and racism —now seems poised to return. John McCain said that nothing could stand in the way of his love for America, but for me, the great self-inflicted evils that we have suffered at the hand of narrow-minded ideologues has tested my patriotism. It is no great thing to take pride in one's good fortune at a wealthy birth. Such good fortune as we are born into in the United States of America carries a responsibility. The fearful, safety-first, Conservative forces of the post-World War II era have been about as un-American as we can permit America to become. Now let us hope that a new day dawns. That the spoiled rich kids go back to their self-indulgent business, and leave the true business of American ideals to the rest of us.]


[Thanks, as always, for your support.]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We Win Again


About Twenty-eight Years Ago,
a prominent leader said that we, the people, were the problem, not the solution.

That Was an Evil Thing to Say about the American People. It took us by surprise, caught us off guard. It took over the dominant leadership of the nation. And for much of the past twenty-eight years, we have lived by this evil idea. We have accepted it as an indictment on our character, our hopes, our ambitions, and our ideals.

Twenty-eight Years. It Has Taken Us All That Time to live those words down.

But Yesterday, the Citizens of the United States of America Voted to Repudiate that warped idea and to take back America, our great nation and the world's greatest hope.

We Have Asked Ourselves in this Presidential Election, can America return to the ideals of liberty, justice, and opportunity for all? Can America become once again a beacon of hope for the world?

Yesterday, America Voted its Answer:

Yes, We Can.

Congratulations to Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Their Campaign, as well as to the American people on the event of our good fortune. It is an honor and a privilege as an American, to have lived to this great time. All of the old slogans, from "We shall overcome" to "I have a dream," are given new life. They have become "Change we can believe in."

Can America Rise to the Many Challenges We Face?

Yes, We Can.



Toward Our Brave, New World



Today Is the Day America Decides:

Do We Continue to Hide out in the Cold
, Leaky Cave of the past fearful years?

Or Do We Strike Out as our forebears did?

America Is a Nation of Immigrants, as MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews recently described it. While others stayed put, stayed behind where they might have been miserable, but safe, our ancestors have in common that they took the risk, believing that they would find a better place.

Those Left Behind Remained Europeans, or Asians, or Africans.

But We Are the Americans. We take the big risks. We find better worlds. We make our world a better place.

We Do What Has to Be Done. When times get hard, we knuckle down and get to work. We fight the big fights. We win the big wars. We are the defenders and the saviors of the world. We giver real form to the big ideas. We share the wealth of capitalism and democracy. We go first, showing the rest of the world the way.

This Is Who the “Real Americans” Are.

This Is What Americans Always Do: We set out today—now—voting to reach our brave, new world.


BUT Some May Say:

“What Do We Really Know about Barack Obama?”

“Is He Safe?”

Can We Trust Him?

“What Do You Think Might Happen?”


AND We Respond, Saying:

We Are the Americans.

And We Pull the Lever Anyway.....



This Is What Americans Always Do:

We Set Out Now, voting to reach our brave, new world.




Sunday, November 2, 2008

How De-Regulating Insurance Across State Lines Would Invite Our Next National Disaster

Free-Market Policies Have Their Place. We are a nation built on the principles of unfettered capitalism that have enabled generations of Americans to reach the shared American dream.

The Ideal of Free Markets—the Rights of All People to Compete Fairly in the Market Place—is a cornerstone of the land of opportunity.

But Free-Market Policies Also Have Their Limits. If we have learned nothing else from the post-Glass Steagall experiment and the resulting mortgage and banking and investment debacle, let us take this lesson with us.

Quality and Price Are the Two Competing Factors of Competition that free-market ambitions often overlook. In relation to products that affect broad national interests—such as mortgage products—such as investment opportunities—such as insurance policies—competitive freedom often works out badly. This situation occurs when the opportunity to buy and sell on price overwhelms the need to protect a product’s underlying quality.

Quality of Healthcare Paid for Under Private Health Insurance Policies exemplifies this situation. It is an example of a situation in which free-market ideals, if followed too-closely, would cause overwhelming damage to our national economic health.


So Why Would De-Regulating Insurance Be Such an Unmitigated Disaster?

A: First, Because of the Abundance of “Small Print” that insurance policies must contain, hundreds of details exist that can be hard to understand, easy to overlook, and almost-impossible to compare. It is in situations where comparisons are ineffective that free-market benefits disappear.

B: When Comparisons Can’t Be Made, cost—price—becomes the predominant measure. When cost is the predominant measure, quality becomes temporarily irrelevant. Quality becomes a cost deferred.

C: When the Lowest-Cost Insurance Is Bought by All, competition can hardly survive. Competitors must lower the quality of their own policies in order to compete with lower rates. Meanwhile, those persons under-insured because of the nature of the deficient policies must continue to rely on public medical services—e.g., unnecessary emergency room visits—or suffer financial ruin despite their efforts to keep themselves adequately insured.

D: Results:
1: A nation in which many people previously lacked insurance now becomes a nation in which all people have inadequate insurance.
2: As in the current economic crisis, the deferred costs of health care inadequately covered by the deficient policies become a tax on the entire nation.

What America Needs Now is improvement in our health care and health insurance. Deregulating the products so that less-reputable insurance companies could offer competing products based solely on price would force countless Americans to spend their limited insurance dollars on dangerously limited insurance products.

Our Great Nation Is Currently Climbing out of a Hole that mortgage and banking deregulation dug for us, with its shovel of free-market theory.


America’s Love Affair with Free-Market Ideals Must Never Waver


But the Essential Countervailing Ideals of Pragmatism also must never be ignored. Nor may free-market idealism be allowed to bring us to the brink of financial ruin ever again.


Friday, October 31, 2008

NEWS FLASH! McCain Campaign Embraces Terrorist-Sympathizer Endorsement

[The implied "facts" contained in the following editorial essay have not been verified by Fact-Check.Org, for obvious reasons. Caveat lector.]


In an Odd Twist in a Presidential Campaign Redolent with Odd Twists, military hero and former prisoner of war and Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain today publicly accepted the political endorsement of an American citizen widely renowned as a “terrorist sympathizer” of the unrepentant co-founder and former member of the “Weathermen” branch of the Students for a Democratic Society [SDS], William Charles Bill Ayers.


John McCain Publicly Embracing
a Terrorist-Sympathizer's Endorsement?




Could This Mean That John McCain
Associates with Terrorists?


What Kind of Human Being, Totally Unfit for the Office of United States President, would associate with, and even sympathize with, such an unrepentant terrorist? This was a man who bombed the Pentagon–—just as Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda suicide airplane pilots did when they hijacked a commercial American airline flight and flew the plane, passengers and all, into the side of the Pentagon, the nerve center of the American military services.

This Was a Man Responsible for the Deaths of Innocent Americans. This was a man who, on the day of the greatest tragedy ever to befall the United States, September 11, 2001, said that “I only wish we had bombed more.”

The Unrepentant Marxist-Communist Many Years Ago infiltrated the public-education system of one of the nation’s largest cities, secretly working as part of an undisclosed Communist “cell,” to brainwash the minds of that city's innocent children, “many of whom were just in Kindergarten, being taught sex education,” an occasionally reliable source told this reporter.

In Semi-Public Meetings, Using the Facilities of a Chicago-Area Church of Christ, these blatant enemies of the American way of life met weekly, for more than twenty years, during which meetings their cell leader shouted venomous messages of hate, even going so far as to curse America, rather than to “bless” America.

Meanwhile, Chicago Police Have Been Able to Do Nothing against this insidious group of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers and radical organizers, and others....one sympathizer of whom now openly endorses the Republican presidential nominee.


....And John McCain Embraces
this Terrorist-Sympathizer's Endorsement!


Police Hands Have Been Tied by the Liberal Plot to guarantee the “civil rights” of terrorists and community organizers, while depriving the rest of America the same civil rights. We have even heard talk, in some quarters, that some fellow occupants of al Qaeda-occupied Iraq seek the power to arrest and try innocent American citizens, situated in Iraq in relation to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, for alleged crimes committed against people situated in Iraq....who may themselves be actual al Qaeda terrorists.


John McCain Accepting a Terrorist-Sympathizer's Endorsement?

Will the Outrages Never End?

Not on Our Watch.
Not until the night of November 4th.

The Ad Itself presents the videotaped image and voice of this terrorist-sympathizer saying, “I want to thank.....John McCain” for his “outstanding leadership” in a bill that “establishes limits for greenhouse-gas emissions.” This effort seeks to destabilize the anti-environmental economy by reducing those so-called “greenhouse gases” necessary to preserving the American way of life.

The Terrorist-Sympathizer Endorsement Ad Ends with the Voice of John McCain Saying:


“I'm John McCain. And I approve this message.”


Watch the Actual Ad Here:

http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Multimedia/Player.aspx?guid=e9396871-471d-42e5-a907-3dea3b313681


Renowned Illegal Alien and Presumed al Qaeda-Sympathizer, Kal-El, was not immediately available for comment.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Questioning Basic Assumptions

How Is it That Conservatives Seem Blind to Facts that are so obvious to the rest of us? Here are some examples:


Item One: Trickle-Down Economics
If the Consumer Drives the Engine of the Economy, how could a “trickle-down” theory possibly make sense? The wealthy already have more money than they can spend. But this concept has driven Conservative economic theory from Ronald Reagan all the way through to last month’s collapse.


Item Two: The Innate Wisdom of Self-Interest
Writing recently in The New York Times, conservative columnist David Brooks made the following statement:
“Economic models and entire social science disciplines are premised on the assumption that people are mostly engaged in rationally calculating and maximizing their self-interest.”

David Brook, “The Behavioral Revolution.” The New York Times, 10/27/2008
[Italics Channeling Barack Obama]


Any Non-Conservative Student of Behavior Knows that simplistic reasoning such as this, when applied to a complex organism such as “people,” will err. “Economic models” based on such simplistic reasoning will fail.

And Failed, This One Has.


Item Three: The Self-Regulating Effects of Self-Interest
In Recent Congressional Testimony former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said:
“This crisis, however, has turned out to be much broader than anything I could have imagined. [T]hose of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief. ”

—Dr. Alan Greenspan, “Testimony Before the Committee of Government Oversight and Reform,” 10/23/2008

Any Non-Conservative Student of Human Behavior Knows, predicated on the flaw in Item Two, that “self-interest” has many competing claims put against it. The example of the Marine who throws himself on a grenade to save his comrade exemplifies that in a most basic form.

Chairman Greenspan’s Illusions About the Relationship between greed and self-interest seem too-naive even to consider: If such a relationship existed, then America’s initial need for regulation and oversight would not have arisen. It did not take the current crisis to make this clear.


Item Four: Vetting Sarah Palin
Over the Course of a Month, Kathleen Parker wrote several related essays, beginning with this one published on September 03, 2008:
Would anyone ever ask whether a male candidate was qualified for office because his daughter was pregnant?....[W]hat’s perfectly clear is that feminism today is not about advancing women, but only a certain kind of woman....There may yet be reasons to find Palin an unacceptable vice presidential choice, but making pro-life decisions shouldn’t be among them.

—Kathleen Parker, “Who needs feminists?” Washington Post Writer’s Group, 09/03/2008
But Then on 09/26/2008, Ms. Parker Wrote:
[I]t is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.
The Most-Interesting Thing About the Belated Discovery of what for many had been immediately apparent is that Ms. Parker’s announcement of her discovery did not include an apology to those who could tell, from the nomination acceptance speech itself, that Governor Palin had these deficiencies:
Some of the passionately feminist critics of Palin who attacked her personally deserved some of the backlash they received. But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick.....and a more complicated picture has emerged.

—Kathleen Parker, “Sarah Palin should bow out.” Washington Post Writer’s Group, 09/26/2008
[Italics Channeling Barack Obama]

It Does Not Seem to Occur to Ms. Parker that the earlier critics might merely have seen more clearly than Ms. Parker managed to see. The changing circumstances may just have been the veil lifted from some Conservative eyes.


What Is Notable About the Conservative Failures and Epiphanies here is that the errors of reason which preceded each “Aha!” moment seem so clear to those of us not blinded by the folly of Conservative thinking for the past twenty-eight years. But how would one go about explaining the limitations of Conservative vision to self-confident Conservatives themselves? To those who generally (as in the example of Ms. Parker’s essays) seem content to decide first, and think later?

We Began With the Question,
“How is it that Conservatives Seem Blind to Facts that are so obvious to the rest of us?” No ready answer arrives to clear the confusion. However, if the Obama-Biden ticket should prevail on Tuesday, thoughtful Conservatives of the Republican Party should have at least the next four years in which to figure out what has kept them so blind to many of the economic and political realities of life.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NEWS FLASH! Arizona to Store Nation's Nuclear Waste

[A Hypothetical Media Encounter Somewhere in Pennsylvania]


HERSHEYIn Breaking News From the Campaign Trail, Republican Arizona Senator and presidential candidate John McCain today announced that the state of Arizona has volunteered to store America's nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel rods in a newly proposed storage facility.

The Arizona Nuclear Waste Disposal and Landfill Facility [ANWDLF] will be open for business at "an unspecified date. But certainly in the near future,” said Senator McCain. “Probably sometime after the election.”

“That’s Assuming We Don’t Lose, of Course,”
Senator McCain said, as his face broke into its characteristic, now-familiar grin.

I’m Not George Bush,” the long-time Republican Senator observed. “Barack Obama should have run for president four years ago. Progressive income taxes are a form of socialism. Even Joe the Plumber knows that.”

“Nuclear Waste Is Completely Safe,” continued the Senator. “We’ll store those rod from now until Doomsday. Not even Joe the Plumber would be afraid of nuclear waste. Why, I’ve been driving around with the United States Navy in nuclear-powered submarines for years.”

The ANWDLF is Slated for Construction near the Phoenix, Arizona, home that Senator McCain shares with his second wife, Cindy McCain.

“More Power to the Arizona Nuclear Waste Disposal and Landfill Facility,” McCain-supporter Ed the Electrician observed to a usually reliable source. “Now that the issue of nuclear-waste storage has been resolved through the generosity of John McCain and the state of Arizona, the one real obstacle to nuclear energy is removed. Nuclear power is safe and cheap, and it does not make you glow in the dark, as some have mistakenly reported.”

Following the Hershey, Pennsylvania, Rally, Senator McCain and running mate Sarah Palin are scheduled to appear this afternoon at a rally in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Later this evening, the Senator continues on to a separate campaign event in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Additional Information About the Safety of Nuclear Power is available from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through the following link:

http://www.fema.gov/hazard/nuclear/nu_before.shtm



Monday, October 27, 2008

NEWS FLASH! Republican Ticket Promises Tax Rates “Less Than Zero”

[A Spurious Report Found in a WPA Picnic Shelter Somewhere in Slovakia, Idaho]



BOWLING GREEN—Alaska Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, speaking this morning at a rally in Bowling Green, Ohio, promised that, if elected, she and vice-presidential running-mate Joe the Plumber would bring “real change” to Washington in the form of income tax rates that would go below the zero-percent tax rate previously considered unbreakable.

“We Have Suffered Under the Yoke of a Democratic-Imposed Tax Burden For Too Long,” said the newly elevated presidential candidate. “It is a well-known fact among everybody but the ‘Tax-and-Spend’ Democratic members of the Democratic Party—including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid—that the more you lower taxes, the greater the tax revenues. This is a known fact going all the way back to the days of President Ronald Reagan, who lowered tax rates, and the tax revenues continued to just flow right on in.”

“I Totally Agree Wholeheartedly,” said Joe the Plumber, whose candidacy for the vice-presidency was announced just hours ago, after Governor Palin accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination following the surprise withdrawal of the previous candidate, respected war hero and former prisoner of war, Arizona Senator John McCain.

“It’s Socialism to Keep Taxing People to Pay for Things That No One Wants, continued Mr. the Plumber. “Spread the wealth by making someone else pay for your military, your Medicare, your Social Security? I don’t know anyone who needs those things in America, where if you just work hard and keep your nose down, you can scrape together a few dollars and buy someone’s small business and be making maybe a quarter of a million dollars, or even more, and then the government just tries to take it away from you, and give it to people who don’t even pay taxes.”

“The United States of America Wasn’t Built on the Backs of People Like You and Me,”
added Governor Palin. “If we raise taxes during an economic crisis, that’s just what Barak Obama and Joe Biden and the Democrats want you to think.”

“It’s Crazy!” Ms. Palin Continued. “You Don’t Raise Taxes! You Lower Taxes! We’re here to create wealth! What do you think the U.S. Treasury is for, if you don’t already know? Someone’s been listening to the wrong people too long. We need more Joe the Plumber and Ed the Electrician. We don’t need someone like Barack the Tax Raiser and Biden the Money Spender!”

“If Elected,” said Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe the Plumber, “I will lower the tax rates to less than zero. If a top tax rate of 70% was good enough for the Democrats back before Reagan was President, then I don’t see what we can’t have 70% below zero for taxes. I don’t know about you, but I’ve waited all my life for government to treat me the way it’s always made me treat government.”

Former Candidate John McCain Was Not in Attendance at the day’s key Republican vote-getting event. AP wire reports indicate that Senator McCain was last seen boarding a commercial air flight to Panama City, Panama.

“I’m Coming Home, Lord, Lord,” the Senator was reported to have said. “Lord, Lord, I’m coming home.”