Archive for July, 2010

Going Offline

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2010 by rottenart

It’ll be light posting this weekend, folks, as I pack up and get ready to move. I’ll be back on Monday, hopefully with more ranting and raving than you can poke a stick at. Maybe I’ll even end more sentences with prepositions! Til then…

Driving The Car Out Of The Ditch

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2010 by rottenart

When President Obama came into office, one of his first decisions was to wade into the domestic automobile industry to save Chrysler and GM from full-scale collapse. If you remember, the economy at the time was in free-fall and people were freaking out. The big motor companies had been nearly a decade too slow in re-structuring their companies and were set to become the next casualties in a rapidly expanding recession. Obama and his team took drastic and then-controversial steps to bail out the car-makers, to the tune of $86 billion dollars and a host of strings attached. Predictably, the right-wing went apoplectic, deriding the actions as “socialism” and implying that the Big Three should be left to die. Never mind that the resulting failure would bring down a huge chunk of the US workforce with it, the Republicans were happy to close the doors and turn off the lights, despite the consequences.

However, just as predictably, the Republicans were dead wrong. Since the bailout, all three have posted quarterly profits, added jobs and are set to finish paying back the government’s financial gift. As Steve notes, the insane rhetoric about “government takeovers” looks even more silly now that the plan was an unqualified success. Of course, that won’t stop the deceit from the right. Michele Bachmann, everyone’s favorite queen of crazy-town, still insists that the bailout was an example of “gangster government” and that the car industry has been “nationalized” (not hardly). Perhaps she didn’t get the memo showing how 55,000 jobs have been added to the Big Three since the bailout? Even though CBS news decided to put quotation marks around “Success Story” in the headline, the result is exactly that.

Once again, the right wing pisses away any credibility on monetary policy. Had their ideas been put into place, we would not be talking about 55,000 jobs gained and taxpayer funds being repaid. No, we’d be looking at nearly a million people out of work and no US auto industry. Keep in mind that this do-nothing approach was the Republicans’ solution to the entire fiscal crisis. How many millions would be out of work if the government had not stepped in to rescue other sectors of the economy? It would have been a very bleak picture indeed. And, it would have been just fine with the right, as they would not have hesitated to reap political gain from the President’s (and the country’s) failure.

Except that’s not how it works in the real world. The Republicans were (and still are) wrong, the Big Three are growing again, US auto manufacturing is shifting towards the future, and Obama gets to tout the victory in the heart of car country today, to a group of people who are no doubt thankful we didn’t listen to the radical right concerning their livelihood. But don’t wait for the right to come to their senses and praise the bailout as helping American business; they’ll surely find some way to turn 55,000 jobs gained into some sort of communist plot.

I wonder why the GOP hates the US auto industry?

Okie Progress?

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by rottenart

I suppose from a female empowerment standpoint, the gubernatorial race in OK is a step forward. Mary Fallin predictably won the Republican nod while Lt. Gov. Jari Askins scraped by in a nail-biter over State Atty. Gen. Drew Edmondson. Fallin is polling strong for November but I’ll hold back commenting until I see what Askins comes up with. However, Fallin remains a strong favorite in a state that actually got more conservative from 2004 to 2008. In any event, there will be a historical first for OK in the Fall: an all-female contest.

In this case, unfortunately, given Fallins’ political character, it’s more a case of no steps forward, maybe half a step backward. Mary Fallin, as the 5th District congressional representative, was a reliable wingnut. There’s no real indication that she’ll change course as state Chief Executive. Like $arah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Sharron Angle, Fallin is a detriment to any sort of feminist progressivism. In the circles that support her campaign, the idea is undermine gains in equal rights for a cynical approach to modern-day conservatism. The woman’s place is in the kitchen, dontcha know? Didn’t you see that footage of Grizzly $arah making sandwiches for her All-American Kids? She doesn’t actually do that, but…

I’ll be rooting for Jari and may throw some support her way. I think she’d be a great governor. But the rabid nature of the anti-feminist party that holds OK in its grip virtually ensures that the Know-Nothingness of Mary Fallin, the Teabaggers, and a majority of Okie voters will  persevere. It makes the historic nature of Oklahoma’s first female governor seem a little hollow.

A Lesson In Misreading the Polls

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by rottenart

There’s no reason to believe Republicans will change their “strategy” of full court obstruction anytime soon. They and their Unitary Executive, W,  made the mess but they’ll be damned if they let anyone else try to clean it up. Yesterday, noted GOP toadie, Tom Cole, admitted as much in a quote picked up over at PW:

“We’re very comfortable where we’re at; we have very few members who feel endangered. We feel like we are reflecting a broader mood of dissatisfaction. Right now, the American people want us saying no.”

Notice that he makes no mention of the American people asking the GOP what exactly they would do if they were to control Congress again. Boehner, for his part, expanded on his “obstructionism” plan today, outlining what his moratorium on federal regulation would look like. Unfortunately for his “gubmint is bad” base, it basically calls for a whole new level of bureaucracy and expansion of government as related to spending and is hardly the complete halt that he originally called for. Which explains why no one wants to talk about Republican platforms, least of all during a campaign!

But I digress. Despite the Republicans’ best efforts at governing principles, they’ve staked their claim on the mantra of NO! And really, the only problem with that strategy is reality:

Despite a tough year for President Obama’s approval rating, a new Pew Research poll finds Americans still think his administration’s policies offer a better chance at improving the economy over the policies of former President Bush by a 46% to 29% margin.

And make no mistake, the policies that the Republicans have advanced (repealing regulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, privatizing Social Security) are exactly like those of Bush. Remember, the American people that Tom Cole is talking about are the 19-25% that thought Bush was doing a good job when he left office. They may call themselves Tea-baggers now, but they’re really just the base that Cole and Boehner are playing to. That may be enough to give the Politico headline fodder and may even win them some seats but the polls clearly show that the American people are not ready to return to the “glory years” of 2001-2008.

Happy Anniversary, ADA!

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by rottenart

To hear any average teabagger tell it, the Federal “gubmint” is the root of all evil in the world and is actively usurping our rights as free citizens. Some of the more hard-core pseudo-Libertarian among them will go even further. Take Rand Paul. He’s the son of that famous doctor with the blimp, he’s got the namesake of the wacky arch-capitalist pseudo-philosopher, and he’s running for Senate in Kentucky. According to staunch conservatives like him, the Feds shouldn’t even have the power to enforce integration at lunch counters. With this virulent strain of insanity making the rounds of our national discourse, it’s surprising to hear a full-throated cheer for the ADA.

Until 20 years ago, people with disabilities could be discriminated against in the workplace and literally could not enter many buildings. If there wasn’t a ramp outside a restaurant or pharmacy then people in wheelchairs could just go somewhere else. Indeed, in Republican (yes, Republican) Tom Harkin of Iowa’s words:

“We heard stories of Americans who had to crawl on their hands and knees to go up a flight of stairs, or to gain access to their local swimming pool; who couldn’t ride on a bus because there wasn’t a lift; who couldn’t go to concerts or ballgames because there was no accessible seating; who couldn’t cross the street in wheelchairs because there were no curb cuts…. Twenty years later, that wall is indeed falling.”

Pretty brutal. But George the Senior signed the bipartisan bill 20 years ago today and things began changing. In fact, it’s rare to see a public place today without a wheelchair ramp or a disabled bathroom. The inclusion of people with disabilities in all facets of life has enriched our society and done justice to the physically disenfranchised. However, keep in mind, when people like Rand Paul talk about getting the government off our backs, when Rick Perry protests the “intrusion” of the Federal government on the states,when “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann talks about the great “usurper”, this is what they mean. Indeed, the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia maintains a fact sheet about the presidents and this comes from their entry about George H. W. Bush:

“Although critics of the bill thought it was too expensive, supporters generally point to it as one of Bush’s major domestic accomplishments. To this day, however, conservatives cite the ADA as an example of Bush’s “betrayal” of the Reagan Revolution.” (emphasis mine)

And that’s it in a nutshell. If the unhinged fringe that makes up the bulk of the conservative movement today had their way, we would return to a country more like what Sen Harkin described above. Pesky federal regulation is what makes our system, our country, and our society work more fairly. Left to their own devices, the nodes of free market capitalism will cut every corner and step on any toe necessary. Remember that next time John Boehner talks about a moratorium on all government regulation.

Here’s to an inclusive, egalitarian, free and fair country for everybody.

The Docs of War

Posted in Philosophy, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2010 by rottenart

The political world is buzzing today about thousands of classified documents released to the press by Wikileaks, the secretive whistle-blower website, that give a harrowing and detailed look at the war in Afghanistan. It’s a long, hard slog, reading through the dump, which consist of memos, chat transcripts, e-mails, and other communications from 2004 to 2009. The White House has come out swinging in its denouncement of the leaks while Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, defends his decision to release them. Among the sea of documents are tales of special forces “assassination squads” meant to hunt Al Quaeda leaders, civilian deaths at the hands of Reaper Drones, riveting accounts of out-manned NATO forces facing Taliban fighters, revelations that Taliban forces have acquired surface-to-air missiles, and the barely surprising news that Pakistan’s intelligence service has been coordinating with the Taliban for some time. All in all, it’s a detailed, tedious look at how the war in Afghanistan has been prosecuted (notably, it must be said, under the Bush administration). However, the most shocking part of the release is exactly how not shocking it is.

Now, when I say not shocking, I mean it in the sense that the communications show exactly what many people know: war is ugly, brutal, criminal, and generally a horrible business. In this sense, the documents merely put the inner workings on display. Assange pointed out that, despite the White House criticism, the newest material is seven months old which absolves it from affecting current operations and personnel. Therefore, the impact they will have is mostly lifting a curtain on the day-to-day operations of war. As I said, for most people, the reaction is likely, “yes, and?” As to why the leak is important culturally and historically, well, that’s a different matter.

Continue reading

A Tale of Two Scandals

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2010 by rottenart

Ol’ Steve hits it out of the park again. Rep Charlie Rangel (D) NY is the target of an ethics probe that is likely justified and might end up with Rangel’s defeat. It has been a big topic with the media since it broke and, like Steve, I agree it’s nothing to scoff at.  On the other side of the aisle, however, Sen. John Ensign (R) NV is also embroiled in a scandal. In fact, he’s the target of an FBI investigation into his kickback-for-a-mistress shenanigans that have also pointed fingers at the idiot doctor from OK, Sen. Tom Coburn. Of course it is an election year, so the usual gang of prognosticators wonders very seriously about what Rangel’s problems might mean for the Dems in the Fall. I wonder why there’s no mention of the Republican scandal in the news and why it’s going to tarnish the party for the midterms?

Honestly, ethics are a problem and Charlie Rangel certainly could bring home the bacon. But a House ethics probe is not the same as a federal investigation. John Ensign is facing charges and the bobble heads tell us how awful it is for the Democrats. The IOKIYAR rule is in full effect. Another example of that “liberal bias” in the media again, I suppose. Of course, hypocrisy is too big a word for the Tea Bushies; they love him because he invites twisted freaks like Sharron Angle to the Senate to start measuring drapes and drawing up plans for massacring brown people.

Maybe Charlie Rangel needs to go; I’ll reserve judgment for the report from the ethics committee. But John Ensign definitely needs to go and probably should be indicted for his behavior. But that’s not going to happen as long as the corporate mouthpieces that we call cable news hosts don’t adequately inform us of what’s going on. As some crazy wacko once put it: The news is just another show.