Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last look at 2008

1) I was writing this prolonged, poorly researched rant about the fall of the Republican Party this past November, but as time wore on and as I bore witness to more GOP crazy, I realized my take wasn't really going to cover as much as I wanted. So... I'm thinking different thoughts about the matter, and will hopefully get something pounded off my keyboard by oh the 2010 midterms. :)

2) I cannot understand why Karl Rove is still out there saying such unbelievable crap about George W. Bush being a voracious reader. He apparently hopes we all forgot how George already tried to impress us by reading Camus... which turned out not so well. Why Rove thinks that painting Dubya as some intellectual bookworm will help Bush's legacy is beyond me: Bush's selling points has always been his 'salt of the earth' beer in a bar kinda guy. Bush's legacy as of right now is utter trash, and not even 50 years of attempts at hagiography is going to help.

3) I look back at 8 Bush years, and back at 8 Clinton years, and realize that's 16 years of political partisanship bullsh-t that won't go away. Regrets, I've had a few...

4) Buy my book. No, seriously, I'm unemployed and need the income.

5) Of my New Year's Resolutions, I kept a couple: I found a reform advocacy group (FairVote) that I can see about joining, and I did write a book... albeit during the 3-day Novel contest, massively unfinished but at least 115 pages and pretty much covers beginning and end (everything else needs massive editing and inserted plot points to make things read better). Now, for next year's...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blago scandal goes DefCon 1 on the Crazy Scale

I think I mentioned earlier that this scandal would be fun to watch in a train-wreck-for-a-guy-who-deserves-it kinda way. Just as long as no one else got hurt in the process.

Looks like someone else is gonna get hurt.

Blagojevich, under 20 different kinds of scrutiny, caught on audiotape screaming stuff like "what's in it for me?" regarding his attempt to sell off Obama's opening Senate seat, fully aware that anyone he now taps to fill Obama's spot is gonna get the hairy eyeball from here on out... still went out and tapped former state AG Roland Burris - by all early accounts a swell guy and kind to animals - for the Senate seat.

This is gonna cause all kinds of crap.

The U.S. Senate is now in a bind: they swore they wouldn't accept anyone that Blago tapped: the ball is now in their court and if there's one thing wrong with the Senate Dems is that their leadership has no spine. Push 'em and they bend however you want. How can they say no to an African American pol with relatively decent creds?

Blagojevich has probably figured out something: for all the crap he's being investigated for, he's still a sitting governor and there's not much anyone can do about it until the actual day of impeachment (which can't come fast enough). The guys at Balloon Juice are noting that even if the Senate blocks Burris, all Blago has to do is call a press conference once a day with a new pick and keep forcing the Senate to block and block and block. And in the process p-ss off a handful of up-and-coming or otherwise solid Dems from a key state.

Which begs the next question: JUST WHAT THE HELL IS BURRIS THINKING??? Burris' excuse is that Illinois deserves full representation, that the Senate shouldn't be short-handed at a time like this, yadda yadda. Oh really? The 2008 primary season showed full damn well the Senate operated just fine with 10-20 Senators off busy campaigning for the White House! A few more weeks of a vacancy on Obama's chair wasn't going to kill anyone!!! You know damn well ANYONE taking a job from Blagojevich with this whole pile of sh-t under investigation is going to be looked at sideways and scrutinized for the rest of his/her relatively short political career. Already people have to be looking at you and thinking "Hey, maybe he's not so clean and respectable after all. He's CERTAINLY NOT THAT DAMN BRIGHT TAKING A TAINTED JOB LIKE THAT!!!"

You could have f-cking waited until after Blago got impeached to take the job offer if it came your way, Burris. This was selfish and short-sighted on your part. For about two seconds I had sympathy for you, but now, having thought it over, you deserve the sh-tstorm that will come your way on this. You're gonna have hundreds of thousands of people asking you day in and day out "How much did you pay for your seat, Mr. Senator?" Right now I expect Jesse Jackson Jr. is on Burris' cell phone screaming "You're dumber than I am!" I have no sympathy for you at all, Mr. Burris. None.

How many other people did Blago talk to before tapping Burris for this? I wonder if anyone's checking on that. I wonder how many other people said "Are you nuts? I'm not taking a Life Savers pep-o-mint from you!" before Burris had a brain-freeze over this.

Just when everyone's just sitting here waiting for Bush to make a few more screwups on the abuse of Presidential pardons... I'm gonna go watch the Philly/Dallas game from the past Sunday and watch the Cowboys pull off a more professional and competent gameplan than what Blago and Burris just did.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The passing of Deep Throat

Mark Felt just died.

From high school on, I studied journalism, thinking to get in a career as a writer/reporter somewhere down the road. Of course, my life path went in a different direction, and even that's been recently derailed, but still I graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelor's in Journalism, so it's a field I know well.

The Watergate scandal was and remains the high watermark of the journalism profession. It justified the need for the freedom of the press and the invaluable service an independent investigatory power could bring to justice and to effective governing. Half the classes we were taught brought up Watergate and the role of the Washington Post (and the lesser roles of CBS and the New York Times), the History Of Journalism, Reporting 101, and also Journalism Ethics that covered the topics of 'public need to know vs. privacy rights of individuals,' potential government censorship and interference, and the use of 'anonymous' or unnamed sources.

We all read "All the President's Men," written about the Washington Post's investigation of the Watergate burglary and the whole viper's nest of slush funds, illegal break-ins, and ultimately bribery and obstruction charges. Meeting the colorful characters like Segretti, Hunt, Liddy. Tortured guys like Hugh Sloan, the one honest man in the whole affair. And the mystery man, Deep Throat.

Woodward's deep cover source was the one who admonished "Follow the money." He provided vital tips and pointed the Post reporters to where they needed to go. And because Woodward and Bernstein wouldn't reveal his name or his job title, the aura of mystery heightened everything about the guy (that link is to Thomas Mann's Atlantic article published in the 1990s. IT'S A MUST-READ). Even in a book with crazy-ass guys like Liddy, Deep Throat's character bio on pg. 131 was snarky cool:

Aware of his own weaknesses, he readily conceded his flaws. He was, incongruously, an incurable gossip, careful to label rumor for what it was, but fascinated by it. He knew too much literature too well and let the allurements of the past turn him away from his instincts. He could be rowdy, drink too much, overreach. He was not good at concealing his feelings, hardly ideal for a man in his position...

Trying to figure out who Deep Throat became a guessing game to those in poli sci, journalism, history, and those of general curiosity. Names like Ben Stein and Pat Buchanan, totally unthinkable when you consider these guys still carry Nixon's water. People like Al Haig and Diane Sawyer kept getting fingered. Mann in 1992 was the first to make a persuasive argument that DT had to be someone from the FBI, an organization that would have key information on the break-in and the cover-up, and also an investigation that was fighting the politicization that the Nixon administration had been enforcing on the Executive branch. Under J. Edgar, the FBI may have been bastards, but they answered to their jobs and not their politics: however, Hoover's recent death just made the FBI vulnerable to a White House takeover, and Mann noted that career guys like Mark Felt (and a few other possible sources) were getting passed over for the Directorship by guys like L. Patrick Gray, a political appointee.

This was one of the reasons why people were trying to figure out who Deep Throat was: why? Why did a career bureaucrat provide information to Woodward about Watergate: what was in it for him? Sheer patriotism couldn't have been it: those guys don't like to hide in the shadows, they announce their pride and duty from the rooftops. It couldn't have been out of honesty: that was Sloan, and while his identity was kept quiet during the paper's investigation that was due to legal reasons (Sloan was investigated for his roles in CReeP, and was having problems finding employment - there's a sad track record of honest whistleblowers getting screwed over in life). Once Watergate was effectively over and the book was written, it was safe to reveal his ID. Only Deep Throat didn't come clean, not for another 30 years.

Mann figured Deep Throat didn't come clean because he himself was covered in dirt. And Felt did have dirt: while a top man at the FBI, he was involved in some illegal break-ins of his own. Felt went to trial and grand jury investigations on some of those (and one grand jury in 1979 saw him freeze up when the prosecutor asked if he was Deep Throat, under oath! The judge let him off the hook and said he didn't have to answer, but that was the Real first time his identity was revealed...) And Felt, in his own biographies, admitted he coveted the top dog job at the FBI, and when he didn't get the job (Gray first as a temp appointment, then when Gray couldn't secure the Senate nomination because of the troubles with Watergate it went to Ruckelshaus) he retired.

Some people wanted to know so they'd know who to blame. Nixon loyalists like Buchanan and Liddy, for example. Guys still in the public arena. Read their quotes about Deep Throat. Buchanan: "...I think Deep Throat is a dishonorable man...William Mark Felt was a traitor to Nixon and America! What he did caused 53,000 American soldiers to die for nothing in Vietnam!" G. Gordon Liddy: "...This, that if Mark Felt was Deep Throat, he is no hero. He is someone who behaved unethically..." To them, Felt was a betrayer, a backstabber, and a villain.

But then, what right do they have to mark him the traitor? Nixon's administration was breaking the law. His re-election campaign was conducting illegal break-ins. That's why Liddy's got a prison record! You want unethical behavior, G. Gordon? LOOK IN THE DAMN MIRROR. And Buchanan, arguing Vietnam over this? Uh, Pat? The persons who caused 53,000 American soldiers to die for nothing were LBJ, McNamara, and the geniuses at the Pentagon and Langley who couldn't figure out how to fight a counter-insurgency. All Mark Felt did was expose a criminal enterprise being operated out of the Oval Office that led to your boss and demigod Nixon fleeing in disgrace. SO SHUT UP.

I've been reading some of the blog forums out there today on Felt's death, and the same argument against what he did comes up: oh, he shouldn't have been sneaking about in dark garages snitching on his White House bosses! Oh, he should have let an official investigation do its job! Oh, this and that and piss on it.
To all those writing those comments: DID ANY OF YOU NOTICE that there WAS an official investigation going on? DID ANY OF YOU NOTICE that there WAS A MASSIVE COVER-UP attempt going on? DID ANY OF YOU NOTICE that when push came to shove, Nixon did his damnest to STOP THE LEGAL INVESTIGATIONS and protect his own ass? Felt didn't have much of a choice, did he? Nixon wasn't promoting him to fill Hoover's spot in the first place, so Felt had no way to guarantee there would be a legal and confirmable investigation! How else was he going to get the word out that something was rotten in Denmark?
This Oh, he shouldn't be snitching excuse is one of the reasons honest whistleblowers still have a difficult time of things. Even with federal laws in place to protect whistleblowers, they still lose jobs, still lose trust with co-workers (why? If a man tells the truth, and abides by his honor, and does the right thing to stop an illegal act, why can't you trust him?), still suffer. Anyone who whistleblows deserves our respect, no matter what. They have my respect. After all, I'M not doing anything illegal.

Still and all, Felt is not as much as a hero as I'd like him to be. He commited crimes of his own accord. With regards to Watergate, he did the right thing, and I respect him for that. I know they're not gonna build statues of him any time soon (not until Liddy dies, then I plan on sneaking in to his gravesite and putting up a statue of Felt pissing on his tombstone, heh).

Do take this moment to respect what Felt did. And above all, what Hugh Sloan did. And what Mark Klein did. And Robert MacLean. And Joseph Wilson. And Colleen Rowley. And the informant tipping off Patrick Fitzgerald about Blagojevich's ethical lapses. And...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Annual Pagan Praying for Saturnalia 2008

Dear Saturn:

Once again, I call upon thee using my Unitarian powers of open-mindedness to see about getting me all the cool fun toys and the wicked cool political reforms that Santa simply won't send my way. That cruel bastard just won't take any letters not done in crayon, which is prolly why he still listens to Dubya and not the rest of the fed-up planet...

Anyhoo: my wish list for 2008 and well into 2009:

1) I WOULD LIKE A thorough and legal accounting for all those in the Bush Administration responsible for condoning and promoting the use of torture during the so-called War on Terror that ended up more a War on Justice. How can the United States claim to be the standard bearer for the Rule of Law when we allow Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Rumsfeld, Addington, and a handful of others to walk away untouched from their violations of the Geneva Convention treaties, their violations of our own Eighth Amendment, their violations of COMMON HUMAN DECENCY! This Bush the Lesser Administration has been one prolonged effort to avoid accountability for anything and everything they've done, every law broken, every rule violated, every code of conduct mocked covering EVERY aspect of our nation be it from business to health to education to governing to the general welfare of every citizen however humble. They walk on this, no nation will ever respect us. EVER.

2) I WOULD LIKE A constitutional amendment assuring that no copy of anything written by Ayn Rand gets anywhere near an economics college ever again.
2a) And a guarantee that the napkin that hideous Laffer Curve was drawn on gets used as a toilet wipe and flushed down as it so richly deserves.

3) I WOULD LIKE A girlfriend. Oh Lord, O Saturn, ye of the God of Time, you know full well it's been 20 years (!) since I last went out on a real date, back in high school, that Christmas party at the Allens' place, and there was that small bonfire in the backyard with noone sitting there, and Suzie and I sat on a log and looked up at the night sky, all those stars, and she and I talked some pleasant stuff about all the inconsequential stuff, and then I looked down and saw a scorpion crawl up my leg OMFG and then we realized why noone else was sitting on a log covered in scorpions and Suzie and I ran back into the house and that was pretty much that. Thanks, God. Thanks a bunch. Twenty years now, I would very much like a little help here in the dating department. All I ask is, yes someone cute, with a sense of humor, centrist politics, Keynesian, oh and a love of football and comic book movies. And all I ask is you get inside my head and make me less of a bleeping geek spaz, okay? Please and thnkxkbye.

4) I WOULD LIKE TO see the Tampa Bay Rays make it back to the World Series in 2009. This time against the Cubs. So that I know we'll win. ;-)

5) I WOULD LIKE A rule that makes any media blowhard who makes wishy-washy statements using 'strawmen' to make an argument, and who claims that there's a controversy when the only ones making the controversy are other blowhards, be forced to leave the media echo chamber and work the night shift at the nearest available 24-hour bowling alley. Because it's for their own good: they need to get away from their empty-headed soulless colleagues in the media and actually get out and meet actual people struggling with their lives and maybe just maybe those blowhards will see what's really going on out here outside of those damn studios of theirs.
But I doubt it. There's a reason these idiots worked and backstabbed each other in order to get inside these hermetically sealed media studios in the first place.

That's all I can think of for now, Saturn. Oh, and for the annual sacrifice of the Mithras bull, send the bill to Bill O'Reilly as always.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why Blagojevich will be fun to watch for the next few days...

Because I'm with Christy Hardin Smith on Firedoglake about the sheer brazenness, the sheer cluelessness of Blago and his crew trying to pull this crap EVEN WITH THE KNOWLEDGE HE WAS FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES (the complaints show him openly pondering how putting HIMSELF in as Senator could help him avoid Fitzgerald's investigation). I'm with Christy, and about 100,000 other bloggers (view here, and here, and here): the stupid, it burns...

Because this is the Christmas season, when the year is ending and the winter doldrums set in, of grey skies and long dark nights, when work seems to be more of a drag than ever (if you've still got work). Because Christmas is a time to enjoy some heaping hot cups of SCHADENFREUDE, of watching idiots like Blagojevich and his crew twist in the Chicago winter winds.

Because it's been awhile since we've seen our national hero Patrick Fitzgerald back in the spotlight. Ahhh, Fitzmas. We've got, by the way, all the conservative blowhards who were running around calling Fitzgerald an unbalanced partisan hack back when he was investigating Bush/Cheney/Rove/Libby are now hailing him as a great nonpartisan seeker of justice now that he's nailed a prominent Democrat (especially since they've salivating at the thought of this all damaging Obama).

Because, amazingly enough, this is gonna end up looking great (well okay not great but at least fine) for Obama. For all the yelling and screaming from the far right blowhards that this is BAD NEWS for Obama, all the evidence coming to light shows that Obama WASN'T paying Blago off, that he WAS shaking off the feelers from Blago's crew for favors and money, and that indeed Blagojevich was pissed off about it. Having the crook say "F-ck Obama" prominently and often on all the transcripts makes Obama the victim of Blago's shakedown efforts. The worst that's going to happen is that this will look bad for the Democrats in general, for Illinois politicians (yes, ANOTHER governor going to jail!), and for anyone Blagojevich tries to name as Obama's Senatorial successor (if anyone takes it from Blago, he/she is dumber than Blago!). But there are greater issues at stake, and greater scandals to resolve, and this isn't going to dent Obama at all. All it's going to to is let the far right insult machine putter itself into its own deepening mudhole.

So for now, this is fun to watch. This is like a train wreck where the only people who got hurt were the crooks who ran it off the rails. This could all change, of course, if other people less involved and more innocent of wrongdoing do get hurt, so here's hoping the damage stays on Blago.

By the by, the smart move, the only move for Blago? Resigning. But we know now, he ain't that smart. He's probably even going to try that dumbass gambit of making himself Senator... just to let the Democrats in DC shoot his sorry dumb ass down... man, what a year this has been...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The unwashable stain

Just when you think it was safe to go back into Illinois politics...

Reporting in right now that Ill. Governator Rod "Greedy Dumbass Mofo" Blagojevich has been taken away in handcuffs by the Feds on corruption charges, mostly relating to his attempts to sell off Obama's now-open Senate seat to the highest bidder.

I call this the unwashable stain because we keep seeing this in politics: the greed; the quid pro quos; the unbelievably massive amount of greed; the self-serving ego-driven destructiveness; oh and the GREED of it all. And it's not all Republicans (cough, DeLay/Ted Stevens/Ney/Cunningham) and it's not all Democrats (cough, William Jefferson/Robert Torricelli/now this bozo), and I hate generalizing it like that, but this is where we're at. Politicians not interested in serving the public trust: politicians interested in lining their own pockets and letting their friends do the same.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Amendment Idea #418 - Talking Heads Reform

The traditional media is all atwitter over:
1) how the election really means the country is "center-right" when in fact the results show a sizable majority is center-left;
2) "OMG the CLINTONS ARE TAKING OVER OBAMA'S CABINET," along the lines of "Ohhh, we get to Hate Hillary and Bill some more," disregarding the fact that Obama's got few places to go to find qualified experienced people... like McCain wasn't going to pull his Cabinet from the failed cronyists hacks that made up Bush the Lesser's administration???
3) Obama needs to be "bipartisan" and allow the Republicans enough input to continue screwing the country over, even though most of the nation voted out Republicans in droves and willingly gave the Democrats greater control of both Houses of Congress AS WELL AS control of the White House.

In other words, the traditional media types are all in this cocooned little world of theirs where they don't see past their own tight circle of friends to realize the rest of the planet doesn't think like they do.

Hence this amendment, it's kinda like one I think I've suggested before:

  • Mandatory Term Limits for Talking Head Morons on the g-dd-mn cable news shows. Yeah, even for Jon Stewart and Colbert. I'm sorry, but every two years you self-absorbed bastards need to get out of those cubicles, those soundstages, stop hanging out with sycophants and your ever-shrinking circle of friends (how many freaking times are you gonna have a loser like Newt Gingrinch on your damn shows?) and get out in the REAL WORLD and mix with you know REAL FRICKIN PEOPLE who do their own hair and shop at Wal-Marts for their shirts and shoes and who struggle with $50k or less salaries something you idiots don't have to worry about with your book contracts and your speaking fees and God knows what else, when was the last time you had to worry about balancing your checkbook, Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Olbermann??? And stop talking like you're experts on EVERYTHING, some of you morons didn't even finish HIGH SCHOOL! You're not Experts, you're not qualified to talk about half the things you pretend to be knowledgeable, just SHUT UP, get a real job, and PROVE YOUR WORTH! Gaaahhh!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reactions to the 2008 Elections

1) My home of Florida had state-level amendments to vote on, including the nationally-relevant Amendment 2 that would block gay couples from marrying or even having civil unions.

Amendment 2 passed with 62 percent of the vote. Due to the rules on amendments, a successful amendment has to be over 60 percent (simple majority of 51 percent won't do). So there we have it. Here in Florida, 62 percent of the voting population are a bunch of homophobes.

Amendment 1 was a tad more shocking. It was set to remove antiquated and discriminatory property limits against the Japanese that had been put into the state constitution back in the 1920s. 52 percent of voters went NO on that. The state doesn't even have a statute in the books to overturn, no law was ever directly written because of it, and it never really went into effect. It just needed to get edited out of the document. AND PEOPLE VOTED NO TO THAT? What the hell is wrong with this state (well, other than being filled with a bunch of crazies)???

The only other amendment getting shot down was No.8, the one allowing counties to raise their own local sales taxes to generate additional income for their community colleges. That was also rejected by about 56 percent of voters. The only thing I can think happened here was that people didn't want government to raise more taxes...

2) I'm running into people on the street this morning who didn't watch the news last night. How refreshing. ;-)

3) Note to Liddy Dole, former Senator from North Carolina: calling your opponent - a woman who volunteered to work as a Sunday school teacher - "Godless" was obviously a REALLY BAD IDEA. Enjoy the defamation lawsuit.

3a) Note to the Republican campaigning 'experts': the cultural identity politics you bastards have played since, hell the Nixon years, ain't gonna fly well when the economy's in the crapper, the military is stretched to the breaking point, and the most you can do against your opponents is call them Marxist, Communist and/or Socialist. Considering there's an entire generation born after 1989 now able to vote who slept through their high school history classes not caring about that crap, and considering there's a slightly older generation of Gen-Xers like myself who witnessed Marxism/Communism/Socialism collapsing on themselves, those words are not as scary as they used to be.

3a.1) And the race card? Done and gone, for the most part. There will still be idiots who campaign (and sadly vote) on such matters, but this giant hurdle has been passed, and this should signal that a solid majority of voters are going to look past skin color. Done, and gone, and good riddance.

4) Also done and gone with the election loss of incumbant Chris Shays is the presence of House Republicans from the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Conneticut (New York apparently is the firewall protecting the rest of the country from Bostonian accents). That's right folks. One of the two regions that brought us the Republican Party (the Midwest/Great Lakes states were the other) back in the 1850s no longer wants them. You can view this as a result of the so-called "Southern Strategy" deployed by the GOP from the late 1960s on: when the party realized its' social conservatism worked well with the social conservatism of disgruntled Southern whites who were abandoning the Democratic party over the 1964-65 civil rights laws. So the Republicans got the social conservatives, and slowly drove the more moderate elements out. No more northeastern RINOs. No more representation from a large population voting block. And considering how New York and Pennsylvania (and now Maryland and Virginia) are slowly switching from purple-red to purple-blue, there's a lot more North (and Mid-Atlantic) that can switch to and stay solid Democrat. Combine this with the loss of the entire Pacific coast at a national level the last 4-5 elections, and the inroads the Democrats are making in the Mountain West and places like Colorado, the Republicans are becoming less a national party than ever before. Good job, Rove, on that permanent majority, ya? And O Irony: the Party of Lincoln went acourtin for the Southern vote, and now the Old Confederate South is pretty much the only home they've got.

5) The biggest deal outside of the Presidential election was how the Senate was going to shake out: would the Democrats get a filibuster-proof majority (this is really a moot point: the GOP will figure out ways to delay legislation if they want to...)? Even by this morning, about three Senate elections are still unresolved: Minnesota, Oregon, and Alaska. Let's just say that the Dems will get 56-58 seats and the GOP 40-42 (with two seats held by Independents who caucus with the Dems). That's still a sizeable number to the Democrats, well enough that they can boot Lieberman from his prize chairmanships on key committees and not feel bad about it (if Joe switches to the GOP, it's one less headache for the Democrats, as well as Lieberman finding out his Republican buddies won't like his moderate/liberal positions on everything outside of Israel/War on Terror).

5a) If Alaska returns Ted Stevens to office... SHAME ON YOU! Regardless of his court conviction, Stevens was one of the worst politicians in government. Shame, Alaska. SHAME.
UPDATE: Stevens did lose in a close contest. Still, that it was close even with his felony conviction? It proves that incumbents have too much of an advantage in getting re-elected, and that voters are too eager to call other politicians outside of their district/state crooks but unable to view their own that way. Tsk.

6) Wither the Republican Party at this point, in the face of a massive Democratic victory? That's gonna take a longer article to write about. Give me a few days.
UPDATE: Give me a few weeks. NaNoWriMo is taking a toll on meh...

6a) And to all the political commentators and Republican blowhards now calling for "bipartisanship" and "let's govern from the center"... where the hell were you bastards when Bush/Cheney/Rove/DeLay were running roughshod over everybody from 2002 to 2006??? Where was your bipartisanship then?

Why is this night different than all other nights?

I noted this back in June.

Why is this night different than all other nights? Because on this night, after 260 plus years of slavery, 100 years of segregation, 40 years of battling over civil rights, a black man is President of the United States.

Let us be realistic. This is not going to end racism, or even improve race relations. That work is ongoing, and will last long into our future generations. But this settles a long-fought argument: it means everyone born in this nation has a chance to lead.

So. What happens next?

Next, I go to sleep. I'll write more stuff tomorrow. Especially about the future of the Republican Party. I need to say a few things on that.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tomorrow is Election Day 2008

And I want to make sure all 9 people who've read this blog remember to VOTE DAMMIT.

A good poll-tracking site to check is FiveThirtyEight. Watch out the results are turning out, see how things go tomorrow.

Any predictions from me? Like I'm any good at that. But still here goes.

I'm thinking the Democrats are going to secure about 22 seats for the House. From what I've read both parties are convinced the Republicans are losing ground with Representatives - at least 10 to 15 seats from that article I've linked. I've seen projections where Democrats could get up to 28 new seats, although I'm having a hard time locating those, this is currently the closest article I can get on that. From the vibes I'm getting from people coming into my workplace... from the feeling on the street... and with the knowledge that a lot of Republicans retired this term leaving a lot of unprotected seats open... this is REALLY a bad year for the GOP in the House. If the Republicans can staunch the bleeding to just 15 lost seats, consider that a victory for them (that IS how bad it is...).

For the Senate, a lot of buzz on the liberal blogs (hi, Kos!) are pushing for getting a filibuster-proof 60 seats; but even with how Holy Joe gets handled by the Democrats post-election, I doubt the Democrats would gain more than 5 new Senate seats. It would still give the Democrats enough breathing room to boot Lieberman from his chairmanship(s) on key committees, but past that the Republicans still have other ways than filibusters to make the Democratic majority suffer the next 4 years...

For the BIG ONE, the Presidency... polling still gives Obama an edge on McCain, either 51-to-44 percent to 52-47. When you look at FiveThirtyEight's site, however, the numbers look more intimidating when you see the Electoral College counts. All Obama has to do is secure every state that voted for Kerry in 2004 and then pick up at least 3 mid-sized states that voted for Bush the Lesser... which is why Colorado and Virginia turning solid Blue means doom for McCain. Having Nevada, Ohio and Florida turn light Blue (signaling a Leans-Obama) doesn't help. McCain's only chance is for 3 things to happen: 1) the majority of the polling services are flat-wrong/biased and he's really winning states like Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and gee pretty much everywhere else, 2) he pulls off an upset in Pennsylvania while confirming Ohio and Florida, and 3) Russia invades Colorado before Tuesday morning.

That all said: never underestimate the Bucs' ability to lose a game... Yeah, what I said.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Universal voter registration is a must

It's an idea I've been musing about for a long time, considering the need for election reform where it's needed most: getting people fairly registered, getting people able to cast their votes, and getting those votes to count.

I was in Broward County FL in 2000, Ground Zero of where and when our nation's antiquated and fragile election system collapsed on itself. With all the arguing over who actually won the major election (President Gore or President Bush?), the real issue got ignored: the problems with how we Americans cast our vote, and with who actually gets to vote.

Oh, we tried to fix the HOW problem, and in some cases made it worse. Election officials jumped quickly to the fancy touch-screen equipment, sadly ignoring the many flaws that system had and still has. Optical scans have gained in use this year's election: fewer flaws to it (still has security issues), although it really needs a receipt system so people can be comforted that their choices can be confirmed in case of a recount. And still the big problem of WHO gets to vote hasn't been fully addressed.

With the Republicans this year (same as 2004 and 2006) screaming about voter fraud with groups like ACORN submitting questionable registration forms, we may finally approach that issue. As law professor/blogger Rick Hasen noticed in a recent Slate article:

When it comes to charges of "voter fraud" and "vote suppression," each election is worse than the last... These charges and countercharges are the real danger to the fabric of our democracy. If people are not convinced their votes will be accurately counted, they are more likely to view election results as illegitimate and, therefore, the government less worthy of our respect and willingness to abide by the rule of law.

What can be done about it? Though there are many things that can be done to improve our election system—from nonpartisan election administration, to a uniform ballot design for federal elections, to improvements in our voting machinery—the most urgent fix is needed for our system of voter registration... Right now, voter registration takes place primarily on the county level, and it requires a lot of effort on the part of outside groups such as ACORN, the political parties, and others... This is where a lot of the registration fraud comes from. Even for workers not paid by the card, a low-wage worker doing voter registration may be tempted to falsify information to keep his or her job, going so far as to register names in the phone book or cartoon characters...

Hasen's idea for fixing this and getting the Dems and GOP to stop ranting (well, more than they usually do)?

The solution is to take the job of voter registration for federal elections out of the hands of third parties (and out of the hands of the counties and states) and give it to the federal government. The Constitution grants Congress wide authority over congressional elections. The next president should propose legislation to have the Census Bureau, when it conducts the 2010 census, also register all eligible voters who wish to be registered for future federal elections. High-school seniors could be signed up as well so that they would be registered to vote on their 18th birthday. When people submit change-of-address cards to the post office, election officials would also change their registration information.

This change would eliminate most voter registration fraud. Government employees would not have an incentive to pad registration lists with additional people in order to keep their jobs. The system would also eliminate the need for matches between state databases, a problem that has proved so troublesome because of the bad quality of the data. The federal government could assign each person a unique voter-identification number, which would remain the same regardless of where the voter moves (PERSONAL NOTE: This might bring up privacy red flags, but why not the person's Social Security number?). The unique ID would prevent people from voting in two jurisdictions, such as snowbirds who might be tempted to vote in Florida and New York...

This is close to what's known as Compulsory registration: the idea that once you hit the legal voting age (18) WHAMMO you not only got the right to vote but you could vote without going through the hoops of filing for it. Even with the ease of registering today thanks to the Moter Voter Law, people still have to go out of their way to do it. With compulsory registration, that's long gone: No paperwork, no muss, little fuss. A lot of countries in Europe have something like this: Denmark, Finland and Germany have something where the government automatically takes care of the right to vote along with putting the citizen on their health care/tax/mailing address national register, and they simply mail their citizens a voting ID postcard.

Hasen's idea has merit: We already have the U.S. Census keeping track of people (they have to, Congress has to figure out every 10 years how to gerrymander their districts), so why not use them to keep track of their right to vote and ensure they've got it? And Hasen solves one problem of what happens to people who move: it's called the U.S. Postal Service. Any updates to a person's mailing address can be simply uploaded to the Census' databases from one government office to the next.

Another problem not addressed: privacy rights. What about those people who don't like the idea of the government or anyone else tracking them. Solution: laws and constant enforcement of laws to ensure protection of the data from any abuse. Constant vigilance: heck, we need that anyway to ensure our privacy rights against those abusing them...

This is a must, a Thing To Do regardless of how Tuesday's vote goes: we need the next President, the next Congress to enact laws to provide universal voter registration. It doesn't need to be an amendment: the Constitution alreadys grants Congress to make the laws regarding their elections, and since state and local level elections follow how the national-level elections go, getting them to conform is a non-issue. Make universal registration simple. Make it effective. Protect the info. Get it done.

One group I'd like everyone to start contacting on this is Fairvote.org: see what they've got lined up to promote universal voter registration. Let's see if we can get Congress's attention before the next election cycle... Oh, AND VOTE PEOPLE! November 4, 2008! Or early voting if you've still got a few days to do it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Early voting in Florida 2008

It's time. Voting has begun for the general election, and dang is the turnout hot!

I know I'm gonna be missing the people who did the early voting this Monday and today, but what the hell, I'm gonna go over with you the Florida state amendments being proposed this November 4th and yes I will make my recommendations about how you should vote on em dammit!

Amendment 1: a Declaration of Rights to remove an outdated law in the state constitution that banned certain ethnics groups (the Japanese?) from owning property in the state. No law really ever came of it and it's so discriminatory that it would never hold up in any court, but the passage still needs to be removed and this is the cleanest way to do it. A no-brainer to vote YES on this.

Amendment 2: the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment. It states that a marriage can only exist between a man and woman, and that any other form of union (between gays, between farm animals, between Disney cartoon characters, between congressmen and their pages) be invalid.
This is the cultural war at work here. There's already a regular law on the books, but groups opposed to gays having equal marriage/union rights want this passed to make it harder for federal courts to legalize gay unions.
My view on this? I'm single, lonely, virgin, never getting married anyway. Directly, this law does not affect me (it doesn't MANDATE I get married) one way or the other. However, I view this law as a sham, a violation of the rights of those who want to marry, co-habitate, what have you. They call this amendment a Marriage Protection act??? What a joke! This law doesn't protect people or society from the forces that DO threaten the sanctity of marriage: it doesn't stop adultery, it doesn't stop domestic violence, it doesn't stop divorce. There are hundred of gay couples looking to get married. There are THOUSANDS of hetero couples getting divorced every year. Divorce affects families by screwing up income, by breaking up households, by dividing and weakening parental responsibility regarding raising children. (In a nice irony, in the states that are allowing gays to marry we are already seeing gay couples file for divorce just like the heteros). If this amendment was doing something to cut the rate of divorce, if it was doing something to crack down on domestic violence, I'd buy the whole "We're protecting the sanctity of marriage" sthick. But it's not: it's a blatant attempt to deny a very small minority from being able to share access to legal rights that hetero couple get. There's even a chance this amendment could affect the rights of hetero couples by limiting their access to legal rights, for example hetero couples living in common-law (non-certified) marriages could find their current ability to share health care costs denied for themselves and any kids they might have.
This is a discriminatory amendment. I'd vote NO.

Amendment 3: This amendment allows the Lege to limit state Property Appraisers on appraising real property that has received hurricane wind protection upgrades and energy-saving upgrades. People were complaining that attempts to upgrade their homes to qualify for insurance coverage discounts were nailing them the other way with higher appraisal taxes. The most obvious benefit of this amendment is that it could encourage improvements to houses to withstand hurricane damage, which could go a long way to reduce insurance costs and improve our state's attempts to keep people insured. The most obvious consequence is that counties and cities will see a reduction in the property tax revenues they'd otherwise be getting: calculations on that appear minimal. I'd vote YES.

Amendment 4: This amendment is similar to A-3 in that it limits Appraisers again, but this time regarding property being 'protected' for green/conservation purposes. The gist is, keep your land 'green' and never pay property tax on it. At all.
Environmental groups are all for it: it encourages land owners to keep certain properties undeveloped and eco-friendly (places like wetlands, for example). Other properties being used but having conservation value can still be taxed, but only for current use value and not based on potential use (which is a tactic some Property Appraiser offices use to keep some landowners honest... and some offices use to squeeze more tax revenue out of other landowners...). Critics fear that land owners could figure out loopholes in the definitions of 'current use' value or 'in perpetuity', and end up getting tax-free land that they would then use to generate greater profit.
The questions about the law are valid, but the chances this law could improve the state's environment (which has been threatened) and better define property development are valid as well. I'm erring on the side of YES.

Amendment 5: no longer exists.

Amendment 6: Another Property Appraiser limiter, this time applying to waterfront/beach property. Properties to be appraised for 'current use' rather than 'potential use.' Property and business owners in waterfront/beach areas were complaining their rates were going up for developments and improvements in their area that they did not directly contribute to (for example, a marina's fish/tackle store getting hit for 'potential use' improvements done to a boat pier built for a condominium down the street). The Appraisers are fighting back on this one, noting that area development upgrades do affect other properties and businesses much like a fancy new home improves the value of the surrounding neighborhood. For the most part, I'm siding with the businesses: they shouldn't get taxed for things they're not doing. However, this amendment is too narrow: it protects marinas and commercial fishing businesses, but not local hotels and stores that are also getting hit hard by the 'potential use' appraisals. I'm thinking NO, until a better amendment gets passed.

Amendment 7: no longer exists.

Amendment 8: Provides counties with the opportunity to create a local sales tax to fund their county-level community colleges. It allows the county residents to vote on the sales tax, and limits the tax to five years, at which point it 'sunsets' out and the voters would have to vote a new one if needed. The deal is, schools and colleges should already be getting funding from the state to stay operational, and they still will: this amendment is an attempt to supplement more funding. The question becomes, will this give the state an excuse to cut back on their funding if/when the counties start their own funding? Otherwise, I kinda like this law: it gives each county the choice of improving their own local systems of higher education, and community colleges are where a lot of low-income residents go to improve their education and work toward higher degrees that translate into better-paying jobs. I'd go YES on this one.

Amendment 9: no longer exists.

There we go. Have at it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

James Fallows' amendment idea

From a week ago, give or take a few hours:

"No Person shall be elected President or Vice President without accepting a session of questioning by the press, such session to last no less than one hour and to be open to normally accredited members of the press in the same fashion as at Presidential news conferences. The questioning shall occur and the results shall be made freely available to the public at least one week before an Election is held."

I read it, chuckled a bit about who(m?) it was referencing. Sarah Palin's refusal to directly confront the mainstream media in open question session has been annoying a lot of the online and mainstream writers and opinion-makers, such as Andrew Sullivan. But you couldn't fault her or the McCain crew on that: her scripted and hermetically-sealed interviews were unmitigated disasters anyway.

I felt the need to email Fallows and give him my take on the amendment idea: that it was an emotional response to an unlikely situation (McCain selecting Palin as Veep) that could never really happen again:

... (it) doesn't really cover many of the sins being seen in this 2008 election. It focuses completely on the McCain-Palin refusal to make available Palin for give-and-take sessions with the media that journalists have long taken for granted as part of the electoral process. I honestly don't see how this amendment will correct any similar problem in the near future: this was a perfect storm of an impulsive candidate (McCain) selecting a Veep (Palin) that was so clearly unvetted and unprepared for national campaigning. Given how the GOP ticket has been slipping, almost all of it due to McCain's ADD-like lack-of-focus and the public's growing awareness that Palin could be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, I don't think any future campaign is going to be this stupid again...

I then added my suggestion for the best possible 28th Amendment: basically my "Lying is not protected speech/any politician caught lying get to be tarred and feathered" Idea.

God bless him, Fallows emailed back, letting me know he knew full well his idea was more of a vent than a serious suggestion:

Mine was a more modest and sarcastic attempt to focus on Palin's apparent attempt to win election having NEVER ONCE had a press conference.

I emailed back, apologizing for my rant and noting that for all my attempts at snark and witticism here (which isn't much), my political humor switch burned out back in 2003. And that was pretty much that.

I've forwarded some LOL Cat photos to Sullivan, in the meanwhile, but the bastard's a dog fanatic so I don't think I'll be hearing from him. ;-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm at that point I want to see it fall to Zero

The last few days, watching the stock market completely collapse, knowing full well I am watching the doom of my own nation, and the whole global market... it brings out the anarchist in me, the part of me that wants to build a bonfire and dance around it like a tribal shaman-warrior summoning up the gods of destruction.

It's because a part of me is sick of the scam, the con job the financial elites all tricked us with over the past 30 years, always crying out "Deregulate and let the free markets save us!" "Cut all taxes and the wealth will trickle down!" "Greenspan knows what he's doing!" Yeah, choke on it.

It's because I really do genuinely want to see this all collapse down to zero while George W. Bush is still in office, so this albatross gets wrung around his neck as his ultimate legacy (I wonder which part of his library think tank is gonna contain a memorial to the 2008 financial meltdown).

It's because when it happens, I want to travel to what's left of the place. Whatever ruins the city of New York becomes, I want to hobble over the debris and stand in front of Wall Street, stand upon the piles of fallen jumpers, and shout to any survivors "ARE YOU GETTING IT? ARE YOU LEARNING YET YOU GREEDY BASTARDS? ARE YOU LEARNING WHY WE NEEDED REGULATIONS AND LAWS TO PREVENT YOU FROM DOING THIS TO YOURSELVES AND TO EVERYONE ELSE? ARE YOU FIGURING OUT THAT GREED IS THE ENEMY OF ALL FINANCE? THIS IS ALL ON YOU! ALL ON YOU! VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS MY ASS! NOW DIE!"

And then I will walk home and try to find a job, which will be very hard to do with the entire economy wiped out. To all you Bush-worshiping neocon greedheads, welcome to the reality-based world. I hope to see you all (well except for the ones in jail for war crimes violations) on the unemployment lines too. So I can punch you in the face and get away with it, 'cause no jury will convict me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And all the things leading up to tonight's debate

...there's a couple of things I wanna go over.

  • Since my post about Gov. Palin's selection to be McCain's veep, I have gone from underwhelmed by her choice to utterly horrified. Her Troopergate scandal has blown up with stonewalling, contempt for subpoenas, and outright lying. She compares so well now to the current Veep and his contempt for the rule of law. More shocking, she's supposed to have spent at least a week or two with high-level 'experienced' tutors covering need-to-know topics such as foreign policy, national and global economics, what have you. All that tutoring and she turns in three interviews in a row with Gibson, Hannity and Couric that progressively show WORSE performances than the last. And the polls are reflecting that: she's dropped from the high 60s approval to around the mid-40s. She's obviously wowed the GOP base, which helped McCain's convention bounce, but now she's killing him among the Indys and Undecideds who, you know, actually grade people by performance. From what I've seen of Palin's interviews... trust me, she makes Dan Quayle look like a MENSA member.
  • I'm still upset with McCain, but this week just made things worse. His reactions to the Wall Street meltdown and to the Sh-tpile Bailout Sec. Paulson was trying to sell to Congress since last Friday have been haphazard and ill-informed to say the least. Then, Wednesday, McCain pulls a huge stunt (and it was a stunt) by 'suspending' his campaign so that he could go back to DC and make himself look important at the bailout deals the Congressional Ds and Rs were already close to completing. And what happens? He shows up, says little, and inside of 40 minutes the deals fell apart and everyone walked away pissed.
  • AND McCAIN DOESN'T EVEN PULL OFF THE SUSPENDING BIT! He lies to David Letterman to cancel out his Wednesday night appearance by claiming he had to hurry right away to the airport and to DC: Letterman finds out McCain had sneaked off to interview with Couric instead (AND CAUGHT HIM LIVE ON CAMERA DOING IT! Watch the video up to 7:32 on the timer, you can tell how pissed off Dave is by then) All day Thursday, by the way, McCain was busy meeting people, pressing palms, working the fundraisers, what have you, up until the White House session to hammer out a deal that got squashed instead. And as part of the 'suspending' the campaign, he tried to worm his way out of tonight's scheduled debate, trying to move it back to the Oct. 5th date scheduled for the Veep debate (which was becoming more and more apparent to observers to be a looming disaster for Palin: rumors that McCain's maneuvering was really to cancel her debate altogether). The attempt to cancel the debate failed: now McCain looks more desperate and unwilling to face voters than ever before.
For myself, I'm not watching the debate. My mind's made up. I know you're not supposed to vote AGAINST people, you're supposed to vote FOR people. But let's be honest. There is right now so much I hate about McCain and what he's done to himself. There is so much I hate about the Republican Party. Whereas any qualms I have about Obama's lack of experience or the Democrats' tendencies to be just as hypocritical as the GOP pale by comparison.

One other thing: McCain, you really shouldn't have pissed off Letterman like that. He's got a history of carrying grudges. And his fans vote.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's not just me... it's nearly every other American

I'm not the only one bugging about the hideous new Bush plan to waste $700 billion (at least) on a Wall Street bailout that a growing number of economists are saying isn't even needed:

The Flick Filosopher - my Matron Saint of the Movies - is pretty pissed about it too.

She compares the current fiscal crisis to her own personal financial crisis of a few years back. Like the banks and investment firms had, she had put too much on credit and was facing massive debt. Bankruptcy loomed, she considered credit consolidators, and finally went with Option Three to knuckle down, work extra jobs, pay off her loans as best she could and stop living the high life on money she didn't have.

And now, she looks at these financial wizards, these CEOs and Captains of Industry who have created a massive Sh-tpile on Wall Street... and has no sympathy for them, and I completely agree with what she says:

I'm a good citizen. I literally help old ladies cross the street. I call police officers "sir" even when they look like they're 12 years old and I wonder if their mothers know they're out on the street playing with guns... and even when they're violating my civil rights with their warrantless, no-cause searches of my belongings in the subway. I replaced all the bad old-fashioned lightbulbs in my apartment with green low-wattage fluorescent ones. I recycle. I use mass transit, even though the fares keep going up and the service keeps getting worse and the trains keep getting more crowded.
I've adopted homeless animals, for Christ's sake.
And now, George W. Fucking Bush, after spending the last seven years wiping his ass with the Constitution, wants to finish his simultaneous looting of the American economy for his pals by taking $700 billion $1.8 trillion of money we never had for universal health care, better schools, researching new forms of low-carbon-emitting energy, cleaning up our environment, giving body armor to our soldiers and taking care of them once they come home, finding Osama Bin Laden, rebuilding Lower Manhattan, evacuating poor people from New Orleans, shoring up levees so New Orleans wouldn't have needed to be evacuated in the first place, curing AIDS and cancer, making college affordable for whomever wants to attend, creating an intercity train network that actually works, and a million other progressive things that would make life better for everyone, and give it to people who lied, cheated, stole, exercised poor judgment, and bitched about paying taxes on the small percentage of their ill-gotten gains that they weren't already hiding -- legally and illegally -- from the IRS. And he wants to give them this money with no oversight, no transparency, not even any demands that it be used in any particular way.
It's not just me. And it's not just her. The last two days at the library where I work, nearly every patron has griped about the bailout, griped about the corporate overlords who are about to take more money they didn't earn, griped about how unfair the whole scam is turning out to be.

The best thing I can tell people, I can tell you: stay angry. Please contact every elected official you have. Please rant to them that you want accountability. Please remind them that these people they're about to give money to are crooks and liars and incompetents. Please remind them that you have the power to vote their lazy asses out of office if they fail to hold Bush and his Wall Street buddies accountable for what has happened these past 8 years.

PLEASE. DO IT NOW!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yet Another Bailout... and Yet Another... and Yet Another...

Sigh. I've said it before I'm saying it again... this sucks.

We bore witness this week to Lehman Brothers collapsing, Merrill Lynch getting bought by Bank of America, and then AIG (American International Group, a major player in the insurance racket) getting taken over by the U.S. government in an unprecedented act that effectively nationalized the company (something free-market capitalists like the Republicans in charge would consider a supreme act of evil... if a Democrat did it).

Pile this all on top of the previous government actions involving Bear Sterns, and total in about ten other large-scale banks failing inside of one year which is more than the total number of failed banks we've seen from 2000 to 2006. Let's be blunt, we are witnessing the biggest financial crisis since the Savings and Loans scandals of the 1980s. Only this is waaaaay bigger, where the S&L mess cost us $150 billion this subprime mess is going to cost $1 TRILLION! We're talking, yes we are, a Depression-level economic collapse, especially as you can throw in the high gas prices affecting inflation, the rising unemployment, and about fifty more economic factors that scream DISASTER.

I said it then, I say it now:

Why do we keep doing this? Why do we keep letting these financial institutions ramp up the greed and corruption until they choke on their own disasters, only to have US, the people who got ripped off in the process, to pay the damn bills? They get us coming and going.

I'll tell you why. Because these financial fat cats buy off the politicians on both sides of the aisle - Republicans and Democrats both - to do nothing until it's too late. Freaking legalized bribery.

Nothing this week has convinced me otherwise. From all that I've read, most of this current disaster points back to one law: the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. It allowed disparate economic institutions - banks, insurers, investing firms - to merge, compete, merge, make back-alley deals, develop questionable investing practices, perform acts of creative accounting, and allow themselves free parking at all the football games. It repealed an earlier law that had been introduced in 1933, Glass-Steagall, which had placed regulations and restrictions on banking and investing to curb the excesses of the 1920s that had led to the Great Depression. Now we see why. Thank you Phil Gramm.

The politicos are bending over backward now, especially regarding AIG, to make sure the entire stack of cards for our economy doesn't completely collapse, by stabilizing the top-end of the economy. Those of us at the bottom-end of the economy - the workers, the taxpayers, the people who played by the rules and the people who got played by the con artists running our markets - are going to get stuck paying the bill. AGAIN.

And this ISN'T OVER YET. The economists and political observers are all still muttering that the damage done by the crazy subprime mess and shifting financial trickery by the major institutions hasn't been fully contained yet. There's still a lot of damage yet to occur. There's still also the economic backlash to occur with all this public debt getting bigger.

All because the Republicans wanted to deregulate banking and investing, and all because the Democrats played along because the money was too good. All because of unchecked greed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Three Reasons I Will Not Vote for McCain

My anger expressed in the last post toward McCain's blatantly false complaint about Obama's use of a common phrase is basically my emotional, gut-level urge to see McCain fail this November. But I feel it is my duty to give at least a few practical reasons why I refuse to vote for McCain:

  1. Obama's going to be better for me on tax cuts. Both parties have tax plans on their platforms, and Obama's is better than McCain's covering my tax bracket: Obama's offering to give me 5 to 6 percent off while McCain is offering 1 to 3 percent. Just check the graph.
    The Tax Policy Center that provided info for that graph has done the review on the two tax plans, and has found Obama's plan is better for the lower- and middle-income classes.
  2. If McCain does indeed win in November, I have to posit: WHERE will he get his candidates to fill key positions in his administration? WHO will make up his Cabinet, his Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Interior, Education, Attorney General? Answer: McCain will fill his Cabinet with people from the Bush Administration. Where else is he going to find people from his party with *any* level of experience in an executive work setting? McCain says he'll put Democrats in his Cabinet, but odds are he's only going with one, his old buddy Lieberman (possibly for State). Everyone else is going to end up coming from a Bush the Lesser administration that has been filled from bottom-up with borderline quacks, unqualified hacks, and cronyist crooks (caveat: current Sec. of Defense Gates has shown some skills, but he was pretty much forced on a Bush team suffering from the 2006 setbacks and political pressure worried about the worsening Iraq occupation). If Obama wins, yes he'll probably add people from the last Democratic admin - the Clintons. But review the Clinton years: other than Housing Secretary Cisneros, what other problems were there with other appointees? Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy went to trial, yes, but that trial was a sham and he was acquitted on all charges. And I'm not going to focus on the conspiracy talks about Commerce Secretary Brown... The biggest scandals with the Clinton White House involved the Clintons themselves, rarely their Cabinet or other appointees. Between the Republican talent pool and the Democratic talent pool, I'll take the Dems to fill the next White House jobs, please!!!
  3. Simply put, McCain is going to continue wars. He's doing too much saber-rattling at Russia and Iran, and not convincing me he's going to do anything about lessening our troop presence in Iraq nor resolving the disaster Afghanistan (and Pakistan) has become.
Those are just three legit reasons I can't vote for McCain. My passionate emotional reason for not voting McCain (HE'S TURNED INTO A GODDAMN LIAR) is the trump card, naturally.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A level of anger that almost makes it too difficult to write

Almost.

In the past week and a half, since McCain made Palin his Veep choice, the general campaign for the Presidency 2008 has taken a huge turn for the worse.

I had railed before against the levels of mudslinging that contaminate the election process every four years, but now... for the love of God...

Obama went and called McCain's policies the same as George W. Bush's. His exact words were:

OBAMA: Let's just list this for a second. John McCain says he's about change, too. Except -- and so I guess his whole angle is, "Watch out, George Bush, except for economic policy, health-care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics. We're really gonna shake things up in Washington." That's not change. That's just calling some -- the same thing, something different. But you know, you can -- you know, you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig.

Within seconds, the McCain campaign accused Obama of attacking Sarah Palin and calling her a pig. Accusing Obama of being sexist and rude to women. And the media, especially the GOP-friendly spinidiots, bought into the complaint hook line and sucker.

WTF?!?!?!

Obama's comments were about MCCAIN. About MCCAIN'S POLICIES being the same as the MOST UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE. Re-read that paragraph. Palin's name doesn't even show, she's not even hinted at!!!

It's as though the McCain camp were waiting for Obama to say anything, use any questionable phrase - like 'lipstick on a pig' - to jump all over him and accuse HIM of being a mudslinger. 'Cause let's face it, there's nothing Republicans like more than playing the victim during an election year (on the non-election years, they like to play cowboy and burn everything down around them).

Even though 'lipstick on a pig' is a common political phrase. Ann Richards - a woman, Texan governor by the by - was the one who coined it and used it on a regular basis since the 1990s. MCCAIN HIMSELF USED IT TO DESCRIBE HILLARY CLINTON'S HEALTH CARE PROPOSALS EARLIER THIS YEAR!

What this is, what it needs to be seen as across the whole goddamn country by every voter (but which I know won't happen because there's too many goddamn GOP zombies out there who've already bought the sham), is that this is a contrived invented controversy that shouldn't even be a controversy. Because instead of looking at what Obama really said - that McCain is going to be another Dubya following the same failed policies - people are looking at the perceived slight to Palin's womanhood/motherhood that never happened.

The statement Obama made is not offensive, because he wasn't offending anyone, and he wasn't lying. The actions of McCain, and of his campaign, and of his media sycophants, are offensive, because they're trying to force voters to look away from the things that really matter.

We're losing our jobs. We're losing our homes. Banks are failing. Our military is stretched thin fighting two battlefronts, with troops frayed and veterans unable to get needed health care, emotional support, financial support, everything. And the Bush people are arguing for a THIRD battlefront with Iran. International allies aren't taking our phone calls. Health care costs keep skyrocketing. Schools are losing money, losing students. Gas prices are still too high, and we're not seeing ANY effort to develop effective alternative resources. And the Chinese hold our nation's credit card bills in their hands.

And we're sitting here on Day Three of the Pig Issue and it's not going away. Insert *mother of all facepalms* here.

I want honesty in our public discourse. I want liars punished. I want spin removed from our elections. I want accountability. I want a working functioning government able to maintain a solid working military, able to provide emergency support at all times to all citizens. I want our economic system well-regulated by honest brokers who will get rid of the cronyism and the greed, that would prevent the goddamn con artists from ruining our financial institutions with their quick-rich scams. I want Karl Rove on death row, the bastard. I want Grover Norquist to pay everyone's else taxes and come to the realization that it's not tax cuts we need it's fair taxation. I want my headache to go away, I want my soul back, I want this anger in my heart gone because I don't need it. No one needs this kind of anger in them, despite what the goddamn GOP blowhards think.

And I look at the poll numbers, at how 50 million Americans are still buying the GOP spin-bullshit. God help us.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Florida state amendments off the ballots

In a massive rebuke, a unanimous (do you know how rare that is these days?) Florida Supreme Court rejected three of the possible state amendment referendums yesterday. Jeb Bush reportedly seen clutching a security blanket and sucking his thumb afterward.

The three amendment proposals were:
  • Amendment 5 - which cut property taxes to fund schools, in exchange for a vaguely defined tax swap that could shift the tax burden to higher sales taxes. The amendment was noted for being poorly worded, failing to highlight how the shift could take place, that the revenues generated by the sales tax would still fail to compensate for the lost revenues from the property tax, and that the tax shift wasn't even guaranteed (any law including the word 'might' means it will never happen). It was also noted for being full-out batsh-t EVIL!
  • Amendments 7 and 9 - sideways attempts at re-introducing vouchers (which has become a pet project of social conservatives to get more public money into religious private schools): Amendment 7 was removing the "no aid" language that bars state money from going to religious institutions, number 9 requiring school districts to spend at least 65 percent of their money in classrooms but also eliminating the need for a 'uniform' public school system (meaning private schools could take over). In both amendments' cases, the court ruled that the group who submitted them - Jeb Bush's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission - did not have the authority to shove those two onto the ballot.

All in all, this means two things:
  1. The social cons are going to try even nastier tricks next time, and
  2. Our tax system still won't get the real reform it needs to ensure better school funding

Peace out! I'm off to ride the MIGHTY MOONWORM!

Friday, August 29, 2008

So McCain chooses... Palin

While Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wasn't on my earlier list of possible Veep choices for McCain to consider, I had a very good reason for overlooking her:

She's got less political experience than Obama, in terms of level of quality.

Palin served a few terms on a city council - and then served as mayor - for Wasilla, an Alaskan community no bigger than 8000 people. She spent about a year (2003 - 04) working as an ethics commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She won the governorship for Alaska in 2006, which means that she's done at best 2 years at that job.

I'm sorry, but to be considered for the Vice Presidency means you have to be considered for the Presidency as well: that's the Veep's duty to step up if the need arises. The only thing on Palin's resume that stands out as living up the to qualifications of the office is her governorship. Being mayor of a town of 8000 people doesn't speak well towards comparable experience for the Oval Office. And that was one of the big weapons the Republicans had arguing against an Obama Presidency: Obama's had roughly only 4 years of comparable experience as a U.S. Senator. Going with Palin takes away the "inexperienced" argument. The only other legitimate argument the Republicans had against Obama was that he's... well wait, the argument that he's raising taxes as a commie librul secret buddhist! Or the argument that he's a Democrat. Or the argument that Obama's not that good at bowling, or quail hunting. Or that Obama's a one-house-owning elitist who eats the salad bar buffet at Bennigan's.

Trust me, the "Obama Is Inexperienced" was the best weapon the Republicans had in their arsenal. And they just punted it away.

Past that, one could see Palin actually makes for a nice (just not great) choice. Nearly every time she's run for office she ran as a reformer, promising to cut back costs and taxes as mayor, and had quit her job as ethics commissioner railing against the corruption in that office and then backing it up by attacking her own party's state leadership to where a couple of guys had to resign and cough up fines. She ran against an incumbant Governor in the GOP primary... and won (do you know how rarely incumbants lose their own primaries?!?!)! In office she's backed up her talk of reform with geniune ethics reform efforts and with savvy budgeting cuts. On her reformer creds, paint me impressed.

And yes, there is a scandal involving an ex-brother-in-law and the firing of a Public Safety commissioner, but Palin has been cooperating with the legislative investigation and so far it doesn't have the stench of death to it. You'd think McCain's vetting process would have covered this, so this scandal may only involve the freemasons (as long as Illuminati doesn't get dragged into this, we'll be fine...)

The only other question I have about this pick is, well, how gimmicky it feels. I've noticed in the past few weeks how McCain's people were trying to drive a wedge between the Democrats especially via Hillary Clinton's still-vocal women supporters. If they think getting a woman Veep candidate might bring the Clinton PUMAs over to the Republicans, well, McCain's crew forgot two things: 1) The PUMAs don't care if they're asked to support a woman candidate or not, they only care that the candidate has to be HILLARY!!1!1OMG! (which was why Obama's reported consideration of Gov. Sebelius wasn't swaying the PUMA crowd), and 2) will Palin really reflect towards womens' issues, which tend toward a) equal pay, b) child care and education, c) and abortion rights? Just being a "Hockey Mom" alone won't convince women voters among the independents and the Democrats to switch over to the Republican ticket.

This was a nice choice for McCain, but still underwhelming. The good news is this is better than going with Romney or Giuliani. I would've felt disappointed if it was Huckabee, but not surprised. Still and all, not impressed with either Veep choice: yet another reason why I feel the need for a Vice President is no longer there...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

So Obama chooses... Biden

Hmph. Paint me underwhelmed.

I'd mentioned earlier that while Biden has a solid resume he was/is about as personally flat as drywall. In terms of political quality/experience, he fits the Veep requirement of being capable of taking over the Oval Office. I guess that being 'flat as drywall' things means Biden is not a distraction to Obama's own charismatic skills, another trait you want in a Veep. Biden definitely fits the regional need (Atlantic/Northeast coast to Obama's Illinois/Lakes).

It's just that, compared to other possibilities like Sebelius, Biden seems too... safe. Too 'ehh' or 'blah'. Not a bad pick, but not an OH WOW pick.

Now to see who McCain goes w... Romney?! What did I just tell you?!?!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Annals in Political Hypocrisy, Day Ninty-four Thousand and Three

Seriously. How f-cked up are we as a nation when our so-called leaders with their 'moral clarity' keep getting shown up as hypocritical morons of the highest order? And I admit, I got suckered by this guy thinking he'd be a clean choice...

This is further proof that if you live long enough, you will see a rumor tabloid like the National Enquirer actually get a story right.

Okay. I might have mentioned this amendment idea before, but I'm stating it here because we so need this:

  • All political candidates shall come from an impoverished environs, and shall have no prior sexual experience. That way, when they get caught embezzling or taking bribes or sleeping around like morons, it won't be that big a deal.

Meanwhile, we've got war between Russia and Euro Georgia, the government's illegally reading our mail, McCain's getting foreign campaign funds from Jordan, gasoline is still too expensive and no one in DC is making actual headway in securing alternative energy sources, our jobs and wages suck, housing mortgage failures are getting worse, and there's about 50,000 other things going hideously wrong with the world, and there's no genuine leadership anywhere anymore because nobody can be trusted and nobody's cleaning up the mess.

Frustration currently at 98 percent and rising.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Holy crap! I just got polled!

Just finished a call from Quinnapiac University, the home of football's Fighting Pollsters!

They were polling on the upcoming Presidential election:

1) Who I was voting for: Barack or McCain
2) My favorable/unfavorable opinions of both Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. I refused to answer those questions because a) I'm not voting for First Lady and b) I'm not voting for First Lady. I'm voting for who's going to be sitting in the Oval Office making THE BIG DECISIONS. If my whole vote came down to who would be First Lady, I should not be allowed to vote on account of being Teh Stupid. Sheesh.
3) What I felt was the key issue to vote for: Iraq, Health Care, Energy policy, Economy, Rising Gas Prices, and which was the better Big Message movie, Wall-E or Dark Knight.
4) What my positions on energy policy were.
5) If I had cute cats. I answered 2. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So, considering Veeps for 08...

In an earlier post, I railed against the whole idea of needing a Vice President anywho. Still, the system is what it is, and the two designated drivers for the main parties - McCain and Obama - are in the midst of their respective vetting processes. Rumor has it McCain is selecting soon (although the rumor itself may have been scuttlebutt to keep McCain in the news while Obama's doing his overseas lovefest).

Anyway. Who do I think should be selected as running mates for McCain and Obama? Democrats first, since my earlier posts on Presidential candidates went GOP first...

For Obama, for starters all I can say is... No Hillary. Period. For the Love of God No.

A majority of voters just made it clear, they don't want her. Or her husband. ANYWHERE NEAR THE WHITE HOUSE. Again.

And do you even want someone like her on your ticket? She's gonna want to make input. She's gonna want to put HER people in charge of things. She's gonna end up backstabbing you in some form or another simply because she'll have to. It's in her nature. You can tell. It's like that story of a woman in the desert rescuing a snake and then the snake biting her: "But I saved you" says the woman. "I know," says the snake. "I'm still a snake."

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way. Where else to look then?

The names I see the most (that are still in consideration) are Kathleen Sebelius, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Sam Nunn, and Bill Richardson. Of these, Nunn has the best resume and comes from a key Southern state: he's also been retired for some time and could be too old. Biden has a solid resume, but like I said during the primary evaluation the guy's flatter than drywall. Dodd has come on lately as a champion of civil rights against the unwarranted surveillance and telecom amnesty that the Bush people had been pushing the past year: his big knock is that he's knee-deep in lobbyist connections to Countrywide. Richardson's resume looks good, and he can solidify the Hispanic vote especially in the Southwest. Sebelius' name comes up as a possible caveat to feminists still dedicated to Hillary: she has Hillary's political skills without any of the baggage and ego that Hillary brings with her.

Dark horse names that come up, the real out-of-left-field stuff, are Chuck Hagel (who's Republican: the only things going for him are his anti-Iraq War and anti-stupid stances), Gov. Brian Schweitzer (a populist Dem, but he comes from a small-population state and is more of a rookie on the national stage than Obama), and mah fellow Gator Bob Graham (who would guarantee a Florida win for Obama, but has been retired for a good while and has an annoying habit of writing out detailed diaries... even an honest administration would be wary of a guy like that).

I'm putting my money on Sebelius: she's enough of a populist - and popular - figure to win over most of the undecideds among the Dems and liberal-leaning Indys. She would give at least the more moderate feminists still enraged over the shoddy treatment of Hillary during the primaries a graceful way to support Obama. And she may come from a smallish state (Kansas) but her brand of politics should attract voters across the whole Great Plains region (even down into Texas). Richardson may look good as a possible Veep, but Sebelius brings a little more to the table.

Okay, now to look at what McCain has to look at: Why is Mitt Romney standing here...?

If Hillary is a bane to Obama, Romney is the same for McCain. Ye Gods, the Republicans already had a shot at accepting Romney... and they REJECTED HIM OUTRIGHT. Huckabee ran a more successful campaign than he did, and with less money wasted.

Romney's still here because the party insiders still think Romney's a viable candidate 4 years down the road (McCain is expected, if he wins, to be a one-termer: nobody sees him running in 2012), and they want his resume burnished as best as possible. There are still people who think he's 'conservative' even though a majority of Republican voters didn't see that. Not to mention the fact his Mormon faith is still a sticking point for conservative evangelicals that make up the noisiest faction of the GOP.

That said, Huckabee would make more sense as a possible Veep... except that the OTHER noisy wing in the Republicans - the anti-tax crazies - aren't thrilled with him. There's a question if the Huckster and McCain get along well. And Huckabee has some baggage of his own...

The next set of names I hear are mostly Governors: Crist, Jindal and Pawlenty. Crist is popular among Republican Floridians (although some of his actions - Amendment One cough - is starting to catch up with him), but that popularity seems to end at the state border. The spectacle of Crist suddenly dropping his single lifestyle by getting engaged justkinda smacks of desperation to be more marketable to the social conservatives. Pawlenty is a major figure among GOP governors and his state is hosting the convention this year, and he tries to present himself as a big-time tax-cutter. The thing is, he's going to have to explain all the failures of funding road and bridge repair that led to people dying on the I-35 bridge. Jindal's name comes up because he's one of the few bright electoral successes the Republicans have had since 2006: winning the governorship of Louisiana (which conveniently shifted more Republican once all the poor Democrats got shipped out of New Orleans). His biggest knock is that he's 37: younger than Obama and even less experienced at being on the national stage. It would weaken McCain's arguments about Obama being inexperienced. It would look too much like a gimmick pick, rather than a pick based on performance/merit.

Past that, another name that comes up is Joe Lieberman. Okay. First off, while Lieberman has been incredibly friendly to the Republicans the past 8 years, his deal is that he's supposed to be the 'serious Democrat': the one guy the Republicans can point to and say "See? Not everybody hates Bush or the Iraqi occupation or the neocon foreign policy debacles." He's supposed to be on the Democrats' side of the aisle: the moment he takes the VP nomination from McCain is the same moment Harry Reid will be forced to kick Lieberman off the committees Holy Joe is chairing, and put someone less friendly to Bush in a serious investigatory role. It will actually diminish Lieberman's value and just make him yet another Angry Old Neocon.

Of the remaining possibilities... I admit, I was high on Sanford, the guy from South Carolina. Then he went and had a brainfart on national television that pretty much killed his reputation everywhere. Haley Barbour's name is solid among the Republicans, but his lobbyist history and the current scandals involving the apportionment of hurricane relief will draw the wrong type of attention. Governor Purdue (GA) is the next possible choice but lacks national recognition and there's no guarantee he would secure that state. Another possibility is John Huntsman out of Utah, but he's got the same problem Mitt has (Mormon) with the added problem that outside of Utah he's not going to improve McCain's electoral chances (Utah is so conservative it's the only sure state McCain has outside of Arizona). Grabbing any of his fellow Senators could cause repercussions with the fact that nearly every polling expert (including within the GOP) are predicting heavy losses for the party: if McCain should win, he'll be taking one more Senator without seniority/clout out of a branch of government that will be very low in membership and would be in dire need of leadership.

This doesn't leave McCain honestly with too many choices. Add to that the fact some Republicans see this as a failed election cycle anyway and would avoid accepting an offer, preferring instead to wait it out for 2012 (you don't hear from Kemp or Quayle anymore, do you? And outside of his anti-tax stances Kemp was/is utterly acceptable). Right now, all I see are Crist, Huckabee, or Jindal. If McCain takes Romney, he's doomed for certain. Everything else is a serious risk. Right now the smart money is on Crist being the pick.