Ignorance Prefers Ignorance

January 14, 2009

Surprised that an ignorant man wants to remain ignorant? This well sums up the conservative media.

WURZELBACHER: you don’t need to see what’s happening every day, that’s my personal opinion, you don’t have to share it. But, you know, okay, you don’t have to see, you know, 800 dead, 801 dead. It’s like they drill that in your head. … They want you to sit there saying there are so many people dying. You know these are large, these are numbers, you know I don’t want to take away from that. Let me, uh, think about how to say that again. Just essentially, they keep drilling it into your head, newscast after newscast after newscast. I think the military should decide what information to give the media and then the media can release it to the public. I don’t believe they need to be in the front lines with soldiers, I don’t believe they need to, uh, you know, be bothering the military for information or for access to certain areas.

[via Thinkprogess]


Watching the Money and Power Move to the East

January 2, 2009

Imagine the scenario in which the U.S. government decided that building our own weapons was no longer important. Instead, we bought weapons from China, India and Europe.  Would this be a smart thing as a superpower? To depend on competitors, even potential combatants in a conflict, for the majority of our weapons and technology? No, it isn’t. It would be asinine, and I daresay that Americans would fire every politician that supported such a proposal.

Yet, in truth, we have done a very similar thing with our economy. Economies are like armies in that countries depend on them and gather their strength through them, the strength to defend, to deter, and to build. Yet, we have amassed debt, which we have done before, but now we find our debt being held by foreign governments such as China. We have allowed American companies to depend on foreign workers, confusing the idea that profitable companies means a profitable America. It doesn’t work that way, however, because the vast majority of Americans are workers, not high-level managers in corporations.

Over the last few years, our political leaders have done little to ensure that the American economy and American workers are secured. The Iraq war, for all its billions of dollars, has in a very real sense been a case of robbing Mary to pay Paul. Regardless of the success of our military intervention there, we have weakened our economy and financial security in doing so.

The National Intelligence Council has published a reported titled 2025 Global Trends: A Transformed World that paints a weakened U.S., based largely on economic developments in recent years.  Our greatest challenges in the coming years are economic, not military, which is unfortunate as the Bush administration has focused on the latter to the great detriment of the former.

In terms of size, speed, and irectional flow, the global shift in relative wealth an economic power now under way–roughly from West to East–is without precedent in modern history. [p. 7]

The scarcity of resources should be taken as seriously as weapon development in years past. I encourage you to read the report yourself, to scan the different sections at least. And then ask yourself this question: is the U.S. in a better or worse position than it was 8-12 years ago to deal with the economic competition in the East and elsewhere? Are we in a better position to be energy independent so that we are not dependent on countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia? Do we want to be able to determine our own policies, our own future, or do we want to be dependent upon or limited by other countries?

Full of provocative quotes, the one on page 94 jumped out to me:

The dollar is vulnerable to a major financial crisis and the dollar’s international  role is likely to decline from that of the unapralleled “global reserve currency,” to something of a first among equals in a basket of currencies by 2025. This could occur suddenly in the wake of a crisis or gradually with global rebalancing. This decline will entail real tradeoffs and force new, difficult choices in the conduct of American foreign policy. [my emphasis]

If you are familiar with the idea of cutting jobs to appease stockholders, then you have some idea of what it could mean to have our country’s debt held by countries like China, although I doubt China will be as understand and sympathetic as stockholders.

I’m not reimagining the “Buy American” campaign. Instead, we should learn from conservationism, the idea that we strengthen our (economic) environment and resources: use but replenish and grow. We have focused so much on the profits of our companies that we left a weakened American worker pass without notice, let alone concern, even rage.

More importantly, we should look at the whole of our economy. America and Americans prospered for so long because we had both opportunity and plentiful resources.  And I think from the larger perspective, American workers are part of those resources. To interchange them with foreign workers is to look at it from a corporate, not an American, persepective.

Republican Intellectual Socialsm

December 26, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those dangerous driving moments as I listened to Dennis Prager talk about gifted children. First, I heard him ask if children with As were any happier than children making Cs and Ds. His point was that they aren’t, so why put kids in gifted programs. To further that point, he claimed that the reason parents put their kids in gifted programs was so that the kids could make more money as adults. Nevermind that I have a child in a gifted program and that money has nothing to do with it (for me and the other parents in that class, as we have talked about it to a great extent). The point of such program is the opportunity and the capacity to learn. As my son said while in his regular class, “What’s two plus two? Too boring . . . that’s what my class is.”

Prager’s comments, however, capture the problem with too many pundits, conservatives in particular. First, their problem is a complete lack of knowledge on topics that they spew opinions about. More significantly, they desire a kind of intellectual socialism that reduces everyone to their know-nothing levels.

It was one thing to be anti-East Coast intellectualism as they were at one time, even though many of post-WWII leaders and pundits were from the East Coast. At least, I understand the point of opposing a certain school of thought that one might call “East Coast intellectualism.” But today’s conservative pundits go beyond that, demeaning any type of intellectualism, even college education itself.

Sarah Palin’s hero status among these conservatives epitomizes this resistance to knowledge as the basis for policy. Mark Davis, Dallas radio host and newspaper columnist, touted McCain’s selection of Palin as the greatest political moment of 2008. Yet, other than being ‘mavericky’ Palin has no knowledge to distinguish her as a politician. Like Prager, she throws out opinions based on no real knowledge of the topic. There’s a progression with recent Republican White House candidates. Reagan hardly had a sharp mind for detailed knowledge; instead, his appeal was mostly an emotional one (patriotism and strength) with a general policy of ‘less government’ and an economic theory he really didn’t understand in detail. (See David Stockman’s Triumph of Politics.) George W. Bush demonstrated even less detailed knowledge, although he had an MBA. In Palin, we saw such a descent into ignorance that it was uncomfortable even for Democrats and liberals.

That’s not to say conservatives are ignorant. I know too many that are engineers and very intelligent people. But the conservative leaders and, in particular, the pundits have such a disdain for intellectualism that they seem to pursue arguments, like Prager’s, that equalizes intelligence. As appealing as it is think that anyone can be president, or vice-president, that’s not really true. Excluding experience from the discussion, Palin’s body of knowledge was too puny to qualify her for VP. I want someone smarter than me in the White House, even though I’m no idiot, and neither are most Americans. The advocacy of Palin as a vice presidential candidate was not a hallmark of independent, maverick politics. It was the advocacy of incompetence, of marginal understanding of national issues, and of equalizing intelligence, the kind of socialist endeavor that conservatives froth at in any economic areas. At one point, McCain cited Palin’s PTA experience as one of her qualifications, which is one of the most ridiculous statements of the campaign.

But this is the path that conservative leaders are taking Republicans down. I know many conservatives, and most are not opposed to intelligence, and they recognize that there are different types, with not all being equal. Some admitted to being uncomfortable with Palin on the ticket, but I think they saw this elevation of ignorance as dangerous to the party, especially those conservatives who view themselves more as economic conservatives rather than religious or social conservatives.

With candidates such as Palin, it’s little wonder that Prager dismisses gifted and advanced education.

Opposition Politics

November 24, 2008

Conservatives like Sean Hannity have been blaming Obama for our economic problems because, of course, the sitting president can’t be blamed for anything. Regardless, we now see a Wall Street rally after Obama announced his economic team as well as plans for an economic stimulus package. The bounce started late Friday afternoon:

Stocks erased a decline Friday and managed a massive rally after reports surfaced that the New York Fed Bank president [Timothy Geithner] was Obama’s pick.

I’m just curious how tired these conservative talking heads get from always being wrong. Or do they just say their lies and move on to the next thing.

After years of approving deficit spending, Republicans now get cheap when it comes to saving our economy. More precisely, they’re filling their role as the opposition party by opposing anything Obama supports, even if it means voting against helping Americans.

Guns and Threats

November 21, 2008

Connect the dots.

First up are gun sales:

Gun sales across the county — and the country — are surging in the wake of the Nov. 4 election as fears mount for an incoming Barack Obama administration that some feel might restrict or even strip their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Background checks for people looking to buy guns has shot to unprecedented levels, according to Lance Clem, spokesperson for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Next, we have the highest level of post-election threats against a president-elect:

Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before.

But since the November 4 election, law enforcement officials have seen more potentially threatening writings, internet postings and other activity directed at Obama than has been seen with any past president-elect, said officials aware of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue of a president’s security is so sensitive.

Earlier this week, the Secret Service looked into the case of a sign posted on a tree in Vay, Idaho, with Obama’s name and the offer of a “free public hanging”. In North Carolina, civil rights officials complained of threatening racist graffiti targeting Obama found in a tunnel near the North Carolina State University campus.

And in a Maine convenience store, an Associated Press reporter saw a sign inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin.

The crazy black Marxist is coming to take away your stuff and give it to the poor. Oh, you think I’m exaggerating the thinking of some? Here’s a sample of comments about gun purchases from a conservative blog:

  • “I want [a gun]. I’m afraid of guns. They scare me. But some things are more dangerous than a gun in the hands of a free citizen of a democracy. Like a Marxist Socialist in the White House… because Marxists have killed 100,000,000 human beings and are the most murderous politicians in world history . . . .”
  • “In the current economic meltdown, it’s not a SWAT team you need to worry about; it’s the drug-addled poor people and crystal-meth zombies who are coming to take whatever you’ve got.”
  • “Remember the 2A is there to keep government from making laws about an INHERENT right. A right given to you by your creator, whether that be God or some sort of primordial soup.”

This is what you get from the conservative media: fear and anger.

Spreading a Wealth of Lies 2

October 28, 2008

As a follow-up to my previous post, here are Palin’s statements in Des Moines. Let us count the lies together.

See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else1. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody2. Obama, Barack Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes, and I say this based on his record… Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us3. And government kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us4.

1 Only workers making over $250,000 face the possibility of higher taxes under Obama’s plan. 95% of workers will see a reduction or no increase of their federal income taxes. That is an undeniable fact.
2 Nowhere does Obama propose taking money from one person and giving it to another. As I explained previously, he is proposing a tax credit to workers for income and payroll taxes that they pay. All workers pay the payroll tax, so no one is getting someone else’s money: Obama is giving people back money that they themselves paid. This is probably Palin’s biggest lie. She goes so far as to suggest Obama’s going to come in with his gummint goons and take your furniture and silverware to give to “other” people.
3 Where in Obama’s record has he misused the power to tax? Nowhere. And guess what? His current tax plan calls for LOWER OR THE SAME TAXES for everyone not making more than $250,000 a year. For those making more than $250,000, they’ll see tax rates that they had in the 90s.
4 Oh no, it’s Married to the Government. But where is government making decisions for families? By giving families tax credits, Obama is giving them a choice to spend or save that money.

It seems that Palin is completely unable to make a statement without lying.

Spreading a Wealth of Lies

October 28, 2008

McCain, Palin, Fox News, and many others are falling over themselves to claim that Obama is “spreading the wealth,” which makes him a Marxist. But sharing the wealth is hardly an uncommon idea, even among Republican presidents and wannabes. But let’s look at some facts, and let’s start with the frequent claim from Republicans that 40% of Americans don’t even pay taxes but to whom Obama would give money.

For these Republicans, that’s taking money from us and giving it to them. But the fact is that workers don’t just pay income taxes but pay high payroll taxes, which is something all workers all have to pay, except for those earning over $100,000, which is the cap for payroll taxes. Republicans ignore these taxes, which increased for the majority of Americans under Reagan.

Obama has planned a “Make Work Pay” tax credit of $500 for 95% of American workers. While 40% of workers might not pay federal income taxes, they do pay payroll taxes. In fact, while the federal income tax has dropped for lowest quintile, payroll taxes have increased (from 5.3 in 1979 to 8.3 in 2005).

So, Obama is not giving money to people who don’t pay taxes: he’s giving a tax credit to workers who do pay federal taxes. Let’s put some numbers to this now. A worker makes $25,000 a year and pays no federal income tax because of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Still, that worker pays more than $2000 in payroll taxes. For that worker, Obama offers a $500 tax credit, but because she doesn’t have an income tax, she gets a check for $500, offsetting a portion of her payroll taxes (which she still has contributed more than $1500 after the tax credit).

This is hardly a Marxist redistribution of wealth because the worker still pays federal taxes, and the worker is getting back money she paid to the federal government. She’s getting back her money, not your money, not money she didn’t earn.

So, when Palin and her ilk lie about Obama taking “your money” and doing what he wants with it, keep in mind that not just Republicans pay taxes. Everyone does. And Obama is trying to give some of that money back to 95% of taxpayers.

Stayin’ Alive: Subprime Myths

October 24, 2008

So, the way the conservative story goes, in 1995 Bill Clinton forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to give home loans to low-income families that wouldn’t otherwise qualify, which started the subprime mess that has led to your underwater 401k.

The problem is almost none of that is true according to pesky facts:

Subprime lending was at its height from 2004 to 2006.

Federal Reserve Board data show that:

-More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

-Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

-Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that’s being lambasted by conservative critics.

During those same explosive three years, private investment banks – not Fannie and Freddie – dominated the mortgage loans that were packaged and sold into the secondary mortgage market. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector securitized almost two thirds of all U.S. mortgages, supplanting Fannie and Freddie, according to a number of specialty publications that track this data.

Read the rest of the article for more facts that won’t cooperate with Republican smears.

Bachmann Blames Media Trap for Her Opinions

October 23, 2008

Rep. Bachmann has a found an interesting way to avoid being held responsible for her words: she claims Matthews trapped her by introducing and repeating the term “anti-American” so that she just used it without thinking. But, as we are accustomed with Republican politicians these days, she initiated the theme by claiming that Obama has “negative views of the United States.” This is standard Republican strategy: don’t call it a duck, but just talk about the quacking and waddling so that everyone knows you’re talking about a duck, yet you can claim you never said “duck.”

In the transcript of the show, Matthews used “anti-American” first, but Bachmann had a chance to immediately respond and repeat the term. But notice Bachmann’s sentence prior to Matthew entrapping question in which she uses a Russian term to evoke images of communism, which, of course, America fought for decades. He uses “anti-American” only twice in his question, which she promptly picks up and uses.

REP. BACHMANN: You have a troika of the most leftist administration in the history of our country.

MR. MATTHEWS: If you have liberal views, does that mean you have anti-American views? What’s the connection? I don’t get the connection. What’s the connection between liberal and leftist and anti-American?

REP. BACHMANN: Anti-American is the point, because —

Matthews immediately interrupts and reuses the term in a refining the question, which, again, she reuses. More importantly, she doesn’t just use “anti-American,” she provides an example of it, which the GOP has been repeating for months. The idea that she was trapped into using the term “anti-American” is ridiculously untrue. She believed it to be true but avoided using the term, relying on indirect accusations of “anti-American.” Her regret is that she was called on the carpet for it. She was trapped only in the sense that she thought she was with a fellow traveller and can speak freely. She then repeats the term twice in her response.

MR. MATTHEWS: I mean, if you’re liberal, are you anti-American?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, the liberals that are Jeremiah Wright and that are Bill Ayers, they’re over-the-top anti-American. And that’s the question that Americans have. Remember, it was Michelle Obama who said she’s only recently proud of her country. And so these are very anti-American views.

So, initially, they use “anti-American” equally. For those counting at home, Matthews ends using it 13 times and Bachman 8 times. But the truth is that Bachmann is the one who raised the idea of “anti-American” with her “troika” reference and accusations:

REP. BACHMANN: It’s important because we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had over his life, and usually we associate with people who have similar ideas to us. And it seems that it calls into question what Barack Obama’s true beliefs and values and thoughts are — his attitudes, values and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United States


REP. BACHMANN: — which is negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We’ve seen one friend after another. It calls into question his judgment, but also what is it that Barack Obama really believes? And we know that he’s the most liberal senator in the United States Senate, and that’s just after one year after being there. He’s the most liberal. Joe Biden is the third most liberal. You’ve got Harry Reid who’s liberal, Nancy Pelosi who’s liberal.

This is pure political cowardice: she said exactly what she meant, as evidenced by her words prior to Matthews’ first use of “anti-American.”

You’re clearly anti-American or not a real American if you don’t vote Republican. Got that America? And it’s probably our fault that these politicians say this crap.

John McCarthy

October 10, 2008

It is a sad commentary on McCain’s desperation and hunger for power that he allows his staff and his running mate to accuse Obama of being a terrorist. Is that how adled McCain has become that he honestly cannot separate someone that he disagrees with from an enemy of our nation?

I think that, if a candidate doesn’t deserve leading our nation as president, it is the one who’s willing to call his fellow senator an enemy of America, so that he can achieve a selfish political end.