31 October 2008

Global warming and "clean coal"

After finding evidence of human-caused global warming on every continent except Antarctica, a recent student in Nature Geoscience has now found solid evidence for Antarctica as well.

Writing about the other side of the world, a recent article in Journal of Applied Ecology (2008, Issue 6) talks to experts around the world about the polar bear population. Over half believe that the population will decline by about a third by 2050, with some experts predicting a more dire drop of about 70%. (Another article even reports of polar bears resorting to cannabalism.)

Lastly, Fred Pierce has a good article on the myth of "clean coal." From the body of the article:

Who came up with the term "clean coal"? It is the most toxic phrase in the greenwash lexicon. George W Bush, by promising to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the pursuit of advanced "clean" coal technologies, certainly popularised it. But I'd love to know where it came from. Any thoughts out there?

It is, of course, oxymoronic. Coal is about acid rain and peasouper smogs, asthma and mercury contamination, radioactive waste emissions and ripping apart mountains, killing trees, lung cancer and, of course, global warming.

Coal emits more carbon dioxide for every unit of energy generated than any other fuel. Sure you can clean it up a bit – though the toxins you've taken out of the ground have to go somewhere. But clean coal? Just say no.

But the phrase rolls on. Google offers more than a million web pages. We will hear a lot more of it as the UK government wrestles with whether to approve a new billion-pound "cleaner coal" power station – Britain's first coal plant for three decades – at Kingsnorth in Kent.E.ON, the company that wants to build the station, says Kingsnorth will be "ready" to capture carbon dioxide emissions before they go up the stack. Great, except there is no such technology right now.

This phrase "clean coal" has developed a life of its own thanks to remorseless commercial propagandising. This year a coalition of US coal mining companies and electricity utilities called Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (and recently renamed the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity) is paying the advertising agency R&R Partners $35m (£22m) to promote "clean coal" through advertising and other promotional activity.

This is up there with the safe cigarette and "atoms for peace". The industry is fighting back against growing scientific calls to outlaw coal burning, and the rejection of dozens of coal power plants proposals by communities across the US, with several states effectively banning them.

You may have noticed the campaign's effect. Both John McCain and Barack Obama support clean coal. It's neat. Who could be against clean coal? It allows them to oppose dirty coal without antagonising anyone. You may not have spotted that Americans for Balanced Energy Choices sponsored two early presidential debates, during which – guess what – no questions were asked about global warming.

29 October 2008

Wassup?

Video clips are always fun but this one cuts to the chase, making me question once more how anyone can ask for a four-year extension of the Republican plan for America.

28 October 2008


27 October 2008

Parry on Powell's Obama endorsement

Parry gets this right:

Not only did Powell lend his personal credibility to Bush at key moments – from the Florida recount battle to the Iraq War to Election 2004 – but a serious examination of his career would reveal a person who consistently has put his career ahead of his country’s best interests. For that matter, why should Americans tune in to watch NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw interviewing Powell on “Meet the Press”? Brokaw is the news media’s version of a Colin Powell, never putting his career in harm’s way to alert the public about grave dangers ahead.

We on the left need to be principled. A lying jack-ass doesn't deserve a pat on the ass just because he occasionally happens to gallop off in the right direction. Powell has made a career as a front-man for shady operations, a career in which he sided with the wrong people--people that he chose of his own free will. This notion that he was Bush's moral compass is ludicrous. Nobody gets hired into the Shrub administration unless they've check the box on the application form that says immoral slimeball.

24 October 2008

Elitists are us

That openly elitist blog World O' Crap pokes some gaping holes in Ben Shapiro's recent article about elitism.

Prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est. (New McCain campaign motto.)

Fake plumbers, fake victims . . . what's next for the McCain campaign?

Tenuously related comic


23 October 2008

We trusted these people?

Isn't this a telling quote taken from an email of an employee working for a major credit-rating agency?

"Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters."

Source: WaPo, 10/23, front page

22 October 2008

Henwood article

Doug Henwood has a good piece on the latest crisis. I'm especially fond of the last two paragraphs:

This is the point where it’s irresistibly tempting to call for a re-regulation of finance. And that is sorely needed. But we also need to remember why finance, like many other areas of economic life, was deregulated starting in the 1970s. From the point of view of the elite, corporate profits were too low, workers were too demanding and the hand of government was too heavy. Deregulation was part of a broad assault to make the economy more ‘flexible’, which translated into stagnant to declining wages and rising job insecurity for most Americans. And the medicine worked, from the elites’ point of view. Corporate profitability rose dramatically from the early 1980s until sometime last year. The polarization of incomes wasn’t an unwanted side effect of the medicine — it was part of the cure.

This is the elephant in the room that we're all taught to ignore. The current crisis didn't come about because the system "failed to work." We're where we're at because the system worked too well. The crème de la crème continued to skim cream off the top as the milk underneath soured.

Although we’re hearing a lot now about how the Reagan era is over and the era of big government is back, an expanded government isn’t likely to do much more than rescue a failing financial system (in addition to the more familiar pursuits of waging war and jailing people). Nothing more humane will be pursued without a far more energised populace than we have. After this financial crisis and the likely bailout, it looks impossible to go back to the status quo ante — but we don’t seem ready to move on to something appealingly new yet, either.

Henwood nails the point here. When we live in a context in which a key piece of anti-Obama rhetoric (albeit, one that hasn't been effective) is that he wants to "spread the wealth" and "be fair," there's something amiss with the class consciousness of the lower 99% of Americans (including those Joes who make less that 250 grand a year.) OF COURSE, WE WANT TO SPREAD THE WEALTH WHICH WE PRODUCED! I'd like to spread some of that wealth so that I received it instead of it falling into the hands of some fatcat who had gotten his clammy hands on it via some economic voodoo inherent in our current system. If a desire to keep at least a decent portion of the wealth that I help produce is socialism, communism, islamo-fascism, or whacko-leftism, so be it. I'm less concerned with titles and mottoes and more concerned with outcomes. But as Henwood says, we currently live in an ideological desert, with plenty of dissent and few productive avenues for it flow.

The scientific vote


Sixty-one Nobel Laureates have recently signed a declaration supporting Obama. The Palin/McCain camp, on the other hand, continue to benefit from the overwhelming support of scientists who believe the earth is 3000 years old.

There still isn't any scientific consensus about what happened to dinosaurs around 4 B.C.



Of course, one scientific theory holds that dinosaurs persisted until around 30 A.D., their demise coming from the shock of seeing a humanoid creature walking across the water.


21 October 2008

What happened

"McCain urged Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, to contribute anywhere from $35 to $5,000."

It's obvious to me what happened. Palin was sitting on her porch recently and saw one of those rich Russians walking along the border across from her place and asked for a donation to the righteous anti-Socialist crusade. How was she to know that the guy was a Rooskie instead of an Eskimo?

20 October 2008

Peak coffee

I could handle peak oil (as I held out naive hopes that it would produce some eco-utopia). But peak coffee? Y'all don't want to see me when I'm going through caffeine withdrawals.

Palling around with Powell?

Obama says Powell will have a role in his administration?! What a stupid move. This is the same person who told obvious falsehoods to the UN (and the US population watching on TV) in the run-up to Shrub's War. Powell shouldn't be put in charge of a peanut stand.

What doctors should say but don't


18 October 2008

Antilibertarianism

Jacob Weisberg at Slate argues that the current crisis has sounded the death knell to the Libertarian thesis that the unobstructed market is all we need.

At least we know where 70 billion went

After suffering through the economic shock caused by greedy billionnaires who played the system to enrich themselves at our expense, we now find that a full tenth of our bail-out money is being use . . . to enrich billionnaires. Unfuckingbelievable. Instead of talking about Joe the unlicensed rich plumber, why doesn't McCain talk about this:
Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout
Pay and bonus deals equivalent to 10% of US government bail-out package

Financial workers at Wall Street's top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year - despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism. The government's cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed.

Pay plans for bankers have been disclosed in recent corporate statements. Pressure on the US firms to review preparations for annual bonuses increased yesterday when Germany's Deutsche Bank said many of its leading traders would join Josef Ackermann, its chief executive, in waiving millions of euros in annual payouts.

The sums that continue to be spent by Wall Street firms on payroll, payoffs and, most controversially, bonuses appear to bear no relation to the losses incurred by investors in the banks. Shares in Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have declined by more than 45% since the start of the year. Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have fallen by more than 60%. JP MorganChase fell 6.4% and Lehman Brothers has collapsed.

At one point last week the Morgan Stanley $10.7bn pay pot for the year to date was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect, staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the bank.

In the first nine months of the year Citigroup, which employs thousands of staff in the UK, accrued $25.9bn for salaries and bonuses, an increase on the previous year of 4%. Earlier this week the bank accepted a $25bn investment by the US government as part of its bail-out plan.

At Goldman Sachs the figure was $11.4bn, Morgan Stanley $10.73bn, JP Morgan $6.53bn and Merrill Lynch $11.7bn. At Merrill, which was on the point of going bust last month before being taken over by Bank of America, the total accrued in the last quarter grew 76% to $3.49bn. At Morgan Stanley, the amount put aside for staff compensation also grew in the last quarter to the end of August by 3% to $3.7bn.

Days before it collapsed into bankruptcy protection a month ago Lehman Brothers revealed $6.12bn of staff pay plans in its corporate filings. These payouts, the bank insisted, were justified despite net revenue collapsing from $14.9bn to a net outgoing of $64m.

None of the banks the Guardian contacted wished to comment on the record about their pay plans. But behind the scenes, one source said: "For a normal person the salaries are very high and the bonuses seem even higher. But in this world you get a top bonus for top performance, a medium bonus for mediocre performance and a much smaller bonus if you don't do so well."

Many critics of investment banks have questioned why firms continue to siphon off billions of dollars of bank earnings into bonus pools rather than using the funds to shore up the capital position of the crisis-stricken institutions. One source said: "That's a fair question - and it may well be that by the end of the year the banks start review the situation."

Much of the anger about investment banking bonuses has focused on boardroom executives such as former Lehman boss Dick Fuld, who was paid $485m in salary, bonuses and options between 2000 and 2007.

Last year Merrill Lynch's chairman Stan O'Neal retired after announcing losses of $8bn, taking a final pay deal worth $161m. Citigroup boss Chuck Prince left last year with a $38m in bonuses, shares and options after multibillion-dollar write-downs. In Britain, Bob Diamond, Barclays president, is one of the few investment bankers whose pay is public. Last year he received a salary of £250,000, but his total pay, including bonuses, reached £36m.

16 October 2008

My new job...

I definitely need to switch jobs. Doing my day job and a medley of other jobs, I'm barely able to stay ahead of the rent payments. Plumbers, on the other hand, can evidently pull in 250 grand a year. And yet I was told to go back to school to learn math and science. Little did I know that we have a wonderful economy that makes very ordinary working men rich.

Wednesday's debate

Watching the debate last night, I have to echo Pissed on Politics lament that this is "an hour and a half of my life I will never get back." I'd also agree wholeheartedly that McCain is getting scarier with all his oblique references to trickle-down economics: I think we've been pissed on enough at this point.

McCain's claim that he supposedly knows so much about fighting in the hills of Afghanistan and surging through Iraqi cities because he's "been there" got very old. Are we really supposed to believe that someone who flies into some place for a photo op and a 30-minute PowerPoint briefing by the general's staff is suddenly an expert? My guess is that the soldiers and mercenaries working in these places detest doing all the extra guard duty and security detail just so some candidate can march around getting pictures in front of market stands and military mess halls.

There's a lot of concern right now about a newly manufactured crisis appearing. Pissed on Politics voices this uneasiness:

I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t know what it will be but I think it will come. A video from Bin Laden? Another preemptive war? A terrorist attack? A natural disaster used as a proxy to suspend the election and declare martial law? I feel something is going to happen but I still hold out hope that Obama can win.

15 October 2008

Defecit deus.

Chris Floyd has an excellent post (worth reading in its entirety) titled The God that Failed about recent economic events. In the post, he talks about all the things that the trillions spent on banks could have bought. He then continues:

The money for all of this -- and much, much more -- was there, all along. When they said we couldn't have these things, they were lying -- or else allowing themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When they wanted a trillion dollars -- or three trillion dollars -- to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market, they suddenly have it.

Who then can believe that these governments could not have found the money for good schools, health care, and all the rest, that they could not have enhanced the well-being and livelihood of millions of ordinary citizens, and helped create a more just and equitable and stable world -- if they had wanted to?

This is one of the main facts that ordinary citizens around the world should take away from this crisis: the money to maintain, secure and improve the lives of their families and communities was always there -- but their governments, and their political parties, made a deliberate, unforced choice not to use it for the common good. Instead, they subjugated the well-being of the world to the dictates of an extremist cult. A cult of greed and privilege, that preached iron discipline to the poor and the middle-class, but released the rich and powerful from all restrictions, and all responsibility for their actions.

This should be a constant -- and galvanizing -- thought in the minds of the public in the months and years to come. Remember what you could have had, and how it was denied you by the lies and delusions of a powerful elite and their bought-off factotums in government. Remember the trillions of dollars that suddenly appeared when the wheeler-dealers needed money to cover their own greed and stupidity.

Let these thoughts guide you as you weigh the promises and actions of politicians and candidates, and as you assess the "expert analysis" on economic and domestic policy offered by the corporate media and the corporate-bankrolled think tanks and academics.

And above all, let these thoughts be foremost in your mind when you hear -- as you certainly will hear, when (and if) the markets are finally stabilized (at whatever gigantic cost in human suffering) -- the adherents of the market cult emerge once more and call for "deregulation" and "untying the hands of business" and all the other ritual incantations of their false and savage fundamentalist faith.

12 October 2008

Need special order of thought-screen helmuts


I've got only two things to say to all the hoppin' mad McCainites that need a remedy for what's ailin' and palin' them. They need to make themselves a thought-screen helmet (if it works against advanced aliens, it should be able to stop the Shrubian thought-control ray in its tracks). They should also promptly buy a Guardian machine and an aqua-chi footbath (recommended by no other than their arch-conservative friend Alan Stang):

This is the place to find information about the remarkable frequency technology—including pictures of the frequency instruments—I write about in Electronic Medicine, along with the testimony of people who report what it has done for them. There are before and after pictures of Cindy, the horse who had a tumor so big it blinded one eye. Cindy had no medical treatment but used the Guardian and soon returned to normal. There is a discussion of the Aqua-Chi footbath, which we recommend, because many people say it has helped them detoxify.
There you've got it, straight from the horse's mouth.

McCain to the rescue? I don't think so.

This is the man who's going to fix the economy? If I were a McCain supporter, I'd be angry too . . . about who my party picked:

John McCain on 3/25/2008 in response to the subprime upheaval:

"Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments to raising capital."

Hmmm. Deregulation should fix the problem. We need to give banks and accountants more leeway to find "creative" solutions to their problems. And we should probably stop looking over their shoulder as they work--it's like so-o-o distracting.

And in another quote:

"The other part of what happened was an explosion of complex financial instruments that weren't particularly well understood by even the most sophisticated banks, lenders and hedge funds."

The accountant magicians who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars in personal wealth didn't understand how these things worked?! This is like saying that the burglars who robbed the bank didn't realize that their dynamite might damage the door of the vault. What a crock! The people who expanded personal fortunes in this fiasco shouldn't be criticized for their ignorance: they should be lauded for their success and cleverness. These are the Bonnies and Clydes of the modern age! Someone should be creating some folk songs in homage to these people. The only person who doesn't get it and thinks it's too complex is McCain. The average Joe on Main Street knows perfectly well what happened--we've been robbed by bizarro Robin Hood and his gang of merry Republican men who steal from the poor to give to the rich.

10 October 2008

Palin already failin'

Can't these people at least wait until they get into high office before they start abusing their power? Gosh darn!

Paying the government to spy on us (A blog post title that may sound familiar)

"Today's report is an indictment not only of the Bush administration, but of all of those political leaders, Democratic and Republican, who have been saying that the executive branch can be trusted with surveillance powers that are essentially unchecked," charged Jameel Jaffer, director of the national security program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

"When they say trust us, we're not listening in on Americans – this shows that they are," said Jennifer Granick of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Her group is suing the federal government to stop warrantless eavesdropping programs and hold government officials accountable. "This should be of concern to everybody."

Our tax dollars are paying for people to listen in on innocent Americans' talk with their spouses. Unbelievable. I still strongly believe that there needs to be impeachment proceedings. We really need to reflect deeply on all that has gone wrong during the last decade.

A good question

Michael Moore brings up an interesting factoid:

The richest 400 Americans -- that's right, just four hundred people -- own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. Four-hundred rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion -- the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the "bailout." Why don't they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They'd still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!

8 October 2008

Looking from the outside in

I've recently been talking to friends and family who live in Europe and Asia about the recent U.S. economic crisis and have been struck by their insights. One thing I commonly hear them say is that they're amazed that the American people take all this lying down. I'm told, "If this happened in our country, there would be massive protest and the president and his cabinet would be out of office in a matter of weeks." Another interesting comment I've heard, especially from Asian friends who read American blogs and watch American TV, is surprise at the focus on candidates' "performance" and the corresponding lack of focus on substance and issues. The criticism is well-taken. Americans need to be able to understand our current situation using meaningful and relevant categories of analysis. And when the analysis shows that our hard labor and wealth are being stolen by a self-serving class made up of the ultra-wealthy, we need to do whatever it takes to turn the tables.

7 October 2008

Our leaders, shining like the sun . . .


One thing that impresses me about the Shrub administration and it's wannabe underlings is the way that they bring the country forward, following the sterling example of such successful democracies as the DPRK. We've been faithfully following North Korea's example, for example, as we take great leaps forward toward an economy completely devoted to military expenditure (the only thing McCain doesn't want to freeze) and now we're approaching the day when subjective measures of loyalty and devotion to the fatherland can be objectively measured by a flag pin.

I can't wait until we're all issued our pins to wear so that we one and all can be true-blue patriotic (although some will still be patrioticker than others). Of course, there's a nasty rumor that Sarah's pin was missing several stripes, a clear indication of less than complete unswerving devotion to the fatherland.

Real terrorists links

It appears that McCain has links to real terrorists who he actually helped commit terrorist acts:

According to a recent news report, McCain has past connections to a private group call the "U.S. Council for World Freedom" that was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America.

This fits a pattern. Everytime McCain criticizes Obama for some tenuous relationship with some ne'er-do-well (often consisting of a 10 minute phone call 20 years ago or something equally ridiculous), we find out a couple weeks later that McCain has had substantial relationships with an even more questionable group of people.

6 October 2008

SNL

Tina Fey's Palin is hilarious (almost as good as the real Sarah)! Someone's got an Emmy coming.

Nine million bucks for screwing up and getting fired?

Not living on Wall St., I have a hard time wrapping my noggin around this. Someone help me out:

The panel unearthed internal documents showing that on Sept. 11, Lehman planned to approve "special payments" worth $18.2 million for two executives who were terminated involuntarily, and another $5 million for one who was leaving on his own.

That was just four days before the government let Lehman go under, touching off a cascading series of financial shocks and failures that put Washington on track for the multibillion-dollar rescue the Bush administration urgently requested from Congress at the end of that week.

A company's going bankrupt and the company approves giving people who were fired "special payments"! I wonder if my boss is planning on firing me and giving me 9 million bucks in "special payments"? I'm sorry, but I'm just a simple person who, like so many others, lost most of my life savings in this mess. Our children will spend many years of their lives paying for this. Shouldn't these fat sons-a-bitches be hanging from ropes??????? For much less that 9 million, I can go buy a rope and give these people their proper reward.

And there are still ignorant SOBs who want to vote for McCain so that he can continue the Shrub legacy and reward these people with tax cuts? Because they "earned" it? I just don't get it. Are Americans really this stupid?

The Keating Bros

Palin recently took umbrage about someone bringing up the Keating Five Scandal saying that McCain was completely cleared. The Senate Ethics Committee actually reprimanded McCain for "poor judgment." Only some very quick side-steps kept him out of jail. The following exerpt (with ample footnotes) can be found at Wikipedia:

McCain and Keating had become personal friends following their initial contacts in 1981, and McCain was the only one of the five with close social and personal ties to Keating. Like DeConcini, McCain considered Keating a constituent as he lived in Arizona. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates.

In addition, McCain's wife Cindy McCain and her father Jim Hensley had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators. McCain, his family, and their baby-sitter had made nine trips at Keating's expense, sometimes aboard Keating's jet. Three of the trips were made during vacations to Keating's opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay. McCain did not pay Keating (in the amount of $13,433) for some of the trips until years after they were taken, when he learned that Keating was in trouble over Lincoln. Because of these connections, Phoenix New Times writer Tom Fitzpatrick stated in 1989 that McCain was the "most reprehensible" of the five.

And "honest John" is now going to save us from the greedy Wall Street sharks with their high paid lobbyists? And he's going to do this through deregulation, tax-cuts (for the wealthy), and self-oversight? Why does this all sound so familiar?

5 October 2008

Evam me sutam

I took the belief-o-matic quiz. I'm evidently more Theravadan Buddhist than athiest. Taoism, on the other hand, ended up below the Qaukers. At least I have proof that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses need not bother knocking on my door.

1. Theravada Buddhism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (99%)
3. Secular Humanism (87%)
4. Liberal Quakers (85%)
5. Taoism (76%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (73%)
7. Neo-Pagan (69%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (60%)
9. Jainism (60%)
10. Nontheist (59%)
11. New Age (54%)
12. Sikhism (49%)
13. Orthodox Quaker (47%)
14. Hinduism (46%)
15. Reform Judaism (40%)
16. Bahai Faith (38%)
17. Scientology (29%)
18. New Thought (27%)
19. Seventh Day Adventist (23%)
20. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (22%)
21. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (20%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (15%)
23. Eastern Orthodox (13%)
24. Islam (13%)
25. Orthodox Judaism (13%)
26. Roman Catholic (13%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (7%)

4 October 2008

It keeps getting better!

McCain has finally announced his pick for Miss Secretary of Education.

Mission accomplished

The Shrub administration has been a huge success. The wealthy sliver of the U.S. population who paid for this president got exactly what they paid for:

A million people in the US have lost their homes over the last two years and real wages have fallen while corporate profits have soared. According to the July 23 Wall Street Journal, the richest 1% of the US population received their highest share of the nation’s income in at least two decades while their average tax rate fell to the lowest level in 18 years or more.

3 October 2008

The VP debate

I listened to most of the VP debate last night. A few comments:

On the subprime lending meltdown:

PALIN: One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars. We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt. Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card. Don't live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we're taking personal responsibility through all of this. It's not the American peoples fault that the economy is hurting like it is, but we have an opportunity to learn a heck of a lot of good lessons through this and say never again will we be taken advantage of.

There are two problems with this. First, McCain and Palin have both run on this "less government" mantra, claiming that the answer to everything is less government. We know, of course, that in practice this means less government for the poor (less infrastructure, less education) and more government handouts for the rich, but one thing it doesn't mean is proper oversight of lenders or corporate elites.

The second point that bothered me is Palin's notion that the people who are hurting are all irresponsible people who didn't balance their checkbook. I personally lost my entire life savings in this mess, and I did everything by the book--using my life savings to pay 20% down on a house and dutifully making every payment. Like Republicans have always recommended, my retirement fund was largely in stocks. I'm now in debt (since I lost every cent I owned and have to keep paying the mortgage) and my retirement has also largely evaporated. I know for a fact that I will never retire. Sarah's little lecture about how to balance a checkbook should be saved for her friends who hunt from planes. Many of us are all too familiar with how to balance checkbooks and live on tight budgets.

On the energy crisis . . .

Palin: Barack Obama and Sen. Biden, you've said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we're in.

This notion that there's some "domestic solution," that if we just go out and drill a bit more, we'll suddenly have plenty of oil, is simply false. It's a lie. There isn't a single geologists anywhere (who isn't in an insane asylum) who believes that the U.S. has giant reserves that'll meet our future needs. Alaska, with its miniscule population and with much of the remaining U.S. reserves, could meet its needs, but we're talking about a country here, not a giant state with a population smaller than many cities.

Overall, the debates weren't terribly interesting. I suppose we must conclude that Palin did well in the sense that she was intelligible and didn't show up in a swimsuit or accidently mention pteradactyls flying over Israelites at the dawn of history 5000 years ago.

2 October 2008

Priorities


McCain says he wants to freeze all spending EXCEPT military spending. It gives me great comfort to see that we're following the footsteps of great democracies such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The DPRK, after all, had a larger economy than South Korea in 1972, and now, after decades of pouring all their income into their military . . . they've got a big military. I think this should be the sole focus of the U.S.--to have a larger military than the rest of the world combined and muliplied by a factor of two. Or maybe a factor of three. . . . or four. Then I'd feel safe. . . . Or mabye five. What's that you say? What about infrastructure? Education? Who needs roads when we can be carted around in B52s? Who needs an education when we live in a kleptocracy?
Chris over as Dashiell has a sober assessment of recent Republicon shenanigans:

[Excerpt] The Republican Party does not really care about governing. And it doesn’t care about issues or ideas, except insofar as they facilitate corporate profits. Everything is about hidden messages, code words, imagery, personality, in short—electoral hypnotism. Previous cynical Repug candidates chose Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle to be a “heartbeat away.” Those guys may have had a little more “experience” than Sarah Palin, but weren’t any more thoughtful, or competent. The fact is that the Repugs proved with George W. Bush that they could install an empty suit in the White House and still run things—sort of. “Yeah, they ran things into the ground,” you might say, but the rich cronies made lots of money, and that’s all that counts to these people. Their true motto is: “We don’t care.” Power is all that matters. That’s Karl Rove 101, and the man himself pronounced the Palin pick a stroke of genius. Confronted with the never-ending antics of insane wingnut freaks, the people who dominate the political discourse in the United States, I find myself most distressed at their pathetic Democratic enablers. Instead of an opposition party, what I saw displayed at the Democratic Party was the same old fantasy that somehow they could win by being nice and positive and reasonable. These people just don’t seem to learn.