Archive for January, 2011

“National Debt = Great Recession 2.0”

23 January 2011

Here’s a sobering article that appeared on Seeking Alpha, a top financial blog:

“National Debt = Great Recession 2.0”

Read it and worry.



Late Night Political Humor

21 January 2011

Late Night Political Humor.

Bill Maher is in rare form.


Shootout at the USA Corral

12 January 2011

The recent shooting at a political event in Tucson have finally focused discussions on the political rhetoric in this country. I admit to getting perverse satisfaction from watching the Right twitch and squirm as they’re forced to explain their use of violent rhetoric and imagery.

However, it is not just the Right that uses such tools. For example, many on the Right have found, and are using this from the Democratic Leadership Counsel of 2004:

Let us all face it. America is and always has been a land that idealizes violence. The rebellion that freed this nation from England also instilled in many Americans a belief that armed uprising is not only good but a basic right. As many have noted over the centuries, a lot of peaceful settlers simply moved to Canada, before, during, and after the Revolution.

Certainly the Candadians are aware of this. Here are some slightly dated but still useful comparisons of the US and Canada, courtesy the RMCP:

“Firearms: Canada/United States Comparison.”

I suspect most Americans just went with the flow. I know I did as a child. In America, Baby Boomers grew up watching a well-armed loner save the world. The Lone Ranger. I even saw some Quaker children wearing holsters and firing off cap pistols. Like the Long Ranger, they were the Good Guys and Good Guys fired guns–even if their mothers sternly warned them to NEVER EVER point a gun at another person.

In Canada, the Lone Ranger would have been an outlaw. Simply wearing a mask would have, I think, been a violation. The gun and silver bullets were, so to speak, overkill. Other gun-toting American heroes followed. From John Wayne to Clint Eastwood to Rambo, the righteous gun-slinger was THE American hero.

My childhood idealizations were shattered by the Kennedy and King assassinations, by Vietnam, and by the all too real shootings at Kent State. Now we have video games with violence far fiercer and more graphic than I would have believed possible only a few years ago. Is it surprising that this atmosphere also colors what passes for political discourse? The USA was never a peaceful country, now it’s just got better graphics and bigger speakers.

Alas, events from daily talk show rants to the shootings in Tucson give that old WWII patriotic song “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” a whole new meaning. Or maybe it’s time to re-watch Shootout at the OK Corral. But it’s not OK anymore, is it? It’s just USA.


Reinterpretation 101

10 January 2011

Pointing the finger.

Pandering to Patriotic, Prejudiced Proles

7 January 2011

This morning’s Political Irony email took me to “Is This What Passes for Debate in the Republican Party?”

This segment of The Daily Show shows parts of C-Span coverage a Q and A session with a panel of contenders for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. Much of it turned out to be the sort of political event comedians love because the participants themselves provided the comic material. Here, among all the inadvertently and horrifyingly funny exchanges, all Stewart has to do is toss in the occasional quip. I’m not even going to list the “questions.” Watch the clip.

Even a few weeks ago, I would have wondered what in the world was going on with the GOP. The party has morphed into a form unrecognizable to many long-time conservatives. Much of what I see and hear is trivial, irrational, and outright ignorant. Unfortunately, examples are rampant here. Watch the clip.

We’re in two wars–three if you count the amorphous War on Terror and four if you count the dismally ineffective War on Drugs. Unemployment rages. Wall Street runs rampant. The housing market has collapsed. The budget isn’t as strong as the housing market. On and on.

Where were questions on those issues? Were they edited out of this? Even if they were, why were these pathetic questions asked at all? How many guns do you have? Who cares? Defund Planned Parenthood? Why? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to prevent the under-educated and poverty-stricken from having so many kids?

Not long ago, questions like these would have been running through my head listening to this jingo-gibberish. Unfortunately, I now have a glimmer as to what’s going on. To gain a voting majority, the highest levels of the GOP wooed and won a large segment of the population that just a few decades ago provided the voting core of the Democratic Party. The pivotal platitudes the GOP suitors offered to these folks is simple: God, Glory, Gays, Guns, and Greed.

How this seduction came about is outlined in G. William Donhoff‘s college text Who Rules America. This book came out in 1967 and with regular revisions has been a standard text in sociology and political science classes for decades.

Boring sidebar–centerbar in this case–on searching the Internet:

Don’t believe me? Good. I love it when people verify statements. Google this: “who rules america” syllabus. I scrolled through pages and pages of .edu results and stopped with this one on the bottom of page 36 of results:

Word – University of Indianapolis
File Format: Microsoft Word – View as HTML
“Who Rules America?” #5. “Inside the Hidden World of Earmarks” …. At the same time, the due dates given in the syllabus are suggestions and the dates will …

For those with little search experience, the .edu is what to look for here. The Top Level Domain (TLD) sometimes reveals the type of site. For example, many people look at .org and assume it’s been verified as a non-profit. No longer true. I’ve been thinking about registering a .org for my horse blog. Nobody’s gonna complain. The .edu TLD is a different matter. While a few dubious institutions beat the 2001 change and retain a dubious .edu, this domain is now limited to accredited colleges. For personal knowledge, I can vouch for Wikipedia as a reasonable source here. Google something else to verify what I say. Please.

A good many of the college syllabi I found online suggested their students save money by buying selected earlier versions since the basic points haven’t shifted much in the last few years. I bought the 5th edition published in 2006.

I’m only on page 42 of this book, but Domhoff, like any good academic scholar, gives away his main points clearly and early on. This is on page 12:

[T]he main theme of this book . . . is to show that a social upper class of owners and high-level executives, with the help of the Christian Right and other highly conservative groups, has the power to institute the policies it favors even in the face of organized opposition from the liberal-labor coalition.

Now I don’t think for a minute that the Republican elite truly favors all the policies the 5Gers do. The repeal of Roe v. Wade, for example, simply isn’t relevant to those with connections. Were abortion to become illegal, the elite would simply do what they’ve always done and young Buffy would be treated privately for an exotic but easily curable condition by a highly competent doctor, probably a graduate of an Ivy League medical school.

From brief inspection, I know Domhoff devotes later chapters to networking and and public opinion formation, but that one statement on page 12 started to explain the info-tainment level of the Q and A session Stewart giggles about. Those behind the scenes of the GOP, those truly in control, dangle titillating messages about God, Glory, Gays, Guns, and Greed to gain votes from people they certainly wouldn’t invite to dinner at their homes. At public fundraisers, some of them will, of course, be seated next to a prominent conservative minister or some NRA honcho or some other representative of a prominent target group. But that’s work. That’s how they retain power.

A relative of mine once said those who wave the 5G standard “highjacked” the GOP. I now think the GOP elite highjacked them.

Watch the video.


P.S. My favorite was the interchange on books. What’s yours? {wink wink}

P.P.S. Full RNC debate available here and on YouTube. It’s an hour and a half. I’m not sure I have the time and energy to listen to it all. If there’s something notable, please add a comment.

“An Innocent Parable”*

6 January 2011

I’m reading G. William Domhoff’s Who Rules America right now, so this cartoon fits in nicely with what I’m reading. Still, even without that reinforcement, I love Tom Tomorrow’s work.


*Underneath the original cartoon are the words “An Innocent Parable.” To that, I added, my asterisk.

The Myth of Zero Emissions

6 January 2011

One of the problems with renewable energy is that it isn’t, at least not when one counts all the stuff that it took to get the product built in the first place. I thought the problems with electric cars would be obvious to just about everyone, but apparently they aren’t. An article in today’s Seeking Alpha has a neat explanation. Here’s the key point from “Plug-in Vehicles and Their Dirty Little Secret”:

The dirty little secret of plug-in vehicles is that they’ll all charge their batteries with inherently dirty night-time power and be responsible for more CO2 emissions than a fuel efficient Prius-class HEV that costs a third less and doesn’t have any pesky issues with plugs, charging infrastructure or range limitations.

For a full explanation, read the article. It’s got neat graphs too.