Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This is absolutely hysterical. James Dobson is playing a tape of a two year old Obama speech and critiquing his supposed misunderstanding of the bible. The speech amazed me, because Obama sounds word for word like Christopher Hitchens starting at about minute 5 (talking about the absurdity of the laws in Leviticus.) Obama then states that the sermon on the mount is so radical a teaching that the defense department wouldn't withstand its application. James Dobson starts accusing Obama of equating him with Al Sharpton (which he never did, he actually contrasted the two as opposite ends of a religious spectrum as you will hear). Then Dobson and his other commentator go into a stunning defense of the stoning of the children of bad parents!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I am utterly flummoxed. Should Congress step in to save the auto industry or should it not? If nothing is done, the damage to the economy will be (digging for an adequate analogy) thermonuclear. The jobless rate will soar on wings of song and people will flee to New Orleans to escape Detroit. The collapse could well send a recession into depression - and the world with it.
So, why is congress (in the equivalent of a Volkswagen Beetle convertible) playing chicken with an 18 wheel logging truck going downhill with the wind at its back and a full load? My personal, though unfounded guess, is that both the Democrats & the Republicans have ideological axes to grind. There are probably left leaning Democrats who would be all too happy to see the auto industry get its just deserts. The industry insisted on subverting, at every turn, any and all efforts to create more fuel efficient cars. At every turn, the auto industry chose short term profit (read greed) over prudent investment in future technologies. I'm sure, to many "green" Democrats, it's payback time. The auto industry, after all, has been one of *THE* major lobbying impediments to greener, less polluting technologies. The industry has single handedly compromised our nation's security by making us keenly dependent on foreign oil.
Then there are the right leaning Republicans. They have an ax to grind too. No lobbying group has been more of a thorn in their side than the UAW and no industry has provided a greater base of support to the unions than the auto worker. The unions are anathema to everything a free market, authoritarian conservative stands for. I have a hunch that many conservatives would *love* to see the auto industry forced into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy, and only bankruptcy, would finally permit the auto industry to sever its ties to the unions, as well as any financial obligations. All and any union contracts would be, effectively, null and void. The steely grip of the unions would be broken. Who would the unionists blame? The auto industry? Maybe Republicans? But who cares, most of them didn't vote Republican anyway.
The President of the United Auto Workers, Ron Gettelfinger, "said Saturday that the problem is not the union's contract with the automakers and that getting the automakers back on their feet means figuring out a way to turn around the slumping economy."
Says he: "The focus has to be on the economy as a whole as opposed to a UAW contract..."
This sounds like the statement of a man in denial. These are the words of a man who smells blood in the wind - his own blood. He knows better than anyone that if the auto industry declares bankruptcy, all bets are off. How does one strike against a company that no longer exists? The safest statement is the one he made. It's the economy, says he.
He could blame the auto industry, but the union's have been just as complicit in fighting fuel efficiency standards. They are just as complicit in a failure of foresight. Yet another reason for *both* Democrats and Republicans to sharpen their knives: Democrats because of the union's obstructionism, Republicans because of the union's obstruction of the free market.
Meanwhile, who loves the US auto industry? They have made stupid decisions, dismal cars and have profited mightily at the expense of *everyone*.
Still, nub of nubs, if we let them fail -- 1929 might start looking *really* good.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Although it is impossible to remove all bias from media, give the "mainstream media" credit as being the only form of media left that actually makes an attempt at it. And by those ideals you can know them. Whatever you think about the MSM, what makes it unique is that it struggles daily to avoid the charge of "media bias" as much as possible. This cannot be said about the cable shows and talk radio. As such, they are forced to constantly gauge the attitude of the country and frame information accordingly.
If 97% of experts agree that global warming is manmade and 3% disagree, there will always be hordes of scientifically illiterate Rush Limbaugh listeners whining about media bias. This is never ending. It will never end because a good media outlet is less interested in making specific groups of people who believe in very unlikely things feel represented by falsely portraying ideas without evidence as being equally valid as those with evidence. Because the "mainstream media" holds scientific mainstream opinion as its polestar, it is bound to piss those anti-intellectual konservatives off who reject the scientific process (many millions of people).
The anti-intellectual movement which has taken over the konservative faction of politics has been forced to continuously cry out about bias in science, education and the media in order to get people to feel sorry for them. Konservatives love to play the victim card. They would have us believe that there is a huge conspiracy to manufacture facts that oppose konservatism, a vast left wing conspiracy that somehow churns out support for liberal views while actively suppressing evidence that confirms konservative world views. As if all the world's best biology students are brainwashed into believing in evolution, or almost all top climate scientists somehow believe in global warming just to get get grant money or because they all have this secret desire to be socialists. Or that universities are evil because people who graduate from them are almost invariably more liberal than they were when they entered.
This anti-intellectualism is hopefully going out of style in politics (and make no mistake, it is a completely contrived Rovian tool for political divisiveness. Konservatives absolutely LOVE intellectuals with lofty credentials... as long as they are konservatives. And if spending 4 years binging on information about the world made people more konservative they would love intellectualism).
Paul Begala, the Obama campaign strategist told Bill Maher that 80% of republicans hope that Sarah Palin is the future of the republican party.....
....and 100% of democrats hope that Sarah palin is the future of the republican party.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My mom told me that I shouldn't base my election analysis on "feelings" (I like him/her) or "beliefs" (I share his/her beliefs) but on logical arguments. She asked me to create my own rational explanations for my support of Obama. Here is one of my arguments:
McCain and Palin are not qualified to be President / Vice President of the U.S. The President's job is to do good for the country and the world. To do good for the country, the President must make smart decisions on important situations.
Governor Palin believes the world is 6000 years old. This is absurd. This is not a rational belief. This is a mistake. Scientists, experiments and evidence have shown this to be completely false. Therefore, she is not rational. If she is not rational, she should not be allowed to be President or Vice President.
Please vote for Barack Obama."
Sunday, November 09, 2008
One of the Bush Administration's most pernicious propaganda triumphs has been the baseless claim that the so-called surge has been a success. Only in Bush's world of spin does one increase troops in order to reduce them. Only in Bush's world of spin is it considered a triumph when more troops are required than when the war started. Only in Bush's echo chamber is a "surge " a continuous operation - the "surge" troops still haven't come home. The "surge" has not resulted in any troop reductions. The surge has not brought peace to rival factions.
Meanwhile, the tribal and sectarian forces within Bagdad are biding their time, fully aware that the United States, depleted by mismanagement, incompetence and a failed economy, cannot afford to continue an occupation indefinitely, even if an Obama administration were to desire it. Bush has knowingly placed the Iraqi War in a holding pattern, knowing that if his "surge" holds just long enough for him to exit the White House, any withdrawal of troops and subsequent collapse of Iraqi "stability" will be placed at the feet of Obama and the Democrats. And this is precisely the illusion that Galbraith is puncturing.
George Bush lost the war.
It is a pity that Obama did not respond more forcefully to Republican claims of success, as it will make the inevitable Republican onslaught all the more difficult to counter, but Galbraith provides the argument, ammunition and the evidence. Even conservative columnist David Brooks considers in the "smartest and most devastating" critic of President George W. Bush's Iraq policies.
"Peter Galbraith was the earliest expert to describe Iraq's breakup into religious and ethnic entities, a reality now commonly accepted.
The Iraq war was intended to make the United States more secure, bring democracy to the Middle East, intimidate Iran and Syria, help win the war on terror, consolidate American world leadership, and entrench the Republican Party for decades. Instead,
- Bush handed Iran its greatest strategic triumph in four centuries
- U.S. troops now fight to support an Iraqi government led by religious parties intent on creating an Iranian-style Islamic republic
- As part of the surge, the United States created a Sunni militia led by the same Baathists the U.S. invaded Iraq to overthrow administration gave Iran and North Korea a free pass to advance their nuclear programs
- Obsessed with Iraq's nonexistent WMD, the Bush administration gave Iran and North Korea a free pass to advance their nuclear programs
- Turkey, a key NANATO ally long considered a model pro-Western Muslim democracy, became one of the most anti-American countries in the world
- U.S. prestige around the world reached an all-time low
Iraq: Galbraith challenges the assertion that the surge will lead to victory. By creating a Sunni army, the surge has, in fact, contributed to Iraq's breakup and set the stage for an intensified civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. If the United States wishes to escape the Iraq quagmire, it must face up to the reality that the country has broken up and cannot be put back together.
Iran: Having helped Iran's allies take control in Baghdad, the Bush administration no longer has a viable military option to stop Iran's nuclear program. Galbraith discusses how a president more pragmatic than Bush might get Iran to freeze its nuclear program as part of a package deal to upgrade relations between two countries equally threatened by Sunni extremism.
Turkey, Syria, and Israel: A war intended to make Israel more secure, undermine Syria's Assad regime, and strengthen ties with Turkey has had the opposite result.
Nationalism: In the coming decades, other countries may follow Iraq's example in fragmenting along ethnic and religious lines. Galbraith draws on his considerable experience in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia to predict where and what the United States might do about it."The Democrats, Republicans and Obama need to level with the American people before George Bush leaves the White House. Place responsibility for this fiasco, for the lost war, where it belongs.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I cannot describe the disgust that I feel when I see Sarah Palin. It is worse than what I feel when watching Bush gesticulate like a banana rewarded primate sign language experiment. Every wink and inflection reeks with a sense of rigged inauthenticity like a bad Shakespearean performance on opening night by high school students pretending to speak old English. Or like a 98 pound Asian porn star with watermelon jugs hanging from thin pendulous stalks. I could go on, and am tempted to because analogies don't describe the emotion.