Monday, May 05, 2008

Time To Sprint

When I first happened upon The Huffington Post, I was pretty turned off. It seemed to be another example of the left trying to be like the right and thus, being a real turn off for me. Generally, I don't mind pointed criticism, even if it is cruel and unusual, but the Hufpost really seemed to be the other side of the same coin. Normally, my first impressions are accurate.

But I have given it a second look lately and I have to admit I think I was wrong. Take, for example, a recent piece by the woman herself entitled Probing the Political Paradox: Why The Right Still Gets To Set The Agenda. I urge all of you to check it out. Here are my favorite lines, with commentary.

"And I concluded that there are three main areas to look at, not only to help us understand how we got in the mess we're in, but also to help us get out: the media, the role of fear in our politics, and the failure of political leadership."

Yes, the "liberal" media is nothing of the sort. All of the news outlets are still on the Jeremiah Wright bandwagon and yet I see no mention of John McCain's skeletons anywhere (e.g. Pastor John Hagee). Fear is a topic I have talked a lot about on this blog and it's really true. Our country is run on half truths and fear. And there most certainly has been a massive failure of political leadership on both sides of the aisle.

"These three factors have combined to allow the lunatic fringe that has taken over the Right to hijack our country, our democracy, and our Constitution. So that 28 percent of the population that continues to support George W. Bush no matter how many bodies pile up in Iraq, how many jobs disappear overseas, how many For Sale signs go up on their block, or how high gas prices get, continues to dominate our politics."

Exactly correct. You really have to give credit to Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc.. for being so adept at manipulating that 28 percent into submission. Kind funny that those who yearn for less government and whine about a nanny state have rolled over like little babies in front of these three daddies and continued to vote against their economic interests. But my favorite bit in her post?

"...the media which remains hopelessly addicted to the false belief that in order to be fair and balanced every story needs to be given the "on the one hand... and on the other" treatment. But not every story has two sides -- and the truth is often to be found not in the middle but solidly on one side or the other."

This really resonated with me personally. There have been some emails and lines in comments that have come up, accusing me of being more conciliatory towards conservatives, even weaker in my criticisms. I have really made a concerted effort over the last year or so to see their side and to fully understand it. I felt it was only fair. So, it is true, I have been consciously trying to see the middle of the road more so than I have in the past. Honestly, I'm not sure if I want to anymore. I think I have utterly failed in what Shakespeare championed so long ago:

This above all: To Thine Own Self Be True.

I haven't true to what I know is right and best for this country. It makes me physically ill to think that I have even tried to hear the other side on some key issues or even wasted thought on their delusions. I have come to realize that when you listen to some conservatives talk about the direction they would like to take this country (an unrestrained free market, stay the course in Iraq, no investment in education or health care), it's almost as if they live in a fantasy land...a place where their unhinged emotions and willing ignorance can flourish. Flagrant denial of what is actually happening to our country is the order of the day.

Take a look at Thomas Friedman's piece from yesterday's Times, Who Will Tell The People?

I am in complete agreement with him and, when I think about his piece and Ariana Huffington's piece at the same time, I realize that it is pointless to try to see the middle ground on issues where there is no middle ground. Time is running out folks. We have to face the unpleasant fact that our country is horribly broken and I am simply not going to attempt to appease these psychotic putzes anymore. As Friedman says:

We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people....I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

There is something that is going on...something insanely horrible from an economic standpoint....that is a direct result of the conservative ideology of the last eight years. Friedman quotes Harvard's president, Drew Faust:

"Cutbacks in government research funds were resulting in downsized labs, layoffs of post docs, slipping morale and more conservative science that shies away from the big research questions. China, India, Singapore ... have adopted biomedical research and the building of biotechnology clusters as national goals. Suddenly, those who train in America have significant options elsewhere.”

This is the same part of the world we owe large sums of money to while we sink deeper and deeper into debt fighting a war that is not doing any damage at all to Al Qaeda. The reason why this election is more important than most...probably more important than the one in that we are "living on borrowed time and a borrowed dime," as Friedman puts it.

We no longer have the luxury of trying to mollify certain elements of our society and be apologists for neoconservative insanity. Our country as we know it is, quite frankly, doomed if we continue down this path. Take a look around you and see what happens to a country when it is run by someone who has a child like concept of...well....everything. The biggest problem, really, has always been that our nation's worst president was a Republican. If he had been a Democrat, we would've been able to move past the lunacy much quicker. But when you have a belief system where the number one rule is admit you are wrong and all is lost, it becomes tougher to evolve and see with width of vision.

When your feet are made of stone, it's hard to walk. Sadly, we need to start sprinting.


pl said...

Are you running for office Mark? If not, perhaps you should be. In a scant few paragraphs you've done as masterful a job of reaching out to people as any politician of our era.

You projected contrition over past mistakes while at the same time projecting resoluteness and newfound determination.

You touched upon most or all of the flashpoint issues of today...national security, the economy, jobs, housing, education, health care.

And you offered up somebody(ies) to blame for those issues. Importantly, somebody(ies) outside of the realm of influence of your audience.

All told, I think it's clearly a message that many Americans will find quite appealing. It's a message that almost worked for John Kerry in '04 and, with perhaps some better management, could likely work in '08. That's how you win elections, after all. Connect with more people than the other guy (or gal) does.

Markadelphia said...

I would be a horrible choice for public office. I have no filter between my brain and mouth. If you read the Friedman link, then you will know that while our country needs a leader to tell them how it really is, most people (liberal or conservative) don't want to hear it. They prefer to believe the fantasy that everything is fine in this country.

I piss off people from both sides all the time. Recently it has been more conservatives that I piss off because they are the ones who shoulder the majority of the responsibility for the shape our country is in at present. They have been in charge of Congress, The Supreme Court and the Executive Branch until around a year ago. Their actions (or lack of action)produced the results we see today.

Unfortunately many conservatives view ANY and ALL criticism as partisan (i.e. not true EVER NEVER EVER) which basically turns off their personal reflection button (if they even had one to begin with)so they are unwilling to see fucked up their ideology truly is. Not much is going to get done as long as they have power...which is about nine more months.

the iowa kid said...

The people that are running the conservative party now (Bushies as Mark calls them) are not conservatives. They have spent us in a debt that basically leaves every American with about 100K in hoc. Imagine having that much in credit card debt! Friedman is exactly correct in how we are living on a borrowed dime. Anyone that defends this policy of spending and not investing in our country's future has no clue about sound economic theory.

pl said...

Oh don't get me wrong, Mark. I agree that you'd be a horrible choice for public office. As are many of the politicians who peddle messages similar to the one in your posting. The message is compelling and easy to sell...I never suggested it was good or correct.

rld said...

•"...civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind," biologist George Wald, Harvard University, April 19, 1970.
• By 1995, "...somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct." Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Look magazine, April 1970.
• Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor "...the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born," Newsweek magazine, January 26, 1970.
• The world will be "...eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age," Kenneth Watt, speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970.
• "We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation," biologist Barry Commoner, University of Washington, writing in the journal Environment, April 1970.
• "Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from the intolerable deteriorations and possible extinction," The New York Times editorial, April 20, 1970.
• "By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half..." Life magazine, January 1970.
• "Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make," Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.
• "...air certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone," Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.
• Ehrlich also predicted that in 1973, 200,000 Americans would die from air pollution, and that by 1980 the life expectancy of Americans would be 42 years.
• "It is already too late to avoid mass starvation," Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.
• "By the year 2000...the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America and Australia, will be in famine," Peter Gunter, North Texas State University, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

No fear on this issue. No need to even consider a middle ground either. Just move along.

the iowa kid said...

RLD, I don't know if you are a Democrat or a Republican. Either way, you have no clue what you are talking about and have no idea the economic pickle we are in. The examples you give are largely related to the environment,no? We are talking about the economy.

Are you aware of the problem with debt we have in this country? I suspect that Friedman's cure might be more government which would also be a bad idea. His take on the issue is still sound. China and India will be moving ahead of us as world powers unless we turn this ship around now and start becoming more fiscally responsible. Many Americans don't understand the concept of that and our current president doesn't get it either.

But, by all means, please, let's hear your current take on the US economy.

don said...

pl, I'm curious to know what is wrong about markadelphias entry.

pl said...

** He contradicted himself by advocating that people stop listening to alternative arguments on important issues, while at the same time condemning those with an alternative viewpoint whose "feet are made of stone".

** He indicated that he himself has divined the truth about various issues and will no longer attempt to find a middle ground on said issues. This is a very dangerous stance, and is not unlike a message that he constantly condemns.

** He came within inches of contradicting himself by suggesting that unfettered medical research is the ideal, but an unfettered free market is not.

** Aside from nothing more than casual acknowledgement of failures on the part of all of our elected officials, he placed the blame for literally all of the country's problems on GWB and his administration. I'm pretty sure his original draft included a mention of the fact that GWB was responsible for the breakdown of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, but he took that out due to space limitations.

Beyond that, I don't really have an issue with his posting. The X% of people who blindly support GWB (I don't believe X is as high as 28, personally) are in fact ridiculous. I totally agree with him on that. As are the Y% of people who blindly support whatever Democratic candidate will be running. But you won't (or will almost never) read a condemnation of those Y% of people from Mark. You won't (or will almost never) read postings about how they are drinking the kool-aid, or are mouth-breathing idiots. You won't (or will almost never) read postings about the clear degree to which all of us, our labor unions, our fancy houses, our big-screen tvs, our SUVs, our tort lawsuits, our pork projects, our NIMBY attitudes, our fat, tv-watching asses are responsible for many of the issues for which he squarely placed the blame on conservatives.

Mark delivered the message that resonates more clearly and readily with people and for that I give him credit. As I read it, the message is:
My [his] viewpoint is right. Those that fail to see that are not only wrong but show how unyielding they are by failing to admit they are wrong. Those people over there are responsible for everything that is wrong, so once we get rid of them things will be better.

Is that an unfair summary of his posting?

Last in line said...

PL, that was awesome. Will you teach my cultural sensitivity class? It starts in 2 hours.

pl said...

Sorry. I'm busy making loads of money.

sw said...

Progressivism, liberalism, or whatever you want to call it has become an ideology of power. So long as liberals hold it, principles don't matter. It also highlights the real fascist legacy of World War I and the New Deal: the notion that government action in the name of "good things" under the direction of "our people" is always and everywhere justified. Dissent by the right people is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent by the wrong people is troubling evidence of incipient fascism. The anti-dogmatism that progressives and fascists alike inherited from Pragmatism made the motives of the activist the only criteria for judging the legitimacy of action.

- from Jonah Goldbergs book Liberal Facism

pl said...

Wow. That's a lot of big words. As I'm scouring my dictionary for some of them I'll just offer the following: what a great example of the difference in messages.

Which message do you think is more palatable? The one that would ask progressives to look inward and question the very foundation of the cause they support? Or the one that says those guys over there are to blame?

Markadelphia said...

My central issue, PL, is that the party which touts individual responsibility has claimed none of it when it comes to our country's ills for the last eight years. In fact, they want to continue to pursue policies that make our problems worse, while inexplicably blaming the other side. They are running the show so how exactly are the Democrats to blame-other than being spineless turds which I will give you.

You are also correct in stating that we are to blame as well. I decided to put my time where my mouth was and help get a candidate nominated who reflects my values in MN-03. Has anyone else here done this? I also agree with you that the Democrats have a habit of picking the worst possible person to run for office. Thankfully with Madia (the guy I helped) and Obama we are starting to choose the best and the brightest.

That being said, there really is no middle ground on a subject like Iraq, for example. We went in to make corporations in two specific industries more money. It was greed. This is a fact. I have spent the last six years laying out those facts on this blog. By doing this, we have severely damaged our economy and our standing in the world...all in the name of "national security." This is, in fact, a lie. So, to continue to "see the other side" is like seeing the other side of the earth is flat argument. It is folly.

SW..on Goldberg.. if anything has become an ideology of power, it is neo-conservatism. It bears no resemblance whatsoever to true conservatives. As you say, to the neo con, principles don't matter. Take a look at the policies they have pushed and compare them to the ones Hitler and Mussolini pushed in the 1930s. That is where your similarity lies.

The New Deal was the closest we came to socialism, not fascism. I would suggest you compare and contrast how a fascist government treats the free market and how a socialist and/or communist government treats the free market. Compare the fascist version to what we have today under Bush Co. You might be surprised.

I agree with you, though, dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Why, then, do the neocons fuck anyone over by any means who disagrees with them? And who defines who the "wrong people" are? Goldberg? This would be another example of what a waste of time "trying to see the other side" is. Goldberg is a paid off butt boy for the right and his job is to scare people into thinking that Obama is going to be the next Hitler. Seriously, think about how ridiculous that sounds.

What Obama is going to attempt to do...he might get people in this country to take responsibility for themselves and become motivated again to get this country moving. As PL says, it might not happen because we are cheeto eating lazy fuckers. The real problem here is that if he does succeed, even in a small way, then it will destroy the facade that conservatives and their pundits have built. It will show that they, in fact, owe more to fascism than the liberals do.
It will expose them for what they truly are: liars, thieves, and murderers.

Worst of all, it will show that they are wrong...which is the end of all things in neo con land :)

pl said...

Setting aside the fact that I'm skeptical that "Obama is going to attempt to do" anything of the sort, your response illustrates why I can't throw my support behind your ideas and candidates. It's the same old argument, one that neither of us will win. (Well, one that I'll never win. You've apparently already won the argument in your own mind.) Rather than accept the differing perspective in a "live and let live" sort of manner you cite as "fact" what is conjecture and innuendo on your part. You reference six years of "proof" that has consistently and constantly been refuted or, at the very least, had significant doubt cast upon it. And then you show just how willing you are to meet halfway by labeling those on the other side "liars, thieves, and murderers." (I know...I know...don't waste your time coming back with "But it's all true". We've been down that road before.)

In the end, your argument is very disturbing to me. Not because it heralds a changing of political power. But for two reasons:
1) It smacks so much of elitism, to the point that it actually bears a disturbing resemblance to racism. (A stretch? I can elaborate if you'd like.)

2) So many people like you are so fervent about it.

As I've said before, I appreciate your frustration and your passion. I don't even think you are wrong about a great many of the problems that you see with society today. I just wish your energy and emotion was channeled more constructively. Kudos on the MN-03 nomination. I wonder how many opponents in that process you had to label as liars, thieves, and murderers in order to succeed?

tom h. said...

Labeling has nothing to do with it. They are liars, thieves and murderers. If it makes you feel any better, there have been Democrats that have been liars, thieves, and murderers as well.

But therein lies the problem. Why should Mark or myself have to "balance out" what I say to include Democrats? It somehow cheapens or lessens the crime of the Republicans.

And please define what proof you still need in order to show that Iraq is about the oil industry and the defense industry.

pl said...

It's not an issue of balancing. In no way, shape, or form am I attempting to use a "Oh yeah, well so's your old man" sort of argument.

Yep. No question. I contend that no major politician has gotten to that station without lying. But I also contend that "liars" is being used in an inappropriate context. (See last 6 years of this blog.)

From whom are Republicans stealing?

Are we trying the "he sent troops to war and they died so he's a murderer" argument? Or are we trying the "conservatives have their political opponents killed" argument? Or are we just using the word murderers because it's so dastardly?

And I actually laughed out loud at the please define what proof you still need comment. What proof I still need? How about starting with some degree of proof and then I'll decide if that's enough. I won't waste my time repeating my arguments to somebody who chooses not to acknowledge them, but in the end it boils down to the simple realities that correlation does not equal causation, and inference/innuendo does not equal fact. The entire argument of "Iraq is about the oil industry and defense industry" is predicated on facts such as contractors making obscene amounts of money and GWB having a plan for an invasion of Iraq. Some see those facts as proof of their belief. If those people can't see that there is a different perspective then there really isn't any constructive conversation to be had, is there?

tom h. said...

Thieves-The Republicans are basically using taxpayer money to finance the war. Billions has been dumped into the black hole of the defense industry and no one really knows where it went. I would say that conservatives and pundits have profited immensely from this war.

One could also say that we have basically seized control of Iraq and thus are "helping" them with their oil.

Murderers-we have killed hundreds of thousands Iraq innocent civilians. War supporters would argue that it is really the fault of the enemy-an enemy who changes on a daily basis. Even if every single case was an accident, any court of law here would call it murder.

As for your proof, I would offer the dump truck size load of documents, books, testimony, and films regarding this topic. If you like, you can find several that were written by people who were actually in the White House at the time or by people (Bob Woodward) who was allowed by the Bush administration to record everything they were saying.

Actually, an excellent place to start is the Bush Administration's energy policy, released in April of 2001.

pl said...


jeff u said...

Let me see if I have this straight--economy in a shambles, gas prices higher than they have ever been, a free market that has gone unchecked thusly fucking over millions, hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, Al Qaeda still a threat, Iran stronger than ever, most of the world hating us, and a standard of living that is rapidly descending to shit. All of this has happened under the Bush regime and he is only partly to blame? He drove the policies that caused this and yet we should look at all sides and include others to fault?


truth girl said...

I think the point, jeff, is that Mark is essentially correct when he says that the right still dictates the agenda. You can clearly see this in the responses of rld, pl, and sw. I think PL admits the mistakes that Bush has made but oddly is underwhelmed by them.

I recall last in line stating a while back that the "sky was not falling." I think this illustrates how tone deaf the right is at present and why they are going to lose in an even bigger way this fall. Hey, Mark, did you hear what happened in LA-06?

pl said...

Jeff U
I absolutely encourage you to continue placing singular blame on GWB and his administration. I wouldn't dream of attempting to encourage you to do otherwise. Your voice will fit right in with mark, truth girl, blk, and others on this blog, and it will blend nicely with the general timbre of outrage voiced by many in society. Listen to, repeat, and endorse the easy message.

It's undeniable that momentum is building for the Dems, and has been for several years. It's undeniable that said momentum is due in large part to the ineffectiveness of GWB. (As a quick aside, it's also undeniably funny that they've been so inept at capitalizing.)

But here's the unfortunate part of that plan. In 10 or 20 years, when whatever Democratic President is plagued by a series of problems that may or may not be directly related to his/her incompetence, Republicans will besiege that administration with calls for impeachment, etc., and conservatives will be lambasting liberals as the party with power who failed the people. It will be inconceivable to people (like yourself?) attempting to defend the administration that all of the blame will be placed on the President when there is so much about society that has led to whatever the problem(s) is or are. It will be frustrating to those individuals that their perfectly valid arguments are going unheeded, yet they are the ones being labeled close-minded. When that happens, try to think back to the year 2008. I know you won't, but try anyway.

Rest assured that this is fact - President X, Democrat, who is President of this country 20 years from now, will be plagued by the following issues:
** American troops involved in an overseas conflict, along with corresponding outrage over their deaths and claims that the conflict is unnecessary.
** A crisis with one or more major components of the economy (housing, unemployment, etc.).
** A crisis with the cost or quality of healthcare.
** A personal scandal of some magnitude.
** Some portion of the world's nations threatening us or our allies.
** One or more natural disasters where people affected were dissatisified with the response of the government.
** Scientists claiming that global warming is accelerating, they are not getting sufficient funding, and/or we're almost out of oil.
** People of faith claiming that the government is intruding on one or more of their beliefs.
** Citizens claiming that the government is intruding on one or more of their constitutional rights.

Will the people rattling the cage of President X in 2028 be as right as you profess to be today? Or are you almost unique in history...that you and those with similar views are living in the perfect point in time where your ability to divine right and wrong coincides with the administration of "the worst President in history"? You've got 8 years of history that "proves" that GWB is to blame for the problems you see today. I've got 200+ years of industrialized history, and 1000+ years of Euro-centric history, that suggests otherwise.

Last in line at the gang bang said...

Hey, truthgirl is thinking about me. That warm feeling I had in my swimsuit area this morning wasn’t just my imagination. Oh there is no doubt that the dems are going to win this fall. Among the many reasons constantly listed on this blog just look at history. Other than Bush sr taking over after Reagan – tell me the last time 1 political party won the white house 3 times in a row. You’ll have to look back a while. That’s the pattern nowadays. I have no doubt that the candidates on 2028 that PL described will run on “Change”.

Actually Jeff, you left out a lot of things. Several of your points simply aren’t measurable like ”fucking over millions”, “descending to shit”, most of the world hating us”, “Iran stronger then ever”. Saying something like “no terrorist attacks on US soil since 2001” and “governments changing in European nations shifting power from one party to another” is measurable. See the difference?

Our economy is not in shambles. Like justdave likes to say, what words will you use when our economy really gets bad? I went to Benihanas, the Japanese steakhouse, on Sunday night. Very expensive food yet the place was absolutely packed, not to mention many store fronts I drive by have parking lots that are full. Let’s all take a look at our family trees and put our ancestors on the stage of an auditorium and then we can tell our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on just how hard we have it now and see if they buy it when they compare it to what they went though in their lives. The objective, measurable data is that the economy recently had 2 quarters consisting of zero growth and .6% economic growth. Things are slow, not in shambles and my guess is that anything less than the growth we saw in the 90’s will be described as “shambles” by a lot of people. You people who think things are soooo bad right now and that your standard of living has gone to shit...speak for yourselves. I make $20k more a year than I did in 2000. I have no credit card debt, I bought a new Toyota Corolla in 2006 and simply wrote the dealership a check for it, I live 8 miles from my job, I have seen more of Europe than I have the US and went to South America last year for a couple weeks, will be heading back to Europe this fall and I have a roommate who pays half my mortgage every month. 401K has plenty of money in it and I’m 35 years old. It’s called making sacrifices and living below your means.

Why don’t you tell us how to get gas prices down? What would I do? Build a couple more refineries. GWB talked about this 2 years ago but never did it, hence I fault him for that. The basic crude oil that is talked about so much is just one element in the pump price equation. OPEC could pump crude till hell freezes over but without additional capacity to make raw crude into gasoline...price of crude oil doesn't matter. We need to build more refineries to make the raw crude into gasoline. You would see prices drop big time when that happens because all the refineries we have are operating at 100% capacity, thereby pinching off supply. As you learn in basic economics, price is a function of supply and demand. As demand rises and supply diminishes, prices go up. The government has no place in setting prices in a free market system. With no new refineries built for 20 years in this country and the ones we now have working 24/7 (refining four different grades of gasoline as mandated by law with summer and winter blends that require an entire refinery conversion twice a year) I can see why prices are so high. Yeah the oil companies don’t want to change things but go talk to the Sierra Club and other environmental groups about doing things like drilling domestically, using Nuclear energy, and building more refineries and then duck as they throw things at you as they are against all those things too. Don’t translate me advocating those things with saying we shouldn’t be looking into alternative energy sources – we absolutely should do that as well. I know, I know, not building any refineries for 20 years is all GWB’s fault right? I haven’t heard any presidential candidate talk about our refining capacity yet, they just talk about sticking it to the oil industry.

Free market left unchecked. Let’s assume you are talking about the mortgage mess and the heath care industry. My solution to our health care woes - pass the limited Universal Health Care Plan I’ve posted on this blog twice already and combine that with tort reform and malpractice caps. Now I realize that tort reform and malpractice caps aren’t the end all-be all to the high healthcare costs we have today in the US but they are no doubt expensive elements. Cap the difficult to define "pain & suffering" at $250k so that the person would have all his/her medical needs taken care of yet they would not be bankrupting the system. Malpractice caps have already worked in Oregon. The lawyers hate it but has managed to reduce premiums drastically while those who were real victims of real mistakes get just compensation and their day in court if it is egregious malpractice. In the Oregon Plan, there are no malpractice lawsuits until a proposed case is reviewed by an Administrative Panel of Healthcare professionals. Under the Oregon law, it is illegal for a lawyer to take a percentage of the winnings, thereby taking away the carrot for abuse. They have the lowest healthcare premiums in the nation. Docs who end up on the wrong end of the stick with regards to that panel three times loose their licenses to practice medicine in Oregon. Therefore there should also be a three strike law on doctors who are convicted of malpractice. The AMA were recently forced to admit that 10% of the doctors were the subject of 90% of the malpractice suits, therefore the majority of docs, and a large majority, were paying the freight for the bad ones. So there needs to be a plan devised that gives the best of both worlds, like the Oregon plan. Since it is inevitable that the Government is going to get involved at this point, notice that in my plan there is actually a partnership between industry and government. It simply isn’t as simple as getting GWB out of power and sticking it to those dastardly insurance companies. What is Obamas position on tort reform?

The mortgage issues - in the interest of making sure no one was discriminated against in getting a loan, the federal government required lenders to give out questionable loans to people with questionable credit. To do otherwise was discriminating based on race or economic status according to “ certain” groups in society. We can’t have that can we? Congress even passed anti-discrimination laws so some lenders HAD to lend to these people who keep up with the Jones’ and who go crazy tapping their home equity so they are able to afford their SUV. Only the rich can come up with 20% down and in a society that insist all are equal, expecting these basic attributes from someone asking for a loan all of a sudden became discriminatory in the interest of “fairness”...and not allowed. Nice sounding intentions, look at the results though. They are called sub prime for a reason… the borrowers did not have good enough credit ratings to get prime loan rates. A firm called BasePoint Analytics researched about 3 million loans recently and found that as many as 70 percent of recent early payment defaults had fraudulent misrepresentations on their original loan applications. They said “Many of the frauds were simple rather than ingenious. In some cases, borrowers who were asked to state their incomes just lied, sometimes reporting five times actual income; other borrowers falsified income documents by using computers”. Oh BTW for the law & order crowd - falsifying information on a loan application is federal offense. What we actually have now is not so much a mortgage crisis as a banking crisis. The free market has already solved the mortgage problem - the loan types that contributed to the problem in the first place have all but disappeared from the market and they have been gone for almost a year. The banks/lenders who make all kinds of money from capitalism when times are good are now being stuck with homes and they should not be bailed out at all.

And I thought it was conservatives who over-simplified problems into short soundbites? Many thing just aren’t as simple as saying “Well this all happened under GWB’s reign so the solution is just to get rid of him”...there are many other factors at play including things like the financial decisions individual people make. But I understand that when politics is your religion you think that Washington DC is the center of the universe, that every problem is caused by someone in Washington DC and when you think that, you’ll no doubt think that every solution can come from Washington DC as well.

Tell us what YOU would do about Iran and Al Queda going forward from right now. Remember, it isn’t enough to say “quit monkeying around in that part of the world”. I know some like to take potshots at the US for that but always remember - with regard to "militarising the Middle East" your European friends have been doing it for generations. Since I work for a company headquartered out of Germany, here is another perspective on France and other European countries resisting the invasion of Iraq - they were about to lose one of their biggest arms markets. Whether its UK fighters to Kuwait, French tanks to Iraq, Czech Semtex to Iran, or German anti aircraft systems to the Gulf States, all of the European nations (yes including the "peaceful" ones like Denmark and Switzerland), have lined up like pigs at a trough to get their share of the arms sales to the middle east. Secondly, as far as "a government via the corporations" that we are needled for having here in the US, there are few industries in Europe more subsidized by taxpayers, and promoted by their governments, than the arms merchants. Its a relationship that goes back many decades and isnt likely to end soon. They were militarizing the rest of the world for profit and strategic gain long before the US stepped onto the scene.

Markadelphia said...

Hey truth girl, was really busy today so I couldn't respond....sorry.

I will probably put something up about it tomorrow. Very stunning. I think me initial estimates of how badly the conservatives are going to lose this fall are...well...too conservative.

Markadelphia said...

"It’s called making sacrifices and living below your means."

I agree but that not is what our country has done. We owe tons of money to China, we are shipping jobs overseas because American corporations don't care about the American worker any more, we have a huge budget deficit and a huge trade deficit, the dollar is an embarrassment, no one is staying here to innovate and create because we have a government and population that believes that God is an old man in the sky with a beard who burns anyone who is all smart and stuff---need I go on? How does all of this figure into your equation of the US economy?

Crab, what happens to the people you know when they overspend? Do they generally turn out OK? Do they have bright futures? Apply your beliefs to our current situation, economically, and I think you will find an extraordinary dichotomy.

sara said...

Actually, I'd like to know if last in line read the Friedman article and whether or not he agreed.

pl said...

we are shipping jobs overseas because American corporations don't care about the American worker any more

Huh? Yeah, Mark. That's exactly why jobs are being shipped overseas. Because those one-time soft and cuddly corporations are now headed by some suit in some office who for the first time ever is saying "f*#& American workers".

Wow. And it's beliefs like this that are behind the politicians who are bringing fresh, exciting new ideas to Washington. Well, I grant you that they would be fresh and exciting. Terrifying, but fresh and exciting.

Last in line said...

Oh I agree that we haven’t done that. The deficit can be put right at the feet of GWB as far as I’m concerned. I know folks on here love to blame the Conservative Ideology but there is nothing conservative about the way GWB has spent money - he has not governed like a conservative in many areas. A real conservative like Ron fucking Paul would have things back on track as far as spending goes. 2 ways you can get rid of the deficit – raise taxes or cut spending. I prefer the cut spending option. Let's look at the record on budget deficits though: name one that caused the total collapse of the US economy. The correct answer is: 0.

I also raised an eyebrow when you said that the reason for outsourcing is that corporations don’t care about American workers. Again, what’s with the simple explanations? Our trade agreements that have been in place for some time now are unfairly weighted to give advantage to our foreign trading partners. They contain no provisions for basic worker rights...a minimum wage, health care, environmental controls or anything else that we might have here in the US. The transition to an inevitable global economy will be painful and politicians are not going to tell people what they do not want to hear: that the days of getting paid $30/hr turning a bolt on an assembly line are over. Neither political party or labor union can stop that. America needs to look forward and use our Yankee ingenuity to take advantage of the situation. The loss of manufacturing jobs in America is inevitable: American consumers demand the lowest prices while also demanding the highest wages. Thus, manufacturing companies really have no choice because if they don't outsource their competition will. Maybe we need to adapt to a new world a little better. A skilled, educated, and flexible person can still make a very good living in this country. If you have spent the last 20 years "experienced" in manufacturing, barely have a high school education, and are unwilling to travel to where the jobs are then you can expect to remain unemployed. No amount of government assistance or political arguing will change that.

Here is my gripe with the trade deficit: it is not a measure of anything other than manufactured goods with services being ignored and services have been the fastest growing sector of our economy for three decades and as a measure of real economic health it needs to be included in the figures. Ask yourself when we last had a trade surplus in this country (hint – its been a looooong time) and the importance of the trade deficit will become apparent. Moreover, no President can fix the trade deficit if we continue to build products in this nation folks abroad don't embrace with even our own population shunning them in favor of imports. Most of the blame for the trade deficits lay at the feet of producers and not the politicians because politicians are as responsible for what is produced as they are responsible for the weather.

I hate to break it to some of you but the institution of the presidency does not have short term control on the value of the dollar. The Federal reserve has more control the US currency. The FED is also completely independent of the executive branch as Mark knows (the Federal Reserve got me laid – remember Mark?). This is an issue to which I am very tuned into because as you know, I work in finance for a company that is headquartered in Germany. We have to achieve a certain level of growth (which we are doing) but the situation we here at the US headquarters have is that we also have to make up the difference between the dollar and the euro (which we are also doing) on top of meeting our quarterly goals.

Talk to 7 different economists and they will give you 7 different reasons for the weak dollar. Sure our deficit doesn’t do the dollar any good as that makes the dollar look very unattractive. What is also true is that over the span of the last eight years, our policy has consisted of spending more and taxing less, without significant growth in revenue, which means the country owes even more now and receives less to pay obligations. This has no doubt caused the value of the dollar to weaken.

Another reason for the weak dollar is the Interest Rate Differential between Europe and the US. Do some research on that subject. It may seem insane but a weak dollar is not always a bad thing for the U.S. economy. A weak dollar strengthens exports and helps our manufacturing base since our products can be purchased cheaper by foreign countries. In fact, Europe is now accusing the U.S. of having a policy that strives for a weak dollar. As for fundamentals, most experts agree the dollar is under valued while the Euro is over valued (see - unemployment rates and upcoming Pension Crisis in the EU). Therefore, a recovery against the euro will happen but not in the next year or so. You can expect this recovery to happen sooner if Europe begins lowering interest rates and the U.S. begins to slowly raise interest rates. This is not to say that a low dollar is all advantageous.

Some attribute the weak dollar to higher oil prices. This is called Speculative Investment. People buy up oil not because they want oil, but because they are speculating that oil will keep going up. Now, here's what's interesting: The weaker the dollar, the more this happens. Investors turn away from U.S. investments - Apple computer or treasury bonds, for example - because the dollar keeps losing value. They don't want dollars. That makes oil even more attractive, which sends the price of oil higher. That, in turn, weakens the U.S. economy, which sends the dollar lower. You can expect, however, that over the years the Colombian Peso and other currencies in "periphery" or "third-world" countries will continue to make gains against currencies such as the euro and the dollar. The reason is, because these countries are continuing to make enormous steps economically. One more thing about that weak dollar - take note that China purposely sets their currency below the dollar. The real person who is impacted by a weak dollar is a traveller and U.S. citizens spending money in other countries is not exactly something our government is that concerned with.

That is how "all that" figures into my equation of the US economy. The solution is simply not as easy as electing democrats to office. As I’ve said before – I think Obama will win this fall by 10 points. In contrast to Hillary, I can imagine Obama turning out to be a good president, mainly because I have sensed some evidence that he’s intellectually open to deviations from orthodox liberalism in ways that Hillary isn’t (although his bizarre claim that he will still raise capital gains taxes despite evidence that cutting the capital gains tax rate increases revenue made me raise an eyebrow). In addition, I think there may be something to his (admittedly self-serving) claim that he’s temperamentally better suited than Clinton to working with his political adversaries (even though there is zero evidence of him doing this in the US Senate thus far).

For each rule, someone sneaks in an exception. For each law there is a loophole the size of a garbage truck. Look at immigration - don’t dare try to sneak in here, but if you happen to make it there will eventually be an amnesty and it won't matter anyway. Congress cannot create a coherent immigration policy because somewhere someone would kick them out of a job in retaliation. So they do the safest thing - they try to cater to everyone at once and as a result accomplish nothing. I see democrat proposals as simply more of the same. Want evidence? Remember a few weeks ago when house Democrats appealed to ignorance, in their usual fashion, by summoning executives from the five biggest oil companies to berate them for high gasoline prices. First, these same Democrats purport to be worried about global warming and are committed to taking strong measures to combat it. Needless to say, the simplest way to reduce carbon consumption, if you really believe that carbon consumption will cause an environmental disaster, is to increase the price of energy. This is why some honest global warming advocates have argued for huge increases in the gasoline tax. Conversely, if the price of gasoline were to decline as House Democrats said they wanted, the result would be increased consumption and increased carbon emissions. If the Democrats aren't willing to pay the price to reduce energy consumption (i.e., higher gasoline prices), they should quit yammering about global warming. Second, if you really want the price of gasoline to fall, there is one easy way to achieve that goal: increase supply. Yet these very same Democrats have made it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to do so. They are against drilling domestically, against buikding more refineries and they are against nuclear energy. Further, as one of the oil executives pointed out, 85% of our coastline is off-limits to drilling. Now I know that domestic drilling isn’t the entire solution but it will no doubt help ease the pain. So the Democrats' domestic policies are an incoherent jumble: they want lower gasoline and heating oil prices, but they block the very things, oil drilling and the construction of new refineries, that would have actually reduced prices.

The people that I know who overspend still get by with a darn good standard fo living compared to many parts of this world, albeit with less freedom because the trouble with being broke is that it takes up all of your time.

juris imprudent said...

I would say that conservatives and pundits have profited immensely from this war.

So not a liberal alive owns stock in Boeing, GD, etc.? If you accept the premise of Nick Turse, the M-I complex pervades the U.S. economy - so even if you own shares of Sara Lee, you are profiting from the M-I complex.

I guess if you don't own a single share of stock, not even via a mutual fund, you are free of the taint of war-profiting.

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