Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Annual Argument

At least once I year I go to my father's house for Thanksgiving or Christmas and we have an argument. This year it started when he start crowing proudly about the signs he had put on the highway in front of his house. It was a quote attributed to Barack Obama from 2006, "We are no longer a Christian nation."

Of course, every time my dad says something like this he gets it off the Internet. It turns out that this quote is pulled from a longer speech, and it's the result of Obama making a mistake reading the speech. The original speech read, "We are no longer just a Christian nation." When delivered, Obama misspoke, saying, "We are no longer a Christian nation -- at least, not just." (See for the details.) The gist of Obama's remarks is that America is no longer a nation of Christians alone, but of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and so on. And there's not just one brand of Christianity: there are Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Evangelicals -- some of whom have more vehement disagreements among themselves than they have with Muslims or Jews.

The reality is that the United States has never been a Christian nation. England is a Christian nation-- the queen is the official head of the Anglican church -- and the Puritans fled Christian England because of religious persecution. The Constitution doesn't mention god at all. The Declaration of Independence speaks of "Laws of Nature and Nature's God" -- which sounds more like some kind of Druidical naturist deity -- and that men are "endowed by their Creator" with inalienable rights.

There is no mention of Christ, and a subsequent amendment forbids the establishment of an official state religion. The founders were deists and many were Christians, to be sure, but the whole point of coming here was to escape the religious tyranny of Europe.

So, not knowing at the time that he was selectively quoting Obama, I took the bait and asked, "Since when do you care about Christianity?"

No one ever talks about it, but from what I understand, when my dad was a teenager he and his mother were in an a sanitarium for a time with tuberculosis. This was before antibiotics were in use. They eventually left and my dad turned out to be fine, but his mother was dying. Ultimately she committed suicide rather than suffer a horrible death. In the standard fashion everyone told him that God had taken her and that she was in a better place, but he had seen first hand what torture she had been through. He was bitter, came to hate God, never attended church and wanted nothing to do with religion. I can sympathize completely.

Fast forward twenty years. A Jehovah's Witness comes to the door of our house, talks to my mom, gets her to study the bible. After a while she starts talking about not celebrating birthdays or Christmas, says that the bible disallows blood transfusions and certain . . . private practices. This is too much for my dad. After a thorough search for the right church (he went down the block from his office) he got biblical arguments from a pastor. My parents had numerous knock-down drag-out arguments about religion right in front of me. In the end my dad won, because of various admonitions in the bible for wives to be submissive to their husbands: he turned my mother's religion against her.

After that my dad went to church sporadically and after a while stopped completely. When one of my sisters was married at the Church he had convinced my mother to join (the one next to his office) he refused to go because my other sister -- the one who had married a Hispanic guy from Texas -- was in attendance. Hence, my question: "Since when do you care about Christianity?"

Acknowledging my point, he says, "I'd rather have Christianity than Muslims. They're a vicious, violent people. In Saudi Arabia they stone adulterers and cut off the hands of thieves. They killed all those people on 9/11. They're animals." And he proceeds to talk about how there are three billion Muslims and what a danger they are. I'm not sure why the number three billion is important -- that would be almost half the world's population, which he is apparently advocating going to war with. (According to various sources, there are about 1.5 billion Muslims and 2.1 billion Christians.)

So I ask him who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, the bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta (he'd forgotten about that one), various abortion clinic bombings in the US, the assassination of American abortion doctors (one in a church!), the IRA bombings in England, the burning, drowning and crushing of witches in Salem and Europe, the Crusades, and so on. He brushes that all off, saying only some Christians do that, and it was a long time ago. When I point out that harsh punishments aren't meted out in most Muslim countries for minor crimes -- Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq (before we invaded), etc., etc. -- he looks puzzled. Apparently this wasn't in the script from the Internet. Turkey doesn't even have the death penalty.

The rant then becomes general, about losing the United States to foreigners, bemoaning the fact that half the kids in California are Mexican. He complains that kids can't even fly the American flag anymore. I'd never heard of this. My brother-in-law explains that a principal in California sent some kids with American flags on their t-shirt home. Looking at the Fox News report on the incident, it appears the principal told the kids to go home on Cinco de Mayo because he suspected their wearing the American flag on their shirts was an attempt to start a fight with Mexican kids by disrespecting their "day." (I think the principal was out of line, but can understand the action: wearing the flag like gang colors is not patriotism, it's thuggery. The kids were not punished and free to wear American flags on other days, according to an NBC affiliate.)

Then he goes into full rant mode. The illegal immigrants should have no rights. They're stealing jobs from Americans. They're destroying our way of life. They have everything given to them. "Filthy jobs like picking tomatoes that Americans won't do because they pay too little?" I ask. "Aren't the people paying the illegals just as guilty as the illegals, if not more so?" But somehow he just shrugs that off.

"In a poll 58% of the American people said they are against illegal immigration," he says. "I'm one of them," I answer. But he doesn't hear me. "This is supposed to be a democracy, and Obama's not doing anything about illegals." In fact, Obama has been doing more about it than Bush ever did -- more arrests, more punishments of employers, etc. But my dad pays no heed to all that.

Then he says, "I think we should shoot them when the cross the border. They're committing a crime." I ask him if really means this, and he says he'd do it himself.

So now we come full circle. Muslims are monstrous animals because they amputate the hands of thieves and stone adulterers. Yet my dad has no problem shooting someone in cold blood who's just trying to find a better life and feed their kids doing grunt field work for almost no pay that no one else in the United States is willing to do.

And it's not just my dad who's demanding death if he doesn't get what he wants. Conservatives threaten civil war if they don't get certain electoral and legislative results. What, you ask? When did they do that? Republicans in both Alaska and Texas have talked about secession over and over. And of course, secession from the Union is simply not possible, and will certainly cause civil war.

Conservatives uniformly favor the death penalty, and expanding the crimes that are covered by it, and rolling back appeals in capital cases. Conservatives like Palin are always bragging about hunting and killing animals. Hunting isn't wrong, and I don't oppose it -- but it's certainly more violent than not hunting. Conservatives are always trying to expand the presence of guns in everyday society. They support laws allowing people to freely shoot trespassers. The conservative answer to violence appears to be the threat of more violence.

And then my brother-in-law chimes in, saying that the only problem with nuking the whole Middle East is that we'd have a hard time getting the oil out. (The same brother-in-law who had to explain his "Obama trap" joke to his mother. You know, the piece of watermelon under a box propped up with a stick.)

And then there are the calls to nuke Iran from Cheney and regime change in North Korea from McCain, and, well, you get the picture.

American conservatives who are constantly advocating violence in all its high and low forms have no moral high ground when they complain about Muslims being a violent people.

So I ask my dad why he thinks Muslims hate us. He has absolutely no idea. It's obvious he's never considered it for even a second. I tell him that bin Laden started his jihad because of the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War.

Just like my dad thinks that Muslims and Mexicans are destroying the American way of life, the Muslim terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia believe we are destroying their very way of life. We are invading their countries -- Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait -- even more overtly than Mexicans are invading our country by attacking and stationing troops there. We are perverting their culture -- spreading English, Christianity, loose morals, obscene dress, money lending -- just like Mexicans and Muslims are speaking Spanish and Arabic and building mosques in America. Mexicans are stealing American jobs, Americans are stealing Muslim oil.

Conservatives in the Middle East are upset about societal change and foreign influence, and they advocate violence to stop it. Conservatives in the United States are their mirror images, taking the bait that their counterparts in the Middle East are throwing them.

We really need to take into account the sentiments of people in other countries when we interact with them. I'm not saying that we should kowtow to terrorists. But there's very rarely only one solution to any given problem. In retrospect it was obviously a bad idea to leave troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War -- the parallels to the Crusades are just too stark. We wound up taking our troops out of there in 2003 anyway. Important lessons can be learned here with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Radicalized Muslims are intentionally inciting conflict with the United States. They want us to lump all Muslims together and attack Muslims in general so that they can claim they were right all along about the "crusaders" trying to destroy Islam. When American conservatives advocate violence against all Muslims and turn our conflict with a few Muslim terrorists into a broadside against all Islam, the terrorists win.

Monday, November 29, 2010

WTF Has Obama Done?

Have to get back on track with this one...

Of course, it hasn't been ratified yet by the Senate because...why again? Oh yeah, the GOP wants him to fail.

Epic. Success.

I'm quite sad to report to all my libertarian and conservative friends that the government takeover and restructuring of General Motors has been a whopping success. Shares surged in their debut on November 18, 2010. As of today, they are trading at 33.80. This is a much bolder offering than was originally thought possible. In addition, it has allowed GM to trim the government's stake from 61 percent to 26 percent-much faster than expected.

There were many predictions of doom/gloom coupled with the usual boiling pit of sewage rhetoric but none of that has happened. Rest assured, though, I won't be holding my breath that any of my right leaning commenters are going to admit that they were wrong. In the final analysis, it doesn't really matter. What had to be done was done and, like many actions that the Obama administration has taken, success was the result.

See what can be accomplished when one doesn't have anaphylactic reactions to government?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Silly Conservatives

The other day I saw this bumper sticker on a truck right in front of me.

Honestly, I don't get it. Nearly every liberal I know is working 2-3 jobs. There was one that I knew that really did fit the bill of this bumper sticker but he just got a job and a really well paying one at that.

Now I realized that I am not a barometer for the relationship between political affiliation and employment but there are far more unemployed conservatives I know than unemployed liberals. One of them is my uncle who hasn't worked in nearly 20 years. He and his wife (my mom's sister) live with his mom in the house she has owned for over 70 years. Another is a childhood friend I know who has been barely employed for the last 10 years. He also lives with his mom. Both are avid Tea Partiers. In fact, what do people in the Tea Party do for a living that they can afford to go to all these events? Have they become the "professional protester" that they derided just a few short years ago? Yet another hypocrisy.

My neighbor (Obama is the anti-Christ guy) works only in the summer at the amusement park. His wife works full time in an HR department while he...well...loafs and spends his days (like my uncle and childhood chum) listening to Glenn Beck and surfing the right wing blogsphere. Oh, and their only daughter (10 years old) is often left alone while he goes and goofs off at the local hunting supply store with his buddies. Actually, she spends quite a bit of time at our house because, with her mom working and her dad playing with himself whilst looking at right wing blogs, she'd like some attention. Doesn't this sound familiar ? (see: "ghetto" mom on welfare ignores children, collects government check).

So, given reality, the bumper sticker makes no sense. The government that my uncle, friend, and neighbor routinely spit on supplies them with basic benefits so they can enjoy the lives that they lead. The liberals that they laugh about through bumper stickers like this one don't really exist anymore--especially since President Clinton reformed welfare.

The only "silly" people I see are very much to the right of the aisle. And that makes this bumper sticker pretty hilarious indeed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Sarah Palin Comment

Next time you are at a party, try this.

Make a negative comment about Sarah Palin (as I did recently) and watch America in 2010 unfold in all its vomitous glory. Several people will chime in agreeing with you and others will go further and make incredibly awful comments. Wherever negative comments about Sarah Palin occur, you can make damn sure that, however bad they are, like water to one of Spielberg's Gremlins, supporters will sprout up everywhere. This is the genius of how the Right operates. They know of this "gremlin" effect well and use it at every turn.

Whatever the truth is doesn't really matter. For someone like me this is an extremely nauseating and highly frustrating extension of discussions regarding George W. Bush or racism. These also sprout gremlins. It doesn't matter that Bush was an awful president who created the majority of problems we have today (which Obama is blamed for, of course) because Bush bashing is like so gauche and awful and stuff! Enough already with it, right? Call someone a racist and you'll get the stock line "Accusing someone of racism destroys the argument and unfairly labels someone to the point of no return" or something like that. Worse, you'll get claims of counter racism and howls of wise Latinas. Gremlins...gremlins everywhere!

Never mind the fact that the person was probably, in fact, a racist. They have built in armor now to protect them against the race mongers. And it's courtesy of the douche bags who continually seek to perpetuate a culture of no responsibility and never, under any circumstances, self actualization. The gremlin assembly line is always live!

Yet, throwing out the Sarah Palin comment is something everyone should do at least once. It's important to do so because it lets you know how far down the drain our country has swirled. People that try to make our country better (Obama, Pelosi, Reid, anyone named Kennedy) want to kill our grandmothers. People who, as Matt Taibbi recently described LeBron James, "are landmarks in self involvement" and "attention craving narcissistic monsters who simultaneously despise and need the slithering insect mortals by the millions to lick their toes" (Sarah Palin) are actually fighting to save our country and restore it to what our founding fathers envisioned. After all, only Palin knows what the Constitution really means, right?

Her competence, intelligence, and intellectual capacity DO NOT MATTER. After all, President Obama is no different in our Alice-in-Wonderland perception of reality, those pesky gremlins insist. There's an argument to made for anything these days in our wonderful Idiocracy.

In looking at the evolution from Bush to Palin, the depths to which we will sink seem never ending. The gremlins grow more and more powerful indeed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Raise My Taxes!

Well, Warren Buffet has gone and done it again. The Oracle of Omaha has made those right wingers foam at the mouth again with his recent comments about how he should pay more in taxes.

"If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further," Buffett said. "But I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it."

No shit.

It's what I've been saying all along. Better than they've ever had's a fucking clam bake right now. The folks who lost 20 trillion dollars (and begged the government for a bail out) still have all their money and none, as of yet, have seen any prison time.

And what does Buffet have to say about you supply siders?

The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on," Buffett explained.

Some like me are. Several who post here aren't. When will you? It hasn't worked and will never work because people are greedy. As many conservative Christians have assured me, man is naturally sinful. So why do they give a break to the money guys then? I don't get it. Unless they are now, as Jesus so clearly warned, worshiping the false god of money...

Right around now, of course, is when the standard line comes out. "No one is stopping Buffet from paying more in taxes." I'm not sure from where this originated but it is wrong. The IRS is actually stopping him from paying more in taxes. In the first place, you can't overpay your taxes. Anyone who has ever done this on accident knows that you get a refund. In addition, the IRS doesn't take donations. Don't take my word for it. Ask someone you know who is an accountant. I did. My wife has been one for almost 30 years.

While I'm certain that Buffet could figure out a way to donate his money to the government, that really isn't his point. Try for a moment to think outside of the box on this one and realize that the system, as it is currently set up, favors wealthy people. This is not only true of the tax system but of the private sector as well. How many average joes do you know that get a chance at an IPO?

For those of you that post here, are not in the top 2 percent, and support the Right (whether it is the current form of the GOP or libertarian views), kindly rid yourself of the fantasy that some day you will get the chance to be as wealthy as those CEOs you worship. The way the system is currently set up, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. No amount of hard work, financial know how, or wizardry is going to assist you.

The people that are in power right now want to keep it that way. They have spent the last three decades shifting the majority of our nation's wealth to their bank accounts. They spit on the Democrats, like Bill Clinton, who think that the middle class drives this economy. They shit on President Obama who has made at least some effort to change and regulate the system so people like you can get more breaks. Basically that means they spit and shit on YOU.

I'm wondering how much longer you are going to take it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

If you are conservative, libertarian, or just plain lean right, happy days are indeed here. Corporations run the world, the government has essentially been neutered in a variety of ways, and our culture is made up of people who think only of themselves...going into anaphylactic shock at the mere mention people working together for the common good. Add in howls of derision at anyone who dare question another's self interest and the age of the rugged individualist (see: Randian adolescent power fantasy) is here.

This, of course, is reality. But in the world of the conservative blogsphere, we are all on a Road To Serfdom.

The Road to Serfdom was book written in the early 1940s by Friedrich von Hayek in which he warned of the coming tyranny of government controlled and centrally planned economies. His ideas have been co-opted today by many on the right in the vain (and sad) attempt to add intellectual shine to a fervent ideology. It's quite pathetic, really, considering how out of date Hayek's ideas are giving our current global and economic framework.

Honestly, his theories were never all that sound to begin with when you consider the clear results of unfettered markets. We've seen it a lot in the last 30 years and we really aren't that far off from Polanyi's chief criticism of Hayek: It's actually Serfdom's ideas that will lead to fascism. In the case of our country, it's the corporate bend of this ideology with a small group of people controlling both our nation's wealth and the government.

Interestingly, the recently defrocked (for not being a pure conservative...whatever that means), David Frum agrees with me. He wrote a column a while back entitled "We're not on a road to serfdom." and I have to say, it's brilliant.

The story of the past 50 years has been that the American economy has become freer and more dynamic.

Think back to 1960. The federal government regulated the price of every airfare. It regulated every rail, truck and shipping route. It regulated the price of natural gas. It regulated stockbrokers' commissions. It regulated the interest rates that could be paid on checking accounts. It told most farmers how much they could grow of what commodity. It regulated what kind of political and religious comment could be expressed on the airwaves. And of course it conscripted millions of young men beginning their careers into the armed forces.

All of that is gone, gone, gone.

It sure is gone and that's why we have all the problems we have today. Of course, Frum would never admit this but that's the narrow tunnel of his ideology entrapping him.

Yet conservatives sell our own accomplishments and principles short when they represent them as so fragile. The fact is: our win-loss ratio is actually pretty good. Free-market ideas have rescued states in much worse trouble than post-Obama America: Mao's China to name one outstanding example.

Of course they do because there always has to be an enemy. Time is always running out and they's always comin' to gin us!

One would think they would be thankful today, on this day of giving thanks, with the current state of affairs...CEOs making ridiculous amounts of money...Wall Street continuing to be up to its old tricks....Warren Buffet being taxed at a rate of half of his secretary...and the wealthiest 1 percent of our nation holding over a third of its wealth...the next four percent making it nearly two thirds. It's just the way they like it, right?

Wrong. They want more.

So who are the fascists again?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Twas the night before Thanksgiving...

....and Mark has a question for all of you.

Would Sarah Palin be as much of a force in politics today if she was 300 pounds and/or ugly?

If the answer is no, what does that tell you about her base? Our culture?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Are the Republicans are Turning Us into China?

For the past two years Republicans have been calling Obama a socialist and a communist, insisting that his policies will destroy the American economy. But if we look at the economies of the world today, who's doing the best?

Without a doubt, it's China. The country run by the Communist Party of Mao has a centralized command economy that has harnessed the capitalist plow horse under the socialist yoke. China has bought hundreds of billions of dollars worth of US Treasury bills, propping up the US economy. China dictates trade policy to the world, coming into their full power during the Bush administration.

So, how is this economic miracle possible? Well, the workers who build all those computers and TVs and iPads get paid dirt, and are treated like dirt. Unions are run by the Communist Party, which also runs management. China has essentially no environmental regulations: remember how they had to shut down all their factories for weeks to host the Olympics? They burn so much coal the skies over Beijing are a perpetual filthy brown. And, finally, American and European companies have turned their backs on their own workers, first shifting production to China and are now sending high-tech design centers to China. Companies like Walmart, with their insistence on constantly-decreased prices (and, incidentally, quality) have forced most of their American suppliers to produce their goods in China.

In other words, China has become what the United States and Britain were in the 1890s: a land where government and big business are one, and workers have no control over their own fates.

The old notions of communism and capitalism no longer make any sense. What matters now is how much control average people have over their own lives, and the quality of life (clean air, clean water, reasonable working hours, decent pay and housing, etc.).

China has reached the point where government has absorbed big business and the two have merged into one. The Republicans and their big business backers are doing the same thing from the other direction: big business is swallowing Republican politicians and therefore government, giving business a free hand to do whatever they please. Big business can spend unlimited amounts of cash to buy elections now; it doesn't always work (ask Meg Whitman), but in a close race it makes all the difference.

And it's not just me saying that this is what Republicans think: remember the heartfelt apology Joe Barton gave BP during the hearings about the Gulf oil spill? All the Republicans were saying the same thing he was, except he that he gushed as much as the oil well in his fawning over BP. And all throughout the election Republicans keep screaming about reducing regulations despite the fact that in the last nine years the lack of regulation and the lack of enforcement of existing regulations has resulted in some of the the largest financial and environmental calamities we've ever seen.

And don't get me wrong. Some Democrats have been co-opted by big business as well. They're too comfortable with Wall Street and Big Energy. But as a party and an ideology, the Democrats clearly want to maintain a healthy separation between government and big business, while the Republicans are running headlong into the government/big business/no regulation singularity.

The Republicans are leading us to the same place that China is today. Just from the other direction.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Helping the Terrorists Win

Recently there's been an uproar over body scanners at airports. People are worried about X-ray dosages and the invasion of privacy. Others are calling for mass protests to opt out of scans and getting a pat-down instead, and many of those same people are then screaming that they don't want to be touched. This will cause massive slowdowns and cost lots of money in delays.

Those people are helping the terrorists win.

The purpose of the 9/11 attacks, the shoe and underwear bombers, and the recent printer toner cartridge bombs is not to inflict maximum carnage. It's to inflict maximum economic distress, to slow down our economy and make us change the way we do business. They want to raise fears in the American public to demand security measures which would then make the cost of doing business so high that it will eventually bankrupt us. They want us to make people fear and hate our government by making our government do things people hate.

The Republicans have aided and abetted the terrorists the whole time. Every time Bush needed a push in the polls in the 2004 election he'd jack up the terror alert level to orange. The Bush administration created the Department of Homeland Security (that name still gives me Orwellian chills) and the TSA as sprawling bureaucracies with the mandate to invade our privacy and make us take off our shoes every time we board a plane, tap our phone messages and read our email.

The current scanner brouhaha was started during the Bush administration, which ordered the installation of the machines at airports. So far the whiners are complaining about having their junk touched. But in another few weeks I'm sure we'll be into full-blown nut-case conspiracy mode, where right-wingers insist that Obama's socialist/communist/fascist agenda is behind all this, and Janet Napolitano wants to get pictures of us all naked and let child molesters cop feels.

The terrorists behind the recent package bombing attempts recently published an article about their exploits. They claimed the whole thing only cost them about $4,200 to pull off. Think about it. They only had to spend 4,000 bucks to get us to spend billions of dollars in additional security measures. If terrorism were a business it would have the biggest profit margin ever.

Which really makes you wonder: Bush used the terrorism card to get votes. How many of these guys are using terrorism to get rich? Well, at least one: Michael Chertoff, the former DHS secretary under Bush, has been pushing for full-body scans now for years. It turned out that he also shills for the company that makes the scanners.

To be honest, I'm surprised that the security backlash has taken this long. I've always felt that the reaction to 9/11 was overblown, that we've sold our privacy and our souls and wasted billions of dollars on security measures that do very little, and actually make us feel less safe. I didn't think it would take us nine years to get tired of all this nonsense at airports. We're not as courageous and clear-sighted as I thought we were

And to make matters worse, the scanners are already obsolete. Al Qaeda doesn't bother doing the same thing twice once they've failed. They also take their time plotting their next big thing, often waiting years before the next attempt. The shoe bomb didn't work, and the underwear bomb didn't work. What's next?

Al Qaeda has already attempted an assassination using a bomb hidden in a body cavity. They haven't tried this on a plane yet, but if they do no body scanner will detect it. Another question: are body scanners being used at the foreign airports where the shoe and underwear bombers boarded?

Right now the nexus of terrorism seems to be Yemen, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, all ostensible allies. That tells us something very important: anti-Americanism flows from internal dissent. We're in the middle of a domestic squabble. In a way, that's a good thing. Getting out from between two feuding brothers should be easier than toppling a dictatorship or stopping a madman from getting nuclear weapons.

The terrorists are using attacks on America to coerce us into changing our policies toward their countries. And it works: the prima facie reason bin Laden attacked us was because of the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, where they had been stationed since Gulf War. Bush pulled all our troops from that country in 2003, giving bin Laden exactly what he wanted.

Terrorists attack us because they believe the US is occupying their country, American companies are interfering with their lives and prosperity, or the US is propping up an illegitimate regime. We need to seriously examine what we're doing in those countries and ask ourselves whether it's helping or hurting us.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Worth A Million Words

Our culture is very visual these days so I think it's important that we see the difference between the Democrat's tax plans and the GOP tax plans.

Now, I hear a lot of mouth foaming about how the Democrats are all rich too and they bend over backwards (and forwards) for the wealthy just like the GOP does. But I don't really see it here. Why would they make a tax policy that cut into their profits? Why would guys like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and George Soros promote policies that dictate less tax breaks for the wealthy? I guess there's my answer and then there's the unreality of the fact free zone.

Seriously, though, look at the top bracket. How can you not laugh?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Give Me My Damn Government Health Care...Stat!

In what has to be the finest example of hypocrisy I have EVER seen (and I've seen quite a bit every day on here and in the political world), Andy Harris, the newly elected Maryland GOP Congressmen, demanded his government health care a month early.

Apparently, Rep. Harris, who ran on an anti-Obamacare platform, was at an orientation meeting and wondered when his government run health care was available to utilize. Apparently, it doesn't kick in until Feb 1, 2011 which he was not happy with at all. "He stood up and asked the ladies who were answering questions why it took so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care," a congressional staffer related.

Why, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, Dr. Harris!

Dr. Harris then wondered if he could buy his insurance early. No, Dr. Harris, you can't. Sorry...we don't have that option with health care. Remember, socialized medicine is a boiling pit of sewage.

Check out this clip of Dr. Harris demonizing government run health care.

What a tool...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Well, Let's Hear It!

I've done it. I have balanced the United States federal budget.

I'd like to see how the rest of you would fair. It's easy to reset and do your own so get on with it. I've heard a lot of griping about the government but now YOU are in charge. What cuts will you make? How will you balance the budget?

Cut and paste your link in comments. I expect to hear from all of my regulars.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lame Ducks (In Every Sense of the Word)

The lame duck Congress reconvenes this week and the Democrats will have their curtain call. Anyone out there think they will do anything worthwhile?

I don't.

In fact, I think they will do their usual pussy dance and cower in fear of the now much further right GOP. They could repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" but they won't because people like John McCain, who said we would repeal the law if the generals gave the OK, has now gone back on that because he wants to stay in good graces with the anti gay crowd on the right. The Democrats will follow suit and, even though 70 percent of the country favors repeal, give in (once again) to the very vocal and VERY bigoted minority. (side rant: This would be a classic example of how the minority wins time and again for those of you who have wondered. It's related to spinal muscular atrophy.) The Democrats could do something on immigration or energy. But they won't. Again, their complete lack of spine will send them cowering in fear in the face of the likes of the Koch brothers. But these issues aren't even the worst transgression. That trophy belongs to the Bush tax cuts.

I think we can all agree that making all the tax cuts (save for the top 2 percent of nation's earners) permanent is a good thing. It is my view that the middle class drives this economy and letting their tax cuts expire in a recession is a monumentally stupid thing.

But the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of this country should expire. Why? First, they aren't going to end up paying those taxes anyway because they will move their money around and pay less due to the simple fact that they can afford teams of lawyers and accountants. Second, the MYTH that the less the rich are taxed the more they invest in the economy has been completely torpedoed. They don't invest in shit except derivatives and hedge funds that simply make them more money. Third, they will make the deficit much worse. Cry all you want about spending but until you show me where you are going to stand up and make cuts, we are going to need more revenue. We'll need it anyway.

Finally, they should pay more because they are wealthy.

Now, I know all of you charity-to-the-wealthy lovers just had an epileptic seizure and began to foam at the mouth about redistribution of wealth/socialism/guns/statism blah blah blah. And I know how offensive it is to ask criminals, who risk our money-not theirs, to part with their ill gotten millions. But one of the men that you tout as being an authority on how markets should be run has said as much. That man's name is Adam Smith.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Mr. Smith, he wrote a masterpiece on free market economics called The Wealth of Nations (1776). The basic gist of his treatise is that there should be as little government interference in the market and "the invisible hand" should be allowed to work its magic. This invisible hand is roughly defined as men acting in their own self interest will unknowingly serve the interests of other, less fortunate members of society.

Setting aside the fact (which many libertarians and right wingers conveniently ignore) that the terms "economics" and "capitalism" weren't in use at the time of his writing, those who tout Smith completely fail to point out this line from the piece.

The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.

Or this one.

The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Or this one (especially dedicated to those of you who howl at me about your money being taken by the butt of a gun)

Every tax, however, is, to the person who pays it, a badge, not of slavery, but of liberty. It denotes that he is the subject of government;,indeed but that, as he has some property, he cannot himself be the property of a master.

In other words, progressive taxes are fair, honest, and what work best. Bear in mind that Smith saw all this from a society that was a dominated by feudalism. I wonder what he would think of out little plutonomy today given the similarities....hmmm....

Anyway, the Democrats, in light of these obvious truths, should draw a line in the sand (like the right always does and invariably succeeds) and tell the minority for the next 6 weeks to pound salt up their ass. Bring a vote to the floor for the middle class tax cuts only and, if the GOP has an eight year old boy temper tantrum, let them try to explain to the American people, upon taking over in January 2011, how they let all the tax cuts expire. In other words, play HARDBALL like the right does all the time. Democrats should send a two word message to the GOP in this lame duck session.

"Fuck" and "Off."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bill channels Markadelphia

On any normal day, I'm the one that usually channels my inner Maher and riffs off of it. A couple of weeks back, though, I think it was the reverse.

During his final New Rule on November 5, 2010, Maher lamented the Stewart-Colbert rally and, at several points during the commentary, he sounded just like me.

You see, Republicans keep staking out position that is further and further right and then demand that the Democrats meet them in the middle. Which is now not the middle anymore.

Sound familiar? It should because I've been saying it for years now. In a non Bizzaro world, I am center left. In a world that has been consumed by the right wing blogsphere and the likes of pathological ideologues like Thomas Sowell, I am condemned as a communist.

Of course, it's not entirely their fault.

And the biggest mistake of modern media has been this notion of balance for balance's sake; that the left is just as cruel and violent as the right; that reverse racism is just as damaging as racism.

Until more people stand up and call the Right for what it is now, we will continue to have this distorted view of reality. Unfortunately, this is going to either require large quantities of cash or for people not care about cash and actually think. The latter is going to be a tough row to hoe.

The simple fact is that these people have convinced millions of American citizens that donating money to rich people is a good thing. And protecting the wealth of rich people against the Big Bad Wolf (government) is the very definition of freedom. Talk about useful idiots....

Here's the full clip:

Martin Luther King spoke on that mall in the capital, and he didn't say, "Remember, folks, those sheriffs with with the fire hoses and the German Shepherds, they had a point too!" No. He said, "I have a dream. They have a nightmare."

Indeed. Make no mistake about it. It IS a nightmare. Like Bill, I'm through pretending.

The Fact Free Zone

I've been quite amused watching the feud between Sarah Palin and the Wall Street Journal. It's a pretty good indicator as to what her presidency might be like.

Air Force General: Madam President., here are the facts. The F-22 can't land on aircraft carriers. It's land based.

President Palin (winking): Oh...c'mon there now, General. Let's just hook up a couple of static lines and we'll be good to betcha!

It still amazes me that people think she is qualified to be president.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Funnies

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why We Fight

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
----General Dwight David Eishenhower

Find a veteran today...take their hand...thank them for the service.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WTF Has Obama Done?

Extended benefits of same sex partners of federal employees.

In A Nutshell

If an alien were to land on our planet and wonder what the difference between a Democrat and a Republican was in how they governed, Andy at summed it up perfectly the other day.

The Democratic Party wants government to help the sick, the weak, the poor, and the middle class in their perpetual struggle for a better life against powerful forces that want to exploit them. The Republicans oppose this and believe it is "every man for himself." They want a smaller government that intrudes less in people's lives (except when it comes to anything touching sex, like abortion and homosexuality, in which case the government should dictate acceptable behavior).

I suppose I get why people are against abortion because they see it as murder. That's fine. But why all the anti-contraception stuff then? More importantly, why do they care so much about gay marriage? It makes no sense to me whatsoever coming from the same crowd who is pathologically against government intrusion into people's lives.

In our state we are currently going through yet another recount. Should the battle drag on past January, Tim Pawlenty has vowed to stay on as governor with the Republicans having won back both houses in the state legislature. Their first priority?

A state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

WTF Has Obama Done?

Tax Cuts for up to 3.5 million small businesses to help pay for employee health coverage.

The Sharia Strawman

A judge has blocked the so-called "Sharia law" amendment in Oklahoma. This law, supposedly intended to prevent Sharia and foreign law from taking hold in America, was never about that. It was always about inflaming the electorate, raising up a bogeyman that never existed. In short, another Republican election stunt.

The law, called State Question 775, forbids courts “from considering or using international law” and “from considering or using Sharia Law.”

The US legal system is based on Anglo-Saxon common law. Many of the original thirteen colonies have clauses in their constitutions stating that British common law should be used where state and federal laws have no precedents. The Northwest Ordinance passed by the Congress of the Confederation (the interim Congress before the Constitution was enacted) in 1787 said that common law would be used to adjudicate cases. Every state in the Union uses common law except Louisiana, which uses Napoleonic law.

For centuries -- before and ever since the Revolution -- American courts have cited English common law cases -- international law -- in their decisions. That means that it has always been perfectly reasonable for American judges to cite common law decisions from England, Scotland and Wales. It's also reasonable to consider common law decisions from other common law nations, which include Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Ghana, Cameroon, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Australia. And since Louisiana is based on Napoleonic law, it's reasonable for them to cite decisions from France and French colonies.

If Oklahoma wants to forbid courts from considering decisions in China, Russia, Myanmar, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Burkina Faso, that's one thing -- we don't have any legal history with those countries. But you just can't toss out four centuries of American judicial precedent because you hate Muslims and "activist judges."

But what about Sharia law? In the original case that sparked this whole mess, a judge decided against a restraining order a wife requested against her abusive husband. The judge said the man was abiding by his Muslim beliefs regarding spousal duties.

First, this decision was overturned. So the application of Sharia law in New Jersey? Not happening.

Second, and more importantly, his decision was not based on Sharia law. This was based on the man's belief. If that man was a Christian or Jew who believed the same thing (and there are plenty of them), the judge would have ruled the same. Courts often take into account the beliefs and fears of the individuals when making decisions and imposing sentences. For example, in many jurisdictions you can shoot someone in cold blood if you are afraid. Don't believe it? Well, consider the case of Yoshihiro Hattori, the Japanese kid who was shot and killed in Louisiana one Halloween. The police didn't even think the shooter should be charged. He was finally tried and acquitted because Louisiana lets you shoot burglars, which of course the Japanese kid was not. But the killer thought he was, and was afraid. So he got 007 status.

Finally, some judges are, to put it kindly, loathe to grant restraining orders against husbands who demand spousal benefits. They pretend that the courts shouldn't get involved in family disputes. So they reach for any handy reason to give for why they think the man should get his way. The growing number of dead wives is a testament to this short-sightedness.

So, if the danger of Sharia law having any effect in Oklahoma is nil, why did they bring this up? Was Rex Duncan, the Oklahoma representative who authored the amendment, woefully ignorant of the huge body of international Anglo-Saxon common law precedents cited in American jurisprudence? Or did he knowingly and willfully ignore this and press ahead with this amendment because it serves his political purposes? The same purposes that were served by all the screaming about the Ground Zero mosque? Which, by the way, isn't a mosque (it has basketball courts!) and isn't at Ground Zero.

It's one thing to spout lies and nonsense on FOX News to get your guys elected. But messing with the Constitution of your state to score political points is unethical, immoral and downright dangerous.

Monday, November 08, 2010

WTF Has Obama Done?

Starting today, and going into the foreseeable future, will be a new prologue to each post. WTF has Obama done so far? is a very wonderful web site that has been making the rounds on FaceBook and it's just too good to not do a similar deal here.

So, just like a "thought of the day" or a "word of the day," I will be showcasing our president's accomplishments here. Today's WTF...

Established a Credit Card Bill of Rights, preventing credit card companies from imposing arbitrary rate increases on customers.

Saving Capitalism

Beginning when in the middle of FDR's first term, strict regulation and oversight of the financial sector of this country began. For nearly five decades, as a result of these policies, our nation's economy suffered no serious financial crises.

But then an era of deregulation began and financial crises have now become a cyclical thing. We have seen several over the last three decades and will continue to see them even with the new financial reform bill passed by the Democrats in Congress and President Obama. Certainly the bill is a start but it's nowhere close to the barriers we need to break the deadly interconnectivity between the various financial institutions in this country. The massive tide of greed and OCD we have in our culture towards money will be an Everest like mountain to conquer.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that deans and professors of our country's most respected economics schools (Harvard, Columbia, Yale) are all whores for the private financial sector--filling up the minds of students with drivel about the benefits of a truly free and unregulated market. The amount of money that these men make from the likes of AIG and Goldman Sachs in sitting on their boards is in direct conflict with their duty, as educators, to be impartial and unbiased when assessing economic trends.

These professors, along with their partners in crime (literally) on Wall Street, have set up a narrative which essentially paints the Democrats, and their leader President Obama, as being socialists who want to redistribute wealth and destroy free market capitalism. Ironic, because it was these same people who begged the United States government to be bailed out of their mess created by blind greed and compulsion. But this is a small irony compared to one very massive and titanic fact.

President Obama saved capitalism.

In a recent piece in the New York Times, Timothy Egan successfully argues that this is exactly what happened.

Suppose you had $100,000 to invest on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated....As of election day, Nov. 2, 2010, your $100,000 was worth about $177,000 if invested strictly in the NASDAQ average for the entirety of the Obama administration, and $148,000 if bet on the Standard & Poors 500 major companies. This works out to returns of 77 percent and 48 percent.

Not bad, hmmm? Imagine investing that money in January of 2007 and seeing the result on Election Day 2008. The drop would give even the strongest heart great pains.

Of course, markets aren't entirely a measure of what drives our economy, as Egan points out. So let's take a look at the banks and the auto industry--the "two motors that drive our economy."

The banking system was resuscitated by $700 billion in bailouts started by Bush (a fact unknown by a majority of Americans), and finished by Obama, with help from the Federal Reserve. It worked. The government is expected to break even on a risky bet to stabilize the global free market system. Had Obama followed the populist instincts of many in his party, the underpinnings of big capitalism could have collapsed. He did this without nationalizing banks, as other Democrats had urged.

These are indisputable facts. What is also not up for debate in how thankless the banks are. They know that they were part of the problem but don't want to admit to it. Nor do they want to admit that this small form of socialism saved their asses.

Saving the American auto industry, which has been a huge drag on Obama’s political capital, is a monumental achievement that few appreciate, unless you live in Michigan. After getting their taxpayer lifeline from Obama, both General Motors and Chrysler are now making money by making cars. New plants are even scheduled to open. More than 1 million jobs would have disappeared had the domestic auto sector been liquidated.

Also, completely indisputable facts although I'm sure many who are highly emotional and sensitive about the government will try.

“An apology is due Barack Obama,” wrote The Economist, which had opposed the $86 billion auto bailout. As for Government Motors: after emerging from bankruptcy, it will go public with a new stock offering in just a few weeks, and the United States government, with its 60 percent share of common stock, stands to make a profit. Yes, an industry was saved, and the government will probably make money on the deal — one of Obama’s signature economic successes.

Interest rates are at record lows. Corporate profits are lighting up boardrooms; it is one of the best years for earnings in a decade.

Profits indeed. Corporations are borrowing at record low rates but they aren't hiring. That's where the problem lies. Why is this? Well, greed is the overriding factor. The real reason, though, is they are seeing how long they can hold out on jobs and hopefully force the federal government to ease the new (and paltry) regulations. They want to see if they can get away with it and the latest election proves that they just might. The champions of deregulation have won again...even though that is the EXACT reason why things got so fucked up in the first place.

Really? Huh. I thought the Democrats were destroying capitalism and redistributing wealth. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Profits have surged 62 percent from the start of 2009 to mid-2010, according to the Commerce Department. That is faster than any other year and a half in the Fabulous ’50s, the Go-Go ’60s or the booms under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton

Under another president, especially a Republican president, the data on corporate profits would be envied. George W. Bush, who dedicated a good deal of his presidency to tax cuts aimed at boosting business profits, probably would have loved such results. It took Bush nearly four years to post the gains that Obama has managed in less than half the time.

To answer the first question, yes, he does deserve the credit. The more accurate question is why isn't he getting it? The answer, thankfully, is simple.

His opponents don't like him, they hate being wrong, their chief goal is to win the argument regardless of facts, and they want him to fail. In other words, their frustration, which extends to many more emotional issues than just this list (more on that later), propels them to very narrow minded thinking. This tunnel vision is the guide to their pathological ideology.

Obama is wrong. No. Matter. What.

Egan carries this idea further.

All of the above is good for capitalism, and should end any serious-minded discussion about Obama the socialist. But more than anything, the fact that the president took on the structural flaws of a broken free enterprise system instead of focusing on things that the average voter could understand explains why his party was routed on Tuesday. Obama got on the wrong side of voter anxiety in a decade of diminished fortunes.

The three signature accomplishments of his first two years — a health care law that will make life easier for millions of people, financial reform that attempts to level the playing field with Wall Street, and the $814 billion stimulus package — have all been recast as big government blunders, rejected by the emerging majority.

But each of them, in its way, should strengthen the system. The health law will hold costs down, while giving millions the chance at getting care, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Financial reform seeks to prevent the kind of meltdown that caused the global economic collapse. And the stimulus, though it drastically raised the deficit, saved about 3 million jobs, again according to the CBO. It also gave a majority of taxpayers a one-time cut — even if 90 percent of Americans don’t know that, either.

I disagree with him on the financial reform package in light of the evidence presented in Inside Job. But the fact remains that the president took all of the actions that he did to save capitalism-just as FDR did with even more stringent regulations.

And, even though no one has noticed yet, he has accomplished that goal.

They will whine a fierce storm, the manipulators of great wealth. A war on business, they will claim. Not even close. Obama saved them, and the biggest cost was to him.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Perils of Imprisoning Illegal Aliens

Benson, Arizona is the theme song for the cult classic film Dark Star, produced by John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon (of Aliens fame). It's not all that far from Tombstone. It was also the proposed site of a prison for women and children.

Yeah, a prison for women and children. According to Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, last year two men came to him to propose building a private prison to house illegal immigrants. You see, unbeknownst to Nichols, illegal immigrants were about to become big business in Arizona.

This was before all the noise caused by Arizona passing the "driving while Hispanic" law. Somehow these two guys knew that there was going to be a big demand for imprisoning women and children.

According to NPR's research, private prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America had a hand in writing Arizona's immigration law. The law was drafted last December in Washington by ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). This organization consists of conservative legislators, including Sen. Russell Pearce of Arizona, who sponsored the immigration law, and has members like Reynolds Tobacco, ExxonMobil, NRA and Corrections Corporation of America.

ALEC called the law the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act." This was the same name as the law signed by Jan Brewer that has caused such a stir. It appears that private companies are pushing this whole anti-immigrant thing just to make a buck. And they are disgustingly coy about it.

From the NPR story:

In May, The Geo Group [another private prison corporation] had a conference call with investors. When asked about the bill, company executives made light of it, asking, "Did they have some legislation on immigration?"

After company officials laughed, the company's president, Wayne Calabrese, cut in.

"This is Wayne," he said. "I can only believe the opportunities at the federal level are going to continue apace as a result of what's happening. Those people coming across the border and getting caught are going to have to be detained and that for me, at least I think, there's going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do."

Opportunities that prison companies helped create.

Private prison corporations -- and to be fair, prison guard unions -- have been pushing for harsher punishments for decades, to keep their prisons filled. The draconian drug laws we have on the books fill our prisons with non-violent drug offenders who are quickly turned into hardened criminals by their stints in prison. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and coincidentally, we have 264 private prisons.

Of course Pearce and CCA deny the company had any hand in this legislation. But thirty of the 36 sponsors of the Arizona law got money from private prison companies. Two of Jan Brewer's advisors are former prison company lobbyists.

And the whole thing is kind of weird because most people think that when you catch illegal immigrants you just send them back to where they came from and you're done with them. But no, there are billions of dollars to be made while warehousing men, women and children. Billions of dollars that you and I are paying to hunt down guys who just want to make 5 bucks an hour picking tomatoes, which coincidentally keeps you from paying 10 bucks a pound for tomatoes.

You can bicker about how inefficient government-run prisons are. But in the end, it just seems wrong for companies to profit from other people's misery. Because we all know that if there's a profit motive someone is going to take advantage of it. And don't think it hasn't already happened, it has: former Wilkes-Barre, PA judge Mark Ciavarella pleaded guilty in 2009 for accepting kickbacks to send kids to a private for-profit juvenile correctional facility. Ciavarella was finally exposed when he sent a high-school girl to the correctional facility for three months for making a MySpace parody of an assistant principal.

I'm not suggesting that CCA's hand in drafting the legislation was illegal. But why are they trying to keep it secret? Why are they afraid of letting the rest of us know the truth? Why do so many conservatives who complain about government spending always want to funnel more and more government spending into companies like CCA, Blackwater -- excuse me, Xe Services, Halliburton, and Bechtel?

Just as there are places where the government shouldn't intrude, there are places private corporations should stay out of, prisons being one of those places. Inflicting punishment on human beings shouldn't be part of any corporation's bottom line.

Oh, and if you haven't seen Dark Star, it's a hoot: a low-budget science fiction spoof that hilariously shows the perils of imprisoning illegal aliens.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Can someone please inform the...oh...I don't know....ENTIRE COUNTRY....that the Democrats held onto the Senate? Apparently our "liberal" media seem to be under the impression that Mitch McConnell is the new majority leader in the Senate. They are covering all of his latest statements as if he was releasing some news about Michael Jackson or Anna Nicole Smith.

Actually, someone should tell him that Harry Reid is still the boss over there (by the exact 53-47 margin that predicted b to the w) and the House can try to pass all the bills it wants but they have to go through the Senate as well. While we are on the topic of Reid, if the voters sent the message that they were rejecting Obama and the Democrats, why did he win? And by such a large margin in a state that is purple to red? Why are the Democrats still running the Senate? I'll the GOP props for the shellacking in the House but they hardly won a mandate given the results in the Senate.

Friday, November 05, 2010

What Is Karl Rove Afraid of?

Last week the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving a Minnesota law that requires disclosure of corporate spending. The suit was filed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayer's League and a travel agency. This is one of the few reasonable decisions made by this court in a very long time.

The law is the same one that revealed Target donated money to a conservative organization called MNForward to support Tom Emmer, the Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota. Several groups protested Target's donation -- which have usually been to worthy non-partisan causes -- because of Emmer's anti-gay stance.

The basis of MCCL's claim is that if people can find out who is anonymously donating money to political causes the privacy of the contributors will be violated and they will be harassed and intimidated. They trot out the protests and threats of boycotts against Target as evidence of this.

MCCL is an anti-abortion group. And anti-abortion groups know a thing or two about privacy violation, harassment and intimidation. Anti-abortion groups stage protests in front of abortion clinics, haranguing and video-taping women who enter the clinics -- even if those women are going there for prenatal checkups for babies they're planning to keep. Anti-abortion groups stand on street corners displaying disgusting giant posters of dead babies, and drive trucks with mobile billboards of the same dead babies haranguing passers-by with loudspeakers (I was exposed to this during the 2008 Republican National Convention). They harass doctors, following them home, staging protests outside their houses, calling them at all hours of the night. They post "wanted" posters of doctors who perform abortions in public places, giving their home and work addresses. Such doctors have been assassinated by nut-jobs afterwards, but that isn't the fault of the person who posted the wanted poster, now is it?

It is particularly galling that organizations that regularly violate the privacy of women in their most vulnerable moments should demand privacy for the fatcats who bankroll their program of intimidation and harassment.

CEOs now regularly make contributions to political campaigns and "non-profit action groups" without announcing it to their shareholders. At a minimum there should be a national law that requires corporations to disclose all corporate and union campaign contributions to all shareholders and union members, who as owners of the corporation or members of the union have the right to know when their company or union is being used to back one political cause or another. Better would be a law that requires immediate disclosure of all such donations to a national database that can be searched by the public. A law that requires approval of such expenditures by shareholders or union members is out of line: that's what elections to the board of directors or union leadership are for.

Unions are already publicly acknowledging their roles -- unions like AFSCME (#1 in independent election expenditures last week), NEA (#5) and SEIU (#4) are spending a lot of money this election cycle. But corporations are hiding behind the Chamber of Commerce (#2) and Karl Rove's shadow Republican National Committe (#3). But there are hundreds of organizations like MNForward in other states that are receiving secret corporate donations. Corporations are in all likelihood vastly outspending unions because they are so much bigger and wealthier. But of course we can't know for sure because they cower behind the curtain of anonymity.

Finally, there's been a stink about foreign donations to the US Chamber of Commerce, which of course is illegal. The right is insisting that there's no proof that the law is being broken. Of course, without any disclosure laws it's hard to come by proof. Which brings up the right's age-old argument, which they usually trot out when arguing that evidence found by illegal searches by cops should be used in trials: if you haven't done anything wrong, why are you afraid to let us search your car?

This is generally not seen to be hypocritical by the right. Why? The guy whose car the cops search illegally is usually some low-life Chicano, black dude or stupid white trash in a broken-down 82 Eldorado, who the cops are convinced is a drug user or dealer, while the contributors to Rove's war-chest and the Tea Party front organizations are guys like the Koch brothers (whose company paid the largest fine ever -- at that time -- for illegally discharging millions of gallons of oil into ponds, streams, lakes and bays) or Don Blankenship (the Massey Energy CEO who bought his own Virginia Supreme Court judge for a paltry $3 million).

If Karl Rove hasn't done anything wrong, why is he afraid to tell us who's giving him all that money?