Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To POLITICO: on "Anxious Democrats"

POLITICO posted a story discussing Democrats in Congress supposedly dithering over whether to tack to the left or center in the upcoming 2010 election. I posted this in the comments:

Unlike the Republicans who must choose between their base of racists, religious extremists, and economic royalists and independents who find them morally repulsive, the Democrats could easily appeal to both their progressive base and independents by implementing progressive policies that broad majorities of Americans would support:

  • Reregulate Wall Street & prosecute and imprison those at the top who knowingly committed fraud.
  • Break up any business big enough to buy or intimidate our democracy.
  • Enact a Wall Street transaction tax steep enough to kill speculation, and force investors to place long term bets on companies they actually hope will succeed (instead of creating one pump & dump bubble after another).
  • Base our trade policy on what is good for American families, not speculators on Wall Street.
  • Pass health care reform that does more to help middle and working class families than it does to protect and enrich insurance companies.
  • Enact a separation of corporation and state when it comes to foreign policy, so we don't overthrow governments or invade countries just because some oil company, banana plantation, or sweatshop owner got their panties in a knot because the leader of a country drove a hard bargain for their natural resources or raised the minimum wage. This change alone would make it harder for terrorist groups to recruit.
  • End privatization of government functions that are invariably the result of corruption that in turn then uses our tax dollars to fund further corruption.
  • Invest more in alternative energy than we do in invading and occupying oil producing and pipeline countries. Besides giving us an endless supply of nearly free energy, it would break the power of oil companies to dictate our foreign policy and impoverish countries like Saudi Arabia that use their oil wealth fund terrorist groups.
  • Listen to teachers for advice about how to fix schools instead of scammers who hope to make money on privatizing them.
  • Legalize marijuana and deal with other illegal drugs by reducing demand and through treatment--exactly the way the wealthy and politicians deal with their kids when get caught with the stuff.

And that is the bottom line to all progressive positions. Treat your fellow citizens the way you would members of your own family, not overly indulgent, but not as sheep to be fleeced or led to the slaughter either.

If Democrats did things like this, were guided by that principle, or even appeared to be, they would not have to worry about 2010 or any election after that.

Unfortunately, by trying to split the baby between the needs of the working and middle class and the rapacious, insatiable demands of the sociopathic trust fund babies on Wall Street, they look weak and unwilling to stand up for their core principles at best, and at worst, as corrupt as the Republicans only with the lipstick of soothing social justice platitudes instead of the shrill, sharp absolutes of the religious right.

Neither option will get the Democratic base out, nor will it inspire independents to vote for Democrats unless they decide based on a coin toss.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

PROGRESSIVE DEMS: PURGE the DLC/Blue Dogs or SURGE out the door?

Surge out the door into a new progressive democratic party that is.

Progressives in the Democratic Party are faced with a serious dilemma. While it is clear that at least the majority of elected Democrats in Congress are progressives, the Blue Dog/DLC wing is more than willing to sabotage any progressive change by siding with the Republicans on all issues that have to do with money: health care insurance reform, war, the nature of any economic stimulus, Wall Street bailouts, trade, privatizing government functions to reward cronies, and after giving away the store to corporate America, claiming that spending on education, health care, social security and the like are breaking our budget (not the corporate welfare of defense spending and now direct cash surrenders to Wall Street).

Compounding this problem is that though progressives seem to be a majority of Democrats, the leadership of the Senate is not, and the leadership of the House, while nominally progressive, seems to follow their lead in many priorities.

The fact that corporate owned politicians are the functional majority even while the Democratic Party (which we wrongly assume means progressive) is the majority on paper partly explains some of the worst and otherwise inexplicable actions of the Democrats like compromising more than half way on any legislation BEFORE THEY EVEN INTRODUCE IT, which inevitably leads to negotiating a halfway okay policy down to nothing. For example, the public option was a compromise to begin with. If Congress was really interested in providing the most cost effective option, they would have started with single payer and negotiated down to a public OPTION.

They must do this because though progressives are the majority of Democrats, the DLC/Blue Dogs do not care about the success of progressive goals or even the Democratic Party--they care about who's writing the checks, now as donations and later as their employers.

In the 90s, the Republicans purged their ranks of those who wouldn't reliably vote for certain core principles. While that led to horrible policy when they were in power, if someone voted for them, they could at least know that certain things were going to happen: taxes for the rich and corporations would be lowered, businesses would be deregulated, wars would be started.

What does anyone expect when the Democrats win? That essentially the same foreign and economic policies will be pursued with a friendlier face, and maybe some modest social programs will be implemented to salve the pain of deindustrialization and outsourcing our jobs, and the maimed veterans of the corporate wars will actually get the care and benefits they were promised?

So one temptation is to try the purge, take over the party structure, favor more progressive candidates in primaries, etc. There are a couple of problems with this: the corporate candidates will always have the money and friendlier media coverage. Another is that the purge in the GOP was from less reliably corporate to MORE reliably corporate, so the money and power was on the side of the purge. That all of the replacements parrot a religious right line as well is simply a matter of sticking to a marketing strategy that worked for a couple of decades (they are probably frantically pitching new images to focus groups, like their Ayn Rand, selfish superman one). Our purge would not be guaranteed success.

A surge out the door of the party to form a new party, possibly combining with some of the smaller progressive parties of the left like the Greens, would have it's own set of problems. One is that some progressives would stay in the Democratic Pary out of inertia. Another is where the corporatist Democrats would go--to the GOP. They would not tolerate being in a powerless micro-minority party. That is not what they are paid to do. Even if a similar schism occurred in the GOP, with the teabagger know-nothings leaving the corporatists, creating a three or even four party system, the gullibility of the teabaggers shows that they will be swayed into alliances with the corporatists most of the time if a policy can be sold with fear, racism, get-rich-quick, anti-intellectual, or violent themes. And of course the corporate Dems, whether in a rump Democratic Party or as Republicans would vote with them as well, leaving us about where we are now.

I think I laid out the negatives of both options, and would definitely like to hear the problems with that analysis.

PROGRESSIVE DEMS: PURGE (the DLC/Blue Dogs) or SURGE (out the door into a PROGRESSIVE PARTY)
PURGE (the DLC/Blue Dogs)
SURGE (out the door into a PROGRESSIVE PARTY)
SUBMERGE and hope the corporatists throw us a bone if we keep quiet
Free polls from

Thursday, November 26, 2009

100,000 troops to chase 100 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan and 300 in Pakistan?

The Washington Post reported that there are 100 members of al Qaeda left in Afghanistan and about 300 in Pakistan. With Obama's troop increase to about 100,000, that will be 1,000 troops per terrorist in Afghanistan or 250 per terrorist in all of the ''AfPak'' theater.

I don't think Obama is stupid enough to believe Fox News that these guys are supermen who could punch through the concrete walls or eat the steel bars of a supermax prison like licorice or take over an airplane while handcuffed so they have to be blindfolded, stripped naked and sodomized during flights to keep them under control.

Does someone want to tell me with a straight face that we are occupying Afghanistan to prevent or punish terrorism? The Taliban are a bunch of illiterate hillbillies that have no capability to harm our troops if we don't go to them, and the rump of al Qaeda would probably need at most special forces and some predator drones to clean up--or simply tell the Saudis to stop giving them money and it won't matter how many are left. They wouldn't be able to buy a bus ticket, let alone a plane ticket to get over here.

Wouldn't it be nice if Obama told us the truth?

Afghanistan sits on a historic trade route from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean and the rest of the world. A few hundred years ago, that route carried spices, cloth, and opium. Today in addition to the income from heroin, oil and natural gas pipelines could flow through those same passes from the Caspian Sea basin as even Colin Powell's former chief of staff confirms. If we can pacify and stabilize Afghanistan, American and European companies could profit from that flow. Would the petroleum that went to the end of that pipeline end up in Europe and America? Maybe some. Most would go the emerging markets of China and India.

Would the income from those pipelines make it to the pockets of average Americans?

Sure. Didn't you get your thank you check from ExxonMobil for their new contracts in Iraq?

If we fail in Afghanistan, the oil & gas will still make it to market through a competing Iranian pipeline project which will end in Pakistan just like the US planned one through Afghanistan. Pakistan's initial agreement on the Iran pipeline is probably why we suddenly noticed terrorists there after years of ignoring their presence and their governments support of them, including Pakistan helping top al Qaeda leaders out of Tora Bora in 2001.

When Obama makes his pitch for more troops in Afghanistan, he could come clean with the American about why we are there, but if he doesn't it will be further proof that he doesn't work for us, but instead works for at least defers to the same handful of business interests that got our economy and foreign policy into its current mess.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama: LBJ without the accomplishments

Pardon me for being impolite, but if Obama signs health care reform that looks anything like the deeply compromised and watered down bills in the House and Senate, that will hardly be an accomplishment on par with starting Medicare, most of college financial aid, and finally ensuring the full civil rights of African Americans.

LBJ did all that, and people still hated him for the war, and he was unable to run for a second term of his own.

Obama won't have even the figleaf of a major domestic policy victory to cover continuing and escalating the war in Afghanistan. He will barely have an aphid on a figleaf if he keeps following the path of micro-incremental, semi-reforms of the DLC, and worse, leaving the criminals who caused our economic problems in charge of economic policy instead of throwing them off the roof of the White House.

Wall Street gets EXACTLY what they want, and we get crumbs so long as it doesn't offend Wall Street or more likely, even enriches them further. Cases in point: the no-strings attached bailouts, health care reform BIBI (By Insurance companies For Insurance companies), and now the ongoing war in Afghanistan as order by the oil & gas companies. And even during the campaign, Obama was careful to send signals to Wall Street that he wasn't going to reverse the trade agreements that have decimated our manufacturing jobs.

Obama could theoretically have taken care of average Americans AND most of big business by simply singling out a couple of bad actors in the business world, explaining how their sociopathic behavior hurts not only middle class working people but even other businesses, and then showing them NO MERCY. I would nominate the health insurance industry, big oil for their role in our wars, and of course the economic terrorists on Wall Street.

Instead, he has given all three a big sloppy kiss (do you really think Afghanistan is about terrorists not pipelines and drug money for Wall St?)

Likewise, poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want health care reform that includes a full public option that allows anyone to escape the abuses of private insurance and get into a program like Medicare. Instead, we will be required to buy insurance from those abusive companies with no discernible restraints on pricing, and only a handful will have access to a public program that will be more expensive than private insurance. Do Democrats in Congress and President Obama really think that's a formula to get re-elected? In that case, they might also think being tough on rapists would be forcing their victims to marry them.

I think Obama is a good guy, but our democracy has a serious problem when he can't take the action necessary to correct our problems for fear of offending the people who created the problem, even as their actions are likely to drag us into more debt, war, and poverty.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We need WAR TAX to force GOP to choose between war & ''no new taxes''

David Obey has stumbled upon a way to further sink the GOP.

He warned Obama that if he continued the Afghanistan War, he would institute a ''war surtax'' of 1% for most people and 5% for the wealthiest to pay for it.. He should add a bracket for businesses too.

I would formalize it and add that when ever troops are sent into harms way, the tax is triggered and stays in place until the war is over, and the rates could be adjusted annually depending on the actual cost of the war.

Bush accidentally set the precedent for this when he continually asked for war spending as supplementals instead of as part of his regular budget (so he could claim his budget wasn't creating as big a deficit as it really was).

Republicans in Congress who want to see any war continue as long as possible should be asked if they support such a proposal to pay for current and future wars or whether we should continue to charge our grandchildren for them.

The current cost of our two ongoing wars:

It was around $937 billion when I posted it, so divided by the 308 million people who live in the United States, it would be about $3000, per man, woman and child. That would be lower for most of us if we charged the wealthy a slightly higher percentage than the rest of us.

And that would be on top of what we spend on the military that's in the regular budget.

Separating war spending from the rest of the budget would force Republicans (and business-owned Democrats) to make a Sophie's Choice between two of their cherished policies: endless wars and no new taxes.

I suspect they would try to have it both ways or call for cuts in social programs instead, but since so many people are struggling right now, that might not go over so well.

It would also help people re-connect taxes to actual government action, rather than the current disconnect between what people want, and their GOP pavlovian conditioning to assume any tax increase is bad. Maybe people would start to wonder what percentage of the budget goes to other issues too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is Rahm Emanuel Karl Rove's retarded cousin?

I would submit that he is equally amoral as Karl Rove but less competent.

Rove at least seemed to have a coherent plan to keep his guy in office: smear and fear. Smear your critics, make the public and legislators fear terrorists and crossing Bush. While the corruption and incompetence of the Bushies at actually governing or conducting a war led to their eventual train wreck, Rove's smoke and mirrors were enough to get Bush into his second term.

By contrast, whatever political advice Rahm Emanuel is giving Obama seems solely designed to appeal to corporate patrons with little thought to how it will play with average Americans, particularly, no thought to how the public will react if the final form of health insurance reform is perceived as a gift to insurance companies instead of helping the rest of us.

It is really dishonest to say they are ''moderate'' or ''pragmatic'' when in reality, they are serving their corporate donors and future corporate employers rather than the wishes of their constituents.

This has been made most obvious in polls of voters in blue dogs' states and districts about the public option in health care reform: /

Even voters who reside in more conservative districts are not retarded or prefer being raped by insurance companies to having access to something like Medicare as an alternative.

In fact, one CBS poll found that even Republican voters favor a public option.

Even in places where people have drunken the conservative KoolAid and think they don't want a public option, once they had it given to them, they would probably cling to as tenaciously as the teabaggers cling to Medicare, even as they decry ''socialized medicine.''

Giving people a real public option would yield long term dividends for the Democrats.

Even severe compromises on health care would have been easier to swallow if Obama had taken swift action to punish, rein in, and neuter Wall Street--especially after giving them the second half of the Bush no strings attached bailout.

Obama has certainly done good things on less visible issues like student aid and repairing our image abroad although even the foreign affection for Obama will wear off if he continues Bush like policies in Afghanistan and starts a new Operation Condor in Latin America.

And if corporate compliant Rahm is calling the shots, that is likely to be the trajectory.

Even on the pragmatic level of giving Obama's base a reason to pound the pavement and open our wallets for him in 2012, baldly corporate first action seems stupid.

So my question is, is Rahm brilliantly playing some long game of chess on behalf of the American people, or is he so syphilictically corrupt that he can't help but do a Bush-like corporate smash-and-grab robbery of the treasury on behalf of big business?

NOTE: no offense meant to the retarded, those with syphilis, or Karl Rove

Is Rahm Emanuel more short-sighted than Karl Rove?
NO--Rahm has some brilliant strategery that hasn't played out yet
YES-- Rahm thinks he is Karl Rove, but he's really the Dem's Palin--everything he touches turns to shit
Free polls from

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jobs Program? How about a Clean Energy Conversion Corps?

President Obama has announced a forum for brainstorming on ways to create jobs.

How about a program modeled on the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression only with a more specific focus: converting our power grid to clean energy to break the backs of oil and power companies that blackmail our economy, and in the case of oil, demand our tax dollars and the lives of our troops to increase their assets?

Call it the CECC: the Clean Energy Conservation Corps.

To be most effective at meeting that goal, as much as possible, solar panels should be installed on homes rather than in large scale power plants, to make it more difficult for any one corporation to monopolize power production or game the market.

This should also be done with installers directly employed by the government, not contracted out for the simple reason that if it was contracted out, the work would go to the usual corrupt suspects, who would underpay their workers, do a shitty job, then stash as much of the money as possible in the Cayman Islands--and only bring the money back into the country to buy corrupt politicians, cocaine, and whores (and buy cocaine and whores FOR corrupt politicians).

Directly employing people by the government is also preferable to the other scam of giving tax credits to businesses that create jobs. Too often, businesses get it who are going to hire people anyway, or they do hire additional new people, they figure out how to pay them as little as possible, give them the fewest benefits, and fire them whenever they like.

A directly government run program could give pay and benefits that force the private sector to treat their employees better to compete for workers with the public sector.

I'm sure conservatives and corrupt Blue Dog Democrats will complain about the cost, but within the last year, we had both a Republican and Democratic president write blank checks to Wall Street with absolutely no strings attached, and as thanks to the American taxpayers, they went right back to shitting on us and using our money to party. No politician should ever be able to say they are worried about spending again. What they are worried about is who that spending helps: most want it to go to the already wealthy who can reward them not only with campaign donations but jobs with fat paychecks when they leave office as lobbyists, CEO's, and do-nothing board members--NOT to empower the middle class.

Capitalism can still work, but right now, corporate America, the banks, and Wall Street are like a drug or gambling addict, who hasn't admitted they have a problem and checked into treatment. We shouldn't give them any more money when it is just going to go up their nose, in their arm, or out the window in Vegas.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What kind of health care insurance reform (if any) should America have?

I know it's a little late in the process to ask, but this is just a quick reality check.

What kind of health insurance should America have?
Our current system of largely unregulated private insurance with public programs for some of the poor and elderly
Tightly regulated private insurance to prevent abuses that cost lives and cause bankruptcies
Private insurance competing with a public option that people can ONLY buy into when they have no other insurance
private insurance competing with a public option modeled on Medicare (or a part of it) that anyone could CHOOSE to buy into
ONLY government run health insurance as Canada and many other advanced Western Countries have
Government employs the doctors directly, doing away with the need for insurance as the system in Great Britain does
Free polls from

Friday, October 30, 2009

Letter to Obama: be honest about oil & gas motive for wars

Sent through the White House contact page:
President Obama,

As you are reassessing our military presence in Afghanistan, I would urge you talk frankly with the American people about the role pipelines play in our presence there, and whether that is in the interest of average Americans or just the energy companies scrambling to take business from Russia. Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson gave an excellent speech on this last week, and I was saddened that no president or cabinet member has talked this honestly about our foreign policy.

You can see his speech here.

Ironically, T. Boone Pickens made a similar point recently when he said if we pull out of Iraq, the Chinese will get all the best contracts. I think the American people should hear from our leaders that our troops are being used as leverage in oil company negotiations, don't you?

Pickens failed to point out that China would be getting those contracts without losing the life of one of their troops or taking the life of a single Iraqi. Maybe if our military wasn't available to our oil companies to enforce contract terms to their liking, they would learn how to negotiate as well as the Chinese.

The grown up lie about Iraq and Afghanistan is that we need those oil and gas resources, so we must kill and occupy to get it. But China and other countries are showing that's not necessary for access--you just have to make a deal favorable to both sides. The only thing that could be hurt by that approach is oil company profits margins, but we would save untold billions in unnecessary wars and would stop earning the animosity of people whose families we kill on behalf of Unocal, Chevron, and Exxon.

To the extent that you and your administration are not putting these business motives for our wars front and center in the public debate, you are following the Bush administration example and depriving the public of the chance to make an informed decision and neutering our democracy.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VIDEO: OIL, FOREIGN POLICY & DEMOCRACY Colin Powell's former chief of staff tell the truth

Colin Powell's former chief of staff confirms what those who have read history know: we are in the region to control their oil ( and I would add not particularly for the benefit of the American people).

Part 2 of this lecture lays out oil and pipeline motives of our current policies from the edge of the Mediterranean to Pakistan.

Part 3 describes the implications for our democracy that the real motives for coups, occupation, and wars for oil are not discussed with the public.

The first part is very good too, but the other two are essential to understanding what are government is doing.

When our President Bush and now unfortunately President Obama talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, and our role in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Persian Gulf, they tell us fairy tales about fighting terrorism, spreading democracy, and stopping small nations from getting nukes, each is a demonstrable lie that makes us look like imbeciles for not tar and feathering and running out of office anyone who repeats that line of shit.

If we were after terrorists, we would choke off their supply of money, hunt down members of their groups with the CIA, special forces, and Predator drones. Then we would figure out how to make joining those groups less attractive by reducing grievances in the region that drive people into those groups.

One of those grievances is lack of democracy. We don't have to invade and occupy countries to spread democracy, we can simply turn off the supply of money and weapons to dictators in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and in the past, Pakistan (oddly, once that country reverted to democracy from a dictatorship, they moved from our buddy list to shit list, and we noticed the terrorists who were there all along).

Likewise, while we should discourage nuclear proliferation, any country getting nukes will not be a threat to us. We have thousands and every world leader knows that if they launch one at us or give them to terrorists to detonate here, before one mushroom cloud clears here, their country will be burned off the map.

By contrast, Wilkerson discusses the drive to control the world's declining oil supplies, and two ways to deal with that end:

  • having a plan to switch to other kinds of energy in an orderly fashion
  • scrambling to control the last barrels then scrambling to replace oil when it's finally gone
He made it clear we are currently pursuing the second course.

We must ask the White House and our representatives in the House and Senate to cut the shit and be honest about what we are doing there, who demanded the action, and what benefit if any it will give average Americans, so we can decide how much more of our tax dollars and how many more of our troops we want to die there.

Wilkerson's bio & background on talk