Category Archives: politics

99% certain…

When I first became aware of Occupy Wall Street, I thought it was laughable. A group of people with no clear common goal, staging a protest against anything and everything. How is that going to accomplish anything? But it’s not only lasting, it’s spreading. Contrary to my initial belief, maybe disorganized unfocused unhappiness with the status quo really is the one thing 99% of us can agree on. OK, there’s far less than a 99% approval rating of the protests, but I think there’s a broad base of sympathy.

Three things that I think need saying:

1) The 1% seem to not really be paying them any mind. I wonder if they’ll keep making light of the situation until the guillotines are constructed. Ah, but the protests will probably remain peaceful and ergo really not get very much serious attention.

2) The conservative talking heads are largely (all?) dragging out the very tired and very untrue “un-
American” argument. Give it a rest, guys. Nobody with half a brain believes that protesting is un-American. The United States of America was formed the day a bunch of protestors drew up the Declaration of Independence.

3) There seem to be a significant number of folks online sitting on their asses making fun of these people. These people who, I might point out, got off their asses to go do something in an effort to make the world a better place. Think about that before you say anything further. Get-off-your-ass activism > sit-on-your-ass derision.

Price Check on Aisle 1

Happy New Year, everybody. Yeah, I’m a bit late, and yeah, I totally blew last year’s resolution to blog more often. It’s not for a lack of things to write about, it’s purely for lack of organizational skill.

 

So anyhow… Michigan’s got a new governor. I’ll reserve judgment for later, but here’s an interesting tidbit: He’s trying to remove an outdated law that costs businesses money, and the unions are fighting against it.

 

The article’s headline would have you believe he’s going to do away with price tags, but he’s doing no such thing. He’s doing away with a law that requires items to be individually priced. There’s a difference there. If price tags go away, it’s not his doing. Yell at the manager of the store you shop at.

 

The one decent argument against this is that it puts more of an onus on the customer to make sure he isn’t getting ripped off at the register, but as the story points out, price tags didn’t actually stop the rip-offs.

longtime Attorney General Frank Kelley, who made an annual rite of running undercover operations and busting stores where the price charged was higher than the price marked

The union argument is crap. I don’t believe anybody gets paid solely to put price tags on items, and even if they do,  why should there be a law that exists just to guarantee their job? Go get another job. Or, again, tell management why they should continue the practice of pricing items even though it isn’t required by law. We seem to have this mindset that everything must be either forced or forbidden by law. Knock it off.

Is this politics, or “reality” TV?

First some Republican douche yells “Liar!” in the middle of a presidential speech to congress. Now a Democratic representative goes over-the-top on Cheney:

“I have trouble listening to what [Cheney] says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he’s talking,” the Florida Democrat said on MSNBC’s Hardball Friday night. “But my response is this: he’s just angry because the president doesn’t shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?”

It’s funny, but come on… You’ve been elected to do a job, not make jokes and grab the media spotlight. There’s more than enough ways to attack Cheney on merit, without resorting to childish name-calling. But, then again, maybe that’s what the voting public really responds to….

Slow news week

There’s a huge fuss this week over the President sitting down for a beer with Gates and the cop who arrested him. It’s bad enough that this occasion warrants at least one headline per day. Now there’s a whole new pointless argument to cover: what beer will they drink?

The White House, intelligently and thoughtfully, is planning to serve each of the 3 gentlemen whatever they prefer. Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal wants the White House to serve Sam Adams to everybody, even if none of them like it. Way to grandstand, Rep. Neal! Let’s take an over-hyped event and use that to political and economic advantage!

Sam Adams, of course, had to take advantage of this by saying they would (if they could, which they can’t, due to time constraints) make a special beer just for this event.

Other, completely unrelated breweries are trying to cash in, too:
Dan Kenary, president of Harpoon Brewery, told the paper they are working every “back-door channel” the company has.

Yeah. Because that’s what’s important… Fuck the issues of racial tension and profiling. Let’s market our beer!

FYI: Obama prefers Bud Light (and I lose some more respect for him), Gates wants Red Stripe or Beck’s (better), and the cop wants Blue Moon (finally, a decent beer).

Sam Adams would be a good choice, by the way… I just think giving them what they want is better, and pandering to companies in your constituency is just sleazy politics.

O, no! I’m losing hope…

I was heartened when one of the first moves Obama made after taking office was to put into motion the closing of Gitmo, with the underlying presumption of finally putting these people on trial for their crimes. Over the weekend, though, things took a change for the worse. Now instead of holding suspects without bail or trial for years on an Army base in Cuba, we’re going to hold suspects without bail or trial for a “prolonged” period of time on U.S. soil. I’m deeply disappointed in the man I helped elect. I was hoping an end to the Bush era would also be an end to unconstitutional detaiment of suspects without trial. But I guess once the government successfully robs the people of their rights, it’s loathe to return those rights…

“such detention is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world.”
— Senator Russ Feingold

“If they cannot be convicted, then you release them. That’s what it means to have a justice system.”
— Jameel Jaffer, ACLU

Republican in denial.

Read an interesting piece on John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, today. It starts with a doozy:

“I do believe the Republican Party can be a safe place for the gay community […] the Democratic Party isn’t necessarily a better place for the gay community than the Republican Party is.”

Its’ true that the Democrats aren’t overly friendly to gay interests. We’re still waiting on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and gay marriage is often opposed with the bone of “gay civil unions” being tossed out as a peacekeeping measure. But let’s look honestly at the Republican party. They opposed gays in the military at all. They often oppose civil unions as well as marriage, and they actively seek to amend the Constitution of the United States of America to expressly remove the right to marriage from same-sex couples. So how can she say the Democratic Party “isn’t necessarily a better place”? Well, because she’s Republican, and so’s daddy. That’s how. She firmly in denial.

Next up:

“The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over.”

When did it begin? Have the Republicans apologized for lying about WMD’s in Iraq? Have they apologized for starting the war in Iraq under false pretenses? Have they apologized for torturing suspected terrorists? Have they apologized for running our economy into the ground? If they have, I must have missed it. All I hear is a bunch of denials and clinging to technicalities, and pointing the finger at others. I’m waiting for this era to begin.

“If you go to the basic beliefs of the Republican party of keeping
government out of your life, why can’t that include marriage?”

Indeed. Why also can’t it include drugs? Sex education? Birth control? Abortion?
The answer, of course, is that the Republican Party only pays lip service to this “basic belief”, and that’s all they’ve done for as long as Meghan’s been alive. She’s arguing in favor of a Republican Party that’s never actually existed in her world.

Lastly:

“It can be a party for a 24 year-old pro-sex woman. It can be,”

Sure, honey. Keep telling yourself that. But the truth is, there’s nothing pro-sex about the GOP except for certain individual politicians when they are away from their wives and/or in an airport men’s room stall. When they go to work, that all fades away.

More stupidity

The War on Drugs continues. What’s now under fire is your unemployment check, welfare, or food stamps. Proposed legislation will cut you off from your “last hope” line of income if you fail random drug screening. No mention of whether bank executives will be subjected to a piss test before getting their next billion dollars.

The problem with this plan is two-fold:

  1. The premise that people will stop doing drugs so that they continue to receive their money is flawed. Drugs are addictive. If you could just stop because you realize it’s in your best interest to do so, we wouldn’t have such a drug problem in the first place.
  2. The sentiments fueling this legislation (“not with my money” and “this isn’t going to hurt anybody who isn’t doing drugs”) ignore the fact that these people need money. And they WILL get it. If you cut them off from legitimate sources of income, they will turn to crime. Arguing that these laws wouldn’t hurt me is not going to carry much weight when I’m bleeding out from a chest wound as a drug addict makes off with my wallet.

Open for questions

Google alerted me to the government website Open For Questions, on which you can compose a question for the President, or vote on other people’s questions (to determine which will be posed to the President during the upcoming “town hall”. I like the basic idea, but as I’m going through questions and voting on them, I am increasingly dismayed by the general level of intelligence people display.

It goes above and beyond poor grammar and mis-spellings. It’s more than just Joe Schmuck asking the President to fix his own personal problem. Some questions look good until you actually think about them for a second. Take for example this gem:

“Mathematically, if you tax the spending by Americans and Corporations after issuing a stimulus package of $86k USD to each Taxpaying Family, you could end up retiring the national debt entirely and saving the world’s economy. Would you consider this?”

I’ll take it on faith that the taxes on $86k per person might wipe out the current debt (which I doubt). Unfortunately, this guy doesn’t stop to think. Taxes are never 100% (not even on AIG bonuses). Even if taxes were 100%, this plan would never do more than break even and leave us with our current amount of debt. Because that $86k per person has got to come from somewhere. (not to mention the cost of distributing the money, and the cost of collecting the taxes… so even a 100% tax would leave the nation with more debt under this plan)

Please, people… go to this site and participate, and disprove my assertion that we are a nation of idiots. Please.

Congress is too lenient, banks whine anyway.

Amid the uproar from the public about millions in bonuses to AIG executives, Congress was quick to do some political posturing. Sadly, they still didn’t do much that was right.

  1. The bill the House passed is retroactively adding a tax to money that was already paid. I’d be surprised if this survived a lawsuit. On the other hand, from my understanding of the way tax law works, they’ll have to pay up first and then fight to get their money back.
  2. Obama says, “[this] will serve as a strong signal to the executives who run these firms that such compensation will not be tolerated.” Except it’s only a 90% tax, so obviously it will be tolerated to a certain extent. Your $10million bonus is now a measly $1million bonus. Poor you.
  3. According to the NY Times, “The legislation would apply to bonuses paid to executives at companies holding at least $5 billion in bailout money”. Why? What possible reason could they have for not penalizing bonuses paid by companies that only took $4 billion? Why not just say “any company that owes bailout money”? Somebody’s protecting their special interest here.
  4. “This bill is nothing more than an attempt for everybody to cover their butt up here on Capitol Hill,” [Representative] Boehner said. “It’s full of loopholes. A lot of these people who are getting these bonuses likely live in London. And it’s not clear how raising this tax is going to recover that money.”

Of course, there’s an equal measure of contempt to be doled out to the banks here, too:

“If this stands, you will destroy the value of institutions where the government is an owner,” said Orin Kramer, who runs a hedge fund and helps oversee the New Jersey pension plan.

I’m sorry… How is preventing executives from getting bonuses far in excess of performance going to destroy the value of the institutions? The executives ruined the value of the institutions already. That’s why they needed the government money!

Bank executives, who requested anonymity because they did not want to further alienate lawmakers, said their employees were on edge and many would face severe financial hardship if they were severely taxed on money already paid.

If you’re getting millions in bonuses, don’t come crying to the taxpayers who are paying your bonuses about “financial hardship”. You’re the assholes foreclosing on our subprime mortgages. You’re lucky all you’re getting is a slap on the wrist. In days gone by, we’d have put you to the guillotine.

“If you’re a receptionist and your husband is a doctor, your $5,000 bonus just vaporized. It’s not just the C.E.O.’s.”

I’ve worked for profitable companies and never gotten anything close to a $5,000 bonus. If your failing company is giving 5 grand to every receptionist, maybe that’s part of your problem. Again, quit whining. You’re whining to the people you’ve fucked over. We don’t want to hear it.

President E.F. Hutton

If you’re around my age, you probably remember those old commercials: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”. I don’t know where E.F. Hutton is anymore (Wikipedia informs me they’re part of Citigroup), but I do know that when Obama talks, I listen. The man is a damn good speaker, as well as being very intelligent, and generally trying to do the right thing. Today’s quote-of-the-day from the NY Times is a perfect example of why he won the election, and why he will win re-election in 4 years:

“Washington is all in a tizzy over who’s at fault,” Mr. Obama said. “Some say it’s the Democrats’ fault, the Republicans’ fault. Listen, I’ll take responsibility. I’m the president.”

Take responsibility? What the hell? Are politicians allowed to do that? Sure doesn’t seem like it, from watching most of them. He’s only been president for 2 months, so it’s highly unlikely that anything is his fault yet, but he still steps up to the plate. “My responsibility”. Because it is. Whose fault it is doesn’t matter. Just fix it.
Another, possibly even better, quote from the same article:

“What all of you know deep down — and what folks in Washington sometimes forget — is that in the end, a budget is not merely numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs,” Mr. Obama said. “It is about your lives, your families and your dreams for the future. And you didn’t send us to Washington to stand in the way of your aspirations. You didn’t send us there to say no to change — you sent us there to get things done.”