Who IS this guy?!
Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)
Monday, May 31, 2010
(We're up to 1948 - 2 Golds, No Silvers)
The Herb Pennock Gold Start #17: The National Debt Clock
This may seem a bit odd for a liberal call out, no? I mean - isn't it the Right that's always harping about the deficit? Aren't they the ones that want to cut spending? Yeah. If you believe that. I've got some tax services to sell you. The Right (Republicans, Conservtaives, etc...) only give two shits about the deficit when the DEMOCRATS are in power. I've done some write-ups on this before. Reagan, Bush'41, Bush'34 - it's THESE guys who creatd and perpetuated the problem. The National didn't budge, after you adjust for inflation, between Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter - and Carter's last two budgets ended up with surpluses. Clinton's did too, even after inheriting record debt from Bush'41 at the start of his term. The jury's still out on Obama, and it's the BUSH tax cuts that need to be repealed first, once the economy is really going again. In any case, I think the Debt and Deficit is every bit as much a Republican problem, more so actually, as it is a Democratic one. What you here from the right is no more than hypocritcal posturing. And this IS an important issue.
The Pie Traynor Gold Star #18: The Daily Kos
At one point, I think I viewed Kos as kind of a somewhat more underground, more 'real' version of HuffPo; sans all the celebrity crap that brought the latter farther into the forefront at the cost of diminshed quality and seriousness. Of course, once you're under Bill O'Rielly skin the way Kos has gotten, you've pretty much arrived at the forefront of liberal blogging. There's some really great stuff there. And I dig almost anything that get's under the skin of conservatives as much as Kos does.
I'm STILL in the process of adding my HOF to the main page of the blog, but, for reference, previous inductees include:
Ty Cobb's GOLD STAR #1: Media Matters for America
Babe Ruth's GOLD STAR #2: The Skeptic's Dictionary
Honus Wagner's GOLD STAR #3: Snopes
Walter Johnson GOLD STAR #4: Armchair Subversive
Christy Mathewson GOLD STAR #5: Humanism by Joe
Cy Young's GOLD STAR #6: The American Prospect
Nap Lajoie's GOLD STAR #7: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Tris Speaker's GOLD STAR #8: Rational Wiki
Pete Alexander's GOLD STAR #9: Republican Offenders
George Sisler's GOLD STAR #10: Newshounds
Willie Keeler's GOLD STAR #11: Newscorpse
Eddie Collins' GOLD STAR #12: Wikipedia
Lou Gehrig's GOLD STAR #13: FactCheck.org
Rogers Hornsly's GOLD STAR #14: Election-Projection
Michey Cochrane's GOLD STAR #15: Think Progress
Frankei Frisch's GOLD STAR #16: People for the American Way
- and -
Hoss Radbourne's SILVER STAR #1: FAILBlog
Cap Anson's SILVER STAR #2: Some Grey Bloke
Buck Ewing's SILVER STAR #3: Sore Thumbs
Roger Bresnahan's SILVER STAR #4: The Dictatorship.com
Dan Brouthers' SILVER STAR #5: Seanbaby's Super Friends Page
Fred Clarke's SILVER STAR #6: Item Not as Described
Jimmy Collins' SILVER STAR #7: I-am-bored.com
Ed Delahanty's SILVER STAR #8: Baseball-Reference.com
Hugh Duffy's SILVER STAR #9: Menage a 3
Hughie Jennings' SILVER STAR #10: YU&ME: Dream
King Kelly's SILVER STAR #11: Anime News Network
Jessie Burkett's SILVER STAR #11: Ugliest Tattoos, A Gallery of Regret.
Frank Chance's SILVER STAR #13: Netflix
Johnny Evers' SILVER STAR #14: Very Demotivational
Joe McGinnity's SILVER STAR #16: Runescape
Joe Tinker's SILVER STAR #17: Baseball Almanac
Rube Waddell's SILVER STAR #18: Sporcle
Ed Walsh's SILVER STAR #19: Cracked
Jim O'Rourke's TIN STAR : Conservapedia
Jack Chesbro's CARBON STAR: The Global Warming Petition Project
Eddie Plank's LEAD STAR: FoxNation
Tommy McCarthy's PYRITE STAR #15: The Drudge Report
Thursday, May 27, 2010
So to help anyone out who just can't understand it anymore, I've identified four degrees of conservative reasoning. Four levels that can help you gauge the exact level of insanity we've reached on any given issue or discussion...
Level One: Bill O’Rielly / John Boehner - Mitch McConnell
Person A tries to argue a conservative position. Person B refutes their argument with facts, research, evidence, reason and logic.
The liberal concludes that person A is wrong.
The conservative concludes that person B is liberal.
Level Two: Sean Hannity / Trent Lott - Tom DeLay
Person A, in attempting to defend the conservative position, is caught in a demonstrable lie by person B.
The liberal concludes that, as the argument was predicated on a falsehood, person A must be wrong.
The conservative concludes that since person A is conservative, person B must be wrong.
Level Three: Rush Limbaugh / James Inhofe - Jim Bunning
Person B further presents person A with strong, scientific evidence that his (conservative) position is wrong.
The liberal concludes that the conservative position is weak because it’s not supported by evidence
The conservative concludes that the evidence is weak, since it doesn’t support the conservative position.
Level 4: Glenn Beck / Michelle Bachman - Sarah Palin
Person A continues to spout falsehoods and starts displaying hypocritical, faux outrage over non-stories, made up allegations and paranoid nonsense. Person B continues to demonstrate that each point, in turn is becoming increasingly desperate and absurd.
The liberal wonders why anyone is still listening to person A.
The conservative wonders why person B hates his country so much.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
It seems to me that a good biograophy, regardless of the subject and independant of any other property, should endevour to present a full, well rounded view of the person. It should talk about their great triumphs but also honestly explore their trials and tribulations. If it lionizes (or vilifies) the subject, it should do so while at the same time HUMANIZING them. To do that, you have to explore their motivations, their conflicts, their strengths and thier flaws openely and honestly without regard for or fear of what you might uncover. It is not an easy task, but it is the only way to produce any kind of meaningful work.
Becuase no one should feel so strongly about a person that their biography reads like 400 pages of fauning and ass-kissing, (or a vilification of all of their critics.) For example - my post a week or so ago about Harry Chapin. Now THAT was pretty fauning. Could I write a more extensive work, and actually take a more critical look at my hero? Yes. I could explore his flaws. I could explore his failures. And in exploring those I would only paint a more complete and human picture of this person that I find so amazing. For example: He worked himself to DEATH, leaving basically no money set aside for any kind of long-term support for his charities. He was DRIVEN, but he was RECKLESS in his planning. See? It's not that hard. Another example: Jim Rice is my favorite baseball-player. If I were to write a biography of him, it would include not only the amazing highlights, but also the flaws - how later in career he jealously guarded his position on the team, alienated the younger players, and not beign a team player. Does the fact that he's HUMAN diminish him in my mind? Not a bit. Even if I were writing a bio on HITLER... Does it serve any purpose to just wrtie another 400 pages talking about how evil and crazy he was? Not really - we already KNOW that! For any work about Hitler to be meaningful at this point, it would have to endevour to humanize him somehow - to look at what was going on at a very personal level. I'm not saying it would have to be an apologist work or a revisionist one; only that 400 pages of "Look how bad this guy was" wouldn't CONTRIBUTE anything to the conversation that's not already there. It would have no raison d'être; no reason to exsist.
Now... An AUTO-Biography, that's different. You might expect an auto-biography to be a bit more self-serving. It would still be crap, but it would hardly be surprising. Likewise, publishing one's memoires, even if done by someone else, you wouldn't be surprised to find that to be a one-sided presentation. But a BIOGRAPHY should not read as a 400-page advirtisment for a person. Hopefully at this point you understand and on some level agree with what I'm saying.
Because that's why I feel that Zev Chafet's biography of Rush Limbaugh, One Man Army is beyond crap: it has no reason to exsist. It's nothing by a 400 page advirtisment for [Limabugh.] Now, before anyone starts to think that I'd feel this way about ANY work that didn't outright vilify Limbaugh, please go back and consider what I've said above. There is little doubt that Rush Limbaugh has accomplished astounding things. That he is a phenonmenon. That, for better or worse, he is a powerful voice for conservatism. If you want to give some sense of the man from a positive standpoint, it would be pretty easy from the POV of simply looking at what he's accomplished. It becomes utter crap however when you start getting into to the well-known controversies and not only present only his side of thigns -his VERSION of things, more accurately - but do so as strongly or even more strongly than the man himself would! MMFA has a pretty extrensive list of falsehoods in the book itself. Here's another long list of falsehood from Limbaugh himself. And niether is anywhere near an exhaustive list as MMFA seems to document half a dozen new items every DAY. Now... it's one thing to agree with someone politically. It's one thing to paint and overall positive picture of them in a biography. But to go SO FAR to spin so much blatant controversy in their favor and just outright disappear so many distortions and falsehood on their behalf... That goes beyond a Biography. That's just propaganda.
I think it's pretty clear that neither Rush, nor the Republican Party, nor the Conservtaive movement in general has any interest in taking a critical look at the Right's defacto leader. They have no interest in humanizing him, or doing anything short of lionizing him. This is an indication of not only extreme intellectual dishonestly and cowardice on their part, but I think it's also evidence of just what a despicable peson he is, and what despicable people so many of them are. To take a critical look at HIM, would mean taking a critical look at THEMSELVES. And they have never shown themselves ot have the stomach for that.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Recently, in Concord, New Hampshire, several teens were charged with various crimes and misdemenors after coercing a younger, mentally handicapped classmate of theirs into letting them tatoo obscenities on his body in exchange for their "friendship," protection from their own harrassment and some additional tatoo work. Now as sick and twisted as these little scum-suckers are, what really floored me was the absurd defense offered by the mother of one of the boys charged:
He's the captain of his own ship. Nobody made the kid do that," she said. [...] "What are you going to do, arrest every bystander and call it hazing?"Now, I realize that it's pretty much instinctual for parents to defend their kids - I'm a parent myself, so I know the drill - but this stupid bitch needs a few things pointed out her...
1) The victim was mentally handicapped. In some instances he may not even be held accountable if he had done this someone else. So right off the bat, putting his responsibility above that of your son's borders on laughable.
2) The victim was threatened, several times, with bodily harm. This includes at least one instance when he was surrounded (held captive, actaully) by the perpetrators, at least one was armed [with the tatoo gun.] That's ASSULT. Period. Even if NOTHING else happens. Theatening someone with bodily harm in a such a way as they believe the threat and you are in a position to carry it out is ASSULT.
3) Your son is not a liscenced tatoo artist. Thus in the state of New Hampshire, as in most states, him tatooing ANYBODY is, in and of itself, a crime.
4) Tatooing a minor in the State of New Hampshire is forbiden. So again, in and of itself this would STILL be a crime, even if #3 did not apply!
That's three crimes committed, before you even consider the bodily mutilation that the victim endured (and the fact that the victim was 'compensated' in WEED) at the hands of that piece of shit you call your son. Isn't a rape victim "Captain of her own body?" I mean - it's not like anyone's making her stay there, right? Maybe I can fire a gun in this disgrace to women everywhere's general direction and suggest that as "Captain of her own body" she should have not just stood there, in the path of the bullet.
I sincerely hope that these four scum bags are charged to the fullest extent of the law, including being charged with hate crimes wherever applicable. And while I'm usually loath to hold one person accountable for the actions of another, in this case I would have little problem going after the Mother as well. At a minimum, she should lose her parental priveliges and and legal influence that goes with them. Negligence... shit, I don't know. What I can tell you is that if I had been there (or knew of it) and did anything short of calling the police, my parents would have KICKED. MY. ASS. And I would have richly deserved it!
These four rat-bastards are sociopaths. They should be committed after their jail term is up. And the fault lies with the parents who didn't instill even the most basic levels of humanity into these four future career criminals. My only compensation is that they'll all probably be dead by 30. I hope that the memory of every one of their future victims haunt theirs parents, as does the guilt that they failed in their charge of raising these kids, and instilling some values in them - ANY values, at all!
What the fuck is wrong with people?!
Friday, May 21, 2010
That made it very interesting for me to read the NEXT post, which was an update about the Cross Memorial being placed on federal land. What does the LAW say about this? Well… primarily it says that openly Christian memorials can not be erected on Federal Land. And SEVERAL court cases not only upheld that judgment, but even upheld it against several clumsy and still unconstitutional compromises, and even struck down several CONGRESSIONAL actions to try and find a remedy that didn’t involve removing the cross. (Which was put the illegally and without proper authorization in the first place, I might add.) As I read this, I just kept thinking, “Hmmmm, I wonder what Charlie Daniels thinks about the LAW in this case.” I mean – the LAW was clear, and it was upheld numerous times, so what’s the problem? REMOVE THE DAMNED CROSS!
And while I will never presume to speak for a Musical Legend, why do I get the feeling that Mister Daniels probably feels that the cross should stay, and to hell with the Law. IOW: That it’s the LAW that must change.
Now… that’s his prerogative. EVERYONE has some law they don’t like; that they’d like to see repealed or revised or enforced or enacted anew. I’m got tons of ‘em. So there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t pull that “The LAW’S the LAW” bullshit whenever it suits you and then act like the law can be challenged whenever you don’t like it. Some laws are just no damned good, and it a matter of interpretation how to APPLY the law in any given case. That’s why we have COURTS, and a CONSTITUTION. So you can’t have it both ways.
Now… as for the guy who STOLE the cross? Speaking for myself, as an individual, I say, “RIGHT ON! BRAVO! And JOB WELL DONE!” The cross has no place on federal land, and was never authorized to have been put there in the first place, and our government should have the balls to enforce the law as had been interpreted MANY TIMES by the court. BUT – to avoid the hypocrisy charge on vigilantism – I will gladly concede that, should the perpetrator be apprehended, he should and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I applaud the act, but he was the one who decided to take his chances legally speaking. I hope he’s never caught. But if he is, and if he’s convicted, you won’t hear me complain. I’ll SYMPATHIZE, but hey: The law’s the law, right?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I came across the following graph from http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending:
Granted, it’s a couple of years old, but as it’s expressed in percentages rather than actual dollars, I would think the overall proportions will have remained pretty close. The US accounts for 41.5% of the World’s Military Spending. The other four permanent members of the UN Security Council account for only 18.8%. The next ten countries combine for only 21.1%. So were spending a little more than our fourteen biggest allies and enemies COMBINED. The rest of the world accounts for the other 18.6%.
Now… you hear the proposal kicked around form time to time that we should cut our defense spending by something like 5-10%. Conservatives (and some hawkish Democrats) always howl in protest over this, but I think it’s pretty clear that we’ll still be able to keep out the invading hordes, even with these cuts. What this graph tells me is that we could make 50% cut in spending and still be spending more that England, France, China and Russia combined. COMBINED! That’s just crazy! You’d probably need to add the top 1 or 2 of the next 10 countries to the list just to make it EVEN. If you think about that, it’s staggering, so I’ll say it again: With a 50% cut in defense spending we’d still be spending TWICE AS MUCH as Russia and China COMBINED, and AS MUCH (more, actually) as Russia, China, France and Great Britain… COMBINED!
Now… let the awesome reality of that sink in for a moment before moving on.
Now, using FY2010 as an example, our federal budget is about $3.55 trillion. Without pointing any fingers, the federal DEFICIT was about $1.42 Trillion. $663.7 billion of that was Defense Spending. Now… as I’ve stated before, we could cut our defense spending in HALF and still be outspending our four biggest enemies and allies combined. This would save us about $332 Billion. In other words – we could knock 23% off of the Federal Deficit in one single action and still single handedly account for about a fifth of the world’s military spending all by ourselves. Again, more than our two biggest “enemies” and two biggest allies COMBINED. (I’m sorry I keep restating that, but I’m just so utterly gobsmacked by the enormity of it!)
Now… am I advocating for such a reduction? Not necessarily. There would be significant job losses in terms of Soldiers, Defense Contractors, Arms Manufacturers, as well as many Civilian Business that have nothing to do with War or Defense, but still do business with or on Military Bases. So cutting these funds would have an ECONOMIC impact many times as big as any security concerns. But that’s true of ANY reduction in spending. And that’s really the problem with the reckless deficit spending that the Republicans have pursued over that last 30 years – out of VICE, rather than NECESSITY as the Democrats have done. And for the country, it’s like an addiction because fixing it - no matter HOW you fix it - HURTS. It causes HARM. Whether it’s though tax increases or spending cuts, there WILL be pain.
And remember: Republicans are still advocating for Tax CUTS, so don’t believe ANYTHING they say about the deficit! Their aim is to ‘reduce the size of Government’ by BANKRUPTING it. If they really cared about the deficit and National Debt, they’d be calling for tax increases as well, just smaller ones than the liberals are, while advocating for larger spending cuts than the liberals do. Not to mention that they CAUSED the problem. They CREATED the culture of borrow-and-spend which replaced the more responsible model of tax-and-spend. Regan kicked it off, Bush’41 continued it. Clinton put an end to it, but Bush’43 couldn’t have that, so he kicked it into high gear! Obama has so far mostly inherited these problems. To be fair, he has added to the deficit, but with the economy he inherited that was almost inevitable – a matter of necessity rather than choice.
Moving foreword, we’ll see. In any case, you can’t cut a Trillion+ dollars in spending or raise a Trillion+ dollars in taxes overnight with causing some serious economic pain. That’s beyond dispute. So I don’t put this up as any sort of deficit-cutting silver bullet. But it’s certainly interesting food for thought regarding where our National Priorities are, and where our money goes. We should consider these facts before we talk about how we CAN’T provide health care, and CAN’T provide social safety nets and CAN’T support public education, CAN’T, CAN’T, CAN’T... Because if there was ever an attitude that sums up everything that America is all about, it’s “YES WE CAN.”
Maybe it’s not about spending LESS, but about spending it MORE WISELY.
BTW… I had this graph, from http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258, but the wiki article pretty much had all the numbers I needed. But here’s tabulation, in case you want to cross-reference anything, or just wanted another breakdown.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
And that's what makes this so interesting: The TRUTH of the matter depending on one's point of view.
Now... the clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because only a great fool would reach for what he was given...
Sorry, wrong argument. But truly I have a dizzying intellect; Just wait 'til I get going! Now where was? Oh yeah...
Back to the article... In reading this, I just keep hearing the voice of every conservative I know saying, "See? The Government gets involved and they just screw everything up!" And they'd have point, at least as far as a very shallow analysis will reveal. But in my opinion - a liberal's opinion - the answer is clear: The government needs to get MORE involved and this is yet another dismal failure for the power of the free market!
The basic problem is this: NIH grants don't cover the research & grunt work needed to determine if a discovery can be made into a usable drug (for example.) This is because the NIH is meant to fund SCINECE not FOR-PROFIT drug making. See: It's a system he has FAITH in the free market's ability to pick up where the basic science leaves off. It stays out of the way, and let's those big Pharma companies take care of the investment in return for keeping all of the profits. Trouble is...the Pharmaceutical companies, big and small, don't want to invest in ANYTHING that isn't reasonably certain to be commercially viable. (And given the costs, who can blame them?) And... you can't know that without doing the necessary - and both rather unglamorous and unprofitable - research to determine it! (Has everyone read Catch-22? Good.)
So strike down one more for the free market, and give one more point to those who think that we need MORE government spending, not less and MORE government involvement in medicine and not less, and MORE medical research, NOT LESS.
(And yes that includes stem cells.)
Friday, May 14, 2010
"What you gotta do, is find an attic!"
Glen Beck is a psychotic hack
Sponsors want their money back
Sean Hannity is a stupid fool
About as welcome as “P” in pool
Rush Limbaugh tells naught but lies
With his "degree" he should be serving fries
Mike Savage spews naught but hatred
His father should have been castrated
Ann Coulter is a stupid bitch
The sight of her makes me itch
Sarah Palin is a sellout
Of her lack of soul I have no doubt
Joe Scarborough… at least he tries
To sort out truth from Right Wing Lies
And all them still outrank Tucker
That bow-tie wearin’ mother…
LOL. OK... The point of this REALLY BAD poem is to see whether Google’s tag-bots just look for NAMES and WORDS or if they do anything at all to consider context. Because every time I mention one of these fools in a post, the next thing I see is an ad for their book, blog, show, etc… appearing right below the post.
Not that I mind! Those ads seem to PAY a lot better, and lest you think I’m selling out, remember: The more you click on them, the more of their money goes to me to write blog entries calling out their insanity! Google doesn’t want me to tell you to click the shit out of those ads, but (because) doing so gives their money to me, and won’t sell a single god-damned book of theirs. LOL. Again – I’m saying all this out of perverse curiosity about whether the Google-bots ever consider CONTEXT. (That and little bit of online civil disobedience!)
(So click away, just try not to get me banned!)
And speaking of BANNED… I’m going to try to go and get myself banned from FoxNation. I don't regularly post on any RW sites at the moment, but I think every good liberal should get banned from as many conservative comment boards – for doing no more than posting an alternative viewpoint - as they can. So I’m thinking about starting and keeping a list of mine. I’m going to start off with FoxNation, but if anyone knows of any boards that are particularly easy to get banned from (just for disagreeing) please let me know.
And just a little more, to test the Google-bots…
Karl Rove, George Bush, Michelle Bachman, Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Alies, Clear Channel, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, John Boehner, Bill Kristol, Dick Morris are all assholes.
OK… let’s see if this will get me some good-paying ads from any of these fools! LOL
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Classic? I think it'll be right up your alley.
On the other hand, I still don't think we have much of a choice here. I'm far from HAPPY about that, but anyone who thinks this is "just as bad" as whoever these tea-bagging Right Wingers will foist onto the Republican Tickety in 2012... Well... A few months in and I guarentee you'll be PINING for the Obama days again.
Just don't think that my recognition of that shitty reality in any way means that I'm endorsing it. The more I read stuff like that, and think about how MODERATE Eisenhower & Nixon were, and how LIBERAL Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson were - all while still being light years away from Socialism or Communsim... I mean come on... That talk was downright absurd THEN...
So... How absurd is it NOW?! Carter, Clinton, Obama... Every democratic President has been to the right of his Democratic predecessor and every Republican President (Reagan, Bush, Bush) has been to the righr of EVERYONE, and yet somehow all we here about is "Socialist this" and "Communsit that..." I mean WTF?! Kagan a "budding Commuist?" Part of the "NYC Communist Front?" Are these people TRYING to sound ignorant? Are they COMPETEING with each other to see who can vomit out the LEAST ACCURATE portrayal?
Who the hell can listen to this garbage? Seriously.
First of all... that crack about applying the second amendment "six times" on those who keep forgetting about the first amendment? That was really beneath me. I'm not MUCH better than that, but I AM better than that. Now, don't get me wrong: If Anotin Scalia walked out of the courthouse and was struck by lightning I'd laugh my fucking ass off and pop open a bottle of champagne. But I would not see even a Government and Supreme Court overrun with Tea-Bagging Klansman "fixed" by violence and revolution. If someone WERE to kill a Supreme Court Justice, or any other public official, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I refuse to be the "Ann Coulter" of the left. Hopefully no one took that LITERALLY.
The OTHER was a clarification on why I do not apply my vehement and unconditional support of free speech to Corporations. Why would someone as zealous as I am about free speech want to put a limit on Corporate Speech?
First of all, let's be clear what we're really talking about. I don't care if a corporation wants to advertise, nor do I think it's the Government's job to make them prove their claims, etc... Outside of pharmaceuticals, which are regulated for obvious reasons, I don't care WHAT businesses say within the course of DOING BUSINESS. Nor do I really even care if they want to run ISSUE ads - if ExxonMobil wants to try and make the case that Oil and Gas are preferable to Solar? Go right ahead. That's really not much different than advertising anyway.
What I'm talking about here, is PARTISAN and ELECTORAL issues. If ExxonMobil wants to say "Vote for Palin" or pay for some Anti-Abortion ads (or any issue that DOESN'T have anything to do with their course of business) I have a problem with that. In fact, I'd go even beyond Austin. Forget regulating it, and treating it a political contribution, I'd be in favor of outright BANNING it. There are two reasons why.
The most commonly used reason is that corporations, with all their vast resources, can (and do) drown out the voice of the individual. So allow their free speech allows them to prohibit ours. I agree with that. I think it's reasonable, and it's why I support both the Fairness Doctrine and Net Neutrality.
But there's another way in which corporations act even more insidiously when they "speak." First of all, you have to realize that corporations don't really SPEAK. They SPEND MONEY to get a certain message put out there. And that money is, of course, the property of the shareholders. So who decides what the Corporation wants to "say?" Well, that's the board of directors, who are elected by the shareholders. Typically this includes several of the BIGGEST shareholders. Now, if assume for the moment that since most boards, consisting of very rich, very white, men and their proxies, the "shareholders" are "electing" people to put out Conservative, Corporatist, Republican message. And if they were polled according to their shares of the company, you might find rations reaching 90-some percent in favor. BUT, when you consider how many people own stock - usually though a 401-K - and that most of that stock is owned through MUTUAL FUNDS, and most Blue Chips are carried by pretty much every Mutual fund, you'll conclude that something like 90+% of the electorate owns SOME miniscule percentage of... ExxonMobil, for example. And if you were to poll that group BY PERSON, I submit that you would find their political demographic matches the general public pretty closely - IOW: It would cover a broad spectrum, with almost equal representation of Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats.
Now... Why is that important?
Simple: Because corporate speech results in the ULTIMATE "winner takes all" approach to political speech! A dozen or so men decide what the Corporation will say, and end up speaking for literally Tens of Millions of Shareholders, not to mention Hundreds of Thousands of EMPLOYEES, many of which may not feel that the Corporations POLITICAL message matches what THEY want to say. So now, not only is the moneyed interest drowning them out... WORSE: They actually using assets partially OWED by that person to put out a message contrary to their beliefs! And I mention employees, because I do believe that they are stakeholders in a Corporation every bit as much as the shareholders are. One might also consider the CUSTOMERS to be stakeholders as well. After all, I give MY MONEY to that corporation. What right do they have to use it to put out a message that I don't agree with? OK, of course I can't just take my business elsewhere, but I think you're getting the idea.
When a corporation "speaks" it does on behalf of shareholders, employees, customers, and arguably other stake-holders as well. And it does so WITHOUT REGARD to those people's wishes. And THAT to me is why it's not the same thing. They don't just drown me out, the SPEAK for me, using assets that I own a piece of, to say something that I wouldn't say.
One more thing, regarding corporate boards. Those members that didn’t just BUY their way on were elected by the shareholders to RUN THE BUSINESS. If I'm a voting shareholder, then I want to vote for the guy who's going to make me the most money, all else being equal. I shouldn't feel as though I need to vote for someone I believe to be the less competent person because of political considerations. If you restrict corporate "speech" to those areas that are directly relevant to their business, then I don't HAVE this conflict.
ANYWAY, that's why I don't consider Corporate Speech to even fall under first amendment protection.
But my once open mind is now made up, and I feel compelled to say this, on no uncertain tearms: ClassicLiberal is RIGHT. Kagan SUCKS. And this nomination is nothing short of an abject BETRAYAL on the part of President Obama. This is not "change I can believe in." This is more like "shit I can't believe."
I'm going to re-post the links to the two excellent artices that he pointed me too: Johnathan Turley's piece, and Glenn Greenwald's post on Salon. READ THEM. Between those two and this piece by Marvin Ammori on HuffPo, as well as some of the other articles I linked to yesterday, I am convinced that Elena Kagan (and by extension, apparently Barack Obama) has her head up her ass when it comes to the First Ammendment. And I'll throw the Right a bone on this: The SECOND Ammendment is there in case they forget about the FIRST. And if this nomination goes through, it would take SIX applications of the second ammendment to fix the court, when today it would take only four. She ABSOLUTELY needs to be "Harriet Mierred." She WON'T be... because the Democrats have NO BALLS AT ALL. But she needs to be. And Obama should be firmly rebuked for this BETRAYAL. He won't be...because the Democrats have NO BALLS AT ALL. But he needs to be.
And just to show this is a principled opposition, and not just a case of "she's not liberal enough" I want to refer to a couple of recent examples of free-speech where the speakers were punnished for saying something downright CONSERVATIVE; and which seem to be cases where Kagan would seem to vote that these punnishments were acceptable.
First, the students sent home from school for wearing American Flag T-Shirts on May 5th. Now I'm no fool: I know exactly why they were doign this. A do you know what? Why I despise what they were saying - both for the inherent racism of the message and the disrespect it showed the FLAG - I'm willing to fight, kill and die to protect their right ot SAY it. And in case you feel so inclined, don't bother citing precident to me. We went through that on MMFA and I'll stand by my original judgement that the school GROSSLY over-reached. Kagan seems to think, in her support of broader anti-hate speech rules, that the school would be justified because of the message the students were sending. And that is the EXACTLY, 180 degrees WRONG way to read the first ammendment. To think that, I wonder if she's even READ it!
The other, far more disturbing case, was the one of the United States Marine with the Anti-Obama facebook page. Now, in the military their are well known restrictions of basic freedoms. In the military you follow orders. And traditionally speaking freely is something that requires specific permission. What's more - this is an enlisted man who was openly critisizing the COMMANDER AND CHIEF - his MOST superior officer. But do you know what? I think the ACLU has this one right. As long as this soldier confines his remorks to his time OFF-DUTY, and carries out the orders he's given, to support the foriegn policy of the administration to the best of his ability - IOW, as long as he mainatins discipline in the field? He should be able to say whatever he wants. How can we honestly say we fighting to protect freedom (either theirs or ours) if we seek to silence those doing the fighting, during the times when they are not on actve duty. And given her views on executive power, as well as free speech, (and her less than enthusiastic support for the military, not that this is a facor for me) I don't see her standing up for this soldier. And I would - even though I think his message is treasonous!
Now you can agree or disagree with me on these cases (and I don't mind discussing them, though I'd prefer to do so in another post) but you have to concede this point to me: Most Liberals are willing to defend speech that they don't agree with, as a matter of PRINCIPLE, to protect the FREEDOM of Speech. Conservatives have shown time and time again - most recently in Citizens United - that they are NOT willing to do this. And, as descirbed in the HuffPo piece, Kagan argued Citizen for the Government and LOST. Now... whether she did so deliberately (which the post seems to imply, IMHO) or merely due to incompetence (as laid out in that same piece) she is NO STRONG, PRINCIPLED DEFENDER of Free Speech.
I will stop short of saying that I won't vote for Obama in 2012 - although I won't, if there's a primary challenger! Is she preferable to the likely McCain/Palin nominee? Yeah, probably. But I was NOT voting for what I though was the 'lesser of two evils.' I though I was voting for the lesser GOOD, over the greater EVIL. Now I see that I was not. That I did, in fact, merely take the lesser of two evils.
Kagan has to go. Show me a petition and I'll sign it. Send letters, call your Senator- especially if he's a Democrat! I'd love to see every one of these spineless jellyfish GO. The only thing that stops me is the knowledge that those without BRAINS (Tes Bag Republicans) will replace those without BALLS if the Democrats lose. (And if the Republicans gain MORE influence, there won't be any restraint of the continued corporatization of this country, and the increasing drowning out of opposition voices.) That's the reality and the reality sucks. But this nomination is just intolerable.
I say: Let the Right attack her. Let them tear down with even the worst, most absurd slander. I hope the win this one. Then maybe Obama will get his head out of his ass and pick someone like Judge Diane Wood.
Kagan needs to go.
One point of clarification: Why don't I believe that corporations deserve the same Free Speech protection? Why am I so against the decision in Citizens United?
Let me get to that in my next post.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
While some of you may already be familiar with Harry Chapin, I'm sure that many of you will not have heard him. He was a singer-songwriter in the 1970's, most famous for what became known as his "story songs." Sad, melancholy tales of real life, defeat, missed opportunities and regret. (Yay!) His biggest hit, and the one that everyone actually KNOWS him for was "Cats in the Cradle." He had others, but that was what really put him on the map. It was also the first song I ever learned how to sing, the only song I really sing well (hey, I've been singin' it for 35 years now!), and to date the only song I've ever sung in front of a large group of people. (To a great deal of applause I might add. LOL)
When my wife introduced my brother-in-law to our music collection she described Chapin as "[my] favorite artist." I'd never really though of him that way up until that point. I have far too broad a taste in music to really pick any ONE band or person as my favorite. But if I HAD to name someone, I supposed it would be Harry. To really describe how I really feel about him, however, I have to say a lot more than just that he's my favorite artist... He's one of my heroes.
That's an odd way to descibe a musician, but to understand it you have to understand how active Harry was in various political causes, and political activism, most prominently in fighting wolrd hunger. He felt that poverty and hunger in THIS country were "insulting" to America and established "World Hunger Year" in 1975, a charity that remains active to this day. In addition to this, over a large portion of career over half of his concerts were done as benefits. He gave a away more money than anyone else at the time, and very few have even come close in the many years since. It was his generosity, political activism, world outlook and pure artistic integrity and freedom that elevates him from merely my favorite artist to my hero. When he died in 1981, though I was only seven years old, I was keenly aware of what the world had lost that day. He remains one of only about two famous people that I cried at hearing of their passing, and it is only these two that I still find difficult to talk about today. (If you're wondering, the other is Jim Henson.) In 1987, on what would have been his 45th birthday,Hharry Chapin was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his campaigning on social issues, the single highest honor that can be bestowed on a Civilian by our government.
I guess he was more than just MY hero.
Politically, it should be pretty obvious that he was a Liberal Democrat, and he wrote several pieces that dealt directly with the political issues of the (racism, sexism, poverty, intoelrance, exploitation, freedom, etc...) but if there was ever a song that summed up the Liberal Philosophy (and liberal FRUSTRATION) perfectly, albeit in a completely allegorical way, it's THE ROCK.
Here's a youtube video for it. Think Global Warming, or just about ANY issue that Liberals have to swim upstream agaist the status quo on, and TELL ME this isn't how you feel:
Another great one, which deals in non-conformity and arguably strays into neural diversity three decades before that term even exsisted, is FLOWER ARE RED:
Finally one of the greatest inditements of sexism that I've ever come accross: WHY DID THE LITTLE GIRLS? (Remember, this was in the late 1970's.)
For a sampling of his less political stuff, his 'story songs,' here are some more links to YouTube:
A Better Place to Be
Cats in the Cradle
...and what just might be my favorite SONG of all time: SNIPER.
There are many, MANY others. He was a musician that defied genre, broke convention, and wrote amazing stories. What's more, he was a PERSON who accomplished more that most can even dream to and yet still died, at a tragically young age, with his life's work left largely unfinished.
I expected some depth from PFAM, but they had little to say other than "Congrats on the nomination, we look forward to learnign more about you." (Yeah, you and me both!)
I came across this piece, on TAP, which I thnk summarizes both our desires and our frustration with Obama's choice, from the Left pretty well. As a counterpoint though, this post, on Huffington, summarizes very well what I was trying to say in my own post about Judge Diane Wood. And while it DOES praise Kagan for having some of those [pursuading Justice Kennedy] qualities, it's pretty thin, highly qualified praise. And it doesn't really say much about her politics. This piece, in Slate, paints a different picture. (Disclsure: I'm not really a big fan of Slate, in general. Just sayin'.)
About the most positive piece, from a purely liberal standpoint was this other piece from TAP. It gives some cause for optimism, but admitedly it's pretty thin. The one thing it has going for it is that is DOES address, head on, the concerns (assuming I understand them correctly) that ClassicLiberal raised about her cheerleading for the executive branch, and the Bush detention practices and policies. So we've basically got two things to go one, that I've found: a letter she signed onto as Dean of Harvard law which says one things, and her work as Solicitor General which says another. One thing to remember, and yes, I realize that I'm clinging to every last shred of optimism here, but "cheerleading for the executive branch" is basically the job desciptionof the solicitor general. I don't dismiss the concern, far from it: it's about all teh information I HAVE about her! And I am still disappointed by this pick (Oh well, boo-hoo, no Judge Wood.) But between the Huffpo post and the TAP post, I guess I'll hold out some hope (or at least keep an open mind) that this can work.
Monday, May 10, 2010
In the "defense" of this nominee, MMFA - an unapologetically liberal website - goes to great lengths to dispell the Right Wing "myth" that Kagan represents a far-left, radical position. And they do a good job of dispelling this. They show, very clearly, that either the conservatives are just flat-out lying, or that their fears are vastly overblown. They show that this is a nominee that is not necessarily hostile to the institution they hold dear.
And therein lies the PROBLEM. Personally I'd like to see a nominee that's a little hostile to religion as a political force. Who IS a bit skeptical of the Military's ability to do anything other than fight wars (IOW: blow shit up and kill people) and who sees WAR as a last resort, rather than the preffered choice in dealing with foreign policy. When you look at Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito and recognize the absolute rubber-stampt they represent to the Right, only the starkest possible contrast should suffice to replace the retiring Stevens. I myself found Judge Diana Wood to be an interesting choice. But instead we get Kagan.
Now... don't get me wrong. Personaly I think that statements such as "she'll move the court to the right" are ludicrious. The President nominated the former Dean of Harvard Law School, for Pete's sake, not Phyllius Schlafly. And I'll be the first to admit that I don't know NEARLY enough about Kagan, or Wood for that matter, to make a truly eductaed assessment of their potential impact. My biggest complaint about Kagan really come from what I think I know about her views on executive power. But then I have to realize that my understanding of her positions come from what she did in her role as SOLICITOR GENERAL - where it was her JOB to advocate for the executive branch. Hardly a position where one's libertarian viewpoint would get center stage. One could almost argue that fomrer solicitor generals - people who built their resume defending the government's position - should be made inelligible for a SC nomination... But then we'd never have had Thurgood Marshall!
And, going back to my previous post on Wood, I don't necessarily see Kagan VOTING very differently than Justice Stevens did. And this statement has been made repeatedly by her critcis and supporters alike. But to me the real question is not how she'd VOTE (which I don't think is really in question) but rather whether she would advocate for the liberal position, and how effectively she would do so. I liked Wood's politics well enough, but I what I really liked was what I read about her ability to pursuade those who would be inclined to disagree with her. I saw this as a sign that she could influence Justice Kennedy, and gets some WINS for the Left. I've read the same thing about Kagan - and as a lawyer, influencing people is waht she DOES - but I just don't know enough about her to know just how OFTEN and on WHAT ISSUES she's USE those powers of pursuation. (PFAM is not much help in this department - they have a lot to say about the Roberts Court, but little one way or the other about Kagan herself.)
Now... I do NOT, as my friend ClassicLiberal has proposed, belive that the Kagan nomination is somehow grounds for (figurative) impeachment. But I am disappointed that Kagan got the call over more liberal cadidates. I would have strongly preferred Wood...
Thursday, May 6, 2010
It doesn't surprise me that Conservatives largely favor the National Day of Prayer... They've never really been all that invested in actually SOLVING problems or DOING anything about them. So "prayer" fits into their agenda nicely.
The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952 - the same era that added "Under God" to our Pledge of Allegience, and did any number of other uncostitutional things all while fearmongering about the Commies. And I have basically no respect for the view of the 1950's, and their Red-Scare McCarthyism, as the "Good ol' days."
The 1950's? Really?
You had segregation and the hula hoop.
We've got gay rights and the internet.
The '50's sucked. 'Nuff said.
I enjoyed very much hearing the exchange on NPR today between Annie Laurie Gaylor, Representing the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and a certain Reverend Hunter (which would be a GREAT name for an atheist, wouldn't it?) who was defending - pathetically, I might add - this unconstitutional nonsense which is the National Day of Prayer. OK, I'll admit that my postion on the matter is hardly an objective one, but IMHO she mopped the floor with him, while he tried repeating the same old, tired and irrelevant arguments that the Federal Appeals courst has already ruled aginst.
BUT - lest you think that this is no more than another purely atheistic tirade - let me say that the very best argument AGAINST the National Day of Prayer that I've ever read comes not from an Atheist, or even from a Constitutional Scholar, but rather from a man of the cloth! I encorage everyone to read, and THINK about, Reverend Barry Lynn's April 20th Article fro HuffPo. THIS is my real problem with the National Day of Prayer. As Rev. Lynn points out, it actually UNDERMINES Religious faith and true practice. And THIS is what the Religious Right in this country just doesn't get - or doesn't care about. Because the Religious Right has NEVER been about Religion. It's has always been about POWER and MONEY. Or, more specifically, using RELIGION to get the religious to put them in POWER, so they can take their MONEY.
...And if there was any signifciant population of Christinas in this country who had any sense of real Christian principles, there's no way we'd have, "In GOD we trust" printed on so base and material thing as our MONEY.
But that a rant for a different day.
Happy National Day of Prayer.
(I'm going to celebrate MY "religion" by continuing to think and act rationally.)
Monday, May 3, 2010
But they didn't do all that they should have done until after the damage was done.Now, she did go on to point out that I was exageratting in saying that he did NOTHING, and I AM, but not by a whole lot.
You're being generous. They didn't do ANYTHING AT ALL until a few days AFTER the damage was done. And even THEN they didn't do all they should have, let alone could have.
Katrina served as the trigger for the public's loss of faith in Bush. It was the point at which it was no longer sacrilidge to openly quetsion the Iraq War, and it was at that point that the image of Bush as our fearless, stoic, post-9/11 leader begans to crumble. And as it also kicked of the ridiculously high gas prices that started the ball rolling on the recession (which came early in Michigan, where I live) it also led to the dismantling of the myth that these clown could run the economy any better as well.
This will undoubtedly NOT be Obama's finest hour, especially coming a week or so after expandging offshore drilling! But the response thus far and the continued support that will undoubtedly come, has put and will continue to put Bush's Katrina responce to shame. This WILL have a net positive effect on Obama's approval rating in a regionof the country that is otherwose, arguably the most hostile. Could he win LA, MS or AL against a drill-baby-drill Republican in 2012? It's possible. We'll see...
But in the meantime, I dare the Republicans to try and block ANY of the aid and services he sends to the region.
This is not Obama's "Katirna." It's closer (not quite there, but closer) to Obama's "9/11."
I bring this up, becuase there will likely be a lot of discussion in the near future regarding chanegs in energy and environmental policy. That's the silver lining in all of this: that there may finally be some serious political will on the part of the public to, at a minimum, impose some serious and stringent (and long overdue) regulations on the oil industry. Now... I'm not celebrating this disater: Make no mistake, it IS a disaster. And it's sad that it typically takes a disaster to change public opinion. It's equally sad that our commitment to that change tends to fade over time. But if this causes Obama to back track some of that expanded drilling? AND get serious about alternative energy? Maybe for the next few months this short-term disaster will repriortize our thinking so that our short-sighted greed won't continue to trump our long-term interests so easily.
HEAVEN is where:
The Cooks are French
The Cops are English
The Mechanics are German
The Lovers are Italian
and everything is organized by the Swiss.
HELL is where:
The Cooks are English
The Cops are German
The Mechanics are Franch
The Lovers are Swiss
and everything is organized by the Italians.
...or so it looks from insdie this great American melting pot! LOL.