Sunday, October 31, 2010

In response to Mark Paredes "Jews and Mormons."

While accurate and well written, Brother Paredes misses the point completely. While the official position of the Church is political neutrality and political views are restrained in local meetings, Democrats, especially liberal Democrats, often feel uncomfortable in church meetings and socials by the insertion of right wing sentiment. They have effectively cut the proselyting pool in the USA in half.

I feel that most LDS have subjugated the teachings of the scriptures and our basic beliefs to blind acceptance of the current Republican party...even the most intransigent and extreme representatives. Most LDS show a deference to Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh that approaches reverence.

Brother Paredes attempts to make the impression that the Democratic Party supports immorality and that is why LDS eschew them. It is true that the Democrats support gay marriage and abortion rights, but in the larger view of the vanishing middle class and increasing wealth concentration in a ever decreasing population, Republican efforts to eliminate social security, medicare, public schools, banking and wall street regulation and their exploitation of cheap foreign labor, the real immorality is found there.

LDS buy into the Republican mantra of labeling every program to provide relief to the poor as socialistic. They do this in the face of early Mormon efforts to form a society that was pure socialism. The Scriptures, both Bible and Book of Mormon command us to share our wealth with the poor. The disconnect with LDS beliefs in the Scriptures and those of the Republicans they support is an example of the subjugation of LDS beliefs and teaching.

LDS members have also blindly accepted the most intransigent demands of the so called Right to Life movement.

Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.

In my view this position supports the right to choose. Granted it limits the circumstances where is is acceptable but under our belief in free agency, this gives us the right to choose and making the wrong choice is a sin not a crime.

In summary, LDS do not vote Republican over morality, they vote Republican because they are brain washed by Republican leaders.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Macro economics made simple

The debate continues to rage between the GOP which claims decreased spending and a balanced budget is the road to prosperity and economists who claim that deficit spending on jobs creating programs will expand the tax base and lead to balanced budgets.

The average American is confused. They know very little about budgeting beyond the household budget and are  mentally lazy with a proclivity to make decisions based on 30 second TV political commercials and bumper stickers. So falling back on my economic text book on macro economics from my college days, I am simplifying the issue:

Imagine a community of a hundred families who live in a community whose sole employment is in the Widget factory which is owned by a family in that community, working for the government in providing services such as public safety, education and infrastructure maintenance or selling merchandise to the Widget factory workers. They are living in a situation of equilibrium. All the family wage earners are employed and buy widgets made in the local Widget factory after they purchase all the other necessities of life. The Widget factory owner is happy. He makes a reasonable profit from his entrepreneurial activities. The merchants are happy as are the government workers.

For some reason the Widget factory owner decides he needs more. He has decided that he can increase his profits by increasing the price of Widgets and/or paying workers less for making the Widgets. Eventually, as a result of this decision, the demand for Widgets decreases and his profits goes down. The owner, following conventional wisdom, cuts costs by laying off some workers.

The laid off workers are no longer paying taxes and cannot buy from the local merchants who are also forced to lay off their workers; equilibrium is gone and the community is faced with a downward spiraling economic situation. The price of Widgets has gone down but no one can buy them anyway. Something has to be done, but what?

The government can provide incentives for the Widget factory owner to ramp up his production but he will not do that until the market for Widgets improves. The government can cut services to compensate for the loss of revenue but this means laying off workers and exacerbating the unemployment situation, plunging the government even deeper into debt. Concomitant to this, vital government services are no longer available.

Obviously, balancing the government budget is not only counter productive, it is impossible. The government must be responsible for regenerating business activity by investing in the economy. The essence of Keynesian Economics is that government can restore full employment and price stability by replacing the loss of private spending/investing with government investment/spending.

So in this simplified model the local government could make up for the loss of jobs in the Widget factory by spending money on, for example, repairing the infrastructure or other vital but long ignored civic projects. This illustration ignores the solution to the problem, greed by the factory owner, which threw the economy out of balance but obviously this also has to be addressed.

Those who desire an immediate balanced budget are assuring the failure of that goal. It can only be achieved by restoring full employment and broadening the tax base. War expenditures in WWII is proof that it works.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GOP merit badge for hypocrisy...

Thom's blog
The Republican merit badge for hypocrisy...
Congratulations to GOP State Legislator Calvin Hill of Georgia who won his Republican merit badge for hypocrisy. Last year, Hill led a movement in the state to prevent public universities from teaching sexual health and gay history classes claiming, "Our public colleges are not the place for our young adults and future leaders to experiment and experience these types of sexually explicit behavior." Has Mr. Hill ever been to a college?! Well, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, even though Mr. Hill has a problem with "future leaders" experiencing sexually explicit behavior, he has no problem with current leaders, like himself, making money off of it. Yes, it turns out that Mr. Hill is the CFO of a company that sells sex gadgets and other sexual paraphernalia. Gila Distributing sells everything from "phallic" stress relievers to gay pride lapel pins. Is this is a new requirement for all Republican politicians now a days - launch a public crusade against something that is an integral part of your private life? Paging toe tapper Larry Craig...Paging serial adulterer Newt Gingrich, and hooker customer David Vitter.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The republican economic policies and lack of control over banking were what caused the Great Depression in 1929 and the Great Recession in 2008. Make no mistake about it, there is more than needs to be done to avoid sliding into another Great Depression. Going back to the same policies that got us here will assure that this happens!

A Short History of the Great Depression

By Nick Taylor is the author of “American-Made,” a 2008 history of the Works Progress Administration.

The Great Depression was a worldwide economic crisis that in the United States was marked by widespread unemployment, near halts in industrial production and construction, and an 89 percent decline in stock prices. It was preceded by the so-called New Era, a time of low unemployment when general prosperity masked vast disparities in income.

The start of the Depression is usually pegged to the stock market crash of “Black Tuesday,” Oct. 29, 1929, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 23 percent and the market lost between $8 billion and $9 billion in value. But it was just one in a series of losses during a time of extreme market volatility that exposed those who had bought stocks “on margin” – with borrowed money.

The stock market continued to decline despite brief rallies. Unemployment rose and wages fell for those who continued to work. The use of credit for the purchase of homes, cars, furniture and household appliances resulted in foreclosures and repossessions. As consumers lost buying power industrial production fell, businesses failed, and more workers lost their jobs. Farmers were caught in a depression of their own that had extended through much of the 1920s. This was caused by the collapse of food prices with the loss of export markets after World War I and years of drought that were marked by huge dust storms that blackened skies at noon and scoured the land of topsoil. As city dwellers lost their homes, farmers also lost their land and equipment to foreclosure.

President Herbert Hoover, a Republican and former Commerce secretary, believed the government should monitor the economy and encourage counter-cyclical spending to ease downturns, but not directly intervene. As the jobless population grew, he resisted calls from Congress, governors, and mayors to combat unemployment by financing public service jobs. He encouraged the creation of such jobs, but said it was up to state and local governments to pay for them. He also believed that relieving the suffering of the unemployed was solely up to local governments and private charities.

By 1932 the unemployment rate had soared past 20 percent. Thousands of banks and businesses had failed. Millions were homeless. Men (and women) returned home from fruitless job hunts to find their dwellings padlocked and their possessions and families turned into the street. Many drifted from town to town looking for non-existent jobs. Many more lived at the edges of cities in makeshift shantytowns their residents derisively called Hoovervilles. People foraged in dumps and garbage cans for food.

The presidential campaign of 1932 was run against the backdrop of the Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the Democratic nomination and campaigned on a platform of attention to “the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” Hoover continued to insist it was not the government’s job to address the growing social crisis. Roosevelt won in a landslide. He took office on March 4, 1933, with the declaration that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Roosevelt faced a banking crisis and unemployment that had reached 24.9 percent. Thirteen to 15 million workers had no jobs. Banks regained their equilibrium after Roosevelt persuaded Congress to declare a nationwide bank holiday. He offered and Congress passed a series of emergency measures that came to characterize his promise of a “new deal for the American people.” The legislative tally of the new administration’s first hundred days reformed banking and the stock market; insured private bank deposits; protected home mortgages; sought to stabilize industrial and agricultural production; created a program to build large public works and another to build hydroelectric dams to bring power to the rural South; brought federal relief to millions, and sent thousands of young men into the national parks and forests to plant trees and control erosion.

The parks and forests program, called the Civilian Conservation Corps, was the first so-called work relief program that provided federally funded jobs. Roosevelt later created a large-scale temporary jobs program during the winter of 1933–34. The Civil Works Administration employed more than four million men and women at jobs from building and repairing roads and bridges, parks, playgrounds and public buildings to creating art. Unemployment, however, persisted at high levels. That led the administration to create a permanent jobs program, the Works Progress Administration. The W.P.A. began in 1935 and would last until 1943, employing 8.5 million people and spending $11 billion as it transformed the national infrastructure, made clothing for the poor, and created landmark programs in art, music, theater and writing. To accommodate unions that were growing stronger at the time, the W.P.A. at first paid building trades workers “prevailing wages” but shortened their hours so as not to compete with private employers.

Roosevelt’s efforts to assert government control over the economy were frustrated by Supreme Court rulings that overturned key pieces of legislation. In response, Roosevelt made the misstep of trying to “pack” the Supreme Court with additional justices. Congress rejected this 1937 proposal and turned against further New Deal measures, but not before the Social Security Act creating old-age pensions went into effect.

Brightening economic prospects were dashed in 1937 by a deep recession that lasted from that fall through most of 1938. The new downturn rolled back gains in industrial production and employment, prolonged the Depression and caused Roosevelt to increase the work relief rolls of the W.P.A. to their highest level ever.

Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, following Japan’s invasion of China two years earlier and the continuing war there, turned national attention to defense. Roosevelt, who had been re-elected in 1936, sought to rebuild a military infrastructure that had fallen into disrepair after World War I. This became a new focus of the W.P.A. as private employment still lagged pre-Depression levels. But as the war in Europe intensified with France surrendering to Germany and England fighting on, ramped up defense manufacturing began to produce private sector jobs and reduce the persistent unemployment that was the main face of the Depression. Jobless workers were absorbed as trainees for defense jobs and then by the draft that went into effect in 1940, when Roosevelt was elected to a third term. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that started World War II sent America’s factories into full production and absorbed all available workers.

Despite the New Deal’s many measures and their alleviation of the worst effects of the Great Depression, it was the humming factories that supplied the American war effort that finally brought the Depression to a close. And it was not until 1954 that the stock market regained its pre-Depression levels.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Make sure you vote on November 2nd…but do it for the right reasons not for the exploitive reasons proffered by the GOP which are intended to beguile you and divert your attention from the real issues. This election isn’t about closed or open borders or hysterical fear of English being replaced by Spanish as our official language.

This election is about whether or not the GOP should profit by their policy of opposition to every thing that Obama has proposed, placing their personal and party’s ambition over the welfare of the people in this country.
1. Their opposition to health care reform is responsible for a weakening of the law. In spite of their opposition, the bill that passed will provide health coverage for millions of American.
2. They opposed new laws regulating the banking and investment activities that nearly bankrupted the entire nation.
3. They filibustered and defeated a bill that would slow down the flow of American jobs into foreign countries.
4. They voted unanimously (most of their opposition has been unanimous) to withhold funding for our troops abroad because it contained a provision to allow homosexual Americans to serve in the military.
5. They unanimously opposed the stimulus bill after forcing a drastic reduction in the size of the package (and then they unanimously voted against it anyway.

The GOP, in its opposition to everything Obama and the democrats have proposed, has resorted to lies, not hyperbole and misinterpretation, outright lies. For example, they fostered and perpetuate the myth that Obama was not born in the USA, ergo not qualified to be President, that he is a Socialist, a Nazi (never mind that one can’t be both) and a Muslim. They coined the word “Obama Care” to reference HCR. HCR is embodied in laws passed by Congress not what was proposed by Obama. In fact, he stayed out of it to a fault and at the risk of losing his base.

Rep. John Boehner vowed openly to defeat any health care reform in order to bring down the Obama presidency.

They have been taken over and forced further to the right by the Tea Party which has led to candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle, Rand Paul and others, actually having a chance to be elected.

They have fostered and encourage a return to racial hatred that equals, if not surpasses that of the 60s.

This election is about whether or not you want to return to the economic policies of the Bush administration that turned a surplus into massive debts and losing over 800,000 jobs a month.

This election is about whether or not we will allow international corporations to buy our government.

If you throw a tenant out of a rental you own because he has trashed it, do you let him move back because the new tenant is slower than you anticipated in making promised repairs?


Friday, October 8, 2010

Damage Control Week from Media Matters

Media Matters: Damage control week

It's been a bumpy week for America's premier Republican cable news channel. Internal strife on various fronts required constant attention, but so did the assorted scandals that pricked up this week involving some of Fox News' very favorite Republican candidates, requiring the network to play some strenuous defense.

And, of course, whenever Fox News is in trouble, you can pretty well guarantee that Glenn Beck will be at the center of it. Beck was the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile last week which reported that his peculiar on-air behavior and relentless hucksterism have started to rankle his slightly less disreputable colleagues. Foremost among them is Fox News president Roger Ailes, who has apparently grown weary of the fact that Beck uses Fox's airwaves to promote his own, non-Fox ventures and line his own pockets. (You can understand why Ailes would be upset -- after all, Beck has reportedly cost the network millions of dollars in ad revenue.)

Meanwhile, Fox News' "journalists" have apparently decided to make Beck the scapegoat for the network's steadily eroding credibility. The Times reported that several of them "complained that Beck's antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet" -- a humorous complaint, given that Fox News' "journalists" are just as capable of legitimacy-killing antics.

But everyone knows that Beck was and is a troublemaker. Less well-known was Fox News' apparently longstanding problem with gender discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against the network for penalizing reporter Catherine Herridge because she once complained about gender and age discrimination at the network. This followed the 2006 lawsuit against a Fox VP who "used obscene terms to describe women and their body parts," and Bill O'Reilly's reported games of falafel phone tag. Regarding the Herridge affair, a Fox spokesperson responded in the network's typically measured fashion by blaming the whole thing on President Obama.

Then there's Karl Rove, whose presence at Fox News has never really screamed "ethical." He's one of the raft of former Bush officials who landed at Fox News as their administration slowly crumbled and limped out of office, and the network really wanted us to believe that he -- the most infamous Republican political operative since Lee Atwater -- was an independent election analyst. But then Rove formed American Crossroads, a sort of shadow RNC that works doggedly to elect Republicans and is funded almost exclusively by a handful of Texas billionaires, and any pretense of ethics or good journalistic practice was washed away.

And -- wouldn't you know it? -- Democratic politicians and independent campaign finance groups are calling for the IRS to audit American Crossroads, suspecting that the non-profit group might be misusing their tax-exempt status. In response to this development, Fox News called on Dana Perino, Rove's one-time Bush administration colleague and current Fox News colleague, to defend her buddy Karl and his pet political project, labeling the calls for investigation "politically motivated" and "political interference that is inappropriate, possibly unlawful."

Tending to your own house is difficult enough, but cleaning up your friends' messes at the same time is a real feat, and Fox gave it their best shot in a week full of Republican candidates struggling with controversy. First up was California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who was alleged to have knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant. Fox has both an ideological and financial stake in Whitman -- remember, News Corp. gave $1 million to the Republican Governors' Association -- so they went to bat for their candidate, reporting that she is the "victim of a last-minute smear campaign" and "dirty tricks." Fox News' Megyn Kelly dismissed the controversy by saying "there is no case here," and Sean Hannity went so far as to praise Whitman for her "complete and due diligence."

No sooner had they finished attempting to rehab Whitman's image than another GOPer was embroiled in something of a brouhaha, this time New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who threatened New York Post reporter Frederic Dicker during a heated confrontation. This was a real doozy, and not just because Fox rushed to Paladino's defense. To boost Paladino, they had to lob some intramural attacks at Dicker -- the Post is a fellow Murdoch-owned media outlet. Gretchen Carlson of Fox & Friends said that "it almost seemed like" Dicker "was working for" Paladino's opponent, Andrew Cuomo. David Asman wondered aloud if "Americans are going to be cheering the politicians taking on the journalist."

Meanwhile, Paladino sat down for interviews with three separate Fox News hosts to defend himself and try to defuse the issue. Hannity, one of the lucky interviewers, said of Paladino: "I love his confrontational style. He's refreshingly honest."

All this raises some interesting questions. Is there anything a Republican candidate can do that will cause Fox News to abandon them? Is there anything that Fox News can do that will impel the network to apologize or -- at the very least -- not lash out wildly at critics? Are there any standards at all? Any lines that can't be crossed?

The answer seems more and more to be "no," and that's as depressing as it is remarkable.

Shine on you crazy D'Souza

There's no real reason anyone should be talking about Dinesh D'Souza's latest book, The Roots of Obama's Rage. All things being equal, the book shouldn't even exist; one would like to think that no publisher worth their salt would consider for a moment publishing such a virulently nativist collection of lies.

But, of course, all things aren't equal. In fact, things have become pretty absurd, and as a consequence D'Souza's book is a hot topic of conversation. The reason that this ridiculous person was able to publish such a ridiculous book is that there's an entire ridiculous publishing house committed to cranking out right-wing garbage of this stripe. The reason that ridiculous book sells is because there's an entire ridiculous right-wing infrastructure of book clubs and magazines that buy copies in bulk and resell them at drastically reduced rates. The ridiculous author of this ridiculous book is able to communicate with broad swaths of America because there's an entire ridiculous cable network that will put him on TV without so much as a hint of criticism.

It's tempting to look at this and brush it off. After all, it's just another example of the right-wing subculture telling each other what they want to hear and reveling in epistemic closure's comforting, suffocating embrace.

But then D'Souza popped up in The Washington Post.

The Post cleared space on their op-ed page for a guy who argues, in all seriousness, that the first black president of the United States is on a quest to drain the country's economic and military power in order to fulfill the ambitions of the "anti-colonial" father he met only once as a young child. This was after Forbes had to publish corrections to the article D'Souza wrote for them and dispatch a post-publication fact-checker.

So why did they run it? Here's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt defending the move: "D'Souza's theory has sparked a great deal of commentary, from potential presidential candidates as well as from commentators on our own pages." The "potential presidential candidate" is Newt Gingrich, who loved D'Souza's theory; and the Post commentators are Eugene Robinson, Richard Cohen, and Jonathan Capehart, all of whom called Gingrich a lunatic for promoting D'Souza. Hiatt's argument is essentially: "People are talking about it -- who cares if it's right?"

It's this sort of passive attitude towards factual accuracy that allows fringe hacks like D'Souza to break into the mainstream. The Post has an obligation to keep their readers informed, not to reprint the intellectually fraudulent trash Newt Gingrich finds interesting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taxes are the price we pay to live in an organized society

and not having to crap in our own back yard.

The attitude of conservatives is that government services should be paid for by someone else. There is no tangible over-the-counter relationship and they assume that lower taxes will have nothing but positive consequences.

This applies to roads, sewers, mosquito abatement, dams and even wars. The election time platitude that the people know how to spend their money better than the government does not even rise to the level of sophistry. If this were so, we would not be living in a society where every family has at least two cars and a cell phone for everyone old enough to walk to school while our air and water is being polluted and our bridges are crumbling. Even if they did know these things were a better expenditure, they have no way or possibility of seeing them done without government.

Businesses don't even want to pay for the wars that they love and from which they are making obscene and immoral profits. They would rather spend their money on bribing politicians to assure that they can continue to make profits and not pay for the crumbling bridges or wars.