conservatives or selfservatives?

1) The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went.

2) Paul, Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann, Romney and Perry stump for the elimination of departments and programs.

3) Republicans seek to dismantle much of the federal government, to leave us with states and cities fighting amongst themselves in a race to the bottom.

A superb plutocratic strategy, ey wot !

Clearly, neither sincerity nor integrity drive these candidates. Merely pandering.

Get this:

Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay.

Perry has called for sweeping changes to Social Security for average workers and has railed against special “perks”

Perry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas governor. Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.

On a swing through Cherokee, Iowa, Perry was asked why the Employee Retirement System should be paying his retirement while he’s still collecting a salary.

“That’s been in place for decades. … I don’t find that to be out of the ordinary,” Perry said.

Is it conservatives or selfservatives we’re encountering these days?

cold achiever

NYTimes:

He drew a chart called a growth-share matrix with little circles to represent various pursuits: work, family, church. Investing time in work delivered tangible returns like raises and profits.

“Your children don’t pay any evidence of achievement for 20 years,” Mr. Romney said.

yesteryear priorities

Excuse me while we ponder Jefferson’s warning that we must relocate the Capitol each generation or so…

In the Valley, they think of themselves as visionaries. Tomorrow is theirs; and their confidence in innovative products and services depends in no small measure on their belief that the future is not simply influencing their thinking (we are, as it were, all futurists now, at least in these zip codes – if friends in DC will now forgive me a Keynesian allusion) but it will in turn be shaped by their personal and corporate vision.

The future is both their study and their creature.

They have the kind of symbiosis with tomorrow that the District has with yesterday. So creativity, risk, and a long entrepreneurial arc, are their stock in trade.

In the District, a community of generally smart and committed persons, the “corporate culture” could hardly be more different. Pretty much whatever our politics, our client (sorry) lies in the past.

peddling a pudgy pugilist

Reporters, listen up: Stop calling Newt Gingrich a “scholar.” In fact, spend some time learning about his real history.

Myra MacPherson has profiled Newt Gingrich for the Washington Post since 1989.

Reporters should examine candidate Newt’s so-called brilliant solutions, often vague or recycled from the 1994 Contract With America, which Gingrich co-authored. Detractors at the time nicknamed it Contract On America.

And his former pastor Rev. Bretley Harwell, was so disillusioned at Newt’s famous dumping of wife number one — bringing her divorce papers instead of flowers while she recuperated from a cancer operation — that he was willing to be quoted.

You’re looking at an amoral person, that’s what you’re looking at.

Seth Godin calls it the new lazy journalism

We don’t need paid professionals to do retweeting for us. They’re slicing up the attention pie thinner and thinner, giving us retreaded rehashes of warmed over news, all hoping for a bit of attention because the issue is trending. We can leave that to the unpaid, I think.

The hard part of professional journalism going forward is writing about what hasn’t been written about, directing attention where it hasn’t been, and saying something new.

time to starve politicians

A 7-step guide to passing a city or town resolution to Get Money Out! of politics
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

The two dominant parties have fought each other to stalemate.

— the anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government wing of the Republican Party

— the raise-taxes-on-the-rich-but-don’t-touch-my-entitlement wing of the Democratic Party

Nothing really gets resolved, nobody wins, and the stalemate continues.

It is in your name, with your money, that this unproductive game is played.

One way or another, we are all enablers.

“The only way to change their behavior is to stop the flow of political cash to both parties. It’s the only currency that seems to matter to these guys, the only thing that will get their attention, the only message they are likely to understand.”

Starve the political establishment of the money that is used to keep itself, along with the rest of the country, locked in stalemate.

cult of promo

Focusing on personal instead of structural failings is a problem that is endemic to modern, mainstream journalism. 

Some of these allegations are true; some I know to be false.

I know that attacking individuals makes sexier journalism (and is often appropriate), but the truth is that America’s industrial cities got into deep trouble because of decades of federal and state policies that deprived minorities of good jobs and homes, encouraged the building of the suburbs at the expense of the cities, encouraged big industry to abandon urban communities and concentrated the poor and unemployed in the cities.

Especially now, when technology has given virtually everyone the ability to publish to large audiences, we have an obligation to use that ability to find and tell stories that advance our common understanding of the truth as well as our common welfare…

…the news does not belong exclusively to any specialized group of information workers. As the media business continues to fragment under the enormous pressure of changing technology and culture, it is critical to focus on how to include as many voices as possible in telling the stories that matter…

 

 

SOPA is bad bad law

Dear Congress,
It’s No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works

We get it. You think you can be cute and old-fashioned by openly admitting that you don’t know what a DNS server is. You relish the opportunity to put on a half-cocked smile and ask to skip over the techno-jargon, conveniently masking your ignorance by making yourselves seem better aligned with the average American joe or jane — the “non-nerds” among us. But to anyone of moderate intelligence that tuned in to yesterday’s Congressional mark-up of SOPA, the legislation that seeks to fundamentally change how the internet works, you kind of just looked like a bunch of jack-asses.

If you hate Big Government, fight SOPA.

Nobody who opposes Big Government and favors deregulation should favor the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, or H.R. 3261. It’s a big new can of worms that will cripple use of the Net, slow innovation on it, clog the courts with lawsuits, employ litigators in perpetuity and deliver copyright maximalists in the “content” business a hollow victory for the ages. v

We don’t need SOPA. What we do need is for Congress — along with lawmakers and regulators everywhere, right down to public utilities commissions and town councils — to at least begin to understand what the Internet is, and what it does for everybody, before it starts making laws protecting one business at the expense of all the rest.

Time to make a call to your representatives.

technocrat #fail

oh why are boots law?

Bubbling under the surface of politics is the foreclosure crisis — where the power of big finance is brushing up against the rule of law. The party leaders seem to have decided it is essentially a giant — but unavoidable — tragedy. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said foreclosures have to clear for the housing market to reset. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has spent only about $2 billion of the $75 billion authorized for the Home Affordable Modification Program.

But the foreclosure crisis is not only a few million personal tragedies.

It is a few million crime scenes.

“Until we focus on justice, we can expect the crime spree to go on. After all, what we’re all learning is that for large banks, crime pays.” —Matthew Stoller

pray away charlatans?

Silly and true:

The clinic, which Bachmann co-owns with his wife Michele, was exposed last summer for practicing a form of discredited ‘pray away the gay‘ therapy by a Truth Wins Out hidden-camera investigation – a charge both Bachmanns had previously denied.

Ex-gay therapy is rejected by every respected medical and mental health organization in the nation, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association.

outside ‘the system’

All the definitions of our economic system are developed by the people in power.

It’s astounding we’re not arguing only incompetence.

Today, only elites have the power to build large scale rule-creating institutions, to access modern networks of dispute resolution and arbitration, and to operate under good commercial law.

We can see what this has done by looking at the informal sector: elites have shaped the rules and institutions to their benefit and marginalized the majority of humanity in the process.

right wing wrecks this country

Why will anyone support Republicans?

Based on the long-term historical record, by pretty much any economic measure, it’s progressive policies that deliver superior growth, prosperity, fiscal responsibility, opportunity, individual liberty, and a vibrant, robust economy and society.

How can that be? Aren’t Republicans the ‘party of growth’? NO !

→ Progressives deliver more prosperity.
→ They deliver it to more people.
→ And they do it without busting the budget.

1) Wisdom of the Crowds. Democrats’ dispersed government spending — education, health care, infrastructure, and social support — puts money (hence power) in the hands of individuals, instead of delivering concentrated streams to big entities…

2) Money that goes to millions of individuals is much less subject to ‘capture’ by powerful players…

3) Social programs since the New Deal serve as automatic stabilizers for the economy, providing the kind of anti-cyclical fiscal policy…

4) When people feel they won’t end up on the streets, they feel free to move to a different job that better fits their talents — better allocating labor resources.

5) With a stable platform beneath them, people strike out on their own to develop the kind of innovative, entrepreneurial ventures that are the true engine of long-term growth and prosperity.

6) Education to infrastructure to scientific research have been demonstrated to pay off many times over in widespread public prosperity.

7) Dispersal of income and wealth provides the widespread demand (read: sales) that producers need to succeed, to expand, and to take risks…

our country cracking up

Jon Taplin:

awoke this morning to read that a candidate for the Presidency (Newt Gingrich) believes we should launch a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea and Iran because he fears they are about to launch a nuclear missile to be “detonated in outer space high above the American heartland, (which) would set off a huge and crippling shockwave of electricity.

Mr. Gingrich warns that it would fry electrical circuits from coast to coast, knocking out computers, electrical power and cellphones.

Everything from cars to hospitals would be knocked out.

“Millions would die in the first week alone,” he wrote in the foreword to a science-fiction thriller published in 2009 that describes an imaginary EMP attack on the United States.

Most scientists regard this as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic even if these two pygmy powers had such a rocket, and yet this man could seriously be the Republican nominee for the President of the United States. This is like Ron Hubbard running for President on the Scientology ticket.

falsity astounds me

Our culture’s support for Republican errors via NYTimes:

this point is worth emphasizing once again. As Krugman notes:

…the GOP is not now, and never has been (at least not since the 1970s) concerned about the deficit.

All the fiscal posturing of the last couple of years has been about using the deficit as a club to smash the welfare state, with the secondary goal of frustrating any efforts on the part of the Obama administration to help the struggling economy.

The entire debate has been fake.

If you don’t understand that, or can’t bring yourself to admit it, you’re missing the whole story.


“So the idea that those at the very top, who now are richer than anybody has ever been; we now have people who are richer than any people have ever been in the history of the world; why they can’t pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes in crazy.

“Five days after George W. Bush became president, [five days!!] Alan Greenspan testified to the Senate Budget Committee, and said ‘we are in danger of paying off our national debt too fast. We have a projected $5 trillion surplus going into the next ten years and we very well may pay off the debt too fast, the federal government is in danger of having too much money.

“Then as soon as we started losing jobs and we’re in a recession, Bush said, ‘well we’re in a recession, we need to cut taxes because the economy’s bad.’ So in addition to ‘every time you cut taxes you increase revenue’ and ‘every time you cut taxes you decrease revenue’, there was also, ‘every time the economy’s doing well you have to cut taxes’, and ‘every time the economy is doing bad you have to cut taxes.’

“And then, when it needed one more element to become absolutely dangerous, and Dick Cheney provided that. Cheney said, ‘Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter’. So Bush takes the biggest surplus in history and turns it into the biggest deficit in history, hands off a $1.2 trillion projected deficit to Obama, and an economy, here it is, I’ve done my job, we’re shedding 750,000 jobs a month.

This is the most incomprehensible economic theory I’ve ever heard.”

stacked against

“We overestimated capitalism’s ability to function properly without strong democratic checks.”

Gary Segura:

Elected officials and university administrators have felt no compunction about using force to prevent political dissent….

Contrast these actions with how our nation has dealt with the investment bankers, mortgage lenders, and hedge fund managers who wrecked the world economy.

It is hard not to conclude that the fix is in.

The degree to which our political and legal systems favor the wealthy and powerful is breathtaking in scope and arrogance.

without embarrassment

Bill Moyers:

Those “men of action in the capitalist world” were not content with their wealth just to buy more homes, more cars, more planes, more vacations and more gizmos than anyone else.

They were determined to buy more democracy than anyone else.

And they succeeded beyond their expectations.

After their forty-year “veritable crusade” against our institutions, laws and regulations—against the ideas, norms and beliefs that helped to create America’s iconic middle class—the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance.

Second_Bill_of_Rights:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.

flawed campaign platform

So it is perhaps unsurprising that our recent economic crisis had some characteristics of boom-and-busts in less developed nations. It was triggered, in part, by 1 percenters on Wall Street persuading regulators to remove restrictions on their casino. It led workers to pile on debt to supplement falling incomes. It ended with a vast deployment of tax dollars to bail out fallen plutocrats. And our political system seems unable to deal with the aftermath.

NY Times asserts Republican are misguided protectors of the 1%:

The Republican right is pushing back hard against the 99 percent movement and its focus on the widening chasm between the fortunes of the few at the summit of the income scale and everybody else.

Newt Gingrich, who led the field of Republican presidential candidates last week, argued that the concept of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent is ‘un-American’. His rival Rick Perry, who led the Republican pack in September, answered a question about taxes and inequality by saying “I don’t care about that.”