Archive for January, 2009

GOP: Scrambling for an Identity

Posted in just sayin', politics with tags , , , on January 29, 2009 by mightyfag

What will become of the Republican Party? In the wake of the monumental election of the nation’s first African-American president, a democratic House of Representatives and a democratic Senate, the Republican Party is left dazed and desperately scrambling for an identity. The mandate from the people is to move away from conservative politics and embrace progressive values to repair the damage that was done in the last 30 years by administration after administration of Republican presidents.

The GOP, largely thanks to the Reagan/Bush legacy and their cronies, are left with the biggest P.R. problem since Watergate. How do they bring people back to their party? How to they define themselves and their values when the last 30 years have proven that their approach doesn’t work? Three different approaches are emerging in the face of this identity crisis.

Hold Fast!

The first, held by most of the old timers, is to dig deep into the trenches of conservatism and continue to hold the line of “less government is good and leave business to run itself”. These folks think that the best response to a country that’s leaning left is to lean further right.

For example, in President Obama’s first major piece of legislation (the economic stimulus package, or “Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year Ending 2009”) the minority Republican portion of the House of Representatives, led by John Boehner voted completely in opposition to the package. That’s right… ZERO (0) votes in favor of the resolution. President Obama reached out, trying to get Republican support for the bill even though he didn’t need it, in an effort to have bipartisan support for the recover of our nation’s economy. They didn’t budge, and voted in a block – classic Republican voting strategy. The measure passed thanks to the Democratic majority in the House even though some Democratic Representatives voted against the measure.

From the Washington Post Article: Republicans continued to press to have more of their proposals included. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House minority whip tasked with rounding up the opposition, said the vote delivered a message to Obama: “Tell Speaker Pelosi to begin to work with us.”

How very truly ironic. When the Republicans were in the majority they never worked with the Democrats. They just steam-rolled whatever they wanted and went ahead with their agenda of corporatocracy. This technique of holding fast to the Bush/Reagan platform is not going to garner any public support in the near future. It simply paints the Republican Party as a party of negative attitudes in a sea of hope.

We’re Young and Cool Too!

The second approach the neocons are taking is to ride the wave of Obama’s well-sown hope and rejuvination by presenting young and vibrant minority candidates that are part of the Republican Party. It’s the “we’re cool and we aren’t just white guys” approach that clearly demonstrates a complete lack of understanding around why Obama was so well received by the American populace.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

This whole current started with the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate under John McCain. Most people responded with a “what?” to her nomination, but Republicans everywhere were thrilled with her. She was deeply conservative, a woman and young – CLEARLY a competitor for Obama, right? Wrong.

Sarah Palin proved to have the eloquence of George W. Bush combined with the looks of Tina Fey and the agenda of Charlton Heston. Her public gaffes were legendary and she only succeeded in showing the world just how old John McCain really was, and just how clueless about politics and economics she was.

Ms. Palin continues to make a public fool out of herself by criticizing the media for prodding into her family and personal life (after she paraded out her children and family as a political tool), and for mocking her on shows like Saturday Night Live (free speech, darlin’ – we still have it in this country, and satire is the oldest form of it). She doesn’t seem to understand that the more she stands in the spotlight, the more people are going to notice her flaws.

Her latest endeavors include SarahPAC – a political action committee dedicated to: “building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.” (Source)

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Then there’s Bobby Jindal, the governor from Louisiana. Hey, he’s young, he’s of Indian descent (dot, not feather) and he’s Roman-Catholic, AND REPUBLICAN! Perfect, right? (Notice how being a Catholic isn’t a big deal because his other minority statuses make him a perfect match for their quasi-racist perspectives on this whole thing.)

There’s talk of him being slated to run on the 2012 presidential ticket, and that his youth and charisma will make him a shining star. The problem is that his politics are more of the same. That, coupled with the exorcism he helped with on his friend Susan, makes him a bit of a questionable candidate. An exorcism? What? Read for yourself.

These candidates and others are being touted as the great hope for the Republican party who mistakenly look at Obama’s victory as being one of race. Obama didn’t win because he’s African American. He didn’t win because he is a minority. He won because he presented a campaign of hope in dark times, he is incredibly well spoken, a constitutional scholar and thus understands the way our country SHOULD work, and he was a non-insider running for office to get in there and scrap away all of the awful damage done by George W. Bush. But the Republicans are blind to this fact because they see no fault with what W. did.

More of the Same

The Third Option the Republican Party has been taking is, sadly, more of the same. A negative, smear campaign to erode away the popularity of the president and his party. The previous propaganda-spreading devices of conservative talk radio and conservative television opinion shows are now being used to foster distrust and attempt to paint this administration in a negative light.

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

Enter good old Rush Limbaugh. This oxycontin-chugging talking hole has done plenty in his career to discredit himself and present himself as nothing more than a “shock-jock” who spouts hate and sows distrust in our country. His gaffes included accusing Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinson’s Disease and the latest is stating publicly on the radio that he “hopes Obama fails” at what he is doing. He has never had the country’s best interests in mind, just his own. He takes advantage of those who don’t have access to good sources of information and fills their heads with talking points handed down directly from the Republican Party and passes them off as if they are facts. This man, simply put, should be taken off the air and forgotten forever.

Matt Drudge

Matt Drudge

Then there’s Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report. Claiming everything from Global Warming being a hoax, to the Obama Stimulus Package giving money to illegals, to misquoting information as if it were “facts” about the federal funding to prevent STD transmission in the latest stimulus package.

News flash, having a big website that LOOKS like a newspaper, doesnt’ mean you’re actually toting news or facts. It just means you are using CSS styles obnoxiously. Check out a simple search on crooksandliars.com on Matt Drudge and see the extent of his misinformation campaign for yourself.

My Advice

So where does the Republican Party go from here? Well, I’m not an advocate for a one-party system, no matter what party is in control. I think there needs to be balance and debate to hone the best legislature out there. I like the problem that the Republican Party is facing is one of religion versus politics, and that a separation of the two will greatly assist them in recovering some validity in the eyes of the public.

First, they need to ditch the radical evangelican Christian platform. The evangelican agenda is one of intrusion into personal lives and a legislation of morality – these go against classical “Goldwater Republican” values that uphold privacy as paramount. This will eliminate the abortion issue, gay rights issues and issues around any religious or spiritual practice. Allow the evangelicals to evaluate their own values and form their own party apart from the Republican party – eject them right out of the GOP.

Next, go back to a classical “stay out of my personal life” platform – one where small businesses can start up with minimal government intrusion, where personal freedoms (like freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press) are guaranteed, and where certain things that are currently viewed as priviledges are instead embraced as rights (education, health, a living wage, etc.) This will allow them to pick up some of the progressive leaning Republicans who went Democratic.

Finally, they need to cut themselves away from the corporate apron strings. Their blatant and transparent actions that cowtow to corporate interests are making them lose traction in the greater populace. Stand for FAIR trade and FAIR business practices, instead of laissez-faire business that merely leads to economic bubbles that burst into depressions (like our current economic situation.) Stand up for the working class and support the middle class and you’ll regain some followers.

Advertisements

Gay Prime Minister

Posted in politics, society and culture on January 28, 2009 by countryjim13

gay-pm2It seems that the gay rights movement will have a victory!  Iceland is set to appoint the first openly gay Prime Minister.  Iceland’s government recently failed as a result of the global economic crisis and Johanna Sigurdardottir, the social affairs minister is set to appointed as interim Prime Minister as early as tomorrow.  Once appointed, she will serve as Prime Minister until elections are held this Spring to elect a new government. (1)

For the first time, an openly gay person will be at the head of a nation’s government.  How much, if at all this will affect the gay rights movement in the United States or anywhere else in the world is not known of course.  This may be something of a small victory.  But it is a victory nonetheless and one that should celebrated.

Are the stimulus package and the Democratic government selling us short to a weak, failed, minorty party?

Posted in economics, just sayin', politics on January 27, 2009 by countryjim13

demvictory08When a large majority of American voters cast their ballots this past November, they overwhelming spoke out against both Republican foreign and domestic economic policy.  The argument can be made that the economic crisis pushed President Obama to overwhelming victory because of the Bush failures and McCain’s lack of knowledge and insight related to the current economic meltdown.  While Bush was hiding out in the White House and while McCain was telling us that the American economy was still going strong, Obama and democrats were preparing to actually solve the problem.  The American voters saw how Republican, conservative economic policy had helped drive our economy into this hole, and we overwhelming voted for a change in such philosophy and policy.  So why, now, is the bill that is supposed to help solve this problem being allowed to be watered down in order to appease Republican politicians?  Why are the President and Congressional Democrats more interested in amassing votes and doing what is “politically expedient” than in doing what will work to fix our economy?

Bush issued massive tax cuts, mostly to the wealthy of America, and it did nothing but hurt our economy in the end by leaving nothing in government coffers amidst massive war spending and corporate deregulation.  Now in spite of the fact that tax cuts, which are relatively ineffective at stimulating an economy and encouraging spending, make up a full 1/3 of the stimulus bill as it currently stands, Republicans are still not satisfied (most likely because those tax cuts are for normal Americans who are not rich).  So now we are seeing all over the news Republicans up in arms and threatening to vote against the package because they say it spends too much money and does not include enough tax cuts!

Did Republicans miss the fact that they lost the election?  Not just the presidential election mind you, but also elections in the House and the Senate.  YOU LOST!  THEY LOST!  The American people spoke in favor the Democratic solution and yet we are being subjected to a watering down of that solution because our supposedly liberal politicians insist on being bipartisan and appeasing what is now nothing more than a small, pesky, outdated minority party.  What is bipartisan is not what we need right now.  What we need is what will work and massive tax cuts have been proven over and over again to provide very little economic stimulus in such dire times as these.  At best such tax cuts do nothing more than slightly increase spending during times when the economy is already strong and the consumers confidence is already high.  At the very least, the Democratic government needs to put together a package that is mostly comprised of infrastructure spending, aid to the unemployed, and alternative energy investment in order to truly stimulate the economy from the bottom up, create millions of jobs, and create a transformed, new green economy that currently does not exist, but needs to exist. 

I think perhaps Democrats have no courage.  I don’t know how else to put it.  During the Bush Administration, weakdemsparticularly when he had Republican majorities in the House and Senate to back him up, the debate over compromise between the two parties was consistently framed in terms of Democrats, as the minority party and the party not in the White House, being willing to give in to Republican philosophy and policy demands.  Somehow, in spite of the fact that the tables have technically turned and Democrats now hold large majorities throughout the government, the nature of this debate has not shifted.  Democrats are still acting like they are a minority party who must bow to the will of the Republicans in order get anything accomplished.  This is not the case.  Democrats do not need Republican votes and playing politics by watering down this legislation to virtual ineffectiveness in order to be bipartisan and share any potential blame is playing games with our country’s future.  Compromise is not synonymous with Democrats giving in, it does not mean Democrats creating a stimulus bill that looks like it was written by Republicans.  It is time for Republicans to compromise, to give in.  That is what the American people demanded when we fired the Republican Party and swept Democrats to huge victories and majorities in the last two elections.  Democrats need to shut out the whining and complaining of the failed Republican Party, vote to pass the package without them, and move towards fixing what has been broken, mostly by Republican administrations, over the last few decades.

And so what does stimulate the economy the most?  Infrastructure spending has already been mentioned.  The graph below shows that the three types of spending that provide the most stimulus and create the most additional spending are increases in food stamps, the extention of unemployment benefits, and infrastructure spending.  Let’s look at these briefly, how they stimulate the economy, and how these three areas have been watered down in the current package in order to make room for massive tax cuts that will do little to stimulate our dying economic system.

dollarofstimulusputsbackwhenspentonsourcemoodys-economycom-congressional-testimony3

We can see from the graph above that for every $1 spent on food stamps and additional $1.73 in spending is generated, an additional $1.64 in spending is generated for every $1 in extended unemployment benefits, and for every $1 spent on infrastructure an additional $1.59 in spending is generated.  On the other hand for every dollar in tax cuts you have anywhere from only $.30 to around $1 in additional spending generated. 

If this is the case, why does the current stimulus bill look the way it does?  Right now infrastructure spending souplineaccounts for only $90 billion out of $825 billion, only 10% of the bill.  Only $43 billion is slotted for extending unemployment benefits and only $20 billion is set aside for increased spending on food stamps.  All in all, the three most effective economic stimulators account for only a measly 18.5% of the current stimulus package while tax cuts account for a full third, 33.33% of the package! (1)  Are we supposed to expect this package to truly stimulate our economy and create jobs? 

Briefly, we must also ask if the size of the stimulus package in general is really enough to jolt our economy back to life.  This question is all the more important in the face of Republican pressure to further slash the bill’s spending provisions in favor of more tax cuts.  Our annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2007 was roughtly $14 trillion. (2)  That is $14,000 trillion.  To give you an idea of how much money that really is, if you make $50,000 per year it will take you 16.5 million years to earn $14 tillion.  With a stimulus package of $825 billion (only 66% of which is actually spending) the stimulus package amounts to only 5.8% of our total annual GDP.  Can we really expect that such small change, relatively speaking, is actually going to stimulate the economy?  Perhaps it will, but in light of the massive amounts of money generated on average by our economy each year, I think the question is an important one that should be addressed with all seriousness by those in our government who are working to solve this problem rather than simply using it as an excuse to provide the wealthy with more tax relief.

If we are trying to “get the most bang for our buck” it seems clear that tax cuts are not the direction in which our government needs to be looking.  This does not necessarily mean that there should not be any tax cuts included in the package, but this information does force us to question whether the current package already leans too far in the direction of tax cuts and sells America short when it comes to truly effective means of spending and economic stimulation.  If this is the case, then we must ask whether or not our government is doing the right thing by heeding the cries of a party that has done nothing but fail us both politically and economically for most of the last decade and beyond.

Today, Republican politicians are urging each other to vote against the stimulus package if it is not watered down further, if Obama and Congressional Democrats do not weaken the package even more by ejecting spending and adding even more tax cuts that will benefit the wealthy more than those who truly need the help.  I call on Democrats to take Republicans at their word.  Let them vote against the package.  Who cares!  Their votes are NOT needed to pass the bill.  I would go even further and encourage our Democratic leadership to change the package to include fewer tax cuts and more infrastructure spending, more spending to help those who have lost their jobs, more spending to create a green, clean economy for the future.  Let Republicans take a backseat, let them push themselves further into fringes of American political philosophy and policy where they belong.  Then, finally, the rest of us can get busy doing the important work that needs to be done to fix this nation’s economy.

Voices From History: Desegregation Activists Speak Out in Favor of Gay Marriage, Part I

Posted in just sayin', politics, society and culture with tags , on January 21, 2009 by countryjim13

As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) John Lewis was a leader of the civil rights movment to end segregation.  Since 1987 he has been  the United States House Representative for the 5th Congressional District in Georgia.  Below is a copy of an article written by Lewis and published by the Boston Globe on October 25, 2003.  In this article, Representative Lewis expresses support for same-sex marriage and equates laws banning same-sex marriage to the segregation laws he fought so hard to reverse. 

john-lewis

At a crossroads on gay unions

By John Lewis 10/25/03

From time to time, America comes to a crossroads. With confusion and controversy, it’s hard to spot that moment. We need cool heads, warm hearts, and America’s core principles to cleanse away the distractions.

We are now at such a crossroads over same-sex couples’ freedom to marry. It is time to say forthrightly that the government’s exclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters from civil marriage officially degrades them and their families. It denies them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It denies them numerous legal protections for their families.

This discrimination is wrong. We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.

Some say let’s choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights but call it something other than marriage. We have been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights to liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms, without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation.

Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being Americans.

Sometimes it takes courts to remind us of these basic principles. In 1948, when I was 8 years old, 30 states had bans on interracial marriage, courts had upheld the bans many times, and 90 percent of the public disapproved of those marriages, saying they were against the definition of marriage, against God’s law. But that year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in America to strike down such a ban. Thank goodness some court finally had the courage to say that equal means equal, and others rightly followed, including the US Supreme Court 19 years later.

Some stand on the ground of religion, either demonizing gay people or suggesting that civil marriage is beyond the Constitution. But religious rites and civil rights are two separate entities. What’s at stake here is legal marriage, not the freedom of every religion to decide on its own religious views and ceremonies.

I remember the words of John Kennedy when his presidential candidacy was challenged because of his faith: “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish — where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source — where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Those words ring particularly true today. We hurt our fellow citizens and our community when we deny gay people civil marriage and its protections and responsibilities. Rather than divide and discriminate, let us come together and create one nation. We are all one people. We all live in the American house. We are all the American family. Let us recognize that the gay people living in our house share the same hopes, troubles, and dreams. It’s time we treated them as equals, as family (source).

A Day of Celebration: The Inauguration of President Barak Hussein Obama and the End of the Bush Era

Posted in just sayin', politics with tags , on January 20, 2009 by countryjim13

Today is a truly momentous day.  I am a white, straight, middle class man – as little a part of any minority group as a person could be.  Today is a truly momentous day.  It does not, or at least should not matter what your background is be it by birth or by choice of socio-political preference and affiliation.  Today is a truly momentous day.  Today Barak Hussein Obama, son of an African immigrant and a white American mother, who lived as a boy in the predominantly Muslim country of Indonesia, a man who truly represents African Americans, Americans of European decent, Americans of mixed heritage.  He is a man who represents both the majority and the minority of this nation through the very blood that runs through his veins (sorry women, I suppose you are still left out in this physiological sense).  It is a historical moment.  President Obama is not only the first black President of the U.S., a nation that actively endorsed and engaged in forcing the African people into slavery as recently as only a few generations ago, he is also the first minority president in the history of any western industrialized nation.  That makes this a momentous day not only for Americans, but literally for people all over the world.56543130

Do not misunderstand.  I have many reservations about President Obama.  There are a number of issues on which I sit nervously at the edge of my seat, unsure of whether or not I will end up approving of and supporting his decisions and actions.  I did not vote for President Obama (in fact I have never voted for a Democrat or Republican presidential candidate).  Yet this is still a momentous day and regardless of whether I approve or disapprove of Obama as his term as President unfolds into the future, today is a day of celebration.  It does not matter that I did not vote for him, that I was not a supporter who helped elect him to office.  It does not even matter what my opinion of him is tomorrow.   It is still a day of celebration.  I could not help but feel a sense of pride, joy, hope as I watched him fumble through the oath of office and give a somber, but inspirational inaugural speech. 

This is not a perfect country.  We still have much to learn.  We have a tremendous amount of progress that still needs to be made.  Today, however, we showed ourselves as a nation as well as the world at large that we do have the capacity to grow, to change, to progress, to overcome the faults and mistakes of a dark past and move forward into a somewhat brighter and more inclusive future.  Today is truly a tremendous day, a day of celebration, joy, and hope for a better tomorrow.

bush_moron1At the same time it is a day of celebration for another reason entirely and yet related.  Today was the end of the Bush presidency.  Today was hopefully the end of an era of Bush presidents, both of whom have helped drive the world into war and economic peril over the past two decades.  I am almost 30 years old.  If you include the eight years that George H. W. Bush was Vice President under Ronald Regan I have lived 66.6% of my life under the rule of the Bush family (and I won’t even begin to try and wonder of the unlikely yet mystically possible implications of the above number in relation to the current thought process).  And so, after 20 of my 30 years of life having little choice but to live under the leadership of this inept family dynasty, today we celebrate the end. 

When Bush Jr. was introduced at today’s inauguration and millions of people booed.  I felt happy.  When he and his wife left in the marine helicopter and millions of people sang, “Na na na na, hey hey hey, good-bye!”  I was proud of this nation.  I know it was rude, but he deserves it and I sincerely hope it makes him seriously ponder his last eight years and the nothing but disastrous effect he has had on this nation and the rest of the world.  A leadership based on fear and divisiveness, warlords and corporate interests, secrecy and lies has finally come to an end.  It is truly a day of celebration.  America and its people can once again hold their heads high.  We can once again say, “I am an American” without feeling a sense of utter shame and humiliation. 

Today we can celebrate.  Bush is gone.  We can, perhaps, have pride in our government again.  As President Obama said so passionately in his inaugural speech, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ouselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”  And so today we celebrate.  Tomorrow President Obama goes to work, the nation goes to work as we try and rebuild our reputation, our place in the world, our economy, and our way of life in the wake of the catastrophic event that has been the George W. Bush presidency and the Bush era in general.  I truly cannot express my jubilation.  Thank goodness he is fainlly gone! 

End of an Error

Posted in just sayin', politics with tags , , on January 20, 2009 by mightyfag

Finally, after 8 years under an oppressive president and administration mired in unconstitutional practices, a constant whittling away of civil rights and the utter destruction of our economy, we have a breath of fresh air. As President Obama placed his hand on Licoln’s bible and took his oath of office administered to him by Chief Justice Roberts (an outright corporatists whose entire career revolved around upholding corporations’ rights against the rights of workers) I breathed a sigh of relief. For 1/4 of the years that I’ve been alive on this earth, I’ve had to live under the oppressive rule of Bush’s gulag.

Obama's Oath

One of the things that stood out for me as the new president took his oath was how the Chief Justice stumbled in his administering of the oath. It was as if this puppet justice, appointed by Bush and his corporatist cronies, knew that the jig was up. We can only hope that in addition to his promises of energy independence, a revival and preservation of civil rights, a restoration of our country’s reputation around the world and a revitalization of our economy, that President Obama will also remember that part of defending the Constitution includes holding those who have broken its laws accountable.

I know we are all elated about the new president and the hope that he brings, but I firmly hold that in order to move forward, we need to mend the wounds of the past and make amends where we can. The time is NOW to hold former president George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the amerofascists, accountable for their war crimes, their illegal wire tapping programs, their negligence in handling of federal disasters like Katrina, lying to the American people in the face of counterintelligence about weapons of mass destruction, breaking habeas corpus, and the multitude of other crimes they commited.

We need to remember, and make visible to the entire world, that the United States of America is a nation of laws an that NO MAN is above the law.

Public Service Announcement: National Defense of Marriage Act Protest

Posted in public notices on January 4, 2009 by countryjim13

Saturday January 10, 2009 is a nationwide day of protest against The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  DOMA is a shameful piece of federal legislation that was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.  President-elect Barak Obama has expressed his opposition to DOMA and the day of protest is meant to display a massive show of opposition to the law and by doing so encourage Obama to overturn it when he becomes President in two weeks.  Protest events are taking place all over the nation.  CLICK HERE to find events in a city nearest to you. 

Gay Marriage Marches