Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday? State of the Union Address? Ash Wednesday?

Is there some subtle meaning in this?

Enjoy the day because I think we are going to be called on for personal sacrifice in order to help fix this mess we're in.

Quote of the day:

Progressive thought rests, first, on the value of empathy—putting oneself in other people’s shoes, seeing the world through their eyes, and therefore caring about them.  
The second principle is acting on that care, taking responsibility both for oneself and others, social as well as individual responsibility. 

The third is acting to make oneself, the country, and the world better—what Obama has called an “ethic of excellence” toward creating “a more perfect union” politically.
 From a post by George Lakoff...The Obama Code

Friday, February 20, 2009

Corker is a TOON?

In a flashback to " Who killed Roger Rabbit", our junior senator from Tennessee is raising eyebrows with his performances lately. His cartoonish imitations of a foam at the mouth wingnut are at odds with people who know the guy. What's going on? 

I have asked essentially the same question several times: 

Has Bob Corker gone over to the dark side? Actually, I have gone from asking the question to stating it as fact. I had such high hopes for Corker and a moderate Republican. I guess there's no longer any such thing. We probably should have known this would happen when Karl Rove started hanging around Chattanooga during Bob's Senate campaign. The Republican party poured massive amounts of marketing and pr into Corker's run and just barely edged out Harold Ford, Jr. in a nasty and racially tinged campaign from Corker financed with a huge injection of Corker's personal millions at the last minute. It looks like Bob is now trying to either ingratiate himself to, or repay, the neoconservatives who now control the Republican party, but he frankly just looks goofy trying to do it. 

Has Bob turned loon? Or is he just the latest in a long line of pols shamelessly grubbing to be the senator from Fox News?
Corker's call for TVA ratepayers to bear the full cost of the Kingston Catastrophe bears witness to Corker's deal with the devils of his party. Ignoring that it was Federally elected Republicans from all over the country who dismantled a resonably functioning TVA Board and replaced it with anti environment Republican party loyalists (including the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, for pete's sake), the call for us locals to pay for our bastard child after we've been raped is a little too much. 

Come on Bob...You weren't like this before...What happened? 

As Kotz calls for in his piece:

You need help, Bob. We're here for you if you can break through that bubble they are holding you in.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Red State Update

(Warning: Profanity...But Jackie and Dunlap are talking about Wall Street bonuses so I think profanity is called for.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Daily Soap

Welcome to the next episode of..."The Daily Lie"...Another breathless chapter in the irrational saga of the Republican Party. 

In today's episode, we find Republican leaders whining about being shut out of the stimulus bill process and claiming that President Obama reneged on his promise of bipartisanship. 

"Our bill created twice the jobs at half the cost," they sing in unison. Only it didn't. Instead of less than a Trillion bucks, which is the estimated cost of the final bill, the Republican Bill would have cost $2.5 Trillion! Off by a factor of seven is pretty normal for GOP arithmetic. Their bill would have raised taxes on 26 million American families, but cut the taxes of...Wait for it...Rich People! 

That was it. Their whole bill. No money for schools, higher education, people who've lost their jobs, alternative energy, transportation, veterans with disabilities, broadband for rural communities, and on and on...Just tax cuts for rich people. Look, rich people got trillions of dollars in tax cuts from the Bush Administration and the economy has tanked. Give rich people more money and all they do is stay up at night trying to figure out how to steal it from each other. Who in their right mind would think giving them more money would help turn our economy around? Nobody! Just Republicans, and they can't pass a "right mind" test with the answers already filled in. 

So were they left out of the process as they claimed? Why Hell no! They got to introduce their own Republican bill and as a matter of fact even a bunch of Republicans voted against the Republican Bill. Lack of Shame does appear to have some limits, even among Republicans. In the House, Republican amendments were offered and approved in the final version of the bill. Some were dumped, mostly with bipartisan support. As many as 60 Republicans voted with Democrats against some of the Republican amendments, proving that even some Republicans know better than to do some of the things that Republicans want to do. 

What did Tennessee's own have to say about Obama's bipartisanship efforts? 

“This was not a drive-by P.R. stunt, and I actually thought it might be,” Zach Wamp, of Tennessee, told the Times after he and his Republican House colleagues finished a long session with the President. “It was a substantive, in-depth discussion with our conference.” More to the point, the bill they were discussing had already been tailored to soothe Republican sensibilities.

Quietly and behind the scenes, the few rational people left in the Republican party are, in fact, working with Democrats to try and save our economy. In the final show, however, they revert to type. I suppose their defense will be, "I was only following orders." When history looks back on this time in world events, will we see that the "Good Republican" will have replaced the "Good German" as the enablers of things wicked?

Perhaps so.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

Whoa...Are Democrats going to grow a Spine?

The new Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman, Chip Forrester:

"I wasn't attacking Republicans in general. I was attacking this elitist, extremist group led by Robin Smith, fueled by Jason Mumpower, stoked by Chip Saltsman, and as chair I'm not going to let stand that kind of attack on our candidates, our Democrats. It's fair to have vigorous, ideological discussion about the policies that will help get Tennessee and our country out of the worst economic downturn since the Depression. That's fine. If the Tennessee Republican Party wants to engage in policy discussion, I'm all for it. But you're not going to attack my Democrats with a racist flier. I don't see how any reasonable Tennessean could look at that and not interpret that as a racist-looking document."


Friday, February 13, 2009

RDD...(Republican Derangement Disease)

How does a rational human being face themselves in the mirror after ranting crazy stuff on National TV?

My senior senator, Lamar Alexander,  says the stimulus package is "a spending bill, and not a stimulus bill." Do these people ever feel bad about saying stupid things like this? Is "Republican Derangement Disease" redundant? Triple redundant? Can we just say "Republican" and have people nod their heads in knowing agreement like they do when you mention "Alzheimers" in the same sentence with an old person?

Conservatives spent the last 8 years voting to borrow trillions of dollars from our children and pissed it away while destroying our international reputation, our military, our economy, and possibly our future. Now republicans are goose stepping with the other members of their party to moan and whine that the people who have to fix our economy are spending too much money? What? Are they nuts? 

Karl Rove apparently is...
Over the past month, House Republicans have used the stimulus bill to redefine their party, present ideas on how to revive the economy... 
Ok. I'll bite. Name exactly ONE Republican idea to stimulate the economy...Tax cuts for the Rich? Yeah, right! These people are both crazy and traitors. Yeah, traitors. Why do they hate America? We just gave them trillions of dollars in tax cuts...Three times the amount they are claiming is too much in the stimulus bill. Got that? We cut the hell out of rich people's taxes and the economy tanked anyway. 

Paul Krugman thinks Republicans are simply nuts:
...the rhetorical response of conservatives to the stimulus plan — which will, it’s worth bearing in mind, cost substantially less than either the Bush administration’s $2 trillion in tax cuts or the $1 trillion and counting spent in Iraq — has bordered on the deranged.
Read the rest of Paul Krugman's column.

President Obama has done what he could to include Republicans in trying to save our economy. They want no part of it, actually, even though they smile and dance and agree right up until time to vote. Then they turn into snarling dogs, biting the hand of anyone who tries to help them. 

Obama included tax cuts in the stimulus bill at their demand, and then they refused to support it, even after they got what they wanted. What they really want is for Obama to fail. For America to lose. They want America's economy to fail beause they somehow think that this will make them look good. Well here's a message to republicans/conservatives: You did this to us, and frankly, most Americans know this. Keep following Karl Rove, keep standing in the way of Obama's work to fix our country, and you'll disappear into a fractured minority party. 

Conservatism is a failed philosophy, as starkly demonstrated by the last eight years in America. if you somehow believe it's not...consider yourself diagnosed.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

On the Origin of Species and Fools

Today is Charles Darwin's birthday. Happy 200th, Charles!

Here in Tennessee, Darwin is not well thought of by the FundXtians, nor by FundXtians anywhere else. Ask one about Darwin and you usually get an ignorant response. (Ignorance is a field of study in their universities, near as I can tell.) Typical is something like, "I don't believe in Evolution." To anyone with even a rudiment of knowledge, this would be kin to not believing in the orbit of Earth around the Sun.

 It is a common misperception that Darwin discovered Evolution but this is not true. What Darwin described was the mechanism that made Evolution happen. He figured out how species came to exist when previously, according to the geological record, they had not.

Well before Darwin's time, Evolution was fairly well accepted, due to the obvious record  in the geology. Looking at a vertical slice of our planet a long time ago, people could see the obvious. The deeper down you look, the simpler the organisms preserved in the fossils. Down deep were shellfish, corals, and little bug like things, but no turtles, alligators, pigs, or cows. Look closer to the surface and there were things that sort of resembles alligators, turtles, pigs and cows. Look very close to the surface and there they were...Turtles, Alligators, pigs and cows. This sequence is repeated all over the world where geological forces have cracked open the earth and shifted great vertical slices of the geological record up where we can see it in plain view. Things went from very simple to very complex. There was no denying it for a rational human being. 

So if there was a time very long ago, when none of the complex forms of life existed, including humans, but they existed today...How did this happen? Some folks claimed that a supreme being was making them,  fish, alligators, pigs, cows, and humans, when it was time for them to exist. Darwin thought that was a stretch and that some simple mechanism was probably at work. 

Young Charles had been educated to be a preacher, but his heart wasn't in it. Religious faith is a difficult concept to a rigorously logical mind, but Darwin held on to his beliefs until well after he formulated his theory on the Origin of Species. He was sent off on a ship, basically so the captain would have somebody literate to talk to at his evening meal. As the ship travelled along the southern coast of South America, young Charles saw an amazing diversity of species of life. He saw armadillos and monkeys. On the Chilean coast he saw a steep vertical slice of the Pacific shelf created by what would come to be known as Plate Techtonics, where great sections of a continent crack and shift up and down as the continents float about on the crust of the earth. Darwin of course had no knowledge of this but once again the vertical display of time and its effect on the complexity of life was displayed. Simple life forms at the bottom(long ago), more complex life forms at the top(more recent). Evolution was obvious. Darwin's question to himself was "Why?"

It was Charles Darwin's meticulous research, compilation of specimens and data, that was published as his book, "The Origin of Species" In it he described the mechanism of Evolution. His "theory" has withstood generations of evaluation by scientists and, though we have filled in many of the blanks and details, the theory is essentially accepted by every sane scientist and researcher on Earth. 

Darwin showed us how a species differentiates into other species over time and the challenges of staying alive and reproducing. His theory explains why we have new flu viruses every year, why bacteria get resistant to our medicines, and why there were a hundred different breeds of dogs in the Westminster Dog Show this week. It explains many things that some people are uncomfortable with facing, such as why human generations who historically lived in cold climates where the sun was weak tended to have light pigmentation to their skin, whereas people who lived where the sun is strong and ever present, tend to be dark. 

Darwin showed us the explanation for almost everything biological, even human behavior. He even gave us the explanation for why some humans refuse to accept facts that challenge their beliefs. This is more complicated than I will go unto here, but let's simply note that societies evolve, too, and that evolution may become de-evolution through the exact same mechanism. 

Thank you, Mr. Darwin, for that greatest of gifts. The gift of Understanding.



Other posts I have written on Darwin are Here and Here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dr. Doom and the Black Swan

Watch this interview with the two economists who have been right about everything that has happened so far. Try not to listen to anything the talking heads say at CBNC. These guys make sense...Unfortunately.

(hat tip to TPM.com)

Republicans can't lead and won't follow...Quote of the Day

"Since Republicans can't lead and won't follow, they need to get out of the way!"

Reaganism has nearly wiped out this country. Progressives pointed out that it was a bad idea a century ago, pointed out it was a bad idea thirty years ago, and I guess we better point it out again, right now today.

Republicans need to come with an idea that isn't "give all your money to rich people", but that looks increasingly unlikely. The Republican proposals for fixing the worst American economy in our lifetimes looks pretty much like the exact same thing that created the worst American economy in our lifetimes...Tax cuts for Rich people. It's a bad idea! WE told you so!

President Bush borrowed more money than all his predecessors in history combined in order to make it look like our economy wasn't a disaster. If he had spent what he borrowed on something besides things like covering Dick Cheney's ample ass on his mismanagement of Halliburton and tax cuts for the rich, we might actually have an economy right now. But Bush didn't and we don't. Given the obvious failure you'd think they would at least be sorry and shut up, but no...Republicans are working their evil little mouths as hard as they can to make people believe that the way to fix this mess caused by giving tax cuts to rich people is to give some more tax cuts to rich people. 

"Help the middle class? What? Are you crazy? What good does that do for rich people?"

The Republican operating theory has been tried many times over, throughout history. It always ends badly. Eventually, the starving masses have to gather up into a massive cloud of vengence and eat all the rich people. It's ugly. Just ask Marie Antoinette. She hated liberals, too, even though she always longed to live the simple peasant's life, and was chastised for wearing "peasant" dresses made of muslin "unfit for a queen". Rather than hold that image of Marie 's head being surgically removed by Dr. Guillotine's brutal device, Republicans are standing on the barricade's demanding more tax cuts for rich people and corporations...Their donors. 

Well, Republicans have a lot of unmitigated gall. You have to give them that. After voting against our economy for the last 8 years, they are hellbent on doing the same thing, now, claiming tax cuts for the rich will be good for the economy. And I suppose next we'll hear that we should give corporations more tax breaks if they send more jobs overseas. That would make about as much sense.

Want to know where spending a dollar will give the greatest boost to the economy? Give it to a poor person. That's right! Give it to a poor person. I guarantee you it will get spent right here at home. Give a rich person an extra dollar and what happens? Gets put in a hedge fund or spent in Europe or the Bahamas or something. 

Food stamps, unemployment benefits, and infrastructure investment put the most money back into the economy for every dollar spent on them. Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy do the least.

So the word to Republicans is "Shutup!" Go away. You've hurt America well enough as it is. At least get out of the way and let us fix this mess you've made. Maybe you can read about the French Revolution to pass the time. That's the one where they cut the heads off of the conservatives at the end. 



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Help get the Grassroots a Seat at the Table

No...I'm not talking about Michael Phelps or bong hits. 

Ok, two things...

First...The South Carolina DA who is looking to see if he can make a case against Phelps is a jerk. If everybody who has done what Phelps did were prosecuted it would shut down the American justice system and eliminate the vast majority of law enforement officers, DA's, Judges, etc. 

Second...The jokes are hilarious:

 Never share your pot with someone who has the lung capacity of a dolphin. - Conan O'Brien

Ok, back to the grassroots, or shall we call it the "NetRoots"?

Lots of us are tired of being asked for money by local politicians only to find that we get ignored on big issues because we didn't give enough. We've watched National Coal have their way with legislators. We've watched big corporations get tax breaks and incentives while state services are being cut back. In Tennessee we've watched the state leaders back  Republican Lites instead of finding real live Democrats to run for office, and the platforms are virtually indistinguishable from each other. 

As Tennessee faces schools which are 9th from the bottom, an environmental foobar with the coal industry, a Billion dollar budget shortfall, and healthcare in a stinking mess, our state legislators, now dominated by Republicans, are announcing gay marriage bans, guns in state parks, and attacking the real menaces to society, which is either abortion or illegal immigrants, depending on which elected idiot has the microphone. 

America went blue in the last election and a recent Gallop  poll says a majority Tennesseeans consider themselves Democrats. So why did Republicans win the elections here? Well...It was mostly Republicans who were running, regardless of the capital letter after the name on the ballot. The Progressive message was lost as our state leaders told Obama to stay out of the state. 

Well, we looked to Democratic leaders to do something. You know...like maybe...Lead? 
 They didn't. They haven't. So we will. 

Step one is to let the state Democratic Party know that they have to answer to the people. This is supposed to be the difference between Republicans, who exist to serve rich people and serve as their whores and parasites. Democrats are supposed to represent workers, common people, the common good, and a healthy future for our children. 

Republicans are supposed to make things profitable for gun manufacturers and make sure gay sex stays in public bathrooms where it belongs.

The top down leadership that didn't lead has to go. The Tennessee Democratic Party has to be woken up, or we have to find a different state to move to. We can't continue to walk backward while smiling and pretending that everything is ok. It's time for action, so here's what we're gonna do...

We're going to give money to the Tennessee State Party.

That's right...We're speaking to them in a language they understand. American Currency. Greenbacks. Dollars (worth less as each day goes by but hey). It's a rap on the head that says, "You guys screwed this all up. Time have changed. Change with us or get out of the way."

So today, Tennessee Progressive bloggers have started a program we have named "Chip In!" after the new Democratic Party chairman, Chip Forrester, who has no part in this.  We propose to raise $1000 in small donations in 48 hours in order to get his attention. So far it looks like we messed up.  We are nearly thre quarters of the way to our goal after only two hours.  It's OK, we'll deal with it. We'll raise the target and make a bigger impression. 

So herre's YOUR chance to help the Progressive movement in Tennessee, even if you don't live here.  Hey...We gave money to help Your state and we're only asking for a few bucks. As important as the amount of money is the number of contributers. Give us $5 and you'll have done your part. We're working to get a seat at the table and this is how it's done in American Politics for now.

Thanks! and Peace,


Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Future of Food

PETA seems to me to be a goofy organization that does stupid stunts like throw blood and flour on people wearing leather and fur. I don't get it. I wonder how many of them eat fish or call the exterminator when termites swarm out of their baseboards? If PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals...mostly the cute fuzzy kind) wanted to get me behind them they would give up all that irritating stuff that is more likely to get one of their noses broken than stop people from wearing leather. Instead they would go after CAFO's.
CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, and it is probably the single most environmentally devastating farming practice this side of mowing down the Amazon rain forest to graze cattle. It destroys the watershed it drains into and has ruined the health of a lot of people who used to make their livelihood on the coastal rivers of North Carolina. CAFO's produce bad meat on top of everything else they do bad. If you don't believe me, try making contact with a local farmer and buy some farm raised pork. it's harder to do than it ought to be, but you won't believe the taste. Really! It tastes just like pig! Same thing for chicken and beef.
So anyway, this came up when I cracked open a homegrown egg this morning to make pancakes. First of all it took two shots to crack the shell and then the yellow was...well, yellow. Deep orange yellow. I've been talking to folks about getting a farmer's market going around here but there aren't that many farmers left. We need to encourage them. Looking around I found this amazing article with a manifesto and everything aimed at restoring FOOD to it's rightful healthy place in our society.
Cute name, right? It looks very doable. Think about it...Healthy food in schools, end massive subsidies for huge corporate farms, and make the food labels tell you what you're eating. What? A food label that tells you what's in the stuff you are about to serve to your children? Sounds socialist to me.
And I'm all for it.