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Stars and bars forever!

Stars and bars forever!

Who is laughing now?

Just five years ago some Americans were painting their Hummers in the stars and stripes, confident that the “liberation” of Iraq would bring global peace and low, low gas prices. The Hummer symbolized American strength, wealth, and frontier attitude. Now all those cowboys who thought they were starring in an Old West flick have been told “Go East young man!” as the Hummer brand is sold to a Chinese company.

It’s too easy to say that their jingoistic hubris is the root cause of this national humiliation. Instead I’ll point out that passing the baton of overweening douche-baggery to the Chinese might be exactly what saves our republic.

redhum

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Kumar and Obama

Kumar and Obama

CNN is reporting that actor Kal Penn who played the lovable stoner Kumar in the Harold and Kumar movies will be working in Obama’s office of public liason. Sez CNN, “Penn will be primarily involved in dealing with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the arts community.”

Yeah! SWEET JOB DUDE!!!

Reminds me of the scene in Ali G — In Da House where Ali as MP goes to inspect contraband stored in the British customs lock-up.

😉

Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head today with his Op-Ed. It reminds me why I like him in the first place. For those of you too lazy to click through to the essay and read it, I’ll give you a summary. Krugman says that our policy makers continue to be blinded by the mythology developed by Milton Friedman and others and popularized by Reagan. They think the financial system is fundamentally sound, and the recent collapse is wholly due to public misperception. That is why the Summers/Geithner plan rings hollow in a progressive’s ears. A progressive knows we have to move past the culture of greed and bonus, of growing wealth disparity and opt-out attitudes, but Summers and Geithner don’t get it.

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Jake Desantis’s (public) letter to Edward Liddy in today’s New York Times is just one more attempt by the the real media elites — the conservatives of both parties — to quash public outcry over the legacy and abuses of Reaganomics.

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This is CNN’s headline for a story in which Obama responds to Cheney’s tale that he has made America unsafe and prone to another terrorist attack: “On ’60 Minutes’ Obama rebukes Cheney criticism.'”

I know that newsmen are not as smart as they like to think they are, but come on! It should be “Obama rebuts Cheney criticism.” To say Obama “rebukes” Cheney criticism is to say that he chides those who criticize Cheney. I sense a right-wing conspiracy — of dunces.

UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!!!

empty_pockets

I know the readers of Cultural Capitol are probably sick of hearing me rant on this subject, and for your sake this will be my last post on the topic. The Editor has counseled moderation, and I know in my heart of hearts he’s right. But I can’t leave it without saying just this one more thing about the “popular” reaction to A. I. G.’s bonuses.

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James Barron and Russ Buettner write in a human interest piece in today’s New York Times that “many [A. I. G.] workers felt demonized and betrayed. ‘It is as bad if not worse than McCarthyism,’ [an anonymous A. I. G. exec] said. Everyone has sacrificed the employees of A.I.G.’s financial products division, he said, ‘for their own political agenda.'”

Bless Barron and Buettner for trying to put a human face on this mess.  But the execs who cry “I didn’t have anything to do with those credit problems” (James Haas) still don’t understand why their fellow citizens want to lynch them. Let me attempt to put a face on populist outrage.

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The story in the Times today trying to defend Geitner puts the blame for his bad judgment (really, a complete lack of political common sense) on faceless “government lawyers” who told the Treasury secretary exactly what he wanted to hear:

On Tuesday last week, as he prepared for a meeting in London of the finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations, Mr. Geithner learned that A.I.G. by Sunday would send out the bonuses to employees at its financial products unit, which developed the risky derivatives now blamed for the global credit crisis.

With few senior political appointees on hand, the word came from one of the numerous career civil servants who keep the Treasury functioning through changes of administration, according to an official.

Mr. Geithner consulted lawyers. They told him the government could not override the contracts that the insurance conglomerate had signed in early 2008, when its financial products unit was fast losing money.

The Times piece tries hard to justify Geiter’s naivete, blaming his lapse on his “crushing workload,” and telling us he is “shouldering more crises on his slight frame than most Treasury secretaries ever have.” But that’s no excuse — either for him or for Obama. Geitner, whose instincts as the Times says “are that government should not dictate compensation issues to businesses,” suffers from the same free market fundamentalist dementia as a recent respondent to my earlier post. Let’s look at this pathology more closely in order to better understand it.

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aig-bldg-sign

The plaque outside AIG's downtown HQ

I was going to write an angry piece on the AIG bonuses, the kind that uses a flamethrower to incinerate the subjects of my wrath. Then I took a walk down to AIG headquarters on Pine St. in Lower Manhattan. Unlike the offices in Greenwich, CT where the financial products guys reportedly work, an office which was receiving death threats, the main office downtown didn’t have any gawkers or thrill seekers (other than me).

I find this surprising. After all, to hear the internets tell it, people are spitting mad over the legalized Madoff make-off with tax payer money. (MoveOn cites the NY Times to estimate the AIG bailout is $500 from every tax payer in the USA.) And yet no one was storming the castle in downtown Manhattan. If anything, the corner of Wall and Broad, the place where a statue of Washington looks out on the NYSE, was buzzing with happy tourists.

washington-statue

He looks so serene.

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The New York Stock Exchange on Wall St

Wall Street

The New York Times is reporting that some banks are balking over the strings attached to their bailout cash.

Good! That is the right response, and it shows that the Obama policies are right on. This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue — it’s a good government issue. If the banks are willing to take on the risk of failure in order to maintain the possibility of future, outsized profits, let them do it. If they fail, they do so on their own merits. On the other hand, if a bank wants money to stay alive, they have to know they are entering a period of indentured servitude to the American people. They will not be free until they have paid their debt to society, and in this case that debt comes in an easily recognizable dollar amount.

Hypocrites like John Boehner and Richard Shelby argue that some banks should fail because that’s good fiscal discipline, confusing once again the role of markets and the role of government. Markets reflect the sentiment of its local population (i.e. whoever comes to the market). Government has the power to coerce or incentivize behavior when necessary. In times of crisis markets should not be allowed to make decisions because they will make panic driven, emotional decisions. In those cases it is the government’s job to set parameters for acceptible behavior. In this case it means righting financial malfeasance while containing the damage inflicted on the innocent by the crime. No-government Republicans would have the innocent pay along with the guilty. Strings on a bank bailout make sure that the innocent are protected while the guilty work off their guilt.

courtesy of the New York Times

courtesy of the New York Times

As any of you who are my consistent readers know, I think Paul Farrell over at Marketwatch.com is a hoot. His recent essay on the 13 tipping points that will lead to Great Depression II is a fun read.

When the economy was on the way up, up, up! we couldn’t get enough stories about how technology was going to change our lives for the better, and Utopia was finally just around the corner. Think of Francis Fukuyama’s neo-Hegelian “End of History” thesis, free market globalizers from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, and lefty internet entrepreneurs who assured us hyperlinks would cure cancer. (Ok, I exaggerated that one a bit.) My favorite send up of this idealistic nonsense is from that gem of a movie Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby (played by Will Farrell) is reprimanded by Lucius, his crew chief, for criminally reckless driving:

Lucius: Ricky Bobby! You can’t drive like that! You’re not going to live forever you know.

Ricky Bobby: I know. But with the way medical science is going, and my level of income … I figure three, four hundred years.

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the DJIA from 1929 - 1932

The DJIA dropped perilously close to 7,000 this afternoon after Chris Dodd said the government might have to nationalize the banks. David Brooks wrote in his NY Times editorial today what is probably the Obama administration line, that we might have to bite the bullet and give the idiots who got us into this mess lots of money to get us out again. He says:

…sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together. If their lives don’t stabilize, then our lives don’t stabilize.

I suppose that’s all good and well, though if you happen to live in the same place as “the idiots” (i.e. New York City), and you see them holding their heads up high, riding in new cars with new wives who are wearing massive sparkly rocks on their fingers because the bankers got their bonuses in January, you might worry more about political stabilization than economic stabilization.

The markets took a dive because Dodd raised the specter of state control over the financial industry. But isn’t that exactly what’s called for in this situation? The culture of free markets failed, and now the culture of civic responsibility — which can only be manifested through the institution of government — has to pick up the slack.

Obama’s men — Geithner and Summers — are freemarketeers and have good reason to be scared out of their wits by populist posturing from Dodd and others. But is Obama a freemarketeer? Is he a populist?

My first instinct is to say he’s a savvy operator who knows the congressional Dems are right (and that the right needs to be ideologically disillusioned). The Obama of my imagination will play the aloof leader and let the Dems do the necessary dirty work that undoes the damage of anti-social freemarket puritanism inflicted on us since Reagan.

My fear is that he has no convictions outside of a personal messianic conviction, and that he thinks economic justice is no more or less important that religiously unfettered economic activity.

The markets bounced back because they think Obama’s a covert freemarketeer. I hope they’re wrong. I hope Obama is willing to split the issue with the congressional Dems, and let leaders like Dodd do the work of justice while Obama tells us all not to panic.

topics_geitner_190

Tim Geithner — Really? I mean, is it really possible to live in this country after 8 years of Bush, 6 months of financial apocalypse, and still not have the smallest clue? Macroeconomics as a discipline developed in the 30s because that global financial meltdown was precipitating a global political meltdown. Doesn’t anyone remember Nazis vs. Commies in the streets of Berlin and Munich? No, not in this country. If you want a perfect example of the triumphalist myopia of the free market fundamentalists take a look at the documentary The Commanding Heights by Greg Barker and William Cran. The one good observation made in the documentary is that both J. M. Keynes and Friedrich Von Hayek thought economic collapse would lead to political anarchy.

Geithner and Summers

Geithner and Summers

Now these yahoos working from a mix of free market fundamentalist ideology and naked, corporate self-interest, are opening up a political firestorm by crippling a real fiscial stimulus package with useless tax breaks and spending cuts for states while at the same time handing over hefty cash gifts to their friends the oligarchs on Wall St. (For my personal experience of the humiliation of this see my earlier post.) In the words of Stephen Labaton and Edmund Andrews:

Mr. Geithner, who will announce the broad outlines of the plan on Tuesday, successfully fought against more severe limits on executive pay for companies receiving government aid.

He resisted those who wanted to dictate how banks would spend their rescue money. And he prevailed over top administration aides who wanted to replace bank executives and wipe out shareholders at institutions receiving aid.

Obama is spending his good name out in America to enable a couple of bumbling, Ivy educated fools to destroy any trust Americans have left in their government.

obama2

Obama really got one on the Bushies without looking like a partisan hater. You have to hand it to the guy, he knows how to be smooth.

In one of his first presidential directives — given on his very first day in office — O declared that former presidents cannot declare executive privilege:

The new president effectively reversed a post-9/11 Bush administration policy making it easier for government agencies to deny requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act, and effectively repealed a Bush executive order that allowed former presidents or their heirs to claim executive privilege in an effort to keep records secret.

Yay! The new president is for transparency, an absolute necessity in democratic government. But let us ask ourselves, what are the practical implications? This paragraph is pregnant with unspoken danger for the Bushies:

Experts said Mr. Obama’s moves would have the practical effect of allowing reporters and historians to obtain access to records from the Bush administration that might otherwise have been kept under wraps.

Obama — and the Congress — don’t need to start an investigation and open themselves to accusations that they are as partisan as the last administration. There are plenty of independent scholars and public advocates who will find all the damning evidence of illegal activity on their own. And once that information is out in the clear light of day, Congress may be reluctantly led to open a criminal proceeding, long after the charge of partisanship has become irrelevant.

Goooo ‘Bama!

78319-004-545f8cdd

 

I work downtown, near Wall Street. It’s cold today, somewhere in the mid-twenties, and I decided to get some soup from the Hale and Hearty Soup place over on Beaver. The soup place is close enough to the NYSE to hear the moans of traders still recovering from yesterday’s bloodletting.

 

Over the last week we have discovered that the banks are in worse shape than ever, and the government doesn’t have much of a clue about how to fix it. The New York Times is reporting that even the Obama people, who we hope are smarter than the newly ousted Bush people, aren’t sure about what to do. I think the market fell yesterday – led by bank stocks – because it knows banks are still hiding losses. If they’re hiding something it’s because they want to secure their own fortunes before the shareholders – and the country – figure out they’re bankrupt. Or as the last sentence in the times piece says, “Banks may not want that kind of openness, because accurately valuing the toxic assets could force many to book big losses, admit their insolvency and shut down.”

 

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obama-speaks-nyc-party1

I had to be at work and didn’t see the speech. What did everyone think?

 

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi

 What kind of kool-aid is Nancy Pelosi drinking? CNN reports that Pelosi has said she thinks the Bush tax cuts should be repealed immediately, and that Congress should press forward with an investigation over whether Bush et al. pressured their people at the Justice Department to make illegal hiring decisions based on politics and ideology. President Obama — of course — wants to take a middle road, let the tax cuts expire on their own, and is against any investigation of the Bush administration.

In the first place, we know that the imperative to hire RTAs (right thinking Americans) at the Justice Dept. came from the highest levels of the Bush government. <cough, Dick Cheney, cough> It’s not a matter for investigation. In the second place, there are a lot more important crimes to investigate, like the illegal wiretapping program, the infiltration of protest groups by government spies, no bid contracts to war profiteers, and the lies (told with malicious intent and knowledge of wrong doing) that led us to wage war in Iraq. Finally, raising taxes on the obscenely wealthy isn’t nearly as important as stripping out the ridiculous and worthless tax breaks to businesses included in the Obama plan. Paul Krugman puts the case as succinctly as possible here and here.

You may have thought the kool-aid I referred to in the title of this post is the kool-aid of liberal revenge. Oh no! This country swung so far to the right at the end of the 20th century that to get back to the middle we’re going to go pretty far left. Militarism, free market fundamentalism, and the cult of the individual (with its attendant cult of personality) reached a fever pitch under Bush, and the residual effects of that “conservative” kool-aid are obviously still infecting Obama and the Congressional Democrats. Disaffected whites and greedy globalizers united to turn this country into a banana republic — and not the good kind where you can find urban professional clothing at reasonable prices. No, they wanted a country where the rich are a law to themselves, the Constitution has been replaced by the Articles of Confederation, and the Southern Gentleman planter (complete with an economy run on the brown backs of a institutionalized underclass) replaces the middle class citizen.

I think there may be one bright spot in the disturbing political timidity shown so far by both the Congressional leadership and Obama. If Obama choses to be the uniter we didn’t get eight years ago, counseling peace and reconciliation, the Congressional Dems might be given the opportunity to play the bad cops and put the nastiest Bush aparatchiks into jail. And if that plays well (as it might if the recession gets really bad) hopefully Congress will remember that it does not have to be the political punching bag it has become in recent years. It might grow a pair and become what it was intended to be — the primary branch of government; the voice of the people; the genius of democracy. Only when Congress asserts its constitutional rights will we get the government Lincoln promised us: of the people, for the people, and by the people.

I can hear the hater chorus already saying that Congress under Gingrich asserted itself, and look where that got us. To you I say this: Gingrich was (like Cheney) a member of Congress but not of it. He asserted the power of Congress because Clinton as president was too weak for his taste. He was really paving the way for Bush’s “unitary executive”, a.k.a. king. A representative legislature is the soul of liberal democracy. Let the new Congress take up the mantle of freedom, and prove their mettle. In the process they just might save the Union.

sorry-grandma

This editorial at Marketwatch.com would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. The jist is this: through colossal selfishness and criminal mismanagement, the lifetime of work our grandparents put into securing their retirement has been spent — and then some — by our parents. This paragraph is priceless:

The Fed, in a bid to stimulate the economy through consumer spending, has cut interest rates to zero. That’s wiped out yields on Treasuries, destroying a traditional safe haven in the process. Meanwhile, years of gutting Social Security has reduced the nation’s retirement program to a shadow of its intended self, and what’s left is about to be swept away by a tsunami of baby boomers just entering retirement.

That “gutting Social Security” part is particularly funny, cuz it happened on Bush’s watch. Remember when they increased the payroll taxes in the 90s? Greenspan told Clinton that the boomers would bankrupt us if we didn’t beef up Social Security, so Clinton, like a dutiful Conservative-lite, raised taxes. Of course, this was another covert scheme by freemarket fundamentalists to discredit the government so they could shrink it and drown it in a bathtub. But at least Social Security was in the black.

And then the Iraq war came along, and Bush (courtesy of widespread venality among us, the American people) raided Social Security to wage a vanity war while lowering taxes for his soon-to-retire boomer cronies. And who paid for this joyride? The parents who suffered through the Great Depression and the Second World War. Thanks boomers!

g-h-w-bush

obama2

We all knew Obama was no Nader when we voted for him. But it still comes as a shock to this New Yorker to be reminded of exactly how conservative the traditional “Liberal” media is. And it is disappointing to see Obama waste his political capital and his mandate by falling into bad old Democrat habits. How many times do we have to say it? Do not pander to self-identifying conservatives!

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03palin2-600

From the CNN news desk:

“As a public official, I expect criticism and I expect to be held accountable for how I govern,” Palin said in a statement released by her office Friday. “But the personal, salacious nature of recent reporting, and often the refusal of the media to correct obvious mistakes, unfortunately discredits too many in journalism today, making it difficult for many Americans to believe what they see in the media” (emphasis mine). Yeah! Salacious! When did she pick that one up? Surely not studying for the SATs. I’m glad she’s gone to the trouble to hire a vocabulary coach. Sadly, she’s about twenty years too late.

Mama Grizzly also said she got up on her hind legs when Tina Fey made a crack on her daughter. I say amen. Tina Fey almost single-handedly saved the republic by exposing Palin’s idiocy — and in the process the idiocy of American conservatives.

Speaking of which, check out Sam’s comment on this CNN blog post: “Why do we need Congress anyway? When the Constitution was written, people needed others to represent them in making policy decisions. Now we have the technology to vote and represent ourselves directly.”

OMG. I know that some secretly bad stuff lurks in the hearts of men, but I didn’t think anyone would have the bad judgment to expose himself in public as a monarchist. That’s right people. If you enjoy your liberty, you better stand up with Harry Reid and the Congress, and say we want government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Congress — a legislature — is the only way to have such a government. If Sam’s plan were implemented, and we all voted individually for every piece of legislation that was proposed (by whom?) — as if government were like American Idol — first there would be deadlock, then there would be a breakdown of government, then the executive would assert him/herself to become a king.

I blame the miserable state of American education for comments like this. No one who has studied history, government, or politics would say such a perniciously stupid thing.

Illinois Governor Jarrett

This is the headline from the AP: “Did Obama team have contact with Ill. governor?” The first paragraph isn’t much better:

Barack Obama insists he didn’t have any contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich or anyone else who might have been scheming to sell the president-elect’s U.S. Senate seat. But he has not yet given his transition staff the same clean bill of health — perhaps with good reason.

Jon Stewart showed Wednesday night how Fox has been trying to tar and subvert Obama by subliminally implying he and Blagojevich were best buddies, but in a rare nod to subtlety, Sean Hannity went to great lengths to say Obama had no connection with the soon-to-be-former governor. Leave it to the AP to take the fight to the next level.

The New York Times article on the scandal today tries to mitigate some of the right-wing echo chamber. But as I said in a previous post, Obama must make this an opportunity to purge any and all corruption in government. Our future depends on it.

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Should Democrats, and specifically Barack Obama be worried about corruption scandals? Yes they should. It is true that conservative = corrupt. From Iraq to Katrina to Wall St. to The Big Three, success has bred corruption throughout our culture.

Now is the time for Barack to do a Hank V and renounce any and all shady buddies. They’re just skeletons in the closet, waiting to sabotage the necessary reforms that must be implemented in the next four years. Bill Clinton tried to play the middle, and his presidency was hobbled by conservative attacks (gays in the military, socialized medicine) within his first 100 days. He played a rearguard action against the conservative hate machine for the rest of his tenure.

Please, please Mr. Obama, don’t let your presidency be scuttled by scandal before it even begins. Purge all corruption now, make it public, make it a crusade. Only then will you be able to give us the rest of your agenda.

Zach B.

P.S. Also try to avoid doing an Eliot Spitzer. For the next four years at least you have to be holier than Mother Teresa.

Ronald Reagan and Lee Iacocca, Detroit, 1980

Ronald Reagan and Lee Iacocca, Detroit, 1980

The clamor is coming from all sides: extend the bailout to the car companies.

The rationale for doing so is that it is responsible fiscal policy: only by saving automobile manufacturing jobs will we be able to save Michigan. And as Michigan goes, so goes the country.

The holes in this argument are big enough to drive a Hummer through.

In the first place, whatever happened to the jobless recovery of 2003? I thought all the manufacturing jobs were already gone?

In the second place, as I have argued before, bailing out failing industry is a mistake. A firm line must be drawn between what is public capital and what is private capital. We have worshipped in the temple of private capital for two and a half centuries, while the idea of public capital has never been adequately articulated. The agopee of “privitization”, that is making what was public capital private, came with Reagan.

Reagan privitizing a Michigan State Fair T-shirt

Reagan privitizing a Michigan State Fair T-shirt

The end of that privitization happened when Henry Paulson was handed the keys to the Treasury and used them to write checks to his former pals in the financial industry. “Don’t worry boys — you’ll get your Christmas bonus this year!” The same is about to happen to the Big Three if they get their “bailout”: Executives will get to save their houses, while the workers’ jobs are eliminated and shipped overseas, and their retirement is left to a non-existing public dole. GM will not be able to build giant inefficient machines in the future. The market will not allow it. To prop them up will not save jobs for workers, it will only hold open the fire escape doors long enough for the rich to get out while their house is burning down.

Real fiscal stimulus has to do what the New Deal did: guarantee the future of the Re – Public by funding public capital.

Obama Transition

Nancy Pelosi says we should bailout GM and Chrystler. Coming on the heels of the financial bailout, this will rack up more trillions of Federal debt, and it will set a bad precedent, as I argued in an earlier post. But more to the point, as Paul Farrell has forcefully argued at Marketwatch.com today, it is an inexcusable extension of Reaganomics.

[Naomi] Klein further exposed this insanity in a recent Rolling Stone article, “The New Trough: The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq, a ‘free-fraud zone’ where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create.” Paulson’s privatization, outsourcing and management of the $700 billion bailout has the exact same Reaganomics ideological, strategic and deceptive footprints that President George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to privatize, outsource and mismanage the costly Iraq War blunder. Yes, Paulson is America’s new Rumsfeld!

And they keep going at it! Where is Krugman’s vaunted conscience? This needs to be shouted from the rooftops until someone in government grows the testicular fortitude to do the right thing: Fiscal stimulus is an investment in public capital — not private capital.

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save the dinosaurs!

save the dinosaurs!

The Democrat leadership has obviously not gotten the memo on ideological shift. Here is the article from the wires.

Democratic Congressional leaders urged the Bush administration on Saturday to consider using the $700 billion bailout for the financial system to aid distressed American automakers, in a prelude to what may become urgent negotiations over additional economic stimulus measures.

This is a bad idea for so many reasons. First, it sets a bad precedent. Every progressive policy idea of the next four (let’s hope eight) years will be stained by the memory of this capitulation to corporate interests.

Second, it invites an environmental nightmare. What’s next? Bailing out the coal industry because it’s losing jobs to green energy? Bailing out AIG because they’re “too big too fail”? (Oops. Already done.) These guys are going out of business because they thought cheap gas would last forever. They are dinosaurs who deserve to die. Maybe if we’re lucky their carcasses will provide fuel for someone in one hundred million years. They even knew the good times couldn’t last, but they put that nasty thought out of their heads for instant gratification of quick profit. This is how the AP put it:

At Ford Motor Co. they called it “Blue,” a team set up around the year 2000 to design an array of small, fuel-efficient cars to compete with the Japanese. It didn’t get far because no one could figure out how to make money on low-priced compacts with Ford’s high labor costs.

Besides, the automaker was racking up billions in profits by selling pickups and sport utility vehicles. Times were good and gas was cheap.

If the government commits to maintaining failing technologies because people have jobs that depend on them we are never going to get ahead of the energy curve. If Chevron and ExxonMobil get bailouts there will be an insurrection right here in the good old U. S. of A.

Third, it validates the idea that corporations are the equivalent of citizens. It should not need to be said, so why am I saying it? Corporations are not people. They may have a lot of money, but corporations are not citizens. The business of government is citizens, not collections of citizens, or business syndicates, or legal fictions. If the Dems in Congress want to do something for the people who will be laid off if the auto companies die, put money into infrastructure or unemployment benefits. That at least will tide workers over until a true entrepreneur comes along with a better job to give these men and women. When you work in a factory it doesn’t matter if you build SUVs or hybrids — it’s all the same to the assembly worker. But if you bail out GM and Ford, all you will see for the next ten years are more SUVs and Hummers.

drshift

Source: Paul Krugman's NY Times Blog, The Conscience of a Liberal

Look at the dark blue in Indiana. Ditto for the non-Appalachian areas of Kentucky. This is a map of the percent change from Republican to Democrat votes between 2004 and 2008. There are only two, maybe three, plausible reasons for this change. Either people all over the country so were shocked by Bush and Co.’s ineptitude that they voted for an relatively unknown and untested candidate, or they changed their minds about the core truth of conservative political philosophy. Maybe both.

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Bill Kristol

Bill Kristol

Bill Kristol’s Op-Ed in today’s NY Times is good for a laugh. Most of the best refutations of his inanity are already given in reader comments on the Times’s web site, so I won’t belabor the point here. Part of his analysis is right though: If self-proclaimed conservatives are out of power for two years, they will come back in a new and virulent new form in 2010. I hope, as Krugman argued, that the hateful, White elements of American conservatism have had their moment and will be thrown on the trash heap of history after tomorrow. But what will the world be like if the Congress has a solid Democratic majority and McCain becomes Prez? Even better, what if McCain dies in the first 100 days and Palin becomes Prez? Do you think the Congress would grow a pair sufficient to impeach her and all the asinine conservative ideas she stands for?

This battle is far from over, and both sides are plenty sore.

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall St

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall St

As of the closing bell the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up almost 900 points to 9062.12, closing above 9,000 for the first time in a little over a week. Financial news organizations that were pessimistic in the extreme this morning (e.g. Paul Farrell’s piece and David Brooks’s editorial in the NY Times), and are ebullient this afternoon. What’s going on?

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Would-be Obama assassin Daniel Cowart

Would-be Obama assassin Daniel Cowart

Look closely at his face — is he wearing makeup?

Remember the line in that song, “the freaks come out at night”? Nowadays the freaks come out at the end of October — and this is no Halloween joke! (Actually I can see this becoming a popular costume this year — you know how the news cycle is — and the thought chills me to the bone.)

Check out the story here.

This is what Reagan really felt about you.

Conservative, free market dogma states that taxes are always bad and always restrict growth. On the other hand, the more money you have in your pocket, the faster the economy will grow as you spend those dollars on goods and services. Lower taxes always and everywhere means greater growth. Arthur Laffer put the idea into econo-speak in the 70s. If you feel like reading the Wikipedia entry (written by a freemarketeer) you can see how scientific sounding defenders of this ideology are. They have spent the better part of 30 years developing ironclad, mathematical proof that taxes are inherently stifling to growth. Alan Greenspan gave the lie to this pseudo-scientific nonsense last Thursday when he said ““The whole intellectual edifice [supporting supply-side economics] collapsed in the summer of last year.

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