Monday, September 29, 2008

Treasonous Republican Behavior - Part 2

Naive little me. While I knew that Gore won the 2000 election, I thought that Kerry narrowly lost. I figured that voter suppression efforts had something to do with it, but I didn't really believe that there was actual, complete, Third World style fraud.

The short answer is that I was wrong. 2004 was stolen. Read this post on Huffington for a little more info. Then check out this article by RFK Jr. for the real vein popping details.

I wish I could say exactly what we can do about it. I don't know the answer to that. I will say that the more we expect there to be a fight for this election, for our Democracy, the better able Obama will be to make that fight. In other words, tell your friends, your family, everyone who will listen, to pay attention to what happens at the polls. To pay attention to what happens after the election. And if things don't make sense, be prepared to make some noise about it.

Gore fought to the Supreme Court. I don't particularly think he fought well, but he fought. Kerry gave up right away. We need to make sure, in advance, that Obama knows that we want him to fight to count every vote.

Remember this - we send out children overseas to fight, kill and die for Democracy. We owe it to ourselves, those who came before us, and those who will come after us to defend the Democracy that we are supposed to have right here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Debate: Obama's missed opportunity

I watched the debate last night hoping to see Obama be his normal intelligent thoughtful self and really hoping that McCain would lose it and get angry or forget stuff. I got what I hoped for with Obama - he was good. McCain was also fine, but did not totally lose it as I had hoped.

But there is one thing that really worried me - Israel. McCain mentioned Israel 3 times. Noe of these times was in response to a question about Israel. Each time was an opportunity for Obama to strongly state support for the state of Israel, his support for the idea that Israel has the right and responsibility to defend herself, and that as president, Obama will support Israel because Israel is a critical ally.

It's not that I think Obama doesn't think those things - he's already said he does. But in this tight a race, you just can't let an issue like Israel go by without making your position clear. And there are those, who will see Obama, with his funny Muslim sounding name, as being a weak supporter of Israel unless he does something to correct that perception.

Specifically, if Obama is going to try to win Florida, he will need very strong Jewish support there. And he missed his chance in the debate to show his support for Israel. I hope that mistake did not cost him Florida. Because while he can win without Florida, McCain can't, and last night could have sealed the deal.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Truth about Taxes and Rich People

I don't have anything against rich people. Really. I just think that since we are talking about tax cuts in this election season, and commentators are throwing around terms like "class warfare" and "socialism" we should all have a better sense of what we are talking about.

So check out this little graph from the Washington Post. It describes reasonably well the impact of the tax proposals that McCain and Obama have.

The most obvious interesting fact that I come away from this with is that McCain wants to give the top 1% (from approx $700,000 per year income to $3M) a tax decrease that is roughly equal to the average family income. And he's selling this as a middle class tax cut!

The next thing that I notice is that I can't tell how much money rich people make. I'm going to guess that the income bracket that is between 37,596 and 66, 354 is pretty evenly distributed. There are lots of people throughout that income bracket, so that assumption makes some sense. But the top 1% (really the top 1% without the top .1%) make between roughly 700k and 3M. That's a lot of range and not a lot of people, so I can't guess what the distribution is. So that means that I can't guess what the tax impact is. I mean a $115k tax increase might be a big deal for someone making 700k. But it should be barely noticeable for someone making $3M.

And then there's the bit about the people who make more than $3m. We know how many there are, about 0.1% of the people in the country. But how much do they make? We know that the bottom of that group makes $3M per year, but what about the middle, the average or even the high end? The short answer is that the government will not tell us that information. But a better answer is that their income is enormous. (Check out this site for more info on the income distribution. It's a little old school and difficult to read, but read it.)

Then think about this: who benefits from the the roads that get people to work? The people who are going to work, or the people who make money from other people's work? Both benefit. So if I benefit from you (and your 1,000 co workers) going to work in my factory, should I pay the same as you? Or should I pay 1,000 times as much?

The point is that people with more money, by definition benefit more from our government (and that's before considering the $700B injection of government money into the financial system) than do people with less money. Recently, that's gotten way out of whack, with the middle class being asked to shoulder more and more of the burden. Obama's plan is a small step in making things start to make a little more sense.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wall Street Fat Cats

It's funny how the McCain campaign is not railing about the Wall Street fat cats and their insufferable greed and how he's gonna ride into town and take care of em. It sorta reminds me of that Gil Scott Heron song about Ronald Ray-Gun riding in on a white horse...

But I digress.

Let's talk about how ridiculous it is that the guy who brought us (or was at least involved in) the S&L scandal, who even now admits to being "fundamentally a deregulator" is talking about how he's going to propose smart regulation to prevent these problems in the future. That's insane. He has absolutely no record of even understanding the mess. And his history is of being bought and paid for by folks he has been trusted to regulate. And his self described fundamental reaction to this is to put the foxes in charge of the hen house. Again.

And the media implies that both Obama and McCain are equally in the pocket of "Wall Street" because they've both taken lots of money from employees of Wall Street firms. WTF?!? Last time I checked, everyone is allowed to contribute to either or both candidates. And doing so does not on its face prove anything one way or the other. Just because you work for a company does not mean you are a lobbyist for that company. Ask the Obama donors who work for Walmart.

What is clear is that Obama has a record of being right on the two biggest mistakes of recent history: the Iraq war and the regulation of the economy. In both cases, he said we need to take a cautionary approach. In the middle east that means defend ourselves from our actual enemies and don't go starting wars for specious reasons. In the economy it means making sure that our regulations keep pace with the times. No surprise there, he's smart. These are difficult problems. Smart people understand difficult problems. They also know enough to know when they need people even smarter then them to deal with specific issues. I bet Obama has some really smart people who know the financial markets pretty well.

It's also equally clear that McCain has been wrong on these two issues. On the economy, he's been wrong for a very long time.

I also have some really smart friends who know the financial markets well. They are definitely gonna see their taxes go up under an Obama administration. But, like other people with lots of money, they understand that the merely wealthy or high income folks, those that make over the magical 250k that everyone is talking this year, but less than I-couldn't-spend-that-much-money-in-my-whole-life amounts like some CEOs (even piss poor ones like Carly Fiorino) will actually do better even with higher taxes.

Huh? How is that possible? How can they do better if the government is taking a larger portion of their paycheck?

Simple - the sorta rich (think annual incomes between $250k and $2.5M) can only do well when the upper middle class are doing well. And those folks can only do well when the middle class are doing well. And so forth.

In other words, keeping 75% of $300k is better than keeping 80% of $200k.

Put another way, trickle down economics is bullshit. That's not the way our economy works. You can't make poor people richer by giving more money to rich people. That's just stupid.

You can, on the other hand, make rich people richer by making sure that poor and middle class people have more money. That's because one way rich people get rich because they figure out ways to get poor and middle class folks to spend their money - to trade it for something of value that the rich person sells. And if those poor and working class folks don't have any money, those rich and sorta rich people can't sell them anything, and their big incomes get small, quickly.

The other way rich people get and stay rich it to get the gubment to carve out a special niche for them. But that's another post for another day.

The problem is that capitalism relies on people with money being greedy. If you own a company that employs people, you want to charge the most for what you sell and pay the least. In other words, you want to keep your workers as poor as possible, but you want your customer to be as rich as possible. Obviously, that is a tricky balance.

And when it gets out of balance, it almost never goes the way of the employees getting richer. And that's because the natural flow of things is for owners to buy better machines so that they need fewer workers (think fax machines instead of messengers). And to create more interesting financial instruments so that they can pay their workers less (think 401k instead of pensions). And to lobby lawmakers to let them pay less (think of how the minimum wage didn't get indexed to inflation).

So, over time, you have a situation where more and more money flows up the food chain, away from the people who spend it, and towards the people who just use it to hoard more of it.

And that is why we need a government that fundamentally has the little guy in mind. That means real regulation. That means smart, tough government that holds businesses accountable for the damage they does when they go overboard. That means folks who do not say "OK" when the fox shows up (dressed as a duck) and wants to be put in charge of the company that has the contract to hire the dog that guards the hen house. (The fox never shows up and asks "where the chickens?)

And who is it that has always worked for the little guy? Who is it that wanted keep strong regulation to prevent the current mess? Which 2 of our 4 presidential and VP candidates are smart, tough, honest and fundamentally oriented to helping normal working people?

If I need to answer that, you're reading the wrong blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My new favorite T Shirt

In case you can't read the text is says: Attention Sarah Palin, Jesus was a Community Organizer, Pontius Pilate was a Governor.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Treasonous Republican Behavior

Thousands of our soldiers are, right now as I write this, overseas trying to bring the sacred right to vote to citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 4,000 have already given their lives in that effort. Tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans have, in the course of our history, ade the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could live in a Democracy. And yet, right here, right now, in the US of A, the Republicans are trying take that right away from a specific group of particularly vulnerable Americans.

Voter suppression is un-American. Trying to find ways to keep citizens from participating in our Democracy is beyond politics, it should be called what it is: treason!

It was evil when it was done in Florida in 2000. It was evil when it was done in Ohio in 2004. Republicans do it because the voters easiest to suppress are also very likely to be Democrats. They are working people. They are minorities. The are poor. They are busy.

So now we see it in action in Michigan. Are you fucking kidding me?!? Trying to keep people who have been foreclosed on from voting?!? We need to make sure that everyone sees this. It is disgusting.

Read more:


I haven't posted in a while. Mostly because I've been busy. But also because I have been gob smacked by the stupidity and smallness of the debate - if you want to call it debate.

So here's Obama fighting back. Fighting for the smart people who want to make this country better. Watch. Learn. Repeat. Forward to people.