November 29, 2010

The Irony

Regarding the US State Depaertment documents recently released by WikiLeaks:

The White House immediately condemned the release of the WikiLeaks documents, saying "such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government."

Emphasis added.


Associated Press, US tries to contain damage from leaked documents, November 29, 2010.


November 28, 2010

Good Republican

I came across this while doing some research for a recent episode of GDAE Podcast. Being a good Republican at the end of the Clinton administration:

1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George [H.W.] Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault. 2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own. 3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time. -- Ann Richards, Governor of Texas.


ThinkExist.Com Quotes on Social Security


November 26, 2010

Dec 16, 2010: Veterans March on White House

Do you think we could spend $8 Billion/month more wisely than we are now on war in Afghanistan (or is it Pakistan, or Yemin)?

More Information


November 25, 2010

Thankful for Social Security

Thankful for the Social Security safety net that helps keep people from becoming too desperate. (And we all know that desperate people do desperate things).

THEN... there's Obama's so-called "Bipartisan" Deficit Commission, led by two people with a track record of wanting to cut Social Security, for which I'm not thankful.

Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow pokes a hole in the "we're living longer" justification for raising the retirement age. Just who are "we," people with low-paid hard-labor jobs and little or no healthcare, or people with high-paid desk jobs and good healthcare? Click Cartoon to Enlarge.


Thankful for GLH Blog for the tip-off.

Thankful for Salon.Com for hosting Tom Tomorrow.


November 24, 2010

My New Hero: Todd Lassa

If you have not heard, Rush Limbaugh trashed Motor Trend Magazine's choice of Chevy Volt, an electric car, as "Car of the Year." Limbaugh got his facts wrong, etc. No surprise there.

Motor Trend's Detroit Editor, Todd Lassa, got his facts right in his blog post entitled "Rush to Judgment." Then, Lassa ended his rebuttal with a flourish:

If you can stop shilling for your favorite political party long enough to go for a drive, you might really enjoy the Chevy Volt. I’m sure GM would be happy to lend you one for the weekend. Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

For that, Todd Lassa is my new hero. Contact Motor Trend to thank Todd.

Oh. And as of today, the number of comments on Lassa's blog post is 592. The next most commented Motor Trend blog post was for The Lohdown: Muscle Car Madness Final Round Camaro SS vs Mustang GT (181).

Chevy Volt Electric Car


November 23, 2010


1994. Just back from the mountains of Northern Pakistan.

The television was broadcasting words, in English, by someone name Newt Gingich. And a star-spangled graphic across the screen said something that might have been a foreign language for all the sense Mortenson could make of it:

"Majority Whip Touts Republican Takeover"

On the television, a strident, cocksure voice told an interviewer,

We are embarked on the Second American Revolution and you have my solemn vow that with a new Republican majority in Congress, American life is about to be profoundly different. The people have spoken.

"Different," yes. But "better?" History has its lessons.


From "Three Cups of Tea," by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.


November 19, 2010

The Phrase is "Burden Sharing"

Under justifiable public pressure, the German government has taken up the theme of burden sharing, meaning that creditors must face losses in future crises.

Next time, in polite company, you want to raise the issue of NOT bailing out the banks just use the term "burden sharing." The tax payer got stuck with the entire burden of bailing Wall Street out of its excesses. That's not fair. We want more "burden sharing" by bond holders, creditors and the owners of the Wall Street gambling halls.

Sound a bit more civilized, eh?


Simon Johnson, Ireland Crisis Might Give China Break It Seeks, Bloomberg Opinion, November 18, 2010.


November 14, 2010

Interpreting the 2010 Mid-Term Election

Following the recent election, the establishment narrative has been that Obama over-reached; his initiatives were too liberal and he needs to tack to the right. This view isn't based on analysis, rather it is more a matter of group-think among the punditocracy. To them it's obvious.

However, actual analyses suggest that the right-wing surge in the 2010 mid-term elections hinged on Obama not being progressive enough and thereby loosing the support of his base.

First, lets dismiss with the false common wisdom, promoted by the establishment, that presidents almost always suffer losses in the US House of Representatives during the mid-term elections. It's taken as unalterable fact. It's true that this occurred for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, but during Franklin Roosevelt's first mid-term election, after he put forth radically progressive programs, the Democratic Party gained seats in the US House of Representatives.

Second, is the contradiction between the establishment narratives of the mid-term elections. On the one hand, losses in the US House were predicted on the basis of an "enthusiasm gap;" the narrative was that Democrats were disillusioned with Obama and thus less likely to work on the mid-term election campaign and come out to vote on election day. This narrative conflicts with the post-election interpretation that says Obama is being too liberal and needs to tack to the right.

Third, there are the numbers. Below is a comparison of exit poll information for US House vote results for 2008 and 2010, each with about 17,000 people surveyed. As a percentage, Democratic voters were a significantly smaller proportion in 2010 than in 2008.

Percentage of Turnout by Party for
US House Vote
2008 Vs 2010

Party Affiliation

But percentages only tell part of the story. Did Democrats stay home, or did more Republicans come out in 2010 than 2008.

According to ABC News (Bold added),

[the] current estimate is that 90 million people voted [in 2010]. Exit poll says 45 percent were Obama voters in 2008. That’s 40.5 million voters.

In 2008, Obama won 69.5 million votes. So about 29 million Obama voters did not show up in 2010.

Exit poll also says 45 percent of people who voted yesterday were McCain voters in 2008, again 40.5 million. That, vs. his nearly 60 million in 2008, means about 19.5 million McCain voters did not show up.

So Obama had nearly 10 million more no-shows.

The following tables show that, of the Democrats that did come out to vote in 2010, they for the most part stayed with the Democratic party compared with 2008 (91-92%).

However, there were shifts in both Republican and Independent votes away from the Democrats to the Republicans. As a percentage, we see a big shift in Independents voting 51% Democratic in 2008 to only 37% Democratic in 2010.

US House Vote by Party Affiliation - 2010

Party and
% of Turnout
% of Vote
% of Vote
% of Vote
Democratic 35%
Republican 35%
Independent 29%

US House Vote by Party Affiliation - 2008

Party and
% of Turnout
% of Vote
% of Vote
% of Vote
Democratic 40%
Republican 33%
Independent 28%

But it's wrong to conclude that Independents simply jumped ship from Democrats to Republicans. About 48.5 million Independents voted in 2008, but only about 34 million voted in 2010, nearly a 15 million voter difference. If the "enthusiasm gap" story is correct, leading to progressive Democrats and Independents staying home, then concluding that voters seek a more "centrist" or conservative policy agenda, based on 2010 exit polls in which many "unenthused" progressive voices were absent, is in error.


Re-posted from Challenge the Establishment Blog.

2010 Exit Polls for House voting - CNN

2008 Exit Polls for House voting - CNN

Thanks to GLH Blog for the ABC News information.

November 13, 2010

An Invitation

My next GDAE Podcast episode, Number 37, starts as follows:

On the previous episode of GDAE Podcast (36) I re-visited my original motivation for people on the political left to reach out to principled people on the political right... a concern that extreme right wing demagogues are stirring up potential violence among uninformed people who are suffering real economic hard times. My "original" motivation was to promote relationships between genuine conservatives and progressives that could either prevent right-wing populism from growing ugly or at least be a mitigating force, a buffer, if society devolves further into darkness as some economists predict is a real possibility in the coming years.

My original motivation grew in early 2010 culminating in my March 31, 2010 Episode 29, which has become the first in a series. In less than 30-minutes, before the audio program shifts to some unusual music, I initiated an exploration that has held my attention for the past eight months and promises to maintain its hold on me for a while.

We could see the dot-com bubble-burst coming. We saw the Iraq war and security state coming after 9/11. We saw the housing and financial economic bubble-bursts coming. Now we can see the potential for the predictably destructive outcomes of right-wing demagoguery coming. This is my small attempt to do something about it, if only to raise awareness. You are invited to join me by listening to the initial Episode 29 and seeing where it leads.


November 12, 2010

Ann Coulter Blathers about US Constitution

Nut case Ann Coulter is at it again calling for a repeal of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18.

Read her in her own words, if you have the stomach: MORE.


Thanks to the Speez for enlightening me on this.


November 10, 2010

Prosecute Bush - A Podcast Drum Beat

For about two years I've been producing segments for the GDAE podcast that "beat the drum on prosecuting Bush administration officials for their crimes." I've generated nearly 40 segments, each about 1-3 minutes.

Topics have included:

  • Law Professor Francis Boyle describes the complaint he filed in January 2010 with the International Criminal Court.
  • Bush war-crimes-Prosecution Theater: A Play called "In the Loop", by Armando Iannucci.
  • "Arrest Blair dot Com"... as in British prime minister Tony Blair?
  • The Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war, a window into a US inquiry.
  • Prosecute Bush: Evidence of 'the Possible': The Case of Peru's Alberto Fujimori.
Check them out at GDAE Podcast.


November 7, 2010

Fiscal Sanity?

Dear Editor of Time Magazine,

Fareed Zakaria's article, "Restoring the American Dream" (Time, Nov. 1, 2010), revealed that "American" S&P 500 corporations generate nearly half (46%) of their profits outside of the U.S., which explains why I put the term "American" in quotation marks. He says than 80% of Coca-cola's employees are in foreign countries. Why should these U.S. corporations continue to receive the full privileges and benefits afforded by our government of the people without having to give back more? Aside from massive corporate subsidies, their off shore operations depend on U.S. foreign consulate services and benefit immensely from the U.S. military that ensures access to and stability of foreign markets.

With that in mind, consider Zakaria's advice entitled "Fiscal sanity." Zakaria has explained the structural reality that corporate profit generation has left the US along with significant tax revenues. Yet, just when Americans need social safety nets, Zakaria recommends cutting "entitlement programs", a loaded term these days*. Just when we need skilled state and local civil servants to help the ballooning population of Americans who are struggling, Zakaria recommends doing away with state pensions that attract capable people to government jobs that pay lower salaries than the private sector.

That's not a "sane" fiscal policy. It's group-think that will likely lead us further away from the American Dream. A sane policy would condition the privileges and benefits of U.S. corporate charters on supporting America; if a corporation wants to call itself "American," then it needs to support America. A sane fiscal policy must also address runaway military spending. One might ask, "Where will all of those tax-payer supported soldiers now stationed in foreign lands find work if we draw down some of the 600 foreign military bases? For starters, shift some of them, along with their federal funding, to work at home. As civil servants, they can help our communities maintain a glimmer of hope in the American Dream during these hard times while spending their income locally rather than abroad.

* Aside: Part of the "American Dream" includes feeling a sense of national and civic pride. This pride factors into the choice of many people who choose to work in state and local government despite the lower pay relative to the private sector. The choice to work in government also factors in stability summed up by the thought that, "I won't get rich, but at least I won't be destitute in my old age." Finally, the notion that government workers only soak up tax revenues is simplistic. The private sector, for instance, has little incentive to protect the environment as the Gulf disaster attests. I was in a recent meeting in which private sector participants said, "We will gladly do our part, but the government has to set up and administer a system that makes it easy for us." That takes tax-payer support, which supports the common good AND enables the private sector to thrive. Despite his broad knowledge, Mr. Zakaria appears to have some critical knowledge gaps that lead to recommendations that are more likely to do more damage than good to our society.


First published on Challenge the Establishment Blog.


November 3, 2010

Prosecute Bush Crimes




November 2, 2010

GDAE Podcast - Episode 36

October 31, 2010 - Released

Left / Right Populism - Part VII

Can genuine conservatives and progressives clean up our democratic institutions?

  • Motivation for Reaching out to the Political Right on Issues of Common Concern: Preventing the Drift toward "Barbarism".

  • Right-Wing TV/Radio Incitement: The case of Byron Williams who attempted to murder eleven people in San Francisco after listening to Glenn Beck and others.

  • Walden Bello: A historical perspective on the Drift toward "Barbarism" and its relation to the Movtiation to reach out to genuine conservatives.

  • 2006 Conservative Essay: "Now Is the Time for a Left-Right Alliance: A rebel alliance already exists that could stop Bush administration attacks on the Constitution."

  • Prosecution of Bush Officials: Beating the drum with the help of revelations from WikiLeaks of US complicity with abuse and torture.

  • Iraqi Blogger Raed Jarrar: Personal experience with WikiLeaks revelations.

Start with Episode 29 for Full Series on Left/Right Populist Alliance
Start with Episode 30 for Quick 20-minute Kickoff

Play Episode 36 from this page:

Click to Download Episode 36.

Play Episode 35 from this page:

Click to Download Episode 35.

Listen to Part V in the series, Episode 34:

Listen to Part IV in the series, Episode 33:

Listen to Part III in the series, Episode 32:

Listen to Part II in the series, Episode 31:

Listen to Part I in the series, Episode 30, (20-minute abridged version):

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:
GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 30 April 30, 2010 - Common Interests on the Right & Left
GDAE Podcast Episode 29 March 31, 2010 - Right Left Populist Unity?
GDAE Podcast Episode 28 March 7, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 27 February 21, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 26 February 7, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 25 January 19, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 24 December 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 23 November 29, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 22 November 11, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 21 October 18, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 20 October 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 19 September 27, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 18 September 16, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 17 August 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 16 July 30, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 15 June 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 14 June 10, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009