Friday, October 31, 2008

Heckman on Obama

Obama for sound economy
I do not think it's class warfare [Obama's economic policies], I think it's empirical economics. The real issue is the empirical content of the supply side economics dogma. It's pretty threadbare. The "real business cycle" theory is simply inconsistent with empirical evidence. That does not prevent it from being taught as gospel to students (it's really gospel not empirical evidence). I would first and foremost talk to Ray Fair (Yale) and Mark Watson (Princeton) about the evidence for the supply side model. What is ironic is that those who preach supply side practice a crude version of Keynesian economics that ignores all of those incentive effects claimed to be so important by the supply side theorists. The real question apart from the current turmoil is the longer run. Denying the value of investment in knowledge;in infrastructure;in basic science and education at all levels has been and will continue to be harmful to our long run health. In my mind Obama's eyes are fixed more on things that will improve the US economy in the next century. The basic data on the current crisis is still being revealed, but it's clear that the absence of serious regulatory oversight contributed mightily to the current problems. It's not class warfare; its about a future-oriented society. -- James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Economist James Heckman circa 2007

I support IRV... you should too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poem for the day...

The Spell Cast Over
by Jack Gilbert
October 22, 2007

In the old days we could see nakedness only

in the burlesque houses. In the lavish

theatres left over from vaudeville,

ruined in the Great Depression. What had been

grand gestures of huge chandeliers

and mythic heroes courting the goddess

on the ceiling. Now the chandeliers were grimy

and the ceilings hanging in tatters. It was

like the Russian aristocrats fleeing

the Revolution. Ending up as taxi-drivers

in Paris dressed in their worn-out elegance.

It was like that in the Pittsburgh of my days.

Old men of shabby clothes in the empty

seats at the Roxy Theatre dreaming

of the sumptuous headliners

slowly discarding layers of their

lavish gowns. Baring the secret

beauty to the men of their season.

The old men came from their one room

(with its single, forbidden gas range)

to watch the strippers. To remember what used

to be. Like the gray-haired men of Ilium

who waited each morning for Helen

to cross over to the temple in her light raiment.

The waning men longed to escape from the spell

cast over them by time. To escape the imprisoned

longing. To insist on dispensation. To see

their young hearts just one more time.

Those famous women like honeycombs. Women moving

to the old music again. That former grace of flesh.

The sheen of them in the sunlight, to watch

them walking by the sea.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

bible verse of the day

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”- Galatians 6:2

Something about this reminds me about why I am involved in community organizing and politics as a whole. We have to take care of each other--its our duty. When we nurture our communities we nurture our own lives and add meaning and beauty to our days. We have to take care of each other in our actions and in our policy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jim's day to day world...

Today was one of those days that was terrible, fantastic, beautiful, and wonderous... all at the same time. I saw, felt, and was a part of the best and worst of life. And I get to sit back and appreciate the blessing that is (as I wrote in some long lost play that no one will ever witness again.)

Such is life, a goodly one...


The End of Libertarianism
"The financial collapse proves that its ideology makes no sense."

Monday, October 20, 2008

No one ever believes me...

I tell people all the time there are moderates in the Republican party. Because most the people I speak with are here in GA no one ever believes me. But the proof is in the pudding: 2 N.Va. GOP Leaders: ‘I’ve Had Enough With My Party’

Yesterday, Falls Church City Councilman David Snyder, a former mayor who's been on the City Council since 1994 and is the most prominent Republican elected official in the City, announced in a letter submitted to the News-Press (printed elsewhere in this edition) that he's disassociated with the Virginia GOP.

Snyder accented his letter with angry comments made to the News-Press in a phone interview yesterday. He said that well-publicized comments by GOP Presidential candidate John McCain's brother, Joe McCain, in Alexandria last weekend was the "final straw." Joe McCain, speaking at a rally in support of his brother's campaign, said that Northern Virginia is a "communist country."

"Such a label is deeply offensive for all of us," Snyder said in his letter. "This is yet another reminder of the neo-McCarthyism now so much a part of the political debate."

He concluded, "The Virginia Republican Party, under whose tent these comments were made, is not a party with which I wish to be associated for this and many other reasons, unless and until it returns to the principles of its once revered former leaders, such Abraham Lincoln and Dwight David Eisenhower."

Asked by the News-Press to confirm that the letter constituted an announcement of a formal disassociation, Snyder said, "Absolutely." The McCain comment "was more than the last straw," he added, noting his long-standing differences with his party on gun and equal rights issues.

The Virginia GOP has become an "outrage," he said. "In its present form, it has nothing to do with the party of my grandparents or parents."
Lots of people don't like the right wing smear machine...

Real Virgina?

“more Southern in nature.”


Very good political ad...

About real people, and the things that Government can do for them...

John McCain: Out of date experience...

By David Braybrooke
Experience alone cannot be the grounds for entrusting someone with the Presidency. Not in his military service, but in his years as a Senator, McCain has plenty of relevant experience dealing with national and international affairs. However, his early enthusiasm for the Iraq war, and his instantaneous bluster about retaliating against Russian action in Georgia, show that his experience does not keep him from taking very controversial positions. The French generals in command in northern France when the Blitzkrieg struck in 1940 all had plenty of relevant experience, including practice in strategic judgments, expert knowledge, and (no doubt) impressive personal histories of passing one test after another for promotion. When it came to battle with the German army, they failed badly, among other ways, in not making full use of their resources, for example, more tanks than the Germans had, but not concentrated in panzer divisions, as the young DeGaulle had recommended. There is a big problem about experience and knowledge being out of date. The generals’ knowledge was out of date; DeGaulle’s was not. Judgment, backed if possible by a variety of experience. and cumulative up-to-date knowledge is what we want, but we cannot know whether we have someone with the judgment combining experience and knowledge in the right way until after the event. The best we can do meanwhile is ask for the variety of experience and the up-to-date knowledge, in candidates or if not in candidates, in their circles of advisers. Are we getting this information during the campaign? We do not seem to be getting it from either side.

On Obama Fundraising...

I'm not sure what this means:
The approximated $650 million in Obama's coffers prove that elections can still be bought -- even when the funding comes from unidentified "Internet sources."
I assume "Internet sources" means small donors? Is there a story about to break that there is some kind of fraud going on with Obama's online donations?

Hayek and Democracy

Delong on HayekJuly 08, 2003
Notes: Hayek and Democracy
I have long been of the opinion that Friedrich Hayek saw more deeply into why the market economy is so productive--the use of knowledge in society, competition as a discovery procedure, et cetera--than neoclassical economics, with its Welfare Theorems that under appropriate conditions the competitive market equilibrium (a) is Pareto-Optimal or (b) maximizes a social welfare function that is the sum of individual utilities in which each individual's weight is the inverse of their marginal utility of income.

I have also long been of the opinion that Karl Polanyi saw more deeply than Hayek into what the necessary foundations for a well-functioning and durable market economy--and good society--were.

But last night I ran into a passage that makes me wonder whether Hayek in his inner core believed that democracy had any value--even any institutional value--at all. It came on pp. 171-2 of Friedrich Hayek (1979), Law, Legislation and Liberty: The Political Order of a Free People vol. III (Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press: 0226320901):

Egalitarianism is of course not a majority view but a product of the necessity under unlimited democracy to solicit the support even of the worst.… It is by the slogan that 'it is not your fault' that the demagoguery of unlimited democracy, assisted by a scientistic psychology, has come to the support of those who claim a share in the wealth of our society without submitting to the discipline to which it is due. It is not by conceding 'a right to equal concern and respect’ to those who break the code that civilization is maintained…

Now it is certainly true that of the trio "Prosperity, Liberty, Democracy," Hayek puts prosperity first and liberty second--or, rather, that freedom of contract needs to be more closely safeguarded than freedom of speech, for if there is freedom of contract then freedom of speech will quickly reappear, but if there is no freedom of contract than freedom of speech will not long survive. But the passage above makes me wonder whether democracy has any place in Hayek's hierarchy of good things at all.

Sam Brittan wrote somewhere that Hayek is an odd combination of market libertarian and social conservative--that his "free people" are always "submitting to the discipline" required by society's current moral conventions. Indeed, there are places where Hayek goes further and limits what a "free people" can do even more--where his idea of "freedom" seems to be freedom to (a) transact at the market's current prices, and (b) shut up and be grateful. Witness Friedrich Hayek (1976), Law, Legislation and Liberty: The Mirage of Social Justice vol. II (Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press: 0226320839), p. 93:

While in a market order it may be a misfortune to have been born and bred in a village where…the only chance of making a living is fishing… it does not make sense to decribe this as unjust. Who is supposed to have been unjust?--especially… if these local opportunities had not existed, the people in question would probably never have been born at all… [for lack of] the opportunities which enabled their ancestors to produce and rear children...

It seems to me that this "shut up and be grateful you were ever born" proves far too much, and is far too powerful an argument to be true, for it can be used in defense of any imaginable social order:

While in a feudal order it may be a misfortune to have been born and bred a serf owing three days a week of labor on the lord's demesne… it does not make sense to decribe this as unjust... if feudalism had not existed, the people in question would probably never have been born at all...

While under the Roman Imperium it may be a misfortune to have been born a slave to Marcus Porcius Cato… it does not make sense to decribe this as unjust... if the Roman Imperium had not existed, the people in question would probably never have been born at all...

While in the American colonies it may be a misfortune to have been born a slave to Thomas Jefferson… it does not make sense to decribe this as unjust... if the American colonies had not existed, the people in question would probably never have been born at all...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I hate being disingenuous and ignorant... at least i'm not alone...

I started reading the Henry Citizen Newsletter a local email newsletter here in Henry.

In response to a letter I sent in, I get this:
Anyone who believes that the Bush Administration, or Lynn Westmoreland, has been deregulating the economy is not doing their homework. George Mason University recently found that the Bush Administration has “presided over the largest increase in regulatory spending.” And, “the President’s 2002 and 2003 regulatory budgets were among the 10 biggest annual increases in regulatory spending in the last 60 years.” In 2009, the federal government will spend $51 billion on regulation. It is disingenuous and ignorant for anyone to suggest that we are in an era of deregulation.

I didn't have the time to dig deep into what is obviously a rather strange argument (we haven't seen deregulation over the past 30 years?) would be interesting to see more in depth.

Anyways I came across this today and it reminded me how I'm not the only one fooled by the policies over the past 30 years...

30year deregulation era dies a sudden death

It's the Deregulation, Stupid

House Republicans defend deregulation

So I had to clarify my understanding of the terms since so many of us are disingenuous and ignorant.

dis·in·gen·u·ous (dsn-jny-s)
1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: "an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who ... exemplified ... the most disagreeable traits of his time" David Cannadine.
2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.
3. Usage Problem Unaware or uninformed; naive.

ig·no·rant (gnr-nt)
1. Lacking education or knowledge.
2. Showing or arising from a lack of education or knowledge: an ignorant mistake.
3. Unaware or uninformed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I want to read... but need to sleep... so I'll keep it for tomorrow with just a link...

How to Make Our Ideas Clear
Charles S. Peirce
Popular Science Monthly 12 (January 1878), 286-302.

Understanding Language

Grey Matters: Understanding LanguageWhy are humans the only species to have language? Is there something special about our brains? Are there genes that have evolved for language? In this talk, Jeff Elman, UCSD professor of cognitive science and co-director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, discusses some of the exciting new research that helps us understand what it is about human language that is so different from other animals' communication systems, and what about our biology might make language possible.

Why i'm exhausted and am falling behind in my philosophy work...

Seeing this in a local paper was just a reminder...Government losing sense of reality
The American public is getting hit hard by the high price of oil, raising the prices of everything else. The two main reasons for that are the worldwide demand for oil has been increasing faster than the supply, creating a shortage; and the U.S. has alienated many oil-producing nations which now put the boots to us whenever they can.

The problem has grown urgent, because America's prosperity is based squarely upon the use of huge quantities of low-priced oil. The obvious solution would be -- as Congressman Lynn Westmoreland proposed recently -- to drill for oil wherever it is available in or near American territory.
The obvious solution is drill for oil? Where do you start? How do you start? Someone smarter than I is going to need to take that one. This is why i'm exhausted... its as if people were making these things up. But bless their souls they really aren't.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today is a good day...

I am going to my union swearing in ceremony this morning.
With our brothers and our sisters, together we will stand... there is power in a union!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768–1834)

I asked Pacini the other day about Schleiermacher, because he had talked about him in his book. His description made me feel intrigued and so I went a looking today...

Came upon the Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology overview of him.

The quote at the end of this paragrah rings loud and true with me...

he began to read writers such as Kant and Spinoza. Despite his enthusiastic engagement with Enlightenment thinkers, Schleiermacher did go on to receive ordination, though not without a reconceptualization of his relationship to pietism and his community of faith. At one point he wrote his father: “…I may say that after all I have passed through I have become a Moravian again, only of a higher order.” (Livingston, 94)
The idea of a higher order... that somehow I have passed through many views since a young child. I have come full circle and am yet not to anyone in terms of enlightenment language or modern manifestations of the church and religon.

Where does one roam, when one has no home... ahh yes these are times when I must turn again to Nietzsche! My good friend! My long time guide...

Brooks hits a homerun...

The Class War Before Palin
But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

George W. Bush restrained some of the populist excesses of his party — the anti-immigration fervor, the isolationism — but stylistically he fit right in. As Fred Barnes wrote in his book, “Rebel-in-Chief,” Bush “reflects the political views and cultural tastes of the vast majority of Americans who don’t live along the East or West Coast. He’s not a sophisticate and doesn’t spend his discretionary time with sophisticates. As First Lady Laura Bush once said, she and the president didn’t come to Washington to make new friends. And they haven’t.”

The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.

Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.

This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking “eastern elites.” (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite.

She is another step in the Republican change of personality. Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.

And so, politically, the G.O.P. is squeezed at both ends. The party is losing the working class by sins of omission — because it has not developed policies to address economic anxiety. It has lost the educated class by sins of commission — by telling members of that class to go away.

Fayette County circa '96 or McCain/Palin rally 2008. How to respond? What to think?

One day my best friend Ryan and I were looking at a car in the Winn Dixie. A man drove up and starting talking to us about the old car. It was a nice conversation although I was just standing there--I don't do the car thing, quite frankly I could care less. As the man drove around the car he reached the opposite side and said in an angry tone, "how does it feel to know you are going to hell."

Ryan and I were floored because it came out of nowhere. I can't even remember what we said (hey ryan, do you?). Something to the effect of "okay, sir."

As he drove off we looked at each other bemused. We then realized he had finally seen the bad religion cross on the left arm of Ryans jacket. We've laughed about it ever since.

But it was a huge reminder of why we antagonized people with that kind of in your face imagery and disdain. The pathology and ignorance was sitting just below the surface and teenagers that we were, were just itching to bring it out of them.

Lets just say we did. But when you see these McCain/Palin smear rallies... you read stuff like this:

Heads Up!!!!!!!!
My name is Melissa Wade and I'm the chair of the Pike County Democrats in Pike County Georgia and we hold our meetings at Ruth's Restaurant in Zebulon Georgia. Today upon exiting/paying bill (for food I bought to go) the owner preceded to spat at me about how awful it was that I registered gutter scum and those people do not deserve the right to vote. He went on and on and I paid my bill and told him it was a free country and we all have the right to vote and I couldn’t take 8 more years. I took my meal home (to go - it was really for my republican husband who was sick at the Doctor). I get home, then he gets home and goes to eat it and it has a mouse head in it, cooked and placed on top of the green beans. This is absolutely horrible! They must have assumed that the meal was for me.

We have filed a report with the police department, health dept., local paper, AJC, CNN, MSNBC.
And no, we will never have a meeting there again.


Melissa Wade
Pike County Democrats
from a fellow Chairman. Or see stuff like this...

I can't help but think back to Fayette County circa '96 and why I cut my first Mohawk...

The angry 19 year old Jim wanted to say "told you so" after we elected Bush in 2000. No matter how hard we tried to argue the policy flaws, it was to no avail (we weren't organizing at the time). The angry early 20's Jim wanted to say "told you so," about the Iraq war and the impacts that the next generations will feel. After we worked so hard to point out the obvious lies, and disregard to smart policy, or accurate historical context--you get mad.

Ditto for when you argued against the 30 years of flat earth economics... and then sit in the midst of all that you fought against.

But in seeing this video of McCain supporters, I sadly feel a sense of "told you so." And the 28 year old who is trying so hard to toe the higher ground honestly does not know how to react.

I can tell you how I want to react. But I know this isn't rational, its emotive. Its not logical, its lacking in education or accurate context. I know these aren't bad people, they are scared, and desperate to protect their families and communities from the threatening world outside.

I'm sad today at what I'm seeing. And yet i'm not surprised.

Hopefully things calm down, but not likely till after the election. The good thing is, this doesn't work with independents, nor moderate Republicans. But still its a time I will always reflect on. It reminds me why I want to teach, write, and organize politically.

There is much work to do. Josh Marshall at TPM noted:
The essence of McCain's campaign now appears to amount to prepping McCain's base to believe they didn't really lose the election. The election was stolen from them by Barack, his army of gangsters and black street hustlers, and possibly Osama bin Laden too.
These tactics are meant to re-enforce the base, to keep the anger up for the 2012 election. They will attempt to continue their rage, blocking everything they can through these same smears.

So you have last night the Chambliss, Martin, Buckely debate for U.S. Senate here in GA:
Thursday's debate took place in front of a highly partisan crowd in the GOP stronghold of Middle Georgia.

Chambliss supporters waved "Saxby" signs and offered up a sustained "boos" when Martin mentioned Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

"Bomb Obama," one woman hollered.

The best overview so far has been Talking Points Memo's post: Note To News Orgs: McCain And Palin Are Largely Responsible For Unhinged Tone At Their Rallies
No question, there are a number of factors at play. But surely the most important one is the role that McCain and Palin themselves are playing in creating the toxic hysteria that reigns at the rallies they are running.

Let's consider a partial list of what the McCain camp has done recently:

* The McCain campaign is going well beyond raising questions about Obama's association with Ayers, repeatedly insinuating that Obama is currently in league with a current terrorist.

* Palin has repeatedly accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists."

* McCain himself has embarked on an effort to paint Obama as a vaguely sinister enemy within, with lines like this: "Who is the real Barack Obama?

* When a McCain supporter at a rally yesterday ranted that the country is being taken over by "socialists," and called Obama and Nancy Pelosi "hooligans," McCain didn't utter a peep of protest, and basically agreed.

* Cindy McCain basically accused Obama of endangering her son and other troops serving in Iraq with his vote against an Iraq funding bill, even though McCain also opposed a funding bill because it contained a withdrawal timetable.

* Palin attacks the media almost every day, even though her supporters are abusing reporters at her gatherings.

* Palin attacked Obama over Reverend Wright, and the campaign didn't disavow it -- even though McCain himself said in April that his campaign supposedly wanted no part of attacks on Wright.

But here's the most important point: To my knowledge neither McCain nor Palin has uttered a single syllable of protest as their crowds indulged their fear and loathing of Obama. It's hard to overstate how reckless and lacking in leadership this is -- and how dangerous this is, too.

Even an establishmentarian like David Gergen is now alarmed at the McCain team's own role in fomenting all the fury. "There is a free-floating sort of whipping-around anger that could really lead to some violence," Gergen said last night. "And I think we're not far from that...I think it's really imperative the candidates try to calm people down."

Or listen to Joe Klein: "We are on the edge of some real serious craziness here and it would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower."

But neither McCain nor Palin has taken a single step to do anything like that. Surely that's the big story here.
(as an aside... TPM truly is election central this year.

But we seem to be at quite a cultural impasse. Almost the inverse of the "silent majority" that it was said responded at the polls to the hippie counter culture they felt was destroying Western Civilization. Looks like the flat-earth "evolution is a theory..." [just like the theories of gravity, the sun coming up tomorrow, and when flipping the light switch the god which we call light bulb will begin to glow] crowd may be running loose. Its a cultural impasse. People truly think there is a liberal conspiracy. Socialism is on the lips of every conservative I speak with--every single one.

And I don't know how we get out of this kind of cultural impasse. I know we can. But it still, intellectually speaking, feels like the Republic is gone. If a Palin type got elected you could seriously see a transition (more so than the past 8 years) away from the principles are Founding Fathers passed down.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the sky is falling.

When I saw this latest Naomi Wolf interview

I couldn't help but get caught up in her "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" urgency. "A coup has taken place," seems recognizable but i'm not sure you can have a coup if the conspirators don't seem to even comprehend such themselves. It may be an intellectual move to get people who tend to sit at home and do nothing, to get up, and well... you know... do something.

But maybe she is dead serious. I realized when I was in the car with Deana, on the way to picking up my cell phone, that I think if its true she thinks that the Conservatives really want to unleash authoritarianism; that she's wrong in a way.

I don't know if its open or conscious. I think its subconscious... that its so close to the surface that our government is threatened. That you have them running around during every crisis threatening that there will be Marshall law--as happened with the recent financial bailout bill...

I think the chop off the heads of the terrorist before they do it to us, throw them in prison forever with no lawyer, and spy on our citizens and keep them away from the lawyers too. "Americans be terrorists don't you know!" I think this is about subconscious fear, pathological need to protect themselves from the dangerous world.

I think back to the point Pacini once made to me about how literal interpretations of the bible appear historically during very violent times. The past century has been probably the most violent in history--okay don't they always say the 30 years war was really really bad? Which would explain the literal interpretations of the bible that run rampant in this country.

Anyways, I've spent my afternoon in thought, and political bouncing (blog to blog to blog--political bouncing? did I just invent a word?) and trying to spread the mousehead info to see if it hits the national blogs.

Right as I read the email... I wrote an immediate response and posted it up at TPM and DFA's blog for Democracy. I know its not wise to post in the heat of the moment, but in a way thats what bloggers do. So maybe one day I'll look back and regret how/what I said... but i'll close with my blog post on this past weeks events at McCain/Palin rallies...

Sorry America, its not new to us.

Being Chairman of the Henry County Democratic party has taught me a lot about organizing. But it is not surprising to watch the tone and invective that has appeared in the past week. Fear tactics, intimidation, and personal threats that lie just below the surface of far too many Republicans is something Democrats here in the South find to be quite common. I saw it as a human rights organizer after 9/11, as an anti-war organizer in the run up to the war, and have watched it grow during this campaign.

After the conservative take over of the Republican party, the base of that party is fixated on beliefs that have no bases in reality. They hold these beliefs very strongly and it resonates within the culture here at a near pathological state.

Its important to note the pathology--these are good people, they work hard and try to live upstanding lives. But in the midst of fear, and lacking the security of knowing things are going to be okay, that pathology starts to surface. Traitor, Communist, unamerican, the devil, satanist, f---'in coward; I've been called all these things right to my face by men far larger than myself swinging their arms in an erratic style. The aggressive postures, the tone, lack of any valid reasoning's for their beliefs has caused many who support getting affordable health care, a sane foreign policy, or books in our schools, to stay silent. I have citizens who want to volunteer for the Democrats but are terrified that their neighbors will find out they are a democrat and will therefore not do anything that can connect them to the party or Obama.

Haven't you seen the emails-- Obama is a terrorist, Obama is a socialist... why haven't you heard Obama Osama, isn't that clear enough! Our way of life is at risk, it reads. I knew the "kill him," "terrorist" screams at recent events were on their way when my nephew sincerely asked me what I thought about people saying Obama is the anti-christ. He truly wanted to know what to think of this, you could see it in his eyes. And the reason he was curious was because kids can see when people are serious in their beliefs. Just below the surface of every smear email, or chuckle from a joke at a dinner party is someone who at some subconscious level is fearful and doesn't know how to protect their families from the outside world. I responded without blinking an eye and in a very serious tone said, "they have no integrity."

After I said it I regretted it because as I mentioned before, these are all good people. But when fear gets mixed in with lack of education, lies, and incendiary language that pathology starts coming to the surface. In times of crisis people follow the herd. But you start to see those who are a little unbalanced--or a lot--come to the surface. The scary thing is they become the leaders, because they set the example and the tone. When people who need to be on medication, or in serious long term therapy start leading the crowd it takes the rest of us to stand up and say not on our watch. The majority of Republicans are Americans who want the same things as everyone else. But the move away from "intellecualism" and the evils of academia in the base of the Republican party has undermined what was and can still be great about Republicans.

But leaders within the Republican party need to be held to task for not actively speaking out. I watch leaders in our local community; friends, family, elected officials sit in silence as some individual rants and raves. When the subject is on African Americans or just poverty in general its quite common to hear n---ger this, n---ger that. The conservatives around him sit and stare at the floor, cringe, or smile the awkward smile. The embarrassment often is more about someone saying what they too are feeling. With the economic crisis and the deterioration of our social safety net since the Reagan years; people are feeling fearful, angry, and humiliated.

The silence of the media thus far is like the silence of local officials, community leaders, and friends who do know better but exploit this fear for their own personal gain, power, and economic incentive. This isn't a game and when a mass mailed email just crossed my path from a fellow chair here in Lynn Westmorelands district I was appalled but not shocked...
My name is Melissa Wade and I'm the chair of the Pike County Democrats in Pike County Georgia and we hold our meetings at Ruth's Restaurant in Zebulon Georgia. Today upon exiting/paying bill (for food I bought to go) the owner preceded to spat at me about how awful it was that I registered gutter scum and those people do not deserve the right to vote. He went on and on and I paid my bill and told him it was a free country and we all have the right to vote and I couldn't take 8 more years. I took my meal home (to go - it was really for my republican husband who was sick at the Doctor). I get home, then he gets home and goes to eat it and it has a mouse head in it, cooked and placed on top of the green beans. This is absolutely horrible! They must have assumed that the meal was for me.

We have filed a report with the police department, health dept., local paper, AJC, CNN, MSNBC.
And no, we will never have a meeting there again.


Melissa Wade
Pike County Democrats
Remember this is the 3rd Congressional District. Lynn Westmoreland recently called Obama "uppity" and then refused to apologize. He smiled his classic ahh shucks smile and said he didn't know that's what that word meant. A local editorialist at a small paper received a barrage of hate speech and emails to her editor calling for her to be fired because of her obvious bias when she criticized his statement.

The "Liberal Media" make peoples eyes fume here. People don't trust the New York Times, Washington Post, or any major outlet. They truly believe the media is lying to them and trying to destroy their way of life here in their local community. A lack of education, basic understanding or issues, or information about what goes on up in Washington D.C. or the State House here in Atlanta is untutored and ill-informed. The right wing smear machine on right wing radio and TV feed these fears and frustrations. Lynn Westmoreland feeds these fears and frustrations when he calls the SCHIP bill socialism, "Hillary Care," and another example of the liberals being big spenders who want to take away your freedom. But what does any of that have to do with a program that would have gotten millions of low income children health care at the cost of about $23 a year per person?

Don't get me wrong Lynn Westmoreland is a nice man, I've met him was and he does seem to be a good person. If he was hungry, I'd give him half my sandwich, but he is not qualified to be a congressman, he is not educated on the issues, and lacks the judgement to be in Congress. In short he is not a leader, and in tough times we need leadership.

In the end its going to be the good people who remain silent that will be to blame if someone gets hurt from someone leaving one of these fear-monger "Country First" rallies. They'll be just a little chemically off, or have had recent traumatic events in their lives and they will explode. We are now watching the repercussion of 30 years of conservative economic policy, media smears, and individual intimidation.

I've learned a lot this election. I've seen the best and worst of our society. Watching so many young men and women ask me if the felony on their record will keep them from voting. The excitement of a young mother, who fills out the voter registration form for her son (who looks like a younger brother) because, "he can't write too well." I've watched men and women who have never participated start to organize their neighborhoods and fight for their own interests with a sense of dignity and pride. For that you get jeers that Obama is a celebrity, that he's the Messiah, that he's an uppity n--ger. So welcome to our world America, we're glad its finally on your radar.

In the end its going to be resolved by coming together as a community, state, and nation; and saying no to the fear. In the short term leaders in the Republican party should speak out against such invective, John McCain and Sarah Palin need to stop being the pep-squad, and the media needs to be vigilant in exposing every single event. In the long run its about better quality of life for working Americans--better education, better health care, better opportunity. These aren't bad people and I hate watching my left-er than thou friends gloat as the authoritarian impulse comes to the surface as if they are hoping for the lynch mobs to appear again just so they can be right.

Finally we need entertainers such as Boortz, Hannity, and O'Reilly; to admit just that--they are entertainers and get paid for hyperbole and invective. Politics isn't a game, it isn't a Marylin Manson concert. At least Marylin Manson is man enough to admit he's just an artist and entertainer. Maybe with time they will learn to grow up as well.
What today will look like tomorrow is always a strange thing to do. But during events that you find historic events--in your own personal life or at large. So on days when nothing happens you aren't likely to reflect on the past or project much into the future. During challenging times our counsiciousness feel a tone of fear, confusion, and lack of stability--we tend to become overwhelmed.

Under the name of reason i'm trying to think of all this in a stoic manner. But sometimes the stomach churns and the mind wanders--even though I sit with a slight grin as I write this.

My wife is coming home soon, the dog is barking and prancing around, and life is good. At least there is one thing I can count on: the sky isn't falling and my life is full of love and fullfilment.

Sometimes a blog quote is just golden...

"This opinion is based on an empirically sound foundation of absolutely nothing." --Ezra Klein

this was on the question in regards to October polling numbers and the vote on election day.


You're seeing a lot of talk lately about how closely October's polls correlate with November's results. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels e-mails:

Historically (since 1948), about 75-80% of the margin in a typical October poll has lasted until Election Day. If that holds true this year, the current best forecast of the popular vote based on the polls is that Sen. Obama will win by about 6 points.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Boortz, Hannity, O'Reilly... and what they help create...

In N.C., Pro-Immigration Hispanics Face Threats
All Things Considered, October 9, 2008 · In North Carolina, there's been a rash of threats against Hispanic advocates and state legislators who are deemed supportive of immigrants. In recent months, those threats of violence have become so common that one Hispanic leader takes a bodyguard to some public appearances.

Naomi Wolf on Sarah Palin

The Battle Plan II: Sarah "Evita" Palin, the Muse of the Coming Police State
Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah "Evita" Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.

You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand "Palin Power." A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections -- but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you don't have freedom.

Reagan and Defense Spending...

Classified Acquisition Programs in the FY 1999 Defense Budget Request
Classified or “black” programs comprise some $14 billion or 17 percent of the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 1999 request for $84.8 billion in Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition funding. The classified amount consists of $7.1 billion in procurement and $7.1 billion in research and development (R&D) funding. During the Reagan buildup of the 1980s, DoD’s classified acquisition funding grew significantly, reaching some $21 billion in FY 1987. But compared to the FY 1999 requested level, it will have fallen nearly 50 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since then, roughly paralleling the rate at which total DoD acquisition funding has decreased.

Because access to information on black programs is restricted, DoD and Congress generally provide less oversight for these programs than for unclassified ones. In the past, this reduced level of scrutiny, on top of the compartmentalization of information that normally accompanies classified programs, has contributed to performance problems and cost growth in a number of programs, leading some members of Congress and others to argue that the Pengaton’s classification policies should be reformed and funding further reduced for classified programs.1

Study on US defense budget by Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

US Defense budget: Options and Choices for the Long Haul

The Bush Administration has requested $611 billion for national defense in fiscal year 2009. This includes $541 billion for the “base” defense budget — $518 billion for the Department of Defense, and $23 billion for Department of Energy and other defenserelated activities. The base defense budget is intended to cover the military’s longterm— essentially peace-time — force structure, readiness and modernization costs.

If approved, the 2009 request would bring the base defense budget to its highest level ever, in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. In addition, the 2009 request includes $66 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for defense, as a partial down-payment on 2009 war-related costs. Eventually, additional 2009 funding — of at least tens of billions of dollars — will have to be provided to cover war-related costs for the full year.

The 2008 defense budget is the highest defense budget, in real terms, since the end
of World War II. Depending on how much funding is ultimately provided for military
operations, it is possible that the defense budget for 2009 (i.e., including the base
budget plus war-related funding) will end up being even higher.

Notwithstanding the recent buildup in defense spending, and the fact that, by historical standards, defense spending now accounts for a relatively small share of the economy, there is good reason to question whether spending for defense will continue to grow over the next two decades. There is also good reason to question the
affordability of the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) current long-term defense plan.

If it is not affordable, DoD will have to consider, as it has in the past, a range of options for eliminating this mismatch between likely future budget levels and the cost of implementing its existing long-term plans.
Reagan's Defense Buildup Bridged Military Eras
Huge Budgets Brought Life Back to Industry
The Reagan defense buildup was a hallmark of his presidency, a free-spending crusade that lifted the nation's military industry out of the doldrums after the Vietnam War. He created a war-machine economy in a time of uneasy peace, with defense spending in amounts not seen since the heights of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and sustained for longer than either of those wars.