Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You don't have a right to the fruits of my labor!

The current crop of GOP presidential wannabes harps on this right wing trope--that government is theft on behalf of the lazy poor who want to steal from the industrious rich.

It's Class Warfare!

But as Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren points out, every successful business depends on the government providing the infrastructure--social and physical--those businesses rest on. Imagine trying to launch a business in Mogadishu. Wages and property costs would be rock-bottom. But without any of that physical and social infrastructure, you'd immediately be raided by the local warlord and/or Islamofascist insurgents. Your employees wouldn't know what they needed to know. You'd be out of business in days.

And when the richest .1% of Americans are the only ones whose incomes have risen substantially (as a group) in the last 40 years, despite huge increases in productivity, it should be obvious that a prime source of the wealth of the richest of the rich is government welfare through sweet insider deals and financial manipulation--not from producing goods and services.

Thus it should be apparent that it's actually the richest of the rich who believe they have a right to the fruits of our labor--not the other way around.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sympathy for the Mormons

Mitt Romney during his mission for the LDS Church

I know a lot of Mormons, and seeing the Republicans desperately searching for ABR (Anyone But Romney) makes me feel for Mormons.

The Mormons, politically, are the perpetually jilted suitor. They are, as a group, the most Republican-voting of any religion which has significant numbers. Their lifestyle is the most Republican of any statistically significant group--that is, living in keeping with the values Republican leaders preach (even if they themselves don't practice it--not to mention their patrons). They talk the talk. They walk the walk. And yet the people they most love...don't love them.

A considerable number of fellow Republicans believe that Mormons aren't Christians--that they belong to a cult, like Scientology, and that every Mormon on Earth, regardless of how he leads his life, is doomed to burn in the literal fires of Hell for all eternity once he croaks.

Even if Mitt Romney had the far right track record he doesn't, and even if people liked him...they'd still be searching for ABR. Because he's Mormon.

The GOP forms a new civil rights organization

AP--Washington, D.C.: The Republican National Committee today announced the formation of a new civil rights organization: the ABLU (American Billionaire's Liberties Union). According to RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, "All real Americans know that our billionaires are the main source of all that's great about this unique country. Yet foreigners like Democrats and Kenyan secret Mohammadens have conspired against America's Billionaires, oppressing them and demonizing them. 

"But billionaires are emotionally fragile. If we criticize them, expect them to follow the same rules as the rest of us, even tax them like the rest of us instead of letting them run their corporations out of mailboxes in the Cayman Islands...they will have emotional breakdowns and quit being the job creators. And then what will happen to their factories in China? 

"The ABLU will stand up for this oppressed minority, and strive to keep America structured entirely for their benefit. And then we'll all benefit from trickle down economics, with the crumbs occassionally falling from their groaning tables like manna from heaven for the rest of us.

"Our ABLU motto is "We hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equal. But some men are more equal than others." 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Voter suppression
Democrats are up in arms over what looks to them like a nationwide Republican campaign to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters. They say it's not just anti-Democrats, it's also racist (and employing mechanisms the Old South used to disenfranchise Blacks) and must be stopped.

But saying it must be stopped sounds like the solution the mice came up with when they met to figure out what to do about the cat. They decided to put a bell on the cat's neck. 

Yes, we should stop conservatives from carrying out their vote suppression pogrom. And the cat should have a bell around its neck. 

How about proposing things that take the other side into account? A little political judo, using their own ideas to let them hang themselves?

Like a national biometric ID database--which India is adopting now. Unless you think India is wealthier than us and more high tech, surely if India can do it we can. 

And it hoists the right wingers on their own ideology. A universal biometric database using retina scans is the only way we can find out who and how many illegal immigrants are here. You could tell them that anyone who opposes a biometric ID is supporting illegal immigration.

Watch the smoke coming out of their ears on that one. 

It also prevents voter fraud. Sure, there isn't any. But they insist there is. Instead of telling them they're wrong, tell them OK--universal biometric ID will stop all that (nonexistent) voter fraud. Meanwhile it will enable everyone to vote. No ID cards. No worry about name changes. Just your retinas. 

In India poor people are lining up for the ID because it will stop local Indian buraucrats from diverting Federal aid funds for the poor to nonexistent "ghost workers." 

Here in America, a universal biometric ID database solves the Republicans' phony problem while fixing our real voting problem: them.

And then we can address the real voter fraud issue: how those ballots are counted, today, by partisans of one party or the other. Now there's an incentive to cheat.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Founding Fathers didn't believe in policies--they believed in goals

we tend to consider the Founding Fathers' specific policy/government recommendations rather than the goals those recommendations served; so that under very different circumstances--like the world today--being smart, independent thinkers by and large, they might recommend very different specific policy points, because they cared less about the policies than about the fundamentals of each American having as much opportunity to actualize himself as possible, and government governing with as much fairness and efficacy as possible. 

It's like being a bush pilot. Your goal, coming in for a landing, isn't to fly in a particular way regardless of weather--it's to land in one piece. Absent crosswinds and other weather problems, you come in straight of course. But if you've got a 30Kt crosswind you'll come in with plane facing kind of sideways--hairy to look at from the ground--and then touch one wheel down while horsing the plane around to point forward so as not to snap the landing gear off or flip the plane.

The point isn't to come in in any particular way--it's to come in so you land safely, adapting your flying to the flying conditions.

Which is why I don't think either Jefferson, Hamilton or Adams would change their goals about the good life for Americans that they sought to support with their policy ideas--just that you gotta know the territory, to quote from The Music Man.

For example, they may have supported every able man having a gun in the house. By "gun" meaning, of course, a musket that takes at least half a minute to reload between shots, per barrel. Laws appropriate to a musket-level technology might be silly to insane in the context of an RPG/Mac10/SAW/50 cal. sniper rifle technology. And in a highly heterogeneous society like ours. 

So I'm only saying that the Founding Fathers seemed to be pretty smart. The rest follows logically.

The war against religion
I'm always interested in the assumptions beneath what's said.

With the current brou-ha-ha over the Obama administration's now-compromised dictum that Catholic-owned institutions that serve the general public (as opposed to churches, monasteries etc.), for example, I've noticed that once more religious people frequently seem to assume that what they'd call "non-religious' "secular" or "unchurched" people don't actually have moral views that should be respected.

It's like the way the ancient Greeks came up with the root for the word "barbarian": they assumed that those who didn't speak Greek didn't speak--they just uttered nonsense noises, which the ancient Greeks portrayed as "bar-bar-bar." That's how they came up with "barbarian."

Fast forward to the conservative commentator who said that Republican Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had no morals because she believed in pragmatic compromise. To him, pragmatism wasn't a moral system he disagreed with--it wasn't a moral system at all.


So the ones fulminating over ordering institutions that serve the public to follow certain rules-for-all don't acknowledge that the side wanting contraception provisions included are taking a moral position they disagree with. 

This is philosophical jingoism. You can't even debate the issue if the other side won't admit that you're on a moral side.

And of course we can argue that their position is extremely immoral, given the world overpopulation crisis. But overpopulation hasn't been mentioned by either side in the public debate over this issue. Yet it's the Blue Whale in the swimming pool.

Not to mention all the states in which Catholic schools and hospitals are required to do this by state law. Haven't heard any uproar about that before now. 

Tax-exempt institutions are entitled, by law, to campaign on behalf of issues, but not candidates. However, if you pay attention to conservative media, you'll see Catholic church authorities campaigning to overthrow President Obama. This church has also ordered its adherents to disobey American laws that conflict with Church orders (in the context of the Catholic Church actively promoting illegal immigration from Catholic countries to America, along with granting full citizenship to such people). 

In countries where the Catholic Church is in a majority and its adherents are fervent--as in Latin America--you see this church aggressively involved in politics. I see nothing wrong in doing that. Just in its being exempt from taxation when it does so.

But at this point, with a quarter of the country Catholic and a majority on the Supreme Court Catholic, and our Catholic population expanding rapidly, it's already too late. Our only hope is that native American Catholics aren't anywhere near as fervent as their Bishops and their Mexican immigrant congregations. Perhaps as the Mexicans become acculturated over the next several hundred years they'll mellow out. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Safety nets

The richest Americans generally oppose the social safety net. They say it weakens people's moral fiber. Each of us should make it on his own, and society best helps by affording opportunities, not by being the nanny state

At the same time they fiercely oppose any estate tax whatsoever, saying it's their money and they should get to do whatever they want to do with it. They don't concede the point Elizabeth Warren has made that their fortunes were made based on the safety net society affords us all--streets, lights, freedom from armed invasion, airports and airlines regulated (horrors!) by the FAA, public education for their workers...

But forget all that. It's their money! And what they want to do with it is to posthumously give their children a life of ease without effort.

As quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney has done, making all his children effortless millionaires (and paying little or no taxes on these gifts, through tax loopholes cleverly inserted when no one was looking).

So the rich want children to have a huge safety net--their children, that is. It doesn't weaken the moral fiber of billionaires' children to give them life on a golden platter, apparently. 

Just yours.

To be fair to Governor Romney, does believe in the social safety net we currently provide poor people. He said so. But apart from what that affords people, he doesn't care. He said that too, and in context--including saying that if there were a problem he'd fix it. Which means he doesn't see the current situation of poor people and their safety net as having problems. 

Conservatives don't believe that, for conservative reasons, and liberals don't believe that either, though for liberal reasons. Which makes the Governor neither fish nor fowl. 

And to the point of my point here, he certainly hasn't provided his sons with the social safety net they'd have if they were poor. He made them all instant millionaires. 

Okay, so he's a social Darwinist (not that Darwin believed in any such thing, actually). 

Unless you're as rich as he is, though, why would you vote for someone who believes his children deserve the good life without effort, while your kids need the moral uplift of self-reliance? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An exchange

Here's a comment and a reply from a Washington Post article about Romney and immigration:

1/28/2012 3:15 AM PST
Romney insn't 'anti-immigrant'.

lol. Romney wants to starve you out, he wants to force you to 'self deport, but he is not anti immigrant. Just imagine how it would be if he was against you.
1:08 AM PST
Who is "you?" I was born here. Our two best friends came here from India and Russia--legally. They're citizens like me. Romney doesn't want us to go. And our friends are certainly immigrants.
So he's not "anti-immigrant."

So you, sir, are guilty of writing propaganda by conflating opposition to illegal immigration with opposition to legal immigration.

I won't be voting for Romney because I understand voodoo economics. I'll be voting for Obama. So I'm on your side. Only I'm not willing to write propaganda to support my guy, and you are.

And to what purpose? Do you seriously think independents are going to vote for Obama because of this little piece of agitprop? You'll just offend them and push them into the Republicans' eager arms. Democrats will win by vigorously opposing Republicans' smear tactics--not by imitating them.

The New York Times refutes "self deportation"--they think

Today's featured editorial in the New York Times is titled "Do-It-Yourself Deportation." Next to the illustration--a drawing of a Sensitive Boy weeping blue Doves of Peace, you get to read the teenager's sad tale of how his parents self-deported. Actually, you aren't reading what he wrote, because he isn't fluent in English. You got to read a translation of him telling us that America must give him and his parents and his brother citizenship because they work hard, and, well, gosh darn it, they want it. Reeeely bad.

I want a million bucks. Reeeely bad. I want free airlines tickets for the rest of my life so I can travel more. I want a Ferrari. In green please. Red is so yesterday. I've worked hard. I keep my nose clean. I'm a devoted husband. So gimme.

No? Why not?

Well, here's why. Because America could spare the minuscule percentage of our national budget to do all those things for me. But it can't afford to do so for every single nice, hardworking person who wants these things.

That's the principle of universal application, as opposed to special pleading, which is what Antonio and I were doing. 

And the universal application of Antonio's special pleading is to let anyone come here and get citizenship if they reeeely want it and they're willing to work hard and keep their noses clean. I'm sure Antonio's down with us deporting violent felons. Just not the 10-20 million nice guys like him.

But nearly all those nice guys have less than the equivalent of an American high school education. Guess what the unemployment rate is for American high school dropouts? I believe it's around 25% or thereabouts.

OK, suppose we limited it to high school grads plus kids who haven't dropped out? Yet?

Then what do we tell all the people from all over the world who've applied to come here? "Sorry, we've changed our minds. You should have come here illegally, then said "Hey, I'm here, so gimme.""

Of course it's not Antonio's fault. He's underage, after all. But it's not our fault either. It's his parents fault. And it's Mexico's fault for its national policies that favor unlimited reproduction without worrying about how to provide work and food and water and housing for all those people. 

Well, why worry? Just encourage them to come here. Because somehow it's our fault. And if we don't give them citizenship we're insensitive. And isn't being insensitive the worst thing we could be?

The New York Times believes our nation's immigration policy should be handed over to the government and citizens of Mexico.

Doesn't that sound, well...insane?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Romney vs. Obama on taxes

Great point to make with your conservative friends.

Wholly apart from its other features, Mitt Romney's tax reform proposal would make a ton o' money for Romney.

President Obama's tax reform proposal would lose him many thousands of dollars personally.

Ask your conservative friends to ask Romney to propose something--anything--in the economic sphere that wouldn't profit him personally and substantially.

Thus far he hasn't. 

Of course you could argue that everything that's good for a quarter-billionaire investor like Romney is good for the country. 

But you could also point out that a Mormon tenet is "to avoid both sin and the appearance of sin."

And this certainly has the appearance of self-dealing--of following the practice of so many people in government, Left and Right, who use their position of public trust to enrich themselves personally.

They're rarely as baldfaced about it as Governor Romney, though. An example of his, um, honesty?

EDIT: Romney follows the scripted Republican rudeness of calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat Party." OK, fine. So let's call the Republican Party the, "Publican Party."