Sassy Liberal Recommendations 2.15.13

A few things I thought were interesting:

Hubris

Rachel Maddow is hosting an MSNBC documentary next Monday, February 18, “Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War.” The previews haven’t mentioned the book “Hubris,” on the same subject matter, by superstars Michael Isikoff and David Corn, but I can’t wait to watch it.

Robert Draper

I’m a massive fan of Robert Draper and basically consider him to be a political investigative reporting god. His recent piece “Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?” is a classically good read, with a look into the right wing intransigence on new technological tools for campaigns. It was yummy. Draper always delivers.

The Next Economic Crash is on the Way

I don’t know if I’ll be sitting here in ten years wondering why no one read this Huffpo piece on the next crash, “Wall Street Setting Itself Up For Next Derivatives Crisis, Market Participants Warn”. Plenty of analysts have warned banks will just find a way around Dodd-Frank and we need Glass-Steagall back, but since Washington has its head up Wall Street’s ass, another crash is more likely than good economic policy out of the Capitol.

Athlete Ally

I was so encourage after seeing a segment on The Cycle with Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbedejo publicizing Athlete Ally, an organization aimed at supporting the LGBT community in sports. If professional sports is “the last closet,” Athlete Ally could be an effective and uplifting wrecking ball.

Turning Texas and Florida Blue

Texas blue, Florida blue, Ted Cruz red, Rick Perry fading, Hillary Clinton comingThis is a fun piece from The Hill about the Democratic Party taking Texas and Florida. This cannot happen fast enough and I really want to be a part of it!

Best Think of The Week: Rubio in Slow-mo

I haven’t laughed out loud so much at a political fuck-up since Romney’s eyebrow raise during the town hall debate with Obama. This Deadspin slow-mo video of the Rubio dry mouth horror is priceless. Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Review: Frontline’s “The Untouchables”

After hearing a substantial amount of recommendations for Frontline’s “The Untouchables,” my husband and I came away last night with one reaction: Outrageous.

Granted, this is a common sentiment we illicit whenever absorbing details of the cause of the 2008 economic collapse. Now, 4.5 years later, we’re responding to the Justice Department’s complete impotence in their duty to hold wrongdoers accountable.

PBS, though, the bastion of public information delivery, was on it. “The Untouchables” presents an investigation regarding the lack of prosecutions of Wall Street executives in the wake of the economic collapse. Most viewers, I’m certain, come away with the overwhelming sense that the Justice Department has dropped the ball.

A number of interviewees, including former Senator Ted Kaufman, who was a placeholder for Vice President Joe Biden until the 2010 midterm elections, give the impression that it was not only possible to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt on the part of numerous Wall Street executives, but that these indictments should have gone forward.

The theory is posited that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who announced his upcoming departure from the Justice Department soon after the airing of the program, was simply fearful of taking any case to trial and losing, as well as doing damage to the economy.

The documentary also backs up one of my takeaways from Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind (I’ll have a review of the book in an upcoming blog). President Obama, who enjoyed vast support among Wall Street during his first campaign for president, wanted to unite the country and not engage in a legal blow-torching of the banking and investment sector the way most of us wanted. Secondly, the Obama economic team experienced great dissent, but one of the prevailing assumptionswas that the economy was weak and dependent on Wall Street and no policy should be done that would undermine confidence or hurt the banks further.

And so, there appears to have been placed a teflon shield around many of those involved in the rampant fraud and abuse that allowed Wall Street to concentrate much U.S. wealth to the upper economic echelons, decimate the middle class, and bring the global economy to the brink of utter destruction.

Should we all shut up and simply say thank you as the Dow has enjoyed considerable growth and the U.S. has avoided the dreaded “double-dip” recession? Absolutely not.

The wealth of the average U.S. household has declined significantly. The wealth gap has grown, which helps our economy continue on shaky ground. Millions of people worldwide have suffered tremendous harm to their livelihoods and the lives of their family due to the gross negligence of these financiers.

That these people should enjoy their high life and freedom after bringing the financial system to its knees is beyond credulity and illustrates the gross negligence on the part of the Obama administration and Congress. The Dodd-Frank legislation is small consolation considering the deregulation that led to this collapse has never been rectified. The U.S. is ill-protected from another dramatic financial down cycle – the likes of which will, again, wreak havoc on the lives of those lower on the economic totem pole.

The lack of oversight on Wall Street has simply pushed this country closer toward plutocracy and the government has participated almost to the point of criminal collusion. LIke someone hinted in “The Untouchables,” we need regulators for the regulators.

Shame on the whole lot of them.

Death of the American Dream

You know how Americans love to make fun of Europeans? Americans, generally those who have traveled there very little, love to wax condescendingly as if Europeans live in perpetual longing to be Americans, forever mourning their misfortune of birthplace.

And then happiness quotient statistics come out and we’re generally in the teens while most countries that outrank us are European. We’re 49th in the world in life expectancy. Maybe someone needs to tell that to all the believers in America’s health care system.

One of the common indicators of a country’s collective happiness is the gap in wealth, with the wider the gap, the less a country is happy.

The United States’ wealth gap is growing. It started to really grow once taxes were cut for the wealthy. You see, we live in a consumer-driven economy and as the wealthy were permitted to keep more of the money they were able to earn under the American economic system, available funds for lower economic echelons dried up – jobs along with it. Furthermore, a relaxing of financial regulations allowed for the siphoning of funds by investment know-hows and, viola, we have experienced an enormous concentration of wealth for economic top tiers and a huge increase in the wealth gap.

Wages had already stagnated for the American worker and now they are evaporating. Poof.

And what is left is a surprising after-affect from years, decades – centuries! – of this “American Dream” dogma.

The dogma has inculcated Americans with the sense that they should always have more. More than their parents, more than their neighbor, they must consume more and own more and buy more and show off more and more, more, more. To be content with what you have is unAmerican. It is European. Our drive for more is what has put us at #1 for inventions and innovations and our spunk and drive has changed the world countless times over. But it has left us with an insatiable appetite for consumer goods, an entitlement to vacations in faraway destinations and an ever-present feeling of inadequacy and longing. It can never be enough. We can never have enough. And every time we turn on the TV or look out our window, we are reminded of that.

The problem now is that the wealth is being hoarded at the top. And the ability for the majority of Americans to work and earn so that they can spend and fulfill their American Dream has burst with all the other economic bubbles. Poverty and homeless children have become the norm.

And where are the wealthy and comfortable now that their fellow countrymen need them in a time of need? They’re looking at carpet samples for their yachts and fabric swatches for bay windows in their vacation homes.

You see, we live in America. And in America, every one can achieve wealth and status and luxury if they just work hard enough, right? There is no need for the wealthy to HELP anyone or understand the benefit of a higher tax rate for those at the top.

The American Dream has given them the excuse to pat themselves on the back with spectacular pride over their ability to amass such large fortunes. Because anyone who isn’t rich just didn’t work hard enough or wasn’t smart enough or fast enough. They missed the boat and it was their own fault. We’re in America! And anyone can achieve lofty heights if they so choose and, well, if they chose not to or made bad decisions, well that is their bed and they must lay in it.

And so, those with the cash pour it into elections (thanks, Supreme Court!) and they might not get the presidency in 2012, but they’ll get plenty of other victories. And wealth will continue its march upward, into more and more concentrated circles. And as the American Dream dies for more and more Americans, it is ironically this American Dreams that makes it OKAY for the greedy to perpetuate their heist.

It is obvious that concentrated wealth is unhealthy economically and leads to social instability. See, the wealthy, in their gated communities, forgot that they have to pay for relative peace and civil function, as well as economic vibrancy, through the form of taxes. They are no longer doing this. And this usurpation, manipulation and molestation of the American Dream could lead to the down fall of America and its Dream.

Romney Will Lose. Republicans Want Him to Lose.

Mitt Romney

It’s going to be close. It may even be scary at times. We might be sitting on the edge of our seat, biting our nails and drinking heavily until election day.

But Romney is going to lose. Everyone knows this. The Republicans know this. It was understood at the outset that Obama would win 2012; this is why Repub Rockstars (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, etc.) are keeping their heads low until 2016.

Even more. They want to lose the presidency. The Right Wing and their leaders raise enormous amounts of cash stoking the old, white people fears that this black liberation theology-loving AFRICAN, illegitimate president in office will turn our wonderful nation into a socialist, despotic autocracy. Republican “adults” know the economy will take significant time to recover and this will be a painful for much of the American electorate.

No matter how many Republicans are in office, the economic buck stops with the president. So, while the Republicans hold the majority of the U.S. House and state legislatures across the land, stonewalling, erasing civil liberties and introducing economically-harmful policy, it will be the President Americans turn to with their ire. Should Romney win, the Republicans will have to face inevitable American pitchforks as the economy continues its hard slog toward 6 percent unemployment. This eventuality is not in their playbook.

Furthermore, Romney is not a winning candidate and Republicans are well-aware of this. Romney has nothing to promise. He has no positive message, no image of a better tomorrow and certainly no new policies that would help “turn the tide.” He’s W. Bush all over again and involved independents do not want to hit the replay button.

His personality is as cardboard, vanilla and shallow as a candidate can get. His lack of empathy almost designates him a functioning sociopath. And, probably worst of all, his blatant willingness to say anything and do anything to win is utterly grotesque, even to the Republicans who will pull the lever in his name come November.

Romney is just not a winner. This is the worst combination of Gore and Kerry without their principles. Even worse, he lives in ever-present comparison to his father and falls far, far short of the memory of a man so many people held in high esteem.

Everyone will say it’ll be a squeaker and it probably will be. But Obama will win. Even with all the rich, corporate donors trying to buy out this great experiment in Democracy called the United States of America.

Let me say, however, this election will still likely be a loser for the American people – even if Obama wins. That’s my next blog.

Liberal Images 5/22/12

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What You Get When You Vote Republican (this list will be updated accordingly)

This is only a quick minutiae of the results from Republican electoral victories. Wish I had time to flesh it out more, but, alas, my children need raising:

  • New, ridiculous, big government, anti-choice, anti-privacy regulations. Here in Texas, one must now obtain an ultrasound before having an abortion. I know someone this has affected personally. They were basically a nonvoter. I wonder if this will change. Bad evangelicals! Only care about the fetus in the womb. Once it’s born, mom and baby are on their own. And Repub men couldn’t care less about this issue personally. It’s a political football.
  • Only recently has a vote for a Republican actually meant a vote for lower taxes. These ideology-driven pols are hellbent on wrecking this economy with lower taxes, which increases the poverty class, shrinks the middle class, sends wealth upwards, leaving the wealthy to horde their funds and send them overseas. A weakened middle class means a weakened economy. When will the electorate start studying HISTORY and seeing the effects of lower taxes vs. smarter taxes?
  • Speaking of history, weakening regulations is also proving to do the economy harm. Of course the Right Media Messaging Machine has duped everyone into believing it is the nanny state that has cratered the U.S. economy. Yet, allowing banks to become investment firms has wrought potentially irreparable harm. We need smart regulation, not less. Won’t get that with a Republican vote.
  • Voter Suppression. While the proven cases of voter fraud are in the tens, possibly hundreds over the last few decades and have never threatened the outcome of serious elections, Republicans are on the attack of the Constitutional right to vote. The Republican ideology only allows for the preserving of the Constitution and the invoking of the founding fathers when it is in their self-interest. The Constitution does not require voting on Tuesdays, identification or SPECIFIC forms of identification. It does not prohibit early voting. Yet, across this great land, Republicans everywhere are instituting methods of voter suppression, including gerrymandering, to weaken the ability and efficacy of the minority and leftist electorate. The repugnance of these actions is without adequate description.
  • Anti-union legislation. The ability of workers to organize is a fundamental right in this country, without which we would still have sweat shops, robber barons, no weekends, no paid sick leave, no child labor laws, etc., etc., etc. Average wages are higher the stronger unions remain. Higher average wages strengthens the economy as a whole for everyone, including rich people. Jeez, people!
  • Legislative obstruction. You know, even when W was president, things got done. Why, you ask? Because Democrats compromised. It’s what you do when you’re in Congress. It’s what the founding fathers had to do and what they intended their successors to do. The business of the country must continue. In a Republican-controlled Congress, this does not happen if there is a black Democrat president. They are remiss and derelict in their duties. In this day and age, even the most liberal of Republicans in Congress is move conservative than the most conservative of Democrats. This makes for a toxic legislative atmosphere and weakens the country (and causes infantile ratings agencies to lower U.S. ratings). Thanks, Republican voters. Good job there.
  • Poor immigration policy. There is no actual proof that the millions of illegal immigrants inhabiting this land are actually causing harm to the U.S. Again, here we have a political football. Republicans like to pick on weak groups in order to rev up their voting bloc, whether it’s gays, Muslims, African-Americans. Wait til we atheists are a bigger threat. The undocumented workers who have always been a strong thread in the fabric of America, pay taxes and provide a very productive element to the U.S. workforce. This aside, the Republicans are even against the DREAM act, which some estimates say would increase the GDP an entire percentage point. Instead, we educate some of the most innovative minds and then send them to other competitive states. Ridiculous. But maybe that’s just my liberal education talking.
  • Fantastical economic ideology. Republicans want to keep our defense spending up, yet want the budget balanced. Um, the defense budget is 2/3 of the nation’s budget. Much of that goes to defense contractors and profiteers (think KBR and all the other Cheney corporate cronies). There can be no balancing of the budget without a cut in defense spending. None. Yet they want to go after helpful social and infrastructure programs that account for a small fraction of the budget. Again, we have a political football. Yet, their actions prove how unserious they actually are about the issue. A significant number of Republican congressman who voted against the stimulus package were only too eager to parade checks all over their districts when the stimulus money came their way, taking credit for the very monetary aide they railed against. Gov. Rick Perry talks about how he knows how to create jobs. A huge portion of those jobs were government jobs and half the jobs created were due to federal funds. Wouldn’t find that information available on FOX News, would you?

I must conclude this frustrating, yet necessary exercise at this time, though this list is unfinished (plutocracy, corporatocracy, and more). Last thoughts: the majority of people I know are Republican. Most of those will readily admit they don’t know much when it comes to the issues. I think that’s pretty obvious. People wouldn’t vote Republican if they understood the actual consequences of their vote. Bush took us into two wars and gave us a huge Medicare prescription drug program and put it all on the country’s credit card while cancelling taxes and regulations that helped to maintain a strong economy. What, I ask you, ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING???

Get a Clue About Gas Prices. Repubs are FOS.

Gas prices are increased largely due to speculators. If you don’t regulate speculators, or at least make them transparent, you will continue to see these spikes in prices. Republicans will never opt to regulate these bastards, so a vote for Republicans means a vote for increased petrol prices. It’s a natural conclusion, just the saying: God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. Ray Charles is God.

Furthermore, increasing the production at home will not bring down prices. The Republicans rant and rave about how the administration needs to open more land up to the oil and gas companies and it is the fault of the liberals and the tree-huggers that gas prices are so high. Lemme break it down: the energy companies in the U.S. aren’t even close to producing on all the land and leases they can currently access. Not even close. Even if they did, they would never produce at capacity because that would bring the cost of fuel way down, which is not in their best interests. There is quite a bit of documented evidence of even natural gas companies hoarding stores in order to manipulate prices and drive them higher. Also, and this is a big also – we only have so much refining capacity. Even if we produces all the oil and gas our little E&P’s could handle, we do not have the refining capabilities to bring that product to market and would continue to export product.

Oh what? You didn’t know we exported oil and gas? You mean the U.S. doesn’t consume ALL that we produce?!! Which means we couldn’t consume all that we produced if we increased production?! Damn, people. The Republican mumbo-jumbo on energy policy is essentially one huge lie simply designed to line the pockets of the energy companies so that there are increased donations to Republican campaigns. Hell, a lot of democrats are in on the racket, too.

Lastly, and this is just salt in the wound. The energy companies have access to large swaths of publicly (taxpayer) owned land on which to explore and mine hydrocarbon. Most of the time, they don’t pay a dime to access to this land. Now, this is what we here in Texas call bullshit. Any private owner would demand good money for the use of their land in the exploration and production of energy. But you see, politicians are rotten little scoundrels, aren’t they? Not very good stewards of America’s bounty. And the vast majority of these crooked transactions are quietly carried out under the corrupt expertise of Republicans. Not that Democrats are doing much to stop it, but you get the point.

Conclusion: Republicans = higher energy prices. Always have. Always will.