Category Archives: U.S. Politics

Shining Shithole on the Hill

The good thing about being an INFJ is you see patterns in everything all the time but stay quiet and introverted enough that you pack down your suspicions labeled as paranoia. I don’t blog much lately because everything I’m feeling is so hopeless. I guess that is a bit extreme. Things locally are wonderful. Ron and I are great. My parents and sister and brother-in-law are all fine. But there’s a curdling unease.

Sometimes I can’t believe how fucking stupid Sarah Palin is. My next line should be, ‘I mean, really,’ but there isn’t any way to say more than that. She’s the worst example of the Ugly American. She an empty husk of consumerist hope wrapped in her own ignorance, proud of being uncurious and always at the ready to mumble ‘jingo all the way!’ She may have lipstick but she is no pit bull. She has the tenacity of a manatee and the intellect of tree stump. One blogger described her as a Pretty Hate Machine. Through the vice presidential debate, Ron and I sat there in a 90-minute cringe while a cowed Gwen Ifill rolled over and couldn’t muster the gumption for hard reporting like stalwart journalist Katie Couric.  She is an insult to smart women everywhere with her ‘I WEAR GLASSES TO SHOW I SMART’ styling and gosh-darn-gee-willickers cadence.

She is the conservative vision of women reduced to an icon: an obedient vagina with a gun.

It isn’t sexist to call a stupid women a fucking idiot.

I dreamt of Biden simply saying: ‘I’ll give my time for rebuttal to the governor so she can give you a direct answer.’ I dreamt that when McCain said he might not make that first debate that Obama would say ‘That’s okay. Nader and McKinney can come.’

I have been rather surprised at how poorly the GOP’s campaign has been executed. John McCain must really be out of his mind and not listening to his advisors. There’s no unity, no narrative, no metaphor aside from HE’S BROWN AND HE GON KILL YOU.

And McCain has turned himself into an embarrassment. His constant flogging of his own flogging has grown tired. I don’t disagree he sacrificed for his country but that doesn’t mean we owe him the White House. And for him to call Obama an elitist when he married into wealth with a blonde trophy wife while his first wife laid in the hospital disfigured. And the multiple houses. And the multiple cars. And the jet. But see, he means elitist as in That Colored Boy Think He Smarter Than You. And if there’s one thing Americans hate it is a nerd. Especially a nerd that isn’t white since he points out the possibility that if you work really hard and are smart you can succeed instead of falling into wealth by marrying it or betting your life in an economy reduced to porn, bullets and casinos.

Obama won’t change anything. He is a civil rights scholar and an expert on the Constitution but rolled over with FISA and telecom immunity. He hasn’t said dick about stopping our torture programs and other gross human rights violations. He will continue the imperial project that is driving the country into financial ruin. As more former prisoners come forward and detail the systematic abuse at the hands of Americans we learn how morally bankrupt we are, and now we’re learning how financially bankrupt we are as well. Yes I love Obama and Michelle as symbols but if there’s no there there than the symbol is just an empty totem. Maybe I should give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I dream on day one he’ll dissolve all those executive orders that set up the levers for a dictatorship and martial law – I think he could have run on a ‘restoration’ type message.

There’s no fucking money. Why won’t McCain or Obama say that? There is no money. We are beyond running on fumes. At least fumes can be inhaled for a high. We don’t even have wooden nickels dipped in shit. We don’t even have shit.

That 2 and a half page that McCain didn’t read had been cooked up months before by the White House. That congressional showdown was so suspicious to me. Any time they want to ram through legislation that fast I remember the Patriot Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force. You can sense the hubris. They didn’t even bother making it a really long bill that nobody would read. It was just under three pages and enough of that language to include that no decisions could be undone or reconsidered. Why didn’t someone simply ask: What is the value of having no oversight?

Then came the second version of the bill that fellated any pissed off congresman with earmark/bribes so they’d say yes to anything. And then the $700 billion became $818. Like that is some sort of solution. ‘Oh it didn’t past the first time, we must need to add more bullshit to it.’ And they just came up with the number anyway. And then AIG’s big party.

Listening to a This American Life episode from NPR the question I’d kept asking myself was answered. They were talking about Credit Default Swaps – the blurry financial instrument that had undermined AIG and caused the collapse of the commercial paper market. I’d kept wondering about oversight and guessed that there was probably no regulation – and I was right. But worse than that, there was no disclosure. All the free market monkeys are always talking about how markets self-regulate if there is trust and public information (i.e. no insider info). Congress had a chance to say they wanted transparency but the greedy-grabbers decided they wanted to go without and so that is why I think there should have been a big ‘Um no, fuck YOU’ to those parties that engaged in risky business knowing full well all of the ramifications of their behavior and rewards and losses. We get to learn the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s all over again. Which means a world war should be coming any day now.

In the book American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips writes:

It’s finally happened: moving money around has surpassed making things as a share of the U.S. gross domestic product.

He then goes on to detail the decline of manufacturing and the rise of the finance, insurance and real estate industries. When I first read that I kinda shuddered. I may be a traditionalist but I don’t believe an entire country can survive on service jobs and ‘knowledge work’. We have to make something. Besides weapons. But that is what has happened. Has there ever been a case where globalization didn’t result in a race to the bottom? Phillips also details in the book the current crisis in national, global and household debt.

So the reason the car companies are failing isn’t because they make such shitty cars – they do – but that the cost of pensions is skyrocketing. I’m waiting for the generational war to begin between the boomers and everybody else.

Okay who ever has their goddamn Blackberry IM going off can please please please silence it.

I feel like I can’t find enough creative ways to say ‘we’re fucked.’

Here in Silicon Valley the VC firms are locking up and money is going to slow to a trickle. Hopefully my company is well capitalized and has reserves to weather the crazyness. I hear conflicting views on ad spending during recessions.

On the lighter side my time in the gym seems to be paying off. I’m not getting lean like I wanted to but Ron and I can barely fit side-by-side on the Muni. A co-worker noticed I’ve been getting broader. A stroll through the Castro Street Fair brought welcome glances at my chest or smiles. Ron always like this. He likes to know I’m coveted.

Okay the muffins are wearing off.

George Bush and 50 Cent: Hip Hop Reflects Culture

Poet Saul Williams writes an open letter to Oprah:

Hip Hop is simply a reflection of the society that birthed it. Our love affair with gangsterism and the denigration of women is not rooted in Hip Hop; rather it is rooted in the very core of our personal faith and religions. The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation.

Our love affair with gangsterism and the denigration of women is not rooted in Hip Hop; rather it is rooted in the very core of our personal faith and religions. The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation. 50 Cent and George Bush have the same birthday (July 6th).

Censorship will never solve our problems. It will only foster the sub-cultures of the underground, which inevitably inhabit the mainstream. There is nothing more mainstream than the denigration of women as projected through religious doctrine. Please understand, I am by no means opposing the teachings of Jesus, by example (he wasn’t Christian), but rather the men that have used his teachings to control and manipulate the masses.

Do Your Taxes in 30 Seconds

Ezra Klein: Republicans Wish You A Painful Tax Da

So here’s a pretty nice policy idea from John Edwards: if the IRS already has all the information it needs to do your taxes, as it does for about 50 million Americans, why don’t we spare you the trouble and have the IRS do your taxes by itself? The IRS would then just send you “Form 1” in the mail, telling you how much you owe or how big your refund is, and you’d sign it and return it. Studies suggest that this would save Americans approximately 225 million hours of tax-related drudgery.

What Books Changed Your Mind in 2006?

I chronicled my favorite business-y books of 2006 on my business-y blog.
Here’s the political books:
Whose Freedom?: The Battle for America’s Most Important Idea by George Lakoff. Lakoff is a Berkeley linguist best known for introducing the concept of ‘framing’ into political discussion. You also know it as ‘marketing’. His most accessible book is Don’t Think of an Elephant where he details the cognitive differences between conservative and progressive/liberal politics. In Whose Freedom he takes apart the concept of ‘freedom’ – an underpinning of the US Constitution – and then shows where we all agree – and where you can use/abuse the concept for your own political gain. Sometimes dry but never dull. –
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War by Andrew Bacevich. This book is amazing. Written by a military historian trying to reconcile his experience in Vietnam up through the Reagan years and into our current Project for the New American Century. Is American society inherently war-mongering? Why are US citizens so easily seduced into war and carnage? Bacevich runs through American military history from colonization to Baghdad and shows the common threads, warnings and themes that allow US citizens to fail to fully challenge military engagement. Not a partisan book at all. Bacevich tears apart illusions from both side of the aisle and illustrates the rehabilitation of the military post-Vietnam. I was born right after the last helicopter left so I really didn’t ‘get’ much of this context until after reading this book.
Exception to the Rulers by Amy Goodman and David Goodman. The host of the only independently produced news show in the US (and her brother) are back with a stunning collection of stories and examples to explain exactly why we are all in this handbasket together.
Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast. Ex-pat journalist Palast rakes the muck with a scarring investigation into nearly every pie the US has its finger in right now. You won’t believe why the US is really in Iraq.
The United States v George Bush et al. by Elizabeth de la Vega. A former federal prosecutor writes a hypothetical indictment [full text of indictment] and conspiracy trial against our dear leaders. I’d love to produce a staged version of this. Searing.
An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy book. Novelist and activist Arundahti Roy is a great antidote to Thomas Friedman’s ‘India is coming to eat you.’ Roy remains a compelling voice for human rights and common sense as globalization continues our race to the bottom. Sad, angry and persuasive.