unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘republican

Three things everyone can do to make the economy stronger

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I go AWOL every now and again, but certain things pull me out of hibernation. This week’s shenanigans on the Hill have been tacky melodrama at best. There are so very few politicians who know anything about economics, but many know something about theatre. 

If I wanted to hear something completely familiar delivered by a bad actor, I’d have watched a Tom Cruise film. Here are three things we can all do to make the economy stronger. These aren’t things we can all read which will simply make the economy stronger, but things anyone and everyone can do.

  1. Mind your wallet. Ask anyone you know if they’re in debt. When everyone has a little debt, it amounts to a lot of debt. Debt, at a certain point, creates friction in our economy. Get out of debt, start spending your money again and you’ll already be helping.
  2. Attempt to understand the economy. Look up terms you are fuzzy about. Get as realistic a vision of a ‘better economy’ that you can. It won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t happen with our heads buried in the sand.
  3. Understand that the economy is not partisan. The economy doesn’t care if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The economy is not waiting for anything. It won’t suddenly ‘do something’. It is simply a machine to circulate money, and it needs lube.
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Written by unastronaut

February 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

The formerly respectable Becker-Posner Blog

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I’ve read the Becker-Posner Blog for a while now and often enjoyed the insight. These two economists have a deep understanding of some of the forces that affect our lives. They also, like many academics near the top of their profession, are complete idiots outside of their area of expertise. No post made that fact more evident than a recent focus on “Hollywood and Liberals“, which was rife with absurd assumptions and spurious links. The comments on these two posts were (mostly) far more intelligent than either of the author’s comments. For two well-respected, usually well-researched economists I’d expect a lot higher standards, even for such a pathetic topic.

I believe the single most important reason why so many of these Hollywood creative personnel are opposed to the Republican party, especially to the more conservative members of this party, is that the personal morals of many filmmakers deviate greatly from general norms of the American population.

General norms of the American population? Look around you, Dr. Becker. Where in this country can you find those norms being practiced? For someone who grew up in a religious, conservative town of 2,000 in the Midwest I would expect to have my own first-hand experience. Instead, I could create a laundry list of deviations from that “norm” among the residents of my hometown that would rival any sample of the same size in Hollywood. Sure, we hear about LiLo and Britney Gone Wild, but how many people from small town America have Access Hollywood tracking their divorce proceedings?

Anyone living in small town America should notice the doublespeak about how their traditional values are the backbone of this country while rumors fly around town about the latest affair involving a City Council member. It’s not that Hollywood is more liberal, it’s that Hollywood is admittedly more liberal. It is viewed as being more dysfunctional, but in reality it is a matter of exposure and a marginal increase in reckless behaviors. Any construction team in this country contains the same percentage of casual drug users (based upon my own substantial experiences, if you fund the research I will prove this empirically).

Creative contributors to films divorce in large numbers, often several times. Many have frequent affairs, often while married, they have children without marriage, they have significant numbers of abortions, have a higher than average presence of gays, especially in certain of the creative categories, who are open about their sexual preferences, they take cocaine and other drugs, and generally they lead a life style that differs greatly from what is more representative of the American public.

Again, Gary Becker assumes that what-you-see-is-what-you-get. In fact, he just seems a bit out of touch with reality (as he accuses Hollywood liberals of being) and more concerned with what our public record indicates (which has absolutely no balance of coverage between small town America and Hollywood). It’s true that some in Hollywood love their bananas and blow, but I’ve never seen more blow than I did while partying with the daughters of the “traditional values” crowd throughout my high school and college years.

Here I am making unsubstantiated claims as I am certainly accusing Gary Becker and Richard Posner of doing, with two major differences. One, I am not supposed to be a well-respected academic with standards to uphold and two, I am using my own experience as my guide. If anyone cares to argue that Becker and Posner have observed these behaviors in Hollywood firsthand, be my guest.

By contrast, an important base of the Republican Party is against out of wedlock births, strongly pro life and against abortions, against gays, especially those who adopt an publicly gay lifestyle, against affairs while married, and very much oppose the legalization of drugs like cocaine and even marijuana.

This is the gem of the entire post. I’d like to thank Gary Becker for making my argument for me. It’s true that “the Republican Party is against out of wedlock births…gays…affairs while married…and the legalization of drugs”. The inherent flaw in that statement is that it admits they are not always behaving as such. I can think of one impending prominent out-of-wedlock birth from among the ranks of the same party. I believe I remember hearing about the McCain campaign pandering to their (obviously) selfless but underground gay Republicans. If I’m not mistaken Senator McCain actually began seeing his current wife while still married to his newly disfigured first wife. Then there is the example of Senator David Vitter of Louisiana who admitted to frequenting an escort service. I could continue, but this hypocrisy has already been exposed to any rational person who bothers to pay attention.

When I read further and noticed that Becker would attempt to explain away the instances of hypocrisy among Republicans, I decided to remove the link from my blogroll. These authors may continue to have some great posts about economics, but their social commentary only proves that is their only area of expertise. Maybe their next post should be “why are economists always wrong?”

Written by unastronaut

September 7, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Sarah Palin wants to know how to go about banning books

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An excellent diary over at the DailyKos details some of the new VP nominee’s ideas on the First Amendment. Not only does she have no concept of history in general but she clearly has even less understanding of the Framers’ intent. Banning books is about the closest anyone can come to outright declaring their desire to control thought.

My bet: Sarah Palin resigns from the ticket by this Saturday, citing her family and a need to be a good mother/grandmother. The McCain campaign will act shocked and as if they aren’t glad to get rid of this albatross, but ultimately will name Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as her replacement. History will still be at stake, as Gov. Jindal’s parents are Indian immigrants. He’s a natural choice, considering the profile of Hurricane Gustav and the great job Jindal has done handling the situation.

Or was this deliberate? Is she John McCain’s Harriet Myers? Someone abrasive who makes it easier to swallow McCain/Lieberman or perhaps even McCain/Romney.

I thought I’d link this Sarah Palin Digest here, it’s a great place to see everything we know about this “reformer”. Props to ThinkProgress for the great reporting.

Stop the strobe light and see the real world

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Elizabeth Edwards has written a beautiful op-ed piece for the Sunday New York Times (4/27/08) imploring the media to do its job. It seems like it should go without saying, but the media has failed the American people and democracy in general for the better part of the last decade. The media is often referred to as the 4th branch of government, because a free press acts as a check on political power. If the truth is available, it’s much harder to be hoodwinked.

The internet has been the saving grace for many Americans, who know the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is out there somewhere, just not in the mainstream media. Mrs. Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, uses the phrase “strobe-light journalism” to describe the outline-only perspective presented by the mainstream media.

…every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.

She frames the situation far better than I could, and offers a stronger voice. Although a politician’s wife is no more an expert than any blogger, this truth will receive much more airplay because of her higher profile. I don’t believe the media will actually correct this issue, mostly because “the media” is no more a homogeneous group than “the American people”. A few of the pundits and talking heads are beginning to report more on the real issues, even if they fail to point out basic inaccuracies in the positions of each candidate.

For example, John McCain is able to freely attack Barack Obama over his proposal to raise the capital gains tax. I have yet to hear any journalist correct the statements of McCain, although they frequently play the statement and ponder “will this hurt Obama?” It will if nobody speaks the truth. First take a look at Sen. McCain’s attack on Obama.

Senator Obama says that he doesn’t want to raise taxes on anybody over — making over $200,000 a year, yet he wants to nearly double the capital gains tax. Nearly double it, which 100 million Americans have investments in — mutual funds, 401(k)s — policemen, firemen, nurses. He wants to increase their taxes.

Millions of Americans have investments, most have jobs. The problem is that someone making a living from investments alone end up paying half the taxes of the working people. Low capital gains taxes make investments available to more Americans, but most Americans aren’t making more money to invest. Lower capital gains taxes do benefit average Americans to some degree, but the wealthy to a far greater degree. A post at the DailyKos points out just how fundamentally wrong McCain is on this issue.

Investments contained in 401-K’s (Or in the case of ‘policemen, firemen’ usually a 403-B), pensions, IRAs, tax deferred variable annuities, and similar retirement vehicles aren’t subject to capital gains tax — they’re not taxed at all. Changing the capital gains tax rate will have zero effect on them. Withdrawals from tax deferred accounts by retirees are generally taxed at whatever the income tax rate is for that person at the time of withdrawal (Which, incidentally, is usually a hell of a lot more than the current long term capital gains tax rate, yet another way to rip off the middle class).

Many may dismiss anything from the DailyKos, but anyone with an understanding of our tax code and economy can confirm. Of course, people in the mainstream media discredit “far-left” bloggers at the DailyKos and other sites. The problem is, someone isn’t coming clean, and any deeper research reveals it’s the media. Many bloggers can be wrong about their facts, but they can also hyperlink ’til their heart’s content, allowing anyone reading the story to see the sources. Unfortunately, there exists no such option for the mainstream media. They quote and cite themselves as the expert, and we’re asked to accept it as fact.

I’ve always considered myself a moderate, although I’m sure many would call shenanigans. It’s just harder and harder to maintain any moderate views when our democracy has been so hijacked by ideologues who give most conservatives a bad reputation. A recent poll shows that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, which I consider a shame, even though I admit I would like to see a Democrat win in November. A two-party system is divisive in some ways, but it can be divisive to the point of stalemate when the media decides to pick sides and report as a two-party media.

Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker both deserve some serious credit for putting recent comments by Reverend Wright into real context, as I try to point out any time I see the truth told on TV. On today’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, both attempted to point out that Barack Obama has never aligned himself with the views of Reverend Wright. If he ever had, he’d already be out of this race. We know his pastor and his bowling score, now if only we didn’t have to look so hard for his positions on the issues.

Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties. – Elizabeth Edwards

Turd Blossom is not an analyst, he’s a McCain supporter

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Fox News should probably be mentioning this.  They are, in fact, Fair and Balanced.  Right?  

When you see Karl Rove, know his ties.  He’s a maxed out McCain supporter, former adviser to President Bush, also known as “Bush’s Brain”.  He’s unofficially assisting the McCain campaign and yet through all of this, Fox News considers him a political analyst.  When any supporting, Governor, legislator, Mayor or campaign personnel are, news outlets will aptly label them on the screen “Clinton supporter” “Obama supporter”, it’s a good way to make sure their message is taken from the perspective it is given. Fox things Karl Rove does not fit into this group. They make absolutely no mention of the ties Mr. Rove has to the current administration and McCain camp.  Most Fox viewers are probably watching in the same way people cause a rubberneck when a roadside accident is being cleaned up, but some may consider Rove an expert on something.  They sometimes refer to him as the ‘numbers’ guy, rather than the McCain guy.

Karl Rove does have an area of expertise, it’s just the corruption and dirty political tricks that dupe a nation into war.  The only thing this man can do is spin lies into a false reality for a large portion of the population.  People who don’t have any desire to make politics their entire lives shouldn’t be lied to for the hour a week they devote to election coverage.  Simply put, do not trust this man until he’s labeled as any other politician on TV to push their candidate’s agenda.  

 

A small dose of karmic justice for Alberto Gonzales

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In the history of this country there has never been a higher ranking official so unqualified for their position as Mr. Alberto Gonzales.

He’s having trouble finding a job. What a beautiful thing to see, something positive! I don’t recall much about him, maybe this article from the Economist might address the issue. This video also illustrates his understanding of the Constitution. Keep in mind this is Arlen Specter, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

He doesn’t know anything about terminated federal prosecutors, and he just knows “that they [Bush and Cheney] would not do that.” This is the wrong kind of moron crony, just like Mike Brown at FEMA, that puts this country at more of a risk than any terrorist threat.

Perhaps this partly explains why 61% of historians consider the Bush administration the worst in our history.

You see, there’s two sides to every Schwartz

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…but you don’t see.

It’s not good and evil. It’s not even black and white and gray area. There are millions of colors in every spectrum. We tend to fixate on two-sided things. Where they don’t exist, we create two sides and divide ourselves based on a line. A line we’ve created, dividing two seemingly distinct groups. It reminds me of this. Are we really that simple?

  • Ask pro-lifers to tell a mother she’ll just have to die, the baby’s life is more important.

  • Ask pro-choicers if abortion at 8 months is OK for everyone in every situation.

  • Ask anti-war people if they hate the troops.

  • Ask proponents of the current war if they believe they are doing evil.

You’ll find a spectrum. Everything gets dumbed down: red or blue, black or white, life or choice, freedom or protection. Good or evil, even. Sometimes even two lone letters: D R (Circle ONE)

It is not so simple. It is. But it’s not.

If we can begin to see this spectrum – on every issue – we will stop witnessing war as a solution, mass apathy, rampant cronyism and lies sold as truth.

  • To people of faith- are prayers answered yes or no?

  • To the science community- are theories always proven, absolutely?

  • Do you monitor and adjust?

  • Do you rise to the occasion?

  • Do you adapt and overcome?

These are proof you understand that life is not getting from Point A to Point B, it is not black and white, it is not night and day – it is a spectrum of millions of small choices made by people, every second of every day.

It’s no coincidence our best work as human beings comes from our notion of the world we know being shattered by something so true it is inescapable. We must find an answer. It drives science, medicine, technology and life.

If we truly want to solve tough problems, we can’t believe there are two sides to anything. We must always look forward, realizing we’ve put away some of the problems of America’s past, shied away from some problems and muddled the rhetoric on issues that affect Americans on a day-to-day basis. The truth is necessary, and for this we must question things. Not syntax and semantics, but fact and fiction. Spin and truth.

Even arguing for people to vote sometimes becomes polarized. To me it looks this way: nobody is asking you not to watch American Idol, shop ’til you drop, have the world’s largest collection of whatever or do anything you choose with your life. Just as temporary obsessions don’t keep us from eating, they shouldn’t keep us from doing our civic duties. Give a little time to the forces that change your life; edit the Wikipedia page of America, if you will.

We must always ask ‘why?’ before we do anything. It’s sad that we don’t listen to children more often.

To some, this will all sound childish and idealistic. I agree, it is childish and idealistic. But children never start wars. Children don’t (often, at least) steal everything from everyone else out of sheer greed. Children wouldn’t hesitate to help everyone equally. Children are little idealists until they reach our adult world. And again, call it childish. You are, in fact, an adult for saying that. Right?

_____________________________

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

– Mohandas Gandhi

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

– Henry David Thoreau

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

– Abraham Lincoln

When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.

– Marquis de Lafayette