Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bugs Bunny

...and Elmer Fudd, too.

See this Wikipedia entry on Bugs Bunny, and note that today, July 27, is the 70th anniversary of the release of the first Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs was sufficiently developed into the cartoon character so lauded today by animation enthusiasts...including me.

Growing up in the early 1960s, one heard and saw on television this theme song for the Bugs Bunny Show (where Daffy Duck was always seeking top billing instead of Bugs).

There are so many brilliant B. Bunny cartoons, it is difficult to name any single one. The Wiki links to the cartoon titles are worth a peek, as YouTube only has snippets. But one of my favorites is on YouTube (again a snippet), and is called "Rabbit Seasoning." It contains the great dialogue which highlights the problems of pronouns in language...YouTube does have what is a mostly complete "Rabbit of Seville," though...

So Happy Birthday, Bugs. We miss seeing you on television or elsewhere...

BONUS: Early Bugs Bunny cartoon director, Bob Clampett, went on to make Beany & Cecil, and one of the greatest cartoons of all time, "There's no such thing as a sea serpent" and it's all on Youtube!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Judicial philosophy: Defer to other branches of government on economic regulation, protect minority private rights

There. I said my constitutional philosophy in the title to this post.

But are there cases out there that would breach that philosophy and require a result that goes against that philosophy? You bet. Why? Because life is complicated and we can't wed ourselves to philosophy anymore than we should stay completely with an architect's drawings for a house when we actually have to build the house. Once you start building, you find challenges that the drawings missed or can't account for in the real world.

Plus, if you just make sure you never forget that in most cases, there are real parties with real disputes that are mostly unique in some way, you will remember that is the truly guiding principle for reaching a fair result--meaning, you take care of who is right in the instance before you regardless of how you feel about your philosophy. Contrary to those who say they believe in "jury nullification," the law is sufficiently profound to reach the right factual answer with support from the law than our pundits and public so often are led to believe. As Holmes memorably said about the common law, the essence of law is not logic, but experience.

I say all this because I have read Ronald Dworkin's excellent article in the latest NY Review of Books about the kabuki dance known as (soon to be Justice) Elena Kagan's Senate hearing. Dworkin is right that a judicial nominee for a lifetime federal court position should be able to discuss constitutional theory with Senators without going into particular cases that may still come before the court. There are lines to draw that will be not quite the same each time, the way a jazz solo is different each time, but fairly similar. However, it would be appropriate for such judicial nominees to be more forthright than they have been. Yes, gotcha (soundbite) politics and gotcha journalism would probably undermine someone trying to be even reasonably forthright...but it's worth a try.

The Financial Times admits supply side economics are a hoax

Martin Wolf writes a perceptive post that shows why supply side economics ("Cut taxes and we'll get more revenue!") is a hoax. Those who know me know that I have always held that position, but I continue to be amazed at otherwise intelligent people I meet who buy into that nonsense.

The post from the Financial Times writer helpfully notes that once government officials who peddle this nonsense realize there is less revenue coming in, they turn immediately to a "starve the beast" mentality of spending cuts designed to undermine faith in government and to undermine governing itself. The Reaganites did this, the Bushies have done the same, and our idiot Tea Partiers want to do the same--again.

These people have no right to call themselves "conservative" in any sense of conserving anything--unless they wish to admit they wish to conserve the privileges of aristocrats and oligarchs. Liberals in their most robust days may have taxed and spent, but they tended to do right by most people and government ran well. Structures were built and people were fed or provided shelter. Compare that to the reckless people who call themselves conservative who borrow and spend, run up deficits and debt in our government, and then cut services while cynically whipping up emotional frenzies based upon hate and ignorance to gain or hold power.

ADDENDUM: Anyone who thinks Obama's calling for increasing income taxes on anyone less than $250,000 should see this Kevin Drum post from today, especially the chart he linked to from the Wall St. Journal. Most Americans (except the top 1%) are seeing a tax cut under Obama, while the top 1%, which I think should constitute "rich," will pay what they paid in terms of tax rates as they paid in the 1990s. That is not a soak the rich strategy. That is not a "tax and spend" policy. That is rather light considering that top 1% has been gobbling up more and more income, as any review of the literature out there would plainly reveal.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Robert Wright tries to calm hysteria...

Thank goodness Robert Wright took the time, in the NY Times, to dismantle the hysteria surrounding the building of a mosque somewhat near the site of the former World Trade Center towers which were destroyed, and where people were killed, as a result of Al Queda on 9/11/2001.

Somehow I doubt Wright's blog post at the NY Times is going to penetrate into minds who are feverish with fear over Muslims, whether secular oriented, or peaceful--or not.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Last time I checked, it wasn't there...but now it is...

The strangely titled, yet hauntingly beautiful "Lobster in Cleavage Probe" from Hatfield and the North's first album (1973) is on Youtube, though it gets abruptly cut just as it gains speed.

It pays to recheck Youtube every once in awhile for things that did not exist at one point and then are later posted...

Like this live performance of "Watcher of the Skies" from Genesis on "Midnight Special" in 1973...That was a time when your mother (or egad! your grandmother) thought Genesis was too weird. You know, before the pop-py stuff of the 1980s...

Another reason why I love Ian Anderson of the band Jethro Tull

Ian Anderson nicely explains why he is not canceling Jethro Tull's concert dates in Israel, and how he deals with the continuing 100 years war among religious fanatics and their political allies. A tip of the hat to Haaretz for bringing this to my attention!

Ian Anderson, way back in the late 1970s, when Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and others left England for the lower income tax rates of America (Clapton and Stewart even made positive statements about the fascistic National Front movement in England during that time), scolded those rockers for deserting Mother England when it was England's social welfare state that gave those rockers succor as children growing up in the aftermath of World War II. Anderson later purchased a salmon farm in Scotland where he ensured the people in the area shared in some of the wealth generated from the farm. He is an amazing fellow, and the Tull albums from the 1969-1977 period remain powerful and strong as a group, particularly "A Passion Play" and "Thick as a Brick", as well as "Benefit", "Aqualung" and "Stand Up."

Krugman nails it again. No surprise. Still, it's worth reading...

Krugman makes the case that stimulus spending on infrastructure and jumpstarting industry works wonders for a depressed economy. Would be that our leaders would act on that understanding...

Saturday Night Review of Last Sunday's Book Reviews

I was away in the Boston, MA area with my daughter this past week, and had little blogging time. I missed last Sunday's NY Times Book Review and offer some thoughts about last week's set of reviews now:

Last week's NY Times Sunday Book Review led with biographies of two 20th Century literary giants, Somerset Maugham and E.M. Forster, which books contended that their respective sexual proclivities and childhoods deeply influenced their work. For those interested in reading about the sexual proclivities of writers, fine, but I am with Gore Vidal in believing that biographies of this sort are more gossip than anything that would illuminate a writer's work. Having read Maugham's master work, "Of Human Bondage", for example, I find nothing particularly relevant to the work that he turned out to be a homosexual or cruel towards others in his private life. And the same may be said for Forster's wonderfully brave and humane essays in "Two Cheers for Democracy" or in his outstandingly perceptive novel of manners and issues of economic class, "Howard's End."

Does biography always remain irrelevant? Certainly not. Vidal's own biography, in growing up with his grandparents, one of whom was the Senator from Oklahoma for thirty years, played a powerful role in forming Vidal's love of American history that led to his great historical novels series. Still, Vidal himself recognized that too often memoir and biography revel in gossip, and are neither a substitute for reading the works nor are they necessary to understand the text of a writer's works. Certainly, Vidal knew nobody from the 5th Century B.C. or in the Age of Julian, but those two historical novels remain two of his most powerful novelistic and historical works. I've just finished "Creation" last night, and it may well rank as Vidal's greatest novel, and I adored "Lincoln," "Julian" and "Burr" as well.

Other Times reviews included a review of a new book on the American Founders which was well constructed, and fairly informative. However, I am in sharp disagreement with the bolded portion of the following paragraph:

While acknowledging this profound failure of the founders’ imagination (regarding slavery--MJF note), Rakove invites a renewed appreciation for the undeniable accomplishments of the first of America’s “greatest generations.” Still, his conclusion is too optimistic. It derives as much from his chronological framework as from the story he tells. Ending not with the ratification of the Constitution or Washington’s election but with Hamilton’s plan for a strong and fiscally sound central government, Rakove implies that this final achievement was more durable than it in fact was. Jefferson’s election a mere eight years later would begin the process of dismantling Hamilton’s program, and Andrew Jackson would deliver the coup de grâce during the Bank War of 1832-33.
(Bold added)

The reviewer seems unaware of the fact that Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, was a Hamiltonian in his policy proposals. Jefferson himself supported increased government support for technology and internal improvements, which ultimately led John Adams' son, John Quincy Adams, to became a member of the administration of Jefferson protege, and leading Constitutional Founder, James Madison. While it is true that Andrew Jackson wrongly destroyed the national bank in a fit of anti-intellectual rage, Jackson too followed much of the Hamiltonian program JQA and Henry Clay were proposing, which was to build infrastructure and promote industry within the nation. These are examples of how one set of politicians follows another set of politicians' programs while maintaining the rhetoric that masks a remarkably similar set of programs or policies. Henry Adams, in his history of the first two decades of the American 19th Century captured this paradox as well as anyone, but somehow this continues to elude some history professors. While my point may be overstated--Jefferson certainly undermined the nascent navy that Washington and especially John Adams had built--the reviewer's statement should have been gently edited by a more knowledgeable editor.

The Times included as well an overwrought review of two overwrought books about the cultural world of rock and roll fans. It's a review worth noting, however, if only to show once again how anyone who writes about rock and roll for a national newspaper or magazine tends to be rather dumb, or in the case of the particular reviewer, horribly pretentious. One can painfully detect the reviewer attempting to craft a sentence that is "literary" or at least "hip." The result is a rather silly affair, starting in the opening sentences which pay homage to that now legendary group of art-house phonies, the Velvet Underground, and ending with a string of references that is mere gibberish to those not aware of who the reviewer is discussing. And since the discussion is of less than compelling personalities, those who do not know the references need not tax themselves to find out...Far better to read about the cultural history of yoga or the Dreyfus case, as those book reviewers ably sketched. Cultural studies is often very profound when it is grounded in sociology and history.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Mark Edmundson, one of the authors of the rock and roll books in question, is better at straight biography. His book on Freud's last days was very insightful about Freud, and was compelling in its weaving of the cultural, historical and political currents in Europe and elsewhere in the late 1930s.

Finally, this review of a new book of letters exchanged over decades between Cold War theorist and grand elitist (in the best sense of that latter term), George Kennan, and the historian John Lukacs, a brilliant emigre from Soviet tyranny, deserved a far more detailed and penetrating review and discussion. One will have to wait for the NY Review of Books to tackle this work.

(Edited)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Does Kobe get retroactive MVP Awards now?

Just a couple of thoughts I can no longer resist stating on this blog:

1. When do the sportswriters who built up LeBron James while ripping Kobe, but who are now attacking and dissing James, finally tell us they were wrong to pick LeBron over Kobe for MVP the last few years?

2. Far be it for me, a Lakers' fan, to say this, but...The pile on against LeBron James needs to stop. Magic, that was beneath you. When you entered the NBA, you already had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, and then later James Worthy, Byron Scott, and any number of outstanding players. And anyone with eyes can see that Kobe simply proved that he needed a big guy, i.e. Gasol, an enforcer, Artest, and a real playmaker and on-court coach, i.e. Derek Fisher, to grasp his fifth NBA championship ring. Yes, I wish LeBron stayed in Cleveland, as Cleveland had the best record in the league, and Boston clearly peaked in that series against Cleveland. But let's stop the pile on against LeBron James already. If "King James" wants to play Bill Russell--grab the rebound and throw an outlet pass to a fast breaking Bosh and Wade--then so be it. Russell did pretty damned well, didn't he, with the 1960s Boston Celtics...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A rising tide of lower income taxes lifts all yachts, while most boats sink

This chart is from 1979, just before President Reagan's income tax cuts, and the first year after President Carter's passing of the first capital gains tax cuts.

I have seen similar trends shown whether one begins in 1973, 1978 or even 1968. The point is that the top 1% have seen their incomes skyrocket, while the rest of us lag, and argue about homosexuality or ooh and ahh--and tut! tut!--at the lives of the rich and famous, and occasionally politicians. And when we don't argue about that, we spend vast amounts of our reading and talking time analyzing and reanalyzing the prospects of our favorite sports teams.

I know I'm repeating myself, but these trends are so clear. Yet, there is no momentum to repeal the Bush Tax Cuts, but there is momentum to destroy Social Security. What is so horrible is that there is a very easy, explainable program for rebuilding our nation's economy and restoring our greatness as a nation while preserving the cultural and humane gains we have made since the late 1950s. Still, our economic elite, drenched in money from elite financial interests, refuses to even consider that program.

(Edited)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Concerned about deficits and debt? Repeal Bush Tax Cuts

I am sick and tired of hearing even political allies tell me we should do anything with reference to Social Security. Social Security is fine as long as the overall economy is fine. If it is not, then the US economy is the entity in trouble, not Social Security. See here for why this is so...and here is a smack down of the lie that Social Security administrators in the 1930s supposedly did not plan for longer living recipients..

We hear about the projected deficit/debt from Social Security in the next several decades. But if that is a concern, then why not simply repeal the Bush Tax Cuts because that will cause at least three times the amount of deficits/debt as the supposed shortfall with Social Security.

And in case some yutz tells you repealing the tax cuts will hurt "small businesses," Kevin Drum provides us the latest knock down of that Republican theme. That supposed consequence is just another lie from the Republicans who lick the boots of the top 1% of income and wealth holders.

So please do your best to hit hard back against people who say we need "reform," "change" or do anything to Social Security. We don't need to cut benefits, nor should we even if we had a problem. We don't need to raise the limit on taxable income above $108,000 (though that is better than cutting benefits IF there was a problem, and there is NOT), and we don't need to raise the age to 70 for people to receive Social Security. Again, if we are so concerned with deficits and debt, let's repeal the Bush Tax Cuts. And if we really want to be fiscally prudent and act properly as a nation, let's end our imperial adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why this is so hard to penetrate into corporate media is making me wonder whether our nation's economic elite and the politicians they so often buy are consciously trying to destroy our nation...Really. This information should be known by nearly every adult American, but even the best minds I know are often shocked by this information and analysis.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuli Kupferberg: Founder of The Fugs has passed away

See this obituary.

The Fugs were a revolutionary band, more culturally revolutionary than outright political--and pretty horrible from a musical perspective. Perhaps their "theme" song is "Nothing." (Which starts out silly and becomes more and more topical...)

And here is the song Tuli sang to co-founder Ed Sanders before he passed away. And then there was "Kill for Peace" from the 1960s, but which seems sorta timeless...

R.I.P., Tuli. Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba, etc.

The continuing relevance of Czeslaw Milosz' "The Captive Mind"

When I read "The Captive Mind" in the late 1980s, I was enthralled with its depth of understanding and explication as to how people get ahead in societies both free and dictatorial. What I was most struck by was how the author, Czeslaw Milosz, had understood that this sort of gamesmanship among people in various societies applied to middle managers in corporations as well as those serving in a communist dictatorial government. The phrasing was imprecise in order to be applicable beyond the main point of the text, as opposed to impreciseness in the usual sense of the term.

It is with that understanding that I highly commend reading Tony Judt's blog entry discussing Milosz and his wonderful book, first published in 1953, which is still extremely relevant as Judt ably explains.

Still, I wish I could find the essay or introduction Milosz wrote where he stated precisely my interpretation of his book, and noted further how the US State Department, after spending a few days with him following his defection from Communist Poland to the West, decided he was still too much of a "socialist" in his personal views to be useful in the Cold War against the Soviets and their satellites. Funny, that...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Paul the Octopus does it again!

Paul the Octopus, who has been correctly picking who will win or lose various World Cup soccer matches, predicted Spain would win the World Cup today.

And Spain won.

Let's just say this is one more example of where we humans have underestimated the capabilities of our fellow animals around the planet...As we congratulate the Spanish soccer team, we should say a special hooray for Paul the Octopus!

The Poor: Inivisible in Plain Sight

As some cry in their soup over a superwealthy basketball player who leaves town for greenerbacks, we should perhaps pause a moment at how we are becoming accustomed to the increasing poor in our cities, including lovely cities such as San Diego. In March 2010, while the nights were still fairly cold in San Diego, I was moved to type the following thoughts as I reflected on one of my commutes back from downtown San Diego to one of its suburban enclaves where my family and I live. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that the San Diego Union-Tribune, a rank economic royalist newspaper, should find it not fit to print. So, after a few months, I have decided to print it here in the public electronic sphere:

"The Poor: Invisible in Plain Sight"

I am privileged to work as a lawyer in downtown San Diego, where the weather mostly resembles Tuscany, Italy and where wealth and leisure are ever present. But in recent months, as I walk the streets to the courthouse and during lunchtime, the number of those without homes asking for spare change has dramatically increased. I find myself more frequently handing out coins and dollar bills, as people seem to be lining the walls of the buildings and sidewalks. In the evening, on A Street, as I and others commute homeward in our safe cars and SUVs, more than a hundred people gather in a community of small tents and blankets to try and keep warm through the cool (and in the wintertime fairly cold) night.

These homeless and poor are increasingly diverse. Where once they were people whose mental faculties were marginal or distorted, there are now younger people, couples, elderly who were once productive--and those learning for the first time what impoverishment does to degenerate one’s physical and mental health. Their skin color is not what we think of as “diverse,” in that they are mostly “white.” While that may surprise most people, it would not surprise most sociologists whose studies over the decades reveal a consistent pattern that at least a plurality of the poor have "white" skin.

What is most odd is how others (and sometimes myself) are reacting to this proliferation of these homeless and poor people. Most of us in our suits, skirts or well-tailored leisure clothes have immediately adapted to the situation by averting our eyes to what is in plain sight. The homeless and poor look longingly to us, trying to get our attention while holding their increasingly detailed homemade signs (in better penmanship than I possess). Yet, we walk-by's become more strident, more hardened and finally indifferent to their mostly silent pleas. I sometimes find myself weary of handing out coins and dollar bills, and sometimes do not give any money. I do at least acknowledge and apologize to those seeking the money (unless I notice a menacing look, which does happen from time to time). For the deeper I advance into middle age, the more I believe making someone feel invisible is the insult to the injury of not providing the spare change.

It is not merely seeing people ignore this growing poverty that now contributes to my despair and sometimes outrage at the consequences of our nation rending apart the social contract Franklin Roosevelt and unions help craft in this nation, starting in the 1930s and continuing into the post-World War II era that lasted until the end of America's war in Vietnam. There is another layer of indifference that I have noted over time. In the office building where I work, there are those who arrive every night just before 6 p.m. to begin the process of cleaning the offices in the building. They are barely paid a minimum wage and there appear to be no health benefits provided for what may also be part-time work. What I first noticed about the maintenance people is that most were Spanish-speaking people. Then, I noticed that when I said hello or thank you to them, almost all were shocked, with some completely averting any gaze to me. I found this strange until I recognized two things: First, I noticed how other professionals and support staff of the businesses and professional firms ignored the presence of the maintenance workers walking by in the lobby or walking into conference rooms or offices, after the workers knocked lightly and said “pardon” or something equivalent. Second, I recalled from history the way peasants treated the masters of estates with a fearful respect, which was based upon the feeling that the peasants were not worthy of a greeting, let alone a conversation. Over time, the maintenance workers at the building have been willing to return my smile and thanks, and say “You’re welcome” (I tried saying “gracias” a couple of times, but they started speaking Spanish and I had to say “No Espanol” with an embarrassed shrug of my shoulders).

It is bad enough in our society that we have undermined our social contract in this second Gilded Age—where we ignore the poor and working poor, while the wife of a baseball team owner secures over $600,000 a month for daily living expenses, the corporate-owned media glorify the excesses of the rich and famous, and where our idea of health insurance reform is to make individuals pay more expensive premiums to profit-gorging health insurance companies. Michael Harrington, the late social activist, scolded our nation in the early Sixties that we were systematically ignoring the poor and rendering them invisible with a cruel indifference. We have returned to that state of affairs, but this time we are justifying that indifference, at least in part, by our current fear for our own economic futures.

Somehow it never occurs to us that we as a nation have a duty to each other to work together to rebuild the infrastructure of our nation, to reform labor laws to make it easier for workers to share in the wealth produced by their productivity, and ensure that people do not have to beg for change to buy a processed burger and soft drink, a pint of alcohol, or illegal drugs. It costs our nation, both in money and in the degrading of our best values, to allow people to become desperate enough to live outside society and the important societal value we call the law. Especially in this anxious time, we need to re-learn the language of the social contract. In the meantime, though, the least we can do is show some decency to the people we see on the street who are struggling in poverty and despair, and the working poor who clean our offices or maybe our homes. Brother and sister, spare some change, or at least an acknowledgment of their suffering.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Brilliant animation of a lecture on capitalist accumulation and great Chomsky interview

From Three Quarks Daily, a wonderful communal blog, two items worth the linking:

First, a lecture by Marxist professor David Harvey animated most brilliantly.

Second, a great Chomsky interview.

LA Times publishes my letter to the editor

The LA Times published my letter to the editor today, July 8, 2010. It was in response to this article about Democratic Party candidate for CA Governor, Jerry Brown, not doing media buys and wondering what's up with that. I gave the Times the following answer:

Re "Party fears for its frugal candidate," July 5

Jerry Brown is running a great campaign. It is the equivalent of Muhammad Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy against George Foreman in 1974.

This time, it's the corporate behemoth, Meg Whitman, who is wasting her financial strength, spending tens of millions on ads that get exposed for their lies — while Brown refuses to waste campaign money on media buys this early, since he is already well known among much of the voting population.

Let's also remember Brown is not sitting still in Zen-like passivity. He is meeting people throughout the state, and has been willing to face and interact with reporters in the media, unlike Whitman. Brown has called for multiple debates, while Whitman cowers in fear. We can expect Brown to charge hard, Ali-like, around Labor Day as Whitman shadowboxes herself into a corner with self-inflicted blows to her credibility.

Jerry Brown is the once and future champion of California.

Mitchell Freedman
Poway

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Obama's main priority is a military empire on behalf of oil and insurance companies and bankers

This indictment of the young man who told the truth about a military war crime is Exhibit "B" after the co-Exhibit "A"s TARP and expanding the war in Afghanistan.

Still, Obama looks better than most Republican leaders, which is saying less and less for Obama and more and more about our continuing slide to the Weimar Republic.

James K. Galbraith tells the Catfood Commission where to stick it

James K. "Jamie" Galbraith delivers a tough and often harsh attack on the very legitimacy of the Obama Commission to Destroy Social Security and Medicare. I am very glad someone treats these people with the utter contempt they deserve.

Obama should be ashamed of himself for even creating this commission. It shows his heart is truly with the bankers.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Andy Grove of Intel agrees with me...and so does Steve Pearlstein at the WaPo!

This long article in the Bloomberg Financial newspaper contains the policy proposal that we need a tariff to rebuild industrial capacity in the US. He rips into the Thomas Friedman universe of "relax and enjoy your de-industrialization" and the thinking that it does not matter that our nation has created a few high earning jobs and much joblessness for semi and unskilled workers.

Somehow I don't think Andy Grove will get much of a hearing on Capitol Hill or in the White House...He may find the only folks with any power who agree with him are folks such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). And Robert Reich would agree with him, but Reich sits in UC Berkeley sadly amused that his phone never rang from President Banker Obama.

ADDENDUM 7/5/10: And Steve Pearlstein agrees with me about the venal hypocrisy and overall mean-spirited Blue Dogs, who I prefer to call Scorpions after the famous children's story. The Scorpions helped doctors get more reimbursement from Medicare, but started crying the deficit blues when it came to helping unemployed Americans hold on to their health insurance. These people call themselves "Democrats" and people who believe in the "center" of American politics? To them, the "center" is a corporate boardroom...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Open your books, and let's just see what it costs

I found this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer from one of the arrested adolescent libertarian law professors at the Volokh Conspiracy.

The childish credulity on display in the article and by libertarians in general is seen in this example.

Does anyone really believe that White Castle would lose 55% of its income if it provided health insurance benefits to its less than full time employees? Does anyone think a guy who runs several IHOPs in the east coast will lose $200,000 if he does, too?

Open your books, folks, and let's see how you guys dole out your salaries and perks to the top personnel at your business ventures. Let's look at your operations and see what you spend money on to determine if you are truly efficiently allocating resources. Really.

Does anyone believe any private owner of a business as to how much he or she makes? Come on, now. Time to grow up.

Of course, if these so-called smaller business people had supported Medicare for All, they would not be in this alleged mess. Spreading the cost over 300 million people makes more sense, and always did. Health insurance should be treated like a utility. Leave the doctors and hospitals private, but not the insurance. Amazing how the propaganda system had its way with so many of us during that "debate"...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Meg Whitman's lyin' ad against Jerry Brown

Factcheck.org has the details.

Overall, a truly horrible and lyin' ad by Meg. Something tells me, however, that Ms. Whitman is going to do a lot more lying as she continues to be behind Brown in the polls. And while I don't see any data on this, something tells me her negatives will start to outrun her positives in terms of likability. That is not good for a novice candidate like Whitman.

More useful facts to know for the July 4th Bar-be-que or Picnic

The other day, I noted that people might want to know some useful facts regarding the BP off-shore oil drilling disaster that is eating up the Gulf of Mexico when they attend a July 4th celebration gathering. Right-wing blowhards tend to start bloviating with their FoxBot propaganda during such gatherings, and it is important to just shut them down with a few sharp jabs of facts.

After my blog post appeared, I heard from a cousin of mine who had to endure another relative's nonsense about Obama spending our federal government into the grave--unlike Obama's predecessor, he claimed!--as if Obama's spending was on social programs designed for the (ahem) "unworthy poor." I sent my cousin this article from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that includes a handy chart showing where the continuing deficits and debt will come from for the rest of this just starting decade. It shows that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the true budget busters and debt makers. It is the cost of the Empire that is driving much of the continuing deficits and growth in debt. Now we can note that Obama is certainly pushing these wars, but that is what makes Obama more like Bush than like a good socialist.

Oh, what I would give to have a real socialist like Lula in Brazil running our nation...Notice how the decline in extreme income inequality has correlated with economic growth in Brazil. Imagine that!

What is really sad is we as a nation are adopting the model of what made Third World nations fail (as noted in the previous post about worker productivity rising as workers are squeezed in wages and high unemployment) while Lula is doing for Brazil what FDR did for the U.S.

Yeah, keep arguing about abortion, gays, and whether Obama is a socialist

Do you see this trend?

Well, even after a banner year of productivity growth in 2009, the growth continues. Less people doing more work, and more profits to the top.

And this is really not a recent trend, either. It was true in the 1990s, too. American workers are productive, contrary to what we so often hear from our employers. And as Dean Baker recently pointed out, there is really no shortage of skilled labor in the U.S. There is a shortage of skilled labor willing to work for lower and lower wages, but that is not the same thing.

And what happened to the income generated from that productivity? Well, most of it goes into the pockets of the top 1%. Here is a three decade trend that correlates with worker productivity, the decline of unions in the private sector, and the income shooting upwards to the top executives and top professionals in our society.

There is a little good news for migrant workers in California, but I don't expect the Governator, who strongly supports wealthy agribusiness interests, to sign the bill that would pay overtime to migrant workers.

Still, let's remember this: The economic top 1%, a few of whom control the boards of directors or are officers at major corporate broadcast media, do not really want to focus on this sort of stuff. If they did, they know people might get a little angry about things, right? And then people might start to look at public policy through the lens of labor and capital, and...Well, just keep talking sports, folks. And Hollywood actors' lifestyles. And let's define people's values and politics by how they feel about two gay guys getting married. Yes, more of that.