Digby, pointed as ever:

If Obama were to succeed in fixing the economy, re-regulating the financial system, enacting health care and a modern environmental and energy policy, the right would be discredited for a couple of generations — and the wealthy would lose many of their unfair advantages under a fair and equitable system. They not only do not want to take that chance, they also see this crisis as an opportunity to bury liberal economics and end the government programs that ensure a stable and prosperous society with a vast middle class. The stakes are huge for both sides.

Those of you expecting the republicans to pause and reflect on the previous eight years are sorely mistaken. The future health and well-being of our people and our republic will be decided in the next two years; the rich and powerful will leave nothing to chance.

Regrettably, we are sorely unprepared for this battle.


So let me get this straight. The Bush administration, the very people who religiously eliminated regulation and thwarted any attempts at oversight — in other words, the very policies that have brought us to the brink of financial disaster — want close to $1,000,000,000,000 of our money to fix it. No strings attached, no obligation to Congress, and absolutely no potential review by the courts.

I say No.

What do they propose to do with ONE TRILLION DOLLARS? Buy all the bad debt from the companies that benefitted most from this lax environment, which leaves them wholly intact to pursue the very same corrupt practices, allows the people criminally responsible to escape without penalty, and sweeps the entire mess under the proverbial rug before the election. No accountability, no meaningful examination of the policies behind the mess, and no chance of enacting new laws to prevent this from happening again.

I say No.

Just like oil revenues were supposed to pay for the War in Iraq, the Bush administration claims this deal will pay for itself, meaning that someday we’ll profit from the purchase of their currently worthless assets — if that’s the case, why are these financial companies so desperate to sell? I see this as nothing more than a short-term fix to prevent their worst fears from coming true: not the collapse of the economy, not the final death of the American dream, but the ultimate revelation that George W. Bush and his Republican party ruined America. They’ve bankrupted us, morally and financially, and now they not only want a “Get out of jail free” card, they want John McCain elected to serve Bush’s third term.

I say No.

Abby knows I love my stories, in this case the 75 or so blogs I subscribe to and read regularly (believe me, at one point it was over 150, so this is nothing). Most tend to be meaty, and incredibly satisfying to me, but this complexity creates a barrier to entry. (And yes, I am aware that I do the same thing here.)

I know not everyone knows or cares about these or any other blogs, but people just like you and me are doing incredible work to uncover the truths about our recent past and define a more harmonious way forward. As I read them, I always search for the one sentence or couple of paragraphs that really cut to the heart of the matter; and when I blog about them here, I want to share with you something that’s immediate and obvious, easily digestible and eminently repeatable.

I hope to find a better way to simplify and amplify these ideas, but for now I’m more interested in identifying what strikes me as illustrative and meaningful. With that in mind, here are a few gems from this past week:

  • Environmentalism: “We’ve also got to toss aside the mindset that the status quo is reasonable.” Imagine What Comes After Green by World Changing.
  • Patriotism: “It’s one thing for gluttony to be an individual right, cherished as much as freedom of speech. It’s quite another for it to be a rite of patriotism. And it’s still another for it to put us in direct conflict with other nations that profit from and/or reject the monetary policy that piggishness requires.” Outeat Them Back To the Stone Age by The Cunning Realist.
  • Conservatism: “The labor movement is the greatest anti-poverty program in American history, but to the corporate profiteers, it means one less yacht in the harbor.” Sam’s Club Conservatism by dday at Digby’s blog.
  • Corporatism: “Do we need razors with ten blades — or a single blade that never dulls?” America’s Addiction and the New Economics of Strategy by Umair Haque. This post truly requires a more complete quote:

    Let’s re-examine the house of cards that is the global financial system. Emerging markets seek export-led growth: they undervalue their currencies, so their exports are more competitive purely in terms of price. That’s essentially a subsidy to consumers on the other side of the table — those in the developed world. As emerging markets accumulate surpluses, they recycle them: they lend them back to the US and UK in the form of government and mortgage debt, stabilizing their economies, and amplifying the existing consumption subsidy through leverage.

    Amplifying that artificial cheapness is the simple fact the true costs of production haven’t been factored in — until now: very real costs like pollution, community fragmentation, and abusive labour standards.

    So we’ve been able to consume mercilessly and remorselessly — with no regard for the human, social, or environmental consequences, to us or to others.

    It’s not just cheap oil we’re addicted to: it’s cheap everything. And the world we’re entering isn’t really of Peak Oil as it is one of Peak Consumption.

    But consumption wasn’t the only choice we could have made. We could have chosen, instead, to invest. In what? In anything: anything would have been a more sensible choice than naÏve consumption — education, energy, healthcare, transportation, even a more sensible and rational kind of finance.

    Umair is almost single-handedly moving this entire discussion forward.

  • John McCain: “McCain’s primary talent has always been his ability persuade simple-minded people (i.e. his media cheerleading claque) that he is flipping or flopping as a matter of great personal principle and at great possible cost to his political career — even as he has used his various flips and flops to climb the greased pole and become the presidential nominee of his party.” The Great White Hope by Billmon at Daily Kos. Here’s more:

    Now, finally, all that hard work and twisting and turning have paid off, and McCain IS the GOP establishment candidate. In April, as Clinton and Obama were tearing into each other (or rather, as she was tearing into him) the McCain campaign clearly saw an advantage in positioning their guy above the fray, as the “kinder, gentler” candidate — the better to pick off supporters of the loser in the Democratic primary race. Thus McCain’s promise to run a “respectful campaign.” (He didn’t explain that what he meant was respect for HIM.)

    But McCain and his new team of Rovian handlers now realize they won’t have a prayer in November unless they can motivate the conservative base and (to use Lee Atwater’s charming phrase) “strip the bark” off Obama. And they have to do it NOW, so McCain can pivot back to a softer, more upbeat message in September.

    So that’s exactly what McCain is doing – instantly, unapologetically, without shame or embarrassment. His enormous cynicism about the political process and his contempt for the voters – not to mention his vast sense of self-entitlement – have led McCain to take exactly the same low road as the Bush family and its various henchmen (Atwater, Rove): Whatever works; whatever it takes.

    Billmon quit blogging at Whiskey Bar a few years ago, but I never unsubscribed — it’s the only dinosaur in my feedreader! Needless to say, I was thrilled to see this new post at the Great Orange Satan. It’s a lengthy post, but well-worth the read, and I guarantee you will never see anything written about McCain that’s as open or brutally honest as this is.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that George W. Bush’s Republican party is hell-bent on preserving the political and economical status quo in America with the election of John McCain. Baring that increasingly impossible feat, they will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who attempts to call any of their policies into question. Which is the perfect segue into this:

  • Me: “Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.” Rules for Living from Nassim Taleb by Barry Ritholtz.

I have had this inverted for much too long. Even as I railed against the powers that be, my skepticism has always been directed inward. At me. Never willing to trust my instincts. Always questioning the fitness of my ideas and doubting my power to critique, curate, and communicate a more considerate and compelling narrative.

If you read through any of my earlier posts, you’ll see this theme emerge time and time again. Until now, I never realized the barrier was my own relationship to my strengths and the things that make me, well, me.

Truly, finding my voice and using my gifts to bring about a more honest and equitable world is not a matter of large consequence, it’s small and aesthetic. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. And that freedom to be imperfect, foolish, and human is incredibly liberating.

Every bit of that’s got to change.

For some added perspective, please see my previous post for my thoughts on Al Gore and George W. Bush. There’s no pressing need to rehash it line-by-line, but I will reiterate that Al’s brilliance continues to outshine his dimmer rival, time and again.

This man is a true visionary and a great inspiration, single-handedly rising above mere politics to viscerally challenge not just the American people, but the entrenched and powerful agents of the status quo. His message is clear and well-considered, and after seven plus years of Republican misdirection and malfeasance the American people are ready to rise up and embrace this moment.

Together, we can meet the challenge. We can solve the climate crisis.

John McCain in his own words:

This is how you run against a war-monger. This is how you attack his supposed strengths. The American people are done with this war, and they are most certainly done with this disastrous, draconian, oppressive Republican mindset. McCain, Mr. 26%, and the rest of their Republican party are dinosaurs, awaiting extinction. War is not the answer, no matter how valiant and virtuous they paint it.

Good luck with that in November? Exactly.

On the Iowa caucus, and the inescapable fates of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani, and with them the Republican party at large, Josh Marshall saidbest:

The truth is that the Republican party tonight is in complete disarray. The best financed candidate just fell on his face. Their big winner of the evening is opposed by almost the entire establishment of his party. The frontrunner of recent months is lost down in Florida shakily repeating ’9/11′ under his breath like a hobo who needs a stiff drink.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.

In a post on Daily Kos that I wish I would have written this afternoon, David Sirota furthers my point about the uniquely and deeply disruptive progressive populism of John Edwards:

We are at a historic moment right now — and I say that not in the way the Monday Night Football-mimicking political media bills every single election as “the most important election in our lifetime.” I say it because I believe America is, for the first time in many generations, starting to think in terms of economic class. Put another way, the battle between Democrats and Republicans is being superseded by the battle between The Money Party and The People Party. How this new class awareness manifests itself in one election cycle is far less important than the fact that awareness is rising at all.

This, beyond everything else, is the storyline that will never be written by the Beltway media — because class awareness among the masses is something that threatens the powers that be. The system in Washington is set up to crush class awareness and solidarity among the masses — to break us up along racial, ethnic, geographic and religious lines so that we do not unify in support of an economic agenda based on fairness and equality. This Washington system exists, ironically, to preserve a well-coordinated class war being waged by an economic class very aware of itself — a class war by the wealthy against the rest of us. This may sound like hyperbole, but polls show most Americans know this is the undeniable truth. And no matter whether your personal preference wins or loses tonight in Iowa, We The People have already won, because class awareness and class-based politics is on the rise. [my emphasis in bold]

I am pleased that Edwards fared so well tonight, holding his own against two extremely well-funded opponents. I remain ever hopeful about his prospects in the coming weeks, as I believe Barack Obama clearly benefitted from having Independents and Republicans vote for him in Iowa (not a complaint, just a point to keep in mind). Edwards’ continued viability will take his message to more and more people, and force Obama and Hillary Clinton to sharpen their rhetoric as well.

Beyond that, I am even more heartened by the overwhelming enthusiasm and support for our Democratic candidates:

Percentage of total vote:
24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

No matter who gets the Democratic nomination, America is clearly over the unscrupulous and overly sanctimonious Republican party. That to me is the greatest victory of all.

So said Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) to John Tanner, the man in charge of voting rights in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, last week in a hearing on Capital Hill.

This simple rebuttal was in reference to Tanner’s appearance before the Georgia NAACP where he actually said “because our society is such that minorities don’t become elderly. The way white people do. They die first.” More importantly, Tanner’s statement follows years of advocating for a law requiring a photo ID to vote, which was clearly designed to disenfranchise elderly black voters in Georgia. So when Tanner finally appeared before his committee, Davis wasted no time in exposing his utter idiocy and willful ignorance:

Other money quote, “once again you engaged in an analysis without knowing the numbers.”

I point this out not because it’s amusing (though it clearly is), but because Davis’ levelheaded, unemotional, and irrefutable line of criticism and questioning is the perfect tonic to the past seven years of faith-based fear-mongering. This is precisely how you defend the truth against the Bush administration’s known proclivity to fix facts “around the policy.”

Why we as people aren’t more forceful in the prosecution of bald-faced lies is beyond me, but if there is one lesson I hope we learn from the Bush era it’s this: we cannot afford to let these little lies and even bigger crimes against humanity go unpunished, for every day that passes without a sound provides more cover to their actions and legitimacy to their deeds. We must work day and night to expose every falsehood and fraud perpetrated by these mendacious criminals, and enlist friend and foe alike to turn back their massive onslaught against what is fair and right.

To do any less is to concede that all is already lost.

Let’s see. There’s the iPhone. Granted, that’s almost entirely Apple, but they did need a carrier for the first version, and Ma Bell stepped up. Then there’s AT&T Park, one of the most picturesque ballparks in America, in spite of being home of the woeful San Francisco Giants. And now there’s a fresh batch of Wes Anderson directed commercials, thanks to goldenfiddle from kottke for the tip.

I heard one of them in the background yesterday, but didn’t catch the video, only the story-line and absurd amalgamation of cities and places at the end. All in all, very clever, but nothing without the trademark Wes Anderson seamless movement from scene to scene to pull it all together. Roll the tape:

Typical Wes Anderson brilliance.

As for the dark side of AT&T, see the inimitable emptywheel Marcy Wheeler, at The Next Hurrah for a quick rundown:

Back in June, the Bush Administration invited one of AT&T’s key lobbyists, Ed Gillespie, to serve as White House counselor. A few weeks after that, BushCo expanded AT&T’s resident lobbyist’s role to include most of Karl Rove’s portfolio. Just days after Gillespie took over that role, the DOJ made an unusual intervention into the FCC’s request for comments on Net Neutrality, weighing against Net Neutrality.

Well today, one of AT&T’s former key attorneys, Peter Keisler, just took over the Department of Justice.

Basically, Bush just gave AT&T the ability to have its long-time lawyer give it legal authority to collaborate with the government to spy on citizens.

And in case you’re worried that AT&T is stuck with no good legal representation, having lost Keisler, rest assured. You see, former Associate White House Counsel Brad Berenson (who also happens to be Kyle Sampson and Susan Ralston’s lawyer) has taken over for Keisler and is working on the AT&T case, among other things.

Reaching back a week for this gem, on the matter of our esteemed former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his desperate attempts to bury the warrantless domestic spying fiasco:

And finally, it adds another reason why telecom companies are anxious to get immunity for their work on the Administration’s warrantless wiretap program. That’s because some of that wiretapping was based on analysis the telecom companies are already doing on us.

You see, when these lawsuits go forward, we’ll have a sense not just of how the telecom companies are complicit in the government’s spying on us–but how much they’re already spying on us, anyway.

Luckily, all of AT&T’s and the Bush administration’s “alleged” efforts to spy on their customers and citizens takes place just right outside my front door at 611 Folsom Street. Thanks, fellas. I feel much safer already.

On the monumental misjudgment that is George W. Bush’s War on Terror for oil in Iraq, and the fact that we will be dealing with his failures for many years to come, Digby saidbest:

The world is running out of oil and the US government wanted to insure that they had a permanent beachhead in the biggest oil rich region in the world. What a good idea to turn it into an anarchic free fire zone in the process. But as Henley and Drum both point out, it will probably end eventually.

I wonder what would have happened if they’d spent the trillion or two (by the time it’s all done) on alternative energy instead.

Not only has Bush failed to get the oil, he’s also squandered our national treasure and tarnished our prestige. His last remaining chance at vindication is to wait until one of the many Iraqi factions vanquishes the others, so that he too can declare victory. If we leave now, there is no glory for Bush. Is it any wonder he will not end this war? This is all about Bush now, we are all just pawns in the game…

So don’t ever let anyone say there is no difference between the two parties. The Dems are flawed to be sure, but the Republicans have consistently held this man in high esteem, pronouncing him a visionary and a great leader (and now cleverly punt that final judgment down the road so that ‘history’ may decide once and for all).

But we don’t need to wait for some mythical or mystical date in the future, only Bush does. The rest of us can plainly see that he, his administration, and his Republican party have completely and entirely lost it all. They stood behind him and cheered, even as it became abundantly clear he had blown it. We are much worse off then when he started, and have since lost seven years of money and enterprising effort to chart a more prudent course.

America will recover, as she always does, and soon shine more brightly than ever before.

Let us make sure that Bush and his Grand old Republican Party do not.