• comment on a post Man In the Mirror over 3 years ago

    Your opposition to the TARP is seriously misguided and calls into question your knowledge of how financial markets works. Bank failures are not a good thing.

    I have no problem with the TARP per se which was passed under Bush anyway. The issue I have is that no concessions on future business practices were extracted from Wall Street in return for what was a bridge loan and for which the govt received preferred stock and warrants. And you omit the fact that most the TARP money has been repaid. So railing against the TARP at this point is railing for sake of railing and buying into right-wing memes.

    It's also rather sad that you are buying into the meme that the Tea Party movement was  a “spontaneous, leaderless” uprising. It was perhaps spontaneous for a day after Rick Santelli's rant on CNBC. On day two, it became parcel post of the destroy the New Deal and restore classical liberalism reactionary right.

    And the difference between George Soros and the Koch Brothers should be obvious. Soros doesn't go around hiding from his projects. The Koch Brothers do. Moreover Soros doesn't espouse bizarre conspiracy theories. The Koch Brothers well their conspiratorial nonsense goes back to their father Fred, a founder of the John Birch Society.

    And there's nothing "heartwarming" about a reactionary rightwing nut like Marco Rubio. He's a moronically infantile and the only difference between him and Sarah Palin is that he can speak in complete sentences. Moreover, his foreign policy views are closer to the neocon position than any other GOP candidate running this cycle. Whether that's a relief or not I can not tell because Joe Miller's and Sharron Angle's foreign policy views have a John Birch Society quality to them.

    There's a very real danger that system is edging towards economic collapse and that's not a good thing either. Some nuance, however, is a good thing. Polemics for the sake of polemics is frankly rather boring. 

    You'll get lots of angry comments perhaps but I think the point of an exercise like blogging is to shed light and instruct. This post's objective is to stir the pot. It's polemical.

  • on a comment on The DeMint Republicans over 3 years ago

    Steve Moore had an interview with DeMint in the WSJ on Friday.

    You should also read DeMint's January 2009 lecture "The American Option: A Job Plan That Works" that he gave at the Heritage Foundation. That's the clearest ideological portrait you'll find of DeMint.

    The GOP is the party of Jim DeMint. He disdains the title of kingmaker but come 2012 of whomever he endorses in the South Carolina primary that's precisely what he'll be. My sense is that whoever wins the South Carolina GOP primary come 2012 will be the GOP nominee.


  • comment on a post The DeMint Republicans over 3 years ago

    you pre-empted a post I had for Monday.

  • Great comment.

    The whole solitary confinement for years too is quite something. You know the Founding Fathers thought solitary confinement  to be "cruel and unusual" punishment and many of the states banned the practice even if they allowed capital punishment. Their opinion was based on the Enlightenment view that humans are social beings and to deny them company was to deny a basic human necessity.

     

  • I hear what you are saying. There is a danger of painting too broad a brush but I'm sorry James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Phyllis Schlafly are bigots. Whether it's that their religious beliefs drive their bigotry or whether they use religion to mask their bigotry, they are still bigots.

    It's not just the issue of gay marriage, these folks want to deprive LGBTs of whole slew of rights. They are against any rights for gays and lesbians because they believe that being gay is a choice.

    Rubio's opposition to same-sex marriage isn't the same as Crist's, Clinton's and Obama's because it goes far deeper. He opposes civil unions. Back in May, Rubio gave the keynote address at the Florida Family Policy Council as he picked up their endorsement.

    The Florida Family Policy Council is one of the main groups behind Florida's anti-gay Amendment 2, the "Marriage Protection Amendment", that passed in 2009 and enshrined discrimination into the Florida constitution by not only banning same-sex marriages, but also civil unions and any other relationship recognition for gay Floridians.

  • Perhaps I didn't word it correctly. He's much more polished than to express bigotry outright but he appeals to bigoted social conservatives.

    Rubio has been endorsed by groups like Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council Action PAC and National Right to Life, Priests for Life, Wallbuilders not to mention Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Congressman Mike Pence.

    His mentor is Jeb Bush and he has ties to Elliot Abrams, both of whom have their feet firmly in the neo-con camp. He's adored by the National Review and worshipped by the Weekly Standard. And he was the first project of Jim DeMint who come November will be defacto leader of the GOP.

  • on a comment on Here Come the Witch Hunts over 3 years ago

    That post partisan unity shtick annoyed the hell of me when he was running for the nomination. It was one of the main reasons, I didn't care for him. I thought it naïve then, now it is just plain insane. 

    If the GOP returns to power, it is certainly the White House's fault but is we who will suffer the consequences.

     

  • I'm not sure what services you receive from Verizon but if you're looking for a cell phone company, try Credo Mobile.

     

  • on a comment on The Not-So-Swinging Obama over 3 years ago

    Yup. I think you're right. PA is really worrisome. 

    OH is likely to lose 2 House seats so come 2012, it will be 18 ECVs but I think PA will still be 21. Just look at the independents in PA. That's the story.

  • on a comment on The Not-So-Swinging Obama over 3 years ago

    Darrell Issa hasn't threatened impeachment but he has promised to hold hearings on all sorts of inane stuff.

    For me personally, the worst is the setback to climate legislation.

  • on a comment on The Not-So-Swinging Obama over 3 years ago

    The last incumbent President to seek the nomination of his party and not win it was Chester Arthur in 1884.

    In the modern era, every sitting President who has sought the nomination was been nominated. The one asterisk is LBJ who dropped out of the race on March 31, 1968 after Senator Eugene McCarthy took 41 percent of the vote in the NH primary prompting RFK to launch his bid.

  • comment on a post 28 May, 1453 over 3 years ago

    I enjoyed this!

  • comment on a post I ♥ the 90s over 3 years ago

    While the cash transfer price was nominal, the deal also required the assumption of the Newsweek's liabilities which are substantial. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but Newsweek's liabilities likely run into the tens of millions of dollars plus since the magazine is likely cash flow negative additional cash is required for on-going operations. However, Business Week put the deal at $71 million. 

    Not sure what Sidney Harman is thinking. He's 92 for starters. Few people read Newsweek or even Time. Ten years ago, circulation was 3.14 million. By the second half of 2009, that dropped to 1.97 million by YE 2009. Newsweek does have a few good young writers, Andrew Romano comes to mind but also a number of influential writers like Jonathan Alter.

    Ad pages are down for the industry now going on half a decade. Perhaps Harman will remake it more into a publication like The Atlantic or Harper's (both monthlies) but the weekly newszine format in the US is beleaguered. The news cycle moves too fast and you really need a plethora of top-tiered writers not just a couple. The Economist is the only weekly that is successful and that's because it is a) informative b) has an ideological point of view that is clear and consistent c) has a global market d) has numerous ancillary business such as the EIU and e) is read by movers and shakers.

    The name of the game isn't print but online. And The Atlantic right now dominates that segment in the US with its list of heavies. Salon is other media property that does well and does so from a rather leftist position. Newsweek and Time try to be fair and balanced, I think they would be better served by carving out a niche. US News & World Report, Morton Zuckerman's property, was once a great publication because it had a more serious bent even if it was conservative in orientation but Newsweek and Time too often resemble People so it's hard to take them seriously given some of the inane cover stories they have had. 

  • on a comment on Miss Him Yet?! Part II over 3 years ago

    I think the suggestion was to open a gay bar across the now renamed Park 51 project, not a blog.

    I have one Saudi friend who lives here. Studied engineering at the Colorado School of the Mines realized that he was gay and chose not to go back to Jeddah. His father disowned him and has told him that he does return he will kill him. His mother risks her life and goes to great lengths to stay in touch with her son in secret. Gay honour killing in the Islamic world are not uncommon though certainly honour killings of women are far more prevalent. 5,000 a year in Pakistan, the worst offender. Iraq now has the dubious honour of leading the world in gay homicides overtaking Brazil a country that is 9 times larger.

    This whole debate is so troubling and I'm very conflicted. I'm not keen on Islam but I'm not keen on religion generally and I have an exceptional dislike of and contempt for proselytizing monotheistic religions. Read Jonathan Kirsch's God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism or the more scholarly Charles Freeman's The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason. The Freeman book is a classic clearly demonstrating the deleterious influence of Paulite Christianity upon the Hellenistic world and ultimately upon Western Civ. Most people even today think that Christianity is a product of Western thought but it's not. It's an import and one that came to dominate but one that is increasingly out of sync as secular humanist values return to the fore. 

    In the ancient world, it was a virtue to think for oneself. Christianity killed that aspect so prevalent in the Hellenistic Mediterranean. But Paul of Tarsus, a Jew with ties with the Essenes, successfully implanted his views on what was then the infant Christian communities in the Hellenistic world. Paul reasserted the ancient Jewish beliefs and began the three century long transformation of Christianity. First came the ascetics such Origen of Alexandria who castrated himself so that he could preach the gospel to women. In Greek culture, sexuality was to be celebrated. In Abrahamic ones, it is to be repressed. Men could not interact with unrelated women. But it is the rise of neoplatonism that wove Christian Semitic ideology into the Greco-Roman world that proved the final blow. Neoplatonism first under Plotinus, who again had a very Abrahamic view that all sex is dirty, pushed the view that faith comes before and trumps empirical evidence. For 1700 years, this has been the battle within Western thought. It is a battle we continue to see first hand every time say evolution vs creationism is discussed. Evolution is based on the empirical study on the natural world as the Greeks espoused (empiricism and skepticism are Greek words and concepts) while creationism is taken on faith. There are those who try to bridge both worlds. On the one hand these folks look to science for answers about the natural world but then they succumb to fear and look to faith on matters they perceive as spiritual. You cannot do both. But this was the leap of logic that neoplatonism accomplished.  In fact, neoplatonism destroyed Western empiricism for almost thousand years. The fight to restore science to primacy has been a long and arduous battle.

    Ironically, the Islamic world fared better at first in this regard. When Islam exploded out of Arabia in the 7th century, it discovered the remnants of the Hellenistic world in Alexandria. For the next six centuries, empiricism did thrive in pockets of the Muslim world but over the long haul the reach of faith closed the Islamic mind to reason. 

    But the matter now at hand revolves another Western virtue. Tolerance is a core Western value but there are limits to tolerance. One cannot be tolerant with the wholly intolerant. This is true with Islam as it is true with racism. Tolerance is a two way street. You give tolerance so as to receive it back. You can not extend tolerance to those who would reject it.

    Yet at the same time I have hard time painting all of Islam with such a broad stroke. I've lived in Indonesia and spend months at a time in Islamic West Africa. But I've also been to Pakistan, Algeria and Morocco. So I know that there are vast differences within Islam.  I almost took a job last year in Saudi Arabia but in the end I couldn't live in Riyadh. Had the job been in al-Bahah or in Jeddah I would have taken it with some trepidation but also knowing that even within Saudi Arabia there are differences within Islamic practices. But Wahhabi, Deobandi and Shia Islam should be perceived as threats to our way of life though I certainly believe that co-existence with the Islamic world is not just possible but necessary. While I am cognizant of the harsh life for women and minorities in places like Afghanistan and Somalia, to impose Western values by force is equally wrong. People will defend their culture to the death. Just look at the extremes to which evangelicals in this country are going. They built their own parallel country within the country in their desperate attempt to fend off the advances of secular humanism which they believe to be evil, ungodly and non-Western.

    But I view Christianity as little different than Islam. Both have produced "kinder, gentler forms" such as the Quakers and Sufism but that's because their adherents accentuate the positive and disregard the negative that's clearly there. Leviticus is hard to deny just as the hadiths that call for murder or non-believers are impossible to deny. It's actually remarkable how similar Christianity and Islam are in their missionary zeal. Judaism, at least, doesn't seek forced conversions.

    Abrahamic religions are not Western, they are Semitic. Semitic culture was a desert culture with a very negative view of sex and a very paternalistic view of male-female relationships where women are viewed as property with few rights. Just to bring how pervasive this notion still is, Phyllis Schlalfy believes that rape within marriage does not exist. A husband can demand sex on demand and the wife has no recourse but to submit to intercourse. That's a Semitic belief. Hellenistic culture was far different in its view on sex, on human relationships generally, and most of all Hellenic beliefs are based on the view that natural world can observed and studied. Abrahamic thought rests on the belief that everything is God-given. In short Hellenism is based on the human power of reason, and Abrahamic religions are based on faith. Faith is, of course, entirely irrational because it dictates contradicting what you yourself can observe.

    I'm not usually so blunt, but I've tired of these endless religious debates. other off. With all the pressing problems we face, we are spending countless hours on a cultural center that happens to have a prayer room facing towards Mecca. But I am more disturbed by the likes of Pam Geller and Robert Spencer who claim they are defending Western Culture when they are most assuredly not. Geller and Spencer represent everything that Hellenism decried.

  • comment on a post Greens take balance of power in Australian Senate over 3 years ago

    this is why I think building a progressive green party is an imperative here and worldwide.

    In Colombia, the Greens would have won if not for the orchestrated smears that Jack Leslie (a Democratic strategist tied to Ted Kennedy) and Jim Carville spread. Jack Leslie ran the Santos campaign. Santos didn't make a move without consulting Leslie. Leslie targeted the poor and painted Mockus as a Chávez loving atheist who sleeps in the nude. Still the Greens took 27 percent of the vote though voter turnout was the lowest in Colombian history, just 45 percent voted. In Brazil, the Greens will finish third in the vote in a country that has over 50 political parties. In the UK, the Greens won their first seat in the House of Commons back in May.

    The Green surge came at the expense of Labor and it was largely due to Kevin Rudd's decision to pull the emissions trading system. The Greens also campaigned on gay marriage saying it was time to bring Australia "into the 21st century."

    And the concurrent story that matters just as much is the poor showing of the Family First party, the Aussie version of US Focus on the Family. 

    The fact that the Senate is proportional is critical. Still, we have a hung Parliament and that likely means when the dust settles Abbott is PM. What I know about the four indies is that there are truly indies (unlike Lieberman). 

    Still despite the Green win, it was a blue tory night. Here's a bit how Abbott is thinking:

    “What is clear from tonight is that the Labor Party has definitely lost its majority, and what that means is that the government has lost its legitimacy,” Mr Abbott said.

    “And I say that a government which found it very hard to govern effecitvely with a majority of 17 seats will never be able to govern effectively in a minority.”

    Mr Abbott said the Liberal and National Parties were “back in business”.

    “We stand ready to govern,” he said.

    It is horrific prospect to have the Coalition back in business. Just like in New Zealand the Conservatives stand to pull back on climate and it bears noting that despite Rudd's backtrack on the ETS, his government has done more on climate than any other country. This is a setback despite the Green breakthrough.

    While I think important to build Green parties everywhere, as long as we have first past the post systems then their gains are going to come at the expense of centre-left parties. If I vote for Green here, that means the Dems aren't getting my vote and thus that helps the Republicans. It's a dilemma I struggle with.

    The Greens took over 11 percent of the vote increasing their share of the vote over 2007 by nearly 40 percent and yet they only won one electorate in Melbourne. They came close to a second in Tasmania, the reddest state in Australia. By red, of course, I mean leftist. Why does the US do everything backwards. Every where in the world and for over a century red is the coiour of the left and red the colour of the right. 

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