politics

Franken versus Coleman: this year's Bush v. Gore?

The Minnesota senate race remains too close to call. The margin is just 238 votes, 1,211,542 to 1,211,304 in GOP candidate Coleman's favor. The recount seems to be running Franken's favor and closing the gap, so the Coleman campaign is trying to stop it.

Once again, we hear "count every vote!" for the Democrats, and "some votes are more equal than others!" from the Republicans.

Tom's Post-Election Reflections: 2008

Tom's Post-Election Reflections: 2008

My friends,

Four years ago, I sent out a little screed about the disappointment of the 2004 elections (http://www.infamous.net/election2004msg.html). It seems fitting, after recent events, to send out a follow-up.

So. Wow. This is a new experience. For the first time in my life - all the way back to that "Weekly Reader" mock election in 1976 - the Presidential candidate for whom I voted, has won. (Yes, I voted for Ford when I was six. Ah, the folly of youth.)

Last October, I wrote that Obama and Kucinich were my favorites among the major party candidates, and praised Obama's commonsense take on nuclear disarmament, diplomacy with rival nations, and the demonstration of patriotism by action rather than by jewelry.

Given my history with Presidential candidates, I figured that my positive reaction meant that his campaign was doomed.

As it turned out, somehow this time was different.

Yes, I was disappointed along the way: Obama's backpedaling on marijuana decriminalization, his reversal on FISA, his softening stance on getting us the hell out of Iraq, and his failure to stand up for full legal equality for gay and lesbian couples, saddened me.

I thought about giving my vote to Cynthia McKinney (the Green Party candidate) or Ralph Nader. But in the end, when I marked my ballot next to the name Barack Obama, I felt good. I felt proud.

And on Tuesday I left Maryland and joined thousands of other volunteers in Virginia. I got partnered up with a Navy veteran (a gay submarine veteran, no less!) and we walked around Reston, knocking on doors and reminding Obama supporters to vote. And we helped get the state that at one time held the capital of the Confederate States of America, to cast its electoral votes for the first black President.

Wow.

Now what?

taxes, socialism, and Joe the "Plumber"

Some posts of mine from a discussion over at Slashdot.

That wasn't the point of Joe's question. Joe stated he wanted to buy a business and hoped that his hard work would bring in more than 250K. Obama stated that he wanted to take that success and spread it to people that made less than Joe hoped to make with his business acquisition and hard work.

One very, very rarely makes an income of more than a quarter of a million dollars in a year solely through one's own hard work. One usually makes it by leaching, to some degree, off the hard work of others. (The exceptions are mostly matters of dumb luck - a superstar performer getting "discovered", for example.)

And the answer to the GP's question is, yes, Joe (who is not really a plumber, under city of Toledo regulations) would get a tax break even if he owned the business, as will the vast majority of small businesses, assuming an Obama victory and that his plan goes ahead pretty much as stated.

It's one thing to say you want to "tax the rich" to fund the government, it's another when you want to do it to give other people the money, i.e., "Spread the Wealth".

In our capitalist system, the government does a tremendous amount to help those who have wealth, get more. It's so basic to the system we rarely think about it, but how much concentration of wealth would there be without government-issued corporate charters, land and resource deeds, copyrights, and patents? Not to mention a reserve banking system that lets privately owned banks make money out of thin air, and an economic policy that uses the DJIA as a measure of economic success.

These government actions and policies are so successful at concentrating wealth that the top 20 percent own 90% of all financial wealth. And it stays in the family; the U.S. has lower intergenerational mobility than France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway or Denmark

The small effects of progressive taxation and social spending - spreading around the wealth that other government policies helped concentrate - act as a (small and inadequate) governor on the machinery of state capitalism.

Now, I would rather get rid of that machinery entirely, but I think that unlikely, at least in the near term. If we're going to have it, I'm all for decreasing the power of the government to help the wealthy become wealthier by adding some negative feedback to the system.

More voting machine ridiculousness

From the New York Times blog "The Lede": "Ohio is an election battleground state with perennial problems at the polls. So what have election officials in some precincts of the state been doing to keep their voting machines safe from tampering? Taking the machines home with them and stashing them in their garages in the days before a big election."

Oy.

Vincent Bugliosi: Bush "guilty of murder for the deaths of over 4,000 young American soldiers in Iraq fighting his war"

Our good friend Mike Gurklis sends in this link to an interview with Vincent Bugliosi. In a new book the former LA County Assistant District Attorney lays out the case for prosecuting George W. Bush for murder:

You’ve got to realize, there’s no statute of limitations for the crime of murder. So this could very well happen. At this stage of my life, I cannot engage in fanciful reveries. This is a very real thing that we’re talking about here. I’ve established jurisdiction on a federal and state level for the prosecution of Bush for two crimes: conspiracy to commit murder and murder. On a federal level, we’re really only talking about the Attorney General in Washington, D.C., operating through his Department of Justice. But on a state level, I’ve established jurisdiction for the attorney general in each of the fifty states, plus the hundreds of district attorneys in counties within those states, to prosecute George Bush for the murder of any soldier or soldiers from their state or county who died fighting his war in Iraq.

An Open Letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

430 South Capitol Street

Washington, DC 20003

http://dccc.org

An Open Letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Dear DCCC:

I am greatly distressed and disappointed to learn that during the recent special Congressional election in Mississippi, the DCCC ran ads linking a key Republican donor, Sheldon Adelson, to what you refered to as "atheist China".

Certainly there are good reasons to point out the influences a
foreign nation - especially one with a questionable human rights record
- might have with a candidate.

But labeling China as "atheist" in this context can only be seen
as a slur against atheists.

Teacher fired for refusing loyalty oath

In a story right out of the headlines from fifty years ago, Wendy Gonaver was recently fired from a teaching job at Cal State Fullerton for refusing to sign a loyalty oath.

The oath, a remnant of the 50s Red Scare, required Gonaver, a Quaker and a pacifist, to swear to "defend" the U.S. and California Constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic." She was willing to to sign she could attach an addendum expressing her pacifism - a practice allowed by other state agencies. But Cal State Fullerton insisted she sign the oath as is if she wanted the job.

Excuse me, but anyone who wants people to sign a loyalty oath meant to enforce doctrinal conformity is an enemy of the U.S. Constitution and the free and vigorous debate of democracy.

response to "Racism rant... the other side!"

Our good friend Brian Jefferson posted something on his MySpace Blog that meshed with some recent thoughts of mine. This is a slightly edited version of what I posted there in response, a few typos fixed.

I've been thinking about this a little bit, since the Obama speech a few weeks ago.

George Carlin said, about the end of slavery, "So we freed the slaves. But not so you'd really notice, just sort of on paper." A lot of people say that the end of slavery was a long time ago and we ought to put it behind us, but the problem was that it didn't just end. It changed into Jim Crow.

And that stayed with us long enough that it was only in 1967 that the Loving case overturned miscegenation laws - and they were still on the books in Alabama until 2000. And 40% of people voted to keep them!

Hillary Clinton should watch movies before she talks about them

In a speech to a meeting of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Hillary Clinton compared herself to Rocky Balboa, the hero of the Rocky movies. "Let me tell you something, when it comes to finishing a fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit. I never give up. And neither do the American people," said Clinton.

She seems to have forgotten that at the end of Rocky, Balboa lost the fight. (To the black guy, no less.)

Now, if Clinton needed to prove something to herself, the way Rocky Balboa did, that'd be fine - but it would be pretty sad if a U.S. Senator had such self-doubt, felt a need to prove herself by stepping into the ring with the champ. It would pretty much prove the point that she got where she is by riding Bill's coattails rather than on her own merits.

(BTW, as silly as some of the sequels got, the original Rocky is a damn fine movie.)

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