May 24, 2010

Who’s Afraid of Rand Paul?

A number of other blogs and sites have had a great time bashing poor Rand Paul these days, and while I’ve been sitting back and watching the whole thing happen, I can’t help but laugh and join in.

This is the same man who said – and was forced to significantly backtrack from – that not only would he have opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act – which ensured Black Americans had the unfettered right to vote and ended segregation and the policies of the Jim Crow south – but that he also had reservations about the Americans with Disabilities Act. The way he characterized his remarks implied that he would also have issues with the Lucy Ledbetter “Equal Pay for Equal Work” Act, with the right of women to vote, and just about any other Federal law that protects basic human rights in America without exemptions for private industry.

I think J Smooth said it best in this video about Rand Paul and his beliefs:

He’s absolutely and utterly correct, of course – and while he’ll stop short of saying that Rand Paul is racist, I think it goes back to another one of his videos that describes the difference between being a racist and saying or doing something that is racist. One is calling someone out on their behavior, the other is a character judgement you simply can’t make – and I think that’s Rand’s issue – he’s doing things that pave the way and open the doors to institutional racism, but is he a racist? Can’t say – all I can say is that his ideals and policies support institutional racism and he clearly prefers those policies to actual people.

What’s that? You haven’t seen the interview to which J Smooth is referring? Rachel Maddow has the lowdown on her blog, where she corrects a New York Times story on Paul and links to her own interview where Paul does some artful dodging of pointed questions:

[ New York Times gets Rand Paul wrong ]
Source: The Maddow Blog

Still, over at TruthDig, the venerable Robert Scheer – writing before the explosion of idiocy that’s been spewing from Rand Paul’s mouth like so much BP oil into the Gulf of Mexico, asks the question, “Who’s Afraid of Rand Paul?” and pointing out both sides of why we should be concerned about him – not because of the so-called rise of the Tea Partiers, because they’re willing to elect anyone who embodies their rage without checking to see whether they actually share that person’s beliefs, clearly – but because they may prove a way for fringe and extreme right-wingers to get elected. But in the long run, at least he’s not a traditional Republican, right?

Tuesday’s election results were pretty good for progressives. The retirement of that windbag chameleon Sen. Arlen Specter is long overdue, and pro-labor forces were able to push Sen. Blanche Lincoln into a runoff in Arkansas. Even the big tea party win in Kentucky has its bright side.

Count me as one lefty liberal who is not the least bit unhappy with the victory by Rand Paul in Kentucky’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Not because it might make it easier for some Democratic Party hack to win in the general, but rather because he seems to be a principled libertarian in the mold of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and we need more of that impulse in the Congress. What’s wrong with cutting back big government that mostly exists to serve the interests of big corporations? Surely it would be better if that challenge came from populist progressives of the left, in the Bernie Sanders mold, but this is Kentucky we’re talking about.

[ Who’s Afraid of Rand Paul? ]
Source: TruthDig

Scheer tries desperately to make the best out of the election of Paul, which could very easily have been spun positively, but since he’s outed himself as anything but libertarian and more of a fringe-right corporatist when the pressure is on and only libertarian when it comes to revoking human rights by law and instead preferring the law of the market to rule not just business life but all life, I doubt even Scheer could defend him now.

Joshua Holland, writing for AlterNet, completely dissects Rand Paul’s attempt to be libertarian and winding up father right than most Republicans, specifically with regards to his desire to let BP off the hook entirely for the oil still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico:

Rand Paul’s supporters argue that his greatest flaw is his relentless honesty. In the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto gushed that “Far from being evasive, Paul has shown himself to be both candid and principled to a fault.”

But in an Appearance on Good Morning America, Paul proved that he is just another corporate-power-loving wing-nut who believes companies can do no harm, and there’s nothing principled or libertarian about that stance.

As Matt Corley reported earlier, Paul said Obama’s promise to put his “boot heel on the throat of BP” was “un-American.” He mused that it was an example of our “blame game society,” in which “it’s always got to be someone’s fault,” and added: “maybe sometimes accidents happen.”

The context here is important. Obama was talking about forcing BP to accept full liability for its actions. Libertarians believe that we are all autonomous agents who should be free to make our own rational choices, and then we must take responsibility for the results of the decisions we make. BP has caused billions and billions in damages to others, and its liability for the mess is capped at just $75 million plus the actual costs of the clean-up (but since BP will likely be found negligent in operating the rig, those caps are not necessarily going to apply).

Along the way, the company made choices. Its managers chose to drill in 5,000 feet of water, and then cut corners in terms of safety not only on the Horizon, but as a general operating principle. They made a rational decision to drill with a blow-out preventer that had a dead battery and was effectively “useless.” And they chose not to invest a half million dollars in a back-up system that might have prevented the worst damages.

That’s right – 11 people died on that rig from a completely preventable explosion and now near immeasurable damage is being done to the ecology and economy of the Gulf of Mexico – and as rare and unusual as it is for such a thing to happen, Rand Paul wants to chalk it up to an “accident” and move on without looking into it any further or holding anyone accountable for their actions. This is the kind of behavior I would expect from a Tea Partier or a webertarian (eg, the ignorant, mom’s-basement libertarians that troll YouTube and Reddit), but not someone who actually understands and wears the label of libertarian.

Holland continues:

The people of the Gulf whose livelihoods are being destroyed by the spill had no say in those decisions. It’s what economists call a “negative externality” — effects of a private transaction on a 3rd party. True libertarians believe that government’s only role should be to keep the peace and to correct market failures when they occur. Negative externalities represent the classic market failure.

Libertarians believe the government doesn’t need to regulate — to, for example, force oil-rig operators to have redundant systems and tightly monitor their safety routines — because the market will punish those actors who make the wrong choices. BP, according to the “logic” of the free market, should now bear the full burden for the results of the choices it made. Libertarians believe that when a free individual makes choices that harm others, litigation from other private actors will result. That’s known as “private enforcement,” and true libertarians argue that it is far preferable to “public enforcement,” AKA regulation.

I have a whole chapter in my book about how ours is a political culture that embraces the idea of free markets, but only in principle. BP made those choices I mentioned above because they were the economically rational things to do — they knew that if they destroyed a large swath of the Gulf Mexico in the process, they wouldn’t end up paying for it in its entirety, so management could rationally take more risk than they would have in a real free market system.

If Rand Paul were truly a principled libertarian, he’d be out in front of Obama, demanding that BP take full responsibility for its actions because it’s the free market thing to do. Instead, he dismisses the whole notion of taking responsibility for one’s decisions with an airy statement that “accidents happen.”

That makes Rand Paul just another Republican whose first instinct is to bow down in obeisance to the corporations that he apparently believes can do no harm — they only suffer “accidents” — even while thousands of barrels of oil continue to leak into the Gulf.

That about sums it up – Paul is completely willing to shield BP from the ramifications the market will take on their actions, when in reality what he would be doing if he were remotely libertarian. But then, this psuedo-libertarian scourge goes all the way back to his father – the man that Robert Scheer was trying in vain to defend in some regard, which I wrote about at length in my column The Ronulan Menace back when he was running for President.

Will this nonsense be the end of us all or the dooming of American politics? Not likely, especially as long as people like Paul pretend that he doesn’t have another election to win come November and keep his foot firmly planted in his mouth, but even if he does win that Kentucky senate seat, he’ll be so fringe he’ll likely find his time in Washington short either by will of the poeple or his own inevitable weakness.

In the interim though, it all makes for excellent, if not facepalm-worthy, political theatre.

[ That Was Fast — Rand Paul Throws Libertarian “Principles” Out the Window ]
Source: AlterNet

May 17, 2010

How the Republican Party Just Screwed Itself

It’s actually glorious to watch, especially in southwestern states where we keep hearing that “a majority of people support tough immigration laws,” where polling samples are usually middle-class White Americans – naturally you’re going to get a majority when you talk about something like immigration. But what’s amazing is the fact that Republicans think they’re doing what’s in their best interest, and in reality they’re definitely pleasing their base, but in reality they’re shooting themselves in the foot, and without a doubt (or without a significant change in political opinion among the Latin-American community) they’re alienating themselves from a community they really could, if they had the will, reach out to and build bridges.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, the Republican party is not the big tent party they make themselves out to be, and they never have been – their tent is only as large as they can fit white, protestant, middle-to-upper-class, straight men into. Anyone else need not apply and never were welcome in the first place, unless they could be used as token personnel to attract votes.

But Republican support for Arizona-style “Papers, please” immigration law is literally the party shooting themsleves in the foot in a very tragic way that I think we’ll be talking about for years, especially if they continue on the path, and especially if Democrats succeed in reaching out to the Latino community the same way they did with the Black community during the Jim Crow south and all through the Civil Rights movement.

Here are the numbers, straight from the post:

By a two-to-one margin Hispanics are more strongly opposed than Americans overall to the recent immigration measure signed in to law in Arizona that would make it a state crime to reside there illegally.

Seven in 10, 70%, of Hispanic respondents said they are somewhat or strongly opposed to the law, compared with 34% of all respondents in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll set for release later today.

Among Hispanics, 27% are somewhat or strongly supportive of Arizona’s law; that compares with 64%of respondents overall.

Another tidbit from digby on this, a piece of important opinion that I’m inclined to agree with (and proves the point that polling is misleading):

The Republicans also have to be worrying just a little bit about the fact that this issue falls way down the list of the country’s biggest concerns. So, while 70% of my fellow freedom loving Americans may think it’s just ducky to racially profile and even treat legal immigrants (or people who just look like them) like second class citizens, most of them are unlikely to vote on that issue.

On the other hand, young Hispanic Americans are unlikely to ever forget it.

Absolutely agreed.

[ How the Republican Party Just Screwed Itself ]
Source: AlterNet

What’s Really Behind the Conservative Movement? Fear

A glorious short post by devonawalker over at Alternet’s Speakeasy that I think is glorious enough to capture in most of its entirety, but it points straight to the heart of what so many conservatives in America are thinking these days: nothing. That’s the point – they’re not thinking, and when confronted with their radical beliefs, they’ll be the first people to back down from them – what’s really behind this so-called “movement” is fear – fear of change, fear of progress, fear of a future that looks different from their past.

Do teabaggers really believe Obama is a socialist? Do they really believe someone is taking theircountry away from them? Did they really believe that kanard about death panels? Do birthers honestly believe the President is some Kenyan Manchurian candidate?

Behind all of these entirely illogical suppositions is fear. As I was looking at recent Census projections it occurred to me what they fear is diversity. They fear not being the single most dominant culture in this country. They fear the day they will no longer be able to force thier culture, their religion and their own ideas about liberty down our throats. They fear the future.

It just so happens that President Obama represents every element of this cultural fear. His father’s Kenyan heritage and citizenship makes him a first generation immigrant in the eyes of some. He’s the product of race mixing. He’s black. He’s way smarter than the white guy who previously held the office, and perhaps this is the scariest thing of all: He charmed the pants off the country during the 2008 election. Nothing, not the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, not calling his wife names, calling him a welfare thug, nothing appears to be able to ruffle the guy’s feathers. What they fear most is that maybe, just maybe the black man can do the job, and maybe, just maybe race really doesn’t matter.

Absolutely perfect. Kudos to devonawalker for distilling it so perfectly.

[ What’s Really Behind the Conservative Movement? Fear ]
Source: AlterNet

May 10, 2010

This Is Deregulation

One of the apalling things about all of these things: oil rig disasters, mine disasters around the world (and specifically in the United States) and out of control companies that are claiming huge profits but not hiring workers and hosting earnings calls where they tell their shareholders how well everything is going but they’re still ramping up charges to their customers and blaming it on the economic downturn, is that when the advocate of the people steps in to set things right, there’s a good number of people who would rather their fate be held in the hands of people they have no control over and have no voice with rather than the only body they do have a voice with.

When I see the pseudo-libertarian drivel “End the Fed,” where libertarians cry about how the Fed operates in secret from behind closed doors and are accountable to no one, I can’t help but wonder why those same laissez-faire free marketeers are completely fine with a corporate board deciding every aspect of their lives and being held accountable to no one (in fact, these same people weaken the government’s efforts to impose some oversight over the way these businesses operate when it influences the greater public) but refuse to allow a public body to operate without them being present. I understand that the big difference is that the Fed is a public body and should be accountable to the public, and I agree on that point, but it’s remarkable how much faith the free marketeers have in closed door capitalists in corporate boardrooms but nowhere else.

And all of that faith? Poorly placed. People in the 70s and 80s used to complain about how inefficient government was and how much bureaucracy there was – and while I think government today is more streamlined than it was (and yet still has leaps and bounds to go) it’s still pretty bogged down with red tape – but now you have the contrast of a corporate system where the high-power players and decision makers are accountable to no one, play fast and loose with the rules (and at times outright violate them), and the resulting victims are the general public, either with higher prices and costs that taxpayers have to pay out of their own pockets (which libertarians are okay with, as long as they’re not taxes – banks can bend them over with fees and then collude with one another so the so-called open market isn’t so open and that’s okay, but heaven forbid the government collect taxes for a road or school), with their jobs, homes, and livelihoods, or with the well being of their communities.

No finer examples are available of what happens when you let the foxes guard the henhouses – I mean, let businesses regulate themselves – as what’s happened in the Gulf of Mexico and in West Virginia in recent months. Mines collapsing and oil rigs burning, both costing the lives of the men and women who worked there and trusted their employers to look out for their safety.

Dave Johnson, writing for the Campaign for America’s Future, has this to say:

The terrible Gulf oil, West Virginia mining, Wall Street finance and government debt disasters all demonstrate the ongoing catastrophic and continuing results of conservative policies. Each of these is a direct consequence of letting corporate conservatives take over government and dismantle the regulatory and democratic protections that We, the People fought so hard for following the Great Depression — itself a previous demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.

How often have you had to hear that “the market” is the best way to run things? That is is “self-correcting?” That regulations are government “interference” or “meddling” in the market? That business/free markets/private sector always does things better or is more efficient than government? When you hear these you are experiencing the clash between a “one-dollar-one-vote” free market system — as we had before the Teddy Roosevelt progressive era and the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal — and “one-person-one-vote” democratic, We, the People system that brings the benefits of our economy and our country to the most people. But because of the power of money and marketing most people are hearing only one side of an ongoing argument between the wealthy few and the broad masses of working people.

For decades we have heard these pro-market, anti-government arguments repeated over and over and over and over and over and over. Big corporations have a lot of money to buy a big megaphone, so you hear that government is bad, business is good and the people ought to just keep their noses out of the marketplace and stop telling businesses how to do things. You hear that taxes are bad, “hurt the economy,” “cost jobs,” “take money out of the economy,” “just get passed through to customers anyway” and a million similar great-sounding slogans that fall down under minimal evaluation. They have been repeated over and over, until we forgot why we had fought so hard for strong government regulations and high taxes at the top.

After the disaster of Nixon the country learned about cracks in our democracy that let big money get their nose under the tent. But after Watergate we didn’t plug all of the leaks, and big money got into the tent anyway. They used their position to give themselves more power, and used that power to give themselves even more, etc. and now we have a system that is corrupted absolutely.

So with the conservative government of Reagan and then later under the all-out anti-government conservative administration of George W. Bush we have had the opportunity of seeing just what happens when these “free market” ideas are given free reign to replace democracy. Anti-government zealots were put into positions inside the government and used that power to take apart the protections that We, the People had painstakingly built.

He’s absolutely right. And this goes beyond the horrific, live-taking disasters we’ve seen recently – this comes down to your cable and telephone bill and the fact that you can’t just “take your business elsewhere” to another provider with superior service, your lack of small shops on main street but your abundance of Walmarts (which is a more complex issue, I know), and so on. When you let business regulate themselves and pretend to have the interests of anyone but their shareholders in mind, of course they’ll steamroll the public. They only thing they need the public for is money and manpower, and as long as they can get those two things, they’ll continue to abuse us mercilessly and break out the big checkbook and megaphone when the advocates of the public — government, namely progressive government — step up to try and defend us.

Johnson ends his piece on a somber note, that this “experiment in conservative ideology” has finally come home to roost, and they we’ll likely see the effects of it for a long time. I can only hope that progressive politicians and the public will work together to stem some of these systemic problems in our corporate system before they cost more lives, but when the Supreme Court goes and rules that corporations are people and give them carte blanche to write big checks to get the people who support them into office, I have a hard time believing that we’ll get too far.

[ Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation ]
Source: Campaign for America’s Future

May 3, 2010

Frank Rich: If Only Arizona Were the Real Problem

I’m going to let Frank open in his own words, because I think they’re not only telling of what Arizona’s “Papers Please” law means (I’m going to refer to it this way from now on) but also what this might mean for the rest of America:

Don’t blame it all on Arizona. The Grand Canyon State simply happened to be in the right place at the right time to tilt over to the dark side. Its hysteria is but another symptom of a political virus that can’t be quarantined and whose cure is as yet unknown.

If many of Arizona’s defenders and critics hold one belief in common, it’s that the new “show me your papers” law is sui generis: it’s seen as one angry border state’s response to its outsized share of America’s illegal immigration crisis. But to label this development “Arizona’s folly” trivializes its import and reach. The more you examine the law’s provisions and proponents, the more you realize that it’s the latest and (so far) most vicious battle in a far broader movement that is not just about illegal immigrants — and that is steadily increasing its annexation of one of America’s two major political parties.

Arizonans, like all Americans, have every right to be furious about Washington’s protracted and bipartisan failure to address the immigration stalemate. To be angry about illegal immigration is hardly tantamount to being a bigot. But the Arizona law expressing that anger is bigoted, and in a very particular way. The law dovetails seamlessly with the national “Take Back America” crusade that has attended the rise of Barack Obama and the accelerating demographic shift our first African-American president represents.

That’s right – the primary issue here is not one of immigration, or even legality, or even resources and costs associated with illegal immigration – we know that now that we’ve seen proof that Arizona has subsequently – and quietly – banned ethnic studies from its classrooms. This is an all out attack on all things American that aren’t white, pale, and Christian, and you can bet that Latinos in America, legal or not, won’t be the last people to suffer this kind of blow.

We’ll see weaking of anti-discrimination laws around the country, we’ll see the broadening of police powers and discretion, the same way we saw in the Jim Crow days. We’ll see more laws popping up where the sentiment is essentially “if you’re white and not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about,” and if you’re of any other religion, creed, race, or even remotely different appearance or socio-political persuasion, there’ll be hell to pay. Make note of this – these people want to tear apart the United States as we know it and remake it in their own black-and-white “Leave it to Beaver” image.

Think I’m kidding? Rich continues with what these same people think of President Obama – they’re still convinced he’s not an American citizen, and that they can somehow invalidate his Presidency by wishing that he weren’t:

The crowd that wants Latinos to show their papers if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” of illegality is often the same crowd still demanding that the president produce a document proving his own citizenship. Lest there be any doubt of that confluence, Rush Limbaugh hammered the point home after Obama criticized Arizona’s action. “I can understand Obama being touchy on the subject of producing your papers,” he said. “Maybe he’s afraid somebody’s going to ask him for his.” Or, as Glenn Beck chimed in about the president last week: “What has he said that sounds like American?”

To the “Take Back America” right, the illegitimate Obama is Illegal Alien No. 1. It’s no surprise that of the 35 members of the Arizona House who voted for the immigration law (the entire Republican caucus), 31 voted soon after for another new law that would require all presidential candidates to produce birth certificates to qualify for inclusion on the state’s 2012 ballot. With the whole country now watching Arizona, that “birther” bill was abruptly yanked Thursday.

Now then, Rich dives into the tricky topic of race itself, and how as much as the Tea Party wants us to believe they’re not racially motivated, they entirely are. He’s absolutely right – this isn’t about Arizona, it’s about a wave of nationalist, far-right conservative hatred that’s sweeping across the country, piggybacked on the anger of white men that people they don’t resemble are starting to take their rightful place alongside them as the people who steer our country. His own remarks can close:

The one group of Republicans that has been forthright in criticizing the Arizona law is the Bush circle: Jeb Bush, the former speechwriter Michael Gerson, the Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, the adviser Mark McKinnon and, with somewhat more equivocal language, Karl Rove. McKinnon and Rove know well that Latino-bashing will ultimately prove political suicide in a century when Hispanic Americans are well on their way to becoming the largest minority in the country and are already the swing voters in many critical states.

The Bushies, however, have no power and no juice in the new conservative order. The former president is nearly as reviled in some Tea Party circles as Obama is. Even conservatives as seemingly above reproach as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina now invite the nastiest of blow-back if they fail Tea Party purity tests. When Graham had the gall to work with Chuck Schumer of New York on an immigration reform bill, the hard-line Americans for Legal Immigration punished him by spreading rumors about his private life as loudly as possible. Graham has been backing away from supporting the immigration bill ever since.

It’s harder and harder to cling to the conventional wisdom that the Tea Party is merely an element in the G.O.P., not the party’s controlling force — the tail that’s wagging the snarling dog. It’s also hard to maintain that the Tea Party’s nuttier elements are merely a fringe of a fringe. The first national Tea Party convention, in Nashville in February, chose as its kickoff speaker the former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, a notorious nativist who surely was enlisted precisely because he runs around saying things like he has “no idea where Obama was born.” The Times/CBS poll of the Tea Party movement found that only 41 percent of its supporters believe that the president was born in the United States.

The angry right and its apologists also keep insisting that race has nothing to do with their political passions. Thus Sarah Palin explained that it’s Obama and the “lamestream media” that are responsible for “perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part” of Arizona’s law. So how does that profiling work without race or ethnicity, exactly? Brian Bilbray, a Republican Congressman from California and another supporter of the law, rode to the rescue by suggesting “they will look at the kind of dress you wear.” Wise Latinas better start shopping at Talbots!

In this Alice in Wonderland inversion of reality, it’s politically incorrect to entertain a reasonable suspicion that race may be at least a factor in what drives an action like the Arizona immigration law. Any racism in America, it turns out, is directed at whites. Beck called Obama a “racist.” Newt Gingrich called Sonia Sotomayor a “Latina woman racist.” When Obama put up a routine YouTube video calling for the Democratic base to mobilize last week — which he defined as “young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women” — the Republican National Committee attacked him for playing the race card. Presumably the best defense is a good offense when you’re a party boasting an all-white membership in both the House and the Senate and represented by governors who omit slavery from their proclamations of Confederate History Month.

In a development that can only be described as startling, the G.O.P.’s one visible black leader, the party chairman Michael Steele, went off message when appearing at DePaul University on April 20. He conceded that African-Americans “really don’t have a reason” to vote Republican, citing his party’s pursuit of a race-baiting “Southern strategy” since the Nixon-Agnew era. For this he was attacked by conservatives who denied there had ever been such a strategy. That bit of historical revisionism would require erasing, for starters, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, not to mention the Willie Horton campaign that helped to propel Bush 41 into the White House in 1988.

The rage of 2010 is far more incendiary than anything that went down in 1988, and it will soon leap from illegal immigration to other issues in other states. Boycott the Diamondbacks and Phoenix’s convention hotels if you want to punish Arizona, but don’t for a second believe that it will stop the fire next time.

[ If Only Arizona Were the Real Problem ]
Source: The New York Times

Unfree Markets: The Last Gasp Of A (Literally) Bankrupt Ideology

The libertarian and the laissez-faire capitalist, the free marketeer, are and should be dying breeds at this point. We’ve seen the economy run directly into the rocks thanks to them, only to be saved by the massive collective pull of the American people – subsequently called socialist (and somewhat true, but only in the best possible way) and berated for not letting those companies fail….and subsequently take even more jobs than they took with them.

But as the debate over financial reform on Wall Street rages not too far from me here, it’s important to remember to point the finger not just at the institutions that got us to where we are today, but also the mindsets and corporate processes that got us to where we are today:

RJ Eskow, writing for the Campaign for America’s Future, has this to say:

What we’ve been witnessing in Washington isn’t just political positioning by one party looking to deny the other a victory, although it’s certainly that. We’re also seeing the death struggle of a dying ideology. This ideology provided intellectual cover to business and political elites for decades, but events have proved conclusively that it doesn’t work. What’s more, people are beginning to see that it’s inconsistent with the country’s traditional values of competition and free enterprise.

The ideology was cooked up in think tanks and boardrooms, then packaged and sold under a variety of conservative and libertarian guises. While the theories and rationalizations varied wildly, the conclusions were always the same: Deregulation was always the right approach, even (especially) for the most concentrated and rapacious businesses. Consumer regulations should be avoided because they hurt everybody, especially (somehow) consumers. And cutting taxes for the rich magically made things better for everybody else.

The arguments changed but the results were consistent: greater upward distribution of wealth, and more concentration of power, delivered by those the special interests funded and placed into positions of influence.

While the ideology was traditionally a Republican one, it had willing enablers in the Democratic Party who pushed for the same goals: Less regulation. More “unfettered” innovation in financial products, with “unfettered” a code word for “untested.” Less transparency. More centralization of financial products through growth and acquisition, as if the world had never seen oligopolies before.

Now the ideology lies in ruins. The world has seen its fruits in a worldwide economic collapse, massive structural unemployment, and revelations of dirty dealings by our largest and most respected financial institutions. The two most prominent architects of the New Economic Order, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, are publicly discredited by the collapse of the edifice they built. And, as we’ve discussed before, Greenspan’s philosophy was particularly colored by his extreme ideological leanings and Ayn Rand worship (the money quote for Greenspan: “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”)

That’s a pretty damning proclamation by Eskow there, and one I completely agree with. While I’m certain that financial reform in Congress will fall far short of where it needs to be, I would be more than happy to see these folks taken to task for what they’ve done. I understand the needs of risk-taking and I understand (more than a lot of people) the need for a thriving, innovating, competitive economy, but I don’t understand the need to not just be risky but unethical and flat-out foolish with the money of millions in the hopes that it’ll pay off and make everyone rich — and at the same time with the assumption that if it goes bust and everyone loses, someone else will take the fall.

It’s time the right people took the fall.

[ Unfree Markets: The Last Gasp Of A (Literally) Bankrupt Ideology ]
Source: Campaign for America’s Future

Michael Moore: Deport Wall Street

This is absolutely fabulous. I actually have a lot of respect for Michael Moore, and while I don’t pardon his in-your-face tone and over-the-top sentiment oftentimes, he’s usually right, and his points are valid – you too often find conservatives winding up lambasting him not because he’s factually incorrect but because they just don’t like taking such big lumps from someone who’s so thrilled to call them out without hiding behind the veneer of politics.

But the winner is this quote from the video above:

“… any illegal immigrant they catch in Arizona, they should let him keep doing his job because he’s adding to the economy. For every one they catch, they should send one Goldman Sachs guy to Mexico.” – Michael Moore on Larry King Live, Tuesday, April 27th, 2010.

Beautiful.

[ Michael Moore: Deport Wall Street ]
Source: Reader Supported News

Arizona Leads the Way Backwards on Immigration

Ah yes. Now normally I let the media cover the big stories and I stick to the ones under the covers and the ones that deserve a little more squirreling out, but Arizona’s new “Papers, Please” law is just too big a fish to leave to most major media outlets. Seriously, I think Arizona should change all of the state signs at major highways to read “Welcome to Arizona: Papers, Please” right before your first combination toll-booth/naturalization checkpoint.

About the only thing that the governor of Arizona and I agree on is the fact that Federal immigration reform is long overdue and necessary. But as soon as I hear that what Arizona is essentially doing is legalizing racial profiling (which don’t think for one second the White majority of people who supported this bill don’t understand – they do, and they just don’t care because it’s not them that have to worry – that, my friends, is privilege) and then telling us that piss on our heads is rain by saying that “police will receive additional training” as to not target people specifically by their race.

Whenever I hear that broad police powers have been granted to local sheriffs and law enforcement and then they’ll be “trained” to use discretion, I think of the thousands of perfectly good police officers who get caught up in criminal probes because of the bad cops who have no problem shooting protesters, beating unarmed men and women for speeding, tazing people to death, and so on. “Additional training.” Sure.

But let’s get to the meat of the story, eh? Writing for The New Yorker, William Finnegan has this to say:

The long-deferred, urgent matter of immigration reform got a big kick in the pants yesterday. Arizona enacted a law that today’s Times calls “the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations.” Among other things, the law requires local police to demand papers from anyone officers have any reason to doubt is a citizen—anyone, in other words, who looks Mexican. If you’re brown-skinned, and don’t have your wallet, you’re going to jail. Failure to carry immigration documents is now a crime in Arizona. The mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, called the law “unconstitutional on its face.” In a Washington Post Op-Ed today, Gordon blames local politicians who are “bitter, small-minded and full of hate,” and he names names: state senator Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the bill, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom I profiled last summer.

President Obama’s response to the news was well-aimed. While criticizing the Arizona law as “misguided,” he blamed its passage on “our failure to act responsibly at the federal level.” This came at a naturalization ceremony being held in the Rose Garden for twenty-four American soldiers born in China, Mexico, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. The symbolism of the scene was strong, but the failure fingered by Obama is real. Border security and immigration control are federal responsibilities. Southern land-border states like Arizona suffer first and worst when those systems break down. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is now talking about bringing major immigration-reform legislation to the floor after Memorial Day. The political momentum to pass such legislation, after the health-care reform success, may finally be at hand.
Meanwhile, Arizona will become an American-style police state. Racial profiling will be the law. Whites will be all right, just as they were in the Jim Crow South. God help everyone else.

He’s absolutely right – if it rings scarily true, it should – it’s exactly like the Jim Crow south. On the up side though, President Obama knows that the federal government needs to resolve this, and resolve it quickly – he doesn’t take ownership of Arizona’s racist politics and policies, but he does take ownership of bringing it to its knees.

[ Arizona Leads the Way Backward on Immigration ]
Source: The New Yorker