Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lifting the Fog around the Fraud


In what could become a particularly powerful conversation for conservatives (tea) challenging the Republican establishment (acronyms) in upcoming primaries, a potent distinction is beginning to solidify in the wake of the recent tea party in Nashville and last week's CPAC in DC.

Glenn Greenwald's outstanding The GOP's "small government" tea party fraud masterfully captures what I have been trying to articulate for several weeks, the fracturing of the Republican party into different groups not remotely as aligned as suggested by a lie that has been perpetrated for decades. Through deception, misrepresentation, and outright lies, the Republican party has successfully duped certain groups into thinking it is something it is not. Perhaps the greatest of these lies is the notion that GOP leadership stands for limited government and responsible spending.

No they don't. In the reality of governance, Reagan/Bush I and Bush II with Republican support produced the greatest government expansions/deficits in US history. For decades, routine operating procedure for Republicans is massive expansion while in power and then foaming at the mouth about the deficits and over sized government after losing it.

Did they howl about the deficit in the 1980s or 2000-2008? Are you kidding? Cheney captured the sentiments perfectly, "Reagan showed us that deficits don't matter."

Part of what's happening now, and tea will agree, is that some actually do stand for limited government and fiscal discipline. After the 1980-1992 deficit orgy, independent thinking Ross Perot wasn't shy about the Reagan/Bush $4+ trillion dollar debt. More recently, but for years, Ron Paul has voiced these sentiments, but he is not exactly tea, explaining why this can get confusing.

This blog has lately been schizophrenic about "the conservatives." At one point, they seem intelligent and true to their values (Paul). Then they occur as blithering idiots (Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity). Then they occur as easily manipulated bitches (the sex obsessed theocrats). Time has a way, and matters may indeed be starting to clear up. A fog is lifting, and the distinction "GOP establishment" is emerging.

The final paragraph of the Greenwald piece:
But that GOP limited government rhetoric is simply never matched by that Party's conduct, especially when they wield power.  The very idea that a political party dominated by neocons, warmongers, surveillance fetishists, and privacy-hating social conservatives will be a party of "limited government" is absurd on its face.  There literally is no myth more transparent than the Republican Party's claim to believe in restrained government power.  For that reason, it's only a matter of time before the fundamental incompatibility of the "tea party movement" and the political party cynically exploiting it is exposed.

A very small sample of the 573 comments posted at the article:

As a Ron Paul supporter, I can tell you that the aftermath of the CPAC straw poll was both predictable and hilarious. Immediately the Republican establishment mouthpieces were telling us how worthless the poll is, and how meaningless it is. One wonders if that would have been the response had Sarah Palin won...me thinks not. Ron Paul supporters are under no illusions about the current Republican party, and realize that they hope to use us and make us believe that they have changed. We know better.

Most establishment Republicans just don't understand that you can't be fiscally responsible domestically, whatever they think that means, when you are trying to rule the world by spending trillions overseas. War always leads to tyranny at home.

The upcoming political season will be entertaining. To watch the Republicans, who think they are going to fold the Ron Paul supporters in as loyal subjects, start kicking and screaming when they realize that we are going to be fighting for actual change...or we won't vote for them...period.

This has been the Republican strategy for winning elections for some time now. Run up huge deficits, refuse to pay for them, let the democrats win for a term, and then campaign on the fact that the democrats are spending too much and can't get deficits under control. In effect, they have gotten what they wanted--state budget crises that are so severe that they force the elimination of much discretionary spending. Then they can use their pretend libertarianism to defeat the democrats. And it works every time. It's a wonder they aren't exposed as the frauds they are.

I hope the co-option of the tea party movement is unsuccessful. Libertarians and progressives need to make certain they do not fall into line, in any way with either major party. There is nothing small government about Republicans and there is nothing progressive about the Democratic party. I think this is a chance for actual progressives to reach people they ordinarily could not. That is because Libertarians will not take on the economic nightmare that ordinary people face. But progressives will.

As an unnamed Bush official told reporter Ron Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." For those who didn't like it, another Bush adviser explained, "Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered two to one by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read the New York Times or Washington Post or the LA Times."

What will it take for the people who really do believe in limited govt to realize that they are being used and abused? Are they really this stupid or do they just not care?

I agree about the GOP's gross hypocrisy about being for "small government" while inflating it as far as possible in practice. The claim to be "fiscal conservatives" falls under the same umbrella: it's basically just politically-driven lying, smoke and mirrors to get people to vote for big business and war without quite realizing it.

During the Bush years, when it came to invading Iraq, torturing people, military commissions, due-process-free detentions, endless expansion of the military, air-bombing villages in Afghanistan, and warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens, who was worse "nuts" and "loons" -- Ron Paul (who vehemently opposed all that) or those who enabled and supported it?

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Extraordinary Films You Probably Haven't Seen

The Edukators
Hans Weingartner's masterpiece about three rebel oriented youth who break into mansions to scare the rich. They don't steal anything, but they rearrange furniture and toss expensive art into the toilet, leaving a note warning, "your days of plenty are numbered." Events take a dramatic turn when wealthy businessman Hardenberg returns home early to find them, one of whom he recognizes, so they kidnap him, sort of. Burghart Klaußner's performance as Hardenberg makes the film an unforgettable gem.

The Tunnel
Loosely based on the true of story of the 1961 tunnel dug under the Berlin wall by Hasso Herschel. What starts as an effort by four people to rescue five or six expands to a project involving dozens all seeking to rescue loved ones trapped in East Berlin after the wall was built. The story offers a pulse raising nail biter as the GDR State Security (Stasi) race to learn the details and thwart the effort before the tunnel can be finished.

Winged Migration
A stunningly brilliant documentary where filming took over four years and occurred on all seven continents. They used in-flight cameras to obtain aerial footage that has the viewer flying alongside birds of successive species. In the context of all this migration, it is painful to watch when some birds end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and the shotguns start.

Y tu mamá también
Luisa gives the film its poignancy and power. Julio and Tenoch are the "bestest" of friends who take Luisa on a road trip while their girlfriends vacation in Italy. On the road, Julio confesses he had sex with Tenoch's girlfriend. Screaming and fighting ensue. The next day, Tenoch admits he had sex with Julio's girlfriend. Screaming and fighting ensue. The sex in this film is realistic and hilarious. At the bar scene near the end, alcohol fueled confessions inform us that just about everyone has had sex with just about everyone, thus the title of the film, “And your mama, too!” A great film for Republicans.

God Grew Tired of Us
Based upon John Bul Dau's hard hitting memoir as one of the lost boys of Sudan, this deeply powerful documentary shows Africans from Sudan who emigrate to the United States and struggle with their efforts to integrate into American society. Watching them shop at grocery stores, live in apartments, deal with employment, and learn about money is powerful enough, but what delivers the jaw dropping and heart stopping impact is the flawless distinction of the isolation ingrained into American culture as compared to their own.

Every single one of these films is serious cinema by serious artists who have something to say, say it, and say it well. Films such as these and the people who make them are what give me hope for the species when the news makes me think all is doomed and I was born on the wrong planet.

Eleven Great Films Few Have Seen

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Technology, Transparency, Transformation

Skipping the detailed history, over the past few years the TED Conferences (Technology, Entertainment, Design) have gained considerable momentum and now attract thousands of the sharpest and brightest minds on the planet. Geniuses deliver jaw dropping 5 to 20 minute talks before super educated stratospheric IQ'd audiences hungry for a taste of new and interesting ideas. If humanity were to be spread across a certain spectrum, this conference would be at one end and a tea party would be at the other.

Below are three short talks on 1) technology, 2) corruption, and 3) intelligent conservatism. While extinct in the USA, the latter does still exist in Europe.

In this wide-ranging, thought-provoking talk, Kevin Kelly muses on what technology means in our lives -- from its impact at the personal level to its place in the cosmos.

Great quotes:
"The most important animal we have domesticated is ourselves."

"Technology is selfish. Technology is generous. That tension will be with us forever."



Peter Eigen has seen the distinction "Cloth" operate at the IMF / World Bank global scale, where obscene corruption funnels billions of dollars into projects that make no sense. One example: a horribly overpriced power plant in Kenya that ravages the environment to produce electricity where no electricity consumers exist. This list goes on. The man has a PhD in corruption including the prisoner's dilemma game theory dynamics of competing international corporations for lucrative political projects.

Some of the world's most baffling social problems, says Peter Eigen, can be traced to systematic, pervasive government corruption, hand-in-glove with global companies. At TEDxBerlin, Eigen describes the thrilling counter-attack led by his organization Transparency International.



Reading the conservative AZ blogosphere would suggest that conservatives have no grasp of economics or sociology ("Don't giv me nuttin bout soshaleknomic status. That town got hi crime cuz the mayor's a demkrat!") let alone the notion of the economic externality or the material developing on behavioral economics. As demonstrated below, intelligent conservatism can exist, at least in Britain.

The leader of Britain's Conservative Party says we're entering a new era -- where governments themselves have less power (and less money) and people empowered by technology have more. Tapping into new ideas on behavioral economics, he explores how these trends could be turned into smarter policy.

Great quote: "How do we make things better without spending more money?"

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two AZ Primaries Clarify Rift

The primaries heating up between 1) John McCain and JD Hayworth and 2) Jonathan Paton and Jesse Kelly, provide useful clarification of the bifurcation between the “GOP establishment” (aka “acronyms” or “R”) and the “true conservatives” (aka “tea” or “Not R”). The rift follows from cracks forming in the charade Republicans have used to dupe a particular group for over 40 years, with roots as far back as the Nixon administration. Names have changed over time (Falwell’s “Moral Majority” during the 70s), and the manipulation has been so successful that the puppets can perform double think in true 1984 fashion as they look at the party they think they are in. They can look directly at Not R and see R. They can look at R and see Not R.

Consider the primary between JD Hayworth (not R) and John McCain (R). For all practical purposes, Senators McCain and Kyl, Reps. Shadegg, Franks, and Flake ARE the Arizona GOP. They are as R as R gets. McCain got the R nod for President. R includes Mitt Romney, Lindsay Graham, Steve Forbes, Bill Bennett, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Haley Barbour, Mitch McConnell, Tom Delay, Eric Cantor, Jeb Bush. They are not RINO's. They are capital R with a star on top. R's agenda has remained unchanged for decades: more wealth for the wealthy. During 2000-2006, R had both hands on the wheel. They drove where? Teaville? Fiscal responsibility? They were solid R with policies that funneled trillions to corporations. They passed the unfunded $500+ B drug bill for Big Pharma. Cheney and his war profiteers laughed, “Reagan showed us that deficits don’t matter.”

Tucson’s acronyms/R consist of the likes of Don Diamond and Jim Click (now that's a pair with little interest in money), Jonathan Paton, Tim Bee, Bruce Ash, Vic Williams, Duff Hearon, Wayne Peat, Mike Hellon, the Kemmerly’s of Kemmerly Homes, Elaine Arena of Arena Consulting, Stuart Goodman of Goodman PR, Paul Manley of Johnson&Manley, Pete Herder of Herder Co., Bruce Beach of Beach Fleishman. Think this poverty stricken bunch is fretting about Planned Parenthood? I can just hear Diamond and Click talking strategy to fight the homosexual lobby.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yesterday

Yesterday (2004) is the first Zulu language film to be released internationally. It is the only film in the history of cinema to be nominated for both an Academy award and an Emmy award. Set in a remote South African village, it's maturity and realism make it a deeply moving and heartfelt drama. Yesterday is a woman with a young daughter. Becoming increasingly sick, her attempts to seek medical attention fail because she can't walk to distant clinic and arrive soon enough for a good place in line. A school teacher she befriends pays for a taxi, and Yesterday learns that she is HIV positive. When she travels to Johannesburg to tell her husband, he beats her, in denial that he is infected and the one who has transmitted it to her.

From the film:
Doctor: Your body is strong. It is keeping the disease in check.
Yesterday: It is not my body. (She points to her temple) It is here. I have made up my mind.
Doctor: How so?
Yesterday: Until my child goes to school, I'll not die. My daughter starts school next year. I can't wait for that day. Only then can this "thing" take me away. No, I will not die till that day.

When her husband's health begins to deteriorate, it does so quickly, and he returns to the village. Village gossip leads to the same hysteria we've seen in the states. Despite her own decaying condition, she builds a shack for her dying husband so he doesn't have to stay in the village. The sequence where the husband leaves the village for the shack, barely able to walk, a crutch on one side, Yesterday on the other, will fill the eyes of anyone with a pulse.

Although clearly dying, she lasts through the first day of school, buying her daughter a new school uniform. She tells the school teacher, "I have never been to school."

The school teacher replies, "I will love your daughter as if she were my own."

From an IMDB review:
As a South African, this is the first time I've seen any media portray the HIV/AIDS crisis in our country in a way that makes it real, without political agenda or moralizing the issue. For that I commend the film. What also impressed me was the film's simplicity and the fact that it was unpredictable in its character portrayal. For cinematography, it is definitely one of the best movies ever to have come from our shores. Then there is the brilliant acting by Khumalo. The film is not without fault, but it shows that our film industry is capable of producing quality films. Just a pity that most South African audiences do not give the local industry the support it needs.

From Nelson Mandela's endorsement of the film:
The HIV/AIDS and Education projects will be able to allow communities to interact with the film, engage with the circumstances it presents, and with specific responses to the characters portrayed. We are confident that this will assist in spreading the message of prevention, caring for and supporting those infected and affected by the pandemic and most importantly highlight the need to remove stigma and discrimination.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Paton Fundraiser


Jonathan Paton's campaign for Congress will kick the tires and light the fires with his first serious fundraiser on Wednesday, March 3rd. The invitation lists a Host Committee showing some of his key supporters, which include Tim Bee, Jim Click, Don Diamond, Duff Hearon, Leesa and David Lane, and others (i.e. the acronyms).

Elementary math shows Paton's fund raising easily passing six figures this month with the first wave of $2400 and $4800 checks from family, friends, and close associates. Paton is also likely to obtain some endorsements and support from the growing number of people lining up behind John McCain's campaign. The McCain/Hayworth contest is a highly symbolic flash point that has already attracted and will continue to attract national attention.

If one were to gauge the situation from the local blogosphere (tea blogs more prolifically than acronyms), one might dismiss the campaigns of both McCain and Paton. GC, IC, Red, & Co. feature McCain bashing on a regular basis. Sonoran Alliance wouldn't list Paton's web site until a change of heart just this week, when it added his site and published a Paton friendly post. Some of the tea positively froth and foam at the mention of McCain, and the CD-8 Debate Twitter of last night clearly has a dog in the fight, and it's not Paton. Tea has made a lot of noise these past few months, but in both primaries time will tell if their sentiments will translate into the feet on the street that put numbers on TV the evening of August 24, 2010.

A Democrat faces a nearly insurmountable task defeating whoever prevails in the McCain/Hayworth fight. Regarding CD-8, to note that she's ready is quite the understatement.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Acronyms and Tea


Before the 2008 election, the Republican version of the Democrats MoveOn.org was the dubyaphile Freedom Watch. After the election Freedom Watch shut down almost at once. On April 30, 2009 Eric Cantor along with John McCain, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour, and others announced the National Council for a New America (NCNA). Great hoopla and fanfare made NCNA quite the hullabaloo on the blogs and talking head circuit for about 20 minutes. Its embarrassing website (talks!) is still up, but the NCNA is now dismissed as a non-starter. Now, it's The American Action Network (AAN), an effort by the likes of (shocker) Norm Coleman, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, Karl Rove, Rob Collins (senior aid to Cantor), Douglas Holtz-Eakin (senior adviser for McCain), Ed Gillespie, and Fred Malek. The NCNA is now the AAN.

While the above create acronyms, another set of folks are talking tea. While some lines cross and blur (Palin speaks tea yet endorsed McCain), the GOP is clearly splitting into two camps. The bifurcation is rippling into elections across the country. In AZ we have McCain (acronyms) vs. Hayworth (tea). In CD-8 we have Paton (acronyms) vs. Kelly (tea). Watch the endorsements and blog posts as this heats up.

At present the energy appears to be flowing from acronyms towards tea in what will become ugly. Tea exists because acronyms, under the staggering incompetence of the Bush administration, utterly lost their way. Tea may have a good year in 2010, but its long term prospects involve tombstones. What acronyms grasp that tea does not is that tea's vision condemns half the country. Meghan McCain did not mince words: innate racism. Add policies that butcher the poor (e.g. abolish the IRS and implement a 28% sales tax), ignore climate change, gut education, and leave corporate greed unchecked. Tea can reminisce about plundering Mother Earth and "white boy day," but no amount of shouting will refreeze the caps, help the poor, or purge the country of "those other people."

What emerges will not be a clear victory for any of the players, but some soupy mix of all of the above. Dysfunction permeates the entire system and includes both parties. The weak minded blame Obama for his predecessor's mess. Imbeciles think a snow storm refutes climate change. Kentucky has a Creationism museum that shows humans frolicking with velociraptors. Matters are likely to look worse before they look better.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

12th Ave Taco Truck


Word is that Juanito Gutierrez, operator of a new taco truck on S. 12th Ave, is generating quite the buzz in town. His business was highlighted as a showcase for the extraordinary economic development achievements of the past year. The truck serves authentic Mexican tacos, burritos, tamales, and quesadillas featuring a secret recipe "to die for" salsa packing enough heat to make a Corona taste good. What few know is that the project, now booming, almost didn't happen.

Eager to provide fast eats on par with Rigo's and Mi Nidito's, Gutierrez, a creative class gay Hispanic entrepreneur, almost gave up when he learned about the various permits, licenses, certificates, and approvals necessary to start the business. This guy, uh, Hegler, tells me that the process is so complex a person needs a consultant. He said for $6,000/month he could make everything happen.

Gutierrez started paying Hegler, and in three weeks received permission to complete the application forms to obtain the following:

1. South Tucson Business License:
----Don Eckum Administration Fee, $3000
----Al Eckum Workforce Fee, $1000
----June Eckum Clean Street Fee, $750
----Anita Eckum knows June Fee, $400
----Billy Bob Eckum has Eckum last name fee, $300

2. Pima County Operation Business License:
----Taco emissions Environmental Impact Fee, $400
----Taco Juice Sewer System Impact Fee, $300
----Truck Parking Zone Fee, $300
----Meat/Tortilla Safety Inspection Fee, $250
----Fire Inspection Fee, $300

After paying the fees, Gutierrez was informed he could operate on S. 12th Ave, We wanted to be on Fourth or Sixth, you know, by the pretty tile, but they said that would be bad.

Juanito started selling tacos before Christmas, I'm not selling tacos a week yet, and this dude calls, Smear Channel, saying I need a billboard/radio ad. I dunno. I remember that these are the jerks that did "Tight Ass For Sale" right by an elementary school, I mean that ain't right, so I say no and he gets all pissed off, says I'm stupid and even says something about my race and whether I'm legal. I hung up.

Next came a call from a professional coach. This lady calls and she's all polite, and then she says she can break me free of my paradigms and obsolete practices. I asked her if she's tasted the killer salsa, and she says no, so I ask what she knows about making tacos. She gets all hissy and hangs up.

Two weeks later, Gutierrez received a call from TREO outreach. He recommends that I become one of their Giga-Titanium Partners, something about a trip to bikini island, free golf, the taco network, taco partnership community, mobile food consciousness blueprint, and a web thing called TacoLink where I could post the address of my truck's web page.

He asked who I hired. When I said no one, he said everyone in the family was an employee. Then he asked if I use the trash cans, and there's the dude that sweeps the sidewalk. He asked if I met the police, and I said they like the burritos. He wanted to know if anyone buying tacos rode the bus. Next thing I know, this guy is telling me I created 184 jobs and that because I'm gay, I provide more leverage for economic growth. He sounded serious, but I mean, he had to be joking, right? Well, I figured he was joking all deadpan style like Steve Wright, so I get all serious and joke back all serious like, "Your mama want a job?"


Word about the killer salsa is spreading, and taco sales have been climbing. In January someone suggested Gutierrez join the Chamber of Commerce, I went to this thing at a restaurant, and everyone's telling me what I need. HR, PR, marketing, accounting, payroll, strategic planning software. Some dude says I'm planning to fail by failing to plan. I said I had a plan. I plan to sell tacos. A web guy tells me I gotta get online so people can see my menu and place orders. People in China who Google "taco" will see my truck. Then I heard a familiar voice, and sure enough, it's Smear Channel guy trying to sell a billboard/radio ad to a massage therapist.

She's shaking her head and uncomfortable, and the Smear guy is harrassing her the same way he did me, saying she's stupid and missing opportunity and will fail. The lady gives foot rubs, man. That's when I realize I know what I'm doing and so does massage lady and the hair cut guy and the coin dealer. It's Smear that doesn't know jack.

Clearly upset, massage lady tries to get away, and Smear follows her! So I jump between them and give Smear a rich dose of my face, "If you're so smart and she's so stupid, how come she owns a business and you're pasting asses on billboards? Why don't you plaster your own ass on a billboard and sell cheese?!"

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Monday, February 01, 2010

AZ CD-8 Fundraising

So far, only Sonoran Alliance has mentioned AZ-CD8 fund raising results, and the post was a tad selective. Gabrielle Giffords continues to charge ahead, her 2009 efforts yielding $1.2M in receipts for an end of year cash on hand of $1.6M. Despite the fall hysteria at Pima and Swan, the people of the district like their Congresswoman. They didn't fork out $1/4 M for her in 4Q09 because they couldn't think of anything else to do with their money. In this economy? Do the math.

More interesting for some are the studly military white guys brandishing guns and medals for the chance to face Giffords. Anyone griping that the GOP lacked sufficient CD-8 testosteronie in 2008 won't have that complaint this year. Maybe it's Space Shuttle envy, but even guys might want to pop a few birth control pills before attending the next debate if they don't want to get pregnant.

Time will tell what the entry of Jonathan Paton means (if anything) but as of 12/31/09 numbers and word are aligned that Jesse Kelly be da man. His 2009 take approaches $300K with a year end cash on hand of $180K. That's not pocket change for this time in the election and if memory serves me correctly, equals or exceeds what Giffords had at this time in her successful 2006 bid. Those who have yet to take Kelly seriously should get that Kelly is taking Kelly seriously as are 180,000 of his friends.

So far (and yes, it's still early) Brian Miller has disappointing numbers, but at least he has numbers. His 2009 total receipts of $77 K cement his candidacy as real and not just an ego's hot air. Like Giffords and Kelly, Miller also has real expenditures associated with uh, a campaign.

Skipping the 2006 era blogger bloodlust, let's just recognize that Goss and Carlson should go home. The Goss assault rifle raffle is as embarrassing as his issues material, and Raytheon employee Tom Carlson flies so low under the radar I didn't know about him until last week. Neither have raised a thing, and it is beyond generous to simply note that Carlson's web site shows he is no factor in the race. Sonoran Alliance has mentioned Carlson but for good reason doesn't bother to list his site at the links in their right column (SA also excludes Jonathan Paton - hmmm).

I'm still waiting for data that distinguish Paton from the insider accepted but voter unaccepted Steve Huffman of 2006. Last I checked, the web site still sucks.

UPDATE: The first comment below as well as an email informs me that per Gila Courier Carlson has dropped out.

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SOMETHING ELSE