Monday, September 29, 2008

There's A Reason It's Called "Trickle Down" Economics

George Bush got it right.

Well, not the current version, but the original when in 1980, he referred to Ronald Reagan's economic policies as Voodoo Economics. You see, Mr. Reagan believed that if you removed regulations from businesses and amassed incredible amounts of wealth in the upper echelon of society, the upper echelon would in turn redistribute the wealth into the economy. It became known as "trickle down" economics. The name should have told us everything.

What Mr. Reagan was too stupid or too senile to realise, is that often the upper echelon accumulates wealth because it's greedy.

So, merrily America rolled through the 1980's deregulating industries. The results were felt in the banking, airline and communications industries as companies snapped up smaller rivals and got larger and larger. The Big 8 accounting firms, in place for most of the twentieth century, gave way to the Big 6, then the Big 5 and finally after the implosion of Arthur Anderson, the Big 4 of today. The trend happened in other industries as well.

Where are you Theodore Roosevelt?

How quickly a party can go off the rails in as little as one hundred years. No longer the party of that great trust-buster, Theodore Roosevelt (the maverick that John McCain wishes he were), Republican economic policies have replaced the concept of monopoly with that of oligopoly.

Oligopoly (def.) - a market situation in which each of a few producers affects but does not control the market.

Sound familiar? Like maybe a few investment banks that make shaky investments and then take the stock market down with them? Or how about two mortgage lenders that hold over 60% of the market. You know them, that fun loving couple, Fanny and Freddie.

So here were are on September 29, 2007 and Congress has failed to bail out the oligopical greedy and as a result the DOW plunged 777 points. Should they have done so? To be honest, I'm not sure. Perhaps America needs the pain of a major recession. Perhaps we need to understand the pain that our grandparents felt. Perhaps it's time to summon the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt and begin to bust trusts again.

What I do know for certain is that the results of Republican deregulation are these:

• Less independent media
• Fewer firms with greater ability to negatively impact the economy
• Higher barriers to innovation

Whether or not Congress ultimately bails out corporate greed is perhaps irrelevant. Because unless the root causes of the current crisis are addressed, it will eventually happen again. One only need to look at the Savings and Loan scandal of the late 1980's to see that history is indeed repeating itself.

Morning in America has ended folks and Reagan's failed economic theory is to blame. The critical question is this: Are we as citizens willing to let the pigs run amok any longer?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Bud Brothers Present, Sarah Palin: A Life In Song

Those who know me well, know that I am a musician and filmmaker. Today's blog is a video of a new song that I wrote about that esteemed Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. It's recorded by one of my musical groups, The Bud Brothers.

Enjoy it and be sure to pass it on to your friends!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fear, Spin and Lies: The Fuel Of The Republican Crap Machine

Anyone who watched both the Democratic and Republican conventions must be stunned by the difference in tone. With the exception of John McCain, who actually acknowledged that many of the troubles of the past eight years fall squarely on the shoulders of his party, the convention was bitter, snarky, deceitful and meant to induce fear. With the shape the United States is in, I guess the tried and true is all they have to go with.

Before I continue, hats off to John McCain for speaking against the grain of his party! You are an honourable man.

However, your party, at least in its current incarnation, is not honourable. Sarah Palin talked much about alternative energy, so let's take a moment and explore the fuel of the Republican Crap Machine.


As if all of the rhetoric about "radical Islamic fascists" hasn't been enough, they reached a new pinnacle in bad taste with their 9/11 Tribute film. Showing images of Osama bin Ladin firing weapons, the Iran hostages and the World Trade Center crumbling, this was no tribute. This was an attempt to fan the flames of religious fear. It was crass, it was manipulative and it was exploitative of the many who died on that day. How dare they!


The Republican convention talked a good deal about reforming Washington, how "insiders" would be shaking in their boots at the prospect of reformer Sarah Palin coming down from Alaska to clean up town. What they conveniently forgot to mention was that they have held Congress for ten of the last twelve years, and the Presidency for the last eight. Their convention championed the ideas and themes of the last eight years, while they professed that their candidates would enact a culture of change. How exactly will that work?


Heard at the convention (and found on the RNC webpage) . . .

Rudy Guiliani: A few years later — a few years later, he ran for the U.S. Senate. He spent most of his time as a celebrity senator: no leadership, no legislation to really speak of.

Sarah Palin: But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate.

The core fuel of the modern day Republican party is full out blatant lies. Maybe their base doesn't check the facts, but I assure you, I do. Their most egregious lies cluster around their allegations that Senator Obama hasn't done anything in Congress. What they fail to mention is that any bill in Congress needs to be supported by their members and signed into law by their President. So here's the record:

  • Senator Obama has sponsored 136 bills.

  • He has co-sponsored 653 bills.

    Hardly a case of not doing anything. Now let's look at what some of those bills were:

    S. 2590 : Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 to ensure transparency in government spending.

    S.117 : A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve benefits and services for members of the Armed Forces, veterans of the Global War on Terrorism, and other veterans, to require reports on the effects of the Global War on Terrorism, and for other purposes.

    S.692 : A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a Hospital Quality Report Card Initiative to report on health care quality in Veterans Affairs hospitals.

    S.713 : A bill to ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries.

    S.114 : A bill to authorize resources for a grant program for local educational agencies to create innovation districts.

    S.116 : A bill to authorize resources to provide students with opportunities for summer learning through summer learning grants.

    S.133 : A bill to promote the national security and stability of the economy of the United States by reducing the dependence of the United States on oil through the use of alternative fuels and new technology, and for other purposes.

    S.453 : A bill to prohibit deceptive practices in Federal elections.

    S.737 : A bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 in order to measure, compare, and improve the quality of voter access to polls and voter services in the administration of Federal elections in the States.

    S.823 : A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act with respect to facilitating the development of microbicides for preventing transmission of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and for other purposes.

    S.1084 : A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans.

    S.1151 : A bill to provide incentives to the auto industry to accelerate efforts to develop more energy-efficient vehicles to lessen dependence on oil.

    S.1222 : A bill to stop mortgage transactions which operate to promote fraud, risk, abuse, and under-development, and for other purposes.

    S.1271 : A bill to provide for a comprehensive national research effort on the physical and mental health and other readjustment needs of the members of the Armed Forces and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and their families.

    S.1324 : A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuel sold in the United States.

    S.1790 : A bill to make grants to carry out activities to prevent the incidence of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among teens in racial or ethnic minority or immigrant communities, and for other purposes.

    Conclusion: Sarah Palin, Rudy Guiliani, Lindsay Graham can say whatever they want about Mr. Obama's record and they can make sarcastic statements about community organizers, but that doesn't mean that they're right or being honest. The truth is the truth and it's available for anyone to check up on. Senator Obama's legislative efforts have been focused on helping returning military personnel, education, health and the environment.

    Can the Republicans say the same?
  • Monday, September 01, 2008

    Conservative Republicans And Their Abstinence Only Logic

    For years the Republicans have touted the virtue of abstinence only education. In fact, programs that promote it received a fair amount of funding during the Bush presidency. Current nominee for Vice President, Sarah Palin, was a big proponent of it in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Never mind that studies, including one authorized by Congress have shown a zero percent effectiveness in decreasing teenage sexual activity. Conservative Republicans continue to bang the drum loudly for it.

    Which makes the news that Bristol Palin, the seventeen year old daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant, particularly interesting.

    Now let me be clear, as far as I'm concerned, the media needs to leave Ms. Palin alone. As she prepares for the birth of her child, she has enough to deal with, let alone the fact that her family is now in the national spotlight. She didn't ask for this attention and she doesn't deserve it. But, what her case does underscore is the need for the very education that her mother would deny young adults.

    The question is: Why?

    The answer is simple. Morality. The proponents of abstinence only sexual education base their argument on religious values rather than scientific data. They argue that comprehensive sex ed encourages promiscuity, promotes HIV and increases teen pregnancy.
    Perhaps they should ask themselves, then, why Bristol is pregnant.

    In the end, it is really about power. The power of fundamentalists to impose their religious views on the masses. These are the people who are the first to support the "war on terror" because of the need to defeat "radical Islam." What they fail to realise is that they are mirror images of each other. Sure, fundamentalists in the U.S. don't look as scary. They look like us, they speak our language and sometimes, they even sound reasonable. But deep down the message is the same: Our policies are formed by our understanding of the word and will of God. And if you don't share our beliefs, you don't understand the word and will of God.

    The difference between John Hagee and Mullah Omar is smaller than most people think.

    Many will say that dragging Bristol Palin into the national debate is wrong. Barack Obama himself said that families should be off limit, especially the children of candidates. He is right in the sense that Ms. Palin's pregnancy and the choices she makes regarding it are her own. But the issue that it calls to light and the choices that her mother made around the formulation of her own policies and values are not.

    So leave Bristol Palin out of the discussion, but please do have a discussion about what type of sex ed your child should receive in school. And please explore deeply not only where your candidates stand on their positions, but also why.