Whose death would stun the Western World?

A month ago I asked readers What is the most misunderstood idea of all time?Image

My next big (slightly morbid) question is Whose death would stun the Western World?

A few years ago when Michael Jackson unexpectedly died, it felt like the world sort of skipped a few beats. I was in South Korea at the time. I tended to go to foreigner bars that catered to Canadians, Americans, Brits, Aussies and New Zealanders. My main bar was essentially running a several day long Michael Jackson marathon. He may well have been the most famous person in the world. Continue reading

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Credit to Lupe Fiasco for Obama Criticisms

Praise to rapper Lupe Fiasco, who let loose on President Barack Obama during an invited appearance at a Washington DC pre-inauguration celebration yesterday. As per Australian website News.Com.Au, Fiasco spoke against war for 30 minutes, with some criticism directed specifically at the President. Later, in a song, he rapped

“Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist, Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say sh*t, That’s why I ain’t vote for him, Next one either, I’m part of the problem, My problem is I’m peaceful”

Good for Lupe.

Signed,

A rationalist progressive who at one time believed in Obama.

PS: Every President leaves a legacy in their wake. Alongside being the first Black President and converting what were previously extreme right wing “War on Terror” policies into bipartisan Washington standard operating procedures,  I predict that Obama will be remembered as the President who turned more than half of a generation of Americans into lifelong political cynics. Congratulations..

Massive Republican Revival On Horizon?

Please indulge a bit of educated speculation.

Throughout President Obama’s first term many economists have predicted another major economic crisis as big or bigger than 2008 in the not-too-distant future. Proposed contributing factors include the massive debt held be several European countries and toothless financial reform in America. Regarding the latter, long story short, investment banks are still allowed to engage in pretty well the same highly risky trades as they were before the crash. These risky trades offer the potential for large profits and large – even devastating – losses. When the trades work out, the profits are entirely privatized – going to investment firm executives and professionals and to investors. But when the trades flop, the losses can be so massive and diffuse as to threaten broad swaths of the greater economy. As a result, the investment firm may end up receiving a government bail out so as to stave off a broader collapse. So while profits are entirely privatized, risks and losses may be significantly socialized.

It should be no surprise that a President – and indeed an entire political system – that is disproportionately funded by Wall Street donors, continues to allow institutional investors to do what they want – take big risks where, if they win, they win big, and if they lose, they don’t really lose that much, but everyone else does. Meanwhile, as this has been happening, what have the Republicans been doing and saying? They’ve been painting Obama as a radical liberal Democrat (notwithstanding the fact that his policies have been largely un-progressive, very corporate-friendly, and much more inline with Republican platforms than liberal Democratic values). What’s more, no matter how much Obama has conceded to Republican negotiation demands, filling up his proposals with one Republican provision after another,  they have continued to vote against his initiatives.

As Obama & Co. have advanced corporatist economic policies, Republicans have painted him as a radical leftist. If the economy crashes under his watch, Republicans will blame him and liberal Democratic ideas. Continue reading

Talking to political adversaries: Tips on reaching across the aisle

Reaching Across or Reaching Around?

With corrupted campaign finance and limited oversight and regulation over the intersections among government agencies (e.g., The White House and The Pentagon) and between government and private industry, big finance and media, one could easily argue that genuine ideological debate in America has taken a backseat to public-to-private reach-arounds masquerading as Republican-Democratic reaches across the aisle.

If the Republican and Democratic parties were mixed drinks, they would be glasses of corporatism with small shots of ideology.

Of course, whether the bartender was George Bush, Barack Obama, John Boehner, or Harry Reid, the patron would be led to believe that they had just bought a straight triple of their ideology of choice; likewise, they would be told that the reason that the other drink tastes so bad is because it is a straight triple of that other, yucky ideology. And almost none of the Senators, Congressmen and women and members of the mainstream media who would be the alcohol regulators at the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) in this metaphor would call any of these bartenders out on this, as they’ve been at the bar drinking for free since lunch time. They are typically too drunk and too hooked on the free drinks to do anything but uphold the lie. This often leads to the trusting patrons of The Establishment being unnecessarily divided. While Republican drinkers and Democratic drinkers do have different palates, they are often mislead into believing that the corporatist solvent in the other Party’s drink is the ideological shot, or solute.

Often times, it would appear that members of each drinking group don’t mind the qualities of the other group’s shot as much as they think; they’re just confusing it with the flat, tainted corporate coke that it has been deeply diluted in.

How do we get past this? Just drink shots. Continue reading

Cenk Uygur Vs. Fareed Zakaria on Progressive Dissatisfaction With Obama

In this clip from The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur responds to CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria criticize’s American liberals for their strong dissatisfaction with President Obama, saying among other things that they need to grow up, that they need to learn to appreciate compromise, and the like. Uygur responds by going on the offense and staying there, driving home strong points which, in my opinion, are hard to mount much of a rebuttal to.

What do you think?

Why Obama and Democrats are Less Trustworthy than Bush and Republicans

It might seem hyperbolic or facetious that a left-leaning blogger would argue that Obama and the Democrats are less trustworthy than Bush and the Republicans. Part of this impression can be done away by me immediately disabusing you of what your first impression may quite reasonably be: I am not saying that Bush or Republicans make better, more desirable leaders than Obama or the Dems. What I am arguing is that Republicans can generally be trusted more than Democrats to do what they say they are going to do. In a nutshell, the reason is that interests of the stakeholders and influencers of the Republican Party (i.e., voters, donors, lobbyists, and party elites) are far more aligned than those of the Democratic Party. As a result, it is far easier for Republicans to walk their talk than it is for Democrats. Continue reading

Is Obama a Fauxgressive – a Fake Progressive, or Simply a Non-Progressive?

Obama is no progressive. Not even close.

A progressive wouldn’t load up his front office with corporatists like Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel; he wouldn’t look the other way when Chief of Staff Emanuel calls progressives “retards”; he wouldn’t spend years prior to his Presidency being mentored by, of all people, Joe Lieberman – every corporatist Republican’s favourite “Independent” “Democrat”; he wouldn’t give up the public healthcare insurance option (which had massive majority support of Americans across the political spectrum, which by the way, he rarely or never mentioned) without a fight; he wouldn’t support corporatist/Republican efforts to cut Social Security, MediCare and Medicaid, three of the most popular social programs in American history; he wouldn’t continually accept Republican framing of issues and perpetually treat Republicans and “Conservative Democrats” (read: corporatist Democrats) as honest actors whom sincerely want to do what is best for America; he wouldn’t hire on the people who broke the banks to run the banks; he wouldn’t waffle and wain over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; he wouldn’t pretend to close international CIA black sites and then turn a blind eye to those in Somalia; he wouldn’t continue and escalate Patriot Act policies; he wouldn’t pass Financial Reform that fails to put a stop to many of the most risky and system-threatening financial practices (e.g., bank over-leveraging, intermixing of depository and investment banking, continued poor regulation of derivatives trading); he wouldn’t outspend Bush on defense; he wouldn’t extend the unpopular “temporary” Bush tax cuts to the rich; he wouldn’t further lower corporate taxes; he wouldn’t continue funding Faith-Based Initiatives; he wouldn’t derisively refer to progressives like Bernie Sanders as “you progressives”; he wouldn’t escalate the fight in Afghanistan at a time when there were no more than 100 Al Qaeda operatives remaining there; he wouldn’t largely ignore and completely excuse the egregious economic mismanagement, international law debasing and civil liberties destroying practices of the previous administration and then continue the very same practices himself; he wouldn’t pretend that the Dems and Republicans are equally at fault when policy discussions come to stalemates when only the Republicans are being obstinate.

It’s  not his lack of success in advancing progressive causes that make him not a progressive. It’s his perpetual lack of effort and capitulation. There is nobility in trying and failing. There is no nobility in playing the role of the jobber in professional wrestler: the pre-determined loser of every match.

Some may say that it is unfair to call Obama a fake progressive, or a fauxgressive, because he so clearly distances himself from progressives and progressivism. Continue reading

Why Japanese Healthcare is More Efficient Than Canadian and US Healthcare

A recently published report by the Conference Board of Canada, a not-for-profit economics and policy research organization, indicates that Canadians are spending more on their healthcare and getting less than most advanced nations. Canada spend more annually per capita on healthcare – $4100/person, or 10% of GDP – than all but three advanced nations, but ranked 10th according to the Conference Board’s quality of medicine metrics. By comparison, Japan spent only $2,729 per capita annually while ranking first in life expectancy and infant mortality rates. The United States healthcare system, on the other hand, performed abysmally. While the US spends astronomically more per capita on healthcare than any other nation – $7,500 annually – the Conference Board rated the quality of American healthcare to be among the worst in the 17-country study.

Why are the Japanese paying so much less to receive so much more? Continue reading

Huge Slant On The Young Turks

For a few years I have been a HUGE fan of The Young Turks, a progressive online news commentary program. However, in recent months my enthusiasm has abated significantly. The leading reason is a perceived one-sidedness in the show’s coverage of certain issues, most notably tax cuts for the wealthy. Continue reading

I don’t care if he’s the President. He can use Skype.

There’s been much ado about the President Obama’s trip to India. Apparently some have been reporting that this trip is costing the US taxpayer $200 million a day. Well, I’m gonna go and assume that that is a grotesque exaggeration. In this video (below) of The Young Turks, guest host Ben Mankiewitz reports that a 5-country trip by Bill Clinton in 2000 cost about $37 million. Using this total cost as a comparison, the supposed $200M/day definitely sounds ludicrous. So this blog post definitely isn’t about complaining that Obama’s trip is costing hundreds of millions a day. This post is about saying that if this trip costs anymore than a few hundred thousand dollars – and it will – then the President – who ever it is at the time – should put down his suitcase and get on Skype like everyone else. Yes, I know that there are benefits to meeting in person rather than over the phone or video conferencing, but is that difference really worth millions of dollars? Cannot public leaders just acknowledge that they all have responsibilities to be prudent with their tax-paid dollars?

Absolutely ridiculous. So much could have been done with that money. Orrrr, it could have been returned to tax payers. . The US government has become far too untouchable to the people. This is absolute pigs-at-the-trough insanity.