Friday, July 30, 2010

Calling a Spade a Spade: Anti-immigrant politics is nothing but Racism.

I'll probably catch a lot of flack for this and may even lose some friends over it, but that has never stopped me from speaking the truth about what is plainly evident before me.

All the chest-thumping, posturing, and other grand standing about "the immigration issue" boils down to plain old racism.

Those taking the position that illegal immigrants are harming us, as a nation, have either let their racial animus overtake their reason or they have taken the pre-packaged rationalizations promulgated by bigots at face-value.  Critical thinking is not an American strong suit.

Shame on you if you are too stupid or too willfully ignorant to see through the appeals to your unacknowledged bigotry.

You can't be a true capitalist and oppose illegal immigrants.  


Americans are nothing if not cheap.  That's why WalMart is such a success.   

If you get two bids for construction work, one from a company that employs only American citizens and pays them minimum wage AND another, lower, bid from an American contractor who uses illegal labor...which bid do you take?

If you choose the lower bid (as most capitalists would...) then you encourage illegal immigration and are now a part of the problem.  

How many check the immigration status of all workers used by a contractor when you hire one?

Failing to do so and then complaining about illegal immigrants taking American jobs, makes you a hypocrite, an idiot, or both.

Let's face it: If we truly want no illegal immigrants working in the U.S., we'll pay considerably more for more things we take for granted.  We can't ignore our anti-immigrant values via denial when we use illegal workers or contractors that do so.

Anti-Immigrant politics is un-American.

How so?

Unless you're Native American, everyone in this country has immigrant ancestors.  This country is a nation of immigrants.  

Immigration gives us our character.  

To deny this truth is to deny our history and heritage.  To suddenly take a position against this central part of our heritage is to deny the core of what makes us a Great Nation, viz., Diversity.

Lastly, anti-immigrant politics is plain old racism with nothing more than air-brushed, pretext, rationales designed to make hate based on ethnicity socially acceptable.

How do I know?

Illegal immigrants are only making rational economic decisions when they come here.  If you or I were in the same position, we'd make the same choices.

Illegal immigrants, by and large, avoid drawing attention to themselves from law enforcement.  They avoid drawing attention to themselves by paying their rent on time.  They avoid drawing attention to themselves by working hard and well at jobs few native-born Americans will take.

These are attitudes and values that improve our nation and to ignore these qualities, while focusing only upon their rational, but illegal choices to come here is to make fools of us all for some simple-minded, but all too backwards notion of what it means to be American.

Now, does the previous mean that I support opening the border?  

Not hardly.

It only means that most people harboring anti-immigrant animus should truly examine what it is they advocate, in light of our history and in light of the economics if illegal immigration.

In the end, illegal immigration is about economics and not race...we shouldn't turn a financial issue into a social one, even if it helps some bozo to get elected.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why we should thank Andrew Breitbart...despite his buffoonery

Andrew Breitbart, that conspiracy theorist who believes everyone has a political agenda and that the media is a liberal whore, recently stepped in another pile of bullshit by publishing a video clip of a USDA employee supposedly making a racist remark to the NAACP.

Being ever-ready to jump the gun on any sort of "gotcha moment," Breitbart proceeded to advance the notion that the NAACP is full of racists.  He did this all within the context of trying to prove that NAACP is racist and since they are racist it gives the Right cover to be racist also...despite the ludicrous reasoning behind such a proposition.

Such a position is logically and rationally untenable yet, Breitbart subscribes to the faulty assumption at the foundation of Fox News and MSNC, viz., since everyone has an agenda, then it's perfectly acceptable to double-down on a particular worldview as a filter for facts and call it "news".

My position on Fox News (who incidentally took Breitbart at his word and ran with the story without doing appropriate background...probably because it fed into their right-wing slant) and MSNBC, is that such assumptions about an inherent slant in every news source is faulty; it does nothing but undermine journalistic ethics and professionalism.  

We have a name for that type of journalism and it rhymes with "mellow".

For example: If you had a choice of information between a source that felt entitled to color the reporting according to their own agenda 


you had a source that freely admitted innate, human, biases, but made a concerted effort to reduce those biases and report the facts---which would you choose?

I, for one, choose the latter.  Going even one step further, I tap multiple sources for the same information, pitting bias against bias so I can get a better picture of the facts.  

Some, Breitbart being one, prefers the arrogance of their own self-important worldview--even when it lays bare the laziness of the media and their own willful ignorance.

This, my friends, is why we should thank Andrew Breitbart:

Not only did he show himself to be the ideological and attention-seeking whore that he is---again.

He shined a light on the laziness and lack of professionalism in the media--more particularly of Fox News.  

Thank you Andrew Breitbart!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Perverse Incentives of Tort Reform and Liability Caps -- Good intentions gone awry.

As a practicing attorney, I've seen firsthand the results of negligence on the lives of victims--lives destroyed by the carelessness of others.

When I hear that BP and other large corporations push for liability caps, I practically cringe at the perverse incentives of restricting damage awards.

When a tortfeasor knows they escape paying the full cost of the damages they visit on innocent victims, where's the incentive to maximize safety of their activities?  

To the contrary, liability limits encourages maximization of activities leading to liability.  

For example, if the law suddenly limited the penalty for robbing a bank to an overnight stay in jail, regardless of the amount of money stolen or injuries caused, then more bank robberies would occur.  It's real simple.  

By creating liability caps, we give corporations a license to engage in bad behavior.  We don't allow our children to behave this way, so why do we let companies?  What message does that send about our priorities?

Let's use an analogy:

When disciplining your child, you have a range of options, viz., corporal (spanking), grounding, and privilege withdrawal.

These punishments offer the full range of disciplinary choices. Their impact comes, not from using all of them, but in the uncertainty of which one will be applied.

Now, lets say your spouse hates spanking and he/she successfully dissuades you from spanking--what result?  

The child knows for certain that any misbehavior results in only grounding or loss of privileges.

Similarly, with liability caps large tortfeasors gain the certainty of knowing the maximum cost of misbehavior.  They can calculate the potential cost; they can now maximize their bad actions, knowing they will not pay the full consequences.  

Unfortunately, those costs just don't disappear.  They must go somewhere.  They get pushed onto the innocent who are damaged by these large entities.

Back to our analogy:  Say your child enjoys staying in their room.  

In that case, grounding offers little punitive effect, since grounding equates to an enjoyed activity.  

Your punishment options dwindled to one: Privilege removal.

If a child knows they only risk one punishment for misbehavior, irrespective of how bad that misbehavior may be, and that punishment is privilege loss, then where's the incentive to behave?

Likewise, capping liability awards, by law eliminates any incentive for corporate actors to behave in a socially responsible manner?

In fact, capping liability incentive-izes bad behavior.  These entities rationally increase liability-inducing actions to offset their sum-certain liability?

Liability caps and liability limits do nothing but reduce the free market. Liability serves to place the costs of doing business onto the party actually incurring them. 

We discourage our children from becoming criminals through discipline.  Why would we, as a society, encourage corporations to ignore safety and push the costs of making profits onto the innocent and least capable of bearing those costs?

By limiting liability and by imposing liability caps, that is exactly what we do? 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Calling Bullsh*t on British Petroleum's attempt to shelter its profits behind Independent Business owners.

Many independent sellers of BP products are crying foul over the dramatic drop in business they are suffering due to the public relations disaster that is "The BP Gulf Oil Spill."

The common refrain:  Boycotting small gas stations that happen to sell BP gas is really only "hurting the independent small business owner."

I call BULLSHIT! on that.

Here's why:

The small business owners made rational economic decisions to align themselves with and to sell BP products.  Do they get only the benefits of the relationship, but none of the consequences?  What fantasy world are they living in?!  When you sign a franchise deal you take the good with the bad--simple business 101.

If BP is a popular brand, then these small business owners accrue the benefits of reflected glory by using the BP trademarks to advertise their businesses.  These businesses gain added revenue by selling other non-BP items to customers attracted to the BP brand.  

In grown-up business language it's called: Win-Win-Win --for BP, Independent Business owner, and customers.

Now, when the proverbial shit hits the fan and BP despoils its reputation, these independent businesses want to throw themselves on the mercy of the buying public's conscience for the "small business owner."  

Frequently, I hear these guys bellyache that "they didn't cause the spill and shouldn't be punished for BP's malfeasance."


These small business owners made rational economic decisions to franchise with BP.  Contractual relationships are like marriages--you take the good with the bad.

If consumers want to punish BP, the only way they can do so is with their wallets.  Just because these small business owners made a bad choice in selecting BP, it doesn't mean the rest of the buying public has to bail them out; their whining is just that.

The real problem here is BP.  If these small business owners want to complain about their loss of income, they should take it up with British Petroleum--not with those of us who want to take our business elsewhere.

These are the consequences of business decisions--small business owners need to grow up and live with the choices they make instead of expecting America to bail them out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Climate change is more complex than global warming--Willful ignorance aside.

There's a good reason why all the climate change deniers refuse to see human-made climatic change as real..instead they prefer to focus on "global warming" as their whipping boy.

By focusing on one extreme (global warming), it's easier to discount the impact human activity has on the climate as a whole.  Rather than seeing the entire weather system as a whole and see the impact on climatic variability as the real issue, their cherry-picking of anthropogenic global warming becomes the easier straw man to tear down.

I've recently been in an argument with a bunch of deniers who, instead of examining the premise of increasing climatic variability (which is the real issue...) they prefer to couch their arguments in terms of global warming ONLY.  Why would they do that instead of examining all the evidence?

As anyone who studies vast complex systems will attest:  You cannot ignore the resiliency of the system, nor can you over-simplify the system and still have the capacity to understand it to the degree necessary to talk about it intelligently.

Climate is one of the most complicated systems we know of.  Reducing it to one aspect (global warming) while specifically ignoring the other aspects (variability and climatic swing intensification) is to deliberately and willfully violate Occam's Razor--which means these idiots are distorting the facts for some agenda. 

Why else would they choose to ignore ALL the evidence and ALL the facts and focus on only one area of climate research--to the exclusion of the entire body of work--UNLESS they cannot face the facts or cannot offer anything substantive against ALL the evidence?

I'm reminded of Benjamin Franklin's quote: "We are all born ignorant, but we must work really hard to remain stupid."

These characters remind me of Ron White's quote: "You can't argue with stupid."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Texas seeks to advance the educational interests of the nation's children at the expense of their own. That's big of them!

I am very excited about the prospect that the Texas Board of Education will get it's way in re-writing textbooks for that state's children.

I don't agree with the revisionism nor the content changes the conservatives on the Board are pushing to "balance" what they perceive as liberal slant to history.

However, I get fairly jubilant at the social darwinian experiment  these conservative idiots are attempting to perform on the large number of students in their state.  

If these bozos weren't so ignorant of survival of the fittest as a mechanism for advancement, they would realize the severe handicap they are imposing on the children of Texas--all in the name of their political agendas.  It's brains in action! 

The upside?

The rest of the country's children gain an extreme advantage over those of Texas-educated children when it comes to college and real-world information.

It's great that Texas is willing to handicap their children for the purpose of advancing a political agenda.  

The mere fact that such a bone-headed move will inure to the educational achievements of all children outside the state only adds to the hilarity. 

Kudos to Texas for giving the children of non-Texans a boost at the expense on their own children

That's what I call Texas hospitality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Return of Tories to America: Neocons

If you examine closely the perspective of many neoconservatives on the operation of our Constitution, you will find their ideas scarcely fit with any modern strand of political thinking.

Specifically, you must harken back over two hundred years in our nation's history before you find an analogue to their political philosophy.

By way of example, take Dick Cheney and his spawn Liz.  The Cheney's take the position that terrorists have no rights.  Regardless of your personal feelings (mine are of the sort that terrorists deserve to be punished..) you cannot ignore the historical founding documents of our nation and also hold to the views advocated by the Cheneys.

For example:  The Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal and endowed..with certain inalienable rights".  How can you follow those guiding principles by positing that certain individuals, irrespective of the heinous nature of the crimes against us, are somehow without those same rights?

To find the closest analogue in our history to this view on individual rights, you must return to the days prior to our Revolution.  At that time, the political allies of the crown, those who supported the strong central authority of the King, the people without truck against the use of unfettered authority against all its enemies were the Tories.  

What the neoconservatives represent is nothing more than a rebirth of the Tory tradition here in America.  Many of the policies they pushed during their time in power resemble similar policies advanced by the allies of King George during the Revolution.  Strong central power, unlawful detentions without trial or charge, abuse of the purse, etc.

The similarities are uncanny.  Defining those who disagree or who decide to fight us as terrorists or other, does not objectify them to the point that they are without rights.  To do so is to commit the same treason many Tories committed against the founding of our fledgling Republic two centuries ago.

Frankly though, the Tories lost.  Giving them any credence now is to obviate the entire last two hundred years of history in the pursuit of freedom from monarchy.

I don't want a return to a unitary executive (monarchy).  I don't want a return to the days when the definition of a rebel (or in this case terrorist) depended upon the whim and will of an executive (read: King) and not the force of law.

Am I classifying the terrorists as "rebels"?  Hardly, just using that as an analogy.  Terrorists deserve capture, public trials and conviction for their crimes against us...just like any criminal.

The Cheney's and their Tory allies have reached too far into tradition, well beyond the realm of reason and well into American prehistory for their values.  

We live in a different world now.  

Perhaps it's time to advocate values of freedom that correspond to who we are now and not to who we were before we became the United State of America.  

Maybe the Tory principles of two hundred years ago lost the battle of ideas for a reason:  They were wrong for America.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bunning to the rescue of big money interests -- "Screw you little guys!"

For the Republicans, Jim Bunning has created a mess with his principled, but seriously impolitic timing for declaring his fiscal conservatism.

The stakes are high.  An outgoing Senator with nothing to lose can afford to be principled even if it underscores sensibilities akin to Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake."

Jim Bunning is not above using his power to award government money to his friends through the earmark process.  When you see his sponsorship of unfunded allocations of our money to private contractors, his stand against government spending benefiting hundreds of thousands of workers in a time of great need becomes a study in hypocrisy. 

I have a thought...if Bunning is so concerned about paying for the benefits that he claims to support, then why don't we rescind every earmark he's placed into law as a down payment?  Check his earmark record; that'll be a good start.

Democrats can't believe their luck.  Neither can I.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care Summit

I watched the Health Care Summit today on C-Span. Before I go further, I'd like to give kudos to the network.  They did a fabulous job.

Here's my take on the Summit:

Republicans were intent on arguing for a reset.  Getting a "do over" on the legislation would be a significant win for them.  Not only could they claim credit for "stopping a government takeover of health care," (which incidentally is a misrepresentation..) they would gain more time to whittle away at any attempt for reform in an election year.  Democrats would be fools to sacrifice their advantage at this stage in the game, so my money says the Republicans will be disappointed.

The President handled the matter very well today.  He appeared very Presidential and kept himself above the fray.  Throughout the day, he sought to keep the focus on solutions and grounds for compromise rather than political points.

John Boehner is a lying sack of shit.  Not only does his proposed legislation do nothing to ameliorate the health care problem in any appreciable way, it would exacerbate it.  The true beneficiary would be John Boehner and his re-election committee. Boehner outright lied through his teeth with his figures--his misuse of data was so extreme that calling him a liar is to defame real liars everywhere.

Dick Durbin nailed the problem succinctly.  He asked everyone present if they would be willing to give up their insurance so they would understand the plight of millions of Americans.  Wonder how many of those rich people would do that?  I smell a "let them eat cake" obliviousness run rampant.

Jim Cooper acquitted himself appropriately.  He reiterated that every delay in reform costs lives and pushes the debt onto succeeding generations.  Excellent point.  Jim doesn't photograph well though....

Some annoyances:  John McCain needs to get a clue.  Henry Waxman, although rather accurate, is no Mr. Personality.  

My ultimate opinion:  I think the Summit was a success.  It forced everyone to put forward their ideas to be judged on the merits.  It reduced the partisan advantage of health care reform.

The President and the Democrats have extended the olive branch of bipartisanship (moreso than the Republicans).  I suspect they will push their agenda and pass reform, either with or without Republican help.  If they're smart they'll push ahead.

We'll see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Health Care Reform - Negotiating 101

The President is playing the Republicans masterfully with his proposed Health Care Summit.  Here's a Summary of Obama's Plan.

For too long the Republicans have complained about the lack of bipartisanship in the Health Care Reform business Bipartisanship for those ideological windbags means nothing more than giving them everything they want and getting nothing for yourself.  In my book that's not bipartisanship but being spoiled.

With the Health Care Summit looming, the Republicans, who've been nothing but obstructionist since the beginning of Obama's term, have everything to lose and nothing to gain.  Here's why:

If they refuse to participate in the summit, then the accusation that they are the "Party of NO" begins to stick in an election year.  The American People don't want obstruction, they demand real work get finished.  Refusing to play ball makes the Republicans look more partisan than ever; that will not help in an election where the best way to get elected is to look more moderate.

Secondly, if the Republicans do participate, then their role of lobbing bombs is taken from them and they must contribute to a solution.  This mean compromise is the order of the day.  Unfortunately, this batch of Republicans is the most extreme bunch we've seen in a long time, so their ability to compromise is handicapped ab initio.

The net result:  Obama and his team look reasonable and industrious while working for the greater good.  The Republicans look like partisan hacks who are only in it for advantage, but really offer nothing substantive to the debate.

Fascinating and brilliant tactic if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's been a long time, but I'm back: Health Care Reform Screw up.

I want to apologize for my dilatory posting.  My focus has been on Health Care Reform and I wanted to see how the legislation fared.

With the election of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, it appears as if the health Care Bill is dead in its tracks.  Kudos to the Republicans for getting back in the game, but shame on them for ignoring the plight of real Americans to help their real constituencies, viz. Big Insurance, Big Hospitals, and Big Pharma.

You can't support policies that help fat cats and also claim to be working for the little guy.  It's hypocrisy at its finest.  Making it worse in my book is all the idiots who are little guys that believe the propaganda and not the results.

Health Care Reform

Health Reform was the driving issue for my vote during the Presidential Election.  Obama promised to use his political capital (All of it I might add...) to get Health Reform passed.

The failure of the Senate and the House to pass meaningful Health Reform falls squarely at Obama's feet.  Instead of leading the battle for this historic legislation, Obama chose to play it cool and stand back while the Legislature did what it does best: Screw up.

I saw this coming, but was hopeful that surely the Democrats wouldn't mess up something so vital  to not only the nation's financial health, but also their political future over the venal scumbaggery so evident in the Republican Party.

But, alas it was not to be.  With the likes of Ben Nelson holding up passage to get some special favors and other Democrats too worried about their political careers to concern themselves with the literal health of our nation, we got nothing but a lot of drama culminating in a loss of Ted Kennedy's seat.

Obama played it too cool on this issue and he "cooled" himself right out of success.

As a lifelong Democrat I am ashamed of my party.  I'm a Democrat because I can't bring myself to support a party that advocates policies for the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyday folks.  When you fight the well-financed and hypocritical forces of the right, you can't play fair because they won't--they're on a mission from God.

I said it before Obama was elected and I repeat it:  You must fight assholes with assholes. If your aim is to protect the nation's working people and powerless, you must fight fire with fire.  Politics is not the place for playing Jesus and turning the other cheek.