Thursday, April 2

Time for new Progressive Meme: Social-Capitalism

Ok, we've been hearing it since the election and the first appearance of Sammy-Joe the (Un)Plumber: What Obama (and by extension his supporters) want to "Change" about America is to make it "Socialist".

The ridiculousness of this claim is so extreme that hardly anyway has responded to it anything besides snorting up their sleeve, but it's well past time we Progressives and Liberals rather started to define ourselves rather than allow ourselves and what we desire to be defined by people who don't know or care what we really stand for.

To that end I suggest we consider a completely new meme to describe that strategy we support for tackling America's problems. No it's not communism, or socialism, both of these are dusty 20th Century terms best applied to the Soviets or Red Chinese of by-gone years.

No, I think what we want is a Fair Market with Social-Capitalism.

The idea came to me based on a couple of interesting Tweet exchanges. The first with California Rep. Maxine Waters.

@maxinewaters: Barney nails it. This is exactly what I've been saying in all my tweets: $$ doesn't belong in private hands. Capital=evil.

Vyan1: I wouldn't say "Capital=Evil" - more like Unlimited Greed = Evil Capitol is a tool, it's a matter of what you do with it!

maxinewaters: The Capitol is not a tool! Or did u mean capital? No, capital=private ownership=evil. Only govt. can be trusted w/ $$ all else unfair

Vyan1: i meant money=tool for doing things. Unlimited Greed is the problem. (am constituent btw) Monopolies are a problem too!

maxinewaters A DM: "Only 1 source of jobs: companies/people who want to make $!" No, that's the problem w/ USA. We SHOULD work for justice, not $$. #TCOT

@maxinewaters: We need Michael Moore to do documentary how Bush set up the financial system via $GS & Paulson to fail to make Dems & #Obama look bad. #TCOT

Vyan1: Lots of footage of Grover Norquist on that MM film. This is the final result of the 30 year "Starving the Beast" strategy

Vyan1: the plan was loot the treasury and drive the deficit so high all entitlment programs would *HAVE* to be cut to the bone.

maxinewaters: That's why we're cutting deficit

I still disagree with Rep Waters premise that "Private Ownership=Evil" or that only the government can be trust with our money - I frankly don't trust either one of them but in our country we still need both private enterprise and government - the trick is making sure both of them keep each other in check.

However the comment that caught my eye is this one :"We SHOULD work for Justice, not $$"

Why can't we do both? Why shouldn't we do both?

If you disconnect the goal of becoming rich, what we so are often told is "The American Dream", from engaging fairly with your common man and from trying to install some for of social justie in the world - you wind up with what we've seen over the past 8 years. Unbridled Enron-inomics.

Time and time again, bankers and business have used the leverage that money gives them to cut corners, overhype and inflate prices, and use legalistic fine-print to squeeze more and more dollars out of their customers, and out of their employees to place in thier stock value.

It's become one big game of "Whose got the biggest Stock Gain this Quarter!?"

That's what drove Enron, Aldephia, Global Crossing and now Bear-Sterns, Lehmann Brothers and AIG over a cliff.

Raw, unrestricted, unlimited, Naked Greed.

As a result the government has been forced to step into the picture - which leads me to my next Tweet exchange, this time with MSNBC's Contessa Brewer

contessabrewer Why can't gov't budget be more like a wise family's. Live within your means, save for the unexpected, use debt only 4 true investments.

Vyan1 @contessabrewer Most American Families live off their credit cards and their home equity - just like the government.

contessabrewer @Vyan1 Well, that's why I said WISE families.

Vyan1 @contessabrewer Hard to be that "Wise" when wages have remained stagnant (for those that still have wages) for 10 years while prices rise.

Rather than "Supply-Side" economics, maybe it's time we began to consider the "Demand-Side" of things. Businesses can thrive when consumers have buying power - the problem has been in the ever more dramatic drive to cram down prices, we've also crammed down wages and salaries. Price inflation has still continued (Remember $4 per gallon gas!), but wage inflation hasn't. What you could buy for a dollar last year, only gets you 80 cents this year - so how did people fill that gap?

With their credit cards.

Or by borrowing against their mortgage.

Here's a little audio on this from Thom Hartmann on the Mortgage Crisis.

Hartmann: (From the Wall Street Journal) As middle-class incomes are being wiped-out, manufacturing incomes are being wiped-out, people can't pay their mortgages. And the Financial Times points out that Banks are starting to lose money are the result of this.

What we've seen over the last 26 years is a dismantling of the core of the United States, and it's been done for a specific purpose. To dis-empower the Middle class.

When the credit golden goose ran out of eggs we landed right where we are now. It wasn't simply a case of the Wall Street incompetence and Main Street over-reach. Yet again, It was both!

The failure Bush years has opened up a window. It's becoming more and more common to hear "Too Big to Fail - is Too Big to EXIST!" from not just people on the fringe, but mainstream Economists and even Members of Congress. (Such as Senator Bernie Sanders, the only "Socialist" in Congress)

Sanders: We need to have the United States Government play a role in protecting the people against the greed of multi-national corporations. If a company is too big to fail, it's too big to exist!

We are not headed into a system where government owns and operates our entire economy. We are not headed into Communism, Socialism or Marxism - however we certainly can not maintain a system where corporations run completely Amok! If consumers and employees are passenger cars on our economic highways, attempting to navigate on a road filled with Super-Giant Corporate Semi-Trailers, we need to have some Rules of the Road to prevent the smaller cars from getting run into a ditch by the trucks. We need to have some guidelines, to keep traffic flowing, and some speed limits to prevent those massive trucks from Jack-knifing and creating a Million Car Pileup.


Therefore, maybe we do need to embrace a new form a capitalism. One that doesn't simply serve the selfish self-interest of investors and share-holders but also includes the idea of being a good neighbor and a responsible co-habitant in our society.

Maybe we need to move from the Dog-eat-Dog Demolition Derby model of capitalism to a cooperative one - to Social-Capitalism.

Maybe we should work and toil not just from financial reward, but also - for Social and Economic Justice.

Certainly there are time when "Justice" doesn't really pay well. And those may be the time where, for the sake of justice and the sake of our national well-being, Government has to step it with subsidies or not-for-profit options.

Maybe we need to realize that the "Free Market" alone, CAN NOT solve everyones problem in that what we really should strive for is a "FAIR Market" that allows everyone a chance to compete, even the little guys, without being crushed into powder by well entrenched interests.

Maybe it's time we starting defining ourselves, rather than letting other hurl their epithets our way.

Maybe that time is Now.

What say you?

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Monday, March 30

The Impending Perfect Wingnut Hate Storm

Crossposted from Dkos

We've all seen the warning signs and heard the angry cries from Wingnuttia - but it's time to stop laughing and recognize a very real threat that faces this nation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center headed by Morris Dees is the countries premier anti-hate resource, and in it's current yearly "Intelligence Report" on the activities of various domestic Hate Groups, there are more than a few familiar faces.

This week a report detailing at least 60 Post-9/11 plots of violence by Militant Right-Wing Militia and Birther groups was spiked in Missouri under the argument that sharing the information with Officers in the field would have been Political Profiling!

In Knoxville Tennessee it was shown that a mass-murderer, James Adkinson, - inspired directly by writings of Fox News Contributor Bernard Goldberg, as well as the rantings of Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter - perpetrated a deliberate Hate-Crime (i.e. Terrorism) against Liberals.

"Know this if nothing else: This was a hate crime. I hate the damn left-wing liberals. There is a vast left-wing conspiracy in this country & these liberals are working together to attack every decent & honorable institution in the nation, trying to turn this country into a communist state. Shame on them....

Yet, the mainstream media ignores the report of an attempted Right-Wing Dirty Bomber in Maine.

“Amber (Cummings) indicated James was very upset with Barack Obama being elected President,” reported the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center (PDF link). “She indicated James had been in contact with ‘white supremacist group(s).’ Amber also indicated James mixed chemicals in the kitchen sink at their residence and had mentioned ‘dirty bombs.’”

“Also found was literature on how to build ‘dirty bombs’ and information about cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60, radioactive materials,” said theBangor Daily. “The FBI report also stated there was evidence linking James Cummings to white supremacist groups. This would seem to confirm observations by local tradesmen who worked at the Cummings home that he was an ardent admirer of Adolf Hitler and had a collection of Nazi memorabilia around the house, including a prominently displayed flag with swastika. Cummings claimed to have pieces of Hitler’s personal silverware and place settings, painter Mike Robbins said a few days after the shooting.”

Before he was inaugurated there were at least two distinct supramacists plots to assassinate Obama.

It's time we stopped sweeping this under the rug.

Since the year 2000 the number of U.S. hate groups has risen 54% to a current estimate of 926 active groups in 2008.

As in recent years, hate groups were animated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise in hate groups has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics.

Two new factors were introduced to the volatile hate movement in 2008: the faltering economy and the Obama campaign.

"Barack Obama's election has inflamed racist extremists who see it as another sign that their country is under siege by non-whites," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right. "The idea of a black man in the White House, combined with the deepening economic crisis and continuing high levels of Latino immigration, has given white supremacists a real platform on which to recruit."

Moving far behind the usual skin-head, supremacist and neo-nazi's we would expect to spout this kind of rhetoric we're now hearing plenty of panicked and frightened fear-mongering from many many "mainstream" sources.

Even members of Congress.

Such as Michele (I'm Not a Kook) Bachmann on staging an Orderly Revolution" against Obama.

Bachmann: At this point the American people - it's like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And by that, what I mean, an orderly revolution -- where the people of this country wake up get up and make a decision that this is not going to happen on their watch. It won't be our children and grandchildren that are in debt. It is we who are in debt, we who will be bankrupting this country, inside of ten years, if we don't get a grip. And we can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer.

If Tim Geithner is successful under President Obama, and they move us to an international currency. Then we have no hope of standing on our own as a sovereign nation with our own economic system. It's over. We can't do that.

Bachmann: Right now I'm a member of Congress. And I believe that my job here is to be a foreign correspondent, reporting from enemy lines. And people need to understand, this isn't a game. this isn't just a political talk show that's happening right now. This is our very freedom, and we have 230 years, a continuous link of freedom that every generation has ceded to the next generation. This may be the time when that link breaks. And I'm going to do everything I can, I know you are, to make sure that we keep that link secure. We cannot allow that link to break, because as Reagan said, America is the last great hope of mankind.

We've been hearing this kind of "marxist, socialist, new world currency, we're losing america to the immigrants (and the Gays)" stuff for some time - and we've typically laughed it off - but it's time we stopped laughing.

The guys at Southern Poverty Law - aren't.

The histrionics over the supposed 5 million bad mortgages is a prime example. On Oct. 9, the conservative online news site Drudge Report included a link to a story on the website of conservative talk radio KFYI-AM in Phoenix that said HUD had reported that 5 million illegal immigrants held bad mortgages. That same day, the Phoenix Business Journal posted an article stating that a HUD spokesman said there was "no basis" for the 5 million figure, and that the agency had no data reflecting the number of bad mortgages held by illegal immigrants.

But a few hours later on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" — a primary venue for the airing of false allegations about undocumented immigrants — San Diego radio show host Roger Hedgecock cited the bogus HUD statistic as a hard fact. By the following day, others were engaging in the journalistic equivalent of fabricating a "big fish" tale, embellishing the falsehood with their own extravagant claims. Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio program that HUD was "admitting 5 million illegal aliens were given mortgages ... with fake Social Security numbers and so forth to go out and purchase homes that they didn't have to pay back." Over at Clear Channel's "The War Room with Quinn & Rose," Jim Quinn claimed that while there were some excesses on Wall Street, the bigger problem was the issuance of "5 million mortgages to illegal aliens who didn't even have to come up with an ID."

So the Bush Bailout isn't the result of mismanagement, greed and deregulation - it's all because of those damn dirty illegals, not to mention the rest of those shiftless minorities - and ACORN too!

As the mortgage crisis worsened in 2008, more diatribes followed regarding what syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin called "the massive illegal alien mortgage racket." In September, she wrote that it was "no coincidence" that the areas hardest hit by the wave of foreclosures "also happen to be some of the nation's largest illegal alien sanctuaries." Rick Oltman, a former top official of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) now with the anti-immigrant Californians for Population Stabilization, wrote on that group's website that foreclosures are highest in border states and cities "swollen with illegal aliens." Still, he added charitably, "illegal immigration didn't cause this, it just made it worse.

Conservative commentators also didn't let facts stop them from continually repeating the fallacy that the Community Reinvestment Act had forced lenders to make high-risk mortgage loans to illegal immigrants and other minorities.

The CRA regulations were tightened in 1995 when Bill Clinton was president. Critics contend that left-wing activists — especially at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which became embroiled in controversy during the presidential campaign when it was investigated for voter registration fraud — began to use data showing how CRA banks performed to petition regulators to deny lenders' plans to expand or merge with other institutions. This, they say, coerced banks into making risky, poorly documented loans — including to illegal immigrants — resulting in large numbers of defaults, which in turn caused the mortgage morass.

Jinned up by all of this misplaced fear and outrage, a brand new Xenophobic Militia Movement as been steadily growing. Unlike the lone-wolf acts of people like Adkinson or Cummings, what we truly need to worry about is what Bachmann and to some extend Glenn Beck with his "We Surround Them" bruhaha are clearly attempting to foment. A committed, directed, networked and focused Resistance Movement of batshit-wingnuts who see any and all Liberals (or their Gay, Black, Brown and poor allies) as their enemy and the enemies of America.

People who seriously believe - like Alan Keyes - that America has been hijacked by an illegitimate usurper.

What is likely to happen if and when radical anti-abortionists like Keyes (or Eric Rudolph the Olympic Park Bomber), join their ideology with that of the Birthers, the Sovereigns who are trying to make their own-currency and secede (Palin-style) from America, the anti-immigrant Minute-Men who've begun to be infiltrated by Nativist Extremist, with the 2nd Amendment-ers, and perhaps the most deluded of all - the End-Timers?

How long before all this "Revolution" talk goes from inspiring single persons, to organized groups?

How long before someone taps into all this pent up fear and anger and sends it careening in the wrong deadly direction?

HBO: Right America Feeling Wronged!

All these Palinite-Americans have not gone away - they're still with us and now they've been rendered powerless in Congress - making them more dangerous than they've ever been.

Here are IMO four potential catalyst events which could spark this kind of coalescence -

1) The Firing of BlackWater/Xe by the State Dept in Iraq, putting thousands of heavily trained and right-out of the war/post-stress impacted merceneries OUT Of A JOB.

Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News. The contract provides yearly options for cancellations.

After working for noted Right-winger (and End-Times/Christian Supamacist) Erik Prince, these guys are ripe for Militia Recruitment. Just multiply Tim McVeigh by 1,000 and add seething hatred. What do you do when you're a former paid killer, go back to parking cars?

2) Re-instatment of the Assault Weapons Ban which originally fostered the Gingrich Revolt on '94.

3) Allowing for Government to "Take-Over" and fix Pseudo-Banks like AIG - something Newt Gingrich has already called something akin to a "Dictatorship".

And the coup de grace?

4) Repealing "Don't Ask - Don't Tell". (Which at the moment seem to be on the back-burner)

These are the wingnuts worst nightmares, and rest assured the selfish self-aggrandizing power-whores among them (Beck, Gingrich, O'Reilly, Malkin, Ingraham, Bachmann, Cantor, Boehner, Cornyn and McConnell) will NOT stop their fear and hate-mongering once the blood start flowing.

More than likely - they'll AMP IT UP.

I'm certain that innocent Americans will suffer for it, we just have to make sure those who incite political violence, as well as those who perpetrate it aren't allowed to get away with it.