Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn beck attaches the dogwhistle to a megaphone.

Bertram Wyatt-Brown: Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South

I am a native of the border South. My entire family is from Arkansas, most of whom descended from poor subsistence farmers from Tennessee who fought for the Confederate Army, and the rest descended from Cherokee refugees. Because of classism, Southerners from the deeper South distrust the "Southernness" of white Arkansas, but trust me--the South still lives in rural Arkansas.

Glenn Beck is throwing around a phrase: "Restoring Honor." This sounds like a good thing, but in the context of this anniversary of a certain speech, it is, in fact, a horrible thing.

In his awesome book referenced above, Bertram Wyatt-Brown teaches us that "honor" is actually a form of tight social control. And now when Southerners speak of honor, they refer to the memory of something lost: white privilege to dominate slaves and even freed blacks, clearly defined subservient roles for women, and a strict system of economic stratification, all of it enforced by a firm belief in the concept of "honor". The oral history of my family agrees with this notion 100%. Honor was so powerful that it caused my ancestors to fight for the South pretty much against their own interests. The notion that the Civil War was fought merely over slavery is too simplistic. The way Wyatt-Brown put it was that slavery loaded the gun, but "honor" pulled the trigger.

Thus, "honor" is what we now call a dogwhistle--it's a way for racists, sexists, and people who believe the wealthy have the right to dominate us all to quickly identify each other.

Thirty-seven years ago today, a preacher from Montgomery, Alabama stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave us a passionate vision of a world without this destructive concept. It was his dream. It is the dream of all oppressed people who were oppressed in the South, all people similarly oppressed worldwide, and all people who hate this kind of oppression.


When the raving lunatic Glenn Beck holds his stupid rally today, remember what he is restoring. "Honor." Not the honor that you and I think is good, but the honor that ruled the South. This is what Beck stands for, and it's what the Tea Party stands for.

THEY ARE KILLING MLK'S DREAM. And they must be stopped. Before they succeed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Five very simple yet politically impossible ways to lower unemployment NOW.

1. MASSIVE GOVERNMENT SPENDING. With treasury rates being at near all-time record lows, the government should be spending money like it was about to become illegal. Not mere tens of billions, but TRILLIONS. Spend until the 10-year Treasury note reaches 6%, which was considered tolerable during the Bush Administration.

Right now it's 2.5%, and the 30-year is even more ridiculous at 3.5%. If people were afraid of inflation, you wouldn't be seeing rates like this.

2. MAKE IT HARD TO HOARD CASH. Tax the fuck out of corporate profits unless a percentage is invested into R&D.

3. MAKE IT EASIER TO GET CREDIT. The government should engage in arbitrage of Treasuries to loosen up business credit slightly to companies with good (AA or better) ratings.

4. INCENTIVIZE HIRING BY MAKING IT SO CHEAP TO HIRE THAT IT'S DUMB NOT TO. Abolish FICA and fold it into regular income tax (but at first don't bother, just run a deficit, see point 1). Continue to pretend FICA exists to compute Social Security benefits eligibility. And, duh, single-payer health insurance. Both would cut the overhead of hiring someone nearly in half.

5. EXPAND THE SCOPE OF FLSA AND SHORTEN THE WORKWEEK TO 35 HOURS. Companies are working 1 person 80 hours a week instead of hiring 2 people working 40 hours a week each. This could be fixed by tightening up the requirements for considering someone salaried and also reducing the nonsalaried workweek to 35 hours.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wrong About Everything! ii., Cordoba House.

Any of the following can be learned in about 15 seconds with Google.

1. Cordoba House is not even the name of the project. The name of the property is Park51 and the project is officially called "The Community Center at Park51". "Cordoba House" is just one part of this development.

2. It is doubtful that Cordoba House is actually a mosque. The Arabic term for such a building is a masjid, and it is not at all clear that Cordoba House will impose the same restrictions on non-Muslims that a typical masjid would. Reading through the literature of the Cordoba Initiative especially, non-Muslims would be perfectly welcome to attend, say, salat (one of the five daily prayers) so long as they were not disruptive. Further, it does appear likely that non-Muslim services would be permitted.

"Ecumenical worship center" is likely more accurate than "mosque." Sure, it will primarily cater to Muslims. That's like so bad or something in the eyes of teabaggers, but whatever.

3. It doesn't represent radical Islam. It is being developed by two extremely ecumenical organizations, the American Society for Muslim Advancement (which sounds scary but is in fact moderate-to-liberal) and The Cordoba Initiative (which is an ecumenical body similiar to Christianity-centric interfaith councils).

4. It isn't at "Ground Zero." The nearest point of Park51 to the nearest point of the World Trade Center complex is 2 blocks. That does not seem like a very long way to most people, but in lower Manhattan there is a lot of stuff crammed in a two block area.

5. Inconsistent much? News Corporation's second-largest shareholder is Saudi Prince Al-Waleed. News Corporation is the parent company of Fox, including the Fox News Channel. Teabaggers: If Muslims are involved in a global conspiracy to fuck up America, why are you spending all your time watching a news channel partially owned by one--especially a member of the Saudi royal family whose own dedication to the moderate tenets of Islam is in doubt.

Wrong About Everything! i. Bond Vigilantes Are on the Run

First in the "Wrong About Everything!" series, showing that the GOP and associated Tea Party idiots haven't just become unmoored from reality, but they've lost sight of its shore.

Paul Krugman: Holy Bond Yield, Batman

So the long bond has plummeted to 2.57%. This is extraordinarily low, and it shows that bond traders have absolutely no fear of the impact of deficits. Quite the contrary, it shows they fear pervasive deflation.

To put this in perspective, when the Bush Administration ran the credit card hot to fight a pointless war in Iraq, the rate was typically around 4.5%. And in the late 90s, when the deficit was nonexistent due to higher taxes AND healthy economic growth (yeah, don't get me started), it ran nearly 6%.

At these rates, the government could refinance quite a bit of its existing debt and save enough in interest payments alone to pay for ten of the weak-ass stimulus bills that the GOP is going nuts about.

If 6% was nothing to worry about in the greatest period of economic expansion in recent memory, why are we freaking out about 2.5% now? We should be running the printing press nonstop until rates climb at least that high. And I submit that running it up to 10% to prevent a deflationary nightmare is probably not unreasonable.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Conservatism isn't just unmoored, it has lost site of reality's shore.

Small business owner Michael Fleischer in WSJ: "Why I'm not Hiring"

Edited to add: Apparently this is Ari Fleischer's brother. Thanks for disclosing that, WSJ. Oh, wait, you didn't.

This is why modern conservatism is stupefying.

On the one hand, we can't have single-payer, because that's like socialism or something. On the other, small businesses can't hire because it's too expensive to create jobs because of the excessive costs of providing health insurance.

Which is it?

One the one hand, conservatives argue only the top 1% are actually paying any taxes. On the other, a working class employee is paying a quarter of her putative salary in taxes.

Which is it?

On the one hand, it's bad to impose sharply progressive taxes on the wealthy. On the other, the government is turning small businesses into tax collectors so they can nickel and dime the working class to death.

Which is it?

Old-school conservatives knew they either had to pick one or the other or at least hide the fact that they were engaging in contradiction. But modern conservatives?

Eh, reality is for liberal schmucks. WHO NEEDS IT?