Posts Tagged ‘American Politics’

News of the weird.

June 12, 2010

As it turns out, in South Carolina you don’t need to be a member of a political party in order to vote for that party’s candidate in the primaries.  Rednecks can vote for Democratic candidates, liberals can vote for Republican candidates, socialists and libertarians can stay home and cry themselves to sleep as usual.

It was inevitable that, with these rules, somebody was going to realize you can easily rig an election in SC by staging an unelectable candidate against a contender in the party you oppose.

Introducing Alvin Greene:  involuntarily discharged from military service (reason unknown), living with his parents, receiving unemployment benefits, currently fighting a felony obscenity charge (with the help of a public attorney),  and celebrating the defeat of highly electable legislator Vic Rawl to become the Democratic South Carolina Senate candidate for 2010!

Fun facts about lying:

Body Language of Lies:

• Physical expression will be limited and stiff, with few arm and hand movements. Hand, arm and leg movement are toward their own body the liar takes up less space.

• Hands touching their face, throat & mouth. Touching or scratching the nose or behind their ear.

Emotional Gestures & Contradiction

• Timing and duration of emotional gestures and emotions are off a normal pace. The display of emotion is delayed, stays longer it would naturally, then stops suddenly.

Verbal Context and Content

• A liar will use your words to make answer a question. When asked, “Did you eat the last cookie?” The liar answers, “No, I did not eat the last cookie.”

• A liar may leave out pronouns and speak in a monotonous tone.

• Words may be garbled and spoken softly, and syntax and grammar may be off. In other words, his sentences will likely be muddled rather than emphasized.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  America, you need more than two teams.

Anyway, prediction time:  Greene will either step down (in exchange for dismissing his felony case or avoiding other charges) or be charged with some form of fraud and be removed from the race by a court.   Rawl will eventually run but the Democrats will struggle to defend themselves against charges of elitism for pushing Greene out unless they can successfully connect the scandal to South Carolina Republicans (Jim DeMint himself for the win), hopefully in court but mainly in the news.  Inevitably, Republican incumbent Jim DeMint will win (because incumbents almost always win) and every normal voter in South Carolina will go home feeling just a little bit dirtier and more alienated.

Way to go, South Carolina politicos!

Obama-McCain Joint Statement of Policy: Boring as Hell.

September 27, 2008

I just watched the US presidential debate thinking there were going to be fireworks, but no.  Only sweeping agreement on just about everything, liberally sprinkled with puke-inducing sentimentality, incoherent xenophobia and delusions of grandeur.

And what did they talk about in the midst of the most catastrophic domestic crisis America has seen in my lifetime?  Nothing but the fiddly details of American foreign policy.  (Who should we bomb?  When should we bomb them?  How successful has our bombing been?  How should we meddle in the affairs of Iran?  What about Russia?  Which of us can come up with a better metaphor for how evil North Korea is?  Isn’t Israel swell? )

Disappointment of the night: Obama calling Venezuela a “rogue state”  (sarcastic clapping).   Nice job, “leftist” candidate.

My verdict:  a tie.  The points gained by McCain in the ad hominem category were perfectly matched by Obama’s glittering generalities.

Booooooo.  Hissssss.

Anyway, unless someone announces a debate between Nader and Paul, I’m done with American politics for a while.  I hear Canada is having an election too!

McCain Accepts His Intellectual Deficiency, Puts Off Debate

September 25, 2008

Finally!

I think the media is being too hard on McCain for chickening out of his upcoming debate.  Clearly, a man who – as Lehman Bros employees packed their personal belongings into archive boxes – recently proclaimed the “fundamentals of the economy are strong”, urgently needs to get caught up on a few decades worth of economic news. Let him have his emergency study leave, for Heaven’s sake. Better late than never.

While the hilarity of pitting McCain’s unique blend of temper tantrums, dementia and memorized talking points he doesn’t understand against Obama’s flamboyantly reasonable arguments appeals to me on some level, until now I was worried McCain actually thought he knew what he was doing, so I’m relieved at this tacit admission that he urgently needs to stop everything and get some lessons on the economy.

Even now I expect he is studiously following a Power Point presentation on the interplay of “supply and demand” in the free market he advocates. I remember (vaguely) how it works from my school days: The price of goods is determined by weighing how badly people want it against how much of it you have to sell. Several trillions of “dollars” worth of unrecoverable debt (for example) is a virtually unlimited supply of goods nobody in their right mind wants anything to do with. According to my 10th Grade Basic Business course, that means the price should be set at zero dollars or less. In fact, in a proper free market, people might actually be paid to take it away, as is the case with similarly valued products like human excrement.

There is bound to be more to the emergency training sessions than this, though. Like lengthy discussions regarding how Rebublicans can sell legislation that will compel American taxpayers (and their children and spouses) to fork over more than $2000 each to buy back their own excrement just because that’s what the shopkeeper says it’s worth.

Will the nebulous prospect of non-specific impending doom be enough to convince voters who are still considering voting Republican they should let the government force them to buy their poop back? Even though the problem is too complex to be summed up on a bumper sticker? And has nothing to do with queers, terrorists, guns or abortions?

Banker Bailout = Welfare for the Wealthy

September 23, 2008

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about the US plan to stick American taxpayers with the bill for bank bail-outs to the tune of $700 billion.  It’s hard to put that kind of money in perspective, so I’ve been trying to think of other things that have cost the US $700 billion.  As it turns out, it’s actually $100 billion more than the price tag for the entire Iraq war to date, according to zfacts.

Whether or not you agree with the morality of war, you can’t argue with the fact that the $600 billion America has spent on killing and torturing Muslims has actually bought something.  Soldiers’ wages have been paid, a variety of killing and maiming technologies have been developed, purchased and used up, a sprawling command centre covering 10 square kilometres of prime central Baghdad real estate has been built and fourteen permanent US military bases are under construction.  Meanwhile, in the private sector, billions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts have been handed to companies like Halliburton, who have subcontracted to subcontractors who subcontract to slave traders trafficking in undocumented foreigners who – when they are not being beheaded – are forced to do real work, resulting in measurable goods and services.  Even so, many argue that $600 billion is a shockingly exorbitant sum for a war that, according to Donald Rumsfeld, was supposed to cost about zero dollars, give or take.

Not so with the $700 billion banker bail-out.  Apart from occasional outbursts of confusion, The mainstream media seems pretty supportive, despite the fact this time the money will be used up practically overnight, will pay no-one and produce, purchase and build nothing.  To be charitable, I’ll assume the lack of popular criticism is due to the reverence-inducing incomprehensibility of global Keynesian economics, and not because newspaper editors are bootlicking sycophants to the preposterously rich.

The US government’s plan to borrow about 3/4ths of a trillion dollars to pay off about 3/4ths of a trillion dollars in bad debts is a great deal for bankers.  While the bank’s efforts to recover your bad debts are mainly limited to threatening letters and automated phone calls at supper time, the government’s bad debts are repaid by taxpayers who can have their assets seized by the state or be chucked in prison if they balk at the terms of repayment.  Paulson’s bail-out proposal would create a Shangri-La for financial sector profiteers:  It would socialise the risk and leave the profits private.

This is why this clause embedded in the banker bail-out bill should be troubling to the taxpayers who will be forced to foot the bill:

Sec. 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

How surprising!   A Republican political appointee ducking democratic oversight and accountability!  My guess is the bill will glide through with minimal interference from either side.  If there’s anything both political parties in the US seem to agree on, it’s the sacred right to unfettered, unregulated, undemocratic, unaccountable, irresponsible and unethical behavior on the part of the obscenely rich.

If the bill passes as is, Henry Paulson will have free rein to do whatever he sees fit with that $700 billion.  Following the footsteps of Gabriel Schwartz, he can leave it lying around in his hotel room to be lifted by a dodgy hooker.  Like Jack Abramoff, he can trade it for political favours.  He could send it in suitcases to Iraq to vanish like the $12 billion the Fed shipped over in 2003.  He can stick it in his pocket like Christopher Ward, ex-chairman of the Republican National Committee.

And there will be nothing you, your government, or your courts can do about it.

But don’t worry, because Americans still have recourse to prayer.  Republicans may not be accountable to democratic process or the rule of law, but even they are accountable to God – or at least they think they are.  So pray that, like the $600 billion your government has diverted from public services to pay for pointless foreign wars, the $700 billion over which Paulson will have unfettered control actually pays for something.  Pray this bail-out isn’t the final, desperate hand at the high-stakes poker table where mad-eyed gamblers start trying to recoup their losses by wagering the deed to houses they haven’t paid off.  I think Sarah Palin’s infamous prayer is appropriate:  “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan”.

(I suppose if you’re not religious, you could always riot.  Or write to your congressperson.)