Friday, July 09, 2010

That strange sound you just heard was Lousiana Atty. Gen James D. "Buddy" Caldwell crapping his pants.

There's an old saying: A Conservative is a liberal who's just been mugged - and a Liberal is a conservative who's just been mugged by a cop. Guess where I'm leading with this?

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly "outraged" after security guards at a New Orleans-area hospital were accused of punching and tasing his epileptic nephew, a news report states.

The Gawker reports a titbit of personal gossip they sourced from Raw Story that might turn out to have vast implications over the next few years. Seems "security" at a New Orleans hospital saw fit to tase Justice Clarance Thomas' nephew because he was gettin' all above himself at folks who knew better what was best for him, him bein' a crazy black man with dreadlocks and all.

As for my headline - well, lessee. Gov. Bobby Jindal has certainly asked his Atty. General to look into this, in that certain special tone that comes from a Republican with ambitions to a Democrat he's about to stick with the shitty end of a situation.

Buddy best have his ducks in a row, and have all the information at his fingertips, brought to him by his staff of crackerjack, apolitical investigators, all of which have passed their constitutional purity tests.

Oh, but wait. This is Kingfish Country.  These are the people that brought you the fourth ward evacuation plan.

So needless to say, Buddy is all too well aware that what happened is very likely something along this line: a rent-a-cop employed by a hospital saw him some black, dread-locked street trash and proceeded to deal with 'em as they usually would. That is to say, in the "Ah See we have uh Failure to ComMUNicate" sort of way."

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly "outraged" after security guards at a New Orleans-area hospital were accused of punching and tasing his epileptic nephew, a news report states.
Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.
When the Supreme Court justice's nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.
Security guards "punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him," a statement from Thomas' family said.
Shortly afterwards, family members say, Thomas suffered a "massive epileptic seizure."
The station reported that an "outraged" Justice Thomas is headed to Louisiana to look into his nephew's condition.
Members of Derek Thomas' family are trying to have him transferred to another hospital, but as of Friday afternoon, he was reportedly still a patient at West Jefferson.
The following video was broadcast by WGNO in New Orleans, July 9, 2010, and uploaded to the Web by the Chicago Tribune.
Hm... I foresee the possibility of a sudden US Supreme court shift in favour of the individual when confronted by police and security.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Your Unfriendly Neighbourhood Conservative Movement

This should give you an insight into why the protection of free speech is so broad and sweeping in the US and Canada.

If speech like this were illegal, you wouldn't know what sort of ideas people like this supported - and you might not realize that such people were being courted and pandered to by less indiscreet conservatives. Hell, you might just think such people who say they are Christians and Conservatives actually knew what those words mean.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Buy a Democrat, I mean, Invest in Democracy!

The Washington Post says that the US financial sector is divesting itself of investments in Democratic futures.
A revolt among big donors on Wall Street is hurting fundraising for the Democrats' two congressional campaign committees, with contributions from the world's financial capital down 65 percent from two years ago.
Donations to Democratic Candidates have fallen precipitously, making this a watershed moment for those with a venture capital approach to democracy.

The opportunity now exists for Centre-left coalitions to step in and replace this money. I'm talking to everyone here. This is a potential game-changer. Large chunks of reliable cash are vital to maintaining a Democratic majority, and in order to maintain that cash flow... well, there's an old saying I remember from way back when...

"When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."

Cash always comes with strings. Now, the banking industry mistook them for cables of infinite strength, tried to yank too hard and are now trying to buy a new set of loyal voting machines. 

If you don't pay attention, they will get it during this midterm election. The problem for the REST of the human race is what else they get with it - a narrow-minded, social-conservative, moderate to outright screaming racist US legislature absolutely committed to addressing every conceivable problem in the most expensive and most violent way possible. 

A legislature dedicated to a foreign policy centred around "American Exceptionalism," - which seems to be increasingly devolving into "Manifest Destiny."  Such folks will tell you with a straight face that the US's role in the world is to "Make the world safe for Democracy." Ghu knows, they aren't shy about sending money, guns and bombs to alter the natural course of human events in favour of keeping the price of oil, gas and fruit at "acceptable" levels. 

So how about it? What about "Making Democracy Safe for the Rest of the World?"  

When elected officials seriously and publicly toy with the idea of dealing with the US immigration crisis with land mines - they are seriously off their fucking nut and that's a climate in which both Prudent and Conservative to cut off their Viagra Prescriptions and send them all to an ignominious retirement in Arizona. For there is nothing conservative, fiscal or social, about "solutions" that will address threatening economic and social collapse by blowing up what civilization remains.  That is the situation currently in Arizona, and along the Southern US border. 

Now, it's all very well to jump up and down and shriek about such things - and that seems to be the entire contribution to the discussion from many on the so-called left. For some reason, there's a surplus of political and economic theorists, but when it comes down to actual practical every day ways of creating solutions that are economically, politically and socially viable - that takes a more Conservative mindset. Or it could be that after 40 years without any much power, they have no real idea what to do with it.

The trick with Conservatives is to get them to honestly acknowledge that that gawd-awful stinky orange recliner has got to freakin' go. Conservatives get attached to ideas, to the extent that is beyond irrational. Perhaps one of those ideas is how campaigns are financed. 

The question, of course, is how to do this legally. I suggest some form of crowd-sourcing, possibly with a stock brokerage analogue, feeding into a tightly regulated and properly constituted PAC. Rather than donating to a particular candidate, you buy shares in a particular issue, and money is donated to those in office who are committed to those issues in proportion to their performance. Yes, much like the National Rifle Association does - but on far more issues, in a far more dynamic way - and without regard to any particular political alignment. 

Say there's a candidate that will pledge to support this or that interest. Let us say they have a fondness for a particular nation, or are familiar with the concerns of a particular constituency, industry or group. Let's say they wish to advocate for hemp based and other renewable fuel feed-stocks. People in the industry, potential consumers, national security voters and hemp legalization activists could all agree that this was a general issue to support, even if they differed on sub-categories. 

Funds would be dispersed and volunteer activism directed in accordance to performance on issues, rather than party ideology. 

For my Conservative minded readers, relax. It's a "supply side" solution. 

It's said that the only honest politician is one who stays bought. Let me take that idea one step further. Is it any more absurd to have a senator for the financial services industry than a "Republican?" Is it any more corrupt for the Congressman from Boeing/Microsoft to sit in assembly than a vaguely Democratic candidate who relies absolutely on support from Boeing/Microsoft workers? I don't see how - and it appears the Supreme Court concurs. Indeed, there's nothing dishonest about it, so long as it's clear that's what's done and there's a mechanism for reporting and tracking. Nor should we limit this to citizens.

It's not at all unreasonable for non-citizens and foreign powers to attempt to peacefully influence the course of US economic and foreign policy, considering what the price of failure can be. And the broader the base of influence, the better - for large corporations and various governments may or may not share the interests of the people they theoretically represent. One could hardly suggest with a straight face that British Petroleum is a particularly good representative of the interests of the employees of BP, much less the consumers of BP products. 

It provokes as many covert smiles as suggesting that the Likud properly represents the interests of Israelis of Palestinian decent on the world stage. 

But to be entirely fair - I see no reason why it should be limited to investing in US political outcomes. We have our own scandal up here, regarding some politicians being "under the influence" of "foreign interests." 

Well, I'm appalled, of course! 

But then I think of it a little more deeply and wonder if I'm better served by an MLA quietly taking money from the timber industry, or influenced by a think-tank that's closely linked with US NeoConservatives than one who's being supported by, oh, let's say, our largest Pacific Rim trading partner, say in a riding that's heavily dependant upon international trade. 

On balance, I think I'd be best served by knowing who's buying, who's selling - and being able to buy futures in MY future. And I think that's a healthy investment in an increasingly global market of ideas.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Dude, I'll take your word for it...

Tea Party Patriots sell racist shirts at Independence Day celebration

The folks in front of the Fayette County Courthouse in Lexington, Kentucky took pimping patriotism a disturbing step farther. Not only were they promoting themselves as defenders of the Constitution, they openly fueled the right-wing paranoia that inches ever closer to violence.
I apologize for the quality of the video. I held the camera in open view at chest level in order to look the people I was speaking to in the eye. The conversations were revealing, some of the video a bit shaky.

Video by Kilgore Trout, blogging at LGF. I applaud this sort of intelligence gathering, but clearly, there was none to be found.  

That's MY kind of Conservative

One thing I've learned in life - and yes, it is a truism, but that's because it's true - is that it's a lot easier to avoid making a mess than it is to clean up a mess when it happens. That a penny saved is a penny earned. That an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Neil Wollman writes in Truthout:

In education, preventing dropouts could save in various ways. The General Accounting Office has identified a number of specific costs of dropping out of school: fewer employment opportunities for dropouts, with resulting loss of tax revenue for government; greater tendency to engage in high-risk behaviors resulting in pregnancy, crime, and drug use with their attendant social costs; and a greater tendency to draw on social programs throughout one's lifetime. (See "School Dropouts: The Extent and Nature of the Problem" cited here.) Analyses by the Center for Cost-Benefit Studies of Education at Columbia University demonstrate that cutting dropout rates in half increases new federal tax revenues annually by 45 billion dollars. In an extensive review of the research, sponsored by Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, E. Gregory Woods identifiedeffective (and ineffective) practices for reducing dropout rates. Job training can produce similar savings: a Department of Labor study found a return of one dollar and 40 cents for every dollar spent on programssuch as Job Corps and the Job Training Partnership Act. Finally, research indicates that rehabilitation of prisoners can prevent recidivism, and that even minimal reduction of recidivism results in significant savings. See "Rehabilitation - Does Correctional Rehabilitation Work?," "Reducing Juvenile Justice"  and "Florida - Fiscal Impact Of Prisoner Education, Vocation, & Rehabilitation."
Funds can also be saved by providing safety net services for needy populations - such as food, housing, and counseling - before costlier actions are required. For example, recent testimony by the United Tenants of Albany cited extensive research showing that providing housing for the homeless, coupled with on-site services, results in cost savings by "lowering the use of expensive emergency services like shelters, hospitals, prisons and psychiatric centers" that typically serve this population.
Now this is what I consider true progressive conservatism. To achieve the greatest bang for the buck, and to target those dollars in the least intrusive ways. Preventative government has another great benefit - it relies upon human nature, rather than declaring war upon it.

It therefore requires far less personal, pesky intervention in the lives of citizens. It requires far less actual Government.

Now, if you truly believe in smaller, less intrusive government, one that focuses on broadly good results - as do I - rather than some form of idealistic social goal, the facts above will be persuasive.  But if you are, you know that sort of Conservative is rather unwelcome in a world where people speak of Ronald Regan as the patron saint of Conservatism.

Let me be blunt. Social Conservatism is not Conservative. It is the radical presumption that some people, by virtue of their public behaviours, associations, professed religion and apparent virtue, are better people, and that you can create more better people by making these assorted public behaviours mandatory, or at least by heavily taxing various things that the current crop of social engineers find icky.

This is a faith-based presumption that has absolutely no base in fact. It's unethical on it's face, as well, for it presumes that "society" is something that should be defined by the "right" sort of people, and that they have the right to interfere in the lives of people they feel to be doing the wrong thing. It would be odious even if it did work. But how's that "War on Drugs" working out for you?


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