Friday, June 15, 2012


In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, casino billionaire and former (sole) Gingrich donor Sheldon Adelson declared that his financial support for Romney's SuperPAC this election cycle will be "limitless." Adelson has already sunk nearly $36 million into the presidential race so far, and according to him, he's willing to spend at least three times as much, or potentially much more - he's the14th richest man in the world, worth almost $25 billion, so he could potentially spend an absurd amount of money. Just imagine a single person spending $1 billion (19% of the the total spent in 2008) or more could do to influence the presidential election; hell, with that kind of money, you could change the outcome of every election this fall.

Whether or not the five conservatives on the Supreme Court intended to--is there really any doubt at this point?--they've enabled billionaires like Adelson (and the Koch Brothers) to exert such outsized influence that the opinions and actions of regular people seem pointless. Corporations and the extremely wealthy could literally control the airwaves this summer and fall if they wanted to; there's nothing at all standing in their way aside from the depth of their (essentially bottomless) pockets. President Obama's unprecedented, election-defining $500 million in online donations in 2008 is beginning to look like chump change.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Walker did not win because of money. Period.

There is a plethora of blog posts from people on the left trying to explain why Tom Barrett lost to Scott Walker in the WI recall election on Tuesday. So far, the consensus seems to be that Barrett simply couldn't overcome Walker's huge cash advantage. The cash imbalance did make the race much harder for Barrett, and it's one of the main reasons why Walker prevailed. It's true that we can't compete as well when we're being outspent by huge 7:1 ratios. But blaming this loss solely or mostly on spending is too easy, and it does nothing to address the real problems contributing to the GOP's continued nationwide appeal.

As people firmly on the left side of the spectrum, we know that the GOP has gone off the rails. Everyone knows that the GOP has gotten quite radical of late. We're up against a Republican party that wants to radically re-shape American society in a way that most people would find appalling. They should be alienating themselves, but this and the 2010 election show that that's simply not happening. Why is that?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Even the WSJ admits it now: Austerity has harmed the US economy

Something sinister must be happening over at Murdoch's Wall Street Journal (could it have to do with the ongoing criminal investigation in the UK?). Somehow they've allowed the truth of the past year's government spending cuts to be written in one of their official WSJ economic analysis blogs. Without layoffs in local governments (eg, teachers, firemen, police officers, and other vital public services), the unemployment rate would be a full percentage point lower than it is today, at 7.1%.

There's also a handy chart:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Required Reading on Gun Control

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes a fantastic, emotional essay exploring how we've gotten to where we are in the gun control debate - the left has lost, essentially. But beyond simply exploring the roots of the problem (hint: it rhymes with schoovement flonservatism), she deftly explains why the NRA is wrong, and offers a refreshingly eloquent moral argument for expanding gun control laws.

Lepore begins with the stark imagery of a a recent school shooting in Ohio, in which a boy named T.J. Lane shot several of his fellow students:
Just after seven-thirty on the morning of February 27th, a seventeen-year-old boy named T. J. Lane walked into the cafeteria at Chardon High School, about thirty miles outside Cleveland. It was a Monday, and the cafeteria was filled with kids, some eating breakfast, some waiting for buses to drive them to programs at other schools, some packing up for gym class. Lane sat down at an empty table, reached into a bag, and pulled out a .22-calibre pistol. He stood up, raised the gun, and fired. He said not a word.

You'll notice that this shooting rampage took place the day after Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman. Lepore also closes the article with a detailed, heartwrenching depiction of yet another shooting spree, at Oikos University in Oakland on April 2nd:
[A] forty-three-year-old man named One Goh walked into Oikos University, a small Christian college. He was carrying a .45-calibre semiautomatic pistol and four magazines of ammunition. He grabbed Katleen Ping, a receptionist, and dragged her into a classroom. Nearby, Lucas Garcia, a thirty-three-year-old E.S.L. teacher, heard a voice call out, “Somebody’s got a gun!” He helped his students escape through a back door. Dechen Yangdon, twenty-seven, turned off the lights in her classroom and locked the door. She could hear Ping screaming, “Help, help, help!” “We were locked inside,” Yangdon said later. “We couldn’t help her.”

Goh ordered the students to line up against the wall. He said, “I’m going to kill you all.”

They had come from all over the world. Ping, twenty-four, was born in the Philippines. She was working at the school to support her parents, her brother, two younger sisters, and her four-year-old son, Kayzzer. Her husband was hoping to move to the United States. Tshering Rinzing Bhutia, thirty-eight, was born in Gyalshing, India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. He took classes during the day; at night, he worked as a janitor at San Francisco International Airport. Lydia Sim, twenty-one, was born in San Francisco, to Korean parents; she wanted to become a pediatrician. Sonam Choedon, thirty-three, belonged to a family living in exile from Tibet. A Buddhist, she came to the United States from Dharamsala, India. She was studying to become a nurse. Grace Eunhea Kim, twenty-three, was putting herself through school by working as a waitress. Judith Seymour was fifty-three. Her parents had moved back to their native Guyana; her two children were grown. She was about to graduate. Doris Chibuko, forty, was born in Enugu, in eastern Nigeria, where she practiced law. She immigrated in 2002. Her husband, Efanye, works as a technician for A.T. & T. They had three children, ages eight, five, and three. She was two months short of completing a degree in nursing.

Ping, Bhutia, Sim, Choedon, Kim, Seymour, and Chibuko: Goh shot and killed them all. Then he went from one classroom to another, shooting, before stealing a car and driving away.

This is what happens when our gun control laws fail, these are the stakes of this debate: three high school kids dead and two severely wounded in Ohio, seven ESL students trying to establish themselves in a new country murdered in cold blood, and one boy unaccountably murdered in Florida for no reason other than looking suspicious. Something has gone horribly wrong here, and it's our job, as citizens of this country, to figure out how to fix it.