Repubicans Campaign Against … WOODSTOCK?

Stoller, in Open Left:: John McCain and the GOP: Trapped in the 1960s: “I wonder why Colbert is more popular than Republicans among youth voters.”
Here’s the Republican ad:

The idea seems to be that SOME Americans don’t deserve full citizenship because they don’t conform to the Republican ideal.
I was AT Woodstock, as a matter of fact.
Try to remember peace.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – New Home Sales Up – From Revision

New-home sales are report as up. But they are only up because last month’s sales were revised way down. Sales are down from the previously-reported figure.
New-home sales rise after big downward revisions,

Sales of new homes rebounded in September from summer sales levels that were much weaker than previously reported, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
Sales increased 4.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 from a revised 735,000 in August. Previously, August’s sales had been reported at a 795,000 pace.
September’s sales were slightly higher than the 758,000 pace expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
The three previous months were revised sharply lower, which means the housing market was much weaker in the middle of the year than previous believed, and no one believed it was strong.

Got that? The previous three months were actually much worse than reported.

California Fires – Where is the National Guard?

Gov. Bill Richardson asks, Daily Kos: Where is the National Guard?,

Today, we all extend our sympathies and prayers to those devastated by the wildfires in California. Millions of Americans are impacted by this natural disaster.
… It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq. Just when we need them most at home, more of our brave men and women, true public servants, are sent away to a war we cannot win.
[...] Today, as the fires rage, California has National Guard men, women, and critical equipment thousands of miles away in Iraq.
They need to come home. We need them here.
This has gone on long enough. When a national disaster hits, our states depend on the National Guard. Right now, President Bush is robbing Peter to pay Paul to continue his disastrous adventure in Iraq, and when tragedy hits us here at home, Americans are stuck with the bill. This cannot continue.
Bush won’t end this war. Congress must. And they must end it now.
… Join my call at www.getourtroopsout.com to push Congress to begin ending this war now. Not in January, not next spring, not next year – now.

Torture

From Al Jazeera: Al Jazeera English – News – Palestinian ‘Torture Widespread’,

Amnesty International has accused Hamas and Fatah of widespread human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention and other ill treatment against each other.
The rights watchdog on Wednesday released a report criticising the Palestinian governments in both Gaza and the West Bank for harming civilians in their clashes.
… In the report, the group said: “Arbitrary detentions and torture or other ill treatment of detainees by Hamas forces are now widespread and the initial improvements in the security situation which followed Hamas’ takeover [of Gaza] are fast being eroded.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Donatella Rovera, author of the report, said Hamas forces were now conducting a clampdown on Fatah supporters and anyone else critical of them in the Gaza Strip.
However, she said: “What we’re finding in the West Bank is pretty much a mirror image, even though it is much less reported.
… In the Gaza Strip, members of Hamas’ military wing act as police and have detained and tortured Fatah activists and critics. Hamas police routinely beat protesters to break up demonstrations, and have roughed up journalists covering the events, Amnesty said.
In the West Bank, security forces detained about 1,000 Hamas sympathisers and members, forcing many to sign statements condemning the group and disavowing their loyalties to it.
Although most were held briefly, many reported being ill-treated or tortured, the Amnesty report said.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Secure your retirement through real estate

I just saw an ad on TV encouraging people to “roll your IRA into California real estate”! They offer a free Saturday seminar.
See for yourself: Ace Capital Group – The Pioneers in Retirement through Real Estate
I wonder how successfully they’re reeling in the suckers…

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Home Sales Crater

Existing-home sales crater in September on credit squeeze,

Sales of existing homes and condos fell 8% in September to the lowest level in at least eight years, further evidence that the credit squeeze in mortgage markets is hurting home sales, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.
Sales of existing homes and condos fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million, the lowest since 1999, when the real estate group began tracking combined single-family and condo sales. The 8% drop was the largest monthly percentage decline in that period.
Nationwide, sales of existing homes were down 19.1% in September compared with September 2006.

IS Greed Good?

This piece originally appeared at the Speak Out California blog.
“Greed is good.” That line from the 1987 film Wall Street shocked the country with its blatant articulation of the 1980s-era Reagan philosophy of greed. Twenty years ago it was still a shock to civilized people to hear such a vulgar statement promoting self-interest over community. From the movie,

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

Greed used to be considered one of the “seven deadly sins.” Religions warn against its harmful effects on people and the greater community. Buddhism warns that greed is one of the three poisons. W.Jay Wood wrote in Christianity Today,

Greed is an inappropriate attitude toward things of value, built on the mistaken judgment that my well-being is tied to the sum of my possessions….Greed alienates us from God, from our neighbor, and from our true self.

But twenty years after being shocked by the promotion of a “Greed is good” philosophy much of the public instead buys into the consumer culture of greed and self-interest over public-interest. How has this change come about?
It had help. For example, John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC’s 20/20 and host of ABC’s John Stossel Specials reports for ABC radio, and ABCNews.com wrote a 2006 opinion piece titled Greed Is Good, which he posted at the far-right Townhall site (and many other far-right sites), Stossel writes,

If pursuing profit is greed, economist Walter Williams told me, then greed is good, because it drives us to do many good things. “Those areas where people are motivated the most by greed are the areas that we’re the most satisfied with: supermarkets, computers, FedEx.” By contrast, areas “where people say we’re motivated by ‘caring'” – public education, public housing etc. – “are the areas of disaster in our country…. How much would get done,” Williams wondered, “if it all depended on human love and kindness?”

This Stossel piece is derived from a 1999 20/20 episode of the same name, and for years was widely promoted and distributed as a “Greed” teaching kit for classrooms by the Palmer R. Chitester Fund, Inc.
The accompanying teachers guide (PDF document), included such “educational” tidbits as,

The video argues that “the more government tries to help, the worse things get” and uses the circumstances of the Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota as an example. Would the Lakota Sioux tribe be more prosperous without government support? What evidence would support or refute this argument?

and,

Some say that decreasing tax rates stimulates the economy by enabling workers to keep more of the money they earn. As a result, they have added ability to put money back into the economy by spending, saving and investing. Others accept high tax burdens believing that the cost of government is justified based on all of its programs and agencies. The video shows an example of the typical two earner household- Bill and Mary Thurston of St. Louis, who both work from January until May to pay their share of annual taxes. Do you think American taxpayers are getting their money’s worth? Which taxes do you think are/are not justifiable?

and,

Have students research reports of government waste and report the most egregious cases they can find. Have them detail specific examples of what could happen to a private company that operated in the same manner.

Anti-government propaganda like that is “educational?” Of course not. But there it is, with the credibility and celebrity of both ABC and Stossel backing up the pro-greed, ideological message.
A 2000 Salon.com article titled Prime-time propagandist, said,

“Stossel in the Classroom” is a series of study aids that includes Stossel’s popular ABC News special reports, accompanied by study guides written by two conservative economics instructors at George Mason University. The study guides are emblazoned with a big blue ABC News logo and Stossel’s face. ABC News and Stossel had almost nothing to do with the development of “Stossel in the Classroom,” but the product is deceptively packaged to look like an ABC product.

Who is the Palmer R. Chitester Fund that distributed these so-called study materials? Media Transparency describes The Palmer R. Chitester Fund as follows:

The Palmer R. Chitester Fund was created by the combative Bob Chitester, with startup money from the Bradley Foundation, to create right wing “popular” media, and lately has taken to selling educational materials based on the error-prone reporting of ABC TV’s arch-conservative correspondent John Stossel. It’s Idea Channel distributes “intellectual” videotapes on conversations between mostly members of the right wing movement on topics ranging from political science to economics to history.

The Fund is now part of Chitester Creative Associates. It’s President Bob Chitester proudly declares,

“Over 80% of U.S. secondary schools are now using at least one of our teaching units.”

The Fund receives grants from numerous sources to help it distribute similar teaching materials. (One source, for example, is the John Templeton Foundation. John Templeton, such a radical anti-government conservative that he renounced his US citizenship in 1968. Yet, in 2007, Templeton was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People (Time 100) under the category of “Power Givers.)
The Salon article mentions some of the other sources and participants,

One contributor to the “Stossel in the Classroom” series is the John M. Olin Foundation, an organization that popped up regularly in stories detailing Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” during the investigation and impeachment of President Clinton. For three decades, the Olin Foundation has funded many of the most influential institutions and individuals on the right. Board member and conservative columnist Walter Williams’ professorship at George Mason University is also underwritten by Olin.
Chitester Fund is a conservative foundation, sporting John Fund of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Williams among others on its boards. Text on the Chitester Fund Web site describes the organization’s mission: “We are particularly interested in illuminating the prerequisites of a free society — (with an) emphasis on projects that examine the role of government and explain the interrelationship of economic, personal and political freedom,” code for a closeted conservative group. [emphasis added]

Yes, some of this is old news – to some of us. But it is worth rehashing because it helps tell the story of disturbing changes in our culture. In the time since the statement “greed is good” shocked us our society certainly has become more greedy and self-interested. And in that time society has become much more of an on-your-own, in-it-for-yourself society as contrasted with a “we’re-all-in-this-together, take-care-of-each-other” society. Certainly the “free market”-oriented one-dollar-one-vote”value” has clearly come to dominate over the humanitarian and democratic value of one-person-one-vote.
The “economics education” effort described in one example here is just the tip of an iceberg – of a huge effort to push America’s public attitudes rightward. Some have estimated that spending on the conservative movement’s “message machine” is over $300 million dollars per year.
What can we learn from this? One thing we can learn is that it is possible to move America’s public attitudes and change our culture. The so-called conservatives were certainly able to accomplish this. We can even see and learn from how they did it. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t inexpensive, but they proved that a systematic effort to educate the public certainly can succeed.
I think it is time that progressive-minded Americans begin to put resources of our own into an effort to educate the public about the benefits to them of values like democracy (one-person-one-vote vs one-dollar-one-vote) and community (taking care of each other rather than everyone on their own and out for themselves). We must do this to restore the country that our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

It’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week!
If you are not brown it won’t affect you in any way. There will be no calls for a draft, no calls for taxes to pay for the war, no calls for anyone having to do anything at all except hate Muslims.
Well, maybe you’ll be asked to support a capital gains tax cut…
Go look at some of the silly victimization stuff