Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where Have I Heard That Word Before?

"I never intended to join a cult. Like most people, I assumed that cults involved Kool-Aid and Nikes and dangerous madmen who would teach you that suicide was the most direct path to God. Cults were things that happened far away, to other people. People who were nothing like me.

I suppose none of us likes to think of ourselves as cult material. But there is in fact a type, a kind of person who is more susceptible to the influences of groups who may not always be what they first appear. This was the kind of person I suddenly became, just before my thirtieth birthday.

You see, one of the things that makes you susceptible to these kinds of groups is change.”

-- Lena Phoenix, author and wife of Steve Sashen - a guy I'm hearing bad things about - from her book, The Heart of a Cult


  1. a) Look at the history of election campaigns and see how many times a party in opposition will use catchphrases or slogans stating that it's time for a change. There's nothing mysterious about that, especially when the incumbent is unpopular.
    b) The 'changes' are very specific and entirely lacking in woo. They all refer to the discrepancy between what has been dished out to the rich and what has been taken from the poor and working middle class. This is entirely on message and exactly what you would - and should - expect from the Democrats.
    In fact you can follow the speeches of Obama, Biden, Clinton and McCain and they all do the same thing: in written form they are paragraphs that finish with the mention of change on a political front. In McCain's case, of course, it's "that's not change we can get behind". Each candidate focuses on those elements that he/she as negative or lacking in the opposing side.

    excerpt from Joe Biden's speech:
    "John McCain is my friend. We've known each other for three decades. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me.

    But I profoundly disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country. For example,

    John thinks that during the Bush years "we've made great progress economically." I think it's been abysmal.

    And in the Senate, John sided with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Give me a break. When John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no relief for 100 million American families, that's not change; that's more of the same.

    Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history--a half trillion dollars in the last five years--he wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. But he voted time and again against incentives for renewable energy: solar, wind, biofuels. That's not change; that's more of the same.

    Millions of jobs have left our shores, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That's not change; that's more of the same.

    He voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage. For people who are struggling just to get to the next day, that's not change; that's more of the same.

    And when he says he will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq when Iraq is sitting on a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that's not change; that's more of the same.

    The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier; they require a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change--the change everybody knows we need."

    It's hard to fault that but good on you for trying.


    "...the United States economy has grown faster, on average, under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.

    The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

    That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut...

    Over the entire 60-year period, income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats, thus accounting for the widening income gaps over all...

    To get a more granular look, Professor Bartels studied the postwar history of income gains at five different places in the income distribution.

    The 20th percentile is the income level at which 20 percent of all families have less income and 80 percent have more. It is thus a plausible dividing line between the poor and the nonpoor. Similarly, the 40th percentile is the income level at which 40 percent of the families are poorer and 60 percent are richer. And similarly for the 60th, 80th, and 95th percentiles. The 95th percentile is the best dividing line between the rich and the nonrich that the data permitted Professor Bartels to study.(That dividing line, by the way, is well below the $5 million threshold John McCain has jokingly used for defining the rich. It’s closer to $180,000.)

    ...when Democrats were in the White House, lower-income families experienced slightly faster income growth than higher-income families — which means that incomes were equalizing. In stark contrast, it also shows much faster income growth for the better-off when Republicans were in the White House — thus widening the gap in income.

    The table also shows that families at the 95th percentile fared almost as well under Republican presidents as under Democrats (1.90 percent growth per year, versus 2.12 percent), giving them little stake, economically, in election outcomes. But the stakes were enormous for the less well-to-do. Families at the 20th percentile fared much worse under Republicans than under Democrats (0.43 percent versus 2.64 percent). Eight years of growth at an annual rate of 0.43 percent increases a family’s income by just 3.5 percent, while eight years of growth at 2.64 percent raises it by 23.2 percent."

    Thats the actual economic data.

    Looking at it from that angle its difficult to see who actually benefits from (R) administrations.

    As long as hot-button religious and cultural issues like abortion , gay marriage, baggy pants and heavy metal music etc are more important to people than income, education, and healthcare this probably won't change though.

    You CAN fool some of the people all of the time...