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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

November 17, 2008


Ford and GM

How many jobs lost is too many? There can be no doubt that Ford and General Motors have made their own beds and ought to lie in them.

Certainly a nation which believes in the free market as a national philosophy also believe that even giants of industry must pay the consequences for their actions, even when those actions might effect others.

In the case of Ford and General Motors, the real effect of their demise would be catastrophic. Whether you're a staunch Libertarian, free market wonk or a tree-hugging Liberal prone to Socialist ideals, the truth of the matter is that our nation simply cannot afford to lose the number of jobs it will lose if these two auto giants close their doors for good.

The estimate of jobs lost if both Ford and General Motors go out of business is estimated at somewhere around 2.5 million - yes, MILLION - jobs. Add that number onto the already incredible number of 1.2 million jobs lost already this year and we're talking about a possible new Great Depression.

While those same staunch Libertarian, free market wonks and tree-hugging Liberals might wish to see Ford and GM bite the dust (the former to prove their point; the latter for revenge), the rest of us would be ill-served by that end.

Take Detroit and the entire state of Michigan as an example. Detroit is Michigan's largest city with suburbs, exurbs and an economy which only thrives when the US auto industry thrives. It is a city in a state which has been in great despair for quite some time now and is forever on top of the unemployed-Americans list. The effect of the collapse of GM, in this case, would probably put Detroit into bankruptcy. The largest tax-payer in the Detroit is General Motors plus they own and occupy the largest building in the city. What do you think would happen if a major metropolitan city were to lose its largest employer and the building it occupies closes its doors?

All one has to do is look at the effect the 911 bombing of the world Trade Center to understand what would happen. In the case of the WTC and 911, New York City had other industries, but the thriving downtown areas of The Big Apple have never been the same and probably never will be. In the wake of the loss of the WTC's twin towers, and in addition to the lives lost by its loss, tens of thousands of other jobs supported by those earning their living in the buildings have also been lost.

And what about health care? What happens to all of those people who have been promised health care as a part of their accepting lesser salaries, negotiated in good faith, for the rest of their lives? Who gets to foot the bill when the millions of US automaker employees, both recently unemployed and already retired, get sick?

We do. It would be a whole lot cheaper to just give the money - $25 billion - to Ford and GM rather than to pay for its demise. But should we really do that without any kind of stipulation? Of course not.

If $25 billion is what it takes to keep Ford and GM in business, we should consider investing in them, with caveats in place. CAFE standards to make the next crop of American-made cars more fuel efficient would have to be a part of any deal made with Ford and GM along with a real push towards vehicles which use alternative and renewable fuels. Certainly if a company such as Tesla Motors, a company with no experience in the auto industry, can build an electric car which goes 300 miles on one single charge without losing performance, the giant car companies who have dominated our nation's market for about one hundred years should be able to do the same.

Tesla Motors should get a bump in US taxpayer money for expansion just so they can show the big boys how it's done.

Of course, the current and outgoing Bush administration doesn't see it that way. Although I supported the Wall Street bailout due to its impact on jobs, the impact on jobs which the closing of the US auto industry would be multiple times worse. Thus, my support of keeping Ford and GM in business is strong.

It is estimated by General Motors that $1,500 per vehicle is what each one of those vehicles carry for GM's past and current employees. Certainly a national health care plan should be considered along in a plan that saves the US auto industry. Assuming that so much of their autos costs are due to health care, relieving them of that burden and giving everyone on America a chance at health care is nothing less than a real good idea.

These are the kinds of investments in our American corporate structure that makes sense.

-Noah Greenberg

More Thoughts on the GOP

There is no reason to hope that the Republicans get back on their feet. They have nothing to offer.

The success of the Republican Party for the past 40 years has more to do with the unraveling of the Roosevelt Coalition and the end of the Liberal Consensus than it does with anything the Republicans have done.

Their only coup is in converting the white middle class masses of the South to the GOP. But if one looks at the Southern Democracy of the past three decades, one sees a party driven by internal strife between the Bourbons and the integrationists. The obsession of the Democratic Party over race gave the Southern GOP a chance to make inroads with the middle class.

The Southern Democracy has been able to make something of a comeback with moderates like Beverly Perdue, Tim Kaine and Beredsen in the Governorships of their respective states (NC, VA and TN). One can expect savvy Democrats, with the enthusiastic help of Rahm Emmanuel and Barack Obama to continue this movement.

Where then is the GOP healthy and what role do they have in national politics? When the Dems were at their nadir in 88, we were still at parity with the GOP. We have utterly crushed their effort to attain majority status and the demography is on our side.

As I see it, the GOP has two choices: accept permanent minority status and live on as the only legal opposition party or to abandon their ideological base and offer voters an alternative voice.

As the legal opposition, the GOP will take advantage of our arcane election rules and continue to appoint election commissioners, voter registrars, etc and to put candidates up for office. With almost 2,000,000 elective and appointive offices to fill there is plenty of employment to keep the GOP in business.

In contrast, the GOP may decide that they actually still have the will to govern and they may purge themselves of the crooks and villains. If the GOP decide that there are absolute verities in morality and politics and decide to pursue enacting them into law, they choose the legal opposition role. But if they decide that there are policy and governance issues that the Obama coalition is not addressing adequately the GOP can have a role.

The most sensible and politically savvy way to define these issues is through attention to interests. In urban America for example, retailers find that regulation, high taxes and NIMBYism are hurting their business.

Most inner city retailers cannot compete with the malls. Many cities have decided to abandon any attempt to resuscitate their municipal business base and have ceded the battle to the malls. This has lead to urban wastelands with no retail outlets, no publicly funded amenities or services, abandonment by the middle class and resettlement by immigrants and under class people. The towns of Long Island are good examples of this, the Village centers are like barrios in Mexico, while whites and prosperous blacks crowd the suburbs.

This leads to real estate values going inexorably up, driving out the young who cannot afford to get their lives started in that environment.

A GOP with strong business support could offer solutions that would attenuate the regulatory, tax and fiscal policies that make things tougher. The D'Amato's success was based in this sort of a political model.

Now instead of backing business, which inevitably means taking fairly liberal stands on social issues, since business is business- the GOP has decided to make its stands on policies like right to life and other social issues. Issues that belong to religion and not to politics.

My final thought on this today stems from a blog exchange I had yesterday with some people through the Phoenix Republic newspaper.

My correspondents were loyal Republicans who were calling for a return to the GOP values espoused by Goldwater and Reagan.

The GOP may return to those values if they wish, but they are imperiling their future and consigning themselves to legal opposition if they do so.

Reaganism's trenchancy stems from its resonance as resistance to the Liberal Consensus of the Cold War era. Now that the GOP conservatives have been in power for the past forty years, the Liberal Consensus has been destroyed and criticizing liberalism is no longer enough to fuel political growth for the GOP. They have maxed out.

Add to the problem of maxing out, the difficulties that stem from the utter failure of Conservative Republicanism to meet our needs. Whatever else he was, Bush was a consummate advocate of conservative Republicanism.

The GOP simply has no future as an ideologically based party. They need to take the model that the old Irish pols used, find a mass of voters whose political and economic interests are not being served, advocate for them and build a potent political base. Then build a national party from there.

Were I a Republican activist, I would look to the elderly and the near elderly and make them my base. They are a growing demographic, they are flocking back to cities and would provide a bridgehead there and their issues are very compatible with the issues of the down scale white middle class who are the GOPs only other growth demographic.

-Robert Chapman

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

The election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the U.S., was a civil rights milestone. Excitement over Obama’s election lasted for days, eclipsing news on other important votes cast on Nov. 4, votes which brought far less joyous outcomes.

For millions of Americans the tears of joy at Obama’s election were soon followed by tears of bitterness, pain and anger. Equality had been achieved for African Americans, but for lesbians and gay men, equality had been torn from them by the same kind of bigotry, hate and fear that had driven African Americans for generations.

Pivotal civil rights measures deciding same-sex marriage rights were cast in California, Arizona, and Florida.

Civil rights lost to bigotry, hate and fear. In Arizona and Florida, voters approved propositions to amend their state constitutions to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry.

On the California ballot, Proposition 8 was titled: “Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry,” rescinding legal rights of lesbians and gay men to marry.

The text of Prop 8 is as ugly as it is succinct: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.” Prop 8 sought to overturn the law that legalized in California in May 2008.

More than 19,000 same-sex marriages were performed between June and October. The first marriage ceremony was between Del Martin, 87 and Phyllis Lyon, 84, who had been together since 1952. Martin died in August, just two and a half months after their wedding ceremony. Lyon was by her side.

The marriage of Martin and Lyon should put the context of same-sex marriage in perspective. Like many heterosexual couples, Martin and Lyon had shared a life together–work, children, grandchildren, friends. They were together for 56 years–far longer than the majority of heterosexual couples: 63 percent of heterosexual marriages end in divorce.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since May, 2004 and was legalized in Connecticut on Nov. 12, expanding the civil union law that had been in place in the state since 2005.

Same-sex marriage would already be the law in most states, were it not for pressure from anti-civil-rights groups and hate advocates who have misrepresented the struggle for equality the way bigots once represented the struggle for racial equality.

President-elect Obama is the son of a white mother and a black father. Until 1967, with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, *Loving v. Virginia, *miscegenation–the term for inter-racial marriage–was illegal in 16 U.S. states. Obama’s parents were married in 1961; their marriage would have been considered illegal in 23 states at that time.

Amendments to state constitutions and other bans on same-sex marriage have been instituted in 37 states since the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed in 1996. President Bush supports DOMA. President-elect Obama favors overturning DOMA.

The new assault on civil rights with the California, Florida and Arizona initiatives stirred protests nationwide.

Anger over the Florida and Arizona measures led to protests on the streets of Miami, Phoenix and other cities in those states. But in California, there have been daily protests since Prop 8 was approved.

An estimated 10,000 people flooded the streets of West Hollywood in Los Angeles over the course of two days immediately following the vote. Protestors blocked traffic during afternoon rush hour and hundreds of police were deployed to stave off any confrontations.

In San Francisco, candle-light vigils with several thousand participants were held. Another several thousand protested outside the state capitol in Sacramento and there were other protests in Long Beach, San Diego and Oakland.

On Nov. 12 in New York City, more than 4,000 protestors surrounded the Upper West Side temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church. LDS has been a focal point for protests because the church was instrumental in working to revoke the rights of same-sex couples.

Mormons went door-to-door and phoned millions of prospective voters, alleging dire consequences if Prop 8 failed. Among these so-called consequences, Prop 8 promoters said teachers would be forced to instruct children about gay sex and teach them about same-sex marriage, a patently false charge refuted by California’s educational code.

The Prop 8 fight in California was the costliest ever for a ballot initiative in the U.S. Proponents and opponents spent a total of $73 million on the campaign. Those against Prop 8 included a few noted Hollywood producers, directors and actors, like Stephen Speilberg, George Lucas and Brad Pitt (none of whom is gay). But the majority of the money opposing Prop 8 came from donations by ordinary Californians desperate to protect civil rights.

Most shocking in the Prop 8 fight was the role tax-exempt churches played in the political fight to pass the hate legislation.

According to a list maintained by the Office of the California Secretary of State and made available through the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle, the largest single contributors to the hate legislation were churches and church groups.

So much for separation of church and state.

LDS contributed the most of any single church–nearly half the $36.5 million contributed to fund the hate campaign.

The money was given in direct contributions from the church itself as well as from individual Mormons, including a $1 million contribution from Alan Ashton, LDS member and the church’s former mission president.

According to the list of contributors supporting the hate legislation, nearly half of all out of state contributions came from Mormons in Utah.

The second-largest church contributor was the Catholic Church. The Knights of Columbus contributed $1.5 million. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops contributed a quarter million to Prop 8.

Black churches also played a role in the passage of Prop 8, as did evangelical churches, together contributing nearly as much as the Catholic Church.

Among those contributors were the Grace International Churches group, Family Discipleship Ministries of San Diego and San Diego Rock Church. These donated over $1 million to promote hate. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America also supported Prop 8.

Numerous other less extreme religious leaders, like six Episcopal diocesan bishops and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California opposed Prop 8, calling the initiative bigoted and anti-constitutional. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposed Prop 8 as did the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, among others. The ten largest newspapers in the state wrote editorials opposing Prop 8 and urging Californians to vote against the hate measure.

Like the protests now spreading across the country, the money to fund Prop 8 came from far and wide as well.

The single largest individual contributor to the hate campaign was John Templeton, of Bryn Mawr, PA who donated $1.1 million.

Templeton is well-known for contributing to and creating extremist groups. Templeton founded Let Freedom Ring, Inc., a far-right wing think tank which spent millions in inflammatory ads against Barack Obama’s presidential bid.

Templeton’s group also pays for ads throughout the East Coast to “help wounded victims of abortion” and has funded ads asserting that President-elect Obama is a “dealer in death” who is a “pro-abortion extremist.” Templeton’s group was responsible for stories that Obama supported legislation that would allow for the killing of babies born alive in late-term abortions.

According to Californians Against Hate, Templeton is also “a member of the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which made news when they were forced to leave their Philadelphia headquarters due to a conflict between Philadelphia’s non-discrimination policy, and that of the Boy Scouts, which allows discrimination of gays.”

One of the off-shoot far-right groups Templeton has founded is Pennsylvania Pastor’s Network which “helps [Christian] pastors understand how to conduct the discussions and teaching that we propose–to ensure that they do not run afoul of the IRS’s regulations limiting political involvement by charitable institutions.”

PPN mentions protecting “traditional marriage” as a goal.

Monied hatemongers like Templeton and various churches influenced voters and made substantive efforts to get out the vote on Prop 8.

According to news reports, religion, race and ethnicity played a major role in the narrow passage of initiative. Large number of religious voters cast votes for the ballot measure. In addition, 70 percent of African Americans and 60 percent of Latinos voted to invalidate lesbian and gay civil rights even as they voted for Obama.

More than 12 million voted for the ballot initiative overall. There are close to two million ballots yet to be counted; 52 percent voted for Prop 8 and 48 percent voted against. The ballot initiative required only a simple majority to pass.

Lawsuits, including one filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, have already been filed against Prop 8, calling the measure unconstitutional and seeking to halt its enactment. But although Prop 8 has not been formally enacted, most California marriage registries have ceased granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The 19,000 or more same-sex marriages already performed in California will remain legal as Prop 8 does not invalidate those legal unions.

The lawsuits filed against Prop 8 are coming daily and are expected to increase as outrage fuels the civil rights movement anew. In the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case *Lawrence v. Texas,* which overturned sodomy laws between consensual adults, the court in a 6-3 majority ruling explicitly stated that lesbians and gay men had equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling states that laws specifically targeting lesbians and gay men were unconstitutional.

Prop 8 and similar laws should fall under the High Court’s rubric. In writing for the majority in *Lawrence v. Texas,* conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the sodomy law had prohibited lesbians and gay men from exercising their constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Prop 8 and other measures like it prohibit lesbian and gay couples from equal protection and equal rights under the law.

It was only 40 years ago that inter-racial couples like Barack Obama’s parents were barred from marrying. The nation moved forward from those bigoted times with the help of the courts which advanced civil rights under the Fourteenth Amendment before most Americans wanted those rights acknowledged.

The nation must now move forward and acknowledge the civil rights of lesbians and gay men to be equal under the law.

Prop 8 and measures like it must be overturned. Civil rights are just that–rights. They must not be taken away by those who combine money and hate to buy injustice.

In response to, "Call me a pessimist but I call it reality. Action, not words, is the answer. And if the summit must take place it should have taken place under the new Administration, not the current one," Robert Scardapane writes:

Actually, it's business as usual for Chimpy McFlightSuit Bush. He came into office in 2004 spending taxpayer dollars extravagantly on an inaugural ball, now he is going out in 2008 spending taxpayer dollars extravagantly on a lavish G20 dinner. Here are some reports:

Financial Meltdown Summit Featured Lavish Dinner Menu, $300 Bottles of Wine Among the wines: bottles of Shafer Cabernet "Hillside Select" 2003 - about $300 per bottle.


Political elite enjoy lavish fine dining as they push for food frugality The most powerful bellies in the world were last night compelled to stave off the great Hokkaido Hunger by fortifying themselves with an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs.


Way to go Chimpy. Rubbing our faces into the dirt right up to your last hours.

In response to the Summit, Denise writes:

As far as the "summit" goes, as predicted, disappointment, mostly symbolism, little action.

As far as the Republican party goes, Steele, Newt and Palin is what they think will be their Savior - which will translate in "no need to worry about the influence" of any of the groups of the Republican party that you mentioned in your article for a long, long time. Steele may be black but you can list him in your Walter Sowell, Republicans from the South camp.

Also, this week as far as any economic stimulus goes, you can probably forget it. Looks like the Republicans are going their cold, harsh way because they still think the people want them to say no to everything despite the message from the elections - people want some relief and NOW!!!! Of course, I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

In response to "The Three GOP's" Lew Warden writes:

So you want to declare war on roughly half the country? Don’t believe in bringing folks together? Have to have a devil to justify your pitiful existence? Shame on you, Noah!

You seem to forget that the Stars and Bars was the battle flag of your Democratic Party for most of its existence and that a lot of red-neck bigots are still Democrats. In all my years working with Republicans, who were damned fools about economic and money matters, I never heard any “damned nigger” talk, which is more than you can say if you ever worked white Democrat precincts.

And Madman responds:

You miss the point of my sentiments: I want the GOP to put itself back together; I want the GOP to be more moderate; I want the GOP's members to be more like Chris Shays, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe than Tom DeLay, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

I miss the old GOP who I had reasonable disagreements with.

It's obvious you read what you wanted my thoughts to say so you could complain about them, not my words as they were written.

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-Noah Greenberg