Posts Tagged ‘Politics’
Those who do not learn from history March 23, 2008 | 03:32 pm

I’ve been meaning to make some comments about the current banking crisis going on- not just Bear Stearns, the whole shebang. I’ve been waiting to do this until I could write this post without sounding like Andrew Dice Clay on a bad day.

What galls me is not that millions of people are losing their homes, and gaining a credit history that will haunt them for decades, and that no one cares. Well, actually, yes it does gall me, but it’s not the worst aspect of the whole debacle. Nor is it the fact the in comming (present?) recession millions will lose their jobs, and therefor their healthcare.

Nor is that the Federal Government is bailing out the industry. And a bailout it is in practice, if not in name. The $200 billion in loans the Fed will be giving out will be securitized with the absolute worst toxic waste (a telling industry term) of the whole subprime mortable mess, and then defaulted on. At which point the Fed will take ownership of large chunks of securities worth pennies on the dollar. Already the commentators are tossing around that this intervention is not big enough- the Government is not buying enough of these worthless investment vehicles. Which means that, inevitably, yet more money will have to be pumped in. This sort of intervention is necessary to prevent a widespread banking collapse- which is “crossing the streams” bad. The intervention is necessary- unlike the Iraq war (which may turn out to be cheaper).

Nor even the fact that this create a vast moral hazzard for Wall Street- it’s okay, even a really good idea, to invest in all sorts of high risk ventures. If you win, you are lauded as a genius and get paid hundreds of millions of dollars. If you lose, oh well- Uncle Ben on the kindly Fed will bail your ass out.

No, what is most galling about this whole episode is the sure and certain knowledge that this episode will not change one iota the free market gospel shoved down our throats despite the glaring evidence that we do not have a free market.

Read the rest of this entry

Molnau Ousted by the State Senate February 28, 2008 | 01:05 pm

Molnau ousted by Senate

Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau was ousted from her job today by the Minnesota Senate, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced that he had appointed her chief assistant to be acting commissioner. Molnau still holds her elected position as lieutenant governor.

Shared here, since Brian apparently thinks that nobody is paying attention to the 35-W collapse anymore.

The Difference Between Occupying and Supporting February 28, 2008 | 06:37 am

Inclusion of Iraq and Afghanistan Military Operations Funding with the Consolidated Appropriations

Project Vote Smart’s Synopsis:

Vote to adopt an amendment to the consolidated appropriations bill (HR 2764) to include $70.00 billion for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Official Title of Legislation:

S Amdt 3874 to HR 2764: To make emergency supplemental appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008.

Highlights:

- Prohibits these funds from being used to enter into an agreement with the government of Iraq that would subject members of the Armed Forces of the United States to the jurisdiction of Iraq criminal courts or punishment under Iraq law (Division L, Title VI, Sec. 612).

Score One for Obama February 21, 2008 | 04:08 pm

A lot of people aren’t aware, but there was an effort by the Bush administration to protect communications companies from being held accountable for committing illegal acts, assuming they were committing the illegal acts in the course of trying to make the government happy. So, in other words, they were being given permission to do illegal things as long as they could blame it on a government request.

There is no way in which this is good. Sen. Dodd proposed some legislation which would remove that protection, but it was soundly defeated.

Despite that defeat (which must have been pretty obvious), Obama voted in favor of civil liberties. Hillary didn’t vote. Norm Coleman voted against civil liberties, as did McCain. (cite)

I knew this wasn’t going to fly — it’s just too direct an attack on the corporatists that run both parties. It didn’t even make it into the media or blogosphere, so it wasn’t a hotly watched race. Specifically because it was a lost cause which could be quietly swept under the rug, I have been watching it as key way to see who takes civil liberties seriously. More than anything else, I want a President who will restore civil liberties and will lead us toward healing from this culture of fear. And that’s definitely not going to be Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

The Other Election February 14, 2008 | 11:04 am

Although most of my readers won’t care, there’s an interesting election* other than the Presidential race which I have been following — namely, the election of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the PC(USA).

I’ve officially decided that I support Bruce Reyes-Chow, and this is why: “Why being painfully fair is, well, painful

Some highlights:

I was reading one blog today about the “Liberal tactics of . . . .” when anyone who has been keeping up with the debates about this particular issue, knows full well that the very same tactic was used by a traditionally conservative movement earlier in the year. When it is bad it is a “tactic” and when it is good it is a “strategy?” And it goes both ways. Left to right, right to left, up and down, inside and out ;-)
[...]
If we are going to move into something new, denominationally or relationally, we have GOT to start truly appreciating one another as complex human beings trying to discern our way through life AND publicly acknowledge that reality.

This sentiment is something that has been painfully missing from the entire conversation, both in our church and in our political sphere. I’ve heard people overgeneralize and baselessly ascribe all kinds of nefarious motivations to people whose opinions differ on this issue or not, and it’s really destructive, not constructive — both to our larger society, and to the interests of those people. Nobody is convinced or converted through being told that they’re an Evil Person and being accused of things they don’t do: if you want to help your own side out, you have to engage those you consider “your enemy” in some kind of conversation. This is a key principle behind Christian ethics, and George Ellis’s does an excellent presentation of it, both in his Speaking of Faith interview and in what little of On The Moral Nature of the universe: Cosmology, Theology, and Ethics I’ve read..

Go read the rest of the post. It will be good for your soul.

*Of course, being Calvinists, this election is an election through the sovereignty of God, not by human beings. But at the end of the day, it’s still a vote. We’re funny like that.

On My “Stuff I Never Expected from MPR” Short List January 17, 2008 | 11:18 am

Highlights from In The Loop‘s homage to the Flip Flop:


Save “In the Loop”!

Take who’s power away? December 29, 2007 | 10:23 pm

There’s an important aspect in the healthcare debate that I think has gotten, not overlooked, but less attention than it deserves. And that is the issue of power. Now, obviously, the Democrats seek to gain political power via health care. Or, at least I wish (as a Democrat) that the Democrats would seek to gain political power via health care, but that’s a different discussion. But what’s underdiscussed is that the Republicans also seek power by denying health care- and, by extension, denying the Federal Government is, or can be, a force for good at all. I wanted to point out a choice quote from this article from Mr. Anti-Tax himself, Grover Norquist:

He also confessed to Reason that he feared that Clinton’s effort to implement universal health care could have relegated the Republicans to permanent minority status: “Had the Democrats taken over health care, I think we would have become a social democracy and we could have never undone it. We wouldn’t have won in ’94, and even if we did, it wouldn’t matter because 50 percent of the population would be on the take.”

Ignore for the moment the insulting insinuation that providing health care to the poorer half of the country means that they’re “on the take” (I assume it’s the poorer half- he didn’t specify which half). The entire Republican philosophy hinges on the belief that the Federal Government cannot help. If the government can help, then obviously it has a moral obligation to help. If people believe the government can, and thus should, help, then those who do not want the government to help will be headed for political exile for another generation. Universal, affordable, federally funded health care would be an electorial disaster for the Republicans. And the Republicans themselves know this.

The Republicans have already spent 40 years in the “electoral wilderness”- from 1932 to 1968 the only was Republican got elected was to run as a Democrat-lite. And even then, they often didn’t get elected. Note, the same is not true for the Democrats. The Democrats tried for universal health care- in ’48, again in the 70′s, and again in the 90′s, and are currently 0 for 3. And they’re still here. They lost elections, sure, but nothing like what the Republicans faced after the New Deal.

The battle over health care, and by extension the New Deal and progressive government in general, will ramp up again, the next time a Democrat is elected. If not this election, then the next, or the one after that. And when it does, expect the Republicans to play no holds barred. To go even lower than they normally do. Because this isn’t just about an election, it’s about 40 years in the political wilderness. When they present their spin on the issue, keep this in mind. This might call for an even larger grain of salt.

Calling All Non-US Readers December 28, 2007 | 06:57 am

Brian and I have been discussing health care over at “Take Their Power Away“, and so we got to talking about some foreign health care systems, and we hit a point that’s kind of interesting. I was wondering if those people from outside the US (particularly those Germans who seem to like this blog so much) would mind chiming in.

Take their power away! December 22, 2007 | 08:39 pm

It’s a bit late in the game, but I’ve finally made my choice- John Edwards is my candidate.

The straw that broke the camel’s back and made my decision was his response to Nataline Sarkysian tragedy. Nataline Sarkysian was the California teen who died after Cigna denied a necessary liver transplant- an all too common story in our “world class” health care system. Edwards’ response was:

“Are you telling me that we’re gonna sit at a table and negotiate with those people?” asked a visibly angered Edwards, challenging the health care companies. “We’re gonna take their power away and we’re not gonna have this kind of problem again.”

Damned straight.

However unresponsive and unrepresentative you might feel the federal government is, corporate government is even worse. Do you imagine we could, for example, replace the CEO of Cigna? Or United Health, or Microsoft, if we didn’t like how they were run? We can with Government (and if changing out the President doesn’t change anything, what good is supporting or even electing Ron Paul?).

What we need is for politicians to stop toadying up to the corporate powers, and start confronting them. Edwards is that politician.

Interesting Information: MPR’s Funding Model December 18, 2007 | 03:04 pm

From MPR: Company Information: How Minnesota Public Radio Is Funded:

It’s expensive and complex to operate three services broadcast in the Twin Cities and throughout the region via a network of radio stations. We rely on a number of sources of income to do this. The largest source, 61%, comes from listeners who make financial contributions and become members and from business underwriting. Only 10% of the operating income comes from governmental agencies (most of that comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting).

That’s pretty impressive — for something called “public radio”, it’s almost entirely private. And it goes to show how important it is to realize that you don’t just vote at the ballot box.

(I do note that this only talks about MPR, not about APM, which actually produces a large number of MPR’s most popular shows. The business relationship between those two has always seemed hazy to me.)