Jan 28, 2010

The Dems Must Repeal Social Security, Medicare, and All Social(istic) Programs!

In Hopes of Getting the Support of the Republicans! That Would Fulfill Obama's Holy Grail of Bi-partisanship. Middle-of-the-road Politics Today, Roadkill Tomorrow! Everybody Wins (except the country)

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"The Republicans are f@**ng with you! They'll never going to let you in the station wagon." Jon Stewart

I watched the SOTU address (no drinking game this time*) and the Repub response last night. Obviously, in principle, Obama comes much closer to my values and priorities than the conservatives who, at this point, are somewhere in the outer boundaries of the solar system (yeah, that's far out).

But, despite Obama tailoring his speech to appeal to the fluid independents the reality is that he and the Dems have not provided the kind of leadership the country wanted by giving huge majorities to the Dems since 2006. Yes, the lost decade left a heap of troubles and huge deficits before Obama walked through the WH door. No reasonable person would expect a total reversal in just a year, but judging from the way he and his party conducted themselves so far, well, it's pathetic.

I'm afraid they'll take the wrong message from MA and move to the center in hope of getting in the ..car that they own! It's not going to be a successful strategy, for the following reasons:
  • They will lose the support of their most energetic base--the grassroots and the progressives
  • They will never get the Republicans to support them. Unless the Dems bring back the failed policies of the previous administration or the disastrous conservative policies: freeze spending across the board excluding defense; continue tax breaks and no tax increases for the wealthy class and big business. All these will not benefit Main Street, only Wall Street.
  • They will lose the independents who are not ideologically attached to a party and don't like weak leaders or nothing good coming out of Washington.
  • Did I mention that Republican-lite isn't the flavor of the moment?
  • If the Dems give up their mandate for change (yes, change the status quo--when more and more Americans believe that "the fix is in."), then they might as well return to the status of the minority to wail and make noise without having any responsibility to do anything. In short, give up CHANGE, and they'll get a CHANGE of regime in Washington DC come November and again in 2012.


Jan 21, 2010

“Obama took all his winnings and turned them over to Max Baucus.”

Massachusetts Doesn't Want to Pay for Nebraska's Health Care!

That's right! Massachusetts has a more progressive health care system than what's being floated in Congress, so they voted for Republican Brown who opposed the federal version. Also, Coakley=terrible candidate, deserved to lose--even though I would have voted for her.

Here are a some more facts. MA is a "blue" state that predominately votes for Dems, but the majority of its voters are registered independent. Dems outnumber Repubs 3-1, but even Dems can cross party lines, as they did with Brown, 18+ %. The latter was a great campaigner who rode 2 waves and 1 low tide. One, the anti-Washington/big business/banks sentiment; two, the independent voters; three, Dem voter abstention. Did I mention that Coakley professed ..atheism in the church of Red Sox!

The independents and the Dems who broke for Brown by huge majorities think the health care bill is a bad one because it doesn't have a public option, or a single-payer, and it doesn't do anything to control the costs. Besides, Washington wasn't going to give them anything they didn't have already; if others states want what MA has, they should pay for it themselves...

Some other random thoughts that come to mind: A Democrat who's Republican-lite isn't very successful as voters go for the real thing. Many people would support, stick with a bold leader who's wrong than with a soft leader who's right. Bi-partisanship isn't possible with a party of "no." It doesn't mean much if you waste a year reaching to the other side but ultimately fail to produce anything good. It's good to try to build coalitions when you're a community organizer, but when you're the president you have to make decisions and move Congress and public opinion.

Consequences of the Republican Victories

One year ago, this past January 20th, Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, following a tremendous reversal of political fortunes. Within 2006 and 2008, the Republicans lost the Executive and control in both chambers of Congress... and lost them big! Obama had very sizeable majorities in the Congress. Oh, in case you have the impression that those majorities are gone, it's not so! The Dems have a 256-178 advantage in the House, and 57-41-2 in the Senate! Of the 2 independents, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is good, while J. Lieberman (I-CT) should be told to go to hell. The following should also be sent to purgatory: Lincoln (D-AR), Nelson (D-NB), Baukus (D-MT), and Landrieu (D-LA). As you can see, the mark of 50 is easily met, and with VP Biden much good legislation can take place.... IF there's good leadership.

To the salivating Republicans: You are still in the minority, and even though the Dems are doing a splendid job of screwing up, your party isn't gaining more than the people's frustration with the slow and ineffective Dem leadership. Your party is falling faster. Anti-incumbent sentiment, a bad economy, high unemployment--all predating Obama and current Congress--don't automatically translate into Republican supporters. Don't believe me? Good. Then keep doing what you're doing. Actually, embrace more the tea-baggers, the Sara Palins, the Limbaughs, and their cohorts.

"Let me see if I've got this straight: the only people who have fully recovered from the financial meltdown are the ones who caused the financial meltdown. And by recovered I mean apparently re-dipping their balls in gold."
---Jon Stewart

I think the Dems defeat in MA was like a mild heart attack that got the patient to the emergency room and may have prevented a fatal hearth attack in November. That is, IF the patient understands what needs to be done from now on. Thus, this minor problem can be a warning and not a death sentence. Further, the Dems can realize that they have to govern like other presidents who had fewer Senators and Reps, or even being short of the majority. A good signal now would be to tell Lieberman to get lost by stripping him of his committee chair.

I hear that the progressive Dems want to scrap the current version of the health care bill, simplify it, and offer a public option. Look, the current bill will cover millions of Americans who have no health insurance. BUT, it doesn't control the costs. This is UNSUSTAINABLE. Costs have been rising much, much faster than wages. I have good health insurance. My premiums have gone up and instead of my employer giving me raises, they pay higher and higher premiums too. It's not good for business, and if the US is about being competitive, well, we're aren't as much as we could be.

I hope Obama is a good and fast learner. He hasn't played well in the first quarter and his team is hurting. This year is his second quarter before we go to halftime (midterm elections). He has to pick it up quickly, because in this sport last quarter heroics are usually a sign of desperation and the "hailmarys" don't work.

PS>What's the matter with those Southern men who have extra-marital affairs and they lie when confronted about them, look us in the eye and deny something that they know will eventually come out. At least here in the Northeast, we have men who admit to their indiscretions! Clinton (D-AR) and Edwards (D-NC) denied their sexual trysts only to be doubly shamed later. At least our own gov. Spitzer admitted it when the allegations came out. Same with current gov Paterson who admitted cheating on his wife. Yeap, the institution of marriage is safer when same-sex couples are denied equal rights.

UPDATE, 1/22: This memo is interesting to read and basically makes many of the same points argued in this post.

UPDATE 1/24: New York Times Frank Rich's editorial is right on point. That's exactly what I've been saying. Here are some excerpts:

It was not a referendum on Barack Obama, who in every poll remains one of the most popular politicians in America. It was not a rejection of universal health care, which Massachusetts mandated (with Scott Brown’s State Senate vote) in 2006. It was not a harbinger of a resurgent G.O.P., whose numbers remain in the toilet. Brown had the good sense not to identify himself as a Republican in either his campaign advertising or his victory speech.

The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it...

Worse, the master communicator in the White House has still not delivered a coherent message on his signature policy. He not only refused to signal his health care imperatives early on but even now he, like Congressional Democrats, has failed to explain clearly why and how reform relates to economic recovery — or, for that matter, what he wants the final bill to contain. Sure, a president needs political wiggle room as legislative sausage is made, but Scott Brown could and did drive his truck through the wide, wobbly parameters set by Obama....

Ask yourself this: All these months later, do you yet know what the health care plan means for your family’s bottom line, your taxes, your insurance? ...

[Obama] has stepped up the populist rhetoric lately — and markedly after political disaster struck last week — but few find this serene Harvard-trained lawyer credible when slinging populist rhetoric at “fat-cat” bankers. His two principal economic policy makers are useless, if not counterproductive, surrogates....The White House clearly knows this duo is a political albatross. ....

It’s become so easy to pin financial elitism on Democrats that the morning after Brown’s victory the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee had the gall to accuse them of being the “one party who bailed out the automakers and insurance companies.” Never mind that the Bush White House gave us the bank (and A.I.G.) bailouts, or that the G.O.P. is even more in hock than Democrats to corporate patrons. The Obama administration is so overstocked with Goldman Sachs-Robert Rubin alumni and so tainted by its back-room health care deals with pharmaceutical and insurance companies that conservative politicians, Brown included, can masquerade shamelessly as the populist alternative.


Can anyone picture Obama exerting such take-no-prisoners leadership to challenge those who threaten our own economic recovery and stability at a time of deep recession and war? That we can’t is a powerful indicator of why what happened in Massachusetts will not stay in Massachusetts if this White House fails to reboot.


The smartest thing said as the Massachusetts returns came in Tuesday night was by Howard Fineman on MSNBC: “Obama took all his winnings and turned them over to Max Baucus.”

Jan 11, 2010

It Doesn't Feel Like 2010 Ushered a New Decade Yet... Are We Stuck in the Past?

Oh, How Perceptions Change... Like the Definition of Marriage!

It doesn't take me too long to talk about politics, even in ..polite company. Why not, important decisions are being made that affect our lives and the lives of future generations. I have to admit though that my interest is there because I care about the outcome of policy not because I'm satisfied with the process and the results. I consider myself a very progressive liberal, a secular individual--which, at least in this country, puts me in a small minority. I have hope that "my side" is winning and things will turn our way... it's just the pace seems to have the speed of molasses.
Funny test I took online today, based on cases that have been decided by the Supreme Court. I scored 92% in agreement with justice Stephen Breyer!

This new year started with lots of problems for our country. The president and the Dems have managed to produced a health care bill [at least the current one being discussed in Congress] that most Americans don't like or understand. The public and the single-payer options favored by the majority of Americans aren't even on the table! The progressive base and those groups that helped the Dems wind big in the last 2 elections are either disappointed or not very enthusiastic. The GOP registers higher motivation among its faithful and this might be enough to bring it some success this year.

One seat the Dems should not lose next week is Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. Strangely, president Obama isn't going to campaign for Martha Coackley! On the other hand, I think it will be good for the Dems to lose seats in the Senate this November. The "magical" number 60 will be no more, so there will be a true test of leadership to get things done without ridiculous compromises to get v
otes from Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln, Baucus, and Snowe (she never came through despite being declared the unofficial president last summer!).

So, Sarah Palin knew nothing about history or foreign policy or much about anything else--other that "it was God's plan"--when she was drafted as McCain's running mate. I guess now she'll dispense her wisdom working for Fox News. But, considering Fox's audience, she'll fit right in... along with Brit Hume, who urged Tiger Woods to convert to xtianity in order to redeem himself from his sex scandal. Whatever.

What's rather offensive is the conservatives' revision of history--that the Republicans kept the US safe. Even Giulliani forgot that Bush was in office for 9 months (and ignored Islamic terrorists) when the terror of 9-11 happened. When president Bush froze when he was told that "America is under attack." When the neocons started another war on false pretenses and taking the focus away from Afghanistan. When, in essence, the Bush-Cheney-neocons triad managed to divide our friends and uniting our enemies. Conservatives have been bad for national security. I just hope that the American people have better memories.

On the more amusing side of the spectrum, the Vatican condemned the popular movie Avatar as "
simplistic....flirting with modern doctrines that promote the worship of nature as a substitute for religion".. OK. I haven't seen the movie, but I kind of like the idea of relating to something that has a physical existence and we can interact with than to imaginary friends and foes. But, that's me. Choose your own poison, as they say.

To recap, 2010 will be an interesting year with ups and downs like any other. Glad to see a Democrat in the White House and Congress not controlled by the crazy wingnuts. Enjoy the ride in good health.

Update: I found this gem. With leaders like these...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Hey, does it mean if these people don't get their way God is not on their side?

Jan 4, 2010

Imagine a Better World. May Happy World Become a Reality Soon

First, may we all have a happy new year! I thought I should start this new year with a positive post, so I'm going to talk about pleasure--one of the two masters (the other being pain) according to the utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham and J. S. Mill. Most would prefer pleasure to pain and maximizing the former is a moral stance. Should societies try to advance the conditions that make people happy? This is a serious question.

Now, what do you think of freeloaders? Those who want to get something that results not from their own efforts but by the efforts of others? Why should anyone be coerced to give up the fruits of their labor? As long as those fruits/benefits came from legal activity and an open/free marketplace. Right? Besides, who can really determine who needs what and what does a person deserve?

Yet, voluntary contributions may be necessary to preserve and enhance a society. Because, everyone benefits from a good, stable, progressive, healthy, educated, happier society! No one operates in the vacuum of space, nor do they make their wealth over there. Now, what's voluntary? Is it a social contract we're part of?

Personally, I think the definition of pleasure should be left to the individual who should be in charge of themselves. However, there's a great value, a higher moral standard, to support conditions that allow individual growth but also a positive social growth. The trick is to find the proper balance. Individualism and a progressive society aren't mutually opposites. On the contrary, this is the essence of liberal democracy.

As for pleasure in the new year, I'd like to see more people pursuing fulfilling activities--as long as they don't impose on the rights of others. For example, they can devote all the energy, money, and time to worshiping god(s) or the sun or whatever else they feel it makes them happy. I'd like to see healthier people--and we know how to do this if we have the political will.

I'd like to see more people thinking rationally because they appreciate the quest for knowledge and understanding, without surperstition and prejudice. I'd like to see more humans cooperating instead of fighting on illusions and pettiness. During the next trip around the sun, on spaceship Earth, let's remind ourselves that, for a long while, we have no where to go except to exist within a narrow band of a small planet in a hostile universe.

Finally, I'd like to image this...

In essence, I support the conditions that make me happy... and, I believe such conditions give opportunity to others to pursue their own bliss. Have a great year ahead!