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Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

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Thew title of this post is of course taken from a Who song, Won’t get Fooled Again. I used to dislike the lyric because it sounded like a call to abandon political involvement in favor of hedonistic consumerism. But perhaps I was unfair to Mr. Townshend and his friends.

But it always pops into my head when a supposedly progressive politician acts like a right wing proctological orifice (look it up if you need to). Like when Clinton pushed for NAFTA and “welfare reform”. Canadian readers might remember when former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, pretending to be a socialist, turned on labour with a vicious intensity that would make Scott Walker and John Kasich envious.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but some people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 think that he has already done more than his share of right wing Sh#& since he became President. Exhibit 77A is his change of course on Libya.

The right is hawkish. The left tends to oppose wars, except for the occasional threat from crazed dictators. In the United States there is no organized let, only a timid faction within the Democratic Party (no offense to Kucinich, Pelosi and Weiner). In recent decades, when the Democrats have elected a President they have elected a centrist (Carter), a moderate conservative (Clinton) or someone who campaigns as a liberal (Obama) but acts in office like a centrist. Voters on the left vote for these people either hoping for the best or with nostrils plugged against the stench.

Each of the Democrats elected President since World War II have had difficulty using military force somewhere overseas. The Korean War drove Truman from office. Kennedy somehow got snared by the Bay of Pigs invasion. Vietnam destroyed Johnson’s Presidency and his reputation. Carter and Iran – ’nuff said. Clinton actually got off easy. His overseas adventures were in the Balkans and he was able to frame them as humanitarian missions (as Rwanda was ignored).

Obama inherited two wars from George II, as well as the undercover and sometimes extra legal operations against Al Qaeda and other like minded organizations. He came into office promising to end U.S. involvement in Iraq but promising to continue the effort in Afghanistan until the Aghanis could manage on their own. Check with any newspaper or network news organization to see how events in Iraq and Afghanistan are unfolding, but now there are other geography lessons being taught to U.S. citizens (and Canadians too for that matter).

No one saw the Jasmine Revolution coming, although it is clearly overdue. Somehow, the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt have caused a regime to fall to be replaced by whatever is born of the revolutionary process now taking place there. Now the previous governments of Tunisia and Egypt were authoritarian, cruel and violent in their tactics of suppression, but they were not thought to be as vicious and suffocating as the governments n some Middle Eastern countries, like Syria and Libya for example (Iran is a special case but more like oppressive Syria than Egypt in this regard).

So Libyan citizens see the sun rising next door and apparently many decide to seek a new dawn for themselves. Not surprisingly, Qaddafi/Gaddafi (or whatever sp) responds violently. At first the rebels seize the initiative, but soon Gaddafi’s air power helps his forces drive the rebels back to their stronghold in Benghazi.

Of course its pretty easy to make Gaddafi look like a monster who orders the massacre of civilians, because that is who he is. Eventually, as everyone knows by now, Obama decided to line up the UN, NATO and the Arab League to support action against Gaddafi and in de facto support of the rebels.

I actually appreciate Obama’s caution and reluctance to use force. Not so admirable is his continuation of the U.S. Presidential tradition of shooting first and asking for Congressional approval after. In this I am in agreement with both Dennis Kucinich and (gulp) Ron Paul.

I am also among those who marvel at the ability of the U.S. to ride in to the rescue in Libya while ignoring those despots who kill their protesting citizens in Bahrain, Yemen and ivory Coast (don’t forget Syria). Actually, it is not so marvelous that Libya gets singled out for attention as it happens to be the home of substantial reserves of – say it with me – OIL. So is Bahrain of course, but those bastards are “our” bastards.

And of course we should all be asking of the president, “What now?” It is not at all clear how the United States – oops, I mean NATO (wink, wink) – finds a good stopping point at which time it can safely exit Libya.

Joe Klein, of all people, nicely sums up the U.S. dilemma:

I hope that we’ll “get lucky” in Libya–and Gaddafi will pack up his famous tent, settle somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa or be murdered by one of his retinue. It may happen. And if it does, all my fears will have been proven groundless–if, that is, the next Libyan government proves moderate and humane.

(Thanks Digby)

Finally, I think it should be noted that the problems in Libya and throughout the Middle East (including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan), the nuclear crisis in Japan, the sharp rise in food prices all over the world, all have their origin in civilization’s insatiable thirst for energy. This is a problem that is rarely discussed in a political context, but which contains within it a an undeniable existential threat to the human species.

Written by slothropia

March 25th, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Barack Obama, Carole James – Carole, Barack

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Outside of the Canadian Embassy, I am sure there are few in Washington who either know or care that the Official Opposition party in the Canadian province of British Columbia has lost its leader. After all, was Octavian informed or did he care that a homeless woman in Palestine had given birth to an illegitimate son?

I mean, there’s a lot of stuff going on in D.C. and president Obama, our latter day Caesar, has his hands full at the moment and is likely not being kept informed about B.C. affairs. But there is a cautionary tale that the President would profit from if he were to hear it told. It is a tale that illustrates the limits of elected power and how easily it is lost or corroded.

It goes like this: In British Columbia, the two main provincial parties are the B.C. Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP). Despite their centrist sounding moniker, the Liberals are a center right party and way more right than center. The New Democrats are nominally a socialist or social democratic party with formal ties to Labour, but are in fact a center left coalition that includes everybody from Troskyists and other Marxists to environmentalists, LGBT activists, trade unionists, and centrists who would rather give their condos at Whistler to homeless people than vote for the NDP in a federal election. There are a lot of factions in both parties but the B.C. NDP is a much more complex and vulnerable coalition.

The current leader of the NDP, Carole James, is a former school board trustee and chair. She gained the leadership in 2001 soon after the NDP had been reduced to two MLAs out of 89 in the B.C. legislature. In the next election, the NDP came storming back with 34 seats to the Liberals 45. In the next election, the legislature was expanded to 85 seats but the NDP only won 35 and found itself in second place, again.

For several months now, the NDP has led the polls in B.C., at least partly because the Liberal government of Gordon Campbell introduced a new consumption tax. In B.C. as elsewhere, raising taxes in a recession can make a government unpopular.

Even though she has been in a position to become the next Premier of B.C., James faced increasing opposition within her party. There are a number of causes for this dissension but some within the party have argued that James is unelectable and a new leader is needed before the next scheduled election in 2013. A crisis arose when 13 members of the NDP caucus insisted on meeting with James and threatening to resign from caucus and form a new party if their conditions were not met. A meeting between James and the 13 dissidents was scheduled for last Sunday, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute. The next day, James resigned, setting in motion a leadership contest within the party.

What, you may well ask, does this have to do with President Barack Obama, Leader of the Free World? Just this; This episode demonstrates how a political leader can not last in power if he or she loses the support of the people who put her or him into their position of leadership. Perhaps a majority of B.C. NDP members were prepared to keep James in her position and hope for the best. But a significant part of that membership was not so prepared and on their behalf the 13 dissident MLAs forced her hand and ultimately her resignation. Whatever the merits of the intra-party discussion, James lost the support of too much of her own party to stay in her leadership position.

And have you heard how upset many Democrats are with Obama because of his capitulation to the Republicans over the Bush tax cuts? The disappointment among rank and file Democrats and fellow travelers is pretty wide spread. It is not unanimous, certainly. But suppose Democratic voters stay home in 2012 as they did in the mid terms last month. Governor Palin might win every state.

So Obama needs to regain the support of Democrats if he is to navigate through he next two years and ultimately be re-elected. But right now Obama is defying his own party and electoral base with his stubborn defense of the tax cut deal he struck with the GOP (without much input or assent from Congressional Dems). As of this moment, there is still uncertainty as to whether or not the Obama/GOP deal will be adopted by either the House or Senate. Many Democrats in both houses are trying to either defeat the compromise or make it better fro the non-wealthy Americans. This is clearly in opposition to the President with whom they should be cooperating but who seems to not want to work with them.

Going forward, whatever the outcome of the current legislative struggle, Obama can either listen to his Democratic and progressive base or persuade them that he really is fighting for what his base wants. If he does neither, he can expect a more than symbolic challenge for his re-nomination in 2012. The further he strays from his party’s priorities, the more dissent within his own party he will create. In the end he could share the fate of Carole James and other leaders who decide to ignore the advice and wishes of those who put them in power.

Written by slothropia

December 8th, 2010 at 9:53 pm

truthout: Revisiting the Politics of Social Change by Cary Fraser

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Currently, truthout has a post up by Cary Fraser about Revisiting the Politics of Social Change that along the way makes a number of very astute observations on the site of the U.S. spoiler alert: It looks pretty bad. There is so much in the piece that needs to be read and discussed, I would like to just post it aas is. But that’s not how we do things in the blogosphere, so let me quote some excerpts and encourage everyone to go read the whole thing for themselves.

The November 2010 midterm elections have unveiled the fissures in America to reveal a society suffering a loss of self-confidence and a fragmentation of its political system…In the face of the Tea Party’s mobilization of anti-Obama sentiment around concrete economic issues, the administration demonstrated that it was unable to fashion a coherent response to the populist onslaught and the Republican Party leadership’s obstructionist attempts to block policy initiatives to ameliorate the consequences of the economic downturn.

After the brilliant 2008 campaign, I for one thought that the new President would be able to advance the progressive cause by prioritizing its policy goals, and pursuing them effectively. Obama would use his mighty oratorical skills to persuade the people of the need to act decisively in pursuit of solutions to the nation’s problems. But instead of Lincoln with a jump shot we got a neo Liberal Prufrock, afraid to eat a peach or take a stand. This dithering weakness and betrayal of his base allowed the Tea bag GOP to define Obama and the Democrats in terms that fit the Right’s narrative.

But wait! There’s more.

The Obama administration has found itself hostage to Wall Street’s predatory practices in the name of “saving American capitalism” – with adverse consequences for the wider society. This perception of relative disadvantage coming out of the economic crisis has been validated by recent reports from the federal government. According to the Washington Post, recent government indicators show that:

*Even as conditions are likely to remain miserable for job seekers for years to come, an extraordinary bounce-back is underway in the nation’s corporate sector, with profits rebounding 28 percent over the past year to an all-time high in the third quarter.

*Businesses’ spending on compensation for employees, by contrast, rose only 7.6 percent.

*Among the reasons for the strong earnings growth were that financial companies are no longer suffering from massive write-downs on bad investments, as they were in 2008, and profits from U.S. firms doing business overseas have shot up.

I don’t think these observations are controversial, although I don’t think the White House would accept them. Tragically, the Obama Administration has spent most of its first two years helping corporations grow stronger while doing next to nothing to rescue or empower middle class and working class families.

The 2010 midterm election has led the Obama administration to a fork in the road – in both ideological and political terms. The president will have to decide whether he will live up to the promise of change that defined his 2008 campaign or whether he will be content with a legacy of being the savior of the primordial predatory capitalism that has eviscerated the middle and working classes of America.

I wish I had any hope at all that Obama would choose door number 1. But I do not.

However, beyond the changes in health care that emerged from the recent legislation, progressive social forces will have to offer an alternative political vision of America in opposition to the predatory ethos of governance that the Republican Party, sections of the Democratic Party and both parties’ corporate paymasters have embraced since the Reagan era. The three decades of Republican ascendancy in American politics since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 have been defined by widening income disparities between the truly wealthy and the rest of the society; the accelerating export of jobs and industrial capacity to other countries; growth of the underground economy based on the trafficking of drugs, guns and other dangerous substances; the neglect of public education and an expansion of the prison-industrial complex, resulting in the underdevelopment of the intellectual capital available to society; an increasing deference to Wall Street’s speculative excesses and its focus upon the index of short-term business profitability; and neglect of the country’s infrastructure, a dereliction that was highlighted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Progressives and/or liberals in the U.S. can no longer allow the Democratic party to act or speak for them. The democratic party is dysfunctional, divided and compromised. The two party system is not meeting the needs of the nation because a party of the left is desperately needed but is not an option in the near term.
Therefore the U.S. left (loosely speaking) need to organize around issues and principles and not be afraid to call out those in power of whatever party.

A broader vision of American economic recovery is now more necessary than that provided in the first two years of the Obama administration. The recent call by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Ted Turner for the government to tax the wealthy at higher rates than those currently applied will undoubtedly help to intensify the debates over tax reform under the Obama administration. It will be important for other sectors of society to become involved in challenging the rhetoric of lower taxes that has been championed by Republicans from Reagan onward. The illusion that the rest of the world will continue to finance America’s deficits for the maintenance of its claim to being a superpower is not sustainable over the medium- and long-term. American political debates will have to acknowledge that reality.

Further, current political leaders may need to take refresher courses in American history to understand that America’s influence was greatest in the world when its tax rates and fiscal policies helped to fuel the era of international economic stability that followed World War II. The Vietnam quagmire that led the Nixon administration to abandon the gold standard was followed by the oil crises of the 1970s, which eroded American competitiveness and triggered the progressive restructuring of the American economy away from the industrial development that had secured the U.S’s role as an international leader during the 20th century… American political leaders will have to be educated that the Republican shibboleths of low taxes, limited government and predatory capitalism will contribute to the further erosion of America’s appeal in the wider world. Further, those shibboleths, if enacted as policy, will limit American society’s capacity to avoid the crippling effects of high levels of unemployment and underemployment over the long-term.

In both the near and long terms, following the Right’s policy prescriptions will result in a smaller economic pie that is less equally divided. And the perpetual Orwellian wars are a major component of the downward spiral of the U.S.

Like I said, everyone should read this piece for its very astute analysis.

Written by slothropia

December 5th, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Residual, Default Racism in The U.S.

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Racism is as American as cherry pie. The U.S. fortune was compiled using stolen land from the indigenous peoples and stolen labor from slaves. Corporations are doing their best to recreate those glory days, but I’ll get into that another time.

Which is not to say that all or even a majority of USians are racists or bigots, nor would I argue that the United States is a completely racist country. Other nations are indeed worse, and the U.S. can boast of many who fight peacefully yet vigorously against racism, hatred and divisions of all kinds.

Still, racism remains strong in the U.S. It would take a prodigious effort to deny this is true. Fresh evidence presents itself daily.

The recent Shirley Sherrod episode is a splendidly clear example. A racist hack who calls himself a journalist or blogger delivers a doctored video and labels it evidence of reverse racism. This is the same slime bucket who successfully slandered ACORN to death (another example of the political use of racism). Sherrod was virtually lynched, or maybe just tarred and feathered, by most of the corporate media (led by Fox News of course) and driven from public service before a true picture could be drawn of her past, her personality, her beliefs and the complete context of her “offending” remarks. Even the NAACP and the post racial White House joined in piling on.

All because a significant chunk of white America was ready to believe the worst of a middle aged black woman and because Fox News has been on a race baiting campaign from the hour of Obama’s inauguration. If you doubt this is the case, explain the frequent racist attacks on Obama by Glen Beck and that morning zoo crowd Fox inflicts on viewers each day. And provide another explanation for the Fox campaigns against ACORN and the three guys in the New Black Panther Party.

The tea baggers and other Republicans have been spreading the rumor for the last two years that Obama was not born in the U.S. and so is not really President. They have succeeded in clouding millions of willing minds to the point that, according to a CNN poll, over a quarter of the population of the U.S. has doubt Obama was born here.

Where did I hear yesterday that the Fox News audience is only 1.38 per cent African American? Can”t imagine why.

Now the Republicans are on about repealing the 14th amendment, which makes a citizen of anyone born in the United States. The target is babies who are born in the U.S. of one or more parents who are undocumented aliens. They are not serious about amending the constitution. This is mid term election year racial politics. The object of the exercise is a to encourage white USians to be angry at Hispanics, whether they are immigrant (legal or no) or citizens of the U.S. This too will cloud minds ready to be made more ignorant, but will not delay what the racist white is most afraid of: a U.S. where the majority is not composed of the descendants of northern Europeans.

Written by slothropia

August 5th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Good Crisis Advice for No Drama Obama

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Over at Crooks and Liars, karoli has a few suggestions for POTUS:

Dear President Obama,
All the good you’ve done (and all the goodwill many have for you) is about to be undone and forgotten by this mess in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a President’s worst nightmare, no doubt. A combination of the wrecked mess of the Louisiana wetlands and the bogeyman of Big Oil at the helm is a nightmare, especially when the aforementioned Big Oil Company has been cozily sleeping with its guards.

The thing is, you’re not helping things much. Your weekly video message this week was as much an apologetic for the plan to continue risking our coastline as it was a lukewarm reassurance that everything that could be done was being done. It left me — someone frequently referred to as an Obama apologist, fangirl, and blind-eyed supporter — cold. My sense of things was that YOU didn’t even believe the line about making sure this never happens again.

Making a promise like that is akin to saying you’ll make sure the sun doesn’t rise and if it does, it’ll rise in the west. It cannot be done. Mr. President. Yet, this is an opportunity for you. A big one. Avail yourself of it.

Karoli then advises BHO to:

    1. Quit putting BP in the front.
    2. Select a press pool and give them full access to the area.
    3. Start talking about what the government IS doing.
    4. Rapidly implement creative citizen-led initiatives.
    5. Employ the unemployed.
    6. Stop talking about drilling offshore in the future.
    7. Start talking about what we need to sacrifice to save our coastlines.

For further details read the whole thing.

One of the things that annoys me about the President is his stubborn insistence that everything is cool, no need to panic”I’ve got this.”

The situation in the Gulf is a serious crisis and no one, repeat nobody, knows how bad it will be before it is over. The U.S. needs a leadership that recognizes a crisis when it sees it and responds appropriately.

Karoli’s got some great ideas though.

Written by slothropia

May 23rd, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Losing My Hope for Hope and Change

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Almost six months on the job finds the President still getting mostly good grades from the U.S. electorate and in many ways Obama is doing well. In partisan political terms, he is driving the right wing nuts, and they have become completely and suicidally clueless. Hardly a day goes by without a high profile Republican embarrassing him or her self and the GOP. Mark Sanford, Sarah Palin (and Todd too), John Ensign and the list grows daily.

But the Democrats and Obama have run into their own rough patches and despite GOP weakness, victory is not assured in either the mid term elections or the 2012 presidential race. If the US left (such as it is) feels betrayed, the Democrats could have unexpected difficulties in the Congressional election next year and Obama could end up with one failed term. In fact, at this point, I would be willing to vote against Obama in the 2012 primary. And my vote in the midterms is conditional upon passage of a health care reform package with a “strong public option”. I really want single payer, but will accept the public option. Anything less and I will not vote Democratic again for the foreseeable future. And no, I will never vote for any Republican, nor for any anti choice candidate of any party.

I understand why Republicans want to block any meaningful health care reform. The Republican party exists to serve the wealthy and corporations. But Democrats like Baucus, Ben Nelson or Landrieu who accept insurance company bribes to work against the interests of their constituents are shameless toads. I do not how they sleep at night or what they see in the mirror.

More about health care below, but to return to the administrations overall efforts, let us stipulate that the Obama agenda includes the following priorities:
1. The economy
2. Health care reform
3. Energy and climate change
4. National security and diplomacy (Iraq and Afghanistan included)

Here is how I would grade the Obama Administration on each of these portfolios after six months in office:

The Economy: C-
The Vice president said recently that the Administration underestimated the severity of the recession (or Depression) and so did not make the stimulus package strong enough. Now Obama says a second stimulus is not needed IOW Krugman was right. And there’s the problem. It is not as if good advice was not available. It was but Obama chose to ignore it. Robert Reich, Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman are still around to remind the president that this is not an ordinary recession. We are living through some kind of economic crisis that should be addressed as such. Instead, Obama now says a second stimulus is not needed. Is he trying to lose my vote? Is he trying to be Hoover or FDR?

RE the banking and finance system, too much Geitner and Summers. The foreclosure crisis is probably going to get worse. Congress missed a chance to mitigate by refusing to pass the cram down legislation. Thanks Blue Dogs and Senate “moderates”. And now Obama wants the left to be nice to the Blue Dogs, Republicrats or ConservaDems (as Maddow calls them) even though they are either opposed to a public option in health care. Fat chance.

Come to think, a C in this subject is pretty damn generous.

Health Care – Incomplete
Again, my support for the President and congressional Democrats are contingent on the passage of health care reform with a strong public option. Obama has been vague about what he wants an expects from Congress on this. I don’t know if anyone in the White House knows how destructive was Rahm’s trial balloon about co-ops v public option. I hope he knows what he is doing.

Energy and climate change – Incomplete
Incomplete because the cap and trade bill is not out of the Senate yet so we don’t know what kind of sausage the final product will be.

National security and diplomacy (Iraq and Afghanistan included) – C+
This, IMO, is the area in which Obama and his team have performed most effectively. Some of the left argne critical of the Administration because the exit from Iraq will take a little longer than Obama promised during the campaign. I am not concerned about that. I will be concerned though if the withdrawal from Iraq turnes out to be incomplete.

In my view, Obama has done well on most areas of foreign relations. His reserve during the Iran post election crisis has served the U.S. well. His fence building eith the Muslim world will eventually pay handsome dividends.

The big problem that drags this grade down is Afghanistan. It looks to me that Obama is repeating one of Bushes early problems in Iraq; there is no clear strategy. When is the Afghanistan mission to be considered accomplished? What is the exit strategy? How much blood and treasure is to be expended on such a nebulous project?

No doubt there are other less visible projects and priorities, like reforming the federal bureaucracy, cleaning up the Justice Department and Pentagon procurement. Presumably human rights are somewhere in the mix but the foot dragging on don’t ask don’t tell and DOMA, and the continuation of Bush II policies re FISA and detention of suspected Islamic militants have created doubts on that score. Transparency was also promised but not yet fully delivered. I would like to see AG Holder seriously investigate Bush/Cheney crimes, but I can’t hold my breath that long.

Again, my support for any Democrat, from Obama on down, is predicated on the successful passage of an adequate health care reform package. The House bill is encouraging as is the Senate bill passed by the HELP committee. I am not completely happy with either, but they are a step in the right direction.

Now to await the final sausage.

Written by slothropia

July 15th, 2009 at 10:03 am

Schock in the Hotseat?

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Cross posted at Daily Kos.

Greetings from Central Illinois. Specifically from the 18th congressional district of the Prairie State. The (Fightin’?) 18th is composed of the Peoria metropolitan area and a whole lot of rural.

Here in the 18th District, Caterpillar is the largest employer – or was until they laid off over 20,000 workers. The President seems to understand the importance of Caterpillar to the economy of Peoria and will be visiting one of that company’s facilities tomorrow, Thursday, February 12.

In fact, President Obama will be joined on Air Force one by Caterpillar CEO Jim Owen. Owen, by the way, is a member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The President’s visit to Peoria is part of his push for passage of the economic stimulus bill that came out of a House/Senate conference today and will almost certainly receive final passage in a matter of days.

The 18th has long been a GOP district, and Peoria was once represented in Congress by a founder of that party, Abraham Lincoln. Illinois 18 is currently represented in by Aaron Schock, a Republican. Schock’s predecessor was Ray Lahood, now President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation.

Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Schock was a State Representative fro an inner city district in Peoria, A Republican neglected in a Democratic district, so at the time, Schock clearly had some cross over appeal.

Then he ran for Congress and took the standard GOP neocon positions in the 2008 primary. One of his first votes in the House was on the Ledbetter Act for pay equity. Schock voted against the bill along with all but three House Republicans.

Schock also voted against the House version of the current stimulus bill. Again, that bill has been reported out of conference. It is going to pass unless a giant meteor strikes the earth and we all join the dinosaurs. Will Representative Schock continue to vote the way John Boehner and Rush Limbaugh tell him to, or will vote aye and join Jim Owen, Ray Lahood and the thousands of his constituents who are desperate to get back to work? Would it help if he got a call from from fellow Illinoisan, President Barack Obama?

Written by slothropia

February 11th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Health Care: Mayor Bloomberg Gets It

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Just saw Bloomberg of NY on CNN interviewed by Ed Henry and responding to Prez Elect’s economic stimulus speech. It was pretty non-controversial stuff – sped money on city infrastructure, fix SS, etc. blah, blah – but something he said was music to my ears.

I am without a transcript or video, but what I heard was Hizzoner saying that something needs to be done about health care and health insurance because European countries spend 2k or 3k less per capita on health care than the U.S. and yet their life expectancy and other outcomes are improving while ours are declining (again, I am paraphrasing).

This is not the only argument in favor of universal health care, preferably of a single payer variety, but it is one of the strongest. It has the virtue being a pragmatic argument, and what red blooded American does not like pragmatic arguments. Yes, neo-con Republicans, I know, but they are discredited losers.

The good news here is that this statement of fact is becoming more widely distributed and on its way to being one of those things that “everybody knows’, aka conventional wisdom.

Written by slothropia

January 8th, 2009 at 11:45 am

Gaga over Gupta? Not Me

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It seems I am not the only one who would question Gupta’s appropriateness as a spokesman for the Obama administration’s future health care reforms.

Remember when Sicko came out? Gupta was right there with the Know Nothings, or Republicans as they call themselves.

As my close personal friend Paul Krugman says:

So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

Read the whole thing. I agree with everything Krugman says.

Written by slothropia

January 7th, 2009 at 9:45 am

Obama Appointments that Make Me Go “Wha…?”

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It looks like the President Elect will name Ray Lahood (my former congressman) as Transportation Secretary. Huffpo has this latest morsel of gossip and a thumb nail of Lahood.

I do not see a compelling reason to give this particular cabinet post to Lahood. True, Lahood is not a wing nut and yes, he has voted to fund Amtrak, and against cutting Amtrak funding. OTOH it is hard to find other examples of progressive transportation votes he has cast in the House.

IMHO there are some deficiencies in Lahood’s transportation record. For example, if a Peorian wants to take an Amtrak train to anywhere, they need to drive to Bloomington or Galesburg. Indeed, If a Peorian wants to take a Greyhound bus anywhere they need to drive or hitch hike to another city. This in the district of one of the most adept ear markers in the Congress of his day.

Obviously, energy is one of the critical issues President Obama will face, and progress on energy depends largely on progress in transportation. Were there no visionary progressives available for this post?

And while I’m bitching about Obama appointments, what’s up with Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inauguration.

I’m with not Jack Black on this one.

Written by slothropia

December 17th, 2008 at 10:48 pm