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Back to the Pipe and the Pole

Here is a letter I received a few days ago from the President of my University.

Last summer, I formed an advisory task force to assist the University in developing a plan to prepare for probable reductions in state funding for higher education and to assist the University in developing a new instructional resource model. The task force consists of faculty, academic deans, administrators, and staff.

On December 18, 2010, the task force held an open forum. At that forum, Provost Mearns, who is co-chair of the task force, discussed the status of the task force’s efforts to assist in developing a contingency plan for next year’s budget. I attended the forum.

Since then, the task force has continued to provide me with additional recommendations. Those recommendations are detailed in a written report that is now available on the task force’s webpage.

This report recommends overall budget target ranges for each of the University’s major sectors: academic colleges, academic support units, and university administrative units. I have accepted these sector recommendations. In December, I provided differentiated budget targets to each of the vice presidents who manage university administrative units, and I directed them to prepare a contingency plan to meet their unit’s respective target. They have submitted their plans to me, which I am currently reviewing.

The task force’s report also provided specific recommendations about differentiated targets for each of the academic colleges. After developing a list of strategic factors and applying those factors to readily available data, the task force assigned each academic college to one of three groups, or bands. As discussed in the report, a college or an administrative unit can meet its proposed budget target through both permanent expense reductions and reliable revenue enhancements.

After reviewing an initial draft of the report, I met at length with Provost Mearns, Vice President George Walker and Tim Long, the University’s Budget Director, to review the strategic factors and the data relied upon by the task force to develop its differentiated recommendations for each of the academic colleges. In making my decisions, I relied upon the same strategic factors developed by the task force, including: how a college’s programs aligned with the University’s primary strategic goals; a college’s financial performance relative to the other colleges at the University; the extent to which a college has programs, including doctoral programs, with relatively few students; an assessment of the productivity and impact of the college’s research faculty; the success of a college’s students as measured by undergraduate retention and graduation rates and post-graduate licensing exams; and the ability of a college to develop differential tuition plans or increase enrollment above existing limits.

After this review, I accepted all of the task force’s recommendations with respect to the colleges’ budget targets, with one exception. I have delegated to Provost Mearns the responsibility of establishing differentiated targets for the various academic support units that report to him.

Provost Mearns has communicated the college targets to the deans, and he has asked them to provide him with their college’s plan by February 22, 2011. He has also directed the deans to consult with their respective faculties and staff in developing their college’s plan.

By early March, I anticipate that our collective strategy for meeting this financial challenge will begin to become more clear. Governor Kasich will present his proposed budget to the legislature on or before March 15. I anticipate that, when his budget is released, we will know much more about two of the most important factors that are driving this process: the approximate amount of any reduction in the state subsidy for higher education, and the limit on any possible increase in undergraduate tuition. By that time, we will also have had an opportunity to evaluate the various college and administrative plans that have been submitted.

When we have more information from the Governor, I will hold an open forum in March to discuss our University plan.

I know that this process is difficult and that it is causing some anxiety and uncertainty. I believe, however, that we have established a collaborative and transparent process that will enable the University to overcome this challenge. Indeed, I am encouraged by the constructive contributions that so many of you have already made to our contingency planning process. Therefore, I am confident that we will emerge from this process as a stronger institution — which is our goal.

Thank you for your service to our students, our University, and our community.

Indeed. To those of you who still believe in the American Dream, let me explain how it really works for you. Say Jane wants to grow up and become a Doctor. But Jane and her family live piss poor, so she works hard in High School, gets good grades in accelerated courses and takes part in track and cheerleading or some such other extracurricular nonsense that will look good on college applications. She gets accepted into a good school and manages to keep from getting pregnant. What a stand up gal Jane is, don’t you think? She gets some scholarships. Good for her! She gets Pell Grants and subsidized and unsubsidized loans through FAFSA. That’s our girl.

Before you know it she is accepted into Harvard Medical School and graduates with honors. Bravo! The problem is, now Jane has upwards of $200,000 worth of student loans to pay back. She gets married and begins practice as a pediatrician, her lifelong dream. But it will be a while before she begins to really rake in the dough and there are medical malpractice lawsuits on the horizon. Nonetheless, she and her husband, a college professor, are living well, having babies and attending church on Sundays. Everything seems fine until disaster strikes. Her mother is still piss poor and has just suffered from a stroke. A neighbor finds her laying face down in her apartment surrounded by urine and her own feces. Jane’s mother is admitted to the hospital and is soon discharged. Incontinent, paralyzed from the waist down and unable to take care of herself, Jane’s mother is just above the income threshold for medicaid and there are limited funds. She has no Health Insurance and therefore cannot afford to live in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility, so Jane has to quit her job to take care of her mother, as her husband is unwilling to quit his. The financial problems caused by the fact that Jane can no longer supplement the family income as well as the demands of taking care of a sick elderly woman takes a toll on their marriage, and Jane’s husband starts banging his secretary. They get a divorce and the children are heartbroken. Jane is now a single mother with no job. She still has student loans and legal fees to pay back, no home because she can’t afford a mortgage, and three kids to put through college. Her oldest daughter Sarah is devastated by the break up of her family and commits suicide. Three months later, Jane’s mother dies due to inadequate medical care. Jane’s American Dream has turned into an American Nightmare.

Sounds extreme, right? Wrong. Things like this are happening everywhere. I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to pay for college, and I will explain why. Most people have an idea of the average college student’s financial situation. A freshman will have mom and dad foot most of the bill and private loans will take care of the rest, right?

Wrong.

Take me for example. I graduated from that Shithole High School a semester early with decent grades and community service. Go me, right? I figured I might as well try to go to college, so I briefly (and by briefly, I mean for about two seconds) thought about going into the military and even told the Hell Hole High School that those were my plans so they would let me graduate early. I took the ASVAB tests and got excellent scores, fielding calls from every military branch recruiter known to man telling me to join so I could become an officer. Of course, I am not going to go into the Military. I am a pacifist. So I changed my phone number to get rid of the recruiters and enrolled at the local junior college, with plans to save money on Gen Eds in mind. Problem was, my Dad makes too much money for me to get FAFSA and we are somewhat estranged. I had to work my tail off and go to School part time so I could get taken off of his tax returns, as a student has to be enrolled in school full time to be on their parents tax returns after they’re eighteen and to still be on their parents health insurance plan.

In any case, I no longer have Health Insurance but now that I’m off his taxes I go to School overtime, supplemented by a hefty financial aid award. But get this!

President Obama and his aides have spent a good bit of time over the last several weeks talking about the importance of education. Now they announce that they plan to cut spending on Pell grants, the big student-aid program that helps students in (roughly) the bottom half of the income distribution. As Jackie Calmes explains:

Pell grants for needy college students would be eliminated for summer classes, and graduate students would start accruing interest immediately on federal loans, though they would not have to pay until after they graduate; both changes are intended to help save $100 billion over 10 years to offset the costs of maintaining Pell grants for nine million students, according to administration officials.

Oh, fantastic! Keep in mind that my situation is not unique. Many students are like me, with families either too poor or too unwilling to help pay for school. I have a friend, for example, who had to run away from home when she was in Hell High School because her Step Father was beating her mother. She supported herself with two jobs and help from family and friends until she graduated, and now she has classes with me. I don’t know how she does it, because she is forced by FAFSA to file as a dependent even though she receives no help from her family and supports herself completely. She is awarded funds based on the assumption that her parents help her when in reality she has to pay for full time school as well as everything else.

And why is it that school is so expensive? Gods only know. The cost of living has increased exponentially since my parents were in college. It is easy for some stuck-in-the past 1950’s holdover to lecture one of us stupid delinquent teenagers about how THEY did it when they were our age so why can’t we? Well, I feel like saying to these idiots, you’re the ignorant fools who elected conservative Presidents and congresses for the past several decades and caused the inflation and budget cuts that led to all of these problems. Get over yourself.

Not only that, but tuition is obscenely expensive since now colleges are run more like businesses instead of academic institutions that shape young minds and prepare the leaders of tomorrow. I have to pay thousands of dollars for Professors to teach me the same bull shit I’ve been learning since the sixth grade (which is not to say I don’t learn a lot in College these days from certain professors, but I digress) and then once I and many students have paid several more thousands to complete an undergraduate degree two thirds of us STILL won’t be able to get a job. And people wonder why our education system is so behind.

Well, one might say, you may not be achieving all of your fancy starry eyed dreams but at least you are bettering yourself for the real world. Maybe you’ll be a hospital administrator instead of a chemical engineer but at least you have the right to a comfortable lifestyle and a reasonable retirement, right? Wrong.

So far, Obama has had the following “bright ideas” and has proposed them to Congress:

(1) Obama proposed (and Congress passed) a $112 Billion REDUCTION in revenues coming into the Social Security trust fund for this year; that is a cut of 30% in workers’ contributions to the Fund. I think we can be pretty sure this $112 Billion annual cut in Social Security taxes will be made permanent with the full agreement of Obama. It won’t take long, at that rate, for Social Security to drain its fund (and current surplus) and go out of business.

(2) Obama has proposed a 50% REDUCTION in federal aid to the program that helps poor people pay heating bills for their homes

(3) Obama is proposing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go out of business, which will make it harder — if not impossible — for lower-income and middle-income people to buy their homes instead of paying endless rents

(4) Obama is proposing that the interest homeowners pay for their mortgages NO longer be fully deductible on their income taxes. In the early years of any mortgage, the bulk of the monthly mortgage payment goes to pay the interest on the mortgage; having that great sum be deductible has made it possible for people to buy homes and not default on their mortgages when finances are tight (as they often are when new homeowners are just starting out).

The result of Obama’s “bright” ideas, numbers (3) and (4), will be to make it harder for current homeowners to SELL their homes, will DEFLATE the value of their homes, will cause more people to default on their mortgages, and will create a situation where communities will take in LESS in the way of property taxes because of the number of vacant, abandoned homes that will become liabilities.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -
And Obama is doing all of this cutting less than two months after signing into law tax CUTS for the wealthiest Americans.

The Republicans have the EXACT right Democrat in the White House for their evil purposes. Obama is: (1) helping the Republicans realize their decades-long goal of destroying the Social Security program, (2) proposing policies that will create an even wider division between the “haves” and “have-nots” in America, and (3)proposing policies that will create a sub-class of Americans that the top one percent of Americans will be able to reduce to economic slavery.

That’s right. So long house in the ‘burbs. Bye bye white picket fence, 2.4 children and Labrador Retriever. S’later retirement fund, pensions, IRA. Hi poverty, what it do destitution? We’re the leaders of tomorrow. Nice to meetcha!

It just won’t do. Obama is a Republican Dream, not an American Dream. Why, just look at the cover of one of his famous “books.”

The Audacity of Nope

To Obama, this is the American Dream. Jane’s life would be everyone’s life with the policies he is currently championing. Can you believe this is happening? Well, I can. I’ve been saying who Obama is from the get-go. All it took was reading his idea of the American Dream in the pages of this book, where he talked about cutting Social Security and used Reagan as an example of a President to emulate. He’s stuck to his word, too. And has managed to unite this divided nation of ours- against him. On the 100the anniversary of Reagan’s whatever it was I was subjected to fawning book covers and pages about Obama’s hero for days. And now he is cutting Social Security with his bipartisan Republican pals, just like he promised.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t jive with the Obama the fauxgressives were selling us. This whole thing just isn’t going to work for me. I’m sure it won’t work for a lot of you, either, so run for office instead of electing more morons who will continue to pull this crap on us and expect to get reelected. My plan is to go to Law School and try to change these problems from within instead of sitting here and bitching about it.

But Isis, I can hear some people saying. Law School is expensive. You depend on those Pell Grants Obama and the Tea Party losers are cutting left and right and spending on unnecessary wars, a shitty Health Care Law and Michelle’s vacations in Spain to pay for your tuition, books and other fees. Won’t you be just like Jane, busting your hump for a dismal future? What are you going to do?

Well, shit. Whatever FAFSA doesn’t cover anymore I’ll supplement with scholarships. I just got a job that will pay for my Master’s Degree in Social Work so long as I get a good GPA. And certain agencies and non profits in my field of study will pay back all of my tuition if I end up working for them. As for the rest, it’s back to the pole and the pipe. And don’t think I’ll be the only one.

What’s a “Liberal” Again?


President Obama is considered a “liberal” Democrat in denial by the Village. If you ask Obama about his “shellacking” (can I take the time to point out how lame that word is and how sick I am of hearing it?) two weeks ago he will say that it was a messaging problem. While he was toiling away with legislation trying to help us ingrates he just didn’t have the time to go out and say how all of it was going to benefit our ungrateful behinds so we punished him at the voting booth for not chatting with us enough.
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Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda


There are a lot of low-information Creative Class Opolgists out there offering rationalizations why the Republicans drank the Democrats’ milkshakes last Tuesday. Here at TC and at blogs like Corrente, Alegre’s Corner, Ian Welsh and Anglachel’s Journal (among many others) there are numerous posts explaining why the Opologists are full of shit.

 

This isn’t one of those posts. Nor is this a post about how in 2008 the Democratic leadership betrayed their base (with the help of the Creative Class) in order to put an DINOcratic empty suit in the White House.

Rather than focus on what the Democrats did wrong, I want to look at what they could have done instead.

Let’s join Sherman and Mr. Peabody in the Wayback machine and travel back to November 8, 2006.

An electoral tidal wave had just swept through Congress, returning both the House and the Senate to the Democrats. Harry Reid was expected to become the Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi was going to become the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. George W. Bush still sits in the Oval Office, however, and will stay there for two more years.

If you were advising Harry and Nancy, what would you tell them?

The first thing I would tell them is to understand why they won. They didn’t win because of the stategeries of Howard Dean or Rahm Emanuel, nor was it because of the Netroots. The Democrats won in 2006 mainly because the voters were fed up with George Bush and the Republicans.

Reasons for the Democratic party takeover include the decline of the public image of George W. Bush, the dissatisfaction of the handling of both Hurricane Katrina and the War in Iraq, Bush’s legislative defeat regarding Social Security Reform, and the culture of corruption, which were the series of scandals in 2006 involving Republican politicians.

Anybody who have ever raised a puppy knows that if you want to housebreak them then when they crap on the rug you rub their nose in it and then swat their butt while telling them “NO! Bad dog!

If you declare “Impeachment is off the table” then you better be prepared to clean your rug a lot.

What the Democrats should have done was exercise their Congressional oversight power:

Congressional oversight refers to oversight by the United States Congress of the Executive Branch, including the numerous U.S. federal agencies. Congressional oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation.[1] Congress exercises this power largely through its congressional committee system. However, oversight, which dates to the earliest days of the Republic, also occurs in a wide variety of congressional activities and contexts. These include authorization, appropriations, investigative, and legislative hearings by standing committees; specialized investigations by select committees; and reviews and studies by congressional support agencies and staff.

Congress’s oversight authority derives from its “implied” powers in the Constitution, public laws, and House and Senate rules. It is an integral part of the American system of checks and balances.

They would use it, but not nearly enough:


 


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This is what a liberal looks like

Paul Wellstone

Eight years ago today, Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter and three five other people were killed in a plane crash. Three years ago, Ezra Klein (in his pre-Kool-aid days) wrote a moving tribute:

Wellstone’s populism was not an affectation, or a political posture. It was laced into the fabric of his personality. It’s what made him different than other politicians. His measuring stick was not the poll numbers, not the editorial pages, not the political prognosticators, not the Sunday shows — it was the farmers, the students, the seniors, the people. His fealty to them explains his frequent lonesomeness in the Senate. When the people are your judges, you can stand against the Iraq War in an election year, you can lose votes 99-1. You can fail to pass legislation, because you know the compromise would fail your constituents. “Politics is not about power,” he would say. “Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and the world. Politics is about doing well for the people.”

Because of this, Wellstone had an immunity to the political trends that few politicians exhibit. When liberal was an epithet, Paul Wellstone wrote a book called The Conscience of a Liberal. When unions were in deep decline, Wellstone stood with them, and now the AFL-CIO now gives an annual award in his honor. After the Clinton health plan was crushed and Democrats retreated from health reform, Wellstone pushed for single-payer. While Clinton was chasing dollars to outspend and overwhelm Bob Dole, Wellstone was calling for full public financing. When progressives were marginalized and cowed by the right’s cynical use of 9/11, Wellstone stood on the floor of the Senate, deep within the chambers of power, at the epicenter of cowardice and “responsible” hawkery, and roared on behalf of our ideals. That they were politically inconvenient never deterred him. “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for,” he said, “at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”

Rest in peace.


(h/t Okanogen)



Women Are to Blame For Hillary’s Loss. What Else is New?

As if we want to be reminded of the 2008 election, Rebecca Traister has just written a book expressing her desire for a “Sarah Palin of the Left” and letting us in on the fact that Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency was historic, she was the first woman to win a presidential primary, and she won more primary votes than any other presidential candidate in history, man or woman. OMG, no way! The book is called Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women.

According to Jezebel, this is the book we’ve been waiting for.

Rebecca Traister: As often happened at lunches about Hillary, within moments there was a furious conflagration about how young women didn’t know anything about feminism. I found that the election offered a sort of match that lit what was already pretty dry tinder. It wasn’t so much that Hillary made different generations of women angry at each other. It’s that Hillary gave them the excuse to have the fight they’d been spoiling to have for a very long time.

Cat Fight! Whooooop! Let’s watch the ladies get crazy!

Traisier goes on to spout the usual propoganda about Hillary’s bad campaign, Mark Penn, Raycists, Obama was more inspiring and blah blah blah, and then finally gets to the root of the problem as to why Hillary and her supporters were such epic losers.

You could go back and hear the same conversations around the foundation of the feminist and lefty blogosphere and hear young women saying, ‘Well, the women of the traditional feminist organizations aren’t listening to us, so we’re moving into our own realms.” Some of the older women — I’m using older women and young women very broadly, I don’t meant to be talking in derisive generalizations — you could hear them say, “These young women don’t take their rights seriously, they blog all day, they’re not activists.”

So in the end, Hillary lost because of a giant cat fight between third wavers, who are bratty and didn’t want to listen to their mommies and old second wave crustaceans who just wanted to call their daughters unappreciative of the rights they got for them.

Wow. I was under the impression that Hillary lost because delegates were stolen from her and the party refused to have a fair nominating process because they wanted a race baiting empty suit that would allow them to keep lining their pockets with cash from the pharmaceutical and financial industries. But apparently it’s much more complex than that. Actually, it has much more to do with my relationship with my mother.

I should use this opportunity to tell you something about my mom. She had me when she was thirty three. Hillary was the same age when she had Chelsea. I love my mother to death. I’m crazy about her and she’s crazy about me, but I was only partly raised by her. She has bipolar depression and severe anxiety and when I was six and she and my father had been divorced for a couple of years, she had a nervous breakdown and checked into the loony bin. My brothers and sister and I were almost put into foster care, but instead we went to live with my father and step mother (Foster care would have preferable), and from then on, we only saw her periodically on visitation.

I suppose I could be categorized as having very bad “mommy issues.” That has nothing to do with anything, but since we’ve all ready delved so deep into trashy Freudian psychobabble, I can say with absolute certainty that Traister is talking out of her ass. I find myself seeking out the approval and affection of older women more because of my complicated relationship with my mom.

Traister is simplistic and conformist in her musings, and while she is quick to put blame on young women, she has high praise for young men.

At the time, I wrote about what I perceived as a complicated misogynist vibe coming from some of the young male Obama devotees in the last stages of the primary cycle. I think one of the reasons that I was so struck by it — and this is not to give some pass to all younger men — is that there is such a marked generational change among men. There’s more of an awareness of gender, they’re often raised by feminist moms and working moms. Men who are [at least] used to the idea of equally splitting domestic duties; they’re active fathers.

I had actually come to expect much more from young men. We’re very lucky to live with a new generation of men, and I think our kids will be luckier still. But this was an instance in which some old attitudes seemed to bubble up among younger men.

See? The next generation of kids will be so lucky to be raised by Obots.

Dig it: What if young women who supported Obama weren’t trying to thumb their nose at their mothers? What if they were seeking the approval of their fathers? When I was small I would sometimes pretend to dislike Hillary and other assertive women. I thought my dad might give me a hug if I pretended to agree with him about stuff.

But no, we women “asked for it.” Traister blames women for blaming other women for what happened to the Secretary of State. She falls into the timeless “divide and conquer” trap that the Patriarchy sets up for us. Instead of uniting over our common interest: equality, feminists and more specifically mothers and daughters are pitted against one another over things like choice and porn and made to believe that we are our own worst enemy. I am constantly lurking on threads, on Clinton friendly threads no less, that have plenty to say about the lack of authenticity of “young feminists.”

And really, what is that? Plenty of young women supported Hillary and plenty of older women supported Obama. I’m twenty years old. I like doing my hair and getting my nails done and tanning, and I’m a feminist because I believe in equality. I am not a “third wave” feminist. I’m a feminist. I’m not a “fun feminist.” I’m a feminist. I’m not a white feminist. I’m a feminist. I’m not a pro choice feminist, I’m a feminist. I’m not a liberal feminist. I’m a feminist. I’m not a feminist Democrat. Honestly, I’m just a fricking feminist. That’s my only MO.

Every woman, old or young, is a feminist deep down, even if she doesn’t know it, because she is a human being. Feminism is about humanity. “Humanist” is a more appropriate term, but feminist is the one we have. Let’s stop putting labels on women. Let’s stop questioning each other’s choices. Let’s stop being so cruel to one another, and instead start working together.

And let’s not read Rebecca Traister’s new book.

Elena Kagan and Laura Bush: When Pigs Really Fly

Kudos to the President for nominating another lady to the supreme court. Well done. But something’s not right here. What is it…? Oh, yeah.

I’m really, really glad Obama chose a woman. I really, really wish she were more liberal. I suspect she’ll be okay on Roe and other “social issues,” but her attitude to executive power is alarming.

Also, rumors abound that Kagan is gay. Let’s just pretend for a second that we care….

Glad that’s over.

As for social issues, the President has really given us a treat! He picked someone that is kind of pro-choice! OMG! But wait…

As a White House adviser in 1997, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan urged then-President Bill Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions, a political compromise that put the administration at odds with abortion rights groups.

Documents reviewed Monday by The Associated Press show Kagan encouraging Clinton to support a bill that would have banned all abortions of viable fetuses except when the physical health of the mother was at risk. The documents from Clinton’s presidential library are among the first to surface in which Kagan weighs in the thorny issue of abortion.

The abortion proposal was a compromise by Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle. Clinton supported it, but the proposal failed and Clinton vetoed a stricter Republican ban.

In a May 13, 1997, memo from the White House domestic policy office, Kagan and her boss, Bruce Reed, told Clinton that abortion rights groups opposed Daschle’s compromise. But they urged the president to support it, saying he otherwise risked seeing a Republican-led Congress override his veto on the stricter bill.

Oh. But still! Since Kagan is probably a lezbo, she must support gay marriage, right? Wrong.

The meme has taken hold that Kagan is a stealth candidate who has avoided taking positions on important constitutional or other issues throughout her career.

But on one issue of critical importance to the left — the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Kagan has staked out a very clear and unequivocal position: There is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

In the course of her nomination for Solicitor General, Kagan filled out questionnaires on a variety of issues. While she bobbed and weaved on many issues, with standard invocations of the need to follow precedent and enforce presumptively valid statutes, on the issue of same-sex marriage Kagan was unequivocal.

Kagan is a winner in other ways, too:

“Like Harriet Miers, she doesn’t have a record to tell us how she would adjudicate from the bench. They led a rebellion against the executive branch and the same thing should happen here.”

“I object to appointment somebody that has no track record. Corporate power is a big one because of the Citizens United decision, and also Miranda. There are a lot of things where it would be helpful to be able to examine past writings.”

“If I was in the Senate, I would vote no, because like Harriet Miers she doesn’t have the judicial experience.”

“Accepting Kagan just because people like Obama is wrong. That’s appropriate for American Idol, not the Supreme Court. Nobody knows what she stands for but him. It’s just a cult of personality with Obama. This is the Supreme Court.”

There is something fundamentally wrong about this. Everyone is used to Obama constantly rejecting his base. They are like devoted mistresses who constantly tell themselves that their boyfriends will leave their wives–he is just making a compromise right now; it’s a secret game of eleven dimensional chest and during the election time he will come crawling back. But really, why do liberals have to compromise in the first place?

The selection of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the nation’s 112th justice extends a quarter-century pattern in which Republican presidents generally install strong conservatives on the Supreme Court while Democratic presidents pick candidates who often disappoint their liberal base.

[...]

Along the way, conservatives have largely succeeded in framing the debate, putting liberals on the defensive. Sonia Sotomayor echoed conservatives in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings last year by rejecting the idea of a “living” Constitution that evolves, and even President Obama recently said the court had gone too far in the past. While conservatives have played a powerful role in influencing Republican nominations, liberals have not been as potent in Democratic selections.

Well, I don’t know. Maybe the blogger boyz just need a reality check. For one thing, Obama is just not that into them.

For another, the notion that Obama is a “Democratic President” is laughable anyway. Democratic Presidents don’t pass Heritage Foundation Health Insurance Reforms and then claim it as the biggest victory of their Presidency. Just sayin.’

The Democratic Party is obviously in trouble, and that is no secret. But they can’t be any worse than Republicans, right? NOTHING is worse than a Republican. I mean, Elena Kagan might not be perfect on social issues, but at least she’s more liberal that Laura Bush!

On her media tour for her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, Laura Bush stopped by Larry King Live, where she opened up for the first time about her advocacy for marriage equality, as well as her belief that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision regarding a woman’s right to an abortion, should be upheld.

Banquo’s Ghosts


I’ve always been a loner.  Growing up I was not one of the kewl kidz but it never bothered me because I never felt the need to be part of any group.  I prefer jobs that let me work independently without co-workers getting in my way or bosses looking over my shoulder.  I live alone, but I’m not lonely.

Maybe that’s why peer pressure has never had much effect on me.  I’m always behind on fashions and the latest pop trends.  I usually discover the fashion changes when I go to buy something and the clerk informs me that “they don’t make those anymore.”

It’s not that I’m afraid to try new things.  But if I try it and I don’t like it then I don’t keep doing/wearing/eating whatever it is, even if everyone else believes (or claims to believe) that it’s the greatest/coolest/most wonderful thing ever.  I make up my own mind and I trust my own judgment.

But even though I’m a loner and don’t need anyone’s approval to validate my existence I was never treated like an outcast before (or if I was I didn’t notice.)

Ironically, I now find myself art of a group – of pariahs.  If you’re reading this there’s a pretty good chance you’re in that group with me. If you’re not in our group then you’re probably a deranged blogstalker who needs to get a life.

You can divide lefty bloggers into three main groups – the ones who supported Obama enthusiastically and uncritically, the ones who would have preferred someone else but went ahead and voted for him anyway and those of us that saw through him and refused to support him just because he had a “D” after his name.

Among the many weird phenomena that swept Left Blogistan beginning in 2007 was the Obama supporters’ rabid intolerance for differing/dissenting views.  Not that long ago nonconformity was considered a highly-prized virtue by liberals and progressives and freedom of speech was a holy principle that the Flying Spaghetti Monster gave to Founding Fathers.

Suddenly everyone on the left side of the blogosphere was expected to conform and stop exercising independent thought – as if we were right-wing authoritarian followers.

To question the One-derfulness of Obama was heresy, and supporting Hillary Clinton was blasphemy.  The cult-like behavior of the Obots was never more evident than in the way they persecuted anyone who dared to disagree with them. At many blogs moderation was non-existent or one-sided.  Anyone who refused to support Teh Precious had two choices: STFU or GTFO.  So we left, and they tried to follow us so they could keep harassing us.

We had committed a mortal sin – we rejected the divinity and most awesome gloriousity of Barack Obama, made worse by the fact that we were very vocal about it.  But the worst part is that we were liberal Democrats, which made us apostates to the true believers.

They told us we weren’t wanted in “their” party.  They said we were old, ugly and stupid and no one wanted us.  Then after all that they went ballistic when we announced after the RBC meeting that we didn’t give a fuck about party unity and we were not going to vote for Obama no matter how many of Hillary’s delegates they gave him.  For that we got called traitors.

Continue reading

Trying to stick a “Far Left” label on Righteous Indignation

The New York Times Opinionator blog aggregator has detected a nascent revolt in the Democratic party.  The Times is only 18 months late.  The PUMAs were ahead of the curve the day the DNC RBC knifed its own voters and installed Barack Obama as the nominee over the objections of slightly more than half of the Democratic primary voters.  I’ll get back to why this moment was important.  The Opinionator follows up on this week’s off-off-year election results and reports that it appears that the Democrats are losing their far left flank.

(First, they came for the so-called “Reagan Democrats”, then they came for the women and the gays.)

Can I just say what a stupid narrative this is?  Sometimes, I read this crap in the paper and I think, do these reporters just take dictation from Rahm Emannuel or do they make this $^&* up to conform to their view of the world where things have to go into neat little boxes?

What the hell is the far-left anyway?  If you believe that equal treatment under the law should apply to all citizens regardless of gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, race, creed or disability because they are all persons born with unalienable rights, that is hardly a “far left” position.  Isn’t that a uniquely American position?  Didn’t we all pledge allegiance to the flag that promised “liberty and justice for all”?  And if that is true, doesn’t that put us on the side of everything that is good about America and those that oppose those things horribly mislead?

My idea of “far-left” is based on my childhood impressions of news reports of the Weather Underground and defenders of Karl Marx.  Far lefties, to me, are people who are rigid ideologues who want to enforce some strange form of a socialist utopian nanny state on the rest of us. And I am referring to a REAL communist-socialist state, not some bizarre Republican  misinterpretation of one. Far lefties are militant pacifists.  They hang out in trees and feed their children macrobiotic organic fruititarian diets.  They are green Martha Stewart’s who think everyone has time to grow their own clothes and walk to work.   They’re people who can’t be reasoned with.  They’re oblivious to real life and are as fundamentalist in their world view as the religious right.

The closest I can find to a far-lefty these days is the Obot who still thinks that the main problem plaguing the country right now is the issue of race.  Where have these people been in the last year?  Did they miss that sincerely awe inspiring election of the first African-American for president?  Don’t they know what the unemployment rate is? Have they tried to find jobs lately?  Feed their kids?  Pay for a doctor?  Save for college?  They’re stuck with the mindset that we are not finished with their teachable moment on race as if all other oppressed demographic groups don’t have  grievances that need to be addressed.  If only we would let go of our prejudices, which for the most part do not exist on the center-left, President Obama could get on with his job and we’ll all be happier. Anyone who opposes Obama doesn’t have a legitimate reason for doing so.  They’re just racists or stupid old women.  That’s the far-left.  They are so stuck in the weeds of their own perfect world they are incapable of seeing the floor torn out from beneath their feet by the big business friends of Obama who installed him in office.

Let’s talk about those big business friends of Obama.  They were in control of the primary and general election season last year.  I think we can all see that in retrospect.  Raise your hand if that isn’t perfectly clear to you by now.  Their massive infusions of cash bought the Democratic National Committee, which unbeknownst to the average voter was up for sale.  The Democratic National Committee violated just about every principle it stood for in order to install Obama as the nominee including dumping millions of Hillary Clinton’s voters.  I’m going to keep harping on this until the Times boys get it.  The party dumped its base last year.   That is why there is trouble brewing in the party.  Some of us have left the party over what happened last year.  You just didn’t see it in the presidential election because the economy tanked.

Apparently, that “some of us” made the difference in NJ.  It isn’t that there were so many more voters voting Republican in NJ.  There weren’t.  It’s that Democrats just didn’t turn out or that the truly disgusted ones, such as myself, voted for a fiscally responsible, socially liberal Chris Daggett.  Now, some may argue that Corzine lost due to local issues.  And that is true.  But the reason he was such a failure at resolving local issues is because he is typical of the kind of Democratic politician we’ve become accustomed to voting for in the Democratic party.  He is beholden to the status quo and big money, a compromiser, an incrementalist, insufficiently bold, doesn’t look out for the middle class and all too willing to ignore the voters when their will is inconvenient to him.

Who does that sound like?

The party has lost its way and now that enough of its voters know that the party is no longer listening to them, there have been defections.  And let’s not mistake who the defectors are.  Most of us are FDR, Clinton style Democrats, moderate to  liberal but hardly “far-left”.  We’re in Paul Krugman’s camp.  Recently, some of the feminist Obama supporters have woken up and smelled the coffee.  We welcome them and only regret that they weren’t paying attention last year when references to abortion and reproductive rights were scrubbed from Democratic candidates web sites. (Read past the quote) They ridiculed the PUMAs last year.  They’re starting to sound just like them now.  Gay voters have been wary of Obama since he rolled out  Donny McClurkin but many fell prey to the “Obama is an historic candidate but Hillary Clinton is an old bitch” propaganda.  Do they now regret their over the top rants against her? Is it possible that she was just a legitimate candidate who stood for traditional core Democratic principles and was not sent by Satan to rain on Barack Obama’s glorious golden specialness?  Is it possible that her supporters deserved to be treated like persons and their votes respected?

The party’s civil war started the day the RBC tossed our votes out, May 31, 2008.  The day they made one candidate’s voters more equal than the others, the day they violated every principle they had over voting rights, the day they selectively broke and enforced their rules and decided to not listen to their voters, and got away with it, was the day the party started down the path to disunity.  It only took some time before the Obama cheerleaders realized that they had given the party permission to completely ignore them in the future.  And now the party should not be surprised that they have a civil war on their hands.

Bring. It. On.

 

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The Culture of Cannibalism in US Politics: The Triumph of The Cyclop’s Values Over Democratic Citizenship

{The first essay in this series introduced a model I created to explain the cycle of corruption that plagues US politics. This essay looks into the roots of this corruption. It takes a long time to get to the payoff. Further, the conclusion is somewhat ex nihilo if you have not read the first essay. This said, for those who dare, I hope you find it worth the read.}
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Polyphemos the cyclops would have eaten Odysseus, if his survival was dependent on the moral virtues of Silenus’s satyrs. Fortunately for Odysseus, and Silenus and his lot, Odysseus could depend on his fellow citizens. If Polyphemos had the majority of America’s elected representatives depending on him for their survival in his cave, the way that they are presently beholden to lobbyists’ money for their electoral survival, he could have had a ready supply of citizens for his daily meals.

Cyclopean virtues regularly triumph over the virtues of democratic citizenship in the political landscape of the United States. Given that the Declaration of Independence embodies the spirit and principles that ground the virtues of democratic citizenship, why is it that cyclopes, who eat humans, win the day in America? Answering this question requires that we journey back to Attic Greece and her proto-democratic foundations. Continue reading

Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

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Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

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