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    • A Great Idea About Capitalism That Was Wrong
      So, back in the 80s, when I was young, green and wet behind the years, one of the great thinkers about how to help poor people was a guy named Hernando DeSoto. (Great name, aces on parents!) DeSoto, who was mostly concerned with Latin and South America had one big idea: the reason that poor people were fucked is they didn’t have clear ownership of what they […]
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Health care: Bipartisanship in itself is not a goal (period)

Bob Dole: The man with a plan . . .  Oh, really?

Bob Dole: The man with a plan . . . Oh, really?

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that when most of us think of “health care reform” we assume the reforms will be helpful (at least in some minimal way) to all of us — but, should we be counting on that?

The Republicans made their proposal for sweeping reforms — making it clear that after all these months they aren’t compromising an inch:

The four-page Republican health care outline lays out a plan that would allow states, associations and small businesses to pool together to offer health insurance. It would give tax credits to low and modest income Americans to help them buy health insurance. It would also let dependents under twenty-five stay on their parent’s health insurance. (CBS News)

(blinking) That’s it.  Republican’s have been screaming, “Listen to us!!!!” for months and THAT’s what they come up with to cure our health care crisis?  You can keep your kids on your plan even if they aren’t in college.  Woop-de-f*ckin-do!

But Wait — There’s more: Continue reading

Defending Government By Astroturf

barack_obama_on_the_primaryThe latest trumpeter of the “Obama Drama Equals Bad PR” song, Marc Ambinder is the most recent addition to the growing chorus of Obama fluffers playing what’s rapidly becoming a hauntingly familiar and disturbingly discordant  tune.  The reason the American public is getting impatient with the whole stimulus bill kerfuffle and the Spokesmodel in Chief’s early performance of presidential duty is not because they fear it is a bloated, most likely ineffective bill that will probably cost them money in the long run, or they’re afraid that he really is the empty suit he’s been accused of being and now actually appears to be, but because the Republicans got to tell the public more bad stories than the Obama team could effectively Astroturf over.  We, the people, are only upset with Obama’s cabinet picks’ lack of ethics and stuff because Fox News made a big deal about it, so the theory goes.  News outlet after news outlet is putting forth variations of this Axelrod-generated theme, straight-faced, no chaser, and offering the sage advice that all that’s needed to lead us transparently on the way to financial recovery is a really good TelePrompTer-read speech, the kind the candidate Obama used to read in front of thousands of people who had already pledged their love and devotion to him by attending his campaign rallies.  That anyone would dismiss legitimate criticisms of a president’s performance as merely opposition pushback in a spin war is bad enough, to use it as a defense for incompetence is appalling.  To forget that half the country is not predisposed to embrace anything that comes out of his mouth as gospel is stupid.

If Obama sucks, he sucks because he sucks, not because Rush Limbaugh says he sucks.  Whether Obama forcefully denies that he sucks or not, does not change the fact that he does or he doesn’t.  So, why are so many people in the media, mainstream and otherwise, rallying behind the “he’s just been getting bad pr” theme?

Like Politico, Ambinder blames the lack of bipartisan support for Obama’s stimulus plan, and all his other problems in the first two weeks in office, on the White House email system.  According to these guys, the problem is not that Obama was trying to stuff the cabinet with crooks, and shove a high-fat and cholesterol pork-laden stimulus plan down the country’s throats on top of the mystery-shrouded TARP, or that his bumbling outreach for Republican support was clumsy, stupid and unnecessary, it was because the ancient email system didn’t allow reporters to get their talking points in a timely enough manner:

When news of Daschle’s car-and-driver tax problem was disclosed, the White House faced an immediate communications challenge. Mr. Obama had campaign on a platform of single standards and transparency, and here he seemed to be making an exception for a good friend of his on the basis of, well, nothing but the friendship.

He campaigned on a platform of blocking lobbyists from serving in his administration, but he had just given several of them a waiver, and here was standing by a Washington insider who ostensibly (although unintentionally) broke the law to the tine of over $100,000.

I know White House aides were worried about this appearance, but I also know they had a tough time figuring out which reporter was working on which story, and they didn’t respond to events as quickly as Republicans in Congress were able to exploit them.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama’s team was known for its ability to proceed along several tracks simultaneously. It’s been harder in the White House.

The trouble with Daschle bled over into the debate about Mr. Obama’s stimulus principles, forcing the White House to use Mr. Obama’s personal charm as a pitchman. He spent three hours of daylight in television interviews on Tuesday.

Nobody is offering any practical advice on how to fix the bill in a way that efficiently serves the public’s interests, or pushing for Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner, tax cheat to be fired and replaced in an effort to shore up the Neophyte Naked Emperor’s ethical transparent government creds.  Nope, just give a speech, send out some emails, manage the message, massage the messengers.  Why not?  That’s what got him elected.  But the presidency is not a 4 year campaign for the next election, or at least, it shouldn’t be.  And even if that is an element of a politician’s life, it is not the goal of governing.  You don’t perpetually run for office and do a little of the people’s business on the side.  Unless you’re Barack Obama.

That’s why he has met his ultimate Peter Principle level of incompetence, and will ultimately fail.  He probably reached it earlier, but the miracle of elections as popularity contests obscured that particular truth until now.  Unfortunately for him, and us, there’s no higher office to try to attain; it’s put up or shut up time.  And sadly, his media baby sitters, enablers, and defenders don’t realize that every time they blame his setbacks on the opposition’s better campaign spin, rather than a rectifiable lapse of some sort on his part, they admit he’s got nothing else.

Somehow, the Post-Racial President’s “it ain’t perfect, but it’s something” argument in support of a 900 billion dollar spending spree during yet another “this is our moment” rah-rah, just doesn’t cut it for me.

Now, I believe that legislation of such magnitude deserves the scrutiny that it’s received, and you will get another chance to vote for this bill in the days to come. But I urge all of us to not make the perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary. The scale and scope of this plan is right.

Sez you.

X-Posted at Cinie’s World

When is Geithner resigning?

I wish people would stop telling me to be relieved that President Obama is not President Bush. I detested President Bush, and I detested him from the moment he arrived on the national scene, from the way he ran his campaign which led us to the debacle of an election stolen in Florida (decided by 547 votes in the state George’s brother was then Governor; and a long-time Bush supporter designed a confusing ballot and refused to go through the sort of recount that Al Franken is now having to endure); a campaign filled with bait and switch promises (viz: local control over schools, only to be followed by the No Child Left Behind Act: one of the greatest federal government takeovers of local affairs in recent memory.) But these bad-faith measures were just the prelude to an administration that pursued an agenda of putting the President and the executive branch above the law: George W. Bush personally committed war crimes, had his administration engage in illegal surveillance of American citizens, directed his Justice department to come up with justifications for U.S. violations of international law, tolerated or encouraged a host of troubling cronyistic contacts and relationships between his vice-president and members of the energy industries, tolerated or encouraged his justice department to go after government lawyers for their political positions, encouraged the expansion of executive privilege to cover the the office of the vice-president in unprecedented ways, and used various suspect methods (e.g. substituting executive regulation for legislation) to flout the separation of powers and checks and balances built in to the structure of the U.S. Constitution. George W. Bush was shady and underhanded, rivaled in recent times only by Richard M. Nixon, who was literally a crook.

I have no idea whether Barack H. Obama will turn out to be more or less unscrupulous than George W. Bush, more or less interested in the rule of law, and the place of the executive branch in American constitutional democracy. But less than a month into the new administration and, sure, I’m relieved that Obama isn’t Bush, but I am not at all persuaded that he is going to be qualitatively more honest, in better faith, and more sensitive to the ideal of a government of laws rather than persons. Continue reading

Tom Daschle’s Campaign Ad (UPDATED2X)

UPDATE 2:

CNN reports that Daschle has asked Obama to withdraw his nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services

————————————————————————————-

There’s probably another where he denounces lobbyists too.

Daschle on tax cheats:

Continue reading

Fascism and Obama For America

See That Flag? It Means We Are Patriotic!

See That Flag? It Means We Are Patriotic!

Boy, this working thing really cuts into my blogging time. What’s up with that?

Never mind. I’m home for a few hours, and today, I’m thinking about Fascism.

Fascism is usually defined as a merger of corporations and state. Since we have deregulated our financial institutions to the point of insanity, they made a lot of bad lending decisions and are leveraged out the wazoo. We are now forced into bailing them out with taxpayer money because they are “too big to fail.” Other corporations, like the Big Three automakers, now expect taxpayers to pony up more cash to pay for their poor competition in the market of ideas.

When you nationalize key industries and institutions, that’s a large part of what makes up a fascist state (well, that, and things like The Patriot Act and warrantless wiretapping, which we have also allowed to happen). I thought we Murkins were dead-set against this type of economics, being so in love with “the free market” and all?

In reality, which despite reports to the contrary actually exists outside of Ayn Rand’s brain, a truly competitive market needs to be overseen and regulated, or the corporations will run amok, taking our economy – and the world’s – with it.

We have seen this actually happen over and over again, yet ideology continues to trump common sense with voters from all sides of the political spectrum. We keep allowing our politicians to loot our pocketbooks and direct trillions of our dollars into their cronies’ bank accounts, with nary a peep of protest from us.

The people this year who were likely to enforce regulation and transparency on the giant wealth-transferral machine that our government has become, were driven out of the race by the corporate media and deserted by their own political parties; while Barack Obama, the most unelectable candidate I have ever seen in my lifetime, was elevated to the status of Jesus.

And only the PUMAs asked why. Why did the corporate media love Obama so much, when he had friends and associates that would have driven anyone else, of any political party, out of the race before he was even allowed to become a candidate? Why did the Chicago Machine politician, the ultimate insider who married into The Family, pass the Democratic Party’s vetting process? We received no response other than wild accusations and rejection by friends, family members and former blogging communities for asking these obvious questions.

Since I’m talking questions, let me ask two more. What will happen once Barack Obama is inaugurated? Will we keep going down this road of merging the private and the public sectors of our economy?

Continue reading