Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Deficits during Republican and Democratic administrations (labeled on the chart). This one shows the deficit under George H.W. Bush (Reagan's record was bad too, but not as bad as Daddy Bush), then Clinton when America achieved surpluses, and then the W. Bush years...
Sunday, September 20, 2009
NPR and PBS both have turned themselves into corporate ad channels -- locally and nationally every hour of programming contains probably 6 to 10 minutes of corporate and foundation promos -- we're not stupid, we know it's advertising.
So let's not pretend that PBS is the BBC.
If someone will point to Fox News and the corporate media bias and stand up for public broadcasting, then there should be NO corporate sponsorship in exchange for public grants for PBS and NPR. I know, I know... but this is what we could have if we elected BETTER and more Democrats, hell just plain more liberals.
With the Republican party imploding, lets face it, what will be left is "Conservative Democrats" and "Liberal Democrats." Oh, and a Republican fringe along with the Greens, LaRouche, Libertarians, etc.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
When one analyzes the roots of our current fiscal calamity, the roots of the crisis quickly come to bear at the feet of Republican congressmen (yes, men) and the Clinton presidency which signed the seeds of destruction into law: namely, the repeal of the Depression era reforms of the Glass Steagall Act (known as the Gramm Leach Bliley Act) and the horrifically disastrous "Commodities Futures Modernization Act" of 2000.
So here's a minor paragraph from tomorrow's Sunday edition of The Times' Frank Rich column:
United States District Court judge in New York, Jed S. Rakoff, scathingly condemned the Obama Securities and Exchange Commission for letting Bank of America skate away with what Rakoff called an immoral and unjust wrist tap to settle charges that it covered up $3.6 billion paid out in bonuses when it purchased Merrill Lynch. How is this S.E.C. a change from the Clinton-Bush S.E.C. that ignored all the red flags on Bernie Madoff?There's a reason Frank Rich earned his way into the Sunday Times column.
Friday, September 18, 2009
In the 1990's there was a lot of discussion about "The Third Way" -- something "between" the private and public sectors. I had an opportunity to study the thinking at the time both in undergraduate and graduate school with the preeminent thought-leaders at that time. Truly I now believe that idea was merely an attempt to appease the prevailing dogmatic anti-regulation thinking of the prior 25 years, before Reagan's "government IS the problem" mantra.
Now today, I don't think there's a "third" way. I think we have the private sector, the public sector, and the not-for-profit sector, the third being entities that are exempt from their profit-making mandate legally to serve a social purpose of some kind, but are mostly privately funded with untaxed dollars (deductible) -- all three sectors very well established. Those are the three main entities we need I think and that we can work very well within: public, private, not-for-profit.
So we have the three great pillars we need for the strongest and most competitive economy in the world. But I think since the 80's and before, the past 30 years for this nation now have clearly demonstrated to the world that we need government. We need effective regulation. It's no ideological. It's sound economics. Free markets require a level playing field, and that's where regulation plays a critical role in any great global economic power.
"Government" (such a ridiculously sweeping notion) is NOT "the problem." I began my professional career in business ethics and regulatory & policy consulting to the Fortune 500. We need regulation to function. Business ethics is not about boy scout economics. It's my sense that business ethics is best advanced through a) effective regulation to level the playing field (which politically is an expression of the body politic's shared value system, like the law itself in many ways), and b) as "concerted advocacy" for best practices that achieve the best earnings results from a long-term fundamentals perspective. I think historical case studies taught in business schools around the world about the Ford Pinto, Tylenol, Alcoa and others clearly illustrate these points.
Our firm strives to be a platform from which to launch a) the strictest compliance with both regulation and organizational (National Association of Realtors) code of ethics, and b) advocacy for much higher standards of business practice designed to reform how real estate is transacted in the great State of Texas. There is so much room for improvement, and we think in our private brokerage that we have found so many practices that aren't obvious and yet produce very solid earnings results.
Under-regulated industries, as we all have seen, inevitably fall into a "dive to the bottom," a phenomenon that a marginalized ideologically-driven economics view have unfortunately demonstrated in any number of areas both macro and micro in the last 30 years.
It's not about "The Third Way." It's about "A Better Way." And we can do that already with what we all have. America has the best markets in the world. If we put our minds to it both politically and in our own every day business practices, we will forge that better way. It's hopeful and exciting.And it's a reason why we absolutely love what we do.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Shouldn't we have 5 or more highways for every major route, all competing against each other? Won't that bring efficiency and the lowest costs overall? After all, government can't do anything so why trust them with highways and our common need to be mobile.
Yes, there should be AT LEAST 5 HIGHWAYS for every route, and at least five roads in any county from any point to point, all privately owned, privately developed, all paid for with tolls. Profit means efficiency!
Why should someone who drives less have to pay for those who drive more? I'm tired of Sunday drivers mooching off my hard-earned tax dollars. It's generational theft!
Why should childless people have to foot the bill for educating the children of those who made *an individual choice to have kids?* That really chaps my hide. I only have gay sex. I take personal responsibility! There's NO chance I'm going to have a kid that will need schooling. So why do I have to pay for that for OTHER PEOPLE? Screw them. I make a responsible choice, I take responsibility for myself. If they want to have kids, it's their individual responsibility to pay for that kid's school if they want their kid to go to school. That's THEIR CHOICE SO STOP STEALING MY MONEY!
IT'S GENERATIONAL THEFT! THE YOUNG STEALING FROM THE OLD! KEEP YOUR GRUBBY LITTLE FINGERS OFF MY HARD EARNED MONEY YOU LITTLE IGNORANT SOCIALISTS!
If someone wants a police officer to drive through their neighborhood and check on their house, they ought to pay for it with their own money, not my tax money. I, for example, have a scary-looking pit bull and CFL outdoor lights. I don't need police. So why should I pay for someone else's protection? I'm a big guy and I'm not worried about getting attacked or into a street fight or mugged. Why should I pay for other people's protection? I don't need it! This is America! I should be free NOT to pay for other people's needs that I don't have!
And my house is not going to burn down. I don't need firefighters! I sprayed that protective stuff all over my drapes and furniture. I don't smoke or use matches or candles. THAT'S MY CHOICE! SO WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S IRRESPONSIBLE CHOICES!? If they want their house to burn down, if they want to smoke and use candles and have gas stoves and fireplaces and "plug things in" -- that's THEIR INDIVIDUAL CHOICE, and they should pay for their own fire departments. Why should they mooch off MY HARD EARNED MONEY! THIEVES!
I was never afraid of Saddam Hussein and I didn't care if he did have WMD. I have a gas mask. I have duct tape for my windows and an Ionic Breeze. And if I should get nuked, I don't want to live in a world after it's been nuked, so I'm fine if I die from a nuke. So why should *I* have to pay for OTHER PEOPLE'S perceived security needs? Please! THIS IS AMERICA! STOP STEALING MY MONEY!
I didn't need the government to fight WWII for me either! OUTRAGEOUS! Have we ever paid off all that spending! I could easily have learned to speak German. That's my choice.
I also don't think my neighborhood is going to get bombed by Al Qaeda. I just don't think I live in a risky place for terrorism, and I choose not to use the banking system either so I don't care about cyberterrorism. You can't get your identity stolen if you don't use the banking system! That's MY CHOICE! SO WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S DEFENSE NEEDS?!!?! IF YOU WANT TO BE SAFE AND YOU LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY, YOU CAN JUST MOVE AWAY! GET ANOTHER JOB YOU LAZY BUM! QUIT MOOCHING OFF MY TAX DOLLARS!
NASA is socialism. NASA. NAZI. Ever noticed THAT?! I don't ever want to vacation in space. I don't use satellites and I don't need a cell phone. THAT'S AN INDIVIDUAL CHOICE and those who use those things should pay for them, not my tax dollars! I also don't want any medicine that may result from "outer space experiments". I'll keep my medicine from earth, thank you very much. I'm young, I'm male, I'm strong, and I don't even need medicine and I never will.
I don't need to know how the universe was created or the nature of physics. I don't benefit from "technology advances." If dresses, sandals, and mule stables was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me! Jesus didn't need "science" to SAVE THE WORLD!!!!! So why should I have to pay for ELITIST people's techno-fetishes? OUTRAGEOUS! This country is on a dangerous dangerous path.
I don't use the Internets!! I never needed the government to create it. If I have something to say to somebody, I can damn well walk through the back woods to their house (or pay a toll) and TELL THEM MYSELF! So why should I pay for other lazy bastards who want the convenience and luxury of telephones! I never needed the government to create the phone lines. OR THE POWER LINES. I show individual responsibility for my power needs - I use a generator! Why should the government lay down power lines or the power grid with my TAXES! OUTRAGEOUS! If I want to be all fancy and "read at night" - hell I can go outside to the outhouse with a candle and read a book. I don't need the power grid! Or sewers! Socialized plumbing!!! OUTRAGEOUS!!!!
I don't recognize this country anymore. The foundling fathers are rolling in their graves....
I know we must have a Public Option - a CHOICE whether to buy into a government sponsored health insurance plan to keep big insurance corporations honest about competition, price, and access. Universal coverage is the most sound system, like other industrialized nations in some form, but a Public Option as the compromise is a good one.
Because I work in a small business, I am under-insured. I only have catastrophic coverage because I can only get an individual policy. My insurance doesn't even cover prescriptions, and if I wanted to switch to a different individual policy, even with the same company (Aetna), I would have to go through brand new underwriting, which would cause more pre-existing exemptions at this point for example. And while my premiums have raised several times since I've had this policy, I've had this policy since I was 27 or so, and so I can't give up this policy without a significant rise in expense that would come with brand new underwriting on a new policy.
I spend over 10% of my gross income every year on my own health insurance. That's true. When I had large corporate employers, I paid a fraction of that for gold-plated "Cadillac coverage" because large corporations can get and afford large group policies. Not so for small business, generally fewer than 50 employees.
It's not fair that I'm out providing jobs on the ground, but I can't offer health insurance with those jobs, and I also have to personally pay a "private profit tax" for the giant medical companies with my higher expenses on a lousy individual policy - just because I'm a small business owner. Why can't I join some other large insurance pool to get quality coverage? I can't. I've tried - with this much expense at stake, I've tried. It doesn't exist and anyone who tells you it does - is lying or misinformed.
Please help me help those who are holding the President's feet to the fire right now, in any way you can, even if you can just speak the truth to those who will listen.
The White House is still drafting the president's Wednesday speech, and he needs to advocate strongly for the Public Option. The public wants it, every poll shows it (once it's explained in basic terms)! The giant insurance companies -- seeing a potential windfall from mandatory coverage and only private companies offering it -- are the ones against it.
Wanted to share my personal true story with you. I contributed $20 to Act Blue's fund on this issue from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
I stlll just wanted to share my story and give a little "real world" context to what's showing on the ol' boob tube.
Friday, September 04, 2009
I've been telling friends what Rachel has been saying too, that we're not even having the same conversation in this country right now about politics. The right-wing pretends to oppose policy, but they really just oppose Democrats and especially President Obama.
There's a very interesting and effective tactic for these folks however that I've also witnessed and have been talking about and demonstrated by Senator Franken: respect the opponents, and then confuse the hell out of them by talking them down with both reason and fact.
Witness - this is AMAZING:
Long live Senator Franken, a tremendous American Senator already and an up-and-coming Liberal Lion Cub, making Americans proud with the power of reason & respect.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
"If the question is do I plan to vote for a public option with or without Republican support, the answer is yes," Hoyer said.And then, in a "tell" or a "wink" at his enlightened readers, Zongker goes on to -- gasp, almost "report" -- by including a short episode reflective of the deep insights and awareness that these persistent town-hallers (tea-baggers/deathers/birthers/seceders) bring to the table. HILARIOUS. Like someone on Medicare decrying gov'mnt run health care, this time it's her state that has it covered, so why do we need the government? Sheesh. We are not even having the same conversation in this country. Not even in the same room:
A public option would lower insurance premiums for everyone through competition with private insurers, he said. The House, he said, would not pass an alternative calling for nonprofit cooperatives, which has been floated in the Senate.
The first questioner who challenged Hoyer directly, April Burke of Mechanicsville, Md., said her son and daughter in law both had lost their jobs and health insurance but were covered by the state.
"So why should I want to have the government get into my business?" she asked Hoyer.
The congressman said Burke's family would benefit from the health care overhaul being proposed. But she shouted back: "We want government out of our business now."
I presume this means she wants everyone to pay out of pocket for their children to go to private-run schools (why should single people subsidize parents who made an individual choice to have children)? Right lady? And we should all pay out of pocket for private protection services - let them compete - and get rid of municipal police and fire departments, right lady? Surely the private sector can be more efficient and provide better teachers, fire fighters, ambulances, police. Oh, and while we're "getting government out of our business," we should get rid of the Defense Department, right lady? Just replace it with Blackwater and Halliburton, right lady? Then it will all go better and cheaper. Hell we already had as many contractors (mercenaries, ahem...) in Iraq as we had patriotic enlisted troops, so we're almost there.
Oh, and no more NASA, no more spy satellites, and no more satellite TV or GPS. No more control over epidemics -- no more annual flu shots, right lady? It's all government in our business.
And why not have 3 of the same road everywhere you go - we should make road builders compete and only the people who drive on them should pay tolls for those roads. That won't hurt quality much, will it?
A Libertarian - er, Anarchist - paradise.
Because that's what these people really are: anarchists. You want government out of our business? It means there's no government. That's anarchy. That's destruction of the nation. Lady, meet the secessionist klan. You want your country back? No lady you want your country gone.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
In these crazy times, anyone to the left of Attila the Hun is labeled a "liberal" and biased. Not true of Maddow. I've long said, so long as someone is honest about their opinions, that's all I need in any reporter.
I'm convinced after tonight's ASTOUNDING interview of Tom Ridge that Rachel Maddow doesn't see herself with a future of the chair of Meet The Press. I say this tonight because of how she concluded her brilliant, civil, 3-part interview of the deeply human -- and deeply flawed -- Tom Ridge, a man deserving of any reasonable person's respect.
Rachel plants a flag at the end of the interview - her own flag. Like Odysseus escaping the Cyclops & revealing his true identity, she can't resist laying out her own analysis, which is great for her current program, but on a huge "get" like Ridge, seems misplaced if she were at all thinking about showing her chops for a future as a master interviewer on a larger stage. She is already a master interviewer - nobody's given her the job yet. But she's capable. Tonight, though, it seemed to me she's comfortable in her chair as commentator.
(The entire interview is very very worth watching, once it is posted. As of right now, it happened about an hour ago and the conclusion on which I base my post is all that seems to be posted yet).
“The Senate Finance Committee should just pass the HELP bill on September 15th on a party line vote. ALL of their work has been worse than useless to this point. Somebody introduce Max Baucus to the concept of sunk costs. He's failed on the biggest stage he'll ever hold. It's better to just start getting over it rather than keep on making the FAIL bigger.”
This would be brilliant. And feasible. The Senate Finance Committee is the most powerful committee on the Hill. Everyone “knows” that all a bill requires is the president and the Senate Finance Committee for success. So everyone “knew” the bright lights would be on that committee. That’s the committee with the “gang of six” from the no-population states where 2 of the 3 Republicans including the ranking member (Grassley & Enzi) have said they’re against any reforms at all now - after negotiating supposedly in good faith into the recess. Really?! That’s what Gibbs was reacting to. Plus now the fundraising letter from Grassley stating he has always opposed reform and calling it “Obamacare.”
This is all today.
Somehow, and this would have been stunningly brilliant strategy if Kennedy was doing this all along, they might have planned to put these stooges at a table and shine the light on them while the other 2 Senate Committees crafting a bill (HELP is one, which Kennedy chaired and Dodd has been assisting, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions) do their work under less scrutiny. The non Finance committees are the ones with the Senators like Dodd, Kennedy, Boxer - you know, from states with PEOPLE…
(Make no mistake, real reforms will prove as popular as the New Deal once they start going in place - it could be the REPUBLICAN’S Waterloo - THEY could lose their party for a decade, and they know it.)
Then, as the Finance Committee implodes as they have done, the commenter is suggesting that by simple majority (on the committee) the Senate Finance Committee should vote to throw out their version and instead adopt the HELP Committee version as their own, and vote that straight out of committee to the floor. (This would mean the same bill comes out of two committees.)
Sure the filibuster is still there, but who in the public is going to be able to follow that jujitsu before it even hits the floor. It would have almost no impact on the public debate but would get the best bill onto the floor. Hell right now the public doesn’t even know there are multiple versions of a bill in the Senate plus the House versions. So it would be a way to throw out the trash of Baucus’s committee (Finance) and put forth the strongest bill possible in terms of reform, then push it through with a 51+ vote majority while exposing Republicans to all moderates and Dems as clear crazy obstructionists (who haven’t put a single idea on the table and are openly “out to get the president”). We saw a flash of this tactic from The White House today in Gibbs’ conference (if I’m describing their tactic).
This could be the great hope in the end. I have to believe that Obama has had plenty of time to campaign on this and plan this, and I have to believe he knows he simply cannot fail and he must get a big win here - and as he’s shown before, it’s only the end result that really matters (as with November 2008). These are really really great signs we’re seeing today. The “offensive” may be under way. I also received an email from a progressive group about to do a big national ad buy to support the Public Option.
Hang on. These ain’t the Clintons we’re dealing with. I hope.
In fact I’m growing weary of the Afghanistan war. Again, where are the clear objectives? What does victory mean? We need to end that war I think and let the FBI and intelligence services take over the fight against terrorism. Why do we need to occupy entire nations to fight terrorism? It's absurd on its face. Afghanistan and Iraq are hardly the only two failed states in the world. So NOT occupying failed states is a long-standing pillar of United States foreign policy (espoused).
With a government being run by professionals, I don’t think we’ll have the bizarre confluence of events and string of failures that allowed those 4 planes to be hijacked simultaneously, fly freely through the most protected air space in the world, and crash freely an hour later into three of the most American iconic structures known around the world - two weeks after National Security Anti-Terrorist Richard Clarke in The White House AND the head of the CIA go personally to a month-long vacationing Bush in Crawford and personally warn him “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” and that chatter was to all-time high levels. And what did Dick “we’ve kept them safe for 8 years” Cheeeeney do about that? Nothing. Nothing. What does Bush do about that? Nothing. Nothing.
When Cheney says “8 years safe” - notice he’s starting after when he let the worst domestic attack since Pearl Harbor happen without a glitch after almost a year in office, after having been Chief of Staff to Ford, after having been Secretary of Defense to George H.W. Bush, after having been Vice President and acting President for a year beforehand - and he has to include the same year since Obama has been elected and effectively in charge - he has to take credit for Obama’s time in office too in order to get his 8 years.
These people are ruthless. And make no mistake - it’s about class, money, and privilege. Witness Sunday's fawning Chris Wallace interview of Cheney, what Andrew Sullivan called, “like a teenager interviewing the Jonas Brothers” - which was widely repeated by other commentators. They wore coordinated clothes I saw, light khakis (the same) and a navy blazer, both of them. Like, so preppy. Like two high school girls calling each other and coordinating their clothes. Fox is a joke. What’s been painful to me is that I saw they were a joke in 1999. It’s been 10 years that I’ve known what they’re doing -- it took the ascent of blogs to empower the non-crazies and to finally start documenting the atrocities in an alternate media.
Until the alternate medium of the blogs, which earnestly began only in 2003, this is how the oligarchs (the true ones, not Glen Beck’s crazy rants) ruled and manipulated.
The rightwing tea-bagging protesters -- "the angry right -- are hilarious. Being angry in loyal opposition is what liberals have been doing for 40 years, though let me clarify I don’t consider myself a political liberal. It’s just with the political spectrum so skewed right, any reasonable person these days could be “liberal” by comparison to what’s been passing as “centrism” ever rightward since Nixon (who by the way made a universal coverage bill offer to a young Ted Kennedy who declined it then and spent the rest of his life regretting it - Nixon, for universal coverage).
I guess that makes me as much a Nixonian as a so-called liberal. I agree with Ron Paul on gutting the defense contractors budget (it won’t compromise security) and legalizing prostitution and marijuana (duh…). Does that make me a Libertarian? I want a strong federal education agency and not leave unequal education to the provincial whims of states and local politics. Does that make me a liberal? I am to the right of Scalia on the 2nd Amendment. Does that make me an arch-conservative? I think there should be a constitutional amendment forcing congress to balance the budget in reasonable periods of time so we don’t have structural deficits for decades like we have -- does that make me a much-vaunted “fiscal conservative”? I strongly know that corporations and their “paid speech” are not “persons” as the supreme court ruled over a hundred years ago, with all the same rights as you and me, human breathing beings. Does that make me a populist?
To all these things, the answer to no. I am none of these things except those that I am in only parts.
This isn’t a battle with two sides.