Sunday, November 25, 2012

Environmentalism Isn't Economic Death

If anything, it's economic life.  Here's the green equivalent of beating swords into plowshares:  unemployed coal miners installing solar panels.

Which Matters More?

A center-right political structure, or a center-left cultural one?  My money's on the latter.  Time and again, the latter has been able to push the former in the correct direction, especially when it comes to the meaning of family.

So, no matter what, progressives, never give up and never give it.  To paraphrase Billy Wilder in a different context, theirs may be the kingdom, but ours will always be the power and the glory.  And, as long as that's true, we'll keep making America as great as it should be.

The Counter-Intuitive Nature Of Politics

Regardless of what side of the political divide you fall on, it's important not to be discouraged by setbacks.  Our democracy is something of a perpetual see-saw, and the American people like it that way.  Neither side is completely trusted.  The day you've lost an election is, more often than not, the day you start to win the next one.

And, when the Supreme Court closes a window, it often opens a door.  Its restriction of the Medicare component of health care reform may have been a gift to Democrats in the GOP's geographic heart.  Take a look.

And What Frustrates Me Most About Obama's Critics

With socialists like Barack Obama, who needs capitalists?  Even these seven Obama-hating CEOs might agree with that..

What Frustrates Me Most About Barack Obama?

He accepts the playing field that his opponents define for him, by acceding to their concept of political reality.

Here's one example.

Here's another.

Maybe mortgage forgiveness and carbon taxation aren't political reality now.  But a President has a platform that no one else has to argue for reshaping that reality.  Not only does he (and one day, she) have the powers conferred in the office itself, by the Constitution, past Congresses and the courts, but also the power conferred by a national voter base and followed by the national media.

Leadership isn't about doing the possible.  It is about stretching the boundaries of what is possible.  Obama's signature accomplishment, health care reform, stands on the foundation of many failed attempts by Democrats that came before him, from Harry Truman to Hillary Clinton.  Putting it another way, he didn't build it all by himself.  Now that he has the political capital that comes with a second term and the freedom that comes (supposedly) with being term-limited, he owes it to the next generation of Democrats and the American people to get out of his comfort zone, and ours, to push the nation forward as he has says he wants to do.

Color Me Unsurprised

I mean, Dick Morris trying to influence an election income by lying about it?  Never happen, right?


At Least SOME Of The Future Is Here!

They said it couldn't be done, that it was science fiction at best.  But the electric car is here to stay.  And the oil companies' days are numbered.  If you own their stocks, here's my advice:   SELL!  At the very least, in the short run, the environment will send you good karma for it.

Is Trickle-Down Economics Dead?

I mean, it's always been dead in practice, and deadly to the majority of us.  But has it lost its political base.  This writer seems to think so.

I wish I could feel comfortable agreeing with him.  But, as long as Americans are focused on short-term benefits and feel-good politics, mixed in with flim-flam marketing, it's going to take a lot to convince me that there's been a sea change.

Still, Romney's economic pitch was straight out of Reagan 101, and it didn't put him over the top.  At the very least, that tells me that they're going to have to go to work on the marketing.  As for how feel about the substance, maybe we've picked up some more people with common sense in the past generation.  We'll see in another two to four years whether it's enough to start to make a real difference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

And About Petraeus ...

All of the people who urged calling him "General Betrayus" back when he was in charge of the Iraqi war deserve an engraved apology for having the courage to question his character.  Apparently, his character was questionable, after all.  I think everyone should remember that, the next time conservatives start a war and liberals have the temerity to question it.  Maybe questioning is just part of that thing called "patriotism."  Maybe it's just part of exposing the truth.  Either way, I'll be damned if I'm going to be intimidated out of questioning the likes of Petraeus.

There is one good thing about this sordid scandal, however:  it further exposes the hypocrisy of the right, especially its religious division.  Thank you, Pat Robertson; as always, sincerity is written on both of your faces.

And with that, a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially to those serving our country.  And don't show up at any retailers until after midnight!

The Real Source Of Cultural Rot

Predictably, Cal Thomas characterizes Obama's re-election as a sign of America's continuing cultural decline.  As he might say, "Yawn."  That's my only response.

Oh, wait.  That's not true.  There IS cultural decline in this country.  It's just that it's coming from your side of the fence, Cal.  Let's hope that Fox's continued sabotaging of the truth, masquerading as journalism, really does lead to its self-destruction.

So Goes The Nation ...

... if California continues to get bluer?  One can only hope so.  Among states, it's supposed to be the trend-setter.  May nothing stand in the way of it setting this trend.

Whither Israel?

That's an important question, given that Israel is currently fighting on two fronts against Arabs:  in Gaza, where Palestinians have launched rocket attacks, and the Golan Heights, where the Syrian civil war is spilling over the border.  Netanyahu has learned absolutely nothing from the Bush-Cheney experience in Iraq, still absolutely convinced to bully the Palestinians into submission, still unable to see the difference between them and the thuggish leaders they choose.

Israel can and must survive, for the sake of Jews everyone and democracy in the Middle East.  But Israel desperately needs leadership that can balance its security needs with those of its neighbors.  Otherwise, at best, it will become a badly isolated nation, even from its best friend, the United States.  It's easy to fault Obama for not doing more for Israel; it's not quite so easy to see that Netanyahu is not giving him much of an incentive to do better.

Better Ingredients, Better Blackmail

There are, unfortunately, plenty of powerful people on the other side of the fence who are determined not to get it.  Papa John himself is one of them.

What's amazing to me about this is that no one buys more pizza than under-30s, and under-30s went for Obama in big numbers.  Schnatter is just another example of a 1-percenter who has become so detached from his customer base that he can't conceive of doing or saying something that would alienate it.

Unfortunately for him, he's not quite the category-killer that he apparently believes he is.  Pizzas are sold by lots of small, independent businesses--and their pizzas are better.  It would be easy for me to be part of a Papa John's boycott; I haven't bought one of his pizzas in years, purely as a matter of taste.

I propose boycotting all overpriced, benefit-denying chain restaurants.  If the advent of Obamacare is also the beginning of their end, I would call it win-win.

UPDATE, 11-25-12:  When it comes to the cost burdens of Obamacare, methinks Papa doth protest too much.

I'm Sorry, GOP, I'm Afraid I CAN Do That.

That's what HAL from "2001" might want to say, in response to this.  Proof that Obama and Democrats really are the ones who are all about the future, and the role of space in it.

From Ashley Judd's Mouth To God's Ears!

Will she do this?

For my purposes, it would be enough to just get rid of McConnell, a profoundly narcissistic acolyte of power.  Getting Judd as his replacement, however, would be a huge plus.  In any case, the Democrats face a rough election map in 2014, so my hope would be that they put the best possible candidate (incumbent or not) in each an every race.

Putting celebrity aside, as a woman, Judd could be part of a narrative and strategy that has worked well so far for Democrats.  We'll see.

When Does A Fetus Become A Living Human Being?

At conception?

Or at birth?

And what does the Bible say?

Apparently, not what conservatives says it does.

Works for me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another Human Rights Victory On Election Night ...

... was won by immigrants and their advocates.  The Maryland DREAM Act passed, granting in-state tuition to undocumented students in Maryland.  And, more significantly, the surge in Latino support for Democrats in Congress almost ensures the passage of some form of comprehensive immigration reform bill, at long last.

Will Republican support for such a bill reverse the current trend, and bring immigrant voters into the GOP?  Not likely.  Latinos may not be single issue voters, but they are a far more diverse community than conservative stereotyping allows.  Even one of the more GOP-leaning segments of this community, Cuban-Americans, has warmed up to the Democrats.

It's enough to make one think that soon, this will be transformed from a referendum into a reality.

Not Just A Good Night For Democrats

It was also a terrific night for human rights, as marriage equality prevailed as a ballot issue, as it never has before.

A key reason:  progressives are finally learning the value of speaking the other side's language.  Take a look.

Will Sandy Wake Us Up?

There seems to be general agreement that Hurricane Sandy, and Obama's response, especially as appreciated publicly by Chris Christie, helped re-elect the President.  As significant as that is, his supporters would agree that it would be even better if Sandy helped Obama and all of us focus more on climate change, and the need to take action against its harmful effects.

The New York Times is not optimistic about this happening.  Too bad, because science keeps putting us on notice that Mother Nature is tired of being pushed around.

Can Republicans Adapt?

That's what Nicholas Kristof asks, and he does a good job of explaining the need to do so.  The input from some members of the conservative chattering class is not very encouraging.  In the case of Grover Norquist, it's downright delusional.  He apparently believes that (a) the election was a draw, despite the fact that Democratic votes outnumbered Republican ones and (b) Republicans win all ties.  I'd wish you good luck with that, Grover, but you don't deserve it, and neither do we.

Yes, it's possible for the GOP to fall back on gridlock.  However, it looks like Speaker Gerry Mander recognizes that he needs to change the way he operates.  Take a look.  It's just as well because, when it comes to the so-called "fiscal cliff," he and his colleagues are not in an enviable position.  Obama, as it turns out, is celebrating two victories--his re-election, and outmaneuvering his Congressional Republican counterparts.

The Republicans have a great many "facts" to unlearn, as Rachel Maddow illustrates.  Perhaps Bill Kristol can help; he, at least, seems to have gotten off to a good start.

Does Boehner Have A Mandate?

He thinks he does.  But he shouldn't.  After all, more votes were cast for Democratic House candidates than for their Republican counterparts.

So why is there a House majority?  This article and chart provide the answer, and it isn't pretty.  And it's not being overlooked, either (see here and here).

And this is why he's really Speaker Gerry Mander.

AND this is also why, if he pushes too hard and too far, he won't be Speaker much longer.  If he oversteps the will of the majority of voters by a significant enough margin, he'll provide opportunities for Democrats to find candidates for those districts who will know how to exploit that weakness.

Will he do it?  Will his members push him to do it?  Well, that leads to another question ...

Barack Obama: A Consequential Presidency?

It already has been.

He's been given a chance to do even more.

He may have realigned American politics.

And, happily, he's not here to be kicked around any more.

Let's hope he's got the fortitude to take this seriously.  It's time to pay the price for civilization, especially by those who have not been doing anything close to a fair share.

Okay, Let's Drill Down To Some Specifics ...

... about the election, that is.

Why did Romney lose?

This is a good comprehensive list of causes.  This, on the other hand, calls attention to specific people, in a nicely humorous way.

What do I think?

All of the above, plus something my wife pointed out to me.

Romney reminds one a lot of Nixon.  A cleaned-up, higher functioning version of him, to be sure.  But the same beady eyes.  The same calculating nature.  And the same untrustworthy mouth.

Many Republicans wanted to ask of if we were better off than we were four years ago.  I can think of a different quote, invoking a different Republican President (namely Nixon), that's more appropriate for Romney:  "Would you buy a used car from this man?"

In Romney's case, no one should.  Including his supporters, who were stood up by him on Election Night.

Thank God (or Whomever you want to thank) that he didn't cross the finish line first.

Okay, I'm NOT Supposed To Gloat ...

But what the hell.

I was dead right about the Senate and, if current totals hold up, I'll be pretty close to being right about the House.  Ah, the House, still to be led by Speaker Gerry Mander.  More about that later;-).

And then there was, and (thankfully) is, Obama.

To tell you the truth, I didn't think he would make it.  I hoped he would, but I was not optimistic.  Money talks in politics, as it does in other areas of our life.  And more money was spent attempting to kick him out of the White House than was spent against any other candidate in history.

Luckily, brains count, too.  And Obama and his people possessed enough brains plus money to stop the Romney-GOP-Super PAC onslaught of cash from the other side.

A lot of emphasis in the post-election coverage has been placed on the increasing role of women and ethnic groups in the Democratic coalition.  While there's a great deal of merit to that focus, it overlooks the fact that both groups are key components of a new generation, which I in turn felt is what would be the main story of this election.  Happily, I was right.  Happily not just for me, but for all of us.

I'll get to some more specific aspects of last Tuesday a little later.  There are, in my opinion, two big takeaways from election year 2012.

First, money is still a problem.  It will continue to flood the system and, in the process, embed it with the potential for corruption and destruction.  And nothing in this regard will change, until we cease tilting the playing field away from the afflicted and toward the comfortable.

Second, we are the problem.  When we don't show up at the polls, that is.

We did it in 2008, but not in 2010.  We are still paying the price for that failure.  We cannot let it happen again.  Ever.

In a democracy, where the people are the government, the burden of governing does not go away between Election Days.  It always rests on all of us.

To organize.  To protest.  To raise money.  To be active in the media, by any and all means.  And, above all, to vote in each and every election.

Not just when we feel like it.  Not just when our chances look good.  And not when the other side has nearly pushed us to the brink of destruction.

Eternal vigilance truly is the price of liberty.  And so, here on this Veteran's Day, I call on all of us on the leftward side of the divide to remember that reality, and live it every day.  Many pay the price for a better society with their lives.  You can do it by paying a smaller price:  stay involved.

Being a citizen is the greatest office anyone can hold.  Hold it as well as you can.  Be grateful for this year.  But be grateful enough to keep up the good work.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

And Now, For Something A Little Different ...

The right to death.  Which, so far as I'm concerned, is a corollary to the right to life.  If it's the case that no one should be deprived of a chance to live, no one should be forced to live if living is unendurable.

We appear to be making slow but steady progress in the direction of recognizing such a right.  As it turns out, like so much of American life and progress, it's a question of marketing.  Take a look.

And, with that, I'll be back after the election.


The Ultimate Republican Principle

It's not smaller government, free markets, personal responsibility or even conservatism in general.

It's blackmail

Paul Krugman demonstrates it with words; Lindsey Graham, by encouraging deeds.

And the worst part of all of this is that some newspapers, who should know better for a number of reasons, apparently think that this is such a great idea that it should be rewarded with Mitt Romney's election.

Except that, as William Saletan goes on to say, this reasoning defies a principle that is supposed to be part of the GOP bedrock:  that compromise is only valid and valuable as an outcome of confrontation.

Which begs the question:  what confrontations would exist between the House hardliners and Mitt Flip-Flop?  There would be none, of course, only an ever-increasing drift to the right in a country that is showing increasing signs of drifting to the left.

Hopefully, the outcome in 2014 would be the election of an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress.  Then you might have real confrontation, as well as real compromise.  Assuming, of course, that Mitt is still willing to flip-flop for the remaining two years of his Presidency.

Who's Manipulating Whom?

According to John Crudele of the New York Post, it's the Obama Administration, pumping up the economic numbers to create an "illusion" of recovery that Americans are just dying to reject.

I think Crudele's "manipulation" argument is pitifully weak.  All politicians massage the numbers they publicize.  It's far worse to deliberately, blatantly suppress the truth, as Congressional Republicans have done, and are doing.

If that's the best argument that you can make against the President, John, then, like it or not, you're effectively saying that he's in great shape.  Let's hope you're right.

Climate Change Is No Joke

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, that has never been more obvious.

Except to Mitt Romney and his party.  They think that climate change is just one colossally funny joke.

If they're in change after Tuesday, they'd better stop laughing.  Or there may not be an America to re-elect them.

Unhappy With Obamanomics?

Doesn't matter.  You should still vote for him, simply because the alternative is categorically worse.

Just ask one of the leading voices for conservative economics.

The Good Evangelical Son

As appalled as I am by the shameful manipulation of Billy Graham by his power-hungry son, Franklin, I stand in awe and admiration of Frank Schaeffer's willingness to repudiate the intellectually dishonest upbringing he received from his father, Francis Schaeffer.  He has shown tremendous integrity and courage in doing so, and, in confronting the hypocrisy of white evangelical voters, he does so again here.

And The Other Major Reason Why A Romney Administation May Be Doomed To Failure

His party is built around a shrinking demographic.  Read here.

The 2012 Election: Whither America?

For some time, even before Barack Obama's election, I had thought of the 2012 election as being guaranteed to be a pivotal point in American political history.  That is because I believe all politics to be not only local, but generational as well.

From the 1930s until midway into the 1960s, politics in America had a somewhat leftward drift, shaped by the experiences of the Greatest Generation in the Depression, the New Deal era and World War II.  Even in the 1950s, the most conservative period of this era, the combined efforts of Nixon, McCarthy and other Congressional Republicans could only push this drift back so far.  And even Eisenhower, a nominally Republican President, launched his one major government initiative:  the Interstate Highway System, based on his wartime experience with European highways.

Beginning in the late 1960s, however, the Baby Boomers began to enter the voting cohort.  And, despite the hippie-yippee image of this group, the Boomers were anything but flaming liberals as a voting block.  After all, they had grown up with more creature comforts than any generation in American history.  They consequently came of age expecting more such comforts in their adulthood, which had the effect of making them economic royalists at heart.  As a consequence, they gave their hearts and their votes to Republicans.  It should have therefore surprised no one that the next three decades saw Republican dominance in national politics, and that the only two Democratic Presidents in this period, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, came from the moderate-to-conservative wing of their party.

The turn of the century and millennium, however, revealed the beginning of another generational shift, one that was overlooked in the controversy over the 2000 Florida fiasco and the horror of 9/11.  In 2000, between Al Gore and Ralph Nader, liberalism won a majority of the popular vote.  In 2004, despite campaigning as a wartime President, George Bush barely won re-election--and his party lost control of Congress.  And, of course, 2008 saw the election of the first African-American President in history, along with huge majorities of Democrats in Congress.

Why did this happen?  I think it can be explained by not one, but two generational shifts.

The most obvious of these shifts is the rise of the Echo Boom generation.  They came of age with less economic security than their parents, the Boomers, enjoyed.  Consequently, they came to value the need for shared economic strength, which drew them into the Democratic fold.  But the less obvious shift involves the Boomers themselves.  By and large, they have consumed without saving, leaving them more vulnerable in old age to the need for government services.  And 2012 will be the first Presidential election held since the Boomers started to reach eligibility for Social Security benefits.

I tend to think that 2010 was an electoral anomaly, brought about solely by disillusioned Echo Boomers staying home because Obama was less of a miracle worker than they expected.  (A side note to them:  change has always been slow and difficult, but that just make your involvement all the more necessary.)  I tend to agree with this analysis, as a consequence.

So, whither America after Tuesday?  On the congressional side of the ledger, I think Democrats will gain seats in both houses of Congress--between 1 and 3 in the Senate, and between 10 and 12 in the House, leaving them solidly in control of the Senate, and not quite yet able to pick up a House majority due to gerrymandering (another side-note to Echo Boomers:  be especially sure to show up in election years ending in 0, or you risk diluting the power of everyone's vote).

The Presidential race?  Jump ball.  I hope Obama will win, and I think (knock on wood and pu! pu! pu!) that he will.

But, even if Romney wins, he will not be able to stop America's leftward drift.  He will either find a way to take his party with it, or he will be a one-term President.  Period.