Tag Archives: Democrats

Goldman Sachs and the politics of financial reform

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep so I ended up mulling over the fraud case against Goldman Sachs (GS) for about 3 hours. Here’s my (totally uneducated) take:

Bottom line, this case against GS is not a gamble by the government. The administration wants financial reform much more than they want to “get” GS, but because midterm elections are around the corner and Democrats are already expected to lose a fair number of Congressional seats, the administration really can’t afford to have Republicans running around telling people that financial reform is Maoism in disguise (or in the best interest of the banks…with the Republicans still auditioning opposition strategies, it’s like amateur hour on the Hill). So. What is to be done? How do you pass real financial reform in this political climate without more than a mock brawl? Apparently if you’re particularly savvy, you bring a charge against the most loathed bank on Wall Street based on a disclosure issue that may not actually be technically illegal, but that very clearly sounds like something that should be. The ambiguity of the law is the SEC/administration’s ace in the hole. Either GS settles or loses and financial reform happens because the issue is very clearly illustrated for the public by one great example, or GS wins and financial reform happens because the entire country is incensed that whatever GS did isn’t illegal. Either way, financial reform passes.

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Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) on Tea Party rallies

“We had two recent tea party demonstrations in Washington, one a week before the health care vote – drew about 1,000 people.  The tax day rally, by the organizers own estimate was 1,500 people.  If I organized a rally for stronger laws to protect puppies, I would get 100,000 people to Washington.  So, I think the media has blown the tea party themselves out of proportion.”

— Governor Ed Rendell, on Meet the Press

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Maybe They Just Want to Belong? Confederate History Month and the Tea Party

It’s been a really, really long time since I last posted. This time around, I hope to vastly improve on the quality of my former posts (it’s always strange looking back at opinion bits and realizing that you kind of sound like a moron…eh). I guess we’ll just see…

This is not a true “post” in the sense that any of this is meant to be coherent. Rather, just a jumble of thoughts I can’t get out of my head at 2:23am. In fact, this was originally written as a comment for an article on NY Liberal State of Mind (you might want to read this first), but I jumped over here before clicking the send…:

I’m from the South, North Carolina specifically. That may not be important to impart, but having spent the vast majority of my life in the South, I have had plenty of opportunity for observation. Having said that, I will now make a ridiculous claim.  I think I might understand, to some degree and academically, a bit of the need that white southerners feel to “honor” the Confederacy. Let me just state that I do not support, to any degree, a Confederate History Month, or any sort of dismissal of Slavery. Leaving Slavery out of the Civil War is like leaving religion out of the history of the Crusades- absurd, historically inaccurate and just, plain bad (“wrong” seems like an indictment too light). My theory, though, is this:

Essentially, I think it comes down to the sense that, as the U.S. became more mobile, as more people began moving into the Southern states and others out, the structures of the original community organizational schemes were lost and those people left behind, aka white southerners, were left feeling not a part of any particular community. A century ago, white southerners, for the most part, would have either been part of a town community filled with people they knew because there wasn’t that much mobility and they had all lived there for a fair amount of time, or they were newer to the country and perhaps still identified with their origin nationality (Irish, Germans, Italians, etc), or they were still identified with a specific Southern church community. All of these areas provided identities for those who were a part of them. Now that the organizational structures are gone, white southerners are those with power but no sense of identity or self, no greater organization into community.

When I say, “I’m Jewish,” I’m claiming a host of experiences, point of view, and history that are specific and give me a place in the world. White southerners have no label like that. Though there are those who believe that labels are generally detrimental, we all use them to self-identity and show identification with larger groups that we consider ourselves a part of. White southerners only have, for the most part, a shared geographic history. Memories of the Confederacy do remind them of a better South as long as they forget that slaves were not just there for the “paternal coddling,” but I think that behind the portion of hardcore racists, most of these people just want to be a part of something.

I see the same thing in the Tea Party. There is, of course, an element of the Tea Party movement that is legitimately racist and just afraid of the black man in the White House, but I think the majority of Tea Party members are looking to be part of a group, to belong somewhere, something we all desire. This doesn’t excuse the bad behavior by some and lack of condemnation by most, but it seems to explain, in my mind, their totally contradictory and inexplicable ‘ideology.’ The ideology isn’t what’s most important, the important part really is the party itself.

Goodnight!

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An Amendment to Kill Medicare?

Anthony Weiner  is like the Superman/Clark Kent of the House- half wonkish and half seriously aggressive. Who else would consider using legislation as an offensive weapon? 

Writes Glenn Thrush from Politico:

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) says he plans to introduce a politically-targeted amendment forcing Republicans to vote “yes” or “no” on continuing Medicare, the government-run health care program for seniors, on the 44th anniversary of its enactment.

Weiner [who plans to vote yes, obviously] said he wants to tack the amendment onto the health care bill being marked up today — to call bluff on Republicans who say federal intervention into health care has been a failure.

“It’s put-up or shut-up time for the phonies who deride the so-called ‘public option’,” Weiner said.

This guy is a baller.

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Rachel Maddow Discusses the Deathers and Other Anti-Reform Conspiracies

Here’s what I now know about the proposed government takeover of health care:

1. The government wants to kill my grandparents. They will be “put on a list and forced to die early”….by being sent out into the ocean on ice floes…

2. The government is going to use the takeover of health care to promote abortion. The more abortions people have the more the government benefits because (fill in the blank).

Did I miss anything?

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Deathers: The New Birthers

Christopher Beam writes on Slate.com:

First came the “birthers.” Now, as President Obama makes a final push for health care reform, we have the deathers.

Many senior citizens are concerned that health care reform would mean cuts to Medicare. That much was clear at a town-hall meeting hosted Tuesday by the American Association of Retired Persons at which Obama fielded questions from seniors who don’t want to give up their benefits.

But one question stood out. It addressed what the host from the AARP called the “infamous” Page 425 of the House health care bill. “I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die,” said Mary from North Carolina. “This bothers me greatly, and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.” The host elaborated: “As I read the bill, it’s saying that Medicare will, for the first time, cover consultation about end-of-life care, and that they will not pay for such a consultation more than once every five years. This is being read as saying every five years you’ll be told how you can die.”

“Well, that would be kind of morbid,” Obama said.

The audience laughed. Many observers aren’t so amused. To them, the House bill and health care reform in general are the legislative equivalent of euthanasia.

“Obama’s not going to say, ‘Let’s kill them,’ ” says Charlotte Allen, a conservative commentator and author of The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus. “But he seems to be perfectly comfortable with the idea that a lot more old people are going to die a lot sooner.”

Deathers point to several parts of the House bill as evidence that health care reform means letting old people die. Most prominent is the end-of-life consultation provision mentioned above. An article on World Net Daily argues that the proposal “specifically calls for the consultation to recommend ‘palliative care and hospice’ for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions.” In fact, the bill says the meeting must include “an explanation by the practitioner of the end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice”—not a recommendation of it. (Emphasis added.) Still, Obama pointed out that it’s not too late to remove the language: “If this is something that really bothers people, I suspect that members of Congress might take a second look at it.”

Another seemingly scary provision is one that permits “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration”—or, more accurately, the withholding of it. Betsy McCaughey, founder of the Committee To Reduce Infection Deaths and former lieutenant governor of New York, wrote an influential (and, to many, misleading) critique of Hillarycare in the New Republic 15 years ago. She told me that the provision is a disturbing example of the government making decisions for the patient. But the bill specifically says that an order to withhold, say, an IV drip, must be one that “effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual.” In other words, a doctor can’t make you do it.

 

Read the rest of the article here.

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Freshman Senators From Colorado Get Smacked Down by Columbine Father for Support of Thune Gun Amendment

As reported by Glenn Thrush at Politico:

Denver Post Ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The father of a Columbine massacre victim says he’s “disgusted” with Colorado’s freshman Democratic senators for voting in favor of the failed Thune Amendment, which would have allowed licensed owners to transport concealed firearms across state lines.

Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was murdered a decade ago at the Littleton, Colo. high school, is featured in a full page Denver Post ad questioning the “yes” votes of Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.

“I was disgusted,” Mauser tells POLITICO. “I felt that they were measuring the political winds instead of voting for what they thought was right…  I think they could still get elected [without voting for the Thune Amendment] but they are trying to do something that makes them seem more moderate. It’s ridiculous.”

Mauser, whose son would have been 26, appears in the ad, sponsored by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, holding his son’s sneakers.

“We tend to have such a short memory in this country,” added Mauser, who works for the Colorado transportation department.

 

When I learned that my two Senators, Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D), would be voting for the Thune Gun Amendment, I called and emailed both offices to register my extreme disappointment. I’m generally a supporter of Second Amendment rights, but as former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) plainly stated in an ideas piece on Politico, the Thune Gun Amendment wasn’t pro-gun, it was pro-criminal. 

Thank you Sen. Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) for your “no” votes!

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Maddow and O’Reilly Agree on Birthers!?

You know what they say about politics and bedfellows (VIDEOS)…

Rachel MaddowBill O'Reilly

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Stephen Colbert on the Birthers!- Pt. 2 (ORLY TAITZ IS ON THE SHOW!!)

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Stephen Colbert on the Birthers!- Pt. 1

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My Healthcare Day Dream…In All of its Most Likely Unconstitutional Glory.

Here is my dream healthcare plan (it’s most likely unconstitutional, practically impossible, doesn’t address really any of the nuanced issues, and is highly unorthodox). Regardless, I do believe that it represents the greatest use of democratic principles:

Step 1: Design a strong public healthcare option in Congress. Forget about the rest of it, just make sure the public option is everything that it should be (“Socialist” or not). 

Step 2: Figure out how to set aside a chunk of money to pay for the public option. When Blue Dogs and Republicans get upset, just let them talk.

Step 3: Declare that we believe each state should have the right to decide whether or not to adopt this public option. Those who don’t want it, don’t have to have it. How can those who believe in States Rights not accept this? Let the advertising and mudslinging, state by state, begin!

Step 4: Put it on the ballot, state by state, and allow the citizens to vote on it.

Step 5: Those states where the proposition passes will have the public option implemented in their state (which will not take away the right to keep current coverage for those who are happy already), and will receive the necessary federal funding (as well as any other funding being provided by other elements of the healthcare industry).

Everybody (or at least a voting majority) gets what they want!

Epilogue: Two things might happen in this scenario- a) the vast majority of states could pass the prop, thus taking the decision making out of the politically motivated hands of their clearly incompetent representatives. This would be extremely bad news for Republicans. Or, b) the measure passes in some states (perhaps those that light up blue), but not others. If this happens, I foresee massive migrations over the next decade to states that offer a public plan, thus cutting down populations in some states and adding to others. This of course will have a major effect on the number of representatives allotted to a state, etc, but at least these states will be able to save themselves from what they perceive to be Socialism. 

Of course this is a pipe dream. But, then again, what would be so wrong with letting each state decide? Wouldn’t that be extraordinarily democratic? It would certainly serve to diffuse a lot of the political pressure on Congress. Then perhaps they could put together some legislation that will actually work.

UPDATE: I don’t believe that only those who are poor and uninsured would migrate to states with a public option. Rather, I think it would be a major selling point for businesses who would no longer have to pay for their employees’ healthcare, as well as for anybody with domestic help who pays for healthcare for their employees (ie upper middle class+).

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Auto-Tune the News! (Vol. I)

First saw these guys on Rachel Maddow. Absolutely genius. I want all news, all the time to be auto-tuned….CNN take note.

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Sessions, Sotomayor, Racism, and an Anecdote

All kidding aside, Sessions appeared on Meet the Press yesterday with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy and was oddly unwilling to simply put into words whether he does or does not believe that Sonya Sotomayor is racist. Of course, the entire debate is 100% ridiculous and thus the mass participation on “is she/isn’t she” by both Republicans and Democrats is absurd, but it goes to a much deeper question that really has little to actually do with Judge Sotomayor. That is, how do we define racism in America today? Though seemingly academic in nature, the answer to this question has practical applications that go far beyond Senate Judiciary hearings.

An anecdote:

In my first semester of college, I participated in a freshman seminar called (some variation of) “Historical Memory and Slavery of the American South” taught by a young, but brilliant professor named Seth Rockman. Having literally just moved from my home in North Carolina to Providence, Rhode Island to attend one of the country’s most liberal universities, I was unsure how I would fare in a course meant to confront America’s Master Narrative head on.

It was, for all intents and purposes, the worst academic showing of my life. I remember distinctly the first time that Professor Rockman explained to us that reverse-racism is an impossibility, according to his school of thought, as racism relies on a superficial power construct, ie what has been the inherent position of power held by the white community as opposed to communities of other ethnicities. The more powerful (in this case white men) cannot be marginalized through racism by the less powerful (everybody else, but in Rockman’s specific example African-Americans), because the entire racial construct was created by white men to explain the relationship between themselves and all of the “others.”*

At first, I was entirely unable to comprehend this concept in a way that kept me from being incredibly offended at the apparent inequality, but after weeks of argument I reconciled that perhaps the problem with so-called reverse-racism really is about the semantics. As in, when a white person says something offensive to a black person pertaining to their race it’s called racism, but if a black person says something racially offensive to a white person, though perhaps hurtful and unacceptable, it isn’t referred to as racism because calling it so ignores the inherent power dynamics that define what racism is. Words have certain meanings, and racism has a historically specific and significant one. 

It has been a few years since I took that class, and I’d like to think that my ideas and reasoning on the subject have matured and become more nuanced (I suspect that the Professor and I have much to agree upon now), but even as I was the lone student arguing for the possibility of reverse-racism (a concept I reject after much further study), I managed to learn an important lesson from Professor Rockman: the words we use, how we define things, and the version of history we choose to tell all matter

I hated Rockman back then. I thought he was too liberal, too empathetic, and too blind to reality. But he was right.

Oh, and if I ever run into Professor Rockman, I’ll have to inform him that after writing  a (not very good) paper for his seminar tearing apart William Styron’s Confessions of Nat Turner  for being the MOST AWFUL, RACIST tome ever, I proceeded to bookend my college career by writing my final senior year seminar paper for a Gordon Wood class (entitled “The Practice of History”) on the very same book. My conclusions four years later were starkly different.

* I have vastly oversimplified this point. There is much to be read on the subject.

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Iowa: Gay Marriage Mecca? Oh! Of Course!

After taking a short vacation overseas, and thus being unable to blog, I’m back! And it looks like I have a lot of news to catch up on…

An internal battle has been ensuing about what to discuss first, since really quite a lot as happened over here while I was watching World Cup qualifying games in Holland, but this small piece from Ben Martin on Politico.com is impossible for me to ignore:

King warns of ‘gay marriage Mecca’

Western Iowa Rep. Steve King:

This is an unconstitutional ruling and another example of activist judges molding the Constitution to achieve their personal political ends. Iowa law says that marriage is between one man and one woman. If judges believe the Iowa legislature should grant same sex marriage, they should resign from their positions and run for office, not legislate from the bench.

Now it is the Iowa legislature’s responsibility to pass the Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman, to give the power that the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself back to the people of Iowa. Along with a constitutional amendment, the legislature must also enact marriage license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court’s latest experiment in social engineering.

Democrats, however, control the legislature, and their leaders welcomed the ruling.

Ok. 1) I support the right for homosexuals to marry as they please because I believe that personal freedoms and rights apply equally to all members of society, regardless of sexual orientation or anything else for that matter. You either believe in full equality or you don’t. Period. (And of course it’s worth pointing out that homosexuality occurs in nature, whereas our marriage laws were created by a bunch of guys.)

2) Are there any gay people in Iowa who are looking to get married? Is this a Brokeback Mountain kind of thing? Assuming that there isn’t a vast hidden rainbow-enrobed community, I don’t think Iowa has much to actually worry about from their own citizenry.

3) And as for Iowa as a potential “gay marriage Mecca.” It could happen….but I assume that most homosexuals would rather go to a state where they can marry while not worrying about being lynched by one of the most socially conservative constituencies in the country.

so, State of Iowa and Steve King: RELAX! Let’s say that gays start getting married in Des Moines. Best-case scenario: your state accepts their new position as one of the few moving towards greater respect for personal liberties and a true right to privacy. Worst-case scenario: the quality of food, fashion, shopping, the arts, etc in Iowa goes way up. OUCH.

Here’s the bottom line for me: In preface, though I do believe in a woman’s right to choose, I understand why others fervently disagree. They believe that somebody or something, depending on how you view it, is being irreparably harmed. They see abortion as murder and thus feel like this practice is not simply immoral, but akin to breaking one of the ten commandments and must stop. Again, I don’t agree, but the general anti-abortion view is not irrational.

But what about gay marriage? It doesn’t cause any irreparable harm to anyone or anything, except for potentially the traditional (and by that I mean post-Victorian) view of marriage, and even that argument is silly, both in general and in historical perspective. When gays get married nobody is hurt, let alone murdered, in the process, and there is no empirical evidence that allowing such unions is detrimental in any way to society as a whole. So, if you’re heterosexual, why do you even care?

And then again, if you are a really conservative Iowan (is that an oxymoron?) and just can’t give this whole gay marriage thing up, you can always take some comfort in the fact that there’s at least one segment of your population that definitely won’t be murdering fetuses….

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Would Somebody Please Translate Chuck Grassley (remote via Twitter) For Me?

I just received this Tweet (punctuation for punctuation) from the ever-comical Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA):

ChuckGrassley: Attention la legislative business lobbyists:I visit w many Repbli can REPs and Sntors. Don’t take ur frends 4granted. U spend all time w Dem

Did Sen. Chuck Grassley really just ask to be lobbied  (in what I believe to be some kind of Creole accent) via the public Twitter network? Isn’t that supposed to be a behind-the-scenes kind of thing? Wow. Wow.

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