Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Preview of the Healthcare Summit

Early signs regarding how the impending Healthcare Summit between Barry and the Repubes don't suggest that there will be a meeting of the minds. The jobs bill notwithstanding, I suspect we'll be witness to the final bell on bipartisanship. And I think, when it happens, it will look something like this: Summit Preview

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eric Cantor Wastes His Breath

Apparently a serious move is afoot to get a health care bill through congress which will include a public option and be passed via reconciliation, therefore requiring only 50 votes (plus the VP as tie breaker). Don't get me wrong, activists on the left have argued for such an approach since the first floundering last summer. Now the dems in the senate who are realizing that failure on the issue may be worse than the compromised stasis they've already bumbled into are waking up to that fact. And Barry's people in the White House too, have gotten the cojones bug and may be actually crafting some legislation to promote. Such a series of moves will get the job done and do so in a much more progressive manner than what was already coming out of the process.

Republican boy wonder Eric Cantor has declared that such action by the administration and congressional democrats will assure the end of any attempts at bipartisanship. Who is this guy threatening? The repubes have done nothing in a bipartisan manner since January 20, 2009. Before they can say there is no chance, they have to show there is one. I'm kind of at a loss as to why anyone pays attention to such blather at this point other than for the simple manner of showing the completely "opposite" point of view on an issue. This is to be distinguished from an "opposing" point of view, which suggests there is content in the view.

The election of '08 was a resounding statement to do things differently. Barry, being a lawyer and politician at heart, is interested in process. That explains his focus on bipartisanship because it suggests a fair airing of all views and inclusion in some form for all of them. But the people, being bottom line oriented, are interested in results. The dems in congress, who knows what they're interested in at this point? But it's sounding like maybe, just maybe they're all starting to wake up to the reality that they don't have a loyal opposition to deal with.

Since John Tower's and Robert Bork's smearings by the dems in the 80s, the Gingrich revolution in '94, the ongoing evisceration of Clinton in the late 90s, and the jackboot discipline of Rove in the aughts, the US congress has become less and less responsive to the needs of American society and ever more insular. It may be a fully broken institution which has no institutional knowledge of how to accomplish important functions anymore. This, more than any other, may be the most dangerous reality to develop in American politics since the Civil War. The devastation wrought by that conflict required a century of healing with scars that remain still. I fear the consequences of further rancor of the sort. We can be a mighty nasty people when unglued. And Elmer is skurrying for the hills by my view.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Iran: What Are We Waiting For?

No don't worry, I'm not about to go all Cheney on you. Military action in Iran by us or by Israel is not possible. The targets are too deep, too numerous, and probably not all identified. We can't accomplish our goals that way, and we never could have even had we done something back when Cheney was calling the shots. All that we would do is ruin the ongoing opposition movement which, though certainly not a liberal one by western standards, certainly would be by Iranian standards.

The so-called "crippling sanctions" against the regime and particularly geared towards the Revolutionary Guard should be engaged immediately without further delay. No muslim state in the region would object since the Shiite Persian regime stands as a threat to all Sunni Arab regimes to the west. Afghanistan and Pakistan are largely irrelevant. Only China and Russia could object but doing so would simply expose them for the rogue nations that they may be trying to avoid becoming (well China anyway, the Russians don't generally care much as they have their own oil but just like sticking it to the west and the US in particular for not somehow preventing the Russian slide into a crime ridden alcoholic haze in the post-cold war era).

Strange bedfellows could be made from such an arrangement, especially if it succeeds enough to instigate some manner of Iranian lashing out before they actually manage to enrich enough useful weapons grade uranium. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Syria anyone?

What do we have to lose by trying???

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Myth of Liberal Big Gov Love

In a corollary to the critique of the Supreme Court's recent decision that corporate campaign cash is unfettered free speech, I pose a notion for all which I hope will utterly reorient everyone's attitude towards left of center thinking. America was born of a fairly uniform belief that government cannot be trusted for much and should therefore remain as limited and unintrusive as manageable. For the most part, NONE OF US ARE BIG FANS OF GOVERNMENT OF ANY SIZE. I believe Americans tend to be anarchists at heart, wanting to abide by our own rules confident in the notion that we are decent enough folks in general to know how to treat each other with at least a minimum amount of respect and desire to get what we need without stepping on the needs of others. Please note that this is how we see ourselves individually, not that we actually behave that way all of the time. But I digress.

Folks on the right love to tar us left-of-centers as having big-government desires as solutions to all problems, real or perceived until, inevitably, the word socialist gets thrown around. Sorry but it just isn't so. The only reason there is any such thing as big government in this country in the first place is because of the threat to liberty posed by big business. Without big business, there would be little need for unions, minimum wage laws, workplace condition laws, immigration laws, child labor laws, environmental regulations, mandated product quality standards, and all of the bureaucracies which came into existence in order to enforce all of these rules.

Why is that? Very simply, if businesses stay small, there are many more of them available to serve the public and as a result to compete for the public's attention and affection. They have to compete! Big businesses don't compete much. They eat the competition, then can abuse their employees and their clientèle in order to simply produce their product as cheaply and efficiently as possible in the singular pursuit of profits and absolutely nothing more. Eventually, as happened in this country starting in the 1880s, something has to be done about them.

When businesses get too big they can begin to prey on the public. They become a nuisance or worse, which must be controlled. But at that point no individuals can do anything about their power. A giant corporation is a giant collective source of capital (money), power, and influence. The only institution, which at least theoretically has the ability to push back against such power is a government powerful enough to enforce rules against such entities. This is how government got so big in this country and this is why liberals get tarred with it as an epithet -- because before the liberals promoted big government, the "conservatives" but really just the repubelican party, bought in fully to the seduction of big business and the money that came along with it.

If big businesses are exceedingly difficult to create and maintain, there will be no need for a big government to protect the public against them. By necessity (or actually the lack of necessity) the big government will begin to shrink. The phrase "too big to fail" should be a concept which exists only in the lecture halls at university business schools and economics departments as nothing more than an efficiency exercise.

If you love capitalism like I do, then hate big business. Big business is the destructive force of capitalism like cancer is a destructive force of the body. It is part of the body gone haywire and left uncontrolled will destroy that which keeps it alive. A body without cancer needs no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. A body politic without enormous businesses needs no big government to oversee and regulate it.

End corporate personhood, break up all big businesses, encourage real competition by making a playing field where there are actually different businesses to compete with each other, not glop together for singular aims. Do that, and the money will be in the hands of the people, not in the pockets of oligarchs and plutocrats. True democracy, true liberty.