Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Put Up Or Shut Up

A long long time ago it seems, I suspected my friend Barry of being the best poker player I'd ever seen. If tomorrow night's State of the Union isn't the ultimate call on legislative branch, then we may be witnessing the resurrection of Herbert Hoover. It is what the repubes have been calling for and surely now that they would be getting they will refuse to claim ownership just as they say Barry has refused to claim ownership of the mess he inherited and by their standards, has contributed to in grand fashion. On the other hand, this could also be a mighty dare to the Democrats who have failed utterly to congeal around their savior for the benefit of their president, their party, their jobs, and certainly their constituents. They have had all the power they've needed to enact the measures promised by candidate Barry but they squandered it utterly. They still have the power since as has been observed, the GOP never needed 60 senate votes to do anything.

I struggle with the historical reality that 1st year presidents don't generally do very well but the inability of Barry and his team to get the wheels of government moving in a generally forward direction is disheartening. It's not uncommon for initial cabinet members to be swept away. It may be a bit early for that by past standards but, starting with Geithner, it could be time for such a cleansing.

As a politics junkie I usually look forward to the State of the Union address. I suffer through the anchors and their crowing at the pomp and majesty because I truly don't give a rip about that crap. I want some content. Right now I'm more concerned than ever and I more or less will be happy if at the end of Barry's portion I'm just not disgusted. My confidence is waning. How long will it be in the speech lead-ups until a bunch of pundits declare in unison "he needs to hit a home run/score a touchdown (hail mary pass)"?

As someone who was pivotal in getting this blog off the ground often said to me, "UGH!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Money Talks

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That's the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution boys and girls.

I'll need to keep this brief because it's late and I have other things to do.

Freedom of speech in this country has been defined to relate most significantly to political speech by persons. Since we are a representative republic, supporting a political candidate or officeholder is a substitute for one's own political speech. Therefore, donating money to a politician of one's choice has also been determined to be protected speech. In short, cash equals speech. At least one pundit criticized that conclusion by suggesting that by that logic, bribery should then be protected. But that is patently absurd because bribery is direct corruption which takes place out of sight behind closed doors. Like lobbying.

You got something to say, someone to support, someone you want to give money to? Fine thing Mr. America, declare it to the whole country out loud and in round figures.

Here's the thing though - long ago, for reasons that are not entirely consistent with the usual methods of interpreting law, corporations were defined as persons under the constitution. Ever since politicians have attempted to control or limit how and how much cash is used by corporations in the political process. Today the Supreme Court declared all such methods invalid. In other words, as the 1st amendment states, NO MEANS NO. Congress can't limit what a person (in this case, a corporate person) spends to support a candidate for political office.

This sounds horrible and commentators are already decrying the latest smash to the foundations of the country. They may be right about the end result, but in typical fashion, for the wrong reasons. This decision, under current constitutional interpretations, is completely correct. The problem isn't that corps are now allowed to throw millions (maybe for Exxon, billions) into a political campaign. The problem is that they can do so because they are considered persons under the law. Corporations are therefore entitled to all rights of persons. Isn't that absurd??

If you want the stranglehold of big business and the corrupting effects it has on governance to go away, don't whine about this particular decision - it is actually good that this situation is not parsed out as an exception which will only muddy the legal waters when some other little distinction needs to be made - focus on the cause of the problem. The cause here is that something not alive, yet which may theoretically never die, has all the rights and privileges of the living.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Silver Lining

Since the 60 vote Democratic supermajority was tossed into the grave with Ted Kennedy last night, it has looked more than a little frustrating for us left of center folk. But now that the ire has ebbed a bit (or at least I have let mine so flow), I have had a few moments of mental time to consider how the new situation can still work to the benefit of the Left. And what it seems to me at the moment is that the loss in Massachusetts last night may actually work to the benefit of the left rather than hurt it.

Simply stated, the Dems can now act like a party of the left instead of kowtowing to faux dems like Lieberman and Ben Nelson (for the record, I understand why Nelson behaves as he does, coming from Nebraska, but Lieberman still has no excuse other than to eternally torment the party that nearly made him Vice President but for his ineffective campaigning).

The 7 or 8 moderates in the party can now be treated like any wavering mods that were in the GOP the past 15 years. Either they join in or get hammered in primaries next election cycle. And Lieberman can finally be shitcanned altogether as he ought to be.

Supermajorities have been rather uncommon in American political history and the system was designed for it to be difficult. Nevertheless, things get done. While the dems had 60, nothing got done. Maybe this loss is a blessing in disguise. Let's hope so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Did Obama Really Win the Presidency?

Seriously folks, if the dems in Massachusetts couldn't hold Ted Kennedy's seat, how did they manage to win the White House or their still significant majorities in both houses of Congress. It seems we're back to the way things were before Barry won in '08.

The question now is whether the dems in Congress have the balls to get healthcare passed in any of the remaining methods available to them without 60 votes once Sen. Brown (R-Mass) is sworn in. Personally I like the one that has them get the compromise done and voted on before he has to be sworn in according to Massachusetts law. I believe that brings it to about Jan. 29.

You got 10 days folks. Can you do it?

Jon Stewart observed that the Repubelicans never had 60 in the Senate yet they did absolutely anything they wanted. Why??