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Grab bag – Friday

  • The art of debate in this country has died over the last 30 years. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were probably the last presidential candidates that actually had real debates. Since then, we’ve had organized photo opportunities. Two candidates will stand on the same stage and recite memorized talking points. Today there will be a lot of discussion about the Harry Reid – Sharron Angle debate. The bottom line is that very few voters will actually see the debate and decide their votes based on the merits of their arguments. The undecideds will continue to be undecided. Those who support each candidate will continue their support in spite of a good or a poor performance.
  • The Obama Administration has been placed in an interesting position over the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. They don’t want to alienate the armed services. On the other hand, they really want this policy to go away.
  • Interesting green energy initiatives/ideas. Hopefully something will come of them.
  • Securitizing home mortgages never sounded like a good idea to me. It sounded like a great way to make money for Wall Street but not necessarily a great thing for United States or the American homeowner. It appears that all 50 states are looking into home foreclosures. Paul Krugman has moreNow an awful truth is becoming apparent: In many cases, the documentation doesn’t exist. In the frenzy of the bubble, much home lending was undertaken by fly-by-night companies trying to generate as much volume as possible. These loans were sold off to mortgage “trusts,” which, in turn, sliced and diced them into mortgage-backed securities. The trusts were legally required to obtain and hold the mortgage notes that specified the borrowers’ obligations. But it’s now apparent that such niceties were frequently neglected. And this means that many of the foreclosures now taking place are, in fact, illegal.

More from Political Animal:

  • And in a rather classic example of why I think the notion of conservative populism is silly on a fundamental level, Glenn Beck urged his followers today to start sending donations directly to corporate interests so the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can buy more elections for far-right candidates. The minions took their orders well — the Chamber’s online donation page crashed today after regular folks tried to give their money to the already-extremely-wealthy business lobby.
  • A clip-and-save item from Jonathan Cohn on health care reform: “[F]or the sake of my friends at Fox News and anybody who might be listening to them, here are three basic questions to ask every time you hear a story about changes the Affordable Care Act is unleashing: 1) Is something actually changing? 2) Is the change related to the Affordable Care Act? 3) Is the change really for the worse?”
  • Larry Mishel explains the stimulus debate very well, with a helpful metaphor.
  • Daniel Luzer: “How much can you pay for college? Remember when $50,000 a year was a lot of money? Now that’s not even surprising. Cost is still going up, a lot, and now $60,000 is right around the corner.”
By |2010-10-15T06:38:49-04:00October 15th, 2010|Civil Rights, Economy, Elections, Energy, Environment, Party Politics|Comments Off on Grab bag – Friday

We've Got to Get off the Crack Pipe — Oil

Since the early 1970s, we’ve been talking about getting off of oil. We’ve gone through the oil crisis of the mid-1970s in which it was not uncommon to wait 30, 60 or 90 minutes just to fill up your car with gas. Remember, for those of you who are old enough, there were predictions that the world was running out of oil within that five or 10 years. President Jimmy Carter, in the late 1970s, placed solar panels on the White House. Think about this — 30 years ago, the White House was making some of its electricity with solar panels. What happened? Ronald Reagan happened. He brought with him an attitude that we were Americans and did not need to conserve or use alternative energy. We’ve been living in that alternate universe ever since.

For those of you who are in the drill, baby drill crowd, don’t worry. No matter how much rhetoric we have about using alternative energy, I am convinced that we will only be giving it lip service until we change Washington. We need to fundamentally change the way our officials are elected. Currently, too many of our politicians are dependent upon large campaign contributions from large corporations. Until we fix our election system, we’re going to continue to consume oil like a cocaine addict consumes crack.

Watch the video:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
By |2010-06-18T08:21:35-04:00June 18th, 2010|Big Oil, Party Politics, The Daily Show|Comments Off on We've Got to Get off the Crack Pipe — Oil

Confronting the right wing

There are several reasons behind incidents or episodes in which prominent liberals have stood up and refuted lots of the right wing talking points. One of the problems, as I see it, is that the right wing confuses the public and throws out so much garbage that your average person has some trouble distinguishing between reality and propaganda. The right wing has written complete books full of falsehoods. I’m not talking about books like Sean Hannity’s, Deliver Us from Evil, which is overly simplistic but his premise everyone can agree with. (Evil is bad. We should get rid of evil whenever possible. I don’t think anybody disagrees with this.) I’m talking about books like The Forgotten Man, which goes into great detail in trying to rewrite the failure of President Hoover and about the triumph (although it took a lot of trial and error) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the Great Depression. The book basically states that Roosevelt benefited from all of Hoover’s great ideas and implementations.

Exhibit A.Michael Moore goes one-on-one with Sean Hannity. (more on this over at C&L) First, let me congratulate Sean Hannity for inviting Michael Moore on his show and giving Michael Moore an adequate amount of time to explain his points. As far as I can tell, there are no “gotcha” moments. Instead, Michael Moore slowly and thoughtfully makes his points. For the majority of the conversation, they’re talking about capitalism, which is the subject of Michael Moore’s new movie. To credit Hannity, he had all of the right wing talking points. Republicans pointed to Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act, enacted back in the 1970s. (Republicans ignore the fact that the central point of this act was to stop discriminatory lending practices.) Thankfully, Michael Moore, knowing his stats, stated that the FBI has concluded that 80% of the financial collapse that we are in currently was caused by Wall Street and their fraudulent behavior. The beauty of Michael Moore mentioning this was that he set Sean Hannity up. He asked a question that no conservative could say no to — do you respect law enforcement? Hannity had to say yes. Then, he hit Sean Hannity with this statistic from the FBI. Sean Hannity had to sidestep that. Michael Moore also asked the obvious question whether if Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act caused the collapse, then why didn’t we collapse in the late 70s and early 80s? Sean Hannity never adequately answered this question. Moore had a thoughtful and intelligent answer to each one of Sean Hannity’s talking points. This was more of a debate… less two people throwing talking points at each other and more of two people listening and trying to respond to each other. Again, I have to give Sean Hannity kudos because Bill O’Reilly would have never done this. Bill O’Reilly will turn off your mike and will shout over you.

Watch the Video:

Exhibit B. — Representative Andy Wiener (Democrat, New York) had a Lincoln/Douglas-style debate against former lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey. This debate was less civil but nonetheless still important. This debate was on healthcare. Remember that the former lieutenant governor McCaughey got roasted on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. These two people represent the extremes of the healthcare debate. Representative Wiener really believes, as do I, in a single-payer program (government payer). Betsy McCaughey believes that the system will fix itself, that there really aren’t that many problems and that spending on healthcare is okay. If we spend more, that’s okay. Representative Wiener has his stats and doesn’t back down. (more here)

Watch the video:

I would like to just say a couple of things about where we stand in healthcare reform. The insurance companies are trying to put an enormous amount of pressure on Congress to have everyone sign up for insurance. This sounds like a great gig if you can get it. For example, if you are a musician and a government mandated that everyone had to buy your albums, when that be great? Sure, it’s not fair to other musicians, or even other industries, but it is sure great for you. This is the game that the health insurance industry is playing. They have poured millions of dollars into lobbying and it hasn’t worked to stall this process for months. On the other hand, President Obama was extremely effective in reversing course. Public opinion in many different polls have shown an increase in Americans approving a public option.

The Congressional Budget Office came out with its report on the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill. The report, which I’m sure will be highly criticized by Republicans, comes in well under Barack Obama’s target of $900 billion. It does not add to the deficit. This is good news for those who support Max Baucus’s bill. From my standpoint, I’m disappointed that we really don’t have any bill on Capitol Hill that covers all 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured. This bill will cover 29 million of the uninsured. I’m not sure that this bill goes far enough in trying to control costs. I’m not sure that this bill goes far enough in trying to improve government-funded research that will give physicians, like me, better information on how to treat our patients.

By |2009-10-07T20:13:37-04:00October 7th, 2009|Healthcare, Party Politics|Comments Off on Confronting the right wing
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