Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Squat from Scott

The Globe did no favor to Senator Scott Brown by publishing his embarrassingly ill-informed letter ("The health care fight is not over" 3/30). Mr. Brown's most glaring mistake is to say that the Democrats used "the reconciliation process to ram through their health care bill." This is simply not true: the health care bill was not passed using reconciliation, but by old-fashioned large majorities in both houses -- in fact, by a supermajority in the Senate -- enough to defeat any filibuster. Was Brown too busy driving his truck to read the newspapers? In fact, the "sweetheart deals and special carve-outs" that he deplores were removed from the bill by later reconciliation; you'd think he'd applaud this excision.

Brown has also cooked up a claim that the bill will cost taxpayers $ 2.6 trillion -- a figure that is certainly news to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. He doesn't mention all the cost-saving features of the bill -- which is OK, since his op-ed piece is, after all, partisan -- but he does claim that it overcharges students for health insurance by taking over student loans from the banking industry. Brown's statement is taken straight from an insurance industry propaganda sheet and is simply not true. Under health reform, the government will offer lower rates for student loans by eliminating the banks' profits; furthermore, the bill allows students to stay extra years on their parents' health insurance. Brown claims he wants to add preventative medicine, but that too is already in the bill.

Brown is all worked up about proposing a bill to allow states to opt out of the "individual mandate" -- i.e. requiring individuals to buy insurance. Although he should know that this mandate was a Republican idea, he seems not to have read the provision in the healthcare bill that explicitly allows states to opt out if they have an equivalent or better plan to save money and protect their citizens from insurance company abuse.

Finally, Mr. Brown thinks he knows what the "American People" think and want: he consults some private polls of his choosing. Last I looked, matters are decided in our country by votes; there is not one mention of polls anywhere in the Constitution or in any binding law that has ever been passed.

Brown also mouths off about how he'd "[allow] individuals to purchase insurance across state lines." This of course is Republicanese for allowing insurance companies to circumvent individual states' consumer protection laws. When this happened in the credit market, all the credit companies moved to the small handful of states that didn't have anti-usury laws. That's why we're now all subject to 30% (and more) APRs when the prime is in the very low single-digits. How much are T-bills offering, or CDs? See my blog on Credit Card usury.

Wouldn't it be nice if a sitting Senator took the trouble to get his facts straight? Mr. Brown should stop "texting", pull over, and read and listen a bit.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More mojo

Obama made 15 recess appointments today. At last he has come to the full realization that the Republicans (PTR) are purely obstructionist and not worth any effort to accommodate. I hate to say it but many of us knew that a long time ago.

I like the "new" Obama.

... and when he didn't know it

It's really interesting that Pope Benedict claims he was never told that priests who were known pederasts were being routinely reassigned to other parishes when their misdeeds became known to the church hierarchy. In order to avoid being implicated in many a cover-up he is admitting to incompetence in his job: his position at the time was director of Church discipline.

(Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston -- another powerful technocrat whom many saw as a possible candidate for Pope -- was forced to resign over this exact issue; of course he would never admit to incompetence...)

First of all, I don't really believe Benedict's claim of ignorance --but certainly this fallback position of ignorance is hardly reassuring. Apparently the former Joseph Alois Ratzinger was more interested in obscure deviations from Church dogma than he was in gross deviations from acceptible and humane decency. The exact nature of the Trinity and punishing those who didn't recognize it was more important to him than protecting young children from sexual predators.

Furthermore, it is unclear that his predecessor, the very conservative and "beloved" Pope John Paul, was any better: a lot of the scandal unfolded on his watch. (BTW: does the Church ever describe a pontiff as anything but "beloved" -- especially after he dies?) Benedict is now pushing for fast track sainthood for John Paul. I imagine he hopes to get the same when he shuffles off this mortal coil. My, how grade inflation has set in for sainthood these days. I guess it's miracle enough if you don't yourself get caught with your hands in the -- I was going to say till, but I guess it should be altar boy.

How could anyone ever believe that an all-male priesthood and hierarchy, historically at once suspicious of, and condescending to, females, could ever avoid attracting homosexual predators? They've had their share of heterosexual ones as well. Could anyone doubt that this "problem" is neither confined to this generation nor even this century? Or even this millenium?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reducing Nukes

Amidst the drama and rancor of the healthcare struggles, President Obama and Soviet President Medvedyev put together a very important nuclear arms treaty, which will decrease strategic warheads on both sides by about 30% and missile systems by even more. These systems are fossils remaining from the cold war and the existence of the former USSR. They are costly and still dangerous. Even after reduction, the firepower will be enough to destroy the population of the world several times over in explosions and fallout; also, their existence is a magnet for terrorists.

It is likely that their reduction, should the Senate ratify the agreement by a necessary 2/3 vote, will still be costly, since it appears that the military industrial complex has bought into the agreement because it will entail spending millions/billions to "modernize" the remainer of our arsenal. Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs was standing with Obama and Sec. of State Clinton, clearly beaming.

It will be interesting to see if the Republicans will support this agreement, or use it as yet another excuse for a partisan attack, this time claiming that the President is deliberately selling us out to the Russkies. John McCain, truly entering his second childhood if not senescence, has already proclaimed that his party will not cooperate with the Dems for the rest of the year. (Fiscal or academic or calendar?). That's patriotism for you. You remember John, who is an expert on things military by virtue of being shot down and held captive in North Vietnam. I guess that would make any paroled criminal an expert in penology, if not forensic medicine. Combining this "expertise" with hardening of the mental arteries makes McCain a truly formidable senator indeed.

In any case, you've got to give Obama credit, both for negotiating this pact and for the recent recovery of his political mojo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some documentation

My friend John F forwarded to me the following URL which documents a lot of the craziness of what passes for conservatives these days: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/a/m/americandad/2010/03/an-open-letter-to-conservative.php?ref=mp

Enjoy these and use them for good only.

Openness and TeaScreamers

The whiners (PTR and TeaScreamers) are talking about some sort of "secret" or hidden procedure used to pass healthcare reform. This is, of course, a figment of their imagination; in fact, they never give an example of it. Every congressional (House and Senate) vote was open, on C-span, and followed all constitutional rules. There was nothing secret. Yes, the Democrats caucused among themselves in secret, same as the Republicans and the same as the Patriots or Packers or Saints when they huddle. You don't let the opponents into your huddle do you? But all the plays were public and followed all the rules.

I love it when the docile news media interview TeaScreamers. A typical one is a harmless-looking type who says "I never payed attention or got involved in politics before, but here I am in the middle of a movement." Yes, this person never got involved: never read a paper or went to a talk or read a book about what what was going on. So now this person is suddenly convinced that some "they" are ushering in socialism (whatever that is) and have somehow given away our democracy and way of life. Yes, as the computer people say: GIGO = Garbage In Garbage Out.

If you have read a single coherent argument from the TeaScreamers, please send it in to the "Comments" on this blog: I am genuinely interested. You should add your comments. The most interesting will be quoted and discussed in the blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hooray! More later

Hooray for the final passage of HCR: pretty much as expected. As I predicted in the last blog, even Bart Stupak and fellow anti-abortionists showed that they are Democrats -- after Obama provided cover for their pro votes. I have to give him credit for recognizing that they could be brought on board simply by promising in a presidential directive exactly what was already in the bill.

It ain't over just yet, because the Republicans will challenge the suitability of all sorts of provisions for reconciliation. Nevertheless, once Obama signs what has been passed so far, we'll have some sort of healthcare reform. It will need an awful lot of tweaking -- more than that really: it needs at least a public option and preferably single-payer in order to actually save money by containing costs. Of course, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to find out how to do this: just look at the dozen or so countries that have left us in the dust by providing quality healthcare at far lower cost.

The PTR -- What part of beneath contempt don't you understand? -- has been reduced to shouting invective and cheering soccer rowdies -- OK, healthcare rowdies -- in the cheap seats. Oh also, at least one of them decided to call Bart Stupak, of all people, a "baby killer" from the floor of the House. Every time they try to rise to "merely contemptible" they don't quite make it.

BTW: To help keep up with new developments in healthcare, I read Merrill Goozner's interesting blog The GoozNews.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

15 minutes of fame

Bart Stupak has had his, and history will march on. I don't usually make predictions, but I think the Democratic leadership will get its 216 votes without compromising with him. Many of the holdouts are actual dyed-in-the-wool Democrats who, when push comes to shove, will not want to be the ones defeating this generation's chance at the brass ring of healthcare reform.

Stupak has declared he has no respect for the 50 organizations of nuns -- representing tens of thousand of sisters throught the country -- that have exhorted Congress to pass the bill. The nuns, of course, are responsible for many of the day-to-day interactions between their church and needy parishioners. Bishops in general, and the Council of the same, represent the official power structure; you know, the ones that shuttled pedophile clergy around when their abuse of youngsters became known. The ones who damaged the lives of "the innocent" that they now profess to be so concerned about; the ones who have nearly bankrupted many archdioces around the world as well as the reputation of their Church. Somehow, I think the nuns have a better perspective on family values and sanctity of life.

Maybe you'd expect Bart Stupak to go with the men though. It's the tough, guy, thing to do.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Israeli poll

HuffPo reports that a recent poll in Israel shows that Obama has a greater popularity there than in the States. This is in spite of the huffing and puffing (not to be confused with Huffington) of the Jewish lobby about his adminstration's pushback against Netanyahu's recent expansion of settlements. The Israelis have always been far more tolerant of dissent-- and leftish -- than the self-proclaimed spokespeople here for American Jews.

I vowed when I started writing this blog not to take sides on issues in the Middle East, and I will continue to honor that promise. However, I do believe that this political flap about building new settlements is not simply a tempest in a teapot or a spat among friends as some would have it. The significant thing about these settlements is not the timing of their announcement -- coinciding with V.P. Biden's trip to Israel -- but the fact that they are being built in East Jerusalem at all. They were clearly authorized by Netanyahu, since he is the leader of the ruling party, and they are clearly provocative and not essential to Israel's security. People who are sincere about honoring a peace process don't do things like this; did anyone actually ever think that Netanyahu is any more sincere about this than Hamas, say?. In fact, the various representatives of the Palestinians have also taken provocative steps -- including new shelling of Israeli citizens. (All shelling of Israel is aimed at citizens since it is unlikely that the accuracy and range of the weapons used would enable targeting of military concentrations -- even assuming the forces using them wanted to hit anyone but civilians in the first place).

Wrong or right, the Obama administration is clearly frustrated with the Netanyahu government, as is a large number of Israelis. Ultimately, Israeli, not American, voters will decide what comes next.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kucinich to vote yes

The difference between Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader is that Kucinich isn't willing to sacrifice the well-being of lots of people in order to tilt at windmills. I agree with him that only a single-payer plan or strict government control of the insurance industry will create a reasonable system here, but for the foreseeable future these things ain't going to happen. The first step is to consolidate the gains the Dems have made, which will take some of the wind out of the PTR's sails. Eventually, costs will make it imperative to replace this temporary splint with a real cure. We simply can't afford to let the Republicans (PTR) gain a victory here and now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You dirty moderate!

This from the Washington Post:

"[Arkansas Liet. Gov Bill] Halter has attacked [Sen. Blanche] Lincoln for her moderation -- particularly on health care."

(Halter is challenging Lincoln in the Democratic senatorial primary in Arkansas.)

Reporters everywhere are falling all over themselves to expand the Manichean duality into a threesome: "left-leaning", "conservative" and "moderate." Damn the idiocy: full speed ahead! (See the blog on Moderation for another example.)

Thus, on healthcare reform, the mindless reporters label the Republican 100% opposition as conservative -- as in let's conserve our birthright of expensive and generally mediocre-in-outcome healthcare -- and the Democratic efforts as "left-leaning." The handful of Democrats who oppose healthcare reform, or want to bargain with it to obtain special dispensations for themselves or some of their constituencies, are labelled "moderate." This has no meaning. Is this pitiful excuse for writing what they teach in modern journalism schools?

If this were PBS we could have a contest: expand traditional dichotomies into threesomes. Send in your entries. E.g. "fish", "cut bait", "be moderate." Or: "Mark Sanford", "Jenny Sanford" and "Maria Belen Chapur." I'm sure you can do better.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eisenhower on Vietnam

In my blog Revisionist History I mentioned that the U.S. unilaterally defied the Geneva agreements which called for elections in Viet Nam. This lawlessness was the work of John Foster Dulles, Sec. of State for President Dwight Eisenhower. My friend Bob K. writes:

"My recollection is that Eisenhower in his Mandate for Change conceded that had the elections been held as planned at Geneva Ho Chi Minh would have won in a landslide. Hence our repudiation of the elections and hence our invasion of the south"

Bob is right; on page 337 of Mandate for Change, Eisenhower writes (italics are mine):

"Delay or equivocation in implementing complete independence could only serve to bolster the Communist claim that this was in reality a war to preserve colonialism. To American ears the first French pronouncements, soon made to the world, were a distinct step forward, but it was almost impossible to make the average Vietnamese peasant realize that the French, under whose rule his people had lived for some eighty years, were really fighting in the cause of freedom, while the Vietminh, people of their own ethnic origins, were fighting on the side of slavery. It was generally conceded that had an election been held, Ho Chi Minh would have been elected Premier. Unhappily, the situation was exacerbated by the almost total lack of leadership displayed by the Vietnamese Chief of State, Bao Dai, who, while nominally the head of that nation, chose to spend the bulk of his time in the spas of Europe rather than in his own land leading his armies against those of Communism."

Of course, Bao Dai was not really the head of Viet Nam, but only the corrupt head of the southern part of the country.

Put Reagan on the $3 bill

Republican Rep Patrick McHenry wants to replace the likeness of U.S. Grant with that of Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill. This is a terrible idea, as is pointed out eloquently and accurately by Sean Wilentz in the (global) NY Times.

Lincoln, Grant and Sherman have special places in my heart as leaders in the fight against the Confederacy. If only Sherman could have extended his march to go through certain parts of New England as well: burning mansions and otherwise gutting wealth built by, and in support of, the slave trade. However, I'm glad that he at least did it to Georgia and the Carolinas -- couldn't have happened to a nicer group of states.

It's ironic that the modern Republican party -- not "Grand" but Party for The Rich -- should now embrace so many groups sympathetic to the Confederacy. The "Southern Strategy" may have started with Dick Nixon, but Ronnie Reagan loved to honor groups sympathetic to the Confederacy and to its flag -- he even felt compelled to visit a cemetary in Bitburg Germany which contained plaques honoring SS dead. The man was either a fool or a knave -- probably a bit of both.

If you want to read some really interesting history, get Grant's wonderful autobiography -- bravely composed while he was painfully dying of cancer and facing disastrous family economic hardship. He had one of the most difficult assignments an American general ever had, and he carried it through to an "unconditional" success. Grant belongs among our most highly-honored presidents -- put Reagan's puss on the $3 bill.

Revisionist history

In David Shribman's review of "Valley of Death" by Ted Morgan (Boston Globe, 3/14), he discusses the defeat of the French forces at Dien Bien Phu, which eventually led to American involvement in Vietnam. He summarizes pretty well most of the history, except for the glaringly misleading line: "eventually aggression by the communist north against the south would lead to American involvement." First of all, the Geneva accords dividing North from South Vietnam called for elections to determine unification. The U.S., under Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, unilaterally repudiated these elections, which would have surely united the country under the very popular nationalist hero Ho Chi Minh; they never took place. Shribman also characterizes the North as "communist", even though historians, as he himself points out, would conclude that "the Vietminh were more nationalists than Marxists." Shribman gives no characterization of the South Vietnamese government, which was corrupt and unrepresentative -- and eventually a puppet of the U.S. It wasn't North Vietnamese aggression but U.S. violation of the Geneva agreement that lead to the the war. How soon we forget.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Boston Globe perpetuates fallacy

I wrote the following letter to the Boston Globe:

"The Globe headlines "Senate rejects extending funding for youth summer jobs program" (March 13). The headline is not correct. The Senate never voted this measure up or down. In fact, the summer jobs program, proposed by Senators Kerry (D Mass) and Murray (D Wash), got a substantial and clear majority of the Senate -- 55 votes for -- in a test or cloture vote; this tally was not even reported in the article. Headlines like this mislead people into thinking that the Republicans, by taking advantage of the Senate's country-club fillibuster rules -- not part of the law of the land -- are actually representing the wishes of the American people. Responsible journalism would suggest a more factual headline such as "Majority of Senate thwarted on summer jobs program." The fact that the entire Republican contingent in the Senate represents only a small minority of the actual voting population of the U.S. -- the Senate being what it is -- makes your headline even more outrageous."

Another interesting side to this story is that Scott Brown, who took over Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate, voted against this bill, even though he campaigned on the issue of jobs. Yes, jobs -- Republican snow jobs. The PTR loves to campaign on populist issues, but it is just more of the Big Lie. Brown says he's worried about unfunded mandates. This is real news that the PTR, after all the Bush years of unfunded wars and tax cuts for the rich, is now worried about this issue -- when jobs for the non-rich are concerned.

As the old union song goes: "Put it on the ground, spread it all around, dig it with a hoe: it'll make your flowers grow."

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Harry Gives 'em Hell" (Krugman)

The following link is to the Dem's website, and presents a pretty tough letter that Harry Reid wrote to Mitch McConnell: Leader2Leader.

(Thanks to Sarah who found it via Krugman's NYTimes Blog -- always worth reading.)

I've seen some suggestions that Nancy Pelosi believes Bart Stupak is bluffing when he says he has a dozen votes against the Healthcare bill if his anti-abortion demands aren't met. Clearly there's nothing she or Steny Hoyer can do for him in the immediate future in any case except promise him a separate vote on the issue, which the Senate would have to approve separately. Abortion issues are probably not subject to reconciliation since they are more regulatory than budgetary. He could demand a promise that the House take up his strong anti-abortion stance, but she could hardly promise him that either the House or the Senate would pass it as a stand-alone measure. As I said in a previous blog, any Dem voting against the Healthcare bill at this time risks being branded as the person who killed Democratic Healthcare (Kucinich and Capuano take note), and probably put the whole party and the President in the category of "losers." If the House can pass the bill without Stupak and his supporters (however many they may turn out to be), then he's a paper tiger. Let's hope that Pelosi and Hoyer are reading the cards correctly.

(The progressive website Talking Points Memo (TPM) has an article that speculates on who Stupak's supporters in the House may be: here's the LINK.)

Finally (at least for now): no day would be complete without the daily petty intolerance report:
High school cancels prom rather than let openly lesbian student attend (AP). I happened to read it: don't bother unless you're sure that more idiocy from Mississippi won't ruin your day. Why are people so nasty when they don't have to be???

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Big Lies about Barney Frank

I've mentioned this before, but it can never be said too many times: One of the prime tools used by the Tea Partiers and the PTR is "the Big Lie": Repeat an untrue or imagined allegation enough times and people start to believe it. Hitler referred to the technique, but it is most associated with George Orwell and his book "1984" -- a satire of the totalitarian state, based on the former U.S.S.R. Do students still read "1984" or "Animal Farm" or even "Homage to Catalonia"? I've reread a few of Orwells works and I can say his clear thinking and writing are still a pleasure.

Anyway, as you might expect, the radical right -- there doesn't seem to be any "moderate right" these days -- has taken aim at Barney Frank, who happens to be my rep in Congress. Frank has certainly gotten their attention over the years by being an outspoken progressive on many issues, especially ones related to banking, since he is chair of the House Committee overseeing that industry. A loony from the Wall Street Journal editorial board named John Fund has attacked Frank for pushing what seems to be a ridiculously permissive voting-rights bill. The usual suspects Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh etc. have taken up the issue; here's a typical example from American Daughter. The only problem is that there is no such bill in either house of Congress or any sponsors for such a bill. Yes, it's the Big Lie: say anything or do anything to defeat people you don't like. Stalin would approve for sure. It's right up there with the Death Panels, Black Helicopters, and U.S. complicity in 9/11.

This is not to say the Democrats have never lied; it's just that lying is not a way of life for them. Liberals may occasionally be naive and loose with facts, but their hearts are with the vast majority of people; conservatives are also loose with the facts, but their hearts are invariably with the wealthy and powerful -- just look at the results from their years in power: tax breaks for the rich, de-regulation of corporations and banks, a Supreme Court with a solid majority and a Chief Justice that invariably sides with the top of the economic spectrum. Given a choice between two types of flawed political positions, I'll go with the one whose instincts and sympathies are on the side of most of us.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The calm before ... what?

This was a quiet weekend with the small exception of Rep. Eric Massa's (D, NY) resignation, which is a plus, since he was originally a "no" vote on healthcare reform.

The big crunch will involve "C-streeter" Bart Stupak and the anti-abortion contingent in the House. I simply don't see any easy argument that will change things. If you believe that an embryo, whether unimplanted, an hour old or a day old, is equivalent to a mature fetus or delivered baby, or mature person, then you are likely to vote against any bill that spends any dime of federal money on abortion under almost any accounting method. It is important for "choice" proponents to understand that the belief that a blastula of a hundred or so cells has a spirit or soul that makes it a human is a religious belief that you can't simply talk a person out of, any more than than you can simply tell that person that souls and God don't exist. Arguing about "church and state" will not cut it with people so committed to their religious beliefs.

Perhaps Rep. Stupak can be bought off by an offer from House Whip Steny Hoyer to have a separate reconciliation vote on abortion rules. The only thing that might make this offer at all attractive for Stupak is that he won't have to bear the burden of being "the person who killed healthcare" if it comes to that. I simply don't know how this will play out.

In the long run, the best way to keep this from happening again is to wage strenuous campaigns against candidates who make abortion their exclusive and deciding issue. Even if you believe in souls, the world is a complicated and dangerous place, there are a lot of good and vulnerable people out there, and abortion is only one way to die.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Opting out of healthcare?

Today's NY Times has an interesting column by sociologist Paul Starr on trying to buy conservative/libertarian votes on healthcare by giving people the choice of opting out if they sign a 5-year waiver on buying into the the plan. You can read it HERE. In other words, if you sign this waiver you don't need to purchase insurance, but if you get sick within 5 years you can't buy in and expect your illness to be covered. Starr himself thinks that taking this option would be foolish, but he acknowledges that there is widespread opposition to making health insurance mandatory.

I'm not going to pick a fight with a sociologist on why citizens oppose the Democratic healthcare bill. Some of the opposition may be based on not liking to be coerced, or a distrust of a complicated and poorly understood bill, or some distrust of "big government" based on decades of PTR propaganda. I don't know exactly; maybe Prof. Starr does.

However, he is totally wrong if he thinks that any change in the bill short of removing 90% of its provisions would create bipartisan support. Opposition to the bill from the PTR is based on the desire to kill any legislation by the Obama administration, or Democrats in general, that might be popular and be viewed as a [political] success. That is why the PTR is opposing nearly every bill that they don't originate (and many appointments). The Republican leadership threatens to fillibuster nearly everything. If they can't get the required 41 votes to do so, and the bill might be popular, they eventually sign on so as not to be perceived as being merely obstructionist. We just saw that in the last jobs bill where more Republicans voted to fillibuster it than eventually voted against it. As Obama pointed out, they oppose a bill, then, later, show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects that the bill established.

I would like to discuss Starr's idea of an opt-out provision. Please send comments to the blog, and we'll get back to it later. Once again, here's the LINK.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Response to some comments from Ted

Ted, as usual, has contributed several interesting comments -- on the last two blogs:
Nothing leads like leadership
What part of beneath contempt.

I agree pretty much with the things he has to say, but I'd like to make a few points. First of all, I don't think we need be that concerned about the few folks who aren't really interested in working, and would gladly trade a low-wage job for more free time. Most of these people are living in their parents' basements and mooching meals. It is difficult to live on under $20,000 per year; many hard-working grad students do it, though not because they are slackers and prefer it to having a decent job. As we all know, this recession has idled millions of workers who want to have a good life for themselves and their families; these are the ones we should care most about. Larry Summers may not understand their problems and desires, but I think it is safe to say that they would be very eager to take a job that pays their bills and gives them some disposable income. As Ted suggests, John Kyl doesn't care about the poor in any case, and is only latching on to Summers' argument in order raise himself from beneath contempt to being merely contemptible. (Don't get me started on Jim Bunning.)

As far as the ability of the Chinese to develop sophisticated green technologies, I have read that they are making good progress, both in developing a workforce trained in the appropriate skills and in supplying the ncecessary resources. They have been willing to license developed and developing technology from other countries to give them a leg up. If you want to read more, I suggest this article from the New Yorker (12/21/09): Letter From China.

Thanks Ted.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What part of beneath contempt don't we understand?

Several news sources, including the Huffington Post, report the following quotes from Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, PTR whip:

[unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting] "because people are being paid even though they're not working."

[Unemployment insurance] "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work"

"And the same thing with the COBRA extension and the other extensions here".

[COBRA = "Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act" enables families to continue their health insurance for up to 18 months after employment is terminated. It was passed under President Reagan by -- you guessed it -- reconciliation.]

So far, not a single example of a layed-off person who would rather collect a tiny fraction of his/her previous salary in unemployment benefits has been produced by PTR researchers, but they're still working on it.

Yes, that's why it's called the PTR = Party for The Rich. Their program is sometimes called LTEC = Let Them Eat Cake, or just simply Antoinette.

Nothing leads like leadership

While it wasn't FDR-like, President Obama's firm hand in leading -- even dominating -- the healthcare "summit" last Thursday is beginning to reap rewards. More than half a dozen members of the House who voted against the plan last time around indicate that they are having second thoughts, and may vote for a Senate-like plan this time in order to get healthcare done.

There are many opportunities for the U.S. to move in progressive directions which will help the economy and bring back jobs. Healthcare is just one of them; green energy development is another, in which we are currently losing ground seriously to China. This is not your Chintzy-Unsafe-Toys gap, but the development of a significant new complex technology that we simply can't afford to sleep through. As usual, the PTR will fight a government "industrial policy", so Obama will have a chance to use some more of his newly-found semi-mojo.

Whoa, stand back.