Monday, December 20, 2010

Success or Failure

Like many Liberals I have been dissappointed in some of the things that this Administration and the Democratic Congress have done in the past two years.

There are clearly things that could have gone better, but the reality is that the President and Congress have been historically successful in enacting most of their agenda.

Start with Health Care Reform. It didn't go as far as I would have liked, it didn't even contain a public option, but its still an amazing advance for this country, something Democrats have been advocating for almost a century.

Reform of the student loan program that will result in more student loans and more Pell grants and simplier applications.

Extending unemployment benefits for long term unemployed until the end of 2011.

Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell

Reform of the regulations that govern Wall Street and new customer protections in lending.

The largest stimulus package in history resulting in the creation of saving of as many as 4 million jobs.

One of the largest tax cuts in history.

And thats only the highlights.

All in all an amazing legislative record.

I wanted more. I still do. We need to address Global Warming with either Cap and Trade or a simple Carbon Tax. Immigration Reform is incredibly important. We need to finish our withdrawl from Iraq and remove ourselves as much as possible from Afghanistan. Close Gitmo.

I want more.

But they have accomplished a hell of a lot.

I call it a Success!!

We should be proud!

A Great Victory for America

Its almost done.
In the next few days the President of the United States will sign a bill repealing the abomination commonly referred to as Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stand up and BRAG

I was reading one of my favorite liberal blogs (Hullabaloo) where Digby was happy to prove that the Koch brothers funded one of the principal groups that helped get the tea bagger movement going and then lied about it.

And it struck me, WHO CARES?

I am sure that if you proved with canceled checks to a teabagger that their movement was started by a billionaire, they wouldn't care. Its only a fact and tea baggers are believers without a strong appetite for facts

I guess I don't care who paid to get the baggers all fired up.
Conservatives have their billionaires, we have ours and they all spend tons of money in support of their beliefs and goals

The question is not who funds the idiots, the question is why do we allow them to win.

Why are our supposed leaders not out there shouting out how proud they are of their accomplishments. Why are our supposed leaders not out there reminding the voters that the economy historicaly performs better under Democratic Presidents than under Republicans, that Democrats have a better record on the deficit than Republicans, that taxes for 95% of working families have actually gone down under this President, that the Health Care Reform bill will actually reduce the deficit, that global warming is real and DEMANDS action, that there are very VERY few SMALL business owners making 250,000 or more per year, that the wealthiest 1% of the population have more of the national wealth than the bottom 50% and that wealth is more concentrated now that it was before the great depression.

The problem is not who financed the startup of the tea bagger movement, the problem is that our leaders are so afraid of being called bad names by the Republicans they are cowering in the corner begging please don't call me a Socialist again.

We need to get out and drag out leaders out and BRAG about what Democrats have accomplished in 2 years and BRAG about what Democrats have accomplished in the last 60 years and we need to challenge the Republicans to tell us how they are going to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting defense spending or cutting medicare or cutting Social Security. Expose them for the demagogues they have become without any real plans who are only interested in blaming someone else for their failures so that they can get back in power and fail again.

Its not just enough to counter the Republican lies with the truth, We have to present a positive vision of the accomplishments of this Administration and Democratic Administrations since WWII and a strong positive REALISTIC vision for where we are going towards.

Fuck the Koch brothers and all the other millionaires and billionaires who are funding the baggers. They aren't winning because of their money. They aren't even winning because they have a better message.

They are winning because WE are acting afraid.

We need to be PROUD of what has been done both in the past 2 years and in the past 60 and we need to stand up. We need to take back the Liberal label and fill it with the pride that Liberal accomplishments deserve.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

These People are Nuts

I am beginning to think that a significant fraction of the population is simply unhinged.

I have been having several discussions on conservative blogs about Global Warming. And there are still people out there who deny that either the average global surface temperature is increasing or that the increase it due to human activity or both. Some of them have been known to say that Global Warming is good, it will lead to nicer temperatures in Canada so its got to be a good thing.

And when I ask them about the science what I get in most cases is a conspiracy theory.

It kinda goes like this.

Every Climate Scientist who has published a peer reviewed paper on Climate Change and the human activity factors that are driving it is part of a conspiracy. Some, maybe many, perhaps even all, know that its not true but if they admit it then they will lose funding for their studies. And since they are the ones doing the peer reviews, they can reject papers that contradict this conspiracy driven false explanation. So they can control the process and eliminate the voice of dissent by simply rejecting papers that don't match the orthodoxy.

All of them.

Every one of the more than 1000 studies dating back over 20 years is part of this conspiracy. Not a one of them has won the lottery and had enough money that they didn't have to worry about grants so they can come into the open and expose the conspiracy.

This is the gist of the explanation that I get in many of the discussions that I have. Thousands of scientists are hiding the truth from us and have been for decades now.

This apparently is easier for these people to accept than all the supposed evidence that the scientists claim to have.

If you point out that 2009 was the hottest year on record, they say we can't be sure because 50 years ago thermometers were as accurate as they are now. If you talk about tree ring studies, they simply reject the concept that we can learn anything about the past from tree rings. If you talk about ice cores they reject using ice cores because of isotopic drift. If you talk about the glaciers receding over most of the world, they talk about a segment of South American or somewhere where the glaciers grew last year more than they have in a thousand years. And they will tell you with certainty that volcanoes put out an order of magnitude more CO2 than human activity. And they stick to their guns. They believe.

There mind is made up and they are not interested in facts. Actually they are convinced that all the facts coming from the climate scientists who have produced more than 1000 studies on this issue are all somehow distorted, even deceptively altered to fit a false narrative.

They remind me of the Swift Boaters in 2004. They believed all the people who were willing to challenge Senator Kerry's honesty and heroism based on the testimony who were not on his boat. Many of the people never even met Lt Kerry. Many were not in the fights he was in. Those people who were actually on his Swift Boat all supported his testimony. But people like the Global Warming deniers chose to believe everybody else, not the people who actually served on the Swift Boat Lt Kerry commanded. In the action that drew the most debate, Lt. Kerry's boat was part of a small flotilla of Swift Boats under the overall command of a man who later became one of the leaders of the Swift Boat lie. That overall commander got a Bronze Star for what happened that day, just like Lt. Kerry did. And if you read the Bronze Star citation for the overall commander, it supports all the things that he later said never happened. But people, for reasons passing understanding still want to believe that Lt. Kerry is some sort of cowardly liar.

Like I said. Nuts!!

These are probably the same kind people who, 25 or 30 years ago, who were denying that cigarettes were addictive or caused cancer.

And then there are the Creationists. They may be the funniest of all. They can't even agree amongst themselves if the Earth is 5000 or 5Billion years old. Some of them insist that humanity and the Dinosaurs actually coexisted on this planet sometime within the past 5 millennium. And they want their fantasy to be taught as science. Despite having no scientific evidence to support their myriad of theories. Despite the fact that many of their theories directly contradict the evidence available to science (getting back to humans and dinosaurs sharing the planet at one point in time).

They believe what they want to believe and when asked to provide some sort of evidence for their beliefs, they can't. They know that Evolution or Global Warming both can't be right. They just know it, so the just spout anything they can think of. And then they accuse the real scientists of incompetence or deliberate distortions or even fraud.

The new theme I have been hearing recently is that Liberals are the real racists and that the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's was really a movement within the Conservative movement and, did I mention, that all Liberals are Racists. Its a bizzaro world vision where white is black and day is night.

Don't try to confuse them with the facts, cause I am beginning to think they are all simply nuts.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why are the Republicans so popular

I haven't posted in a while which is in some ways a reflection of the ways in which the current political environment has disheartened me.

But I am back and slightly pissed off.

My party has failed to put out its message.

This congress has been one of the most productive congresses since President Johnson's first full term. They passed a health care reform bill that, though not going as far as I would have liked, was a major advance for bringing the US into the 21 century. They passed the largest stimulus package in history in response to inheriting the most devestating recession this country has seen since the Great Depression. They overhauled the Student Loan program taking huge subsudies away from private lenders and making most of those savings available in additional Pell Grants and loans. The House even passed Cap and Trade legislation as a major step towards addressing the looming crisis' associated with Global Warming.

The stimulus package created 4 - 6 million jobs and stopped the recession from being even deeper and broader. The health care reform bill will bring private health care insurance to an additional 32million Americans while actually reducing the deficit slightly. It will also end the most obnoxious of Insurance Company abuses and it will, long term, help to reduce health care costs. And it closed the donut hole in the Prescription Drug bill passed under President Bush. It wasn't all that I wanted, but it was a major first step, long over due and ugly in its creation, but a huge start none the less.

But instead of trumpeting their successes, my party is running around with their tail between their legs while Republicans and Tea Baggers continue to tell every lie they can think of about everything this Congress has acheieved.

They lied about the Health Care Reform bill providing subsudies to illegal aliens, they lied about the health care reform bill having some thing Sarah Palin called Death Panels, they lied about the health care reform bill being a budget buster even though the CBO scored the bill as actually reducing the deficit, they lied about the bill calling for rationing, they lied about the bill taking $500Billion away from Medicare, they lied about it providing subsudies for policies that would pay for abortions. Despite not have any facts to support them, they continue to tell many of those same lies today.

They lied and continue to lie about the stimulus bill claiming that it failed completely and didn't create any jobs despite the results of every study that shows that the stimulus bill created between 4 and 6 million jobs, WHILE ACTUALLY REDUCING TAXES FOR 95% OF AMERICA'S WORKING FAMILIES! And they keep lying about our taxes going when when they have actually gone down.

They lied about the cost to America's families of the Cap and Trade legislation, using exaggerated numbers from a partisan study whose only real purpose seems to be so that they could cite a study when they lied.

They continue to deny the facts of Global despite the simple fact that EVERY published climate scientist who has studied the question agrees that human activity is the major driver in Global Warming. They put out stories that Volcanos put out more CO2 than Human Activity, which is not even close to true. Human Activity contribute atleast 100 times more CO2 to the atmosphere that volcanic activity. They put out stories that the current global warming trend is caused by sunspots or the solar cycle, neither of which is significant enough to explain the current temperature trends.

And then they say that even if Global Warming is being caused by human activity, fixing it is too expensive, again using partisan studies that have little or no basis in reality.

And somehow they have convinced themselves and many other that Global warming is a conspiracy by climate scientists, every one of them, to get more money for studies or something like that. Seeming to ignore the simple reality that if a Climate Scientist had come to the Bush Administration with a proposal for a study that would somehow disprove the human connection to global warming, the Bush Administartion would have happily funded their study and trumpeted its results.

And somehow they have convinced the American Populace that Republicans are somehow better stewards of the US Economy than Democrats. A blatant and bald-faced lie.

Compare the job growth under Democratic and Republican Presidents and its clear, the economy has consistently created more jobs under Democratic Presidents than under Republican.

During the much maigned Jimmy Carter's one term, the economy added more than 3 million jobs a year, far better than Nixon or Ford before him or Reagan and Bush after him. Under Bill Clinton the economy added 2.4 million jobs a year, far better than Reagan and BushI before him and immeasurably more than BushII whose administration was marked by the most dismal economic performance since the Great Depression and who bequeathed his predecessor the deepest recession in 70 years.

But its more than just job growth.

Each of these measure of national economic activity, job create, GDP growth, Stock prices all performed better under Democratic Presidents than Republican.

And now Republicans and Conservatives are all enraged about the Deficit pretending that the current deficits are the result of President Obama's spending spree or something. Yet another lie. They want you to forget that the most of the current deficit is the result of the previous administrations policies, fighting two wars without paying for them, the unpaid for prescription drug benefit, and the Bush Tax Cuts that benefited mostly the wealthy while exploding the deficit. Somehow now this is all President Obama's fault, the Republican party had nothing to do with the deficit. Another bald-faced lie.

The Bush era tax cuts and two unpaid for wars constitute the vast bulk of the current deficit. And this chart doesn't even show the $700Billon dollar cost of the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit that President Bush mad no attempt to pay for.

They lie because lying is working for them. And its working for them because the Democrats are not out there calling them liars every time they trot out one of their lies.

I don't know why, but they are not.

And the lies are killing us.

We need to do a better job at getting the truth out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010

This bill has the simple task of paying compensation, mostly health care costs, for the thousands of people who worked in horrible conditions after the attacks on 9/11 to try and find survivors in the rubble.

It would cost about $8.4B over 10 year and then might cost another $4B after that. True to their way of operating, the Democratic controlled congress identified a way to pay the cost. They proposed to close a tax loophole used by corporations to avoid paying taxes.

For bizarre and probably overly political reasons, the bill came to the House floor under a rule that required it get a 2/3 majority. But still it should have passed.

155 out of 167 Republicans voted against the bill and it failed passage.

I am still not clear why they voted against it.

The biggest reason I have found is that it included additional tax revenue from closing a loophole.

It appears that 155 Republicans (and 4 Democrats) put the interests of corporations ahead of the interests of those heroes who worked so hard to recover from the attacks on 9/11.

I have friends who really have just come to hate Conservatives/Republicans. I don't hate them, partially because I am related to many of them. But I don't understand their priorities. This concept that all taxes for any purpose no matter who pays them are bad and should be cut or eliminated is fiscal insanity. But its an insanity that they cling to with both arms.

I guess I should pity them their insanity, but when they do stuff like this I realize that is the victims of their insanity that I must reserve my pity for.


I got asked once why I don't like corporations.

The answer is not that I don't LIKE corporations, the answer is that I don't TRUST corporations.

I have worked for various corporations for most of the last 20+ years of my life. Corporations are an integral part of the American economy. But they are not trustworthy. BP develops of culture of cutting corners in the pursuit of profit and we have the oil refinery accident a few years ago followed by the largest unintentional oil spill in history. They and the other oil companies basically infiltrated and compromised the agency tasked with regulating and monitoring their actions and now we have an environmental disaster of literally unknown proportions where we won't know the final cost for years. The company that owned that mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died had a long history of simply ignoring the safety rules and then protesting/contesting the fines for as long as possible before finally paying the fines since it seemed to cost them less that way than actually caring about the safety of their workers.

I could go on and on and on.

The newest proof, as if more was needed, was a proposed deal between Verizon and Google where Google's YouTube site would get priority access (and the resulting higher speeds) than other sites not willing to pay a premium. Two big corporations getting together in a way that will in the end only profit other big corporations while relegating smaller companies and non-profits to second class status on the internet. Its not like they aren't already making money on their investments. They just want to make more.

That, after all, is a corporations job. To make money so they can pay dividends to their shareholders, so their stock price will go up.

To make money.

That is their job. That is the principle, even sole motive.

I have no problem with that. Corporations making money drives the economy.

But nowhere in there does the corporation have my best interests at heart. Even if I work for them, they are only as good to me as they need to be to keep me from leaving (unless they decide they can save money by replacing me with someone else, perhaps in China).

Nowhere in there does the corporation care about the environment. Nowhere in there does the corporation care about the larger economy. Nowhere in there does the corporation care about national security. That's not their job. Profit is their job.

So if I think we should regulate industry, so if I think that allowing corporations should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money directly supporting the candidates of their choice, so if I think that corporations should not be allowed to get to big to fail, its not because I don't like corporations. I am hoping that some corporation will decide that they like my skill and experience set and hire me.

But I don't trust corporations.
And neither should you.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Climate Change/Global Warming Continues

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its most recent State of the Climate report.

Its conclusions are not surprising.

Last decade was the warmest decade on Record

Last year was the warmest year on Record

There are fewer and fewer Climate Change deniers now. And their arguments are more and more convoluted.

And yet, Conservatives and the Republican Party are determined to prevent the US congress from taking any reasonable or effective action to address our contribution to that problem. For the most part they have stopped claiming its all a fraud or putting forward some new unscientific argument. Now they are just saying we can't afford to do anything.

I guess this is progress of a sort. But the problem remains and its critical that we, as a nation act. This concept that companies are allowed to massively pollute the environment in a way that threaten huge environmental and economic disasters and should not have to pay for that pollution, and should not be compelled to reduce and even eliminate that pollution is incredible to me.

If your neighbor backed his car up to your house and ran a hose from his car into your house, you would have a reason to object. Yet that is what power companies do every day. They are not the only polluters, but they are certainly one of the largest. And every day they are allowed to pump thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to and accelerating Global Warming. And according to Conservatives and the Republican Party, thats OK. They should be able to do that as much as they want for as long as they want without cost or constraint.

Stuff like this makes me wonder, what are their priorities?

With deficits largely resulting from Conservative/Republican backed tax cuts and mindless defense spending that will be a burden on our descendants for decades, even generations and their refusal to do anything to address Global Warming dooming our descendants environmental and economic impacts we can only guess at, what do they really care about?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Woman Takes Command

How far we have come.

When I was in the Navy's Officer Candidate School back in 1976, we got some mandated sensitivity training about the role of women in the US Navy. My Company Officer (who was married to a female Naval Officer who was also a Company Officer) gave us some simple advice.

"You can't F*%k em and work em at the same time." Crudely put but probably sage advice. Unfortunately he didn't stop there. He paused slightly and then added "The idea is to F%* them first." We all chuckled and grinned at his wisdom and sense of humor.

In my time in the Navy, we went through a series of scandals as we worked out the issues around integrating women into our combat forces. Tailhook was probably the most famous, but no where near the most egregious.

And now we have a woman commanding a Carrier Battle Group. Amazing!

Despite the challenges we face, I love this country more and more every day.

Equal Rights

Its finally happened.
A Federal judge has ruled that California's law prohibiting same sex marriage violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the US Constitution.

This will probably be appealed, eventually to the US Supreme Court, but for now there is a Federal precedent against this form of discrimination.

Its about time

Monday, July 26, 2010

We are funding the Taliban in Afghanistan

If there is any clearer demonstration of the likely impossible challenges we face in Afghanistan it is this.

We are funding the Taliban

While we fight them

They may well be getting more money from us than from the Poppy/Herion trade.

We need to leave Afghanistan
Sooner rather than later

Do Conservatives ever get tired of being Lied to by other Conservatives

The whole Shirley Sherrod disaster just bring a question to mind.

Are Conservatives tired of being lied to yet?

Tax Cuts Pay for Themselves - A Lie

Terry Schiavo really was in a Persistent Vegatative State despite Bill Frist's Lie

President Obama was not born in Kenya - A Lie

President Obama does not hate America or White People - A Lie

The health care bill did not use federal funds for abortion - A Lie

The health care bill did not provide subsudies to illegal aliens - A Lie

There were no Death Panels or anything like that in the bill - A Lie

President Obama is not a Socialist - A Lie

Acorn was never accused of Voter Fraud - A Lie

Passing the 1993 budget with its Tax Increases did not destroy the American Economy - A Lie

Passing the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act did not destroy the American Economy - A Lie

Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Queda - A Lie

And they are still lying about the human contribution to Global Warming.

And Shirley Sherrod is not a racist.

And it was the Bush Justice Department, not the Obama Justice Department, that decided no prosecutable crime was committed in the New Black Panthers case - despite the lies we were being told.

In almost every issue we face as a nation Republicans/Conservatives have lied to everyone.

Shirley Sherrod is only the latest example.

You would think Conservatives would get tired of being lied to.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Unemployment Insurance

I don't know if there is a better example of the difference between Liberals and Conservatives than the debate over extending unemployment benefits in the midst of this current recession.

Conservatives in this current debate have insisted that any extension of unemployment benefits be paid for in some way. Given that Conservatives seem to reflexively oppose any proposal that raises any taxes in any way for anybody, that means that they insist the some other program get cut enough to pay for the extension of unemployment benefits.

Liberals in this debate argue that in the current economic recession, the stimulative benefit of extending unemployment benefits more than justifies the small impact such an extension has on the current deficit or the accumulated debt.

Conservatives are, as usual, wrong on the issue. Allowing 1.2 million Americans fall off the edge of Unemployment Insurance because extending that insurance might add a whole 0.3% to the national debt is both cruel and insane.

Senator Jon Kyl, the Minority Whip in the Senate, stated his firm belief that we as a nation could not justify increasing the national debt by $10 billion dollars to extend unemployment insurance but he is equally firm in his belief that retaining the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, at a cost of almost $700 Billion, is obviously justified despite its direct impact on the national debt. Almost 70 times the impact on the national debt of the unemployment insurance extension he opposes.

In doing so he talks about the stimulative impact of the tax cuts and ignores the stimulative impacts of unemployment insurance despite studies that show that every 1 dollar or tax cuts results in $1.03 in economic activity while every 1 dollar in unemployment insurance payments results in $1.63 in economic activity. Unemployment insurance payments have a far far greater stimulative impact than tax cuts and add far less to the deficit than the tax cuts yet Republicans/Conservatives like Senator Kyl are always in favor or tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the rich and almost always opposed to unemployment insurance that benefits those in need.

Any wonder that I am a Liberal??

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Boomer Apologizes

I recently turned 56 years old. My generation dominates the political stage and the management of business large and small. We run the biggest companies and the non-profits and we fill up the upper reaches of bureaucracies across this land. We dominate the Congress of the United States and most state Legislatures. Our President is a Boomer.

And we, as a generation have screwed our children and theirs. We weren't even subtle about it. Our children are inheriting a world where global warming will probably kill millions and displace even more. Much of the Gulf of Mexico becomes a dead zone every year because of the crap we put into our water. Same for much of Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. Most of our rivers have excessive levels of mercury in them from burning coal. We are in the middle of a mass extinction that will rival the worst of the mass extinctions in our planet's history. Most of the major industrialized nations have large accumulated national debts that our children and theirs will have to pay for. We are bequeathing to generation X (or what every you want to call those who are destined to follow us) such horrible eating habits that our children will likely not live as long as we did because we seem to insist on feeding them crap that only barely resembles food while at the same time starving our school systems of the resources they need to have active physical education programs and healthy meals. We were more willing to spend money building prisons than finding ways to prevent crime. Coming out of this recession, those who follow will be faced with years at least of sluggish economic growth and little or no growth in real wages for the vast majority of our people. And the debt that we are leaving them will prevent them from taking some of the bold actions that might dramatically alter the world they will have to deal with.

I can point to people and policies that my generation put in place as the cause of many of these problems. I can talk about this policy or that policy that could have prevented some of these problems. As a Liberal I would make a good case that Liberal policies would have prevented or reduced these problems.

But we as a generation didn't effective address them.

We still have time. We are not yet leaving the stage. We can still make things better. But based on what we have done so far, I am not hopeful.

So I apologize to the generations that follow the Baby Boomers. We appear to be leaving you a massive mess. A mess that some of us predicted but we, collectively, could not muster the will or consensus to fix. I hope you do a better job than we did. I have to believe that, right now, our parents generation, sometimes called the Greatest Generation, are pretty disgusted with us.

I hope you, the generations that follow, can forgive us.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Its Fundamental

For any of you that have read this blog over the past two years it’s no surprise to know that I am a Liberal. A Progressive. A Democrat.

And proud of it.

Perhaps I haven't defined why?
If you don't care, move on there is nothing to see here.

But if you are even vaguely interested, heres why I am a Liberal/Progressive/Democrat.

Because I believe that the government can do some good.

I spent 13 years in the United States Navy. Since then I have worked with agencies of three different government departments as well as a state agency and a number of private companies mostly in power generation or the manufacture of medical devices. And through it all I have been largely impressed by the professionalism of the federal civil servants I have worked with and with their dedication.

Maybe I am delusional. I have been called worse. But in all that I have done, I have seen people who were doing their best every day to make this country better. In the end, I have far more trust and faith in government bureaucrats than I do in politicians

And I believe that government can be a force for good in our lives.

And that, from my observation, is the fundamental difference between me and most Republicans/Conservatives.

They believe, it seems to me, in the fundamental incompetence of government. They seem to believe that the government, outside of national security, is basically a drag on the economy. That is my perception anyway. I had one Conservative tell me that they believed in tax cuts with or without spending cuts because that put more money is their pocket. And they didn't even recognize the truth that, long term, tax cuts that aren't paid for take money out of all our pockets and out of the pockets of our children and grandchildren and probably their grandchildren as well.

So, to me, the difference is fundamental.

Can the government do some good or is government somehow inherently either destructive or incometent.

I believe it can do some good.

Don't Ask Don't Tell

We are on the cusp of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell
75% of Americans believe that openly gay Americans should be allowed to serve.
I only mention a poll number because of the number of times Conservatives and Republicans cited poll numbers in their oppostion to things like Health Care Reform. On this issue, polls are trash. This, like Gay Marriate, is a Civil Rights issue.

But finally, in accordance with the will of the vast majority of the American People, we are on the Cusp of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

And yet, Republicans/Conservatives insist that this is a bad thing and they promise a fillibuster.

Most of the Europe and the Isreali's all allow openly gay men and women to serve in their armed forces. And despite the jokes you might want to make about the Ducth Army, nobody doubts the combat effectiveness of either the Isreali or British Armies. This blather about unit cohevisness is bullshit. I left the United States Navy almost 20 years ago and even then, the members of the wardrooms that I was in didn't care if a person was gay or straight, as long as they could do the job.

It's sad that religious conservatives have such sway in our system right now that this is even an issue.

There is no evidence, NONE, that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will have any negative impact on force readiness, or unit cohesion or combat effectiveness. But because Religious Conservatives want to focus on two verses from Leviticus and ignore the rest of the book (how many Christian Conservatives happily eat pork) we are still having this debate.

So now, many of the Republicans in the Senate are promising to filibuster the repeal of this law. This law that has no basis in fact. This law that is opposed by the vast majority of the American people. This law that is actively hurting our National Security by kicking out of the military more than 10,000 good honorable effective service members for no reason other than the silly beliefs of a small minority. Finally we are on the cusp of repeal

Its a small victory, but I will take it.


Gay Marriage

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Tea Party

Those who know me know that I have no respect for the vast majority of Tea Baggers. I don't even call them Tea Party members. I have though, not always expressed my reasons for that disdain well. I found this paragraph in Digby's Blog Hullabloo and it expresses my feelings as well as anything I have seen.

I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that tea partiers are having fits over a health care plan which they claim is a usurpation of our constitutional rights, but stripping Americans of their citizenship when someone suspects them of a crime is worth considering. Torture and indefinite imprisonment are perfectly in keeping with our founding principles but asking people to fill out a census form is Big Brother in action. Profiling anyone who some beat cop thinks might not be a citizen is a-ok, but making it difficult for terrorist suspects to buy a gun is an assault on the constitution. What the hell?

Thanks to Digby for this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Conservatives - Wrong again

The advocates of expanded drilling (off-shore or in Alaska or anywhere else they believe oil to be hiding) have been telling us how safe and environmentally benign drilling is. After there hadn't been a major disaster at one of these drilling platforms in years so they must be safe!!

Wrong again.

And now, thanks to Drill Baby Drill, we have a looming environmental disaster on the Gulf Coast that will likely devastate commercial fishing for years, perhaps decades (just look to the continuing affect of the Exxon Valdez disaster on Prince William Sound). The impact on tourism is already being felt and will last for years.

Conservatives were wrong again, its like a habit for them. Off-Shore oil rigs are not safe and benign, they are environmental and financial disasters waiting to happen.

Of course, liberals have been predicting exactly this kind of disaster and yet again were right about it.

Conservatives have been wrong about so much but they continue to insist that they have the magic policies that will fix everything.

They pushed for deregulation of banking, got Glass Stegel repealed, told everyone that the Financial Services industry could regulate itself and claimed that regulating the market in derivatives would stifle innovation and what did all that got us was a new financial meltdown that trashed the entire economy. Boy were they wrong.

They opposed the Environmental Protection Act and the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, predicting that each would lead to economic disaster. They were wrong.

They opposed Clintons 1993 budget with its tax increases claiming that that would lead to economic ruination and financial devastation. They were wrong.

They supported the Bush Tax Cuts, claiming that the tax cuts would not explode the deficit and that we would grow our way out of deficits. They were wrong.

They opposed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, I still don't understand why, and they were wrong there as well.

Now they continue to claim that Climate Change/Global Warming is some sort of hoax perpetrated by a thousand or so Climate Scientists in order to make Al Gore rich or something. They don't have a viable alternative scientific explanation for what is happening, but they know all those pesky scientists have to be wrong. And their denial of what the science clearly shows is delaying our addressing the problem. And those delays will cost people in the United States and around the world greatly. They are wrong again and are insisting that we do nothing about a looming disaster.

They are opposed to gays serving in the military because they believe that homosexuality is bad and gross and an abomination and really bad. They talk about good order and discipline but can't show any evidence that allowing open homosexuals to serve in the armed forces of Israel or Great Britain or Canada has made those forces less effective or riven with hidden sexual tension. Wrong again.

So now here we are again, having to pay a price for the errors of conservatives.

I am tired of paying for their mistakes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Climate Change

Its a beautiful day outside today, particularly warm for early spring. I saw a item on CNN that 90 cities set new records for high temperatures today. I thought about the Climate Change deniers who were pretending like a cold winter in the Northeast with record snowfall as far south as DC somehow proved that the earth is not actually heating up. I just wonder what they will say if we continue to have record high temperatures around the country. When they then say that these high temperatures contradict what they were saying 3 months ago or will they just ignore the high temperatures because high temperatures don't agree with what the want.

It would be just funny if the opposition of people who choose to ignore clear and compelling science was not impeding our ability to respond nationally to the most dangerous envirnmental crisis we have faced in recorded history.

Will these people ever get tired of being wrong?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I am elated that our Congress under our President's leadership has finally passed a Health Care Reform package and it has been signed into law. The bill is not perfect (I am still an advocate for single payer), but its a great start.

I gained a very small amount of noteiriety in the last days of the debate be getting my picture taken at a Health Care Reform rally discussing the bill with an opponent of reform. The thing that struck me about the opposition was their almost complete lack of knowledge on the bill. They kept telling me that it was 2700 pages long and that nobody knew what was in it, despite the fact that it had been passed by the Senate 3 months earlier and was available online for anyone to read. They kept telling me it would take away their freedoms but not one of them could tell me which part of the bill would violate any of their freedoms or which part of the bill was contrary to the Constitution. I was told I was a Communist or a Socialist and the I was destroying the Constitution and that I was pig-headed (they were right about that) and that I didn't have any facts.

But, with one exception, none of them could or would even try to answer any of my questions. None of them could define Socialism even though they knew I was one (or maybe a Communist but they couldn't define that either).

One man didn't call me names and was actually interested in discussing issues. He was of the opinion that Health Insurance Companies were not subject to regulation under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution because the states currently do most of the regulation of Health Insurance Companies. I disagreed that Blue Cross/Blue Shield or Anthem or United Health Care companies were not engaged in Interstate Commerce, but atleast he had a coherent well articulated argument. He did want to tell me how the Public Option sections of the House passed Health Care Reform bill would have inevitably destroyed all Private Insurance companies but I didn't really discuss that much since the Public Option was not in the Senate Bill that was being voted on.

One man in a crowd of 40 or so opponents that could intelligently articulate real arguments against the proposed bill. The rest either ignored me or just followed me around shouting slogans at me or just told me I was a pigheaded Constitution hating Socialist/Communist who wanted to destroy our Freedoms and didn't have any facts. At least they got the pig headed thing right.

Then today I saw this poll and it all sort of became clear.

For the most part, Republicans no longer seem interested in facts.

A new Research 2000 poll of more than 2,000 Republicans, conducted for the liberal blog Daily Kos, has some eyebrow-raising findings:
-- 63% of them believe President Obama is a socialist
-- 53% believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama is
-- 39% believe he should be impeached
-- 36% believe he wasn't born in the United States
-- 31% believe the president hates white people
-- 24% believe the president wants the terrorists to win
-- 23% believe their state should secede from the union

36% believe that President Obama is not an American. I wonder if many of the 63% who consider him a Socialist can actually define the term. So many of the objections that were made against the bill were simply not true. But Republicans/Conservatives just didn't seem to care about facts or the truth.

24% of Republicans think the President wants the terrorists to win.

What have they been smoking?

Over the course of this debate I ahve become more and more dismissive of Republicans/Conservatives because of the things this poll exposes. Largely they seem uninterested in the facts, prefering to stick to their talking points and slogans.

There are some Republican's/Conservatives who understand these bills and have intelligent articulate objections to them. I just have trouble finding them.

We, as a nation, have serious problems and they deserve serious intelligent debate. But thats not what we have been getting. And with the debate on Cap and Trade coming up I have little confidence that Republicans/Conservatives will be interested in discussing those bills factually either. It would be great, but I am not holding my breath.

24% of Republicans believe their state should secede from the United States. And they say I am the one trying to destroy America.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't belong to an organized Party, I'm a Democrat

Just when I think my Representatives in Washington might actually be getting their act together, this happens.

Retiring Republican Senator Jim Bunning, a man so unpopular that his leadership asked him not to run, decided last week that he was going to stand up for fiscal responsibility, after ignoring the concept for the entire Bush Presidency, he decides now is the time. So he opposes allowing a vote on a small short term extension of unemployment benefits and some other stimulus items in a $10Billion package. It wouldn't be noteworthy, he is a known nutcase after all, except my Party, the Democratic Leadership in the Senate lets him get away with it. Instead of calling for a cloture vote and squashing this idiot like a grape, they recess for the weekend and go home to complain about him.


So now the leadership of my party is allowing this nutcase to deny extended unemployment benefits to about 200,000 people, he has caused the layoff of about 2000 people whose jobs were being funded by provisions in this bill and some of those who were able to afford health care because of the extension of COBRA subsidies in this bill now cannot.

All I hear on the news is that the Democrats could overcome this idiot easily at any time, but they are enjoying having the issue instead of continuing to accomplish things.

No wonder the Tea Baggers are so popular!!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

President Jimmy Carter

A frequent commenter on my blog once said "Oh, and agreeing with Carter on nearly anything is a sad state of affairs as I wouldn't trust him to bus tables."

We were discussing President Carter's statement last year that some of the opposition to President Obama was driven by racism. The way he said it might have overstated the current impact of racism, but to me it almost goes without saying that his basic point was right. Some of the opposition to President Obama was racist at its core.

I have thought about that and about President Carter's legacy alot. So I went back and read his famous "Malaise" speech. I mourn for this country that he did not achieve what he set out to do and how much better off we would have been had he succeeded

As I read it, his speech had two core messages. That we had lost our sense of national community and that we had to take radical action to reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence of foriegn oil.

These words are even more true today than they were in 1979 when he gave this speech.

"The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.

The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning."

His message was simple if not easy

"One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: "We've got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America."

And the first test of America's ability to rise to new challenges was energy. He proposed drastic actions to address what was already an energy crisis. He challenged American's to rise to the challenge, to take on a great cause. And we failed him.

Imagine what our country would be like if we weren't spending almost a Trillion dollars a year now on imported oil. What it would be like if we got 20% of our electricity from solar energy. Imagine how many jobs would have been created selling that technology to other nations instead of us buying it from Europe and China. If all of our houses and office buildings were more energy efficient and our cars got better gas mileage.

No, thats not what we did. President Carter, for many reasons, was a one term President. His successor turned back much of what President Carte had accomplished. He removed the Solar Panels from the White House roof. He stopped the next increment in Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Like so much of his legacy, President Reagan's approach to the energy needs of this nation have left this nation with a huge burden.

President Carter was right then, we just didn't listen.

And we will pay the price for our short sightedness for a long long time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Maybe My Party is finding their Balls

At least 20 Democratic Senators have signed up with using Reconciliation to pass a Public Option medical plan with a simple majority of votes in the Senate. Imagine that, being able to pass laws using a simple majority vote.

For all the pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, I have yet to hear a fact based argument against creating a publicly chartered health insurance company to complete with the private companies that currently provide health care to those of us who can afford health insurance.

I love it.

Doing something good for the country based on a majority vote.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

President Obama the Socialist

Will/Can anyone explain to me what President Obama has proposed or done that qualifies him as a socialist?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

They say its not true

I was just watching Greta Van Susteren interview Rep John Boehner.
He repeated the Republican lie that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (otherwise known as the Stimulus Bill) did not work.
I don't generally get into discussions about economic statistics since the numbers can be awfully slippery.

But the stimulus bill worked and everybody who has studied it knows that it worked

This is the article addressing the President's State of the Union claim that the Stimulus Bill had created or saved 2 million jobs. As the article points out, you can argue the statistics whether the Stimulus bill created 800,000 jobs or 2 million jobs. I personally would have been happier if he had chosen a more middle of the estimates number like 1.6 million but the President wanted to put as good a face on the Stimulus Bill as possible so he used the 2 million number.

But all the estimates agree.

The Stimulus Bill worked

It put people back to work.

It saved jobs

It kept the unemployment rate from going higher

It helped to stimulate the economy.


Did it work perfectly?? Certainly not. But there is no real argument that it worked.

Yet Republicans like Rep Boehner keep repeating the same lie. Some Republican Senator (I think it was Judd Gregg) claimed that the Stimulus Bill had not created even one job. Clearly either a lie or a statement by a US Senator who is completely uninformed.

I have been accused on this blog of whining.

I guess that is true.

Republicans uniformly opposed the Stimulus Bill, but many Republicans have been more than happy to pose for pictures trying to take credit for stimulus spending in their Districts or States.

Racheal Maddow did a great segment on Republicans who proposed or supported legislation (like a Bi-Partisan Debt Commission or Pay as you Go) but then turned against it when the President supported it.

Some Republicans continue to refer to President Obama as a Socialist without being able to point to anything that he has done or proposed the is even vaguely socialist.

Republicans complain that FBI agents read the Underwear Bomber his rights and that the Justice Department plans on trying him in US District Court without acknowledging the HUNDREDS of terrorists (including the Shoe Bomber) that were tried in US District Court under the Bush Administration. Somehow now that we have a Democratic President, trying terrorists in US District Court is a threat to our nation and proves that the President is not serious about fighting terrorism.

On almost every issue that we are facing, Republicans have chosen to simply lie in their opposition to what ever the President proposes.

They lie compulsively about the cost and deficit impact of the Health Care bills before Congress

They lie repeatedly about the potential costs to the American Public of the proposed Cap and Trade legislation.

They lie about his prosecution of the war on Terror/Al Queda.

I suspect that our President would welcome an honest debate on any of these issues. But Republicans aren't interested in honest debate.

The percentage of Americans who support the currently proposed Health Care Reform legislation continues to drop largely due to the incessant stream of lies told by Republicans. Despite that, most Americans, when asked about specific provisions of the Health Care Bill support the vast bulk of those provisions.

Barack Obama has not done as good a job as I would have liked in selling his programs, particularly Health Care and Cap and Trade. But he is largely constrained by the facts. Republicans don't seem to have that constraint.

I guess I am just whining. But I think that we, as a nation, are better served by honest debate. A consistent stream of lies isn't part of that honest debate.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tort Reform revisited

Tort Reform, particularly malpractice tort reform, has long been a rallying cry of Conservatives/Republicans. They have repeatedly claimed that reducing or capping non-economic damages (mostly punative and pain and suffering) will have a significant impact on medical cost inflation.

And, like many arguments they have made in opposition to the President's proposed health care reform proposal and their opposition to the watered down versions that passed out of the House and Senate, these claims are exxagerated at best, down right deceptive at worst.

I had planned on presenting a unfortunately complex proposal for tort reform that protected doctors (and their insurers) who had clean records of not losing malpractice suits. It would advocate normalizing the definition of clean records by speciality since some specialities get sued far more than others. Doctors who had repeatedly lost malpractice suits would not have any limitations on punative award. Good doctors are rewarded with a level of protection, bad doctors are exposed to huge awards. It would forbid sealed judgements and would require that all settlements be reported even if they were settled out of court.

But I just don't see any need for a system that complex. The cure would be worse than the disease.

The best studies that I have seen indicate the the total cost of malpractice cases in the United States is about 1.5% of all health care costs. How ever you measure the cost of excessive awards, whatever you think that means, the vast majority of that 1.5% slice is valid and wouldn't be reduced by any of the things Republicans/Conservatives have proposed. The OMB puts the total potential savings to the US government from tort reform at $5Billion a year. Thats nice money, but a very tiny fraction of what we are spending.

There is no statistical evidence that I can find that malpractice costs are driving physicians out of the practice of medicine or driving them from high liability states to states with restricted liability.

And there is no evidence that caps on non-economic awards have actually led to reduced rates of litigation or to lower premiums for malpractice insurance.

So, unless I have got the facts wrong, what is the driver behind malpractice tort reform?

Other than protecting Insurance Company profits, what problem is tort reform trying to fix and have the caps on awards that many states have imposed on malpractice awards actually addressed those problems?

If someone can make a real fact based case for tort reform, lets see it.

But just to keep making the same old claims that aren't supported by the studies that have been done, is just another example of Conservatives/Republicans fact free arguments.

What am I missing here?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Conservatives and Facts

As I have made my posts here and engaged in spirited discussions with people who had opposing opinions I have been struck by one recurring theme of these discussions.

Facts, or the lack there of.

In discussions of global warming I hear opinions. I also here non-factual statements that are not true despite the positive nature of the statement. I got told once that Global Warming was not real because mankind wasn't that powerful. My favorite is that temperature readings more than 50 or so years old are meaningless since older measurements weren't as accurate as they are now. A statement that displays such a basic lack of understanding of science and statistics as to almost disqualify the speaker from being allowed to voice an opinion on any scientific matter.

On evolution I have been told that since the theory of evolution is not perfect and because we haven't found a complete fossil record linking our ancestors to those of the great apes, that creationism is equally as valid as evolution despite the simple fact that creationism makes no scientific attempt to explain the available data.

Talking about Gay Marriage, opponents have all sorts of dire predictions about social consequences if we allow gay marriage but they have no studies or data from those places that do allow gay marriage that supports their beliefs.

One consistent refrain of conservatives and Republicans in the health care debate was that without Tort Reform the reforms would not be able to constrain health care costs. The problem is that every study I have seen shows that medical malpractice awards add something around 1.5% to health care costs and that limiting punative and non-economic damages would change that number very little. They don't mention that Texas placed significant caps on punative awards and then saw malpractice insurance rates go up even faster than before, not down as promised.

The Health Care debate has been one continuous stream of lies in attacks on the various plans, most famously the Death Panels, something the habitually fact challenged Sarah Palin continues to talk about.

I have asked Conservatives/Republicans for some facts that they wanted to brag about and tell me what great things Conservatives/Republicans have done for this country and none of them had any Conservative/Republican accomplishments to brag about.

Republicans/Conservatives advocate constantly for tax cuts as a solution for almost every problem. And they keep claiming that tax cuts pay for themselves and that they spur economic growth despite all the studies that show that tax cuts by themselves have a very small positive short term impact on growth and long term actually retard growth and never never pay for themselves.

20 years ago the same people were claiming that cigaretts weren't addictive.

The amazing thing is that Conservatives and Republicans are consistently wrong about the facts and they just don't seem to care.

Tort Reform

I am looking for help
I have been doing some research on Tort Reform, particularly medical malpractice tort reform and would be very interested in any studies that any of you have seen that show that excessive medical malpractice awards are actually a significant factor in health care inflation.
I have looked and cannot find any studies that make that claim.
Can anybody help?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Activist Supreme Court

Its funny in a twisted way.
An activist Supreme Court overturns a century of laws and previous ruling and screwed all of us.
And conservatives/Republicans seem to love it. Now corporations can spend their money without limit in direct support of the candidates of their choice.
When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008, he raised an amazing amount of money. Hundreds of millions of dollars, from millions of individual donors.
And the Supreme Court of the United States just made that into chump change. If the 10 biggest banks can give their employees 10's of Billions of dollars in bonuses, imaging how much they might be willing to spend to ensure that they are allowed to continue to make huge profits while taking ridiculous risks with other people's money.
And that's only the financial industry
Look at how much the Health Insurance industry has spent, all the while trying to hide how much they were spending, to oppose any real reform in the health insurance market.

Needless to say, I think this decision will turn out to be a disaster for this country. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Republicans and conservatives seem to love this ruling. I just wonder if now they will stop whining about activist judges.
I doubt it.