Gutting America

Now that the budget cuts have been released for public viewing I am reminded that we have a Democratic president who enjoys passing Republican policies.

This budget as it stands now is the gutting of America and the road to ruin. Slashing every domestic program in sight and leaving the wasteful military spending alone is the sort of move I would expect from a Republican, but if this is indeed the budget Obama supports then it amounts to yet another huge failure of this president to stand up for progressive values.

Gutting $415 million from state and local law enforcement, $438 from energy efficiency and renewable energy, $786 million from FEMA first responder grants, $1,045 million from HIV AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD and TB prevention — all of these proposed cuts represent a desire to see Americans suffer and to see this country fail as a competitive nation.

Combining these facts with the $5 billion increase in military spending illustrates to me that the whole of Washington DC is hell-bent on turning America into a war state with permanent rampant poverty. I expect such destructive and illogical policies from Republicans, they maintain the role of the uninformed saber rattlers, but to see such a ruinous and hideous budget plan being endorsed by Democrats is disgusting.

It’s obvious to me, as things stand now, that Obama along with the Democratic Party have thrown the middle class and the American worker under the bus. All the while holding up the bloodthirsty military industrial complex and the heartless desires of corporate America as paramount.

It is nothing short of a lie that the nation is “broke” and if either party was serious about trimming waste without gutting vital social services the first on the chopping block would be the Pentagon budget.

What this country has is a tax revenue problem. As any conservative will tell you GE paid nothing in taxes last year. That is only the tip of the iceberg, but a good place to start. Closing all the corporate tax loopholes combined with raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans would free more than enough tax revenue to manage the debt while at the same time avoid gutting important government services in the process.

The failure of American Democracy is perfectly represented by the non-choice of Democrats who cave on if not directly promoting anti-American policies and Republicans who pander to racists if not openly endorse fascist laws. The choice between moderate conservatives calling themselves Democrats and extremist conservatives calling themselves Republicans is no choice at all.

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The Obama Comeback?

I will come over to the notion that President Obama is the best thing since sliced bread when I see him put down the hammer on big business and all these bad practices.

Obama has thus far favored too moderate a position when it comes to dealing the aspects of the private sector that caused the recent market crash.

If this tax deal is part of a larger strategy that is yet to unfold, then when I have something to look at other than just this kiss on the cheek to Republicans & big business I will assess the situation from there.

The point I have is not about the entire social progressive movement, it doesn’t always have to be. It’s just my one voice, and that’s it.

And frankly I’m at my limit with Bush policies hanging around after we elected a Democrat who ran expressly against Bush policies in ’08.

It’s not any one item for me, this tax compromise was so predictable I felt compelled to call the whole thing in advance like I did for health care reform. It’s hard to be all surprised and pissed when you can read the writing on the wall and know (more or less) what course things will take in Washington. It’s that gradual and eventual effect that Obama has taken on me with all this Centrism policy instead of Progressive policy at a point in our nation’s history when truly one path exists that will get us out of this mire and not one ounce of that strategy involves doing anything the GOP or the conservatives want.

In a less dire situation for America I would herald President Obama as a great healer of a nation lost in partisan ramblings and falsehoods run amok. But since this country is on the verge of losing all of its moral fibers from mass corruption and just plain collapsing from within with nothing spent on infrastructure and nothing invested into this country in terms of the workforce or new business endeavors the path is all too clear to me. And sadly Obama continues to play hop-scotch between Democratic policies and Republican policies.

I’m convinced that just like Clinton he is Centrist Democrat and not a Liberal Progressive so really one needs to just learn to not hold it against these people that they just don’t see the situation in the same light.

The Obama Tax Compromise

 

The price tag is too high in my estimation. Perhaps I’m mistaken but the way I read this we get to decide if we want increased deficit into eternity with soon-to-be permanent tax cuts for the top 2% (if things follow the course I see) or if we want to start making fiscal policies that make sense in the long run and not just the short term.

Whole thing stinks like rotten meat. I’m not eating it, I don’t care of they raise JFK from the dead and put him in front of the White House Presscorp. I’m still not going to support a Bush tax policy, because I’m not into this country going to ruin in the next few years just so a random amount of capital will be injected into it right now.

Vanda Felbab-Brown: “It’s All or Nothing in Afghanistan”

Vanda Felbab-Brown has written an excellent piece on the situation as it stands in Afghanistan.

She is less in favor of the “golden path” in the middle between war-hawking and peace-doving than I myself am but I see well the point she has made in this article and where it conflicts with my own views on the situation.

We should not delude ourselves that the middle is the golden path. Instead, we need to decide how much we care about the stakes and whether we are willing to resource the mission properly to achieve them.

In the Afghanistan strategy debate, two basic options have crystallized: a militarily beefed-up counterinsurgency or limited counterterrorism through selective strikes, many from the air and offshore. Public support seems limited for the former. Given the importance of the on-ground human intelligence, the effectiveness of the latter is questionable and, anyway, narrow counterterrorism was essentially the U.S. policy in Afghanistan until 2005 while the Taliban grew and al Qaeda regrouped. Hence strategists are proposing options that lie seductively “in the middle.” But these are unlikely to reverse the deteriorating security and produce a self-sufficient Afghan government.

My point here is simply that counterterrorism strategies need time in order to work, if they are going to have any positive effect at all, and that the true measuring bars of success in the region being brought into a more realistic framework is a step in the right direction. What remains to be seen is if these recent strategic changes will impact the situation for the better, so we might exit the region sometime before I have grandchildren, or if these new solutions have only further aggravated the situation in Afghanistan.

Should all our efforts prove fruitless and our options only include massive counterinsurgency troop build-ups with no clear exit in sight that we should then consider the complete withdrawal as the only reasonable option and to dismiss or diminish the need to seek a workable solution in Afghanistan or start realistically considering complete withdrawal. Just as Vanda put it: “we need to decide how much we care about the stakes and whether we are willing to resource the mission properly to achieve them.”

Urban Institute Overviews The Public Option

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has called this the “best overview of the public option” he has read so far, and I concur:

Getting to a Public Option that Contains Costs: Negotiations, Opt-Outs and Triggers

The debate over a public option has essentially become a debate over the size and role of government in the health care system. The central argument, as we see it, should be one of fiscal conservatism—that a public option should play a role in addressing the very serious problem of health care cost containment. The current debate between the left and the right on this issue is obscuring the fact that consolidation in both the insurance and provider markets is propelling a higher rate of growth in health care costs. The consolidation of power, particularly in provider markets, makes it extremely difficult for insurers to negotiate rates for their services and contributes to rapid growth in health care costs. A strong public option is one that ties provider rates in some way to Medicare rates (though set at likely higher levels), and that is open to any individual or firm regardless of firm size. It would thus provide countervailing power to providers and help control cost growth.

We argue that a strong version is necessary because there is little else in health reform that can be counted on to contribute significantly to cost containment in the short term. Capping tax-exempt employer contributions to health insurance has great support among many analysts (including us), but it faces considerable political opposition. Proposals such as comparative effectiveness research, new payment approaches, medical homes and accountable care organizations, all offer promise but could take years to provide savings. Thus, the use of a strong public option to reduce government subsidy costs and as a cost containment device should be an essential part of the health reform debate.

We recognize that there is opposition to a strong public option. Both the House and Senate proposals are considering relatively weak versions to make the public option more acceptable. Both proposals would have the public option negotiate rates with physicians and hospitals. We see two problems with this. One is that negotiating rates is not simple and it raises difficult implementation issues; for example, with whom would the government negotiate? Further, negotiations are most likely to be unsuccessful with providers who have substantial market power. Since this is at the heart of the cost problem, a strategy of negotiations seems unlikely to be effective, as has been affirmed by cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate has proposed a public option with an opt-out provision. This has the advantage of recognizing regional diversity in political philosophy by allowing states to pass legislation to keep it from being offered in their states. A disadvantage of this proposal is that it would exclude many who would potentially benefit from a public option. The states likely to opt out are likely to be those with high shares of low-income people and many uninsured.

The other alternative is to establish a strong public option but not implement it unless a triggering event occurred. The goal would be to allow the private insurance system to prove that it can control costs with a new set of insurance rules and state exchanges. The triggering events could be the level of premiums exceeding a certain percentage of family incomes or the growth in health care spending exceeding certain benchmarks. Since the public option would only be triggered because of excessive costs, however measured, we assume that a relatively strong version of a public option would come into play.

We recognize that taking a strong public option off the table may be necessary to enact reform legislation. But this will mean, at a minimum, higher government subsidy costs by not permitting a payer with substantial market power to bring cost containment pressure on the system. The outcome is likely to be that costs will continue to spiral upward. In effect, the nation would be relying on the range of promising pilot approaches to cost containment that would take some time to be successful. If they are not, we may be left with increasingly regulatory approaches, such as rate setting or utilization controls that apply to all payers. This would mean much more government involvement than giving people a choice of a low-cost public option that would be required to compete with private insurers.

(Read entire paper in PDF)

Why Does Thou Bloggist So?

I’m The Mad Hatter, as I explained in a previous post, and this is free-flowing cognitive-internet instant-publishing a.k.a. “blogging-for-nothing.”

For those of you who are highly against internet / blogger-net advertising let me tell you a little story:

I once wrote more than one very thought-out essays that were duplicated from my own websites and posted elsewhere on the web with no authorship included, and of course ads all over it.

I gave up on this notion of “internet purity” on that day.

Anything and everything you post on the internet you completely lose the rights to, end of story.

As long as I don’t have the rights to it I guess it really doesn’t matter if I fully “monetize” all my three-platform blogging. So far it’s been two out of three and I don’t really want to put ads on WordPress. I like the site just like that, but in all reality: “If you are not making at least some amount of money on this post you are being screwed.” That is, if you put a piece with any amount of work to it that is only backed by your personal credibility.

I had mixed feelings about being “word-jacked” at the time, and I still do.

I have spoken of a sense of “duality” about myself before. This whole issue expresses it well.

Part of me was angry, nobody will ever read something else of mine if they wanted to and only saw the duplicate, and the other part of me was pleased.

I am the “most imitated.”

Imitation is the highest of flattery.

Thank you, random internet spam-bot / scammer, you promoted my analytical essay on society and politics to a website that most likely obtains far greater hits than I do.

Yay!

As to another topic, the topic in question here:

Why does Eric blog, anyway?

Surprisingly, I’m sure, it’s a dual-effort.

One part of me is on here to “just have fun” as my About describes on WordPress.

The other part of is sitting around going: “Hey! I have rarely spoken point of view and the inside-line on certain elements of hearsay and what have you. I gotta get out the word!”

An example?

The Afghanistan War should have been handled like a police action from the beginning and we should have been out within a year or two, and of course not invading Iraq in the first place. What we have now is this term “quagmire” I am sure we are all familiar with by now.

The Politics of War has to stop. The Politics of War-for-Profit might have taken a heavy blow with the absence of Republican John McCain in The White House and the re-naming of Blackwater to “Xe” but the peril remains in continuing to feed to war machine.

Something like that, probably.

Another example?

Maybe my anecdotal tale of Lockheed-Martin military bunkers and firefighters and explosives and wildfires.

I’m not saying: “I rule.”

I’m saying: “Somehow I don‘t totally suck.”

I have been going through here and “enhancing” my blog-posts. Not taking things out, that’s not it. I have deleted one post, because I was so vague it was upsetting to me to actually read it. It was one of the first posts I did. I like to add links, correct typos / bad grammar o’ mine, rambling sentences, and images / video.

I would like to point out to fellow bloggers that we have a problem here: Nobody, and I mean nobody, goes backwards on the blogs. (I mean even I forget to go backwards and I love blogs!) It’s all running through the cyber-forest at top speed. It’s impossible to write nothing but trying-to-be-impressive-learning-stuff when something random you posted is just so damn interesting to people and nobody reads the items more to the nature of my thoughts on overseas conflicts. That’s my point, the credibility has to come first here in my case. Unfortunately so, since I am trying to expose false-credibility and bad business practices.

There are a rare pack led by Ezra Klein that have obtained a high level of credibility mainly by value of their online-work alone, but I present to you that these people may be some of the great minds of our times. The bar is far too high.

I have the utmost respect for Ezra Klein and his work. I have only neglected to “blogroll him” because of sheer laziness. His work in researching the health care bills should not be overlooked.

I am the soothsayer of the internet!

I spoke of “astroturfing” prior to Nancy Pelosi and prior to Keith Olberman attaching it in front of every word he says.

I didn’t say “astroturfing” but I couldn’t remember that term or the book in which I had read it before, so whatever.

But hey!

I’m running Congress from my laptop over here! Does anybody know this!?!

Now you do!

I’m totally convinced that (not really) that major figures across the nation in media and politics are reading this blog on a regular basis!

You should too!

I hold the Liberal Movement is in palm, where I go they go.

They back me about Fox.

They back about astroturfing.

Before they go there, I have to go there first.

You know what I mean?

The “trend-setters” be known by their own arrogant volition.

It’s writing practice. I have a few novels on the back-burner. When I just completely stop blogging for awhile it’s probably because I am writing a lot.

Those pieces of writing I posted on Open Salon are what I call: “dead ends.”

That’s the “real-life” response when I am asked this question.

I am just practicing my writing and at first everything went online and now if I do something really good I probably shouldn’t post it and just hang on to it.

Some pf the stuff I am working on behind the scenes is that which is designed to be very “internet-draft” but still well composed and substantial.

I saw an ad in Harper’s Magazine that caught my eye and I apply the concept to blogging rather than news magazines:

“100% Content Free”

How much of blogging is just “content over substance” and do we give proper regard to those who have substance?
I merely pose the question without pointing any fingers or giving any examples of low-credibility internet publishing.

I’ve always invited people to “fact check me” as Monique C. did when I made the declarative statement that “tea party people did not vote in 2008.”

I believe I still have neglected to reply due to internet-swamping but she was right to point out that I have no statistics.

I don’t. I also say in the body of the blog where I am basing it off of though: people who are either blogging under their own credibility on the right wing or those who espouse on open forums like talk radio / internet domains.

So it is just an assertion of mine and she was right to point out that I probably should have just said upfront that I have no figures or numbers of any kind to back it up, it’s complete web-punditry.

I dunno. I proposed a health care bill over here … I mean, I feel like writing one out just so people can see it’s not magic fairies from pixie-land. It’s called “legislation,” and for some strange reason I can read it.

Strange places this blogging journey is taking me.

Editorializing … everything!

Policies Over Personalities in Partisan Politics

 
 

al_gore
Image: SustainAbility.com

 

Al Gore –

“Republicans are the best sellers of the worst products.”

Gore is right about the Republicans, but moreover he made this simple point without the venom we so often see in political right-wing critiques.

Conservative-Republican policy is an awful product, not fit for public consumption.

But they understand how to hard-sell better than they understand how to make good solution-oriented policy and I have long since believed that most Liberal-Democrats have almost none of the much needed ability to sell effective solutions and positive social change in a cogent manner to the public at-large.

I would like to be very clear about this: I am not advocating that the left-wing simply mimic the right-wing. I am advocating shameless theft of their selling-tactics on a both political and news-media levels.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Negative political ads and partisan attacks are highly effective.

The key element being here is that any liberal or Democrat doing this must stick to the record and focus on the policies over the personalities. The use of public-misinformation should never be looked kindly upon but wherein the source of your reasoning and the portion that is purely opinion being clearly declared as such there is plenty of room.

Rep. Alan Grayson has provided exactly the kind of example this argument requires.

He confined himself to the policy issue at hand and presented his evidence for believing this.

Make no mistake, I am advocating for partisanship.

But if there is such a beast as “ethical partisanship” then this is what I would promote. Full-disclosure partisanship. (What makes you believe that, where did you hear / see this happening?)

Focus on the facts with the Neoconservative-Tea-Baggers. Focus on the facts with the Pro-Cheney Corporatists. Focus on the facts with the Fox News Loyalists.

To some degree there are elements of labeling that cannot be avoided in politics; the wagging of fingers a near must in some cases and nothing less than shameful to stand silent amidst bigoted sentiments toward minorities or faiths disguised as political commentary. It is possible, however, to attempt to stick to the point in the process rather than degenerating into vileness. Which is a far cry from the totalitarian-ideology of the neoconservatives.

We should all strive to make ourselves and our opinions known, but strive to keep our criticisms based on policy and provable facts as opposed to personalities and wild theories.