Opinion Blog-OPINIONS OF POSTERS-NOT OF WGN

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

47 % irony

Liberal schadenfreude is about to reach overdose levels. Dave Wasserman at Cook Political Report projects that the final count of the popular vote, which is still ongoing, will show Romney winning 47 percent of the electorate. In addition to proving that Obama handily won the popular vote, the final tally makes Romney the official candidate of the 47 percent —a delicious irony, liberals say, given that Romney infamously claimed that Obama was the candidate of the 47 percent of Americans who "believe they are victims" and are "dependent on government."

              - quoted in The Week magazine

3 reactions Share

Good news for us: they're still at it.

IT IS EXACTLY THIS SORT OF THINKING THAT IS RAPIDLY LEADING TO THE DEMISE OF THE GOP; GOOD NEWS FOR OUR SIDE.

"A group of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin say that they would back a bill that would declare the Affordable Care Act illegal, and allow law enforcement to arrest any federal officials who try to implement it.

"The nine lawmakers were responding to a survey from the conservative advocacy group the Campaign For Liberty, and responded 'yes' to the question: 'Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?'

"Gov. Scott Walker has until Friday to decide whether he’ll create a health care exchange in the state as mandated by the law, or let the administration handle it.

"Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he still believes the law is not constitutional, despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. 'Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he’s above the constitution,' Kapenga said.

"Another lawmaker said that he would also support a bill to require Walker to get permission from the legislature before implementing an exchange.  “That seems reasonable,” Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore told the Journal Sentinel. 'It was making a statement to the federal government that we don’t want Obamacare.'”

Via ThinkProgress.                     11/14/12

 Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at [email protected]

 

 

 

3 reactions Share

Big Ideas?

I'm hoping that President Obama (and it looks like he might be teaming up with the Clintons) will use his status of no obligations to anyone to put into effect some truly large ideas.  Bill's worldwide consortium and Hillary's worldwide contacts mght be just the thing to put them over the top on some really good things.

3 reactions Share

Fiscal compromise

I think what we are going to see will be a compromise on this fiscal cliff thing really soon that will include $x in tax reform in the form of tax expenditure removals, along with some serious, albeit slight, changes $3-10x) in how SS, Medicare, and Medicaid work, and some closings of some very old and very unnecessary military bases and the cancellation of some porky defense contracts. 
 
It will amount to a compromise that does in fact raise taxes some and cut expenditures some, as everyone knows what needs to happen; but the tax raises won't be called that, so as to pull the rug out from under the Grover Norquist tax pledges.  "We didn't raise tax rates, we reformed tax expenditures."
 
All of those moves have been neatly packaged within the bureaucracy by competent bureaucrats for a long time, just waiting for the right political moment, which is now that the "cliff" looms and the president is beholden to nobody.
 
Welcome to American political governance.  What a country!  You heard it here first.
 
                                             Publius

3 reactions Share

"The Rolling Jubilee"

Now, THIS one is really going to !!!! some people off.  Remember last year when I mentioned about all the creative tactics the "occupy" peoples are discussing?  Boycotts?  Stuff like that, besides actual occupations of territory?  Well, this one is new even to me.  I find it all pretty amusing.  "Power to the People"  :-)     J.
===========================================================================
 
This time last year, Occupy Wall Street participants were regularly storming through Lower Manhattan, snaking around the financial district and beyond in boisterous marches and defending their Zuccotti Park home base in tense street battles with the NYPD. Twelve months later, Occupy is pouring energy into buying up debt bonds.
It’s not incongruent.
 
The Rolling Jubilee — borne of Occupy offshoot group Strike Debt — is best considered one among many Occupy tactics that aim to challenge or disrupt our current socio-political economic conditions. And as far as tactics go, this one is pretty clever. The idea is this: Occupy plans to buy up distressed debt — debt which is in default — and then forgive it (or, “abolish” it, as the ever-dramatic Occupy parlance puts it). Banks sell on distressed debts at pennies on the dollar (since the debts are in default, they’re not making money off them and prefer to get rid of them). There are a number of websites where anyone can go and then buy this discharged, cheap debt. So, you or I or Occupy could buy $16,000 worth of debt for just $500 and then either make a profit by recovering the difference or just cancel it. Occupy and Strike Debt plan to do the latter on a large scale.
 
The Rolling Jubilee campaign, also dubbed “The People’s Bailout,” kicks off with a good, old-fashioned fundraiser telethon in New York on Nov. 15 with big-name musicians such as Jeff Mangum performing. Occupy has already started taking donations for the project, and Strike Debt announced Friday via Facebook that the effort has already erased $100,000 worth of medical debt. The hope, then, is to get it “rolling” — to create snowballing networks of debtors using what money they can to buy off and cancel more and more debt. Ideally, a pay-it-forward attitude would compel individuals who have their debt forgiven to help buy up and cancel more debt.
 
The plan is legally sound and has been tested in successful experiments, which began with buying and forgiving $14,000 of credit debt for $466 some months ago. Discharged credit card debt, medical debt and private student loan debt can all be bought. (Government-backed student loans — since they’re government-backed — don’t get sold on.)
 
The New Statesman’s Alex Hern noted that despite the “legal mechanics” of the Jubilee idea working in Occupy’s favor, the effort may face other obstacles. “Debt collectors really can cancel the debt if they want. The problem is that if you try to actually do that, you may find very quickly that people stop selling you debt.” Hern explained a similar plan concocted by a group called American Homeowner Preservation, in which they would buy a foreclosed house in a short sale at the market price, and then lease the home back to the ousted homeowner until the homeowner had the ability to get a mortgage and buy it back at a pre-set price. Felix Salmon wrote about the effort:

 

The idea might have been elegant, but it didn’t work in practice because the banks wouldn’t play ball: they (and Freddie Mac) simply hated the idea of a homeowner being able to stay in their house after a short sale and often asked for an affidavit from the buyer saying that the former owner would certainly be kicked out.

 
The banks’ behavior here, as Hern points out, was telling: They have no reason to care what happens to a house once they’ve sold the mortgage, but they did care when it came to the American Homeowner Preservation project. “The best explanation for their stubbornness is that they fear that organizations like American Homeowner Preservation are creating a sort of moral hazard by reducing the penalties for defaulting on mortgages.”
 
And certainly Occupy and Strike Debt seek, with efforts like the Rolling Jubilee, to disrupt the moral obligation that underpins the contemporary treatment of debta moral obligation that renders millions broke, fearful and unhappy for whole lifetimes. If the Rolling Jubilee helps create the conditions to rupture the way debt is conceived, there’s little doubt that banks and the authorities will fight back. Lest we forget — an encampment in a drab Manhattan park brought out militarized police when business- and politics-as-usual seemed under threat.
 
When the Rolling Jubilee launches, critics from all sides will jump on it. Radicals will call it reformist, others will call it ineffectual. Matt Yglesias has already missed the point in asking “why is this a better idea than just giving money to poor people?” — the answer being that this project seeks to challenge assumptions about debt and debtors as political subjects; it’s not just about clearing some debt.  More important, however, it is just one tactic — and quite a clever one at that — in forcing a rethinking of debt. Earlier this year, Strike Debt put out “The Debt Resistor’s Manual,” a 100-page advice guide to defaulters and those struggling in debt, with well-informed tips on resisting debt. Neither the manual nor the Jubilee project offer “the answer”; forgiving lots of debt won’t bring down capitalism. It might erase some crippling debts; it might forge new networks and affinities. It’s certainly an intriguing experiment.

 

November 9, 2012 -- Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing.

3 reactions Share

The Fiscal Cliff

I like the commentators who call it a fiscal "curb" or a fiscal "slope," because it isn't really as drastic as a cliff.  Fox News blows everythng so out of proportion, don't they?

A friend tells me the drop in the stock market indeces is due to the re-election of the president.  Obama is bad for business, he says.  I joke to him, "Now you got me worried."

Actually, listening to the commentators on CNBC, it sounds like investors are more worried about this fiscal cliff thing and the Europeans than who got elected president.  I suppose though that the stock and bond indicators are at least indirectly related to the election results.  Don't worry, things will get back to normal soon.  It's all mass psychology.

I'm looking forward to this "fiscal cliff" drama, or is it going to be a comedy?  The politics of it are incredibly fascinating, don’t you think?  It's the best show in town right now.

5 reactions Share

Gilligan vs. Thurston Howell The Third

If you're still wondering whom to vote for on November 6th, here are a few considerations for you.

1. Under whose care are our air and water likely to remain more breathable and drinkable?  Democrats or Republicans?

2. Under whose care is our planet Earth more likely to remain more habitable?

3. Under whose care is our public education more likely to thrive?  Democrats or Republicans?

4. Under whose guidance are our health care systems more likely to meet our health care needs?  Democrats or Republicans?

5. Under whose care are our less fortunate, our poor, our most vulnerable, and those less able to care for themselves more likely to be better cared for?  Democrats or Republicans?

6. Under whose policies are our small business owners, our farmers, our individual capitalistic entrepreneurs more likely to prosper?

7. Under whose governance are large, national and multi-national corporate capitalists likely to dominate pubic policy?  Republicans or Democrats?

8. Under whose direction are our relations with other countries more likely to be based on cooperation?  Under whose direction are they more likely to be based on belligerence?

9. Under whose watchfulness are our public lands, natural resources, parks, and waterways more likely to be maintained?

10. Under whose supervision are our farmlands, food purity and abundance more likely to be preserved?  Democrats or Republicans?

11. Under whose management are our wages, salaries, benefits, retirement, and working conditions more likely to reflect our needs?

12. Are common persons' voices more likely to be heard by Democrats or Republicans?  Will the Bill of Rights and civil rights and liberties be upheld?  Will it be the rule of the many or the rule of the few?

13. How will our transportation systems fare?

14. What will our quality of life be like?

15. Will most peoples' pursuit of happiness be more encouraged under Democrats or Republicans?

To me the choice is clear.  My hope is that you too will give serious thought to these questions, and I hope that you will not let your thinking be dominated inordinately by radio, TV, and mass media pundits on either side.  Think for yourself.

4 reactions Share

Third Party Candidates' Debate

Did you see any of the debate among four candidates for POTUS from four political parties OTHER THAN the Democratic and Republican Party candidates: Green, Libertarian, Justice, and Constitution Parties?  Wife Kathryn and I saw and heard some of it, and we were impressed.  Issues got airings, believe it or not!  We heard serious talk about serious issues, instead of advertising-man type posturing.  We hope a way can be found to include at least some third party candidates in future presidential and other political candidates' debates.  How about it, networks and other news media? 

3 reactions Share

The Candidates' Debate

As I ponder now from some distance the first presidential candidates' debate of last week, I realize that contrary to many pundits' declarations, neither did Mitt Romney do a very good job, nor did Barack Obama do a very bad job.  They both did okay, that's all, just okay.  We the voters got a little bit out of it, but just a little bit.  Some undecideds might have decided, which might change the outcome of the election, but I don't think so.

I was disappointed that my candidate, President Obama, did not take advantage of the many opportunities his opponent gave him during this debate to illustrate how different the two candidates' takes on the issues have been so far.

On the other hand, I was stunned at how liberal Mr. Romney's new comments were.  Far right conservatives should be worried at how far left Mr. Romney has shifted.  For example, he said that the free enterprise system depends on government regulation.  He said that every state should emulate the Massachusetts universal health care system and do what Massachusetts did when he, Romney, was governor there.  Those two shifts in position are almost shocking, compared to the far right stands Mr. Romney has been taking and took when he was vying with ultra-right wing conservatives for the Republican nomination.  I wonder if those far right supporters are concerned about his significant shifts to the left.  As a moderate liberal, I kind of like some of Mr. Romney's new positions.  He seems to be expressing more like his original, genuine opinions on things now, rather than the false, far right positions he took during his campaign for the nomination.  He is sounding like a traditional Republican.  No, I am not going to vote for him, but he does sound more reasonable now than he has in the last two years or so.

 

I was disappointed in Mr. Romney for his mis-stating, still again, one more time, that actions taken by the Obama administration have reduced Medicare benefits -- the infamous $716 billion.  That is so blatantly untrue and incorrect that I was disappointed in my candidate for not jumping all over it to correct the error.  The disingenuous streak in Mr. Romney is disturbing.

 

The president pretty much delivered his stump speech again and without the verve that pundits are usually looking for in these debates.  The next day, he delivered it again in Denver to a university crowd, before he came to Madison and delivered it again to another university crowd.  Ho hum.

The pundits have commented much on the two candidates' demeanors during this first debate.  They found Obama to be aloof, as did I, although I personally like the professorial President Obama.  They found Romney engaging, as I did too, although watching it on C-Span, Romney looked to me like he had gas the whole time.  He did look better, though, in the clips I saw later from other, more slick TV renderings from the other news stations.

 

I give both candidates a C for both performance and content, looking forward to the next one for something better from both of them.  These TV "debates" are so over-rated anyway.

3 reactions Share

Why "Occupy" Is Getting Dangerous

This is where Rome began its slide to oblivion.
 
As the disenfranchised middle classes (and lower classes) understand more and more about how wide that gap is getting between "the 99%" and "the 1%," we will be seeing more and more of the tactics and strategy of the nebulous "occupy" movement.  I've been studying upon it.  Noam Chomsky sums it up best when he talks about why the owners and managers get so nervous when some of their employees begin to "sit-in" at corporate headquarters.  They fear the time when those employees will own the facilities by hook or by crook, and they -- the owners and managers -- will be out.  I'm not advocating anything, just observing facts and events as they unfold.
==================================================================
 
The splendid isolation of the super-rich

The super-rich "have seceded from America," said Mike Lofgren. "Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it."
Since the rich can afford their own security, "Public safety is of no concern," From the windows of a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges matter little. And with private doctors on call, they don't need to worry about the future of Medicare.
This disconnect is why the super-rich so often sound "abstracted and clueless," and why "Mitt Romney's regular=guy anecdotes always seem a bit strained."
Of course, the rich, "have always secluded themselves." But over the past several decades, their "palpable animosity" toward the rest of America and its public institutions has become overt, even as their grip on power has tightened.
Hedge fund billionaires with 15 percent tax rates complain that the poor lack "skin in the game." The rich decry social safety nest even as they stiff the system, and dismiss the military as a place "for suckers from the laboring classes."
A century ago, we at least "got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie," Today, our super-rich offer up little more than contempt.

Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, via The Week, Sept. 14, 2012
3 reactions Share