Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hey Republican Friends! Here's an idea

So, from the department of Just One More Clever Idea:

Ya know how the Repubs are so certain that the power of the free market is so potent that it can solve darn near any problem? From incenting poor people not to be so poor to getting low-grade earning students off their lazy butts, there's no problem for which a good Republican can't figure out a market solution for. Damn clever of them.

So, let's look at the way the Repubs have built a market-solution to war. Why, virtually every aspect of modern warfare has been turned over to the private sector.

So doesn't this mean that we've created a market for war? That there are market participants whose livelihood depends on a fairly steady stream of people and things getting blown up, burnt and shot? Won't they be expected to maximize their self-interest by ensuring that we're always at war somewhere, with someone?

So here's the thought: this seems like a very, very bad policy. How about we decide that war is a bad thing, one that ought to be avoided except in the most compelling cases. Which would mean that we should end these market forces, like we have whenever we've had a real war. Anyone remember the War Board telling Ford Motor Company exactly what it would do with its assembly lines, and exactly how much the tax payers would pay, on pain of having the government take it over if need be?

Pretty far cry from the head of Haliburton also being the head of the government and telling the government what it will pay when Haliburton decides we need to invade, say, Venezuela.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hey MSM: It's a Dem Sweep, pure and simple. Even here in NYC.

It's nice to see the MSM taking a few steps out from behind their mothers' skirts and actually pointing things out.

Still, it irks me no end to hear about Bloomberg representing a Republican brightspot. Here's a guy who was a lifelong dem switching, he says, because the dem primary was too competitive. He governs from left of center -- he strengthens programs for the poor, he invests in our schools, he gave our teachers a sort-of-decent raise (after a tough negotiation with their union -- which by any reasonable measure he won for the benefit of the students). He's pro-choice, pro-gay equality, and anti school prayer.

Yeah, big Republican victory, all right.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Beautiful Friday

Unexpectedly nice November 3d Friday in NYC. High above 70. Nice.

Political news suddenly gone silent. Feels like a re-loading pause. For the moment, Dems have landed a few major blows in succession, and the Repubs are feeling it. A bit back on their heels, perhaps, and Dems leaning in to press their advantage.

Meantime, in the local NYC race for mayor, Bloomberg is starting to shade into "run up the score" territory. Of course he won't (shouldn't) let up -- who knows how much a last-minute stumble might cost him. It is conceivable if unlikely that he could blow through a 40 point cushion. But God bless the man. He is a classic benign dictator, whose only interest is that of the people of his city. God forbid something were to happen -- he's the one I'd want calling the shots. Sorry, Freddie. Maybe after the election Andy Stein, Mark Green, Ruth Messinger, Dave Dinkins and you can all get an apartment together.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Judicial Conservatism

The thing people are forgetting is that until the current conservative movement's ascendency, our judicial heritage, from something like 987A.D., has been one of more or less straight-line progress. Yes, progress.

At bottom, the idea of progressiveism is that once we move forward, we don't go back. We are always improving people's lives. Traditionally, convervatives have been in favor letting people fend for themselves. But the new "conservatives" actually want things to go backwards - judicially, legislatively, economically, socially. It is an extreme recoiling from the specter of ordinary people using the levers of power to improve their own lives.

Don't worry -- at the end of the day, we always win. We are, after all, the good guys.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Thing Is

This is a link to a completely thoughtful analysis by Jack Balkin of the new SCOTUS nominee Alito.

We know that the new median Justice supports abortion rights claims a little less than O'Connor...supports gay rights claims a bit more than O'Connor...thinks affirmative action is largely unconstitutional..thinks most campaign finance regulation is unconstitutional...[and] has been more likely to permit government endorsements of religion and state financial support of religion than O'Connor.... On federalism, it's a mixed bag[ and o]n Presidential power, the position of the new median justice, interestingly enough, appears to be unchanged.

What I find illuminating is the list of issues in order:

abortion rights
gay rights
affirmative action
campaign finance
government endorsements of relegion
Predintial power

Certainly these are the hot issues before the Court. But what does it say about the monopolization of our public life by the Forces of Evil that abortion rights and gay rights are at the tippy-top of the list? Two absolutely crucial issues to be sure (and yes, I mean "to be sure" in that pundit-y way of dismissing something as less important as something else coming up). Where are the issues that affect tens of millions of Americans' lives? (And don't start by re-asserting how important and impactful abortion rights and gay rights are -- I already said they are, then did the dimissing "to be sure." So, 'nuff said, right?)

FDR went to the mat with the Court to protect his efforts to help millions of Americans end the cycle of poverty and dispair that his Republican predecessors had set up so devastatingly. He fought to protect the rights of Americans to enjoy safe work places and wholesome foods and drugs. He fought for things that impacted the lives of ordinary Americans. While reproductive freedom (might as well lump it together with Gray since many extra-kooky wingnuts do also), certainly impacts virtually all adult Americans deeply, there are other issues which are also deeply impactful: lack of proper healthcare, inadequate education, lack of support for families, checks on corporate-ism run amok -- in short, a lack of financial security that has gutted for many Americans any sense of hope or stability.

All of which is a long way of saying that let's fight the good fight against the Forces of Evil and their Cold Heartless Judges. But until we open up a strong offensive front of our own choosing -- i.e., without regard to the Forces of Evil's agenda -- we will continue not only to lose, but also to ignore the crying needs of our society. We won't prevail til we have a leader as dedicated and forceful as FDR (or, I hate to say, Reagan), but that's no reason to delay framing our own agenda as professionally and compellingly as we can in the meantime.