Tuesday, April 28, 2009

HHS Secretary

Dear Republicans,

Do you think your concerns about Gov. Sibilius' reproductive rights record might be a wee bit, I don't know, WAY, WAY out of proportion to the real issues here on Planet Earth?

Thank you for shutting up and getting out of the way.


One With A Brain

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reader JB at TPM has this insight:

Now that Bush is gone, there is nothing and nobody else for the Republicans to turn to. They can either try to build a new identity for the party from scratch, or they can remain loyal to what they know, as so many 1930s-era Republicans remained loyal to the legacy left by Coolidge and Hoover. The latter course obviously doesn't offer much hope for the future (unless President Obama crashes and burns), but at least it promises safety for the present to the majority of Congressional Republicans representing safe Republican constituencies.

There's two things worth noting. First, those 30's era Republicans who remained loyal to Hoover and Coolidge in fact passed on their legacy -- to Barry Goldwater, Ron Reagan and ultimately George W Bush.

Secondly, there's a certain irony in the fact that Republicans took jerry-mandering to new heights, thinking it would enable them to hold onto their "permanent" majority. However, it seems to be having the effect of forcing Republicans to stick with a failed ideology, thereby ensuring their trivialization. Funny how that works.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Just Gotta Say

We live in a mass society. 300 million in America alone. And the days when most people were more-or-less self-reliant are long gone -- centuries gone. We have stumbled into a sort of social agreement. Leaders make the choices for us: what work shall there be, who gets to do what, who can live where, will there be education or health care or entertainment.

These leaders have a powerful responsibility. Should there be a social breakdown, restoring order can be difficult, and take decades. What we're living through now is a failure of monumental proportions. Of course, the leaders of our society have been failing in various ways forever -- world poverty stands as a pretty powerful rebuke, for example. And failing to build a society that is sustainable, that provides more and more opportunity for more and more people, that delivers a kind of social justice -- that is the crime which has been committed.

We are coming to realize that we need to re-think our society from the ground-up. Of course, doing so is a wonderful opportunity to avoid past mistakes (and make all new mistakes!). But the fact that we must do so in an environment of crisis is to be regretted, as it was avoidable.

There's nothing natural, or inevitable, or "inherent in the system" about our current woes. On the contrary, many leaders have failed, time and again, to take the right path. While we all bear some blame for suffering our leaders, at the end of the day the leaders themselves must bear the brunt of the responsibility.

I fear that our society has not yet figured out that the people who led us to this point are still hanging around trying to save their skins. We can get better leadership by demanding it, of course. But one of the things that the new leaders must handle is getting rid of the ideas of the old leaders. In these times, it seems, that includes getting rid of the notion that we need to return to a consumer-ist society where "shopping" is a primary activity, where borrowing is "necessary" for consumers to live a good life-style, or that failed businesses must be given new leases on life to redeem their failures.

Things Were Pretty Bad Before The Crisis...

In all the talk about the economic crisis, a fact that get overlooked, one that I think may well prove to be the reason that this recession is fundamentally worse (i.e., harsher, deeper, more prolinged, likely to never truly end, etc.) is that we were already in dire straits:

The recession in Flint, as in many old-line manufacturing cities, is quickly making a bad situation worse.

Most of the coverage in the papers is by (and for, in the case of the NY Times) people of means -- people who had largely escaped the slow decline of the American economy for the previous decade or more.

The recession simply made real to the richest Americans what was long real to everybody else: we had built an economy that was failing to meet the needs of the society it was supposed to serve.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Paging Governor Perry

Texas Governor Perry to the white courtesy phone, please.
I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

- Famous 19th Century Illinois Politician

Another Deep Thought

Josh Marshall has a deep thought:
Conservatives are so incensed by warnings about the threat of right wing radicalism that they're considering overthrowing the federal government.

I note as oddly absent in the whole Perry-Texas-Secession debate any reference to the fact that the right of a State to secede via unilateral declaration was the causus belli of the Civil War. The non-Perry-Texas-Secession party prevailed, decisively (or so it seemed at the time).