26 April 2010

What Cloture Vote on Financial Reform Means

To my mind, today's 57-41 cloture vote on financial reform, in which the Republicans voted in lockstep to refuse to allow debate, illustrates three things:

1. The Party of "Hell no, no deal" has proven itself yet again to be completely out of touch with not only the interests, but in this case the overwhelmingly stated position, of the vast majority of Americans.

2.  The cloture rules of the Senate have proven yet again to be a MAJOR IMPEDIMENT to the functioning of representative government in this country, demonstrating once again that they must be changed to majority rule.

3.  Ben Nelson has proven yet again that he is not a Democrat in any meaningful sense of the word.

20 April 2010

And another e-mail to the White House on the use of Fireside Chats

I have several times suggested that the president use FIRESIDE CHATS to convey his proposals and purposes to the American people... with purchased airtime if necessary; most recently on the subject of financial reform, where there is a great opportunity to steal some of the thunder from the mendacious tea partiers to channel some of the righteous anger of the people towards Wall Street to support reform and Democrats in general.

The President is missing a great opportunity if he fails to do this. And they should actually BE, and be called, fireside chats, from the residence, with the president speaking directly to the people. The link with FDR and the reforms of that era will be powerful and could turn around the whole attitude of those who voted for the President but who have felt somewhat left out since then. 

My e-mail to Whitehouse.gov today

If the Mendacious Party of No Deal (again) decides to mount a filibuster of financial reform:

1.  The President should appeal to his supporters for contributions to buy airtime for a series of fireside chats to explain to the people exactly what these mendacious crooks in the GOP caucus are doing; as well as ads explaining what financial reform is for and showing the Republicans talking out of both sides of their mouths as usual ... use that idiot Brown's asking a reporter what he should oppose in the bill... (these should've been already made, but there's still time).

2.  Sen. Reid should be urged to MAKE THEM ACTUALLY FILIBUSTER while the above ads and fireside chats are going on.

Time to get serious and take bold action. It's the only way the righteous anger of the American people can be channeled into Democratic votes this mid-term.

David Studhalter

19 April 2010

Time for Fireside Chats

A lot of people are cowed these days by the complexity of CDO's and CDS's and all manner of other crooked swindling that has been going on in Wall Street the last few years. But it isn't really all that complicated. Credit Default Swaps are like the kind of insurance the British Parliament realized in the Napoleonic era had to be outlawed: you can't insure cargo you don't own then tell the French where the ships will be so they can sink them. That's exactly what Credit Default Swaps are: bets (insurance) on equity the bettor doesn't own, that the underlying instruments will fail. A typical example is to bet on trash tranches of collateralized debt obligations based on subprime mortgages. The bettors don't need to even own the debt obligations, which is why the failures of mortgages are multiplied many times over in the crash. To add to that obvious "moral hazard," the bettor then urges sales of collateralized debt obligations which they are betting against to unsuspecting suckers, and lobby Washington, especially the mendacious Party of No, not to do anything about it. It amounts to a gigantic Casino System.

Another way of looking at it would be if you could go around town and pick out all the houses that looked like they were standing empty and could go up like a torch with just a thrown match, and buy fire insurance on them, even though you didn't own them. Then collect on risk you never owned in the first place. In the uberrimae fidei (utmost good faith) world of real insurance, of course, that is illegal, but in the high flying world of Wall Street, it's considered brilliant, and worthy of multimillion dollar bonuses.

These abuses simply must be curbed, and now, because they will lead to another meltdown, sooner rather than later, if they're not.

President Obama needs to study up on this stuff, get straight in his mind exactly how he wants to reform the system to that Wall Street is no longer a casino designed to extract wealth rather than create it, then embark on a series of fireside chat-like communiqués to the American people, to explain to them just how certain practices in Wall Street caused the worst recession since the 1930's, what the Democrats intend to do about it, and exactly how it is that the Mendacious Party is opposing their best interests in favor of the interests of an elite few who've been gaming the system for years.

I just have to believe that if people would only have the opportunity to hear a clear, simple explanation of how it is that the Rebpulicans are not on their side, but are siding with the very crooks who caused this mess, there would be a groundswell of support, beyond even what there already is, to fix these problems, and the political losers would be Congressional and Senate Republicans.

Supreme Court Musings

And, speaking of center right (see below), when John Paul Stevens was appointed by (Center Right) president Gerald Ford, he represented a mainstream Center Right position. As John Dean commented last week on Ian Masters' excellent radio program Daily Briefing (go to kpfk.org / audio archives to download), it's just amazing that Stevens is now being commented on as the "most liberal member of the court," as he's leaving. His positions have hardly changed. But the court is now dominated by four right wing extremists, with one very conservative "swing vote" (Kennedy), balanced against four Centrists. This rightward tilt of the court is a terrible weight on our society, which I hope President Obama takes very, very seriously. He can't change the balance of the court very much to the left in replacing Stevens, but he sure could make things worse by not nominating an at least reasonably progressive person, preferably not from the Circuit Court of Appeals. It's time to restore the tradition of having policy-minded politicians on the court, not only former judges. And the choice fo this president should be someone who strongly opposes the recent trends towards right wing judicial activism which this court has demonstrated. 

By the way, hope and pray, friends, that the president never appoints his friend Cass Sunnstein, who thought Alito was "fine," and who has defended Bush torture policies repeatedly, to any judicial office. Sunnstein has been practically lobbying for a supreme court nomination, and he would be an awful, awful choice. 

Crist not lunatic enough for GOP?

You just gotta wonder, if Charlie Crist, in Florida, who is at best a Centrist/Conservative, is fighting for his political life and possibly about to be kicked off the GOP ticket because he's not lunatic right wing enough for what the Republican party has become, can the two party system survive? How can the US have an Ultraright party that appeals to maybe 30% of the people, and a Center Right Party that virtually no one is happy with, and that's it? And, yes, seriously, the Democratic Party is, by and large, Center Right, by any reasonable assessment that takes politics in other developed countries into account. Maybe even not-so-center Right. If you don't think so, you're kidding yourself, and ignoring facts.

08 April 2010

Sarah Palin 2012?

It will surprise none of the (2 or 3) regular readers of this blog that I am a bit skeptical of political prognostication, particularly when its more than a few months out. Chis Bowers of Open Left has given his reasons for predicting that Sarah Palin will be the Republican nominee in 2012. While I don't give any credence to any speculation on who will be the Lying Hypocrite Party nominee, I sincerely hope Bowers is right. Because as many idiots and unhinged folks as there are in this country, I truly believe that the American people will never elect Sarah Palin to national office.