Monday, October 31, 2011

Always Good to See the "Sanctity of Marriage" on Display...

...after the last camera crew wrapped up from the wedding spectacle and 72 days have passed.  Meanwhile, there remain tons of gay and lesbian couples who have been together for years, decades even, who constitute the real "threat" to marriage.

My Thoughts on the Protests Heard 'Round the World

I will admit that I've waited on purpose to write anything about the "Occupy Wall Street" (OWS) movement.  I was sure that comparisons of OWS and the Tea Party would be inevitable, and I knew that my own personal political perspective would align more readily with OWS.  I was not surprised to see the reaction from folks on the Tea Party side, particularly its leaders, but have been hearing that some self proclaimed Tea Party supporters also support some aspects of OWS.  I happen to like that OWS is taking its time to settle on anything specific, with regard to demands, because it affords the movement with an opportunity to embrace many different types of folks.  I like that there is a diversity of issues that have brought people together to public squares throughout the country, and even around the world (I love that The Guardian has an entire section of its site dedicated to OWS.  I pray that OWS does not become to the Democratic Party what the Tea Party has become to the Republican Party, because I believe that the issues that motivate folks to support OWS transcend tired party line constructs.

I certainly can explain why I support the concept of OWS.  It boils down to the fact that virtually no one who was responsible for the collapse of the American economy has been held to account.  I still think about the film "Inside Job," and I get angry.  I still think about the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's report, and how it remains a far cry from the old Pecora Commission efforts following the Crash of 1929.  I still think that the Dodd-Frank law didn't go far enough, and was weakened by financial industry lobbyists.  I still think about Joseph Stiglitz's brilliant essay, "Of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1%," in Vanity Fair

In essence, I find that the lack of a real effort on the part of our government to make sure that something like what happened in 2008 never happens again to be appalling, and I also find it outrageous that so many in the upper echelons of Wall Street have been let off of the hook.  Sadly, I have little expectation that anything substantive really will be done to right that massive multi-trillion dollar wrong.  And I cannot help but laugh at the notion that calling for actual justice for destroying the American economy and the net worth of millions of Americans is derisively dismissed as "class warfare."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Libya VI

I just read through all of my previous posts regarding Libya.  I was reminded of my genuine sense of uncertainty and rising anger with getting our country involved, and I'm cool with that.  I wondered what our actual interests were.  I wondered how we would pay for it.  And I wondered if President Obama was really doing the right thing.  Well, in light of the report that Qaddafi was killed today, it's clear that Obama did, in fact, do the right thing (and I am so glad that Lady Luck was also on our, and the rebels,' side on this).

Of course, there will continue to be legitimate procedural questions (with Congress) regarding the manner in which we became involved with Libya, questions that deserve answers.  Yet, I think there is an argument that Obama's tactic of "leading from behind" was a very conservative, in the traditional sense, approach.  First, he made sure that all of the necessary actors are on board with U.S. intervention, particularly the Libyan rebels, the UN, and the Arab League, making sure all of those bases were covered.  Second, he shifted oversight, following the initial air strikes, to NATO, with the UK and France providing solid support to the rebels who called for help.  Third, he made sure that no American boots hit the ground on this.  Finally, he made it clear that the entire operation was simply support for the rebel forces, thus letting the rebel forces continue with their challenge of Qaddafi.  The result, as we now know, was the fall of Qaddafi primarily at the hands of Libyan rebels.  This seems to me to be an inherently conservative approach.  This approach actually helped the Libyan rebels to help themselves, and though we share in the victory of Qaddafi's fall, this, essentially was a Libyan victory.  We led from behind, and helped to empower agents of change.

That all of this could have gone wrong is obvious.  The same can be said of Obama's call to go after Osama bin Laden.  That action could have gone horribly wrong, but it didn't.  I am much more confident about President Obama's judgment on some of his foreign policy, than I was as this action began.  And I will continue to criticize, as I have done.  But, I just wanted to offer my congratulations to all who made this work, and I hope that the people of Libya will benefit truly from this change.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On Elizabeth Warren II

I make no bones about my appreciation for the work and tenacity of Elizabeth Warren.  I was glad to hear that she decided to run for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Scott Brown, and what a stark contrast there is between the two of them.  I think that should she prevail, she will be a great ally for the middle class.  I truly wish her well in her effort to become a Senator.

I decided to write this post, because I just finished reading an excellent article about Warren over at Vanity Fair.  What really struck me about the article was that it provided a rich context as to why Warren is absolutely reviled by many tied to Wall Street, including those in Washington and the Obama administration:  she actually understands what Wall Street has been doing.  Warren can call folks out by citing the very schemes and formulae that Wall Street "wizards" have created to bilk the American middle class, and enrich themselves.  She also has American history on her side when it comes to potential remedies, remedies that helped to create the greatest middle class the world has ever known.

In many ways, I wish that Warren would run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.  I think that her perspective on the American economy, and her forthright defense of the middle class is a great compliment to some of the reasons that have led to the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.  And by running as an independent, I think that she would become one of the few politicians who could really speak for aspects of this burgeoning movement.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Conservative Leader's Argument for Marriage Equality

Of course, I am not talking about an American "conservative."  This post is about the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his strengthened support for marriage equality (h/t:  Towleroad) in the UK.  I don't expect a similar announcement from the leader of the United States.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pretty Clear Why This Interview Didn't Air...

...on a certain "news" network's prime time program, as the reporter promised.

Monday, October 3, 2011

You Keep Waiting for That Apology, Dick

I was going to put forth a missive after hearing that Dick Cheney was seeking an apology from the Obama administration following the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki (find that I am somewhere between Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan on that topic), because that death somehow justified the tactics used by the Bush administration during the "war on terror."  However, after reading Sullivan's smack down, I thought that it would be best if I just provided a link to what he had to say.  And well done, Sen. McCain.

Is It Really "Just a Name?"

I definitely am not surprised to see that the media was all a-twitter about Herman Cain's "insensitivity" charge against Gov. Rick Perry over the name of the parcel of land where Perry's family has hosted hunting parties for years.  But I have to admit that I don't see this issue as necessarily problematic for Perry politically.  I think it's simply a reminder of our country's long lived racial history.  It will be interesting to see how Perry handles this. 

I know that there will be a fair few who will accuse Perry of racism.  I think it's a worthless accusation, and I just don't see Perry as a racist.  However, I do find it interesting that no one in that county really seemed to make an effort to stop calling the hunting grounds "Niggerhead," and it seems that few had any real problem with the name to begin with (a local judge said that it was "...just a name....It's just what it was called).  It reminds me of the portion of the Washington Post story on this issue where two Haskell County, TX residents offered very different perspectives on their experiences in the county.  Mae Lou Yeldell recalled that "it was not uncommon in the 1950s and '60s for whites to greet blacks with 'Morning, Nigger."  Meanwhile, Don Ballard recalled that there "[c]ertainly were no picketing signs.  Blacks were perfectly satisfied with what was happening."  And therein rests the problem.  The perceptions and realities are simply different.

I am sure that there are many who will be disappointed in Cain for "playing the race card," as though Cain should understand that "Niggerhead" is "just a name."  As I did research on African American historic places across the country, I was surprised by the number of places that bore the name "Nigger," like "Niggerhead."  And though it may sound strange to some, I think that there is a value to the broader populace being made aware that places like "Niggerhead" existed and continue to exist (though certainly not with a great deal of public prominence).  It would be interesting to see if Perry tackles this issue from the perspective of just the big rock announcing one's arrival in "Niggerhead," or if he will tackle the issue of how a name that charged could be brushed off as simply "just a name."  Will Perry end up having to do a race speech like Obama (or religion speech like Romney)?  It might be helpful for him to do something like that, and it potentially could help other Baby Boomer white Southern conservative politicians running for high office (remember Haley Barbour's Jim Crow era remembrance?).

I wanted to add that I really liked Ta-Nehisi Coates' perspective on this, and it prompted me to write this post.  I also found Matt Yglesias' comment quite funny, and eerily accurate.  Please check them out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Time to Move My Money

Yep, my jaw dropped when I saw that Bank of America (BoA) was going to start charging a monthly debit card fee.  I've not really had a problem with BoA, like so many others I've heard, but I don't have any spare cash to be giving to my bank (on top of basic monthly fees) because I want to use my debit card.  Having had accounts at two large banks (BoA and Wachovia), I have to admit that I missed the convenience and the service I received when I was with my old hometown bank.  Sometimes, it is good to return home, and I will be moving my money next week.