March 4th, 2009


The Fiduciary Branch?

This article caught my eye today:

Obama’s Policies Create Fourth Branch of Government “What’s that?” you ask? “I thought we only had three branches of Government…”
Well, I would suggest that we have a new branch to add to those three: Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, and… Fiduciary.

First of all, is this a fair claim? Maybe. Obama does seem to be aiming toward some new offices relating to finance. I think the important question is: should we have a fiduciary branch of the government? That might help reduce the pernicious tendency toward cost overruns, deficits, pork, wastage, and other financial mishaps. I think that's a point worth examining and discussing.

The rest of it ... well ...

>>Obama’s tendency to race ahead with the Democratic Party attitude of “We won” is catching up with him.<<

Republicans have been doing that to Democrats for many years. If you can't take it, don't dish it out. I don't think anyone should behave like this, but the Republican flipflop is extremely irritating.

>>the capitalist system that made this country successful<<

I look at the history, which includes things like slave labor and immigrant peonage; and the current economic collapse; and I am a bit dubious of combining "capitalist system" and "successful." There's a lot of black smoke pouring out of that engine. Might could be we should pop the hood.

>>After all, what President can accomplish anything with a stumbling, faltering economy let alone programs that consume hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars like universal health care? All of his precious programs and handouts will have little chance passing in a poor country.<<

Conversely, if ordinary Americans have no jobs, or insufficient wages to live on, the capitalist system also breaks down. And since Republicans were driving when the economy crashed, the policies they established must be considered at fault and of questionable value; now would be a good time to re-examine those and see if we can come up with something better. The consequence of people not being able to afford health care is people not getting health care, which then negatively impacts everyone around them.

>>Alas, the left needs the country to prosper in order to become the panacea of socialism they so long for. Ironic, isn’t it, that the key to success of any plan to transform this country into something more akin to Europe rests on the shoulders of capitalist giants of business and industry? <<

I think we're unlikely to make much forward progress with half the team pulling left and half pulling right and neither willing to admit that the other might have some kind of worthwhile ideas.

>>Under the current political mix, one of the BEST things that may happen to this country is to see a struggling economy for the next two or more years, thus effectively tying Obama’s hands and preventing more broad, sweeping socialistic policies from spreading like cancer.<<

... because that sort of thing worked so well for controlling Bush.

Most of this is just going in in circles. There are two useful points: 1) Totally alienating the country's business sector is counterproductive. 2) Would changing the government's relationship to finance improve matters? Because what's going on right now is not working, and we had better find some way of fixing it.

Green Jobs

One hopeful trend in America today is the increasing interest in green jobs. I've found several articles on this topic.

Sari Gelzer | Youth Find Hope in Economic Climate Shift
Sari Gelzer, Truthout: "An estimated 10,000 young people descended on Washington over the weekend to press lawmakers to take action on climate change and to support the burgeoning green economy. The four-day conference known as Powershift 09 culminates today with a keynote address by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a day of lobbying Congress members on issues ranging from reducing carbon emissions to creating green jobs."

These are tomorrow's workers. Getting their support is vitally important. It's good to see them so enthusiastic about the green economy. However, it's also important to think carefully about what we're doing and how green it really is ...

Biden's Middle Class Task Force Asks Tough Questions on Green Jobs
Kate Sheppard, Grist: "At the first meeting of the Middle Class Task Force on Friday, Vice President Joe Biden celebrated the progress on a new, green economy kicked off by the stimulus package, and called for continued efforts to create more jobs that 'keep up with 21st century needs and lower energy costs.' But his cabinet members also came with some tough questions about what it will take to create good, green jobs."

... because of things like this:

"Green" Funding for Coal Power Plants Criticized
Catherine Brahic, The New Scientist: "A clean tech fund that was the brainchild of George W. Bush has come under fire for promoting coal power plants in developing countries."

Merely calling something "green" does not make it so. Coal is a filthy fuel full of toxic contaminants that are difficult to control, and even mining it is dangerous and destructive, especially the "mountaintop removal" type of strip-mining popular today. You can launder a dead skunk, but that won't make it clean. We need to concentrate on developing alternative energy that is genuinely clean and safe.

Investigating Amerikkka

After all the neo-conservative caterwauling about how liberals are un-American and going to destroy our way of life, I find these articles:

CIA Destroyed 92 Interrogation Tapes
Devlin Barrett, The Associated Press: "New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of terror interrogations, far more than has previously been acknowledged. The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation in the matter."

Destruction of evidence. Violation of Geneva conventions. Didn't we once frown on this?

Marjorie Cohn | Memos Provide Blueprint for Police State
Marjorie Cohn, Truthout: "Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the president with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide 'legal' rationales for the president to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of US citizens; lock up US citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties."

Warrantless search and seizure. Oppression of free speech. Transporting people for torture. Placement of high officials above the law. Weren't these on the list of reasons for declaring independence from England, because King George was destroying people's lives that way? Oh yes ... here they are.

Michael Isikoff | Extraordinary Measures
Michael Isikoff, Newsweek: "In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday."

Didn't we once make fun of Russia and China for nonsense like this? With friends like these, who needs enemies?

And they call US un-American? Guys, if the above is your idea of America, it bears little resemblance to the one our ancestors founded, it's not a decent nation, and it's not the kind of place I want to live. Conservatives are supposed to support the Constitution, not destroy it.