Friday, November 14, 2008

Austin on election se puede!

and in hard fought New Mexico...kudos to NM, our neighbors...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama sweater

Obama Knitter Girl
Originally uploaded by fyberduck

Found on a knitting blog, what an awesome sweater! Don't I wish I could knit with this skill!

The blog where I found this was Keep on knitting in the free world

Pennsylvania has HOPE

Pennsylvania has HOPE
Originally uploaded by a35mmlife
Found this on a knitter's blog, this was taken in PA! Go PA!

Friday, November 07, 2008

What now?

Barack Obama said the following, which sums up what we need to do now.

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. ... There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years—block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."

So, let's go!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Leonard Pitts: ‘We' are finally part of ‘We the People'

Leonard Pitts is right on target:

For most of the years of the American experiment, "we the people'' did not include African Americans. We were not included in "we." We were not even included in ‘‘people."

What made it galling was all the flowery words to the contrary, all the perfumed lies about equality and opportunity. This was, people kept saying, a nation where any boy might grow up and become president. Which was only true, we knew, as long as it was indeed a boy and as long as the boy was white.

But as of today, we don't know that anymore. What this election tells us is that the nation has changed in ways that would have been unthinkable, unimaginable, flat out preposterous, just 40 years ago. And that we, black, white and otherwise, better recalibrate our sense of the possible.

link to full article

Saturday, November 01, 2008

How Universal Health Care Changes Everything

Well worth reading, and very true!

By Sara Robinson
With one fell stroke, giving Americans universal access to health care will undermine some of the deepest and most persistent myths of the conservative worldview.
We've worked hard to build a progressive political juggernaut that will, God willing and the creek don't rise, put us in control of both Congress and the Executive Branch starting just a week from now.
But it's one thing to get power, and another thing to keep it.
Someone (OK, it was Rick Perlstein) recently asked a group of friends to name the single most important policy step progressives could take to solidify a long-term grip on the government — the kind of extended run we had from 1932 through to the Age of Reagan.
There were a lot of good answers. Ending privatization was, I thought, the best answer of all. Reinvesting in education is important if we want to ensure that the next generation will support and sustain our work and values. (I like to joke that the reason they call it "liberal education" is that the more of it you have, the more liberal you're likely to be. It's not quite accurate, but it's true enough.) Ensuring that people's interactions with government are useful and positive was another: In a lot of states, one afternoon at the DMV is enough to make the most ardent good-government partisan turn into Grover Norquist. (Maybe we don't want to drag the whole government into the bathtub to drown it, but that SOB at Window 11 would be a fine place to start.)
But in the end, I settled on "provide universal health care—preferably single-payer" as my final answer. I chose this not just because health care is an important public good (though it is), but because I'm convinced that this single step will do more to rapidly and permanently undermine the conservative worldview than anything else we could possibly do.
How Universal Care Changes Everything: The Canadian Example
I've seen this happen, at very close range. Over the course of nearly five years living in Canada, I've been continually impressed by the durable, far-reaching role universal health care plays in expressing and reinforcing the entire country's political philosophy. It's probably not overstating things to say that the health care system is at the very core of the Canadian sense of national identity, right up there with the Mounties and the Hudson's Bay Company and well above the Queen. Every time my neighbors go to the doctor, the experience reaffirms a set of cultural assumptions that, over time, have made and kept the country unwaveringly progressive.
First, they're reminded that taking care of each other is a core Canadian value—a cherished piece of who they are. In the Harper era, the conservatives up here have tried hard to sell American-style rugged individualism and the belief that "you're on your own" (or should be), beholden to no one, needing no one. Most Canadians reject this as a peculiar form of insanity: Their interdependence is so patently obvious to them that it's like denying the existence of gravity. They're so proud of their health care system—and what it says about them as a nation—that, when asked to name the greatest Canadian in history a few years ago, they chose Tommy Douglas, the provincial premier (governor) from Saskatchewan who was the father of the first single-payer plan.
Second, they're reminded that their government does useful and important things that add immensely to their quality of life, and thus deserves their ongoing support. And their high hopes also lead to high expectations. They not only expect a lot from their health care system; they also expect that their police will be respectful and law-abiding, their city parks will be well-tended; and their public buildings will be beautiful. If it takes money to make that happen, they'll spend it—but those who've been trusted with it had better be damned careful. Where Americans believe in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," the Canadian Constitution calls for "peace, order, and good government." And that set of aspirations is reinforced every time they walk into a doctor's office and get the treatment they need.
Third, they're reminded that certain rights are inalienable, and certain levels of inequality are intolerable—and that every Canadian has an intrinsic and equal entitlement to shelter, food, education, and health care. In the conservative era, America's hypercompetitive society has been very quick to throw away people who haven't made the cut in some way—people without money, connections, or education; people with disabilities that make them economically less viable; people who come from the wrong racial or religious group or the wrong part of the country. You only deserve what you, personally, are capable of earning. If you're badly equipped to do that, it's your own damned fault. If you can't afford health care, you deserve to die. In no case is it the taxpayers' job to step in and make it right.
That attitude is completely foreign up here. It's notoriously hard for immigrants to find good jobs here, but even immigrants get health care. There's a heroin problem in downtown Vancouver, but even junkies get health care. You don't lose your insurance just because you got sick, or got disabled, or had to quit your job; even the unemployed get health care.
Nobody falls through the cracks, no matter what condition their condition is in. Nobody is chained to a job they hate because they can't afford to lose their health care. Nobody has to pass up the chance to go back to school, or take a year abroad, or stay home with their kids. Nobody hesitates before starting their own business, either. The result is a healthier, more skilled, better-traveled, more fulfilled, more entrepreneurial and ultimately more competitive workforce.
A lot of Americans seem downright threatened by the idea that everybody deserves the same level of health care, delivered by the same doctors. It sounds like wild-eyed socialist ranting (all this crazy talk of "rights"!). For Canadians, though, that right is such a basic assumption that it's not even up for discussion. A civilized country does not turn any of its citizens away from the table. And that idea, once set, opens up a broader sense of what we owe each other. Health care is the social contract in daily action. Ultimately, having that contract reaffirmed so intimately and so often affects how my neighbors do business, how they treat the environment, and how they relate to the rest of the world. The effects of this affirmation ripple out into everything Canada touches.
Which brings us to the last observation: sharing a common health care system reminds Canadians that they're all in this together. From the richest to the poorest, everyone arrives and dies in the same hospitals, tended by the same doctors. It's in nobody's interest to let that system fail. (Prairie folks -- Canada's version of Midwesterners -- will tell you that the northern climate extremes also encourage people to look out for each other. And that makes some sense, too: denying help to neighbors and strangers during the winter in places like Edmonton or Winnipeg can all too easily become an act of negligent homicide. In extreme conditions, free access to good hospitals becomes a critical piece of that caretaking.)
The upper classes occasionally try to introduce privatization options in one province or another; but the citizens/patients, the government, and the health care unions have usually brought tremendous pressure to bear to limit or end these experiments. Everybody understands that if the wealthy bail on the system, there won't be the political will to keep the quality high. This conversation is ongoing—and the very fact that they keep having it also helps keep the symbolic importance of the system front and center. Everybody understands very clearly what's at stake.

How Guaranteed Health Care Could Change America
If we could get Americans thinking along similar lines, all manner of impossible things will become possible. With one fell stroke, providing universal access to health care will instantly undermine some of the deepest and most persistent myths of the conservative worldview. People will, very quickly, remember that we cannot function as a democracy unless we're deeply invested in common wealth and a common future—that "you're on your own" is simply a conservative lie that allows the rich to divide and conquer. We'll be startled at first to see just how much a single well-run government program can actually deliver—and then, as our confidence grows, we'll start expecting more of other government efforts, and become more willing to experiment with other kinds of programs. It's quite likely we'll start asking hard questions about programs that divert taxpayers' money away from these essential goods, and re-prioritize our spending. Thrown together into a shared health care system, we may even learn some compassion for each other, and start to heal some of the deep social and political rifts that have divided us for so long.

If it works in the U.S. half as well as it does in Canada, the conservatives will be forced to give up on all those plans for that big 2012 comeback they're so eagerly anticipating right now. With roughly a third of the country either uninsured or under-insured; and everybody else at risk of losing their coverage at a moment's notice, the sheer relief at having that burden lifted from 300 million souls is going to make the old conservative nostrums sound absolutely insane. Anybody who suggests that there's something wrong with universal care, or that it was better the old way, or that this is that Pure Communist Evil they've been warning about since the days of McCarthy, is going to be dismissed out of hand as an ideological crank. Because only people who buy their Kool-Aid by the barrel could even think about going back to the awful way things were in 2008.
It's all happened just this way before, of course. Social Security did all these same things in its time. It shut up the economic royalists and reintroduced Americans to the value of social contracts and a belief in the common good. Americans accepted these ideas so completely that liberals were able to seize control of the country's political discourse, and dominate it for the next four decades. On most issues, the conservatives had no choice but to follow their lead.

Unfortunately, though, all this happened over 70 years ago—so far in the past that most Americans can't even imagine what life was like before we had a guaranteed retirement income. We take that much too much for granted now. Creating a long-term 21st-century progressive renaissance depends on our ability to bring these same lessons home to a whole new generation in the most vivid and unforgettable way possible. Guaranteed health care will do that. It has the potential to become the catalyst for a new season of American progressivism that could last another 40 years.
This notion is no secret to conservatives, who figured out 15 years ago that universal health coverage could well become their undoing. In the heat of the 1993 debate over the proposed Clinton health care plan, Bill Kristol wrote a famous strategy memo in which he argued that "passage of the Clinton health care plan in any form would be disastrous. It would guarantee an unprecedented federal intrusion into the American economy. Its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas."
Conservatives are already acutely aware that if we get health care that works, they're going to be shut out of power and out of the conversation for decades to come. They also know that, come January, they may find themselves too weak to put up a fight.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama knows it, too, which is why he's made universal health care a central part of his agenda. If he succeeds, I think people are going to be surprised at the depth and speed of the resulting leftward shift in American values. Seeing the government deliver such an essential and powerful good to so many people will permanently discredit many of the most fundamental assumptions of the conservative worldview—and in doing so, will make it much, much harder for the cons to ever make themselves politically relevant again.
There's nothing else that will do so much for so many so quickly—and, at the same time, lay down the sturdy foundation for a long, strong progressive future.


My view from steerage

Entire article here

Concentrating The Wealth
By Terrance Heath
A funny thing happened on the way to the bailout. A number of the members of the bucket brigade — that's us, taxpayers — realized that for all the billions of dollars worth of bailing we're doing, we still appear to be sinking. Our task seems to be keeping things afloat long enough for first class passengers to fill the lifeboats. And as the water rises, more of us are less content with apparent the "brokers and bankers first" rule.
And let there be no doubt, as the U.S. economy looks like it's going down for the first time, "brokers and bankers first" is the rule.
In the waning days of, well, everything from the George W. Bush era, to the Reagan era and 30 years of conservative rule — as is often the case in a disaster — men's true characters reveal themselves, and they reveal their intentions when they have little left to lose.
It's heard in back channels, on conference calls when they believe no one from steerage class can hear them.
How do you know that the Wall Street types were trying to steal from us, other than the fact that they said that the refusal to hand over money was akin to a terrorist act? Treasury officials had a secret conference call with Wall Street executives. Unfortunately for them, some bloggers were on the call. The 'Treasury boys' on the call made it clear that "the tranching is a mere formality, and the Treasury boys as much as said so. They could take the $700 billion max as soon as the bill has passed." That was always obvious.
And they admitted that "the exec comp provisions sound like a joke, They DO NOT affect existing contracts, they affect only contracts entered into during the two years of the authority of this program and then affect only golden parachutes." Both of these provisions were 'concessions' sought by Democrats. Of course, no one could have predicted this bill's 'concessions' to Democrats were farcical. No one at all.
And it can be heard in committee meetings, where there's strangely little concern that the news will drift down to steerage, when they essentially ask "How much do you think the take will be?"
In the final days of the election many Republicans seem to have given up the fight for power. But don't be fooled: that doesn't mean they are relaxing. If you want to see real Republican elbow grease, check out the energy going into chucking great chunks of the $700bn bail-out out the door. At a recent Senate banking committee hearing, the Republican Bob Corker was fixated on this task, and with a clear deadline in mind: inauguration. "How much of it do you think may be actually spent by January 20 or so?" Corker asked Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former banker in charge of the bail-out.
When European colonialists realized that they had no choice but to hand over power to the indigenous citizens, they would often turn their attention to stripping the local treasury of its gold and grabbing valuable livestock. If they were really nasty, like the Portuguese in Mozambique in the mid-1970s, they poured concrete down the elevator shafts.
Nothing so barbaric for the Bush gang. Rather than open plunder, it prefers bureaucratic instruments, such as "distressed asset" auctions and the "equity purchase program". But make no mistake: the goal is the same as it was for the defeated Portuguese - a final, frantic looting of the public wealth before they hand over the keys to the safe.
Whether most of us heard the message in such explicit terms, we got the message. The public anger over the bailout, that in the end did nothing to stop it and little to change it, was probably rooted in what was unsaid in how the bailout was sold: it was never about helping everyday Americans. Certainly, we were told that the bailout was necessary to prevent financial disaster that would devastate Main Street. That much would trickle down. But the rescue, to date, has not.

There is so much information in this article, I encourage you to read the entire thing. This is another statement in this article that just really struck me:

t's hard not to wonder about the pure contrarian inanity of the current conservative position. Our military is by far the strongest in the world, while our trains are among the slowest and our sewers are collapsing. So they propose raising spending on the military and cutting domestic investment. We suffer Gilded Age inequality, with the wealthiest 15,000 families — one-one hundredth of one percent of the population — capturing fully one-fourth of the entire income growth from 2000 to 2006. Their average income rose from $15.2 million per year to $29.7 million per year. Meanwhile, the rest of us — 133 million households that make up 90 percent of the country - divided up 4% of the nation's income, adding about $305 to our average $30,354 income. So conservatives push for more tax cuts for the wealthy, while proposing to tax employer based health benefits. Corporate profits (prior to the recession) have catapulted to what is by far the highest percentage of national income in the past half century. So they want to cut corporate taxes, inevitably increasing the burden on labor. The economic future looks dim because consumers, drowning in debt, are cutting back. So they suggest cutting taxes on corporate investments will generate new investments and growth — as if companies don't need someone to buy the products they make.