Conservative Versus Liberal Matters on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

TPP

The above is a screen grab from today’s Drudge Report.  Here is the opinion piece to which it links.

I don’t know why the most liberal president since Carter is such an opaque supporter of this policy.  I don’t understand why he would go to Nike’s campus, of all places, and celebrate Nike’s commitment to add 10,000 jobs to our economy why talking down to allies who understand how we are negotiating away our economic sovereignty.

But the point is, if we are to head in the right direction it is important to understand we need to work harder to spread the good word of liberalism to our friends on the other side of the aisle who still believe if we just continue to tear down regulations and hurdles to trade and a “free” market we’ll reach Ayn Rand‘s or Milton Friedman‘s economic utopia.

Life, markets, community, society, the globe is more complicated than that.  Some of us get it, some would rather keep their heads buried in the sand.  Here are a couple of articles from either side of the TPP divide.  Paul Krugman of the NYT and a joint article from Congressman Paul Ryan (and 2012 Republican VP Candidate) and Presidential hopeful and Senator Ted Cruz.  Both are behind paywalls, but there has to be ways around them – I don’t know how to get around the WSJ one and have no interest.  I subscribe to the NYT.

Trade and Trust by Paul Krugman

Officials have evaded the main concerns about the content of a potential deal; they’ve belittled and dismissed the critics; and they’ve made blithe assurances that turn out not to be true.

Putting Congress in Charge on Trade by Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz

‘Fast track’ authority will give lawmakers more say over agreements that are vital for economic growth.

I know it’s tempting to throw in the towel and say it’s all Repulocrats or Democans, but it’s not.  We have an institutionalized system of two poles, if you don’t like where we are headed and you can see through the Republican’s charade, there is only one choice – get involved and make the Democrats do the right thing.  They can’t while 64% of white men across the nation reflexively vote for conservatives.  It’s up to you, and you can make a difference.

At one point in Krugman’s article he writes simply…

As I see it, the big problem here is one of trust.

This is true not just for “free” vs “regulated” trade, I’m finding it is the commodity on which politics rests.  It’s what politicians and pundits (myself included) trade in and we’re continuing to trust the Milton Friedman conservatives and what is left of the DLC (Bill Clinton) Democrats on trade and the economy to our nations (and I’d argue our globe’s) detriment.

Why North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer’s Editors Are So Liberal…

Asked on Honesty Day…

Please check out this link while considering the author is an editorial page editor from North Carolina.  In Humboldt, a county that votes left of center by 25% don’t we deserve a similar voice from our local media?

Here is one adjustment that could be made.  Instead of

“we believe taxes should be as low as possible while still providing a sound safety net…”

…what about…

“We believe taxes should be exactly where needed to pay for the requirements of a modern society as outlined in these liberal principles.”

…and…

“We believe that extra care is made to look at one’s ability to pay these taxes and wealth as well as income should be taken into account.”

What would the Times-Standard’s honest response be to why their editorial staff is conservative?  Guess we’ll have to wait ’till April 30th 2016 to ask.

Continue reading “Why North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer’s Editors Are So Liberal…”

We Prevent War When Alternatives Exist

Which do now thanks to “pro-goals of Islamic Jihad” President Barack Hussein Obama and his singularly focused administration to including Secretary of State John Kerry.  This is why the unanimous decision by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to approve a bill requiring “Congress to review, and then vote on, the final text of a nuclear deal” is so depressing.

And again, this was an unanimous vote which includes, of course, a whole bunch of Democrats.  I understand where Republicans are coming from, but the Democrats on this Committee are wrong and they are getting caught up in the right’s dangerous games,  again.  Ugh.

Brave New Films
Click for link to “Wrong about Iraq Wrong about Iran” from Brave New Films

Resources:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 114th Congress (i.e. current one)

Today’s NYT Editorial:  A Reckless Act in the Senate on Iran

Any final agreement would be a political agreement, which Obama administration officials say does not require congressional action, and it would not be a legally binding document. It would not be a formal treaty, which requires Senate ratification.

Every president has negotiated similar agreements as part of executive authority. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has wrongly and inappropriately diminished the president’s power to conduct the nation’s foreign policy as he was elected to do.

NYT:  Obama Yields, Allowing Congress Say on Iran Nuclear Deal

MoveOn:  MoveOn on Historic Iran Milestone: Time for House and Senate to Support the President; Anything Else Risks War

Jewish Voice for Peace:  Progressive groups call for Congress to Let Diplomacy Work

Win Without War:

Food Stamps, Gwyneth Paltrow and the Right Wing

To understand how politics arrived where it is today, you have to understand the goal of modern conservatism.  The goal is simply to minimize payments those with money have to make to government.

I was going to say that the goal is to privatize as much of the economy as possible, but even that isn’t true as we know nationally with the right’s fetish for military spending (which last I checked was a part of government) and support for the most regressive of taxes such as Measure Z locally and what they call the fair tax or the equally regressive flat tax nationally.

With that as a frame, let’s do a fact check on the coverage Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy site gave to Gwyneth Paltrow’s tweet on food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program nationally and Cal Fresh here in Cal Ifornia).


Continue reading “Food Stamps, Gwyneth Paltrow and the Right Wing”

South Carolina: With Intent AND a Video, It’s Likely Murder

South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder in Black Man’s DeathMurderSadly today, the video is likely necessary for justice.  Hopefully someday we can make whatever societal adjustments will be necessary to minimize police brutality as a threat to the public;  especially the African American community,  but as we in Eureka know all too well, not only the African American community.

 

Why We Need to Oppose the Incumbancies of Supervisors Bohn and Fennell

Their record.

Put simply, it’s a record that defends those that need government the least.

To me, their project was clearest when their hand-picked Planning Commissioner Lee Ulansey, confronted with language in the General Plan Update (GPU) that sought to protect tenants felt compelled to add language to protect landlords.

But that’s just the tip of the dwindling climate change iceberg.  Their record is one of …

a) Defining “public” as the land owners.  The only way the rhetoric that brought them into office makes sense is if you accept that by public participation one means participation by landowners and those that serve them.  Any question of this, pay attention to the GPU now that the mapping has started and notice the efforts they will make to reach out to the “stakeholders”.  You will notice that despite the cries of the Public Participation Workgroup, the current (and final) GPU public process is largely free of public participation.  This makes for a content Chamber of Commerce, a content real-estate industry and a content Resource Lands Working Group.

b) Ushering in Weed Inc.  Pay close attention, because this is something both Supervisors will be walking a razor’s edge to be re-elected.  One the one hand, they will taught their law and order background and will depend on the votes of Humboldt’s conservative religious community.  On the other, in the true libertarian/free-market conservative fashion they will be doing everything they can to put their hand on the scale to minimize oversight and cost-sharing measures that Humboldt or California would enact.  In short they are and will be beholden to the no or minimal government of their Reagan/Rush conservative base.

c)  Their pay-to-play constituents.  The constituents for the government-hating-(but regressive tax loving) Rex Bohn and the property-owner-advocate and SoHum libertarian media celebrity Estelle Fennell is money.   It’s the 10% of the county’s capital that like the status quo just fine and wants to stay on top.  It’s property owners and resource extractors stuck in their own rhetoric and business models and afraid to seek alternatives.  Alternative owners/builders aligned with the Chamber of Commerce aligned with the Resource Land Working Group’s “Large Timberland Owner’s Group” aligned with mom and pop growers.

d) Financing government with the worst kind of taxes – those that hurt those without money the hardest – regressive sales taxes.  Yes, turns out Rex along with all other conservatives actually don’t hate government – they just want to be in charge of it bringing their constituents that have paid-to-play with them.

Supervisor Bohn and Fennell’s record is one of continuing Estelle’s work as a lobbyist for the landowners of the county as the lead of Humboldt Coalition of Property Rights (HumCPR).   With Estelle and Rex in the seats along with the friends of developers Supervisors Bass and Sundberg, the political battle for what money and property needed ended with the GPU Guiding Principle transformation from Summer to Fall in 2013.  Despite the cries that the Principles were meaningless – you really need to look no further to HumCPR’s moribund web site (Fig. 1) to understand their significance.  HumCPR’s political fight ended with the transformation of these principles.   Something done in plain English and something done despite the cries of the very public we were told both Supervisors championed.

The cries of public participation – the ones that insured 3 of the Principles mentioned it were, in short, lies.  They were lies that were boosted by the Tea Party fever of the moment and changed years of work on a General Plan Update that included actual, difficult public participation and agency compromise.

That’s the record that needs to be challenged and it’s a record that many honest conservatives and liberals should be aligned to defeat.


Figure 1.  Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights’ Web Site 4/6/15.

HumCPR

Drought and Water Links

I’m going to try something new.  Water and this drought are one of the most important policy and political issues we face, if not the most important.  Water, to me, is different than other issues because of it’s essential nature.  There isn’t really too much room for political nuance and the argument basically boils down to ..

Region A:  “The water is mine and here is why.”

Region B:  “No it’s actually mine, and I’ll tell you why”.

This unique political subject requires a unique blogging approach.  I’m going to try to update this page over time.  I’m going to use it as a resource for myself and I’m hoping it might be useful for some of you as well.  Think of this page of Humboldt Water 101 (with a leftward slant) – our resource list – local, state and national media and the intertubes.

Shout out to the Tuluwat Examiner and it’s readers for their coverage of this important issue.   Links like the Daily Kos was via their blog.


Continue reading “Drought and Water Links”

Hope vs. Fear. … n vs. …q.

Hope:

 

Hope
Screen Grab from NYT this a.m. Image links to article. “Iran Agrees to Detailed Nuclear Outline, First Step Toward a Wider Deal”

 

Fear:
Screen grab from The Drudge Report from 4/2/15

 

Hope:
Screen grab from NYT.com article.  Image links to article.
Screen grab from NYT.com article. Image links to article. “In Tehran, Optimism and Talk of Revival After Nuclear Deal”

 

Fear:

“Contrary to what organizations like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) tells us, there is absolutely a culture of deception in the Muslim faith, taught by the Qu’ran,” she said. “Muslims are taught to be ‘two faced’; that is, to present the face of friendship to enemies but to inwardly hate them. To wait to be called to jihad and be ready to rise up and kill the enemy when called.”

[Broadcast email from Chairperson of Idaho’s Republican Party Doyle Beck sent Monday.  (via Raw Story.)]


It’s really clear, if you can pull back from the machinery of fear and hatred that fuels what President Eisenhower called our military industrial complex.

At 47 ish I’m at that age where I can still remember the Soviets as our enemy and Muslims who fought them as our friends.  It was a bi-polar world.  Once the Berlin wall fell it took about two decades for the right to get back in power and help define a new enemy.  The enemy now is a little confusing – is it the axis of evil with Iran, Iraq and North Korean or is it really Glenn Beck’s leftist/Islamic/Neo-Nazi cabal?

But the rhetoric, and fear have consequences, which is exactly why they are continued.  A couple of the results or products of this rhetoric…

a) wealth and/or power for those telling the stories of fear.

b) further polarization resulting ultimately in the violence and tragedy that the fear imagined.  (or is it projected?)

c) “b” then leads to an increase in “a” which then re-inforces “b” in a cycle which we know from experience ultimately leads to leaders in one country singing “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and chants of “Death to America” in another.

So Wednesday’s news of a tentative accord in Iran signals a sliver of hope.  Maybe we as an American people can begin to look past the zealots on either side and somehow remember the common humanity we share with the people of Iran, which, btw, is an incredibly ancient, sophisticated, and fascinating culture and people that lessens the Western world by it’s absence.

So those of us that can, let’s celebrate this paragon of diplomacy and hope Ira(N) 2015 is more representative of the future than Ira(Q) 2003.  I think it serves the interests of the United States and, oh, yeah, the world to hope for diplomacy over walls and wars.

Hope versus Fear.  Iran 2015 vs Iraq 2003-2015.  Charity and Understanding vs. Aggression and Hatred.  This won’t be easy to maintain.  Let’s continue the work of reconciliation that our President Obama and his foreign policy team has begun, and know that it’s going to be a bumpy path with interests from both sides doing everything they can to disrupt the path towards peace domination over violence.

Nice work President Barack Hussein Obama.

Responsibility: Me vs We in Indiana

I think the Indiana’s attempt to pass it’s uniquely bigoted version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act gives us a chance to reframe the conversation a little.

My training is in chemistry and I embarked on that course of study b/c my mind is suited for  understanding complexity by reducing questions to elemental units.  Mind you, I definitely don’t have the mind that can go beyond the largest of the building blocks, but give me a good working model of theory and then try to match that with empirical evidence – voila!  I can do that.

This is why I appreciate Jonathan Haidt’s work on ethics.  I see ethics and/or morals as the building blocks of who we are and how we approach questions like if government should pass laws to protect a business’s right to reject service to individuals based on their principles or if laws should be passed to insure that individuals are treated equally under the law.

For example, take what most would agree today is a conservative concept of responsibility.  I think we’ve accepted this as a default characteristic of conservative while traits like innovation or free spirit might be attributed to liberals.

I’d like to help shift that general frame.  I think a better distinction to be made between conservatives and liberals is how we understand our responsibility.  I think the conservative message focuses on individual responsibility, while as much as we’ve been burned by the right’s rhetoric since the end of WWII, liberals focus is a collective responsibility.  In short, as Thom Hartmann popularized from Michael Moore’s movie Sicko, it’s we vs. me.

https://youtu.be/rVl1YjNy6OY?t=1m38s

The frame that Reagan helped popularize and make common wisdom in our society is individual responsibility.  That’s our focus and it has been based on brilliant and profitable marketing and infotainment over my lifetime.  And let’s be clear, to a liberal like me, it’s not one or the other, it’s both – taking responsibility for myself and my family (inshallah) AND reaching out and understanding what are our collective responsibilities in our communities – local, statewide, national and global.

And I’m also not saying that conservatives lack the “we” clearly they don’t.  The way the fiscal conservatives (who are really running the show) square this circle is by selling what I find to be the righteous call for religious communities to share a collective responsibility for each other.

I’m sure this is partially why Betty Chin is driven to do what she does and so many good and important religious organizations in our community here, nationwide and, for example, on the West Bank.

The religious “we” is also why people like Alabama’s Roy Moore and thousands of religious activists such as Glenn Beck and David Barton want to see our nation defined in words and actions as a Judeo-Christian nation.  It’s a good and decent drive from their perspective because if we fall from Grace, well, Armageddon.

But back into the rhetorical weeds in Indiana.  The legal debate, with the religious only as a distant rhetorical background comes down to this… Does a business have the right to discriminate?  Governor  Mike Pence’s argument was to stand by the argument he was able to defend as a right wing radio talk show host – namely the “me” defense.  Individuals (like Mike Pence himself) can choose to boycott any business that discriminates.

I abhor discrimination. I believe in the Golden Rule that you should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.

Governor Mike Pence.  3/31/15 WSJ Op-Ed.

 That’s taking an individual’s responsibility to do the right thing.  And it’s a good ethical argument.

The thing is, that it does hide a real attempt to institutionalize those who do, for whatever reason, have made a choice to discriminate against the LGBT community.  And discrimination is what it is which is why Governor Pence was forced not by liberals but by what really matters in our society – large interstate and international companies to insure that language is included to prevent giving businesses the right to discriminate.

And this is when the “me” responsibility ethic no longer holds water when scrutinized.  Not when or if the evidence demanding a renewed collective responsibility is generally known.

The fact that this story played out in the reddest of Midwest states is not coincidental and it’s another in the ongoing battles that help Reagan’s “responsibility begins and ends with me” ethic dominant in our national politics.

In the end, it’s what motivates libertarians and conservatives like local Fred Mangels the only HumCo commentator brave enough to tackle this topic in Humboldt’s sea of blue.  Fred doesn’t want the nanny state driven by politically-correct elites to tell him who he can and can’t associate with.  At least that’s one of the political ethics as a not-particularly religious libertarian that helps inform and drive his votes.

As Fred wrote yesterday: “You have no right to tell me who to associate with.”

What about “we” Fred?  What about the right of, say, a “a damned LGBT type” (It’s OK fellow PCer’s he was simply venting), who want’s to have their local florist provide the flowers to her wedding?

And The Freddy of course in his inimitable fashion sums up the libertarian position. (his actions, my words)  “Don’t tell me what to do.  I do the right thing (ie mowing the lawn of a “LGBT type”) but it will be a cold day in hell before I have a pointy headed liberal tell me what to do”.

Thing is Fred, we all are doing what we have to do, and not everyone shares your or Governor Pence’s righteous ethic of not discriminating against working or volunteering to work for a “LGBT type”.  What we are hoping to get to is that place where we don’t see someone else as a “type”.  Laws like the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause will help us get there.  Thank God.


Arkansas Updates (4/1/15, noon):

From the NYT:

Arkansas Governor Asks Lawmakers to Recall Religious Freedom Bill

Arkansas Governor’s Son Thrust Into Spotlight Over Religious Freedom Bill

The Consequences of Fighting Over There: #surrendered

The chaos and conflagration in the Middle East has expanded into Yemen this month with another poor country devolving from a barely stable and increasingly polarized state to another war zone.

I don’t think we should be the world’s police, I also don’t think we are serving the people of the region well.  Our schitzophenic domestic politics have effects all over the world and especially the Middle East.  For me, this Syrian refugee’s reaction to a camera is part of our country’s epic and continuing fail.

Inshallah, this 4 y/o girl will be here for many years beyond those of us old enough to read this are gone.  But just think of the scars she and the hundreds of thousands or millions of other survivors will carry into the future.

As I was searching twitter for the hashtag #surrendered, I also found this tweet from late February stating simply “God will provide #surrendered”.

I’m not religious myself, but for those of you who are, doesn’t he need our help down here?  Isn’t it so clear that God, or the Muslim’s, Christians, Jewish vision or our path to the divine is the root of so much of this chaos?

I do believe God will provide, but I also believe that we are active participants.  Once in a while we get an extraordinary chance to share the trauma of another region in a way that might re-adjust our own priorities and help us to empathize with our fellow humans before we all wind up where whereever we will.


Continue reading “The Consequences of Fighting Over There: #surrendered”