After the storm, hope.

November 17, 2014

It’s now in the history books.

We Democrats took a shellacking at the polls.   For me, the saving grace was the re-election to Congress of cousin Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s Iron Range 8th district.   Congrats to Rick.

Hopeful Ideas

But this is about ideas, particularly of the hopeful variety.   Thru this report, and in conclusion, Ill offer my thoughts on why I’m still hopeful.

This morning, Paul Krugman’s, When Governments Succeed got these juices flowing.   Also, left-over reading from Sunday’s Newark Star Ledger, Tom Moran’s Lance Shows why the GOP won’t budge on climate, and conservative (yes, Conservative) columnist, Paul Mulshine’s Can a RINO cry crocodile tears? rise to the level of motivational.

At the risk of sounding like a plug for the paper, but the Star Ledger has at it’s disposal any number of terrific writers in all directions: opinion, sports!, and certainly the Jersey beat; those who  hold my interest in “print” so long as we both survive.  Those who know me, know my roots are in printers ink — long may it flow.

Can a RINO … ?

Mulshine, while the conservative columnist, is one I often agree with.   Why?  He represent the age when Republicans were thoughtful and had a plan beyond cutting taxes.  A dieing breed in the land, and shrinking badly here in the region that gave us “Rockefeller Republicans”.  (note to self:  time to read Richard Norton Smith’s Nelson Rockefeller biography)  Mulshine is unafraid and unapologetic about reminding Republicans of their true calling.  Recalling the history of Romney-/Obama-care, Mulshine says

The health-care reform Romney endorsed also would have been pretty much the same as the plan Obama pushed through.

So why the Republican outrage? The only possible explanation is because Obama is beating them at their own game.

That they should never have played it in the first place does not seem to have occurred to them.

As a footnote in his online column, he points out the MIT prof, Gruber, who made the “stupid voters ” remark about Obama-care is also the author of Romney-care, and also said of them, “they’re the same”.

Lance shows …

Moran delivers live data gathered from the field of dieing Republican values.   Reporting on Leonard Lance, a 3-term Republican from NJ’s central 7th district, Moran interviews and quotes Lance, concluding that

… Lance has done a full 180 on the most important environmental question of our generation. He has become as rabid as the rest.

To me, this is beyond sad. In Trenton, Lance was a man of unshakable principle. He lost his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee after he bucked the party and refused to support Whitman’s bonding scheme, a stance that history has vindicated. He was deeply respected in both parties.

But since Republicans took over the House in 2010, he’s become an orthodox conservative on big issues like the climate and the budget.

and further:

That’s an explicit warning from the Americans for Prosperity, one of the financial tentacles of the Koch Brothers.

They impose discipline by promising to kill the outliers.

Lance says that none of that plays into his calculation on climate. “I’ve always voted my conscience,” he insists.

My $0.02:  any suggestions the Koch brothers are in it for anything (or one) but themselves needs more evidence-based reasoning.

About Lance:  He really needs to check how his conscience has been formed of  late.   Moran traces his evolution from one who could work across the aisle, to where he now can’t find the center aisle.  For me, Lance, our former congressman (Pat and I left our home in the Sandy- and Irene- ravaged Union Co squarely in the 7th, for the more liberal if not safer central Jersey 12th this year) is the model of the impact of money and public cynicism it so easily spreads on people of principle.

So, where’s the hope in these?  For me, it’s that there are still people of principle who have the courage, resources, and support to hold our public servants’ feet to the fire.

Governments succeed …

Krugman hits a smorgasbord of current issues: the Ebola “freakout”, DOE energy investment, ACA success, and Obama deficit growth (or not).   These are remain current to Krugman, and the rest of us evidence-based folks, since respectable commentators on the public sphere collect evidence as we go for later recall, something beyond the 24 – hour video cycle.

On the Ebola freakout, it will have a hiccup today (11/17) as word arrives that Dr Salia died from Ebola.   Krugman points at the political hay the right was making over “lack of preparation”, etc… but that has proven to be the noise it was.   Sadly, the problem remains, but the cautions from the CDC about getting to the roots of the problem will fall on deaf ears in the new majority in Congress

The DOE energy investment screen was about the $500 +M we taxpayers lost on Solyndra.   Krugman reminds us that was an investment, and the whole program as returned $5B ( ten times as much ) to the government.  Even Warren Buffet lost half again as much as us taxpayers on Solyndra.  Part of my thinking on this one is the right, moneyed interest section, doesn’t want to help JQ Public think too deeply about what investing means, lest he demand his fair share of the capital landscape.

That the ACA  success is out of the news does not surprise.   First, because bad news sells, and secondly, those in media who were promoting rather than reporting it’s potential failure aren’t likely to apologize.

… and a new Gallup survey finds that the newly insured are very satisfied with their coverage. By any normal standards, this is a dramatic example of policy success, verging on policy triumph.

In an atta-boy selfie, better part of 3 yrs before the ACA, I was saying “where can I send my check to see that everyone get’s healthcare”  (what is health insurance anyway, if not care).  Here’s a simple challenge:  What’s it worth to you ( in dollars ), to see that everyone has healthcare?   I was willing to kick in $1K / yr.  Too many of us would say, “nothing”, which is a legitimate, if not too-selfish reply.

The purported deficit growth from the ACA receives Krugman’s attention:

Surely the exploding costs of Obama-care, combined with a stimulus program that would become a perpetual boondoggle, would lead to vast amounts of red ink, right? Well, no — the deficit has indeed come down rapidly, and as a share of G.D.P. it’s back down to pre-crisis levels.

That the rabid right refuses to be held accountable for those predictions points to why I have little faith in dialogue with that segment.  Except, bending back to Mulshine and Moran respectively, there remain people on the right capable of harmonic dialogue and those on the left who remember and report on dialogue across the aisle.

Where’s the hope…

I’ve alluded here, and confessed to a certain bias for the “print” media.    As TV made it’s inroads in the ’50s, my dad told my brother and me as we sold subscriptions to the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, “tell them they can’t cut it out of the TV”.  Well that’s changed.   As the TV and the newspaper collide here on the internet, I detect a residual difference in the reportage, if not opinion and thought.  Print media has at its heart a level of engagement not possible in the push media of the video.   Certainly changes are afoot in both directions.

My hope here is in print media, however it sees itself, to ever foster legitimate dialogue that holds us and our ideas accountable.



Socially speaking

October 3, 2014

I’ve probably too many irons in the fire.   Let’s list them and offer a sense of purpose

A or B vs/or Yes or No

September 21, 2014

I’m tired of the opinion questions of the sort: “Do you prefer A or B?”    Today’s NYTimes offers a good example:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling: His job as President?

The strong implication is you have to choose.   Today, it’s difficult for the informed person to be short of opinion on matters of national opinion, but maybe not always.  For each of us there are varying degrees of how strong an opinion we can muster.

Years ago (’02 – ’06 ) while i was at Benedictine Academy, I thought I was having a joke with the sophomore geometry students when we examined boolean expressions such as:  A is True or B is True.   I’d answer “Yes”, if it was apparent they were mutually exclusive.   e.g. when straight ahead is not an option, the question “do we turn left or right?” i now answer “Yes”.   You might spend a little time thinking about how to rephrase the question to elucidate either “left” or “right” as an answer.

So, back to the pressing question, and my opinion:  “Do you approve or disapprove …?”    For most of the questions under the above link, my answer would be “No”.   The truest statement I could make, on Obama’s handling of foreign policy, “that i certainly don’t approve is not a statement that i therefore disapprove”.    I take the wishy-washy position since (I believe) in today’s hostile political climate,  disapproval implies from the right.   My unverifiable assertion is about one-third of Obama’s disapproval comes from the left.

So, for this class of opinion question, my answer is a resounding “NO”.

Not yet a diary

September 20, 2014

Since brother Mike introduced me to the latest in online software:

I’m moving my online public diary here.   I’ll have to get back to my tiddlyWiki-based blog  when I get some more time on my hands.    I’m also struggling with my commitment on command line vs web-based content.   Our NJ McGowans (Pat and my) content in question — private you can imagine — is purely financial:   expense, budget and financial, retirement data.

it’s Time To move on CItizens United

June 10, 2009

This blog points at activity here in the State of New Jersey, as we roll back  Citizens United,  the Supreme Court decision which extended the franchise of big money into the political process.