On the Snowden Situation

Great summary piece at MSNBC about the recent NYT editorial supporting clemency for Edward Snowden. They correctly call out the double standard:

Since the beginning, the Obama administration has adhered to a double-standard when it comes to violations of the law by national security officials, punishing those that arouse the ire of the national security establishment while looking the other way when the law is broken in pursuit of their goals.

Of course this isn’t just Obama, it’s all administrations. If Obama’s failures here were surprising to you, they shouldn’t have been:

Before even taking office, Obama indicated publicly that he was unwilling to look into prosecution of Bush-era officials for their role in crafting torturous interrogation policies, saying he would look into whether “someone had blatantly broken the law” but that he possessed ”a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

Maybe occupants of the Oval Office eschew prosecution of their predecessors as some kind of insurance against the same by their successors — a kind of dirty political pay-it-forward. Nonpartisan history/political podcaster Dan Carlin has been talking about this for years. I highly recommend listening to his show.

 

Cynicism 2012

Surprising many and relieving others, Barack Obama won a second term last night in a pretty big way. This is my ants-at-a-picnic view of the situation.

Things will continue to get better, little by little, as they always do, even as politicians try as they may to break them more. More people will find jobs because this is what we do: we work hard and provide for ourselves and our families (most of us).

The financial situation will get better because there is no choice in the matter. But one thing is for certain: no matter how measurably better things are, republicans will surely disapprove and continue to obstruct and bash the president at every turn. The media will stoke the fires of resentment and disagreement because we buy it up with our precious attention. Because this is what we do: we tear down those with whom we disagree without understanding.

Obama will continue to wage quiet warfare in who-knows-how many countries, killing who-knows-how many brown people whose families will vow to destroy us. He will continue to erode our civil liberties further and further whether it be wiretapping, spying, detention or assassination. And his supporters will be silent, even though these actions are in stark contrast to their supposed ethos. Because this is what we do: we unconditionally support the person who lives in a shell of that with which we want to identify.

And the rest of us will sit in waiting until one day when we might possibly have a way to express our disgust at all of it.

Crony Capitalism

I’ve written before about what I think is wrong with our financial system. David Stockman’s piece takes aim at Mitt Romney and in the process provides one of the best summaries of Wall Street I’ve ever read:

That is the modus operandi of the leveraged-buyout business, and in an honest free-market economy, there wouldn’t be much scope for it because it creates little of economic value. But we have a rigged system—a regime of crony capitalism—where the tax code heavily favors debt and capital gains, and the central bank purposefully enables rampant speculation by propping up the price of financial assets and battering down the cost of leveraged finance.

Check out the whole article.

Thoughts on the Financial Crisis

Since the financial crisis and resulting hysteria have transpired, I’ve been attempting to wrap my head around what happened — in relatively simple terms — and what we can do (or not do) to avoid something like this in the future.  While the financial instruments Wall Street employed in the recent decade were far from simple, I remain hopeful that there are more basic forces at work and thus solutions that don’t involve thousands of pages of legislation, bailouts and government control. Continue reading

Is Bristol Palin a Pinhead too?

Bill O’Reilly is no friend of permissive culture. He’s got no use for the drugs, the loose morals, the abortions or the media that glorified it. On Jamie Lynn Spears’ pregnancy, he had this to say:

Now most teens are pinheads in some ways. But here the blame falls primarily on the parents of the girl, who obviously have little control over her or even over Britney Spears. Look at the way she behaves. Continue reading

What to do About Health Care?

I was listening to the radio the other day and it occurred to me that there may be some problems with the American health care system. Just about every politician is talking about it and about as much as we can grok from all the rhetoric is whose plan isn’t going to work. But it seems to me that we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Continue reading

Florida’s Getting a New Boss

Will he be the same as the old boss? Probably.

If our country ran like it was intended, the state gubernatorial election would be as (or more) important than the national election. Alas, it isn’t; so a lot of people just don’t care who’s at the helm in Tallahassee. We should care, so I’m hoping to spur a little reading with this post, maybe even some discussion.

The most difficult thing for me is always finding objective information about each candidate. Political ads have degraded to cheap slander. Candidates’ web sites can be a source of information, but you have to be able to see through the empty rhetoric. Local news is decent from time to time, if they can cease the dramatization of every little matter for a moment. The Sun-Sentinel has a pretty readable section on the race. That same article also has individual sections on the Democratic front-runners as well as the Republican ones.

I’m still looking for a good side-by-side, issue-by-issue rundown from some nonpartisan source. A friend suggested realpolitics.com but considering the source, I don’t think that was what he was intending. Anyone have a good comparison site for state officials?