Monthly Archives: January 2009

We Can End the Global Gag Rule Once and For All

President Reagan first imposed the Global Gag Rule in the 1980’s and it was retained by the first President Bush.  President Clinton rescinded it two days after he took office.  The second President Bush put it back in place two days after he took office, and President Obama is expected to rescind it again today, on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Now that we know how the game is played, we should take the opportunity to make repeal of this rule permanent.

We can do this by depositing funds for organizations that would receive funding without this rule but that would lose it with the rule into Escrow accounts for future withdrawal.

If Escrow accounts are established that these organizations can withdraw from starting in four years and every year thereafter for, say, 12 years, then their funding will be protected even under an anti-choice administration.  We will pay today for today’s funding and the funding for many years to come, and once these Escrows are built up, our current funding decisions will actually provide money that will not be needed (or available for withdrawal) for over a decade.  So long as we fund Escrow accounts far enough into the future, we can fairly well assure ourselves that even if inhumane administrations fail to continue future funding, a more humane administration will likely be elected eventually, with time to rebuild the Escrow accounts.  We can ride out all but the most severe of storms.

If that isn’t the case, and anti-choice administrations come to power and stay in power so long as to outlast all of our Escrow accounts, then we probably have to accept that the American people have spoken up and that they prefer women around the world to die than to have any abortions for any reasons.

Until the people prove that… lets do what we need to do to prevent brutal American regimes from yet again withholding these critical funds from the world’s women.

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Profit per Employee

Being an economics buff and a visual person, rather numerically challenged, I really appreciate a great visual depiction of economic “stuff.”

This is a great one.  I hope when I “grow up” I can be so creative.

http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/web/trans0109capitalgains.html

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The Second Squabble of the Second Cold War

We haven’t heard much from Saudi Arabia about the Israel / Hamas fight.  Not surprising.  If Saudi Arabia were forced to declare their true position, they would have to favor Israel and that would cause a geopolitical earthquake.  Besides, they generally prefer to leave dirty work to others so they can maintain “plausible deniability”.

The great shame for the Palestinian people is that they seem doomed to be pawns and puppets to outside influences that never have their interest at heart.

Arafat was, to some degree, a pawn of Soviet Russia; his PLO a counter-balance to the United States’ power in the region due to its alliance with Israel.  Would the PLO have been able to survive without assistance from the USSR?  I don’t know.  Certainly the interest of the Palestinians was not foremost in the minds of Russian leaders from Khrushchev to Yeltsin and their own needs went begging.  The Cold War ended, but Arafat, entrenched and not unlike Fidel Castro, was unable to make the leap from the paradigm of the mid 20th century to the new one of the 21st.  The Palestinian people had no choice but to wait the old man out, which they did.

A new day dawned, with new leadership and new possibilities, a two-state solution moved from unacceptable to foregone, and they held victory in their hands.  It would not have been an all-out victory with Israel gone, Israelis all massacred, and Palestinians back in their olive groves, but it would have been a decent foundation on which to build a new future, prosperity, and full membership in the world of nations.  But no, that was not to be.

For no sooner was the prospect of peace upon them than the United States elevated Iran’s power in the region exponentially by ridding it of its hot war neighbor, Iraq.   A stronger and bolder Iran now challenges Saudi Arabia for dominance throughout the Middle East not in a hot war but in a new cold one.  Iran has nurtured Hamas and Hezbollah for years, but with their new freedom to look further afield than Iraq, they have poured in resources to establish them as bulwarks to counter the Saudi’s.  Once again, the Palestinians have become pawns to someone else’s fight.  Their hopes of statehood have been set back.  The prospect of wealth and economy pushed out.  It now seems that until Iran and Saudi Arabia resolve their cold war, there may never be a Palestine.  And this is not even close to happening.  The cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, between Sunni and Shiite, remains a boyle in its first days; it is red and irritated, but nowhere near coming to the surface where it can be lanced.

It is so easy to see where the interests are at this point.  The Palestinian people desperately, critically, need for this war to stop.  Even the battered and bloodied Hamas fighters in Gaza realize that they are beaten and are ready to call a cease fire.  Iran… not so much.  Iran’s regional influence increased significantly when it’s Hezbollah repelled Israel in the First Battle of the Second Cold War.  Iran certainly has no interest at all in seeing hostilities end and losing the Second Battle of the Second Cold War.  Besides, it isn’t their blood being spilled.  Just like the PLO counter-balanced the US and Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah counter-balance Saudi Arabia.  A Hamas defeat, or even a truce; in fact any situation that allows the Palestinians to co-exist with Israel and climb their way out of poverty weakens Iran’s stance against the Saudis.  And it is too easy to see where the Hamas leadership in Syria aligns.  It aligns squarely with Iran, and against the interests of the people they claim to represent and even the body of the organization they purport to lead.  Their warm and cozy relationship with their benefactors in Iran is way more important to this cabal than the lives of their fighters, their members, or their constituents.

Saudi Arabia will not any time soon announce their support for Israel.  But I do wonder what is going on in the back rooms of the palaces in Riyadh and the towering hotels of Dubai.  It seems to me that Saudi Arabia’s silence in this battle speaks volumes.  They don’t know it and perhaps they will never see it, but the Palestinians future lies way more comfortably with Saudi Arabia than Iran.  For the Saudis will be happy to let them form their state and live out their lives in relative peace.  The Iranians, and their puppet Hamas, get stronger the further statehood slips from Palestine.

It’s sad that they never seem to be able to put themselves on the winning side of history.

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Oy, my liberal friends… oy.

Being more liberal than most, I think I can get away with complaining about my fellow liberals for just a minute or two.

Change.org has been running a competition to generate 10 ideas to present to the Obama administration this Friday at the National Press Club.  Over 7,000 ideas were submitted by anybody who wanted to submit them.

Through November and December over 250,000 votes were cast on the site and the top three ideas in each of 30 categories made it to “the final round”.  Since January 5, voting has been open among just these finalists.

Here’s my complaint.

  • The top idea (and the fourth top idea) so far, by a pretty wide margin, is legalizing pot.
  • The third most popular idea, I assume because there’s an organized lobby with e-mail lists and whatnot far beyond what you would ever think, is a proposal to make it easier for small, crafty toy makers like you see in art fairs to avoid new toy safety regulations that are coming out.  WTF?
  • The fifth most popular idea is to “make the grid green within 10 years.”  Nothing about how to do this.   That’s it.  Just “make the grid green within 10 years.”
  • The sixth most popular idea, apparently bubbling up from the fans of ideas one and four, is to “Appoint Secretary of Peace in Department of Peace and Non-Violence”.  You can’t make this stuff up.
  • Health care reform, a noble idea indeed, is sitting in two slots: number 2 and number 9.

I mean, I agree that pot should be legalized, the drug war ended, those convicted of crimes that never should have been crimes should be pardoned and they or their estates should be given reparations.  I don’t think it is the single most important thing that should be on our national agenda.

The idea of making the grid green is obviously a good one, on everybody’s mind, but that’s all it says about it!  That’s not an idea.  There’s not a single suggestion of anything we might do to get there.  Had I known people would vote in such numbers for something like that I would have entered one to “Give each American a check for $20,000” and I bet I would have beaten even the pot guy!

Anyway, it’s been a fun exercise and a lot of great ideas have indeed surfaced.  It’s a bit of a shame that half the ones presented at the National Press Club will be duplicates, limited to a tiny special interest group, pies in the sky, and/or will confirm the media’s impression of liberals as latte sipping, granola eating, pot smoking former hippies.

And not to leave off a pitch, you should click over there and vote for adjusting our trade policies so they don’t create unfair economic advantages for countries that don’t care at all about the environment, worker safety, living wages, etc.  You can vote for up to 10 ideas so, while you’re at it… find 9 other good ones to support.

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Discomfort in Congress?

If we bought our congress critters as comfy seats as they have in Illinois do you suppose they would spend any more time in them?

Illinois House of Representatives voting to impeach Gov. Blagojevich

Illinois House of Representatives voting to impeach Gov. Blagojevich

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Free Trade or Fair Trade? It’s about American jobs… not just coffee.

A thousand people have voted for Fair Trade over Free Trade.  Have you?

When you support Fair Trade you support:

  • American workers
  • American producers
  • Workers around the world
  • The environment

Cast your vote for Fair Trade here: http://www.change.org/ideas/view/replace_free_trade_with_fair_trade

This isn’t about coffee… this is about our economic survival.

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Fair Trade isn’t just about coffee… it’s about American jobs. You can help!

IDEA:

Add conditions to trade agreements that remove the economic advantage enjoyed by countries that don’t meet our mandated standards for minimum wages, worker and product safety, environmental protection, etc.

The Ideas for Change in America competition was created by Change.org in response to Barack Obama’s call for increased citizen involvement in government. The final round of voting began on January 5 and is comprised of the top 3 rated ideas from each of the 30 issues in the first round of the competition, which collectively received more than 250,000 votes.  The idea above was the top rated idea in it’s category and is now in competition with all the other top ideas. See it here: http://www.change.org/ideas/view/replace_free_trade_with_fair_trade

The top 10 rated ideas from the final round will be presented to the Obama administration on January 16th at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, co-hosted by the Case Foundation. At the event we will also announce the launch of a national advocacy campaign behind each idea in collaboration with our nonprofit partners to turn each idea into actual policy.
If you support trade but want Americans to be treated fairly, please read the idea here and then add your vote. http://www.change.org/ideas/view/replace_free_trade_with_fair_trade

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