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Blog For Choice Day

Friday, January 22, 2010
Happy Women Are People Too Day. Hopefully the Roberts Court will allow us to celebrate another one.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:18 PM

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The American Republic, July 4 1776 - January 21, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Supreme Court just struck down limits on corporate expenditures in political campaigns, defining corporations as persons with fully protected speech rights. In the future, every big company will be able to hold a veritable gun to every candidate's head and threaten them with gigantic negative ad campaigns unless they give them what they want. If you thought corporations had a ridiculous amount of influence over American politics now, just wait.

I'll talk more about this later, but in the meantime let me just say that I'm glad the window to my 9th floor office doesn't open.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:31 AM

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So What The Hell Happened in Massachusetts? (updated)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
1. A weak campaign
2. A bad economy
3. A special election (which generally favors Republicans because the electorate it whiter, older, and richer)
4. An enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. The D's are dispirited and the R's are hyped up.

So, whose fault is this disaster? Coakley is ultimately responsible for #1, nobody for #3, and Obama and the congressional Democratic party for much of #2 and #4. The beltway Democratic Party thought the economy was going to be just fine in early 2009 and slow-walked the progressive agenda, cozied up to every corporate interest group in Washington, and played the same stupid game they've been playing since 1995. Let's just say the results of that era have not been impressive. And now Obama is talking about doing something about the deficit. In a recession. With 10% unemployment. Are they trying to lose their majority?

Here's what I would do if I was running Obama's show:
1. Get the House to pass the Senate bill as is and then press for additional changes under reconciliation (maybe in 2011). No, I don't like the health care bill, but from a strictly political point of view, Obama's presidency is over if it doesn't pass. Ugh.
2. Shift to employment issues, tying it to talk about green economy.
3. Pick a big, nasty public fight with the banks. If the corporate Dems don't like it, they can be triangulated against.
4. When the Supreme Court strikes down the campaign finance law and the financial reform fails, push clean elections laws - but only after you lose our fight in Congress with the financial industry.
5. Start bashing China's economic policies. No it's not necessarily smart diplomacy, but it's right substantively and politically.
6. Come up with 3 or 4 high-profile public issues that divide the Republicans and/or make them look bad and make a big stink about them. Make them vote on them. Yes you'll fail to break the filibuster, but then you can make the election about Republican obstruction rather than Democratic incompetence.

That's just an outline, but you get the idea. Are the Democrats going to do any of these things? I doubt it. I think the odds are 50-50 they're fumble health care on the 5 yard line and dither away the next year. Then they'll take massive losses in the next election, although they might narrowly hold control. And we'll be back to political stalemate. The national Democratic Party leadership are tools, and can be reliably predicted to make the most stupid political decisions possible. Yippee.

Update: I think Amanda Marcotte is spot on here.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:59 AM

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Okay So Far - For Now

Thursday, January 14, 2010
So I wasn't as sanguine as Brazen Hussy about this year, but so far it's going well enough. Yes, it's cold. But we got to go see a friend of ours get married in a place (the only place, it seems) where it was warm. It looks like a project I've been trying to finish at work is...this...close....to being done. And BH's employment prospects are looking up. So far, so good.

Of course, there's always politics to annoy me. I've tried to disengage a bit after my disgust with the Senate health care bill, and the fact that the final bill is likely to strongly resemble it (or be identical, should Coakley lose in Massachusetts - boy is THAT a bad sign for this year's elections). It looks like the national economy is going to putter along for the rest of the year, with no real gains in employment - which worries me about the long-term effect on state budgets, and hence on university budgets.

For those who missed it, apparently Google is thinking about pulling out of China. Evidently the Chinese government may have been hacking into Google's system to go after political opponents. What shocks me about our relationship with China is how naive so many people are. China is still ruled by a ruthless oligarchy, only now it's an oligarchy in charge of an increasingly wealthy and powerful country. For years neoliberals have argued that capitalism in China will ultimately lead to democracy. Of course, there is precious little historical evidence for this theory, and China's actions over the last few decades don't show even incremental moves towards democratic government. Further, China's mercantilist economic policies are undermining the economies of every other nation on earth - poor and rich - in particular the first world democratic nation I happen to live in. So far, so bad.

BH had a great line when I mentioned this issue to her this morning: Rather than "if we trade with China, maybe they'll become more democratic", the scenario could be "if we trade with China, maybe we'll become more totalitarian." Not that there's any evidence that democracy in THIS country is eroding. No sir.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:57 AM

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Me to 2009

Friday, January 01, 2010
Drop Dead.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:04 AM

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