« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

July 26, 2006

Re: Democratic Strategist: American Dream Initiative

[Commented posted Re: American Dream Initiative 7/26/006]

It depresses me to read the American Dream Initiative.

The lofty goals of the ADI are not matched by the incrementalist laundry list of proposals.  One of the reasons is the unwillingness to question fundamental precepts which are causing problems.  You can see this in healthcare and retirement: why create employer *mandates* to provide health insurance and retirement?  Why is it the job of businesses to be required to provide these, especially as with healthcare, everyone needs them anyway?  It inflates business costs without providing a better distribution mechanism.

Their enthusasim for programs, or maybe just bad editing, makes the retirement section incomprehensible: first they say employers must enroll employees in either a defined-benefit plan or a 401(k) ... then talk about them enrolling them in an IRA or the equivalent of a Thrift Savings plan.  Which is it?

How can they skim over the minimum wage?  One of the easiest and most moral ways of both increasing the share at the bottom and of decreasing the social support systems needed from government?  We need to get businesses out of the immoral business of poverty wages.

How can they ignore the impacts of globalization’s “race to the bottom” of wages and environmental destruction that affects global warming and air quality here?

How can they not address the corrosive effective of lobbyist and big money campaign contributions which is siphoning off billions of tax dollars in subsidies?

In other words, it is at least as much sins of ommission as of commission.  But it reads quite Clinton-like: chock full of programs, some very expensive, few very efficient, some wishful thinking (fully integrated electronic medical records will take another 10-20 years, producing real but invisible savings along the way as they’ll slowly get absorbed in the new way of doing things).

For my money, a much better, more comprehensive, more values-based agenda has been put together by the Campaign for America's Future: StraightTalk - Common Sense for the Common Good

July 21, 2006

Progressive Media development

We're all too painfully aware of how the extensive conservative media network and a weak-kneed mainstream media have allowed an unrepresentative, conservative ideology to go largely unquestioned.  This page links to a “map” of the emerging progressive media network:

The Emerging Progressive Media Network 2006

Welcome to the Media Revolution How today’s media makers are shaping tomorrow’s news

July 19, 2006

Re: A Challenge

[Comment on Huffintgon Post Re: A Challenge Submitted 7/19/2006; lightly edited]

The Palestinian and Lebanese situations seem to share a common thread: extremists take advantage of a very weak state to use terrorism, then Isreal demands that the incapable state do it’s “sovereign duty” to crack down, which they are obviously unable to do and so Isreal attacks the infrastructure of the state, which does not eliminate the extremist organizations and terrorism but does further weaken the state and cause citizens to turn to the “terrorists” who provide them with needed social services.  Then there is some cooling off period and the groups do it all over again.

The continued pattern shows no evidence of producing a long-term solution.  israeli attacks will not “fix” the problem.  Something different must be done.

It seems to me the only solution is investing more in the security of those weak states and improving their economic situation.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

July 12, 2006

The rule of law .. even in wartime

In The rule of law vs the war paradigm, Sidney Blumenthal gives a great wrap-up to the Supreme Court ruling on Hamdan which repudiated the entire Bush Republican effort to assert the president is above the law, quoting the majority opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote “The Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law.

In the context of the ruling, which is about the asserted wartime powers of the president to abrogate treaties, and duly passed laws, it should be understood that it means:

The Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law, even in wartime and even in how the war is prosecuted.

Of course we all knew this.  What terrible sickness of the mind has caused Republicans to abandon the principles of the constitution as well as the plain meaning of the constitution itself?  How more unAmerican can you be than to assert the constitution doesn't apply to you?

The implications will continue to role out from this: warrantless wiretapping is not legal/FISA applies; rendition, torture, indefinite detention with recourse, etc.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Social Security privatization ... it's back!

Thought the fight to protect Social Security was over?  Not by a long shot!  Social Security is the crown jewel of the New Deal effort to broaden prosperity and a key symbol of the progressive worldview that “we’re all in this together” working for the common good.  The radical right will never give up on trying to destroy it.

President Bush is talking about it again, and trying to sneak privatization into the budget (see here).

As a reminder, here’s my take on how to make our case.

This is a strategic fight for progressives.

The fight with the right over the future of Social Security is a major opportunity to protect this valued social safety net while exposing the conservative intent to undermine the program’s popularity by breaking the inter-generational compact.

Talking Points

Protecting Social Security

We believe that all Americans who work hard and play by the rules deserve the safety-net retirement they earned be protected by their government against the risk of losses in the market.

Constitutional Goal:   Promoting the General Welfare
Progressive Principles:   Ensure Fairness and Accept Shared Responsibilities

Our Position.

Social Security is successful, multi-generational and helps most Americans:

  • they earned it gradually over their working life,
  • it protects people from poverty,
  • it isn't a retirement-in-comfort plan,
  • it is safe from losses in market down-turns and other problems outside people’s control.

It will continue to thrive in a healthy economy and can be maintained by:

  • adjustments, such as raising the caps on payroll contribution,
  • restoring fiscal soundness, and
  • investing in education and innovation for a more prosperous America so that people have more money to save and invest themselves.

Key Values & Principles.

We are uniting Americans around our shared responsibility to assure multi-generational fairness to all working Americans by providing safety & protection from being impoverished by circumstances outside their control.  Values to emphasize:

  • Safety & Protection
  • Cooperation
  • Community
  • Trust
  • Ensure Fairness
  • Accept Shared Responsibilities

Describing Their Position.

The Bush plan:

  • is based on an invented, false crisis
  • puts the safety-net savings at risk in the market
  • increases deficits by $1 - $2 trillion
  • cuts benefits up to 46% over time
  • siphons millions or  billions of dollars of savings to Wall Street fees
  • divides young workers from older workers by adding to their debts
  • does nothing to grow the economy

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

An honest debate on immigration - The Boston Globe

Why are these simple principles at the heart of the immigration situation so hard to understand?

Re: An honest debate on immigration - The Boston Globe:

THERE ARE two  simple reasons why there are  millions of undocumented immigrants  in the United States. First, they want to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Second,  there are hundreds of thousand of individuals and companies  who are happy to employ them. If there were no jobs, there would be no immigrants.  The contributions they  make to  society and economy are substantial -- and a prerequisite to our social and economic health.  Yet to listen to the debate about  porous borders and ``illegal aliens,“ you would think that these people are imposing themselves on us; you would think that hostile foreigners  are pouring over our borders, despite our every effort to discourage them.

And no one is calling for state troopers to arrest people who hire undocumented immigrants to mow their lawns.

Immigration reform won't give average American job security

Re: Immigration reform won't give average American job security :

Much has been written about how the influx of low-wage immigrants has made it more difficult for struggling native-born Americans to find employment. This is true, especially for disadvantaged populations such as school drop-outs, unskilled laborers, and young African-American males.

However, the far more serious threat to America's economic well-being is the ongoing, systematic pressure to eliminate jobs, reduce wages and cut benefits. Nearly 5 million American jobs have moved offshore since 2000. If this trend continues, a staggering 18 million positions in manufacturing, services and information technology will move overseas by 2015. No economy in the world can sustain that kind of loss in all three sectors and hope to remain productive and prosperous.

Although the U.S. economy is creating new jobs, most of these positions are not symmetrical in numbers and quality with those being lost to offshoring. Domestic service jobs paying on average $9,000 or less a year are not an acceptable offset to the loss of high-quality manufacturing, service and IT positions.

.... Solutions to the jobs issues now plaguing our economy go far beyond immigration reform. Rebuilding our nation's contract with the middle class will require a thorough examination of diverse policies that have fostered offshoring, declining wages and benefits, a broken health care system, and growing income inequality for the 80 percent of American workers characterized as “production and non-supervisory.”

Many of these challenges and their solutions are intertwined. For example, effective health care reforms that contain rising costs will eliminate a major impetus for employers to ship American jobs overseas. The same is true for broad pension and Social Security reforms.

.... Clearly, integrating America's illegal immigrants into the work force and society is a national priority. However, no political solution to illegal immigration will ever be accepted while America's middle-class workers live in fear of losing their own employment or seeing it diminished.

Technorati Tags: ,

July 11, 2006

To Senator Smith : Re: William Haynes II

William J. Haynes II represents the most reprehensible of the administration tactics of creating obfuscating legalisms in which to circumvent duly passed laws, in this case, at the least, the circumventing of “common article” three of the Genva Conventions.  Treaties, as you will recall, having the full force of the US Constitution per Article VI:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;

“Supreme Law of the Land.”  What a phrase!  What force!  What utter clarity.  No nuance.  And yet, Haynes was complicit in trying to find legalisms in which  to hide torture so that, in violation of this treaty, this “supreme law of the land”, the administration could torture people.

He has demonstrated supreme lack of judgment and limited moral character.

This is not the sort of person who could ever hold the public’s trust and must not be confirmed.  He has already shown that he unwilling to be “bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution,” but rather to support illegal policies as proposed by his bosses.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

July 06, 2006

“Court-stripping” unconstititional

Recently, with the flag descration bill, I was reminded of various so-called court-stripping attempts by right-wingers in Congress.  The idea of “court-stripping” appears to be based on the clause in the Constitution within Article III, which concerns the judicial branch of the US government.  Following are the relevant portions, with the court-stripping related parts highlighted:

Article. III.
Section. 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Section. 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The theory of court-stripping is based on a sophist reading of the last clause, “with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make” to be interpreted to mean that it empowers the Congress to exempt laws from the federal courts and the supreme court.

This has always felt “unconstitutional” to me, but it has become an accepted view, not only of the right but of most of the left.  That is, the left views doing so as a bad idea (bad policy) not as unconstitutional.

I think they are all wrong.  The court-stripping in fact makes no sense.  It would be saying that the supreme court is not supreme in deciding the constitutionality of a dispute, but that the Congress is, because they  could in theory pass any law and court-strip it so that it couldn’t be taken to the Supreme Court.  That would violate the fundamental tenet of the separation of powers and the clear language of the constitution that

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court ....  [that it] shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution ....

That language is unambiguous and contains no exceptions.  If the framers were to place exceptions on those two elements, this is where they would go, not at the end of a paragraph about original versus appellate jurisidiction.

So, let's look more closely at that secondary clause in the last paragraph that is used to justify “court-stripping” and look to what it refers.  It refers to the primary clause of the sentence, which is about which cases the Supreme Court has “appellate” jurisdiction.  (“Appellate” is undisputed: it means that the case starts somewhere else and is appealed up to the Supreme Court.)  But this sentence is the second of two, the first of which refers to what cases in which the Supreme Court has “original” jurisdiction: when the case starts at the Supreme Court.

So in the context of the constitution, what the secondary clause is refering to is not that the Congress can strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction (ie make it not the one supreme court having jurisdiction on all cases), it is refering to whether the Supreme Court has original or appellate jurisdiction.  And so, it means that Congress can make “such Exceptions, and under such Regulations” to the appellate jurisdication so as to make the Supreme Court the original jurisdiction instead.  In other words, make certain cases, like disputes with Ambassadors and between States.

And why was this language in there?  Because the framers were concerned that although they knew of some obvious cases where cases (foreign representatives, States) should originate with the Supreme Court, that there might reasonably be others that would be better handled directly and expediently with the Supreme Court as the original jurisdiction.

But not stripping the Supreme Court of being the supreme decider of constitutional issues.

In fact, when I went looking, this point is made fairly clearly in the Federalist Papers, #81[18]:

We have seen tha the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court would be confined to two classes of causes, those of a nature that rarely occur.

All other cases of federal jurisdication would appertain to the inferior tribunals and the Supreme Court would have nothing more than an appellate jurisdiction “with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”

Again ... the exceptions refer to whether the supreme court is appellate or orginal, not whether it is supreme or not.

And as the People for the American Way noted,

Allowing state courts the final say on an issue of federal law, ... could result in a multitude of divergent constructions of federal law, undermining the very purpose of the federal system under our Constitution.

And as the American Bar Association has noted,

Even though the Constitution authorizes Congress to make “exceptions” to and “regulations” of the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and to create and ordain the lower federal courts, Congress’s power to regulate federal court jurisdiction was NOT intended to vest in transient majorities the power to alter judicial decisions by depriving the federal courts of the power to interpret the Constitution in issue-specific situations.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 05, 2006

Re: The Party of Prosperity? In the age of globalization, what's a Democrat to do?

Re: The Party of Prosperity? In the age of globalization, what's a Democrat to do?

The middle is falling out of the American economy. Globalization, immigration, de-unionization, the decline of manufacturing, and the rise of a financial sector and culture enamored solely of shareholder value have combined to imperil one of America's defining achievements - the creation of the world's first majority middle-class economy. At the same time, they have also combined to negate virtually all our theories about how to create mass prosperity. Oh, there are things the Democrats could do in power that would have very positive effects. Nationalized health insurance would take a major burden off employers with older work forces and enable them to compete on a more level playing field with foreign companies whose health care costs are picked up by their governments. The minimum wage could be raised and indexed. Labor laws could be amended so that workers could feel free again to join unions without fear of firing.

.... First, when they retake power, the one action that could most strengthen their base, politically and economically, would be to enact the Employees' Free Choice Act, which would enable workers to join unions without fear of firing. The new Change To Win Federation estimates that there are 44 million non-union private-sector jobs in such non-off-shorable sectors as construction, hospitality, transportation and health care. Over time, the EFCA could lead to the betterment of low-wage service sector jobs, just as the Wagner Act transformed over time the economic life of America's industrial workers.

Second, they need to revive the idea of industrial policy. In such proposals as the Apollo Project (backed by unions and environmentalists), which would create tax credits for businesses that retrofit and become otherwise more efficient; or the consortium of Midwestern states (proposed by political scientist Joel Rogers and economist Dan Luria) that would improve the infrastructure of and give benefits to firms that in-source their supplies from the Midwestern region; or Barack Obama's bill in which the government assumes some of the auto companies' health care costs so long as they invest their savings in hybrid technology, we see a movement to shore up the nation's industrial sector. The nation and the Democrats would profit by more such movement.

Finally, and here we move from the difficult to what may be the near-impossible, the Democrats need to disenthrall themselves from many of the values and mindsets of the financial community. They need more Eliott Spitzers and Phil Angelideses to ride herd on corporate abuses and to invest public funds with an eye to social responsibility. More sweepingly, they need to make corporate and financial institutions answerable not just to shareholders and top management, but to their employees and communities as well. Doing that will take a reform and redefinition of corporate power at least as sweeping as that of the New Deal. Given the increasingly dominant role of finance in filling the party's coffers (the Rockefeller Republicans are all Democrats now), and in defining the party's “responsible” economics, this will be anything but easy. But the grim reality is that in the age of globalization, American capitalism as currently practiced is eroding mass prosperity in the nation as a whole. In that contest, Democrats' allegiance must be to their nation.

September 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Campaigns I Support

About Progressive Viewpoints