Republican Opposition Backfires: The Stimulus and Family Planning Aid

The conventional wisdom was that the Republicans made a smart move by opposing Obama’s efforts to reach out to them over the stimulus:

Voting against the bill was good politics because it shows that the GOP can’t be persuaded by charm alone, presidential or otherwise. Sure, Republicans risk coming off as stubborn in the face of Obama’s ostentatious magnanimity. But at this stage, there’s nothing wrong with playing hard to get. There will be time for bipartisan necking later.

It was never about charm, that’s just poor reporting.  It was about real concessions (and concessions that rightly upset the Democratic wing of the Democratic party).  It now appears there was something wrong with playing hard to get.  It has cost them one concession (via Feministing):

By removing the family-planning aid from the stimulus at Obama’s request, Democrats “were giving a nod to the Republicans, believing they would act in good faith,” the source added. And given how many GOPers voted for the stimulus bill, sounds like the family-planning aid is back on track.

Removing this never made any sense.  It was taking away sound economic policy:

Obama emphasized that the family-planning aid “makes the budget look better, it’s a money saver,” the source said. In fact, removing the need for Medicaid waivers for family planning saves states an estimated $700 million over 10 years.

And purely to play to social conservatives who didn’t understand how the family-planning aid worked.  There’s a very nice writeup over at the Washington Independent:

The proposal could create health care jobs and thus offer the economy a boost, perhaps even faster than infrastructure spending. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says it is a money-saver in the long-term.

Which brings us to the other big concession: tax cuts.  Yes tax cuts, the center piece of the past 8 years of failed Republican economic policy.  As the Daily Show observes, the Republicans are acting as though the Obama presidency has erased the past two terms of Bush (and no wonder, given how desperate they appear to be to avoid punishment for crimes committed therein).

The Republicans need to take a note from our President and get down to business, or they will continue to show their constituents just how irrelevant and powerless they have become.  The economy is a disaster, and we need serious people in charge to do the hard work of fixing it.

New Bank Bailout to Cost 793 Trillion

The new bank bailout will cost a lot.  That’s ok.  I don’t mind paying for the failures of Gree Market* policy and blind financial prognosticating by still-employed economic opinon-makers.  At this point the stimulus is so costly as to effectively be in imaginary dollars anyway.

The banks have gone from keeping how they spent our tax-money secret to letting slip the most endearing little hints.

Like spending the money on buying a jet, and refusing to use the money for its intended purpose.

But for some reason the thought that these losers are raking in billions in bonuses after utterly failing at their jobs, while plenty of skilled, hard working Americans get kicked to the cub, really makes my blood boil.  At the very least they should be fined for the damage they caused, not rewarded.

* I’m warming to the idea of using the phrase Gree Market, to denote the greedy reality of so called Free Market policies (which are often anything but).

California Religious Schools Civil Rights Free

Apparently religious schools in California aren’t subject to civil rights laws.  I wonder what else they can get away with, thanks to this ruling?

The funny thing is that the kids were expelled based on the perception of their sexuality.  Wonder if this would fly is the school was run by a Christian Identity Church and expelled students for being non-European.

Israel vs Palestine: Trust

A huge problem I have negotiating the very rough waters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is trust.

Both sides have such a problem seeing and understanding the other that the views pouring out of that miasma are convoluted and stained with assumption.  The pro-Palestine side seems to think a rain of rockets is a mild annoyance, and the pro-Israel side follows the act of American conservative who think civilian deaths are “sad but necessary”.

It gets worse when I talk to friends and family, who share very believable stories about atrocities committed by either side.  Then the digging starts.  Into the past, to reveal the UN’s historical animosity towards Israel.  Into news stories, where single-witness accounts are considered foul-proof evidence of deliberate civilian-targeting in some publications and others ignore the massive pile up of evidence that Israel is using chemical warfare.

I’m finally understanding why Palestinians fire rockets, and why Israelis resort to whatever means “will hurt them most”.  But I find myself in a place where every post from my super liberal friend decrying “Zionists” and every QassamCount status update from my more conservative friend both leave angry.  That pro-Palestine friend is using the language of the insane and the violent.

So in the end I find cause to trust neither side, though in most cases I trust the people espousing one or the other.  I fall back into my old and reassuring thought pattern that violence is without intelligence or justification.  And I look upon my people (which, with an honest look at my history, coming from that region means both sides of this stupid conflict) with disgust and pity.  Their leaders and their fighters are choosing blood even as their supporters choose blindness.

Inauguration 2009: We Have a New President!

The inauguration was incredible.  I left with a feeling of real optimism, not the kind you fake to yourself to keep your spirits up in the face of false promises.  There is a lot of work to be done, and Obama is far from perfect, but we made a great choice.  This country feels united.

Below the jump is my account of the We Are One Concert, the Inauguration, and the Inaugural Parade.  Pictures can be found here, and videos of the events can be found here.

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The Hard Work of Change

Thank You, President Obama, for your commitment to represent young voters.

We are the future of this country, and together, we are ready to do the hard work to make this country stronger, safer, and more just for everyone.

Inauguration Photos and Videos

I’ll have  a writeup later tonight (and more videos!).

In the meantime, please enjoy my new flickr account and youtube channel!