Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mythical Moderate

DagBlog commentator Doctor Cleveland sees right through Susan Collins.

There are no moderate Republicans in the Senate any more. There are Republican Senators who were once moderates. There are Republican Senators who might depend upon moderate voters in, say, Maine. There are even Republican Senators who might vote moderately if they weren't actually, you know, in the Senate. But it in the actual world, every Republican Senator votes the same way, which means that they are all indistinguishable from Sam Brownback.

When the votes actually matter, Olympia Snowe votes like a hard-line conservative. So does Susan Collins. They're only moderates when nothing real is at stake. If you talk like a moderate but vote like a conservative, that means you actually are a conservative in the only way that matters. Because the votes get counted.

Believing in the mythical "moderate Senate Republicans" requires that the "moderates" not be held accountable for how they actually vote. They are allowed to obstruct legislation through relentless parliamentary maneuvers while complaining that the majority isn't "collegial" enough.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stock Tip of the Day, Sell SCGS

Senator Susan Collins mustered up a bit of indignation and acted a bit chagrined at the Goldman Sachs hearing yesterday saying at one point, "I cannot help but get the feeling that the strategy of the witnesses is to try to burn through the time of each questioner." Without doubt, that was the official hearing strategy of Goldman Sachs. Delaying and obstructing to obscure reality seemed to work for the company.

One would think Senator Collins, instead of feinting exasperation would be more aggressive at uncovering Goldman Sachs wrongdoing to expose the firm’s corrupt practices, ethically challenged sidestepping, influence peddling, and shake down of the US economy over just getting a sound bite or two to express indignation to the economically disadvantaged back here in Maine. But perhaps too much grilling is not a good idea when the 10th largest source of Senator Collins’ donations in her last campaign came from…drum roll please…Goldman Sachs’ sources and connections to the tune of just shy of $24,000.

But that’s the past and we have the tendency to let bygones be bygones. The redeeming opportunity is always in the future when one takes to heart the vivid evidence of Goldman Sachs wrongdoing and when one has the power as a United States Senator to correct matters, set the record strait, and prevent future recurrences of the corrupt behavior by legislatively addressing the matter on behalf of her Maine constituents. So what did Senator Collins do after that frustrating hearing? She went to the Senate floor and voted to block debate on a bill that would increase regulation of the financial system.

Note: Senator Snowe and Senator Collins voted a third time to block debate regulation of the financial system moments ago.

Late Day Update: Despite Republicans now caving to allow debate, Senator Collins only proved that she is not an independent moderate and walks lock-step with the leadership the vast majority of the time. On Today Show, Senator Collins certainly came off as out of step with reality and out of balance with her own prior actions and statements:

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Monday, April 26, 2010

You are cordially invited... to read and comment on our gubernatorial candidates' answers to a series of specific questions on education in Maine.

Questionnaire on Education
In the first of a seven-part series, each of the Democratic candidates for governor have responded to a series of questions on education compiled by Bruce Bourgoine, Derek Viger of the Augusta Insider, and Gerald Weinand, editor of Dirigo Blue. The remaining questions and responses will appear over the next six days at 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ballot check off for Hate.

Michael Heath is flirting with getting in the gubernatorial race:

It isn’t know if this is another act in Mr. Heath’s insatiable need for press attention to serve up another opportunity for his perpetual gay bashing or not. In any case, his polarizing and homophobic saunter onto the stage for the race for governor signals the entry of hate into the campaign by an extremist without a remote chance of victory.

As Maine Goes had a posting that is purported to be an email from Mr. Heath:

Email from Mike Heath that was forewarded [sic] to me and one from Rev Dallas Henry:

I met with a good friend yesterday morning. He suggested I allow him to circulate petitions for Governor. If he gathers 4000 signatures by June 1st I told him I'd campaign for Governor this year. Alas, someone has to fix the mess in Augusta ... I suppose. The election is in November. I haven't been keeping track, but I think that makes me the 179th candidate to allow they are interested in the Blaine House!!?? I don't support homosexuality or abortion, in case you didn't know. I'll be talking about all the other issues before November (If Bob gets the signatures). I'll give you a hint regarding my political philosophy ... I believe in the people of Maine (especially the armed men and lovely ladies) more than I do the experts in either Washington or Augusta. Bob is going to need a lot of help, I suspect. He probably can't gather 4000 signatures single handedly. You can reach him at [email address removed] or call him at [phone number removed] to get petitions.

There’s plenty of mixed reaction on any Heath entry into the race on the right noting his potential to siphon off some votes at a cost to a conservative Republican as well as his polarizing effect. Strangely there seems to be no substantial repudiation of his positions but just tactical ramblings.

It is unfortunate that Heath did not go for and somehow get a low turnout plurality to become the Republican nominee. Perhaps the 81% to 19% defeat that George Mitchell delivered to Jasper Wyman in 1988 could have played out again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Privatize what?

As deceased miners were sadly laid to final rest in West Virginia on Saturday, I just happened to tune in the Mike McConnell show on WGAN (A rebroadcast of his April 7th show). McConnell, from Cincinnati, is truly a small time radio rant fry of the libertarian bend and demonstrated that his low station count is related to his low blow delivery.

McConnell brashly blamed the mine disaster that killed 29 on government regulators of the Mine Safety & Health Administration and not the operator, Massey Energy Company. Listen to just the first 6 minutes of the show podcast to hear his solution: Privatize mine safety!

Was the government capable in any way? Well yes, but not in the way that McConnell would have you believe in his effort to bring one to the altar of almighty free unfettered markets. The MSHA had indeed logged a shocking number of citations in safety violations at the mine. But the agency is a defanged regulatory body according to the excellent reporting of Clara Bingham of the Daily Beast.

Defanged regulatory agencies are an unfortunate legacy of the Bush administration’s efforts to reduce all encumbrances upon the marketplace. Thus Massey could essentially play out a dance of pushing production up to satisfy stockholders while paying selected fines and contesting or appealing citations to bog down regulators. Massey is another classic example of an unethical company determining that violations are a cost of business that can be borne in the pursuit of profits

Thus past administrations’ made the government culpable to some extent. But without any doubt at all, the moral culpability is squarely upon Massey. Now we need to empower the MSHA with great big powerful fangs to protect miners and ignore absurd voices like that of Mike McConnell. Just like the banking and credit fiascos, deregulation can cause a crash and some crashes kill.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reform Rx – Moral Clarity

The New York Times tells the story of President Obama’s visit through a different lens:

On one side of the street, Obama aides scurried, the police blocked off traffic, and people waited in the sun, holding signs that said “Thank You” — though by lunchtime, hundreds were chanting the opposite. And on the other side, uninsured and underinsured people sought care, beginning with a man who saw little reason to eat.
Often lost in the battle of costs, the continuance of private insurance, and the sheer obstructionism of the right are also the individuals that need the Portland Community Health Center. For at the core of this issue is the moral essence of doing what is caring and just for every single person in this country regardless of means and circumstances.

President Obama signaled his readiness to engage in the moral debate:

"And now that it's passed, they're already promising to repeal it. They're actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November.

Well I say go for it. If these Congressmen in Washington want to come here to Maine and tell small business owners that they plan to take away their tax credits and essentially raise their taxes, be my guest. If they want to look Lauren Gallagher in the eye and tell her they plan to take away her father's ability to get health insurance, that's their right. If they want to tell people like Theresa D'Andrea that they could once again face a lifetime of debt if they lose a family member, they can run on that platform. If they want to have that fight, I welcome that fight. Because I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've been there already and we're not going back. This country is ready to move forward.".

This state will be moving forward too. Appeal for repeal will rear up in the Congressional and Gubernatorial race from the right. In Maine we will have the opportunity to defeat these initial repeal challengers to show support for President Obama. And, Senators Snowe and Collins, despite their present political protestations, will dare not run their eventual re-election bids in 2012 and 2014 on repeal. Moral force and the practical positive results of the new law will be far too apparent. They will need to be challenged on their obstruction activities during passage and their forthcoming records regarding if they are supporting and enhancing the law.

We, the supporters of Barack Obama, may not all agree on the final outcome of this legislation but we must see it as a vital positive step in the right direction. We may bemoan that we would have had single payer or a better bill with less compromise if we had made a more forceful moral argument. But this is a young presidency. This is a massive accomplishment within a single year. And the moral flame has not flickered out; we need only to feed it.

Health care is now a right. We Americans expand rights