Archive for December 2009

Xmas Oops

December 22, 2009

This is a textbook example of blind Christian privilege:

School Board members Mike Martin and Russ McUne said Thursday they felt Finch had overreacted.

“There were 18 songs on the program, of which one has a sacred theme to it and 17 don’t. Really, the complaint should go the other way: The program was too darned secular,” said Martin, who was in the audience. “To change that program for one person is almost a violation of everyone else’s rights.”

I’m all of a sudden less comfortable with Martin on the school board, if this is his understanding of things.  It’s a public school program.  It should be secular.  End of story.  And I can all but guarantee that while there might have only been one person who said something, there were others in the audience who did precisely to avoid comments like Martin’s, which is not exactly what I’d call ‘welcoming’ to non-Christians.

Note:  I don’t have any issue with people spontaneously choosing to sing a song.  That’s their right.  But that’s also very different than having it be sponsored by the school.  Martin, as a board member, should know better, regardless of his personal beliefs.

A bit scarier than that, though, is the idea that rights are determined by majority.  That’s dangerous – and in case it’s not obvious why, what would happen if a majority decided that all entrances into the school had to include steps?  Anyone with limited mobility would be excluded – but “to change the entrances for one person is almost a violation of everyone else’s rights,” by Martin’s logic.  (And if you think this example doesn’t work, say so and I’ll bring one up that includes race.)

I hope the Superintendent makes a point of having a friendly conversation with Martin regarding why, regardless of what Martin thinks in private, this kind of thing doesn’t help the district.

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Health Insurance Reform

December 20, 2009

I’ve been following the twisted, repulsive politics of health insurance reform pretty closely, and as cynical as I might be, I am still pretty down about just how bad-faith the politics of all of this have been.  (And yes, I’m looking at Joe Lieberman.)  There have been a couple of things I’ve read that stuck with me.  For example, from No More Mister Nice Blog, a look at how the so-called left could have negotiated for health insurance reform:

As far as we know they agreed to use Congress and the Bill Making process as a bargaining chip to be bargained *away* instead of as a threat to induce compliance. What I mean is that they offered to squelch real reform–drug reimportation, the public option, etc…etc…etc… in return for a promise of funds to be disbursed later instead of pushing for the most drastically radical bill they could get and then backing off it. Similarly, Obama and Rahm preferred to keep the grassroots quiet as a gift to the deal making process, instead of using populism as a tool to force the best bargain. Instead of activating their own voters and pressuring Pharmaetc with popular rage and populist demands O and R told the most progressive members of the coalition–MoveOn for example and the Unions, to keep their mouths shut.

The whole post isn’t that long and well worth reading.  There’s an old cliche about FDR telling his political supporters that they had to make him pass the New Deal.  He wanted to, but he had to be seen as responding to political pressure.  I think HCR (or HIR) could have been the same way – Obama, as the link above notes, could have presented himself as the moderate choice in comparison to the ‘crazy’ left, and used that position to suggest that he had to support certain positions.  But he didn’t.  And as a result – well, you know.  Instead, the Democrats chose to actually punch the hippies.

The second bit that caught my eye was this, from Ezra Klein, who has looked at the policy and politics of HCR pretty intensely:

My sense is that the Obama administration attempted a low-risk political strategy for itself. By eschewing any strong commitment to the public option, they made it easier to sacrifice something that they always figured they’d probably have to lose. It’s telling that in all the coverage of the death of the public option, you haven’t seen stories saying “Obama administration dealt huge defeat in Senate.”

But in doing so, they betrayed a bond that the left thought it had with the young administration. And that’s made this a much higher-risk strategy for the bill, and thus for the White House, too. If the Obama administration had been firmer on the public option and only let it go after grueling negotiations that ended with a concrete agreement on the bill, it’s possible the administration would have had a better case to make to progressives.

This is interesting because while the common response has been some sort of “progressives really should have known Obama better,” I think that is actually kind of wrong on this.  The politics he’s employed over HCR seem really disconnected to the rhetoric employed by Candidate Obama.  Second, fairly or unfairly, I agree with Klein:  He’s destroyed a lot of trust.  He’ll pay for that, as will down-ticket democrats in 2010.

But more than either of those has been the unforgiveable display from Lieberman.  His transparent attempt to hurt his political opponents has resulted in changes to the bill that are estimated to save less lives.  The fact that this isn’t seen as crossing some sort of line – well, what more is there to say?