GAY AND GRAY: How It Was Then...
What It's Like to Get Old

Politics: Short Takes and Questions

category_bug_politics.gif There is so much going on the worlds of politics, government, the economy and other areas that it is no longer possible to keep up with it all. We are living in highly complex times, every day I am falling farther behind and find myself puzzled sometimes by events I do manage to follow.

So today, I've chosen just three of the questions on my mind for some short takes and perhaps your thoughts.

Bank Bailout
It is becoming increasingly clear to me that throwing money at banks with no oversight whatsoever cannot succeed in fixing the economy. Not a penny of bailout money has gone into lending. Foreclosures are skyrocketing again. Twenty fraud investigations into the bailout program are going on. But the guys who got us into this mess are running the bailout in government while leaving their previous colleagues in charge of the banks.

Why is no one talking about re-instituting Glass-Seagal or similar bank regulation? Why is no one asking why banks are too big to fail? It seems to me that if a corporation is too big to fail, it's too big to exist.

It is not possible that there aren't competent bankers and Wall Street people who could carry on. Plus, I suspect it's not as hard to do as they have tried to make us believe.

Torture Prosecution
Whatever legal pretzel twists Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials concocted to approve waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” they are torture and I am shamed by my government having done these things. I believe the people who approved and carried out this kind of interrogation should be prosecuted.

However, there has been a procedural roadblock that shouldn't be there. On Tuesday, President Obama said he would “not stand in the way” of a a full inquiry or panel to look into the allegations.

Not stand in the way? Last time I checked, the U.S. still had three, independent branches of government, and the legislative and judicial branches are free to investigate anything they want without approval or intervention from the executive branch.

Apparently (I've not read this stuff as closely as I would like), any torture investigation has been held at bay since the November election due to President Obama's public statements about looking forward rather than back. Recent pressure from Congress and civil rights groups prompted his reversal on Tuesday.

I suppose a president can use his bully pulpit to try to persuade anyone, but I'm bothered that it sounds like the decision to investigate and prosecute or not has been left to the president instead of Congress or the Justice Department. Am I the only one who has noticed this?

Loony Pundits
The right wing commentariat has become unhinged. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Bachman, Ann Coulter, Michael Steele, et al are hovering at the edges of sanity. You know their hysterical drill by now: fascist, liberal atheists, including our Muslim president, are going to force everyone to have abortions, turn kids into homosexuals, compel all workers to join a union, forbid gun ownership, send teenagers to re-education camps, close the churches, deny access to the doctor you want and – horror of horrors – tax the rich. So to save the country from dreaded socialism, they say, we must buy teabags.

The worst of it is that millions of damned fools believe these fatheads who are only marginally rational which is the best one can say about anyone who, in our darkest hour in decades, wishes the president to fail.

With so many complex problems on the table, never have we been more in need of thoughtful, serious debate. It would be smart of us, with a federal government controlled entirely by one party, to have some intelligent input from the other side of the political spectrum. Yet the media employ only these whackos. Surely there must be reasonable Republicans somewhere, don't you think?

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, a story titled What I Really Know About the Internet from Lyn Burnstine.]


There are no reasonable Republicans any more. I am sadly convinced of that. They are not even held in any kind of esteem by the public with Pew's recent poll giving them around a 28% approval rating. All they do is bash the President and the Democrats.

We are a one party government now. Solid debate that sparks positive change is what we need though I have to say it is miles better than what we had.

Through all the talk of rescue and funding to help the economy, there are flaws. The bank issue is one of them. The other, far more personal, is the lack of the COBRA funding for those who are unemployed. It is still not in place. Someone tell me: where is it???

You speak my mind better than I do! After having spent a weekend with family in Michigan and nearly losing my cool - they speak the "fear-mongering" language of the right wing nut-cases and yes, they believe that crap - I fear for our country. What has happened to the Republican party? They have deteriorated to the point of lunacy.

We need intelligent/reasonable debate, not fear-mongering, mud-slinging, crazy talk. We need patriots who can rise above the "politics" and save this country from self-destruction.

The citizens of America need to reject the political agendas and demand honorable and intelligent leadership from their representatives. Thanks, Ronni, for speaking my mind!

I don't think so. DH and I have been Republicans all our lives but left the party in 2004, voting straight Democratic in 2008. There is absolutely no room for discussion, compromise, or diversity in the Republican party any more. As a prime exhibit of Republican lunacy, we simply have to look at our current Texas governor's recent statements...

I am at a loss to figure out how, in today's more educated society, there are so many who follow "Loony Pundits."

This year, while talking with the young man who prepared my tax returns, I was shocked to hear him say, while reflecting on the current administration, "And people better be alerted to the fact that, if they're not careful, they will be living in a communist state." This comment from a man in his early 40's, the owner of a very successful business, and graduate of a well-ranked private university.

I was going to write a right royal rant on this but I changed my mind. Nothing is going to change anyway.

I agree! your eloquence is inspiring too!

I still believe that if our legislative leaders were to be subject to the real world practices, ie health care with the limitations that I am subject to, fewer perks in the lending market, and more...that things would change far more quickly.

It really is painful to hear the ranting lunacy of the far right. My brother happens to be one of them and forwards the most idiotic hateful emails.

The latest one was "how dare this President go to Europe and talk about the arrogance of America--and this speech given just a few hundred miles from the beaches of Normandy!!"

True idiocy and blind rage.

Like others here, I think you express my views better (and more politely) than I do. The argument that a company, or institution, or what ever is too big to fail never impressed me. The only real question is how much pain these gargantuan dinosaurs will cause when (not if) they go under. And the second question is whether the money we spend will truly mitigate some of that pain and pave the way to a better situation coming out of the crisis. Those were questions that were never asked. Nor did anyone ask whether we should be trying to reset the clock to some time before the melt down when the economy seemed to be steamrolling along nicely. Instead, our leaders assume that we should reset the clock and the institutions that have dragged us into an abyss with them should be salvaged in much the same form.

On the issue of torture, I am not one that believes that we can go forward by ignoring the past. When the eulogists praised Gerald Ford for supposedly starting the national healing by pardoning Richard Nixon, I thought that that action laid the ground for the entire post-Reagan era when government misdeeds were swept under the rug of 'national healing.' Instead, we sanction the crimes by looking the other way and justifying them with the notion that at least the perpetrators believed they were acting in the national or public interest. Yeah, and what paves the way to hell?

I can't really comment on those idiot, space cadet pundits without getting very vulgar. So I won't.

I am very disillusioned by it all. I get these emails from right wing friends who I have thought to be reasonable people and begin to wonder what has happened to this country. I think it began with education but also accepting a media that tells people what to think rather than simply what happened. Logic has flown out the window and we are left with hysteria. I was worried for 8 years and thought it would be better with the new president. Now I don't know :( It is not his fault but he has to find his moorings and they are doing all they can to stop him from that.

The kicker is that the people who follow Rushbo et. al. will swear up and down that these are the rational voices of reason and that liberals are the ones who act emotionally. Of course, these are the same people who call Sarah Palin a combination of Esther and Joan of Arc right before they accuse Obama supporters of being caught up in a mindless personality cult.

In reading these responses, and feeling my own frustration mount, I am wondering if we are not forgetting what it was that supported enough change to allow us to see an American president of color within our lifetime. Spending a lot of time focused on outrage did little for any movement away from the political gridlock we experienced. Focusing and cultivating what is needed...intelligent debate springs to mind...and examining and supporting the efforts of the young, who put the muscle and technology to tip us into an opportunity for change might be a healthier approach. Frankly, I think we are erroneous in giving our attentions to the the likes of what mass media serves us (outside of keeping an eye on them). Thank you, Ronni, for these three very important points to ponder.

Regarding the bank bailout question. I just received an encouraging email notifying me about the subject for this week's Bill Moyer's Journal program.

"This week, the Senate responded to the growing demand for a new Pecora Hearing, the 1930s investigation into the causes and effects of the Great Depression. A 92-4 vote in the Senate supported the creation of a bipartisan and independent commission to investigate wrong doing in the lead-up to the economic crisis."

Listening to the main stream media pundits makes me want to scream. I am thankful for Bill Moyer's voice of sanity.

You are so totally on target that the only thing I can say is "what you said."

I know exactly how you feel as I've been reeling from all of the issues to the point of hardly knowing where to start to write about what next.

If there was ever a time when we must not lose hope, it is now.

I could only support that original bailout because I honestly believed there would be accountability. Certainly enough of us wrote stating that expectation and demanding it. How naive could I be?

I also thought all of those passionate exclamations of patriotism and our country meant the speakers would finally seek a middle ground for the sake of preserving our nation. I was painfully naive again.

The Republican Party, regretfully, lost its way many years ago. I, too, have long wondered where are the moderates in this country?

I echo the others who said that you speak for me better than I do. Well done!

Ronnie and everyone:

Please correct your typo. It is Glass-Steagall Act (not Seagal). And yes, I'd love to see it reinstated.

Banks which are "too big to fail" are indeed too big and need to be broken up.

The trend over the last 30+ years to fold smaller banks into larger banks when the smaller banks get into trouble, has put us on this path toward nationalization. We need to find a different way to encourage smaller banks... a form of small businesses that few talk about today.

During the coming months, there will be consequences for Dodd, Frank, and other politicians who led the charge to give TARP money to banks without conditions and without knowing where the $$$ went.

For some humor, here's a good explanation of the Madoff scandal by Sesame Street:


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