Why Does the President Want Free Community College?

business, culture, economics, politics

indexA few years ago, Mark Cuban gave what he called “soapbox advice” to the Occupy Movement by way of a long blog post.  In it, he also talked about the idea that college loans had basically become predatory.

Since then, I’ve noticed out-of-area colleges advertising on billboards like never before.  All of the marketing going on in higher education has solidified my view that higher education is truly in an unsustainable market bubble.

For that reason, I support the President’s plan to make community college free.  He’s deflating the bubble before it bursts. He’s also right to say that we need more people in essential professions than the current way of doing things can reasonably produce.  And Cuban’s right about loan debt precluding recent grads, or grads 10 or more years out of college, from participating in the economy.

The system of pricing and paying for higher education is broken. Like the broken housing market before it, it’s leading more and more people to economic calamity with a sort of “trust us” je ne sais quoi. Before he’s through, I expect Barack Obama to enact the largest presidential pardon in history: the near total forgiveness of outstanding student loans according to some qualifying formula.

Stark Trek Into Darkness (with spoilers)

advocacy, culture, justice

Amy Davidson of The New Yorker wants to know if we think it’s about drones.

Yes. Yes, of course it’s about drones, and war, and war and war and war.  It’s about Bush and Iraq and 9/11 and Obama and Afghanistan and Neocons and the liberals who have become Neocons since 2008.

The drone war being executed by the current Administration is morally repugnant.  That Spock, dear, sweet, logical Spock — who saw his homeworld blown to hell — points this out to Kirk, is important.  That Scotty, emotional and quintessentially human, refuses to go along with the mission on his own grounds, and actually quits his comission over it,  is the writers trying to tell us that these are no small stakes, that reservations against the ways we are conducting ourselves on the global stage are varied and valid.  He says of the new miracle torpedos:  “I don’t know what’s in them, so I’m not signing for them.”  Think about how that squares against our current corporate culture. What’s really in our water?  What’s really in our air?  What’s really in our food?

What’s really in us?

Davidson says the only real message we leave Into Darkness with is that Kirk being Kirk just works for Kirk, but no so much for Obama.  I left thinking the message was pretty clear, especially given the on-screen dedication before the final credits.  Abrams, Lindelof, Orici, et al are pretty clear.  I’d imagine Rodenberry being so as well.

Republican Values and the Phantom Free Market: Thoughts for Bobby Jindal

culture, economics, justice, politics, writing
English: Governor Bobby Jindal at the Republic...

English: Governor Bobby Jindal at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Mitt Romney’s comments about brown people loving free stuff, Bobby Jindal made an excellent point: conservatives need to win hearts by explaining precisely why they believe their policies are tailor-made to help the rich and poor.  Reader, it doesn’t matter to me if you buy the premise that conservative policies, if done right, will bring about economic justice (isn’t that what folks often say about socialism?).  What matters is that Bobby Jindal believes that, as do many rank and file everyday working Republicans.  I don’t think Mitt Romney has ever believed it.  I think George W. Bush probably did.  I don’t think Karl Rove even things about such things.

Governor Jindal, here’s what has to happen.  Show people that conservatives are committed to the economic freedom of the working poor, the out-of-work poor, the white and brown poor and everyone else. Take a bunch of Super Pac money and establish privately funded business incubators in urban cores across America.  When they’re successful without government funding, you’ll have an argument, a thousand case studies, and, presumably, more Republicans.  You’ll have donors wanting to replicate this subversive patronage in everywhere.  If Democrats win in community centers, in church basements, in volunteer organizations, why how Republicans never, ever tried winning in cities through business development for people in poverty?

Is it because Republicans believe poor people are poor precisely because they are unable to be anything else?  Because Republicans believe poor people are lazy, inept, unwilling to work and unable to succeed?  I’m connecting narrative dots for you, here, GOP.  Bobby, call me.  I have a million of these.

For decades, the loudest Republican voices have been saying “the free market works and the free market will help poor people if you let the free market be free.”  And for decades, the loudest Republican voices have been benefiting from a market that’s unfree by their own design (ahem, corporate welfare).

If the market isn’t free to begin with, and you’ve been party to that poorly-kept rhetorical secret and it’s gotten you is a bunch of rich people donating to your PACs and failing to resonate with anything that looks like “America,” why not take the same concept and apply to it to business development for the working poor?

There’s an old bit of narrative advice we all end up learning: it’s better to show than to tell.  Show us your policies work.  Show us you give a damn.  We know many of you do.  Show us you’re right.  I’m talking about systemic change here, friends, from the other side of quasi-free-market conservatism.  Think it can’t work?

That one party should be so clearly identified with (and beholden to) any particular monolith (class, race, geography etc) is piss poor for democracy.  Let the Republicans have at community organizing, business mentoring, and so on.  It will help the urban core (I don’t see how it could hurt) and it might help people realize that the false-choice narrative crammed down our throats by both major parties and their media proxies is, in fact, garbage.

Romney, With Quite Literally Nothing Left To Lose, Is Still Romney

economics, healthcare, politics, writing

“Yeah, I mean, you know…if you take these people making $20,000, $30,000 a year and offer them free healthcare, because, you know, most of them don’t have it…and if they do, it’s not good or affordable….and you give them free healthcare, like healthcare is some kind of right, well, of course they’re going to vote for you.

What? No…no I don’t have a better plan for getting these people covered.  I’m just saying, you know, it’s worth $10 grand, maybe more.  That’s the market.  That’s just the market.  They can go to the ER if they have to.

No. No, I haven’t heard that it costs society more to have uninsured people use the ER like a free clinic than it doesn’t to just cover them.  It’s the market!  People gotta get paid.

Brown people? Of course the free healthcare bit was huge for them. Huge. I mean, come on.  And don’t even get me started on the student loan stuff.  No, I don’t pay federal income tax as such.

This is basically what he just said.  Bobby Jindal is not amused.

Gov. Jindal, Gov. Romney was never able to explain that well-meaning conservatives are conservative because they believe conservatism raises all boats, and this inability has everything to do with the fact that Romney is without core political convictions. Jindal says Romney’s campaign narrative was too long on biography.  There’s a reason for that.

No, We Didn’t

advocacy, justice, politics

The Green Party didn’t even crack one half of 1 percent.  But they did better than the last two cycles.  Does that matter?  I don’t know.  I’ll partly agree with reader and frequent conversant Mr. Salk: the best way forward for minor parties is grassroots. But they also need, and in my opinion, deserve, national attention.  Anyone on the ballot in most or all states should be part of the major debates, period.  I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind on that.

Here’s what else didn’t happen:  the Green Party didn’t hurt Obama.  Billions of dollars spent on the federal race by the major parties.  Dems retain Senate, GOP retains House, Obama retains White House.

That’s not to say the next Obama administration won’t be a welcome departure from the first.  I hope and pray it will.

Now that Mitt Romney’s 5-year tour of political cynicism has ended, I hope the President’s 4-year tour of political expediency has, too.

Lawrence O’Donnell Takes Off The Gloves: National Defense Authorization Act, Soft Journalism, and the Spoonfed Two Party System

advocacy, election, politics

Taking a cue from the pages of Superman, Lawrence O’Donnell lambasted the mainstream media Wednesday night for their failure to cover the Third Parties debate and for failing to address this little nightmare:

Imagine if Congress passed a bill that the president signed that allowed indefinite detention without charge or trial. That would be issue one at any presidential debate, wouldn’t it? The media’s favorite debate moderator, Martha Raddatz, would have forced a full discussion of that one at the vice presidential debate, wouldn’t she? Well, Congress did pass that law last year and President Obama signed it and he never mentioned it on his list of his accomplishments in any of the debates. And he was never asked about it, not by the media’s second favorite debate moderator, Candy Crowley, and not by Mitt Romney. It never came up at the two-party presidential debates.

Watch the video here.  It starts with the drug war (I’m not for legalization, but am for reform), and if that bothers you, fast forward to the part about the National Defense Authorization Act.  I kind of like how someone on Examiner.com put it:

But in the most shocking segment, O’Donnell laid out a serious charge against President Obama and the failure of the media and the public to hold him responsible due to a certain law that he signed called the National Defense Authorization Act, which according to O’Donnell will allow the government to detain, interrogate, prosecute or just make people who it suspects to be terrorists disappear without a trial of any kind, and this includes American citizens! O’Donnell then blasted all of the moderators of the three presidential debates between Obama and Romney for not bringing this issue up, and then he blasted the cowardly Mitt Romney for also being to [sic] sheepish to ask President Obama about this issue, instead of crowing about how he would repeal Obamacare, when he should be repealing this monstrosity.”

O’Donnell encouraged people to vote for third party candidates, especially in swing states.

Good for you, Larry.  Even if you were a few hours late to the party:

Why You Should Vote Third Party

advocacy, politics

“I just wish there were a viable third party”

“I just wish a vote for a third party wasn’t a wasted vote.”

“I just wish a vote for Gary Johnson wasn’t a vote for Barack Obama.”

“I just wish a vote for Jill Stein wasn’t a vote for Mitt Romney.”

Tonight, Larry King is moderating the “third party” debate in Chicago.   Watch it.  Read about it.  Engage it.  Then, two weeks from today, vote third party.  Not because your third party candidate will win the presidency, but because winning is a matter of scale.  Did you know that a 5% showing for a minor party in a federal election grants that party $20 million in federal election funds for the next cycle?

That’s huge.

Frankly, it’s scandalous and patently criminal that anyone on the ballot in as many states as these candidates are aren’t permitted to debate Romney and Obama.  If ever Jill Stein were right about anything, it’s that America’s two major parties are both wholly corporate and morally bankrupt in the national setting.

Now stop complaining and go vote for someone who doesn’t think drones are a great idea.