Arlen Specter hits back

The Republican party, controlled as it is these days by right-wing extremists, has been threatening Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s last remaining Republican senator, for many years now.
First the so-called “Club for Growth,” a lobby group that for years has pushed for more deregulation and tax cuts for corporations and the rich, backed a far-right nut named Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary, which the incumbent Specter barely won.
Now Republicans had started making noises about attacking Specter again in this election cycle. Well, not anymore–Arlen Specter is changing parties and becoming a Democrat.

Freddie Mac's latest victim

Someone should have thought about the problems these insane government-backed financial leviathans like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would inflict on the economy the day the real estate market went south. Well, I thought about that stuff, but why would anyone listen to some blogger (along with as a lot of other people, many of them much smarter than myself, who were sounding the same kinds of warnings)?
But anyway here we are. Those GSEs pumped up the lavish but ultimately ridiculous real estate market of the last decade across the country. Now the crash is happening, and not only is the result a wave of foreclosures, but also severe financial strain at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–who are no longer “implicitly” backed by the federal government so much as explicitly now since last year’s government bailout.
So now the acting CFO at Freddie Mac has died by apparent suicide.
Gawker thinks it’s too early to conclude that this had anything to do with the company where David Kellermann had worked since around 1993.
Nobody knows yet if Kellerman bent to the stress of his job, or if something else was going on.”
Yeah, but someone will know what he was thinking soon?

Barack Obama and the lame attacks of the right-wing

As I watch the laughable blowups of previous Republican top prospects Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele, I can’t help but wonder a little who will finally lead them at least partly out of the wilderness, David Cameron style.

In the short term, the remaining elected politicians from America’s permanent minority party are simply dispirited. Aware of the utter collapse of their party, they are consigning themselves to bitter, long-term opposition.

Into this void has moved a variety of media characters, always right-wing but now feeling under siege, who have launched one lame, useless attack after another on Barack Obama.

Over all this, Obama presides over a remarkably popular administration. Aside from the embarrassments in the cabinet like Robert Gates (he’s a Republican and former Bush administration member) and Tim Geithner (he’s a former IMF official who is a tax cheat and an incompetent bungler so far at Treasury).

But if we step back for a moment, let’s try to see the whole picture–conservatives are deeply alarmed about the “liberal” administration, and a large stimulus plan has already been passed.

And undaunted by right-wing challenges from the media and a few of the less timid Republicans, the Obama administration could be highly successful in turning back at least some of the de-regulatory madness and right-wing insanity in social and fiscal policy that Republicans have instituted over the last decades.

On the 2008 election

election night demonstration

With the historic election of American’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, the oft-repeated mantra that change is coming is finally seeming real. Winning a clear majority of votes cast, Obama proved himself to be the most compelling Democratic candidate in a generation. Whether they supported him due to his having better policy ideas than those offered by the erratic and unprincipled John McCain, or due to Obama’s steady hand and clear judgment, Obama’s supporters have much reason to be relieved and encouraged.

But the relief on my part goes much further than just happiness to see the back of McCain in national politics. It extends to the fact that no longer will rapacious right-wing ideologues have control of the federal government. Whether undermining environmental regulations, trumping up wars for no good reason aside from assisting contractor cronies, supporting hateful and discriminatory changes to the Constitution, building gulag dungeons that violate the laws of war, or packing courts with far-right clowns like Roberts and Alito, the Bush administration has done something much worse than just destroying respect for America’s government around the world–it has destroyed respect for America’s government among thinking people here at home.

So whatever the specifics of President Obama’s cabinet appointments or initial policy pronouncements, those matters of frenzied speculation in media and on blogs at the moment, no one will doubt that new leadership is ready to move America’s vast, powerful, and largely unaccountable federal government away from the evil ideas of Dick Cheney and toward sane policies that will enrage conservatives and reassure liberals.