Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

Archive for December, 2010

Share victory, share defeat

John Redwood has beef:

… The former [conservative party] leadership contender, today expressed irritation with the way in which Lib Dems were allowed to take credit for the “nice” things done by the coalition. “One of the things I do not like is the ‘new narrative’ that Lib Dems have come into the government to bridle the instincts of Conservatives,” he said. “This storyline entails allowing Lib Dems to claim credit for all the nice things that happen.”

Maybe, but I’m not currently seeing that narrative in action myself; Nick Clegg seems less like someone who could claim credit for reigning in the Conservatives, and more like a human shield for the more unpopular coalition policies.


John McCain crashes again

Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law passes the senate. My my, it feels as though been a little while since something I can get behind without misgivings has passed through US congress.

Quick thoughts:

I heard Joe Lieberman was instrumental in the success of this repeal. Obama’s long game paying off?

The repeal was originally attached to a defense spending bill, which was killed in the senate, made into a stand-alone bill which passed the house and now passed the senate. How’d the republican’s get away with killing a defense bill in wartime?

Just what is John McCain’s problem?


Concerning that tax deal

Co-signing on Kevin Drum’s take:

You can’t pretend you’re willing to go to the mat against high-end tax cuts when there are half a dozen Democratic senators who support high-end tax cuts and Republicans know there are half a dozen Democratic senators who support high-end tax cuts. To fix this, you need more liberal Democrats, not tougher leadership.

I’ll add to that the difficulty of pretending to be willing to go to the mat when no deal means many desperate people will be denied some relief – over the holiday season no less. I too share Drum’s sympathy for compromise positions that help people in the here and now, though the thought that the cost of the continued tax cuts will most likely be paid by the working poor and middle class gives me pause.

Oh, and it cannot be said enough just how much the US Senate needs to be reformed. I understand that it slows things down by design, but I’m sure the filibuster shenanigans of late is not what the designers had in mind.

It looks a lot to me like a Culture of No, where Republican intransigence has given virtual veto power to lone dissenters within the Democratic Party, whose dissent is not aimed at encouraging an exploration of options, but defending parochial interests at the expense of the party as a whole… Yes, Senator Nelson, I’m looking at you.

 


Prison reform

I just watched a very interesting interview with Ken Clarke on Channel 4 News about his proposed reforms to the prison system. It’s a fascinating break from the tough-sounding “prisons work” paradigm of the Conservative party, and it could be interesting to see how his ideas play out if implemented.

One concern of mine however is the proposed voluntary and private sector running of unpaid work sentences, which could have similar effects to the work for benefits proposals.


How ’bout dem Leakers?

I’m pretty meh about Wikileaks, however as someone who believes in diplomacy, I do worry that this release of diplomatic cables will make it harder for officials to do their work. If I were, say a member of an opposition party in a country with a repressive regime, I may think twice about sharing my unfiltered opinions… Then I read things like this.

It appears, somewhat unsurprisingly, that the State Department did its best to obstruct investigations into the death of a Spanish cameraman, José Cuoso, killed in 2003 as a result of the mistaken shelling of Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel by a U.S. tank; an investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; and a probe into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for extraordinary renditions flights.

It wouldn’t take a super-sleuth to have guessed that there would be some pressure from the U.S. to stop the investigations. However the articles quoted at the link detail a highly coordinated  effort.

I have no problem with this being made known to the Spanish and American publics. My first thought is that if this is being done in their names then the officials behind the moves should be happy to be accountable, right?

Is information, or The Truth, always good? Perhaps not, however as Digby writes in her excellent post on the media’s reactions to Wikileaks:

If you are a person who believes our current system is working well and that the mandarins, technocrats and their wealthy benefactors are competent and righteous and that we can safely leave our futures in their hands, then you will not like what Assange is up to. If, on the other hand, you are a teensy bit concerned that these elites might not know what they are doing (or even worse, might know very well what they are doing and it’s clearly not in your best interest) then you may find it useful to look at the way the world is organized with a fresh set of data.

I guess I can kiss my chances of a career in Her Majesty’s diplomatic service goodbye.