Friday, January 19, 2007

Trying to See the Bright Side?

Our Governator has done one or two not-totally-assholish things in this new term so far. Oh, ok, I'll admit it — I've actually been somewhat impressed with a few of his statements in recent weeks.

RELAX. I am not becoming a Republicrat or an unabashed Arnie supporter. I'm just saying he's not a complete idiot, and actually seems to be taking on some of the issues and seems to be researching some of them before shooting off his mouth. That alone makes him seem a lot more intelligent than our federal Commandant in Chief. Maybe the Austrian education system actually turns out critical thinkers?

I also find it interesting that he's been referred to (can't remember if it was he himself who stated it) as "post-partisan," due to certain actions that seem to rankle the Repub rank-and-file.

I'm not overly impressed with Ahnold's insurance plan, only because it seems to pretty much exact a high cost on individuals in terms of premiums and copays. I don't consider "Universal Health Coverage" to be a law requiring people to buy their own health insurance, even if it's at somewhat (minimally?) lower rates subsidized by a tax on the insurance companies and physicians. However, putting the issue on the table (finally!) is at least a step in the right direction. No call for dancing in the streets, but ... it's a bone.

Also, I found some of his statements in the LA Times yesterday about the California prison system interesting:

In an interview with The Times, Schwarzenegger offered a blunt appraisal about
the political roots of California's prison troubles. Schwarzenegger said the prison problem is not "sexy," because it does not affect people's lives directly, as schools or transportation issues do.

"You talk about prisons, people feel like, 'OK, go out and get the criminal and you send him somewhere, but wherever that is, I don't want to look there, I don't want to know. That's your problem,' " he said. "When the people are not excited about it, how do you make the legislators excited about it?" ...

Schwarzenegger has proposed $10.9 billion in new borrowing to expand the prisons, and wants to reexamine the state's penal code to see if sentences for some crimes are too long.

I'm not a fan of building more prisons, but the idea about reexamining the penal code is certainly overdue, and it seems like he has a grasp of the nature of political apathy and the shortsightedness of the electorate.

The point of all this is that it's been something of a surprise for me to realize that instead of being a huge skeptic — or worse, not even listening — for the first time since the regime change after that stoopid recall election, I'm saying: "OK Arnie, I'm listening to you."

Oh, and while I'm confessing sins of politics and logic, I'll admit that President Shrub said something late last week that I (may Dog strike me dead) can actually agree with. In challenging Congressional Democrats to come up with their own Iraq plan, Dubya stated:
"To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible."
To that, I must offer a resounding "Amen." We need to talk more about solutions. As a professor of mine once said, "I don't care so much about what you are against; what are you for?" Iraq and everything it represents truly break my heart.


The Angry Young Man said...

"To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible."

I loathe Bush and look forward to his slow destruction, but he's right on the dot with this. I've been saying the same thing to the Code Pink ladies at Market and Montgomery after asking them whether they think they're preaching to the choir by holding hunger strikes in SF as opposed to say, Bakersfield. I mean, Scat "Call Me!" Moore can't hold down the Central Valley fort while drinking himself into a stupor all alone, now can he?

People forget that the Democrats were just as eager as the Republicans to invade Iraq and seize their resources. It's just like that "One Tin Soldier" song from "Billy Jack"! Now, so many of them want to just up and abandon the country we totally trashed without any thought to the worldwide implications of doing so and why? Because Americans don't like the fact that a few thousand of our soldiers were killed in this war. Well guess what folks, people get killed in wars. If you don't like it, don't start them! Easy as pie! I find our culture of a total lack of self-responsibility to be reprehensible, particularly when we decide to start applying it against the world at large. We need to pay the consequences for our actions and if that equates to more American deaths, so be it. Maybe we'll learn our lesson and choose not to be so bloodthirty next time we decide to invade a country for bogus reasons.

kusala said...

And it still sucks if more of "our" soldiers (not to mention all the Iraqis) end up dying, so it's the proverbial damned if you do and damned if you don't. Do I need to finally read Joseph Heller (is that the right name) to get a good, twisted sense of how ridiculous it all is?

copperred said...

I have to agree with you and the esteemed Economist, when saying the states are far ahead of the federal government when it comes to innovation in health care. Mandating electronic patient records should have been done years ago, and now the only federal pressure is a move to transition federal employees patient records (you want to take federal employee insurance, you must process claims electronically etc.) which is expected soon.

It looks like Congress, with some prodding from the Supremes, is looking into minimum sentencing guidelines, hopefully revising them, clearing up the crack vs. cocaine injustice and a few others. CA prison system is known to be one of the worst in the country.

You don't need Heller, you can enjoy the current situation via The Sandbox

Huntington said...

The "to oppose everything" quote is of limited utility for me. I opposed our invasion in 2003, but had little useful to say about how to deal with Saddam. Nowadays, I oppose the "surge" and tend to agree with the many experts who advocate for our total withdrawal, and soon.

I have no good answer to the question of how the mess in Iraq might be ameliorated, but that doesn't mean I don't see that there is a mess, and that the solutions proposed so far are severely flawed.

Just because you don't have a cloak to offer the Emperor doesn't mean you shouldn't point out that he's not wearing any clothes

kusala said...

Well, it reminds me of a good answer that has probably come to mind -- if not come out of the mouth of -- anyone who's been in a supervisory or decision-making role in the face of grumbling:
"Thank you for your opinion regarding my decision. I also welcome yours. What is your proposed solution."

It's one thing to say, "I don't think that's going to work." It's another thing to not propose any alternative (we're not talking about YOU here, we're talking about a national legislative body). Nature abhors a vacuum, sorry.

This doesn't mean I'm signed on to Bushie's escalation. It just means I'm waiting to hear about more options than just "bring 'em all home NOW."

Huntington said...

Aren't we all? It's not as though the issue hasn't been mulled over by everyone and his brother. The fact that the Democrats haven't presented a satisfactory alternative to "surge or purge" doesn't necessarily mean that the Democrats are being cowardly. It suggests to me that maybe there isn't a satisfactory solution (like making Iraq's neighbors do the dirty work to restore whatever Sunni/Shia balance that used to obtain in the region) that they can force Bush to implement in the short term.

The Angry Young Man said...

"The fact that the Democrats haven't presented a satisfactory alternative to "surge or purge" doesn't necessarily mean that the Democrats are being cowardly."

No, but the fact that they're advocating withdrawal without plans for achieving stability just because they're afraid of losing votes most certainly does. The Democrats are spinless turds and there is no easy solution to this problem. No matter what we do, people, lots of people, are going to die. Too bad.

Huntington said...

My point is that nobody has a plan for achieving stability. It's not as though somebody's got a secret solution that's not being suggested for fear of losing an election. Our choices are:

A. Stick around with more troops, and lots of people die;
B. Withdraw, and lots of people die.

Most Iraqis, most Americans, and most of the rest of the planet want Bush to choose b.