Sign the Petition

It’s a petition. Like attending a protest, every so often it’s appropriate to make a statement. I say that even though I’ve told the lightbulb[0] joke and only attended one protest “in earnest”. We stand on the precipice of what is likely the greatest financial crisis in generations. The multi-billion dollar losses you may have heard about on the news? That’s the sound of cracks forming. The actual collapse will be truly spectacular.

You can find it at http://financialpetition.org. It calls on Congress to restore responsible lending practices, ban off-balance-sheet vehicles, restore the recently-gutted remnants of Depression-era banking regulation, and most importantly, to allow failure. Realize that at this point, scary as it may be, you are the adult in the room. So step up.

[0] “How many protesters does it take to change a lightbulb?”
“None, protesters can’t change anything.”

The Arab Army That Could

What Hezbollah has accomplished is interesting in two ways. First, it has demonstrated a viable and low-cost defense strategy against a modern military. Ian Welsh has written an excellent assessment of the situation at the Agonist. Second, it represents the first time an Arab force has been able to go up against the IDF with demonstrable success. The importance of this should not be underestimated; the idea of Israeli invincibility has influenced decision-making throughout the region for many years. Israel is not yet vulnerable, but it will be, and everyone knows it. Combined with demographic shifts, the Israelis have no more than a half-century in which to engineer a peace. (I do not mean that it is their responsibility; I mean that it is necessary for their survival.)

Overthrowing Incumbents

It is with much relief that I note the overthrow of a few incumbents in last night’s Primaries. While Ned Lamont had an early 20 point lead over Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut race, the gap narrowed as the evening wore on before settling on a 4 point difference. I was interested in this race, as it was an important indicator of the forces working to revitalize the Democratic Party.

The focus on Lieberman has been nationwide, even if the voters where limited to a single state. For them, the issues may have been simpler; a move against a representative who had ceased to represent. For the nation as a whole, his defeat removed a “Fox News Democrat” from the party and showed the growing influence of the progressive movement in challenging the flawed strategies of the major Democratic institutions.

Also, in a strike against the other extreme of the party, Cynthia McKinney has also been defeated in Georgia. The victor, Hank Johnson, ran on a platform of “anyone but McKinney” to claim 59% of the vote. Reports indicate Johnson is a moderate who should help bring some dignity to the seat.

Doctrine Calcifies

This is prompted in part by the recent news of the Episcopalian House of Deputies voting to reject a ban on gay clergy, a few days following the announcement that a human female was elected to lead the Episcopal Church.

The Protestant Reformation can be viewed, in part, as a reaction to corrupted doctrines within the Catholic Church. To fully understand the Reformation, one must also realize the social, political, and economic mores of the era, which provided the driving motivation for a schism that took doctrinal differences for its raiment. However, the perception of a reality often matters more than reality itself, especially in matters that involve the masses. With the growth of large-scale democratic institutions, we must realize that the original forces at play are no longer relevant, while the public perceptions of them have taken on an existence of their own.

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A Reporter In Need of A History Lesson

There are a few news stories on the wire today about Robert Byrd becoming the longest-serving U.S. Senator. What grabbed my eye was this paragraph:

In many ways Byrd is out of synch with today’s political scene, quoting from the Bible and citing Roman history in his speeches. He carries a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket.
-Andrew Taylor, AP

I have some words for Mr. Taylor, and they’re not exactly complimentary.

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