Monday, November 08, 2010

The United Nations Conundrum

President Barack Obama escorts Prime Minister ...Image via WikipediaAmerica never felt like 200 little, small countries got in the way when it has exercised or threatened veto power. But America always complains that the UN is too inefficient as an organization to be propped up, too mushy to be given more power. The powerless, the poor do look poorly managed, don't they? They don't seem to have their s____ together. Should not America take the lead on changing that inefficiency?

The Importance Of The Private Sector

America has not lacked any confidence in its use of veto power. America should not lack confidence to tidy up the UN as an organization. Of course it is poorly managed.

My Third World People Don't Get To Vote In This City

It is kind of like the schools in the poor neighborhoods in this country. Of course they are poorly managed. But their number one ailment is lack of funds, not lack of great management. The management would improve if they had more money.

I do think there is going to have to be a total spread of democracy before the UN can truly
President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minist...Image via Wikipedia be the world government it deserves to be. But you can not wait for that total spread of democracy before you can start giving the UN more teeth, before you can shift the power from the Security Council to the General Assembly, before you bring about fundamental reform in the way the UN works. The hiring and firing practices will have to meet the highest management standards.

The long term idea can not be to add a few more countries to the list of veto carrying powers. The idea has to be get rid of the veto power itself. But then that idea looks far fetched at this juncture, just like the idea of one global currency, a total elimination of all nuclear weapons, elimination of hunger.

But then it is idealism that drives the best kind of pragmatism. You have to have lofty goals to make the best short term moves.

Each country having its own separate currency is quite a ridiculous idea. It makes no economic sense. And some day. Similarly it is a lack of world government that gives rise to all sorts of regional blocs, regional conferences, and yet another global conference on this and that. One world government would be vastly more efficient. And the long term goal is to have rule of law for nations just like we have rule of law for individuals in many countries.

New York Times

Countering China, Obama Backs India for U.N. Council a priority for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ..... a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate ..... Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. .... China has been especially cool to the idea of permanent Security Council membership for rival Asian powers Japan and India. ..... a 10-day trip to Asia that will take him to four countries, all democracies; it is no accident that China is not on the list ...... “India has emerged.” .... India’s foreign policy establishment had been divided on the issue, with some arguing that the United Nations is increasingly outdated compared with groups like the Group of 20, where India is a major player. ...... Obama on Monday signaled the United States’ intention to create a deeper partnership of the world’s two largest democracies that would expand commercial ties and check the influence of an increasingly assertive China. ...... the almost giddy reaction to the president and his wife, Michelle, in the Indian press
President George W. Bush and India's Prime Min...Image via Wikipedia ..... Mr. Singh emphasized the need for the two countries “to work as equal partners in a strategic relationship.” ..... Obama arrived in India on Saturday bearing a big gift: his decision to lift longstanding export controls on sensitive technologies ..... “It’s a bold move — no president has said that before .. It’s a recognition of India’s emergence as a global power and the United States’ desire to be close to India.” ..... during a question and answer session with college students, one demanded to know why he had not declared Pakistan a “terrorist state.”

Between India and the United States, a Defining Partnership two men, neither known for their social ebullience ..... Obama called the relationship between India and the United States “the defining partnership of the 21st century.” ..... Obama has called Mr. Singh his guru ..... Mrs. Gandhi had notoriously noxious relations with President Richard M. Nixon. ..... Singh, a reserved academic 14 years his senior .... Mr. Singh replied that he appreciated Mr. Bush’s straightforward nature. .... Obama and Mr. Singh .... Both are better policy wonks than glad-handing politicians. Both enjoy adulation on the global stage that seems to have eluded them at home.

Our Banana Republic The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. .... the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. .... From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.
Manmohan Singh, current prime minister of India.Image via Wikipedia ..... The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans ..... the levels of inequality we’ve now reached may actually suppress growth. A drop of inequality lubricates economic growth, but too much may gum it up. ..... places where inequality increased the most also endured the greatest surges in bankruptcies. .... Rising inequality also led to more divorces, presumably a byproduct of the strains of financial distress. ..... losing a job or a home can rock our identity and savage our self-esteem. ..... we’ve reached a banana republic point where our inequality has become both economically unhealthy and morally repugnant.

Senator Gillibrand Has New York Home on the Market about two hours’ drive from New York City

What Obama Can Learn From India Many American business executives now consider India the "new China" -- an increasingly important manufacturing and service hub as well as consumer market for their products .... India's economy is growing at an impressive 9 percent this year.

My Endless New York London was the commercial and financial center of the world from the defeat of Napoleon until the rise of Hitler ..... By the time I got to Paris, most people in the world had stopped speaking French (something the French have been slow to acknowledge). .... The French have a word for the disposition to look insecurely inward, to be preoccupied with self-interrogation: nombrilisme — “navel-gazing.” They have been doing it for over a century. .... It looks outward, and is thus attractive to people who would not feel comfortable further inland. It has never been American in the way that Paris is French ..... They shout at one another all day in Sicilian dialect, drowning out their main source of entertainment and information: a 24-hour Italian-language radio station. ..... the cultures of contemporary London are balkanized by district and income — Canary Wharf, the financial hub, keeps its distance from the ethnic enclaves at the center. Contrast Wall Street, within easy walking distance of my neighborhood. As for Paris, it has its sequestered quarters where the grandchildren of Algerian guest workers rub shoulders with Senegalese street vendors, while Amsterdam has its Surinamese and Indonesian districts: but these are the backwash of empire, what Europeans now refer to as the “immigrant question.” .... at night they return home to Queens or New Jersey .... New York — a city more at home in the world than in its home country ..... As a European, I feel more myself in New York than in the European Union’s semi-detached British satellite, and I have Brazilian and Arab friends here who share the sentiment.
Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia... there is no other city where I could imagine living .... . Chance made me an American, but I chose to be a New Yorker. I probably always was.

For Afghan Wives, a Desperate, Fiery Way Out a horrifying escape: from poverty, from forced marriages, from the abuse and despondency that can be the fate of Afghan women. .... The choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted: Their family is their fate. .... Her primary job is to serve her husband’s family. Outside that world, she is an outcast. ..... The most sinister burn cases are actually homicides masquerading as suicides .... the extremes that in-laws often inflict on their son’s wives .... at least 45 percent of Afghan women marry before they are 18; a large percentage before they are 16. Many girls are still given as payment for debts, which sentences them to a life of servitude and, almost always, abuse. ...... “No one in our family has asked for divorce. So how can I be the first?” ..... “The thing that forced me to set myself on fire was when my father-in-law said: ‘You are not able to set yourself on fire,’ ” she recalled. ..... “My marriage was for other people. They should never have given me in a child marriage.” ..... Many women mistakenly think death will be instant. ..... Halima, 20, a patient in the hospital in August, said she considered jumping from a roof but worried she would only break her leg. If she set herself on fire, she said, “It would all be over.” ..... Iran shares in the culture of suicide by burning. ...... Even badly burned and infected patients can speak almost up to the hour of their death, often giving families false hopes....Two weeks after his mother set herself on fire, he stood by her bed as she stopped breathing.

Paul Krugman: Doing It Again as in the 1930s, every proposal to do something to improve the situation is met with a firestorm of opposition and criticism. As a result, by the time the actual policy emerges, it’s watered down to such an extent that it’s almost guaranteed to fail. ..... the small rise in federal spending was effectively offset by cuts at the state and local level, so that there was no real stimulus to the economy.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manm...Image via Wikipedia..... The case for a more expansionary policy by the Fed is overwhelming. Unemployment is disastrously high, while U.S. inflation data over the past few years almost perfectly match the early stages of Japan’s relentless slide into corrosive deflation. ..... conventional monetary policy is no longer available ..... the Fed is shifting from its usual policy of buying only short-term debt, and is now buying long-term debt ...... the Pain Caucus — my term for those who have opposed every effort to break out of our economic trap — is going wild. ..... our domestic inflationistas — the people who have spent every step of our march toward Japan-style deflation warning about runaway inflation just around the corner ...... The only way the Fed might accomplish more is by changing expectations — specifically, by leading people to believe that we will have somewhat above-normal inflation over the next few years, which would reduce the incentive to sit on cash. ..... He’s facing intense, knee-jerk opposition to his efforts to rescue the economy. In an effort to mute that criticism, he’s scaling back his plans in such a way as to guarantee that they’ll fail. ...... as the slump goes on and on.

Where Marijuana Is a Point of Pride almost one in 20 residents qualify for cannabis treatment .... a disproportionate amount of debilitating pain diagnosed in men in their 20s ..... Nederland’s ganja-tinged reputation

In Lame-Duck Session, a Hint of the Governing to Come Conservatives warned that Democrats might use the session to push through their cap-and-trade plan to curb climate change by limiting carbon dioxide emissions; environmentalists hoped that was possible....A fuller picture will unfold as Republican leaders grapple with the demands of the Tea Party and Democrats cope with internal tensions caused by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to run as her party’s leader in the House, despite last week’s drubbing.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Time To Attempt A New Tone In Washington

Barack Obama campaigned for president to bring a new tone in Washington. He promised a new kind of politics. But it obviously takes two hands to clap. And it is not like he did not make attempts. There were major pre-emptive tax cuts in the stimulus bill. He put those in there to gain Republican support he did not get.

Now when the Republicans have the House, and credit can more equitably be distributed among both parties, it is time to attempt that new tone thing again.

It requires really listening to the other side. Ideological fervor can lead to sound bites that make no policy sense. But those emotional outbursts are necessary to the political process perhaps, and at some level have to be seen in perspective.

There is a time for campaigning and there is a time for governing. No party has a mandate to outrun the other party. But both parties have a responsibility to the people. Vigorous debates are good. But then you sit down across the table and stop posing for the cameras and craft meaningful legislation in the spirit of genuinely listening, and getting things done.

But then the president also has to draw the line if he feels like the other side has started to overreach. The people elected him for four years and will re-elect him for four more. Two years are not his full term. He has the power to attempt a new tone, and he has the power to draw the line if necessary.

This electoral outcome is an excellent opportunity for the president to attempt a new tone in Washington that was his signature on the campaign trail when he ran for president.

The new tone is about not talking past each other, but talking to each other, listening to each other, doing due diligence and working out the kinks, and attempting middle ground legislations on the big issues of the day, and yes that includes immigration reform next year.

On his part the president has to carry out the work of eliminating the deficit when the time is right, which is when the country is squarely out of the recession.

Both parties have to work to get the unemployment rate down to 5%. That is the number one item on the agenda.

New York Times

Black and Republican and Back in Congress For the first time in over a decade, the incoming class of Congress will include two black Republicans ..... While the number of African-Americans in Congress has steadily increased since the civil rights era, black Republicans have been nearly as rare as quetzal birds. .... Of all the blacks ever to serve in Congress, 98 have been Democrats and 27 have been Republicans; there are 42 African-American members in the current lame-duck Congress..... “His opponent was Pelosi-Obama liberal,” Mr. Thrasher added, “and Allen gave them a different understanding of how government could be.” .... Mr. West said he was more surprised that he won as a Republican in a district carried by the Democratic presidential nominee three elections in a row than as an African-American in a district with a white majority. But, he added, “I am honored to be first black Republican congressman from the state of Florida since Reconstruction. There is a historic aspect of it.”

Paul Krugman: The Focus Hocus-Pocus act of intellectual cowardice — a way to criticize President Obama’s record without explaining what you would have done differently ..... severe crises are typically followed by multiple years of very high unemployment ..... he could have chosen to be bold — to make Plan A the passage of a truly adequate economic plan, with Plan B being to place blame for the economy’s troubles on Republicans if they succeeded in blocking such a plan. ..... I felt a sense of despair during Mr. Obama’s first State of the Union address, in which he declared that “families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.” Not only was this bad economics — right now the government must spend, because the private sector can’t or won’t

Barack Obama, Phone Home Nothing says “outsourcing” to the American public more succinctly than India. .... the seemingly irrational calculus of Tuesday’s exit polls. Voters gave Democrats and Republicans virtually identical favorability ratings while voting for the G.O.P. .... Traditional Republican boilerplate — lower taxes, less spending, smaller government — was chanted louder and louder, to pander to the Tea Party rebels, but with zero specifics of how it might be carried out. .... Even in victory, most Republicans can’t explain exactly what they want to do .... DeMint published a book last year detailing his view that Social Security be privatized to slow America’s descent into socialism. Paul can elaborate on his ideas for reducing defense spending and cutting back on drug law enforcement. Bachmann will explain her plans for weaning Americans off Medicare.

The Pelosi-Bachmann Conundrum Bachmann is the most visible Tea Party leadership in the House, second nationally only to Sarah Palin in terms of visibility.....our third straight “throw the bums out” election

‘Blindsided’: A President’s Story

Exporting Our Way to Stability: discovering, creating and building products that are sold all over the world. ... every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs at home.... some of the fastest-growing markets in the world are in Asia

The Grizzly Manifesto This week, Bachmann triggered a blog explosion when she claimed, on CNN, that the president’s trip to India is going to “cost the taxpayers $200 million a day.” This is more than it costs to prosecute the war in Afghanistan. ..... Men don’t cringe on behalf of their sex when Newt Gingrich goes Islamophobic, or Carl Paladino threatens to take out a reporter.

How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms the presidency of George W. Bush produced the worst stock market decline of any president in history. The net worth of American households collapsed as Bush slipped away. And if you needed a loan to buy a house or stay in business, private sector borrowing was dead when he handed over power..... More than 1 million jobs would have disappeared had the domestic auto sector been liquidated. .... “An apology is due Barack Obama,” wrote The Economist, which had opposed the $86 billion auto bailout. .... Corporate profits are lighting up boardrooms; it is one of the best years for earnings in a decade. ..... Of course, nobody gets credit for preventing a plane crash. ..... Billions of profits, windfalls in the stock market, a stable banking system — but no jobs. .... He should hector the companies sitting on piles of cash but not hiring new workers.

Jobs Data Highlights the Challenges for Washington Nearly 15 million people are still out of work, and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 9.6 percent..... Economists themselves cannot agree about what kinds of policy measures would rescue the job market. .... battle cries over “currency wars” ..... many of the nation’s long-term unemployed have become increasingly desperate.

What’s a Pooled Trust? A Way to Avoid the Nursing Home
Yes, a Recovery Did Begin
Is the Recovery Losing Steam?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bobby Jindal: Streamliner

The American Spectator: Dazzling in a Dark Suit
the top floor of the 100 Club, an elegant private club that overlooks the brick-and-cobblestone streets of downtown Portsmouth, N.H. .... one youthful, thin male with the distinct appearance of an aide to a powerful man. One might have thought he was the assistant to whichever man accompanied the dazzling, dark brunette in the flame-red dress ...... almost everyone's attention was directed to the thin man in the middle ..... Those who weren't watching him were watching the woman in the red dress ...... the most striking woman in the building was with none of the taller, more imposing-looking men, but with the unassuming, almost frail one whose off-the-rack navy suit hung loosely from his frame, giving him something of the appearance of a teenage boy going to his first semi-formal dance. ........ a haphazard queue facing the thin, dark-skinned cou
President George W. Bush (right) is greeted by...Image via Wikipediaple, whom anyone could now identify as the most-VIP in the VIP reception. ....... the man who might one day be the most recognizable, and powerful, person on the planet. ...... All had come to see the man who didn't even fill out his suit ..... his first speech ever in New Hampshire ..... Granite State political operatives size up candidates on how well they can work a room, tell a story, make people smile. ..... swiftly, deftly, and without the slightest hint of insincerity or effort ..... Jindal warmed up the crowd with jokes about being a politician from a state famous for its corrupt politicians. ..... coming across as both reluctant hero and common-sense everyman who doesn't know much, but knows incompetence when he sees it. ...... self-deprecating stories ...... By the time Jindal left, the room was practically vibrating with energy. Every person I spoke with after the event was impressed with the performance, and these are people who have weathered many primaries and met many presidents.
Governing: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's Evolving Leadership
Today another Louisiana governor with presidential ambitions occupies the fourth floor of the Capitol skyscraper that Huey Long built. ...... s Jindal’s bold plans to downsize and transform state government. ..... the nation’s boldest effort at streamlinin
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, at campaign e...Image via Wikipediag .... was elected Louisiana’s 55th governor in 2007, he was widely viewed as the Republican answer to Barack Obama. They both have fairly exceptional backgrounds: Obama is half-Kenyan; Jindal is Indian. Obama served as president of the Harvard Law Review; Jindal was a Rhodes scholar. ........ Jindal has developed one of the most sterling resumés in American politics. In 1996, at the age of 24, he was appointed as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Stints followed as executive director of a national commission on Medicare reform, as president of the University of Louisiana System, and as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2003, he returned to Louisiana and, in his campaign to become governor, suffered an unexpected loss to Kathleen Blanco. He ran for Congress instead and won handily. Four years later, he ran for governor again, and this time was swept into the governor’s mansion with a huge majority. An uninspired response on national television to Obama’s first State of the Union address damaged the new governor’s standing with the chattering classes. An energetic response to the BP oil spill resurrected it. While pundits parse his performances before the cameras, a far more interesting exercise has been playing out in Louisiana. ......... Two years ago, the Jindal administration began one of the most serious efforts to streamline state government in the country. ....... his administration has doubled down on his effort to make government smaller ...... his obvious brilliance and deep background ....... his anti-tax, smaller-government resolve has made him the most popular politician in Louisiana, an incumbent who is a virtual shoo-in for re-election next year ..... Streamlining is strategic. It involves establishing priorities, and then determining how to and who can best achieve them with the resources available. Budget cutting is short term and ad hoc. It often involves accounting gimmicks and across-the-board cuts aimed at balancing budgets for the fiscal year with no regard for what follows. Budget cutting happens during times of crisis. Streamlining tends to happen just after the crisis has 
Bobby Jindal at Department of Health and Human...Image via Wikipediapassed, when revenues are rebounding but memories of hard times remain. ....... performance-based budgeting known as “budgeting for outcomes.” ...... the usual budgeting process, a system where departments propose to spend what they spent last year -- or more, if they can -- and look to the legislature to keep funding those expenditures. This “continuation” budgeting process ...... y having her agency define its priorities and force divisions to compete for the resources to deliver them ..... . Health outcomes in the state have been abysmal ...... Outspoken, combative and savvy, Levine was fearless in pushing his conservative agenda. ..... His first step was to call the Legislature into special session to pass an ethics bill. ..... Jindal delegated dealing with legislators to staff. ..... Jindal has focused on articulating broad conservative principles. “No one ever sees him as failing,” he adds, “because he’s committed to principles,” not specific programs. .... Jindal “learned early on that getting into details can get you into trouble” ...... he has focused on the trinity of issues at the heart of modern conservatism: taxes, guns and pro-life issues ...... his leadership style -- hands-on in responding to disaster, hands-off in making policy -- ..... Davis was able to trim the state workforce by eliminating 6,000 authorized postings, outsourcing numerous functions to the private sector. Levine reduced the size of his health department by 25 percent and set the state Medicaid program on the path to managed care. ..... . “We tried in six months to build a new budget process” ...... Tucker voted against the budget. One week later, Jindal retaliated by using his line-item veto to strike funding for several projects in Tucker’s district.
Bobby 2016, Until Then Adios

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The Importance Of The Private Sector

A young World Bank protester in Jakarta, Indon...Image via WikipediaTo me it feels like Bill Clinton makes fun of the United Nations every year. Just when the UN is having its most important week of the year, Bill Clinton goes ahead and hosts his conference and goes on to raise more money for his foundation than is the UN's annual budget. Here is a retired white guy. I mean.

The guy should have restructured the World Bank and the IMF when he was president so as to let the Global South have a greater sense of ownership with those global institutions.

All member governments need to give 1% of their GDP equivalent to the UN like citizens pay taxes in democracies.

Like Al Pacino say in a mafia movie, "I will give you money, but not power."

The US continued to not pay the UN what the US owed to the UN in obligations - taxes, if you will - when Bill Clinton was president.

No less than a Nobel Prize winning black woman called Bill Clinton "America's first black president" to honor this white guy from the South who has taken pains throughout his life to go out of his way to try and suggest maybe his heart is alright.
NEW YORK - JUNE 15:  Former U.S. President Bil...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeHe is not like the white guys who stood in MLK's path every way they could.

His heart might be clean, but he did not exactly lead the efforts for structural changes at the global level that might have sped up the process of global poverty elimination.

A few billion dollars raised by the Clinton Foundation or a few tens of billions of dollars raised by the Gates Foundation will, at the end of the day, will not be the decisive blow to global poverty.

Poverty will not be eliminated because some white guys retired. Poverty will be eliminated because many people decided to make careers out of the cause. And perhaps the fundraising efforts send a clear message it is the private sector that will play the decisive role in poverty elimination. There are many for profit ways.

IMF Headquarters, Washington, DC.Image via WikipediaPolio could be cured. Poverty can be eliminated. And it can happen faster than many people imagine.

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Happy Diwali

Hope Lives On In Iran

This one minute video is proof hope lives on in Iran. And this is a smart move. This is not exactly indoors, but this is not out in the street. For now don't go out into the street. Build solidarity off the streets. The time to come out into the streets will come again. And that time will be decisive. But that time is not now.

Shout Allah O Akbar From The Rooftops Every Night 10-10:30 PM

Monday, November 01, 2010

Telling Ads

I have not paid too much attention to this election except to root a little bit for a guy I rooted a lot for in the 2008 election cycle. But it is not like I have not paid any attention at all. Everyone seems to be resigned to the Republicans taking over the House. The pendulum of democracy is about to swing, looks like. But if that be the outcome, it will shake the Republican establishment as much as the Democratic establishment. Cost cutting is going to get more politically urgent.

Precisely The Time For Progressive Fervor
The Tea Party Is Getting America Talibanized

Source: Foreign Policy: 'The Arabs (and Indians and Chinese) Are Coming!'