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How Progressives Can Effect Change with Obama as President

Originally written for the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii blog on July 25, 2011

It has been suggested that the previous post should have been geared more along the lines of this topic. After thinking about, it, I decided that instead of rewriting it, I should simply write a follow-up post. For starters, I think it is important to say, again, and with no equivocation, that Obama isn’t progressive, even though there are those who believe he is, “in his heart of hearts.” Using this notion as a starting point for action is, in my opinion, a mistake and progressives will serve their causes much better if they first abandon it.

I’ll be referring to PDH for my examples, but the concepts will obviously apply to other organizations, as well as individuals.

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Obama Is Not Progressive

Originally written for the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii Blog, July 17, 2011

Thinking or hoping otherwise will not make this statement any less true. Barack Obama is not progressive. For my part, I never believed he was and one only need look at his time in office thus far for evidence.

Let’s start with health care, if only because the issue is at, or near, the top of my priority list. While it’s true there are some good things in the Affordable Health Care Act, like extending to 26 the age under which parents can choose to continue to cover their children, or eliminating the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage because of a preexisting condition, there’s no denying that when it’s all said and done, it is little more than a massive handout to health insurance companies.

While on the campaign trail, Obama said he’d prefer a single-payer-type system of health care if he had his choice, but when the debate on health care reform was in full swing in 2009, he denied making any such statement. And while there was some lip service from the White House paid to a “public option” to compete with private insurance, no such option was remotely considered seriously, despite polls which consistently showed a majority of Americans supported such an option.

Economy General Topics National Issues

Who’s To Blame?

I received an email a while back from my stepfather with an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune. The basic thrust of the piece was that the President, and public at large, were pointing the finger of blame for the financial meltdown in the wrong direction. Instead of pointing them at the banks and large financial firms, we should be directing the blame toward all those selfish, unaccountable individuals who bought homes with adjustable rate mortgages. Those stupid, self-interested bastards!

Just like it was the unions and workers who should be blamed for the ruin of General Motors and the other American car companies, not the companies themselves selling gas-guzzling cars no one wanted.

The opinion piece has a whining tone, it seems to me. Oh, those poor banks and financial giants are always being picked on.

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The Race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I should say right up front  that I do not and will not support Ed Case in his bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional seat in 2010. I didn’t support him when he ran against Senator Akaka in 2006 and I in fact worked on Akaka’s campaign. I feel I should say, however, that politically, he’s not totally bad. As a self-proclaimed progressive, I will say that he’s generally good on social justice issues, such as same-sex marriage, as well as on environmental issues.

Seeing as he’s started campaigning so early and seeing as how I’ve already received a flier from his campaign in my mailbox, I thought I’d start laying out the reasons for voting for someone else. Let’s start with the aforementioned flier.

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Strong, Well-Crafted Words from Bill Maher

I came across an article today that one which I feel the need to comment. Bill Maher, talk show host and progressive guest blogger on, put to words much better than I could, the things I’ve been thinking and feeling at least since the health care debate started heating up this summer, if not since Obama took office.

Its also been my major complaint with the Democratic Party since they took back control of the U.S. House in 2006; right off the bat, House leadership proclaimed impeachment was ‘off the table.’

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Development and Local Awareness

I’ve always been impressed with the quality of events Kanu Hawaii puts on to help the community and raise awareness about important issues.

The Eat Local Challenge is no exception. In fact, it strikes at the heart of possibly one of the most immediate and important questions for our islands. Eating local is beneficial on both an economic and environmental level. And the light the Challenge shines on food channels couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin featured on Wednesday, August 12, an article discussing plans to develop 1,500 acres of some of ‘the best ag land’ on Oahu for a 12,000 home community. The loss of this prime agricultural land to tract housing, shopping centers, and business parks will be a significant loss of our ability to grow food for ourselves.

Economy HI Politics

Furloughs Not Layoffs

Its been a while since I posted anything on this blog, so my commentary and critical thinking skills (not to mention research) might be a little shabby. I’m going to try to start write to this blog at least as often as my other, so hopefully I’ll improve….

There seems to have been two major topics of discussion at the Capitol this past session: Civil Unions and the state budget. By the close of session, neither, it seems, was sufficiently addressed. So, at least for the later, a special session will have to be called. One major topic to be addressed? Lingle’s attempt to cut the salaries of state workers.

Oh, wait. Sorry. I meant to say furlough.

Lingle is claiming, with the legal back up from her AG, that she can furlough state workers without having to negotiate under collective bargaining. I need to read the AG’s letters to the House Speaker’s office (after which I should be able to write a follow up!), but my initial understanding of the Governor’s argument is that since collective bargaining is a function for salaries and benefits, and since furloughs don’t fall under those categories, there’s not requirement for her to sit down across a table from the state employee’s union.

What I find odd about this particular argument is that she’s selling it to the public as an alternative to lay-offs, which wouldn’t fall under collective bargaining either. It seems to me her suggested furloughs are much, much closer to pay cuts than they are to lay-offs, it should fall under the requirements pertaining to collective bargaining. 

It makes sense. At least to me. No one will be losing their job, but they’ll be working less, thus making less. I don’t know about you, but that sounds suspiciously similar to a pay cut to me.

It sounds like both the Governor’s Office and the majority at the legislature are gearing up for a battle, not to mention those preparing to file a lawsuit against the State should Lingle move forward with her plan.

The ledge may not be in session, but its shaping up to be an interesting summer, nonetheless.

Stay tuned.

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in response to a GOP mailer

I recently was forwarded an email being circulated by the Hawai. I have mixed feelings about posting the email, however here’s my response: