Bill Clinton guested on The Daily Show last night, and I think the full interview is well worth watching:
PART ONE, on the Clinton Global Initiative, microfinance, working with NGOs
PART TWO, on negotiating with Kim Jong-il, accidentally splitting a dinner date with Obama, stresses of the presidency
PART THREE, on the politics of health care reform
Al Franken has never really been on my radar, but lately he’s been impressing me – a lot:
I really wish I knew what it was he was saying while he so casually hand-drew the good ol’ USA from straight outta his memory (and WAY better than this guy did)… because if it was half as good as the discussion he led in the following clip, it was… how we say… awesome:
Anyone opposed to Franken ideologically may well be turned off by the title of that second video (‘Al Franken Talks Down Angry Mob’), as it portrays quite unflatteringly anyone who feels they’ve been Taxed Enough Already, etc… but know that the title is unfair: Franken doesn’t talk anyone down so much as he treats with respect a crowd of concerned citizens, who have reasonable questions and skepticism, and he quickly finds common ground on which to build a productive discussion of health care reform. For me, this video was worth the entire ten minutes. After watching it, you may agree or disagree with Franken just as much as before, but you’ll at least have witnessed a real discussion between an elected representative and those whom he serves, and I think that’s pretty sweet.
I don’t really know how most representatives treat their constituents (especially those who voted against them), but I can only hope more of them start taking their cues from Mr. Franken. Well done, sir,
Ezra Klein posted last week about the difficulty, for politicians, of discussing poverty – and in one paragraph, he did a very good job of concisely summarizing the point:
…the basic problem is that poor people, by virtue of being poor, can’t donate a lot of money to popularize their concerns, and are fairly marginalized from the political process in general. The result isn’t that those concerns are entirely ignored in Congress,… [but] that there’s little infrastructure for pushing them into the national conversation.
There’s also the fact that those in a position to implement policies or programs that could help the nation’s poor have rarely experienced poverty themselves. So there’s often a disparity between the every-day reality experienced by the impoverished and the way it is perceived by the (more fortunate) general populace. Many people – from all levels of affluence – have been sick, or had a child who was sick and needed care at home, or had car problems; perhaps they’ve even had trouble making rent or had an account overdraft. On their own, we call these problems ‘trifles.’ But it’s less often that most people encounter them all at once, and often, and without the support of family or dependable friends to fall back on (it’s why they’re more fortunate!). These are all problems that cause each other to cause each other, and so on… one of my favorite passages from The Working Poor, by David Shipler:
For every family, then, the ingredients of poverty are part financial and part psychological, part personal and part societal, part past and part present. Every problem magnifies the impact of the others, and all are so tightly interlocked that one reversal can produce a chain reaction with results far distant from the original cause. A run-down apartment can exacerbate a child’s asthma, which leads to a call for an ambulance, which generates a medical bill that cannot be paid, which ruins a credit record, which hikes the interest rate on an auto loan, which forces the purchase of an unreliable used car, which jeopardizes a mother’s punctuality at work, which limits her promotions and earning capacity, which confines her to poor housing… [adding up all of the] individual problems, the whole would be equal to more than the sum of its parts.
…is something I lately haven’t been able to keep up with. It seems every couple of days there’s news that components of the reforms being discussed in Washington have been added or removed, or that someone (Obama, Congress, ‘the people,’ Wal-Mart) has changed his/her/their support of the reforms, etc. etc. etc.
I’m hoping to get back on track, to keep up with the latest developments and such, because I think that our country’s health care, reformed or not, will be a pretty important factor in the well-being of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great… you get the idea … (continued)
[edit: how about a link that still works? – Armenian refugees stuck in legal limbo]
‘As the U.S. enforcement crackdown took hold in 1994 and the years after, it brought long-coveted tranquility to urban areas like San Diego. But other, more rural areas on the border found themselves blindsided. The multi-part crackdown, whose California leg was called Operation Gatekeeper, created a shifting immigrant bulge, a sliding bubble such as that made by stepping on a balloon…’ (Ken Ellingwood, Hard Line)
AP reports on a more recent developing result of U.S. border enforcement measures:
‘Border Measures Pushing Migrants to Sea’
Also, from the New York Times: ‘Businesses Face Cut in Immigrant Work Force’
‘…the need for imported seasonal labor is especially acute… [but] those [business owners] who have followed the law, paid an inordinate amount of money to follow the law by paying attorneys’ fees, prevailing wage and following the rules, are those who are getting hurt…’