Saturday, 16 January 2010

3 Days to Save Health Care Reform. It's up to you...

The Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy is up for a special election on Tuesday, January 19th. Democrats have nominated Massachusetts' accomplished Attorney General Martha Coakley, and were sitting pretty with the assumption that we could easily hold the seat in this strongly democratic state - my home state, as it happens.

Shame on us.

We of all people should have know that you can NEVER take your voters for granted.

Republicans here see an opportunity to deprive Democrats of their coveted 60th Senate seat and to kill any prospect of health care reform in the process.

It could happen. But not if I can help it. I'll be spending all day tomorrow calling Massachusetts voters from the Democrats Abroad mailing list to make sure they get their ballots in. If you are a Massachusetts overseas voter, here's what you need know:
  • Yes you CAN vote in this election. Overseas voters are eligible to vote in all Federal elections, which includes all Senate and Congressional elections - including special elections. Remember, you vote at the last address where you lived in the US.  
  • Massachusetts should have sent you a ballot, but if you didn't receive one from the state you can still vote using the Federal Write in Absentee Ballot, which can can get either by filling out the form on, or by downloading it directly here.
  • If you have not yet returned your ballot IT IS NOT TOO LATE. Massachusetts accepts ballots by e-mail and by fax. Again, the tool at will tell you where to fax or e-mail your ballot once you've completed the form, or you can call your local election official for more information.As long as you have sent it electronically by election  day - January 19 - your vote should be valid.
  • IMPORTANT: if you are faxing or e-mailing your ballot, you must also back this up by sending a postal copy as well. You can find the address of your election official here.

You can still help. Get on the phone today and start dialing! The Organizing for America website makes it easy to do this from anywhere in the world. Just go here and register or sign in.

Obama: "Give Us Our Money Back" Boris: "Pity the Bankers"

This week, President Obama announced a fee aimed at the bailed out banks.

He says,
"My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed. And my determination to achieve this goal is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people...We want our money back, and we're going to get it."

Meanwhile, across the pond, London Mayor Boris Johnson has been waxing indignant about the poor oppresed bankers, who are faced with a Banker's windfall tax aimed at similarly recovering some of the costs to the public of the British Governments' own intervention in the market. The floppy haired one weeps that,
Around 9,000 bankers may leave the City following a tax on bonuses over £25,000
Oh dear. The horror.

In fact, of course, it is not a frivolous question to ask how a tax on bonuses would effect the economy of London. But there's little factual basis for the notion of a general exodus. In fact, as the campaign group Compass points out, JP Morgan has just announced a record set of profits accompanied by a 21% jump in pay for its staff. It hardly seems that these folks are likely to tearfully pack their possessions into polka dotted handkerchiefs and board ships to a Better World.

UK and US governments took emergency efforts to rescue the world from the catastrophically poor work of their bankers. I understand the reasons why this became necessary - and yes, the financial system is important in propping up the general economy.

But I'm by no means convinced that the people who move money around in clever but confusing ways add more real value to the economy than people who, you know, build stuff. Frankly, it might be no bad thing if the Bright Young Things who have been fleeing to the City (and to Wall Street) in droves were drawn away to do something more productive. And if the folks running the banks cared a little less about enhancing their own bonuses and a little more about, say, avoiding catastrophic market failures.

Priorities, Boris, eh?

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Am at a training session on how to blog. No doubt you will all see an immediate improvement in my Blogability.