Current Affairs

April 13, 2010

When America Was Attacked

Tragically, we all recall the gut-wrenching day in our history when rogue enemies of the United States attacked the sacred soil of this nation. In planned action, American citizens were killed on their very homeland by trained operatives who had one goal in mind, to bring down the government of the United States, a terrorist aim to break the fabric of our way of life.

...I am speaking, of course, of...

Oh, wait, sorry, did you think I meant 9/11? No, no, my apologies. I was referring to the rebel forces of the Confederacy.

The Confederacy was an enemy of the United States of America.

It attacked the United States. Made the first strike. Killed American citizens.

Its actions against the United States were carefully planned; its combatants carefully trained.

The Confederacy fought for the right to keep human beings in slavery.

The Confederacy was not a recognized nation by other countries of the world. It was a well-armed, rogue organization.

None of this in inaccurate. Nor in dispute.

And this is what Virginia wants to commemorate with a Confederate History Month. This is what South Carolina honored when it flew the Confederate flag. This is what Georgia, Texas and Mississippi celebrate with their Confederate History Month. This is what its defenders keep trying to justify.

Confederate soldiers died trying to protect the Confederacy.

Union soldiers died trying to protect the United States of America.

If you want to recognize the past, recognize it, but for what it is. Not for what you wish it was. Only this past Sunday, Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) called the omission of mentioning slavery in Confederacy History Month "something that doesn't matter for diddly."

It matters. Enslaving human beings matters. Treason matters.

It matters so that people understand and learn never to do it again.


March 15, 2009

Robert Reich's Blog: The Real Scandal of AIG

Robert Reich's Blog: The Real Scandal of AIG:

This sordid story of government helplessness in the face of massive taxpayer commitments illustrates better than anything to date why the government should take over any institution that's "too big to fail" and which has cost taxpayers dearly. Such institutions are no longer within the capitalist system because they are no longer accountable to the market. To whom should they be accountable? As long as taxpayers effectively own a large portion of them, they should be accountable to the government.

But if our very own Secretary of the Treasury cannot make stick his decision that AIG's bonuses should not be paid, AIG is not even accountable to the government. That means AIG's executives -- using $170 billion of our money, so far -- are accountable to no one.

March 13, 2009

House and Senate Republicans Differ on Need to Offer Budget Alternative -

So, House Republicans are dithering while Rome burns and the Senate Republicans are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?  Or is it the other way around?  Hm.  Trying to sort that out seems likely to be as successful as trying to count the number of angels on a pin. 

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

House and Senate Republicans Differ on Need to Offer Budget Alternative - News Analysis -

Congressional Republicans are engaged in a highly coordinated political assault on President Obama’s budget, but they are not so united when it comes to offering an alternative to the spending plan they have been shredding as irresponsible.

Breaking with the House, Senate Republicans say they do not intend to offer a full counterproposal to Mr. Obama’s sweeping $3.6 trillion spending blueprint, a decision that will spare them from outlining potentially painful decisions required to bring federal books more in line with their call to hold down spending, cut taxes and reduce the deficit.

March 05, 2009

If Private Health Insurance Is So Awesome, Why Would It Lose a Competition With Gov't Health Care?

If Private Health Insurance Is So Awesome, Why Would It Lose a Competition With Gov't Health Care? |

“Forcing free market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition,” the letter [from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)] stated.

If the "free market" is as marvelously awesome as conservatives claim, shouldn't it have absolutely no problem winning a health-care competition with "government-run programs?" Or does this little-talked-about hypocrisy in the Republicans' argument expose a brazen corruption? Does it show that conservatives are totally bought off by the private health insurance industry that Americans despise?

February 05, 2009

The Oregon Economics Blog: The Stimulus Plan in Crisis

Unfortunately I think the answer is simple: Republicans have decided they want to oppose, to be the party of "no", instead of to influence.  When you are as deep in the political wilderness as they are today, they can't possibly "win" legislatively.  But I sure wish they'd be constructive instead of destructive.

The Oregon Economics Blog: The Stimulus Plan in Crisis:

Why is Washington falling into the old partisan routine and letting political concerns overwhelm concern for the welfare of Americans?

Conservatism Lives! The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (February 05, 2009) - Conservatism Lives!

Nicely said, Andrew:

Conservatism Lives! :

In contemporary America, the right is now in an almost parodic state of ideology. There isn't just a rigid set of beliefs, indifferent to any time or place (e.g. tax cuts are right in a boom and a recession, in surplus and debt); it is supported by a full-fledged organization or "movement"; this "movement" generates journals and magazines and blogs designed fundamentally to buttress the cause; and the most salient distinction discussed in these circles is between those who are for the cause and those against it (with particular scorn for any dissidents). There is, for good measure, always an enemies list, to maintain morale: the dreaded libruls! New leaders emerge because small groups of the ideological intelligentsia select them on the grounds of their conformance with the ideology - Palin and Jindal spring to mind. Or previously rational figures have to convert to full obedience to the tenets of the new faith if they are to become proper "conservatives" - McCain, Romney, two otherwise capable figures turned into hollow shells by the need to kowtow to fanatics. The final phase of this ghastly cycle is the Limbaugh-Coulter phase, in which nothing is left of the conservative cat, except a preening narcissism-as-entertainment grin.

GOP Rep: We Need Might A Taliban-Like "Insurgency"

This is the Republican party's idea of constructive bipartisanship, eh?  I think it would be fair to describe is as downright unAmerican, since that is their own chosen model of behavior!  They seem to believe that their job is to oppose, not to influence.

GOP Rep: We Need Might A Taliban-Like "Insurgency":

In an interview with National Journal's Hotline, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas suggested his party could follow the model of the Taliban in its legislative battles.

"Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," Sessions said. "And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes.

January 30, 2009

Republican leaders in congress on the wrong side of ... well, everything

Republicans in the US House unanimously voted against the stimulus bill because they’d rather not do as much for the economy and they'd rather focus on tax cuts.

What’s wrong with that?  A severe misreading of economics and taxation, the challenges of the times, and politics of America.

First, the economics are wrong.  We have neglected infrastructure and we have to get going on rebuilding our public infrastructure, from road, schools and bridges to clean water; we have to reform our healthcare system so that everyone is covered and can have greater security, indpendence and freedom to innovate;  and we have to “greentooling” our economy and energy sectors for security, financial independence and to combat global warming.

Today’s crisis was driven by a 30-year neglect of public investment, focusing on tax cuts and housing and debt-based consumerism.  But buying stuff doesn’t buid roads.  Tax cuts do not create as much economic activity as actually spending it.

The median income in America is almost flat over the last 30 years.  A housing-based and consumer service economy is simply not enough to deliver robust jobs.

The problem isn’t that taxes are too high, the problem is that income is too low and that there aren’t enough jobs.

Second, the challenges of of our times, not those of the 1970s, must be met.  Tax cuts to stimulate consumer purchases will not build bridges and rebuild schools, they will not upgrade our electric grid and convert energy production to renewables.  These public investments get paid by us banding together to build what we can’t do on our own through our taxes.  And these must be done now.  These are better jobs.  We will waste less power.  We generate more energy and economic activity ourselves, keeping more dollars here and sending less oversears.  Studies show that every dollar kept locally is worth $3 - $5 in further economic activity.

We are deep in debt already, so cutting taxes only drives that deeper.  We have a huge debt load that needs, as in the 1990s, to be paid off.

Third, Americans all know this even if the Republican leadership doesn’t have a clue.  As Republican pollster Frank Luntz recently pointed out, fully 84% of Americans want the government to spend more on infrastructure and 81% are prepared to pay 1% more in taxes to do it -- they favor a tax increase -- including 74% of Republicans.  Republican legislative leaders are playing to 25% of their base and just 15% of the US.

January 22, 2009

The Obameter: Tracking Barack Obama's Campaign Promises

PolitiFact | The Obameter: Tracking Barack Obama's Campaign Promises:

PolitiFact has compiled about 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter. We rate their status as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once we find action is completed, we rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broke

January 13, 2009

Clinton's Exhaustive Prep Work For State Hearing Pays Off

It isn't the presidency, but I'm sure many Hilary fans feel some vindication.

Clinton's Exhaustive Prep Work For State Hearing Pays Off:

[Hilary Clinton's] confirmation hearing was a tour de force, one that demonstrated not just her breadth of understanding of the policy issues, but the meticulous preparation that she has brought to most every political task in her career -- and, likely soon, Foggy Bottom.

Pressed by her soon-to-be-former Senate colleagues, Clinton fielded questions on topics ranging from the impact of the Law of the Sea treaty on Alaska, to Russia's purchase of a Serbian gas utility, to the piracy crisis off the coasts of Somalia.

"I've never seen anybody know so much about so much," Chris Matthews, a sometimes-critical voice on the Clintons, would gush on Hardball later that day.

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