Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Second coming?

Four years ago, when I started working for Barack Obama, I hoped that he would be the second coming of FDR.  Now I'm afraid that he's turning out to be the second coming of Grover Cleveland. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Marking time

Today is the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter that started the Civil War.

Saturday, April 9th, was the 144th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

What Mr. Obama should be doing

This morning on NPR, Cokie Roberts, dependable voice of Conventional Wisdom, said that for President Obama, "it's all about the independents;" according to her, that was the reason that the President dug in his heels over the social-issue riders that the most radical Rebuplicans wanted to stick on the budget deal.  

She may well be right, but that's not a good thing.  In fact, it exposes a central fallacy of Mr. Obama's approach:  He should not be trying to appeal to independents.  He ought to be working at changing their minds so that they become Democrats.

Fighting a rear-guard action to protect the English language

Sign in an overpriced casual men's 
store on Newbury Street in Boston

Thanks for the clarification.  We should never have known.


You will almost certainly read or hear that Japan is marking the one-month anniversary since the country was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.  Even the Voice of America used that locution.

Well, no, the Japanese aren't.  There's no such thing as an anniversary for a period of less than a year.  "Anniversary" comes from annus, Latin for year, and versus, which did not mean "against" as it does now, but "turning."  (There's no 18-month anniversary, either.)

Oh, and 12 months from an event is not the one-year anniversary--a clumsy and ugly phrase that is an outgrowth of the mis-use of anniversary.  It's the first anniversary.  

Read this

John Thompson, the unjustly and illegally convicted man whose $14 million verdict against the New Orleans DA was stolen from him by the reactionaries on the Supreme Court a couple of weeks ago, had an op-ed in yesterday's Times.  He destroys the decision, not in legal but in human terms.  And those are the terms that matter, because in the end the law deals not in abstract principles, but in real life.

Read his article.  Read it even if you have to sign up and pay to get the Times on line.  (As ab aside, why shouldn't we on-line users be prepared to pay the cost of bringing us the news?)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Bad policy, bad politics

The deal that congressional leaders and the White House signed off on last night is bad policy, because the budget cuts on which Democrats caved will hamper economic recovery and hurt the very people that government is supposed to help.

It is bad politics for Democrats, because having signed on they cannot criticize Rebuplicans for hampering recovery, and cannot blame Rebuplicans for reviving the shades of Herbert Hoover.  

And the Rebuplicans can go on, virtually unfettered, with their war on working- and middle-class Americans, women and anyone else who is not in their base.  

Once again, Democrats--including President Obama--have failed to draw a line in the sand.  

The bullies won.  Again.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Best

The best--I mean it, the best--commentary I have seen on the Rebuplican program and what Americans really think of it appears in, of all places, something called the Ironton Tribune.  Ironton seems to be in southern Ohio.  (There's also one in South Dakota, I think.)

Read it and see what you think.  If you scroll down through the comments, you'll see that I could  not resist.  And you'll see that I was the only one of those commenting who agreed with the writer.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Bad sign

I just sent an email to the White House, telling the President to show a little backbone and stand up for the people who elected him.  But when I went to the White House site, I found that when entering the topic of my message, there was no option for "budget."


Or only their backbones?  Just heard Larry O'Donnell say that negotiators--presumably including Democrats in the Senate, and the White House--are now discussing budget cuts of 35 to 39 billion dollars to avoid a government shut down.

It's hard to agree with the Tea Party demagogues, but Shut It Down.  Make the case--it shouldn't be that hard, because it's true--that Rebuplican intransigence, duplicity and selfishness are responsible.  Put it to them.  

If we Democrats don't have the guts to stand up for those who are forced to depend on government for the essentials of of daily life, we don't deserve to govern.

What a disgrace.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A different angle

Most of the attention given to Rep. Paul Ryan's (R, WI) budget proposal has been focused on his plan to turn Medicare into yet another subsidy for health insurers.  (Why are Rebuplicans so sure that Americans like health insurers more than gummint bureaucrats?  Seems to me that if there is one group below bureaucrats in the popularity scale, it's health-insurance people.)

I'd like to focus on another aspect of the proposal:  Ryan wants to reduce the top corporate and personal income tax rates to 25%.  That's because, as we all know, the rich and powerful don't get enough reward for what they do.  Remember, these are The Folks Who Brought You the Great Recession.

What's really interesting is that Ryan and his ilk reason that slashing the top rates will encourage economic activity and so there will be no net loss of tax revenue (although even more of it will come from people at the bottom end of the income curve).  In fact, they argue that net tax revenues will actually increase.

Think of the implications:  Slash the top tax rate to zero and what would we have?  So much tax revenue that we'd be able to pay for every imaginable government program (well, at least for huge DOD cost overruns, subsidies for corporate farmers and other assorted boondoggles).  Indeed, the government would be taking in so much money that we'd have to RAISE taxes to CUT government revenues, before government has ALL the money!

As you no doubt recall (those of you over 30 anyway), this is the same crock that the supply-siders sold in the 1980's.  It was discredited then and it's still dreck.  Yet the Republicans, shameless as ever, go on peddling it.  Clearly, we need not only to slay this idea--and all of the junk that the Rebuplicans are trying to put over on us--but to drive a huge wooden stake through its heart.

Now, what are we going to have to do to get what passes for mainstream media to see this?

Is this the message she wants to be sending?

Bristol Palin earned more than $260,000 for warning about the dangers of teen pregnancy in 2009.  

Hmm.  What do you think she would have made if she hadn't been pregnant as a teen?

Friday, April 01, 2011

It's war

"Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
                                                                                                     Col. John Parker   
                                                                                                     Lexington Green
                                                                                                     April 19, 1775

In case you haven't noticed, the Right has declared war on the rest of us.

Last week, an assistant district attorney in Indiana had to resign after it came out that he had sent emails to Gov. Scott Walker (R.WI) suggesting that an agent provocateur be employed to carry out a mock attack on the governor as a means of discrediting union supporters.  He was the second prosecutor from the Hoosier State to be forced out over the tumult in Wisconsin; earlier, another assistant district attorney resigned after we learned that he had suggested that the protesters in Madison be met with "live ammunition."

These images of violence are not isolated.  Remember Sharron ("Obtuse") Angle suggesting "Second Amendment remedies" during last year's campaign?  

Half-serious (?) suggestions for violence are a small and--so far--minor part of the assault on those who do not share the agenda of the hard Right and their allies (implausibly, the banks, Wall Street, most large corporations).  There is, as you have heard at great length, the attack on labor rights being waged in such at first blush unlikely venues as Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.  The war on labor and working people is not an isolated phenomenon.

There is a bill in the US House that would make it impossible for unions to win representation elections; the White House has threatened a veto, a very unusual move for this administration.  

While Tea Party extremists in Congress say they will accept nothing less than a $61 billion slash at the parts of the budget that aid those who cannot help themselves, investments for the future and other worthwhile objects, Democrats are touting a "breakthrough" to avoid a government shutdown that will involve a whack of $30 billion.  

The best description of the effect of Rebuplican extremism that I have seen came from, of all people, the food writer Mark Bittman.  In an op-ed piece in The Times, Bittman notes that "The budget proposes cuts in the WIC program (which supports women, infants and children), in international food and health aid (18 million people would be immediately cut off from a much-needed food stream, and 4 million would lose access to malaria medicine) and in programs that aid farmers in underdeveloped countries. Food stamps are also being attacked, in the twisted 'Welfare Reform 2011' bill."  He goes on to state the simple truth:
These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts — they’d barely make a dent — will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now. 
That is what we have come to.

The Right's war is total.  It ranges from sanctifying the rights of wealth to destroying women's privacy in the quest to outlaw abortion.  While we may chortle over the silliness of Newt Gingrich's contortions over Libya, they are symptoms of the single-minded aim of those on the Right not simply to overawe and defeat their opponents in elections, but to crush them.  When Scott Walker and his cronies--allegedly heirs of the law-and-order Rebuplicans of the 1960's and 1970's--threaten to ignore a court order holding up their cherished union-busting law, they make it clear that the ends are all, and that means have become meaningless.

Yes, friends, it's war.

What will we do now?  Will we continue to be nice guys?  Will we continue to assume that those on the other side of the divide (it's much more than an aisle) are reasonable people?  Or will we remember Col. Parker and tell the Right that if it wants a war, it will have one?