Tag: Politics

Fantastic Interview with Jon Stewart

I highly recommend you take the time to read this excellent New York Magazine interview with news comic Jon Stewart. It’s interview at its best with a guy who has a very clear idea who he is and what he’s doing and why it’s important for now.

My favorite pull quote:

So am I disappointed in Obama, am I disappointed in the Congress? Honestly, I think I’m just in shock. I think I’m a little stunned that we can’t do better than this, because I know we can. I’m a little stunned that Republicans continue to, if it’s not their ball, refuse to play. I’m a little stunned that Democrats, given their opportunities, haven’t been able to be more effective.

That is so reflective, well-stated that I wish I’d said that.

Stewart’s an icon who refuses to rest on his laurels.

 

Gen. Hayden Reveals Classical Fascism in Government-Industry Connections

Journalist Peter Sussman — one of the few laboring in that profession who remains worthy of the title — pointed out in an email to his followers today that there is “more than a whiff of classical fascism” in the tight working relationships between the American military and intellilgence communities and aerospace and telecommunications companies.

Quoting from a PBS NewsHour interview that included retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former top spy in the United States, Sussman brings out a telling comment that would be scary if we weren’t all pretty much aware of the fascism that has been nurtured in Washington for the past 20+ years.

Hayden said:

The American Air Force is the military expression of the American aviation industry, right? The American signals intelligence enterprise, American cyber-security are the espionage and military expressions of the American telecommunications and computer industry. I mean, these two things are wed. And if for one reason or another these are separated, American security is harmed and American commerce is equally harmed.

Say what? The economic interests of American security and American commerce are inextricably linked and completely interdependent? Is that the way our society is supposed to work? I think not.

I guess what I find shocking isn’t that this observation is accurate, but rather that a man of Gen. Hayden’s reputation and experience would utter such a clear statement of the fact and never bat an eyelash. Like it’s common knowledge and furthermore no big deal.

Well, my friends, it is a big deal; a very big damned deal. And this New American Order has been building under Presidents and Congresses of both parties for a long time. It’s almost certainly too late to undo the damage. But perhaps it’s not too late to reverse the course of history.

The upcoming 2014 and 2016 elections loom larger and larger as we see more and more of the slimy underbelly of our political system and how very little distance on important transcendent issues there is between the two political parties.

More on that subject later.

 

How About a Temporary Tax Fix?

Amidst all the talk of compromise in Washington over the fiscal sequetration referred to by its deliberately scary and misleading name, the “Fiscal Cliff,” both sides are hardening their previous positions.

President Obama says he will not sign any deal that doesn’t include a tax increase for the rich and Republicans maintain they won’t pass a bill that includes such a provision. All the rest of the phony compromise is just that, phony.

So here’s a thought.

How about if the parties agree to a temporary surtax on incomes above some threshold, the expiration of which is tied to the reducing of the National Debt to some agreed-upon level? Combine that with deferred programmatic spending cuts on the categories of spending about to be sequestered, including Defense, with those cuts kicking in as certain milestone achievements are reached toward further debt reduction.

It’s sort of like putting  a big, soft, fluffy mattress at the bottom of the over-hyped Fiscal Cliff.

 

The Great Experiment Breathes a Bit More Easily Today

New York Times Columnist Timothy Egan

In a fine piece of thoughtful writing, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan today reviews the Democratic Party’s far-ranging victory Tuesday from the perspective of the Great Experiment of what he describes as “the attempt to create a big, educated, multi-racial, multi-faith democracy that is not divided by oligarchical gaps between rich and poor”. Egan says that vision gained a little measure of credibility whether viewed from the conservative or moderate-liberal perspective.

Egan points out that even though white men voted mainly for Romney, nearly all-white states like Iowa and New Hampshire went for the President. He also reminded us that the election dispelled the belief that a Mormon would not make a suitable President. (I’m still on the fence on that one, I’m a little ashamed to say.)

Reacting to Liberal criticism (of which I have sometimes been the voice) that the United States seems unable to do what the European democracies do easily, Egan says, “Anybody can form a perfect Norway, a nation of five million people. But there is no country on earth with our size, our racial diversity, our mix of religions that is close to bringing most of its citizens the rights and comforts of the modern age.” Point taken.

 

Evidently, Money Can’t Buy Elections

So many take-aways from tonight’s enormously satisfying Obama win. Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

  • If Mitt Romney had let the sincere side he showed in his consummately excellent concession speech show during the campaign, things might have been different. So I’m glad he didn’t. But what a class act he put on in defeat!
  • It turns out even hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate dollars that should never have been allowed into the campaigns couldn’t buy the election for the Right, which vastly outspent the Democrats in outside money. Trouble is, this may result in a muted call for campaign finance reform, which I think is one of the most important issues in American politics today.
  • Finally the President mentions global climate change, but it’s a throwaway line in the middle of a pulse-pounding segment of his victory speech. I have no confidence he will do anything to address the problem. It is probably too late to save humanity as we know it anyway.
  • Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele was sobering, intelligent and articulate on MSNBC after the election. I have come to have great respect for this guy with whom I disagree almost all the time.
  • I predicted the Electoral College map with 100% accuracy except for the unknown of Florida as I head for bed. If Romney wins Florida, I can claim some sort of prize; if Obama takes it, I’ll have missed the mark but I won’t be unhappy to have done so.
  • OTOH, I badly missed the popular vote margin. I predicted 3%; looks like it’ll be 1-1.25%.
  • I’m glad it’s over. I may not comment on politics for weeks and weeks. Or maybe it’ll just be hours and hours.

 

Four More Years Like the Last Two? Dems Can Fix This, Too

I am immensely glad that the American people decided to give President Barack Obama a second term. I felt he deserved it and on every issue of importance to me, he was a better candidate and a better leader than his Republican opponent.

But those same American people left the GOP in charge in the House of Representatives while slightly increasing the Democratic Party’s majority in the Senate.

The sum total of which means that barring a change on the part of the House GOP and either filibuster reform or party re-thinking by the Republicans in the Senate, President Obama is in for two more years of constantly trying to get programs adopted with the help of an opposition party which has, so far at least, shown no desire to be helpful.

Newly elected Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine

The Democratic Senate can fix the problem with the filibuster at its first session in January by changing the Senate rules to restrict or abolish the arcane notion that it should always take 60 votes to pass anything in a chamber already prone to sluggishness. They will have a bit more impetus this time to do so; newly elected Independent Senator Angus King of Maine made filibuster reform his primary campaign promise. Nine Democrats — most of whom won tonight — also committed to reforming the ridiculously outmoded rule.

It takes a simple majority of the Senate to alter the rules in the first days of a new Congress. If the Dems want the newly elected Sen. King to caucus with them, he may well demand party support for filibuster reform. If he does, reform is almost guaranteed.

And if that happens, the Senate will suddenly cease to be quite as moribund, and useless, at least partially. We still need to remove the rule that allows a single Senator to put a hold on nominations and bills without identifying himself publicly or providing an explanation for his actions. But it may be too much to expect that this time around.

My Prediction: Obama by 3% in Popular Vote, 303-235 in Electoral College

I’ve never done this before but it felt right this year to make a specific prediction of the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election being held today.

As I see it, President Obama wins re-election fairly handily, though not quite by the semi-landslide margins of 2008. Specifically, I see him winning the popular vote 51% to 48%. In the Electoral College, I think he’ll pick up Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada while losing Florida and North Carolina. That combined with the likely locked-in states will give him 303 electoral votes, leaving Mitt Romney with 235.

If you’re interested in my state-by-state predictions, take a look at this interactive map where you can also make your own predictions and share your result and insights like I have here.

I don’t care who you vote for, really, but do get out and vote!

 

The Right’s Randism Dissected Brilliantly

Paul Ryan, the VP candidate of the Republican Party in Tuesday’s  national election, is often heralded as the intellectual leader of the conservative movement that has captured the party over the past decade. Ryan’s philosophical heroine is Ayn Rand, author of several best-selling books and creator of a philosophy she called Objectivism. In addition to her two main tomes — The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged — she is perhaps most famous among her followers for a small book entitled The Virtue of Selfishness.

Rand, an escapee from the communism of the old Soviet Union, was a hard-line conservative her entire life (though she lived out her declining years on Medicare and Social Security, programs she excoriated regularly during her peak earning years).

In this piece today on truthout, Jeffrey Mikkelson does by far the best job I’ve seen of dissecting and explaining what he labels “Randism” by contrasting it with the writings of another philosopher dedicated to individualism, John Dewey.

The contrast is stark and brilliant and exceedingly important for more and more to understand in the wake of Tuesday’s elections, regardless of their outcome.

His essay also provides the framework and a springboard for the Democratic Party to reclaim the high ground of individual freedom the Right has pre-empted by its advocacy of social class warfare (for which it has then, of course, blamed the Left).

I urge you to take time to read the somewhat lengthy piece in its entirety. You may well find that Mikkelson is on to something really important, a point and an approach that could be central to our nation recovering its rational support of individualism in the broader context of social structures and needs. A book lurks here and I’ll be stunned if someone doesn’t pen it within a few months.

We can redraw the philosophical battle lines in such a way that we might force the GOP to shift back toward moderation and loyal opposition. It would be a welcome change from the obstructionist, dogmatic, ideologues that populate the controlling wing of the Republican Party today.

Generation WE: Watch the Video, Hear Them Roar

Since it appears inevitable that we the Baby Boomers will leave our children and grandchildren in worse shape than we are for the first time in our country’s history, maybe it’s time we started turning over power to Generation WE. Check out this video from KarmaTube for some inspirational messaging that holds out what may be the humanity’s last best hope for survival.

Video from KarmaTube