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“Let’s Compromise, Do It My Way!”: The Republican Fever Has Not Yet Broken

I am grateful for some of the signs emanating from the Right yesterday indicating a willingness to accept the 2012 election results, and/or to stop treating the president of the United States as though he’s some sort of alien usurper of power. But let’s don’t get carried away in suggesting “the fever”–as the president referred to Republican radicalism and obstructionism during the campaign–has indeed broken.

Consider the headlines about Eric Cantor’s effusive expressions of good will and bipartisanship yesterday: “Cantor: Time for Washington to ‘Set Aside” Differences” is how CBS put it. Sounds good. But what, exactly, was Cantor talking about?

House Republicans announced last week their decision to hold a vote to raise the debt ceiling, potentially averting a contentious debate many expected to go down to the wire this February. Cantor said today House Republicans are committed to working on passing a federal budget “so we can begin to see how we’re going to pay off this debt; how we’re going to spend other people’s money, the taxpayers’ money; and begin an earnest discussion about the real issues facing this country.”

“I think times demand as much,” he said. “It’s time that Washington get with it, and that is why I believe, hopefully, the Senate can see clear to doing a budget, putting a spending plan out there for the world to see… So we can begin to unite around the things that bring us together, set aside the differences, and get some results.”

Do you see any change of position here, other than the already-decided House GOP decision to not to stake everything on a debt limit hostage-taking exercise at the end of February? Best way I know to translate what Cantor is saying is: “Let’s see how much agreement we can get on the elements of our agenda,” which are entirely about domestic spending, not defense spending or revenues, and involve direct benefit cuts, not ways to rein in health care costs.

Yes, it’s a good thing that for whatever reason congressional Republicans have decided not to blow up the U.S. economy if they don’t get their way in fiscal negotiations. But for the moment, their way or the highway still seem to be the only options they comprehend.

By; Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 22, 2013

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Debt Ceiling | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Bigots Win”: North Carolina Passes Constitutional Amendment Bannig Marriage Equality

Sadly, as predicted, voters in North Carolina passed Amendment One, the law that bans already-banned same-sex marriage and tacks on a gratuitous “and no civil unions, either.” As Joan McCarter explained:

There would be no more legal unions between unmarried people, gay or straight. It could take health care benefits away from families, it could take away domestic violence protections, hospital visitation rights, and all the very basic protections of civil unions.

That’s why just about everyone—including North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, former President Bill Clinton (and his daughter), Episcopal bishops, hundreds of business leaders, religious leaders, and members of both parties—opposed it. Because it’s hateful and wrong. But apparently, the state’s voters disagreed.

Way to go, North Carolina. You must be so proud.

By: Kaili Joy Gray, Daily Kos, May 8, 2012

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Path To Salvation Doesn’t Pass Through Barbarity”: Bernie Sanders Brings The Anti-Austerity Fight to America

Bernie Sanders is as focused as any member of Congress could be on the struggles of the state he represents, and more generally on the challenges facing working people across the United States.

But that does not mean that the independent senator from Vermont fails to recognize when things are kicking up around the world—especially when those developments have meaning for the fights he is waging in Washington.

So it should come as little surprise that the news from Europe—of a democratic rejection of failed austerity policies—has caught his imagination.

Sanders knows that austerity is not just a European crisis. It threatens America as well. And he is highlighting what his Senate website recognizes as: “An Austerity Backlash.”

The senator is right to be excited that citizens are pushing back.

Sanders says Europe’s voters are sending a message that America’s voters can and should echo: the time has come to reject austerity measures that have unfairly burdened working families, while redistributing ever more wealth upward to millionaires and billionaires.

France on Sunday elected a new president, Socialist François Hollande, who campaigned on a promise to tax the very wealthy in order to free up funds for investment in job creation, education and social services.

Hollande rejects the attacks on unions and cuts to education and public services that have stalled European economies, promising that he will not casually continue the job-killing austerity policies foisted on Europe by bureaucrats and bankers.

There is, Hollande says, “hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable.”

In Greece, the leader of the Syriza, the radical coalition that as a result of Sunday’s election results has leapt from the sidelines of politics to status as the nation’s second-largest party, is even more blunt in his rejection of austerity.

“We believe the path of salvation doesn’t pass through barbarity of austerity measures,” argues Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras.

Hollande and Tsipras are different players, with different styles and different policies.

Yet, their dramatic shows of strength in Sunday’s voting, along with similarly strong results for critics of austerity running in German state elections and Italian local elections, suggests that voters are fed up with the austerity fantasy that says the best response to tough times is a combination of tax cuts for the rich and pay and benefits for the workers.

What should Americans make of the results?

Sanders knows. The independent senator from Vermont, who has led the fight to preserve education, healthcare and social services funding in the face of proposals by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan and his fellow proponents of an American austerity agenda, says the message sent by European voters can and should be echoed by American voters.

Yes, of course, the accent will be different, as will specific concerns and proposals. America is different from Germany, Greece and France.

But the threat posed by failed and dysfunctional policies is the same.

“In the United States and around the world, the middle class is in steep decline while the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well,” says Sanders. “The message sent by voters in France and other European countries, which I believe will be echoed here in the United States, is that the wealthy and large corporations are going to have to experience some austerity also and that that burden cannot solely fall on working families.”

Sanders is making the connections, recognizing the importance of a democratic push-back against policies that are as cruel as they are economically unsound.

“In the United States, where corporate profits are soaring and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we must end corporate tax loopholes and start making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes,” the senator explains. “At the same time, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Austerity, yes, but for millionaires and billionaires, not the working families of this country.”

Sander is, of course, correct.

Let’s just hope that his message is echoed by other leaders in the United States.

Just as austerity is wrong for Europe, it’s wrong for the United States.

 

By: John Nichols, The Nation, May 7, 2012

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Deficits | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Disloyal Opposition”: Obama Has Made America Safer, But He Could Use Some Help

To paraphrase a famous election-year question, “Is American safer now than it was four years ago?” Emphatically, yes.

We are safer at home, safer overseas, and our national power and position in the world are largely unthreatened. Our soldiers are no longer in harm’s way in Iraq, thanks to the fulfillment of a promise by the president. We are on a timetable to draw down U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 2014, and our allies and the Afghan police and military are carrying an increasing share of the burden, even if the security status there is somewhat dubious. Despite some rattling of sabers by Iran and scattered incidents of maritime piracy and terrorism, the U.S. military is still without peer or challenger.

The president has continued a war against al Qaeda that he inherited, and he has increased the intensity of that war, using UAV strikes and special forces raids. The killing of Osama bin Laden is only one symbol of the successes of the wider fight—one that the U.S. and its allies are winning, as the remnant of al Qaeda struggles to remain relevant amid the political awakening in much of the Islamic world.

In the area most visible to many Americans, security in our skies, we are, sadly, no safer. Despite spending billions of dollars per year, the TSA and Department of Homeland Security for the most part continue to offer only the appearance of security, rather than effective, efficient security. The president, like his predecessor, may take credit for the absence of any successful attack, but this is likely the result of our luck and our enemy’s ineptitude, rather than of millions of us taking off our shoes and throwing away our water bottles.

Finally, as Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress in February 2009, our national security was most threatened by the financial crisis. The recovery may be unsteady, but we are immeasurably safer today than four years ago. The president took steps that most economists agree prevented a global depression, and his policies have resulted in a safer world, not just a safer United States.

With our troops still at war in Afghanistan, and threats from nuclear Iran and North Korea, the president’s policies are being criticized, and he is still being attacked personally. Our country would be safer, still, if the opposition were a loyal one, and the discourse more civil.

 

By: Lawrence Husick, U. S. News and World Report, May 2, 2012

May 3, 2012 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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