Dec 31, 2010

2010: A Year of Political Misfortune, Some Gains, But Still Better Than the Alternative

We've come to the end of yet another year. I know marking this particular day is man-made, but in measuring time we get some perspective on life and how our limited time is used up. Was this a good year? Obviously the answer isn't a simple one, but it may be easier to answer it if we focuses on the political developments here in our country.

In 2010, a Democratic president delved into his 2nd year and a House that will soon be under Republican control. This blog has been very critical of the way president Obama handled many issues important to us. We got the reversal of DADT, financial and consumer protection reforms, but the GOP got benefits for the super rich, the top 2% of Americans. I think a strong president with big majorities in Congress could have gotten a lot more for the middle and lower classes, and for setting the priorities for the future.

The unemployed got some more benefits, the super rich even more, most of the banks were bailed out, Wall Street is giving record-breaking bonuses, and the deficit grew even bigger.

On the other hand, we can't forget what it could have been under a McCain/Palin White House. Seriously, we can't forget this. I do recognize that the "lesser of the two evils" isn't very appealing, but in practical terms it makes a huge difference. We may not be sailing into the desired direction, but we are still sailing and we can still see the horizon. Do I need to explain what the McCain/Palin alternative would have looked like?

Long after a president leaves office, and for some 30 years afterward, his Supreme Court appointees rule on important issues that affect the lives of US citizens (and not only). We could have had a 7-2 SCOTUS conservative majority today--something that would have taken decades to undo. 

Another thing we have to remember is that a president has influence on the kind of narratives we use as a country. You want more of the American Taliban? Vote for a conservative president. Yes, it matters a great deal who are the people in positions of power, public policy implementation, education, science, etc. I don't want conservative ideologues, who prefer a theocracy to a secularism, creation myths to theory of evolution, astrology instead of astronomy, ignorance instead of the scientific method.

Enjoy the holidays, and come back for some more political fighting--fighting for a progressive America.  

Dec 14, 2010

So, We Never Forget (What the Republican Party Stands For)

Jon Stewart sums it up well. Giving an additional 3% tax break to the super rich is way too important, more than anything else on the agenda, so the Republicans blocked all legislative activities before they got their tax deal from Obama. The Dream Act, the repeal of the DADT, and even setting a fund to cover the health care expenses of the 9-11 first responders, all are secondary. Tsk, tsk.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Lame-as-F@#k Congress
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Dec 8, 2010

Bernie Sanders Amazing Speech and the Plantation Mentality

Since Aristotle, it was understood that extremes of wealth and power is not good for a society--especially a society whose mission statement is to serve the people, that is, the majority of the people not the small elite.

Of course, there is a connection between wealth and power. The interests of the upper wealthy class are well represented in our government and we have an economic policy that reflects this. That's why even when the majority of the American people are against extending the very costly tax breaks to the top 2%, our government is held hostage to the narrow interests of the few.

Since, earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided that corporations can spend any amount of money on political speech, the cost of doing the business of democracy is going to go up, as if it's not in the stratosphere already. How are the voters to decide? Where do they get their information about important issues? The influence of big money could be made less of a dictator in our politics if the people had good, relevant, and timely information. But, this would also require that citizens are engaged, informed, and able to make rational decisions. We have a complicated system of government that promotes gridlock and lacks proper accountability.

Have you noticed that good journalism is diminishing? That media outlets are increasingly dominated by talking heads who blurb opinions without deference to the facts and the truth. There are few sources, like McClatchy News, and, of course, NPR and PBS. Concerned about the deficit, and believing that the truth has a liberal bias, Congressional Republicans want to completely eliminate subsidies to public media, because, they figure, who needs news organizations to inform the public....

When in comes to income inequality and distribution, we have left the company of the advanced, wealthy liberal democracies and are drifting closer to states where elites plunder their countries' resources and abuse their peoples. The plantation mentality is a way for the elites to keep the other classes from realizing their true condition. Controlling the narrative--the story telling, and the issues we discuss as a country--through the media and political leadership has been an effective method.

The video of Senator Bernie Sanders's is an eye-opener, and, I bet you, is news to most Americans. However, I don't expect it to reach the majority of our citizens. Sadly, too many people in the plantation only hear the stories that the elites have preselected for them, while others have bought into certain myths and now suffer from confirmation bias.

Dec 3, 2010

Guess: Is the GOP a Deficit Hawk or a Peacock? They Have Money for the Rich but Not for Hungry Kids

The House passed the bill extending the tax cuts to people who make up to $250,000 a year--this includes the first 250,000 of all taxpayers that make more than that. But, the Senate Republicans are giggling because they won't allow this bill to pass the Senate unless the tax breaks include the rich. Now, why isn't this something Obama blurts out every time he opens his mouth these days?

The best way to infuse cash into the economy is to give it to people who'll spend it right away, not those who'll save it. The unemployed will spend those checks, the rich will save it--because they buy what they want anyway without waiting for the extra tax breaks to do so!

Now the White House is negotiating with Senate Repubs to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy in exchange for extending unemployment benefits. It's crazy! The WH shouldn't be working behind the scenes but in front, pointing out that unemployment benefits are more necessary for boosting the economy (and giving relief to those who need relief) than the very expensive (and long-lasting) breaks to the affluent!

We expect more from Obama--not more than what he promised as a presidential candidate! We don't expect much from the conservatives and this Republican party, other than block any worthwhile bill--like the one to extend free healthy meals to kids! Oh, no, we don't have money for that, they said. But, we do have pocket money for the rich to buy more shrimp cocktails. [by the way, the $4.5 billion this healthy meals program needs is basically a re-allocation of money not extra spending.]