Sunday, November 27, 2011

Norquist’s Nay-Sayers Put Nation at Risk

If there was ever any question about why Congress has such a low approval rating, consider the following statement:

“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve.”

It was made jointly by Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), the co-chairs of the the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – known paradoxically as the “super committee” – seconds after announcing they had failed to come up with a bipartisan plan for reducing the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. As a result, instead of a nice piecemeal approach of mutual sacrifice – one that would comprise both necessary cuts to domestic programs and an expiration of tax breaks for the richest Americans – discretionary spending will get slashed in 2013 (without any attendant increase in revenue), putting the country on what National Journal economics correspondent Jim Tankersley has called “autopilot towards austerity.”

Not for nothing, but boasting of unity and a shared commitment to the next generation under circumstances like that is the kind of patronizing hubris that only a politician would have the nerve to mount. Read on at the Philly Post...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Bull Moose

Teddy Roosevelt's Declaration of Principles of the Progressive Party (August 7, 1912): "The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party, born of the Nation's awakened sense of justice. We of the Progressive Party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the duty laid upon us by our fathers to maintain that government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundation they laid.

We hold with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln that the people are the masters of their Constitution, to fulfill its purposes and to safeguard it from those who, by perversion of its intent, would convert it into an instrument of injustice. In accordance with the needs of each generation the people must use their sovereign powers to establish and maintain equal opportunity and industrial justice, to secure which this Government was founded and without which no republic can endure.

This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Its resources, its business, its institutions and its laws should be utilized, maintained or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest.

It is time to set the public welfare in the first place."

Read the full manifesto of the Progressive Bull Moose Party. Sounds kinda familiar doesn't it?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Internet-Powered Boycotts Beat Corporate America

In last week’s column I urged readers to declare electoral independence by boycotting the political parties and dropping all partisan affiliation from their voter registration cards. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was riffing on a theme. Two weeks earlier, my wife and I had initiated our own mini-boycott, this of a more personal nature, when we learned that Bank of America would start charging us five dollars a month for the privilege of spending our own money. The bank’s decision to levy a monthly fee for debit-card use wasn’t especially surprising. This was the same institution, after all, that foreclosed on a woman who wasn’t even behind on her mortgage, locked her out of her home for a week and—just for good measure—held her parrot hostage (and some people wonder why I find corporations so fundamentally creepy). read more

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why I Am (Still) Not a Democrat

Several years ago, in the wake of the 2008 presidential election, a colleague and former editor asked me to write a piece explaining my recent decision to leave the Democratic party and re-register as an Independent. The article, which I titled “Why I Am Not a Democrat,” never ran (I think, in those heady days of Hope and Change, it simply wasn’t good form for the progressive press to take aim, even tangentially, at the party of the savior of the Left, Barack Obama). And so the story disappeared into the abyss of my C-drive, where it has remained ever since, lost among the unsent letters, half-finished short stories and other typographical detritus that accumulates there.

I thought of that story last week, the day after seven would-be GOP presidential contenders met for the ninth time in Las Vegas to trade barbs and try to convince members of the faceless monolith known as the Republican party that they have what it takes to beat the incumbent president and do a better job of running the country. As I reflected on Rick Perry and Mitt Romney’s slugfest, Herman Caine’s asinine tax plan, and how much Michele Bachmann must really like the taste of her own foot, I was reminded of what led to my decision to drop my own lifelong party affiliation and join the millions of Americans who choose to vote unfettered by partisan identity. read more...