Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.
New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.
“Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.”—
My prediction? Despite the fact that at least 125 military actions taken by the US were never debated in Congress, including those by Reagan (even once in Libya), we’re going to hear a lot of talk about impeachment in the coming weeks. And frankly I believe the Libya violence could destabilize Egypt and other neighbors, and the action was justified as an urgent national security matter.
Ever since the House impeached Clinton, I’ve assumed the GOP would attempt to impeach the next Democratic president as well, and the party has only gotten more extreme since then. It will be a classic overreach, but I’ve just been wondering what they’ll use as their excuse. This may be it.
President Barack Obama
President Obama responds on March 21 to his own statement as a candidate: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” After Rep. Kucinich read this quote and called Libyan military action an impeachable offense, Obama made the argument in a letter to Congress that there is a national security threat in Libya.
One of the things most fascinating to me about the speech is the rejection of the idea of national common wealth and federal rules or regulations, which dovetails in many ways with today’s conservatism. The idea of subjecting all commerce and improvements to local municipalities is, in my mind, counter to the idea of the United States being an actual cohesive nation (which was likely intentional, as the CSA was to be a confederation of states), and seems to me the basis for claims that the Civil War was about states’ rights.
States’ rights, however, were not the foundation of the revolt, but rather a conservative cause that was written into the new constitution, on par with presidential term limits, unrestricted corporatism (under a different name at the time, of course), and allowing cabinet officials to debate in the new congress. It is fascinating that most of those issues are still key conservative causes today.
Destroying the federal government’s power has risen and fallen in importance as a conservative goal for decades and decades, but has always been debated. Grover Norquist has been the most outspoken recent proponent, and his Club for Growth has succeeded in making it an integral part of the GOP’s mainstream base concerns today.
To me, this is nothing other than an “anti-patriotism,” and an idea that holds our entire country back from being as great as it really can be. It cripples our capability and willingness to respond to national crises, alienates whole communities from each other, undermines our health policies, and exacerbates our fiscal problems.
This is why I am opposed to nuclear power in the US. It’s not because I’m opposed to nuclear power per se, but because Congress and the GOP continue to undermine the federal government’s power to regulate. Comparing our regulatory abilities to those of Japan, I simply do not believe nuclear facilities in the US will be properly maintained over the long term.
This approach to government needs to be finally called what it is: destructive, anarchic, and frankly anti-American.
On March 1, House Republicans voted to cut $600 million from the budget of the Internal Revenue Service for the remainder of 2011, and they want even deeper cuts in 2012. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise you: Republicans don’t like spending — at least when they’re not in power — and they don’t like taxes. Why would they fund the IRS?
Well, as the Associated Press reported, “every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good the Obama administration wants to boost the agency’s budget.” It’s an easy way to reduce the deficit: You don’t have to cut heating oil for the poor or Pell grants for students. You just have to make people pay what they owe.
But deficit reduction is not the GOP’s top priority.
I’ve seen several mentions today of how civil the Japanese have been during these past few days, along with questions about why there are no scenes of looting. While the preparation and response in Japan is impressive, something about these comments doesn’t sit right, and not only because the crisis in Japan is only about four days old.
I don’t believe the looting we’ve seen in the past stems from cultural issues, but societal ones, which are very different things, yet comparisons have tended to be cultural.
Looting is more likely to occur when groups of people feel they have been abandoned or trapped and anarchy has resulted, or simply when desperate people are afraid of starving or dying of exposure. After Katrina, we had the first situation, along with a bit of the second. After the Haiti earthquake, we had both in full force.
The devastation in Japan has been horrific, but their stable society so far has fortunately not become anarchic. The huge amounts of poverty in Haiti, and in New Orleans for that matter, by comparison to Japan, make those societies much closer to anarchy and revolt (and looting) even without an earthquake or flood. A society’s relationship with its government is also extremely important. Looting is more likely if people believe their government is corrupt and not trustworthy—both valid beliefs in New Orleans and Haiti—and if there is either a real or perceived history of government oppression.
For the first several days after both of these events in the Americas, people worked hard to rescue and to help each other. As I recall it took several days for desperation and fear to set in; along with this came the realization that sufficient outside help could not or would not come, residents were trapped, and the government had essentially broken down. At that point most major looting and violence began.
I expect to see many columns and articles in the coming weeks about how civil the Japanese are, relative to the devastation in Haiti or New Orleans, and most are likely to be thinly veiled racist comparisons between cultures, instead of the actual societies in which people live. To look at past disasters and suggest that less-prepared, less-stable, less-equal, less-wealthy societies should expect to engage a similarly coordinated response to the Japanese is simply foolish.
Cultural civility lies in the preparation for the common good before the disaster and supporting each other afterward. Recalling how many people all around this country, including several even in Congress, called for abandoning New Orleans immediately after Katrina suggests that the amount of social solidarity and concern for the common good in this country is, sadly, quite low.
“After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”—
Ralph Lauren press release
Ralph Lauren issues an official excuse for their poorly photoshopped image distorting a model’s body after being lampooned by boingboing.net—“Dude, her head’s bigger than her pelvis!”—and other sites.
“I want to apologize to her … and to all of the families and friends of those who are or have been caught up in the tragedy of drug use.”—
The Chicago 2011 mayoral candidate demonstrated her mastery of the classic “apologize by way of repeating the charge” in January, after calling a rival candidate in the race a “crack addict,” a charge that was vigorously denied.
“A unionized public employee, a Tea Partier, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, then looks at the Tea Partier and says “Watch out for that union guy—he wants a piece of your cookie!”—E D Kain