Friday, March 03, 2006

DEBT: Will the Dems Shut Down the Government?

CNN is reporting that the Senate Democrats, along with some conservative Republicans, are going to block the statutory reauthorization of our poor treasury to incur MORE debt than the fast-approaching limit, $8.18 TRILLION (insert Dr. Evil voice here).
This is certainly a fight worth fighting to the bitter end.


Senate Democrats pledge fight over debt:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A nasty budget fight is brewing in Congress as Senate Democrats and some conservative Republicans said on Friday that they will not support efforts this month to increase U.S. borrowing authority, a move needed to avoid a government default.

Democrats, who hope to gain control of the House and Senate in this year's congressional elections, are looking for a debate on the credit limit to highlight the nation's mounting debt at a time when President Bush also is pushing to make his tax cuts permanent.

"Democrats are not going to vote to increase this debt," Reid said...

House Democrats also have warned that they would oppose a debt limit increase without also putting into place a plan to eventually balance a federal budget that could see a deficit of around $400 billion this year.

Now, THAT's what I like to hear from the Democrats.  If we have to shut down the government, so be it- it's been done before.  This is a good fight for many reasons:

  1. It highlights the utter hypocracy between the GOP's small-government rhetoric and their actions.  This could be the final nail in the deficit hawks' support for the GOP.

  2. If done right, we will remind everyone of how much better the Democrats (see Bill Clinton) are better at managing the economy.

  3. It could force Congress' hand to not renew the Bush Billionaire tax cuts.

  4. Stopping excessive debt is the right thing to do.  

  5. It is yet another cloud in the perfect storm that is destroying any remaining faith in Bush's ability to run the country.  

  6. It can give the Democrats a chance to bludgeon Bush with one of the best new phrases I've heard lately, Bush's "baby tax."  

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Impeach Cheney First

With much buzz being generated about the increasing house co-sponsors of Articles of Impeachment against Bush or the possibility of Rhode Island's Legislature calling on Congress to investigate claims that could warrant Bush's impeachment, I feel I have to remind everyone of something.

Do we want to make Dick Cheney (officially) President of the United States?

Now, I am aware that many of the impeachment proposals include Cheney in them. But we must remain cognizant that there is no "law" so-to-speak on impeachable crimes. Essentially, it is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives will vote on. Congress in its current composition will not impeach Bush. They just won't. Can anyone name a single republican representative who would vote for that? Of course not. But, is it possible to pick up 8 republicans who would vote to impeach Dick Cheney? PROBABLY not, but there is an outside chance. The reasons and potential benefits are as follows:

1) Dick Cheney currently has approval ratings that consistently rank about 10 points lower than Bush. While no republican in a blue/competitive district would contemplate impeaching Bush, a coordinated anti-Cheney campaign could hold their feet to the fire and maybe produce some interesting results- either in impeachment proceedings or the midterm elections.

2) Cheney is currently reeling in the public's consciousness after the events of last week.

3) It is Cheney, not Bush who is principally behind Plamegate. Not to mention just about everything else in many proposed articles of impeachment, including Iraq intelligence doctoring, the secret energy meetings, ect... It seems every time something happens, Bush is out vacationing or taking a bike ride while Cheney is classifying information or exerting executive authority in Washington. Let's be real- Bush hasn't done many (not all) of the things impeachers accuse him of doing- rather he has allowed Cheney to do them.

4) Putting Cheney in the spotlight would undermine Bush's image much more than attacking Bush himself because it would reinforce the perception that Cheney is the one really running the show. Also, it would corrode any efforts at damage control following the Whittington shooting, and allow a real investigation as to if Cheney was drunk when it happened which is very palpable in the media currently. And since only die-hard republicans like Cheney, it would be less likely to offend moderates.

5) It might actually work, and then it would create a hugely divisive fight in the GOP over whom to nominate as his replacement and sew division right at before an open presidential race. It might even create an irreperable cleft between the moderates and right-wingers in the GOP.

6) Whatever Cheney impeachment proceedings could uncover will only make a potential impeachment of Bush that much more credible.

7) It would avoid all of this undermining-the-commander-in-chief-in-a-time-of-war BS.

8) If the heat really gets turned up, he could feign health problems and resign before impeachment is actually voted on.

I'd love to hear y'all's opinions on this.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Global Warming? Free-Marketers vs. Puritains?

Check out the lively discussion here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Real Pain in the Ham-ass

Sorry- I couldn't resist a cheezy title to this post, and I actually want to discuss how Hamas' recent victory in the Palestinian Elections might not be such the worst thig ever. First, let me just say this- Hamas are a bunch of freaks and I am completely opposed to thir call for the destruction of Israel. So why is their election a good thing? I think it is good because there is no better way to discredit bad ideas in the eyes of people than actually living under rule by those bad ideas. Look at communism for example. Before the Russian Revolution, many people in Russia and Eastern Europe were drawn to the ideas of communism because they did not know what exactly living under it would be like. Once they actually got to live under communism, they realized how much it sicked and eventually overthrew the USSR. The same phenominon explains the current differences between Iran and Iraq. In Iraq, islamist shiite parties got the pluarlity of the parliamentary votes. People in Iraq are inytrigued with radical islam because it was so supressed under Saddam's rule and never got to experience actually living under it. Contrast with Afghanistan, where everyone still remembers how crappy life was under the Taliban, and the only people advocating a return to that are, well, the Taliban themselves. So my point is that perhaps letting the Palestinians experience what radical islam is actually like, with its human-rights abuses, inferior treatment of women, and incompetence at governing is a good thing, because sooner or later, they will throw the bums out and eventually there will be an elected, moderate, secular Palestinian government and the tide of radicalism will recede. Of course, a lot of this depends on Hamas continuing to respect the democratic process once it is in power, but if it does, I think a good future will occur sometime down the road.

Comments welcome.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Delayed Reaction

After having lived in Paris for 3 and a half years, the recent riots in the suburbs came as no big suprise. One of the things you notice living here is how invisible people of color are in public spheres: on TV, in the movies, in politics, in hospitals and universities and courtrooms and businesses. France has reached a point where its reality as a multicultural society is not reflected at all in the functions and structures of everday French life.

A few things prevent France from accepting it's diversity and integrating its minorities. One is that diversity is not a really a value here. Unity and uniformity are considered by most French people the key to a successful French society (hence the infamous headscarf law). The ideal is that everyone who lives on French soil must become French in spirit. The problem is that "French" no longer means what it meant 100 years ago; colonialism carries consequences. Furthermore, it's hard to feel French when you can't get a job (no matter how good your qualifications are) because your last name sounds too Arab.

The essential French distaste for multiculturalism is evident in the fact that race isn't recognized here. It is illegal for the government to collect information or gather statistics that indicate people's ethnic or religious origins. The concept is understandable; the law was established after World War II, during which 77,000 French Jews were rounded up and deported because of their religion. The problem, however, lies--as is often the case in France--in the huge gap between principle and reality. The principle--that race and religion don't matter--is beautiful. The reality is that France (or any other country for that matter) cannot be trusted to disregard race and religion, to see only individual merit. The proof is in the results: as much as France talks about America's racist demons, the notion of a black CEO in France is all but unheard of. Race and religion DO matter in France, but they matter in the wrong way. In any case, what good is this principle of not keeping track or referring to race when everyone can tell that a French citizen named Mohammed is not a descendent of Napoleon?

Working at the International Herald Tribune and having to do research for NYT journalists in New York helped me understand how much of a problem this refusal to recognize in any major way the diversity of French society truly is. Journalists unfamiliar with French policy wanted me to find out how many French parliament members were of African or Arab origins, or the percentage of French prison inmates of immigrant backgrounds, etc.. I had to explain that in France these numbers don't exist; the French government prohibits such statistical analysis, so there are only very rough estimations. The noble principle of refusing to recognize difference therefore--and perhaps unwittingly--becomes a way of hiding a very bleak reality: that people of color in France almost categorically form a vast and struggling underclass for whom success is a far-off and unattainable notion.

France has always had a particularly hard time digesting its history. It was only in 1995 that a French president (Jacques Chirac) acknowledged France's share of responsibility in the deportation and extermination of French Jews. And it is only recently that France has recognized the torture and massacre of Algerians during the French-Algerian war. France is slow to evolve and reluctant to criticize itself. It's a proud country, steeped in history, with large open wounds which remain sensitive to the touch. And as much as I do love so many things about France (it's not for nothing that I've stayed here for the last 3 and a half years) it's hard to avoid the feeling that if France spent less time criticizing other countries (namely America)--the French national sport-- and more time confronting its own problems head-on, it would be in far better shape.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Iraqi elections: vote or die?

reposted from my blog:

"Suspected insurgents held in U.S. or Iraqi detention who have not been convicted of an offence are eligible to vote, Iraqi officials said. Saddam - who is jailed and facing trial for the deaths of more than 140 Shiites in 1982 - also has the right to vote but it was not known whether he would." -Associated Press

Wait a minute... We're spending millions to allow, among others, Iraqi prisoners to vote, but we won't lift a finger to help restore the franchise to released felons in the US?

An exercise in democracy indeed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bush is no Reagan

This is a repost of a comment I made on Brian's blog regarding the fiscal recklessness of our current President. I was responding to a Bush supporter who pointed out that our current defecit, when measured as a percentage of GDP is not the highest ever (not the most debt ever! Who would have ever thought a conservative would be using that as a defense 10 or even 5 years ago?!):

The debt of the 80's and the debt of today have two huge differences.

First, Ronald Reagan had a goal in mind that was attainable in borrowing all he did- the defeat of the USSR. He figured if we could just borrow enough to build our military up enough to get rid of the Soviets, America would end up being the sole superpower and we could generate enough wealth to then pay it off. He was correct. After the singular goal of defeating the Soviets was achieved, we were able to trim defense spending and reap the benefits of all these new markets behind the former iron curtain, and pay off unprecedented levels of that debt. Bush on the other hand, has no such goal. Even if we take the hugh leap of faith the Iraq will become a prosperous, stable democracy by the end of the decade, the only savings we'll have are the 100 billion/year we're currently spending there, which only covers about a third of our annual new debt. It won't open up any new markets for us because we already have huge trade with most countries in the middle east. Additionally, that will be the time where we start to face the rising threat of China's military, so we won't be able to cut defense spending anyway.

The second difference is that while Reagan borrowed more as a percentage of the GDP, he did not even come close to borrowing as much from foreign countries as Bush has. In fact, Bush has borrowed more from abroad in the last 5 years than his previous 42 predecessors combined. How can any self-respecting conservative defend that? If our relations deteriorate with China, they could simply ask for their money back and send our economy into a tailspin. Even if they don't, it's not good to be so dependent on any foreign country, especially a potential future rival like China. I just don't think all these potential dangers justify making such huge top-heavy tax cuts. Our taxation system was not broken before Bush took over- we were the richest and most powerful country in the world, and were paying off a ton of debt. Why would you want to drastically change anything about that situation? Any true conservative should be rooting for the democrats to win big in 06, whether it's on economic or military matters.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

AIDS Sucks

Today is World AIDS Day. I'm not going to be insultingly obvious by saying how terrible it is. But I will tell you that there is a way that you can fight AIDS at home, on your computer, without doing anything. It's a project called Fight Aids Online, made by the World Community Grid. Basically, a bunch of scientists have all this information on the HIV genome, which must be eventually decoded if a cure is to be found. The catch is that the amount of information is so immense, there is a lack of computer processing power to do whatever needs to be done. But a program on the World Community Grid lets you download a program that lets your computer process the HIV info while your computer goes to screen saver. You can get it here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Judge Alito has written:

"I believe very strongly in . . . the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values."

Segregation was a traditional value in 1950!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Revolution Has Begun

On Monday, President Bush went into Virginia to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore, who was in a dead heat in a red state. 24 hours later, Tim Kaine, his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine took the race with a clear margin. Meanwhile, Jon Corzine utterly destroyed GOP sleazeball Doug Forrester in the race for the New Jersey Statehouse. On top of all that, California rejected 4 ballot initiatives that Ahnold staked his political clout behind. On in local races, St. Paul voters threw out a durncoat democrat mayor who endorsed Bush last year, and the Suozzi-led Democrats had historic wins across Long Island. The message is clear- the GOP have been exposed for the corrupt, wasteful, incompetent, big-government hypocrites they are. The veil has been removed and Americans are not being fooled by the GOP smear machine anymore. Now, the democrats must put forward an agenda. If they do, and we mobilize and remove the remaining repbulican scum in New York's congressional delegation, I believe we really can take back one branch of government next year.

Bring on '06, baby!!!!