Tag Archives: Republicans

I must have missed the meeting

downton abbey-Repug versionThe Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired last year and has not been reauthorized. The law has been held hostage by the Republican men on the Judiciary Committee over some asinine pretexts that the law might could be used to expand protection of undocumented or LGBT victims and allow tribal governments to arrest paleface abusers.

VAWA is not your everyday-no-big-deal-who-cares-we-can-live-without-it kind of law. This law changed everything for victims of domestic battering, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes. It also changed everything for those who were trying to help – law enforcement, courts, social services and non-profits. VAWA funded local grants, which brought together and coordinated victim response, funded shelters, rape crisis centers, legal assistance and prevention programs. VAWA made domestic violence a federal crime, and for the first time, began protecting victims with disabilities, victims held hostage by their immigration status, Native Americans, teenagers and families. VAWA became law in 1994, written by then Senator Joe Biden and signed by President Clinton, and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 with broad bipartisan support. Going back to 1994 is unthinkable.

Last week, the bill reauthorizing VAWA (S. 1925) finally got out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The vote was 10-8 with all Republican men voting against it. No telling when it could be scheduled for a vote or how many Republican men are planning to try and stop it.

If this isn’t about Republican men versus women, then they need to prove it.

Having spent last week listening to a debate about contraception that would have been out of place in episodes of Mad Men or PanAm, it seems now that the issue may not have been settled, at least not if Republican men have anything to say about it. Catholic Bishops, all men, are also not satisfied with the semantic compromise and now acting as if they wish to debate how their religious freedom extends to their corporate businesses and argue that their church’s freedom is more important than people’s freedom or equal protection.

This “religious” debate is about the minimum standards of coverage for health insurance policies — sort of like the minimum things in peanut butter to be labeled, “peanut butter;” or the minimum things included in a car to make it safe; or the minimum standards for clean air or water. In this case, it is about a list of zero-copay, preventive services and medicines, which have proven – yes, using facts – to lower the cost of health care and save lives. (Author’s note: I personally believe that saving lives is more important than saving souls, but realize there is not a bipartisan consensus on this issue.) Contraceptives are included in the list, not because of politics, but because they have been proven to save lives and money. But this debate is not about cost – inclusion of contraceptives is cost neutral and over time will save money.

There seems to be no “religious” argument about free condoms. Condoms are used by men. Men don’t get pregnant, aren’t at risk to die or endure complications while pregnant, don’t carry or deliver babies, and generally, aren’t even in a child’s life unless they want to be or are required by a court of law.

The “religious” argument is only about those working for corporate businesses owned by churches — churches are exempt from the law. The argument is only about contraception and only about denying access to poor working women, which could save their lives, while, in the opinion of their employer, could at the same time damn them to hell. Okay, it is also about individual privacy. Don’t forget, just last month, the Supreme Court confirmed that ministerial exception extended to church corporate businesses – women who decide they’d prefer to risk hell someday over death now, could easily lose their job without recourse.

If this isn’t about Republican men in cahoots with Religious men versus women, then they need to prove it.

What a time to be a woman? Forty years since ERA passed, but fell short of ratification,* we seem to be going backward. Fast. Traditional women’s issues are really family issues — equality, education, environment, healthcare, childcare, and peace — all under fire from the Republican right.

Also last week, we heard way too much clarification from Santorum, the Republican front runner, of his ideas on women —

On women in combat: “my concern is being in combat in that situation instead of being focused on the mission, they may be more concerned with protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position.”

On rape: when asked by Piers Morgan, “Do you really believe, in every case, it [sic: abortion] should be totally wrong, in the sense that — I know that you believe, even in cases of rape and incest — and you’ve got two daughters. You know, if you have a daughter that came to you who had been raped.” Santorum responded with, “Yes.”

On unmarried mothers: “The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong.”

On stay-at-home mothers: “Respect for stay-at-home mothers has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders’ war on the traditional family and radical feminism’s misogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect.’’

On equal opportunity: “Radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.” — Washington Post

This week’s Republican front runner (Author’s note: at posting the decision had yet to be made whether to recount the Maine caucus results, which could either confirm Romney as the winner and this week’s front runner or make Ron Paul the winner and front runner. Should Ron Paul or Newt officially become this week’s front runner, I will add their hateful statements in an update.), Mitt Romney, is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and once was bishop of his Belmont, Mass., congregation and later president of the Boston stake (Mormon for division or area). While he seldom goes on record, his beliefs on the roles of women are consistent with his church, “woman’s primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband” (McConkie 844), but evolving. Anti-abortion, even at the risk of the life of the mother unless he’s running for Senate and then he’s supportive of women’s rights unless he’s running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Just two weeks ago, the Republican men in the House were, “mounting an assault on women’s health and freedom that would deny millions of women access to affordable contraception and life-saving cancer screenings and cut nutritional support for millions of newborn babies in struggling families. And this is just the beginning…

…include the elimination of support for Title X, the federal family planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. In the absence of Title X’s preventive care, some women would die. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health, says a rise in unintended pregnancies would result in some 400,000 more abortions a year.” – New York Times

Even our beloved and trusted, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, took a stand against women before they reversed their decision and asked for another chance.

I keep asking myself, how is all of this possible? If there was an organizing meeting on this war against women, I missed it. Surely this isn’t coming from political consultants. There are more women than men, and more registered female voters. Seems like a political strategy destined to lose. It can’t be totally grass roots — I know some Republican men who treat their wives and daughters as if they were equal. There must be more to it.

The poor are always disproportionately women. How can any Republican person of faith or free thinker (forget that, they couldn’t be Republicans) conclude that good policy is balancing the budget on the backs of the poor? Yes, in the Bible, Jesus says, “ye have the poor always with you,” but that should not inspire Republican men to want to have more in poverty. Surely preventive medical care, adequate nutrition and quality schools costs less than generational poverty, prison and emergency room health care. Or is there more to this? Is it to keep wages low to attract industries and inspire real estate deals?

Or could it be the Tim Tebow corollary – God decides who wins, but won’t necessarily pick you every week?

Could it be that male Republican candidates are just trying to win the favor of God?

Does God really hate women or is the Old Testament God still mad about that garden of eden thing?

Or are Republicans trying to win the favor of religious voters fixated on a time way back when dominating men were relevant, though assholes?

Are Republican elected leaders and candidates really that stupid? How can they be pro-family and anti-woman?

Could the increase in partisan misogyny be a delayed reaction to mothers a generation ago switching from nursing to formula?

Then, I turn on the television. The role models for this type of behavior are all there. The stereotypes. The sexism. The boys club thinking. The wealthy who don’t need two working in a household. The idiotic singles sitcoms. Or Downton Abbey, oh, those were the best of times when all was perfect for the gentry – when roles were right and all others were beaten or jailed – when women could aspire to be a maid, but not a butler. All in prime time. Local news may be worse –  by turning a light on the personal tragedy of the hour and asking the “tough questions” of how battery feels or how could such a fine young man go wrong? And then, of course, there is the cable “news.”

Or is this really just about something Republican men are not able to understand? That women are people, too.

Author’s note:  And that’s just in the US. Around the world, …

*Full text, for those who might have forgotten why the Equal Rights Amendment was so controversial, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”) Just for the record, the ERA needed three more states. Here’s a list of those that did not ratify: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia.

Rebels Without a Clue

Rebels Without A ClueThe political equivalent of testosterone has the potential of doing something that bullets, bombs, ordinary corruption, conspiracies and daylight failed to do for over 300 years.

Maybe that’s over the top – we’ll see. But the dumbed down, “grass roots” electorate who voted and gave a path to power to weak minded new politicians and reelected old politicians who saw the light of promised, simple solutions to complicated problems, have us – all of us – in a game of chicken over the debt limit that should never have been played.

Those aware, should remember the game of chicken from Rebel Without a Cause. Two testosterone laced teenagers drive toward a cliff with a plan to jump out of the cars they do not own at the last possible moment. The one who jumps first is the chicken. Life to this point was irrelevant. Only the dare was important. The game didn’t have to happen until they decided that it did and then it had to. Only one could win, both could die, but both could survive. In the movie, Buzz, played by Corey Allen, caught his sleeve in the door handle, couldn’t jump out and the car and Buzz go off the cliff into the ocean.

In my metaphor, the Republicans have caught their promise not to raise taxes in the door of their car. Obama has caught the sleeve of revenue vs. fairness in his. Our cliffhanger is only ten days from the edge and it looks as if they are both going off the cliff and taking us with them. Our only hope is they will hit the brakes and save us all. Chicken is not the worst outcome. Going off the cliff is.
___

Note: this story has been updated to correct a plot error caught by an alert Dew reader.

Winning the Unpopular Vote

We the Republicans © Dana S. Rothstein #133535On face value, it might seem stupid to run for office on issues sure to piss off the majority of people. Take, for instance, the Republican party (please). They are, of course, against Democrats who make up 34-45% of the US population, depending on the day and who’s counting. The percentage of each party varies by state or district, but generally, about 15% of the voters decide who will win and who will lose.

Some might argue, a campaign of inclusion (suggested search term: democracy) would be the best way to reach that 15% swing vote. So how do the Republicans expect to win elections when they are also in lockstep against:

  • People on Medicare (at least, 15% of US population)
  • People on Medicaid (at least, 12.6% of US population)
  • People who are unemployed (at least, 9.1% of US population, unless you also include those of us who have given up or work multiple jobs, etc.)
  • People who believe abortion should be legal (at least, 56% of US population)
  • People who believe and are concerned about global climate change (at least, 71% of US population)
  • People without health insurance (at least, 14.3% of US population – under 65, not eligible for Medicaid)
  • Immigrants (at least, 13% of US population, most all of us if you go back a few generations)
  • Blacks (at least, 12.6% of US population)
  • Union members (at least, 12.1% of US population)
  • Government workers (at least, 4% of US population)
  • LGBT (at least, 3.8% of US population)
  • Muslims (at least, .6% of US population)
  • Agnostic and athiests (at least, .9% of US population)
  • Plus, all those little groups, including elites, people who believe in science, are against guns, war, monopolies, corporate funding of campaigns, listen to NPR, don’t watch Fox, etc.

You shouldn’t just add these numbers up. People are members of more than one group. Groups don’t vote as a block. And people are more likely these days to vote against a candidate or even a single issue than for one. But with only 15% in play, it still doesn’t seem to pass a logic test that this Republican strategy can be successful.

It might surprise you, but according to Gallop,

“The most balanced political states in 2008 were Texas (+2% Democratic), South Dakota (+1% Democratic), Mississippi (+1% Democratic), North Dakota (+1% Democratic), South Carolina (even), Arizona (even), Alabama (+1% Republican), and Kansas (+2% Republican).”

Each of these states voted for McCain in the 2008 Presidential election. Each with a Republican governor, Republican upper and lower house majority, with a solidly Republican US house delegation, and at least one Republican Senator (only South Dakota, North Dakota and Mississippi had a Democrat Senator).

How is that possible in these “balanced” states? Assuming vote counting was accurate, the only answer can be that it is about who votes, and more importantly these days, who doesn’t vote.

Let’s start with voter suppression 101:

  • Make it hard to vote. Limit early voting to a few inconvenient locations away from poor areas with limited hours, few machines and rumors of long lines. Force people to take time off from work, give up their hourly pay and put their jobs at risk. Works particularly well for people who are struggling.
  • Require a valid photo ID. This works well for those who are older and may not have a drivers license or be able to afford to apply and pay for an alternative. It is also effective to keep away the homeless or those whose identification doesn’t reflect an accurate address because of eviction, foreclosure or change of status.
  • Purge the voter rolls. This is very popular, effective and there a lot of variations to the scheme. Mismatch names or social security numbers and make people prove they aren’t who some computer thinks they might be (suggested search terms: Georgia purge voters). Or prove they are citizen. Or make them wait in long lines to vote on a provisional ballot that may not be counted.
  • Create long lines. Easy to do. Just send few voting booths to the polling place you want to suppress and more to the polling place you wish to help. Also very effective to provide few people or broken machines. Long enough lines, and people will go home (suggested search term: Ohio long lines polls).
  • Caging lists. Republicans send out registered mail to the address of a voter in a district they wish to suppress. If returned, they contest the ballot. Expected to be particularly effective with the foreclosure crisis.
  • Robo calls. Hire your telemarketer to call registered voters who you don’t wish to vote and tell them their polling place has changed. Or they’ll be arrested (suggested search term: Virginia robo calls vote).
  • Contest new registration. A favorite of Republicans during the last few cycles. Republicans have attempted to force verifications of mail in forms. They have even offered rewards to find bogus registration by community groups and have threatened prosecutions.
  • Make absentee ballots as confusing as possible. Seems obvious. Put the right information in the wrong place and your vote doesn’t count.
  • Prison disenfranchisement. 5.3 million mentally competent and able adult Americans (we are the only democracy in the world that does it) are not allowed to vote because they have been either incarcerated, on parole or on probation. Click here for a state list.
  • Pray for rain, sleet, snow, dark of night. Surely, the Republicans will do this. Time will tell if it will be effective.

In 2008, more than 130 million people voted – the highest percentage in a generation. The surge of voters were mostly among black, Hispanic and young voters. Without that higher turnout, McCain would have won. The Republicans are counting on making your life so miserable this time around that you stay at home.

What a Week

President Obama at White House Correspondents DinnerDuring Friday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner, President Obama paused during his remarks, smiled thoughtfully and said, “What a week.” We had no idea.

In addition to his everyday duties, briefings, meetings with the National Security Team, the Attorney General, Defense Secretary,  Secretary of State, Congresspeople, Governors, etc., doing press interviews, hosting Crown Princes and Presidents, working to fix our immigration problems, manage a few a wars, and commemorating the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, our President took time to do a few more things that made last week seemed pretty amazing.

It started out ordinary enough as he and the first family hosted the Easter Egg Roll. By Wednesday morning, he and Michelle were in Chicago doing Oprah, then to New York for a fund raiser and back to Washington. Thursday, he announced a new National Security Team and presented his long form birth certificate. Friday he and Michelle were in Alabama to view the storm damage, meet with Governor then on to Florida to meet with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and view the final space shuttle launch. Fortunately, the Endeavor  was aborted (still legal), so he could get back for the Correspondents Dinner and a relaxing weekend at the White House. All that was planned, was his Saturday address announcing a plan to end oil subsidies at this time of record oil company profits;  the special ops mission to take out bin Laden and a relaxing bipartisan dinner Monday night with leaders of both houses to informally discuss the budget and Republican plans to hold the nation hostage on debt ceiling. OK, that was eight days.

Recapping: Easter Egg Roll; Oprah; new National Security Team; long-form birth certificate; Libya; immigration reform; multi-state natural disaster; Correspondents Dinner; announce plans to end oil subsidies; take out bin Laden; host bipartisan dinner to talk about the budget; help kids with their homework. The reviews aren’t all in, but early reports suggest it was a pretty good week.

Monday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

Monday:

What on his schedule this week?

Southern governors (all but one, Republican), report the Federal response to the disaster has been almost perfect – Google “Bush Katrina” to be reminded of the political risk of natural disasters. This week and next, of course, he’ll also be dealing with the greatest flood surge along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers since 1927.

Celebrations have broken out evoking a sense of relieve and patriotism not seen in decades – Google “Carter Hostage Rescue” to be reminded of the political risk of precision military operations. Perhaps, we should also be reminded that it was during last week, that NATO missiles missed Gaddafi and killed his son and grandchildren – something that President Obama will be dealing for a while.

And then there is debt ceiling. Is it possible that Republicans, back fresh from two-weeks being yelled at by constituents for voting to end Medicare and Medicaid, stinging from watching a competent president succeed where others failed, and flushed with patriotism for the bin Laden mission, will do what’s important for our country and pass the debt ceiling? Or will they march as lemmings off a cliff and take the world’s economy with them? That’s something that President Obama has already started working on this week. The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department has begun implementing some emergency measures that buys 25 more days than expected to solve the political issues – we have now until August 2nd before default. Stay tuned. The week has barely just begun.

Update 05.03.11: Reuters reports the Mississippi River dropped a foot within hours of levee detonation and the NY Times reports it saved Cairo, IL. Obama has more work to do, though, the Army Corp of Engineers warns the river may rise again and isn’t expected to crest in New Orleans until May 22nd.

Update 05.03.11: Newsweek/Daily Beast reports the week might not have been so good. In a survey just completed, President Obama got no post-bin Laden bump in approval ratings saying, “The clear reason: It’s the economy, stupid. Even after Bin Laden’s death, only 30 percent think the country is on the right track, and only 27 percent think the economy is on the right track.”

Update 05.03.11: Not so fast, the Los Angeles Times reports a survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post, shows President Obama’s approval rating jumping nine points post-bin Laden to 56%; a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation showing a four-point bump to 52%; USA Today/Gallup poll finding “32% said they feel more confident in Obama as commander while 21% said they feel a little more confident;” and “Ipsos-Reuters poll said that their view of Obama’s leadership had improved in the wake of the raid.” The Times went on to say, “Overnight polls are notoriously fickle and often differ from each other on the questions asked and the numbers computed.”

Update 05.03.11: Over a drink together, Chris Matthews reminded me that on Friday, President Obama also gave the commencement address at Miami-Dade College (4/30/11), let’s watch:

Update 05.04.11: CBS News reports a “new CBS News/New York Times poll found that 57 percent of Americans generally approve of Mr. Obama in the wake of the raid in Pakistan. Two weeks ago, when bin Laden was still America’s most-wanted terrorist, the president’s overall approval rating was at 46 percent. A whopping 85 percent of those polled gave Mr. Obama high marks for his handling of the operation to find bin Laden.”

Update 05.04.11: Channel 6 News reports the Army Corp plans to blow additional sections of levees along the Mississippi in Mississippi County, MO; New Madrid, MO; and Hickman, KY. Tough decisions. Huge stakes in the lives of residents and politically for the Obama administration.

Georgia House Bill 277

Feral HogI’m no fan of feral hogs, even when they aren’t in the Georgia House. A few years back, I was taking a long walk toward the sunrise on a desolate stretch of beach along the edge of the Hobcaw Barony, just north of Georgetown, SC, when one of these evolutionary misfits, the real ones, not the elected kind, bounded over the dunes.

The feral hog was surely trophy size, a few hundred pounds or better. Ignoring my instinct to run screaming, I calmly called on all my wildlife knowledge. If it were a bear, my left brain thought to myself, I should play dead. No f’ng way, thought my right brain interrupting loudly. Has it seen me? The sun was just coming up over the ocean, perhaps I should be still and hope he, she, it moves on. Of course it was low tide and safety of the surf fifty yards away. Surely these devil inspired nightmares can’t swim. They can and can run up to 30 mph. I can run four or five miles an hour. It seemed to be eating the dune grass. I considered it was a good sign that it didn’t have an arm in its big ugly tusks. The standoff continued. I, hiding my fear. He, she it, ignoring the predator, me, on the beach. Then it disappeared back over the dune.

I have mixed feelings about deer. The Bambiesque Key deer that are so tame they’ll feed out of your hand, are awfully cute. A month or so after a visit to Little Palm Island,  where we had gotten to hang out with the Key Deer, I woke one night to find my wife in the middle of the bedroom floor petting the invisible Key deer she was dreaming about.

Then there are those other deer. The ones who play chicken games late at night with motorists. Imagine the love you’d have for this future venison, if you, in the late stages of a midlife crisis were driving an Alfa Romeo Spider on a deserted moonless night around midnight. You were on the back road shortcut halfway from North Augusta to Charleston. You were taking a curve a couple of miles above the speed limit  knowing why you owned a sports car, when a herd of deer suddenly froze in your headlights. Alfas, at six inches off the ground, don’t run over deer. Deer run, roll, bounce and jump over Alfas. It is tradition for hunters to rub the blood of their first deer on themselves. It was my blood that was all over me. With no headlights, a mangled hood, broken windshield, torn top and freshly installed spare on the front right, I creeped along for a few miles until I spotted lights. A late night bar was not as good as a service station, but I walked in and asked for help, “I just hit a herd of deer and am bleeding.”

There were about a dozen patrons and a single voice yelled out, “where?”

I answered, “my head.”

“No, where’d you hit the deer?” came the same voice back.

“A couple miles west,” I offered. The bar emptied. Even the bartender left in the race for my trophies. This is what it feels like to be bait, for deer. Two months and almost $10 grand later, I got the car back. I also began to develop a taste for venison.

My only hunting experience is shooting children and their parents. I have never shot a feral hog or a deer, so maybe I’m not qualified to weigh in on Georgia House Bill 277. In fact, I’ve never hunted at all. My grandson’s 10th birthday party was held at Charleston Paintball. I had some trepidation about it. My people, as they say in Charleston, weren’t gun people. I convinced myself that it would be like using water pistols. It is not. I don’t recommend it for anyone, unless I don’t like you.

Charleston Paintball is less than a mile from the entrance to the Air Force base. On this Saturday in February, there were perhaps a thousand people gathered to hunt each other. Mostly men and their boys. Many who looked as if they came right off the battlefield. Fully equipped with special guns, extra ammo, paint grenades, even body armor. Every one of them looked the part for the role they’d play that day. There is an odd sense of safety you feel when you start out. Everyone must wear protective garb. Everyone must have their weapon check to ensure the air rifles weren’t too powerful. Everyone looked as if they were going to wipe out a terrorist group – or a school – and enjoy it. Fortunately, we had a private group with our own referee. I was also relieved to find that we had two surgeons in our group. Even I was beginning to think this would be a time I’d always remember.

The first staged battle went well. I was just sitting, awaiting the attack on our fort. A random high shot hit me in the arm and I was out. It stung a bit, but it was all good fun. The second battle went even better. After killing two beautiful little boys with perfect between-the-eyes shots, I snuck up on my grandson. He and I were the only ones left. He was hiding out in the fort when I took him out with a couple of shots to his abdomen.

The rest of the day didn’t go so well. I experienced brutal death after brutal death. Everyone learned a little about strategy. It took me a few hours to learn the best strategy is to get off the battlefield. Even with all the protective equipment, those damn paintballs will draw blood – mine included. They hurt like a son of bitch. And almost six weeks later, I still have deep bruises. If you shoot the guns fast enough, which little boys like to do, the compressed air in the gun freezes the paint and the plastic balls impact with the hurt of a golf ball. Experiencing it first hand, paintball is particularly lousy for the targets. I suspect the feral hogs and deer feel that way, too.

Yesterday, the Georgia Senate passed HB 277 . Existing law had allowed baiting fields for feral hogs and deer, but prohibited shooting them within sight, or within 200 yards of the bait. Obviously, this was unprogressive and unfairly benefited the wealthy who owned big tracks of land. The new law, which the Governor plans to sign, only affects the “Southern zone” of Georgia, changes the restriction to 50 yards, and you can shoot ‘em if you see them. Power to the people.

Opponents of the legislation, suggest that the change in this law is unethical, barbaric, unsportsmanlike, and that claims of wildlife management and health benefits are untrue. Read more of the arguments from the Political Vine, a site “produced by Georgia Republican Activisits”: HB 277: Deer Hunter vs. Deer Hunter and HB 277: Deer Hunting Over Bait – Unethical on So Many Levels, Part 2.

I know that the great state of Georgia has some important issues before the legislature this year. With only 40 days to eat barbecue, meet with lobbyists, and the like, it is really hard to balance the budget, while not raising taxes on anyone connected and by only cutting programs for the poor, underrepresented, or those popular with the opposing party. It is a tough task to assign the state’s priorities and invest in programs that will benefit the next generation of Republicans, while at the same time competing with the other great states of the deep South to stay out of the ranking cellar in education, life expectancy, obesity, poverty, teen pregnancy, unemployment, etc. – or, for that matter, competing with the other great states of the deep South to stay near the top of the rankings for business climate, miles of roads built, prison population, football and hunting. Speaking on behalf of all Georgians, I just want to say thank you – and, please, go home soon.

Stimulus Hawk

In a dramatic achievement of bipartisan compromise, the Clinton-Obama administration has announced a compromise with Republicans for continued stimulus spending – deficit be damned – as long as the economy, as judged by the Chamber of Commerce, deems it appropriate. No, extending the Bush tax cuts for the superwealthy was so last week. Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stuck in the malaise of the post-prozac depression, we simply cannot afford to have hundreds of thousands of Americans return home off combat pay. The effect on Visa and Mastercard write-offs would be massive. Public relations spokespeople for virtually every economist who has ever appeared on TV, have stated that, “America needs the stimulus from combat-death life insurance pay-outs to the surviving families to keep our communities vibrant and our schools and VA hospitals open.” Were one of these wars to suddenly come to an end, every American would suffer from the effect of those laid-off in the bomb, bullet, flack jacket, tank, predator drone, helicopter, MRE, spy satellite, cargo plane and cable news industries. The effect would be enormous – we would have to go back to watching people talk about abortion and the protection of marriage.

Were the totally implausible to occur, ‘peace’, the opportunity for middle-aged former veterans to sell themselves to companies formerly known as Prince, for only five times what real soldiers make, is over. Stop. Think for a moment. Without thousands of flights per month half way around the world, what would happen to the price of oil? What would happen to community college language programs in middle eastern dialects? What would happen to the army of friendless nerds working for letter divisions of government who spend their waking hours listening in on phone conversations to and from war zones? Zeltch. Nada. Unemployment. Just imagine for a moment how long they could make it on the street as homeless.

We cannot afford to let his happen. We must support the wars. We must stand against peace. Whatever wars they want, for whatever reason, we need this. For capitalism. For free enterprise. For if we stop fighting over there, the war will leave your street and come to Wall Street.

It is cannot be about winning un-winnable wars. Look what happened to Russia when they left Afghanistan – their economy was destroyed and their government overthrown. We’ve been in Afghanistan now longer the Russians. We cannot afford to ever leave.

If you have not gotten it yet, think for a moment about the people. Awash with dollars in a country where malls are made of clay, how could they survive on poppy production alone? What will happen if the Taliban were to take over the Pakistan nukes? Preemptive strike by India? Or will Ms. Clinton invite a short Pakistani general to come back to power? Would Pakistan make new nuke sales to future terrorist states, such as Brazil or Canada or, god forbid, Mexico? Would Osama come out of his cave leaving us with no enemy to be the focus of our fear? No, we must stay the course.

The joint chiefs, in an announcement approved by Hillary Clinton, have weighed in, “No comment.” Unnamed, anonymous and/or innocuous or vague sources have confirmed that “as long as Wikileaks is plugged, you’ll have to check with the White House or, even, the State Department for an official statement that can be parroted in your blog.” China and Saudi Arabia are on board. Publicly, the EU is for peace, but not at the price of not war. The rest of the world is just too busy or hungry to care.

Perhaps, someone like Senator Jim DeMinted (T, SC) will state it best, “In this time when our very way of life is being threatened by godless people who have run out of money, I’m pro-offense spending. Especially, if we have to cut taxes and social security to pay for it.”

We need to stop thinking about war as, well, “war.” We need to cease our fixation with the sounds of explosions, the blood of innocent children and camps of refugees. We need to embrace that war is about the economy and jobs – our jobs. We need to come together and support our troops in protecting our way of life.

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence. ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic. ~A. J. P. Taylor

When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid, it can’t last long.” But though a war may be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. ~Albert Camus

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one. ~Agatha Christie

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~Anonymous (German)

War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Make wars unprofitable and you make them impossible. ~A. Philip Randolph

Lame Canard Session

The stakes are enormous: millions of Americans have lost their meager unemployment benefits; job creation is abysmal; unemployment is increasing; municipal and state governments are in dire need of revenue; the Bush-era tax cuts will expire on December 31st; and obstructionism in Congress is sure to be even worse in the next session.

Our formerly hopeful, now pragmatic President, knowing just how close our economy is to falling off the cliff, has embraced compromise to get help from Senate Republicans to stimulate the economy. The Republicans in the Senate, knowing that a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts is precisely the issue they will need for the 2012 election, are willing to compromise all principles to throw some scraps at the poor by extending unemployment benefits for a year and a month (past the next holiday season). Both parties are anxious for the one-year cut in payroll taxes that is also in the deal.

So just how bad is the deal?
Allowing the unemployment benefits to expire makes almost no economic sense. The stipend is tiny, but merciful, and it goes immediately back into the economy providing stimulus we badly need. How long it should be extended is debatable, but ending it before we have job growth is the answer.

Allowing the tax cuts to expire will hurt the working poor: the bottom 10% bracket will disappear and go back to 15%, plus the earned income tax credits will expire.

Allowing the tax cuts to expire will hurt the middle class: tax rates will increase 3%; families will lose $500 per child in deductions and some tuition credits; and singles will lose the marriage penalty fix. The House has already passed a bill to extend breaks for the poor and middle class. Should the bill fail to pass the Senate, there may be plenty of support for fixing it next year – especially if the economy continues to flounder.

Allowing the tax cuts to expire will bother the rich: 30 years ago, the top marginal income tax rate was 70%, now it is 35% and would go back up to 38%. Dividends will be again taxed as ordinary income, which it is. The long term capital gains rate, now zero, will go back up to 10%-20% – temporarily cutting the capital gains rate can create an incentive to invest, while cutting the tax rate to zero and keeping it there, does just the opposite. Estate taxes will go back into effect with a $1 million deductible.

The Bush tax cuts were spectacularly effective in increasing the wealth of the richest Americans and turned our surplus to deficit. The next 10-year cost of extending the tax cuts is about $4 trillion,

“…three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending. And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare,” according to Paul Krugman.

But is this just a canard? Hard to know. This lame duck session of Congress is, mercifully, coming to an end soon. It seems likely the Obama-Republican compromise could pass the Senate, but whether the House will betray the same progressive beliefs as our President, is a toss up.