Friday, July 29, 2011

The difference

It couldn't be more stark. Republicans think default is only about whether we uphold our obligations to government bond holders. Rep. Tom Price (D-GA), Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, said on CNN Sunday that, even if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling:
"The U.S. won't default, because default means that you don't pay your creditors. And it takes about 10% of the money that's coming in right now" to pay interest to bondholders.
The AJC's Truth-O-Meter scored this statement as false. As they write: while it may be true that we have enough money coming in to cover our obligations to bondholders -- it would mean that the government would have to prioritize payments. If we pay the bond debts for August, then $134 billion in cuts elsewhere would be necessary for the month of August.

Here are some of the things that Rep. Price apparently thinks are less important to pay:
The cost of Medicare, $50 billion
The cost of Social Security, $49 billion
Unemployment, $12.8 billion
Salaries and benefits for federal employees, $14.2 billion
Military active-duty pay, $2.9 billion
Now, in fairness, Rep. Price didn't say those things are not important for us to pay. But, in true Republican form, his concern seems mainly with the business community, not the people's needs. George Washington University economics professor Neil Buchanan responded:
"Can you imagine the firestorm if Americans were told that we cannot afford to pay Social Security recipients because we have to pay foreign banks and governments first? . . . Any foreign investor would know that this is not politically sustainable. They would have every reason to dump our bonds or at least to require much higher rates of return."
And the AJC concludes:
"Price downplays the real risks of default and credit worthiness in a prioritization strategy that pays debt holders at the expense of other federal credit holders. So we rate his statement false."
This is the thinking of the Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, who should know better. But apparently they are blinded by their commitment to big business, wealthy donors, and an ideology of shrinking the government, spending cuts and no tax increases forever.

Could we move up the election to November 2011, please?


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let's you and him fight

Don't you just love it ?!! I mean the civil war in the GOP.

The Tea Party anti-deficit zealots (including Michele Bachmann) versus The Wall Street Journal, the National Association of Manufacturers, the national Chamber of Commerce, Standard & Poor's credit rating bureau, small business owners, the International Monetary Fund, and in a speech on the Senate floor today, John McCain, who said some of those who are relatively new to Congress are "making foolish demands."

And poor John Boehner caught in the middle, trying to whip his unruly freshman into line so they can pass his bill -- which of course will not pass the Senate. As Chuck Schumer said today:
"The Speaker's plan is on life support, and it's time for him to pull the plug. We need to move on to other plans that actually have a chance of passing.

"Even if the Speaker is able to beg, borrow and steal his way to 217 Republican votes, the bill remains a nonstarter in the Senate and the president will never sign it. The Speaker is wasting precious time. Every day he spends twisting arms in his caucus we careen closer to catastrophic default."

Yes, I love it when the other side forms a circular firing squad.

If only the results were not so disastrous for our nation and our economy. There is already some indication that, even if they manage to avoid default, our infighting has so shaken the global confidence in the U. S. that our credit rating may very well be down-graded anyway.

Something is terribly wrong with our political system when we send such idiots to make our laws, and when we allow obscene amount of money to influence -- no, to actually control -- our governmental processes. And the current pro-business Supreme Court is only making it worse.

I don't know if it is correctable. We may just have to have a revolution and start over.

And I don't say that lightly.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"He stood by his principles."

Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) was found dead at home, apparently of natural causes. He was perhaps the most controversial member of the state legislature, a sort of obsessive gadfly who annoyed fellow Republicans almost as much as Democrats.

Faithfully every year, he filed anti-abortion legislation, including proposals that would have put women who had miscarriages at risk of being accused of a criminal act; another of his bills would change rape law to replace the word "victim" with "accuser." He could tie up committee meetings for hours, trying to insert his favorite causes into other bills; and he often forced time-consuming votes in the legislature to make a point of opposing some ruling by the Speaker, even a Speaker from his own party.

And what are they saying about him, now that he has died?
"He stood by his principles."
Well, so did the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who blew up a government building and shot scores of Norway's finest young people at a government sponsored camp.

So did Jared Lee Loughner of Tucson, who tried to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others at a political rally.

It matters what those principles are that you're standing up for. Let's not forget that when we rush to speak kindly of the dead.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

$ign$ of the times

Please, people!! I just don't have enough antacids and tranquilizers to keep watching the game of chicken that's going on in Washington. It's beyond humiliating when the head of the International Monetary Fund has to urge U.S. politicians "to show some political courage," like their European counterparts, and resolve this debt ceiling crisis.

Wake me when it's over.

Meanwhile, all over town, Borders books stores are standing vacant and forlorn.

And yet, there, right in the middle of affluent Buckhead shopping district, is a new shop whose title proudly proclaims its merchandize:
"Previously Owned Luxury Watches"
So I guess even the affluent have been hard hit, and some have had to sell their Rolexes. It's a good time to pick up a bargain, if you're inclined to have such heavy metal hanging on your wrist.

Another $ign of the times:

A few months back I was predicting that the rollout of the much ballyhooed documentary about Sarah Palin's early career in politics, "The Undefeated," would be the crescendo to her announcing her candidacy for president.

Well, it premiered a couple of weeks ago, and then began a run in the theaters. I was wrong. In this week's box office receipts, it came in as #55 of all the films playing, earning a whopping $24,664 the entire July 22-24 weekend. This represents a 62% decline from last weekend and is about 1/2000th of the box office for Harry Potter, both films in their 2nd week.

Palin has been strangely silent and off the radar screen. No way this is going to morph into a run for president. I suspect it marks the beginning of the end of her lucrative moment of fame, too.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Norway terrorism

The first reports about the bombing in Oslo and the shooting rampage at a youth camp in Norway, which killed at least 85 people, made the initial assumption that it was possibly the work of Al Qaeda in retaliation for Norway's role as part of the NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Now we learn that -- quite the opposite -- it was the heinous work of 32-year-old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who has been identified as a right-wing fanatic who hated "cultural marxists" and was trying to start a crusade against the spread of Islam in Norway.

He seems to ascribe to ultra right wing bigotry, has apparently admitted he made the attacks but was quoted by his lawyer as saying that his acts were "atrocious, but necessary."

A video he had apparently posted on YouTube had the caption: "Before we can start our crusade we must do our duty by decimating cultural marxism."

To me, this is far too familiar as the extreme position of what we're hearing in our country every day. All the ranting about Obama imposing "socialism," as though he were the devil incarnate.

Islam has no monopoly on religious/cultural extremism. This anti-Islam atrocity in Norway should make people think twice about the anti-Muslim bigotry expressed by Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

He has been trying to backtrack ever since his first statement that he wouldn't be comfortable having a Muslim as a member of his cabinet. He has since allied himself with those protesting the building of a mosque in Tennessee. And he still maintains that "any community has a right to ban a mosque."

Newt Gingrich was hardly less vocal in his opposition to the building of an Islam communit center and mosque in lower Manhattan.

How different from Anders Breivik's manifesto are some of the rhetoric and the protest signs that show up at Tea Party crowds and other rabid Obama-hating rallies? Not a whole lot. Multi-culturalism, socialism, Muslims wanting to take over our country and impose Shariah law. Lumping all Muslims with their extremists and wanting to tar them all with the same brush.

The hatred and fear is at a fever pitch, even in this country. True leaders should be addressing those fears, not inciting them even further.

There are just enough kooks and mentally unstable folks out there who will pick up the assault rifles and start shooting -- to carry out the acts that this kind of rhetoric suggests, even if they deny that they intend violence.