Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Apples

When I see what the Koch brothers are doing to undermine our democracy, I think it's time for President Obama and the Democratic Party to resurrect Theodore Roosevelt's term for such people: "Malefactors of great wealth."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Snowden in Russia

I see the administration is upset that Russia granted Snowden asylum for a year.

Let's imagine a Russian who blew the whistle on Russian domestic intelligence gathering landed in New York requesting asylum, and Russia demanded his return.

Would we send him back?

Sauce for the gander and all that...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Irresponsible Journalism

Imagine if during WWll a newspaper had published a story revealing how our knowledge of German codes had enabled us to avoid a submarine attack.  Would that be considered responsible journalism?  Because of course, the Germans would have changed their codes, meaning that we would not have had warning of another attack.

This week we read that our ability to tap a conference call among Al Qaida leaders alerted us to a new terrorist threat.  Was it responsible journalism to report that fact?  Can't we now anticipate that Al Qaida will find another way to communicate with each other, closing off what could ave been a valuable source of intelligence about future planned attacks?

The Guantanamo Conundrum

As we know (or should know), many of the prisoners held by the US at Guantanamo Bay are completely innocent.

Some of the innocent have been released, but many are still there, and the conditions under which they have been held have (understandably) radicalized them.

So here's the conundrum:  what is the morally right thing to do with people who would never have posed any threat to us if we had left them alone, but now that we have imprisoned and tortured them could be a threat to us if we released them?

Obama Still Weak on Jobs

In his July 24 address at Knox College, President Obama once again put out exactly the wrong message when he took credit for " cut(ting) the deficit by nearly half as a share of the economy since I took office."  As economists have pointed out, we should  be increasing government spending rather than cutting it (see below), even if in the short run we increase the federal deficit, as our present policies are slowing our economic recovery, and prolonging the high rate of prolonged unemployment that is ruining so many lives.  



What should the president be saying?  Well, things haven't changed enough  to make my posts of March 2011 and May this year outdated.

Agreeing With Boehner

It's not often I agree with John Boehner, but when he said, "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal", I was in complete accord.

There are thousands of laws in existence, and I've often wondered how many of those laws are still useful.  I would think one function of Congress would be to examine past laws, and repeal or amend those that have become outdated, and certainly to repeal those laws that do actual harm.

As candidates for repeal, I would first nominate the stupid, painful and damaging sequester, and second the federal drug laws that criminalize private recreational behavior,  are the drivers of much of the nation's criminal  activity, and have resulted in the US having the world's highest proportion of its citizens imprisoned.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Arithmetic

I've bee thinking how the case for adequate federal stimulus spending could have been made back in 2011, when the Democrats' made their wrongheaded pivot to austerity.

Here's how I think the case could have been presented in terms everyone can understand:

If you have a total sum made up of three parts,and two of the parts drop, the way you keep the total the same is to raise the other part.  That's simple arithmetic.
Our economy has three parts:  consumers, business, government.  We're in a situation now where consumers are spending less because so many are out of work, businesses aren't investing and hiring because folks aren't buying, so two parts of our total economy are down.  So simple arithmetic tells us that the third part of the economy, government, needs to step in to raise the total to where it was before the downturn.
Now there are some who say that by reducing government, we will magically increase the other two parts.  Sorry, I don't believe in magic, I believe in arithmetic.  If we start cutting government - laying off people, buying less from businesses so they get smaller and lay off people, then the situation gets worse.  all three parts of our economy shrink even further. That's also simple arithmetic.
So let's apply that simple arithmetic and bring our economy back up to its potential.  Some more government spending now, and cutting it back when we're at full employment and businesses are once again thriving.