Posts for Tag: politics

Deus ex Machina?

I bring up Bork not only because Sunday is a convenient anniversary. His nomination battle is also a reminder that our poisoned politics is not just about Republicans behaving badly, as many Democrats and their liberal allies have convinced themselves. Democrats can be — and have been — every bit as obstructionist, mean-spirited and unfair.

I’ll take it one step further. The Bork fight, in some ways, was the beginning of the end of civil discourse in politics. For years afterward, conservatives seethed at the “systematic demonization” of Bork, recalls Clint Bolick, a longtime conservative legal activist. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution coined the angry verb “to bork,” which meant to destroy a nominee by whatever means necessary. When Republicans borked the Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright less than two years later, there wasn’t a trace of remorse, not after what the Democrats had done to Bork. The anger between Democrats and Republicans, the unwillingness to work together, the profound mistrust — the line from Bork to today’s ugly politics is a straight one.

In a discussion of political bickering and bitterness at the New York Times, Joe Nocera puts me in mind of the story of Orestes (and the dilemma of wergild)—as revenge is sought for successive crimes, humans become embroiled in unsolvable conflict. Every attempt to seek restitution results only in another crime until finally the gods have to step in to restore order.

This is not a happy thought as it suggests that the political nonsense we seem to be locked in has no solution. Where are our gods? One flicker of hope—it makes me want to read Greek tragedy again. Would my senators and representatives get the point if I suggested that they try the same?

Tax, Deficit?

Hard to escape the cut spending and don't raise taxes argument we seem to hear from every corner of Washington these days and echoed in every form of media. I'm personally tired of Joh Boehner's insistence that every form of expenditure is "job-kiling." (Wish it would be productive for Democrats to respond to the mind-numbing and uncreative rhetoric the Republicans subject us to.) So I was glad to see Lori Montgomery's front-page in The Washington Post this morning. She offers the convincing argument  

The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts. Together, the economy and the tax bills enacted under former president George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent by President Obama, wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated revenue. That’s nearly half of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt. Federal tax collections now stand at their lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years.

Even my Congressman took a look at this article and called attention to it on Twitter.


Lori Montgomery's WaPo story on debt--how we got here--single best piece on national debt problem I've seen
5/1/11 10:38


I'm reminded of a story I saw on the NewsHour a few days ago, a commentary on the wedding in England and the backdrop of the austerity approach the British government is taking. Almost in passing, New York Times London Bureau Chief John Burns observed

JOHN BURNS: Well, it's true. It's true there is a lot of pain being inflicted by this austerity cut. The government has declared an across-the-board 20 percent cut in government expenditures over the last -- over the next four years. Put another way, it means rolling the British economy back five or six years.

A few years I was taken by a Tom Peters statement, "You can't shrink your way to greatness." It still rings true to me, and it seems to be the right frame for the current debate.

Webber on the GOP

Now, I don't care what your political persuasion, this is not a good state of affairs. A Republican Party that keeps practicing addition by subtraction only serves to polarize the national political debate, make every issue a black/white wedge issue, dampen down the capacity of elected officials who might want to get something, and drive more and more average Americans out of the political process.
If it is a conscious strategy, it is cynical beyond words.
If it is a death-wish, those of us who believe that politics and government are essential to our capacity to create and deliver a positive future can only hope that the process moves rapidly to its logical conclusion, and that at some point a more reasonable, moderate, and thoughtful Republican Party can be re-born.

After cataloging the people Republicans have alienated, Alan Webber provides this analysis and some history, too.

WaPo reveals Fimian's misquote of of Rep. Connolly. Ugly campaign in store.

At first, we were flattered to see that Fairfax Republican Congressional candidate Keith Fimian used a quote from this blog in the very first radio ad of his campaign against U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D).

But when we looked a little closer, we were less amused.

The ad works on a pig theme and accuses Connolly of going after earmarks at a time when the national debt is rising. Pretty standard political stuff.

But then, the radio narrator tells you this: "Gerry Connolly says, quote, 'I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough.' "

Connolly did indeed utter that quote during a July conference call with reporters about Republicans and the stimulus package. We put the quote on this blog.

But was he talking about himself? Nope.

He was making a point about Republican Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who he accused of touting dollars for his district after campaigning against the stimulus plan. Here was the full quote from Connolly:

"You can't have it both ways. You can't on the national stage say this is a bad bill ... but when it comes to my district I want a big chunk of that money. I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough."

This is pretty remarkable. I guess I didn't need to read it to know we're in for another long election season.

The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Globalization

Today the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can spend as much money as they want influencing American Elections.  If I lived in China or Russia, I'd be pretty happy.

The Supreme Court is made up of justices who demonstrate no understanding of how profoundly the world has changed due to changes in business, technology and communications.  Not surprising, since the average age of the justices is 67, with several members far older than that.   I suspect none of these justices ever worked in a global company.

Corporations today do not belong to any geography.  They belong to their investors.  And those investors can come from anywhere. 

I'm not too happy over the US Supreme Court allowing corporations to spend what they want in elections. The scenarios I built were all pretty local, though. This analysis from Fast Company takes a much more global perspective. Read the whole post for a scenario that isn't very pretty.

23 January

It's not taking long to find evidence for the scenario just imagined.