30 Dec 2010

Through the recent tax bill vote and through reactions to the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, we are able to begin sorting the "Deficit Hawks" from the "Deficit Albatrosses" in Congress.  We'll start today with the Senate deficit hawks. December's compromise tax bill raises deficits on both ends -- decreased tax rates and increased spending.  Only 19 Senators and 148 Representatives voted against this Deeper Deficit Bill, as it might be called.  Also in December, the Simpson-Bowles Debt Panel released its final recommendations -- many spending cuts with some tax increases.  While Congress as a whole has not been forced to vote on Simpson-Bowles, a number of Congressmen and -women have availed themselves of the opportunity to support it or to denounce it. The good news is that at least 25 Senators out of 100 have now taken tough stands for cutting the deficit (not counting those leaving office next week, and not counting a couple of mayb...

30 Dec 2010

I do try to find examples of agreement with those who I diametrically oppose philosophically. It doesn't happen often with hard core Libertarians, but a post by Larry Elder (found via Booker Rising) on Townhall just caught my eye. In his book Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, John Avlon comes up with the term of Bush Derangement syndrome for a list of strange beliefs that the left invented to attack George W. Bush and his administration. Much of this has died down since Obama took office (making way for the rise of Obama derangement syndrome on the right), but there are still signs that it is still alive and well in the minds of lefties everywhere. Elder points out the hypocrisy of the left assaulting Bush and company for supposedly being behind a nefarious plot to inflate oil prices. Obama even suggested the FTC investigate oil companies to see if price manipulation was going on. But low and behold... when prices rise to ...

29 Dec 2010

[screenshot of the tweet is lost] I stumbled across this tweet, and it got me thinking. Put succinctly, Assange has the blood of probably dozens of Afghan informants on his hands, and for damn sure he's made it harder for our forces to collect intelligence from potential informants who must now fear the same fate. Our intelligence agencies will never release how many, and how many of our own soldiers' lives, as well as the lives of civilians, may have been saved with the information that these informants no longer will be giving us, but I don't think its outlandish that the number could be easily in the three digits. Even if that number is high, take a moment to think about how much blood they have on their hands. Is this going too far? I don't think so. It wasn't but a few years ago when Dick Cheney and Robert Novak were raked across the coals for outing ONE CIA agent. Comparing what they did to Assange would be like comparing the fa...

29 Dec 2010

Cathy Young, a writer at Real Clear Politics, made some great points in an op-ed for Boston.com today. Most of the article is spent debunking some of the more stupid straw men attacks that have been leveled at No Labels of late. I particularly like this part: ...whatever its weaknesses, No Labels is at least trying to address a very real problem: the debasement of our political culture to something between a playground squabble and a war zone. Columnist George F. Will, who mocks the No Labelers as would-be “national scolds,’’ argues that democratic politics are driven by “intensely interested . . . partisans of various causes.’’ True; but No Labels co-founder John Avlon, a former speechwriter for Republican New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is also right to stress that “our domestic political opponents are not our sworn enemies.’’ If we cannot agree on at least this, we are on a dangerous path. Of course the extremes don't want this to work... it thre...

29 Dec 2010

To a non-ideologue, none of the established political parties out there are appealing. They have their ideology, entrenched interests and a few other flaws, e.g. political donors asking for what they want. For a pragmatic realist, the ideal political centrist party might look something like this: Pragmatic and grounded in reality because ideology distorts reality, limits creative thinking and usually delivers failure, which is what we have lots of at the moment. Strong enough to reject special interest money and "campaign contributions". Committed to find and implement policies, when it can be done, based on honest cost-benefit analysis using unspun data (not using the vacuous smoke and mirrors normally used by special interests, including the Democratic and Republican parties, labor unions, business interests and all the rest). Committed to shrewd and intelligent use of government to foster America's economic global competitiveness...

28 Dec 2010

Mark Yzaguirre has a great post on over at Frum Forum that dismantles some of the most used attacks against No Labels that have popped up in the last few days. For example: One critique is that No Labels is an attempt at politics without parties and it asks the public to shun the idea of political labeling.  This is a misreading of what No Labels is about.  If you go to No Labels’ website, you’ll see explicit statements saying that No Labels does not expect people to forget about real political differences or to seek bipartisanship for its own sake. What No Labels seeks is for political leaders and activists to approach public policy without the assumption that only one party or ideological group has a monopoly on truth, and with a temperament that recognizes such limitations.  No human system is perfect, including our own political parties and ideologies, and acknowledgment of that is more than just civility. Personally, I am a Democrat and ...

25 Dec 2010

As I've said in several posts, the tax deal between Obama and the Republicans wasn't compromise, but more of a horse trade, where each got what they wanted without having to pay for it. But as people have had more time to look at the details of the bill, it becomes even more clear how much of a illustrative example this was of corrupt and inside dealing. Independent Rage sums it up nicely here: ...the "tax bill" contains all kinds of horse$hit having nothing whatsoever to do with income tax rates. Here's some examples: Tax breaks for producing movies and TV shows in Hollywood. Rum subsidies for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Grants to put up windmills. Grants for producing solar energy. Tax breaks for people to buy race horses. Tax breaks related to railroad track maintenance. Other breaks for motorsport racetrack upgrades. And if you're like me and most Americans -- i.e. not really involved in a great deal of movi...

24 Dec 2010

In my latest post on over at WNYC's 'Its a Free Country' site, I was asked to talk about how 2010 treated centrists. For anyone not trying to pull some major spin, its pretty clear that it was a terrible year for us. Here's a sample: One major silver lining is that, as ideologues push moderates out of each party and look to keep centrist independents out of power, more and more of us are finally getting fed up enough with the way things are going. Perhaps we'll start doing something about our frustrations. As favorability ratings of both parties continue their decline, each cycle sees more of the electorate declaring political independence. And while the right has taken the lead in extremism as of late, the left is beginning to sound just like the far right did during the Bush years. They’re blaming their failures on their own moderates and calling for a more rigidly liberal and combative tact. With so few moderates left in the party, they ar...

23 Dec 2010

`Tis the season to be jolly, to be getting some last minute work done, To get all your shopping done, to be getting ready for the New Year and go deep into debt ... How`d the jolly part get in there anyway? Now, normally all of us working folks are the ones getting things accomplished during this season of spend and it is a tradition that Washington is just that, a WASH, when it comes to working this time of year, as we have heard from Senators, Kyle & DeMint. But this year the President and the Mighty Lame Duck Congress is redefining politics as we know it by... well, getting something done, working. President Obama is making old Saint Nick look like a slacker. In the past few weeks he has brought us DADT (as of today, signed, sealed & DELIVERED!), tax cuts, unemployment relief and it seems like he might have a few more things wrapped up by Christmas. Of course we`d hate to be negative this Christmas season. But, Santa has promised...

23 Dec 2010

I know... its less than two months after the last election cycle was over... but I think I may have already found the presidential candidates I'm picking. I just got his bumper sticker in the mail actually! His name is Hugh Jidette, and yes, it's a parody of 'huge debt'. Hugh isn't real - he's a fictional character meant to illustrate how cartoonishly irresponsible the policy coming out of the democrats and republicans has been in relation to the debt over the last generation or so. I'll let Hugh speak for himself: This message of "Borrow Like There's No Tomorrow" and "Your kids can deal with it later!" are part and parcel of the logic behind both the democrats' spending much more than they are nearly willing to tax, and republicans slashing taxes much more than they are interested in cutting spending. Perhaps a snarky campaign like this will actually spark a revolt against this terribly unethical idea that it's just fine to get what...