26 July 2005

My two cents: what America needs

I feel quite sure that I will be tactitly dismissed by some who happen to read this, for "oversimplifying" complex issues and failing to understand how an intricately interacting global economy works. But my point is that, for the majority of American working people, who are the people to whom I believe our government owes its first and foremost loyalty, the intricately interacting global economy isn't working. It is resulting in good jobs disappearing, declining standard of living, increasing dependence on formerly third-world countries not only for energy supplies but for basic manufactured goods, soaring deficits, and increasing and very troubling debt to other countries, particularly China.

I believe we need to rethink, revamp, and largely do away with the post WWII Free Trade Regime, and recast our domestic and international policies, with these priorities (after security and defense of course; we're talking economic policy): 1) Ensure that American working people have opportunities for education and good jobs, including retirement and health care security; 2) Ensure that American business can compete on a level field with other countries, while requiring that to do business in America you must comply with American law, whether here or anywhere. Part of this would be revamping labor laws to encourage organizing and unionizing workers. This benefits everyone in the long run, and anyone who disagrees is not really interested in a consumer economy, they've cast their lot with the current Robber Baron economic model.

To do this, beyond encouraging workers to organize, we need to re-regulate the economy to require business to provide decent wages and decent benefits, or else, no business in the U.S. As for foreign competition, my solution is quite simple: assess a "wages and benefits" tariff on any products sold in the U. S. from countries that fail to pay a calibrated living wage/benefits compensation level, or who fail to provide open information about their economies. This will make their goods cost exactly what they would cost if the wages and benefits were paid. We could then earmark the revenues to assist lower and middle income citizens in our country. In other words, pay and play fair, or else we'll tax your goods and use the money for our people. That way our products will compete on a level playing field. It's time to abandon the whole paradigm of Free Trade, GATT, etc., and consider that decent living standards for working people everywhere must come first, corporate profits second, or else you don't get to play in the world's largest consumer market. If the U.S. were to lead on this (for once), Europe would follow. As for the Chinese and Malaysia; their interests are clearly not ours. Let them fend for themselves in the NEW New World Order.

Meantime, I believe that a program at least comparable to the Interstate Highway System, the wartime and postwar program to develop nuclear weapons, and the Space Program, needs to be funded, with increased taxes as necessary, to invest in developing the necessary technology to move beyond fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy as soon as possible.

If the Democrats embraced something like this; something really meaty, and really meaningful to ordinary people, they would attract a large majority of voters. Politicians of the past 30 years have been far too timid: the problems of our times demand bold solutions.

08 July 2005

Bush War on Terror, Iraq Strategy: Miserable, Immoral Failure

TCR, self-styled "honest conservative," has a terrific post on why the Bush "war on terror" is such a miserable failure and how the "flypaper" strategy in Iraq is both totally misguided and unsuccessful, and morally bankrupt.

My comment is that it isn't honest conservatism that bothers me. It's the total contempt for the people and the truth consistently demonstrated by this administration. At 52, I've never felt more alienated from the centers of power of American government.

05 July 2005

Say no! to Eminent Domain for Private Development

This is my response, actually agreeing (sacre bleu!) with John Tierney's column in the New York Times today.

Mr. Tierney:

Usually, I disagree with what you have to say pretty much entirely, but here's a curious area of common ground between the "get government off our backs" conservatives and those of us liberals who have come to realize that the road to perdition is indeed often paved with good intentions... and with a little of that "for their own good" paternalistic mindset all too willing to stretch the plain meaning of the original constitutional protections.

I know I'm out of step with most of my liberal compatriots, but I think most "redevelopment" has been an unfortunate mess (and yes, for the same reasons that State Socialist infrastructure like that of East Germany and the Soviet Union is so mind-numbingly dreary and ineffective). It is indeed past time to rethink the rationale that allowed it in the first place. Genuine public use...public buildings, highways, roads, rail lines, airports, hospitals, schools, universities... of course. But private redevelopment "for their own good," using the strong arm of eminent domain, I say no, too. And for the simple and obvious reason: it just ain't right.

But the courts need not have to revisit the issue, and it need not be a litmus for future supreme court justice candidates. (We have enough other issues to fight over). The congress, which too often abrogates its responsibilities, could, without fear of being overturned, simply legislate that no government agency, whether federal, state, or local, may take property except for certain defined ... and genuine ... public purposes, regardless of "fair compensation." There's no need for reinterpretation of the constitution, still less amendment of it, on this one, as it quite clearly falls within the congress's legislative and regulatory powers. (The state and local part would come under the interstate commerce clause, but given the way THAT's been used in the past, this would hardly be a stretch; see the Medical Marijuana decision).

Real conservatives in congress (of both parties) should readily support such legislation. I fear it wouldn't pass right now, though, and largely because most of the Republicans in congress aren't really conservative at all... they're as solidly in the pockets of big business contributors as are the likes of the Democrats-in-Name-Only Biden and Lieberman.

It seems strange to say this, but good luck with your campaign to convince Americans that this is an important issue, and that their rights here (as in many other areas), are under assault.

David Studhalter

Rove source of Plame leak, big surprise

This is excerpted from Editor & Publisher, in a piece by Greg Mitchell:

. . . Friday night, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.

Today [July 1], O'Donnell went further, writing a brief entry at the Huffington Post blog:

"I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's e-mails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but sidn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.

McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.

"Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow."

Here is the transcript of O'Donnell's McLaughlin Group remarks:

"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury--the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.

"I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper. Besides his career at a TV journalist, O'Donnell has served as a producer and writer for the series "The West Wing."

According to published reports, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case, has interviewed President Bush and Vice President Cheney and called Karl Rove, among others, to testify before the grand jury.

"The breadth of Fitzgerald's inquiry has led to speculation that it has evolved into an investigation of a conspiracy to leak Plame's identity," the Chicago Tribune observed on Friday, "or of an attempt to cover up White House involvement in the leak."