30 November 2010

The late Chalmers Johnson this past August on "the end of the American Century"

This is from motherjones.com from August, 2010, by the late Chalmers Johnson. He was a prophet, as usual, without honor in his own land (at least among the powerful; some of us honor him):

“So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq? Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan's tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless "targeted killings" which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations? Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?

“What…would the world be like if the U.S. lost control globally - Washington's greatest fear and deepest reflection of its own overblown sense of self-worth - as is in fact happening now despite our best efforts? What would that world be like if the U.S. just gave it all up? What would happen to us if we were no longer the "sole superpower" or the world's self-appointed policeman?

“In fact, we would still be a large and powerful nation-state with a host of internal and external problems. An immigration and drug crisis on our southern border, soaring health-care costs, a weakening education system, an aging population, an aging infrastructure, an unending recession -- none of these are likely to go away soon, nor are any of them likely to be tackled in a serious or successful way as long as we continue to spend our wealth on armies, weapons, wars, global garrisons, and bribes for petty dictators.

“Thirty-five years from now, America's official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face-to-face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy. It may, for all we know, still be Hollywood's century decades from now, and so we may still make waves on the cultural scene, just as Britain did in the 1960s with the Beatles and Twiggy. Tourists will undoubtedly still visit some of our natural wonders and perhaps a few of our less scruffy cities, partly because the dollar-exchange rate is likely to be in their favor.

“If, however, we were to dismantle our empire of military bases and redirect our economy toward productive, instead of destructive, industries; if we maintained our volunteer armed forces primarily to defend our own shores (and perhaps to be used at the behest of the United Nations); if we began to invest in our infrastructure, education, health care, and savings, then we might have a chance to reinvent ourselves as a productive, normal nation. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. Peering into that foggy future, I simply can't imagine the U.S. dismantling its empire voluntarily, which doesn't mean that, like all sets of imperial garrisons, our bases won't go someday.

“Instead, I foresee the U.S. drifting along, much as the Obama administration seems to be drifting along in the war in Afghanistan. The common talk among economists today is that high unemployment may linger for another decade. Add in low investment and depressed spending (except perhaps by the government) and I fear T.S. Eliot had it right when he wrote: ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.’

“Just as I lost interest in China when that country's leadership headed so blindly down the wrong path during the Cultural Revolution, so I'm afraid I'm losing interest in continuing to analyze and dissect the prospects for the U.S. over the next few years. I applaud the efforts of young journalists to tell it like it is, and of scholars to assemble the data that will one day enable historians to describe where and when we went astray. I especially admire insights from the inside, such as those of ex-military men like Andrew Bacevich and Chuck Spinney. And I am filled with awe by men and women who are willing to risk their careers, incomes, freedom, and even lives to protest -- such as the priests and nuns of SOA Watch, who regularly picket the School of the Americas and call attention to the presence of American military bases and misbehavior in South America.

“My own role these past 20 years has been that of Cassandra, whom the gods gave the gift of foreseeing the future, but also cursed because no one believed her. I wish I could be more optimistic about what's in store for the U.S. Instead, there isn't a day that our own guns of August don't continue to haunt me.”

-- Chalmers Johnson / Lowering the Flag on the American Century / motherjones.com / August 18, 2010

MY suggestion for the speech Obama should give as soon as possible!

In a post below, I comment on Elliot Spitzer's suggestion for the "speech Obama should give." Here's my version (in part taken from Elliot Spitzer), which I also intend to pass on to the White House today:
••• ••• ••• ••• ••• •••••• ••• •••••• ••• •••••• ••• •••••• ••• •••

My fellow Americans, good evening.
1.         As a nation, over the last century, we have won the most fundamental ideological battle of modern history—representative government and market based economics have triumphed over all alternatives—and in doing so we have brought freedom, wealth, and prosperity to ourselves and more of the world than ever thought possible. This victory has also made the world more competitive, and as a result, the next century will belong to those who harness innovation and creativity in a global economy. That is our mandate, from which we cannot be distracted.

However, we have been distracted and even deluded by what has been called the “Washington Consensus,” which would have it that America should be the policeman of the world. We have created an “Empire of Military Bases” and a global system of projection of power that has departed from the original ideals of our founding fathers to a very great extent. We are a wealthy nation, but it is not necessary or fitting that our military should be larger than those of all the other nations of the world combined. The Cold War is, after all, finally over, and the threats we face are of a completely different nature today. We have far less need for massive fleets of aircraft, ships, missiles, and military bases throughout the world than was once the case. And, in truth, we can no longer, as a nation, afford to maintain this increasingly anachronistic burden. 

We can, and we will, maintain the forces necessary to defend our nation against any threat. But we should, and I propose that we will, greatly reduce the number of American troops stationed overseas, revamp our "global command" system to one which recognizes that our goal is defense, not projection of power, and, overall, reduce the size of our military apparatus to be efficient, but more manageable and affordable going forward. This I am convinced we can do while actually improving the safety and security of our nation. I will have more to say about this plan in the near future.  

Further, we have experienced a loss of clear purpose in the expensive and deadly conflict in Afghanistan

I am therefore determined to begin drawing down the forward projection of American military power; to remake our military as a force primarily for the defense of our nation, not for the projection of power and influence of an American empire in the world. I am determined to bring the war in Afghanistan to an orderly close as soon as it’s feasible for that to occur; and to rethink and implement a bold and truly effective plan — with emphasis on cooperation and law enforcement techniques — to combat global terrorism. 

I am also determined to offer America’s cooperation and assistance in bringing about peace in the Middle East, particularly with regard to Israel and its neighbors, with a new and more even-handed approach, so that many of the causes of tension and unrest in that area will be reduced going forward.

And equally, I am determined to invest in a post-oil economy here at home so that our nation is, as soon as is feasible, no longer dependent on supplies of oil from that region of the world, or from any foreign sources. 

This will require a large investment, and a large measure of shared sacrifice from Americans. This is an ambitious plan, but we as nation can and must pull together to transform our economy so that prosperity will be shared by all our people, and we will not be dependent for energy on anyone. 

I intend to propose a major program to achieve these ends, and I will be calling on all Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, as well as Independents, to pull together as patriots and act in the interests of our country, not out of parochial or partisan interests, to support these ambitious goals. 

2.         It needs to be reiterated that Terrorism born of intolerance and fundamentalism threatens all we believe in, and we will be vigilant and unwavering in battling the forces of terrorism—wherever they may be harbored. Yet our excursion into nation-building in Afghanistan is over. It is a distraction from our effort to combat terror through methods that actually work, in cooperation with other nations who share our goals of eliminating these threats, and it also interferes with our goals of reducing unsustainable expenditures which do not benefit our own people and our mandate to build our own economy. Terror we will fight—whether in Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, or even embedded in the Pakistani intelligence services. We will use technology, law enforcement, special forces, cooperation with other nations, but we will not risk the lives of tens of thousands of Americans in ineffective counterinsurgency programs or “nation building” on the other side of the world. 

3.         As a matter of immediate concern, I am working with congressional leaders to ensure action—before year's end—on four critical measures: ratification of the New START treaty, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, extension of only the middle-class tax cuts, and extension of unemployment benefits. These steps are necessary for our strategic safety, our moral integrity, and our economic well-being.

4.         We must rethink our approach to “globalization,” and our relations with nations, like China, which don’t always play by the rules. Other countries cannot be allowed to manipulate their currencies to artificially control supply and demand for imports and exports, without consequences. But we must also make the public investments, and other public policy initiatives, necessary to restore our country to a production based economy, and to make America once again a manufacturing powerhouse second to none. I am determined to begin this process, and put in place a long term plan for remaking our economy so that less profit is generated from trading and financial activity, and more of our profits and prosperity come from old fashioned hard work, and actual production of goods and material services. Only a nation whose economy is founded in reality can be truly prosperous, and this has always been America’s strength. I ask your support to ensure that we restore our economy to this basis, going forward, by building and rebuilding the world’s best renewable energy power system and grid, the world’s best high speed rail and other  forms of transportation, and the world’s best system of schools, colleges and universities. Plus, we must remake our policies, including tax policies, to discourage betting on Wall Street and encourage the production of real wealth in our nation’s farms, factories, workshops, and other workplaces. 

5.         My administration is working on dramatic tax-simplification model that will lower tax rates for the poor and middle class, make the very wealthy and truly rich pay their fair share of the burden, eliminate many unneeded taxes, and simultaneously protect Social Security and Medicare for all our citizens. Included in this plan will be elimination of special tax breaks for derivative traders and other special tax schemes, and lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes. These steps, together with the reduction of costs for military expenditures I’ve already mentioned, will assist our economy and will restore fiscal stability to our nation over a reasonable time frame.

6.         My administration will propose a carbon tax, whose proceeds will be used to help build an infrastructure of domestic clean energy that will bring us into a truly sustainable, prosperous economy over time for the benefit of all our people. 

7.          Finally, through a dramatic expansion of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's "Race to the Top" concept, we will restore our K-12 education to world-class status. We will also develop a higher-education finance system, as proposed by Nobel laureate economists James Tobin and Milton Friedman, and recently suggested again by Robert Reich, that permits students to pay  a fair share of the cost of their education after they graduate based on their earnings. This opens the doors of college to all—with no concerns about ability to pay or a debt burden afterward. Education is the most critical component of our future—we will invest in it.

In all these initiatives, it is obvious that I as your president cannot dictate that we will do these things. I am appealing to you, the people of the United States, to recognize in my proposals tonight the way forward for our nation. We must set aside obstructionism. We must say no to those who would only say no. We must reject the counsel of those who say we cannot afford to be great, that we cannot afford to bring prosperity to our own people, that we cannot afford to remake policies to value the contributions of working people over those who merely gamble with what should be the savings our nation needs to grow and develop. I am asking you for your support. Specifically, I am asking you to go online, and register your support for my plan to rebuild America. At the close of this speech we will provide the website and telephone numbers where you can register your support and make comments. 

In the coming days and weeks, I will return to speak with you further about how I hope to convince leaders in Congress to put aside partisan wrangling and, finally, once and for all, dedicate their efforts to really looking at what it will take to solve our problems, reform our place in the world going forward, and remake our economy for prosperity and sustainable production going forward for the benefit of all Americans. 

Thank you for your support, and good night. 

Some passages unchanged from the Spitzer article linked to above, although as noted in the post below I think Spitzer's overall 'plan' is deeply flawed. 

The reference to "Washington consensus" is to Washington Rules by Andrew Bacevich and the reference to "empire of bases" is to a phrase coined by the late Chalmers Johnson and discussed in his last book, Dismantling the Empire.

Spitzer: Pres. Obama... please tell us what your plan is!

Elliot Spitzer has an interesting... albeit deeply flawed... suggestion for an Obama speech touting a plan for the next two years.

Where he goes way off is his claim that North Korea's recent attacks were at "China's behest," which is, I think, unsubstantiated and highly unlikely. The suggestion about retaliation for currency manipulation is probably not too well thought out either, although some policy here is needed.

The plan to "means test" social security and medicare is a non-starter. Forget it. Social security is something American workers have paid for, beyond its current costs, for decades. It's just not acceptable to renege on that deal. The program, 20 years out, can be revamped, but anyone within 20 years of retirement age should get their benefits, period. Better to make the payroll tax progressive and remove income caps going forward, and control all medical costs through more health care reform.

But Spitzer's main point... that Obama needs to communicate some kind of vision, incorporating basic Liberal Democratic principles, and soon... is right on.

29 November 2010

Robert Reich on Fiscal Hypocrisy, and some comments on the lack of patriotism of those hypocrites

Please read Robert Reich on fiscal hypocrisy (Huffpo today).  It's not just Republicans, but many Democrats, who crow about deficits but are unwilling to do anything about cutting corporate welfare or increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

I say:

Time to make DEEP cuts in military expenditures, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as humanly possible, and begin the process of dismantling the empire. (See the late Chalmers Johnson's last book, of that title, or Andrew Bacevich's Washington Rules, on the same subject). These unfunded wars and out of control military costs are the main factor causing the bankruptcy of our nation. As these scholars have analyzed, I'm convinced correctly, this juggernaut is consuming our resources but not making us safer... quite the contrary.

Time to increase taxes DRAMATICALLY on the very rich, AND, after a two year moratorium, MODESTLY on the middle and upper middle class. And to reform the tax structure to make it vastly simpler and fairer, with far fewer loopholes and deductions available only to the rich and big corporations, and to tax financial trading much more heavily, actual production less heavily, with net revenue increases which are needed for the substantial infrastructure and jobs investment we need to restore our economy to prosperity and eventually begin reducing our national debt. 

Time to control health care reimbursement rates (both public and private), and amend the health care law to move steadily towards taking the profit out of health care.

Time to examine the Department of Homeland Security, and other aspects of the "national security state," which by some estimates is responsible for $1.2 trillion expenditures since 2001, with very little real cost-benefit analysis, as a place to look towards making deep cuts after analyzing what we really need to defend our nation against foreign terror threats in a reasonable and sustainable way.

There is, however, no need to cut social security, which is off budget. Lower income people already pay more in regressive payroll taxes than income taxes; the idea that the debt should be balanced on their shoulders is flat out unconscionable, not to mention fiscally totally irresponsible, since it would amount to a default on debt to our own people. The only reform needed to social security is to lift (or even remove) the income cap for payroll taxes; and consider making payroll taxes progressive, like the income tax. There is a sound philosophical argument for financing retirement security (and health care) from progressively imposed revenues.

These fiscal policies, combined with greatly INCREASED public investment in renewable energy and transportation infrastructure, INCREASED investment in education, especially higher education, and research designed to foster new, renewable energy and other green high-tech industry, will help our economy recover full employment and prosperity. The debt will then begin to take care of itself.

People who think they can preserve the privileges of the well off, and low taxes for the rich, and balance the budget on the backs of America's dwindling middle class and seniors, are fools, and their policies, if allowed to be enacted, will spoil our economy, increase income inequality, and ultimately destroy the very fabric of  our Republic.

Which is why I call these people, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats, unpatriotic. 

Sadly, most of these reforms are politically infeasible right now. But those of us who see a better future and what's obstructing it have a moral obligation to continue to point this out, as often and in as many ways as we can. 

Message to White House: across board pay freeze for Federal Workers is a LOUSY idea

The plan to freeze (i.e., cut) the pay of federal workers, without regard to income level, is STUPID and COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, not to mention completely out of character for a supposed Democratic president.

This is NOT the kind of thinking we need. We need bold plans to scale back military expenditures, control health care costs, and shift more of the tax burden to the wealthiest Americans, NOT make token cuts that end up punishing lower and middle income Federal workers.

COME ON, Mr. President! You can do better than this!

23 November 2010

Chalmers Johnson

This terrific short clip on his protegé Steve Clemons's website the Washington Note is a fitting reminder of the great loss which is the death this past weekend of the ever prescient and profound Chalmers Johnson.

22 November 2010

The Two Most Essential, Abhorrent, Intolerable Lies Of George W. Bush's Memoir

An absolute must-read by Dan Froomkin in Huffpo. (link)

Please read Krugman today.... Do you get it yet, Mr. Obama?

Please, please read Krugman today: There will be Blood.

I sure hope the president gets the message.

1. Alan Simpson is a cutthroat oligarch, not a "reasonable Republican." (That species is extinct). He has actually declared he can't wait to blackmail the Obama administration when it comes time to raise the debt limit in Spring. (How someone like this, who has pretty much openly admitted his outright enmity to the interests of ordinary working people in this country, was appointed to a Presidential commission, I just don't understand).

2. There is no bipartisanship. None. Zero. And no prospect for any. As Krugman says, "that was another country." (He could have said "another time.") Forget it. They have declared total war on Democrats and any possibility of civilized governance.

Do you get it yet, Mr. Obama? We have to fight them with everything we have... and that means calling their bluff, and figuring out how to frame the message so that the people start to understand that it is they, not we, who are preventing economic recovery and deliberately harming the interests of our nation.

Unpatriotic plutocrats that they are.

President Obama, please listen to Jan Schakowksy

I've been tremendously impressed by Jan Schakowksy, one of the few voices of sanity on the president's flat out hideous  so-called deficit reduction commission, which it now turns out was ... inexplicably... stacked with so-called "deficit hawks" even among the Congressional Democrats and the president's own appointees. (I question the wisdom of the original idea of even appointing a "deficit reduction" commission in the midst of a severe recession, when this should not be a priority at all, but what's done's done).

Schakowsky has pointed out that it just isn't right, fair, or Democratic to try to balance a fiscal deficit/debt on the backs of middle and lower income people, when it was caused mainly by the Wall Street Debacle and wars the Bush administration didn't see a need to pay for, not by anything the middle class or lower income people did. She also has pointed out that the hypocrites like Bowles and Simpson who are ginning up for a propaganda war against social security actually admit... in the fine print... that social security has nothing to do with the budget deficit. Apparently they just think it's a good idea to wage economic war against seniors, the middle class, and the poor.

I find it most interesting that Warren Buffet, of all people, came out this weekend to say that it's a really bad idea to continue tax cuts for the rich, and that the very rich like him should be paying much more in taxes. Right. And what should be cut from our budget are things like agricultural subsidies that make no economic sense, corporate welfare, subsidies to mining and energy companies, cold war weapons, and other huge costs of the world's largest military, when a much more modest military, and an end to the useless military misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, make much more sense for our country. 

She also emphasizes the need for investment in infrastructure and jobs, and the importance of stimulus and unemployment benefit extension, for the recovery of the economy. We will not succeed in building a rising tide that lifts all boats economy by cutting benefits to the middle class and low income people. That any Democrats are even considering these ideas is just shameful.

The President should embrace the Schakowksy "minority report." This lady is really, really smart, and she's dead on right about these issues. I would love to see her rise to the highest ranks of leadership in our party, and for the President to adopt her views on these issues completely. And, most definitively and immediately, the President needs to say loud and clear that benefit cuts or increases in the retirement age are off the table, since social security has nothing to do with causing the current deficit problem and these proposed cuts would not even have any impact on the deficit (unless these plutocrats really are proposing defaulting on debt to the social security trust fund, which they sure as hell better not be).

I am completely convinced that capitulation to the elite oligarchic interests both of the Republicans and of so-called Democrats like Bowles, Conrad, Baucus, Bayh, and others, will guarantee our party will lose again in '12. We have to start messaging our intention to fight for the middle class, mean it... and do it.

20 November 2010

AARP helps fight cuts attempts to cut debt on the backs of social security recipients

Farflung Correspondents,
I have signed... and customized... AARP's petition to Washington to forget about cutting social security as a means of cutting the debt.
PLEASE join me in this effort. Please go to their website and sign the petition. Here's what AARP's website offers:
Did you know that Washington is considering unfairly targeting Social Security benefits for cuts?
Social Security didn't cause the budget deficit, so our retirement shouldn't be put at risk to fix it!
I just signed AARP's petition to protect Social Security and keep it strong for generations to come. Please click on the link below to join me – it will only take a minute.
Thanks for standing with me to keep Social Security strong.
This is what I put on their petition (partly their text, partly mine):

Social Security is based on a promise that if you pay in, you can collect your money when you retire. Americans count on Social Security being there when they need it. 

Yet "Deficit Hawks"... including some Democrats... in Washington are talking about cutting the Social Security benefits we've earned to address the current federal budget deficit and long term national debt. Never mind that it is widely understood to be unwise to try to cut spending in the midst of severe recession. The fact is that Social Security didn't cause the deficit, so benefits shouldn't be cut to fix it. And part of the longer term debt is debt to the social security trust fund, so what they're really talking about is defaulting on that debt, on the backs of seniors. I'm joining millions of Americans to say "don't target Social Security benefits for unfair cuts or try to balance the budget on the backs of low income seniors."

The fact is that it is a damn lie that social security is "in trouble." In fact, the social security trust fund is in surplus and can pay all obligations for decades with no changes. The only change needed to make it fully solvent essentially forever would be to raise the income cap on FICA taxes. There is no good reason those who are so fortunate as to have incomes over the current cap... $105,000 for an individual... should not pay their fair share of all their income to help provide retirement security for everyone.

Again, it is also the fact that the social security trust fund holds bonds... debt... owed to it by the Treasury. Those who want to cut the national debt on the backs of social security are in effect proposing that we as a nation DEFAULT on our debt to our own people.

Almost all of these same deficit hawks, who claim to be so concerned about the national debt, want to hold extension of tax cuts for 98% of Americans
hostage to lowered tax rates for some of the richest people in the world, those earning over $250,000 per year. Bipartisan analysis has shown that extending the Bush tax cuts for the very rich would COST the budget $600-700 billion over ten years, making the deficit and long term national debt that much worse. The hypocrisy of favoring extension of these tax cuts for the very rich, while proposing to steal billions already paid for by working people from the social security trust fund, is just stunning. People advocating such policy can't escape the FACT that what they are proposing is stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Seems to me we've had more than enough of that in this country in the last few decades.

NO CUTS in social security benefits.

NO INCREASE in the retirement age.

NO DEFAULT on debt to the social security trust fund.

These are a line in the sand... we will not tolerate any politician who fails to uphold these principles. We will actively work to defeat them, Republican or Democrat. Count on it.

We the undersigned call on you to keep Social Security strong for all Americans for a long time to come.

19 November 2010

Alan Simpson is an incredible jerk

Any doubt that it was a mistake for the president to appoint Alan Simpson to a budget deficit reduction commission should be removed by his incredibly irresponsible comments:

""I can't wait for the blood bath in April," said Alan Simpson at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters this morning. "It won't matter whether two of us have signed this or 14 or 18. When debt limit time comes, they're going to look around and say, 'What in the hell do we do now? We've got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give 'em a piece of meat, real meat, off of this package.' And boy the bloodbath will be extraordinary.""

The fact that this jerk will say this should discredit EVERYTHING he is proposing.

If the Republicans want to refuse to extend the debt ceiling; I say LET them. They will have to back down. The president has to have the spine to say, you will not make unconscionable cuts to social security, medicare, or other necessary programs.

Then just stop spending money on non-essential defense, and other non-essentials until they back down. Which they will. If the Republicans think they will continue to hold the House and regain the Senate and White House by paralyzing our country, they are out of their minds, and frankly I almost hope they try to do it.

The president must stand strong and call the Rightists' bluff. No cuts to social security; no extension of tax cuts for the very rich; veto any attempt to derail the health bill. The Republicans will back down, because if they don't, they will watch their political fortunes going down the drain, and they know it.

Credit where it's due

How come the president gets no credit in the media for being dead right on the auto industry rescue?

And how come hardly anyone knows that the Stimulus gave almost all Americans a tax cut? 

And why is it that the Right Wing echo chamber has managed to convince most Americans that the health care reform law will cost billions, when in fact a bipartisan congressional analysis stated that it will save hundreds of billions of dollars?

And why do most Americans think TARP...the bank bailout... was Obama's idea, when in fact it happened under Bush, and was modified (albeit not enough) to make it more equitable under Obama?

And why do most Americans think the economy has gotten worse under Obama, when most honest economists admit that the stimulus and fiscal policies under this administration prevented a second Great Depression and the economy has grown every month this year (albeit not too strongly)?

I have my criticisms, but I just gotta ask, why can the Right Wing echo machine get away with lying about everything and making stuff up all the time?

Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is that we Democrats, and the White House in particular, have not done a good job at framing the message, using media, and getting the message out there. 

AARP helps fight cuts attempts to cut debt on the backs of social security recipients

Farflung Correspondents,
I have signed... and customized... AARP's petition to Washington to forget about cutting social security as a means of cutting the debt.
PLEASE join me in this effort. Please go to their website and sign the petition. Here's what AARP's website offers:
Did you know that Washington is considering unfairly targeting Social Security benefits for cuts?
Social Security didn't cause the budget deficit, so our retirement shouldn't be put at risk to fix it!
I just signed AARP's petition to protect Social Security and keep it strong for generations to come. Please click on the link below to join me – it will only take a minute.
Thanks for standing with me to keep Social Security strong.
This is what I put on their petition (partly their text, partly mine):

Social Security is based on a promise that if you pay in, you can collect your money when you retire. Americans count on Social Security being there when they need it. 

Yet some people in Washington are talking about cutting the Social Security benefits we've earned to address the current federal budget deficit. Social Security didn't cause the deficit, so benefits shouldn't be cut to fix it. I'm joining millions of Americans to say "don't target Social Security benefits for unfair cuts."

The fact is that it is a damn lie that social security is "in trouble." In fact, the social security trust fund is in surplus and can pay all obligations for decades with no changes. The only change needed to make it fully solvent essentially forever would be to raise the income cap on FICA taxes.

It is also the fact that the social security trust fund holds bonds... debt... owed to it by the Treasury. Those who want to cut the national debt on the backs of social security are in effect proposing that we as a nation DEFAULT on our debt to our own people.

These same people, who claim to be so concerned about the national debt, want to hold hostage extension of tax cuts for 98% of Americans to lowered tax rates for some of the richest people in the world, those earning over $250,000 per year, which bipartisan analysis has shown would COST the budget $600-700 billion over ten years. The hypocrisy of this is just stunning.

NO CUTS in social security benefits.

NO INCREASE in the retirement age.

NO DEFAULT on debt to the social security trust fund.

These are a line in the sand... we will not tolerate any politician who fails to uphold these principles. We will actively work to defeat them, Republican or Democrat. Count on it.

We the undersigned call on you to keep Social Security strong for me and my children and grandchildren.

The line in the sand: No extension of tax cuts for the rich and no cuts to social security.... saying it again

I say it again. And I will say it again and again. The president needs to draw a line in the sand. 

To President Obama: 

The Republicans are waging all out war on the Middle Class and seniors. The so-called Deficit Reduction Commission was a HUGE mistake on the president's part, because it's stacked with deficit hawks at a time when we need to recover the economy more than we need to reduce deficits. But even more to the point, they were not clearly told in advance that Social Security, which is OFF BUDGET and financed by its own taxes which are in surplus, IS OFF THE TABLE. It is simply outrageous that these right wingers are advocating defaulting on a debt to American workers, who have overpaid their FICA taxes for decades to fund social security, the trust fund of which is now owed trillions by the General Budget.

It is equally outrageous that these right wingers, who FALSELY CLAIM to be concerned about the national debt, want to hold hostage extension of tax cuts for 98% of the public in order to extort an unneeded extension for the richest 2%. Extension of these tax cuts for the very rich would add $600-700 billion to the debt over ten years, so it's pure hypocrisy for the Right Wingers (including, unfortunately some who claim to be Democrats) to claim to be so concerned about the deficit when they're willing to protect the economic interests of some of the richest people in the world on the backs of America's dwindling Middle Class. The President needs to ARTICULATE THIS MESSAGE clearly and repeatedly.

The president needs to go on TV IMMEDIATELY and show some real backbone.

Explain the facts to the American people on these two critical issues. He must CALL THE RIGHT WINGERS' BLIFF, and promise, unequivocally and as strongly as possible:

1. He will VETO any attempt to cut the budget by reducing social security benefits or increasing the retirement age. This would amount to defaulting on America's debt to its FICA taxpayers.

2. He will sign an extension of Middle Class tax cuts, but will VETO any bill that includes an extension of the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250K, period, so don't send any such bill.

Thank you. 

15 November 2010

CBS poll: most dont care about deficit; my message to WH

CBS poll: most don't care about deficit.

And they're RIGHT not to. Deficit reduction should NOT be a priority in time of severe recession. It's FAR more important to get the economy moving upwards again by encouraging demand and consumer spending. Tax cuts don't help much, especially for the affluent. What really works is JOB CREATION. Which means stimulus.

We've had electoral setbacks, but the president needs to get this message ... talk to Krugman, Stiglitz, David Cay Johnston, Reich, et al. ... and START SELLING IT, because this is how we'll recover sooner and get big Democratic majorities elected again.

MESSAGE DISCIPLINE, and CLEAR PROGRESSIVE PROGRAM are the key to Democratic success and the reelection of this president.

12 November 2010

Damn right, I am a liberal

I think it's high time, as Lawrence O'Donnell has said over and over again (most notably in his West Wing script here) ... to reject the Rightist framing and propaganda they're so good at, and once again embrace the word liberal. Look at the scene linked to above (start at 10:42). With full credit to Mr. O'Donnell, Democrats need to say this over and over again every chance they get:

I am a liberal. And proud of it. 
Liberals ended slavery in this country. (Yes, a Republican president, but a Liberal Republican, a species now extinct). Liberals brought us food and product safety. Liberals broke up the monopolies and gave us the political reforms like initiative and referendum. Liberals gave women the right to vote. Liberals saved us from the stupid conservative policies that caused the Great Depression. Liberal economic policies... including under smart, essentially liberal Republican presidents like Dwight Eisenhower... gave us the long postwar period of prosperity, when just about anyone could get a decent job that paid well, and could own their own home and save for a secure retirement, without having to go deep into debt or work two jobs. That Great Prosperity, the direct result of liberal policies, now seems like a fading memory; or for our younger citizens, ancient history barely believed. 
Liberals ended segregation. Liberals gave us Social Security. Liberals gave us the Civil Rights Act. And the Voting Rights Act. And Medicare. Liberals gave us the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Liberals gave us the finest public libraries, public schools, and public universities in the world, now, sadly, under threat.

And the Right in this country, now embodied as the Republican party, voted against, indeed fought tooth and nail against, every single one of these progressive changes that have made this a better country to live in. And unlike the Right, which will use any untruth, any smear, any underhanded tactic, Liberals have stood up, and continue to stand up, for what they honestly and forthrightly believe is best for America.

Damn right I'm a liberal. And I would be ashamed if I weren't. When the Right tries to use the word liberal as some kind of insult, I say, that's a shame, because liberals are the real patriots. The people who've said, yes, we can make things better, yes, we as a nation can be great, and can share our greatness with all of our people, rather than saying no, we're keeping what we have and everyone else can go to hell, which is the essential message of the Right. Yes, I'm a liberal, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
If only we have the courage to be liberal in these times of economic difficulties and grave challenges to our country, we can and will transcend them. We will rebuild our economy, and restore it to productivity that creates real wealth and good jobs for tens of millions of Americans, while solving the environmental problems of modern life. We will make our tax system fair once again, so that the very rich pay their fair share like everyone else. We will regulate Wall Street so that big banks and traders don't siphon off the wealth of this country without producing anything in return. We will ensure the retirement security of our elders, education for everyone, affordable health care for everyone, and a robust economic safety net for those who become temporarily unemployed, and we will defend these programs from threats to defund and destroy them that come from the Republicans on a daily basis.
We will preserve constitutional rights and freedoms of the people, ensure free and fair access the information technologies of the present and future, and foster and develop American industry, not just big business for its own sake. We will end the corruption of money in politics that makes it possible for the very wealthy and big business to buy the government they want. We will end unfair laws that make it too easy for most of the nation's wealth to be concentrated in the hands of tiny, tiny minority. We will make America's research and development, railways and roadways, electrical grid and energy infrastructure, and educational institutions once again the best the world has ever seen, and continue to make them better and better going forward, for the benefit of all our people. We will ensure the security of our country, but not at the cost of a corrupt and damaging military-industrial complex such as Eisenhower warned us against 50 years ago, and not at the cost of unnecessary entanglement in the affairs of others where we have no national interest. We will restore the American Republic, and abandon the foolish notion of an American Empire. 
We will do these things because this is who we are: we are optimists, who believe that what's best for all the people is best, and that we as a people can meet any challenge. 

Re-elect Obama in 2012 ... for now

I supported President Obama, of course, and continue to support him, although I have been critical, as any of the one to two people who read this blog regularly know. But it's time for him to make clear that he will double down on ... I will use the L-word...a liberal agenda. The signals that he is willing to allow the Bush tax cuts for the very rich to be extended, without even a fight (hopefully that's not true, but Axelrod's comments leave little other interpretation open); that he is more interested in deficit reduction than economic stimulus or infrastructure investment; his inability to extricate this country from Afghanistan (so far), failure to close Guantanamo, failure to dismantle the unconstitutional surveillance state that grew up under Bush, and his too-cozy relationship with Wall Street; among other things... are all very, very troubling to me.

I hope things get better. Because if they don't, I, along with a lot of other people who love this country and hate what's happening to her, are inevitably going to start wondering if we can't do better. If there isn't, in other words, someone else who could challenge Obama in the 2012 primaries and rally support for Liberal Populism FDR style, to counter the Know Nothings on the Right.

I hope not, frankly, because I doubt it would work. But what I really hope is that the President gets the message that the election wasn't about a shift of the electorate to the right. That's just not the reality. It was a backlash. People are angry... angry at Big Banks. Angry at Health Care Reform that didn't do nearly enough to bring the cost of health care down. Angry at the lack of success in bringing jobs back and restoring the production economy. Some of this anger is inarticulate, and misdirected by successful right wing propaganda. But a skillful politician can and should be able to channel it into a mandate for progressive changes. If Obama can't do that, if he continues to give up before the fight on issue after issue, if he seems to care more about Washington dealmaking than standing up for the people... it's inevitable that someone will challenge him from the left.

I hope he realizes this, and really thinks long and hard about some major strategy and policy changes before it's too late.

TODAY's message to the White House on Bowles/Simpson

I think it's now quite obvious that unless the President is actually a stealth defender of Wall Street privilege, it was a mistake to appoint the Bowles/Simpson commission. Bowles is on the board of Morgan Stanley and is about as fiscally conservative as any Democrat. Why is it that when Republican presidents appoint token Democrats to commissions, they appoint the most Conservative Democrats they can find, but Democratic presidents feel impelled to appoint not only extremely conservative Republicans but conservative Democrats as well? It's just painfully obvious that this commission, and particularly its co-chairs, was stacked and biased from very beginning in favor of plutocratic interests and perspectives.

Anyway, to the point. The recommendations of this commission are a stab in the back of all the principles on which the President ran. They should not even have DISCUSSED social security. Social security is off budget and fiscally sound. It's like noticing your house is on fire and saying, oh, maybe we should fix the windows in the toolshed. It's obvious that these plutocrats on the commission hate social security because it represents a program that doesn't benefit their class... the top 1% or so of wealthy Americans. The very idea that the debt should be reduced on the backs of low-income seniors is out and out offensive and the President must reject this notion completely and vociferously.

Then, there's their tax proposals, which are so utterly regressive and anti-working people that the President just MUST come out right away and say, thank you, but this is a DEAD LETTER and if something resembling it is passed, it will be VETOED.

The President must get the message. People didn't turn away from him because he was too progressive. They turned away from him out of frustration that there was too much dealing in Washington, too much kowtowing to the banks and other wealthy interests, and too little principled commitment to the tenets on which he ran for office. He must reaffirm the commitment to rebuilding America, reforming Wall Street, and PROTECTING working peoples' and seniors' interests (especially social security and medicare). The Tax Cuts for the Very Rich must go, and tax reform must shift more of the burden to the very richest Americans. Other than that, the deficit and debt ARE NOT the priority right now, in the midst of the worst recession since the 30s.

Stop listening to Axelrod, Geithner and Summers. Bring in Stiglitz, Reich, Krugman, and, especially, David Cay Johnston. Then the tax and budget policy will conform to what the president ran on, and, believe me, TAKE A CHANCE ON IT: the people WILL RESPOND positively and the president and our party will win in 2012.

Thank you.

11 November 2010

Kent Conrad is not in any meaningful sense a Democrat

Kent Conrad reportedly (on the same day) endorses ripping off America's seniors to cut the deficit (i.e. Simpson/Bowles) (even though social security is off budget and most of the national debt results from a combination of the Financial Debacle, 2 tragic and useless wars (~$5 trillion); and almost $1½ trillion since 2001 in very dubious expansion of the "national security state").... AND... endorses extending the Bush tax cuts for the very rich (which bipartisan analysis says will cost $600 billion over 10 years). The contradiction between these two goals doesn't apparently bother Mr. Conrad at all.

This is why Blue Dogs are no use to us and should be encouraged to exit our party. We need to build a consensus, and a majority, that actually believes in something. I for one think that if the Democratic Party stood for a set of core principles (just like the Know Nothing Party does), it would be more attractive to independent voters, and would in fact become a majority party relatively quickly given the state of the economy and the frustration and dispiritedness of the electorate.

Why do Republicans hate America?

I am more and more alarmed by the unpatriotic slash and burn attitude of the Know Nothing Party. They will undermine America's security, by opposing the START Treaty and attempting to foil the administration's attempts to repair relations with other countries and foster peace in Palestine. They will try to undermine America's economic recovery by refusing to make needed infrastructure investments and by preventing any further fiscal stimulus or financial regulation. They will try to undermine Americans' retirement security by trying to reduce the deficit on the backs of Seniors by cutting social security and medicare when it was the Wall Street Debacle, two tragically unnecessary and counterproductive wars and $1½ trillion for dubious "homeland security" measures post 9/11... which combined are the actual cause of most of the existing debt. They will attempt to undermine American education and research by fostering deliberate ignorance, withholding funding for public education, and destroying American scientific preeminence. They will make destroying all the foreign policy and domestic policy initiatives of this administration their main goal, irrespective of whether these policies are good for the country.... the list goes on and on. 

You just have to ask, Why do Republicans hate America? 

10 November 2010

Comments on Bowles/Simpson to my congressman and senators

It is just incredible to me that this commission, which was supposed to find a way past gridlock, not make policy recommendations, has proposed eviscerating social security. Social security, unlike even Medicare, is off budget and in the black. There is no justification for stealing from this program to make up for other budget deficiencies. Further, cutting back on the spending income of seniors, every penny of which is spent and has a multiplier effect in the economy, is a recipe for further economic stagnation and prolonged recession.

This "plan" should be DEAD ON ARRIVAL.

Social Security is a sacred trust. Working people have been paying more than the cost of this program for decades, and millions and millions of people plan on its being a reliable component... or in some cases all ...of their retirement security.

I urge you to vote NO on ALL bills that propose to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and working people.

Any member of congress who votes to cut social security is signing on to a RECIPE FOR DEFEAT.

Thank you.

Comments to White House on Bowles/Simpson

Let's be totally clear. Deficit reduction on the backs of social security recipients is FLAT OUT UNACCEPTABLE.

No reduction in benefits. No increase in retirement age.
No indexing changes.

Working people typically pay more in FICA taxes than income taxes. We paid for this program, and it is NOT ACCEPTABLE to eviscerate it at our expense.

Working people, especially those close to retirement, and Seniors, will blame EVERYONE in power, including the President, if anything remotely resembling the Bowles/Simpson "plan" is adopted.


Glenn Greenwald on Lawrence O'Donnell

I respect Lawrence O'Donnell, more than I used to, and I think Glenn Greenwald does sometimes edge a bit over the top. Having said that, I think Greenwald is pretty much spot on in the points he makes here (link) (clip) (if not all of his historical analysis).

And O'Donnell's screenwriting for the West Wing which is played in this clip is just great, and I totally agree with him that Democrats should say these very words, every chance they get.

09 November 2010

Some comments on where we progressives go from here

I am a regular listener to the very best public affairs radio program there is, which is Ian Masters' Background Briefing (Sun. 11 AM)/Daily Briefing (M-Thu 5 PM) on KPFK here in Los Angeles (streaming or archived at kpfk.org, free). 

Several of the moderate-left economists and political thinkers Ian Masters has had on recently think that the wild swing in this election is actually a positive sign, but only in a long term sense, and not in the sense of a guarantee of progress. But what they mean is that, although the electorate isn't acting rational, people do realize that they're getting screwed, and when the Republicans don't deliver (which of course they won't), they will be ripe for something else. And if at least a plurality of the Democrats aren't smart enough to give it to them, there might even be an opening for a Third Party. They compare it to the McKinley era, when the plutonomy was finally starting to piss off a majority... the Progressive era took 15 years or so to achieve any real reforms, but it did eventually lead to some positive changes. 

But we have to resist the temptation to just tune out. We must keep plugging away. Politics is a turn off to a lot of people, but even a few well placed comments in conversation can help to change peoples' minds. People are so frustrated, they lash out at whoever is in power. There are several dynamics in play: (1) polarized political system. You can only out the ins and in the outs; there's no middle ground. (2) Tremendously effective means for propaganda exist and the Right is better at using them than the left;  3) Democrats are by and large too cozy with the same corporate interests as Republicans.

We progressives, as the rank and file of the Democratic Party, and its true core, have to make clear that this just won't do anymore. Democrats in Congress (especially the Senate) are often "Republicans for a day," e.g., Schumer and the 15% giveaway tax on derivative trading that he supports.  Republicans are (almost) never "Democrats for a day." That's why they win and we lose, in a nutshell, even though it's still true that if you sample peoples' opinions on talking points, Democratic ideas are much more popular than Republican ones.

We need to regularly write to and e-mail specific Dems and tell them to drop Republican ideas, or else, and be specific.

I'm going to keep blogging, and try to reduce the essential progressive message to simple points, which I will broadcast far and wide. It's all I can really do.

And TODAY's message to the White House... on extending the Bush Tax Cuts

Right Winger Cantor says no compromise on extension of Bush Tax Cuts. I agree with him. There's no reason to compromise. Pass a bill in the lame duck house that fulfills the President's promise to extend cuts only on those earning less than $200K. If the Republicans block it, say, we passed an extension of middle class tax cuts, but they blocked it. Then if they pass anything else in their new House, and it somehow squeaks through the Senate (due to defections, which the President should strive to prevent)... VETO the damn thing and explain to the American people that we just can't AFFORD to continue giving tax cuts to the very rich when our country's debt is so high... it's time the very rich paid their fair share.

This issue is a winner for Democrats, if they don't just weasel as usual. The president's signaling willingness to compromise on this issue is yet another example of this administration's unfortunate predilection for giving up before there's even a fight.

Time to stand up for what's right and END THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH... even if it means ending ALL the Bush Tax Cuts...which can be blamed on the Republicans if it happens!

Americans' REAL attitudes towards income inequality

The L.A. Times had a very good article yesterday about the distorted perceptions of Americans as to just how bad income inequality has become, and their attitudes (even among Republicans), free of political propaganda, that it should be much, much better than it is.

As Robert Reich makes the case in his current book Aftershock, citing FDR's Fed Chief Marriner Eccles (a conservative Mormon banker from Utah), grossly disproportionate income inequality was a main cause of the Great Depression, and it's a main cause of the current Great Recession as well.

UPDATE: I tried this myself. (From article: people were asked what percentage of the total wealth pie they thought, respectively, the top 20% and bottom 40% hold; then what they thought those numbers should be; the result is people greatly underestimated inequality and thought the system should be much fairer.

So I asked some colleagues what they thought. Sure enough, most thought it was something like:
Top 20% has 60%. (Correct no. is 85%)
Bottom 40% has 10-20% (Correct number is less than zero... the average person in this group has negative wealth, i.e., debt).

This shocks most people.

05 November 2010

Murkowski apparently will have won in AK after votes counted

Looks like Murkowski will have beaten Know Nothing nut Miller in rare write-in campaign, once they actually sit down to count the write-in votes. Although I guess I prefer marginally rational right wingers to out and out Know-Nothings, I just can't get too enthusiastic about this.

To the White House: What Democrats Must Stand For

I wrote to the White House again today (lost the actual text, but here's the gist).

Please don't misinterpret the election results. The election was an expression of anger and frustration, not an ideological commitment. Polls show that the electorate doesn't trust the Republicans or believe they will improve things. Fundamentally, what people want and expect from government has not changed. What saved Democrats who survived this backlash was commitment to CORE DEMOCRATIC principles:
  1. Protect Social Security and Medicare ... don't try to balance the budget on the backs of low-income seniors
  2. Protect and Expand American Jobs... no free trade agreements without job protections
  3. Fight for Main Street, not Wall Street and Big Banks. Help small business and help people stay in their homes. 
  4. Rebuild America ... through infrastructure investment. 
Although not an issue, I would add:
  • End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible; the American people are tired of fighting proxy wars.
The president needs to clearly articulate these principles every time he speaks, and make clear that the Democrats in Congress and the White House will not back down, and will not compromise on these core issues.

04 November 2010

Bush Admits ordering Torture

This isn't really news. It's a real shame that the political climate is such that this hideous war criminal will escape prosecution, along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. 

(Here, at least. If I were their lawyer, I'd advise them to stay out of parts of the World that recognize the universal jurisdiction of the laws of War. Because they've essentially admitted guilt of serious crimes that could get them Life).

Yet Another Comment to the White House

There's a lot of recrimination going around and "what we should have done" armchair quarterbacking. Not useful.

Going forward: the president needs to counter the "healthcare spending" meme by pointing out every time he can that independent analysts say the health care bill will SAVE money, and SAY it: McConnell and the Republicans are LYING. Tout the things in the law that ARE very popular by themselves, like preexisting conditions and exchanges that will make health care more affordable for individuals. Promise that we will make further improvements that reign in costs more, and that everyone will have health security at net cost savings overall.

Same with other Republican lies. We're going to have a lot of Gridlock; it has to be framed as Republican obstruction. The Dems need to introduce clean bills and the president needs to go on the air and ask people directly to call their legislators and demand they vote for them, without trying to amend them out of existence. When the Republicans mess with legislation and it's just not acceptable, the president needs to not by shy about vetoing it, but then, GO ON THE AIR and explain in plain language exactly why, naming names and spelling out exactly what the Republicans have done to block progress. Each time, ask people to contact their congress members and Senators and demand that they stop obstructing progress.

Thank you. 

03 November 2010

Three Messages to the White House Today.

1.   ABSOLUTELY, the president must veto any Republican attempt to weaken or repeal the health care reform law. The law is far from perfect, and will need improvements in the years to come, but this is the historic achievement of the first two years of the Obama administration, and will eventually come to be nearly universally recognized as such. No wavering on this issue. Sharpen up the veto pen. 

2.   Deficit reduction is not the most important priority in this economy. But if the president wants to make budget cuts, the best way to do that is to cut back on the costs of "American Empire." Fulbright and Mansfield had it right back in the 60s: our obsession with "projecting power" is spending our capital, and not producing economic returns for our people. We should be looking to closing bases overseas, cutting back on the "worldwide commands" and military hardware exceeding that of all the rest of the world combined, and, ESPECIALLY, ending the wars in Iraq (fully) AND Afghanistan, as soon as is humanly possible. These will reap great rewards here at home, and help reduce the growth of the national debt better than anything else. 

3.   The election results are a backlash, and an expression of anger and frustration over an economy that thoughtful people understand the president did not create and in fact has done a pretty good job of preventing from spiraling downward even worse.

But the message of this election must NOT include any thought that it's OK to cut social security or medicare benefits or raise the retirement age, especially not for anyone within ten years or so of eligibility. Social security is a sacred trust in this country, and no matter what some of the Right Wingers who just got elected may say, the people DO NOT WANT IT MESSED WITH.

Medicare needs to be addressed through global cost controls in the medical arena, but IT'S A MYTH that Social Security is in trouble. Social Security has been on a sound footing for a long time, and if there's any fix needed at all, it's to raise the cap on income subject to FICA taxes.




These principles must guide the President if he is to have a comeback and bring the Democrats in Congress roaring back with him in '12, because these are non-negotiable for the American people.

Thank you.

Sanity in the West

I have pretty much avoided election night coverage, but I flicked on the computer after midnight here in Los Angeles to see how bad a night it was. Pretty bad. I will have some comments on what lessons Democrats must not take from this bruising rebuke from most of America, later.

But right now I can't help but note that, by and large, the West Coast has not shared in the bacchanal of self-destructiveness. We elected a Democratic governor in California, and refused selfish CEO types not only that office but a Senate seat. And, while everywhere else polls seemed to prove true, or even underestimated the strength of the know-nothing surge, in Nevada, sanity prevailed and that crazy woman Angle was defeated.

UPDATE: As my friend and colleague Christina put it (paraphrasing a little), the great Red Tsunami swept across America from East to West last night, but then crashed against the Sierra Nevada, and was spent.

I haven't seen any demographics, but I'd lay money that the Republicans did very well in California among Anglo voters. It was the Latino vote, which has become overwhelmingly Democratic and which actually turns out in pretty good numbers, that made this a good night for our party in California.

Progressive politics will have a rough time in the next couple of years, but I am not completely disheartened. This is exactly what it looks like: a backlash. This mood will pass. Much damage has been done, and will take time to repair. But in time, I'm hopeful, some semblance of reason will dawn on the great slow mind of the American electorate.

Were he alive today, I'm sure Mencken would have some choice gems of wit. All I can offer is that this is bad, but it will get better.