Cleveland: Keeping Christmas at Home
Ramona: The War on Happy Holidays
Richard Day: Cold in Minnesota, and in the Hearts of Men
The Republican effort to defund “Obamacare” is like playing chicken with a wall. The Senate Democrats will never vote against health care legislation they spent decades to pass. The voters will punish Republican legislators if they shut down the government or default on the debt. Whether the Republicans crash or swerve, this game has no positive outcome for them.
So why are they doing it? [Read more]
Twenty years ago, while I was talking politics with my friend Mike, he said that Reagan's great achievement was what he called "the Nietzschification of the Right." I didn't grasp what he meant at first, since I typically encountered Nietzsche quoted by leftist literary critics. Mike's point was that Reagan had transformed American conservatism from a stodgy, rationalist enterprise into an emotional, charismatic movement like the New Left of the 1960s. Main Street conservatism gave way to Movement Conservatism, founded upon passionate emotion and conviction. I've thought of that conversation a lot over the last two decades, through the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich, the second Bush Presidency, and the flood tide of the Tea Party. [Read more]
There are two kinds of borrowers who default on their debts. One type defaults because they cannot pay. It is typical to say that they have over borrowed but it is easily as likely that some sort of catastrophe has destroyed the borrower's earnings power, perhaps permanently. Then there are defaults of choice. A borrower decides not to pay, even if they have the means. Perhaps they feel that they were swindled by the lender and that the debt is thus invalid. Or, maybe they just don't want to pay. [Read more]
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Amy Winehouse was still alive and the launch of Apple's first iPad was a month away. We are talking ancient history, here. Yet, as I write this, we are less than 12 hours away from a government shutdown caused by a budget impasse caused by Republican insistence that the law now known as Obamacare be delayed and then defunded. The Republican struggle to unpass the ACA has not ceased since it became law. Along the way the name "Obamacare" changed from a term of derision to one that the President now owns. [Read more]
When 19-year-old Andrew Anderson started working at the Goodwill store in East Naples, Florida, he thought his job was pretty cool. He was working in a place where poor and low-income people came to buy the things they couldn't afford anywhere else.
"It makes you feel amazing," he said, "makes you feel you can actually be the person to help them."
Today's news explicating in part the ostensible shortcomings in the process by way of which Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis received their security clearances ought to give pause to the insane stampede of contracting out government that began during the Reagan years. [Read more]
Since Articleman is not here to give us his more discerning take, I will predict that the Republicans in the House, led by Speaker Boehner, will not pass a 'clean continuing resolution', or any government spending Bill the President will sign, by this Monday. Their ultimate list of demands for federal law and finances includes everything from means testing for Medicare, less regulation of Wall Street, tax cuts for the rich, approving the XL pipeline to deregulation of environmental laws.  [Read more]
The political repercussions of the latest budget and debt hostage-taking exercise by tea Republicans in Congress won't be known for another week or two when we find out whether or not the government has been shut down, if the nation's credit rating has been lowered again, and what concessions Obama has made this time around. And the long term aftermath of this latest tea party act of sabotage is unpredictable. What is knowable is that Ted Cruz has name recognition on a level that rivals anyone in politics or the entertainment industry. [Read more]
Posts like these generally start with a pronouncement of lapsed Catholicism on the part of the author. I can be very atheisty. I do not study the church. I do not consider its views when I make any of my own decisions, be they moral, social, financial or dietary. This means that I have something of a tin ear for the nuance of the papal utternance.
Pope Francis says that maybe his church, at least in the developed west, has overemphasized culture war issues like same sex marriage, other gay rights, contraception and abortion. For those who follow such things, this is big. As an outside observer I raise an eyebrow and say, "you think?" [Read more]
Yesterday the Republicans in the House voted to slash 40 billion dollars in annual food stamp (SNAP) coverage over 10 years, putting some 3.8 million poor people in jeopardy of losing their pitiful but essential pennies-a-day government food support. (There are some 47 million people at the poverty level here in the United States. A shameful fact that should point out the absolute need to keep the SNAP program alive rather than killing it. But apparently in the People's House in Washington facts are sticky things to be ignored or stretched or blasted to smithereens.)
I'm as pleased as anyone that Larry Summers has withdrawn from consideration as the next Chair of the Fed. I thought he would do a terrible job. But Summers himself was never the real problem. His candidacy was only a symptom. The real problem is that we have a President who wanted to nominate Summers in the first place. Obama does not understand what's wrong with the American economy, and five years into his term, he persists in some basic misunderstandings.
Reuters had me back today in advance of the sixth Federal Reserve meeting of 2013, the meeting that is meant to signal the beginning of the end of quantitative easing and the eventual return to normal Fed operations.
Worse, though Ben Bernanke has done a very good job and has tried his best, he hasn't done near what the economy required. Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank argues that the Fed should have followed a far more audacious path by targeting GDP growth rather than inflation. I'm convinced. [Read more]
WHEN asked to explain why he was running for a seat in the Australian Senate while holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Julian Assange quoted Plato: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”Plato was “a bit of a fascist,” he said, but had a point.Imagine the chagrin Mr. Assange must feel now, given that not only did he fail to win a place in the Senate in the recent election, but he was less successful than Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party. Mr. Muir, who won just 0.5 percent of the vote, is most famous for having posted a video on YouTube of himself having a kangaroo feces fight with friends.
On another blog I got into a bit of a dust-up on Syria. While not really advocating for anything, I asked the writer, some one recommended high by Princeton foreign affairs pundit Anne Marie Slaughter on Twitter, why he wasn't giving much weight to the idea the fact that American voters from both parties were mildly to intensely against military intervention in Syria. I laid out the usual concessions to the nature of a Democratic Republic and the problems inherent in foreign policy by opinion poll but still, I insisted (and insist) the public appetite for something like this should carry some weight. [Read more]
Education reform in America is always an attempt to get something for free. It has been that way for at least twenty-five years. No matter what the scheme of the hour is (charter schools, Teach for America, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top) or whether you're talking about K-12 or college, every reformer makes one of two promises. Either they promise to make education better without spending any more money, or they promise to make education better while spending less money. Education reformers basically say, "Four dollars is too much to pay for a hamburger. Bring me a three dollar steak."
Today marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. [Read more]
Putin's now universally known initiative on chemical weapons control in Syria has, in my opinion, opened the door to essential American character traits which may preordain our getting more involved in Syria's war.
We don't like to be lied to. We particularly don't like to be played for chumps. When we do decide to address a problem, we are impatient. We are capable of revenge, but as one pundit has put it, "...we have the watches, the Middle Easterners have the time." We don't have the patience for cold revenge, we like ours hot. And if Putin is playing us for chumps, he has all but written a scenario for American intervention. [Read more]
When one discovers a friend has lied or an associate has stolen, a trust has been violated and the pre-existing bond is broken - often irrevocably.
Such is the case with our current government versus U.S. citizens allied with people aroud the world. Each day, new revelations detail how our government has spied on its own citizens, foreign leaders, and allies. Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who covers the Edward Snowden story, is rumored to be preparing a story how the U.S. government assigned the CIA to spy to benefit U.S. multi-national corporations on matters not affecting U.S. security, In essence, spying for fun and profit. This was made legal during the Clinton administration but it was never made ethical or honorable - nor was it made widely public. [Read more]
Those of you who know me know that I torture myself with The New York Times Op-Ed page, allowing many of my first post gym hours to be consumed by perplexed rage at the chosen few who have access to the most coveted op-ed space in all the land.  [Read more]