August 28, 2012
How our letter writer is right
A letter writer to fightingbob.com recently described what might be called bipartisan “civility” when it comes to some selected and very important U.S. policies. Speaking of Romney and Obama, the correspondent wrote that there seems to be some agreement when it comes to talking about war, labor, civil liberties, the environment, domestic spying, extrajudicial killing, poverty, and government tactics against the exercise of 1st amendment rights.
As tempting as it is to broad-brush the candidates, there are clear differences between them, too, some in the general categories listed above. Obama’s health care law, for starters, will benefit millions of women, men, children, elderly, and poor people. Romney wants to repeal that.
Romney also wants to privatize public education and cut Medicaid. He chose Paul Ryan as his running mate. Romney has endorsed some of Ryan’s radical right budget, even while claiming he’s his own Mitt.
Differences between Obama and Romney/Ryan? The Obama budget would spend about $600 billion less, excluding war costs, than Ryan on the Pentagon over the next decade, according to the highly reliable National Priorities Project.
Meanwhile, over 10 years, Ryan would cut non-defense discretionary spending by $1.28 trillion (that’s $1,280,000,000,000). Things Ryan would trash include funding for veterans, the environment, and social safety net programs.
Obama would eliminate the Bush-era tax favors for the rich. Romney wouldn’t. And Obama’s budget provides $350 billion for job creation through public works projects and other means, compared to no new initiatives by Romney.
On the face of things, it seems like no contest to a fair-minded citizen.
But the letter writer is correct to bring attention to Obama’s failures regarding such crucial issues as the use of assassination and torture.
“Assassination is now the everyday American way of war while extraordinary renditions remain a tool of state,” explains UW-Madison professor Alfred McCoy in a recent article on TomDispatch.com.
McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the university, a foremost authority on the history of torture and author of books including A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror.
“After a decade of fiery debate and bare-knuckle partisan brawling, the United States has stumbled toward an ad hoc bipartisan compromise over the issue of torture that rests on two unsustainable policies: impunity at home and rendition abroad,” writes McCoy. Rendition means sending terrorist suspects to places where they will be tortured, and impunity relates to absolving the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and CIA torturers of wrongdoing.
Use of unmanned drone aircraft to target and kill people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, and the Obama administration’s death lists of Al Qaeda leaders and operatives seem to have become part and parcel of American foreign policy. The U.S. Army requested $518 million for 19 more MQ-1 Gray Eagle drones for 2013.
Is it possible that, while the major political parties apparently disagree when it comes to taxes, healthcare, abortion rights, voting rights, and more, they reached a truce on the use of torture and assassination? Torture and assassination have become areas of bipartisan agreement?
“Make no mistake,” warns McCoy, “some future torture scandal is sure to arise from another iconic dungeon…Next time, the world might not be so forgiving. Next time, with those images from Abu Ghraib prison etched in human memory, the damage to America’s moral authority as world leader could prove even more deep and lasting.”
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And yet we have no viable third party. The 1.1 party system is alive and well. The differences, such as they are, are now no more than once existed with the Republican party itself. Amazing. All those demostrators in Madison,all those smart and educated teachers (NOT!) and they end up staying with the political wife beaters known as Democrats. Amazing.
-Griebnotz Doerkpfester | (Glad) I Escaped, WI. | August 28, 2012
Today, depending on which poll you use, Barack Obama/Joe Biden are either slightly ahead or tied with Mitt Romney / "Tad" Ryan.
As usual, the 2012 election has turned into a case of voting for the lesser of two evils. The truly nutty Republicans (who have too much inbreeding it seems), or the more business-like Democrats (who can't take a stand without Goldman Sachs giving its ok).
Tommy Douglas, the Premier of Saskatchewan, was responsible for the Canadian health care system. It took a very long time to get it implemented across Canada. See what happens when taxes are put to good use.
On the other hand, Barack Obama implemented compulsory insurance, a gift to the insurance industry. And why not, it was a Conservative think tank idea implemented by Mitt in Massachusetts, and the insurance industry wrote Obama's bill. He may think it's good strategy to co-opt Republican ideas, but he's showing how truly lazy he is. Remember Nancy Pelosi saying there wouldn't be a law without a Public option? A few days later she was leading the parade on Obamacare. No wonder she's the minority leader now. It's really hard to vote for these knuckleheads when you can't believe one word coming out of their mouths.
Needless to say compulsory insurance IS NOT healthcare.
Back to my point, which is that the idea that we have to push the president to do the right thing is complete bullshit. We elected him on what he campaigned on, which were progressive ideas. If I want to build a house and I pick a home-builder, why in the blue f**king blazes do I have to push him to get busy and build the damned house? Utter. Complete. Nonsense.
We have a two-party system whch is basically the same. Tommy Douglass sums its up very well in this tale of Mouseland:
Watch it. It's humorous, but completely true.
Needless to say, we desperately need an alternative to parties of the 1%. It's too late for 2012, but 2016 is where we have to make our stand.
Ok, I'm going back to my Guinness and the Rat Pack now.
-Mad Hemingway | Heart of Badger country | August 28, 2012
There are alternatives to the two corporatist candidates, but in this 'free' country anyone who lies outside the narrow sliver of the political spectrum that Wall St approves of is marginalized. Without access to the corporate owned media (which uses public airwaves), it is difficult to get your message out. It is a safe bet that 2016 will be worse than today, just as we are worse off now than in 2008, etc. The problem is that Wall St owns all three branches of government and those of us who are not criminal executives have been disenfranchised.
Take a look at a functioning democracy, anywhere in the world, then compare it to the corporate dictatorship we are living in. Something must change, fast.
-Ron | SoCal | August 28, 2012
I have to give PBS credit. They followed the GOP convention last night with the program "Hoover: Landslide"
-Mad Hemingway | Heart of Badger country | August 30, 2012