Being out of politics is such a peaceful life. Reading the press reports about the debt ceiling debate, special election campaigns and overall fight between the President and Republicans in Congress makes me chuckle.
Watching the Republicans and the Democrats tear each other apart would be a lot more funny if their decisions did not have such serious consequences on us poor average citizens. What is so infuriatingly funny is the hypocrisy.
Let’s start by looking at the debt ceiling debate.
Normally, raising the debt limit or borrowing money is a no-brainer for elected officials. Politicians are heroes when they spend money. They are given awards, trips and plaques, for just spending your money. Sometimes they even get buildings and bridges named after them, even before they die all because they spent someone else’s money. I still have a few of my old plaques hanging on the wall.
It doesn’t take long for even a stupid politician to learn that spending money, not cutting budgets, is the path to admiration, love and that most important priority of all, winning re-election.
There are two ways to get the money everyone wants them to spend. They can raise taxes (not a very popular option), or borrow the money. As you can imagine, borrowing the money is very popular because most citizens don’t care or understand borrowing or deficits, and the majority of elected officials are more worried about the next election than the future re-payment plan.
Usually, raising the debt limit happens quietly with little fanfare or press attention. With the exception of a few “hardcore fiscal conservatives,” the President’s party always supports raising the limit, and the other party opposes it. Apart from a few campaign mailers sent out in freshmen legislators re-election campaigns, it is never even used as a campaign attack. (It’s hard to attack an opponent for voting the same way you have voted)
But this year was different. With deficit spending exploding faster than anyone thought possible, along with Republicans throwing out the Democrats in November, the stage was set for a showdown. Normally, the President could have cut a deal to increase military spending or throw a few key projects in big highway bill, and they would have increased the debt limit; but because these pesky tea party “crazies” have the general population stoked up over deficit spending, the Republicans were forced to play hardball.
Read the rest of…
Rod Jetton: Hypocrisy Abounds, But Jobs Can’t Be Found
Are we entering the age of inherited wealth? [The Wall Street Journal]
Mad Money’s Jim Cramer explains how you should invest in a market full of contradictions. [CNBC]
Stories of what happens when really rich people do really stupid things. [Forbes]
Apple’s lead over Exxon Mobil swells to $35.87 billion dollars. [Fortune]
Forecasts call for umbrellas today. But it isn’t another tropical storm you should be worrying about, it is space debris. [npr.org]
Japan gets hit be a typhoon in the same area that suffered the tsunami nuclear scare. [yahoo.com]
An amazing bird that flies from Alaska to New Zealand… non-stop. [npr.org]
West Hollywood considers a “fur ban” for all retailers. [latimes.com]
Those wacky Bengals are at it again. Wide Receiver Jerome Simpson has been implicated in a drug scheme after authorities tracked a shipment of over 20 lbs. of marijuana from California to his home in Kentucky. [The Columbus Dispatch]
As a political instrument, the speech was effective and will pull Obama’s polling numbers back to an even approval/disapproval split: each element of the plan was poll-tested to cover the right bases, and the relatively non-conciliatory, “pass this now” tone will energize disaffected liberals. As economic policy, it is the 09 stimulus cut in half, and the parts of it that pass (extension of the payroll tax cuts, tax credits for new hires) will have a predictably mild stimulative effect.
But congressional Republicans have the votes to exact a price, and they will push Obama toward spending cuts that he does not want to make. They will not yield on taxes any more in the future than they have in the past because, frankly, they don’t need to: Obama has to have a jobs bill and will give ground on taxes to get it. Republicans know this.
Read the rest of…
Artur Davis: Will Obama’s Jobs Plan Work?
U.S. internet speeds have dropped to the 25th globally in terms of speed. We are ranked right behind Romania. That is so depressing I’m having trouble putting it into words. [Common Dreams.org]
Is OnStar spying on its customers? [Jonathan Zdziarski’s Domain]
Sony has stated they will ban players on its Playstati0n Network unless they agree to waive the right to collectively sue the company regarding security breaches. [BBC]
One of the simplest tools to access purified water: a plastic cone. [evirogadget]
A cool feature that was found while checking out the upcoming Microsoft Win8. [picture]
Don’t mess with Texas: Can Governor Rick Perry save the Big 12? Should he? [The Atlantic]
Al Gore says “new iPhone out in October.” No mention if there is a global cooling app. [Associated Press]
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt testifies before Congress. He swears Google continue to not “be evil.” [Reuters]
Kim Kardashian weighs in on the Troy Davis execution. [CafeMom]
Yesterday, the RP published a provocative piece here and at The Huffington Post, urging President Obama to firmly and strongly object to unilateral U.N. action on a two-state solution, giving the President a two-part message:
Obama has a simple, fair, and logical message to share: First, each party to the problem must have ownership of the solution: imposing borders unilaterally is not in the spirit of the U.N.’s mission. And second, if Palestine merits formal global recognition, then Israel too — finally — deserves its full acceptance as a Jewish state by Palestine and all of its neighbors, an integral element of any compromise solution.
Of course, President Obama listened to the RP and immediately complied by delivering a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. (OK, just maybe it was planned in advance of the RP’s article.):
Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.
Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied…We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state.
But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.
Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.
The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
Click here for the full text of the President’s address.
The RP Nation had its say as well. The RP’s article unleashed a torrent of comments here, at The Huffington Post, on Facebook, and via email.
One consistent thread from all sides of the ideological debate: The ROP screwed up when he stated the Yom Kippur War occurred in 1974. It was 1973. We are confident that the RP will seek absolution for this mistake on Yom Kippur, this year, 2009.
Here is a representative sample, protecting the identities of the innocent:
Read the rest of…
“Obama’s Defining Moment on Israel”: The Response
Nutrition labels on packaged foods will soon be getting a makeover. [NY Times]
While the” locavore” food movement is gaining in popularity, the “cosmovore” movement is offered as an alternative that balances environmentally friendly eating with concern for the world’s poor. [ForeignPolicy.com]
It’s a common misconception that healthy eating means expensive eating. Here are some tips for healthy eating on a budget. [Beacon News]
The RP’s Recipe of the Week: Wondering what to bring to the next tailgate? Stick to something classic like guacamole and you can’t go wrong. [Food Network]
Google is just supporting who is in power. There is nothing wrong with supporting Republican members in the House, while at the same time supporting Democrat members in the Senate.
As for 2012, Google is just hedging its bets in the presidential race. They want to be behind the winner no matter who it is. The choice is to donate to both nominees, donate to one candidate, or donate to no one. Most companies will chose the former or the latter in a tight race. Partnering with Fox News on a debate is just a way to expand their brand and hit millions of more people (Republicans) that will be watching these debates. The political pendulum swings back and forth very quick these days.
This is a reality. Google just wants to make sure it is on the right side of the pendulum no matter what happens.
(Cross-posted, with permission of the author, from Politico’s Arena)