Sunday, June 19, 2011

Comments on comments from the right, left and middle

My head is spinning watching Republicans on TV recently.  The first Republican candidate debate was memorable for many reasons, mostly watching a very skilled Michele Bachmann in action. I disagree profoundly with her viewpoints, but she was impressive as a candidate, making news, slipping in her resume, and soundbiting her political points. Bye Bye Palin; Bachmann is Palin with an education.

Howard Cain backing down on some anti Muslim comments, said that he would hire a Muslim on staff if he/she swore allegiance to the constitution.  That was still a backhanded anti Muslim comment that he does not trust  Muslims to be loyal Americans.  Rick Perry of Texas did not appear at the debate because he is still mulling over announcements.  However, one of his most famous recent remarks was made at a Tea Party rally this Spring in which he threatened Texas secession from the United States if the Obama administration would  not quit  trampling states rights.  Perhaps Cain should have Perry swear allegiance to the Constitution as a condition of being a candidate for President since secession would be unconstitutional.  Didn't we fight a civil war over that?
This morning on Fareed Zakaris' CNN GPS program featured a debate between two extremes:  Robert Reich, former Clinton Labor Secretary on the left vs.David Stockman , former Reagan Budget Director  on the right.  Reich was attempting to make a case that we needed a FDR style WPA or CCC works program    to pay the unemployed to work on publicly needed projects to deal with the unemployment problem even though the US would have to borrow money to afford it.  Stockman, countering it,  made the case  for austerity...severe cuts in defense and entitlements such as social security and medicare though
it would lead to 15% unemployment over the next decade.  His solution to unemployment: something we will
justg have to get used to....meaning solving the debt problem in the long term was far more important. I doubt theRepublicans would adopt his platform; they are too busy claiming 9.1% unemployment means Obama has failed the American people.
 Republicans are fond of saying that the US situation is worse than Greece.  . That the US is worse off than Greece is very debatable. Both of us lack the will to pay for what services we demand from government, but at least the US has the means within its economy to afford it and can print money and the US does a better job of tax collection.   As Reich pointed out our debt load in the past has been 125% of GDP but we had the capacity to get out of it and actually flourish. with 15% unemployment is better than some  debt? As a Financial Times columnist wrote (and I cited in previous blog postings), even the GOP Ryan plan is a political fantasy. At least it  would not be as unsettling to civil order as ten years of 15% unemployment  would be. Ye gads, Stockman. Get a grip on yourself.

The most calming bit Sunday was Defense Secretary Roberts Gates on Candy Crowley's CNN interview. Not  only did he make news confirming negotiations  were underway with the Taliban, but he made a very good case for the Obama policy of responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan vs. an immediate draw down. He also supported the Libyan action, acknowledging that the conflict did not affect the US's interest so much as it did our NATO  allies.  We owed one to NATO allies for helping us out in Afghanistan.

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