Politics: 23 December 2010

The Mendacity of Hope

Roger Hodge has a new book out called The Mendacity of Hope. I haven’t read it. I don’t even have it, but I will after the holidays and I’m sure I’ll write about it. Until then, I bring you a couple of videos of the former editor of Harper’s Magazine making a lot of sense about President Obama. Here’s the first clip; I will have something to say after it.

The one place where I disagree with him is in saying that the angry left (progressives?) and the angry right (tea-baggers) have much in common. I agree that when I talk to tea-baggers, they do pretty much agree with me on what the problems are. However, they have this great super-power that allows them to deflect any facts that come near them. The angry left is mad about what is actually happening in this country. The angry right is just mad (in both common senses of the word). I think it is possible to get the AL and the AR together on some issues, but not one on one. Perhaps in a group, we might find one tea-bagger who, for whatever reason has a weakened “fact deflector.” If you could convince this person that he or she should support something sensible, it might work its way through the group. Think of it as finding a back-door into a super-secure Unix system.

Just in case you think that Hodge (or I) think that all these relatively minor accomplishments this month make up for Obama’s betrayal of us progressives over the past two years, he’s a clip from The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell. Not that Hodge doesn’t have much to say, but it is well worth hearing.

Freedom’s Just Another Word for Not Having a Party

Today, The Alaskan Supreme Court threw out Joe “I Desperately Need a Shave or a Time Machine” Miller’s challenge to Lisa Murkowski’s write-in win of the Alaska Senate race, according to The Washington Post. In their POLITICS Digest, they report:

The high court on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s ruling that dismissed Miller’s claims of impropriety in the state’s handling of the election and write-in ballots for Murkowski. It found “no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified.”

That’s good news, of course; but the really good news is that Murkowski is “going rogue” according to Meredith Shiner at Politio—contrasting her sardonically with Palin by noting that Murkowski does not gun down, “caribou on national TV.” She’s gone rogue in a meaningful sense:

Murkowski is already showing a fierce independent streak, becoming the only Republican to cast votes on all four items on President Barack Obama’s wish list: a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a tax-cut compromise, the START deal and cloture for the DREAM Act.

The election it would seem, has freed Murkowski from the need to vote in lockstep with the Republican leadership and vote the way politicians in the minority used to vote. You know: before Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and Karl Rove gave us the modern Republican Party.

Take the Millions, Skip the Thousands

One of the Deficit Commission’s ideas for saving Social Security was to means test it. But by this, they didn’t mean depriving rich people from getting it. Instead, people making over a million dollars per years (not made: currently making) would not get Social Security benefits until they were 70 and then they might not get as much as they normally would. Gasp! Say it ain’t so! The people who have made the most money already pay the least as a percentage of their income. Then, when they retire, they get the maximum benefit amount. In other words: from each according to the inverse of his ability, to each according to the inverse of his needs.

How about this as a Social Security reform (I make no claims to this being original to me, not that I didn’t come up with it on my own): no cap on the Social Security tax (there is currently no tax on income above $106,800—making it a highly regressive tax); means test the hell out of the program: if you are making a bunch of money (amount to be determined), you don’t get any benefits; and means test the hell out of it again: if you have a bunch of money, you don’t get any benefits. Similar changes could be made to Medicare, but since I believe in a single-payer—Medicare for all—system, I’m not going to get into it.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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