Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Obama really is avoiding consideration of socialist, or even mildly social democratic, responses to the problems that confront him. He took the single-payer option off the table at the start of the healthcare debate, rejecting the approach that in other countries has provided quality care to all citizens at lower cost. His supposedly “socialist” response to the collapse of the auto industry was to give tens of billions in bailout funding to GM and Chrysler, which used the money to lay off thousands of workers and then relocate several dozen plants abroad—an approach about as far as a country can get from the social democratic model of using public investment and industrial policy to promote job creation and community renewal. And when BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded, threatening the entire Gulf Coast, instead of putting the Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies in charge of the crisis, Obama left it to the corporation that had lied about the extent of the spill, had made decisions based on its bottom line rather than environmental and human needs, and had failed at even the most basic tasks.
So we should take the president at his word when he says he’s acting on free-market principles. The problem, of course, is that Obama’s rigidity in this regard is leading him to dismiss ideas that are often sounder than private-sector fixes. Borrowing ideas and approaches from socialists would not make Obama any more of a socialist than Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower. All these presidential predecessors sampled ideas from Marxist tracts or borrowed from Socialist Party platforms so frequently that the New York Times noted in a 1954 profile the faith of an aging Norman Thomas that he “had made a great contribution in pioneering ideas that have now won the support of both major parties”—ideas like “Social Security, public housing, public power developments, legal protection for collective bargaining and other attributes of the welfare state.” The fact is that many of the men who occupied the Oval Office before Obama knew that implementation of sound socialist or social democratic ideas did not put them at odds with the American experiment or the Constitution.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
But Joan Walsh of Slate wrote an expert takedown of the Trump-for-President phenomenon on Tuesday, and I just had to share. Ladies and gentlemen, marvel in the sheer hypocrisy that is Donald Trump, political wannabe.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Prosecutors couldn't get Bonds on perjury -- the jury deadlocked on all three charges against him. They only managed to get the obstruction of justice charge because jurors felt Bonds evaded questions during his grand jury testimony.
By that logic ... shouldn't Dick Cheney be behind bars?
So, with a potentially bogus obstruction of justice conviction -- which carries a maximum of sentence of 10 years in prison, even though Bonds is unlikely to face jail time -- and what's likely to be a length appeals process (oh, and the government can file the perjury charges again, if it so chooses), the question begs asking: what's the point?
Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine, takes the whole thing to task in his recent column, The Great American Witch-Hunt: How Barry Bonds Became a Convicted Felon. A snippet:
As BALCO founder Victor Conte—who is no friend of Bonds—said to USA Today, "This verdict absolutely makes no sense to me. Of all of these counts, the one that makes the least sense to me is the obstruction charge. Tell me how there was obstruction of justice. This is all about the selected persecution of Barry Bonds. This is not fair. I was the heavy in this. I accepted full responsibility and the consequences and went to prison. How is that obstruction? Doesn't make sense.”
It doesn’t. After all the public money, drama, and hysterics, this is what we’re left with. He was “evasive." Keep in mind that we live in a country where the US Department of Justice has not pursued one person for the investment banking fraud that cratered the US economy in 2008. Not one indictment has been issued to a single Bush official on charges of ordering torture or lying to provoke an invasion of Iraq. Instead, we get farcical reality television like the US vs. Barry Bonds.
This was a trial where you longed for the somber dignity of a Judge Judy. Since Anderson wouldn’t talk, the government was left with two real witnesses: Kimberly Bell, Bond's mistress, brought in to discuss his sexual dysfunctions resulting from steroids, and Steve Hoskins, the business manager whom Bonds fired for alleged theft and fraud. But their real star was a once-anonymous IRS official named Jeff Novitsky, who has proudly seen Bonds as an all-consuming obsession, US Constitution be damned.
Look, I'm no Bonds apologist. But doesn't anyone else find a bit strange that the majority of the government's focus in prosecuting steroid use in professional sports has largely focused in on him? Is it because he's the sport's all-time leading home run hitter? Someone who allegedly manufactured his numbers in a sport where numbers mean more than anything?
Is it because Bonds was never friendly with the media? Is it because, heaven forbid, Bonds is black? Where's this level of outrage and condemnation for someone like Roger Clemens or Mark McGwire? The former is accused of taking steroids and lying about it; the latter has finally admitted he juiced.
I know Clemens will have his day in court, but the outrage surrounding his case doesn't even come close to Bonds. But think about this ... if the federal government wants to get in the business of prosecuting steroids in baseball (which, as Zirin pointed out, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder said they wouldn't do), why not focus more on the dealers who supplied the drugs?
Why not focus on the owners and Major League Baseball officials who looked the other way as players bulked up, balls went flying out of ballparks and more money flowed in than anyone knew what to do with? They're just as culpable as the players in this, if not more so.
Frankly, the government has gibber fish to dry than a player who was a surefire Hall of Famer before greed and jealousy led him to take performance-enhancing drugs. While the federal government has been pouring in millions of dollars to prosecute Bonds, not one grand jury has convened to investigate the financial firms who led us into economic collapse.
Tank the economy, get a pass and a bailout. Take steroids to hit a baseball farther, and face potential jail time.
Doesn't that seem screwed up to anyone?
This post also appears on my sports blog, Last Four on the Clock.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Ultimately, life has been beyond hectic recently.
I work in sports information (i.e., athletic media relations) at Hampton University, and this year, both the men's and women's basketball teams won their conference and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. As great as it was seeing these programs and these student-athletes succeeding and bringing notoriety to the school, it also meant a buttload of work.
Between press releases, press conferences and a trip to Albuquerque, N.M. that lasted nearly a week, I've admittedly let some things fall by the wayside. I've posted to my sports blog occasionally, and I'm still trying to keep my NASCAR blog up-to-date since we're a couple months into the season there, but this page has been a casualty of a busy life.
I've also done a poor job of late keeping up with what's going on; I know the basics of the fight for collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, just as I know Ohio and Michigan have attempted to pass similar union-busting measures. I'm aware of the pending government shutdown, which -- depending on who you talk to, is the fault of President Obama or the Tea Party.
But, due in part of my lack of time, I haven't delved deep enough into the issues to truly get a grasp of them -- and if I don't truly grasp something, I'm not going to write a blog post about it. I don't wanna give an opinion that might be off-base or try to talk about something I don't really understand.
I'm weird like that.
Since Keith Olbermann left MSNBC, I've effectively stopped watching. I tried to hang on enough to watch The Rachel Maddow Show, refusing to punish her for something she ultimately had no control over ... yet I've stopped watching her show. This wasn't a conscious decision, but with Olbermann off doing his own thing, it just hasn't been there for me.
Which is a shame, because Maddow has the distinct ability to make me understand complex situations that I might not otherwise be able to grasp. I still frequent my usual media hangouts -- I still receive my issue of The Nation every week, and I still visit The Huffington Post whenever possible -- but this has suffered as well.
I think, now that things are starting to calm down at work, I'll be returning to this page soon. I just need to re-charge the proverbial batteries, decompress a little. I am not abandoning this page or the struggle it represents; I'm merely taking a step back to make sure I have the energy and resolve for what will undoubtedly be a tough battle ahead.
Take heart, fellow progressives. I'm not going anywhere ... I just need to re-fill the tank.
I will be back.