Another Reagan & Bush Legacy

Another Reagan/Bush Legacy

Since 1981 the private sector has been worshiped by Republicans as a god to be left unfettered by government and regulated solely by market forces. Their mission to dismantle regulations, gut enforcement, and destroy the ability of government to protect the people from irresponsible and greed-driven decisions of business was largely successful. We see the results of this shortsighted but popular “the best government is a small government” mentality in the melt down of our financial system and the gulf oil crisis.

President Reagan was fond of saying that “government isn’t the solution, government is the problem”. He pushed through budget cuts and regulatory “reforms” to turn that simplistic slogan into national policy.  President Bush II picked up where Reagan left off by slashing enforcement agencies and filling key positions with folks who acted as inside lobbyists for the businesses they were charged with overseeing.

Now, Republican governors, senators and members of congress are trying to lay blame for BP’s spill on the Obama administration. The same “leaders” (who for the last year have relentlessly lambasted Obama for “government takeover” and “irresponsible spending”) are now begging for government money and action. It would be refreshing to hear one of them say that they were wrong… that regulations on business should be strong enough to protect the American people from irresponsible actions, that enforcement agencies should never have been downgraded and need to be strengthened, and that there are national priorities more important than deficit reduction.

What is the True Debt Left to Our Grandchildren?

What is the True Debt Left to Our Grandchildren?

The United States Chamber of Commerce called the Climate and Energy Bill introduced by Senators Kerry and Lieberman “a work in progress… and too costly for business.” Not one Republican is willing to sign on. I find it apalling that business and Republicans fret about leaving a financial debt to our grandchildren, but they are not at all concerned about leaving them with poisonous air, dirty water, a planet slowly being destroyed by global warming.

Great Ideas have a Lasting Effect

Great Ideas have a Lasting Effect

Charlie Blow has an interesting perspective on the 2010 mid-term elections. In his column on The New York Times op-ed page, he wrote, “I am convinced that the right may win the day, but the left will win the age. That is because the right is running an intellectually bereft campaign of desperation and disenchantment, amplified by recession. Great recessions don’t last. Great ideas do.”

A Pragmatic Choice

A Pragmatic Choice

President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court is predictably being  pilloried by Republicans as they play to their far-right constituencies. Criticisms from the progressives, however, are short sighted. I sympathize with my fellow liberals’ desire to have a sharp and articulate voice on the left wing of the court, but I’d rather have a member who has the intellect and ability to forge a 5-4 majority decision on issues such as campaign finance reform.  She is both a brilliant legal scholar, and an engaging personality. She just might be able to persuade Justice  Anthony Kennedy to join what is now a four-person minority.

I Fear Guns in the Hands of Criminals and Terrorists, Senators Fear the NRA

According to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 35 people are murdered daily by guns in America. This is the equivalent of a Virginia Tech massacre every day. “Yet” he said “while some criminals are busy evading background checks at gun shows, Congress continues to turn a blind eye to this glaring gap in our nation’s gun laws.”

That is because their eyes are filled with visions of high rankings from the National Rifle Association… and their hearts filled with fear of NRA opposition.

Ignoring this gap is very bad policy, but advocating the rights of terrorists to purchase guns is irresponsible and absurd. But that is what U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins did in a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Senator Frank Lautenberg sponsored a bill that would prohibit gun sales to people on the FBI terrorist watch list. That sounds to me like a no-brainer. But Graham opposed the bill, saying that “I think you’re going too far here…”  and then he shifted his argument to his opposition to giving terrorists captured in the United States their Constitutional rights of a Miranda warning.

So, wrote Gail Collins in the New York Times, if you are on the FBI terrorist watch “the authorities can keep you from getting on a plane but not from purchasing an AK-47.” Graham said this was the case because “when the founders sat down and wrote the Constitution, they didn’t consider flying.” He really said that. He really did.

The consequences of this policy, according to Gail Collins is that “1,119 people on the watch list have been able to purchase weapons over the last six years. One of them bought 50 pounds of military grade explosives.”

I used to believe that Graham and Susan Collins were thoughtful people willing to put partisanship aside and do what is best for America. But the fact is, they are mere partisans eager to oppose and vilify proposals from the President of the United States and their Democratic colleagues, while marching in lock step with the NRA.