Update: Actually, the only item of note that took place in last week’s votes had to do with the DISCLOSE Act, which of course the Repugs opposed even with the NRA “carve out”; a Repug-sponsored measure “require(ing) quick judicial review” was also defeated (a likely “poison pill” that would have gotten the entire legislation defeated in a court challenge), and both Joe Pitts and Tim Holden, for some unbelievable reason, opposed a measure to reveal the extent to which out-of-state interests seek to sway local and statewide races (all of this and more is noted here, including all of our local Dem senators supporting an extension of jobless benefits that didn't make it to the magical number of 60 votes to prevent the inevitable Repug filibuster).
Also, the “Z” post is worth noting to read Zurawik’s attempt at justifying his equating of Glenn Beck with Keith Olbermann with “Matt” in the comments thread (with Zurawik noting a single instance where K.O. apologized for his comments against Scott Brown – comments based on thoroughly documented campaign ads by Brown, by the way – and implying to “Matt” that that somehow equates with all of Beck’s hysteria).
George W. Bush was no FDR, but Barack Obama could be.And with this in mind, I’d actually like to take a minute or two and compare Number 44 on economics with the late Number 40 of Bel Air, CA.
That's the verdict of 238 of the nation's leading presidential scholars, who - for a fifth time - rated Franklin Delano Roosevelt the best president ever in the latest Siena College Research Institute poll.
In office for barely two years, Obama entered the survey in the 15th position - two spots behind Bill Clinton and three spots ahead of Ronald Reagan.
As noted here…
…Reagan did not inherit the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Nor did he inherit two wars, nor the collapse of the automobile industry, nor 8 years of budget profligacy, nor the radical right wing championing (and avoiding service in) another war or two or three. The retirement of the baby-boomers was 25 years in the future, not already ongoing and accelerating.I suppose the point of noting this is that this country once cut a lot more slack to a Republican chief executive who, while inheriting an economy battered by inflation (with OPEC’s price gouging playing no small role at the time), nonetheless concocted economic policies that were more egregious towards the unemployed than those of the current occupant of An Oval Office. And while I’d like to see Obama and the congressional Dems do more about that, I believe they are actually trying to do what they can (and Senate Repugs, under The Sainted Ronnie R, had not yet perfected the art of sucking the life out of government through filibuster abuse).
And, of course, you don't need little Johnny Boehner to tell you that tax rates, even for the wealthiest Americans, are now already 14% lower than Reagan's 1981 tax cut, nor that 95% of Americans received a tax cut in the Obama stimulus, nor that tax rates will still be 10.5% lower for the wealthiest when Obama allows the George W tax cuts to expire, nor that those cuts were intended to expire for the simple reason that they were projected then to cause to big a hole in the deficit.
But this, of course, begs the question as to what the Reagan tax cuts, such as they were, actually did achieve. At the same point in Reagan's Presidency as we are now at in Obama's, what was unemployment, and how long before it began to decline?
…Reagan inherited an unemployment rate of 7.6%, no wars, no major financial crisis, a still robust auto industry, a right wing clamoring for increased defense spending (that helps domestic employment), no retiring baby boomers actually taking down social security funds.
To answer the pop quiz: the unemployment rate under Reagan went from 7.6% to 9.7-9.8% in the summer after his inaugural, and remained at that level for two years, before it began to decline in the summer of 1983. In "Obama-time", that would be the equivalent of the summer of 2011. Moreover, the economy did not begin improving until the Spring, 1983; in "Obama-time" that is Spring, 2011.
What’s more important than putting together a new budget for the federal government? If you’re one of the 219 representatives whose vote secured the passage of the so-called “DISCLOSE Act” in the House last Thursday, the answer is simple: providing incumbents with job security.The authors of this nonsense, by the way, are Bert Gall, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, which litigates nationwide against restrictions on free speech, and Joseph Gay, a Constitutional Law Fellow at the Institute (only one pic appears with the column, and I can’t tell you which one it is).
For the overwhelming majority of corporations who can’t afford to hire all the lawyers and accountants that are needed to cut through the reams of red tape, DISCLOSE amounts to a de facto ban on speech.
These restrictions are a blatant attempt to do an end-run around the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, in which the court held that the government may not censor corporations’ political speech. The DISCLOSE Act’s supporters know, and expect, that the law will discourage many corporations from speaking up in this year’s elections. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who co-authored the bill with Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, has admitted as much, noting that the act will make corporations “think twice” before speaking out. Indeed, as he unveiled the act, he declared that, “The deterrent effect should not be underestimated.”
I’m not going to waste anyone’s time trying to untangle the specious legal reasoning on display here (particularly since the bill isn't even in its final form), which somehow leads to the conclusion stated above that the DISCOLOSE act could be harmful to corporations. Instead, I’ll just link to this writeup on the Act, which states as follows…
…the House version of the bill…requires special interest group officials to physically appear at the end of campaign ads they sponsor, acknowledging who contributes to their campaign fund, and to disclose their campaign related expenditures on their websites.Actually, my only objection to the House version of the bill is the NRA “carve out,” which is rightly in danger of being dropped in the Senate version of the bill, as noted here.
It also prohibits foreign controlled corporations from contributing to political campaigns.
And let us not forget that the DISCLOSE Act is a remedy for the awful Citizens United ruling by The Supremes, which, as noted here, overturned two prior rulings on corporate funding of political campaigns. The Citizens United ruling also struck down a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign financing law that banned corporations and unions from broadcasting electioneering communications in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general elections.
In response to the Citizens United ruling (with this being the original title of the group founded by Repug bottom-feeder Roger Stone), retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated as follows…
At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.(Also, to get a taste of Justice Antonin Scalia’s legendary arrogance, on this and other subjects, consider that his concurrence included the observation that “the dissent’s exploration of the Framers’ views about the ‘role of corporations in society’ (is) misleading, and even if valid, irrelevant to the text.”)
I’m not sure what final legislative form the DISCLOSE Act will take once it is eventually passed (hopefully) by both houses of Congress and reconciled in the committee process. But it will definitely be a step to correct the egregious wrong committed by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR, and that can only be positive.
And for anyone who thinks the Repugs aren’t getting ready to take full advantage of this opportunity, read what Karl Rove and his pals at American Crossroads are up to here.
On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson was writing at a table alongside other members of Congress in Philadelphia. This scene does not describe his work on the Declaration of Independence. Rather, he was taking notes on the nation's first congressional investigation - of American troops' disastrous campaign into Canada, in which Benedict Arnold played a leading role.As stated, Benedict Arnold is quite rightly reviled for his betrayal of our country. However, I recently watched a History Channel program on Arnold which mentions some details left out here.
When the investigation was over a few weeks later, Jefferson remained one of Arnold's defenders, calling him a "fine sailor." Other revolutionary leaders were not so sure; one warned Jefferson that Arnold was "fiery, hot, and impetuous."
That turned out to be prescient. Less than five years later, the Revolution was on a razor's edge, and Arnold had turned traitor. In December 1780, he left British headquarters in New York with a fleet of 27 ships. His destination was Virginia, where an ill-prepared Jefferson was in his second one-year term as governor.
One of American history's most reviled men was on a mission against a state led by one of its most revered. The ensuing clash was one of the great yet strangely little-noted events of the Revolutionary War.
Arnold would gain the upper hand, repeatedly forcing Jefferson to flee the capital, Richmond. Other British forces later chased Jefferson all the way to Charlottesville. Eventually, he was forced to flee Monticello just minutes ahead of British soldiers, whose horses had galloped up his beloved mountain.
This Wikipedia article states that, after the failed attack on Quebec City in 1775, Arnold “distinguished himself in both Battles of Saratoga, even though General (Horatio) Gates, following a series of escalating disagreements and disputes that culminated in a shouting match, removed him from field command after the first battle. During the fighting in the second battle, Arnold, operating against Gates' orders, took to the battlefield and led attacks on the British defenses. He was severely wounded in the same leg that was injured at Quebec late in the fighting. Arnold himself said it would have been better had it been in the chest instead of the leg. (British Gen. John) Burgoyne surrendered ten days after the second battle, on October 17, 1777. In response to Arnold's valor at Saratoga, Congress restored his command seniority.”
The program also noted that our troops referred the general in command at Saratoga as “Granny” Gates since they believed he was reluctant to engage the enemy (and the military expert who was interviewed, whose name escapes me at the moment, claimed that, had Arnold been killed at Saratoga, he would have gone down in history as a hero, since his traitorous acts came later).
Also, in his Inquirer editorial, Kranish alleges that the country voted for Jefferson and his Republican Party (though they bore no resemblance to the bunch claiming that name now) because the Federalists were more likely to engage England in war; that was certainly true of Alexander Hamilton, though John Adams, this country’s second president, successfully kept our country from going to war a second time so soon after the Revolution, which would have been devastating and endangered this country’s very survival.
I just thought I’d point out a little bit of colonial history that you can think about while everyone is getting sunburned at the shore or burning the hot dogs and weenies on the grill this weekend :- ).