Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
The United States used its veto on Friday afternoon to block a Security Council resolution declaring Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank illegal.
The other 14 members of the council voted in favor of the resolution.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Photo: Orvieto, Italy
Robert Reich continues to hammer home his message that we need to return to real progressive taxation and shift the political argument back toward the center-left in this country:
For years progressives have whined that Democratic presidents (Clinton, followed by Obama) compromise with Republicans while Republican presidents (Reagan through W) stand their ground -- with the result that the center of political debate has moved steadily rightward. That's the reason the world exists the way it does today. Isn't it about time progressives had the courage of our conviction and got behind what we believe in, in the hope of moving the debate back to where it was?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Photo: Orvieto, Italy
Robert Reich gets it exactly right:
The best way to revive the economy is not to cut the federal deficit right now. It's to put more money into the pockets of average working families. Not until they start spending again big time will companies begin to hire again big time.
Don't cut the government services they rely on -- college loans, home heating oil, community services, and the rest. State and local budget cuts are already causing enough pain.
The most direct way to get more money into their pockets is to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (a wage subsidy) all the way up through people earning $50,000, and reduce their income taxes to zero. Taxes on incomes between $50,000 and $90,000 should be cut to 10 percent; between $90,000 and $150,000 to 20 percent; between $150,000 and $250,000 to 30 percent.
And exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes.
Make up the revenues by increasing taxes on incomes between $250,000 to $500,000 to 40 percent; between $500,000 and $5 million, to 50 percent; between $5 million and $15 million, to 60 percent; and anything over $15 million, to 70 percent.
And raise the ceiling on the portion of income subject to payroll taxes to $500,000.
It's called progressive taxation.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Photo: Orvieto, Italy
According to the Huffington Post:
President Barack Obama, less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, is proposing a budget to congress that attacks programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, expand access to graduate-level education and undermine that type of community-based organizations that gave the president his start in Chicago.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Photo: The view from Orvieto, Italy
Nicholas Kristof in today's NYTimes:
My sense is that we’re not only on the wrong side of history but that we’re also inadvertently strengthening the anti-Western elements that terrify us and drive our policy...The Obama administration seems...caught in the past, in ways that undermine the secular pro-Western forces that are Egypt’s best hope. I hope the White House learns the future tense.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Photo: The port at Alexandria, Egypt. Our cruise ship docked there in 2009
Former Senator Gary Hart issues a diagnosis and gets it exactly right:
From the beginning of the Cold War, we adopted a policy (some called it political realism; I call it unprincipled expediency) described as "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Thus, regardless of how repressive and anti-democratic a potentate might be, if he were anti-communist, he was our friend. We gave dozens of these types a lot of money and political support even though it was used to build up security services that locked up and tortured anyone who quoted our Declaration of Independence in the national square...If we believe what we claim to believe, and if we truly mean to stand on the principles embodied in our Constitution, we are going to have to do better than this. That is if we truly want to stay in the vanguard of history and not try to merely catch up to it as it disappears over the horizon and leaves us behind.
In the case of the Middle East, we've supported dictators like Mubarak because they delivered stability, which allowed us to continue to pig out on Arab oil. "Democracy" we supported, just as long as the people we wanted got elected.
But now the Middle East is exploding. There is pent up demand for economic justice, an end to repression, and real power sharing. We can continue our past policy of giving lip service to democracy while working covertly for our friends and against our perceived enemies in the region. Or, we can take a firm stand for the democratic process, wherever that leads. If we do the former, expect more attempts to fly planes into our buildings. If we do the latter there is a chance that Arab anti-American sentiment may wane. If we live up to our principles and our words and act responsibly for a change, there is a chance we'll come out ahead in the region as these movements play out. Will we do the right thing?
Photo: Dan and Jim in Egypt Summer 2009
If you have any doubt about who is responsible for the violence in Cairo, read this from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who is on the ground in Egypt:
The pro-Mubarak forces arrived in busloads that mysteriously were waved past checkpoints. These forces emerged at the same time in both Alexandria and Cairo, and they seemed to have been briefed to carry the same kinds of signs and scream the same slogans...Come on, President Obama. You owe the democracy protesters being attacked here, and our own history and values, a much more forceful statement deploring this crackdown.
But Mr. "play it cool" Obama is hedging his bets, which will not be good for future US prospects in the Middle East.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Photo: Cairo Giza taken in 2009
Pro-Mubarak demnonstrators have turned violent. Many of the peaceful anti-Mubarak demonstrators believe that the violence has been instigated by the regime. Egypt is a powder keg. Obama may have told Mubarak to step down but Mubarak isn't listening. World leaders should unite in a public call for Mubarak to step down immediately. This would be followed by an interim caretaker government until free elections, monitored by the international community, can take place. Time is short. Something must be done now to avoid either violent repression or a civil war.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Photo: the latest storm (16"!) really snowed us in
Senator John Kerry writing in the New York Times:
the United States must accompany our rhetoric with real assistance to the Egyptian people. For too long, financing Egypt’s military has dominated our alliance. The proof was seen over the weekend: tear gas canisters marked “Made in America” fired at protesters, United States-supplied F-16 jet fighters streaking over central Cairo.
We need to call now for the immediate resignation of Mubarak and company...before it's too late!