alternet.org — In wars, sometimes there comes a moment when the tide turns. The collapse of Ludendorff's offensive in 1918 presaged the Armistice; failure in the Ardennes meant the end for Germany in 1944. Today we have two drone wars in a similar state. One is mainly in Pakistan. Built on a gee-whiz technology that can't do what it promised, this war has claimed too many victims for too little effect. It is a diplomatic disaster and its days are numbered, almost surely, for that reason. The other drone war is in Washington. The drones are in groups with names like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Campaign to Fix the Debt. They drone on, and on, about the calamities that await unless we cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. That the goal of the deficit drones is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has been plain for years to anyone who looks at where the money comes from.
alternet.org — With its elegant rendering of the liberal agenda before the eyes of the American people, President Barack Obama's second inaugural address was music to the ears of many a progressive. But to the ears of Tea Partiers and the Republican right, this inauguration speech, as well as the ceremony that surrounded it, was war -- not just a war of words, but a war of prayer, a war of poetry and even, perhaps, a war of song. Driving the message home were the hands of the Fates, who conspired to see the second inauguration of the nation’s first African American president fall on Martin Luther King Day, the national holiday whose very creation was opposed by so many who still today comprise the Republican Party’s right wing. Here we recount a dozen ways in which the president brought his fight to the right, in no uncertain terms, at his second inauguration.
jaredbernsteinblog.com — It’s fair to ask if the new release by the American Society of Civil Engineers calling for trillions in infrastructure investment is analogous the American Society of Barbers calling for everyone to run out and get haircuts. But while I need to learn more about their methods, their results—we seriously need to upgrade our public goods—strongly resonate. But the current mantra of “Washington has a spending crisis” is divorced from both the reality of our fiscal accounts and importantly, our infrastructure needs. I can’t vouch for every number in here re the loss of GDP and jobs, but they’re clearly pointing in the right direction.
nytimes.com — The platinum coin may not be the only option. Maybe the president can simply declare that as he understands the Constitution, his duty to carry out Congressional mandates on taxes and spending takes priority over the debt ceiling. Or he might be able to finance government operations by issuing coupons that look like debt and act like debt but that, he insists, aren’t debt and, therefore, don’t count against the ceiling. Or, best of all, there might be enough sane Republicans that the party will blink and stop making destructive threats. Unless this last possibility materializes, however, it’s the president’s duty to do whatever it takes, no matter how offbeat or silly it may sound, to defuse this hostage situation. Mint that coin!
salon.com — There’s no consensus on how to interpret White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s response to the avalanche of platinum coin questions he was hit with at a briefing yesterday. At issue is the #MintTheCoin campaign, which is urging President Obama to order to the Treasury department to produce a $1 trillion platinum coin that would then be deposited in the Federal Reserve Bank. This way, the government wouldn’t have to borrow money to pay its bills and Republican threats to allow a debt ceiling default would vanish. It sounds far-fetched, but there is actually is a loophole that seems to allow the Treasury to create platinum coins of any value, and the idea has attracted some reputable backers, includingPaul Krugman and Rep. Jerry Nadler. Carney, though, refused to line up with the platinum crowd on Wednesday. That’s about all that was made clear by his remarks, though.
economix.blogs.nytimes.com — Why and how Americans, who pride themselves on being fussy consumers, have put up with mid-20th-century infrastructure is a mystery. Even more wondrous than the archaic subway and rail system and the potholes in the streets is the system of distributing electric power to households and factories in large parts of the Northeastern United States. Power is often still carried on lines that hang in graceful catenaries of various depths from poles that lean left or right randomly but rarely stand straight. And which are vulnerable to powerful storms, like Hurricane Sandy. Instead of setting about to bring our infrastructure up to 21st-century standards – which might, alas, involve more of the much detested public-sector investment — we angrily and yet meekly suffer for days or weeks without light, heat and transportation, verbally shaking our fists at the power companies but leaving it at that.
At a time when the country is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the storm has reaffirmed progressive principles that have been under attack in recent years. Sandy has, in fact, brought together a trifecta of progressive policy vindications: the dangers of climate silence, the importance of a strong and responsive federal government, and the necessity of collective bargaining rights for workers.
President Obama spoke today at the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in Washington, asking Republicans to stop blocking infrastructure and transportation projects. more »
robertreich.org — Last week Rick Santorum called the President “a snob” for wanting everyone to get a college education (in fact, Obama never actually called for universal college education but only for a year or more of training after high school). Santorum needn’t worry. America is already making it harder for young people of modest means to attend college. Public higher education is being starved, and the middle class will shrink even more as a result. Public higher education has been the gateway to the middle class but that gate is shutting – just when income and wealth are more concentrated at the top than they’ve been since the 1920s, and when America needs the brainpower of its young people more than ever. This is nuts.