Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Rant: Free Aung San Suu Kyi, G20 Friction Blues, Filling In The Trenches

Paul Krugman
Eugene Robinson
"Why don't they fight back?"

That's the question I've been hearing from the Democratic Party's stunned and dispirited base. For the past month, I've been on a book tour that has taken me to Asheville, N.C., Terre Haute, Ind., Austin and elsewhere. Everywhere I go, supporters of President Obama and his agenda ask me why so many Democrats in Washington don't stand up for what they say they believe." - Eugene Robinson

The sentence of Aung San Suu Kyi ends this Saturday. These people are hoping that she will be released a bit early, and are gathering in her support. Now that Myanmar has had its election and the old generals are in civilian office, they are hoping to be able to use their Swiss bank accounts, which were frozen as sanctions against them as long as they were in the ruling military junta... As a convicted felon, Ms Kyi can no longer run for political office, and they won't re-arrest her as long as she leaves home for shopping and other innocent activities.

We are not hearing entirely good news from South Korea and the G20 meeting of the wealthiest nations. President Obama's personal charm works well enough, but the current global economic recession still has people pissed off at the US, which started the whole mess. The Chinese are unhappy to get into a pissing contest with a Black man, but feels that the US has been hypocritical in its recent attacks on them.

Two things are at issue. One, many european countries like Britain, Germany, and Greece have adopted to cut their deficits by adopting draconian measures to lower their governments spending, much like the Republicans would also like to do. After all, these countries have conservative rulers and can only think inside of a narrow box to find solutions. The US has taken the opposite approach, by spending to stimulate the economy first, then cut back government costs when it's more feasible. So far the US approach has worked pretty well, except for the jobs part. The companies it bailed out are recovering at a faster rate than imagined, and our deficit this year will be 20% lower than it was last year. If it can sustain that rate, we should be in good economic shape in five years. But, since there are opposing approaches towards the same goals, there is friction and disagreement between the US and everyone else. Plus, add the fact that economists love to lecture others for hours on end, and you end up with some tedious and boring resentments.

Second, the FED just decided to buy up a lot of debt and printed up the money to do it, so there is suddenly a lot more dollars floating around the world, and other countries resent it, as it devalues their goods. This is the same strategy that China uses to stabilize their currency, and now they don't want the US lecturing to them about it when the US just did the same thing to stabilize the dollar. So, the G20 conference will be full of shifting alliances, lots of lectures, and very little problem solving. What it does do is provide a stage where countries can rant and clear out their resentments, and everyone feels better afterwards, which we call progress...

Back at home, the local political parties are filling in the trenches, and trying to reflect on why their candidate won/lost. Has the past two years of constantly slandering Obama's persona and just saying no to every piece of legislation and political appointment worked out well? There is still a disconnect, with many of the freshman class of Congressmen saying they are looking forward to bipartisan solutions, yet John Boehner and Mitch McConnell won't be appeased until Obama kneels in front of them and does as they say: keep the Bush tax cuts.
"Matters become clearer once you reach the section on tax reform. The goals of reform, as Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson see them, are presented in the form of seven bullet points. “Lower Rates” is the first point; “Reduce the Deficit” is the seventh.

So how, exactly, did a deficit-cutting commission become a commission whose first priority is cutting tax rates, with deficit reduction literally at the bottom of the list?" - Paul Krugman
The recent bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission on the budget should be the beginning of a dialogue, and their suggestions should be debated by everyone, before anything is adopted. The best thing to come out of the tea party movement is that a lot of people were studying up on Constitutional law and economic theories, bringing complex subjects into rallies and websites, and entering into our national debate this election cycle. Hopefully, the educational trend will continue, and we will see more than just conservative filters of our problems, because we've seen how it leads to wacky and crazy people all channeling Michele Bachmann, as if they were all pods from the same alien creature who almost, but couldn't quite fit in as human...

Or, on a lonely Friday night, I can burrow in and turn on the television to CSPAN, and watch Michele Bachmann trying to cuddle up to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio in true tea party solidarity on the Senate floor. Will they accept the Queen's advances and pick up her weapons of choice, or will they deny her, try to ignore her as if she wasn't even there? After all, Dick Armey gave the incoming Republicans words of advice this morning, to stick to their principals and not be enchanted by the bright, shiny objects that the leadership will dangle in front of them. This, coming from a "former Republican House majority leader, lobbyist, and, yes, D.C. insider." (the Caucus, NY Times) It's going to be an entertaining winter, especially if you are as easily amused as I seem to be...

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