IBI Watch 7/10/11

10 07 2011


The State that Once Worked

Day 10 of Minnesota’s shutdown makes it the longest ever.  To listen to many people, it’s a case of two opponents’ refusal to compromise.  That is, neither the Republican legislature nor the Democratic governor is open to meeting in the middle.  And the battle is getting nastier.  Minnesota Majority has purchased billboards around the region that clearly blame Governor Dayton for the stalemate.  Check this:


One is posted on I-35 headed south into the Twin Cities.  It is easy to imagine countless cabin visitors returning home, seeing the billboard, and believing that the shutdown is the fault of that damned governor.   “Why won’t he compromise?!”

To find out more about what is really going on, check these next three links.  The Minnpost link is especially worthy of note.  Eric Black digs back to territory  I explored last week – territory more people in Minnesota and the US as a whole need to know.  That is, what the architect of the modern Republican Party’s fanatical opposition to taxes is up to.  That would be Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform.  He wants to ‘drown government in a bathtub.’  I’d say he is making impressive progress.





First Minnesota, then Washington?

Minnesota is shut down, with no service resumption in sight, because the Democratic governor and the Republican- controlled legislature can’t agree on how to fix a five billion dollar hole in the state budget.  Republicans are insisting on spending cuts alone, while Dayton is pursuing a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.  Most call the revenue increases ‘tax hikes,’ but I call them ‘partial tax restoration.’   And the governor has already made three overtures to Republicans, scaling back his tax ideas significantly each time.  But the Republican leadership, consistently with Norquist’s approach, have not budged an inch on taxes.  Dogmatic consistency is valued, and they would have us believe that taxes are the only factor in the discussion that matters.

In Washington, the tactics are different, but the outcome and consequences will be similar.  Only bigger, much bigger.  Standing firm, as in Minnesota, against any partial tax restoration on the wealthiest tax payers, Republicans are playing with fire – threatening to refuse to agree to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.  This could have dire consequences.  But forget that.  A blind ideology is a blind ideology.  To accept this ideology, you have to believe that spending is out of control and must be reined in regardless of short and medium-term effects on the economy.  But if your real aim is to do the bidding of the very wealthy, and to do away with the public sector’s responsibilities (in favor of turning pretty much everything over to private companies), then the dogmatic stubbornness begins to make a lot of sense.  Note – of this group of links, I particularly like the last one.  It includes a plan for Democrats to use in dealing with their nearly lock-step opponents.





For the final word on why current Republican refusal to consider any tax restoration as part of the solution to the federal debt problem is threatening disaster – and how compromise could hugely benefit the country – let’s turn to two conservatives.  David Brooks is one of the most common-sense conservative commentators you will find.  David Stockman was President Reagan’s budget chief.




‘Jobless Recovery’ Waning

The latest news on jobs and the economy is not good for workers, and also not good for President Obama’s reelection prospects.  I recognize that many progressives and readers of this blog have soured on Obama, and I am not very enthusiastic myself.  But when I think about any of the Republican candidates or ‘dark horses’ unseating the Democrat, I fear unmitigated disaster.  And if anyone thinks a more progressive successor could follow Obama, I would like to understand that thinking.

Here are three links.  First, a commentary from Paul Krugman, who has been sounding the warning about the possibility of ‘double-dip’ recession for some time.  Second, a Rachel Maddow video that includes some very informative charts comparing our current morass with past recessions. And finally, some ideas from another former president who oversaw a pretty healthy economy.





Energy Use – Exhaustion or Stewardship

The Bush-Cheney energy policy could be summed up with this phrase:  Find lots more and burn it all up, quick.  Sadly, we have seen little or no improvement on the energy front since Obama was elected.  Here are two views.  First, an opinion piece on the energy industry’s approach to marshalling resources.  Second, a Truthout article on what can only be described as an opportunity – the chance to build a truly sustainable energy system.




Climate Destabilization Comes to National Parks

Just like every other part of this earth, America’s natural heritage – our National Park system – is threatened by climate destabilization from our greenhouse gases.  I was reminded of this when I visited the Apostle Islands National Seashore recently.  Fortunately, the system is not run by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, James Inhofe or Tim Pawlenty.  A spread on specific effects on the seashore was posted at the visitors’ center.  The threat is not some future possibility, but a present fact.  Check here for a very informative page on climate chaos’s effects on the parks, and efforts to mitigate and cope.



Religious Fundamentalism – an Idea Whose Time Should Pass

For the best in ignorance-based initiatives, it is hard to beat fundamentalist religion.  The idea that some ancient text or other should be understood literally, and used as a ‘how-to’ book for successful living in the modern world is absurd.  But if that were the extent of the problem, things would not be so dangerous.  A line is crossed when a certain set of true believers think  they have the only true answers and they are willing to impose their faith and culture on others.  You know, a theocratic Manifest Destiny in one stripe or another, eastern or western.  The first piece looks at the folly of any nation or people seeing themselves as ‘chosen,’ and entitled to ‘dominion’ of some sort.

The piece made me think of some of my favorite musical treatments of this topic.  Enjoy a medley of tunes on the theme, from the only ‘agnostic gospel’ album that I know of.  It is Susan Werner’s ‘The Gospel Truth.’

With Republicans’ penchant for seizing songs for their campaigns without the artist’s permission (latest example Michele Bachmann/Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’), maybe Michele or Tim should contact Susan.  Some good potential here, no?






“The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”

 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




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