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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ron Paul and his libertarian followers have a clear and simple view of the role of government: government’s role is to pay he and his son modest salaries so they can go around talking about how we don’t need government. He and Rand Paul are sort of like prostitutes who take your money and scold you for using their services. One of the key tenets to their “less is more” dogma is that government should dismantle its safety net so people could afford to give generously to their chosen charities so they could take care of these needy individuals. Before big government intruded into caring for the indigent, the coffers of charities were full and all was right with the world. Just one problem. That bit of dogma doesn’t fit history. The Huffington Post explains:

More than perhaps any other presidential candidate, Paul believes that private philanthropy is capable of providing assistance on par with what the federal government provides today, Of course, certain conditions need to be met before private donors will step into these roles. Chief among them, Paul said in 2003 on the House floor, is that the federal government must free the American people “from the excessive tax burden, so they can devote more of their resources to charity.”

In Paul’s opinion, high taxes and inflation deprive Americans of money that they would otherwise give to charity. Programs like Medicare, he says, brought about the demise of “voluntary charities and organizations, such as friendly societies, that devoted themselves to helping those in need” during the early 20th century. These civic groups, he claims, “flourished in the days before the welfare state turned charity into a government function.”

But according to Dr. Leslie Lenkowsky of Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, data on decades of American philanthropy squarely contradicts Paul’s opinion. “All things being equal, Americans today give more than twice as much of our GDP to charity than they did in 1930,” he told The Huffington Post. “And Mr. Paul’s notion that private donors could ever wholly replace government social welfare programs? Well, it’s a fantasy.”

Lenkowsky served in three presidential administrations, most recently that of George W. Bush, where he was CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “No one, not even Herbert Hoover, ever seriously advocated for the idea that government has no role to play in providing social services,” he added.

// // Like much of his economic libertarianism, Paul’s theory on charity relies on proving a negative, namely that if only the government would cease to aid the poor, then private philanthropy could finally achieve its full potential — something that’s never been proven in the real world. A spokesman for Paul declined to respond to questions from HuffPost.

Rick Perry’s rising star has stalled out. Is it because he faltered in the last debate? Is it because he had difficulty stringing his words together? Absolutely not! The Republican base is wary of slick talkers with a ready vocabulary. They prefer their presidents with hitches in their speech and tangles in their syntax. Is it because he comes off anti-science and dim-witted? Not at all. Again, the base likes their candidates with a healthy dose of skepticism of anything that comes out of a university or something called a “think tank.” No, the thing that torpedoed Perry’s ascent was his policies. Like other Republicans who once held progressive views about dealing with the problem of undocumented workers and illegals, Perry’s in-state tuition for brown-skinned residents with questionable origins is verboten. Perry is soft on illegals. And if he doesn’t reverse himself on this issue, like McCain before him, he is toast. For the fact of the matter is, the Republican base can’t stand a true maverick.

I have just one word: Awkward.

Eric Schimdt,  CEO of Google is not a politician. He is not a pundit.He is not an economist. He is a businessman. And he knows what creates jobs. It is not tax cuts or entrepreneurialism. It’s demand. Plan and simple. Can the government create jobs? Sure. If the chowder heads  in D.C. put together a stimulus plan that creates demand.

The GOP has long been the political party that has proudly carried the Pro Life banner. They have fought tirelessly and conspicuously for the rights of the unborn. Giving the unborn baby “a voice,” as the rhetoric goes.  Once, of course, the said baby makes it over to the over side of the birth canal, well, then all bets are off.  Now, its time, Junior, to man up and become self-reliant. And God forbid that the government offers any assistance to this little one. Once born, the Republicans seem to have a shade less compassion for these cuddly embryos. But something far more disconcerting has happened in the last two Republican Presidential debates. The GOP seems to be turning downright bloodthirsty. Two weeks ago, the crowd burst into enthusiastic applause for Governor Perry’s execution of over 200 people. Then, this past week, the Republican spectators were happy to let a hypothetical uninsured gentleman die. New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman argues that there was nothing hypothetical in the question or Ron Paul’s response:

Today, “free to choose” has become “free to die.”

I’m referring, as you might guess, to what happened during Monday’s G.O.P. presidential debate. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”

And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”

The incident highlighted something that I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.

Now, there are two things you should know about the Blitzer-Paul exchange. The first is that after the crowd weighed in, Mr. Paul basically tried to evade the question, asserting that warm-hearted doctors and charitable individuals would always make sure that people received the care they needed — or at least they would if they hadn’t been corrupted by the welfare state. Sorry, but that’s a fantasy. People who can’t afford essential medical care often fail to get it, and always have — and sometimes they die as a result.

The second is that very few of those who die from lack of medical care look like Mr. Blitzer’s hypothetical individual who could and should have bought insurance. In reality, most uninsured Americans either have low incomes and cannot afford insurance, or are rejected by insurers because they have chronic conditions.

So would people on the right be willing to let those who are uninsured through no fault of their own die from lack of care? The answer, based on recent history, is a resounding “Yeah!”

Think, in particular, of the children.

The day after the debate, the Census Bureau released its latest estimates on income, poverty and health insurance. The overall picture was terrible: the weak economy continues to wreak havoc on American lives. One relatively bright spot, however, was health care for children: the percentage of children without health coverage was lower in 2010 than before the recession, largely thanks to the 2009 expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-chip.

And the reason S-chip was expanded in 2009 but not earlier was, of course, that former President George W. Bush blocked earlier attempts to cover more children — to the cheers of many on the right. Did I mention that one in six children in Texas lacks health insurance, the second-highest rate in the nation?

So the freedom to die extends, in practice, to children and the unlucky as well as the improvident. And the right’s embrace of that notion signals an important shift in the nature of American politics.

He threw it down like only the O-man can. A stimulus package full of GOP-style tax breaks and relaxation of government regulations. Either this unpopular do-nothing congress passes this jobs bill or they may  just hand Obama his re-election.

As we approach the 10-year anniversary of 9-11, Andrew Sullivan reflects on Osama bin Laden’s war on America.

So did bin Laden succeed? Not at all. On most fronts, he spectacularly failed—down to the amazing end to his pathetic, deranged life. He didn’t banish American influence or occupation in the Middle East; he temporarily intensified it. His dream of a caliphate is more remote than ever. But in this, it wasn’t the U.S. who defeated him; it was his own brutality and nihilism. From the streets of Tehran to Cairo, it appears that the young Muslim generation does not want to withdraw from the modern world into a cultural and intellectual blind alley forever. They are too busy on Twitter. That’s why after 9/11, Al Qaeda saw its popularity in the Arab world plummet, resuscitated only by American floundering in a newly anarchic Iraq.

The American people, moreover, eventually responded by electing Barack Hussein Obama as their president, committed to stepping back from what bin Laden had always longed for, a civilizational war, while quietly trying new methods like drone warfare to target jihadists from a distance with ever-increasing accuracy. The political model Al Qaeda celebrates—of stultifying premodern, brain-dead oppression—has no serious global appeal compared with Western or Asian models of capitalism. Instead, Turkey’s and Indonesia’s evolutions have shown a different way forward for Islamist democratic politics. It’s time we fessed up: the madmen of 9/11 were not the Soviets; they were not the Nazis. If we had seen them in that calm perspective a decade ago, we would be living in a very different America today.

Bin Laden and his henchmen failed, in other words. But our own fear won. Fear stopped us, overwhelmed us, as our ra-tion-al-ity deserted us. Yes, it was understandable, given what we endured that September morning. But we need to admit that our response was close to fatal. A bankrupted America that tortured innocents and disregarded its own Constitution is barely recognizable as America.