What is a liberal? Fairness is my core value

Liberals should talk about our values. And we should start with fairness.

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Over the last few years, I’ve read liberals saying that we need to talk about our values more openly, to own them, to assert that they are just as much American values as conservative values are. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about my values. Partly that’s because I’m an introvert. Partly because sharing such important stuff about myself feels a bit like everyone’s nightmare of showing up to give a presentation and realizing you’re naked before the crowd. And partly it’s because some of my values have shifted over the years as I’ve matured and experienced more of life, and I’m sure that some of them will shift again in the future.

But since Donald’s election I’ve been thinking about my values a lot. I’ve already chosen to fight for my values via my writing, and I’m prepared to fight for my values by putting my personal safety on the line if need be. So I figured that, if I’m going to be willing to risk my career or my physical well-being, I’d better be damned sure I know what my values are.

After a great deal of thought, I’ve finally realized what my core value is. The one value that matters more to me than any other. The one value against which all my other values are weighed, and from which most of my values spring. The one value with which I weigh the character of everyone I encounter.

Fairness. Continue reading

Next time, ask the Reagan question before you vote

On January 1, 2019, as President Trump approaches his third state of the union address, people in America should pop the Reagan question: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Those in the United States should ask, for example:

“Is my health insurance costing me more out of pocket than under Obama? Am I getting better, more affordable benefits?”

“Can I still get health insurance?”

“Have work restrictions been placed on my Medicare benefits? Has my state limited Medicare benefits?”

“Has my property tax bill gone up or down?”

“Has the rusty bridge carrying my daughter’s school bus been fixed?”

“I live in a city. Has my child developed asthma in the past year?”

“What’s the interest rate on a new car now?”

“Do I have to pay more for my prescription medications?”
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Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Four

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part four of a series.

FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 26: (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Click here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Kevin Passmore

Cardiff University’s Kevin Passmore developed another definition of fascism for his book “Fascism: A Very Short Introduction.” The entire definition is available in Passmore’s book and at Wikipedia, but the most important parts are addressed below.

Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.

Trump’s rhetoric is intended to appeal to a definition of national identity that is white and racist. In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump said that “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice,” which is coded racist rhetoric as well. Note that Trump didn’t contrast “failing” with succeeding, but rather “safe.” The implication is that failing schools are dangerous and that safe schools are succeeding. And where are most “failing” and dangerous schools located? In minority neighborhoods and in urban areas. His anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim positions are similarly coded to appeal to whites who are afraid of brown people moving into their neighborhoods. Continue reading

War and economics: where is Bernie Sanders’ 12th step?

There’s much to like about Bernie Sanders, but can he really help us kick the war habit?

Occupy Democrats and US Uncut have a handy macro going around that highlights Bernie’s 11 point economic agenda. It’s big. It’s important. It’s to be lauded. And if we’re not to have Bernie, it’s to be emulated. But we’ve also seen the devastating effect war has had on our economy, to say nothing of the lives lost to our wayward military adventurism. Below you’ll find my own reasons for supporting this 11-point economic plan as well as some serious consideration of his missing 12th point. Continue reading

Half-measures won’t fix Social Security

The GOP just isn’t trying hard enough

Today, Robert Reich had this to say on Facebook:

“Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and other Republican hopefuls are already pushing to raise the eligibility age for Social Security to 69 – which their big-business Republican donors have been urging for years.”

This is the kind of tepid thinking that lets those lazy olds off the hook way too easily. Continue reading

Most conservatives don’t know “Obamacare’s” success, not failure, aligns with their agenda

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Conservatives, as usual, are conflicted. On the one hand, they’ve been mounting a massive assault against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called, as you know, ACA). Their arguments run something like this (taken from the subtitles to a series of Heritage Foundation papers): ACA … violates personal liberty, cuts jobs and wages, busts the budget, undermines state flexibility, raises premiums, crowds out private coverage (our cue to shed a few tears for health insurance companies), undermines seniors by cutting into Medicare Advantage, and, that old standby, reduces patient choice. Continue reading

GAO: U.S. government’s checkbook still too screwed up to audit

Consider the continual political warfare among tea partiers, Democrats, Republicans, President Obama, members of Congress, and anyone else with a media megaphone over size of the deficit run up by the American government. You’d assume they were confident the government knew how much money it took in and how much it spent. You’d assume the government knew how to keep its checkbook in order.

And you’d be wrong. According to the fiscal 2011 financial report by the nation’s bookkeeper, the Government Accounting Office, some government agencies cannot soundly manage their fiscal affairs.
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Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

Reinventing ourselves again

Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird … it’s a plane. Nope, it’s Super Congress. Where caped, congressional crusaders will wage the battle between good and evil far above the heads of mere mortals and senior citizens living on Social Security. It will be where the “leaders” of both parties (and they’re not leaving any room in this Super Congress for a desperately needed third party) get together to make the big decisions, so it will also function as a reward for years of dedicated ass-kissing, lying and soul-selling. There’s a good reason why the leadership of both parties is for this Super Congress idea; they always manage to find common ground when it’s time to screw you and me. And the best – by far – way to grind the American people into destitution is to enshrine the oligarchy with extra-political rights.

Never let a crisis go to waste, even if you have to invent the crisis to seize.
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Who's serious about reducing the deficit?

Cut Medicare payments and tweak Social Security. Cut defense spending by directly reducing spending and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Raise income, corporate, and payroll taxes. These issues essentially define what it means to be serious about eliminating the federal deficit, because all of them need to happen before the deficit can truly be brought under control. Serious people can debate how much of each is necessary and where to make the largest changes, but anyone who rejects even one of the issues is either ignorant of the scale of the problem, blindly beholden to their preferred ideology, or lying.

Yesterday we discussed these issues. Today we look in greater detail at the public statements of various individuals and organizations to see if they are actually serious about cutting the deficit, or if they just claim to be serious.

The Republican Party

Since President Bush II presided over a massive expansion of government during his eight years in office, the GOP has, in most respects, become the party of “spend and don’t tax.” Continue reading

How to tell who’s serious about reducing the federal deficit

The federal deficit is a major topic of conversation these days, both in the media and around the nation’s water coolers and copiers. In fact, many freshmen Republican Representatives and Senators believe that they have been sent to Congress specifically to shrink the deficit and the related national debt. But it’s become clear to me from reading and having multiple discussions about the deficit that not everyone is serious about actually addressing the problem. Sure, most citizens think they’re serious about eliminating the deficit, but because they don’t have any clue about the scale of the actual problem, they offer up “solutions” that aren’t even tenth-measures, never mind half-measures. And given the positions of the political parties and various politicians, it’s difficult to see how they might even think that their positions amount to a serious attempt to eliminate the deficit.

So how can we tell whether someone is serious about addressing the federal debt? Continue reading

Nota Bene #103: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading

Adjunct faculty: an unsustainable disgrace

by Joseph Domino

There is perhaps no topic in America where we talk out of two sides of our mouths more than Education. Education is in crisis at all levels, but at the college and university level it cries out and no one seems to be listening. Everyone says education is important but our standards continue to drop and we fall behind other countries. Faculty, the hearts and souls of universities, are being relegated to “operating costs” which are forever scrutinized for reduction. The adjunct system, around a long time, provides that cost control, and it has slowly been eroding opportunities for full-time professors and the salaries and benefits that accompany that status.

When adjunct faculty handle a full-time course load plus work other part-time jobs to make ends meet it compromises the quality of their instruction which affects students. Continue reading

Don't most Republicans need Social Security, too?

In recent days, two of our foremost progressive economic experts have weighed in on the stealth war that conservatives are waging on Social Security.

First, William Greider, describes this hair-raising scenario at the Nation in Looting Social Security:

Governing elites in Washington and Wall Street have devised a fiendishly clever “grand bargain” they want President Obama to embrace in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” The government, they argue, having spent billions on bailing out the banks, can recover its costs by looting the Social Security system. … an impressive armada is lined up to push the idea — Washington’s leading think tanks, the prestige media, tax-exempt foundations, skillful propagandists posing as economic experts and a self-righteous billionaire. … Continue reading

The candidates don't care about our children

Probably every candidate who has ever run for President has claimed to be running to improve the future. This is especially true about this election cycle because so much has gone horribly wrong over the last eight years. The idea that our children should have better lives than we ourselves have is part of the American mythos. Unfortunately, Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post points out in today’s commentary (Promises They Can’t Keep) that the candidates in this election are talking the talk, but singularly failing to walk this particular walk. The reason? Not a single electable candidate has proposed any solution to the coming tax increases and/or budget cuts. Continue reading

Ruth Marcus takes on Paul Krugman – and wins this round.

NYTimes commentator Paul Krugman is an economist who tackles all sorts of issues beyond just the economy, and I’ve been reading him since the early 1990s when I first discovered the New York Times. While I find I agree with him on a great many issues, I cannot understand his recent downplaying of the problem of Social Security. Last week he ripped Senator Barak Obama a new orifice for having the audacity to suggest that the Social Security problem was actually a “crisis,” and while I agree that Sen. Obama could have chosen a better word, the fact of the matter is that it’s easier and cheaper to fix Social Security’s various problems sooner rather than later.

And, as the Washinton Post’s Ruth Marcus pointed out in her commentary today, even noted commentator and economist Paul Krugman agrees with me. Continue reading

Obama and the art of the wide stance

By Martin Bosworth

I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what Barack Obama is about lately. Like his infamous colleague Larry Craig,the Senator from Illinois seems to be taking a wide stance–but where Craig’s wide stance was bracketed by the infamous airport bathroom stall where he made his political mark (so to speak), Obama’s issue stances are so broad that both supporters and opponents alike are scratching their heads, wondering “What the hell does this guy stand for?”

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