The [Friday] Papers
What I wrote in an e-mail to a friend yesterday:
"So this debt ceiling budget debate stuff is total b.s., kabuki theater, political power plays etc. . . . but on the other hand, just to flip it for a second . . . isn't this the debate we're supposed to be having? About the budget, the deficit, the future of the country? I think obama should have framed it that way instead of letting it be just a petty pitiful stunt. He lets himself get backed into a corner by the GOP, but he should have put some radical things on the table to begin with and said 'This is the Great Debate we need to have right now!'
"He's a terrible negotiator, and he (and others) always say we need to have an adult discussion about this issue or that, but then when the time comes it's always behind-the-door political stuff."
In a certain sense, this is how Republicans have framed the debate - now is the time to get our fiscal house in order.
The Democrats, at first, responded by arguing that the debt ceiling is merely bureaucratic housekeeping, not a real issue up for debate. That, supposedly, would come later.
Getting whacked, the Democrats then tried to accuse the GOP of "holding the country hostage" instead of joining the debate - the very debate they should have set up themselves.
Then the debate became a question of how much the Democrats would give up and whether the Tea Party caucus would accept any level of compromise.
Now Obama, in the final hours, so to speak, wants to "go big," even though his version of going big means to blame our current predicament on spending and cut programs like Medicaid. Going big to Obama means taking the safest, Washington, D.C. middle ground, as always.
We're not where we are simply because, as Obama writes, "For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation's credit card."
We had an economic meltdown in 2008 that was the worst since the stock market collapse that caused the Great Depression.
We're not just on the down side of a business cycle; we're not just suffering from the deficit George W. Bush ran up when he cut taxes on the rich and then sent us into two wars with no funding mechanism.
Nowhere in Obama's measure of how we got here does he mention Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, credit default swaps, or home mortgages.
Shouldn't we get our money - and financial health - back from the people who stole it from us?
Shouldn't we pair this debate with a new vision of America - you know, change?
Eliminating the tax break for owners of corporate jets isn't going big.
Obama has also never explained how massive spending was needed when he took office to save the economy and massive cutting is needed now to . . . save the economy.
But we shouldn't be angry about this debate. This is the debate! Democracy is never finished; it's an ongoing discussion; issues aren't "settled." The GOP seems to understand this more than the Dems. The GOP fights for the same three things - lower taxes, smaller government, stronger national defense - in good times and bad. The Democrats don't have a clear vision - perhaps because they are too afraid to fight year after year for fair taxes and a caring government and perhaps because the party doesn't really believe in those things anymore.
Progressives, meanwhile, cannot seem to sever themselves from the party that has done nothing for them in exchange for their heartfelt work. Perhaps they should look to the Tea Party for not only inspiration but common cause.
It's a shame the left spends so much time vilifying tea partiers instead of seeing how much common ground they share; anger toward Wall Street and suspicion of corporate power. It's hard to form coalitions with folks you prefer to feel superior to.
After all, the first Tea Partier was "a young teacher with a pierced nose who lives in Seattle with her fiance, an Obama supporter."
But it's not just about having the debate, especially when so much of it is phony. It's about having an honest debate. I've become much more concerned in recent years with the quality of our public debates instead of the issues themselves, because I believe that you can't get to a productive and just outcome if the debate is perverted.
Similarly, I'm more interested in honest office-holders than their ideology - for the same reason. (Corruption-busting reformer Patrick Collins has arrived at the same place, saying he is now an "integrity voter.")
We're starting from the wrong place when we start from ideology. Prisms do not refract reality, but a grotesque version of it.
if you really believe with all your heart that your side is right, have the confidence and the guts to let the facts fall where they may. They just may fall your way.
Airbrushing History, Part 4,928,487
Yes, back when we had a mayor who denied the worst natural disaster in Chicago history was under way and thus froze the response of every department in the city, from police and fire to public health.
Go for it, Sun-Times!
"At this point in 1995, the bodies already were piling up in the city morgue, though that heat wave started with more intense temperatures."
Yes. Go on.
"As of Wednesday evening, we're happy to report, the Cook County medical examiner's office had not reported any heat-related deaths."
"We can attribute that, in part, to a much improved city heat-response plan created after 1995. The plan, which was activated Friday, includes cooling centers, phone calls to 7,000 vulnerable senior citizens, coordination between city agencies and a blizzard (excuse the pun) of warnings about smart ways to handle the heat. Chicagoans also are urged to check in on neighbors and relatives."
Okay . . .
"You can't let their guard down. The intense heat is expected to linger until Sunday, and the risks of heat-related illnesses are greatest after prolonged exposure to heat."
Right . . .
"But so far, Chicago is surviving."
Whew! Thank God for that.
But about that plan that was created after 1995 . . . well, the city had a plan in 1995. Daley never activated it. He did, however, activate a public relations plan.
Somehow the Sun-Times left that out. The 1995 disaster just sort of happened.
Cha Cha Twist
Rahm The Reformer
Management later blamed the incident on lazy teachers and absurd work rules.
Dead On Arrival
"The owner, British developer Bill Davies, promises to transform the area into an 'urban mecca' of five residential, office and hotel towers that would draw visitors from around the Midwest."
Putting Parking Meter Money To Use
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
The Beachwood Tip Line: Flakified.
Posted on July 22, 2011
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