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Charles Krauthammer Takes a Swipe At Labor And Dems

5:26 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

labor at the table - Rivera Court

labor at the table - Rivera Court

Ugh I don’t even know why I bother to read the Washington Post editorial page. Maybe it is the boost it gives my morning by raising my blood pressure, but in any case I exposed my tender brain-cells the thoughts of Charles Krauthammer this morning.

Chucky has a piece in the WaPo with the title of “The union owned Democrats” the first thing I thought when I read it was “I wish!”. This is a tired old meme from a tired old man. The idea that everything the Democrats do on issues of workplace rules or safety is somehow motivated by the fact that unions overwhelmingly support Democrats.

It could not possibly be because the funders of the Republican party have been wanting to dismantle the counterbalancing force of organized labor for, well, ever. One of the reasons that Ronald Regan has been sainted if not deified by the Republican Party is that he broke the Air Traffic Controllers union and set the DOJ on other unions looking for mafia ties and corruption. It was the start of the major decline of the Labor movement in this country.

What has Krauthammer’s undies in a twist? A couple of things; first off there is the NLRB’s decision to take Boeing to court over the union busting attempt they made by building a factory in South Carolina, which is a right to work state. To be clear (since everyone including Chucky misses this point) it is not about the fact that Boeing decided to build a new plant in a management friendly state, it is their intentions in doing so. You can build wherever you like, but if you do it with the intention of busting your union at your primary facilities, that is illegal.

He also rails against the saving of the Auto Industry by the Obama administration. Take a look:

In 2009, Obama pushed through a federally run, questionably legal, bankruptcy for the auto companies that robbed first-in-line creditors in order to bail out the United Auto Workers.

You know, the successful saving of our domestic auto industry did have some benefits for UAW workers. But they also took on a lot of liability to help out with that. They are now funding the health care that was promised by GM and Chrysler to employees who worked their entire lives on the factory floor. The UAW did it because it would help to reduce the costs of the companies and save jobs, but it was not like they were not taking over an obligation that was the auto companies. It is and was a big blow to the financial health of the UAW, but it was the right thing to do.

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Paying Down The Debt, You Have To Increase Taxes

6:03 am in banality of evil, Economy by Bill Egnor

Buy war bonds

Buy war bonds by Duo de Hale, on Flickr

I know, I know, I should just stay out of the Washington Post business section if I want to keep my blood pressure in normal human boundaries but like a dog returning to its vomit I just can’t help myself. Today it is there on the front page, an article by Steven Mufson (think he got a lot a teasing about that last name?) talking about how the National Debt (not a new movie franchise by Nickolas Cage) is now at or above the level that we experienced post WWII.

We do have a huge amount of debt that we have incurred. When you fight two wars without a tax increase that happens. When you fight two wars on top of a massive give away to the top 2% of earners (who are way, way, way less than 2% of the population) you get the kind of giant red ink we are hearing the Republicans and Tea Partiers squeal about and sadly the President listening too.

Mr. Mufson then goes on to talk about how things are really different between 1947 and now. He notes that by the time Eisenhower was elected the 122% debt to GDP ratio had dropped to 87%. He found a Harvard Economist to quote who says that the major factors were pent up demand, the fact that we had the only working industrialized economy and a young work force, coupled with a pretty steep inflation rate allowed the U.S to reduce its debt in fast order. All that is true but it ignores one really important fact, that there were 27 marginal tax rates at the time with the top one being 90%.

This glaring omission just makes me nuts. Mufson’s tame professor laments:

But today the U.S. economy is in a polar opposite condition. The labor force is aging, U.S. manufacturing often lags behind Asian and European rivals, households are in hock up to their eyeballs, and consumer appetite for goods is tepid. In addition, inflation is tame and government spending locked into entitlement programs and debt service that will be hard or impossible to alter.

We’re not growing like we were after World War II, so the amount of debt you can bear and the trajectory are much worse,” Rogoff said.

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Robert Samuelson Is Dead Wrong About High Speed Rail

6:22 am in Economy, Energy, jerks by Bill Egnor

Bullet Train

Pic courtesy of Noodlefish, via Flickr

The Washington Post’s Robert J. Samuelson takes the Op-Ed pages of his paper to hammer the president’s high speed rail initiative today. What has Mr. Samuelson’s undies in a twist? Basically a Catch-22 that he constructs by ignoring two of the central fact about rail in the United States.

You see Mr. Samuelson is upset that the 53 billion dollar, ten year, program would build a lot of new tracks that the states would have to pay to maintain and would then lose the states money, exacerbating their budget woes. I know I say this all the time, but it bears saying all the time, conservative arguments are often true, as far as they go, and this one is no exception.

You see Amtrak does lose money. It’s prices are high compared to flying and it does often take longer. But what Samuelson ignores is that the biggest problem Amtrak has is that it does not own the tracks it operates on. The scheduling of the trains is at the mercy of the Rail Road companies who make much more money hauling their own loads than letting a passenger service operate on the limited amount of track available.

The other component of that is the fact that while cities have grown considerably in the last 50 years the amount of track has not. Many of the tracks are now in places where they can not be expanded or most importantly for high speed rail, straightened. Without making changes to this infra structure we can not get above the very low average speed of 45 miles an hour for rail transport of people or goods.

Mr. Samuelson argues that the long term goal of a massive nationwide high speed system with a price tag of 500 billion over 25 years (yeah he is bitching about 16 billion a year in a project that would cost in total just under what we spend on defense in a single year) would take money away from other funding priorities, like schools, cops and you guessed it defense!
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Two Tightly Coiled, Steaming, Piles of OpEd On Egypt

6:37 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Everyone has an opinion about what the future of Egypt will be, and to some degree or another everyone is likely to be wrong. Oh sure there will be some who have the outlines correct but it is all but impossible to predict the something a inherently chaotic as a popular uprising in a long time dictatorship. This, however, does not stop a couple of Washington Post columnists from trying to use the time to prop up the discredited and slap-dash Bush administration “freedom agenda”

I know I sound like a broken record (am I dating myself by using that phrase?) , but it is the main trick of the modern conservative movement and the Republican Party to spin all of its initiatives in Orwellian names and half truths, and the freedom agenda is just one more example. The idea was that we’d go and invade a couple or a handful of Middle Eastern countries, whip a little democracy on them and we would have nice democratic Islamic allies like Turkey. A really nifty idea that would rid us of a lot of problems and secure the supply of Middle Eastern oil for us and our allies.

Of course this was simplistic post hoc horse crap, designed to disguise the fact that we had in fact invaded Iraq with no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and had no idea (at the time) how the frack we were going to untangle ourselves from it. This little bit of foreign policy idiocy lead us to push the Palestinians for elections and then have to cut ties with them when they elected a government that we had decided was a terrorist group.

Today in the Washington Post Richard Cohen and Michael Gerson, a couple of long time Bush foreign policy supporters, use their columns to warn us about the possible down side of a popular uprising in the Middle East, bash the Obama administration and, oh by the way, tout the wonders of the ‘freedom agenda” all in two 1000 words of tightly coiled and steaming crap.

Mr. Gerson, makes his point is this paragraph:

The lesson from these events is that America should be anticipating democratic traditions long before a crisis makes them urgent – trying to encourage the leadership and institutions that will make eventual change less traumatic. These efforts in Egypt were halfhearted and inconsistent. Someday, absent a shift in policy, we are likely to say the same of China. In the modern world, it is a short distance from Tahrir Square to Tiananmen. An active democracy promotion strategy – engaging authoritarian regimes while cultivating the leaders and parties that may replace them – is alternately criticized as paternalistic, unrealistic and hypocritical. Until a moment such as this, when it is revealed as the essential, practical work of American diplomacy.

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Washington Post’s Gerson Hacks Up Another Fur Ball Into National Debate

6:17 am in banality of evil, Conservatism, Democratic Party, Liberalism, Media, Politics, Republican Party by Bill Egnor

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post Editorial page really phones one in today. I know it is the day after Thanksgiving and there is a tendency to just rehash old arguments in an effort to get a column or blog post out, but really this is beautiful example of false equivalency and intellectual laziness topped with a cherry of partisan world view.

The basic premise of this steaming, tightly coiled pile of crap is that now that there has been electoral defeat for the Democrats liberalism is turning to conspiracy theories to explain what happened. Is it a Truther conspiracy? Is it a Bilderburg Group conspiracy, with shadowy billionaires running the planet? Is it aliens? No, none of those (well we know the Space Alien vote was bought, those damned Gray’s will do anything for fresh people to probe!) the so-called conspiracy is the idea that the Republicans have done and will do everything in their power to keep the economy from recovering as long as President Obama is in the White House.

Gerson points to recent posts by Matt Yglesias, Steve Benen and Paul Krugman, all of whom have pointed out that Republicans have said they are out the get the president, that they have constantly blocked economic measures that every serious economist says will help, that they have done everything they could to claim (falsely) that the stimulus has not helped, and that the health care reform law would cost money, even though the Office of Management and Budget has said it would save 100 billion over ten years.  . . .

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First Amendment Friday 14 – New York Times V US, The Pentagon Papers.

11:48 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Happy Friday and welcome to the 14th in the Dog’s First Amendment Friday series. This series is following the syllabus for the class called The First Amendment and taught at Yale Law School by Professor Jack M. Balkin. As with the Friday Constitutional series this is a layman’s look at the Law, specifically the Supreme Court opinions which have shaped the boundaries of our 1st Amendment Protections. If you are interested in the previous installments you can find them at the links below:

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

First Amendment Friday 1 – Abrams v US
First Amendment Friday 2 – Gitlow v New York
First Amendment Friday 3 – Whitney v California
First Amendment Friday 4 – Brandenbrug V Ohio
First Amendment Friday 5 – Bridges V California
First Amendment Friday 6 – Planned Parenthood V ACLA
First Amendment Friday 7 – New York Times V Sullivan
First Amendment Friday 8 – Butts V Curtis
First Amendment Friday 9 – Gertz v Welch Inc.
First Amendment Friday 10 – Hustler V Falwell
First Amendment Friday 11 – Bartniki V Vopper
First Amendment Friday 12- Landmark V Virginia
First Amendment Friday 13 – Nebraska Press Assoc. V Stuart

This week we look at a fairly famous case, New York Times V United States. This is the case arising from the publication of the Pentagon Papers. For those who don’t know this the Pentagon Papers were a huge internal review of the actions up to 1968 in the Vietnam war. It was 47 volumes and about 7,000 pages long. The Dog is going to condense this ruling for you, but this week especially he is going to recommend you go and read all the opinions and dissents in whole. It is worth your while.


The Case:

United States filed for an injunction against the New York Times publishing any more of Read the rest of this entry →