Streams

The Dangers of One-Size-Fits-All Democracy

Friday, February 18, 2011

For over a month, we’ve been talking about revolution in the Middle East. It started with a man who set himself on fire, desperate, after police confiscated the produce he sold without a permit.

Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate without a steady job, was trying to support his family. His self-immolation has left him burned from head to toe, in intensive care, wrapped completely in white gauze bandages. But he spurred his country to action, leading to transformation in Tunisia and demonstrations that spread across North Africa to Egypt. And now the world turns its attention to what will happen next in Yemen, Libya and Bahrain.

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How Student Debt Is Crippling Our Future

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yesterday, students gathered in Washington Square Park to advertise their debt. Calling attention to the issue of student debt - and shaking off the stigma many associate with having such debt - these demonstrators wore their debt across their chest.

Their shirts read: "$80,000." "$200,000." "An Arm and a Leg." "Too Much."

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Why Cuomo's More Jersey Than Connecticut

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Governor Cuomo has a decision to make: does he want to be more like a guy from Connecticut or a guy from New Jersey?

The governor, a native New Yorker, might shudder at that choice. But as he, like so many other governors, faces this year’s budget battle, he has two colleagues to compare to: the Nutmeg State’s newly elected Democrat Dan Malloy and the Garden State’s slightly more seasoned Republican Chris Christie. As Cuomo’s campaign against public sector employees and his defense of the state’s wealthiest residents demonstrate, he has much more in common with his Republican neighbor across the Hudson.

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Revolution in Egypt, Evolution in Iraq

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the front page of Tuesday's New York Times: Democracy protests in Iran, Yemen and Bahrain. But I want to talk about Iraq. As I mentioned on this page last week, the U.S. miscalculated badly there, spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to bring democracy to the Middle East. But, in an ironic twist, as the winds of change sweep through the region, true democracy has not come to Iraq.

History teaches that real change is organic and comes from within; it cannot be imposed from without.

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Colorado's Tea Party Lessons

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recently, I blogged at InsiderIowa.com about trouble in the Colorado Republican Party. I wrote that although the Tea Party mobilized Republicans at the base for the 2010 election and managed to create momentum sufficient to give the GOP a big victory, not all is well in elephant land. Colorado could be a lesson, and a warning for Iowa’s first in the nation test for 2012.

Saying he's "tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party's role is," Colorado Republican Chairman Dick Wadhams won't run for re-election. He warned that if the Tea Party continues to high-jack the larger Republican agenda and veers more sharply to the right, the GOP stands a good chance of losing Colorado's "large unaffiliated voter base."

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Obama Timidly Comes to the Right Side of History

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In his inaugural speech, President Obama said, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history." But his timid responses to democratic uprisings in the Middle East have shown his commitment to those on the right side of history is sorely lacking.

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Mayor Bloomberg's Bermuda Triangle

Monday, February 14, 2011

Of all the controversies Mike Bloomberg does not need, Bermudagate has got to top the list. It must boil his blood, the relentless focus on where he travels when. Problem is, he has nobody to blame but himself.

Since he took office, Bloomberg has refused to let the public in on his whereabouts when he leaves the city. It is an old story. Two weeks after he moved into City Hall, he disappeared on a Monday. Here he is, the new boy in town, everyone focused on and fascinated by him, and he’s gone? Turns out he went to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore. When he realized that a New York Post reporter had trailed him, he threatened to call the campus police and told the reporter, "I have no interest in talking to you."

That was nine years ago -- and nothing seems to have changed.

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Monday Morning Reality Check: Martial Law, Not Democracy in Egypt

Monday, February 14, 2011

Champions of democracy the world over welcomed the departure of Hosni Mubarak, Friday, with a massive display of joy. Protesters across Cairo savored their victory, and correspondents on TV channels worldwide fought back tears (some, in fact did cry) as they reported the story of a revolution.

I was inspired, instead, to turn to Brother Webster -- as in Webster’s Dictionary, for a little reminder of what all the hoopla was about:

Revolution |n. (pl. s)(Origin Latin revolutio.) a fundamental change in power that takes place in a relatively short period of time.

Given this definition – “a fundamental change in power” perhaps the celebration is a bit premature. I hate to be a spoilsport, but I’m fairly confident that military regime is not what the youth of Egypt had in mind over these last three weeks. And “revolutionary change” is certainly not what has come to Egypt – not yet.

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DLC & CPAC: Intra-Party Divisions a Bi-Partisan Affair

Monday, February 14, 2011

Word that the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) was closing up shop drew chants akin to “Ding, dong, the witch is dead” from liberals across America. The DLC – a self-styled centrist, pro-business group – has been a bogeyman to the Left, from its successful efforts encouraging Democratic officials to embrace big lobbyists to its high-profile fights with Howard Dean and other progressive leaders. Liberals felt more than a little schadenfreude that this major combatant in intra-party strife was laying down its swords and laying off its staff. However, beyond some playful and pointed posts, liberals aren't really celebrating.

Not that it was a bad week for the Left.  The Republicans were revealing their internal divisions – and their old-fashioned bigotry – as prominent partisans boycotted CPAC, the major conservative conference, over the inclusion of the gay group GOProud. The House Leader John Boehner lost a vote on extending the Patriot Act in a turn that showed insurgent Tea Partiers aren’t ready to play nice with their caucus.  Liberal hero Keith Olbermann will be back and bolder than ever on Current TV.  The purchase of the Huffington Post by AOL showed mainstream affirmation of the value – at least financially – of a liberal-leaning community.  And there was of course a largely-peaceful democratic uprising that toppled a dictator.

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Stucknation: 911 Off the Hook

Monday, February 14, 2011

Almost a decade after the attacks of September 11th the nation's most essential emergency local lifeline -- 911 -- remains a local patchwork of antiquated technology vulnerable to failure when people need it most.

In 2010 the Congressional Research Service reported the nation's underlying 911 local call systems "operate exclusively on an analog technology using an architecture of circuits and switches" that date back to when ATT was the "regulated monopoly providing most of the nation's phone service."

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Kicking the Tires in New Hampshire

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Presidential political wheels have been turning much more slowly here in New Hampshire than past cycles. This is good news for candidates who have been slow to engage and better news for candidates who are not well funded. While there may be many reasons for the sluggish start, one very possibly is that candidates are trying to assess what voters are looking for.

The 2010 November election showed New Hampshire turning from Blue (most Republicans tried to argue purple)  to being staunchly Red with only one token Democrat left standing….Governor John Lynch. The swing to the right was historic with super majorities elected in both chambers.

One would think that super conservatives would have a lock in New Hampshire for the Presidential primary, but wait; one would have to read the tea leaves. Many of the newly elected members came out of the tea party movement voted in by energized tea party activists and disenfranchised former Republicans.

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Live Free (of Taxes) or Die

Monday, February 14, 2011

Welcome to Live Free (of Taxes) or Die New Hampshire — the sixth oldest state in the nation and the proud protector of the "first in the nation" primary.

Unlike the last presidential primary cycle, when the candidates began making their move hours after the 2004 election ended, it has been relatively quiet in the state.

We are in the early dating phase. The Santorums, Romneys, and Pawlentys may be organizing, but for the most part no one has even reached the hand-holding stage. Yeah, the GOP tried to generate some buzz about the current conga line of candidates out there by imitating Iowa's Straw Poll, but in New Hampshire’s first flirt with a straw poll on January 22, the results were boringly predictable.

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Heading for the Exits

Friday, February 11, 2011

 “You've go to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em... Know when to walk away and know when to run...”  — Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

With the recent spate of voluntary retirements announced by departing members of Congress, one can't help but wonder what's going on in Washington these days — and whether or not those who are making an exodus are hearing replays of the gambler's message as they sing their own swan songs.

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The Independent Groundswell

Friday, February 11, 2011

WNYC

The first post I was invited to write for this site was about why I was coming all the way from Nebraska to attend the launch of the nonpartisan political organization No Labels in New York. This weekend I am traveling to your fair city once again, this time to attend the Conference of Independents, hosted by IndependentVoting.org, a political organization headquartered in New York City that is tied closely with the Independence Party of New York, as well as Michael Bloomberg.

This isn’t nearly as big of an event as No Labels’ launch, as the target audience is a more focused group of actual independent activists, and is positively tiny in comparison to the conservative CPAC conference, but that it continues every other year and is growing is just another example of how what I call the ‘independent groundswell’ is beginning to organize itself.

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CPAC 2011 On the Ground: Day One

Friday, February 11, 2011

The 2011 Conservative Action Political Conference (CPAC) got off to a bang on Thursday with Donald Trump and newly-elected Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) providing immediate fireworks.

The Donald spoke to a riled up crowd, supporting a recent rumor that he is considering a presidential run on the Republican ticket, and outlined the contours of his potential platform. But more than anything, Trump got a lot of buzz for taking a shot at Sen. Paul's father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, stating flatly that, "Ron Paul cannot get elected folks, I'm sorry." Given the number of Paul-ites and libertarians in the crowd, the statement produced some groans, boos, and jeers. The remainder of his speech looked to shore up his gun and pro-life bona fides and bemoaned American trade policy (Donald wants our money back from everyone, everywhere). Few consider Trump a legit contender for the Republican nomination, but by dipping his toes in the presidential pool, he should be good for "billions" of laughs.

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Egypt — What Happens Now?

Friday, February 11, 2011

I have been watching the events in Egypt over these 18 days and it was clear that the country had risen together for a single cause — the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. But as I have suggested before, a revolution does not a democracy make.

There can be no orderly transition of government in Egypt in the midst of chaos. The protestors have made their point. They have won the day: Murbarak has resigned.

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CPAC Debate Is Not What Will Get You Elected

Friday, February 11, 2011

On the opening day of the conservative lovefest CPAC, who would show up but Donald Trump. Trump attacked President Obama's leadership and said that the United States is "becoming a laughingstock" around the world.

I can’t resist but to suggest that the self-inflating loudmouth billionaire has now made CPAC the laughingstock of many Republican voters who may not be in the mood for yet another unqualified, preposterous gazillionaire toying with throwing his hat in the ring.

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New York City's Wishful Declaration of Independence

Friday, February 11, 2011

If Michael Bloomberg wasn’t such a practical man, he could be forgiven for preaching secession by now. Yes, independence for New York City — the centerpiece of Norman Mailer’s quirky platform in 1969 when, with Jimmy Breslin as his running mate, he campaigned for mayor. They did not, you may recall, win.

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It's a Family Affair

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WNYC

The worst part about the conservative rift within CPAC is the public way in which it has been handled. It's the information age, of course, and everyone wants to have their name mentioned as often as possible. Still, watching Heritage Foundation skip CPAC is like hearing mom and dad fight. It's not my fault, is it? The liberal glee over the whole thing is really annoying. Their coalition is held together by the loosest of principles and yet we've become mockable for falling out on one issue, an issue that divides Democrats just the same (let's not forget Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and any other serious presidential candidate of both parties also oppose gay marriage).

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Opinion: Why One Drop Matters

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Halle Berry may not choose her words as carefully as a politician, but this is the realpolitik she is talking about. She may not be as eloquent as a preacher, but this is the painful process of self-identification that people like us remember. This was a place where skin color and the fullness of your lips and the broadness of your nose could give you away. And, if we are to be honest about it, as Ms. Berry was, America is a place where these factors still determine too much.

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