House Subpoenas Rove (Finally)

Friday, May 23, 2008

John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has finally gone ahead and subpoenaed Karl Rove. It’s basically a meaningless gesture because Rove’s not going to show up (he claims executive privilege), but it prepares the way for a citation for contempt of Congress. Harriet Miers is already fighting her own subpoena in the courts and this will likely go the same route.

Conyers’s committee is investigating politically influenced prosecutions and firings within the Bush Justice Department.

I say, it’s about time. I want these criminals put in jail.

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Biden Spanks Lieberman, Republicans

Friday, May 23, 2008

Joe Biden served an ace today in the Wall Street Journal, simultaneous refuting and mocking the ridiculous Bush-inspired foreign policy doctrine that holds that you only speak to your allies.

Best lines (the whole thing is brilliant):

“Last week, John McCain was very clear. He ruled out talking to Iran. He said that Barack Obama was ‘naïve and inexperienced’ for advocating engagement; ‘What is it he wants to talk about?’ he asked.

Well, for a start, Iran’s nuclear program, its support for Shiite militias in Iraq, and its patronage of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Beyond bluster, how would Mr. McCain actually deal with these dangers? You either talk, you maintain the status quo, or you go to war. If Mr. McCain has ruled out talking, we’re stuck with an ineffectual policy or military strikes that could quickly spiral out of control.”

“It’s amazing how little faith George Bush, Joe Lieberman and John McCain have in themselves – and in America.”

In an Obama administration, Joe Biden is the Secretary of State.


America: We Can’t Afford It

Friday, May 23, 2008

Call me old-fashioned, an old coot, or what have you…but in my mid-thirties, I feel like I have more in common with the thrifty realists of the Great Depression than I do with any adults around these days. Like the stalwart savers of that terrible time, I don’t think we can afford it.

By we, I mean all of us, individually and collectively. And by it, I mean everything: our annual budget deficits (400+ billion in fiscal 2009), our yawning national debt (9.4 trillion and growing), our gaping trade imbalances (700+ billion in 2007), and our massive unfunded mandates (two words: Social Insecurity).

Like millions of the sub-prime borrowers you’ve been reading about, the American government is drowning in a sea of its own devising.

On one hand, you’ve got “tax-and-spend” Democrats promising to fund every problem away. They’ve been out of power for a while now, but be forewarned: nothing makes for greater profligacy than a floundering economy in an election year.

On the other hand, you’ve got the “borrow-and-spend” Republicans. They’re worse. Spendthrift doesn’t begin to describe their behavior. In just two administrations, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, they’ve added more than six trillion dollars to our national debt. These guys think the solution to debt…is more debt.

But the worst part of all of this fiscal mismanagement is the example it sets for the American people.

If the best and brightest of us (and I use the phrase advisedly) can’t manage our collective financial affairs, how can the rest of us lumpen bourgeoisie be expected to do it individually? We are up to our eyeballs in flat screen TVs, iPods, SUVs, vacations, and five dollar half-gallons of milk.

How do we manage?

On credit, of course. Just like Uncle Sam.

Oh, it’s been a great party, hasn’t it? The good times have rolled for three straight decades now because there’s always been another chump willing to lend. Most recently, the Federal Reserve — meaning, you, the taxpayer — stepped up to bailout Wall Street. But what happens when the global lending waltz finally stops and America is left without a chair?

It’s too terrible to consider. But the recent default experiences of Russia and Argentina are instructive. The only difference is that an American default will be worse. Much worse. For everyone.

And this is what makes me say we can’t afford it. Because, well, we can’t. At least not without putting our entire future at risk.

We need to hearken back to a time when debt was a four letter word. A time when people saved their pennies, lived within their means, and steered well clear of the temptations of a consumer economy.

Yes, you’re probably saying, but won’t cutting back make things worse?

Better that it gets worse now, when we still are capable of a soft-landing, and a gradual reduction in our outsized standard of living, than when a sharp and dangerous austerity is thrust upon us.

So, right here, I’m throwing down the gauntlet.

I challenge the Federal Government to cut 10% from every budget in the next fiscal year. That’s right, every budget (including defense and Social Security – it’s called means testing), without exception.

I challenge the Federal Government to pass an amendment to the Constitution instituting pay/go laws that include an annual balanced budget.

I challenge the Federal Government to never, ever again raise our debt ceiling. What is the point of this law if you simply raise it every time we need more money?

Lastly, I challenge the American people to implement the same rules in their own home. If you live above your means, doing so will help you get you back on track. If you already live within your means, save the difference. This will help our economy.

Okay, enough. I know I sound like an old crank, a moral scold. But it’s time for this country to reset our economy. If we do, we will be able to afford it.

And by it, I mean the future.