Friday, November 26, 2010

Organizing, Dangerous and the Same?

Tea Party activists will be targeting Virginia state and local elections in 2011. Virginia is one of four states holding general elections next year so they can use it as a practice run in 2011. They are being pretty smart about it, organizing their base at the local level. It's classic organizing and, given the strong conservatism in some parts of the state, I'm sure they will succeed to some degree. Virginia may be a purple state but that violet hue includes some very strong reds.

The Virginia Tea Party wants to eliminate the corporate income tax. That makes absolutely no sense. Why should an economic entity that accumulates substantial resources and enjoys the same rights and privileges as a flesh and blood person be exempt from paying taxes? Corporations participate and benefit, often substantially, from the Social Contract that is the basis of American government. I see no good reason corporations should have less obligation to the community than I do.

Another Tea Party proposal is a bill expressing Virginia's support for a federal constitutional amendment to invalidate acts of Congress if two-thirds of state legislatures agree. They are asking for a fundamental rethinking of the federal-state relationship. Last time the nation had that discussion, it turned into the Civil War. That doesn't mean we should not have that discussion, only that consequences may be neither fully understood or even predictable.

As I've watched the Tea Party phenomenon evolve (I probably should not use that word), I've come to think that my fundamental grievances against my government are little different from a Tea Partier. I think American government is dysfunctional, unresponsive and wasteful. I doubt many Tea Partiers would disagree with that, at least not until I got into details. Where I see a dysfunctional government as one that fails to act as a countervailing force to concentrated wealth and economic self-interest a Tea Partier would see a government that interferes with private decisions and personal liberty. I am no doubt more inclined to recognize that American government is not absolutely and universally dysfunctional, unresponsive and wasteful but then I recall that even Tea Partiers like their Medicare.

In a parallel universe maybe we could bridge our differences. Here in America, I'm not at all certain that can or will happen.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day of Thanksgiving

Given the spirit of this American holiday, I started out writing a post about those things for which I am thankful. It got way too long. It's simpler to say that I am thankful for many people, experiences and opportunities in my life. I am a very, very fortunate individual at a time when many are not.

Perhaps someday I can be thankful that my good fortune is widely shared by all.

Without exception.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
Take my hand and join us
And the world will live, will live as one


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Plan All Along

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has boldly announced its plan for a campaign of small scale attacks on America and its economy. They proudly celebrate the the simplicity and low cost of their toner cartridge bomb and its assembly. Cheaper bombs means more bombs they warn, and even unsuccessful attempts will disrupt international air freight. Their tone is almost mocking.

But this should be no surprise to anyone who listened to Osama bin Ladin six years ago:
All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies. (emphasis added)

Bin Laden was mocking us then. He's still mocking us.

This latest boast is a reminder that the Bad Guys are still out there and their plans need to be foiled. But it should also remind us that these are small scale threats. Compared to the economy, climate change and the decay of our national infrastructure, $4,200 cartridge bombs don't amount to much of a threat. They are criminal acts to be prevented by intelligent, knowledgeable police and intelligence work in America and other nations. We don't need the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan to stop bombs on airplanes coming out of Yemen.

But we do need people who know what's going in and out of Yeman and other places where al-Qaeda has affiliates. Or maybe we no longer accept packages from those places or at least pay much closer attention to those packages. Any combination of the above would make America safer than bringing tanks to Afghanistan. Or extending the war to 2014.

For Osama bin Laden and his spawn it's all good. The plan worked. America took the bait and remains firmly hooked.

Without achieving for it anything of note.

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