Comments of the Week: January 2, 2012
Over the last few months, thenation.com has made an effort to foster a robust and thoughtful comments section befitting the mighty intelligence of our readership. We’re pleased to report that the shoe ads are gone, the name-calling is at a minimum and astute and witty commentary is on the rise. Here are our favorite comments from the last week. Let us know what you think -- in the comments!
Mbastey: I started reading The Nation because of Hitchens' Minority Report--I was a lefty who despised Clinton's administration and there were not many people writing from that perspective then. His contrarian wit and vast ability to pull politics and literature together was unmatched. I respected the way The Nation handled Christopher Hitchens leaving with freedom to say his piece. I learned something new every time I read Hitchens--about art, literature, politics, history and, sometimes, that I don't have to agree with something just because someone I respect is saying it. There are not too many people out there, myself included, who have not been whipped by hindsight. I did not agree with Hitchens on many issues, but I relished reading those articles the most--and for the same reason I look forward to reading The Nation every week--to challenge my assumptions.
In response to Richard Lingeman’s “Reading Christopher.” December 16, 2011
Areder: Seems to this is a solution in search of a problem. The credit union model works fine. I've been using credit unions for years just by virtue of living in the community the credit union serves. In other words, a credit union's charter can be written such that membership eligibility is simply residence in a particular county or counties rather than, say, employment by a particular company. So expansion of the credit union model would serve the purposes the author writes about. Yes, the big banks and their political allies are trying to undermine credit unions but they'll do that with any form of grassroots competition. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I think it's smarter to enroll as many people as possible in credit unions -- a la "Move Your Money" -- and fight the big banks from there. The biggest reason that most people don't use credit unions is that they're not aware of them or not aware that they may be eligible to join one in their community.
In response to Carne Ross’ “Revolution Through Banking?” December 22, 2011
Exeric: There is nothing smart about Ron Paul eliminating the feeble Wall Street regulations that we already have. Ron Paul and Mr. Scheer make the mistake that poor implantation of the present US government means we should scrap government. It is a simpleton's argument and I would have thought Mr. Scheer would have been the last person to not understand that. Sure, Ron Paul has the right plan about correcting our current interventionist foreign policy. So what? A stopped clock is also correct about twice a day. The government IS us in the plural form. If we can't get it right then it is our own fault and nobody else’s. The argument for getting rid of government is a silly as looking in the mirror and attacking what you see because it is abominable. We have only ourselves to blame and the sooner we realize this the sooner we will improve the workings of government. As I said, the government is us.
In response to Rober Scheer’s “Marginalizing Ron Paul.” December 29, 2011
Gloria Williams: John Nichols gave an inspiring talk at Occupy the Caucuses in Des Moines explaining how the Occupy Movement is a continuation of the civil rights movement, but with this article he misses the point about the Iowa caucuses. Yes, they draw too much attention and money, but the caucus tradition also brings people out of their homes and out of the voting booths to meet with one another, negotiate when the preferred candidate is not "viable," and allows those few who stay to the end to submit planks to the party platforms that express wishes for policy changes that are otherwise never heard, like gay marriage and ending the drug war. Both of these were passed at my Iowa caucus in 2008 and look what has happened since. In an age where we can't trust voting machines, this kind of people gathering with people tradition is like a remnant of an earlier time when democracy was more than just a word. It had something to do with building community on a face-to-face basis.
In response to John Nichols’ “Iowa’s $200-Per-Vote Caucuses Reward Negatives, Nastiness, Narrow Thinking.” January 2, 2012
Ruffsoft: Since the Tea Party took control of House politics, its public approval rating has fallen to an all time low of 11%. We will all pay higher interest rates in the future thanks to the Tea Party causing a credit downgrading of the US government. The group which most has aided progressive causes is...the Tea Party, for showing the public what a reactionary agenda looks like and giving progressives from Wisconsin to Wall Street a reason to rally and assert themselves.
In response to John Nichols’ “The Progressive Honor Roll of 2011.” December 21, 2011
Fredfawcett: I like Ron Paul's positions on both the Iraq and Afghan Wars. I also like his position on the drug war in general, and the issue of medical marijuana in particular. If he was elected and did the right thing on any of these issues, that's more than I expect to get from any other candidate from either party. The fact that Paul is willing to take stands on issues that the rest of the political crowd avoids makes him better than them from the start. Vote for any other of the dishonest schmucks running for president and you'll get nothing.
In response to Ben Adler’s “Three Myths About Ron Paul.” December 27, 2011
Tom_f: As bad as Ryan's plans for social security and Medicare are, his tax plans are worse. In the Roadmap, Ryan calls for the elimination of taxes on capital gains (long and short), dividends, and interest and the reduction of top tax rates and corporate tax rates while calling for employer provided insurance to be taxable (both income and FICA). In short, raise the average person’s taxes by 20% while eliminating taxes on 50+% of the wealthiest people’s income and lowering the taxes on the remainder.
Why does no one include these tax plans with their criticisms of his Social Security and Medicare plans?
In response to John Nichols’ “Romney Worships 2011’s False Idol: Paul Ryan.” December 30, 2011
Blundell: After watching the video, I couldn't help but recall the old Joe Pyne show. There is a grain of truth in SOME of what Paul purports, but as has been pointed out by others, he's a so-called "libertarian for white guys." Scheer's point that Federal Reserve policies robbed African-Americans and Hispanics of much of their accumulated wealth is certainly accurate (and tragic). The Fed policies were color-blind, but those on the bottom of the economic ladder clearly suffered more. But we don't need Ron Paul to correct that.
As someone with more than a few progressive bones in my body, I have been extremely disappointed with Obama's reliance on guys like Geithner and Summers for advice on how to guide the economy. The strategies those two promote may expand the 1% by 0.0000001%. They are protectors of the monied class, plain and simple. But how does going back to the gold standard make things better? Doesn't anyone recall William Jennings Bryan's "cross of gold" speech? Just my theory, but I see Paul and all the gold bugs as trying to foster massive deflation and performing massive social engineering through that. For all the claims that government promotes social engineering, economic realities do more in that regard than anything a democratic government could ever do. We can argue about the condition of our democracy, but clearly there are checks and balances in place to prevent total dominance of economic factors. I believe Paul would totally remove any chance government would have to promote a more balanced approach. Any, perhaps most, progressives are rightfully disappointed in President Obama's backing away from aggressive use of these economic checks. But Ron Paul would simply give the baby a surfboard to ride the wave of bathwater he would pitch out the window.
In response to Ben Adler, Robert Scheer, and Katha Pollitt’s “OpinionNation: Progressives and Ron Paul.” January 2, 2012
DHFabian: One thing that worries me about today's Democratic Party: the discussion has so carefully and pointedly been limited to "middle class workers." Every time a Democratic politician recites "middle class workers," is it a harsh slap in the face to the millions of post-middle class Americans. If you haven't noticed, we have lost a huge number of jobs in our post-poverty relief nation. It's a reminder that today's Democratic Party fulfilled a long-time dream of the right wing when it wiped out the entitlement to basic poverty relief. The post-middle class listens to our political leadership pander to the better off, and can only think, "to hell with it." I'm pretty sure that ignoring this very large chunk of the population -- the poor and the near poor -- isn't in the best interests of the Democratic Party.
In response to John Nichols’ “Six Ways Iowa Progressives Will Caucus.” January 3, 2012
JakobFabian01: Remember that the biggest problem with government is not necessarily the weakness of individual officials. It is often the weakness of structures, such as laws and the institutions that enforce them. The reason the CFPB needs a strong personality like Elizabeth Warren or, in a pinch, Richard Cordray, is that it would be a meaningless institution otherwise. The fact is that the laws it has to enforce are still inadequate to prevent another collapse of the big banks. The Dodd-Frank legislation does not undo 35 years of deregulation. It doesn't even define predatory lending, much less ban it, and stopping predatory lending should really be the purpose of the CFPB. When our laws are weak, we get good government only when executives and judges are strong -- and very creative -- activists in the public interest. I would rather have strong laws, of course, because activists in the public interest may change overnight into activists on the behalf of rich cronies. So I will not tire of lamenting, again: Our legislative process is too slow, and as soon as we can reform campaign financing (which we should do FIRST), we need to do something about our clunky, unrepresentative, needlessly gridlocked legislative branch. I call for proportional representation, a representative Senate, a narrowing of the Senate’s and the President’s veto power, and of course, a total ban on filibusters.
In response to George Zornick’s “Obama Bucks GOP, Nominates CFPB Chief.” January 4, 2012