Time for Some Audacity?

Could be, definitely could be. I’m currently reading Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, so this is more grist for the mill.
[Krugman via Kevin Drum]

Franklin Delano Obama? [NY Times]
Suddenly, everything old is New Deal again. Reagan is out; F.D.R. is in. Still, how much guidance does the Roosevelt era really offer for today’s world?

The answer is, a lot. But Barack Obama should learn from F.D.R.’s failures as well as from his achievements: the truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for F.D.R.’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious. (…)

What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.

This history offers important lessons for the incoming administration.

The political lesson is that economic missteps can quickly undermine an electoral mandate. Democrats won big last week — but they won even bigger in 1936, only to see their gains evaporate after the recession of 1937-38. Americans don’t expect instant economic results from the incoming administration, but they do expect results, and Democrats’ euphoria will be short-lived if they don’t deliver an economic recovery.

The economic lesson is the importance of doing enough. F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy. My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. It’s much better, in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.

In short, Mr. Obama’s chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-run economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity.

So, some audacity, please. Perhaps a 10-year commitment (AKA, “Apollo project”) to energy self sufficiency and single-payer health care. Gear up that manufacturing sector and the educational system. We’re not going to crack the nut on affordable active solar, reliable affordable battery tech for vehicles and the various other things that populate my little fantasy.

We have to gear up education for research and design (hard sciences and engineering), fabrication and installation (workers idled by the burst housing bubble and auto industry lethargy), distribution, etc., to meet these goals.

Single payer health care will finally allow people to create more small, independent start-ups than we can currently imagine. Once free to abandon unfulfilling and underemployed positions because they, “can’t lose the benefits.” The health care necessity has been a shackle on American workers — regardless of the color of their collars — for far too long. If everyone has coverage, there goes one more obstacle to finding your own part of the American Dream, however your image of that may be.

This is a little ragged and for that I apologize. Rageboy used to write writes, “We blog when we should be sleeping, and it shows.” I will leave the applicability of that statement as an exercise for the reader.

links for 2008-09-07

Who Gave The Green Light on Torture at Guantánamo? [Vanity Fair]

This article seems to be being cited all over the place, from Mic Check Radio to Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann and Keith Olbermann. Not so much in the ‘above the fold’ media.

This shows that the trail of torture at Guantánamo does not begin and end with a few ‘bad apples’ from a Guard unit from West Virginia. Rather, it was authorized “from the top.”

The Green Light
As the first anniversary of 9/11 approached, and a prized Guantánamo detainee wouldn’t talk, the Bush administration’s highest-ranking lawyers argued for extreme interrogation techniques, circumventing international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the army’s own Field Manual. The attorneys would even fly to Guantánamo to ratchet up the pressure—then blame abuses on the military.

The abuse, rising to the level of torture, of those captured and detained in the war on terror is a defining feature of the presidency of George W. Bush. Its military beginnings, however, lie not in Abu Ghraib, as is commonly thought, or in the “rendition” of prisoners to other countries for questioning, but in the treatment of the very first prisoners at Guantánamo. Starting in late 2002 a detainee bearing the number 063 was tortured over a period of more than seven weeks. In his story lies the answer to a crucial question: How was the decision made to let the U.S. military start using coercive interrogations at Guantánamo?

The Bush administration has always taken refuge behind a “trickle up” explanation: that is, the decision was generated by military commanders and interrogators on the ground. This explanation is false. The origins lie in actions taken at the very highest levels of the administration—by some of the most senior personal advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense. At the heart of the matter stand several political appointees—lawyers—who, it can be argued, broke their ethical codes of conduct and took themselves into a zone of international criminality, where formal investigation is now a very real option. This is the story of how the torture at Guantánamo began, and how it spread. [more at Vanity Fair]

If these are not high crimes and misdemeanors, what is? I mean, besides oral sex in the White House?

Can we impeach them now? Please? And reserve something especially odious for John Yoo?

First Class Postage to Rise 1¢ on May 12

Looks like the 2008 rate increase is queued up.

The cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 42 cents starting May 12, the U.S. Postal Service said Monday. [Yahoo! AP]

The price of the Forever stamp will go up at the same time, meaning those stamps can still be purchased for 41 cents but will remain good for first-class postage after the rate increase takes effect. (…)

The charge for other services, such as advertising mail, periodicals, packages special services will also change. Changes in the price for Priority Mail and Express Mail will be announced later, the agency said.

Postage rates last went up in May, 2007, with a first-class stamp jumping 2 cents to the current 41-cent rate.

links for 2008-02-05