Congress is now doing what it normally does, in an election year. This is not intended to sound cynical, as I actually think it is a good thing for a divided Congress to stand up for its divided beliefs -- even while knowing that almost none of the bills it now votes on have a prayer of becoming law before the election.
This week reminded us once again of the costs of accepting lowered expectations as the new normal. On Wednesday, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision struck down overall limits on campaign donations, further ceding our political system to the highest bidder in the guise of "free speech." On the same day, Ft. Hood, Texas suffered its second mass shooting in five years, as a married father of four, in a fit of anger, killed four people, including himself, and wounded 16 others. Senator Harry Reid introduced a background checks bill the next day, but it will likely suffer the same fate as the one that failed last year even with the support of 90 percent of Americans. The week ended with yet another middling jobs report, with just 192,000 added in March. All three of these things should spark urgent calls for reform and change, because accepting them as the new normal only guarantees more of the same.
The agenda of global finance, carried out via "trade" deals, has diverted attention from the real economic issues -- rising inequality and insecurity for ordinary people, the use of globalization as a battering ram to empower capital and weaken labor, and to prevent government interventions from averting financial speculation and collapse. Amid these real crises of neo-liberalism, enhanced trade has been portrayed as a deux ex machina, which will solve our problems if only we get rid of what's left of the mixed economy. It won't. The proposed deals would only make matters worse. The coming collapse of the quarter-century laissez-faire crusade that began with the 1986 Uruguay round, with its license for global financial speculation, is to be welcomed. If we can kill this diversion once and for all, maybe we can start paying more attention to the real economic issues.
As good fortune would have it, right now there just happens to be $6 billion in free money lying on the table, about to be wasted, waiting to be used as an offset for some good purpose.
The only good news in the just-released 2013 U.S. trade data is that it can only reinforce growing congressional and public opposition to more-of-the-same trade agreements.
Voters overwhelmingly expect the TPP to be a good deal for large corporations at the expense of small businesses:
In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama has a very straightforward opportunity to help end the mindset that got us into war, by talking about the necessity of providing the funding to care for the veterans from a decade of war.
What has been shocking until now is that politicians have been so far behind the American public when it comes to the drug war. But there's reason for hope.
If AIPAC is to successfully manipulate U.S. foreign policy on behalf of the Israeli government, it must do so surreptitiously. The night flower thrives in the shade and the media has permitted it to stay there.
Senate Republicans want to put the U.S. on a path to war with Iran. They'd like to use the Senate to blow up the president's efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with Iran to prevent war. But Republicans don't control the Senate. Therefore, Harry Reid is a dictator.
In the Republican House, for a bill to see action it generally has to satisfy something called the "Hastert Rule." It certainly would be very appropriate for Majority Leader Reid to apply the Hastert Rule in this case.
Much of the country kicked off the New Year with heavy snowstorms followed by a blast of frigid cold temperatures. But for 1.3 million Americans, whose unemployment checks have been cut off, this may be the coldest winter of all.
The illnesses of our leaders and celebrities help to focus our attention on what diseases we might develop. Harry Reid had a stroke, showed us how to get to the hospital fast, and is now well.
The same Republicans who slashed jobless benefits also recently cut food stamps, taking food out of the mouths of children, causing incredible and unnecessary suffering. This was not only callous and mean-spirited, it may also turn out to be politically stupid.
Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column! Part one of this column ran last week, just in case you missed it. We've got a lot to cover, so let's jump right in with no further introduction.
This week as the Senate worked to pass a bipartisan budget framework that doesn't cut Social Security or Medicare benefits; a hearing without the same fanfare took place just steps away. In a high-ceilinged, wood-paneled committee room, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) chaired a hearing that might prove the more historical moment of the week.