The violence in Egypt is simply breathtaking. Maybe heartbreaking is a better term.. I understand that Egyptians, for the most part, weren’t happy with the Muslim brotherhood. I’m sorry. If you indeed had a free and fair election, you need to live with the consequences. I am sitting here in North Carolina seizing over what has happened to what was the most progressive state in the South. Our answer is not to take to the streets and begin randomly shooting people. Instead, we are organizing. We’re going to get more people registered to vote. We’re going to vote these ultra conservative Republicans out of office and take back our state.
Paul Krugman had two excellent posts yesterday. The first post had two things that were very interesting to me. First, Professor Krugman wondered if most Americans knew that the budget deficit has been rapidly decreasing. Somebody from Google got in contact with him and they quickly put out a survey. This isn’t the exact same thing as a poll, but it does give you an idea of the power of the Internet. The poll suggested that over 75% of the respondents had no idea that the federal deficit had significantly decreased. This brings me to my next point, that the budget deficit has significantly decreased compared to GDP.
In Paul Krugman’s other post, he talks a little bit about the economy in the Netherlands. The Netherlands had the kind of “Grand Bargain” that several in Washington have been arguing for for the last couple of years. Basically, cut the federal budget and cut the federal budget some more. Then, when you think you’re through, cut the federal budget once more for good measure. Well, this didn’t work out so well for the Netherlands. Their economy is in the tank. Continue reading News Roundup – Egypt, Paul Krugman, North Carolina→
I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session. The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.
The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week — the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday. But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.
First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.
The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case — I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works. But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. Continue reading President Obama on Trayvon Martin→
Yesterday, I asked the question about whether the Iraq war could happen again. Could we, the American people, be pushed into a war of convenience rather than a war of necessity? Simply put, I believe the answer to this question is yes. My answer is yes because we live in an Oppositional Society. This concept, the Oppositional Society, was first proposed by Rebecca Costa in her fabulous book The Watchman’s Rattle. (I’m not sure who first proposed the idea of an Oppositional Society. I first read about the idea in this fabulous book.) Basically, Ms. Costa’s argument is that we boil very complex topics down to yes or no, right versus left, for or against.
If we look at how we debate major issues, we can clearly see how nuance and complexity of argument have been lost in the whole issue and the issue is boiled down to a yes or no question. Gun control. In my opinion, this is an amazingly complex issue. Can the government regulate guns? Most constitutional scholars will tell you that every right that is granted in the Bill of Rights is not absolute. Yet, in this debate, we’ve seen almost every aspect of nuance and complexity boiled down to yes versus no. Assault weapons. There are simply two sides of this debate. Should an American be able to buy an unlimited quantity of assault weapons? Yes or no.
We can come up with theories as to why the United States has gravitated to this extremely simplistic way of examining any problem. Personally, I believe that the majority of Americans get their “information” from the television. Television is extremely good at presenting two sides to any story or topic. Television gets a little bit messier when you present a third or fourth opinion. That simply doesn’t make for good television. Even when you have four or five or even six guests discussing a single topic like on CNBC or Bloomberg TV, the guests conveniently can be categorized into two groups for or against whatever topic is being discussed. Interestingly, this fits very neatly into our political system. Democrats. Republicans. Notice how any third party which pops up is shunted to the side and is painted as being out of the mainstream, crackpots, just as any idea that doesn’t help frame a question in a yes or no answer is also pushed to the side. Continue reading Oppositional Society and the Iraq War→