Friday, April 09, 2010

F for Fake; Nuclear Arms Treaty; Gingrich; Stevens Announces Retirement

Hello. Happy Friday to everyone!
So what's up? Last night I went to see Charlie Roadman's band (well, one of his bands), F for Fake, at the Red Eyed Fly. They sounded good! They don't play all that often, and it seems like more recently Charlie has been forcusing more on his Athens v. Sparta project (which is a really interesting musical group that performs a sort of musical narrative about the Peloppenesian War), but I've always really liked F for Fake, and it was cool to see them out and playing their songs again. They have a cool sound that's really easy to listen to. I like Kevin Higginbotham's voice (he also does most of the singing for Athens v. Sparta), the lyrics are cool, and the band plays cool melodies and grooves without becoming too self indulgent or melodramatic. Anyway, F for Fake was good. More people should have come out to see them (and I should have been better about plugging the show on the blog- I meant to mention it yesterday, but then I really didn't have time to write a post).

What else? So President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a nuclear arms treaty yesterday. Now the treaty needs to go to Congress for debate and a vote, but Republicans are already saying that they will probably sign off on the treaty so long as their questions and concerns about America's security can be satisfactorily addressed. I think this new treaty is supposed to reduce both the Russian and American nuclear stockpiles by a third, which will likely still leave enough nuclear weapons out there to destroy the whole planet a couple of times over. Still, I think the treaty is a significant and meaningful step in reducing the threat of world annhilation through nuclear armedgeddon.
Of course, there are people who don't see it that way. Sarah Palin has gone on record saying that the new treaty is "unbelievable" in that it prevents America from defending itself. She went on to compare America's participation in the treaty with a kid on a playground who invites physical attacks by other students by promising not to retaliate, and she continued by saying that she couldn't imagine any other presidential administration in American history taking such a step.
Predictably, The Daily Show ran clips last night of President Reagan publicly speaking about the need for nuclear arms reduction and about his aspirations to reduce the American nuclear arsenal by one third.
It's kind of crazy that only a month ago I was literally having nightmares about President Palin starting a nuclear war. When I hear her making the sort of asinine statements that she made yesterday about nuclear arms reduction, somehow my nightmare seems a little less outlandish.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Thursday night, described President Obama as a left-wing socialist and described him as "the most radical president in American history". Not sure what Gingrich is up to (trying to test the waters for 2012?), but his statements are pretty ridiculous.
Let's take a look at Obama.
Iraq War- we still have about 98,000 troops in Iraq, and there's really no end in sight for our "security force" in that country.
Guantanamo Bay- still open.
Afghanistan War- still fully operational and funded, with an additional troop surge recently ordered. A draw down date has been announced, but already the president has made comments about the "flexibility" of that date.
Treatment of detainees- torture has been taken off the table, but the Obama Administration seems to be reversing course on its earlier decision to hold terrorism trials in federal, civilian courts. At the very least, it sounds like terror trials will not take place in New York City as originally planned.
Environmentalism- the president recnetly lifted a ban on offshore drilling along the Eastern Coast of the U.S. and in parts of Alaska.
Health Care- Obama helped to pass a plan, but it didn't include a public option, and in many ways, the plan that finally got passed was extremely similar to a plan proposed by Republicans in 1993 as an alternative to the health care reform plan that the Clinton White House was proposing at the time.
Nuclear Weapons- Obama has sought a reduction in nuclear weapons, but his proposal of a one third reduction is in keeping with proposals put forward by pervious Republican leaders like Ronald Reagan (who also proposed a one third reduction).
Taxes- income taxes thus far have not been increased on the middle class by Obama. In fact, for the most part, Obama really hasn't even rolled back the tax cuts for the wealthy that were instituted during the Bush years.
Economic Stimulus- Obama passed an economic recovery package, but there were bailouts and recovery measures that had already been begun by the Bush White House before Bush left office (meaning even the Repoublicans had recognized the need for government intervention in order to prevent a massive economic collapse). Republican claims that recovery could be facilitated by simple tax cuts and nothing else seem fairly disingenuous given the fact that even the Republican president at the time of the collapse didn't follow that strategy.

Soooo... when New Gingrich calls Obama the most radical, socialist, liberal president in American history, it's clearly just more ridiculous Republican rhetoric and windbaggery. Obama has proven to be much more of a moderate progressive, in fact, than many on the left would prefer. I guess the main question is what Gingrich's angle is, but, to be honest, I just don't think he has the political legs to make a run at the presidency.

Sounds like Supreme Court Justice Stevens is going to retire. Not sure there's all that much to say about that. Stevens was generally considered to be more liberal than conservative, so Obama is basically in the position of replacing one progressive judge with another one. I guess the good thing is that Obama is having the chance to make this replacement now (as opposed to Stevens sticking it out past 2012 when [heaven forbid] there's a chance that there might be another Republican in the White House who would be making the appointment). Now, inevitably, Obama will try to pick someone who's not controversial as his nominee, and the Republicans will threaten to block or try to block the appointment, claiming that the person is a wild eyed loon....

Well, hope everyone is having a good day! Enjoy the weekend.

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