Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

EVEN FOX NEWS’ POLL: U.S. Prefers Obama to Reagan

The GOP talking point that “we are still a center right nation,” keeps running into a small problem: data to the contrary. You know: FACTS.  Now, even a Fox News Poll (which I saw online, I NEVER watch  Fixed Noise/Faux News) shows direct evidence to the contrary.

When asked whether the nation needed the economic policies of Reagan or Obama, Obama won  49% to 40%–even in a Fox News poll.  Other polling shows a  much higher approval of Obama’s policies–and that the country expects it to take awhile to clean up this mess. 

Other aspects of the poll, as Talking Points Memo points out, show how different results  come from different phrasings of polling questions.  The poll asks a number of questions about taxation policy. When asked whether or not people preferred to pay higher taxes for big government or less taxes for smaller government, the latter option wins–but it assumes that YOU, PERSONALLY will pay the higher taxes. When asked, instead, whether those who make $250k a year an up need to pay more taxes for their fair share and to level the economic playing field, the answer is a resounding YES.  Even 41% of REPUBLICANS surveyed thought it was a good idea for the rich to pay more!!

So, as of now, the public believes the president inherited this mess (84% according to a Wall Street Journal poll, only 8 % blaming the president) and will give him time to fix it. (It looks like until the middle of 2010 when they expect the recession to end. So, if the economy recovers by then or before, good news for Obama and Dems in the midterm elections. If it takes longer, or is such a mess that it can’t be fixed,  bad news.  This is more patience than the U.S. public  usually gives Democratic presidents–but expect Obama’s numbers to go down until the recovery sinks in. This is why he’s smart to try for big programs like healthcare reform, NOW, while his approval rating–68% to 75% depending on which poll–is so high.  He can use that popularity to push an aggressive agenda that will pay off. If he waits, he loses the opportunity.)  And, at least as far as economic policy goes, the public is willing to turn somewhat left–and maybe move the center back toward the days of my childhood. If Obama is successful, expect that leftward drift to continue.  If he is not, then, of course, we will probably swing back to the right–maybe  even the far right, God forbid.

On  the other hand, Gallup notes that Chinese Communists are now more popular with the American people than Congressional Republicans!  So, that whole, “Obama is a socialist” meme must be really working, huh?

UPDATE: And the GOP continues to NOT GET IT.  Rep. Boehner (R-OH), the House Minority Leader just called for a complete freeze on all new government spending! (One assumes he is exempting the military since he is a hawk.  Without such an exemption, we would have to pull all troops home tomorrow.  That’s a move that might unite the Ron Paul (R-TX) Republicans with the anti-war Left, but it would have  little support from the majority of either major party. And if most of the returning troops immediately left the service in this economy, it would double the unemployment rate!)  Did Boehner flunk economics or what? We are in a DEEP RECESSION sliding toward Depression.  Sales of everything are down because people aren’t buying. This leads to job cuts, which leads to less spending as people either don’t have  job or are worried about losing theirs. It’s a vicious cycle.  Investors are fleeing the market and parking assets which should be going into the economy in gold and silver. In this kind of a situation government MUST BECOME THE SPENDER OF LAST RESORT to break the cycle.  That’s how we got out of the Great Depression (falling back in 1937 when conservatives convinced FDR to take his foot off the spending accelerator and work toward balancing the budget)–the spending first of the New Deal and then the massive spending of World War II which gave us a full employment economy.  If the Republicans unite behind Boehner as they did with opposition to the stimulus bill, they couldn’t stop the budget in the House (they don’t have the votes), but they could derail  it if Senate Republicans follow suit or if enough conservative budget hawk Democrats follow them in the Senate–and that is a recipe for another Depression!  YES, we need to work on the deficit–AFTER WE GET THE ECONOMY MOVING AGAIN!  If Boehner was worried about the deficit, why did he support the GOP tax giveaway to the rich, then borrow and spend like drunken sailors spree that was the 8 years of Bush budgets?? The neo-Hooverite economics needs to be laughed out of hand or we are in BIG TROUBLE.  We are losing over half a million jobs a month and he wants a government spending freeze!!!!!!???  God help us, I hope the American people see through this idiocy and back the pres.

March 5, 2009 Posted by | U.S. politics | 3 Comments

Thank-You Hillary Clinton

Yes, I wrote that.  No, I have not been a big fan of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and I was against Obama appointing her to Secretary of State. (Of course, I’m happy that my first choice, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) was passed over, because it would  have been far more embarrassing for him to back out of the S of S post due to Federal Elections investigations than it was when he removed himself from Commerce!  Sheesh!) I have never shared the rightwing “Clinton hatred” (which has been shifted to Obama), but I was critical of her husband’s presidency (mostly as squandered potential for good) and her candidacy for the presidency. 

But I think a “prophetic stance” that ONLY yells at politicians when they screw up is counterproductive.  One should ALWAYS send notes and phone calls of appreciation when a politician, ANY politician, does something right.  It greatly increases the chances they will continue to do so. 

So, today, I sent Secretary Clinton a thank-you note because in Israel this week, she publicly criticized the government of Israel and the government of the city of Jerusalem for demolitions and planned demolitions of Palestinain homes in East Jerusalem.  She rightly called it a violation of Israel’s agreements on the so-called “road map” to a two state peace.  (She did not say,  as she could have, that it was a violation of International Law and about a thousand UN resolutions, including many agreed  to by several U.S. administrations of both parties,  but she said something!) Make no mistake–as hard as it will be for my international readers to understand, in the U.S. context this is an act of political courage.  Secretary Clinton will get TONS of hatemail and criticism from rightwing pro-Israel-no-matter-what groups and their well-financed media allies over this. ANY criticism, no matter how small, of Israel by an American politician carries a political price that it does not anywhere else–not even IN Israel.

So, peace folk and progressives, whatever we feel about Secretary Clinton overall–or the evolving Obama administration’s  approach to Middle East peace–we need to put all that aside and have Secretary Clinton’s back on this one.  Take time out, now,  and email her  and thank  her for speaking out against Palestinian home demolitions.  If you are one of my international readers, please join in this effort.  If you want a different kind of U.S. presence in the world, you need to cheer us when we do the right thing (even baby steps) as well as criticize us when we do wrong. (You can also suggest other concrete steps for her to take. I urged her to speak out against the Israeli wall that eats up Palestinian land and turns the West Bank into a giant open air prison and I urged her to publicly call for Hamas to join a unity govt. with Fatah so that they could air their concerns to the U.S. through Fatah without the U.S. having to negotiate with a group it considers terrorist.  Baby steps–but those get the ball rolling.)

Now,  after emailing or phoning the Secretary and thanking her, send a copy of that email  to President Obama, and (if you are a U.S. citizen) to your Congressperson and Senators–regardless of party.  Then write your local newspaper and commend Secretary Clinton’s words in public. If you are a Christian minister or Jewish Rabbi, PLEASE take this last extra step–because the media will be flooded with  condemnations of Clinton’s words by rightwing Jews and Christians who claim to speak for everyone of their faith.  If you belong to a group like Churches for a Middle East Peace or Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, or Rabbis for Human Rights, etc., put that in your message. It will raise awareness of the diversity of views and, hopefully, change the nature of the debate in the media and Congress.

March 5, 2009 Posted by | human rights., Israel-Palestine, just peacemaking | 6 Comments