Monday Reads: Coming apart at the seamsPosted: October 14, 2013
Every time I see a member of the Tea Party talk about “taking their country back”, I wonder which country they mean? Yes, nothing says respect our vets like waving confederate flags and telling our President to put down his Q’uran. Senator Ted Cruz and professional gadfly Sarah Palin have once again proven that their followers are just plain off their proverbial rockers.
“Veterans” – basically Tea Partyers – led by Palin and Cruz, marched today on the World War II memorial in Washington, DC, stole the National Park Service’s protective barriers, and then threw them at the White House.
This was intended to show their ire over the fact that the World War II memorial, along with every other federal land, site, office and program, was closed once the GOP shut down the federal government in the hopes of extorting the President into defunding health care reform, aka Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act.
The Tea Party “vets,” led by Palin and Cruz, are apparently so outraged at themselves for shutting down the federal government, that they’re now protesting the President for listening to them.
Tea Party protesters also concerned about Obama being a Muslim
According to CNN, the Tea Party protesters gathered at the White House are also very concerned that President Obama is a Muslim:
One speaker went as far as saying the president was a Muslim and separately urged the crowd of hundreds to initiate a peaceful uprising.
“I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up,” said Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group.
Fox’s Brit Hume is quite upset that Politico’s Ben White appears to have a brain
Of course, leave it to Fox News to come to the defense of today’s contradictory Tea Party protest against the very shutdown policy the Tea Party championed.
Go read the twitter exchange between Hume and White. It’s worth the look. The rally wasn’t very big but the radical right can still grab media attention. That probably explains one of the reasons that Palin showed up given she’s about as relevant as a French Franc these days.
About 200 people, counting among their ranks Republican Senator Mike Lee, Senator Ted Cruz and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, converged on D.C.’s World War II memorialSunday morning. Slightly overselling themselves as the ”Million Vet March on the Memorials,” they cut through barriers to protest the site’s closing during the shutdown.
“This is the people’s memorial,” Cruz said in a speech. “Let me ask a simple question. Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?”
Those present weren’t all agreed upon the specifics of their grievances, according to the Washington Times. As one protestor put it: “There’s a three-part focus: veterans, impeachment and the truckers.”
The fine, upstanding patriots who protesting at Washington, DC memorials ganged up on police at the White House calling them names like “Gestapo,” “Brown Shirts,” and “Stasi.” They also yelled that the security unit “looked like something out of Kenya.” These Tea Partiers have been making public displays about how much they love Americans serving in uniform, but that, apparently, doesn’t extend to police uniforms.
Stay classy my friends!!!
Meanwhile, the relevant people in the government were trying to figure out a way to open the government and avoid defaulting on the national debt. Reid and McConnell are taking the three day weekend to try to find some common ground. McConnell appears quite wed to the sequester which is devastating essential government services in an outrageous way. There doesn’t appear to be much movement on any one’s part.
In talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the main sticking point is now where to establish funding levels for the federal government and for how long. The Republican offer made on Friday — to set spending at sequestration levels of $988 billion for the next six months -– was rejected by Reid and others on Saturday on the grounds that it was too favorable to the GOP position and discouraged future negotiations.
By Sunday morning, little notable progress toward a resolution had been made. McConnell, according to sources, was adamant that the spending cuts of sequestration be maintained in any final arrangement.
“Sen. McConnell will defend the commitment Congress made on spending reductions; he’ll defend the law that Sen. Reid voted for and the president signed — and subsequently bragged about in his campaign,” said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. “As I recall, Sen. Reid voted for, and President Obama signed the Budget Control Act [which established sequestration]. They may not like that the supercommittee didn’t act and we’re left with sequester, but under their own rhetoric, it’s ‘the law of the land.'”
Some of McConnell’s top deputies that echoed sentiment on the Sunday talk shows. “The president and leaders of Congress need to take the responsibility of dealing with the underlying problem and keep the budget caps in place,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told “Meet The Press.” “My gosh, we just put them in place two years ago.”
“If you break the spending caps, you’re not going to get any Republicans in the Senate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) said on ABC’s “This Week.”
There doesn’t appear to be any movement really on either side. As I’ve written about before, nations around the world are not responding well to any of these. The Chinese are calling for “De-Americization” saying that Pax America has failed on all fronts.
China’s official news agency has called for the creation of a “de-Americanised world”, saying the destinies of people should not be left in the hands of a hypocritical nation with a dysfunctional government.
Heaping criticism and caustic ridicule on Washington, the Xinhua news agency called the US a civilian slayer, prisoner torturer and meddler in others’ affairs, and said the ‘Pax Americana’ was a failure on all fronts.
The official news agency of China, which is seen as the pretender to the world’s superpower crown, then rubbed in more salt, calling American economic pre-eminence just a seeming dominance.
“As US politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world,” the editorial said.
It asks why the self-declared protector of the world is sowing mayhem in thefinancial markets by failing to resolve political differences over key economic policy.
“… the cyclical stagnation in Washington for a viable bipartisan solution over a federal budget and an approval for raising debt ceiling has again left many nations’ tremendous dollar assets in jeopardy and the international community highly agonised,” the agency said.
It is not the first time Chinese leadership and newspapers have criticised Washington over a policy paralysis that threatens to devalue its dollar assets.
According to US Treasury Department data, China is the biggest foreign owner of US Treasuries at $1.28 trillion as of July. Besides, China also holds close to $3.5 trillion of dollar-denominated assets.
A US debt default and consequent credit downgrade would significantly erode the value of China’s holdings.
Reneging on its debt obligations would make the U.S. the first major Western government to default since Nazi Germany 80 years ago.
Germany unilaterally ceased payments on long-term borrowings on May 6, 1933, three months after Adolf Hitler was installed as Chancellor. The default helped cement Hitler’s power base following years of political instability as the Weimar Republic struggled with its crushing debts.
“These are generally catastrophic economic events,” said Professor Eugene N. White, an economics historian at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “There is no happy ending.”
The debt reparations piled onto Germany, which in 1913 was the world’s third-biggest economy, sparked the hyperinflation, borrowings and political deadlock that brought the Nazis to power, and the default. It shows how excessive debt has capricious results, such as the civil war and despotism that ravaged Florence after England’s Edward III refused to pay his obligations from the city-state’s banks in 1339, and the Revolution of 1789 that followed the French Crown’s defaults in 1770 and 1788.
Failure by the world’s biggest economy to pay its debt in an interconnected, globalized world risks an array of devastating consequences that could lay waste to stock markets from Brazil to Zurich and bring the $5 trillion market in Treasury-backed loans to a halt. Borrowing costs would soar, the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency would be in doubt and the U.S. and world economies would risk plunging into recession — and potentially depression.
The people who do well at Amazon are often those who thrive in an adversarial atmosphere with almost constant friction. Bezos abhors what he calls “social cohesion,” the natural impulse to seek consensus. He’d rather his minions battle it out backed by numbers and passion, and he has codified this approach in one of Amazon’s 14 leadership principles—the company’s highly prized values that are often discussed and inculcated into new hires:
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
Some employees love this confrontational culture and find they can’t work effectively anywhere else. “Everybody knows how hard it is and chooses to be there,” says Faisal Masud, who spent five years in the retail business. “You are learning constantly, and the pace of innovation is thrilling. I filed patents; I innovated. There is a fierce competitiveness in everything you do.” The professional networking site LinkedIn (LNKD) is full of “boomerangs”—Amazon-speak for executives who left the company and then returned.
But other alumni call Amazon’s internal environment a “gladiator culture” and wouldn’t think of returning. Many last less than two years. “It’s a weird mix of a startup that is trying to be supercorporate and a corporation that is trying hard to still be a startup,” says Jenny Dibble, who was a marketing manager there for five months in 2011. She found her bosses were unreceptive to her ideas about using social media and that the long hours were incompatible with raising a family. “It was not a friendly environment,” she says. Even leaving Amazon can be a combative process—the company is not above sending letters threatening legal action if an employee takes a similar job at a competitor. Masud, who left Amazon for EBay(EBAY) in 2010, received such a threat. (EBay resolved the matter privately.)
So, today is a holiday and I have to join a lot of people in asking why the heck do we still celebrate Columbus Day? How do you “discover” something when it’s already been there and you actually were looking for some place else? Then, you basically turn the place into a living hell for those you “discovered”? Just don’t get it at all!
I’m still one of those that believes we should honor the first Americans! That would be the ones who were already here when the Europeans invaded the place.
One issue that came up during our conversation was the fact that Columbus Day really should be renamed to Native American Day, in honor of the millions of people whose heritage has been ridiculed and ruined in mainstream media (when the plight of people living on reservations isn’t being ignored entirely, that is). However, when Brown University exchanged “Columbus Day” language for more neutral “Fall Weekend,” they were met with opposition from their College Republican group, whose leader argued “Columbus should be celebrated for bringing the European political tradition to the New World, which led to the foundation of the United States.”
Oh, dear! I’m back to xenophobic and racist republicans again. How did that happen? Like I said, when they say take ‘our’ country back. What the hell country and who do they mean?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?