March on Washington, Syria, Debt Ceiling Hostage-Taking on The Middle Ground

gty_march_on_washington_martin_luther_king_ll_130819_16x9_992.jpgThe Middle Ground Tues. Aug. 27 at 8 pm ET on Coffee Party Radio.  Your calls on the following subjects: 

  • The March on Washington 50th Anniversary and President Obama's complex relationship to the Civil Rights Movement. 
  • Syria — the red line seems to have been crossed, now what?
  • Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis Part 3, the Pre-game Show.  If the Superbowl can have two weeks of hype, why not the reckless political grandstanding that is the US House of Representatives?
THE MIDDLE GROUND
Tuesdays at 8 pm ET
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To start things off, my take on the three issues is this: 
March on Washington:  Annabel and I were there filming for Story of America. We didn't pay much attention to the official program, and instead focused on the people who attended (none of whom could hear the official program because there weren't enough speakers).  

It is a shame that equal justice for all Americans has been made into a controversial issue from which President Obama feels he must carefully distance himself. It is also a shame that the March on Washington commemoration event, to which the president was not invited (Al Sharpton said Obama is the new Kennedy, not the new MLK), turned into a platform for establishment Democrats and MSNBC personalities while no Republicans were given the opportunity to speak, and modern day movement builders like Rev. Dr. William Barber of Moral Monday were given only seconds to speak. 
Syria:  It seems like we always learn about the true motivations for military intervention long after the blood has been spilled and the resources squandered. I got burned, as many Americans did, believing what the Bush administration instructed newspapers and Secretaries of State to say about Iraq. But, I have to admit I found myself persuaded by this column by Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. Robinson writes:

If one tinhorn despot is allowed to get away with gassing his opponents, other thuggish strongmen — a category of which there is no shortage — will be emboldened to follow suit.

This is a case in which somebody has to be the world’s policeman. Given Russia’s alliance with Assad’s regime and China’s long-standing policy of indifference, the U.N. Security Council is almost sure to do nothing. France and Britain may step forward, as happened in Libya, but the essential military firepower and coordination will again be provided by the United States.

It makes me nervous when “Western intelligence sources” make assertions about weapons of mass destruction in faraway lands; see Iraq. U.N. investigators are probably reaching the site too late for a definitive determination, given that the evidence is as evanescent as the wind. But the pictures and the eyewitness testimony are clear, and Assad had a motive: This month, rebels launched a rocket attack on his convoy.

It will be difficult to design a missile strike that hurts Assad without drawing the United States into the war. But that is the thin line Obama must now walk.

Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis, the Pregame Show:  I have been accusing Republicans of staging political theater and harming our nation's economic recovery since the debut of the Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis show in 2011. That year, their seeming willingness to destroy the global economy allowed them to extract budget cuts that slowed the recovery and improved their chances of winning the White House in 2012.  Since then, the Obama administration has refused to negotiate, and, it was the Republicans in Congress who blinked.  Shahil Kapur writes for Talking Points Memo:

Despite the extraordinary challenges he has faced, Boehner has always found a way to avert shutdown, default and fiscal crisis at every juncture since he became Speaker. And he isn’t likely to permit default, come what may. The question is whether he succeeds in bringing his members aboard or whether he’s forced to lift the debt ceiling with mostly Democratic votes, a move that would severely damage his standing as Speaker. He’s broken the majority-of-the-majority principle (also known as the Hastert Rule) several times this year on less catastrophic issues than default, such as avoiding tax hikes and renewing the Violence Against Women Act. Boehner would be hard-pressed to abide by the Hastert Rule in this situation and in fact hasn’t committed to doing so.

It's strange, but the on-going Debt Ceiling media blitz has worked. By being quiet and complicit while the Bush administration created the deficit, and then yelling, screaming, grandstanding, and hostage-taking while Obama has gotten the economy growing again and the deficit shrinking again, the Republican media empire has managed to convince millions of Americans that the debt problem began the day Obama took office. It's little wonder why they're not letting up. They think we're stupid, and, to a large degree, we are.

This is good politics, but it leads to bad policy, and puts us in danger of another Great Recession. Since electioneering is the only thing Republicans in Congress know how to focus upon anymore, I wish they'd just stick to the "Birther" conspiracies.  As offensive as they are, they serve the same purpose of scoring political points without hurting our economy and hindering the ability of our fellow Americans — white, black, Democrat and Republican — to put food on the table for their families.

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