The paucity of hope - and other victims of Obama's tax-cut deal
Changelessness we can't believe in. Not much of a slogan, I admit, but a pretty fair statement of where we're at after the president's tax deal with congressional Republicans.
It's not that the deal doesn't have some good features. Extending unemployment insurance, cutting payroll taxes, and preserving tax credits for college tuition and low-paying jobs are all imperative, even if some provisions, such as continuing to provide unemployment insurance amid the deepest and most intractable recession since the '30s, shouldn't be in question in any nation with a claim to moral leadership (or even moral adequacy).
The Tea Partyers are coming! Quick, pass some laws.
Although the Senate is normally an institution with its head in the 18th century - and that may be unfair, I know, to the 18th century - it actually acknowledged modernity on Tuesday, if only for a moment. By passing a bill that substantially strengthens food safety regulations, it recognized that the food we eat is produced both industrially and globally. Whether its newfound grasp on reality extends to other key pending legislation, the Dream Act and repealing "don't ask, don't tell," we'll know soon enough.
On Tuesday, though, the world's greatest deliberative body actually concerned itself with facts - such as, almost 20 percent of food consumed in the United States, including three-fourths of our fish, is imported from other countries. But the Food and Drug Administration has lacked authority and staff to inspect more than one pound in 1 million of food imports. The just-passed bill will give the FDA authority to set standards for how fruits and vegetables are grown abroad and to increase its inspection of food processing plants in other countries. It also mandates increased inspections of domestic food processors and allows the FDA to recall unsafe food directly from stores.
How Germany got it right on the economy
It may be turkey week in America, but it's goose month in Germany. In many restaurants, you can get goose in your salad and goose in your soup to go with your goose entree. Diners fairly honk their way through November.
But then, Germans have something to honk about. Germany's economy is the strongest in the world. Its trade balance - the value of its exports over its imports - is second only to China's, which is all the more remarkable since Germany is home to just 82 million people. Its 7.5 percent unemployment rate - two percentage points below ours - is lower than at any time since right after reunification. Growth is robust, and real wages are rising.
Community organizing survives, but it is a balkanized, weakened field.
Few organizations in American history have disappeared as quickly, and on the basis of such flimsy accusations, as ACORN. In 2007, ACORN had field offices in 100 cities and 260,000 members, drawn almost entirely from inner-city minority communities. It helped register more than 1.6 million voters nationally between 2004 and 2008. In New York, one ACORN spin-off, the Working Families Party, became the political home for savvy liberals. In 2004 in Florida, ACORN initiated and steered to success a ballot measure raising the state's minimum wage.
Nancy Pelosi's proven record as Democratic leader
A lot of Democrats deserve a share of the blame for the shellacking they took last week, beginning with a president who shied away from defending his achievements. Nancy Pelosi, however, should not be high on that list.
Consider, for starters, the No. 1 cause of the Democrats' defeat: the economy. The Democrats, one prominent critique holds, didn't do enough to reduce unemployment and, instead, spent eons working on bills - however commendable they may have been - that weren't directed at ending the recession.
Can the Workers of the World Unite?
The state of unionism in the era of globalization
It was labor, not capital, that first aspired to eradicate national borders. But the international unity of labor, which Marx and Engels posited as a goal in 1848, was, for the subsequent 150 years, a matter of ideology only. Or, more precisely, of ideologies: The socialists had their international and their unions, the communists had their own, and during the Cold War, George Meany's AFL-CIO hammered together alliances of anti-communist unions. Unions pledged their solidarity and, at times, their material support to other unions in other lands with which they had an ideological kinship. But the day-to-day work they carried out -- organizing workers, bargaining contracts, lobbying legislatures -- took place entirely within their own borders.