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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Secession?

The headlines this morning suggest it may be time to rethink the once unthinkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the nation was at war with itself. The War Between the States reflected a house divided, half slave and half free. Hundreds and thousands of lives were lost in a battle to end the "peculiar institution" known as slavery.

Today, the death toll is far lower, if not less dramatic, and the campaign to define "otherness" has not lost much of its punch in places like Mississippi and Texas. Instead of bloody battlefields, the war is played in out in county courthouses, state capitals and the United States House of Representatives.

It's hardly a surprise that a senator from a Confederate state, having failed in his goal of making Barack Obama a one-term President, has rewritten the Constitution to declare that 60 votes is now the working majority in the Senate.

Nor is it a surprise to see Deep South states that banned black marriages and mixed race marriages now throwing their lot against same-sex marriages.

But what is troubling is that this is not a fair fight. Residents of Northern states -- liberal and conservative alike -- are subsidizing the Alabamas and Mississippis with our tax dollars  while they continue to practice the same closed-minded, holier-than-thou brand of public policy that led to what they call the "War of Northern Aggression."

As Mother Jones points out:
A look at 2010 Census and IRS data reveals that the 50 states and the District of Columbia, on average, received $1.29 in federal spending for every federal tax dollar they paid. That means that some states are getting a lot more than they put in, and vice versa. The states that contributed more in taxes than they got back in spending were more likely to have voted for Obama in 2008 and were more likely to be largely urban. (There are some clear exceptions: For instance, New Mexico, a rural, Democratic state, gets more federal money per tax dollar than any other state.)
That's how we get a farm bill rich with subsidies for agribusiness and devoid of food assistance for urban needy (of all races). It's how we have the continued hypocrisy of declarations that government should get off the backs of people even as lawmakers pass measure to regulate the bedroom and a woman's body.

And how we have a segment of a nation that believes life begins at conception -- and ends anytime a person with a gun or a governor with an on-off switch decides the time is right.

Perhaps it really is time to go our separate ways again. I know that a lot of the money funneled down south could be put to good use improving education and infrastructure up north. I also know the Red States of America would likely turn up its nose at foreign aid. After all, don't they do that already?

Except of course when it comes from the Blue States of America, those damn aggressive northern Yankees.

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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Let's get real

John Kerry is facing heat because he took an hour off to take his grandson out on a yacht. Seriously?

While spokeswoman Jen Psaki should learn to get the facts before she speaks, the reality that someone tried to make an issue of a holiday timeout reflects just how far the concept of civil discourse has fallen in the United States.

But then again, what more can you expect from a political opposition that points with pride to its failure to repeal ObamaCare -- going on 38 times. Without ever offering a serious alternative to a problem that confronts millions of Americans and which is contributing to our nation's ailing fiscal health.

Or a political opposition that offers either silence or even outright indifference when one its vaunted "scandals" turns out to be nonpartisan bureaucratic ineptness?

Kerry may have portrayed his vaunted political tin ear by heading out for an hour on a holiday while Egypt was descending into political chaos. But does anyone truly believe he was not in regular contacts with aides and the White House?

If you do, your smartphone isn't as smart as you may believe.

And, as the Globe notes, Kerry has already devoted more time to the Mideast this year than his predecessor did in four years -- no disrespect:
In six months, Kerry has spent more time meeting with Israelis and Palestinians in the region than his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, did in her entire tenure — four trips since March, with a fifth as early as next week. Leaders on both sides of the standoff have said Kerry is close to bringing them back to the negotiating table for the first time since 2008.
Anyone looking for an end to Washington dysfunction need only look to the source of that problem: an opposition long on talking points and short, if not totally bereft of solutions.

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