With almost no public attention, both chambers of Congress in the past week advanced an alarming expansion of the Americorps national service plan, with the number of federally funded community service job increasing from 75,000 to 250,000 at a cost of $5.7 billion. Lurking behind the feel-good rhetoric spouted by the measure’s advocates is a bill that on closer inspection reveals multiple provisions that together create a strong odor of creepy authoritarianism. The House passed the measure overwhelmingly, while only 14 senators had the sense and courage to vote against it on a key procedural motion. Every legislator who either voted for this bill or didn’t vote at all has some serious explaining to do.OK so they are trying to build the CCC or WPA or PWA or whatever alphabet soup that was the FDR version of this. Recall that FDR did create all those agencies to put people to work. Mostly on make work projects. The only difference is what has been taken out (at the moment). The mandatory section smells so close to a creation from a fascist government that it is almost sureal.Last summer, then-candidate Barack Obama threw civil liberties to the wind when he proposed “a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the regular military. The expanded Americorps is not quite so disturbing, but a number of provisions in the bill raise serious concerns.To begin with, the legislation threatens the voluntary nature of Americorps by calling for consideration of “a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people.” It anticipates the possibility of requiring “all individuals in the United States” to perform such service – including elementary school students. The bill also summons up unsettling memories of World War II-era paramilitary groups by saying the new program should “combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service,” while establishing “campuses” that serve as “operational headquarters,” complete with “superintendents” and “uniforms” for all participants. It allows for the elimination of all age restrictions in order to involve Americans at all stages of life. And it calls for creation of “a permanent cadre” in a “National Community Civilian Corps.”But that’s not all. The bill also calls for “youth engagement zones” in which “service learning” is “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.” This updated form of voluntary community service is also to be “integrated into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula” at all levels of schooling. Sounds like a government curriculum for government approved “service learning,” which is nothing less than indoctrination. Now, ask yourself if congressmen who voted for this monstrosity had a clue what they were voting for. If not, they’re guilty of dereliction of duty. If yes, the implications are truly frightening.UPDATE:Between being first officially "reported" to the House and being voted on by the full House, bill managers stripped one whole section of the measure that created a Congressional Commission on Civil Service, thus removing the section that contained the language cited above concerning "a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people" and a possible requirement for "all individuals in the United States" to perform such service. The section could be restored during the Senate-House conference committee meeting. A new, separate bill containing that language has since been introduced in the House.
Then there is the weirdness around Geitner and the global currency BS the Chinese seem excited to force on us.
Geithner, at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the U.S. is "open" to a headline-grabbing proposal by the governor of the China's central bank, which was widely reported as being a call for a new global currency to replace the dollar, but which Geithner described as more modest and "evolutionary."I really wish he'd STFU if he hasn't read the thing. The whole proposal sounds like FDR's tampering with currency and the gold standard during the Great Depression. I won't even discuss the extended powers they are seeking. (Again, just like FDR.)
"I haven’t read the governor’s proposal. He’s a very thoughtful, very careful distinguished central banker. I generally find him sensible on every issue," Geithner said, saying that however his interpretation of the proposal was to increase the use of International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights -- shares in the body held by its members -- not creating a new currency in the literal sense.
"We’re actually quite open to that suggestion – you should see it as rather evolutionary rather building on the current architecture rather than moving us to global monetary union," he said.
Then there is the renaming of the GWOT. Now it's OCO. No doubt it will make everyone love us because it isn't Bush's term.
The Obama administration appears to be backing away from the phrase "global war on terror," a signature rhetorical legacy of its predecessor.Well, I'm sure it will make it's way to officialdom irrespective of denial from another bureaucrat.
In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department's office of security review noted that "this administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT.] Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.' "
The memo said the direction came from the Office of Management and Budget, the executive-branch agency that reviews the public testimony of administration officials before it is delivered.
Not so, said Kenneth Baer, an OMB spokesman.
"There was no memo, no guidance," Baer said yesterday. "This is the opinion of a career civil servant."
How about Obama's new fireside chat equivalent.
Q&A | 12:08 p.m. At the outset, at least, the forum had a canned feel – in part, perhaps, because ordinary Americans tend to be more polite in their questions than news reporters and they lacked the chance to ask follow up questions. Mr. Obama opened up with a 5-minute opening statement, recounting his policies; then Jared Bernstein read questions to the president. The first question on education prompted Mr. Obama to promise higher pay and more support for teachers, without offering specifics. The second, on what benefits his stimulus plan offered to struggling homeowners, prompted a recitation of the president’s recently announced housing plan. The third was a video question, from “Harriet in Georgia” who asked the president what he was doing to bring back jobs that had been outsourced.Read it all. This was so vetted the report even had to admit it. Softball after softball. This no doubt wowed his fans and Chris Matthews no doubt wet himself. I'll give him credit for trying a new means of reaching the public, and maximizing his control over content. At least with meat journalists in the room he has to actually think and respond.
I'm not overly thrilled with all this, and frankly I'm a bit concerned that the results will be as crappy as FDR's without anything to pull us out.