Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Destroying America's Soul

A newspaper article entitled: "British Iraq Dossier Surfaces, Without Crucial Weapons Claim." demonstrated the invalidity of a war of self-defense in Iraq, because there was no evidence of unconventional weapons from reliable and verifiable sources.  Therefore, Americans invaded Iraq to solve a problem, which didn't exist.

Many analysts consider the Iraq war to be “winnable” despite the invalidity of an American occupation of a foreign country who had committed no provoking acts of aggression.  The war is considered to be “winnable” by analysts who look only for a reduction of half or fifty percent of attacks against military targets and civilians.

The dilemma is how to justify our continued presence in Iraq, because to say that a war is winnable is to deceive oneself about the truth of war. War is domination of one country against another, an extreme and desperate use of force to create enough death and destruction so as to impose one nation’s will against another’s. Such extreme behavior is the domain of the weak, not the strong.

A strong nation can sustain a terrorist attack and contain the error of terrorist cells without committing massive military resources to a two-front conventional war.  A strong nation can commit a gross error of international intervention, admit its mistake and correct its error. Exaggerating the real strength of the perceived threat is actually a sign of weakness.

War is wrong, because war destroys life, the structures of civilizations such as governments, educational institutions, places of employment, homes and families. War is wrong because we make ourselves less than human by waging it. By depersonalizing other humans to kill them, we become monsters and destroy our own souls by destroying the lives of others.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ACORN's Response

ACORN President Maude Hurd released the following statement today in response to the McCain campaign's new ad claiming that, among other things, ACORN is responsible for the mortgage crisis:

"For almost a decade, ACORN, a community organization of 400,000 families in neighborhoods across the country, has been fighting against the predatory lending practices that have robbed our members of their homes, destabilized neighborhoods, and roiled the global economy."

"In his newest ad, John McCain's campaign bizarrely claims, "ACORN forced banks to issue risky home loans, the same types of loans that caused the financial crisis we're in today." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, ACORN has worked successfully to help working class families get good home loans on fair terms from legitimate banks and has fought vigorously against predatory lenders who have ripped off families in our communities. These predatory loans caused the crisis."

"For more than a decade, ACORN members have held protests, released reports, and advocated for regulations to protect homeowners from predatory lenders. ACORN organizers and volunteers have been working day and night to help victims of the GOP economic meltdown to save their homes from foreclosure. In fact, ACORN has brought class action lawsuits against several predatory lenders, and has lobbied the Federal Reserve and Congress in support of regulations against predatory lending. ACORN has even been successful in convincing many lenders to treat homeowners more fairly and help families be able to make their mortgage payments and save their homes."

"Unfortunately, the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans like John McCain have blocked the sensible regulations that ACORN and others proposed that would have averted the mortgage meltdown. If John McCain thinks that community organizers caused the foreclosure crisis, he knows even less about the economy than previously thought."

"John McCain and the Republicans are desperately trying to shift the blame for the economic crisis they caused with a philosophy of deregulation and indifference to homeowners. All the grainy footage and creepy music in the world can't cancel out some simple, basic facts, and the facts about the economy are not on John McCain's side."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

See You Later

Our home and my computer has been put in deep freeze. Our street has had a power outage that will last until at least Sunday, so they say, but I hope for sooner. It has been very difficult, while wearing mittens to prepare and post articles, with the temperate already below 54 degrees in the house. With a little bit of Irish luck I'll be back posting soon. In the meantime get the VOTE out. This post was made possible by my wife, her laptop and the warm room at the Buena Vista Motel.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tax Plans Compared

Gov. Palin attacked Obama's tax plan unfairly by claiming: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

If one examines Obama's entire tax strategy it's apparent that it goes from the bottom up. If you make less than $112,000, you benefit from Obama's plan, but the very wealthy will average $700,000 tax reduction under McCain's plan. Obama's priorities became clear during the first debate when he kept talking about the middle class families and McCain failed to mention them even once.

My wife's letter in the Oneonta Star outlined Obama's and McCain's tax plans as follows:
"John McCain insists that his plan is going to keep taxes lower for Americans and that Obama's tax plan is going to make everybody's taxes go up.

"Keeping in mind that the median income in America is $51,000, the Tax Policy Center examined both McCain's and Obama's tax plans and determined the change you're likely to see in your income tax bill.

"The lowest income-earners category is $38,000 to $66,000. Under McCain, your tax bill in 2009 could go down by $325, but under Obama, your tax bill would go down by more than $1,000.

"The next income-earners category is $66,000 to $112,000 a year. Under McCain, your tax bill goes down $1,000, but under Obama, your tax bill goes down by $1,200.

"The significant change starts with the income-earners category of more than $112,000 to $161,000. McCain's tax plan allows you to save more than $2,500, but under Obama, you save a mere $2,000.

"For those who are in the $161,000-to-$227,000 category, there is a reduction of $4,500 in federal income tax bills with McCain, but only a $2,800 reduction under Obama's plan. Therefore, the lower your income is, the larger tax cut you get under Obama's plan.

"Obama said: 'I will cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.' The Tax Policy Center determined 95 percent of American working families with children, will see a tax break under Obama's plan.

"Bailouts will require taxes to increases. Corporate profits remain privatized, but losses have been socialized. Do we raise taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans or continue to tax middle-class citizens, who are already struggling under proportionally higher taxes?"

Monday, October 27, 2008

What If ?

What if the presidential candidates Obama/Biden vs. McCain/Palin exchanged place? Think about it. Would the country's collective point of view be different?

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review and Barack Obama had finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class? What if Cindy McCain had graduated from Harvard?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was divorced? What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after she was severely disfigured in a car accident. What if Obama was had met his second wife in a bar and had had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker and Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spreading the Wealth

Long before the present crises on Wall Street, the lower middle-class experienced their incomes going down. Millions of parents across America couldn’t afford health care or to send their children to college. We’ve needed to start strengthening our economy from the bottom up for many years. Obama has proposed a $50 billion emergency economic plan that would save a million jobs, by rebuilding our infrastructure, repairing our schools, and help our states avoid damaging budget cuts. He would pay for this emergency economic plan by raising taxes on the top 2% of our wealthiest citizens.

McCain and Palin are claiming Obama is a socialist, who middle and upper class taxpayers should fear as the tax bogeyman. This tactic is not only standard Republican hypocrisy, but it’s backfiring. All of the major polls and the electoral map show that Obama is pulling away with leads in virtually every swing state, which demonstrates that many independent voters have rejected McCain’s smear campaigns.

There’s absolutely no logic or truth in McCain’s spread the wealth attacks on Obama. Republican are unable to explain how reversing the Bush tax cuts is "spreading the wealth" socialism, while enacting them in the first place was not. According to Republican’s reducing the tax burden on our nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations is fair but, undoing those tax cuts is an act of taxation heresy.

Was it not redistribution of wealth eight years ago, when the Bush regime took billions out of our tax system and gave it to America’s richest citizens? Republicans claim raising taxes on the rich is socialism, because it redistributes wealth, but the recent bail out of Wall Street, which could eventually increase our national debt by another trillion dollars is not an act of socialism. Today, Wall Street profits remain privatized, but losses have been socialized.

Bush and McCain have succeeded in creating a country where there is socialism only for the rich and well-connected.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Unsupported Alligations

The Obama campaign has asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to order a special prosecutor to investigate whether the McCain campaign and Bush administration’s Justice Department are illegally working together to disseminate: “unsupported spurious allegations of vote fraud.” This aggressive move by the Obama campaign comes after a week in which the McCain campaign and some congressional Republicans and the right-wing media hammered away on the issue of voter fraud-particularly the role of the community group, ACORN.

The Bush regime has long been fixated on alleging voter fraud, which resulted in the firing of several U.S. attorneys, who were appointed by Bush, for resisting pressure to bring voter fraud investigations and prosecutions. Such actions would have been used as an excuse to suppress the vote in close election districts, which might favor Democratic candidates. Presently, a special prosecutor is investigating if those attorneys were fired, because they resisted pressure to investigate partisan allegations of voter fraud.

The McCain campaign’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt, told the “New York Times,” that: “The scenario for winning for us is a narrow victory scenario.” Senator McCain will only achieve a narrow victory, with the lowest possible turn out of newly registered voters, because an overwhelming majority of them are Democrats. In order to keep the turnout low and prevent votes from being counted, their plan is to get new voters to think that massive voting shenanigans will result in their vote not being counted.

In an interview with “The Washington Times,” McCain attacked Bush’s policies by listing: “Spending, the conduct of the war in Iraq for years, growth in the size of government larger than any time since the great society, obviously failure to both enforce and modernize financial regulatory agencies, failure to address the issue of climate change seriously.” McCain even sought to link Obama to Bush, when reacting to another bad news jobs report, he said: “Barack Obama’s only answer is to double down on the Bush legacy of out of control spending.”

Out of desperation, some Republicans in the Delhi area are promoting the idea that the election will be a landslide for Obama, and therefore Democratic voters don’t need to show up, since Obama’s presidency is assured.

Complacency is our enemy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Voter Registration

Sen. McCain complained: “This ACORN voter registration fraud.” ACORN is a national network of community groups and Republicans are claiming that they’re stealing the election and it’s Obama’s fault. 

There is a tremendous difference between voter “registration” fraud and “voter” fraud.  Voter fraud is punishable by one year in jail for a single vote and only a very foolish person would attempt such a stunt. This won’t have any impact on the election, because no one is allowed to vote unless they are properly registered. There is no evidence of fraudulent registration actually leading to organized voting fraud. However, using voter registration fraud to distract from vote suppression is nothing new, for the Republican party.

For over twenty-five years, Republicans have promoted the myth of voting registration fraud to argue for restrictive voting law, but Bush’s Justice Department found virtually no organized voting fraud.  The only fraud committed has been against ACORN itself. Acorn hired 13,000 workers, who registered 1.3 million new voters, however a few of those workers turned in registration forms with inaccurate and even made-up names to get credit for work they didn’t do.  ACORN fired them and reported the fraudulent registration forms.  

ACORN is required by law to submit all forms collected whether they appear to be bogus or not, that way election officials, not partisan groups, can make the call.  ACORN flags cards that may not be legitimate.  And in many places, the charges of fraud only came up because ACORN was the one who flagged the cards.

Recently, Obama said that his relationship to ACORN began 13 years ago when he represented ACORN in partnership with the Justice Department in having Illinois implement what was called the Motor Voter Law to make sure people could go to Department of Motor Vehicles to get registered, since the law wasn’t being implemented In Illinois.  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Acorn

Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now and the Housing Crisis

A McCain ad says that ACORN in Chicago engaged in “bullying banks, intimidation tactics, disruption of business and forced banks to issue risky home loans.”

According to a fact check by Jess Henig, with Ronald Lampard, it’s true that ACORN has led demonstrations on a number of issues nationwide, which have include predatory lending, immigration reform, neighborhood violence, utilities shut-offs, minimum wage increases. Sometimes the group’s tactics are confrontational, veering into civil disobedience. For instance, in the late 1980s, ACORN activists in a number of cities, including Chicago, seized abandoned houses and encouraged squatting by homeless people, in an attempt to force local governments to salvage abandoned properties and convert them into low-income housing. The targets of ACORN’s protests sometimes describe the activists as intractable or even aggressive. Other ACORN protests are less confrontational, and in 2006 McCain spoke at an ACORN rally on illegal immigration.

It’s inaccurate to say that ACORN forced banks to make risky loans, although it has certainly applied pressure on banks to make loans to minority and low-income borrowers. Furthermore, ACORN worked directly with banks in a joint effort to increase such lending. In Chicago these efforts date back at least to 1992, after a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston showed that minorities in that city were two to three times as likely to be denied mortgage loans as white applicants, and that high-income minorities were more likely to be turned down than low-income whites. Chicago ACORN then started a mortgage assistance program, in cooperation with five local banks, to help minority and low-income borrowers get mortgage loans.

The mortgages that ACORN worked out with the banks did have lower underwriting standards than were customary. They allowed a higher percentage of a family’s income to go to debt repayment, and counted rent and utility payments, not just credit card payments, as evidence of ability to pay back a loan. The loans were also more forgiving of past credit problems, as long as the recipient was making a proven effort to address them. But ACORN provided loan deals only to people who went through counseling on budget and credit issues. In 1992, First Nationwide Bank Vice President Neal Halleran told the Chicago Tribune: “Transaction by transaction, (loans from the ACORN program) would appear to be performing no worse than our portfolio overall.” According to the Tribune, First Nationwide had contacted ACORN to initiate the lending program.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dangerous Words

Recently, supporters at McCain/Palin rallies have yelled: “kill him”, “terrorist,” “traitor” and “off with his head” about Obama. At the last presidential debate, McCain refused to denounce those outbursts or take any responsibility for the violent, hateful atmosphere he’s helped create. Instead, he attacked civil rights hero John Lewis and tried to cast McCain/Palin supporters as victims of a smear.

Either McCain doesn’t understand the dangerous words coming from some of his supporters, or he doesn’t care. As the leader of his campaign, he has a responsibility to condemn and control hateful speech, which has included specific threats to a presidential candidate.

McCain/Palin rallies have started to look more like mob scenes than political events. The candidates keep asking “who is the real Barack Obama?” and their supporters have responded: “terrorist” and “traitor.” These outbursts have crossed the line. With the mention of Obama’s name, a McCain supporter yelled “kill him,” which prompted a secret service investigation.

McCain and Palin are going down a dangerous path. Watching some of their supporters being interviewed shows the kind of fear their campaign is stoking and exploiting. McCain and Palin have made it a point to use “terrorist” and “Obama” in the same sentence and keep pushing the guilt-by-association smears that have long been exposed.

False rumors spread by email claim that Obama is Muslim, a terrorist and anti-American. This strategy has worked, because it plays into the suspicions some White Americans have about Blacks and their allegiances and trustworthiness. In the end, it makes Obama’s race a disadvantage without appearing overtly racist.

Americans have seen how Obama’s historic candidacy has moved people to have a more honest conversation about race in this country. It’s inspired a lot of people to step out of their comfort zone and confront racism in their own communities.

McCain’s campaign is pandering to one of the worst instincts in America. They’re planting the seeds of suspicion, hatred and fear, that brings out the worst in people. History has shown this kind of exploitation led to the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Petrodollar Scam

William R. Clark is manager of performance improvement at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. According to Clark’s book “Petrodollar Warfare,” Americans don’t realize that the primary reason for the Iraq War and the current war threat against Iran is not the threat of nukes, it’s not terrorism and it’s not the oil. It’s all about the protection and propping up of the US petrodollar.

Back in 1971, our treasury printed and spent far more paper than it could cover by gold. A few years later, the French demanded redemption of its paper-dollar holdings in gold. Our government rejected that demand, because it didn’t have enough gold for the dollars it had already printed and spent all over the world, thereby committing an act of bankruptcy. However, our government cut a deal with the Saudis, which resulted in OPEC designating all sales in US dollars.

From that point on, every nation that needed to buy oil had to first hold our dollars, which meant that they exchanged their goods and services for dollars, which our treasury just printed.

Thus, we bought our oil literally for free by printing those dollars. It appeared to be the ultimate free lunch for Americans at the expense of the rest of the world. This scam began to unravel in 2000, when Saddam Hussein began selling Iraq’s oil directly for the Euro, which negated the cozy arrangement our government had with OPEC. Consequently, Saddam had to be overthrown.

Our leadership in the White House concocted a pretext to wage war and invade Iraq and the first thing they did in 2003 was revert sales of oil back to dollars. Thus, for a short time our currency crises was averted.

In 2006, Hugo Chavez the President of Venezuela started selling his country’s oil for currencies other than dollars and a number of attempts on his life and regime change were attempted, which were traceable to our CIA.

Next, the Iranian President Ahmadinejad decided to start selling oil for every currency except US dollars. The petrodollar scam is coming to an end. As the nations of the world find that they can buy oil with their own currencies instead of holding our dollars, and more OPEC nation will abandon the dollar.

The worst thing for the American people is that eventually, we’ll also have to buy oil with Euro or Rubles instead of just printing money to get it. That will not only be the end of the American Empire, but the end of massive funding for our extensive military and the destruction of our economy.

The scam is about to end and there’s not a lot we can do about it, except start another war, which could be just months away.

Let’s hope that William R. Clark is completely wrong.

Monday, October 20, 2008

European Socialist

Mr. Canfield’s letter in the Delaware County Times of 10/10 claimed: “Obama is a European style Socialist...”

For the past two years, our son has been assigned to NATO headquarters in Brussels Belgium. We’ve visited twice and had opportunities to tour Belgium, France and Netherlands. Our observation were that whatever, Canfield’s understanding is of European style Socialism, it’s working very well for them.

Our grandson was born in Brussels and our daughter-in-law writes: “I would have had a much different experience had I given birth in the U.S., and feel so incredibly fortunate to have done it here.” According to the annual State of the World’s Mothers report, “The United States has more neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn death rate is higher than any of those countries.”

The use of caesarean sections have increased greatly in the US as compared to Europe. One of the factors contributing to an increase in caesarean sections is fear of litigation. Litigation concerning infant delivery has become a relatively common phenomenon in the US and insurance companies require a much higher premiums of obstetricians compared with most other medical practitioners. C-section is major surgery and always carries greater risk.

An editorial by Jonathan Freedland was published in the British newspaper, “The Guardian.” Freedman suggests that a generation of young Americans, who fervently back Obama will turn cynical and conclude that politics doesn’t work after all, and many African Americans will decide that if the very gifted Barack Obama could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president. The rejection of Obama by voters would be deemed as all about race and the color of Obama’s skin.

If McCain wins in November, the Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is not only with the Bush regime, but with the American people. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once in a generation chance, for the fresh start, that the world is yearning for. Unfortunately, Europeans don’t understand how voter suppression in a key battleground state could again negated the the choice of the a majority of the American voters.

McCain’s campaign manager boasts that this election is not about the issues. International opinion would therefore conclude that in the end America couldn’t put its own self interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race. For voters to make a decision, while fighting two wars on the trivial basis of a likable hockey mom would convey a lack of seriousness and suggest a nation in decline.

We have some catching up to do, because many Europeans are far ahead of Americans in critical thinking, health care, energy conservation, public transportation, and tolerance of those with a darker skin color.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Prepare For A Deal

Recently, Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand Province in Afghanistan said the Taliban controlled more than half the province.

According to UK commander Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the Afghan war is unwinnable. He is Britain’s most senior military commander in Afghanistan and warned the war against the Taliban cannot be won and the country should prepare for a deal. Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith assessment followed the leak of a memo from a diplomat who claimed that the British ambassador in Kabul had told him the current strategy was doomed to fail. Carleton-Smith told a newspaper: “We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency… I don’t think we should expect that when we go there won’t be roaming bands of armed men in this part of the world. That would be unrealistic and probably incredible.”

Carleton-Smith said the sting had been taken out of the Taliban this year, but pointed out his brigade had suffered heavy losses with 32 dead and 170 injured. He added: “We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations. If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this.”

One day before the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Mullen made it clear, that Afghanistan is his greatest concerns, by stating: “I’m not convinced we’re winning yet in Afghanistan....It is my professional opinion that no amount of troops in no amount of time can ever achieve all the objectives we seek in Afghanistan. And frankly, we’re running out of time... We can’t kill our way to victory in Afghanistan.”

Michael Scheuer author of “Imperial Hubris,” was the CIA’s expert on Afghanistan. In 2004, he wrote: “Unless U.S. led foreign forces are massively increased and are prepared to kill liberally and remain in Afghanistan permanently, the current Afghan regime cannot survive. In Afghanistan, above all other places, familiarity with foreigners breeds not just contempt, but war to the death. The reestablishment of an Islamic regime in Kabul is as close to an inevitability as exists.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nefarious Schemes

Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote an article entitled: “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” which made a convincing argument that a Kerry victory in the 2004 presidential election was subverted by a far-reaching Republican strategy of fraud, vote suppression and other crimes against the democratic process. Kennedy insisted that Kerry would have won Ohio and the presidency, if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

The “nefarious scheme”, which disenfranchised Democratic voters in 2004, were headed by Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, who was both the chief election official in the state and co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Ohio.

Every foul-up and arbitrary new regulation, that occurred in Ohio in that election favored Bush. A range of problems and dirty tricks have come to light, such as, the shortages of voting machines and the long lines in urban areas with waits of over five hours, which discouraged mostly Kerry voters. It’s estimated that twenty to thirty thousand voters never got to vote.

During a presidential debate, McCain said: “ACORN may be perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” The fraud is the Republican attempts to purge thousands of eligible voters from the voter rolls.

ACORN is a national network of community groups, who register voters the Republican party wants to exclude. Out of the 13,000 field workers ACORN hired in its drive to register 1.3 million voters, a small fraction submitted fraudulent registration cards. In most states, ACORN is required by law to submit these fraudulent forms, along with the valid forms, to election officials, and in most cases, the fraudulent forms had been flagged by ACORN officials as problematic. Fraudulent registration forms isn’t voter fraud, unless an ineligible voter actually votes. Voter fraud and voter registration fraud are very different, with voter fraud being punishable by a year in jail.

This won’t have any impact on the election, because no one is allowed to vote unless they are properly registered, and there is no evidence of fraudulent registration actually leading to organized voting fraud. Using voter registration fraud to distract from vote suppression is nothing new, for the Republican party.

The McCain campaign’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt, told the New York Times: “The scenario for winning for us is a narrow victory scenario.” McCain will only achieve a narrow victory, with the lowest possible turn out of newly registered voters, because an overwhelming majority of them are Democrats. In order to keep the turnout low and prevent votes from being counted, their plan is to get voters to think that massive voting shenanigans will result in their vote not being counted.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Patriot Act

In his letter in the Delaware County Times on 10/10/08, Joel Canfield played the fear card: “Obama would love to strip the Patriot Act of many of its teeth and implement such burdensome policies as 7 day notice to sneak a peek searches of terrorist suspects.”

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was created by Congress to specifically provide a speedy, secure judicial review of the actions of our intelligence agencies. FICA allows authorities to immediately respond to threats, but requires they apply for a retroactive warrant after the surveillance has already begun. Secret warrants had been approved over 19,000 times, with only five applications being rejected in thirty years. The court, which acts within hours, is not a roadblock, but prevents abuse by providing the oversight required by our constitutional system of checks and balances.

Bush realized that even a Republican-controlled Congress wouldn’t authorize such an unconstitutional measure, so he decided to ignore law and proceed with the program. In 2002, he personally approved domestic spying without involving the surveillance court. Nevertheless, in 2004, he reassured the nation: “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires a court order. Nothing has changed. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.”

Former National Security Agency officer Russ Tice reported the NSA’s eavesdropping program, which Bush didn’t want the American people to know about. The crime was that Bush violated his oath of office by failing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. By not using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Bush conducted himself as if he is above the law and that the Constitution’s checks and balances didn’t apply to him.

Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr was one of the most conservative members of Congress said: “It’s bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency... It’s bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight...It’s bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.” Upon learning of Bush’s deception, Barr said, “The President has dared the American people to do something about it.  For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.” Bob Barr has decided to do something about it and is running for President as the Libertarian Party’s candidate.

Career counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke served under four presidents beginning as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan and established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions. Clarke warned: “For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections... I spent most of my career in government fighting to protect this country in order to defend these very rights.”

Under questioning by Joe Biden it became clear that Bush’s domestic spy program isn’t contributing anything to protecting Americans from al Qaeda type terrorism. In a Congressional hearing, Biden asked whether the program had achieved any results. Attorney General Gonzales claimed, it had helped identify would-be terrorists here in the United States. Biden asked: “Have we arrested those people we’ve identified as terrorists in the United States?” Gonzales replied: “When we can use our law enforcement tools to go after the bad guys, we do that.” Biden concluded: “It kind of worries me because you all talk about how you identify these people, and I’ve not heard anything about anybody being arrested.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

White Hating Cleric

Joel Canfield's letter to the editor, which was published in the Delaware County Times on 10/10/08, claimed: “If you are afraid of Obama’s lack of integrity and moral compass, the Libs would call you a racist, when in reality you are a patriot.” We’ve no knowledge of Canfield’s inner believe, so we’ll have to assume, that he’s not a racist, but he does appear illogical. I’d like to hear the criteria, which enabled Mr. Canfield to determined, that Obama lacks integrity and a moral compass and how expressing such fear makes anyone a patriot.

Canfield wrote: “His (Obama’s) association with a rogue gallery of American and “white-hating clerics.” Apparently, Canfield considers Rev. Jeremiah Wright a white - hating cleric. In fact, Jeremiah Wright is to be admired, because he gave up his student deferment, left college and joined the Marine Corps. In 1963, after two years of service, Wright transferred to the Navy and entered the Corpsman School at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where he graduated as valedictorian. Having excelled in corpsman school, he was then trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he graduated as salutatorian. In 1966, Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with care of President Lyndon B. Johnson and in 1967, the White House awarded Wright three letters of commendation.

On national television, Rev. Wright pointed out: “Our congregation has sent dozens of boys and girls to fight in the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, and the present two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My goddaughter’s unit just arrived in Iraq this week, while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service, while sending over 4,000 American boys and girls of every race to die over a lie.”

Wright continued: “Last year, I said to Barack Obama: If you get elected, on November the 5th, I’m coming after you, because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people. It’s about policy, not the American people. And there is no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done. That doesn’t make me not like America or unpatriotic. When Jesus says, ‘You’ll be brought down to Hell,’ that’s not bombastic, divisive speech. If so maybe we ought to take Jesus out of this Christian faith.”

Rev. Wright is following a tradition begun over a hundred and sixty years ago, by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In a speech entitled: “Love of God, Love of Man, Love of Country,” Douglass said: “I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“Evil Fat Cats”

In letter published on 10/10/08, Joel Canfield claimed: “Barack and the Dems feel that all wealthy people are evil fat cats who should share all they have with those among us who cannot or will not pull their own weight and get a piece of the American dream.” (Psychic powers enable Canfield to know our feelings.)

Democrats avoid over generalizing about wealthy people, because many of their representatives in Congress are extremely wealthy. Fat suggests that all wealthy people are overweight. A few might be chubby, but certainly not all of them. The label evil is frequently use by religious extremists and few of them are Dems. Our concern should be with those of every income level, girth and party, who are incapable of empathy and compassion for the less fortunate among us.

Canfield plays upon our fear that Obama would: “increase capital gains tax, expand the inheritance tax, increase FICA... double taxes on dividends,” (After, the recent stock market meltdown, who will be paying a capital gains tax?) However, Canfield has no problem with McCain’s health plan, which would tax health benefits by imposing a $3.6 trillion tax increase on working families, the largest in American history.

Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest man in America has been described as a billionaire with a conscience. Buffett is a little chubby, but certainly doesn’t lack intelligence, empathy or compassion. He’s not at all concerned that business people will lose their incentive “to make money and be successful because the government is going to gobble up the profits.” Obama admires Buffett and recently sought his advise on the economy. Many Democrats consider him an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary.

Regarding Social Security, Buffett insisted in 2005: “I personally would increase the taxable base above the present $ 90,000, because I pay very little in the way of SS taxes. The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Just take the estate tax, less than 2% of all the estates pay any estate tax. We raise $ 30 billion from estate taxes. I would like to hear a Congressman say who they are going to get the $ 30 billion from if they don’t get it from estate taxes. It’s nice to say wipe out this tax, but we’re running a huge deficit, so who does the $ 30 billion come from? Right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high. Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.”

Mr. Canfield need not fear Obama would increase the SS taxes, because getting 60 votes in the Senate to save Social Security is unlikely. However, a valid fear is that we’re subsidizing the Chinese military to the tune of $50 to $100 billion a year, which could easily double over next five years. Economists agree this is not sustainable, but Republicans blocked an amendment to look at the impact of foreign held debt, as well as, an amendment to set up a pay-as-you-go measure that would force lawmakers to pay for future budget increases. Unfortunately, spend and borrow has very serious consequences personally and collectively for us as a nation, because there is no free lunch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It’s Not Too Late?

In a lengthy letter published on 10/10/08, Joel Canfield wrote: “If you hate the following things about our country, by all means vote for Obama.”

I’ll be voting for Obama, but I don’t hate my country. I’m simply determined to be a small part of a growing effort to save America from further destruction, by those imperial capitalist, who gained control nearly 8 years ago.

Mr. Canfield attempts to defame dissenters for not loving their country, by making our nation the issue, he hopes to shift the blame for what has been perpetrated by the Bush regime. Their strategy is attack and distract.

An unrestrained extreme form of capitalism is being practiced without shame by the rich and powerful. We have repeatedly heard the slogan “family values” from the Republican Party, but the legislation they passed continues to demonstrate they only care about corporate values. Their bottom line is to benefit corporations by pushing down wages, maximizing profits, cutting health care benefits, and laying off workers. Bush’s legacy will be this disastrous economy, which is the result of weak regulation, lax oversight, a blind eye to corporate excess and a cold shoulder to a middle class under siege. 

Obama warned: “We can’t afford to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while middle class families are falling behind and their wages are shrinking. We can’t afford an administration that did nothing, but watch the housing market collapse. We can’t afford another Republican president, who insists corporate profits remain privatized, but losses must immediately be socialized.”

Joel Canfield’s letter warned: “hopefully it’s not too late for the Republic.” Some predict that the American empire is collapsing and Congress, Bush, Paulson and the next president will be unable to do anything substantive to reverse the course. It has always been about the wealthy elite designing schemes, such as the invasion of Iraq, which their representatives in Congress and the White House use to put more wealth into hands of a few.

Early last year, Chalmers Johnson’s book: “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” was published. Johnson a CIA analyst, distinguished scholar, and best-selling author has argued that US military and economic overreach may lead to the nation’s collapse as a constitutional republic.

According to the Pentagon’s own 2005 inventory, we maintain a network of 737 military bases around the world. Not including Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve station over half a million troops, spies, contractors and dependents on military bases located in more than 130 countries. Last week, Richard Stinson’s statistics are different, because they’re most likely from a more recent Pentagon report.

Johnson suggests that the solution to this crisis is for the American people to make the decision to dismantle our imperialistic empire, which has required a huge military establishment. The task is comparable to that undertaken by the British government after World War II, which liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued trying to dominate much of the world by force.

Imperialism and militarism have endanger both the financial and social well-being of America. We need a popular movement to subject a Constitutional government to the discipline of checks and balances. Replacing one political party for the other and implementing protectionist economic policies aimed at rescuing what’s left of our manufacturing economy will not work, because these solutions fail to address the root cause of our national decline.

Chalmers Johnson believes that the solution to this crisis is for the American people to make the decision to dismantle our imperialistic empire, which has required a huge military establishment. McCain won’t and Obama can’t do it unless the American people and their representatives in Congress demand it.

Mr. Canfield’s letter concluded: “Please don’t give this man (Obama) a chance to be the ruination of our great country.” Obviously, it’s up to the American people to vote for whoever they wish to lead them, deceive them, act against their interests, and continue to destroy our economy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Healthcare System

In his letter of 10/10/08, Joel Canfield claims that our country has “the greatest healthcare system in the world, and that Obama’s “socialized medical plan would wreak havoc on our already overburdened medical system.”

In fact, the World Health Organization ranked the health systems of 191 nations. France was ranked 1st and America was a dismal 37th. Furthermore, “Save the Children” researchers found American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and our newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher than in Finland, Iceland or Norway.

According to the annual State of the World’s Mothers report, “The United States has more neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn death rate is higher than any of those countries.” The report analyzed data from governments, research institutions and international agencies, found higher newborn death rates among our minorities. For African-Americans, the mortality rate is nearly double that of the United States as a whole, with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 births.

Other industrialized nations provide universal health coverage, and most of them have comprehensive benefit packages with no cost-sharing by the patients. We have some 50 million people without health insurance and many more millions who have poor coverage. People without insurance postpone treatment until a minor illness becomes worse, harming their health and imposing greater costs. Many uninsured mothers neglect appropriate pre and post natal care.

Obama proposes new subsidies to expand private insurance coverage and some expansion of government insurance. He has put forth a health care plan that can save $100 billion to $125 billion a year and apply that saving to make sure that every American has health care. He’d pay for his plan, by rolling back Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.

High-quality health care coverage for all Americans would make sure children get regular checkups, instead of having to go to the emergency room for treatable illnesses, like asthma. Obama’s program would apply technology to the health care system, so that when you go to the hospital, you don’t have to fill out forms in triplicate, which causes are all sorts of errors to occur. 

The phrase “socialized medicine” still scares some people. They’re afraid of the word, because we’ve been raised in a culture, which considers “socialized” a terrible thing. Taxpayers collectively pay for police and fire protection, which are socialized programs that benefit everyone in the society. Health care is provided to every senior citizen, members of Congress and the military.

Let’s call universal health care “Christianized” medicine because that’s what Jesus would want us to do. According to Scripture, Jesus cut through self-centered thinking by curing all types of people and of many diseases. His healing of the lepers, the outcasts of their day, restored not just their physical well being but also their human dignity and status in society.

Christianized medicine would be much more economical. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars every year because of all the administrative costs, red tape, and profit that the insurance companies have to make. These are the reasons our present system costs so much. It would be a lot cheaper to cover everyone and cut out the middleman.

Obama said: “If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

“Vote For Obama”

In a letter to the editor, published in the Delaware County Times on 10/10/08, Joel Canfield wrote: “If you hate the following things about our country, by all means vote for Obama.” I don’t hate our country, but I will be voting for Obama. I love this country so much that I’m determined to save it from further destruction, by those imperial capitalist, who gained control nearly 8 years ago.

Mr. Canfield attempts to defame dissenters for not loving their country, by making our nation the issue. He hopes to shift the blame for what has been perpetrated by the Bush regime. The right wing of the Republican Party preaches virtue on one hand and intolerance on the other. Our concern should be that those who wave the Bible as a threat to sinners ought to open it once in a while to learn from the teaching of Christ.

Presently, an unrestrained extreme from of capitalism is practiced without shame by the rich and powerful. We have repeatedly heard the slogan “family values” from the Republican Party, but the legislation they passed continues to demonstrate they only care about corporate values. Their bottom line is to benefit corporations by pushing down wages, maximizing profits, cutting health care benefits, and laying off workers. Corporate globalization allows Republicans to pander to international capitalists, which does nothing to enhance family values. Their agenda has resulted in the destabilization of family life in America.

Obama warned: “The American dream has been slipping away. Your shrinking wages and the cost of everything from groceries to health care, to college, to filling up your car at the gas station.”

“We can’t afford to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while middle class families are falling behind and their wages are shrinking. We can’t afford an administration that did nothing, but watch the housing market collapse. We can’t afford another Republican president, who insists corporate profits remain privatized, but losses must immediately be socialized.”

“We can’t afford four more years of an energy policy written by and for the oil companies, which is making us more dependent on oil from hostile nations and putting our security at risk. We can’t afford four more years of a foreign policy that has shredded our alliances and sacrificed our moral standing around the world.”

Peace activist John Ryan wrote: “There must be a change or God Bless America will be but an empty and self-righteous phrase, indicating that, although we say that we wish to do God’s will, what we really want is for God to do ours.”

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wick Allison

Wick Allison is former publisher of the nation’s leading conservative magazine, The National Review. Excerpts from a recent article follow:

“My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country. “The more I listen to and read about ‘the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,’ the more I like him.  Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan.  To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.
 
“In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater.  My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America.  Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review.  I later became its publisher.
 
“Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world ‘safe for democracy.’  It is John McCain who says America’s job is to ‘defeat evil,’ a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.
 
“This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
 
“Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president.  (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history.  I disagree with him on many issues.  But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man.  It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.
 
“Most important, Obama will be a realist.  I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally.  The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.
 
“‘Every great cause,’ Eric Hoffer wrote, ‘begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”’ As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.”
 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chronic Terror

Edward Dowling wrote: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have democracy, second the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”

The Wall Street bailouts demonstrates that we don’t live in a democracy, because many of our elected officials have totally ignored the will of the majority of their voters. The original bill stated: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

Arrogant imperial capitalists have again placed Congress in a no win situation just before an important election. Their goal is to destroy the middle class by increasing the income gap between the wealthy elite and desperately poor.

In order to gain support for the invasion of Iraq, Colin Powell said: “What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Henry Paulson can’t be trusted, because he’s another front man for imperialistic capitalists.

The Democratic party has been criticized for allowing some of its members, such as, Congresswoman Gillibrand to vote against the bailout if they face a tough election. Rep. Gillibrand is a strong personality and would never consider asking Nancy Pelosi’s permission to vote her conscience. I’ll assume that Gillibrand recognizes that her primary duty in Congress is to the majority of voters in her Congressional District, because that is the essence of our democracy.

After the bill failed the first time, our Senators added $100 billion worth of bribes to get the bill passed. Following, her second vote Gillibrand insisted the bill still didn’t include enough protection for the middle class and that she opposed the earmark tax credits (bribes) that were added to win over specific legislators.

On the afternoon of 10/7/08, I observed Gillibrand standing on Main Street in Delhi defending her decision to vote against the bailout. That same evening in the Presidential debate McCain criticized those bribes, which he had voted for.

Six days after our government committed $85 billion to bail out American Insurance Group, the executives of that giant insurance company headed for a week-long retreat at a luxury resort and spa, in California, which cost us taxpayers $440,000. At the 10/7/08 Presidential debate, Obama called upon Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson to fire those, who authorized the lavish retreat and insisted the money be returned to the taxpayers.

Obviously, Gillibrand was correct to insist that the bill didn’t do enough to protect the middle class. I’ll “betcha” the money won’t be returned.

Our poor have never experienced democracy and if Obama is not elected President, their hopes will be crushed for generations.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

“Wake Up America”

In a speech entitled: “Wake Up America,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich insisted: “We Democrats are giving America a wake-up call.”

He pointed out that in 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neo-con artists seized the economy and have added $4 trillion of unproductive spending to the national debt. In fact, we are paying four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil, and twice what we paid for health care.

Kucinich claimed: “If there was an Olympics for misleading, mismanaging and misappropriating, this administration would take the gold.” The Bush regime has set world records for violations of national and international laws.

Insurance companies have taken over health care; the pharmaceutical companies have taken over drug pricing; and the speculators have taken over Wall Street and they intend to take over your Social Security.

The Bush regime can tap our phones, open our mail and track our every move, but they can’t open economic opportunities. They’ve lost control of the economy and the cost of food, gasoline and electricity has skyrocketed. They’ve skillfully played our post-9/11 fears, to allow a few to profit at the expense of the many.

“Wake up, America,” is a call to take a new direction from right to left. It’s a call for us to go from down to up. Up with the rights of workers; up with wages; up with health care for all; up with education for all; up with home ownership; up with guaranteed retirement benefits, up with peace; up with prosperity; up with fair trade, up with creating millions of good paying jobs, by rebuilding our bridges, ports and water systems. And: “Up the Democratic Party. Up with Obama-Biden!”

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The World’s Verdict

An editorial by Jonathan Freedland was published in the British newspaper, “The Guardian.” Freedland asked: “If Sarah Palin defies the conventional wisdom that says elections are determined by the top of the ticket, and somehow wins this for McCain, what will be the reaction?”

Freedman suggests that a generation of young Americans, who fervently back Obama will turn cynical and conclude that politics doesn’t work after all. Furthermore, many African Americans will decide that if the very gifted Barack Obama could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president.

According to Freedland, if the free world could choose a leader, it would be Barack Obama. The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he, like the majority of the world’s population, opposed the Iraq war. Non - Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over the international system but will treat alliances and global institutions seriously.

If McCain wins in November, the Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is not only with the Bush regime, but with the American people. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once in a generation chance, for the fresh start, that the world is yearning for. The rejection of Obama by voters would be deemed as all about race and the color of Obama’s skin. Consequently, Freedland insists the world’s verdict will be harsh.

McCain’s campaign manager boasts that this election is not about the issues. International opinion would therefore conclude that in the end America couldn’t put its own self interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race. For voters to make a decision, while fighting two wars on the trivial basis of a likable hockey mom, who seems down to earth, would convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality and suggest a nation in decline.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Empire America

In an article entitled: “The Party’s Over,” Patrick J. Buchanan wrote: “For years, we Americans have spent more than we earned. We save nothing. Credit card debt, consumer debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, corporate debt — all are at record levels. And with pensions and savings being wiped out, much of that debt will never be repaid.

“Our standard of living is inevitably going to fall. For foreigners will not forever buy our bonds or lend us more money if they rightly fear that they will be paid back, if at all, in cheaper dollars.”

The Bush regime has encouraged recklessness spending and financial risk taking on both an individual and national level. They have transformed America into a country where there is socialism for the rich and well-connected, but no health care for those on Main Street. Wall Street profits remain privatized, but losses have been socialized.

Many have predicted that the American empire is collapsing and Congress, Bush, Paulson and the next president will be unable to do anything substantive to reverse the course. It has always been about the wealthy elite designing schemes, which their representatives in Congress and the White House use to put more wealth into hands of a few.

Chalmers Johnson author of “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” suggests that the solution to this crisis is for the American people to make the decision to dismantle our imperialistic empire, which has required a huge military establishment. The task is comparable to that undertaken by the British government after World War II, which liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force.

A decision to mount a campaign of imperial liquidation may already be to late, given the vast and deeply entrenched interests of the military-industrial complex. To succeed, such an endeavor will require a revolutionary mobilization of the people comparable to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Obviously, it’s up to the American people to vote for whoever they wish to lead them, deceive them, act against their interests, and continue to screw up the economy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Political Ad Examined

Irene Jay Liu examines political ads released by various regional candidates for the Albany Times Union. She examined an ad approved by Republican Sandy Treadwell, who is attempting to unseat Congresswoman Gillibrand the 20th Congressional District race.

The script of the ad in question was: “Everyone knows the economy is hurting,’ a narrator says over images of headlines and snapshots of people. ‘Families and seniors know, small business owners know. The only one who doesn’t seem to get it: Kirsten Gillibrand. She voted to impose the largest tax increase in history. Gillibrand’s tax hike would cost your family an extra $2,900 a year. People are suffering and Gillibrand votes to raise taxes. Times are tough now, and Kirsten Gillibrand would make it tougher.”

Irene Jay Liu reported that Treadwell’s ad misrepresents the facts. Gillibrand did not vote to impose “the largest tax increase in history” during June’s roll call vote No. 382, referenced in the ad. Gillibrand voted to support a non-binding budget resolution, which serves as a blueprint for how Congress will appropriate money moving forward.

As part of the budget resolution, Congress made the assumption that most of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts passed under the Bush administration will be allowed to expire in 2011. With one exception, the expiration has been included in every budget resolution since the cuts went into effect.

The only exception to the budget resolution was that Democrats made a point of preserving the tax cuts that benefit the middle class, and even budgeted a designated fund to pay for maintaining them.

Gillibrand’s congressional web site states: “I strongly advocate permanently extending the 2001 and 2003 middle-class tax cuts. In March of 2007, Congress passed the 2008 budget resolution, which places a strong emphasis on extending these tax cuts, including marriage penalty relief, the child tax credit, estate tax reform, the research and development tax credit, and the deduction for state and local sales taxes.”

The $2,900 figure, which Treadwell’s ad quotes comes from a report by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. That calculation was based on the assumption that all of the Bush tax cuts will expire, including taxes on the wealthy as well as lower-income Americans. However, even if that happened, the resulting taxes would not fall on every family to the tune of $2,900.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

“We Could Have”

On 7/15/08, Barack Obama’s delivered remarks on Iraq and National Security entitled: “A New Strategy for a New World.” The following is an excerpt of that speech.

“Imagine, for a moment, what we could have done in those days, and months, and years after 9/11. We could have deployed the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.

“We could have secured loose nuclear materials around the world, and updated a 20th century non-proliferation framework to meet the challenges of the 21st.

“We could have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in alternative sources of energy to grow our economy, save our planet, and end the tyranny of oil.

“We could have strengthened old alliances, formed new partnerships, and renewed international institutions to advance peace and prosperity.

“We could have called on a new generation to step into the strong currents of history, and to serve their country as troops and teachers, Peace Corps volunteers and police officers.

“We could have secured our homeland—investing in sophisticated new protection for our ports, our trains and our power plants.

“We could have rebuilt our roads and bridges, laid down new rail and broadband and electricity systems, and made college affordable for every American to strengthen our ability to compete. We could have done that.

“Instead, we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats – all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

“Our men and women in uniform have accomplished every mission we have given them. What’s missing in our debate about Iraq – what has been missing since before the war began – is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq and its dominance of our foreign policy. This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.”

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Outreach for Veterans

Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, who represents most of Delaware County has introduced a bill to overhaul the Veterans Benefit Delivery System, which require the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to notify separating service members of their eligibility for their earned veterans benefits. Currently, many veterans do not receive benefits that they have earned due to a complex benefits system. Under the existing law, veterans must pro-actively go to the VA office to learn what they are eligible to receive and apply. This bill flips the responsibility to the VA to tell vets what they are eligible to receive and requires the VA to send the application materials to the veteran in the mail or electronically.

Servicemen and women, who have served our country valiantly should not have to hunt for the benefits they have earned. Some vets that have suffered severe brain injuries and others that are too busy putting their lives back together to try and navigate the complex benefits system.  By mandating that the VA tell vets what they’re eligible to receive, it’s hoped that fewer will fall through the cracks.

This legislation requires the Department of Defense to transfer electronic medical information to the VA when members are identified for separation.  Further, it requires that the military service connected diagnosis be tied to a veterans benefit.  Once the VA receives that information they’ll provide the list of eligible benefits to the veteran.  This should ensure the veteran receives all of the benefits for which they have a service connected disability.

In addition, this legislation requires the VA to incorporate current veterans into the system over a five year period thereby identifying benefits for which they may be eligible.

The legislation was introduced with bipartisan support from two Republicans, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington who also serves on the Armed Services Committee and Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida who serves on the Veterans Committee.

Friday, October 03, 2008

McCain’s Choice

Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican Convention made it clear why McCain picked her. His decision was about pleasing the far-right base of the Republican party.

Recently, Palin said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task,” but admitted she hasn’t thought about the war much. She doesn’t even support abortion in the case of rape or incest and opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She insists that she’ll support an abstinence only approach and she wants to teach creationism in public schools.

She sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party, by telling members of the group, who advocate for a vote on secession from the union to keep up the good work and wished the party luck on its inspiring convention.

Palin has close ties to Big Oil and her inauguration as governor was sponsored by British Petroleum. Regarding climate change Palin said, “I’m not one though, who would attribute it to being manmade.”

As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin asked the librarian, how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them. According to news reports at the time, Palin threatened to fire the librarian.

A year before Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The Bush regime carved it down to $40 million. Bush and his Republican controlled Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill which included a $231 million bridge to a small, mostly uninhabited Alaskan island.

In her speech accepting the job as McCain’s running mate, Palin said: “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, we’d build it ourselves.” She insisted: “I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.” However, in October 2006, the Anchorage Daily News quoted Palin as saying she would continue state funding for the bridge. She said: “The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

According to public spending records compiled by the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste as mayor of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002, Palin hired a lobbying firm to traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the small town totaling $27 million. Lobbying documents disclose that the lobbying firm was headed by Steven Silver, a former chief of staff to Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who at the time was the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which doles out federal cash.

A McCain ad claims: “The original mavericks. He fights pork barrel spending. She stopped the bridge to nowhere. He took on the drug industry. She took on big oil. He battled Republicans and reformed Washington.  She battled Republicans and reformed Alaska. They will make history. They will change Washington.” 

Obama responded to that ad by saying: “When it came to the bridge to nowhere, she was for it until everybody started raising a fuss about it.  And she started running for governor, and, then, suddenly was against it.” 

On 6/14/99, Mayor Palin wrote in a memo to the Wasilla City Council. “This does not include our nearly $1 million from the feds for our airport paving project. We did well.”

Larry Persily, who worked for Palin for several months said: “As mayor Palin hired a lobbyist to help funnel federal dollars to her home town. The lobbyists helped her secure $600,000 for a new bus facility, $1.75 million for a dispatch center technology, $2.4 million to upgrade water and sewer facilities.

The nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense reports that the last four years Palin was mayor, the City of Wasilla with a population of just about 5,000, obtained $27 million in earmarks.

In two years as Governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. It included $8 million federal dollars to upgrade a remote airport after it was handed over by the Navy. The FAA says it handles only eight scheduled flights a month.

Maverick? Corrupt, deceitful opportunist would be a more appropriate description.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Personal Responsibility

The following excerpts are from Ellen Goodman’s column, which was published on 9/26/08, in the Oneonta Daily Star:

“In the economy, personal responsibility has been a bestseller. We were told that markets were smart and governments were dumb, that the government was the problem, not the solution. So when credit cards come through the mail, college freshmen are expected to just say no. When poor people are seduced by subprime mortgages, they are the ones dubbed irresponsible.

“Over time, the same rhetoric justified a huge shift in economic risks of the average citizen. In the name of the ownership society, many pensions became 401(k)s while health insurance costs moved from employer to employee. All of these risks were covered like a bad bet by the idea that people could take better care of themselves.

“The ownership society turned into the everyone-on-your-own society. Three years ago, Congress passed a law making it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. Just six months ago, Henry Paulson, the treasury secretary who now wants to be czar, insisted the government actions to prevent mortgage foreclosures would ‘do more harm than they would do good.’

“This is by no means the first time that this administration has shattered the moral cover story. Consider the lame duck who reappeared on the national stage this week, sounding less like a president than as a press secretary for Paulson.

“He will leave without an iota or admission of guilt for the Iraq war, for the mushroom cloud warnings, for the preemptive strikes against nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. The man who divided the world into good and evil has never taken that famed responsibility for the original sin of the war.

“The other bookend on the Bush years is this meltdown of epic proportions. We are bailing out the institutions that operated what Warren Buffett once called the financial weapons of mass destruction. Only this time, the mushroom cloud - the threat of an economic catastrophe - may be real....

“Personal responsibility? The titans coming to Congress with cups in their hands and the economy in the balance were not too embarrassed to fight against caps on their salaries. What exactly do we have here? Socialism for the rich?”

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gillibrand Votes No

Dear Congresswoman Gillibrand,

Bravo for your vote against the Neocons, who had the hubris to suggest: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

I agree that your first duty to the voters of our Congressional District is to get reelected, because that is the essence of democracy.

Keep in mind, that in May of 2005, Warren Buffett warned on CNN, that our country is becoming a sharecropper society and that if we keep doing what we’re doing, the world will own a greater percentage of this country. The cost of servicing the debt will mean that we’ll send abroad a percent of our GDP every year just to service debt, which arose from the over - consumption that is currently taking place.

Furthermore, in March of 2007, on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the Comptroller General at the Government Accountability Office, David Walker painted a very sobering picture regarding the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations. Walker claimed our government’s entitlement spending is out of control and can’t keep its promises for Social Security and Medicare, because it’s too late to reformed our entitlement system.

The failed economic policies and the same corrupt culture that led us into this mess will not help get us out of it. We need to get to work immediately on reforming the broken government, that allowed this crisis to happen in the first place. That reform will never occur as long as Bush is in the White House.

Colin Powell said: “What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Henry Paulson is merely another front man for Bush.

These Neocons can’t be trusted, because for over a decade their goal has been to destroy America’s middle-class and establish an oligarchy like Mexico. They seek to undermine our standard of living and increase the income gap between the wealthy elite and desperately poor.