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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Personification

Joel Canfield’s letter of 1/23/09, is remarkable in its intense animosity towards our President. He says:“Barack Obama to some a beacon of hope, is to me the personification of all the ills foisted onto us by Socialism; he is a man whose paltry deeds in a non-affirmative action world would get him nowhere.”

We are in an economic crisis, which requires various degrees of government intervention in the economy without it approaching the traditional definitions of socialism. James Politi an economic and trade correspondent for the “Financial Times,” wrote "we’re still a far cry from socialism, because the traditional definitions of socialism include the government taking control of huge chunks of the economy, allocating resources and deciding prices."

Economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote in “Fortune” magazine: “America can pull through the current economic crisis with a dose of political maturity and a bit of luck. Success will mean the end of the Reagan era, of an ideology that has brought the country to its knees.”

Obama has said that the stabilization of our financial system would be his top priority, because none of his other priorities could be accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the financial system. He hopes that a $825 billion economic stimulus package will create up to 4 million jobs over the next two years.

For 25 year the neocons have planned to break the bank to a point that middle class entitlement programs will have to be drastically cut or abolished. They’ve sought to privatization everything they possibly can and get rid of entitlement programs. Americans want accountability and they don’t want privatization of entitlement programs that have worked such as Medicare and Social Security. Canfield wants to abolish socialist programs, but fortunately Medicare and Social Security are very successful socialist programs, which most Americans want to keep.

Bush’s neocons succeeded in creating a country where there is socialism only for the rich and well-connected. On Wall Street profits remain privatized, but losses have been socialized onto Main Street. Neocons claimed Obama is a socialist, because he suggested that we begin paying for emergency economic plans by raising taxes on the top 2% of our wealthiest citizens. Canfield should attempt to articulate how reversing the Bush tax cuts is “spreading the wealth” socialism, while enacting them in the first place was not.

On 1/28/08, House Republicans, who had been Bush’s lapdogs, became Rush Limbaugh’s diddoheads, by voting as a block against the stimulus package. Furthermore, Joel Canfield seems to be the personification of all the ignorance foisted upon America, by neocon Republicans during the past eight years.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama’s Choices 

Canfield’s letter of 1/23/09, claimed: “Barack appoints a Treasury Secretary who doesn’t pay his taxes, a Commerce Secretary under indictment, and a CIA Director without a shred of intelligence experience.”

Obama selection for Treasury Secretary, Timothy F. Geithner was on the verge of coasting into office when the Senate Finance Committee discovered that Geithner failed to pay his payroll taxes from 2001 to 2004, when he worked for the International Monetary Fund. Six days after the Obama’s inauguration Geithner’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate with a 60 to 34 vote.

Obama first designee for the Commerce Secretary, Gov. Bill Richardson is not under indictment, but withdrew his nomination, because he’s under investigated for his “possible” involvement in a corruption case. Canfield doesn’t realize that only a grand jury can issue an indictment.

Regarding Obama’s selection of Leon Panetta to be CIA Director, distinguished counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke said: “I keep hearing that Admiral Blair and Panetta don't have any intelligence experience. They do. They have the best kind of intelligence experience. They’ve been the highest of the high of intelligence consumers. As Office of Management and Budget Director, Panetta had all the tickets, which very few people do and knew about all the secret programs of all the intelligence agencies. As commander of the Pacific Fleet, Blair had the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, which encompasses our intelligence assets in the Pacific, reporting directly to him.

“You have to remember that the CIA is like 20 percent of the intelligence community. Once you have an adult in charge (Panetta) at the CIA who has his own standing on the Hill and in the White House, that will free up the Director of National Intelligence to concentrate on the rest of the intelligence community where, frankly, we need more managerial focus.

“It’s not really as much about reform as it is about relevance. CIA analysts can get somewhat divorced from reality, and they’re frankly late to the table with information that’s relevant to policymakers. Panetta can be the bridge that gets the right type of information delivered in a timely fashion--and at the same time, I think Panetta will defend his analysts and stand up for them so they’ll feel free to tell the truth. That wasn’t always happening during the Bush administration.”

Richard Clarke served four presidents and established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions. His career began as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan. On 9/11, he was the nations crisis manager in Bush’s White House situation room, and his most recent book is entitled: “Your Government Failed You.”

Robert Baer is a legendary CIA field officer, who served most of his 21 year career in the Middle East. In the movie “Syriana” the covert Arabic-speaking CIA agent played by George Clooney is partly based on the exploits of Baer. Robert Baer support the Panetta appointment as CIA director, but think that Obama is up against a culture of dishonesty, which he's got to break down piece by piece, because during the Bush years, the culture of the CIA became one of total dishonesty.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Head of a Pin

Canfield’s inaccurate letter of 1/23/09, claimed: “Barack, whose career political accomplishments could be inscribed on the head of a pin, finds himself as President in spite of this mind - numbing lack of experience.”

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In August 2005, he traveled to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. The trip focused on strategies to control the world’s supply of conventional weapons, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction as a first defense against potential terrorist attacks.

Following meetings with U.S. military in Kuwait and Iraq in January 2006, Obama visited Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories.

He left for his third official trip in August 2006, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. In a nationally televised speech at the University of Nairobi, he spoke forcefully on the influence of ethnic rivalries and corruption in Kenya.

Obama worked with Senator Russ Feingold to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress and require disclosure of bundled campaign contributions under the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act", which was signed into law in September 2007.

He joined Senator Schumer in sponsoring a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections, including fraudulent flyers and automated phone calls, as witnessed in the 2006 midterm elections.

In 2007, Obama sponsored with Republican Senator Kit Bond an amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges, and calling for a review by the Government Accountability Office following reports that the procedure had been used inappropriately to reduce government costs.

Obama joined Republican Senator Chuck Hagel in introducing legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism. A provision from the Obama-Hagel bill was passed by Congress in December 2007 as an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill.

Obama sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries. After passing both houses of Congress with bipartisan majorities, SCHIP was vetoed by President Bush in 2007.

Joel Canfield try inscribing that on the head of a pin.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Twit

Every 2 months, Joel Canfield has a lengthy letter published in the Delaware County Times. Unfortunately, it takes me 3 months to respond thoroughly to his numerous scathing rants.

His bombastic letter of 1/23/09, claimed: “Governor Patterson, in an effort to bolster his own political fortunes, sits in contemplation of appointing Caroline Kennedy, widely regarded as a twit without even the ability to weave a comprehensible sentence, with out a shred of governmental expertise, to the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Hillary Clinton, whose only political prowess previous to her senatorial stint was to pilfer a truck load of White House souvenirs as she and Bill vacated the joint.”

Mr. Canfield would find it ill-mannered for anyone to refer to Sarah Palin as “a twit without even the ability to weave a comprehensible sentence,” and he would be justified. Many older Americans remember Caroline Kennedy as a child, who had to deal with the traumatic events of her father and Uncle Bobby being assassinated by mentally unstable terrorists. Caroline Kennedy certainly deserves the same respect afforded Gov. Sarah Palin.

Ironically, on the day, Canfield’s letter was published vilifying Caroline Kennedy it was announced that Kirsten Gillibrand was Patterson’s choice. Canfield may remember, that Rep. Gillibrand was reelected to the House of Representatives with 62% of the vote, in our 20th congressional district. Governor Patterson not only filled Clinton’s Senate seat with an upstate woman, he also provided the NRA with additional representation in the Senate.

On 4/18/01, the General Services Administration reported that there was no truth to assertions that Clinton White House officials had vandalized the White House before departing. White House officials had made those assertions in January and those claims were embellished by conservative talk radio hosts. The General Services Administration investigated the claims at the request of Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia.

The GSA reported: “The condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy. Although some pranks were found to have taken place—’W’ keys removed from computer keyboards and signs reading ‘Office of Strategery’ placed on office doors, none of the other alleged actions took place. No computers, copiers, or telephones were destroyed; no lewd graffiti or pornographic images were pasted to walls or displayed on computer monitors. Nothing was stolen either from the White House or from Air Force One, as many reports had insisted.

Providing newspaper readers with factual information has never been a priority for Mr. Canfield.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Shadow Knows

Joel Canfield’s most recent letter published in the Delaware County Times on 1/23/09, claims: “One of my most vocal detractors, Jim O’Leary, would have you believe I’m a full-blown racist ...”

For over four years, I’ve been Mr. Canfield’s most sever critic on the pages of the Delaware County Times and other area newspapers. He has again avoided quoting specific statements made by me to back up his claim. Consequently, I’ll assume that it was my comments in response to a letter of his, which was published on 10/10/08.

My response was: A popular radio program of the 1940’s began: “Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men? The Shadow knows.”

A letter by Joel Canfield in several publications in Delaware County 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.”

I’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.

In my letter that was published on 11/21/08, I offered an exercise, that allowed readers to privately examine their own intellectual integrity or racial bias.

The exercise included five questions. One of those questions was: What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

My letter concluded; Perhaps, in four years Obama will get more than 47% of the vote in Delaware County. I was pleased that Democratic Congresswoman Gillibrand got 51% of the vote in Delaware County, but wonder why so many voters split their vote. “Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men.?” God only knows.

I specifically stated that; I’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 continue to believe that he tends to be illogical at times, but today I suspect that he has some reading comprehension issues.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Favorite Excerpt

My favorite excerpt from President Barack Obama's inaugural remarks:

“For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

“Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Intelligently Judge

On 1/19/09, the Oneonta Daily Star newspaper published a letter submitted by Howard T. Lynch. An excerpt from that letter describing Obama follows:

“But with unlimited funding, hateful vitriol, twisted facts and good oratorical skills, was able to sway enough uninformed, biased and illiterate voters to defeat a much-more qualified person.

“I feel that this is an insult to all who have served our country, and especially the present service people who will have to serve Obama as commanding chief. Not because he never served, but because of required qualifications, and the fact he once wrote, ‘Should the political winds shift in an ugly direction, I will side with the Muslims.’”

David Pearlman of Cooperstown responded two days later with a letter to the editor, which revealed that Mr. Lynch was incorrect. “Lynch begins his tirade against Obama and the Democrats by asserting that modern elections are often won by the candidate who raises the most money. I agree that the reality of today’s political process makes serious competition for state and national offices extremely expensive, and that is unfortunate. However, Lynch goes on to accuse the DNC of simply wanting a black candidate, and so they “picked Obama from the same infamous Illinois sewer,” regardless of his qualifications. He also raises the ridiculous question of Obama’s U.S. citizenship. But his most dangerous and duplicitous contention is that Obama is not fit to be commander in chief because, as Lynch contends, Obama once wrote, ‘should the political winds shift in an ugly direction, I will side with the Muslims.’

“Even if we overlook the inaccuracy of the quotation, it is the lack of context that highlights Lynch’s deceitful bigotry. The actual quotation, from The Audacity of Hope, (p. 261) reveals what Obama said in response to a question about treatment of American Muslims.

“‘In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.’”

“I implore readers to intelligently judge Obama’s message within the context and meaning of what he actually said, instead of what Howard Lynch chose to write. It appears American voters already have.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Suicide Hijackings 

Since 9/11, Bush and Cheney insist, that they kept us safe, but what about their record before 9/11.

The Associated Press reported on 8/4/01: “President Bush seems to bolt from the White House every chance he gets. He begins a month-long vacation on his Texas ranch today, and by the time he returns he will have spent nearly two months of his presidency there. And that doesn't include the many weekends he's spent at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.”

While Bush was on vacation in Texas, the controversial Presidential Daily Brief of August 6, 2001 titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” sought to informed him, that there were patterns of suspicious activities in this country, consistent with preparations for hijackings.

The FBI agent John O’Neil repeatedly warned of the prospect of suicide hijackings, and got drummed out of the Bureau for saying it.  The FAA had distributed a CD-Rom early in 2001 to the airlines and the airports warning that terrorists might hijack a plane in order to use it as a weapon.  Many inside our government anticipated it, but the Bush administration chose to ignore them. 

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, CIA Director George Tenet was asked by Timothy Roemer, a former Democratic congressman, when he first found out about the report from the FBI’s Minnesota field office that Zacarias Moussaoui, an Islamic jihadist, had been taking lessons on how to fly a 747. Tenet replied that he was briefed about the case on Aug. 23 or 24, 2001.

Roemer asked Tenet if he mentioned Moussaoui to Bush at one of their frequent morning briefings. Tenet replied: “I was not in briefings at this time,” and “Bush was on vacation.” He added that he didn’t see the president at all in August 2001, because Bush was at his ranch in Texas. Furthermore, Tenet admitted that he was “on leave,” for much of August.

In “State of Denial,” Bob Woodward paints a heroic portrait of the CIA chief warning national security adviser Condoleezza Rice of pending al-Qaeda strikes during the summer of 2001, only to have his warnings ignored. Tenet was indeed worried during the so-called summer of threat, but one wonders why he did not summon the political courage earlier to accuse Rice of negligence, most notably during his testimony under oath before the 9/11 commission.

Recently, the “Washington Post” calculated that Bush took; 149 visits to Camp David for a total of 487 days, 77 visits to Crawford for a total of 490 days, 11 visits to Kennebunkport for a total of 43 days. In fact, Bush took off 1,020 days, which is more than a third of his entire presidency. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Partisan Sniping

In August of 1998, our military sent 62 cruise missiles into Afghanistan. They were aimed at terrorist infrastructure, the site where Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants were reportedly holding a meeting. Unfortunately, a few hours before they hit bin Laden escaped.

Bill Clinton argues that his efforts were undercut by partisan sniping, including some critics who charged the cruise missile strike was a "wag the dog" stunt to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He insisted: “I authorized funding the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. We got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since. And if I were still president, we'd have more than 20,000 troops in Afghanistan trying to kill him.”

After the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, Clinton pointed out that there was no consensus among law enforcement and intelligence sources that al Qaeda was behind it until after the presidential election. This was substantiated in the 9/11 Commission report.

Former Deputy CIA Director for Intelligence John McLaughlin said that from his inside perspective: “President Clinton did aggressively pursue Osama bin Laden. I give the Clinton administration a lot of credit for the aggressiveness with which they went after al Qaeda and bin Laden.”

Richard Clarke was a career counterterrorism expert, who 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. His book “Against All Enemies” is a non-partisan chronology of the facts before, during and after 9/11. He was the nations crisis manager on 9/11 in the White House situation room.

In his book,” Clarke outlines the Clinton’s administration's effort to stop al Qaeda. Clarke wrote that Clinton stated: “If we thought this was the best time to hit the Afghan camps, he would order it and take the heat for ‘wag the dog’ criticism, that we all knew would happen.”

Clarke saw an imminent al Qaeda threat and was disappointed by the Bush regime’s inaction. He wrote: “Secretary Rice told me that the Principals Committee, which had been the first venue for terrorism policy discussions in the Clinton administration, would not address the issue until it had been ‘framed’ by the deputies. It meant months of delay.”

The invasion of Iraq provided those responsible for 9/11, with an opportunity to regroup, foster more hatred, and encouraged more terrorist to kill Americans. Republican propagandist continue to foster a culture of fear, which serves to suppress reason and enabled the executive branch to disregard the Constitution.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lasting Change

The following are excerpts from Dr. Howard Dean, who four years ago, became the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee .

“I became chairman with a mandate for bottom-up reform to grow the Democratic Party in your neighborhood and every other community in America.

“We promised to compete in every state, for every level of office. And we demanded a party that would stand up for itself and fight for an agenda that reflects our values.

“I believed then -- and I believe now -- that every single one of us must take responsibility for building our party. It's not enough to simply vote for Democrats -- in order to win, every one of us must deliver our message and values into our own communities. We must organize.

“Four years later, we have more Democratic state legislators and governors. We expanded the electoral map, regained a majority in both houses of Congress, and put a Democratic president in the White House.

“We did it by rebuilding the party infrastructure from the ground up, creating a truly national voter database, and developing 21st century campaign tools that merged traditional organizing with new technology.

“Democrats have made great gains over the past four years, but we still have a lot of work to do to get this country back on course.

“You've done a lot over the last six months, and over the last four years. You've donated money, talked to friends, knocked on doors. You've invested yourself in the political process. And it's tempting to take it easy after a big victory.

“But these are not short-term investments. We will only create lasting change if that sense of obligation to one another and responsibility for the common good becomes a permanent part of our lives.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

“We cannot be silent. We cannot leave it to others to see this through.

“Thank you for everything you did for our cause in this election and over the last four years.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Civility and Bipartisanship

On election day 2000, Bush wrote a column in “USA Today,” stating: “Responsible leadership sets a tone of civility and bipartisanship that gets things done.  I am a uniter, not a divider, and as the governor of Texas, that is how I have led, and it‘s how I will lead in the White House.”

In his final press conference, Bush was asked: “Do you think Barack Obama can be a uniter, not a divider, or with the challenges for any president and the unpopular decisions, is it impossible for any president to be a uniter, not a divider?”

Bush responded: “I hope the tone is different for him than it has been for me.  I am disappointed by the tone in Washington, D.C.  There have been areas where we were able to work together.  It’s just the rhetoric got out of control.”

Eric Alterman a columnist for “The Nation” sarcastically pointed out: “Well, I think he was obviously a terrific uniter.  I mean, look, the entire world is united with about 73 percent of Americans in rejecting the policies of this administration and the tone of this administration.

“Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, has an 82 percent approval rating in the United States, and is obviously much more popular in the rest of the world than George Bush ever was.  How did that happen?  How did we get a guy who’s got virtually no political experience win the election, except for the fact that it’s a complete and total rejection of the Bush administration?  He’s got 27 percent.  He’s got the Republican base and nothing else.”

The invasion of Iraq was undoubtedly the most significant factor in undermining the unity of purpose, which our country felt after 9/11. However, remarks made by Bush’s political guru Karl Rove served to undermine our unity of purpose, with divisive language. Four years ago, Karl Rove claimed: “conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.  Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” According to Rove, liberal are basically interested in the sad feelings of those who try to kill us, but conservatives are those who care about protecting the country.

The last polls taken before Obama became President gave him a favorability rating of 83%. Bush’s favorability rating was 22% and Cheney’s was 13%. That is their official legacy, as determined by those Americans, who endured the last 8 years of Bush's presidency. Obviously, it wasn’t just that “the rhetoric got out of control.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

As far as, I’m concerned Barack Obama’s presidency will be a failure unless he gets American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The stupidity of our continuing to meddle in the affairs of Muslim nations has been and will continue to be our greatest strategic blunder.

Dr. Camillo “Mac” Bica was a Marine Corps Officer during the Vietnam War. Recently, he wrote: “And war has taught us that if those of us who know the insanity of war find solace in embracing the fantasy of glory and heroism and allow those blinded by greed, hatred, misunderstanding, and misguided patriotism, to again place our children on the battlefield unnecessarily, the very survival of our nation, perhaps, even of our species, may well be placed in jeopardy.”

The willingness of the American people and our representatives in Congress to repeatedly buy into a foreign policy of preemptive and preventive war is insane. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan clearly demonstrates that most Americans never learned the lesson of Vietnam. A lesson, which should have taught us is that whenever our government insists that we must invade and occupy another country, we need to be very cautious and prudent. In order to avoid being repeatedly led down a path of death and destruction, we must rethink America's role in the world. Our futile attempts to remain the policeman of the world has proven to be unsustainable. Perhaps, we should try to imagine a foreign policy based on justice rather than power.

A hopeful sign was that on election day most voters ejected the politics of fear, violence and war. Perhaps, we’ve ended an era of death and destruction and decided on a different direction, but the question remains can we become a nation, who believes in justice for everyone?

In 1966, Senator William Fulbright stated in “The Arrogance of Power”: “We are not God's chosen savior of mankind but only one of mankind's more successful and fortunate branches, endowed by our Creator with about the same capacity for good and evil, no more or less, than the rest of humanity.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr.

Excerpts from a famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today....

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

“This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Debate

Bush claimed:  “People have said the federal response was slow—don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.  You know, I remember going to see those helicopter drivers, Coast Guard drivers, to thank them for their courageous efforts to rescue people off roofs -- 30,000 people were pulling off roofs right after the storm moved through.  It’s a pretty quick response.

“Could things have been done better?  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  But when I hear people say the federal response was slow -- what are they going to say to those chopper drivers or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?”

Bush remarks were totally incompatible with what really happened. In fact, the Coast Guard was acting under preexisting orders that had nothing to do with Bush. A 2006, report by House Republicans concluded the federal government’s “blinding lack of situational awareness and disjointed decision-making needlessly compounded and prolonged Katrina’s horror.”

The National Guard did not arrive until two full days after the levees broke.  FEMA Director Mike Brown claimed that he did not know about the more than 3,000 evacuees stranded at the convention center until, more than two days after many of them fled their home. It took six days for FEMA to make its requests for evacuation busses to go to the Superdome.  The 30,000 people there were not evacuated until a week after the storm.

People will disagree over many aspects of the Bush legacy, but on the government’s handling of Katrina, it’s impossible to challenge what the entire country witnessed through television day and night. New Orleans was a city abandoned by our government; where people old and young were left at the New Orleans convention center for days with no water or food.

The whole country saw what happened. The people stuck on roofs were just one part of a massive catastrophe. There were many other things the government didn’t do, and to this day New Orleans is fighting for its life.

Over 9,000 Louisiana families were still living in trailers as of last September.  More than 30,000 residents of Gulf States are still requiring disaster housing assistance.  Five of the 23 hospitals in the New Orleans area are still closed. Entire neighborhood are still largely vacant.

Americans will continue to debate the war in Iraq, national security, the economy and the rest of Bush’s legacy for years to come. There should be no debate regarding the handling of Katrina.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Reasoning

The problems that our nation currently faces can’t be conveniently projected onto our politicians, as CNN’s Lou Dobbs would have you believe, because in any Democracy the people get the government they deserve.

I recently received an e-mail from Lynn Pollack of the Jewish Voice for Peace. Excerpts from that e-mail follow:

“Just a few days after the bombing of Gaza started, my rabbi, Rabbi Brant Rosen here in Evanston, Illinois had the courage to write something on his blog that may forever change his life, and the lives of those around him.

“He said: ‘We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass. It's a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it because I've been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it.’

‘So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.’

“The earth is shifting on this issue when the people to whom we look for guidance about right and wrong, people like Rabbi Brant, finally speak the truth- that killing will not bring peace. Not for the Israelis, not for the Palestinians, not for anyone.

“We all know that if every Jew in America said no to Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, it would still happen, because it has is seen as serving the interests of our country’s foreign interests. And it is supported by Christian fundamentalists who believe it is one step closer to the end times. That's why we all need to work together- every single one of us.

“By the way, the last haunting words of Rabbi Brant's post were these: ‘There, I've said it. Now what do I do?’

“At Jewish Voice for Peace, it's our mandate to answer that question. We're planning a broad-based response that we know will make a difference, and the heart of that response will be every single one of you. We'll ask you to have those conversations with everyone you know, to educate yourselves, to let the world know peace with justice is possible.”

The reason that I'll continue to write letters, which provide an alternative point of view to those published comments of Joel Canfield, Edgar Thompson and Tom Sears, is that it needs to be done. Most Americans and Israelis remain arrogant imperialists and terribly misinformed. Consequently, we deserve the government that we get and may never know peace.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ludicrous

Edgar Thompson letter of 1/9/09 conclude: “And Mr. O’Leary’s comments defending Reverend Jerimiah (sic) Wright are ludicrous.”

Edgar Thompson finds my comments defending Rev. Wright ludicrous, but doesn’t specify a particular remark. I wrote that Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright promotes black liberation theology, by insisting: “Reconciliation means we retain who we are as persons of different cultures, while acknowledging that those of other cultures are not superior or inferior to us.... Reconciliation means that we root out any teaching of superiority, inferiority, hatred, or prejudice.”

Evangelical Christian ministers have been known to use apocalyptic rhetoric, which encourages their congregation to see the world in terms of black and white, good and evil, with us or against us. Perhaps, Thompson could be attacking Rev. Wright for using passionate language to preach liberation theology to his congregation.

Another possibility is that Thompson views his race and White Christian churches as superior. He might be angry that Rev. Wright is spreading the message of Dr. James H. Cone, who insisted: “Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ's message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology.”

I admire Rev. Jeremiah Wright, because he refuses to shut up and be a “house nigger,” which frustrates many Christians including Barack Obama. If, Thompson would prefer the term “Uncle Tom,” that okay with me.

I admire Rev. Wright, because he speaks truth to power, as did abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who in a speech entitled: “Love of God, Love of Man, Love of Country,” 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.”

Recently, Rabbi Brant Rosen in Evanston, Illinois wrote: “We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass.”

Likewise, many American are too willing to give our government a pass. Let’s try to “Treat people the way we’d like to be treated.” 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Seriously

Edgar Thompson’s letter published in the County Shopper on 1/9/09, will require additional responses.

Mr. Thompson wrote: “Jim O’Leary* liberal democrat agenda doesn’t work. It is and has been an abysmal failure on all fronts.”

Comment: * Shouldn’t my last name end with an (’s )? I haven’t written or endorsed an agenda for the Democratic Party. However, I do have considerable respect for Obama’s vision of the future and I’m pleased that currently 71% of American seem to agree.

Thompson complains: “He conveniently leaves out statistics to support anything positive that could be credited to the Republicans.”

Comment: Apparently, Thompson expects me to provide him with statistics, which would credit Republicans for having done something positive during the past 8 years. The only things I can think of is that they united the American votes, who in turn elect Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and enabling a black politician to become President.

I’ll leave the very difficult task of providing positive political spin for Republicans to Mr. Thompson, because the Republican Party has been an “abysmal failure on all fronts.”

Thompson claims: “The economy has florished (sic) under President Bush contrary to Mr. O’Leary’s spin.”

Comments: Facts are not spin. It was The Center for Economic and Policy Research that reported, “This report should eliminate any possible doubts about the seriousness of this downturn. The economy is falling at the sharpest rate since the Great Depression.”

It’s not spin, when The National Association of Realtors says that about 45 percent of all home sales are of distressed properties -- foreclosures, short sales, properties that owners literally walked away from. New home sales are down more than 35 percent over the past year.

It’s a fact, that the unemployment rate was 4.2% when Bush took office but it’s now 7.2%. Today over 11.1 million Americans are unemployed and that doesn't include 13.9% of people that have given up looking for work or those who are underemployed. Additional facts are that in 2001, the average median income for a family was $48,000. Today, it’s $46,000, but buying power, for the average median income family is down to $41,000.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Intelligent Defense

On 1/9/09, Edgar Thompson had a letter published in the County Shopper. He doesn’t appreciate my responses to Joel Canfield letters, which were posted on this web site from 12/1 - 12 /16/08, and are currently being published every week in both the Delaware County Times and the County Shopper.

Mr. Thompson begins: “In regards to several of the recent Jim O’Leary letters in your publication: I find his letters to be offensive to one’s intelligence.”

Comment: Perhaps, Thompson finds my letters offensive, because unlike his letter, mine are filled with facts and quotes made by experience CIA professional.

Thompson claims: “The 9/11/ commision (sic) did NOT confirm that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror, as O’Leary stated, it merely did not find any proveable (sic) link at the time.”

Comment: I’ve conclude that the 9/11 Commission confirmed that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror, based on page 334, paragraph 4 of “The 9/11 Commission Report,” which reads: “The memo found no ‘compelling case’ that Iraq had either planned or perpetrated the attacks.”

Thompson claims: “The 9/11 report was supposed to be a bipartisan look into the causes and it turned out to be a total farce and a collosal (sic) waste of money.

Comment: The 9/11 report was bipartisan and consequently it may never be considered valuable by partisan propagandist from either side of the aisle. As far as being a colossal waste of money the cost of the report is a mere pittance compared to the $2 trillion, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates the cost of the Iraq war will eventually cost. The study included both direct and indirect costs of the war, which our nation will have to shoulder for generations.

Thompson wrote: “There have been many things uncovered since then linking Iraq to numerous acts of terror. Whether they had anything to do with 9/11 is actually irrelevant!”

Comment: It would be helpful to us readers, if Thompson would specify some of the numerous acts of terror, but as he admits they’re actually irrelevant to our discussion.

Thompson insists: “Iraq is a terrorist nation with many terrorist training camps and there is no denying that.”

Comment: Under Saddam, Iraq was an imperialistic nation, who killed many civilians in Iran and Kuwait by invading them, which is not unlike our nation. Saddam was not stupid and would have never allowed Bin Ladin to establish terrorist basis in those part of Iraq that he controlled, because al Qaeda was a threat to his authority. Again quoting from page 334, paragraph 4 of the commission’s report: “Bin Ladin resented the secularism of Saddam Hussein’s regime....there was no confirmed reporting on Saddam cooperating with Bin Ladin on unconventional weapons.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Proposed Restrictions

Recently, Rep. Barney Frank the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee announced the new, proposed restrictions for the release of the second $350 billion in TARP funds. The bill proposes:

1. The pay of executives employed by TARP would be capped in a standardized manner, regardless of what type of aid they received under the program. It would also make the pay limit provision retroactive to existing program participants. Frank said: “If they don't like it, they can give the money back,” referring to the retroactive limits on executive pay.  

 2. The U.S. Treasury would have to dedicate at least $40 billion to reduce home foreclosures, with a plan developed by 3/15/09.

3. Small banks would be given more access to TARP funds and private aircraft or aircraft leases would have to be divested.

4. No golden parachute payments as long as the bank has government capital.

5. Require the Treasury to develop a program to stimulate home sales by ensuring affordable mortgage rates.

Rep. Frank's bill may not pass the Senate with the filibuster-free 60 votes needed to send the legislation to incoming President Obama’s desk, but by drafting this legislation, Frank is making a clear statement what form he wants the remaining TARP allotment to take: greater help for homeowners, lower compensation for bank executives, more help for smaller banks, and more accountability.

Furthermore, the retroactive pay limit is certain to displease Republicans and a few Democrats, as well, so it will be interesting to see if Frank is willing to compromise this part of the bill in order to get the legislation passed. The bill is still being finalized, but Frank’s draft was released after consultation with Bush administration and incoming Obama administration officials.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spending Tarp Money

The $700 billion the Troubled Assets Relief Program received from Congress has not been spent the way many in Congress had intended.

Bush's appointee, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke the Chairman of the Federal Reserve went to Congress last fall and asked for $700 billion. Some members of Congress had serious concerns, but when the two top economic officials of the administration tell you that, if you don't do something, you're going to have problems, it could become a self - fulfilling prophecy.

The Bush administration wanted Congress to immediately give them $700 billion virtually unrestricted. Their arrogant request to Congress 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.”

Many Americans have become cynical regarding our government's ability to solve this economic crisis, especially the way the TARP program has been handled. Congress gave the Bush administration half of the money that was requested, but attached conditions to the second half of the bailout money. Congress told Treasury Secretary Paulson that he’d get $350 billion, but they required an opportunity to evaluate the results, before approving the rest.

Most of our representatives in Congress were disappointed when the Bush administration decided to use none of that money to reduce foreclosures, which had been a central part of the economic solution.

Congress has frozen the second half of the money and anticipate bringing a bill to the floor of the House next week, which will put some real restrictions on how the second half of money is spent. Congress intends to make it clear that the Obama administration will not be able to spend any of the additional money unless they do something to reduce foreclosures.

The money that Paulson gave the banks, isn’t being loaned by many of those banks to enable people to by cars and homes. Consequently, going forward Congress will insist that no money can be used in the second half of the TARP program until they get assurances that money put into the banks is going to be recycled back into the economy in the form of reasonable loans.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Economic Stimulus

A thoughtful stimulus bill will revive the economy, and be good for public health and the environment. The following four steps will eventually create jobs by building a smarter, more efficient transportation and infrastructure system that America will need in the 21st century.

1) Prioritize the Next Generation of Transit: Investments in hybrid buses, light rail stops, depots, bike lanes and sidewalks -- as well as fixing our existing roads and bridges -- all can create more jobs per dollar spent, right now, than just building new roads. Lists compiled by the American Public Transit Association to the US Conference of Mayors show billions of dollars in ready-to-go transit projects. And across the country, transit agencies of all sizes have even more. From manufacturing buses and rail cars to pouring concrete and providing steel for depots and stations, from hiring bus drivers to maintenance workers -- transit is a powerful economic engine. And transit gives every one of us something we desperately need: an affordable ride to work.

2) Give Local Governments a Seat at the Table: Across the country, Americans are turning to transit like never before, but county and city transit agencies are starved for resources. Instead of embracing the demand, they are cutting service and cutting jobs. They need help. There is a risk that cities, counties and metropolitan areas will be shortchanged in federal stimulus spending. Local transit agencies buy the buses, build the light rail, sidewalks, and bike paths, and hire the transit operators. They need to be key funding partners.

3) Be Transparent and Accountable: Spend money in ways the public can see and understand. To date, only 16 states have publicly released their lists of transportation projects submitted to Congress. Of these, at least nine proposals would spend 10 percent or less of stimulus funding on public transportation. Three-quarters of proposed spending on these lists would go towards expansion, not repair and restoration, of highways and bridges. Congress should oppose efforts to weaken core environmental laws -- projects that fail to protect the environment don't deserve a free pass. There are plenty of good projects ready to go.

4) Offer Rebates for American Made Energy-Efficiency Products: Congress should provide strong rebates for purchase of energy-efficiency technology made by U.S. workers. Products that create U.S. manufacturing jobs while helping reduce energy use include: anti-idling equipment for trucks; energy-efficient windows for homes; high-efficiency boilers and water heaters for schools and commercial buildings; and energy-saving smart controls for older home boilers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Destroy the Unions

If there wasn’t an organized labor movement in the United States, McCain would probably be president. Last month, the Republican Party saw an opportunity to continue the agenda Ronald Reagan began in 1981, when he fired the members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.

Republicans consider the union movement as a natural constituency of the Democratic Party, and attempted to destroy another million union jobs by opposing the bailout of America’s automobile industry. The union movement is the largest organized progressive movement in the U.S., and Republican’s believe that they need to get rid of unions if they’re going to return to power.

The automobile industry was in the process of responding to a demand for more fuel efficient cars, but before their new fuel efficient cars came on line, they were hit by high gas prices and the credit crisis. Both Honda and Toyota in Japan cut back on their production and the Swedish legislature appropriated $3.2 billion to bail out Saab, which was a lot of money for a small automobile industry.

Many congressional Republicans saw the unionized American auto industry as being weak and like predators, they jumped at the opportunity to destroy it.  They were willing destroy the auto industry, as well as, millions of additional jobs through out America, that depend on our auto makers.

Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 report to Congress on manufactures laid out a six-step plan to build an industrial economy in this country and we followed it until Reagan came along and started taking things apart.

We had built the biggest industrial infrastructure and industry economy in the world.  When Reagan came into office, we were the largest exporter of manufactured goods and the largest importer of raw materials on the planet, and the largest creditor.  The consequence of Reaganomics has been that in just 28 years, we’ve become the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods, exporter of raw materials, which is the definition of a third world nation. Today, we’re in debt more than any country in the world. 

The current system for workers to come together to improve working conditions is broken. Corporations can intimidate or lay off employees who try to organize and bargain collectively, leaving millions of middle class people working without health insurance, at unfair wages and in potentially unsafe conditions.

The Employee Free Choice Act puts the power to organize back in the hands of working people, protecting them from corporate coercion and threats. It fixes a broken system that heavily favors corporations over people, and empowers millions of Americans by bringing democracy into the workplace.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Biblical Politicians

On 1/7/09, Michael Walls of East Meredith had the following letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star.

"With the elections over, winning candidates have or will be taking the oath of office. Most will be taking the oath with their hand on a Bible, a book that tells people to kill witches - Exodus 22:18; to stone people to death who work on the sabbath- numbers 15:35, 36; to kill family members who worship false gods - Deuteronomy 13:6-10.

"The Bible tells about parents boiling and eating their son-11 Kings 6:29; and having men of the city help stone a stubborn son to death - Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

"According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, wants people who do not want him to reign over them brought before him and killed - Luke 19:27.

"What does that and a whole lot more like it have to do with someone taking an oath of public office? Wouldn’t it make more sense for people to take the oath of public governmental office with their hand on the Constitution of the United States; the law they are to obey and uphold?"

"What does that and a whole lot more like it have to do with someone taking an oath of public office? Wouldn’t it make more sense for people to take the oath of public governmental office with their hand on the Constitution of the United States; the law they are to obey and uphold?"

Comment: Granted a majority of the American people elected a racially mixed male to be our President, but in fact that is just a small step in the right direction. Undoubtedly, Barack Obama will put his hand on a Bible, when he’s sworn in as President. To do otherwise would provide those righteous hypocrites, that insist they're Christians an opportunity revisit the claim that Obama is a Muslim.

It was a politically savvy move for Obama to select Rick Warren to give the convocation at his inauguration. I’d have preferred Rev. Jeremiah Wright, because he understands James H. Cone message: "Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ's message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology."

Taking the oath on a Bible is not only silly nonsense, but it violates the separation between church and state. Politicians are unlikely to insist on taking their oath of office on a copy of the Constitution, simply because none of them are totally free of religious intimidation.

American's get the government they deserve. Consequently, we must always keep in mind the warning of Sinclair Lewis : “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fair Pay Act

See post of 5/16/08, entitled “Good Old Boys,” for more detailed information on the history of this legislation. The following in an update on efforts in Congress to get this legislation passed.

Last year, the Senate failed to get the 60 votes necessary to force an up-or-down vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would mandate that women receive equal pay for equal work. Now, with a new session of Congress in place, the House is ready to take up the fight again.

With President-elect Obama soon to take office, we now have a real chance to pass this legislation that could do so much for so many American women. There will be a battle in the Senate, and the best way to come out of the gate strong is for the bill to pass by an overwhelming majority in the House.

Lilly Ledbetter worked 19 years at Goodyear before she learned the men at her level were earning far more. Eventually she sued, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court where five male justices ruled her claim invalid because she filed it more than 180 days after the date when the discrimination first started.

Lilly Ledbetter and women across the country are paid less for doing the exact same jobs as men. The only difference between men and women in the workplace is women bring home less money to take care of their families and in an economy as shaky as ours, the last thing we need is to make life even more difficult for 50% of the American workforce.

Women across America are counting on Congress. We must let Congress know that you're watching to make sure they come through.

Go to act@credoaction.com to sign a petition to tell your member of Congress to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Scheme

Obama's decision to keep Defense Secretary Gates was followed immediately by the leak of a military plan to push back against a 16-month withdrawal plan. The scheme is to keep our combat troops in Iraqi cities after mid-2009, in defiance of the withdrawal agreement.

The New York Times has revealed that Pentagon planners are proposing the relabeling of combat units as training and support units. Reportedly, Pentagon planners are projecting that as many as 70,000 troops would be maintained in Iraq for a substantial time beyond 2011, despite an explicit agreement, which requires that all of our troops be withdrawn.

General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq told reporters that our troops would not move from numerous security posts in cities beyond next summer's, by saying "We believe that's part of our transition teams."

Odierno’s spokesman, Lt. Col. James Hutton, explained that these transition teams would consist of enablers rather than combat forces, and that this would be consistent with the withdrawal agreement. Odierno's and Hutton's remarks were based on the Pentagon plan for the relabeling combat forces as support forces in order to evade a key constraint in the agreement.

In an article in The New Republic, Eli Lake writes that three military sources told him that our military transition teams, who have been fighting alongside Iraqi units, as well as force-protection units and quick-reaction forces, are all being redesignated as support units, despite their obvious combat functions, in order to skirt the language of the Status of Forces Agreement.

According to the New York Times the question of whether Iraqis would permit relabeled combat forces to remain after next June was discussed with Obama. Despite Odierno's assertion that it’s our military's prerogative to unilaterally determine what troops may remain Iraqi cities, the Iraqi government has made it clear that our military has no such right.

On 12/11, a Washington Post column by George Will quoted Defense Secretary Gates as saying that there is bipartisan congressional support for a long-term residual presence of as many as 40,000 troops in Iraq, because for decades it has been the standard practice following major military operations.

Apparently, military commanders are making plans, behind the scenes to get Obama to consent to the subversion of the intent of the Status of Forces Agreement.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Warren’s Army

Recently, William F. Roberts of Otego N.Y. had a letter to the editor published in the Delaware County Times. Bill and I have been corresponding for several years and I’ve always respected his opinions.

“Some people saw Rick Warren’s interview of presidential candidate Barack Obama and John McCain as intended to derail Obama’s campaign the question of faith. Others saw Warren’s program as one of self-promotion.

“As leader of a megachurch (actually 40,000 members is more an army than a congregation) Warren was probably intending both. I believe the program was also meant as a recruitment action.

“Now, Obama has selected Rick Warren to give the convocation at his inauguration. Obama says his choice was made in a spirit of unity among those who may differ on some issues. The choice of Warren has been criticized by some.

“Obviously, the country needs to upgrade all effects for unity. Some concessions will be needed on all sides. But not if human rights may be endangered. It would be good if some personal matters, such as sexual choices and birth control/sex-education were removed from the political arena.

“Obama’s willingness to attempt to work with those whose views differ from his own is commendable. It will be wise to do so with eyes wide open for it is often apparent that Warren and other Christian nationalists have an agenda that would make their beliefs the only acceptable standard.”

Comment: Bill’s opinion of tracking polls is quite low. However, I just received an e-mail, which announced that: “Liberals’ confidence in Obama remains high. Gallup Poll Daily tracking continues to find 93% of liberal Democrats expressing confidence in Barack Obama, despite news reports that they are unhappy with some of his recent actions. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans’ views of Obama have improved in recent weeks, up from 23% to 29%.”

Consequently, I couldn’t resist pointing out to Bill, that the 6% increase in the number of conservative that view Obama favorably could have had something to do with his choosing Rick Warren to give the convocation at his inauguration. I’d have picked Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but that’s why I’ll never get elected to an important position. I do recognize that getting many of those 40,000 members of Rick Warren’s church to watch a Democratic inauguration is a very politically savvy move.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sweetheart Deal

Greedy investors on Wall Street, weak regulations and oversite by our government has caused the current economic melt down.

It’s not good financial sense to use credit cards to pay for living expenses. However, because of our current economic situation many American’s have been pushed to overuse their credit cards in order to survive. Tough new Federal Reserve rules should keep banks from abusing, what has become the last financial lifeline for many Americans, their credit cards.

Last May, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke described the problem: “Creditors now can reserve the right to increase interest rates at any time and for any reason and apply the new rate to purchases the consumer has already made. Likewise, when consumers accept low-rate promotional offers, they do not expect card issuers to allocate their payments to minimize the benefits of the offer and maximize interest charges.”

The credit card industry gave itself this sweetheart deal by noting in the small print in your contract that your interest rate could be increased for “market conditions,” “the economy,” or “business strategies.” In other words, they can slap you with a higher interest rate just so they can make more money.

The powerful financial services industry hates the tough new credit card rules, which were proposed in May. Our representatives in Congress must advocate for tough new rules that will make sure the deal we’ve been promised is the deal that we get. Now more than ever, we need to make sure the banks aren’t abusing their power to jack up interest rates on the trillion dollars in credit card debt American’s carry.

We’ve already endured the economic fallout from a mortgage industry that changed the rules of the lending game. It’s time we made sure the credit card industry doesn’t do the same.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Socialism

During the presidential campaign, both McCain and Palin said Obama’s tax plan seems to be socialism, because the idea of increasing taxes on people making more than $250,000 and giving a tax cut to lower income earners is socialist ideology. Although, McCain charged socialism on the campaign trail, he voted for a $700 billion bailout of banks, which most Americans consider to be much more socialistic than Obama’s tax policies.

Eight years ago, an audience member asked McCain: “Why is it that someone like my father who goes to school for 13 years gets penalized in a huge tax bracket because he’s a doctor.”

McCain replied: “I think it’s to some degree because we feel obviously that wealthy people can afford more.... Here’s what I really believe, that when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.”

The credit crunch and the decline in the stock market could be the leading edge of a deep recession that could reach nine percent unemployment. We are in a crisis, which requires various degrees of government intervention in the economy without it approaching the traditional definitions of socialism.

James Politi an economic and trade correspondent for the “Financial Times,” believes we’re still a far cry from socialism, because the traditional definitions of socialism include the government taking control of huge chunks of the economy, allocating resources and deciding prices.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs wrote in “Fortune” magazine: “America can pull through the current economic crisis with a dose of political maturity and a bit of luck. Success will mean the end of the Reagan era, of an ideology that has brought the country to its knees.”

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Strangest Dream

 President Dwight Eisenhower speculated: “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”
        
The following is an excerpt from a New Year’s parable entitled, “Dorothy and Toto's Amazing Inauguration Day,” by Irving Westley Hall, who describes it as a “New Year's story that is optimistic yet politically sophisticated—indeed revolutionary.” 

“Then Ronnie Gilbert, the once blacklisted folksinger, enchanted the crowd with a song that John Denver had sung on the same steps in 1971.

Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before

I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room Filled with women and men

And the paper they were signing said They'd never fight again

And when the paper was all signed And a million copies made

They all joined hands and bowed their heads And grateful pray'rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below Were dancing 'round and 'round

While swords and guns and uniforms Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream I'd never dreamed before

I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war.”

Irving Westly Hall taught at SUNY Delhi. He’s a writer and lifelong political activist, who debated Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970. Hall authored of the novel “The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys” another political fable in which secular Jewish and Christian fundamentalist teenagers unite to prevent Bush and Cheney's theft of the 2000 election. 

Today, his message is: “The present reality is that people are hurting and angry at the betrayals by all of our so-called leaders in both parties.  We, the American people, are receiving a crash course in class consciousness from the most arrogant and shameless ruling class in more than a hundred years.  If we're not willing to take informed and audacious action, Obama will fail miserably and open the floodgates to American fascism.” 

Friday, January 02, 2009

People's Motivation

One side of the gay marriage debate is concerned with the sanctity and definition of marriage. They are primarily religious people, who are concerned that our government should not change the definition of marriage. Their concern is that the government will impose a revised definition of marriage onto churches. This side of the issue is further divided between those that would allow civil unions for homosexuals and those that would not.

On the other side of the gay marriage debate are those people who want the same equal protection under the law that married people receive. Homosexuals, who want to marry in a church can do so already, it’s our government, that will not recognize those marriages.

Our government should not license marriages, nor confer any special rights to married people. Instead government should register civil unions, and if our government wants to confer special rights to couples, they extend those rights by way of a civil union. That means no special tax breaks for married couples, unless they’re also registered by our government as civil unions.

Thus, we’d have civil unions for all and marriage for all. Churches could continue to limit marriage as they see fit. Those churches that are against gay marriage can rest assured that our government is not going to be complicit in undermining their religious traditions. All citizens can rest assured that all people are equal in the eyes of the law.

Taking government out of the marriage business would strip away many people’s stated positions and better reveal their real motivations. When people are honest in their motivations, practical solutions can be devised.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Let Us Resolve

A bumper sticker said: “My New Year’s resolution is to be the man that my dog thinks I am.” Since, I don’t have a dog, my New Year’s resolution will be to post on this website alternative points of view, which I consider have significant merit. I’ll begin with a local writer, Peter Johngren of Hartwick, who had the following letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star.

“Sponsors of California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, are seeking to nullify thousands of marriages performed while such marriages were legal.

“I must admit that I have nothing but disgust and contempt for religious organizations such as the Mormons, Christian fundamentalist groups and the Roman Catholic Church that actively promote discrimination against gay people. Proposition 8 is a clear example where Mormons poured money into pushing their bigoted religious views in order to bring about discriminatory legislation. Why do they keep their tax-exempt status? Does California really want Utah running its affairs?

“The notion that these ideologues are really champions of marriage and the family is a perverse lie. They view homosexuality as some sort of moral failing, when in fact it is as natural as being left-handed or having a particular color skin or eyes. A full 10 percent of humanity is gay, and to deny them equal rights on the basis of some primitive and judgmental form of magical thinking is inappropriate in this modern age. It is anti-American to the core. It is also un-Christian.

“I have no problem with people having their own religious delusions, as long as they don't use them to deprive others of their civil rights. Thomas Jefferson stated clearly that there must be an absolute wall of separation between church and state if we are to be truly free from religious intimidation. Democracy was not designed so that the majority could vote to give away the rights of a minority, even if that majority boasted the richest god.

“Hopefully, the legal system will right this terrible wrong in which the money and influence of churches were used to deprive ordinary people of their rights.”