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, February 28, 2009

TARP Payments

In his letter, Mr. Gumo wrote: “Frank gave funds to his local Boston bank and supporters, in contravention of rules of the bail out package...”

As usual Mr. Gumo has plenty of accusations, but few details, such as, the name of that local bank. Frank would have liked smaller banks, to receive money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, but it didn’t happen without the approval the Treasury Secretary Paulson and President Bush.

Initially, Bush’s appointee, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson insisted: “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.”

The first half of the $700 billion the TARP received from Congress wasn’t spent the way many in Congress had intended. Therefore, Congress gave them half of the money that was requested, and attached conditions to the second half of the bailout money, by requiring an opportunity to evaluate the results, before approving the rest of the TARP funds.

Prior to Obama’s inauguration, Rep. Barney Frank the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee proposed the following restrictions for the release of the second $350 billion in TARP funds.

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.

Frank made a clear statement as to what form, he wanted the remaining TARP allotment to take: namely greater help for homeowners, lower compensation for bank executives, more help for smaller banks, and more accountability.

Recently, Rep. Frank called upon Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulator James Lockhart to rescind the bonuses for their executives, and the House passed a bill to limit executive compensation to companies receiving bailout money .

Friday, February 27, 2009

Corporate Values

In his letter, Richard Gumo claimed: “According to Mr. O’Leary, Bush caused the financial crisis.”

Again, I wasn’t quoted, because Mr. Gumo needed to distort my position. I wrote: the Republican Party, by 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.

Alexander Hamilton founded Wall Street and in a report to Congress on manufactures laid out a six-step plan to build an industrial economy in this country. We followed that plan until Reagan came along and started taking things apart. 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.

The American people had built the biggest industrial infrastructure and industry economy in the world, but today, we’re in debt more than any country in the world. The Republican Party and Bush’s lapdogs in Congress guaranteed the present financial crises, but it began with President Reagan. Today’s disastrous economy is the legacy of the Republican Party as it was under President Hoover from 1929 - 1932.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs writes for “Fortune” magazine, he states: “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.”

Recently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky claimed: “President Bush had become extremely unpopular. And politically, he was kind of a millstone around our necks in both ‘06 and ‘08. Sen. MCConnell is a hypocrite, because congressional Republican, especially former Senator Phil Gramm were major architects of this global economic meltdown. Corporate values are their primary motivation for serving in Congress, and their voting record is the millstone around their necks.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Criminal Acts

Mr. Gumo wrote: “The facts show ACORN extorted the cooperation of lenders to the detriment of the entire financial community. The more recent facts prove ACORN committed literally thousands of criminal acts registering non-existing and illegal voters during the last election.”

Mr. Gumo hasn’t provided any facts to prove ACORN “extorted” the cooperation of lenders. Virtually all extortion statutes require that a threat must be made to the person or property of the victim. Threats to harm the victim’s friends or relatives may also be included. It is not necessary for a threat to involve physical injury.

Would it be considered extortion for ACORN to peacefully conduct a demonstrations in front of a bank that refuses to loan money to qualified individuals, because of the color of their skin? Would it be extortion for a group of wealth investors to inform a bank president, that they intend to withdraw their money unless the bank changes it’s discriminatory lending practices? Has anyone been convicted of voter registration fraud or extortion in any of the “literally thousands of criminal acts”, which Mr. Gumo alleges were committed?

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 didn’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, alleging 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 to light, because ACORN was the one who flagged the cards.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Inevitable Conclusion

Mr. Gumo wrote: “When you, Mr. O’Leary, vouch for the honesty and good intentions of ACORN as you have done, it leads to the inevitable conclusion that you support and condone the illegal tactics emplyed (sic) by that organization and willingly wish to advance and promote such misconduct.”

Mr. Gumo has reached “the inevitable conclusion,” that I support and condone the illegal tactics employed by ACORN and that I wish to advance and promote such misconduct. However, he has failed to specify the illegal tactics or misconduct employed by ACORN, which he claims that I wish to promote. The First Nationwide Bank Vice President Neal Halleran vouched for ACORN loans, and in 2006, Sen. McCain spoke at an ACORN rally on illegal immigration. Perhaps, Mr. Halleran and Sen. McCain are willingly wishing to advance and promote misconduct.

ACORN did seize 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. Preferably, local governments wouldn’t need to be encouraged to provide care for the homeless, but unfortunately sometimes drastic steps must be taken.

The targets of ACORN’s protests, did sometimes describe the activists as intractable or even aggressive. I believe that should the aggression become violent or distractive, law enforcement should appropriately deal with those situations, while keeping in mind that the first amendment to the Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law .... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Theodore Roosevelt said: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.”

ACORN activist refused to be servile to morally bankrupt racist institutions, and they applied pressure on banks to make loans to minority and low-income borrowers. However, ACORN also worked directly with banks in a joint effort to increase such lending. I applaud ACORN’s determination to help the homeless and disenfranchised, but to reach the “inevitable conclusion,” that I promote tactics or misconduct, which go beyond those rights provided under the first amendment is an exaggeration.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Credibility Questioned

Mr. Gumo has join Edgar Thompson and Joel Canfield in attempting to discredit the letters that I’ve had published in the Delaware County Times. They don't actually quote what I write, because it allows them to distort and misrepresent my actual statements.

Mr. Gumo wrote: “Now he tries to convince us that ACORN is totally blameless for demanding that banks and lenders grant loans to persons who could not possibly pay back monies they borrowed.... Mr. O’Leary has lost any credibility he might have had by vouching for the purity of ACORN.”

In fact, I wrote that: the “Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now,” activists in a number of cities, did 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.... They did apply pressure on banks to make loans to minority and low-income borrowers, but ACORN also worked directly with banks in a joint effort to increase such lending. Those statements do not indicate that I sought to convince readers that ACORN was “totally blameless,” or that I was “vouching for the purity of ACORN.”

My letter about ACORN concluded that the traditional and time-proven banking policy, became apparent in Chicago, 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. The ACORN lending program provided loan deals only to people who went through counseling on budget and credit issues. The 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.”

It was the First Nationwide Bank Vice President Neal Halleran, who did the vouching. Mr. Gumo’s credibility is to be questioned, because he has resorted to distorting my statements.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rear View Mirror

In his letter published on 2/6/09, Mr. Gumo began: “I hope your guest editorialist Mr. O’Leary, doesn’t drive his car the way he writes_ONLY LOOKING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR.”

Approximately 1,400 words later, Mr. Gumo wrote: “Mr. O’Leary might be better advised to consider the old saying summarized that “those who do not learn from the history of their mistakes are bound to repeat them”...

Those words are attributed to George Santayana, a Spanish-born American philosopher, poet and author. He wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s one of my favorite, but I’m confused as to the message that Mr. Gumo attempted to impart by his “ONLY LOOKING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR,” statement, because by definition history requires looking back at the past.

In their opposition to the stimulus package, Republicans attempted to rewrite history by condemning FDR. Republican Rep. Steve Austria of Ohio criticized the stimulus plan by stating: “When President Franklin Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression.  He tried to borrow and spend.  He tried to use the Keynesian approach and our country ended up in a Great Depression.  That’s just history.” In fact, the Great Depression followed the stock market crash of 1929.  Roosevelt became president in March of 1933. 

On the floor of the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “One of the good things about reading history is you learn a good deal. And we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work.” Statistics by the Bureau of Economic Analysis clearly demonstrates that it was Roosevelt’s New Deal spending that got us out of the Depression. In 1932, unemployment was 23.6%. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, it was 24.9%.  It dropped to 21.7% in 1934, 20.1% in 1935, and 17.0 by 1936. Our Gross Domestic Product had dropped to 56.4, when Roosevelt took office, but went up to 66, in 1934, then 73 in 1935, and in 1936 it reached 83.

The Depression didn’t end until World War II, and it wasn’t tax cuts that ended it. The Republican mantra of less government and tax cuts didn’t begin to end the Great Depression, in 1930-31-32, and it won’t end it now.

FDR was in office for six years before the Depression ended and unemployment came significantly. In 1936, voters overwhelmingly reelected FDR with the largest margin since George Washington. He carried every state, but Maine and Vermont and in 1940 and 1944, voters again reelected Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That is an accurate history lesson for us all to remember.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Whiners

In his letter, Mr. Gumo wrote: “Let’s look at the facts instead of Mr. O’Leary’s opinion. The indisputable facts show two Democratic Congressmen, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are responsible.”

I wouldn’t question indisputable facts, but “Time” magazine has. In its Feb. 23 rd. issue the magazine presented a list of those responsible for the current economic crisis. Ranked at the top of their list was Angelo Mozilo the chief executive of Countrywide Financial Corporate. The names of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd did not appear on their list of 25. The ranking was the consensus of opinion of 10 business and economics columnist.

Countrywide provided subprime loans for years, but began giving mortgages to people, who couldn’t pay them back and they knew very well they weren’t going to be paid back. Countrywide was able to securitize those mortgages, by putting them in a pool and selling them almost immediately to investors around the world.  That was the chain of events that ultimately allowed there to be an enormous amount of credit, and Countrywide used that access to easy loan money to seduce people into buying houses they couldn’t afford. In fact, more than half of the subprime mortgages were for cashout refinancing for homes, because the owners wanted to put in a pool or redo a kitchen. Cashout refinancing wasn’t for minorities or people who were poor. 

Chrystia Freeland, who writes for “Financial Times,” thinks, that it wasn’t Countrywide alone, but it was part of this system, where the banks, as they did historically, no longer held the mortgage. Therefore, the banks no longer had a direct financial incentive to care whether people were going to pay their mortgage back.

Number two on the “Times” list was former Republican Senator Phil Gramm, who was the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. He played a leading role in writing and pushing through Congress the 1999 repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banks from Wall Street. Furthermore, Gramm slipped the “Commodity Futures Modernization Act,” into an omnibus spending bill just as Congress headed for vacation.

Warren Buffett the second wealthiest man in America, has been describes as a billionaire with a conscience. He was the first to noticed, that the “Gramm amendment” enabled the creation of a shadow banking system, which allowed the creation of financial “weapons of mass destruction,” and that act directly contributed to the current mortgage foreclosure crisis.

Last year, in an interview with the Washington Times, McCain’s economic adviser Phil Gramm downplayed the economy, despite it having been the top issue of concern to voters in public polling. He said: “We have sort of become a nation of whiners.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gumo pg. 4

“Just think if he had we had his or her coverage, every doctor, hospital and health care provider would be paid, every illness would be covered - just think about the job creation would arise by making such medical care available. It would be a win win situation - the people have the coverage and would be healthier : there would be more jobs for health care providers tending to the public needs. By showing the way, then whether you are a union member in Detroit or worker anywhere else, you might feel a little better knowing that our leaders, those in authority that led us in to these problems, are willing to take a hit in their own pocket books rather then (sic) forcing the taxpayers to pay for our elected officials’ misconduct and mistakes.

“Have you noticed that all Mr. O’Leary ever writes about is his complaints, of what he perceives to be bad government? In my opinion, he gives aid and comfort to all enemies and detractors of the USA. by portraying us to be the worse country in the World.

“Mr. O’Leary might better be advised to consider the old saying summarized that ‘those who do not learn from history of their mistakes are bound to repeat them’ keep ignoring their misconduct and let Frank, Dodd, Rangle, Daschel, Richardson and the rest, be immune from prosecution - give them a free pass - and this country will simply go down the tubes before our children even become of age.

“We can no longer afford to allow Mr. O’Leary to distort the truth, falsify facts or publish misinformation about our government without challenging such writings.

“Make Mr. O’Leary explain to you why he doesn’t think it relevant or important to the public that most every Obama nominated appointee is a lawbreaker. Make Mr. O’Leary explain why it is not of any importance to the public that Frank, Dodd, Geithner and Daschel are above the law and are not being prosecuted and penalized for failing to pay their taxes.

“Mr. O’Leary is, in my opinion, an empty pen, with nothing but complaints to write about and no solutions.

“We, the public, cannot allow Mr. O’Leary to make distorted and untrue allegations about our country while ignoring today’s current events - ask Mr. O’Leary to go unchallenged. Mr. O’Leary’s agenda is best demonstrated by his writing and all he writes about is how evil America is. I am of the old school - Love our country or LEAVE IT! If you believe in our country and believe it to be the greatest place to live, we must respond to attacks upon our country made from within by the likes of people such as Mr. O’Leary who continually and unabashedly condemns our county to the delight of our country’s enemies and detractors.” “We have the same rights as Mr. O’Leary to express our opinions - do not make it appear that Mr. O’Leary is speaking for All Americans by never challenging his distorted facts - take the time to write a letter if you truly love our country - we cannot allow Mr. O’Leary to portray our country as an evil county.

“The time has come Mr. O’Leary, when we, the public, demand that we all look through the windshield to see where we are going - not the rear view mirror to see where we have been.”

******************************************************************************
I’ve received an e-mail from jeawal, who suggest that I respond to Mr. Gumo’s attacks with only one or two letters. Jeawal reasoned: “Otherwise in my opinion, you are just giving him more newspaper space than he deserves.” 

I informed jeawal, that I already had 10 rebuttals ready for publication and pointed out that my name had been used 50 times in one very long letter. On every occasion it was a personal attack and that I had no intention of letting Mr. Gumo off the hook to continue spreading misinformation. He picked a public, intellectual battle and I will engage him with logical arguments using facts.

Jeawal expressed concern that if I spend the next few weeks/months/years responding to his letter, I’d lose my audience. However, by not responding, I’ll definitely lose my audience and Mr. Gumo’s distortion will go unchallenged.

Jeawal pointed out that recently I had a letter in the County Times responding to a letter from Joel that he wrote in November. Apparently, jeawal has forgotten, that Joel began his letter of 11/21/08 with: “The alternate purpose of this letter is to give Jim O’Leary something to write about over the next 15 or 16 weeks.” I’ve informed the readers that I would accepted that invitation and provide an alternative point of view for 16 weeks, which will take us to the end of March.

Jeawal wrote: “unfortunately, people have short memories and constantly responding to something that was written so many months ago doesn’t keep people’s interest.” People do have short memories, but I always remind them, by providing an exact quote of what was written by my opponent. I’ll take a chance that readers might lose interest, because logical thinking suggests that they’ll definitely lose interest if there is nothing for them to read.

Jeawal concluded: “Continuously responding to Mr. Gumo or Joel lessens the impact of your letters, it might even start to look like you are no better than they are in their personal attacks on you. Personally, I think two maybe three letters is more than enough to get your point across.” The impact of my letters will not be diminished. In fact, I am wiser than they are, because I try to avoid personal attracts by using facts and statements by experts on the subject.

Tomorrow, I’ll start demonstrating that three letters are not nearly enough.


 

 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gumo pg. 3

“Rangle claims he didn’t know ‘the law’ required him to pay them - he wrote the law and did not understand his obligation to pay? This is just a bad joke - how stupid does Rangle think the public is? Is he going to be prosecuted? Has Mr. O’Leary complains about doers, completely ignore these ethical wrong doings - some of which are not just ethical violations, they constitute criminal acts.

“What about Tom Daschel? Here is another Democrat who has not paid his taxes. How about Gov. Richardson, nominated by Obama for a cabinet post but whose nomination was with drawn because he is under investigation in his home state for criminal misconduct in his position as Governor?

“The public must think that to qualify for becoming an Obama appointee, you must be a lawbreaker.

“According to public records, ‘someone’ in Obama land waived the requirement for our new secretary to pay penalties - penalties EVERY taxpayer under the same circumstances would HAVE BEEN FORCED TO PAY! So much for “change”.

“Lets us not forget those famous words of our new Vice President. Biden was quoted repeatedly during the campaign saying that ‘IT IS PATRIOTIC TO PAY TAXES’. If we use Biden’s yard stick to measure patriotism, all of the congressman and Obama appointees named above are unpatriotic. It is this kind ‘CHANGE’ that our country cannot afford - if we condone criminal acts and unethical conduct committed brazenly by our elected and appointed officials, we,the public are doomed.

“But Mr. O’Leary has not written anything regarding the above misconduct of government officials but I am confident when and if he does, he will blame Bush for the misconduct of Frank, Dodd, Daschel, treasury secretary Geithner, Gov. Richardson and Rangle - it must Bush’s fault according to Mr. O’Leary. Let’s face it we have a bunch of thieves holding office in Washington, and surely they are not just democrats - it is an exclusive club that perpetuates themselves in office and ignores the wrongdoing committed by a club member once it is discovered.

“Unlike Mr. O’Leary, here is a novel approach and solution. If all our elected officials had the public’s interest at hear (sic) during this crisis, then they should be the first to take a 25% cut voluntarily in their pay. Their expressed concerns about medical insurance coverage could be resolved in a heart beat - just give the public the same unlimited medical coverage the official and their families have and at the same costs - they pay nothing for their coverage.”

Page 4 will be posted tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gumo pg. 2

“Frank and Dodd believe and act like they are above the law and the latest examples of their invincibility are:

“a) Frank gave out bailout funds to his local bank and supporters, in contravention of rules of the bail out package, which prohibited such bail out payments. Frank’s Boston bank is reportedly in trouble and Frank ignored the clear wording of the bail out legislation requiring such funds to go ‘good’ ones to make sure the good ones survive - but Frank being above the law illegally gave preferential treatment to his personal Bank, one of his biggest campaign contributors even though that bank is reported to be failing. Frank did not obey the law relying on the committee chairman, no one would dare challenge him or his action, that he would be immune from criticism or prosecution for such favoritism in these dire times.

“b) The facts show Dodd obtained mortgage and receive a ‘sweet heart’ loan form (sic) the very lenders he ruled over as committee chairman - but when asked to produce the loan papers, he claims “I can’t find them” and when asked to explain how he received preferential treatment he refused to answer. Again believing himself to be above the law, he is not accountable to the public for any of his actions. Ethics - what are they when it comes to Frank & Dodd?

“Despite the foregoing indisputable facts supported by public records and video recordings of public meetings featuring Frank & Dodd, Mr. O’Leary reads his writings often enough, he may convince himself that he is right despite what the real facts show.

“Do any of you recall Mr. O’Leary writing to condemn who we now know didn’t pay their income taxes - should the public be comfortable with the new treasury secretary (Geithner) who under oath at a public hearing on his confirmation, swore his non - payment of taxes was due to using a TURBO TAX program which did not pick up his ‘non - payment mistake’? I am personally offended that a cabinet appointee has the audacity to insult my intelligence about his intentional failure to pay his taxes, and hten (sic) only paying them after he is nominated. Reports indicate he only paid the tax and interest, but no penalties - I am sure there are many of you who have experienced the wrath of the IRS and in similar circumstances, IRS would never forgive or wave such penalties. Did Mr. O’Leary demand that Obama’s administration identify who excused our new secretary from paying penalties? No.

“What about Dem. Charles Rangle, head of the committee that makes up our tax laws but who did not pay taxes?”

Page 3 will be posted tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mr. Gumo

The following very long letter was published in the Delaware County Times on 2/6/09. It was written by Richard L. Gumo of Delhi, N.Y., who entitled the article: “Rear View Mirror Criticism,” and at the end of the letter informs us that he’s: “Proud to be an American.”

“I hope your guest editorialist, Delhi Mr. O’Leary, doesn’t drive his car the way he writes. Only LOOKING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Now he tries to convince us that ACORN, is totally blameless for demanding that banks and lenders grant loans to persons who could not possibly pay back the monies they borrowed. ACORN has been proven to have threatened lenders if they refuse such loans. Mr. O’Leary has lost any credibility he might have by vouching for the purity of ACORN. The facts show ACORN extorted the cooperation of lenders to the detriment of the entire financial community. The more recent facts prove ACORN committed literally thousands of criminal acts registering non-existing and illegal voters during the last election. When you, Mr. O’Leary, vouch for the honesty and good intentions of ACORN as you have done, it leads to the inevitable conclusion that you support and condone the illegal tactics employed (sic) by that organization and willingly wish to advance and promote such misconduct. According, to Mr. O’Leary, Bush caused the financial crises.
“Let’s look at facts instead of Mr. O’Leary’s opinion. The indisputable facts show two Democratic Congressmen, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, are responsible. Frank and Dodd were warned as long as FOUR years ago, by many financial experts including Sen. McCain (sic.) that the lending policies being practiced by Fannie Mae and Mac, which Frank and Dodd controlled, were going to cause a disaster. Today, those loans are at the root of the collapse of the banking system.

“Frank & Dodd rejected the warnings of the experts because they claimed to ‘know better’. ‘EVERYONE’ who said they wanted to a home, should own a home according to Frank and Dodd. Frank and Dodd jeopardized the financial security of our county offering the ‘American dream’ of home ownership to persons they knew could never afford to pay for such homes - but then again, those new home owners were ‘voters’ who would be beholding to Frank and Dodd for making the dream come true, even if the dream lasted until they defaulted on their loans. Their misconduct was not just negligent, it borders on criminal and they should be be held accountable - what has Mr. O’Leary said about the financial crises? He blames Bush not ACORN and not Frank or Dodd! Maybe Mr. O’Leary should reflect upon the fact that Bush is no longer in office but Frank and Dodd are still in office and in a state of denial about their role in causing the financial problems our country faces. Frank and Dodd are poster boys for adopting a law limiting the number of terms an official can serve in government.”

Page 2 will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Faith Groups

Under Bush, faith based groups were allowed to consider religion and related issues, in their hiring practices. Obama plans to continue to steers government money to religious charities that performs social services, but indicates that it's up to Congress to pass a law making it illegal for any group to discriminate against gays and lesbians. He’ll try to ensure that religious groups receiving money do not discriminate in hiring. He insists that we must not favor one religious group over another, or even religious groups over secular groups.

In a speech Obama said: “It will simply work on behalf of those organizations, who want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.

“This work is important because, whether it's a secular group advising families facing foreclosure, or faith-based groups providing job training to those who need work, few are closer to what's happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods than these organizations. People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them. We will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith.

“I'm not naive. I don't expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish. The work of Prime Minister Blair, the work of so many here, underscores how difficult it can be to overcome our differences, but I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, and if perhaps we allow God’s grace to enter into that space that lies between us, then the old rifts will start to mend, new partnerships will begin to emerge.

“In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of excessive zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding. This is my hope, this is my prayer. I believe this good is possible because my faith teaches me that all is possible, but I also believe because of what I have seen and what I have lived.

“I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, and grandparents who were nonpracticing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even though she was the kindest, most spiritual person I've ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love and to understand and to do unto others as I would want done.

“I didn't become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the south side of Chicago after college. And it happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck no matter what they looked like or where they come from or who they prayed to.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wish List

The theory behind Keynesian economics is that when the economy is in a severe depression, the government has to spend money that people won’t or can’t spend.  What the government spends it on doesn’t matter. Although, it would be wise to spend it on things we need and will value for a long time, it doesn’t really matter if we spend it on a lot of unnecessary things.

Obama decided that he’d spend money on useful things, but because he was afraid to waste money, he went too small. The most successful example of an economic stimulus in our country’s history was World War II.

We could have built those ships, tanks and planes and dumped them in the ocean. Economically it would have had the same effect of stimulating the economy. Most economists agree, that putting people back to work is what stimulated the economy, during W.W.II.

Congressional Democrats backed away from the 200 million dollars to improve the National Mall, even though it would have quickly employed a lot of landscape companies. Republicans looked for a program that sounded outrageous, and grass on our National Mall was one of several that they came up with. They didn’t care that our nations greatest national monuments continue to be surrounded by mud and dirt.  

In order for a stimulus to shock the economy back to life it must happens quickly, but mass transit and new electrical grids take years to plan and build. There are worthwhile programs you can fund immediately and the National Mall was one of them.

By emphasizing the worthiness of his spending proposals, Obama allowed the debate to revolve around the merits of each project. Normal spending is judged on whether the goods or services justify their cost, but the point of stimulus spending is simply to spend money fast.

Republicans called Obama’s stimulus plan a ‘wish list,’ but many Americans just wish they had a job.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Global Chaos

Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii warned: “We do not have the luxury of time. We must expeditiously face the facts and pass this measure.  To delay this any further would lead to consequences that could be horrendous. And if we delay this, it could lead to a crisis worse than the Great Depression, because today we’re much more than just a nation. We’re a superpower.  If we go down, there will be chaos on this globe.” 

Nearly 200 economists from across the political spectrum wrote to Congress: “We do not have the luxury of a lengthy debate over the best course of action. This legislation may not be enough to solve all the economy’s problems, but it is urgently needed and an important step in the right direction.”

The Nation magazine wrote: “If enacted, the economic recovery plan will be one of the biggest and boldest pieces of progressive legislation in the past forty years.”

Obama’s plan is designed to create or saves 3 million to 4 million jobs in the next two years. It expects to averts hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs, create 500,000 green jobs, double our clean energy production, and immediately helps the unemployed get affordable health insurance.

President Obama’s economic stimulus plan was in trouble, because Republican talking points dominated the media’s coverage with misinformation. The items that Republicans singled out for criticism amounted to a tiny fraction of the bill.

For example: anti-smoking programs made up less than one-ten-thousandth of the spending. Republicans would have you believe that item was the centerpiece of the bill. It was pure political nit-picking and not one House Republican voted in favor of the bill, because they decided to put political gamesmanship before the American people.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A New Deal

Revisionist history, didn’t work and Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package passed the Senate last night. In their opposition to the stimulus package, congressional Republicans attempted to rewrite history by condemning Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Republican Rep. Steve Austria of Ohio criticized the stimulus plan by claiming: “When President Franklin Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression.  He tried to borrow and spend.  He tried to use the Keynesian approach and our country ended up in a Great Depression.  That’s just history.” In fact, the Great Depression followed the stock market crash of 1929.  Roosevelt became president in March of 1933, and unemployment was at 24.9%. 

On the floor of the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “One of the good things about reading history is you learn a good deal. And we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work.” Statistics by the Bureau of Economic Analysis clearly demonstrates that it was Roosevelt’s New Deal spending that got us out of the Depression. In 1932, unemployment was 23.6%. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, it was 24.9%.  It dropped to 21.7% in 1934, 20.1% in 1935, and 17.0 by 1936. Our Gross Domestic Product had dropped to 56.4, when Roosevelt took office, but went up to 66, in 1934, then 73 in 1935, and in 1936 it reached 83.

The Depression didn’t end until World War II, and it wasn’t tax cuts that ended it. The Republican mantra of less government and tax cuts didn’t end the Great Depression, in the late 1920s and it won’t end it now.

FDR was in office for six years before the Depression ended and unemployment came down. In 1936, voters overwhelmingly reelected FDR with the largest margin since George Washington. He carried every state, but Maine and Vermont and in 1940 and 1944, voters again reelected Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

As part of FDR’s new deal people were put to work on public projects throughout America. In the 1930’s, my home town Rotterdam N.Y. was just starting it’s population boom and they needed a Town Hall. A two story brick building was constructed, which continues to serves the people of Rotterdam today.

The New Deal funded the construction of Post Offices in both small and large communities throughout America. If you ever visit Custer, South Dakota go inside the Post Office and you’ll discover that it’s the exact same layout as the Post Office in Delhi N.Y. In Delhi the mural depicts the Andes Anti-Rent War and in Custer the mural depicts Custer’s Last Stand.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Three Stooges

In his letter published in the Delaware County Times on 2/6/09, Richard L. Gumo wrote: “Mr. O’Leary’s agenda is best demonstrated by his writing and all he writes about is how evil America is. I am of the old school - Love our country or LEAVE IT! If you believe in our country and believe it to be the greatest place to live, we must respond to attacks upon our country made from within by the likes of people such as Mr. O’Leary who continually and unabashedly condemns our county to the delight of our country’s enemies and detractors.”

Since, 8/1/08, the agenda for my letter writing has been determined by Edgar Thompson and Joel Canfield and I’m delighted that Mr. Gumo has joined that dynamic duo. My response are to provide the readers of area publications with an additional perspective to all the ignorance foisted upon America, by neocon Republicans during the past eight years.

Mr. Gumo wrote that he is from the old school. Does his old school teach about the times when only white males, who owned property could vote? Did it tell about those white Americans, who consider people from Africa their property? Did it discuss, how the suffragette movement advanced the status of women in 1920, by demanding the right to vote. I write because it’s my duty to be critical of our nation, and I’m not about to leave, because my heritage goes back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Michael Parenti's “Superpatriotism” makes the argument that militaristic superpatriots “are not admirable at all,” because superpatriots are always ready to follow our national leader without questions, especially when it involves the use of military force. Their faith like devotion becomes fanatical and their battle cry- “America love it or leave it”- makes America the issue. By making our nation the issue, attention and blame is shifted away from what is being perpetuated by the current leadership. Superpatriots claim a monopoly on patriotism and seek to defame dissenters for not loving their country. Parenti concludes: “If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling in lockstep behind the leader, whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship not democracy.”

American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave said: “There is not a nation on earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than the people of the United States at this very hour.” 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.” Amen!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Must Act Now

The following are excerpts from a speech delivered, by President Obama to Democratic members of the House of Representatives and their aids on 2/5/09.

“Every weekend you go home to your districts and you see factories that are closing and small businesses shutting their doors. You hear from families losing their homes, students that can’t pay their tuition, seniors who are worrying about whether they can retire with dignity, or see their kids and grandkids lead a better life.

“Now, I just want to say this. I value the constructive criticism and the healthy debate that’s taking place around this package because that’s the essence, the foundation of American democracy. That’s how the founders set it up. They set it up to make big change hard.

“It wasn’t supposed to be easy. That’s part of the reason why we got such a stable government is because no one party, no one individual can simply dictate the terms of the debate. I don’t think any of us here have cornered the market on wisdom or do I believe that good ideas are the province of any party. The American people know that our challenges are great. They’re not expecting Democratic solutions or Republican solutions. They want American solutions.

“We can embrace the losing formula that says only tax cuts will work for every problem we face that ignores critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil or the soaring cost of health care or falling schools and crumbling bridges and roads and levees. I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you've got to change direction. That’s what the American people called for in November and that’s what we intend to deliver.

“The American people are watching. They did not send us here to get bogged down with the same old delay, the same old distractions, the same talking points, the same cable chatter. You know, aren’t you all tired of that stuff ? They did not vote for the false theories of the past, and they didn't vote for phony arguments and petty politics. They didn’t vote for the status quo. They sent us here to bring change. We owe it to them to deliver. If we do not move swiftly to sign the American recovery and reinvestment act into law, an economy that is already in crisis will be faced with catastrophe. This is not my assessment. This is not Nancy Pelosi's assessment. This is the assessment of the best economists in the country. This is the assessment of some of the former advisers of some of the same folks who are making these criticisms right now. Millions more Americans will lose their jobs. Homes will be lost. Families will go without health care. Our crippling dependence on foreign oil will continue. That is the price of inaction.

“I believe that it is important for us to set aside some of the gamesmanship in this town and get something done.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Sole Solution

On 1/28/09, a statement by James Floyd, M.D., Health Researcher, Public Citizen entitled: “ Single-Payer System Is the Sole Solution,” announced:

“Public Citizen has joined the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care because a single-payer national health insurance program is the only viable solution to our health care crisis.

“We have a fragmented health care system that is driven by corporate profit and greed. Although private insurers provide coverage for less than two-thirds of Americans, they drive up administrative costs for everyone so that, on average, 30 cents of every health care dollar is spent on administration, much of this wasted. As a result, costs are skyrocketing and 50 million Americans are left without health insurance. Tens of millions more have insurance but are still unable to afford the care they need.

“I am a health researcher with Public Citizen and a practicing internist. It is common for my patients to be taking 10 or more medications, some of which are life-sustaining, and for them to require frequent visits with their physicians. With frightening regularity, I see patients who cannot get their prescriptions filled or afford co-payments for office visits.

“As a result, many become ill enough to require hospitalization, and some even die. I recall taking care of a veteran who developed nearly fatal kidney failure from an enlarged prostate because he was too poor to afford private coverage but made too much to be covered by Medicaid or the Veterans Health Administration. And I think of a young woman with diabetes who is admitted to the hospital every month with a complication or new infection because she cannot afford the insulin that keeps her out of the hospital. It is sad and unconscionable that cases like this have become commonplace.

“During this recession, we can expect even more people to lose their health care coverage, resulting in more missed doctor appointments and unfilled prescriptions. The estimated 20,000 people who die each year because of a lack of health insurance will rise faster than we could have feared. Also, illness due to a lack of health care only feeds the cycle of missed work days and lost jobs, reducing our economic productivity. Our country cannot recover from this recession if we become sicker with every passing year.

“The time for delaying meaningful health care reform because of narrow interests is over. We must eliminate private insurance companies as middlemen who divert health care dollars from real care and are responsible for massive administrative waste. Other proposals for health care reform do not address this fundamental problem of waste and will not reduce costs. A single-payer system is the only way to provide everyone with comprehensive care, regardless of their ability to pay, while keeping costs down. It is also the most just one.”

Unfortunately, a single payer system wouldn’t get past the Republican opposition in Senate. It’s better to be pragmatic and take a half a loaf now and go for the whole loaf after Democrats get a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

At Last

At Last, the Democratic leadership in the Senate was able to pass “The Lilly Ledbetter Act,” which I've written about in my posts of 5/16/08 and 1/8/08. At the ceremonial signing of the bill into law, Obama made the following remarks:

“Now, Lilly Ledbetter did not set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good, hard worker who did her job. And she did it well for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work.

“Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits. Losses that she still feels today.

“Now, Lily could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and the harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for, so she set out on a journey that would take more than 10 years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and lead to this day and this bill which will help others get the justice that she was denied. Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows that this story isn't just about her.

“It's a story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Women of color, even less. Which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.

“Equal pay is by no means just a women's issue. It's a family issue. It's about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care, couples who wind up with less to retire on, households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves.

“It's the difference between affording the mortgage or not, between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor bills or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month's paycheck to simple and plain discrimination.

“So signing this bill today is to send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that's it not just unfair and illegal, it's bad for business to pay somebody less because of their gender or their age or their race or their ethnicity, religion or disability. And the justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it's about how our laws affect the daily lives and the daily realities of people, their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

“Ultimately, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideas. Whether we'll do our part as generations before us to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something, to breathe new live into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.

“That is what Lilly Ledbetter challenged us to do. And today, I sign this bill not just in her honor, but in the honor of those who came before, women like my grandmother, who worked in a bank all her life. And even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up and giving her best every day without complaint because she wanted better for me and my sister. And I signed this bill for my daughters and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams, and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

“In the end, that's why Lilly stayed the course. She knew it was too late for her, that this bill wouldn't undo the years of injustice she faced, or restore the earnings she was denied, but this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting because she was thinking about the next generation. It's what we've always done in America, set our sights high for ourselves, but even higher for our children and our grandchildren. And now it's up to us to continue this work.

“This bill's an important step, a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness for American workers. And I want to thank this remarkable and bipartisan group of legislators who worked so hard to get it passed. And I want to thank all the advocates who are the audience who worked so hard to get it passed.

“This is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did, and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did, we will close that pay gap and we will make sure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedoms to pursue their dreams as our sons.

“So thank you, Lilly Ledbetter.”

Monday, February 09, 2009

Wall Street Idiots

Recently, President Obama said: “all of us are going to have responsibilities to get this economy moving again. And when I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers had given themselves $20 billion worth of bonuses, the same amount of bonuses as they gave to themselves in 2004, at a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking poor taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don't provide help, that the entire system could come down on top of our heads, that is the height of irresponsibility.

He added: “The American people understand we've got a big hole that we've got to dig ourselves out of, but they don't like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole even as they're being asked to fill it up.” Obama found the prospect that some of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout could end up paying for bonuses to managers of struggling financial institutions was “shameful.”

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said: "We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer. They don't get it. These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses." She proposed compensation limits, which would cover salaries, bonuses and stock options. The bill would require that no employee would be allowed to make more than the president of the United States, who currently makes $400,000.

McCaskill's proposal comes three days after struggling banking giant Citigroup, which has taken about $45 billion from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program reversed plans to accept delivery of a new $42 million corporate jet. The company changed its mind following Treasury Department prodding.

Air America Radio’s Thom Hartman insist wall street executives are not idiots. He believes: “They live in a different world.  They literally think differently. Many of them are children of multigenerational wealth.  They’re holding the property of multi generational wealth.  They travel in private jets.  They live in a world apart from us. And I think that they just didn’t expect that anybody would really care. It’s like, the auto workers, they hold the jobs of working people, but the bankers, they‘re the masters of the universe.  I just don’t think they expected this.”

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended corporate bonuses, saying that cutting them also means slashing jobs in the Big Apple. He said: “If you somehow take that bonus out of the economy, it really will create unemployment. It means less spending in restaurants, less spending in department stores, so everything has an impact.”

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Inevidability

The latest NATO statistics show how bad things have become in Afghanistan, from January to November of last year, we’ve seen a 30% increase in overall attacks. IED attacks are now the single largest cause of casualties, and there's been a nearly 50% rise in kidnappings and assassinations.

Seventy percent of the attacks have happened along the border with Pakistan and in the south, where most of the additional American troops are headed. The number of Afghan civilians killed increased 60% last year. Although, NATO insists that most of the civilians killed were due to insurgent attacks, Secretary of Defense Gates, warns that ordinary Afghans may not see it that way. Gates said: “My worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of their problem, rather than part of their solution. And then we are lost.”

The lengthening list of Afghan civilians accidentally killed by American military operations, and rising public disenchantment with President Hamid Karzai has led to a stronger than expected Taliban rebirth. Afghans have a long history of hostility toward foreign troops on their territory. In the 19th-century the British and in the 20th-century the Russians learned the hard way. They have made an exception for the 21st-century Americans, who helped shake off the Taliban and promised their war-shattered country an international rebuilding effort modeled on post-World War II Marshall Plan.

In the words of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the situation on the ground is deteriorating every single day in Afghanistan. Our military learned the hard lesson in Iraq, which was that there was no military victory to be had, and the same thing is true in Afghanistan. They’re already asking the question; will Afghanistan be Obama’s quagmire?

Unless the Obama administration and our military can do something about improving security in the western tribal region of Pakistan and destroy insurgent safe havens across that border, no matter how many troops we put into Afghanistan those insurgents will keep coming.

Former senior member of the U. S. intelligence community, Michael Scheuer, had two decades of experience in national security issues. While with the CIA, he was its authority on Afghanistan. In “Imperial Hubris”, he predicted: “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. One hopes that Karzai and the rest of the westernized, secular, and followerless Afghan expatriates we installed in Kabul are able to get out with their lives.”

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Questioning Patriotism

Democrats and Republicans were united in the aftermath of 9/11 in taking steps to protect the country. In a bipartisan manner Congress took steps to protect the American people against future attacks. 

Bush exploited that unity by taking the country to war against Iraq under false pretenses. All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have said the invasion of Iraq made the United States less safe, not more safe. The 2008 election was a wholesale rejection of the policies of the Bush regime. 

Bush propagandist insist that a Commander in Chief of our armed forces would never put men and women in harm’s way, by telling a lie. That is untrue because Bush rewarded others, who lied to promote his agenda and get him reelected.

In 2002, when the country was divided over the war and the U.S. senators were forced to vote on the war right before the election. Sen. Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was attacked by the Republican party for being an enemy of the United States.  Republican propagandist sought to connect Cleland with Saddam Hussein and as part of the Osama bin Laden crew. Max Cleland was pilloried as an enemy of the United States and because the voters in Georgia bought those lies Cleland lost the election. 

Republican propagandist were able to defeat John Kerry by swift boating him and bringing his patriotism into question.  He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was awarded three Purple Hearts, Silver Star and Bronze Star, but he was called the traitor. 

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt calculated sailors on Swift boats had a 75% chance of being killed or wounded while on duty. The third time Kerry was wounded occurred, when the boat hit a mine and an ambush ensued. Green Beret Lt. Jim Rassmann was blown overboard. Upon realizing Rassmann was missing he ordered the boat to turn around, went to the bow and although wounded, pulled Rassmann aboard.

An update to the event appeared in a Time magazine article entitled “The Character Test.” In 2003, Lt. Rassmann a Republican told a national TV audience at an Iowa caucus rally: “John came to the front under fire and pulled me over. Kerry could have been shot and killed at anytime, I figure I owe this man my life.” Lt. Rassmann recommended Kerry for the Bronze Star.

John McCain condemned some of the lies about Obama, but George Bush never condemned a thing, but instead, appointed Sam Fox to be the ambassador to Belgium. Thereby, rewarding Fox for donating $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that launched those deceitful ad campaigns assailing John Kerry’s service in Vietnam during the 2004 presidential election.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Right Wing Zealots

It was predictable, that not a single House Republican would vote for the stimulus package, after the 2006 and 2008 elections, because the Republicans remaining in the House represent very conservative red districts. They don’t have to worry about being reelected and they’ll do anything to resist Obama. Their constituents are right wing zealots, who were delighted to hear Russ Limbaugh say: “I hope he fails.” Many of these zealots (aka diddoheads) were amused when Russ said: ”We’re being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president.” 

House Republicans are not ideologically predisposed to be productive partners in a discussion about a stimulus package. A bipartisan bill isn’t likely to happen by going to conservatives for ideas, because as Chris Hayes pointed out on MSNBC: “expecting current members of the House to engage in a dialogue to produce a bipartisan bill is like asking Quakers to draw up your battle plans.”

Senator Jeff Session of Alabama urged his Republican colleagues: “You know, don’t even bother to pretend to negotiate with the Democrats, just declare now you are going to vote against it.”

Senate Republicans could choose to obstruct the economic stimulus package with a filibuster, because Democrats don’t have enough votes to win on a straight party line vote and will need to get one or two Republican votes, depending on who gets seated in Minnesota.

In the Senate we’ll see a little bit of give and take to secure a bipartisan bill. Eight Republican Senators are from states that Obama won and they’re going to have to eventually answer to their constituents. Unlike, House Republicans, those eight Senators are aware that they’re no longer representing very conservative red states and hopefully, they’ll recognize that if Obama fails, America fails.

Eisenhower said: “We must achieve both security and solvency. In fact, the foundation of military strength is economic strength.” Today, our economic strength has sunk to it’s lowest point in 70 years. Our military has already been weakened by two unnecessary wars, and Republican diddoheads want to engage in political gamesmanship instead of tending to the business of improving our economy.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Abortion Policy

Joel Canfield wrote: "I'd like to know when the whole world evolved around abortion and gay marriage. Look around at so many of the college campuses and these are the only issues that seem to be of any importance."

Let’s talk about woman’s reproductive rights. The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision held that a woman’s right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy protected by the 14th Amendment. The ruling gave a woman autonomy over her pregnancy during the first trimester.

The “Mexico City policy,” commonly referred to by critics as the global gag rule, was devised by President Reagan in 1984 at a population conference in Mexico City. It banned any organization receiving family planning funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development from offering abortions or abortion counseling.

President Clinton lifted the ban in January 1993, but as one of his first acts as president, George W. Bush reinstated it on January 22, 2001. Bush signed into law a measure that allowed HMOs and corporations to deny women access to comprehensive, reproductive-health services, including referrals to other doctors. Bush defended his action, by saying: “It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortion or actively promote abortion.” However, in total he spent more than $1 billion of our taxpayer dollars on those totally ineffective and discredited abstinence only programs.

Abstinence only programs contain medical inaccuracies, fail to help young people to change behavior, and conflict with ethical standards. Abstinence only programs violate young people’s right to accurate information, and also teachers’ and health educators’ rights to answer questions and provide medically accurate information. As of August 2008, twenty-five states have refused to participate in the federal program citing concerns about efficacy and accuracy of abstinence only programs. The federal program provides funding for abstinence only education and restricts information about contraception and other aspects of human sexuality, Perhaps, the program has contrbuted to the reality that one in four teenage girls in America today has a sexually transmitted infection.

Since 1995, eighty-seven % of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. Obama has struck down the rule that prohibited U.S. money from funding international family-planning clinics that promote abortion or provide counseling or referrals about abortion services. In a statement, Obama said that family planning aid has been used as a political wedge issue, and that he has no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate. He added: “It is time we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fighting Mad

In a letter published in the Delaware County Times on 1/23/09, Joel Canfield wrote: “The following outrages have me fighting mad: ”

1. “the notion that President Bush and V.P. Cheney be brought up on trumped up charges for “war crimes.” It’s true that, Obama is being urged by some constitutional scholars and human rights groups to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush administration. However, Obama advisers said there’s little chance that the incoming president's Justice Department will go after anyone involved in authorizing or carrying out interrogations that provoked worldwide outrage. However, the House of Representative might conduct their own investigation to determine, if in fact the charges are trumped up.

2. “a gutting of the CIA.” Rush Limbaugh diddoheads seldom share the source for their questionable information. However, I’ve learned that in Nov. 2004, a former senior CIA official did report: “The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House. (Porter) Goss was given instructions to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president’s agenda.” Furthermore, the identity of CIA operative, Valerie Plame was divulged by senior members of the Bush administration in retaliation for her husband Joseph Wilson’s disclosing the administration’s practice of manipulating intelligence. In fact, the Bush regime did the “gutting,” and today, both the FBI and CIA are advertising to fill many vacancies in their agencies.

Canfield is worried about “amnesty for illegal aliens,” In fact, the large majority of illegal immigrants from Mexico make genuine contributions to our economy and provide services that all of us benefit from. They’re willing to work hard at underpaid jobs and endure substandard working conditions, because they’re determined to support themselves and their families.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin may again introduce legislation, which would give amnesty to illegal aliens if they came to America as children under the age of 16 and graduated from high school in this country. If they are able to enroll in college or enlist in the military, they could eventually become U.S. citizens. It would be beneficial to our society to allow these children an opportunity to change their immigration status by educational achievement or military service. Graduation from high school would be verified, at the time of enrollment in college and enlistment in the military.

Canfield is upset about “tax credits for those who never paid taxes,” Although, the benefits of a refundable tax credit extend to those who have no federal income tax liability, they do pay payroll, state, and local taxes. Money sent to Americans that don’t earn enough to pay taxes will most likely be spent on necessities in their own communities and help revive the local economy. The money will not be deposited in off shore banks, that serve as a tax havens for the well off.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Paranoia

Joel Canfield’s letter of 1/23/09, exhibits a tendency towards paranoia. He wrote: “I feel not unlike a Jew in 1930’s Germany, whose ideas and philosophies are held in contempt and trivialized by the media, the entertainment industry and most sadly by the government itself.”

That statement seems to trivialize the holocaust and it’s my sincere hope that by the time Mr. Canfield returns from his trip to the Caribbean that, he’ll have paused to recognize the implications of that remark.

Often overlooked is the role religion played in advocating Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. An Associated Press poll found that initially 77% of Evangelicals favored the Iraqi war. Significantly fewer Catholics and mainline Protestants were in favor of the war. A mere 36% of black Protestants favored the invasion.

“Left Behind” biblical novels have sold over 62 million copies, and the volume, which came out after 9/11 became the best selling novel of the year. The “ideas and philosophies” in those novels encouraged readers to view the world in terms of black and white, good and evil, with us or against us. Our nation became deeply divided by that commercial and political exploitation of religion.

The “Armageddon” volume of the Left Behind series began with an enemies list which included the Antichrist a former Secretary General of the U.N. and the Pope as the Antichrist's assistant. Left Behind novels show a the common evangelical sympathy for Jews, and claim they exist to be converted and to fulfill Christian prophecy.

Some Christians subscribe to a doomsday theology, and felt that the time for God to draw the faithful up into heaven was at hand. Young Christians enlist in our military to join the battle against evil. Some end of time preachers and Christian broadcasting stations suggested an apocalyptic scenario, which matched Bush’s apocalyptic rhetoric and confrontational Mideast policies.

Predicting the apocalypse has been difficult. In 1844, William Miller and tens of thousands of his followers waited for Jesus to appear. Some of these Millerites had given away all of there belongings. The no show was called the “Great Disappointment.”

Hopefully, Mr. Canfield will come to recognize that although the end of the Bush regime was a great disappointment for him, it’s not the end of the world. On the other hand, Canfield may simply be another Rush Limbaugh diddohead, who tends to be overly dramatic. Limbaugh diddoheads are those people, who are unable to think critically and accept everything their guru says as true.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Retread

Joel Canfield’s belittling letter of 1/23/09 stated: “Barack Obama seems infatuated with a bunch of retreads from the Clinton era.”

One of those retreads is former Sen. George Mitchell, who brokered a peace in Northern Ireland for President Clinton. Mitchell negotiated a peace accord in Northern Ireland and believes that achieving peace in the Middle East is possible. In his speech at the State Department, Mitchell made reference to his role in Northern Ireland, by mentioning the eight centuries of conflict between the British and Irish. His record in Northern Ireland speaks for itself, and many are reacting very positively to his appointment.

Sallai Meridor, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, released a statement saying, “Israel holds Sen. Mitchell in high regard and looks forward to working with him on taking the next steps towards realizing a future of peace and security for Israel and her neighbors.”

Mitchell believes a goal of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state living side by side is possible and that conflicts, even if centuries old, could end, was the lesson he learned during his negotiations in Northern Ireland. He emphasized: “From my experience there, I formed the conviction that there is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended. Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings. I don’t underestimate the difficulty of this assignment. The situation in the Middle East is volatile, complex and dangerous. But the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that danger and difficulty cannot cause the United States to turn away.”

After Mitchell was introduced as his Mideast envoy, Obama said, “Time and again, in public service and private life, he has acted with skill and acted with integrity. He will be fully empowered at the negotiating table, and he will sustain our focus on the goal of peace.”

George Mitchell served as a Mideast envoy for the Bush administration and wrote a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror. Bush seems to have also been infatuated with at least one Clinton era retread.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Working Stiff

In an exceptionally egotistic letter, Joel Canfield wrote: “The average Judeo - Christian working stiff with old fashioned values is castigated from all sides and the only rights that are of concern are those of gay marriage and minorities, the rest of society be damned.”

If Canfield would provide some specifics, readers might be able to understanding the circumstances, that Canfield finds threatening. Sympathy is not a limited commodity and readers may wish to sympathize with his situation, but we need to know exactly what are those old fashion values, that are being castigated.

Concern for gays, who want the same equal protection under the law that married people receive or jobless minorities, who want to become working stiffs don’t necessitate the rest of society be damned.

We should welcome Obama’s goal of responsible leadership, which sets a tone of civility and bipartisanship that gets things done. Many Americans saw it as a positive sign that Obama selected Rick Warren to give the convocation at his inauguration.

We should rejoice, because: “...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!’”

The rest of society isn’t damned by Rabbi Brant Rosen declaring: “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 rest of society isn’t damned by Rev. Jeremiah Wright proclaiming: “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.”

Rejoice! Freedom of speech flourishes in America, especially for the average Judeo - Christian working stiff.