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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

“Actively Conspiring”

In an article entitled,“New Smoking Gun Disclosures,” Tom Burghardt reports, that a month after passengers foiled an attempted suicide bomb attack aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day, new information reveals that the White House and U.S. security agencies had specific intelligence on accused terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, far earlier than previously acknowledged.

New reports suggest that the administration’s cover-up of the affair has very little to do with a failure by the intelligence apparatus to connect the dots and may have far more serious political implications for the Obama administration, and what little remains of a functioning democracy in the United States, than a botched bombing.

The New York Times claimed, that Michael Leiter joined the staff of a commission, appointed by President George W. Bush, to examine intelligence failures leading up to the war in Iraq. That led to a series of jobs in the intelligence world, and in 2008, Bush appointed him director of the counterterrorism center.

One subject barely explored by corporate media throughout the Flight 253 affair, is the unsettling notion that the aborted Christmas day bombing may have been a move by rightist elements within the security apparatus to destabilize the Obama administration.

It becomes a painfully simple matter for the enemy to gain advantage and change their tactics, when those charged with protecting the public actually facilitate their entrée into the country for some undisclosed reason.

Burghardt wrote: “As events continue to unfold and new information shreds the official story, is Leiter’s chilling testimony that suspected terrorists are allowed to enter the United States ‘because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another,’ merely a banal slip or something far more sinister that betrays the real order of things in post-democratic America?

“Relevant questions begging for answers include: Who made the decision not to ‘connect the dots’? Are right-wing elements and holdovers from the previous administration actively conspiring to destabilize the Obama government? Was the attempted bombing a planned provocation meant to incite new conflicts in the Middle East and restrict democratic rights at home?

“As with the 9/11 attacks, these questions go unasked by corporate media. Indeed, such lines of inquiry are entirely off the table and are further signs that a cover-up is in full-swing, not a hard-hitting investigation.

“In truth, what we are dealing with here as we stagger into the second decade of the 21st century, is not a conspiracy per se but a modus operandi as the World Socialist Web Site has argued, rooted in a bankrupt system quickly reaching the end of the line.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Disaster Capitalism

The International Monetary Fund must make good on its promise to forgive all $265 million of debt Haiti owes, and the International- Inter-American Development Bank should do the same with its massive $477 million debt.

Reportedly, less than 24 hours after last week's earthquake in Haiti, the right-wing Heritage Foundation demonstrated the meaning of compassionate conservatism.

The Heritage Foundation said that the devastation offered an"opportunity to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."

Disaster capitalism is real, and right-wing activists want to use the chaos in Haiti to their advantage, by exposing the country to the inequalities and undemocratic ways of the global corporate system. Grants, rather than loans will give Haiti what it needs to rebuild its public sector and become independent of foreign assistance for economic stability.

Richard Kim pointed out in The Nation, that it's no accident that Haiti lacks infrastructure and is vulnerable to natural disaster, because Haiti has been burdened for centuries by the bondage of slavery and debt. Freed slaves were forced to pay reparations to their former slave owners, and by 1900, Haiti was spending 80 percent of its national budget on repayments. It's unconscionable, but it's not unlike what the right is asking for now.

Debt forgiveness will ensure that Haiti can get back on its feet and ward off disaster capitalists seeking to profit from the tragedy.

An article by Rebecca Solnit in “The Nation” pointed out: “The people in Haiti need food, and the international delivery system has been a dud. Under those circumstances, breaking into a U.N. food warehouse -- food assumedly meant for the poor of Haiti in a catastrophic moment -- might not be “violence,” or “looting,” or “law-breaking.” It might be the most effective way of meeting a desperate need.

“Why were so many people in Haiti hungry before the earthquake? Why do we have a planet that produces enough food for all and a distribution system that ensures more than a billion of us don't have a decent share of that bounty? Those are not questions whose answers should be long delayed.

“And what is absolutely accurate, in Haiti right now, and on Earth always, is that human life matters more than property, that the survivors of a catastrophe deserve our compassion and our understanding of their plight, and that we live and die by words and ideas, and it matters desperately that we get them right.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

Free Speech

FREE SPEECH FOR PEOPLE AMENDMENT PETITION:

WHEREAS, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was designed to protect the free speech rights of people, not corporations;



WHEREAS, for the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate democratically-enacted reforms;

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC overturned longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending their general treasury funds in our elections;



WHEREAS, this corporate takeover of the First Amendment has reached its extreme conclusion in the United States Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Citizens United v. FEC;

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC will now unleash a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history;

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC presents a serious and direct threat to our democracy;



WHEREAS, the people of the United States have previously used the constitutional amendment process to correct those egregiously wrong decisions of the United States Supreme Court that go to the heart of our democracy and self-government;

Now hereby be it resolved that we the undersigned voters of the United States call upon the United States Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people.

To sign this petition go to: DontGetRolled.org


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Republic Destroyed

Abraham Lincoln said: “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the ...prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Our democracy may have already been destroyed, because United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major nation in the industrialized world. Presently, the richest 1% of Americans have as much financial wealth as the bottom 95 % combined.

The shocking decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission struck down 60 years of legal precedent prohibiting corporations from making campaign expenditures to attack or support political candidates. By a five to four vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment, which is meant to protect the speech of actual human beings will hence forth give for-profit corporations the right to influence elections. 

Corporations are not human beings, and shouldn’t be able to use their vast financial power to drown out the voices of real people. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in our elections, rolling back a century of modest limits. The First Amendment was never intended to protect corporations.

In order to protect our democracy, we must ensure fair elections by giving congressional candidates a public financing alternative to elections bankrolled by corporations. Furthermore, corporate shareholders must be given a say over corporate spending on elections. 

Ultimately, we must pass a constitutional amendment to ensure corporate money does not overwhelm our democracy and clarify that the First Amendment is for people -- not corporations.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a Free Speech For People Amendment Petition, but don’t wait go now to DontGetRolled.org

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Failed to Deliver

Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” stated: “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.”

On 1/19/10, we saw many voters, who didn’t feel President Obama was delivering on the change they voted for in 2008, shoot themselves in the foot. They voted to send a message, but as it turned out the only message they sent was: “See how stupid we are.”

Politics is the art of the possible. Last August, Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight.com fame, estimated that the number of solid Senate votes for a public option was a only 43. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was able to put together a bill without a public option, that got 60 votes.

Angry and frustrated voters rant about politicians, but fail to recognize that it’s our informed opinion, that determines who represents us in Congress. We’ve gotten the government we deserve, because some voters aren’t able to reason clearly and have allow anger and frustration to determine their vote.

There are over 2 million unregistered voters in Massachusetts. Furthermore, an exit poll of Massachusetts voters showed that: 82% of Obama supporters who voted for Brown support the public option, as did 86% of Obama voters who stayed home. Of the Obama voters who cast a ballot for Brown, 49% support the Senate bill or think it doesn’t go far enough, and 57% of Obama voters who stayed home on election day support the Senate health care bill or think it doesn’t go far enough.

President Obama represents the best hope to save this divided country. Real change depend on calm, dependable, pragmatic and reasonable voters. Irrational, impatient Massachusetts voters claim, that they want real change and were disappointed with Obama’s failure to deliver. In fact, they were the ones, that failed to deliver.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Appalling Silence

Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”


It was devastating for many of us to see conservative Republican Scott Brown replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate. Joe Lieberman and the “Party of No” have let lobbyists and corporate interests run roughshod over the people’s business. Big Insurance rewrote the health care bill, while ordinary Americans continued to struggle to make ends meet.

Hopefully, Democrats in Congress recognize, that they’ll need to go it alone to win back voters’ confidence. They must not give up and drop health care reform. Many impulsive Massachusetts voters selected Scott Brown to send a message, that they wanted change, but actually, they made change much more difficult.

Regardless, of what MoveOn.org and some politicians claim a public health insurance option never had a chance in the Senate. The reconciliation process won’t work and meaningful legislation won’t pass the Senate without 60 votes.

House Democrats are serious about restarting the economy by creating millions of new jobs and cracking down on the Wall Street banks that got us into this mess with tough new rules to stop their predatory behavior. The House has already passed important legislation, but the “Party of No,” with the help of Joe Lieberman and Scott Brown in the Senate will most certainly insure that it’s watered down or defeated.

Voters need to support Obama and the large majority of Democrats in Congress, who are fighting for them. Congressional Democrats need to show the world that they won’t be deterred and won’t back down. Instead, we need to honor Ted Kennedy’s call: “The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Christian Values

Mark Lavine of Cooperstown wrote the following rebuttal to Donna Sells' letter.

“In her letter of Jan. 11, Donna Sell equates President Obama's policies, especially health care reform, with the socialism of Karl Marx, deploring what she calls a redistribution of wealth.

“The fact is that most of our tax codes are a redistribution of wealth. In your town, people who own expensive homes pay more of the costs of your school system than people who own more-modest homes. On the federal level, people who earn more pay more of the costs of the military and other essential expenditures. Why should health care be different?

“Ms. Sell also compares criticism of Christian fundamentalists intruding on government with blaming the Nazis for their evil policies. That is absurd and disrespectful to those who suffered or died during the Nazi regime.

“She is correct, however, that digressing from traditional Christian values has hurt America. Is it Christian to deny health care to millions?

“The meek shall inherit the earth, but with no health insurance. Is it Christian to start unnecessary wars against people who did not attack us? Is it Christian to legislate religion into law? The Supreme Court has spoken: government cannot intrude on a woman's choice as to when to bear children, even if it is against your religion.

“President Obama's policies have nothing to do with Marxism and everything to do with basic fairness and equality. We are all entitled to basic health care.”

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Furthermore, is it Christian to continue to privatize the profits, while socializing the risk, on Wall Street?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Neil Monzeglio

On 1/19/10, the Oneonta Star published the following letter by Neil Monzeglio of West Oneonta.

“In response to a letter on Jan. 11 by Donna Sell, I have some questions for her.

“When the Bush administration took from the poor to give more to the rich (wealth redistribution), was that anti-socialism?

“Also, why does the right want to outlaw abortion as murder while at the same time refusing to fund medical care and the social programs that might help these unwanted babies have a chance at a decent life? That doesn't seem very Christian to me.

“Speaking of Christianity, our nation was founded on freedom of religion (that's any religion, or no religion, not your specific type of Christianity).

“Does a role model for the world torture its enemies, spy on its own people, or start wars based on lies that so far have cost more than 4,000 American lives and at least a half million Iraqi lives? If that's Christianity to you, I'll take atheism any day!

“One last question, how can people who tout Christianity as such a loving and charitable thing spew so much hatred at people who disagree with them? Do you attend Rev. Mitch Wright's church?

“I was taught a simple, important lesson by my mother when I was just a little boy: Treat people as you would like to be treated. If the whole world lived that way, there would be no more wars, and no need for the religion from which all wars emanate.”

******************************************************************************************************************************** I wouldn’t go so far as to say, that “all wars emanate” from religion. The desire to control the natural resources of other countries has and will continue to have a great deal to do with the initiation of wars. It was called Imperialism, but today it's often referred to as Disaster Capitalism.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Less Fox News

In a letter published in The Oneonta Star on 1/19/10, Janet Whelan of Mount Vision wrote: “Mr. Obama's spring breaks, winter breaks, flying all over the globe, sometimes with the whole family on Air Force One.… You need to watch more FoxNews.”

Recently, Obama stated: “My resolve is only strengthened when I see a return to old practices at some of the very firms fighting reform, when I see soaring profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms claiming that they can‘t lend more to small businesses, they can‘t keep credit card rates low, they can‘t pay a fee to refund taxpayers for the bailout, without passing on the costs to shareholders or customers. That’s the claims they’re making. It’s exactly this kind of irresponsibility that makes clear reform is necessary.”

Unfortunately, FoxNews propagandist continue to complain, that Obama takes too many vacations. Compared to Bush, Obama is a workaholic.

On 8/4/01, the Associated Press reported: “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.”

While Bush was on vacation in Texas, FBI agent John O’Neil repeatedly warned of the prospect of suicide hijackings. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, CIA Director George Tenet was asked by Timothy Roemer, when he first found out about the report from the FBI’s Minnesota field office, that Islamic jihadist Zacarias Moussaoui 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.

Then Roemer asked Tenet if he mentioned this information 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. Tenet admitted that he was “on leave,” for much of August.

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. Bush took off 1,020 days, which is more than a third of his entire 8 year presidency.

Janet Whalen needs to watch Fox News less.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shift of Power

The four biggest banks, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank Of America, Wells Fargo, have cut lending to businesses by 100 billion dollars over the last six-month after taking billions in taxpayer money in part to increase lending. Those big banks, which were crowding out community banks even before the economic crisis, have an even greater advantage now, because the system is rigged. 

Beyond being angry, frustrated, or resigned, to deal with this huge chasm, between how the big banks are doing and how Main Street is doing, there is something we can do and it’s gaining momentum.  The financial writers of “Time Magazine,” “Newsweek,” and “The Nation,” are encouraging the idea of moving your money from these banks. 

We can take our money out of the big banks, put it in community banks.  There are over 8,000 credit unions and about 8,000 community banks, with tens of thousands of branches around the country. People across the country are choosing to move their money out of bigger banks and into smaller, community-oriented financial institutions that generally avoided the reckless investments and schemes that helped cause the present financial crisis. Fueled by the personal initiatives of thousands, it’s a grassroots effort that has the potential to shift power in the financial system away from Wall Street and to Main Street.

A bank rating agency will give you all the credit worthy, safe and solvent banks in your area, if you put your zip code into the website MoveYourMoney.info  Then, you can choose among them, and move your money there. 

The additional advantage, beyond you not having to deal with all the hidden fees and all of the other charges that make the big banks additional billions every year—the additional advantage is that these community banks can then turn around and invest in the communities, invest in small businesses, and create jobs, which are so desperately needed.  The risk for a depositor is the same, whether you’re with a big bank, a credit union, or a community bank, any deposit under 250,000 dollars is guaranteed, either by the FDIC or by the Credit Union Insurance Fund. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tyranny

The following excerpt is from an on line article by Paul Craig Roberts entitled: “Americans Are Hell-Bent On Tyranny.”

“According to polls, Americans support torture, a violation of both US and international law, and Americans don’t mind that their government violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and spies on them without obtaining warrants from a court. Apparently, the brave citizens of the ‘sole remaining superpower’ are so afraid of terrorists that they are content to give up liberty for safety, an impossible feat. 

“With stunning insouciance, Americans have given up the rule of law that protected their liberty. The silence of law schools and bar associations indicates that the age of liberty has passed. In short, the American people support tyranny. And that’s where they are headed.”
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Unfortunately, Mr. Roberts doesn’t provide the source of those polls, and their presented without any qualifying adjectives, such as a few, some or most.  It’s a flagrant over generalization, that weakens any credibility and makes me question whatever truth there is in Robert’s accusations. 

Many American, don’t support torture, or violation of both US and international laws, and we do mind that our government violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and spied on us without obtaining warrants from a court. Historically, we have been called traitors and liberals.

Many “independents” and “Tea Party” folks are troublemakers who love to sit back and complain.  They’re not interested in governing this country.  They’ve never run for office.  They’re not interested in working for somebody in public office.  They prefer to sit back and bitch. A few years ago, most were considered Republicans, but now they proudly proclaim, that they’re independent conservatives.  

Obama represents the best hope to save this divided country, from tyranny. Change that we believe in doesn't depend on members of Congress or Obama, it depends on informed voters. Change depends on all of us putting out accurate information, otherwise we’re no better than Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Politics is said to be the art of the possible.  I might be overly pragmatic and naive, but I think, that I can make a difference by writing factual letters to news papers and posting on this web site every day.  I remain optimistic, because cynicism, apathy and despair are not an option.

Recently, a very discouraged senior citizen claimed: “I’ve supported the Democratic Party all my life and they’ve done nothing for me.” I reminded him of Social Security and Medicare, and he had nothing more to say.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Drinking Water

Simone Weichselbaum, a Daily News staff writer quoted Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as saying: “Want to drink a glass of antibiotics or a glass of medication?"

He has fined two upstate hospitals and three nursing homes for dumping drugs into the water supply. Reportedly, workers from five facilities in Delaware county tossed painkillers, antibiotics, antidepressants and hormones down toilets and sinks. The investigation began eight months ago after reports that other major cities had found traces of drugs in their drinking water. Cuomo’s office then launched a probe into 15 medical complexes in the eight counties that supply the city's water.

O’Connor Hospital in Delhi, Countryside Care Center west of Delhi, Margaretville Memorial Hospital, and Mountainside Residential got fines of between $3,000 and $12,000. Ten others are under investigation. O’Connor Hospital and Margaretville Memorial Hospital were each fined $3,500. Mountainside Residential Care Center paid a fine of $4,500 and Countryside paid $6,000 in fines. Three other Delaware County facilities, including Delaware Valley Hospital in Walton, Robinson Terrace in Stamford and Kirkside Adult Home in Roxbury refused to sign consent orders.

The settlement required each of the facilities to cease all discharges of pharmaceutical wastes into New York City’s watershed and directed them to use waste-management facilities capable of treating pharmaceuticals. The medical facilities were directed to implement pharmaceutical “take back programs” to ensure the collection and proper disposal of wastes generated by households.

Republican Assemblyman Clifford Couch claimed, that local health care facilities had been following standard procedures for disposing of excess pharmaceuticals. Couch said: “The concern over pharmaceuticals in drinking water was something that was just recently reported, and we need to step back.” The investigation started 8 months ago, and the danger of painkillers, antibiotics, antidepressants and hormones getting into the water supply by being flushed down toilets and sinks has been known for more than a decade.

Upstate politicians and the executives of those hospitals and nursing homes had plenty of opportunity to protect NYC’s water supply, but neglect to address the issue. Consequently, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo addressed it for them and by so doing fulfilled his responsibility to the people of our state.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recovering Our Money

President Obama has announce a new fee on our country's largest financial firms to recover up to $120 billion in taxpayers’ money used to prop up corporations during the economic crisis. He’s targeting an industry whose political deafness has vexed his administration.

Obama has proposed a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee on the country’s largest banks: "My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed. And my determination to achieve this goal is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people...We want our money back, and we're going to get it."

The fee would recover every penny loaned to Wall Street during the financial crisis and stop the reckless abuses and excesses that nearly caused the collapse of our financial system in the first place. However, the banking industry is among the most powerful lobbies in Washington and has already launched attacks to stop Congress from enacting the proposal.

The $120 billion recovery goal is the most that administration officials expect to lose from the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that bailed out banks, automakers and other financial firms. Most of the TARP losses are expected to come from auto industry rescues and the bailout of insurance conglomerate American International Group Inc.

Obama’s plan has been in the works since August and would seek modifications to the law that sent billions of dollars in bailout money in 2008 and 2009 to a flailing Wall Street that was approaching collapse. Details of the fee are expected to be spelled out when Obama releases his 2011 budget next month, but Congress would have to approve the fee plan.

The idea received an early boost from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, where there have been calls for a hefty tax on bank bonuses. A spokesman for Speaker Pelosi said: “While we have not seen any specific language from the administration, Congress will certainly examine any serious proposals to lower the deficit and recoup even more of the TARP funds for the taxpayers.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rev. Pullyblank

Rev. Thomas E. Pullyblank is pastor of the Fly Creek and Schuyler Lake United Methodist churches and a history instructor at State University College at Oneonta. On 1/12/10, he had the following very enlightening letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star.

“U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann received more than $250,000 in federal farm subsidies. Senator Chuck Grassley received more than $1 million of the same. Senator Sam Brownback? $500,000. Senator Max Baucus? $250,000. Senator Blanche Lincoln. $715,000.

“These are the same politicians who object most loudly to the public option in health care reform. They quote scripture and pray for God to stop our slide into socialism. All the while, government money continues to flow into their and their friends' coffers: of the $200 billion in agricultural subsidies doled out by Washington recently, the wealthiest 10 percent of American corporate farmers have collected $150 billion (www.truthdig.com). Welfare for the wealthy: I can smell the hypocrisy from 600 miles away.

“Some local wise men enjoy parroting the propaganda of these Washington hypocrites. They too argue that we are turning socialist and disobeying the will of God. Their stern, harsh judgment, in this world or the next, will fall on those who disagree!

“Meanwhile, local farmers suffer as supermarkets and box stores promote cheap, government-subsidized food as being good for us and good for the economy. Where do the profits go? Into the pockets of those wealthiest 10 percent of American corporate farmers. Local families suffer in poverty, unable to afford either nutritious food or reliable health care.

“Do Messrs. Sears and Eckardt and Rev. Wright have the courage to embrace reality, change their tune and speak against their conservative heroes, whose greed is destroying America's most cherished community-based principles? Do they have the moral clarity to abandon hatred and defend the primary commandment of Jesus Christ _ to love your neighbor _ in the midst of our neighbors' sufferings? The questions are rhetorical. The stench of hypocrisy is even stronger in our own backyard.”

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Furthermore, Mexican farmers have been displaced by having to compete with multinational agriculture corporations, who are receiving federal farm subsidies. They’re no longer able to compete in local markets, because the rice and corn imported from America is cheaper. Illegally Mexican immigrants from small farms are entering our country in order to find work to support their families.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Key Mistakes

Regarding a Christmas bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner, Obama said: “The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots.” He spoke of his solemn responsibility to protect the American people. He told his aides “I take that responsibility, and I take it very seriously.” Obama made it clear his aides, that there was no room for another series of errors.
Afterward, John Brennan, Obama’s top White House counterterrorism aide admitted: “There are things we could do better, I take my share of the responsibility in ensuring we have an up-to-date system that is agile and that challenges the assumptions the way this President wants.”

Obama and Brennan have already identified several key mistakes. For example, intelligence agencies knew about the intent of radicals in Yemen to attack America. They knew that the suspected bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had traveled to Yemen and that his father had contacted the U.S. embassy in Nigeria with concern that his son had fallen in with radical elements. Regrettably, no one in the intelligence community tied the two sets of information together, and failed to inquired as to whether Abdulmutallab had a U.S. visa or thought to add him to the no-fly list, which would have prevented him from boarding the plane.

Obama has announced a number of changes to deal with these oversights. Security screening has been beefed up at both domestic and foreign airports, especially for the citizens of countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Sudan. More air marshals have been added. More names have been added to the no-fly list. The State Department is now requiring embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warning on individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist connections.

Ted McNamara, who resigned in August 2009 as the program manager for the Information Sharing Environment, a congressionally created office to oversee the effort points out: “These remedies were all adopted by President George W. Bush, but the work was never completed, even if the previous White House occupants wanted to claim victory, in fact the problem of information sharing has not been solved.”

Obama’s team has decided that the old triggers that were put in place to alert intelligence analysts haven’t kept up with the evolving threat of al-Qaeda and its sympathizers. Five years ago, it would have been one thing if a Nigerian went to Yemen, but it’s different now when a Nigerian goes to Yemen, because we know that al-Qaeda is trying establish itself in West Africa, specifically in Nigeria.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Politicizing Terrorism

Republicans wasted no time in politicizing the Christmas day terrorist attempt on Flight 253 to Detroit. Dick Cheney led the way, by claiming: “President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war.  He seems to think that if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war.  He seems to think that if he gets rid of the words ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war, but we are at war.  And when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe.”

Cheney didn’t decrying the terrorist incident itself, but instead used the attack as an opportunity to accuse Obama of not keeping America safe. Republicans launched a series of baseless, factually incorrect, demonstrably untrue and hypocritical attacks. Republican

Congressman Peter King of New York said that he was disappointed it took Obama 72 hours to address the issue.

Republican Rep. Hoekstra of Michigan complained: “The president has decided to stay silent for 72 hours. He needs to explain that.”

Former Bush advisor Karl Rove repeated: “It’s over 72 hours from the time of the incident until the time the president spoke today.”

For the record, Bush didn’t see fit to comment on the arrest of Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” until almost a full week after it happened. Where was the Republican criticism of Bush back then, for taking so long to comment on the shoe bomber? 

Bush avoided criticism, because of the type of language that he used when talking about terrorism. When it came to the issue of terrorism, Bush preferred bravado, such as: “smoke ‘em out of their caves, bring ‘em on.”  Obama prefers a low key response and avoids the trash talking cowboy rhetoric on the subject of terrorism. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

T - Party

Recently, I received the following message. Although, it’s obviously intended for “Tea Party members,” I’m passing it on, because it’s sound advice for all of us.

“How much has your life improved since you joined the “Tea Party?” You pay your taxes, respect the law, and do everything expected of a good citizen. Why does it feel like your just getting by!

“Truth is, wages for the working class have stopped rising since the 1970’s, but the gap between the rich and the rest of us is greater now than during the Great Depression. Rush Limbaugh with his $33 million a year, and Glenn Beck, at $23 million claim to speak for us, but it’s obvious their they’re only interested in protecting the system that allows them to make such vasts sums of money and keeps you from getting ahead. Even the proposed “Tea Party” organizers are profiteers using donations to fund personal projects, or $1,600 steak dinners. Is that who you want calling the shots!

“The situation is not hopeless. A few things you can do to start fixing our country :

“1. Get your news from multiple sources. Doubt what sounds too outrageous to be true, double-check everything and remember that nobody holds a monopoly on the truth.

“2. Identify your real opponents. You’re right to be angry, but don’t let it get misdirected. Remember, the rich are richer than ever -- how well off are you?

“3. Stay organized. Once you’re armed with the truth, share it. Keep organizing protests, but target those truly responsible. Vote to protect your community, not the interests of big business.

“4. Hit them where it hurts--their wallets.

“This is time for action, but don’t let your enemy fool you into fighting their battles. -- A fellow American.”

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On 12/6/09, my post was entitled “Tea Party.” It provoked the following comment from john: “dude, your a total loser....get a life. If I ever see your face on this planet...I'll ship your ass personally over to Afghanistan for tea with your brother Osama your Mama.”

I doubt that john and a majority of Tea Party members are interested in the truth or the advise provided, by “A fellow American.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

According to Snopes

Accurate information from Snopes follows: “It is not true that Congressmen do not pay into the Social Security fund. Since 1984 they have been required to pay into Social Security just as most everyone else does. (A few odd exceptions to the Social Security program still exist, both inside and outside of government, but not for members of Congress.)

“It was true prior to 1984 that Congressmen did not pay into the Social Security fund because they participated in a separate program for civil servants (the Civil Service Retirement System, or CSRS), but that program was closed to government employees hired after 1983:In 1983, Public Law 98-21 required Social Security coverage for federal civilian employees first hired after 1983 and closed the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to new federal employees and Members of Congress. All incumbent Members of Congress were required to be covered by Social Security, regardless of when they entered Congress. Members who had participated in CSRS before 1984 could elect to stay in that plan in addition to being covered by Social Security or elect coverage under an 'offset plan' that integrates CSRS and Social Security. Under the CSRS Offset Plan, an individual's contributions to CSRS and their pension benefits from that plan are reduced ('offset') by the amount of their contributions to, and benefits from, Social Security.

“It is not true that Congressmen "continue to draw their same pay, until they die."  The size of their pensions is determined by a number of factors (primarily length of service, but also factors such as when they joined Congress, their age at retirement, their salary, and the pension options they chose when they enrolled in the retirement system) and by law cannot exceed 80% of their salary at the time of their retirement.

“It is not true that Congressmen "paid nothing in on any kind of retirement," and that their pension money "comes right out of the General Fund." Whether members of Congress participate in the older Civil Service Retirement System or the newer Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), their pensions are funded through a combination of general tax provisions and contributions from the participants. Members of Congress in the FERS plan must pay 6.2% of their salaries (up to the Social Security wage base of $108,600) into Social Security, as well as 1.3% of their full salary into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.

“It is true that, if current pension levels and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Congress members continue to apply in the future, some former members of Congress could conceivably collect millions of dollars in annuities over the course of their lifetimes. However, the huge dollar amounts bandied about in e-mails.”

Both my wife Karen and Mary McKeon make use of snopes on a regular basis. They can be counted on to provide me with accurate information, which I greatly appreciate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Above the Law

I received the following e-mail from someone, that I thought was a reliable source:

“For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn't pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed....Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.”

I was asked to contact a minimum of twenty people on my address list, and ask each of them to do likewise. The e-mail claimed: “In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.”

The e-mail proposed a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

I passed on this information to the people in my address book. However, my wife and friend, who has always been a very reliable source of factual information, immediately informed me, that according to snopes the accusation that Members of Congress receive lavish pensions but are not required to contribute to the Social Security fund is false.

Consequently, I felt compelled to send the following retraction: “I'm very sorry that I failed to check the allegations calling for a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution out before sending it.  My failure to confirm that information indicates, that I'm susceptible to believing disinformation about our elected officials, and that I'm as gullible as Russ Limbaugh diddoheads and the Tea Party crowd.”

I've entered Snopes prominently on my Bookmark address bar, and tomorrow, I’ll post the facts, they provide.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blasphemy

An Irish atheist group called “Atheist Ireland” is challenging a law, which makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a $35,800 fine. They have published a series of quotations on religion in an attempt to challenge a blasphemy law passed in predominately Catholic Ireland, that went into effect on New Year's Day.

The “blasphemous” quotations include the words of Jesus, Mohammed, Mark Twain, Salman Rushdie and Bjork. Atheist Ireland called the law silly and dangerous, because it provides an incentive for religious outrage.

On its web site, the group insisted: “Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them. We unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalized, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.”

A person would break the blasphemy law by saying or publishing anything “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.” Those found guilty of breaking this law may try to defend themselves by proving that a reasonable person would find literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they said or published. Unfortunately, many devout Catholics tend not to be tolerant or reasonable people.

Blasphemy laws are unjust, because they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilized society, people should have a right to express and hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous. The Irish government should hold a referendum on removing all references to God from the Irish constitution.

A recent check of blasphemy laws makes it clear that they’re found not only in places like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other similarly unenlightened nations, but in most European countries, Canada and several of our states.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Accurate and Specific

Robert Beckman wrote: “…those are just a few examples of the distortions and lies that Mr. O’Leary and his ilk in Congress have resorted to in order to ram through socialized medicine to Americans.”

Beckman is referring to a rebuttal letter of mine, in which I had taken exception to the assertion: “While there are an unfortunate few that cannot afford health care insurance, most are satisfied with their current plan and doctors. Too bad for them.”

Beckman declared: “Mr. O’Leary states that 46 million Americans are without health insurance. However, the Census Bureau, in the government’s official report on uninsured, said that of those 46 million Americans, 9 million were people who made more than $75,000 a year and who chose not to buy health insurance.”

We agree, that 46 million Americans are without health insurance. I used that statistic to make the point, that there are more than an unfortunate few, that cannot afford healthcare insurance. I made no comment regarding those making $75,000 a year or whether, they should be included in the Census Bureau’s statistic.

Beckman continued: “Another claim by Mr. O'Leary is that half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partially the result of medical expenses. Included in Mr. O’Leary’s figures is a person who may owe a hospital $500 and have total liabilities of $500,000.”

I wrote: “Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses.” Apparently, Beckman didn’t comprehend the “at least partially,” part of that statement.

I didn’t resorted to distortions and lies. Beckman is either being duplicitous or has a serious reading comprehension problem. Most likely, he didn’t appreciate, that I began my rebuttal letter with: “I got mine, you get yours” seems to be the creed of the Republican Party.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Robert C. Beckman

In a letter published on 1/7/09, in the Oneonta Star Robert Beckman wrote:

“Jim O'Leary, in a recent letter, paints a grim picture of health care in the U.S. But on careful analysis of his facts, a far different conclusion is reached. As an example, Mr. O'Leary states that 46 million Americans are without health insurance.

“However, the Census Bureau, in the government’s official report on uninsured, said that of those 46 million Americans, 9 million were people who made more than $75,000 a year and who chose not to buy health insurance. In addition, another 10 million people living in America were not citizens. And fully 14 million more uninsured Americans were eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Finally the report observed that the number of people uninsured was declining.

“Mr. O’Leary stated that 12.6 million Americans were discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. It is illegal in all 50 states for any health insurance company to single out any individual for a premium increase or cancel coverage based on claims. And health insurance companies have agreed to accept legislation that would outlaw pre-existing conditions and guarantee insurance with all policies.

“Another claim by Mr. O’Leary is that half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partially the result of medical expenses. Included in Mr. O’Leary's figures is a person who may owe a hospital $500 and have total liabilities of $500,000. Just because a bankrupt person owes a small amount of money to a medical establishment does not mean his bankruptcy had anything to do with his insolvency.

“Space does not allow a complete refutation of Mr. O'Leary’s letter, but those are just a few examples of the distortions and lies that Mr. O’Leary and his ilk in Congress have resorted to in order to ram through socialized medicine to Americans.”

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Mr. Beckman is referring to a letter, I had published in the Oneonta Star on 11/18/09. It was posted on this web site on 11/11/09. It’s commonly referred to as the “Too bad for them,” letter, which is a quote from a letter published in the Star by Al Gascon.

Tomorrow, I’ll respond to Robert Beckman’s “examples of the distortions and lies,” that he has accused me of making.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Comprehension Issues

A letter by Joel Canfield was published on 12/31/09 in the Oneonta Star. He wrote: “It’s time to take the gloves off! We conservatives have been called every vile name in the book by the left. If you’re not in lockstep with Obama, you’re a racist. Dare ask your legislators at a town hall forum what they’re up to, you’re a Nazi. Don’t agree with unlimited immigration and wide-open borders, you are anti-immigration. Attend a ‘tea party’ to rally against ballooning government programs and soaring taxes, and you’re labeled a derogatory term for a perverse sexual act.

“Harry Reid, crazed with frustration, said that all Republicans who dared to question Obamacare had the mind-set of slaveowners. To call people like me ugly names, just step right up and say it to my face. I’m pretty easy to spot. Being a contractor, I have my name plastered all over my truck, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. If you so choose to address me with some of the above-mentioned terms, I promise that my response to you will be oh, so, politically and socially incorrect.”

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.”

In a letter published on 12/31/09, Joel Canfield wrote: “Harry Reid, crazed with frustration, said that all Republicans who dared to question Obamacare had the mind-set of slaveowners.”

Senator Harry Reid never called Mr. Canfield or other Republicans racist. By using exact quotes, we demonstrate respect for a reader’s comprehension skills.

Actually, Senator Reid said to Republican Senators: “Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, slow down, stop everything, let’s start over. If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it’s too early, things aren’t bad enough.

“When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn’t quite right.

“When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.”

In a letter published in a local weekly newspaper, Mr. Canfield claimed: “One of my most vocal detractors, Jim O’Leary, would have you believe I’m a full-blown racist.” I’ve limited knowledge of Canfield’s inner believes, but assume, that he’s not a racist.

Some of us, who submit controversial letters to editors recognize, that we’ll provoke anger, by expressing our opinions. We should anticipate reading rude remarks in unsigned letters and receiving harassing anonymous telephone calls. Overly sensitive writers of letters to newspapers are advised: “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”

Friday, January 08, 2010

Jane Hampsher

Regarding, the Senate healthcare bill, Jane Hampsher founder of Firedoglake.com insists: 

“If this bill passes in its current form, we’re going to see a collapse of the progressive infrastructure unlike anything we’ve seen in my lifetime.  What we’re going to have is a bunch of people who call themselves progressives rubberstamping a bill that is everything the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies want. 

“If we truly want to have a victory here for the people who need health care and not the politicians who want a “W” in the win column so they can do well in elections, why are we going to mandate all of this money?  Every American will have to purchase health insurance from a private corporation or they will be fined two percent of their income and it will be seized by the IRS. 

“Why are we passing mandates now if what we say we’re going to do is come back and fix it later but the insurance doesn’t kick in until 2014?  Why don’t we say, great, let’s do insurance reform now and then we’ll come back and we’ll revisit it, and we‘‘ll do the mandates when the insurance companies will meet a contract with the public that we are guaranteeing, as the government, will provide quality insurance, because that is not here now.

“And it is immoral to force people to pay for insurance that they do not want, that is not good insurance, when we are not guaranteeing them that what we are providing them is something that will give them affordable health care.  And this does not.  

“This bill is designed to transfer trillions of taxpayer dollars to the insurance companies’ bottom lines.  We have never done anything like this before. We have never mandated that the public pay eight percent of their income to a private company.  That is obscene. The reason we supported a public option was because we thought that Americans should have the choice to not pay it private companies, that we should—they should have the choice to pay, if this is going to be mandated, to the government instead.  Now that we’re being told we have to pay Aetna, and there is no meaningful restriction on what Aetna can do with that money. This is a victory for Aetna.  It is not a victory for Americans.” 

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Unemployment

Senior White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers said, that he expects employment levels in the country to rise in the spring. Most professional forecasters, agree, that, if you look at the employment statistics they’ll show employment growth, but America is still losing 700,000 jobs a month. The statistics will bounce from month to month, but most professional forecasters believe that by spring the employment growth will start turning positive.

Larry Summers assertion was surprising, because the Obama White House had avoided making predictions, since two of Obama’s chief aides predicted unemployment would top out at eight percent with passage of the stimulus bill.

Summers defended Obama's attempts to persuade banks to increase lending, by pointing out: “The country did incredible things for the banking industry. Those things had to be done to save the economy, but no major bank would be intact, in a position to pay bonuses, if that extraordinary support had not been provided. The bankers need to recognize that. They need to recognize that they've got obligations to the country after all that's been done for them, and there is a lot more they can do, and President Obama is going to be talking with them about what they can do to support enhanced lending to customers across the country. We were there for them. And the banks need to do everything they can to be sure they're there for customers across this country.”

Everyone on the Obama economic team is not as confident about the state of the economy. In an appearance on “Meet the Press,” White House economic adviser Christian Romer said that the recession wouldn’t be over, until “the unemployment rate is down to normal levels.” Dr. Romer insisted that it would be suicide for the government to focus on the deficit when the country was in need of jobs.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Chump?

If acidic deposit levels were to remain constant over the next 50 years, the acidification rate of lakes in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains are likely rise by 50 % or more.

The concept of cap and trade involves our government limiting the amount of pollution companies are allowed to release. Credits are issued, which allow companies to pollute a certain amount, as long as the aggregate pollution equals less than the set cap.

Since, some companies can reduce polluting emissions more inexpensively than other companies, they may engage in trading any extra permits. Companies that can more efficiently reduce pollution sell permits to companies that cannot easily afford to reduce pollution. The companies that sell the permits are rewarded while those that purchase permits must pay for their negative impact. This system would theoretically reduce carbon dioxide by over 80% by 2050 and significantly reduce the rate of global warming. This system would create billions of dollars for the government to spend on consumer energy programs and doing so at the lowest total cost.

Obama has proposed that the Environmental Protection Agency will enforce global warming pollution limits under the Clean Air Act. The biggest polluters, Big Oil and Coal, are standing in the way because they don't want to have to do anything to clean the environment that they’ve been polluting.

Obama’s plan would enforce limits on global warming pollution clean up the environment, and create jobs by making factories and power plants more efficient and encourage wind and solar technologies. Bush had refused to enforce provisions of the Clean Air Act, even after the Supreme Court ordered him to do so.

Robert Ross didn’t appreciate my use of the term “uninformed chumps,” and suggested that “it may be hard to tell who the real uninformed chump is.” I used the term uniformed chumps to describe those, who are so gullible, that they continue to provide unwavering support for those that are working against their interest. Possibly, Ross isn’t a chump. He could be protecting his own financial interest, because he’s heavily invested in healthcare, pharmaceutical, coal or oil stock.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Results Not Better

Robert Ross wrote: “When the Democratic health bill is passed this week, watch your taxes go up.… The bill will also cut medicare by 500 million dollars.”

The Senator Joe Lieberman health care bill was passed in the Senate on Christmas Eve. It’s not a democratic health care bill. It’s impossible to pass an Obama, Pelosi or Reid bill, because they need to compromise with charlatans like Lieberman, in order to get 60 votes in our dysfunctional Senate. Republicans and Independent Lieberman are doing everything they can to ensure the bill, that eventually reaches Obama’s desk will provide generous profits for the healthcare industry.

According to the Congressional Budget Office cuts in Medicare might come from a permanent reduction in the annual payment adjustments for some Medicare services, but that doesn’t mean health care providers will stop being paid for taking care of the elderly; rather, they won’t see pay increases in the future.

A MedPAC analysis report stated, that the Medicare Advantage plan costs taxpayers on average 14 % more than the traditional Medicare plan. The House proposed to change the benchmarks that set the payments, making them equal to what the government pays for traditional Medicare services. According to the Congressional Budget Office, those changes would translate to a savings of $156 billion over 10 years.

Obama also wants to save money on the Advantage program, which covers about one-fifth of all Medicare patients. He said: “We do think that systems like Medicare are very inefficient right now, but it has nothing to do at the moment with issues of benefits. The inefficiencies all come from things like paying $177 billion to insurance companies in subsidies for something called Medicare Advantage that is not competitively bid, so insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides. It doesn’t result in better health care for seniors. It is a giveaway of $177 billion.”



Monday, January 04, 2010

Downward Cycle

Robert Ross wrote: “when you are in serious debt, you stop spending. Most people I know tighten their belts when finaces (sic.) are not coming in. The government should do likewise.”

That is excellent advise for individuals, but not for a country, that wants it’s capitalistic society to thrive. Perhaps, Ross hasn’t heard about supply and demand. Supply are those items that are for sale. Demand are those customers, who are expected to be buying those items.  Last year, we had all kinds of items and services for sale, but few people were able to purchase them.  The demand side of the economy had come to a halt, because of the credit disaster.  We had supply, but fewer people were buying.  Hence, less demand.

Whenever, no one is buying, the companies that pay people to make the items, can’t afford to keep those workers on the payroll and they’re laid off.   Unemployed, people can’t buy things, which makes the no-demand problem even worse.  It snowballs into more layoffs, less demand, and it keeps getting worse, until we have a depression.  

Leading up to the 1929 stock market collapse, three Republican Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover had occupied the oval office. Hoover insisted on a spending freeze during the Great Depression and by 1933, when FDR became president nearly 25% of Americans were unemployed.

Last year’s downward cycle needed to be interrupted, because this time it wasn't going to fix itself.  The way to stop the cycle, is by spending a lot of money, as fast as, possible.  Presently, people and businesses don’t have the money or find it unwise to spend very large amounts. Consequently, our federal government is the only institution, that has the necessary cash to spend massive amounts of money. 

Conservative columnist David Brooks said: “They (Congressional Republicans) are stuck with the idea that government is always the problem. A lot of Republicans up in Capitol Hill right now are calling for a spending freeze in a middle of a recession/depression. That is insane. But they are thinking the way they thought in 1982, if we can only think that way again, that is just insane.”

Sunday, January 03, 2010

How Long?

Robert Ross wrote: “How long does he (Obama) have to be in office before he takes responsibility and we can blame him for his actions.  In one year he has raised Americas (sic.) debt into the stratosphere.”

Although, Obama has been in office less than a year, some people can’t wait to blame him for our increasing national debt.  Apparently, they’re not aware, that Bush’s trillion-dollar tax cuts for the rich, which when combined with two wars turned Clinton’s $6 trillion projected surplus into Bush’s $5 trillion added debt.  

In “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated that the true costs of the quagmire in Iraq will eventually be more than three trillion dollars. 

Some folks don’t realize that Republicans haven’t produced a president in the past 34 years that has balanced a budget or that of the past 12 presidents the top 6 in terms of job creation were all Democrats. 

They need to be reminded, that on September 29, 2008 the Dow dropped 778 points and 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.” 

We remain the only major county without a national health care program guaranteeing health care for all, and we’re spending far more per capita than any other industrialized country.  We’ve the most cumbersome bureaucratic health care system in the world.  More than 31% of every dollar spent on our health care goes for paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, and profits.  Drug companies are charging Americans the highest rates in the industrialized world.  

The economic corporate hit men have hit America and millions of our citizens have been sentenced to a slow death.  Fortunately, Obama and most Democrats in Congress are doing everything possible to prevent the situation from getting worst for current and future generations of Americans, but congressional Republicans refuse to take responsibility for being wrong on taxes, two wars and now the healthcare debate.   

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Robert Ross

Robert Ross of Hobart claimed, that I failed “to mention the real culprits responsible for the banking failures.”  He wrote, that “Senators Barney Frank and Chris Dodd” were responsible.  Barney Frank is a member of the House of Representatives, but both he and Senator Dodd are members of Congress, whose powers are limited to making laws.  As head of the executive branch of government the President is responsible for enforcing the laws passed by Congress.  Perhaps, Mr. Ross could explain how two member of Congress were able to force banks to give loans to unqualified people.
 
“Time” magazine issue of 2/23/09, ranked the 25 people most responsible for the current economic crisis, and the names of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd don't appear on their list.  That list was compiled by 10 business and economics columnist.  

By winning New York’s 20th. district seat in the House of Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand shifted the balance of power in the House, thereby restoring the possibility of real checks and balances on Wall Street.  Rep. Frank didn’t become the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee until Jan. 2006.  And, with an upset victory in Virginian, Democrats took control of the Senate in Jan. 2007, with a very slim majority.  Unfortunately, Bush continued to threaten veto power over reform legislation until Obama took office on 1/20/09.  

Prior to Obama taking office Frank proposed restrictions for the release of the remaining $350 billion in TARP funds.  His bill proposed, that the pay of executives employed by those financial institution, that received TARP money, 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.   No golden parachute payments as long as the bank has government capital.
  
Rep. Frank's bill may not pass the Senate with the filibuster-free 60 votes needed to send the legislation to Obama’s desk.  However, by drafting this legislation, Frank made a clear statement what form he wants the remaining TARP allotments to take, namely greater help for homeowners, lower compensation for bank executives, more help for smaller banks, and more accountability.

Sen. Dodd has unveiled a comprehensive financial reform package, however Republicans obstructionist were able to stall healthcare reform for most 2009, while the House has passed approximately 100 bills, that await action in the Senate.  This information was considered by the 10 business and economic columnist, who named “the real culprits responsible for the banking failures.”     

Friday, January 01, 2010

Virtuous

In a letter published in the Oneonta Star, Robert Olejarz insisted: “no corporation... can strip you of your liberties wholesale the way government can.  If they could, they’d be the government.”

A virtuous government protects citizens from greedy international corporations. During the Bush administration international corporations owned our government and used our government to destroy the middle class.  Consequently, the inequality of wealth in America is soared to an unprecedented level.  Prior to the financial crisis we had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world.  The crisis hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top 1%.  The gap between the top 1% and the remaining 99% of our population has grown to a record high.

The profits of the economic elite are now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth.  Workers between the age of 55 – 60, who have worked for 20 – 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k.  During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.

Home foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter of 2009.  It was the worst three months of all time, as 937,840 homes received a foreclosure notices.  About 3.4 million homes are expected to enter foreclosure by year’s end, and some experts estimate that next year will be even worse.

Reportedly, 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed.  They urgently need to increase their income, and they’re quickly running out of options.  The unemployment rate is expected to rise further and remain high for several years.  Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking.  

What liberties are being stripped away by Obama, that are more important than the tragedies mentioned above?