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, July 31, 2010

Patriotic Fervor

This morning the Oneonta Star published the following thoughtful letter to the editor, by Robert Olejarz of Sidney, N.Y.

"Something about the Military Channel has bothered me recently. I started thinking about our military history. Specifically, those times the armed forces have been called to combat service. I split its entirety roughly in half, with 1898 being the Rubicon between two periods. From 1788 to the Spanish American War, our servicemen were used only three times; none of them overseas. More significantly, just once were wars so close (1846 to '61) that a generation saw service twice. The year 1898 seems to be the beginning of our habit of military adventurism.

"From then until today, I chronicled at least 13 times the military has been in both actual and potential combat situations _ all of them overseas. Worse yet, this period saw three different times where a generation could have conceivably been veterans of two conflicts. I'm afraid this is simply the consequence of making the world safe for democracy. In essence, perpetual war for perpetual peace. I only see the trend increasing.

"I understand now just why the Military Channel, veterans groups like the American Legion, and the overall support of the troops movement trouble me. It's all basically a glorification of such adventurism, and makes it that much likelier to continue, perhaps where each generation should automatically plan to sacrifice at least their time fighting somewhere.

"A sad and unintentional reflection of that notion is a Military Channel promo of a little boy wearing an adult's uniform, saluting in a mirror, with a prideful father and grandfather looking on. I can't imagine those who have experienced war wanting that kind of future for their children. It's exactly that potential fate that seems to get lost in this patriotic fervor. In the larger picture, it's what a constant state of war will mean to our future freedom."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Marjorie Margolies

Former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies was the key vote in the 1993 vote for the Clinton economic plan, that created millions of jobs, balanced the federal budget, gave our country a government surplus and began shrinking the national debt.

Margolies’ vote made all the difference by casting the decisive vote, 218, that decided whether our new president and Congress could prove to the Federal Reserve board and the country’s money managers that the government could be trusted to get the country’s fiscal house in order and keep it that way. 


With Republicans chanting, “Good-bye, Marjorie,” she put her House I.D. card into the slot and cast her vote “aye.” Marjorie Margolies has said: “I was pressed by all sides, by my constituents, my president needing a victory and Republicans promising my demise.  I was a Democrat in the country’s most Republican district.  I voted my conscience, and it cost me.” 

She was defeated in the next election by a candidate whose most discernible quality was that he was not Margolies. In one of the wealthiest counties in the country, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, it was not difficult to defeat a member of Congress that had voted for a budget that while holding the line on spending, also included tax hikes. 


Amazingly, the courageous vote that Margolies cast on that day 17 years ago made it possible to balance the budget and resulted in a surplus. The economy of the 1990s became robust and the wealthy folks in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania became even richer. Not long ago, she insisted: “I’d do it again, I’d do it again.”

However, the thing that she couldn’t even have imagined at the time was that her son, Marc, will marry Chelsea Clinton tomorrow. 

Congresswoman Margolies cast a very difficult vote that she’ll be proud of for the rest of her life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Cynical Calculation

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insists: “What the president and I believe this is the right thing for the country, the fair thing, the responsible thing for the country now, is to make sure we leave in place and preserve tax cuts that go to more than 95 percent of working Americans. I think it is fair and good policy to allow those tax cuts that only go to two percent of the highest earners in the country to expire as scheduled. The country can withstand that. The economy can withstand that. And I think it’s good policy.”  


Congressional Republicans are saying that, this is all about a tax increase. That isn’t true. It’s the law, that they put into effect.  It’s the law that they pushed under Bush and those tax cuts had an expiration date. 

People in the top 2 percent of the income bracket are going from 35 % to 39 %.  Ninety-eight percent of Americans aren’t going to be affected. Obama has promised not to raise taxes on individuals making up to $200,000 a year and families making up to $250,000. 

Apparently, Republicans have calculated that people above the national economic average want to keep their tax cuts and will therefore be voting Republican. They’re fully aware, that a lot of people are hurting, but they’re counting on compassionate conservatives not being compassionate this year. They anticipate, that this election will be every man for himself, because voters will want to keep their tax cuts.

They’re promoting the misconception, that all people who are unemployed are slackers or shirkers. They’re arguing, that giving people unemployment benefits takes away their incentive to want to go out and look for a job. 

In fact, millions of unemployed Americans are trying to get to work. Any time an entry-level job, at a hotel or a business in any big city, the lines go around the block. Therefore, saying that people don’t want to work is less than honest. Poor people across this country are getting up early, catching public transportation, if they can find it, and going to find jobs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Avoiding an Answer

President Obama pointed out: “For a long time, there’s been a tradition under both Democratic and Republican presidents to offer relief to the unemployed. That was certainly the case under my predecessor, when Republican senators voted several times to extend emergency unemployment benefits. 
And I have to say, after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people who didn’t have any problems spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle class Americans...

“Over the past few weeks, a majority of senators have tried not once, not twice, but three times to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis. Each time, a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote, denying millions of people who are out of work much needed relief. These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks!

“It’s time to stop holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics.  It’s time to do what’s right not for the next election but for the middle class.  We’ve got to stop blocking emergency relief for Americans who are out of work.  We’ve got to extend unemployment insurance.  We need to pass those tax cuts for small businesses and lending for small businesses. Times are hard right now. We are moving in the right direction.  I know it’s getting close to an election, but there are times when you put elections aside. This is one of those times.”

Republicans claim, that they want the deficit reduced, before extending unemployment insurance, but when Senator John Cornyn of Texas was asked on national TV to name one program that he would cut, he repeatedly avoided giving an answer.
Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas was also asked repeatedly, to name a single program that he would cut, but, he wouldn’t give an answer. Republicans love the idea of cutting government spending, but they won’t name a single program they personally would cut.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ordinary Working Folks

The Republican Party is taking the position that they want to protect Wall Street but not the unemployed? Consequently, Democrats might do much better in the fall than expected, because of three big Republican mistakes.

Many Republicans spoke out against Obama’s agreement with BP, which looked like they were protecting big oil.

Congressional Republicans voted almost unanimously against financial reform, which looked like they were protecting big Wall Street companies.

They came out almost uniformly against extending unemployment benefits, which looked like they were insensitive to ordinary working people.

Congressional Democrats and Obama have to get an effective jobs bill in front of the Senate and the House. If congressional Republicans refuse to vote for the jobs bill, they’ll be facing many angry voters in November. Recent polls indicate that by 70% to 28% margin, Americans care more about jobs in the economy than they care of the deficit.

Because of the recession, a lot of people have been driven into Medicaid programs. This year in Pennsylvania, they’ll be adding 61,000 people to Medicare.  In recognition of the rise in Medicare patients, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus plan) adjusted the formula to give states additional Medicaid money. However, that will end later this year.

Governors have asked Obama and members of Congress to extend the adjusted Medicare formula for another six months to give the states some breathing space, because taxes in states are down due to the recession, that was brought on by Wall Street. Pennsylvania, should get an additional $850 million for Medicare, but if they have to make $850 million in cuts, on top of $3 billion worth of cuts that they’ve already made, it could result in laying off between 10,000 and 20,000 people. That would be a disaster, especially since Pennsylvania has created over 60,000 private sector jobs in the last four months.

Will Republican members of the House continue to vote against ordinary working folks?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Volker Rule

A proposal by American economist and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker restricted banks from making certain kinds of speculative investments. Volcker argued that such speculative activity played a key role in the financial crises of 2007 -2010.
Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin introduced a major piece of legislation the at included the Volcker Rule, which placed limitations on proprietary trading. However, despite having wide support in the Senate, the amendment was never given a vote.

The House-Senate conference committee passed a strengthened Volcker rule by including the language prepared by Senators Merkley and Levin. The advantage of that language was that it covered more types of proprietary trading than the original rule proposed by Obama administration. It also bans conflict of interest trading, because a Goldman Sachs investigation showed, business as usual on Wall Street has for too long allowing banks to create instruments which were based on junky assets, then sell them to clients, and bet against their own clients by betting on their failure. The measure approved by the conferees ended that type of conflict which Wall Street has engaged in.

Unfortunately, conferees changed the proprietary trading ban to allow banks to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds at the request of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Senator Brown’s vote was needed in the Senate to pass the bill into law. Consequently, proprietary trading in Treasury bonds issued by government-backed entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as municipal bonds are presently exempted.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Landmark Legislation

President Obama has signed landmark Wall Street reform, that will protect taxpayers and ensure that Main Street will never again have to bail out Wall Street.  When Wall Street melted down more than two years ago, our economy was devastated.  And when the big banks failed, they brought down the rest of our economy and left millions jobless and our economy in a prolonged recession.  

Frequently, Congress has a tough time realizing that in many cases the best thing they can do is get out of the way. However, the legislation Obama signed into law contains a provision that reduces red tape and allow small businesses to flourish by taking advantage of competition and market forces.

When, we put our money into checking accounts we receive interest on our deposits, but the same can’t be said for small businesses.  In fact, the Banking Act of 1933 prohibits banks from paying interest on business checking accounts.  While large corporations are able to use high balance sweep accounts to earn interest on their cash, these accounts do not work for small businesses due to the high balance requirements.

Congressman Scott Murphy represents those of us in New York’s 20th District. He introduced the Business Checking Fairness Act, which was included in the Wall Street Reform Bill. It repeals a law dating back to the Great Depression preventing small businesses from earning interest on their business accounts.  This was one of those outdated laws that had no business being on the books.  

This is a big win for small business, who for years couldn’t receive interest on their checking accounts. Unfortunately, the provision won’t require banks to offer interest bearing checking accounts, but it will give banks the option.  This should increase competition among banks and lift an unfair burden from our small businesses during these tough economic times.
 
According to Rep. Murphy this legislation will allow our small businesses to grow, protect consumers and crack down on Wall Street. Ultimately, the Wall Street reform legislation should strengthen the economy and strengthen our banking system.
 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Protecting the People

In the on line version of the Oneonta Star, Robb wrote: “Who protects us from the Government? Oh yea, that is why we have the 2nd Amendment.” This appears to be a subtle suggestion of violence.

Alabama militiaman and teabagger blogger Mike Vanderboegh called for his followers to smash Democratic offices. He was a featured speaker at a “Restore the Constitution Open-Carry Rally,” on April 19th at Fort Hunter National Park in Virginia. According to rally organizers, that park is the closest location to Washington, D.C.  in which they can legally, and openly carry their firearms.

The date of the “show your guns” rally was on April 19th, is symbolic in its timing. April 19th, was the first day of the American Revolution, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, as well as, the day, home grown terrorist Timothy McVeigh chose for his bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. That blast claimed the lives of 168 victims and injured more than 680 innocent people.

The primary goal of those Tea Party Patriots was to intimidate the political process in this country, because they can’t get people to do what they want through the voting process, they’re using guns as a means of intimidating our national politics. The gun theme is becoming a consistent threat. 

Tea party protest sign, at different events announced, that: “We came unarmed this time.” People showed up at political events last summer with guns strapped to their side. A man in New Hampshire showed up at an Obama event brandishing a .9 millimeter pistol and carrying a sign saying: “Replenishing the Tree of Liberty with blood.”

George Washington wrote: “The warmest friends and best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections; but they found them unavoidable and are sensible, if evil is likely to arise there from, the remedy must come hereafter; for in the present moment, it is not to be obtained; as there is a Constitutional door open for it, I think the People (for it is with them to Judge) can as they will have the advantage of experience on their Side, decide with as much propriety on the alterations and amendments which are necessary as ourselves. I do not think we are more inspired, have more wisdom, or possess more virtue, than those who will come after us.”

Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution provides and extensive list of the powers of Congress. The list concludes with: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

Robb should try writing a thoughtful, persuasive letter to the editor instead suggesting violence, since the ballot has proven to be much more successful than the bullet.




Friday, July 23, 2010

Wall Street Reform

With the help of 3 Republican Senators, the Senate joined the House of Representatives to pass the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which cracks down on corporate fraud and holds big banks accountable for reckless, risky behavior. The financial crisis has taught us that the look-the-other way, hands-off deregulatory policies of the recent past can jeopardize not only private investments, but our entire economy.

Measures were added to ensure law enforcement and federal agencies have the tools, including stiffer criminal penalties to investigate and prosecute financial crimes and to protect whistle-blowers who help uncover these crimes.

This legislation will reform Wall Street by creating a consumer financial protection bureau to regulate the trading of derivatives, one of the root causes of the current meltdown, while allowing small businesses to continue using them to mitigate risk. It will end taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street institutions by establishing a new authority to wind down failing mega-firms outside of bankruptcy, so shareholders and creditors pick up the cost, not taxpayers.

These changes bring long-overdue transparency and regulation to Wall Street, ending the days of back-room deals that put our entire economy at risk. This historic reform bill creates clear standards and real enforcement mechanisms including jail time for corporate wrongdoers to finally curb the fraud, manipulation and reckless speculation that undermined confidence in our markets and derailed our economy.

Democrats and those 3 Republican Senators can be proud of their work to pass a bold reform bill that reigns in Wall Street abuses, ends government bailouts, and gives everyday Americans the consumer protections they deserve. They’ve taken an important step towards restoring faith in America's financial system and rebuilding confidence in the long-term health of our economy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Basic Safeguards

Congressional Democrats and Obama have passed Wall Street reforms, that will put an end to taxpayer bailouts; that will bring complex financial dealings out of the shadows; that will protect consumers; and give shareholders more power in the financial system.

During the Wall Street reform debate, battalions of financial industry lobbyists descended on Capitol Hill and firms spend millions to influence the outcome of the reform debate. Misleading arguments and attacks were made that weren’t designed to improve the bill, but to weaken or to kill it. A bipartisan process buckle under the weight of those withering forces.
Nevertheless, Congress produced a bill that according to Obama is a reasonable, non-ideological approach that targets the root problems that led to the turmoil in our financial sector and ultimately in our entire economy.



Obama urges, that business as usual in Washington must end and both political parties must put that kind of cynical politics aside. He points out to those, who are in the financial sector, that although they’ll not always agree, that doesn't mean they have to choose between two extremes. We don’t have to choose between markets that are unfettered without even modest protections against another crisis, or markets that are stymied by onerous rules that suppress enterprise and innovation. That is a false choice and we need no more proof than the recession that America is now experiencing.



There has always been a tension between the desire to allow markets to function without interference and the absolute necessity of rules to prevent markets from falling out of kilter. How to manage that tension, has been debated since the founding of our nation. By taking up this debate and figuring out how to apply well-worn principles to deal with inevitable problems, we ensure that we don't tip too far one way or the other. In the end, our system works and our markets are free, when there’re basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excesses, that ensure that it’s more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Uninformed Voters

Several months ago, a Pew survey asked: “Who enacted TARP, the $700 billion bank bailout?” Almost half, 47%, thought it was Obama. Only 34 % of Americans correctly answered the question. In fact, it was Bush’s team, who engineered the bank bailout.

Bush's appointee, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke the Chairman of the Federal Reserve went to Congress in Sept. 2008. 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.”

The TARP bailout of Wall Street took place on Oct. 3, 2008, Obama didn’t become President until Jan. 20, 2009. Congress gave the Bush administration half of the money that was requested, but attached conditions to the second half of the bailout money. Congress told Treasury Secretary Paulson that he’d get $350 billion, but they required an opportunity to evaluate the results, before approving the rest. Paulson decided how the first half of the $700 billion in TARP funds were spent.

Congressional Democrats were disappointed when the Bush administration decided to use none of that money to reduce foreclosures, which had been a central part of the economic solution. Therefore, Congress frozen the second half of the money and put restrictions on how the second half of money could be spent. Congress make it clear to the Obama administration, that it wouldn’t be able to spend any of the remaining TARP funds unless it did something to reduce foreclosures.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Suicide Rate

Social Security and many other programs for the elderly have lowered the suicide rate among the elderly by 50% since 1930s.

Republican Minority Leader. John Boehner said: “We’re all living a lot longer than anybody ever expected, and I think raising the retirement age, going out to 20 years is not affecting anyone close to retirement and eventually getting the retirement age to 70 is a step that needs to be taken. I think we need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke and that if you have substantial non-Social Security income while you’re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we’re broke?”


It seems to be a good idea, because people are living a longer. Raising the eligibility age to 70 would preserve the viability of the program for folks who are poor and really need Social Security to make ends meet once they reach retirement age. But, raising the retirement age to 70 creates another problem, for younger workers. Since, retiring at 65 opened up jobs for younger workers.

There may be an easier solution to this problem, by eliminating the taxable income cap on Social Security. The wealthy will pay more into Social Security, but they’ll also be getting back from Social Security, while completely eliminating the insolvency problem. 

Boehner’s solution would puts the burden on the backs of the elderly rather than on the backs of the wealthy, but if you put the burden on the backs of the wealthy, they’re still getting the money back.  It’s not just taking a bite out of their income.  When you pay into Social Security, you get it back.  So, there’s a really simple solution that actually doesn’t involve radically altering the Social Security program.

As recently reported, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and Republican Congressman Ron Paul are teaming up to call for substantial cuts in our military spending. If they are able to save a trillion dollars, raising the eligibility age to 70 may not be necessary.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Empire is Ending

Barney Frank claims: “We could save tens of billions of dollars by withdrawing immediately from Iraq. There is no logical military or national security justification. We were told that we were going to pull out of Iraq, but because the Iraqi parliament can't come together on a government, we may have to stay longer. 

“That is nonsense and we are spending money on their infrastructure, we are spending money mediating their political situation. I believe we could save upwards of $10 billion from what is now planned if we simply said, all right, we now begin an orderly withdrawal from Iraq to protect the troops and then we get out.”

The New York Times has pointed out, that there is a problem with the definition of combat troops. There will be troops remaining in Iraq, that will be engaged in firefights alongside the Iraqis. The Iraqis don't face an external enemy and they ought to be able to deal with internal problems themselves. It’s estimated, that to keep troops in Iraq for another year-and-a-half will probably cost $20 billion.



Rep. Frank insists, that we should continue to exit Iraq. Under the stress of this economy, a non- interventionist foreign policy has become a necessity. Our empire is going to end. Our troops are going to come home, and the American people want our troops to come home in a calm, deliberate fashion. They don't want them coming home from Afghanistan like they did to the Soviet Union, with a total collapse of their government. 



Our empire is going to end, because we can't afford it. Presently, we’re running up trillions of dollars worth of debt. The modest suggestions, that Frank and Paul are talking about, that could save a trillion dollars over a 10-year period, there shouldn't be any reason for anybody to disagree with the plan. 

Congressmen Frank and Paul have found tremendous support, especially among young people who are inheriting a massive debt. They’re tired of debt and they don't want to have any part of the imperial militarism that is going on.



Congressman Frank concluded: “And if you don't do what Ron Paul and I suggest, again, aside from Afghanistan, reducing the thermonuclear arsenal to destroy a non-existent Soviet Union, and letting NATO defend itself, then you are going to have to either have a degree of tax increases that could damage the economy, or make cuts in vital domestic programs that impinge on the quality of life. And I don't understand why we should continue to subsidize Western Europe and Japan, leave aside Afghanistan.” 


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Useless Expenditures

Barney Frank insists, that although NATO was a wonderful accomplishment in 1949, today there is no need for American taxpayers to continue to subsidize the budgets of Western Europe. Congressmen Frank and Paul don’t agree with the notion that America must be the superpower, who intervenes everywhere. They’re committed to defending America's legitimate strategic interests, but for decades our political leadership has gone far beyond our legitimate military needs.

Congressman Frank says that the media is focusing too much on Afghanistan. He and Ron Paul are talking about making reductions on a worldwide basis in wealthy nations, such as our Marines in Japan and troops in Germany. Afghanistan is a separate but legitimate debate. Frank believes, that if we withdraw the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and spend about 2% of what we spend on those troops to bolster national security at home, we would be safer. Nevertheless, there are tens of billions of dollars being spent in military scenarios that have nothing to do with Afghanistan and nothing to do with terrorism.

The Pentagon's budget for 2010 is almost $700 billion, and Barney Frank would like to cut it by about 50%. Most of our weapons spending and military commitment overseas has nothing to do with terrorist and little to do with making us safer.

At the height of the Cold War, we had three ways of dropping thermonuclear weapons on Soviet Union. We had nuclear submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, Strategic Air Command. Rep. Frank wants the Pentagon to pick two, because we don’t have to worry about the Soviet Union as much. However, he recognizes, that there are parts of the world where we need to be.

Frank wants sea and air power to confront the People's Republic of China, because he doesn't want Taiwan overrun. He thinks sea and air power can help South Korea, but since South Korea is larger than North Korea, they should be guarding their own country. Fifteen thousand Marines in Okinawa are irrelevant, since we're not going to land Marines on the Chinese mainland. We have made it clear that we’re prepared to confront Iran militarily, but it’s no longer reasonable to have our troops everywhere. 

The view, that America must be the superpower and be everywhere, doesn't help our national security.



Ron Paul insists: “My goals might be slightly different than Barney’s goals, but this is a modest approach that we can agree on.”

Part # 3 of an Imperial Liquidation plan will be posted tomorrow.



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coming Together

Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and Republican Congressman Ron Paul are teaming up to call for substantial cuts in U.S. military spending.

They wrote a joint article stating: "We may not agree on what to do with the estimated $1 trillion in savings, but we do agree that nothing either of us cares deeply about will be possible if we do not begin to face this issue now."

According to Rep. Paul the two of them have talked about the issue for sometime. Recently, Barney Frank came to him and ask about setting up a commission to set out a program. It will be a 10-year program and Paul thinks it’s a great idea, because it’s something, that he has been arguing for a long time. Paul said, that he’s always looking for an opportunity to bring progressive Democrats and conservative libertarian together, because there’re places where they can agree.

Both want our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. They also want our troops out of Germany, Japan, and South Korea. By eliminating some expensive military systems, they believe, that they can save $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Obama claimed: "Our nation is at war, we face a very tough fight in Afghanistan, but Americans don't flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks, we persist, and preserve. We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan society from within and launch attacks against innocent men, women, and children in our country and around the world."

In a recent speech on the House floor, Ron Paul pointed out, that this is not a war, it wasn't declared. He asked: “How can it be a war, we are not fighting against a government? We are fighting against a group of people that don't have planes or tanks or ships or missiles or anything. It is an insurgency. And the insurgency is all because we are over there. They don't like foreigners, and we were part of their insurgency when the Soviets Russians were there. We joined Osama bin Laden in trying to get rid of them. At that time they were called the mujahideen and now they’re called the Taliban. It makes no sense whatsoever, it's not in the interest of our national security. Even our CIA now says there are very few if any al Qaeda in Afghanistan. They've chased them all over to Pakistan. Where are you going to chase them to? Take over Pakistan? Then Yemen and then Somalia? We just don't need to be the world's policeman. I think we are digging a hole for ourselves.”

Rep. Frank pointed out: “Both he and Congressman Paul opposed the war in Iraq and they agree, that staying in Iraq to mediate the electoral disputes among the various Iraqi political parties and religious groups has no value.”

Part # 2 of an Imperial Liquidation plan will be posted tomorrow.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Imperial Liquidation

Early in 2007, the Comptroller General at the Government Accountability Office, David Walker painted a very sobering picture regarding the federal government's ability to meet its future obligations. Walker explained that government entitlement spending is out of control and singled out Bush’s Medicare prescription drug bill passed by Congress as a totally irresponsible piece of legislation. 
 
Congress knew the projections that the program would cost $400 billion over the next decade were inaccurate, when they voted for the bill. The true cost will be at least $1 trillion in the first decade and much more in following decades as our population grows older. 
 
The politicians who get reelected by passing such incredibly shortsighted legislation will never have to answer to future generations, who are the real victims of the debts being incurred in their names.
 
David Walker claims our government can’t keep its promises for Social Security and Medicare, because it's too late to reformed our entitlement system. The official national debt figure is approaching $9 trillion. This merely reflects what the federal government owes in current debts on money already borrowed. It doesn’t reflect what the federal government has promised to pay millions of Americans in entitlement benefits down the road.
 
For years, other experts have predicted that the American empire is collapsing and Congress, the President will be unable to do anything substantive to reverse the course.

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

A decision to mount a campaign of imperial liquidation may already be to late, given the vast and deeply entrenched interests of the military-industrial complex.

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

Thursday, July 15, 2010

David Malpass

The Republican Party is running David Malpass against Senator Kirstin Gillibrand.

In his Oneonta Star column, Tom Sears claims that David Malpass is a humble man with humble beginnings. I can’t think of anyone in government today, from a more humble beginnings than Obama. Actually, I don’t believe, that humble beginnings should be a reason to vote for a candidate. A candidates position on relevant issues should be of utmost importance.

David Malpass was a former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary under President Ronald Reagan. According to Treasury Department statistics, when Reagan took office in 1980, the national debt stood at $930 billion. In Reagan's eight years, debt increased by $1.692 trillion dollars and there was a budget deficit in each of his eight years largely fueled by tax cuts and increased defense spending. When he left office, the debt stood at over $2.6 trillion - triple what he inherited. Sears insists that Malpass “will not vote for any new spending without matching cuts.” I’ll bet none of those matching cuts will come from the Pentagon budget.

At the time, Reagan took office, America was the world's greatest creditor nation. Malpass also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush. After, 8 years of Reagan and 4 years of Bush the elder, we had become the world's greatest debtor nation, as a result of supply side economics.

In the private sector Malpass was the former chief economist at Bear Stearns. In early 2008, Bear Stearns was overexposure to mortgage backed securities and unexpectedly collapsed. It was subsequently acquired by JP Morgan Chase.

Indeed, that must have been a very humbling experience for the former chief economist.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Investing in Clean Energy

While reaping the largest profits in history and destroying the Gulf of Mexico, BP and other big oil companies have been taking more than $35 billion of taxpayers money in special subsidies and tax breaks.

Not only did ExxonMobil avoid paying any income taxes last year, they also got a $46 million refund from the IRS.
Even as the worst environmental disaster in American history continues unabated in the Gulf of Mexico, the Senate voted to give big oil another bailout. Some members of Congress are fighting back by proposing to end the big oil bailout and invest in green jobs instead, but they need our support to make it happen.

We must let our representatives in Congress know, that we want Congress to end all tax breaks and subsidies for dirty fossil fuels and to invest, that money in green jobs and clean energy instead.

A few weeks ago, Texas Congressman Joe Barton apologized to BP for what he called a shakedown of the oil industry. In fact, it has been BP and other big oil companies, that have been shaking down the American taxpayers for generations.

In 2008, ExxonMobil earned a record $45.2 billion or nearly $5.2 million per hour. But unlike the rest of us, they're not paying their fair share in taxes. Actually, they're walking away with billions of our dollars, even as they screw up our environment and keep our economy dependent on dirty and dangerous fuels. 

At a time when we should be investing in clean energy businesses that would create jobs right here in America, why are we writing checks to dirty, polluting big oil companies?

It isn’t fair, but Senate Republicans continue to oppose the Cap and Trade legislation that has already passed the House. 



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brought to Justice

I’ve received the following letter from President Barack Obama.

“I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana -- one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle's Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners.

“Folks like Floyd Lasseigne, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman. This is the time of year when he ordinarily earns a lot of his income. But his oyster bed has likely been destroyed by the spill.

“Terry Vegas had a similar story. He quit the 8th grade to become a shrimper with his grandfather. Ever since, he's earned his living during shrimping season -- working long, grueling days so that he could earn enough money to support himself year-round. But today, the waters where he has worked are closed. And every day, as the spill worsens, he loses hope that he will be able to return to the life he built.

“Here, this spill has not just damaged livelihoods. It has upended whole communities. And the fury people feel is not just about the money they have lost. It is about the wrenching recognition that this time their lives may never be the same.

“These people work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe -- one that is not their fault and beyond their control -- their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It is brutally unfair. And what I told these men and women is that I will stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are again made whole.

“That is why, from the beginning, we have worked to deploy every tool at our disposal to respond to this crisis. Today, there are more than 20,000 people working around the clock to contain and clean up this spill. I have authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to participate in the response. More than 1,900 vessels are aiding in the containment and cleanup effort. We have convened hundreds of top scientists and engineers from around the world. This is the largest response to an environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.

“We have also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In addition, after an emergency safety review, we are putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I have appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. If laws are inadequate, they will be changed. If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Foundation

It’s obvious, that America needs to build a new foundation for economic growth in the 21st century. Wall Street reform is an essential part of that foundation. Without financial reform, our families, businesses, and the global economy will remain vulnerable to future crises.

A comprehensive plan to achieve these reforms has passed the House of Representatives. A bipartisan Senate version is being debated. Despite the efforts of industry lobbyists to shape this legislation to their special interests, both bills represent significant improvement on the flawed rules that have been in place.



The bill being considered in the Senate would create a way to protect the financial system and the American taxpayers in the event that a large financial firm begins to fail. An ordinary local bank when it approaches insolvency, there is an orderly process in place. The FDIC ensures that depositors are protected, thereby maintaining confidence in the banking system. Customers and taxpayers are protected, but owners and management lose their equity. Unfortunately, we didn't have that kind of process in place for large financial firms. Congress needs to design an orderly process to contain the failure of the largest and most interconnected financial firms in our country.



When the present financial crisis began, crucial decisions about what would happen to some of the world’s biggest companies, that employed tens of thousands of people, with holding of hundreds of billions of dollars in assets were held in hurried discussions in the middle of the night. In order to save the entire economy from an even worse catastrophe, it was necessary to use taxpayer dollars. Most of that money has been paid back and the Obama administration has proposed a fee to be paid by large financial firms to recover all the loaned money, because the American people should never have been put in that position in the first place.



Obama has insisted that the financial industry, not taxpayers, shoulder the costs in the event that a large financial firms should falter. The goal of reform is to make certain that taxpayers are never again on the hook because a firm is deemed too big to fail.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Consequences

This recession resulted in trillions of dollars in savings have being lost. Seniors were forced to put off retirement, young people postpone college, entrepreneurs gave up on their dream of starting a company. At the end of the Bush administration, Congress was called upon to take the unprecedented steps to rescue the financial system.

It was a very unpopular, buy economic experts insisted that it had to be rescued. At the end of 2008, we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs each month. Today, America is adding jobs again. A year ago the economy was shrinking rapidly, but today it’s growing. We've seen the fastest turnaround in economic growth in nearly three decades.

Until the recovery is not just felt on Wall Street, but on Main Street, Obama and congressional Democrats will not be satisfied. Until the millions of unemployed Americans, who are looking for work can find jobs, and wages are growing at a meaningful pace, no one can claim a recovery. As the Obama administration seeks to revive this economy, they will be working to rebuild it stronger than before. Democrats don't want an economy that has the same weaknesses that led to this crisis and they intend to address some of the underlying problems that led to this economic devastation in the first place.

This recession was a failure of responsibility, that Obama had publicly addressed more than two years, before the crisis had unfolded. In 2007, Obama insisted, that he believe in the power of the free market and in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital, get loans and invest their savings. However, a free market was never meant to be a free license to take
whatever you can get, and that's what frequently happened in the years leading up to this crisis.

Some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged there's family looking to buy a house, or pay for an education, open a business, save for retirement, and that deals made on Wall Street have real consequences across our economy.



Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Boycott BP”

There has been mounting complaints that offers of help from volunteers to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf are being ignored.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen announced that oil skimming capacity in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to 550 vessels and more than 750 skimmers will be at work by mid-July.  

Rampant criticism of British Petroleum continues with over 760,000 supporters calling for a boycott of the company, on the “Boycott BP” Facebook page.  
 

BP has bungled the whole operation from the beginning. Without question, it’s their mess, but a boycott is not the answer. BP still has to plug that leak, clean up the oil on the coastline and deal with thousands of legal claims from people affected by the spill.

However, if the company goes bankrupt, before that happens, the federal government will have to deal with all those expenses. That will mean, that our tax dollars will go to pay for BP’s mess, and Obama has admitted that the federal government doesn’t have the resources or the expertise to get it the job done. 

BP is one of the only oil giants not operating in the Middle East and if BP fails, its business will likely fall to its competitors which means the U.S. would become even more dependent on oil from a very dangerous and unstable region. 
We could end up indirectly funding groups that want to harm Americans.  Hopefully the oil spill will be the wakeup call we need to finally kick our dependence on foreign oil. A boycott of BP is not the answer, because it puts our tax dollars on the line and our safety at risk. 

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Last Decade

The Republican Party's opposition to Obama’s economic policies are rooted in the belief, that our economy will do better if we just let the banks or the oil companies or the insurance industry make their own rules. They continue to believe that government should maintain a hands-off attitude, even after the Wall Street stock market crash and even after the BP oil well blew. They think we should keep doing what we did for most of the last decade leading up to the recession.

Their prescription for every challenge is the same. Basically, they cut taxes for the wealthy, cut rules for corporations, and cut working folks loose to fend for themselves. Basically their attitude is, you're on your own. The problem is that we've already tried those ideas for most of the last decade and look where they led us.

On Wall Street, the financial industry and its lobbyists spent years chipping away at rules and safeguards that could have prevented the meltdown. Since, we didn’t have a framework of regulation in place, we experienced a financial disaster that nearly led to the collapse of the entire economy.

So far, we don’t know what caused the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. However, we do know that for decades, the oil industry has been able to essentially write its own rules and safety regulations. Industry insiders were put in charge of oversight. Oil and gas companies were allowed to fill out their own safety inspection forms.

Nearly a decade of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires has led to sluggish growth of our economy and a shrinking middle class. Wages and incomes did not go up, even when the economy was growing. For all the Republican Party's moralizing about fiscal discipline, the economic policies they put in place turned a $237 billion surplus into a $1.3 trillion deficit.

Obama believes: “Government can't and should not replace businesses as the engines of growth and job creation in our economy. Government should live within its means. We should root out waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars wherever and whenever we can. Too much regulation can stifle competition and hurt businesses.”

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Digging Out

When, Obama took office, America was losing 750,000 jobs each and every month. Eight million people have lost their jobs and the economy had contracted by 6% points.

We've added private sector jobs for five months in a row and the economy is heading in the right direction. The economy isn’t improving fast enough for a lot of communities. If you're out of work, can't pay the mortgage, and can't take care of your family; it’s hard to have patience and not complain. The crisis America faced when Obama took office was so severe that it’s going to take years, to fully heal, because we’re digging ourselves out of one of the worst recessions in our history.

Congressional Democrats want an extension of unemployment benefits for workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. They want to help small business owners get the loans they need to keep their doors open or hire more workers. They want relief for struggling states so they don't have to lay off thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers.

A Democratic majority in the Senate is meaningless, because 60 votes are needed to get anything done and Republicans have set an all-time record for the most filibusters in one Congress. They want Obama and congressional Democrats to fail in their efforts to revitalize our economy. Through all kinds of procedural maneuvering in the Senate, they’ve using their power to stop relief from going to the American people, by not allowing remedial measures to come up for a vote.

Cynical Republican leaders got together and made the calculation that if Obama fails, they’ll win. Their plan is to keep saying no, so that, nothing gets done and voters will forget who got us into this mess in the first place.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Very Poor Record

Oldsoldier wrote: “Personally I prefer to vote for someone who actually believes in fiscal responsibility.”

The Republican Party has a very poor record of implementing fiscal responsibility. They talk a lot of trash, but they don’t walk the walk.

Republicans have not produced a president in the past 34 years that has balanced a budget. Of the past 12 presidents the top six in terms of job creation were all Democrats. Clinton led the country in the direction of creating more jobs, significantly reduced unemployment and brought about a budget surplus, which Bush squandered on the way to creating a record deficit.

Unemployed Americans results in less tax monies being available to reduce the deficit. The more we are able to reduce the deficit, the less interest, that we have to pay our international creditors.

Eight years ago, thirty percent of our national debt was held by foreign lenders. During, Bush’s presidency our national debt doubled, with foreign lending accounting for 80 percent of that increase.

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. The quagmire in Iraq was by far the primary reason for the enormous increase in our national dept. Borrowing and spending for an unnecessary war has jeopardizes our ability to stimulate this economy.

It was fiscally irresponsible not to support the Health Care Act after the Congressional Budget Office stated, that is the most significant effort to reduce our deficits since the Balanced Budget Act in the 1990s.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Republican Mutation

Oldsoldier wrote: “Yes, the current administration and congress are the ENEMY, for they are not representing the majority ‘will of the people’ but thier (sic) own views of social activism and social dependancy.”

The current administration and Congress was elected by the people. Nearly, 70 million American voted for Obama He carried every northern state from Maine to Iowa, including Wisconsin which for the most part consists of white rural counties and small towns. Many people thought the voters of Wisconsin would never support an African American candidate, but Obama's margin of victory was an unbelievable 13 points. Only 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidential election and Obama garnered 365 votes.

Voters determine the will of the people not polls. Voters elected the current administration and a majority of Democrats to both the Senate and House.

At one time, the opposing party was described as the loyal opposition, but oldsoldier considers the Democratic Party the ENEMY. This is an example of what Rush Limbaugh has done to our country, while making himself a multi-millionaire.

Oldsoldier added: “I will not vote for someone whole (sic) raises our national debt 4X in one year.”

According to Treasury Department statistics, when Reagan took office in 1980, the national debt stood at $930 billion. In Reagan's eight years, debt increased by $1.692 trillion dollars and there was a budget deficit in each of his eight years largely fueled by tax cuts and increased defense spending. When he left office, the debt stood at over $2.6 trillion - triple what he inherited.

The national debt then increased by $1.587 trillion under the first President Bush, reaching $4.2 trillion by 1992. Under Clinton, $1.54 trillion was added to the debt leaving it at roughly $5.7 trillion by the end of his second term. When George W. Bush was sworn in, the national debt stood at $5.7 trillion. In his eight years it increased by $4.899 trillion to roughly $10.6 trillion.

From Ronald Reagan's presidency to the end of George W. Bush's - 28 years covering January 1981 to January 2009 - the national debt went from $930 billion to $10.6 trillion - an increase of $9.67 trillion. If you subtract the $1.54 trillion added to the debt during the Clinton years, there was a $8.13 trillion increase under Reagan and the two Bushes. That means 84 percent of the debt incurred from Reagan to Obama occurred in the 20 years under Republican presidents.

No wonder the Republican Party is attempting to transform itself into the Tea Party.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Another Modification

On line comments regarding Alfred Tottey published letter in the Oneonta Star included several by oldsoldier, who wrote: “This current government does not REPRESENT the majority, so the propaganda campaign of Alfred's letter is just that, another modifacation (sic) of the truth.”

Another modification of the truth by oldsoldier, because Alfred Tottey began by writing: “I’m willing to bet most of you would answer moderate, but, as a moderate, would you vote for someone who:”

Tottey lists ten ideas held or proposed in legislation, that he found in Contract From sent America (not to be confused with Contract with America), primary campaigns and other forums by Republicans, conservatives, libertarians or Tea Partiers. Although, Tottey considers the ideas and proposals radical, he leaves it up to the reader to determine for themselves, whether the proposals are radical.

One of the ideas was “to re-visit the Civil Rights and Americans with Disabilities Acts to remove unfair requirements on businesses.”

In fact, Tea Party favorite and libertarian Rand Paul won the Kentucky Republican nomination for Senate. Following that primary victory, he made statements in a series of television interviews, declaring his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities and the Fair Housing Acts.

Paul has backtracked, and now says that he believes Congress was the right to bar segregation in private businesses, but his original position was what you'd expect from someone who basically believes private-property rights and business interests trump all others and the market will fix any problems.

Paul doesn’t believe in government regulation and if elected to the Senate, he would attempt to drag this country back 60 years, because that is the real platform of the Tea Party movement.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Joe Barton

Mr. Tottey’s list of ten radical proposals include: “has already declared support for Big Oil by apologizing to BP?

On June 17, 2010, Republican Congressman Joe Barton accused the White House of a "$20 billion shakedown" of oil giant British Petroleum after the company agreed to establish an escrow account to pay the claims of people harmed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the outset of a House hearing where BP's chief executive officer appeared for the first time before Congress, the Texas congressman said: “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation (BP) can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown, with the attorney general of the United States. But I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure..”

Barton was referring to the agreement that President Obama had made with BP for establishment of a $20 billion relief fund. Rep. Barton has taken $1.4 million from the oil and gas industry since 1990 and spoke for the dark heart of the Republican Party. The Republican House Study Group has over 100 congressional Republicans, who used the word “shakedown.” It’s not only the oil issue, it’s across the board. Every election is a choice and Barton’s approach to dealing with big oil is to give them whatever they want.

Furthermore, Tea Party favorite and Republican candidate for the Senate, Rand Paul called Obama’s effort to hold BP responsible for the oil gushing into the Gulf Coast “un-American” and insisted that “accidents happen” in speaking of the oil well blow-up and the West Virginia coal mine disaster.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Sharron Angle

Alfred Tottey’s list of concerns include: “wants to gut Social Security for all those under age 55, and instead promote private investment accounts?”

The Republican candidate for Senator in Nevada Sharron Angle bragged: “My grandfather wouldn’t even take his Social Security check because he said he was not up for welfare.”

Edward Coyle of the Alliance for Retired Americans pointed out: “The money that people have invested in Social Security all their working lives is their money.  To call it welfare is just plain insulting. People depend on these checks.  It’s their livelihood, it’s their food, it’s prescription drug costs. Can you imagine what would have happened if seniors around this country, particularly in Nevada, turned their checks over to the gamblers on Wall Street? It would have been mass suicide for the millions of elderly in that state.

Sharron Angle would end Medicare and Social Security. She said it, but many others already in Congress feel the same way.   

Friday, July 02, 2010

Don't Tread On Me

Alfred Tottey wrote: “I’m willing to bet most of you would answer moderate, but, as a moderate, would you vote for someone who…wants a new war with Iran to be our primary response to it?”

On the eve of of the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd said: “We proclaim a doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many.  We saw that the United States—or we say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism.  There is no credible evidence to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11.” 


President George W. Bush was able to take the attack on 9/11 and over turn more that two centuries of American doctrine “Don’t Tread on Me.”  We don’t attack but if you attack, we attack back.  We oppose aggression.  We are not the aggressors. Bush and his cohorts in and out of the government were able to construct a new doctrine: If we don‘t like you or your policies we attack. If you cause trouble in your region, we attack.  If we think you have WMD, we attack. 


Unfortunately, most Congressional Republicans and Tea Party candidates have a very different interpretation of “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Alfred Tottey

In a letter published in the Oneonta Star, Alfred Tottey wrote:“Are you a moderate or a radical? A strange question but very revealing, especially in our present-day politicized environment. I’m willing to bet most of you would answer moderate, but, as a moderate, would you vote for someone who:



• wants to gut Social Security for all those under age 55, and instead promote private investment accounts?

• wants to privatize, or completely change Medicare benefits and get rid of Medicaid completely?



• wants a new war with Iran to be our primary response to it?

• opposes government-run programs and therefore, to be consistent, must work to privatize all government-run services, like the post office, border guards, our armed forces and first responders, etc., etc.?



• wants to re-visit the Civil Rights and Americans with Disabilities Acts to remove unfair requirements on businesses?

• has already declared support for Big Oil by apologizing to BP?



•wants to get rid of the EPA and the Education Department?



• will vote against any attempt to raise taxes on the rich and big corporations, but will give them bigger tax breaks than ever before?



• supports the ability of rich corporations to control our elections (enhanced by a questionable Supreme Court decision)?



• believes that our government is the enemy, which we must fight against, take back and revolutionize?



Those are just a few of the radical ideas held or proposed in actual legislation, in the Contract From America, and in primary campaigns and other forums by Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, or Tea Partiers who are out to bamboozle you by masquerading as moderates, mavericks and independents!

You will reap their ill-considered changes if you vote for these radicals. Don’t let 2 percent of the electorate tell you what’s right for the other 98 percent like you and me.