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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Catholics in America

The 1960, Supreme Court decision in Engel vs Vitale ruled it unconstitutional for public schools to allow prayer, even though the prayer was non-denominational and students were allowed to abstain from the exercise. President Kennedy announced, that he understood many people were angered by the ruling, but that there was “a very easy remedy -not a constitutional amendment but a renewed commitment to pray at home, in the churches and with their families.”

By making the above statement, JFK put to rest the fears, that our first Catholic president was going take his order from the Vatican.

Political pundits frequently talk about the so-called Catholic vote, as if it is very conservative. However, American Catholics support abortion rights in the same proportion as the rest of the country. 

A new study about Catholic attitudes on gay and lesbian issues, found that American Catholics are at least five points more supportive than the general public across a range of gay and lesbian issues.  A majority of Catholics, 56%, believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender is not a sin. 

Nearly, 73 % of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; 63 % of Catholics support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military; 60% of Catholics support allowing gays and lesbian couples to adopt children; and 60 % of Catholics are in favor of gay adoptions. 

Catholics are more supportive of recognition of same sex relationships than any other group of Christians and the general population.  Three quarters of Catholics support allowing gay marriage or same sex civil unions.  Only 22% say there should be no legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships. 

Most Catholics don’t like the way the Catholic Church and other religions treat the issue of homosexuality.  Catholic is the largest single religion in the United States and 70% of them believe that America’s places of worship contribute to higher rates of suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth. 

Per the comment below, in the future, I'll be using the term GLBT as an all-inclusive shorthand as a catch-all term. At 75 years of age, I dread being considered dated.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Galvanizing Force

The right-wing US Chamber of Commerce spend $75 million to impact the midterms across our country. Upon taking office, Republican Governor Scott Walker gave tax cuts to businesses, that are projected to cost the state nearly $140 million.

New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christy claims his state is broke, but he wants to spend $200 million on tax cuts to business.

Maine’s Republican governor wants to spend $30 million on tax cut to about 550 of the state’s millionaires.

In Ohio, House Republicans want to spend $10 million by giving the petroleum industry in their state a tax break.

Pennsylvania’s Republican governor’s tax cut proposals have been estimated to cost the state between $200 million and $833 million.

Florida’s Republican governor wants to spend $1.5 billion on tax cuts for corporations.

Most states have budget deficits, but giveaways are just make those deficits worse. Today, the Republican union-stripping measure in Wisconsin and 20 other states has become a nationally galvanizing force for Democrats. 

In the midst of this political conflict another patronage hiring scandal appears to have come to light. Protesters showed up at the home of Republican State Senator Randy Hopper, who is facing a recall.  Hopper’s wife came out of the house and told them that the State Senator Hopper no longer lived there.  She told the protesters that her husband had left his senate district and now lives primarily in Madison with his mistress, who is in her 20’s.

Wisconsin newspapers report, that despite the state’s terrible budget crisis, Senator Hopper’s girlfriend was able to land a job in Governor Walker’s administration, that will amount to a $12,000 pay raise more than the person who had the job before her.

The Republican justification for the union-stripping business in Wisconsin was that it was all about the budget. But, this scandal comes along and we’re reminded that if it were about the budget, people hired by the state would not be getting $12,000 raises, whether or not they were a state senators’ girlfriends.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pride, Dignity and Hope

Unfortunately, too many families are working full-time and have nothing to show for it. They’re raising their kids in poverty and living in fear that one health crisis or pink slip will drive them over the edge.

When, Henry Ford began the long assembly line and payed $5 an hour, far beyond the prevailing wage, he said that he wanted his employees to be able to buy the products they made.

It’s a national disgrace that poverty continues to go up year after year and is destroying the American dream. Work gives pride, dignity and hope to our lives and communities, and, that includes jobs in both the private and public sectors of our economy.

Most private sector and public sector employees are highly efficient. An employee with a scrupulous work ethic is destined to do well in either setting. Public employees are unfairly being described by some as unworthy of their benefits. Usually, the only explanation needed is that they deserve their benefits, but for the green eyed monsters in our society, that will never be a satisfactory answer.

Some public executives (Governors) and private executives (CEO’s) have figured out how to take advantage of envious people, in order to pay themselves and their political associates more, while paying their workers less.

Our government has demonstrated, that it can save jobs by providing loans. G.M. was on the brink of bankruptcy and the ripple effect would have been disastrous for our economy, however Obama put a team together to fixed the problem. The Obama administration is looking for ways, that they can do the same thing in other sectors of the economy. If our government hadn’t loaned G.M. the money, the ripple effect would have been even more devastating, because hundreds of thousands of additional jobs would have been lost across our economy.

The bailout produce profits and saved jobs in plastics, electronics, upholstery, tires and glass. Had G.M. gone under, it would’ve been very devastating to those businesses. Obama’s automobile loan program worked.  General Motors earned over $33 billion in revenue last quarter. That was it’s strongest performance in six years and they’re planning to go public again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unity of Purpose

Obama plans to address the nation at 7:30 p.m. EDT tonight regarding the transition to NATO command and control, and our involvement in Libya going forward.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a binding set of sanctions aimed at stopping the Libyan regime from killing its own people. From the very beginning of the crisis in Libya, Obama has insisted that it’s vitally important for the international community to speak with one voice and his administration has followed through on that pledge with a sense of urgency, determination and unity of purpose.

The 22 member Arab League were the driving force behind the U.N. Security Council decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. NATO was on board and a Qatari fighter jet flew has flown a sortie alongside a French jet. The United Arab Emirates pledged 12 warplanes to the effort to thwart Gadhafi. The international coalition has agreed to put NATO in charge of enforcing the no-fly zone, with Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard at the helm of a unified command structure.

The Security Council resolution referred the situation in Libya directly to the International Criminal Court. It was the first time that the Security Council had unanimously voted to refer a case of heinous human rights violations to the ICC. The resolution includes a travel ban and a freeze on the assets of key Libyan leaders. It imposes a complete arms embargo on Libya and mechanisms to enforce it. Furthermore, it takes steps against the use of mercenaries by the Libyan government to attack its own people, and it facilitates the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance.

The urgent threat of a massacre of 700,000 civilians in Benghazi, Libya was averted, after American, French and British jets struck Libyan military targets around the besieged city.

Congress had called for a no-fly zone to avert a humanitarian crises. However, it’s highly unlikely, that a massacre of civilians would have been averted had Congress been debating the issue. Since WWII, Congress has chosen to avoid using its constitutional authority and responsibility to declare war. By avoiding that responsibility they’re able to criticize the actions of a President and avoid being blamed should things go terribly wrong.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Hobby

My monthly, 300 word letter to the editor of the Oneonta Daily Star was posted on-line on March 16th, and received 162 comments. This is an exceptionally high number of responses. Actually, 62 of those responses were mine, since I thrive on making rebuttals to negative comments regarding my opinions.

Recently, “liberalconservative,” asked on the Oneonta Star website: “Jim are you a professional writer? Or is this just a hobby?”

It’s a hobby, that has provided me with more satisfaction than, money can buy. I’ve pointed out, that my first rebuttal letter to any newspaper started in March 2004. The editor at the Oneonta Star entitled that letter: “I don't find Kerry's record 'hilarious.'’

The next day, an angry anonymous male called my home and his aggressive behavior has inspired me to write many more letters to the editor of numerous daily and weekly publications. For years, I’ve post on my domain "Mind and Destiny" every day.

During the past, 8 years, I've improved my spelling, learned to use the computer, type, and use Google. I’ve been attempting to become more civil, thoughtful, persuasive, pragmatic and knowledgeable of history and world affairs.

The moral to this story is that it's best to let both sleeping dogs and easily annoyed, obsessively compulsive old men lie.

On-line, it didn’t take me long to realize, that I’d found a hornet’s nest of angry right wing extremist, and that I was immune to their stinging criticism. Seemingly, none had the courage of their convictions to use their real names. A new character uses the alias Lim O’Jeary.

Oldsoldier wrote: “Mr. O'Leary has fallen under the 'Cult of Personality' of Obama and the Democrats, and only voices 'facts' and opinions of those that conform to his narrow view on equality and life... We had Tom Sears, you all got Jim O'Leary and his 'attack' mode.”

DNR wrote: “O'Leary has a great wealth of cherry picked facts that always support one team and attack the other. When America wakes up and starts supporting the common man and common sense instead of their favorite team, this country may actually succeed again.”

It’s an adversarial forum, but some expect me to search for factual information, that supports their indefensible positions. Obviously, a lot of these folks don't appreciate what I write, but they’re reading my letters and posts. What more can I ask for?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Michael Perry

Yesterday, Michael Perry had the following letter to the editor published in the Oneonta Daily Star. His letter is in response to a column written by Chuck Pinkey, who has taken over for Tom Sears as a paid columnist representing the political opinions of the far right.

“Recently, the grim end of winter portended a humorless gray day. Then I read Chuck Pinkey’s column about ‘liberals.’ Sam, I appreciate your sense of humor, but doesn’t this belong on the comics page? I mean, Doonesbury was rightly moved to the opinion page after all.



“Chuck, your ill-informed definition and characterizations of what you call a liberal do the opposite of what you intend. They reveal you. They reveal that you are the one who is ‘uptight, unhappy, unfriendly.’ I was trying to be polite when I said ill-informed, but to say that liberals are not taught about the ‘goodness of Christ’ is just, plain ignorant.



“To say liberals hate sports is just, plain ignorant. To say liberals believe ethanol is good is just, plain ignorant. To say liberals believe a fetus has no rights is just, plain ignorant. In fact, to say liberals (fill in the blank) is ignorant.



“People are individuals with diverse opinions. My personal ideology has elements of liberalism, elements of libertarianism, elements of conservatism, elements of Christianity and elements of atheism. Let's stop the divisive, fear-filled targeting of (mostly imagined) stereotypes

“If you want to make an intelligent argument for or against an issue, then do so. But the adolescent whining is unbecoming a grown, mature man. Chuck, you would do well to take a lesson from your encounter with Mr. Pollak. You imagined him, as you imagine your stereotypical ‘liberal’ to be, something that he wasn’t.



“You said he turned out to be ‘a man of humor, firm convictions, family values and integrity.’ And if you took the time, you would find the same is true for almost anyone. It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and vent your frustrations. It’s more difficult to ‘walk a mile in the noble Native American’s moccasins.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thin the Regulations

In a campaign ad, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan claimed:  “Fifty percent of the jobs lost in America in the last 10 years were lost in Michigan. How did that happen?  Politicians gave us the worst business tax in the country.  And regulations that made creating jobs almost impossible. I’ve created thousands of jobs. We’ll dump that tax.  Thin the regulations.  And jobs will come back.”

When, Rick Snyder was on the board at Gateway, they shut down plants in America and shipped those jobs to China. Gov. Snyder’s plan for labor in Michigan is to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, while spending $1.8 billion on business tax cuts.

Obama’s automobile loan program has worked.  General Motors earned over $33 billion in revenue last quarter. That is G.M.’s strongest performance in six years and they’re planning to go public again.

G.M. was on the brink of bankruptcy and the ripple effect would have been disastrous for our economy, however Obama put a team together to fixed the problem. It demonstrated, that government intervention can works. The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are looking for ways, that they can do the same thing in other sectors of the economy but, congressional Republicans refuse to be in favor of anything that might be successful. Republican naysayers are remaining quiet because G.M. is a success story. If our government hadn’t loaned G.M. the money, the ripple effect would have been even more devastating, because hundreds of thousands of additional jobs would have been lost across our economy.

The bailout produce profits and saved jobs in plastics, electronics, upholstery, tires and glass, that had G.M. gone under it would’ve been very devastating to our economy. We needed to saved jobs as well as created additional jobs.

Right- wing, Republican governors got elected by talking about jobs and the economy. So far, we’ve only seen a concerted effort by Republican governors to give tax breaks, and limit collective bargaining to kill jobs in 20 states.

Thin the regulations seems to have been a code word for limit collective bargaining rights.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Use of Military Force

A historical view of recent wars starting in 1982, that we are still paying for.

Former President Ronald Reagan: “The participation of American forces in Beirut will again be for a limited period, but I concluded there is no alternative to their returning to Lebanon if that country is to have a chance to stand on its own feet.”

Former President H.W. Bush: “Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.  These attacks continue as I speak.”

Former President Bill Clinton: “Let me say at the outset, America‘s role will not be about fighting a war.  It will be about helping the people of Bosnia to secure their own peace agreement.  Our mission will be limited, focused, and under the command of an American general.”

Former President George W. Bush: “On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.”

President Obama has taking criticism from the right for not canceling his trade visit to Latin America as a result of military action in Libya. Yesterday, Obama returned from his trade visit earlier than expected. The White House knew that criticism would come, but decided to go ahead with the trip anyway, and forego the chest-thumping commander-in-chief show that goes with military intervention.

George W. Bush campaigned for president by saying: “I just don’t think it is the role of the United States to walk into a country and say we do it this way, so should you. I think the United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.

In Ron Suskin’s “The Price of Loyalty,” former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill confirmed that ten days after Bush's inauguration the focus at the first National Security Council meeting was war with Iraq.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the use of military force in Libya turns out for Obama.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Union Rights

We've watched as the far-right governor of Wisconsin did everything he could to eliminate collective bargaining rights for the state’s work force.



Governor Scott Walker would like to take America back to the 1920s, when workers had no rights, but most Americans don’t want to go there. Tens of thousands of folks demonstrated at the state capitol for weeks, refusing to bow to that attack in the national battle over union rights.



The uproar occurred because Walker tried to ram a rollback of workers' rights through the legislature without adequate analysis, debate and discussion. Not surprisingly, because the Governor rushed the bill, two separate issues got confused, and what happened to Wisconsin workers isn’t fair.



On the issue of pensions, union leaders agreed there was a need for reform, given the fiscal challenges faced by the state. However, Governor Walker clung to an ideology of holding out for the elimination of collective bargaining rights. The Governor should have negotiate on a fair and equal basis with the men and women who work for the Wisconsin government.



It was Walker’s, my way or the highway approach to governing, that inflamed Wisconsin workers and many others throughout America. The tea party-backed Governor declared all-out war on workers’ freedoms. He began by slashing taxes for the richest residents of his state, and then eliminate the rights of workers to organize a union, bargain for fair wages or advocate for decent pay and benefits. Republican candidates never mentioned that hidden agenda when running for office and even got some unions to back them.

The fight in Wisconsin wasn't about the state budget. It was part of a larger strategy by corporations that want to gain greater control of our government. Last year the Supreme Court granted corporations unprecedented rights to influence elections. Now, corporations want to limit the ability of workers to organize and keep their right to bargin collectively so they can make ends meet for their families. Unions are targeted because they are an effective organizing groups that corporations cannot control.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Augustwest

In an online post of 3/10/11, to the Oneonta Daily Star, Augustwest made a remarkable comment regarding the “Oracle of Wall Street.” He wrote: “Buffett is great at picking stocks, but could be an idiot savant with only that skill.”

Six days later, he responded to my Oneonta Star on line post of 3/16/11, by writing: “You are stating, in a post below, that you are more intelligent that the 50+ million middle and lower socioeconomic class Americans who voted for the Republican candidate during the last several elections.”

I asked, if he would specifically quote the words, that I had allegedly used. Augustwest has not responded to my challenge to quote the words, that I used to claim, that I was more intelligent that the 50+ million middle and lower socioeconomic class Americans...”

I’ve decided, that he doesn’t have a reading comprehension problem, but is intentionally distorting what I wrote. Therefore, I viewed him as simply a deceitful person.

He’s unable to logically rebut the facts and opinions, that I’ve posted, and has resorted to distorting my comments.

Augustwest might be referring to my comment, that it’s the people who write the paychecks versus those who cash the paychecks.  It’s the economic elite versus the average worker. That split is the reason that we have two different political parties in America. Republicans have got to use money to leverage as many votes as they can, because their side tends to represent the interest of significantly fewer people.

Republicans must use noneconomic issues to get people to vote with the economic elite against their own economic interest. They’ve discovered, that gun ownership, abortion, and gay rights have come in handy in gaining more support.

Typically, Democrats embrace their role of standing up for the rights of people who work for a living and the institutions that represent them. Over the years, the Democratic Party has supported minimum wage laws, expanded health coverage, workplace regulation, and responsible tax laws that don’t soak the middle class to subsidize the rich. Even people, who consider themselves conservatives like many of those policies.

I’m wise enough not to allow ancient scripture influence my vote and intelligent enough not to suggest that Warren Buffett is idiot savant.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Productive vs. Unproductive

Today, we’re in the middle of a jobless recovery from the deepest recession since the Great Depression.  Corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars in cash and many are not hiring. State governments are in the red and some large banks are sitting on trillions of dollars from the Federal Reserve, but aren’t lending.  

The federal government has to increase demand and the economic data from the Congressional Budget Office shows and that if you have government spending of the type that Obama’s plan would do, you get $1.75 in economic output for every dollar that you spend.

Tax cuts, which are at the core of Speaker of the House, John Boehner’s plan are more expensive than they are productive in the economy. The Republican mantra, that tax cuts creation jobs is untrue. Actually, the opposite is true, because tax cuts hurt job creation. The vast majority of Bush’s tax cuts went to the wealthiest 3% of Americans, while many working middle class folks lived paycheck to paycheck. Those are the folks, that spent every dollar on groceries and gas for the car.

The problem with using tax cuts as a stimulus is that it’s far too expensive and it ties the government’s hands to do a more effective form of stimulus, such as infrastructure spending, research, energy and renewable energy. Tax cuts are the most expensive and the least effective way to create jobs.

In 2005, “The New York Times” did a study of what Bush’s tax cuts meant for the richest, middle class and lower class Americans. The study found that because of the Bush tax cuts, the 400 richest households in America were paying the same share of income, on their federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes as Americans making $50,000 to $70,000. We should be investing in tax cuts for only middle class and low income Americans.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Love of Country

Yesterday, American, French and British military forces hammered Libyan military positions with missiles and fighter jets in order to convince a defiant Gadhafi to stop killing insurgent Libyans. American involvement is expected be limited to enforcing a no-fly zone.

I’ve decided to take a wait and see position. However, if we end up providing troops on the ground, I’ll be criticizing President Obama for taking us into another imperialistic war.

The concept of my country right or wrong, or “America love it or leave it,” doesn’t make you a patriot. Michael Parenti wrote, that superpatriots claim a monopoly on patriotism and seek to defame dissenters for not loving their country. He concluded: “If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling in lockstep behind the leader, whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship not democracy.”

The typical American tends to be terribly ethnocentric. Many American act as if having been born in the United States bestows upon them the right of a privileged person. Even worse than ethnocentrism is the narrow-mindedness, which leads to an unreasoning sense of arrogance generally referred to as the arrogance of ignorance.

Most Americans look upon Christianity as the only road that leads to salvation, which suggests that every other faith leads to the fires of Hell. For some capitalism is a system of doing business which has received the blessing of God. If we as a nation, have any claim to superiority, it comes from our ability to act according to moral principles, guided by justice and compassion.

Remember the words of an abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who insisted: “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.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sharia

Last year Oklahoma voters approved a measure that bars courts from considering sharia. Anti-Muslim political operatives have been warning of creeping sharia, for years.

Sharia is a methodology through which a jurist engages the religious texts to ascertain divine will. Sharia governs every aspect of an observant Muslim's life. A sharia juristic inquiry begins with the Muslim Holy Scripture the Quran, and the Sunna, which includes the sayings and conduct of the Prophet Mohammed.

In the 19th century, Western colonialism decimated the sharia legal system, replacing it with Western codes. Today, a debate revolves around the failure of the modern jurists to adapt to current circumstances.
It comes up because 8 million Americans adhere to Islam, and we’re seeing a rapid increase of Muslim litigants before American courts where sharia may be an issue in family matters. 

U.S. courts are required to regularly interpret and apply foreign law to everything from the recognition of foreign divorces and custody decrees to the validity of marriages, the enforcement of money judgments, probating an Islamic will and the damages element in a commercial dispute. Sharia is relevant in a U.S. court either as a foreign law or as a source of information to understand the expectations of the parties in a dispute.

Suppose a New York resident wife files for divorce in New York; her husband files for annulment in Egypt claiming the parties were never validly married. A New York judge must determine whether he has jurisdiction and whether state law governs this dispute. If the conflict of laws of New York requires that Egyptian law govern the issue of validity, the court would require expert testimony about Egyptian law that is based on Islamic law.

The only explanation for the Oklahoma restriction is that they’re driven by an agenda infused with hate, ignorance and Islamophobia, and are intent on dehumanizing an entire religious community. A dozen states are actively moving to adopt anti-sharia laws, thereby demonstrating that it’s part of a pattern. A political group is trying to turn sharia into an election issue, and it’s absurd.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rescued

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.”

Apparently, many folks haven’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.  In late 2008, 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.

In 2009, the 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. When, Obama took office people and businesses didn’t have the money or found it unwise to spend very large amounts. Consequently, our federal government was the only institution, that had the necessary cash to spend massive amounts of money. 

In late January, 2009 Obama was sworn in. On February 13, 2009 congressional Democrats passed the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, without a single Republican vote in the House and only 3 Republican votes in the Senate. By doing so, they prevented the financial crisis from getting worse and turned the economy from contraction to expansion. At that time, we were hemorrhaging more than 700,000 jobs a month with the middle class under assault and financial institutions on the brink of collapse.

The Recovery Act was a bold initiative not only to rescue our country from a potential second Great Depression, but also to build a new economic foundation for the future. The Obama administration has much more to do, but the evidence is clear, that the Recovery Act worked. Public and private forecasters have said that the Recovery Act was responsible for saving about 2 million jobs nationwide. 


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Neglecting Our People

In a recent letter to the editor published in the Oneonta Star, William Agnew of Norwich, N.Y. wrote:

“At a time when this country is in an economical mess, we need to think about past policies. Do we need troops in 120 countries? Do we need to give aid to dictators who give little to their people and when they get thrown out of office they run to a safe haven and take the almighty U.S. dollars with them. Then we also neglect our own people in our country that are in need.



“Now the Republicans are getting a $1 trillion tax break for the rich and brainwashing people with their ‘phony’ rhetoric of reducing the budget deficit by a paltry $100 billion, which amounts to 2 cents on a dollar of the $14-trillion-debt, or 2 percent. Billionaire Hank Paulson makes $3.7 million a day in profits. Does he need a tax break? Oil company Exxon’s profits rose 53 percent this year; does it need tax breaks?



“‘Sob Sob” John Boehner says we have to do the people’s work. ‘What?’ Republicans want to cut programs for the poor and needy. Like heat assistance, Planned Parenthood, Medicare and Medicaid and also privatize Social Security. Ruin the unions and deny people collective bargaining rights.



“Why don’t you Republicans give up some of your lucrative benefits? And why don’t you help reform health care as costs continue to go up every year? Is it because your party gets the most money for re-election from health insurance companies. For the Tea Party and the Republican Party, the party is over. We need changes that are good for the people.”


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Paying Taxes

Union auto workers are paying taxes, but some folks don’t seem pleased by that news. The automobile loan program worked.  General Motors earned over $33 billion, which was its strongest performance in six years.

G.M. was on the brink of bankruptcy and the ripple effect would have been disastrous for our economy, but Obama put a team together that fixed it. It demonstrates, that government intervention sometimes works. The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are looking for ways, that they can do the same thing in other sectors of the economy but, congressional Republicans refuse to be in favor of anything that might be successful. Republican naysayers are remaining quiet because G.M. is a success story.  The ripple effect, if our government hadn’t loaned G.M. the money, would have been devastating, because hundreds of thousands of additional jobs would have been lost across our economy.

We should take pride as a nation that the bailout did produce profits, however, there will continue to be more jobs created in Mexico by the automobile manufacturers than will be created here in the United States. They’re not creating many additional jobs here in America, but the bailout did save many jobs. They saved jobs in plastics, electronics, upholstery, tires and glass, that had G.M. gone under would’ve been very devastating to our economy. We need to saved jobs as well as created additional jobs.

A Chrysler plant in Kokomo was shut down when the company declared bankruptcy, but later reopened after the federal government stepped in to save the auto industry.

Recently, Obama told the workers at that plant: “We made the decision to stand with you because we had confidence in the American worker, more than anything.  And today, we know that was the right decision. Don’t bet against the American auto industry.  Don’t bet against American ingenuity.  Don’t bet against the American worker.  Don’t bet against us.”

Some Americans may not remember, that the auto loans pushed through by Obama and Democrats in Congress were incredibly unpopular at the time. The president took an great deal of criticism for trying to hoist the entire American auto industry on his shoulders. The decision to invest in the auto industry came at enormous political cost for Obama.  He was condemned as a socialist, however ultimately, it worked.  It benefited both the auto workers who didn’t lose their jobs and all three American auto companies, who are now profitable again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Union Stripping

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost” - Ronald Reagan, Sept. 1, 1980.

The institution, that more than any other, has made it possible for America to have a middle class in the first place is under attack in 17 states.

It isn’t a coincidence that all these states have the same idea at the same time, under the guise of budget crisis. They’re attacking union rights, not just to get concessions on pay and benefits. They’re pursuing a union stripping agenda, even-though it doesn’t have any fiscal impact on the budget.

In Wisconsin, a pushback was so sustained, that the union-stripping fight had stretched out for 23 days.  Then, without warning, Republicans announced that they took everything budget related out of what they had been calling the budget bill, leaving only the union-stripping provisions.  Republicans had insisted that union-stripping was a fiscal issue, but then they decided it wasn’t a fiscal issue anymore. Consequently, they no longer needed a quorum and with no warning, convened a conference committee and passed the union stripping bill. Democrats insist, that the tactic was in violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law. Karl Rove announced that he would spend $750,000 in corporate money bashing unions and supporting Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans.

In Michigan, the state Senate passed a bill that would allow the governor to declare a financial emergency anywhere in the state and appoint someone to unilaterally nullify unions, contracts or even nullify town governments entirely.

A recent “Bloomberg News” poll reveals a massive support for public employees and for their right to collectively bargain.  The poll discovered 72% of Americans have a favorable opinion of public employees.  Sixty-four percent think that they should have the right to collectively bargain for their wages.

Naomi Klein, author of the “The Shock Doctrine” has pointed out, that attacking people’s pensions and their union rights takes away resources from people, who work for a living and give to businesses. These are not popular proposals.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Farewell, Mr. Sears

The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter by Donna J. Shaver, that was critical of both right wing columnist, Tom Sears and the Daily Star's editor, Sam Pollak.

“Farewell, Tom Sears! What Tom failed to understand is that any message that he wanted to convey was lost because of the messenger and his language. It has always amazed me that as a professor at a very prominent college, he would pen his columns in such an unprofessional manner. Is this what you encouraged, Mr. Pollak? Shame on you! I view The Daily Star as our community newspaper, and feel that it should promote civility, compassion, caring and being good neighbors for all people.



“I applaud bringing a balance to the political views in the paper, but people with differing points of view should not be subjected to vitriolic name-calling in our community newspaper. There is enough of the ‘bully mentality’ in our society, on the Internet, movies, etc., for everyone that adheres to this frame of mind.



“You need to set some standards of decency for your columnists, not someone that can ‘attack, irritate, belittle and goad.’ This country is becoming toxic because of language, and I don’t feel it should be promoted in this community.



“I do hope Mr. Pinkey will step up and carry the banner of conservatism with dignity, decorum, intelligence, and maturity (more in line with Pat Buchanan). Mr. Pollak, I am sure many readers would derive intelligent and thought-provoking ideas from it.



“Tom Sears has always hidden behind God and the flag. As he rides into the sunset, perhaps he should read and study the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and see how his past columns are so out of step with the teachings of Jesus! Some classes in democracy and diversity could serve him well, too! Hopefully, the sun will rise on a better columnist.”


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I respectfully disagree with Donna Shaver, especially her criticism of Sam Pollak. “Shame on” her, for allowing anger to interfere with the true liberal’s commitment to tolerance of the opinions of others, and freedom of speech/press.

I looked forward to Tom’s column, because it gave me an opportunity to use civility, facts, reason and persuasion to educate those that were appalled by his lack facts, reason and civility. It’s true, that Sears tended to insult people that he disagreed with, but Donna Shaver shouldn’t have resorted to the same tactic.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Payoff

In late 1999, former Senator Phil Gramm played the lead role in pushing through Congress the repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry. Next, he authored the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which kept derivatives and other high-end investment market instruments off-limits to regulators, thereby helping to induce the current economic crisis. Phil Gramm, also drafted John McCain’s economic policy for the 2008, presidential campaign.

The whole idea of re-regulating Wall Street, by re-establishing the old rules was a worthy goal. However, what ultimately passed was dramatically watered down by Republican senators like Scott Brown of Massachusetts.  During a three-week period that Wall Street reform was debated in Congress, Scott Brown took in $140,000 from banks and investment firms.  Their investment in Senator Brown paid off by enabling Republicans to dismantle key provisions in the Wall Street reform bill. 

The implementation of the Wall Street reform bill, that ultimately survived has been for the most part made ineffective, because the new regulations were defunded in the House Republicans’ budget bill.

In 2008, Wall Street destroyed the lives of millions of middle class Americans and many are all still living in the rubble of that destruction. Today, Wall Street’s world has never been better. Last year, Wall Street pay including bonuses hit a record high, set in 2009. Over the last decade, the top 1% have seen their income gains skyrocket while everybody else’s remained somewhat flat.  We’ve had economic growth in this country, but apparently, it’s not being made by anybody who’s not already rich.

According to the new “Forbes” list, the number of billionaires has grown globally, by 199. David and Charles Koch, the most aggressive right-wing activists in America, who supported the Tea Party movement, saw their wealth increase by $9 billion last year. They inherited an oil and chemical company from their father. Individually, they’re each tied for the 18th. richest man in the world, but their combined fortune would rank them at number four, right behind Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Remember

Six weeks before the 2008 presidential election, the Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Wall Street dominos started to fall. The investment banking firm of Merrill Lynch faced extinction, but was saved at the last minute by Bank of America.  The Insurance giant AIG teeter on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 777 points in one day, the biggest points loss ever.  Wall Street melted down, because a relatively small number of irresponsible people who controlled a great deal of money had been allowed to get away with breaking the rules. Rules that were originally put in place, during the Great Depression to prevent Wall Street from creating a massive public risk in order to chase private gain. 

Our government under the leadership of George W. Bush stepped in to take dramatic action to try to save the economy. Bush's appointee, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke the Chairman of the Federal Reserve asked Congress for $700 billion. A bi-partisan vote passed the $700 billion the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Both, John McCain and Barack Obama supported it. House Minority Leader, John Boehner implored his fellow Republicans on the floor of the House of Representatives to support it.

Although, the damage had already been done to the national economy, our government acted to save what could of Wall Street.  That financial catastrophe caused this Great Recession. By stepping in to limit the damage of that catastrophe our government most likely prevented another Great Depression, with 24.9% unemployment.

High unemployment has meant not just human misery, but as an economic consequence people without an income aren’t paying income taxes. People that are unable to buy things aren’t paying sales taxes. State budget deficits around the country are strained.

It’s important to remember, that this all started in September of 2008, on Wall Street for a specific reason. For all of the pain that Wall Street caused our country with its financial catastrophe, right now Wall Street is back and doing great. So far, nobody has gone to jail.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kenneth Empey

Yesterday, the Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter by Kenneth A. Empey of Richfield Springs’

“An assault on the unions is an assault on the earning power of the middle class. As union representation has declined since the early 1980s, so has the earning power of working Americans. The migration of wealth from the middle class to the upper class started with the Reagan administration, as did the transition of America from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation. (Dick Cheney: ‘Reagan proved deficits don't matter.’)



“Moderate economic policies are what most of us believe in, but conservative economic policies have gained the upper hand through financial influence in the back rooms of Washington. This has been to the detriment of American society.



“Ask yourself the following: How has the elimination of the graduated income tax during the Reagan administration benefited the majority of Americans? This tax policy served our country well right through World War II until its demise. Yes, it was a redistribution of wealth, it was necessary and it worked.



“How have conservative economic policies benefited the working class?

“How do you account for the decline of the middle class since the advent of modern conservative economic policies starting with the Reagan administration?



“How can America experience an economic recovery if the middle class does not have the financial ability to create a higher demand for consumer goods and services?



“Which political faction has framed the economic debate in this country as being that of conservative vs. liberal when the vast majority of us can be rightfully defined as moderate? Why?

“These are just a few of the valid questions we need honestly addressed in order to understand how our country has declined over the last three decades.”

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I agree with Mr. Empry’s remarks and added some additional factual information on-line. Apparently, I’ll have an enjoyable day responding to the comments, that have already been made regarding conservative economic policies.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Farmer

An on-line, reader of the Oneonta Daily Star, who identifies himself as Farmer wrote:

“Unions are the only defense ‘we’ have against both Government and Business domination. It took ‘us’ over 100 years to establish our rights to withhold our labor, collectively, against the ‘rights’ of corporations to fire us at will, and to deprive us of any wages or benefits above that which they choose to pay us. Unions raise the wages of all other workers, by virtue of setting an example of what is fair.

“I heard recently that Wall Street executives pulled in $7 billion in bonuses this year. Yet, there no money left for the worker. In Wisconsin, the Unions already agreed with the need for increased payments of benefits. However, this is not about money - it is about breaking the only power the average working person has to go against either the State, or the Corporation.

“How many of you working people have had the chance to vote on whether the CEO or your Corporation should, or should not get an obscene bonus based on eliminating your job, or increasing your contribution to your medical plan? State and Federal employment was supposed to serve as the high standard for improving our standards of living.

“Stand up people! First they came for the my neighbor, and I didn't say anything. Then they came for me. State workers are hardly overpaid. The average person that I can think of works for some obscure state agency, making less than the public sector. The compensation is decent health care and retirement benefits, but nobody is getting rich.

“It is just incomprehensible to me that we, as workers, should bow down to either the State or the Corporation. I can agree with reducing benefits temporarily, in terms of paying more, to share the pain. However, to permanently eliminate collective bargaining rights just because of a temporary budget shortfall is absurd. Let the Governor of Wisconsin reduce his salary by half, and drop the salaries of the Legislators as well, at the same time.”

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Shift the Blame

President Obama warned: “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon.  We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service.  These times demand it.  We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make.  We’re not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don’t properly reward that bravery.”

In states, that have very high unemployment, public employees are often dislike by those that don’t have jobs. They’re seen as making a good salaries, while enjoying great benefits and pension plans. People without jobs, sometimes end up resenting public employees, who had no part in creating this recession. Republicans have started taking advantage of that resentment to change the subject, and shift the blame.

What got us into this recession is greed on Wall Street and bankers in the mortgage crisis.  Consequently, we have the working people with homes that are worth less than their mortgage.  In the public and the private sector, we’ve seen working people getting laid off.  Although, it wasn’t the working people that created this crisis, Wisconsin Governor Walker expects them to shift for themselves.  The crisis was created by greedy bankers on Wall Street. It wasn’t created by public employees making $35,000 or $40,000, who teach our children, take care of the disabled, or plow snow from our streets and highways to make sure folks can get to and from work safely.

Regarding the situation in Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana insists: “Well, I don’t think the debate is even about money right now because I think that the public employee unions have said, Look, we’ll agree to cut our salary and our benefits.  The question now is, do you even have the right to collectively bargain? And so I think it’s an overstep in some of these states to say you can’t collectively bargain even if you’re willing to give concessions.

Governor Schweitzer points out, that Montana is running a balanced budget and they have a surplus. They continue to fund the programs that are necessary, and they challenge every expense, but they don’t demagogue the people that do the work that matters. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Economic Populism

Republican State Senator Dale Schultz of Wisconsin said: “All I know is we’re not talking, we’re wasting valuable time about collective bargaining, which I don’t ever remember being a part of last election’s discussion whatsoever.”

There are two sides to the Wisconsin fight. There’s a side that believes in populist economic institutions, such as unions. And on the other side, we have David and Charles Koch and their multibillion dollar oil and chemical conglomerate, that they inherited from their father. The Republican Party represents the interest of a comparatively smaller number of people, than the Democratic Party. Consequently, they need to represent the interests of the Koch brothers and other economic elites.

It’s the people who write the paychecks versus those who cash the paychecks.  It’s the economic elite versus the average worker. That split is the reason that we have two different political parties in America. Republicans have got to use money to leverage as many votes as they can, because their side tends to represent the interest of significantly fewer people.

Republicans must use noneconomic issues to get people to vote with the economic elite against their own economic interest. They’ve discovered, that gun ownership, abortion, and gay rights have come in handy in gaining more support.

Typically, Democrats embrace their role of standing up for the rights of people who work for a living and the institutions that represent them. Over the years, the Democratic Party has supported minimum wage laws, expanded health coverage, workplace regulation, and responsible tax laws that don’t soak the middle class to subsidize the rich. Even people, who consider themselves conservatives like many of those policies.

Whenever, the Democratic Party starts chasing corporate money, it’s sowing the seeds of its own demise, because there is less reason for two different parties to exist in this country.

Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan wonders: “Are we going to respect the workers in the United States of America while all these fat cats have gotten off scot-free? …It’s unfair and it’s disrespectful and it is not an American value.”

Monday, March 07, 2011

Tax Cheats

The two basic tools available to fix our national debt problem are spending cuts and raising taxes. However, a third tool is to create more jobs during this recession, which will result in more people paying taxes and additional tax revenues coming in. A fourth tool to reduce our national debt is to making sure that the money that’s supposed to be coming in does.

Our government must start cracking down on tax cheats.  Every dollar the IRS spends going after tax cheats pulls in more than $10 towards reducing the debt. Republicans claim, that they care about the debt, but they want to cut $593 million from the Internal Revenue Service.

A lot of political campaign contributors aren’t paying their full load of taxes. In 1995, Republicans started telling the IRS to go after the working poor and pull back on the rich. An IRS official figured out how to catch all sorts of tax cheats using computers, but an official in the Kentucky governor’s office sent word, that they weren’t going to do that because it might catch some of the wealthy donors to the Governor.

Since Reagan became president the bottom 90% of people in America are making less than $300 a year more than they did in 1980.  But the top tenth of 1% have seen their average income go up from $1,400,000 to almost $6 million. In the 30 years, since Reagan became president all the financial gains have gone to 300,000 people i.e., the top tenth of 1% of Americans.

In the 10 years, since the Bush cuts were introduced the average wage in is 10% smaller than it was in 2000.  Even though profits are up 60%, corporate tax revenues are down more than a third, and individual income tax revenues are down 30%.

Do we have to totally break the country before voters recognize the Bush era tax cuts policy isn’t working?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Knowingly and Willingly

An on-line homophobe asked: “If Obama is a Muslim is it possible that he has knowingly and willingly signed the death warrant for gays that serve openly in the military?”

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean wrote President Obama a letter pointing out:

“One of our nation’s most precious and fundamental values is the guarantee of equal rights for every American. Gay and lesbian Americans have demonstrated their courage and given their lives in service to our country since our nation’s military was founded. Now it’s time to allow them to say who they are.”

The day after, the Senate passed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I received an e-mail from President Obama.

“Gay and lesbian service members -- brave Americans who enable our freedoms -- will no longer have to hide who they are. The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one. This victory belongs to you. Without your commitment, the promise I made as a candidate would have remained just that.

“Instead, you helped prove again that no one should underestimate this movement. Every phone call to a senator on the fence, every letter to the editor in a local paper, and every message in a congressional inbox makes it clear to those who would stand in the way of justice: We will not quit.

“This victory also belongs to Senator Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and our many allies in Congress who refused to let politics get in the way of what was right. Like you, they never gave up, and I want them to know how grateful we are for that commitment.

“As Commander in Chief, I fought to repeal ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ because it weakens our national security and military readiness. It violates the fundamental American principles of equality and fairness.

“But this victory is also personal. I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my sexual orientation.

“But I know my story would not be possible without the sacrifice and struggle of those who came before me -- many I will never meet, and can never thank. I know this repeal is a crucial step for civil rights, and that it strengthens our military and national security. I know it is the right thing to do.”

That’s what Obama “knowingly and willingly,” signed.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

DOMA

President Obama has concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act, that passed in 1996 is unconstitutional.  DOMA defines marriages as only between a man and a woman. The Obama administration will no longer defend DOMA in appeals courts because, “much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed the law.”

Typically, it’s up to the Justice Department to defend the constitutionality of any statutes that Congress passes. However, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced, that in good faith, they can’t defend the law constitutionality. 

Obama concluded that DOMA fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a history of discrimination. 

DOMA will remain in effect and the administration will continue to enforce the law until a federal court abolishes it, or Congress repeals it. In December, President Obama said that he supported civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but that his position on gay marriage was “constantly evolving.”

There are numerous precedence of this type of position going back the 1920’s. The Clinton administration refused to defend the constitutionality of a law that said people who have HIV can’t serve in the military.  The Reagan administration went into court and said they thought the Independent Council Statute that Congress passed was unconstitutional.

On the other hand, George W. Bush issued hundreds of “signing statements” indicating what laws he would obey and what laws he could ignore.

A few years ago, dozens of states voted for bans on gay marriage as part of their constitution. Consequently, there’s a significant amount of political risk for Obama, with very little political benefit. What the Obama administration has done is not only appropriate on the merits, but is a giant step towards removing a grave injustice that plagues the lives of tens of thousands of gay Americans.

The law is going to be enforce, but the Justice Department isn’t going to defend its constitutionality on appeal. The distinction being made by the Obama administration is very important, because there are lawsuits currently pending where the constitutionality of this law is being challenged.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Mike Huckabee

Republican presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee appeared on a right wing conservative radio talk show, hosted by Steve Malzberg. Regarding President Obama, Huckabee was asked: “Don’t you think we deserve to know more about this man?” 

Huckabee responded: “I would love to know more.  What I know is troubling enough.  And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. His perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya is very different than ours, because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

Huckabee tried to clarify his comments on his website, by saying “I simply misspoke when I alluded to President Obama growing up in Kenya and meant to say Indonesia.”

Obama was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia during his early childhood. Although, Huckabee now claims, that he knew Obama grew up in Indonesia, he “misspoke” twice. He talked about the Mau Mau Rebellion against the British in Kenya and claimed Obama knew his Kenyon grandfather. Actually the only grandfather, Obama ever knew was his maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham a WWII veteran.

Huckabee wrote: “since Barack Obama was elected, plenty of books have been written criticizing his administration and accusing him of all sorts of things—from being a Marxist to lying about his citizenship to being a Muslim.  But if you know me or if you’re familiar with my commentaries on TV and radio, you know I don’t like to make politics personal.” 

Apparently, Huckabee believes, that he can’t win the general election by pandering to the Birthers. On “Good Morning America”, he said: “For Republicans to even be bringing it up I think is a waste of energy and time.  Let’s focus on the issues with which we have disagreement, not on really the extraneous personal things that are immaterial.” 

A recent poll showed 51% of likely Republican primary voters believe Obama was born in another country.  Of those voters, Mike Huckabee is their top choice for president.

Perhaps, Huckabee occasionally misspeaks, because he recognizes, that he has to first win the Republican primary.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Fewer Jobs

The Economic Policy Institute forecast that the Republican economic plan would reduce the number of jobs in our country by 800,000. 

Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs did a report on the Republican spending plan for one of its clients. It found that Republican spending bill could knock as much as 2% off economic growth for the entire country. 

Mark Zandi an economist at Moody’s was an economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain.  His assessment of the Republican legislative plan is that it will cost 400,000 jobs this year and 700,000 jobs by end of next year, and will reduce economic growth by a half point this year. 

The Republicans’ federal budget proposals are being forecast to slow down America’s economic growth significantly and to cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Speaker of the House, John Boehner response was: “If some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.” 

In the “Washington Monthly,” Steve Benen wrote: “I would genuinely love to know exactly how many American voters are thinking, maybe what we need is higher unemployment, lower wages and slower growth.” 

In the fourth quarter of 2010, it was forecast that our economy was growing by 3.2%. That forecast has been revised downward, because state and local spending cuts are dragging the entire nation’s economy down.   

The Republican Party is not rebutting that they’re proposing less economic growth for America and fewer jobs for American workers, because the worse off America is economically, the worse President Obama’s chances are for re-election. 

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine.  It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact.” - Obama

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Love and Respect

On line, I was asked: “Why do you hate religious people.” My response was to inquire: Why do you believe, that I hate religious people?

My wife reads scripture everyday for at least a half hour, my oldest nephew is a Catholic priest and I sincerely believe, that hate is like a powerful acid, which usually does more harm to the container that those that it’s spewed upon.

Robert Reich wrote: “the greatest conflict of the 21st century is between; those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture and religious dogma.”

The truth revealed through scripture is subjective truth predicated by one’s faith. By definition faith is belief in God, and in the doctrines or teachings of religion. Therefore, faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust and objective truth. I have become skeptical and distrustful of most religions, because they stifle freedom of thought, and blinds the righteous to the role faith plays in perpetuating human conflict.

Historical, arguments bolstered by faith and tradition have been made to support slavery and dismiss as heresy, the heliocentric view of the solar system. Objective truth is not affected by faith, or tradition. Logic suggests that God would expect us to acquire vast amounts of objective information and make maximum use our ability to reason. Whenever, we use scientific methods, reason and logic, we are making use of the greatest gift God has bestowed upon mankind.

By not reading, listening and viewing from a variety of sources, we demonstrate a lack on intellectual curiosity. The purpose of education should be to develop critical thinking, which enables a person to evaluate all sources and come to reasonable conclusions.

Critical thinking should lead Americans to the realization that nothing in more irrational and ungodly than war. Singing “God Bless America”, while we wage war reeks of blasphemy. Many in Americans insist on the sanctity of life in the womb, but 18 years later don’t have a problem sending our youth to die in imperialistic wars.

It’s not religion, that I disapprove of, it’s the compulsion of religious zealots to shove their religious believes down the throats of others in American and in Afghanistan.

My wife, nephew, family and friends practice their faith, and I practice my skepticism with an abundance of love and mutual respect.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Walter F. Wouk

Mr. Wouk had the following factual letter published in the Oneonta Star: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the Koch brothers' ‘Tea Party’ poster boy, has declared war on state workers by threatening to use the National Guard against them, which comes as no surprise, given the fact that the GOP/Tea Party is trying to take this country back _ back to the early 20th century.



“National Guard soldiers were used against strikers in Buffalo, Birmingham, Ala., Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Telluride, Colo., at the turn of the 20th century. 



“Between 1911 and 1913, the militia was mobilized against coal miners in West Virginia, textile workers in Massachusetts, textile workers in New Jersey, and copper miners in Michigan. In 1914, soldiers killed striking coal miners and 12 of their children in Ludlow, Colo.



“During the 1934 Auto-Lite strike in Toledo, a battle raged for five days between 6,000 strikers and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard, leaving two strikers dead and more than 200 injured.



“Three years later, during the famous occupation of General Motors in Flint, Mich., the governor ordered the National Guard in to disrupt the strikers.



“And in 1933, Wisconsin, Gov. Albert Schmedeman used the National Guard to attack striking dairy farmers, sometimes with bayonets and tear gas, when they tried to raise the price of milk.

“Governor Scott Walker personifies the Tea Party's ‘back to the future’ mind-set with his right-wing, regressive and reactionary war on Wisconsin's workers.”

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For a decade, confusing financial instruments like derivatives brought billions of dollars in profits for Wall Street. It also brought billions more, with a necessary government bailout, called TARP. Recently, we’ve seen outrageous bonuses paid to Wall Street CEO’s. At the same time, this recession has resulted in an enormous increase in unemployment insurance and welfare checks, for folks on Main Street.

It's all about a power struggle between the haves and have nots. The smartest concepts America has ever embraced is concept of checks and balances. The more robust our labor movement becomes the better, those of us stuck in the middle will make out. Historically, unions have work as a check and balance against corporate money and our government on those occasions, that it has turned it’s back on the middle class.