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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Objectives Achieved

Obama pointed out: “Faced with the potential of mass atrocities, and a call for 
help from the Libyan people, the United States and our friends and allies stopped Gadhafi’s forces in their tracks. A coalition that included the United States, NATO and Arab nations persevered through the summer to protect Libyan civilians.

And meanwhile, the courageous Libyan people fought for their own future and broke the back of the regime. For nearly eight months, many Americans have provided extraordinary service and support of our efforts to protect the Libyan people and to provide them with a chance to determine their own destiny. Our skilled diplomats helped to lead an unprecedented global response. Our brave pilots have flown in Libyan skies. Our sailors have provided support off Libya`s shores. And our leadership at NATO has helped guide our coalition. Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives. And our NATO mission will soon come to an end.”

It took less than eight months to overthrow Gadhafi, who sponsored the killing of Americans in a terror attack. It cost $1 billion, and not a single American life was lost. Deposing Saddam Hussein has already cost America a trillion dollars, and over 4,000 American lives.

The differences between Obama and Bush was defined in a speech, in which Obama repeatedly referred to soldiers and diplomats, and using both force and persuasion. Obama defined international persuasion and leadership as the core of American strength. He insisted that America can intervene in lots of places, but we must choose to intervene in places where a lots of other countries can be persuaded to join us.

The U.N. Security Council voted to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya, as a necessary measures to protect Libyan civilians.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Voter Suppression

Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification, cut back early voting periods or imposed new restrictions on voter registration drives.

A study on Republican voter suppression tactics has found, they’re worse than any of us could have imagined. Reportedly, 5 million voters more than decided the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections could be affected by this coordinated Republican effort to alter the 2012 elections. The suppression effort especially target traditionally Democratic voters in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, Virginia and California. If Republicans succeed, they will gain control of the Senate and the Presidency.

The Koch brothers and their corporate allies bankroll the American Legislative Exchange Council, that has pushed these voter suppression measures. They’re also backing Herman Cain as the Republican candidate for President.

Republicans claim that the new election laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, and question why photo identification should be routinely required at airports but not at polling sites. Actually, the new laws are a solution in search of a problem, since voter fraud is rare. These laws are designed to discourage and block poor, young, and African-American voters, who tend to vote for Democrats.

The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law in 2008, saying that while it found no evidence of the fraud the law was intended to combat, it also found no evidence that the new requirements were a burden on voters.

Democratic Senator Durbin held a hearing on the new laws last month, He said they “will make it harder for millions of disabled, young, minority, rural, elderly, homeless and low-income Americans to vote.” These new laws are being promoted by conservative groups, and there is little doubt that they will alter voter turnout.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homeless Veterans

The Veterans Administration has launched an aggressive national plan with an ambitious goal: eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015. VA estimates that about 107,000 veterans find themselves homeless on any given night. Mental illness plagues 45% of homeless vets and 70% suffer from some kind of substance abuse, according to the VA.

Some of the most valuable property in the nation is referred to as “The West Los Angeles Property.” It was donated in 1888 to “establish, construct and permanently maintain” a branch of a national home for veterans, according to the original deed. Congress has approved $35.5 million to renovate various buildings on the campus for housing facilities for homeless veterans according to a bill recently signed by Obama. The facility would provide vets with 700 permanent housing units, but it is still far short of the living space needed to house LA's homeless veterans.

Under a joint program with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, homeless veterans get federal vouchers to help them pay rent. This summer the VA granted nearly $60 million to nonprofit groups that help veterans, including more than $7 million to aid an estimated 1,800 vets in California. The money aims to prevent veterans and their families from slipping into homelessness by helping with basic expenses such as rent, utilities security deposits and moving costs.

Ron Kovic’s story was made famous in the 1989 Tom Cruise film "Born on the Fourth of July." He was paralyzed in the Vietnam War. The former Marine has been working to improve VA treatment of returning troops since his own homecoming in the late 1960s. Kovic insists, that the $35.5 million isn’t enough and is calling for an occupation protest of the West LA property, not unlike the current Occupy Wall Street movement.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Intimidation

The Tea Party is the dominant voice of the Republican Party. Not because every congressional Republican agrees with its agenda, but because nearly every Republican is afraid of losing a primary to a Tea Party endorsed candidate.

In early January 2010, Paul Ryan the Chairman of the House Budget Committee released his "Roadmap for America’s Future,” that would make across the board tax cuts by reducing income tax rates; eliminating income taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest; and abolishing the corporate income tax, estate tax and alternative minimum tax. The plan would privatize a portion of Social Security, eliminate the tax exclusion for employer- sponsored health insurance and end traditional Medicare and most of Medicaid. The plan would replace these health programs with a system of vouchers whose value would decrease over time. House Republicans voted 235 in favor of the Ryan budget plan, and only 4 against it.

Economist Paul Krugman took issue with Ryan's deficit reduction plan. He reported, that Ryan's plan would raise taxes for 95% of the population, but that the tax cuts for the rich would be large enough to produce a $4 trillion revenue loss over ten years. Krugman labeled the proposed spending cuts a "sham" because they depended on making severe cuts in domestic discretionary spending without specifying the programs to be cut, and on "dismantling Medicare as we know it", which is politically unrealistic.

Rep. Ryan said, that House Republicans were going to reduce all domestic discretionary spending. However, experts agree, that Congress could eliminate all of the rest of discretionary spending and it wouldn’t come close to balancing the budget.

There’s a way to balance the budget called shared sacrifice, whereby you don’t balance it on the backs of the middle class or on the backs of senior citizens.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Authorization and Appropriation

Republican and Democratic presidential candidates make promises they cannot get through Congress. At the presidential debate, Congresswoman Bachmann insisted: “I will build a double-walled fence with an area of security and neutrality in between.”

In that fictional world there is no House of Representatives or Senate. In the real world presidents must start by persuading the chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. Then, they have to get the chairperson of the Appropriations Committees in both the House and the Senate on board in order to get anything done.

If as president, Michele Bachmann wanted to build a double-walled fence along our southern border, she would have to go to the House of Representatives and the Senate and request that they introduce a bill that would authorize the building of such a fence.

That authorization bill would have to then pass both the House and the Senate. Even then no fence would be built, unless she could convince the House and the Senate to pass a bill that appropriates the money to build the fence that Congress has already legally authorized.

Obama would like Congress to increase the top income tax rates, but the House Ways and Means Committee chairman is a Republican. There is a zero percent chance of his getting what he wants.

George W. Bush explained: “Congress also needs to address the challenges facing Social Security. I traveled the country to talk with the American people. They understand that Social Security is headed for serious financial trouble. And they expect their leaders in Washington to address the problem.” The Republican-controlled House and Senate completely ignored their Republican president’s proposal on Social Security.

Dissatisfied Obama supporters are learning that the power to govern resides almost entirely in the Congress.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Agenda

The Delhi Occupy Wall Street demonstration will be held in front of Village Square at 11a.m. on Saturday, Oct, 29th. It’s expected to be peaceful. Interfering with traffic or customers entering the Delaware National Bank is unlawful. That bank doesn’t bundle their mortgages to sell them to Wall Street Banks.

I’ll encourage people to vote for members of Congress, who will vote for the Jobs Act, and attempt to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

The problem is never in Washington, because we the people get the government that we deserve. Voting for Tea Party Republicans will get a Congress that are more concerned about abortion than reducing the unemployment rate. Continuing to vote Republican will get a culture in Congress not unlike that of the 1920’s. Wall Street owns the Republican Party. Consequently, they insist: “Wall Street knows best.”

As a result of that Great Depression, FDR and Congress put in place the Glass-Steagall Act to prevent future collapse. However, in 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was passed and essentially gutted Glass-Steagall.

Former Republican Senator Phil Gramm of Texas wrote: “We have a new century coming, we have an opportunity to dominate that century the same way we dominated this century. Glass-Steagall came at a time when the thinking was that government was the answer. In this era of economic prosperity, we have decided that freedom is the answer.” Gramm sought to convince the American people, that we need to believe that government isn’t the answer, when in fact it’s the only answer.

The protections in the Glass-Steagall Act were stripped away and big banks were allowed to merge. George W. Bush became president. There was a new sheriff in town, and the sheriff was not interested in watching Wall Street.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Liberal Successes

“There but for the Grace of god go I.” Half of the people, who use that phrase mean: “God, am I lucky that didn’t happen to me?” The other half believe it didn’t happen to them because they’ve made smarter choices than the unemployed or they’ve worked harder than the people without health insurance, or they’re simply better people than the homeless, better people than the least of our brethren.

Obama claimed: “There’s always been thread running through our history, a belief that we’re all connected.  And that there are some things we can only do together as a nation. Part of this American belief that we’re all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security and dignity.”

Many Americans don’t believe that we’re all connected or that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security and dignity, especially if that security includes healthcare. Some think that unemployment insurance, makes us a weaker country because we give money to people who don’t work. The reason the social safety net that Democrats created over the last 75 years is under attack is that half our country doesn’t share that basic value.

The political reality is that the burden of maintaining the liberal successes of Social Security and Medicare has always fallen exclusively to the creators of those programs. Republicans were opposed to the creation of Social Security and Medicare. They’re not interested in figuring out how to keep them going.

Eight million Americans lost jobs during the Bush-era. With a few exceptions we’ve become the country with the highest income inequality level. The fact, that so many of our fellow Americans have been denied an opportunity to work is the reason we’re considered what some call a “nanny state.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Political Participation

Obama pointed out: “It turns out the Republican plan boils down to a few basic ideas. They want to gut regulations. They want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants. Their plan says, we should go back to the good old days before the financial crisis when Wall Street was writing its own rules. They want to roll back all the reforms we put into place.”

Congressman Barney Frank wishes, that the energy of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement had been around two years ago when he was fighting against Republicans, who wanted to protect derivatives from regulation. He was able to get a strong bill, but it could have been much stronger.

Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in and of themselves are not going to accomplish a great deal. Protesting at the Supreme Court is one way to of dealing with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. That decision allowed corporations unrestricted campaign spending to influence our elections. A better way is to re-elect Obama, because he’ll appoint justices like Justice Sotomayor and Kagan, who won’t vote that way.

Many of the people in the Occupy Wall Street movement seem to be critical of conventional politics. Demonstrations are important, but they’re merely a prerequisite, that gets people together and engaged. Demonstrators need to take the next step and let their representatives currently in office know what they think, and vote for the people who agree with them. Simply being in a public place and voicing your opinion in and of itself doesn’t do anything politically. To be effective, they must identify who the members of Congress are, that support their cause and vote for them. The Occupy Wall Street energy has to be translated into political activity if it’s going to have a lasting impact.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Good News

America is addicted to foreign oil and it’s threatens our economy, environment and national security.  Instead of prolonging our addiction to oil, we need to look beyond fossil fuels and invest in new solutions. 

Thirty years ago, 28% of the oil consumed in the United States was imported. Today, nearly 50% of the oil utilized and consumed in the United States is imported from other countries. Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion and represent the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

Of the 83 million barrels of oil produced worldwide every day, 18,690,000 barrels are used in the United States. That’s 25% of the world’s demand, being used by just 4% of the world’s population.

Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn’t enough of it to keep up with demand.  The days of cheap oil in America are gone forever.

The good news is that studies show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world by far.  The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America’s electricity can come from wind.

Even if only 20% of wind power could be captured, a 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand 7 times over. Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.  That is a lot of money, but compared to the $700 billion we spend on foreign oil every year, it’s a bargain.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan

Herman Cain is having trouble defending his 9-9-9 plan, especially now that Republicans are catching on to the fact that it will result in most Americans paying more in taxes. 


On "Meet the Press," Cain acknowledged, that there are individuals who are going to pay more in taxes. He insisted people are going to rally around his tax reform plan where the wealthy pay less and middle class and lower income people pay more.

According to the Tax Policy Center, under Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan at least 84% of American households would pay more in taxes. A family of four making $50,000 a year, married, filing jointly, with two dependent children would see a dramatic increase. That family making $50,000 a year currently pays about $8,400 in payroll taxes and federal income tax. Under Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, their federal tax burden would increase to $13,50o.

A family of 4 making $1 million a year is currently paying $289,000 in federal income tax after a $50,000 mortgage deduction and a $25,000 dollar deduction, which is reasonable to assume at that income level.

Under Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, the $1 million family would pay $90,000 in federal income tax. Assuming they put $300,000 in the bank and spend the rest, the remainder of that spending they would pay $55,000 dollars in federal sales taxes, under the Cain federal sales tax. That would bring their total federal tax burden to $145,000.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would result in the family making $50,000 dollars a year paying $5,000 more in federal taxes, while the family making $1 million a year would be paying $144,000 less in federal taxes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sgt. Shamar Thomas

Recently, Occupy Wall Street protesters moved into Times Square and encountered police brutality. An Iraq war veteran shamed the brutalizers among the police.

Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas shouted: “This is not a war zone. These are unarmed people. It doesn’t make you tough to hurt these people. You want to go fight, go to Iraq and Afghanistan. Leave these people alone. They’re U.S. citizens. 


“Why are you all doing this to our people? I’ve been to Iraq 14 months for my people. They don’t have guns. Why are you hurting these people? It doesn’t make any sense.

“How do you sleep at night? There is no honor in what you’re doing to these people. You’re here to protect us. This is the United States of America.

“If you want to go kill or hurt people, go to Iraq. Do you get honor hitting people with batons? There’s no honor in hurting unarmed civilians.

My mom, my father, everybody has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, where I did 14 months in Iraq. My father was in Afghanistan. My mother did a year in Iraq. We fought for 
this country. I am from New York City. These cops are hurting people that I fought to protect. There’s no reason for this.”

After shaming the police, Shamar Thomas posted this statement online. “I am not anti-NYPD. I am anti-police brutality. There is an obvious problem in the country and peaceful people should be allowed to protest without brutality. I was involved in a riot in Rutba, Iraq in 2004. And we did not treat the Iraqi citizens like they are treating the unarmed civilians in our own country. No one was brutalized because our mission was to win the hearts and minds. Why should I expect anything less in my 
own country?"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Overwhelmingly Popular

The Republican filibuster of the American Jobs Act thwarted the will of a majority of the Senate and prevent the Senate from even considering a bill designed to address the nation's jobs crisis.

More than 14 million Americans are out of work, and the American Jobs Act would’ve helped as many as two million get work or keep their jobs. It would prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, police, firefighters and other first responders. It would give tax cuts to millions of small businesses, would give incentives to those businesses to hire new workers. It would provide a payroll tax cut to millions of American families. It would help our returning veterans find jobs. And it would put thousands of construction workers on the job repairing crumbling schools, building and repairing roads and bridges.

The overwhelming majority of economists agree that the Jobs Act would help our economy grow and reduce unemployment. The bill uses ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past. It would not add a dime to the federal budget deficit. Its provisions are overwhelmingly popular with the American people, according to all of the public opinion polls.

If Republicans oppose this bill, which is their right, they should vote against it. If Republicans oppose this approach, they should offer an alternative jobs bill so the American public can compare what is in this jobs bill with what Republicans favor. Instead, they oppose American Jobs Act plan without really saying what they favor.

President Obama will use his bully pulpit to make clear to the American people that it’s the obstructionism of filibustering Republicans that prevents us from taking action on a jobs bill. The message to voters is loud and clear, that Senate Democrats have an alternative to doing nothing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guardians of the Establishment

Tea Party Patriots have clearly demonstrated that they’re the guardians of the financial interests of the wealthiest 1% 0f Americans.

Our Constitution was established to: “promote the general Welfare.” Republicans continue to promoted the welfare of the wealthy, while middle class families have seen their income go down 7% in the past decade. The disparity between the enormously wealthy and desperately poor has steadily increased.

Alan Greenspan has repeatedly warned that growing inequality poses a threat to a “democratic society.”

Oligarchy is a form of government in which the power is vested in a few. Our nation has become an oligarchy, because wealth has been concentrated in the hands of a small, privileged elite.

Some claim, that it’s a fallacy that we’re an increasingly unequal society because a large group of Americans have the skills and education to take advantage of new technology. The truth is that although highly educated workers have done better than those with less education, a college degree is no longer a ticket to high income gains. The real earnings of college graduates fell more than 5% between 2000 and 2004.

Many insist the way to decrease inequality is to improve our educational system, but the truth is that power relationships have much more to do with the growth of inequality than market forces. The disparity between the enormously wealthy and desperately poor is driven by the excessive income gains of a small elite, not the modest gains of college graduates.

Congressional Republicans have facilitated ever increasing inequality by passing unconscionable tax cuts for the top 1% income bracket. We should be very worried by the increasingly oligarchic nature of American society, because a rising economic tide has failed to lift most boats. More importantly, history shows that highly unequal societies tend to be highly corrupt.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Protect Life Act

House Republicans voted 251 to 172 to pass the “Protect Life Act.” Some have nicknamed the legislation the “Let Women Die Bill.” The legislation would prohibit women from using tax subsidies from the Affordable Care Act “to purchase insurance that covers abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or health risk to the mother.” The bill would make it illegal for federal funds to go to any health care plan that provides abortion services, even if the woman pays out of her own pocket.

Instead of focusing on creating jobs, the House has turned its attention to a politically motivated piece of legislation that unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices of women and their families.

Republicans claim they needed to pass this law, but federal funding for abortion is already banned by the Hyde Amendment. Part of this legislation is about propaganda for their base, but the most sadistic part of this law is the so-called conscience clause, which would go further than current law.

The Access to Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act requires hospitals not to turn away anyone in an emergency life or death situations, and if they can’t treat the person, they must transfer the patient to a hospital that can. This is mostly about Catholic hospitals, which make up 15% of all hospitals. Catholic hospitals have routinely refused to treat women requiring a life saving abortion and transferred them to other hospitals.

The ACLU insists that in many cases, they’ve endangered the lives of women by transferring them to hospitals 90 miles away when they’re in sepsis or when they’re hemorrhaging and barely stabilized.

The Protect Life Act would continue to permit Catholic Hospitals not to treat women in life threatening situation, but in those situations they’d no longer have to transfer the woman.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Buffett Rule

Warren Buffett wrote an article for “the New York Times” stating: “I paid only 17.4% of my taxable income. And that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office.”

Obama followed by proposing the Buffett Rule to eliminate the possibility that very rich would pay lower tax rates than the middle class.

Kansas Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp reacted to the Buffett Rule by writing: “I’m saying if we’re going to shape an entire nation’s tax policy based on one man’s claim, show us the proof. If Mr. Buffett came before my Budget Committee, we’d expect him to show us the information under oath. And that’s a reasonable expectation if we’re going to change our entire nation’s tax policy based on his claim. I’ll tell you what, I”ll trade my tax returns for his tax returns. And we’ll compare them. Then we’ll make a discussion about tax policy after we see them.”

Warren Buffett directed the Congressman Huelskamp attention to statistics published by the IRS. Those statistics are assembled by the Congressional Research Service, and available to every congressman, which show the 400 highest income Americans, whose income averaged 227 million dollars each, paid at a 21.4% rate in federal income taxes. That’s 14% below the actual top tax bracket rate. The federal government has the numbers proving Buffett’s point.

In a letter to Rep. Huelskamp, Buffett specified the key points in his tax return: “To be specific, my adjusted gross income, line 37, was 62,885,038 dollars. My taxable income, line 43, was 39,814,784 dollars. And my federal income tax, line 60, was 6,923,494 dollars. In addition, my payroll taxes were 15,300 dollars.”

It is unlikely that other congressional Republican will be eager to try outsmarting Warren Buffett any time soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

American Crisis

In 1980’s we started starving the beast (the beast being our government). In his 1981, Inaugural Address, Reagan claimed: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” When Reagan became President, we were the largest exporter of manufactured goods and the largest importer of raw materials on the planet, and the largest creditor. Today, we’ve become the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods, exporter of raw materials, and are in debt more than any country in the world. 

Between 1952 and 1982, the share of America’s wealth held by the richest 10% of Americans remained stable at about a third of the country’s wealth.

After, Reagan started “starving the beast” the richest 10% of Americans began getting much richer, and by 2007, they held about one half of all the wealth. 

During the first five years, of Bush’s presidency tax cuts legislation was passed, which mostly benefited the very wealthy. The richest 1% of Americans saw their income go up an average of more than 10% each year between 2002 and 2007. As the richest Americans got much richer, the middle class saw their income stay the about the same, but the number of people in poverty gradually increased.

In 2005, Warren Buffett warned: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high. Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.”

Today, we’re faced with the dilemma of what to do about the 9.1% of Americans that are unemployment and what kind of country we want America to be. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Debt and Misery

Former Congressman Alan Grayson gave a rather eloquent description of the problems raised by “Occupy Wall Street.” A critique of the issues they’ve been raising, things like Wall Street’s financial grip over both political parties and what hasn’t happened since the financial crisis caused by Wall Street.

Grayson said: “Listen, if I am a spokesman for all the people who think we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full- time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves and shouldn’t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home -- OK, I’ll be that spokesman."

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests seem to be connecting with people despite a campaign to portray them as scary. The movement has opened people’s eyes and they’re seeing, that there’s no accountability on Wall Street. They’ve wrecked our economy and nothing is being done.

Wall Street destroyed 20% of our national wealth, that had accumulated over the course of two centuries in the course of just 18 months from the middle of 2007, to the end of 2008. Amazingly, nobody’s been prosecuted, indicted, or convicted for it.

Wall Street has created a system that is enormously unequal. There are only five countries on the entire planet that are more unequal than the United States in the distribution of our wealth.

Wall Street controls and dominates our political system. The Republican Party is a subsidiary of Wall Street and the Democratic Party caters to Wall Street too much. Our system is completely unresponsive and people are driven deeper into debt and misery.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pepper Spray

On October 6th, a group of protesters assembled in Washington, D.C. with the goal of nonviolently occupying Freedom Plaza to demand that America’s resources be invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. They were marking the eleventh year of our country’s longest war and the onset of the 2012 federal budget, which provides unlimited funds for war and corporate greed, while withholding funds for basic human needs.

In Manhattan, a national television audience first became aware of Occupy Wall Street protests, after police misconduct and violence erupted at a peaceful demonstration. A slow-motion version of piece of video revealed a police commander using pepper spray against some young women for absolutely no reason.

Initially, NYPD insisted that the use of pepper spray and all of the rest of the brutality caught on tape was appropriate, even while they knew that anyone with Internet access had video proving that it was completely unjustified.

City Councilman Peter Vallone, the chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, watched the video and said the use of pepper spray: “didn’t look good.”

He explained: “If no prior verbal command was given, and disobeyed, then the use of spray in that instance is completely inappropriate. The police department’s guide states that pepper spray can be used: ‘when a member reasonably believes it is 
necessary to effect an arrest of a resisting suspect.’”

“The New York Times” confirmed that the out of control officer in the video was the high ranking Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna.

The video shows that Inspector Bologna making no attempt to arrest anyone, nor does he order anyone arrested who he sprays. He just indiscriminately sprays people as he walks down the sidewalk. He sprayed people who were walking away from him. They were not resisting arrest.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Party of “NO”

On Tuesday, all 46 Republican Senators voted against opening debate on the Jobs Bill. Fifty-one Democratic Senators voted for the Jobs Bill. But, Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, both of whom are up for reelection next fall, voted with the Republicans to deny Harry Reid the 60-vote super-majority necessary to move to debate forward under the Senates filibuster rule. For procedural a reasons Senator Reid voted against the measure as well so that he could bring up the bill again.

Obama responded to the Republican vote by pointing out: “The Republicans who voted yesterday to block this bill weren’t thinking about middle-class families. In fact, at last night’s GOP debate, one of their leading candidates actually refused to say he’d extend a payroll tax cut that puts more than $1,000 in the pockets of everyday working Americans.

“They might believe it’s in their political interests to oppose whatever the President proposes for the next 13 months, but we know that when it comes to jobs and restoring economic security, Americans can’t afford to wait.

“The American Jobs Act would get to work now, providing incentives for businesses to hire unemployed veterans, helping hire tens of thousands of teachers, cops, and firefighters, and rebuilding and modernizing our schools, railways, bridges, and airports. Even though it’s fully paid for and made up of proposals both parties have supported, Republicans yesterday said no.”

Every American who works hard and plays by the rules has a fundamental right to economic security. That is what President Obama and nearly all congressional Democrats stand for.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t disclose what parts of the American Jobs Act he would support. However, he has said that his highest priority, is to defeat this president.    

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

For the most part, my opinion of the occupy Wall Street protests across America is favorable. Certainly, we can’t disagree with folks exercising their first amendment rights. That amendment prohibits the making of any law that abridges the right of freedom of speech, interferes with the right of freedom of assembly or prohibits the petitioning of our government to redress grievances.

Some have pointed out that there is a difference between an emotional outcry and a movement. The difference is said to be organization and articulation. New organizations must guard always be concerned that a few saboteurs will infiltrate a cause and turn a peaceful protest into violent one.

However, they’ve clearly articulated the importance of reinstating the Glass-Speagall Act of 1933. As a result of that Great Depression, FDR and Congress put in place the Glass-Steagall Act to prevent future collapse. However, in 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was passed and essentially gutted Glass-Steagall.

Not unlike the culture of the 1920’s, the predominate culture in Congress had again become: “Wall Street knows best.”

Former Republican Senator Phil Gramm of Texas wrote: “We have a new century coming, we have an opportunity to dominate that century the same way we dominated this century. Glass-Steagall came at a time when the thinking was that government was the answer. In this era of economic prosperity, we have decided that freedom is the answer.” Gramm sought to convince the American people, that we need to believe that government isn’t the answer, when in fact it’s the only answer.

The protections in the Glass-Steagall Act were stripped away and big banks were allowed to merge. George W. Bush became president. There was a new sheriff in town, and the sheriff was not interested in watching Wall Street.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don’t Blame Obama

Bush ignored the warnings about a pending recession, because he was being lobbied by some of the same financial institutions that ultimately failed. Republicans have always been about trusting market forces and avoiding government intervention in the economy. The Associated Press pointed out that that philosophy ironically ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s.

In Oct. 2008, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke the Chairman of the Federal Reserve asked Congress and it approved $700 billion in TARP funds. Prior to Bush leaving office Wall Street losses had been socialized, but profits remained privatized.

America lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008, and 700,000 jobs in January, the month Obama was sworn in. On February 13th, the Recovery Act was passed without the vote of a single House Republican and the 650,000 jobs lost in that month wasn’t a consequence of Obama’s policies.

Obama's policies helped create more jobs in his first 2 years, than Bush created during 8 years.  The Recovery Act saved and helped create over 2 million jobs in 2009. He took $30 billion of the TARP money Wall Street banks repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they needed to stay afloat.

By December 2009, employment in the private sector has risen by 1.1 million. That was 10 straight months of job growth. The Obama administration had already created more jobs, than Bush did in 8 years.

Thanks to Obama and the 111th. Congress, by the end of 2010, the DOW was up 11%. We’d seen a 10% growth in private sector jobs. Corporate profits as a percentage of U.S. economic growth reached their highest level in the three decades.

Irresponsible Republicans want Obama to fail, in order to win back the White House.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Propagandist

Republican propagandist are claiming that Obama owns this economy. Actually, after the Republican Party took control of the House 10 months ago, they now share responsibility for job creation.

Of the past 12 presidents the top six in terms of job creation were all Democrats.  At the bottom of the list are Bush the elder, Bush younger and Herbert Hoover. Clinton led the country in the direction of creating more jobs, reduced unemployment and brought about a budget surplus.  

Republican become upset, when I mention the Bush era. Perhaps, they don’t want to be reminded of their poor judgement.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, this recession started in 2007. Unemployed Americans we’re aware that it was a recession, but the government agency that’s supposed to report those things took a year to get around to telling us. Bush didn’t admitted that we were in a recession until two days after it was announcement that 533,000 jobs had been loss in November 2008. Sen. McCain continued to defended the economy by reiterating that it was fundamentally strong, until the day the stock market dropped 500 points.

A California mortgage lender wrote to federal regulators in January of 2006, to expect fallout, foreclosures, and horror stories. Some bank regulators proposed capping risky mortgages, providing clearer explanations regarding mortgage backed securities, but federal regulators delayed putting any new rules in place for the mortgage industry until the end of the year.

Bush squandered the budget surplus and created a deficit, by giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. A relatively small number of greedy, irresponsible people who controlled a great deal of money were allowed to get away with breaking rules, that had been put in place to prevent Wall Street from creating a massive public risk in order to chase private gain. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Happy to Fight

Oligarchy is a form of government in which the wealth and power has been concentrated in the hands of a small, privileged elite.

Class warfare works both ways.   A new cycle of poverty for millions of Americans began during Bush’s presidency, when tax cuts legislation was passed, which mostly benefited the very wealthy.  The richest 1% of Americans saw their income go up an average of more than 10% each year between 2002 and 2007.  As the rich got much richer, the middle class saw their income stay about the same, and the number of people in poverty increased.



In 2005, Warren Buffett warned on CNN: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high.  Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.” Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. He asked Congress to make the tax code fair.

In 2006, for the first time in our nation's history, the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans includes only billionaires.

Obama insists: “Republicans, when I talked about this earlier in the week, they said, well, this is class warfare.  You know what, if asking a billionaire to pay their fair share of taxes, to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare, then you know what, I’m a warrior for the middle class. I’m happy to fight for the middle class.  I’m happy to fight for working people. Because the only warfare I've seen is the battle against the middle class over the last 10, 15 years.”

Saturday, October 08, 2011

A Deeper Shift

President Obama doesn’t believe in: “the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the President of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed.  We don’t believe in that.  We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens.    We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient.”  

Most Americans believe in a tolerant, just and equal America, that values the service of every American soldier. Most believe in an America where we’re all in it together, and we see the good in one another, and we live up to the creed “E pluribus unum.”  Out of many, one. That creed includes everybody, and that is what the Democratic Party has been fighting for the last 100 years.

I’ve witnessed changes, since Obama became president, that seemed impossible a few years ago. We’re witnessing a deeper shift in values that are being written into our laws, and woven into the fabric of American society.

Obama pointed out that progress “happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her wife. It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they tell him they knew it all along and they didn’t care, because he was the toughest guy in the unit. It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person know they’re not alone, and things will get better.  It happens when people look past their ultimately minor differences to see themselves in the hopes and struggles of their fellow human beings.”

Friday, October 07, 2011

I Will Veto

President Obama announced: “I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.”

That is a moral argument. Poverty is up. Middle class income is down, and even the income of upper middle class people has stayed flat. Most Americans believe that those, who make over a million dollars should at least be taxed a little higher, since they’ve done extremely well over the last 10 years. To insist that very wealthy people shouldn’t pay their fair share is unconscionable.

The top 1% of income earners are now taking home more than 20% of total income, and a larger portion than they’ve taken home in 90 years. Furthermore, they’re lower tax rates than they faced in 50 years. 
At the same time, most Americans are either jobless or afraid of losing their jobs and seeing their wages are going down. They can`t make ends meet. Those at the top have got to play a part is re-building our economy.

A dozen different polls showing Americans overwhelmingly share Obama’s opinion that the rich have to pay their fair share, that they’ve got to pay more taxes.

All congressional Republicans have taken this pledge not to raise taxes on the rich or 
anybody else, because it’s class warfare. Democrats point out that the top CEOs in America have been raking in $10 million, $20 million each by laying off workers. Last January, corporate profits reached their highest point ever as a share of GDP.

Class warfare is being waged, but it’s not by the Democrats.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Anti-tax Pledge

Since, Obama can’t beat the Republicans at their obstinate games in the House, he has decided to humiliate them for their stubbornness. He’s taking every opportunity to show voters that House Republicans are standing in the way of economic progress and need to be removed from office and replaced with a Congress that has not signed its brain away to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.

President Obama insists: “Anyone who assigns some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out. They should have to defend that unfairness, explain why somebody who’s making $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15% on their taxes when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying a higher rate? They ought to have to answer for that. And if their pledge to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked, the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution. We’re already hearing the usual defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just class warfare. I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or teacher is class warfare.”

An NBC News/“Wall Street Journal” poll showed that 81% of voters agree with the president’s position on the rich paying their fair share, the president knows if he can’t win this argument with a Republican controlled House, he can win it with voters in November of 2012.

Obama’s deficit reduction plan and American Jobs Act speak to his values. An overwhelming number of people in our country agree that if you’re going to do long term deficit reduction, there has to be shared sacrifice.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tax Code Overhaul

The Fairness in Taxation Act would raise more than $78 billion. All of its proposed rate increases are lower than the top tax bracket when Ronald Reagan was president. 

In his recent speech to Congress, Obama addressed the need to overhaul our entire tax code.

“I’m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don’t believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it.  But here is what every American knows:  While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary -- an outrage he has asked us to fix. We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake and where everybody pays their fair share. And by the way, I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.   

“Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies?  Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers?  Because we can’t afford to do both.  Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?  Right now, we can’t afford to do both.  

“This isn’t political grandstanding.  This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. These are real choices that we’ve got to make.  And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose.  It’s not even close.  And it’s time for us to do what’s right for our future.”       

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Unfair Taxation

Unquestionably, we must remove waste from our entitlement programs however our real problem is too low a tax rate on higher incomes. In 2010, Americans paid the lowest level of federal, state and local taxes since 1950.

Roughly 50% of the borrowing that will be needed over the next decade stems from Bush’s refusal to pay for the 2001 tax cut, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and a prescription-drug benefit program for Medicare recipients.

The top 1% of Americans get more than 20% of the country’s income and own more than 40% of all of the country’s wealth. Nevertheless, Republicans are willing to harm the unemployed in order to continue providing unwarranted tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans who saw their income go up more than 10% each year between 2002 and 2007.

Currently, the top tax bracket begins at $373,000 of income and fails to distinguish between the “well off” and billionaires. The top 20 hedge fund managers average income last year was over $1 billion, but they paid a mere 15% tax rate.

Our national debt is $14.3 trillion dollars and the average interest rate on that debt is about 3.2% which means before spending a penny on government programs, $460 billion dollars will be transferred to the holders of our debt. Contrary to popular belief China owns only 8% of our debt. All the major countries in the world combined don’t own a majority of our debt. Americans own the majority of our debt.

We’re not going to be able to pay down the national debt unless more Americans are back at work and paying taxes. The Republican plan to deal with this issue is to guarantee that the unemployment rates remain high so that Obama is defeated in 2012.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Future Challenges

The reality is that in the next decade more than 60% of the jobs will require more than a high school diploma. Every teenagers should make a commitment to graduate from high school. They’ll also need to go on to a four-year university, community college, or get professional credentialing and training.

Our youth should be setting goals to continue their education after graduation, but being accepted into college isn’t enough they’ll have to graduate with a college degree.

America used to rank number one with the world’s highest proportion of young people with a college degree, but now we rank 16th. The challenge for today’s youth is to ensure that their generation gets America back to the top of having the most college graduates relative to the population of any country on Earth.

If our youth achieve that goal America will have a brighter future. They will ensure that the newest inventions and innovations will occur in this country. That will result in better jobs and greater opportunities for them, but also for their children.

The rapid transformations in the world economy is all about lifelong learning. People will have to constantly upgrade their skills and find new ways of doing things.  Even if a four-year college isn’t possible, young people are going to have to get additional training and education after high school. It may sound intimidating, but that is the way it’s going to be.

We can’t expect teenagers to have their entire future mapped out, and we can’t expect them to accomplish higher goals on their own. It can’t be left up to high school teachers. Parents need to instill a thirst for knowledge at an early age and insist that their child complete their homework assignments before turning on video games or the TV. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Can’t Be Trusted

“Let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion that says, Of course, we believe these things. We believe in Social Security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things. But we do not like the way the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them, we will do more of them, we will do them better, and most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The Congressional Budget Office concluded, that if federal health-care costs were not contained, the budget deficit would continue to spin out of control, and the best way to reduce federal health care costs was to pass health care reform. 



Critics of health care reform did a good job of frightening Americans by talking about bankrupting the Treasury.  The truth of the matter is that the reform legislation has been designed to generate enough revenue and savings to more than offset the substantial cost of expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to the middle class.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Health Care Reform Act will reduce deficits over the first 10 years by $138 billion and as much as $1.2 trillion, the following 10 years. A report by the CBO indicates that the healthcare reform is the most significant effort to reduce our deficits since the Balanced Budget Act in the 1990s. 



Republicans, who are concerned about establishing a cradle-to-grave dependency are responsible for the dependency of the 8 million Americans made jobless during the Bush presidency.

The Republican Party couldn’t be trusted in the 1930’s and it should not be trusted now.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Next Election

On the surface, the next election will be about passing the Jobs Act, a meaningful deficit reduction plan, and removing those Republicans from office, that stand by Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.

The next election is also about 14 million Americans, who are unemployed, and the 6 million children, that are living in poverty. It’s about people, who need a job, in order to pay the mortgage on their home. It’s about parents, who need to pay the college tuition for their child, who they hope will be the first person in their family to get a College education. It’s about compassionate members of Congress, passing the Dream Act and a President signing it into law.

One out of every six Americans live below the poverty line, and a majority of those impoverished are working-age adults. A “poor” family is defined by the census bureau, as those living on an income of less than $22,000 for a family of four. Of the 8.8 million poor families in America, about 60% have at least one employed parent.



Escaping from poverty has long been considered a matter of simply working hard and earning an education. We were a nation that took pride in its tradition of social mobility. Obama believes that the best anti-poverty program is a world-class education. 
But, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, our ranking in college completion among young adults has fallen from 12th to 16th worldwide. 



A survey by the Institute for Financial Literacy shows that those without degrees remain the largest group filing for bankruptcy, however college graduates have become the fastest-growing group of consumers filing for bankruptcy.



We risk a new underclass, who are unable to support their children, buy houses and reach the middle class.