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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Waiting For Congress

Last September, Obama decided to stop waiting for Congress to fix “No Child Left Behind.” He gave states the flexibility they need to help children meet higher standards.  He has made sure that small businesses that have contracts with the Federal Government will get paid faster so they can start hiring. He made it easier for veterans to get jobs. Steps have been taken to help families whose home values have fallen refinance their mortgages and save up to thousands of dollars a year. He has sped up the loan process for companies that want to rebuild our roads and bridges by putting construction workers back on the job. He made a recess appointed of Richard Cordray to be America’s consumer watchdog and protect working Americans from the worst abuses of the financial industry.

Every year, tens of millions of tourists come from all over the world to visit America.  They stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and see all the sights America has to offer. That’s good for local economies, because the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. 

Obama wants the world to know that America is open for business. Therefore, he announced steps to promote America and make it easier for tourists to come and visit. 

Frequent travelers who pass an extensive background check will be able to scan their passports and fingerprints and skip long lines at more airports. This administration is expanding the number of countries where visitors can get pre-cleared by Homeland Security and won’t need a tourist visa. They’re going to speed up visa processing for countries with growing middle classes that can afford to visit America. Countries like China and Brazil.

Obama insists that it will help boost tourism and help create jobs. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Collective Amnesia

Obama insists: “After everything that’s happened, there are people in Washington who seem to have collective amnesia. They seem to have forgotten how we got into this mess. They want to go back to the very same policies that got us into it. The same policies that stacked the deck against middle class Americans for years.”

In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1% has gone up by more than 250% to $1.2 million per year. The top 1% of Americans make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of 1%, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. At the same time, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have fallen about 6%.

In 2001 and 2003, congressional Republicans passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. 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 richer, the middle class saw their income stay about the same, and the number of people in poverty gradually increased. Those tax cuts resulted in the slowest job growth in half a century.

Obama said: “We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes.”

A quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle class households. Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. If you made more than a million dollars a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tax Reforms

Recently, Obama presented Congress with a blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

When, Obama took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Million of jobs were at stake. Although, Mitt Romney wrote an article for the New York Times entitled: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” our President refused to let that happen.

In exchange for help, Obama demanded responsibility. They got workers and automakers to settle their differences. The industry retooled and restructured. General Motors is back on top as the world’s number-one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in America than any major car company. And, Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories. The entire industry has added nearly 160,000 jobs.     

Today, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. But, the companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. 

Obama said, that those business that want to outsource jobs, shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. No American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. He wants every multinational company to pay a basic minimum tax.  And, every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire Americans.     

Congress should double the tax deduction, companies get for making products here. Companies that want to relocate in a community that haa been hit hard after a factory left town, should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.  

Obama wants Congress to start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.  He urged: “Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.” 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No Going Back

Long before, this recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving America. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. People at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled, because paychecks weren’t growing, and personal debt kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. Mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.  Many banks made huge bets with other people’s money, while regulators looked the other way, because they didn’t have the authority to stop irresponsible behavior.

Our economy plunged into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled our country with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag. In the six months, before Obama took office, America lost nearly 4 million jobs.
Another 4 million jobs we’re lost before Obama’s policies took effect.

In the State of the Union Address, Obama announced that in the last 22 months, businesses had created more than 3 million jobs. Last year, more jobs were created than any year, since 2005. For the first time since the late 1990s, our manufacturers are hiring and creating jobs. Congress has agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion.  And it has put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again. 

Obama won’t allow America to return to an economy of phony financial profits. He announced that he’ll fight obstruction with action, and will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.  He directed his Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and to expand investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

They Set An Example

After praising the success of our military, Obama urged Congress: “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach:  A country that leads the world in educating its people.  An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs.  A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.  An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

“We can do this.  I know we can, because we’ve done it before.  At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.  My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.
 
“The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism.  They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share -- the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” 

Our country wasn’t built by one political party. America became great because our elected representatives worked as a team. No mission is too hard, as long Americans join together in common purpose and maintain a common resolve. America’s future can again be hopeful, and the state of our Union will remain strong.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Too Big To Exist

In 2006, when Democrats were still in the minority, Rep. Barney Frank raise the question of executive pay. The top decision makers on Wall Street were able to take risks and if the risks paid off, they made lots of money. However, if these top decision makers took risks, that went terribly wrong, they didn’t lose any of their own money.

The banks were allowed to decided how much cash they had to keep on hand, and that new rule was pushed by Henry Paulson, who eventually, became Bush’s treasury secretary. In 2008, while Bush was still President, Paulson decided how the first half of the $700 billion in TARP funds were spent.

Risk structure was one of the reasons that Wall Street got in trouble 2008. In 2009, House Democrats passed a bill, that called for all regulators of any financial institution; banks, the bank regulators, and the Security Exchange Commission to put in rules, that do not allow the kind of bonus structure, that provides an incentive to take a lot of risks.

There have even been cases, where the risk appeared to pay off within a short period of time and people make a lot of money. However, if the deal later turned sour, they didn’t have to give any of the money back. Regulations have to spell out, that top decision makers cannot have one-way bonuses. Heads they win, tails they break-even, because it is leads Wall Street scoundrels to take too many risks, and that endangers our society.

When financial institutions get to big to fail. They’ve become to big to exist. In 1999, Congress killed the Glass-Steagall Act, which had erected the wall between regulated Main Street banks and unregulated investment banks. Congress needs to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Economic Progress

When, Obama took office, we we’re in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  America had lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in. Twenty-four days after Obama took office the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed, without a single Republican vote in the House and only 3 Republican votes in the Senate.  By doing so, they prevented the worst financial crisis from getting worse and turned the economy from contraction to expansion. 

By December 2009, employment in the private sector had risen by 1.1 million, and every months since we've seen job growth. The Obama administration has created many more jobs, than Bush did in 8 years. 

By early 2010, the DOW was up 11%, and we had seen a 10% growth in private sector jobs.  Recently, corporate profits as a percentage of U.S. economic growth reached their highest level in the three decades.  Profits had plummeted to the lowest point ever, when the recession hit, but in January corporate profits reached their highest point ever as a share of GDP. 

After three years, General Motors is once again the number one car maker in the world. Three years ago, Obama engineered an $80 billion loan for the automobile industry. He took a huge risk, and it is paying off, and no congressional Republicans supported the loan. In fact, Mitt Romney wrote an article entitled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” 


Recently, we’ve learned jobless claims fell to a four-year low, the lowest levels since April 2008. Jobless claims have fallen ever since Obama’s stimulus package went into effect and the stock market has risen more than 50%. The unemployment is now at 8.6%, and economist see a slow, but steady improvement. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Security and Exchange Commission

The SEC consists of five Commissioners appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Their terms last five years and are staggered so that one Commissioner's term ends on June 5 of each year. To ensure that the SEC remains non-partisan, no more than three Commissioners may belong to the same political party. The President also designates one of the Commissioners as Chairman, the SEC's top executive. However, the President does not possess the power to fire the appointed commissioners, a provision that was made to ensure the independence of the SEC.

The nonpartisan Wall Street Watch project revealed that deregulation was purchased by Wall Street executives, by paying politicians for unprecedented freedom from oversights of banks, security firms, private equity and hedge funds, insurance and real estate.

In the past 10 years, Wall Street lobbyists spent more than $5 billion to influence regulators. In 2008, a total of 2,996 lobbyists spent $1.7 billion on direct campaign contributions.

In 1998, Citibank was allowed to merge with the insurance giant, Travelers, even though it was against the law. The following year, Congress killed the landmark depression era Glass-Steagall Act, which had erected the wall between regulated Main Street banks and unregulated investment banks.  Without that wall, the stage was set for firms to merge until they were “too big to fail.” Regulators allowed firms to hide those risky investments off their books which meant they didn’t have to keep enough money on hand to cover possible losses. Those practices were permitted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board in rules pushed for by the bank executives.

In 2004, Bush’s Securities and Exchange Commission scrapped a 20-year-old rule that made banks keep a certain amount of cash on hand to cover investment losses.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Land of Opportunity

We’re coming out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression the likes of which most Americans haven’t seen in their lifetime. The changes taking place in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia that are extremely challenging.

Over the last three years, the Obama administration has sought to solve those challenges, while making sure that we didn’t slip into an other Great Depression. Economic growth is promising and we’ve now had 22 straight months of private sector job growth. The economy is on the mend, but it’s not nearly where it needs to be.

Obama has end a war in Iraq and start managing a transition out of Afghanistan. Historic health care legislation was passed and it’s already having an impact on 2.5 million young people who now have health insurance. Congressional Democrats have ended practices like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” that was fundamentally contrary to who we are as a country.

Obama is dealing with problems that have been building up for decades. Our education system isn’t where it needs to be to make sure that our young people can compete in the 21st century. Our tax code isn’t fair and equitable, and hardworking Americans know that the very wealthy are playing by a different set of rules. Currently, our financial system is stable and conducive to economic growth, but congressional Republicans are determined to re-deregulate Wall Street.

The contrast couldn’t be sharper than it is this year. Our children and grandchildren and future generations may again be able to proudly say that America continues to be the land of opportunity, and continues to be the one indispensable nation around the world that people look to for leadership and clarity of values.

The only way we’re going to accomplish this mission is to win in November.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mitt Romney

Most Americans get a paycheck from which the government takes the taxes out before we get our money. A single person making a little over $60,000, pays 15% of their income to the federal government.

Mitt Romney has committed to releasing multiple years of his personal income tax returns in April. Romney has set up deals where he’s allowed to get compensation for managing other people’s investments, and is paid with what is called carried interest. He doesn’t pay taxes on that, until he cashes out. He’ll only pay taxes on dividends or other things that flow out of it.

Regarding his tax rate, Romney admitted: “It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything because my last 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from some investments….”

It’s simply unfair that the tax rate on passive income is capped at 15%, while money earned from working can be taxed up to 35%. Imagine paying a low 15% rate for 10, or 20 years on only the dividends that flows from your bank or offshore accounts. We don’t know and may never know how much of Mitt Romney’s wealth goes untaxed.

In 1984, Bain Capital was founded by Mitt Romney, T. Coleman Andrews III, and Eric Kriss. According to Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Cay Johnston, a professor at Syracuse Law School, we can’t know how much Romney is worth unless we get his tax returns all the way back to 1984.

Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers should be worried about Romney running for president, because once ordinary Americans sitting around the kitchen table begin to understand how this game is rigged, and that it’s far worse than they’ve been told, there’s going to be public pressure to end this practice of paying your taxes decades later.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Running for President

Mitt Romney stands to gain a lot from the tax policies, that he has proposed. Citizens for Tax Justice broke down the tax proposals of President Obama and Mitt Romney. Under our president’s plan, Romney would be taxed at 24%.

The reason Romney is being less than candid about his taxes, is a loophole in the tax laws that allows private equity managers like Romney to treat their compensation as capital gains.

Senator Alan Simpson, who was the Fiscal Commissions, Republican Co-chairman reported, that tax expenditures are really earmarks. Only 10% of the wealthiest people in America, use them, because they’re the ones that can hire the best lobbyists. The little guy does the standard deduction and walks away. “We found the top 400 income earners in the United States pay an average of 16% income tax, and it’s absolutely absurd.”

Romney is hiding the amount he stands to gain from his own tax policies, and he’s hiding the tax loopholes that he exploits.

A “Reuters” report discovered Bain Capital has millions of dollars in foreign tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Ireland. It’s not illegal but offshore holdings brings in massive profits for companies like Bain Capital, which is the source of Mitt Romney’s income.

The $375,000 Romney made in speaking fees last year would be a life-changing income for most Americans. Romney doesn’t seem to be able to relate to the plight of every day working folk. He hasn’t had a job in five years, because he doesn’t need to work for a living. He makes millions from untaxed offshore investments and he pays less than people who earn a fraction of what Mitt Romney is worth. For the past 5 years, Romney’s only real job has been running for president.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Scott Walker Fundraiser

Before the financial crisis and the Wall Street melted down at the end of the Bush administration, Eliot Spitzer was the crusading attorney general of New York.

At press conferences Spitzer would announce charges against the most powerful financial firms. He sued Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and insurance company AIG.


In 2005, before the financial meltdown, Attorney General Spitzer brought charges against AIG and two other firms, who were telling customers that they were three separate companies. Actually, the three companies were working together and secretly colluding amongst themselves to divvy up the business for their mutual gain. They were faking that they were in competition.

At that time AIG was being run by Hank Greenberg. The other two companies were being run by Greenberg’s sons. Greenberg was forced out of AIG in the ensuing uproar.

You may recall the AIG bonus scandal, and the outrage it created when it was learned that they planned to give bonuses to their executives for destroying Wall Street after they were bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

Recently, Hank Greenberg hosted a multi-thousand dollar a plate fundraiser for the Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker in New York City. On the same day people were walking boxes of signed petitions into the offices of the Government Accountability Board in Wisconsin. Folks in Wisconsin aren’t waiting until the next election, they want Governor Walker out of office before his term is up.


The minimum number of signatures needed is just over half a million. The recall organizers were aiming for 720,000. That would give them a nice cushion in case some of the signatures were ruled to be invalid. They turned in more than a million names, which translates to 3,000 pounds of signatures.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reorganizing Government

Obama will ask Congress for the authority to reorganize the government, to make it work better for the American people while eliminating duplication and waste and inefficiencies. His legislative proposal would create a consolidation authority that would for the first time require that any reorganization proposal reduce the size of government and cut costs. He believes our government can achieve better integration, better streamlining, better efficiency, and ultimately better consumer service and better payoff for taxpayers.

Obama’s first proposal is to consolidate the six agencies focusing primarily on business and trade into a new department with the mission of encouraging job creation and expanding the our economy. 

A new department would consolidate the core business and trade functions of six agencies. It would be focused solely on helping entrepreneurs and businesses of all size to grow, compete and hire, while cutting costs and providing better customer service.

Education, innovation, streamlining regulations, energy, manufacturing are all critical issues in growing our economy. They’re interwoven and impact each other.

Obama wants to solidify the gains made in this recovery and move forward in a way where it actually translates into more jobs. Our primary focus must continue to be making sure that we’re creating a fair shot for every American who wants to work hard and succeed in this economy.

The Job Council’s National Investment Initiative has been making recommendations, that encourage domestic investment. Obama has announced a number of new initiatives and new tax proposals to provide further incentives for foreign companies to increase investment in the United States.  A company has already benefitted from the services of SelectUSA, and it has confirmed the power and capacity of one-stop shops and a coordinated approach from the federal government for those who are interested in investing here in the United States.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Implementing Important Changes

Today, manufacturers are setting up shop in countries with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, and communicate with the rest of the world.

America’s infrastructure is crumbling, but we’re not rebuilding our roads, bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, or modernizing our schools. These are the things other countries have been doing for years to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.

Over 1 million construction workers lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, some are sitting at home with nothing to do, or working at Walmart. They should be rebuilding America.

Part of the TARP deal was that we wouldn’t go back to business as usual. Last year, Congress put in place new rules that refocus the financial sector on what should be their core purpose: getting capital to the entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and financing millions of families who want to buy a home or send their kids to college.

Some of these reforms are being implemented. We’re not there yet, because large financial institutions are fighting reform every inch of the way.

Risky financial institutions are required to write out a plan that details exactly how they’ll pay their bills if they fail. The goal is to ensure that taxpayers are never going to be on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. There are also limits on the size of banks and new ways for regulators to dismantle a firm that is going under. The new law bans banks from making risky bets with their customers’ deposits, and it takes away big bonuses and paydays from failed CEOs, while giving shareholders a say on executive salaries.

Without consumer watchdog Richard Cordray heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau vulnerable citizens could be tricked into a loan that they can’t afford.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Unemployment Rate

On 1/6/12, Obama announced: “This morning, we learned that American businesses added another 212,000 jobs last month.”

Republicans are still hoping for the economy will fail, because it’s their only chance to defeat Obama. The economy gained over 200,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 %. That is the lowest level of unemployment since Feb. 2009. Last year, was the best year for private sector job growth since 2005 when Bush was president.

In 2010, the economy added 940,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was 9.6 %. In 2011, 1.6 million jobs were added and the unemployment average was 8.9 %.

America had lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  An additional 741,000 jobs were lost in January 2009, 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 that month wasn’t a consequence of Obama’s policies. Many Americans don’t realize how bad this recession was. They don’t seem to fully appreciate how difficult it has been to slowly pulling ourselves out of this recession.

For three years, Obama has gotten very little help from congressional Republicans. Only three Republican Senators voted for the stimulus bill, and they were labelled “Republicans In Name Only.” Those RINO’s did make a difference in early Feb. 2009.

Don’t forget how the Republicans vilified the auto industry bailout. It was a loan, it worked, and the Republicans had nothing to do with it. They’ve refused to pass the jobs bill to rebuild our infrastructure. Apparently, they only want to protect the top 1% of income earners.

Mitt Romney claims Obama doesn’t understand the economy, but job growth keeps improving under his administration. The Obama administration has put together 22 months of consecutive private sector job growth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

National Mission

A fundamental issue at stake in the 2012 election is the gaping inequality in America. We need to be able to tell our children that in America, even if you’re born into a poor family, work hard can get you into the middle class.

Change starts by making education our national mission. In today’s economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class. The unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average. And their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. We shouldn’t be laying off good teachers -- we should be hiring them. We shouldn’t be expecting less of our schools -- we should be demanding more. We shouldn’t be making it harder to afford college -- we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go without racking up $100,000 of debt.

Obama insists: “In today’s innovation economy, we need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries. And by the way, if we don’t have an economy that’s built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won’t all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance. Because if we want an economy that’s built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering. This country should not be known for bad debt and phony profits. We should be known for creating and selling products all around the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Free Market Economy

Today, steel mills that needed 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100 employees. Bank tellers, phone operators and travel agents have seen their professions replaced by ATMs and the Internet.

Even higher-skilled jobs, like accountants and middle management can now be outsourced to countries like China or India. If you’re job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don’t have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages or better benefits.

Most Republicans argue, that there will always be winners and losers. And, if the winners do well jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody. And, if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, that’s the price of a free market economy.

Trickle down economics is a myth. It’s simplistic theory, that speaks to our rugged individualism and skepticism of too much government. That theory fits well on a bumper sticker, but it doesn’t work and has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. That theory didn’t usher in the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the Bush administration.

During the Bush era some of the same politicians, who are currently running Congress, weakened regulation and provide little oversight. Health insurance companies were allowed to raise people’s premiums with impunity and deny care to patients who were sick. Mortgage lenders decided to trick families into buying homes they couldn’t afford. Some in our financial sector acted irresponsibility. Consequently, a lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.

America must not return to that brand of “you’re on your own” economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Goal is to Repeal

Although, newly sworn in director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray has always had success at the state and local level working across the aisle in a very bipartisan way, his recess appointment provoked a constitutional crisis. Obama is simply trying to fill a position created by Congress. Obviously, Republicans don’t want anyone to have that job.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated: “anything we can do to slow down, deter or impede their ability to engage in this kind of oppressive over-regulation which is freezing up our economy would be good for the country… The less we fund those agencies, the better America will be.”

This extreme right-wing ideology is payback to their big contributors in the financial services industry, many of whom are working to defeat Obama in 2012.

Republicans are also trying to block the funds necessary to implement the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. House Republicans have demanded that the bureau be run by a five-person commission and Senate Republicans have vowed that they wouldn’t confirm anyone to run it.

They want to cripple our government’s ability to police too-big-to-fail institutions. In the final analysis, their goal is to repeal Wall Street reform completely. They’re determined to re-deregulate Wall St, because the Republican attack on the Democrats’ financial reforms have paid off handsomely for them in the form of millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

Obama said: “His job will be to protect families like yours from the abuses of the financial industry. His job will be to make sure that you’ve got all of the information you need to make important financial decisions. Right away, he’ll start working to make sure millions of Americans are treated fairly by mortgage brokers and payday lenders and debt collectors.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Circumventing the Senate

Obama made a recess appointment, of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A recess appointment allows Obama to bypass Senate confirmation, something the Constitution allows him to do only when the Senate is in recess.

However, the Senate is not technically in recess, because it’s been holding pro forma 
sessions, better described as utterly fake sessions that last minutes or less per day. Republicans have forced the Senate to do this in the belief that it would prevent the president from issuing any recess appointments.

Obama has declared the pro forma Senate sessions to be fraudulent. The Senate in the president’s view is in recess. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “President Obama, in an unprecedented move, has arrogantly circumvented the American people by recess appointing Richard Cordray as director of the new CFPB.”

Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown said: “I support President Obama`s 
appointment today of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. I believe he is the right person to lead the agency and help protect consumers from fraud and scandals. While I would have preferred it to go through the normal confirmation process, unfortunately, this system is completely broken.”

The latest poll, shows Senator Brown is losing to Elizabeth Warren in his campaign for reelection, 42% to Warren’s 49%.

Elizabeth Warren pointed out: “If we didn’t have Barack Obama sitting in that White House, we wouldn’t have this agency. He fought for it to make it happen.”

Recently, she described Richard Cordray: “He’s a former Ohio attorney general. He recovered $2 billion for pensioners in Ohio. He was the first A.G. on the front lines in the mortgage servicing scandal. He’s a former state treasurer. There’s nothing here to object to unless you really believe we ought to stick with the failed regulatory policies we had.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Solemn Obligation

The United States of America has the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known. We’ve built the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history. 

Our government has a solemn obligation to those, who puts their life on the line not to send them into harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary; to give them the equipment and the support that they need to get the job done; and to care for them and their families when they come home.

Thanks to their extraordinary service, the war in Iraq has ended. Al Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated. Justice was delivered to Osama bin Laden, and that terrorist network is being defeat. In Afghanistan we’ve begun a transition, so that Afghans can assume more responsibility for their own security.  We have partnered with our allies to protect the Libyan people as they ended the regime of Qaddafi.

Three years ago, Obama had 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, that number has been cut in half.  Around the globe the Obama administration has strengthened alliances, forged new partnerships, and served as a force for universal rights and human dignity.

The number of Americans in harm’s way has been reduced. As a nation were safer and stronger. It’s time to look ahead to the force that we are going to need in the future.

We have to renew our economic strength at home, because that is the foundation of our strength around the world.  America must put its fiscal house in order.  The Budget Control Act was passed by Congress last year, with the support of Republicans and Democrats. That Act mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending.  It must be done responsibly, since the lives of our men and women in uniform depend on it. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Richard Cordray

Obama announced: “I’m appointing Richard as America’s consumer watchdog. And that means he is going to be in charge of one thing -- looking out for the 
best interests of American consumers, looking out for you. His job will be to protect families like yours from the abuses of the financial industry.”

Appointing Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gives the financial reform bill some teeth.

Obama continued: “For almost half a year, Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard’s confirmation. The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don’t agree with the law that set up a consumer watchdog in the first place. They want to weaken the law. They want to water it down. And by the way, a lot of folks in the financial industry have poured millions of dollars to try to water it down. When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them. I’ve got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. And I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve, not with so much at stake, not at this make-or-break moment for middle class Americans. We’re not going to let that happen.”

Republicans are outraged that Obama made a recess appointment. Later, he made three more recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Obama has made fewer recess appointments than any recent president. Reagan averaged more than 30 recess appointments per year. These appointments are nothing out of the norm.

Obama is working on behalf of the American people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Comprehensive Review

Obama has called for comprehensive defense review of our strategic interests in a fast-changing world. A review, that will guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade. Because of its size and structure of our defense budgets have to be driven by a strategy. We have to remember the lessons of history.  We can no longer afford to repeat the mistakes that were made after Vietnam, when our military was left ill prepared for the future. 

The tide of war is receding and we need a smart, strategic set of priorities. The question is what kind of military will America need long after the wars of the last decade are over. 

Obama has made clear to Australia, that we will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific region. Budget reductions must not come at the expense of that critical region.  We’re going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has recently demonstrated in Libya, that it’s a force multiplier. Unquestionably, we must stay vigilant in the Middle East. 

The Pentagon is looking beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the end of long-term nation-building with large military footprints. We should be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces.  We’ll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities needed for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction and the ability to operate in environments where our adversaries try to deny us access. 

Our military will be leaner, but the world will know, that the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Sustaining Global Leadership

The Obama administration has unveiled a plan for a leaner, cheaper military, that will reflect fiscal belt tightening. The new strategy will eliminate our military's ability to actively fight two major wars at once, but it will allow our armed forces to combat terrorism while confronting any new threats from countries like China and Iran.

Obama insisted: “Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong and our nation secure with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.”

“The United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”

Republicans characterized the plan as a retreat from the reality of our global responsibilities. Rep. Buck McKeon, Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee claimed: “The president has packaged our retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy to mask his divestment of our military and national defense. This strategy ensures American decline in exchange for more failed domestic programs.”

Obama warned, that there should be no doubt in the United States or around the world, that we will keep our Armed Forces the best-trained, best-led, best equipped fighting force in history.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey agreed: “It is a sound strategy. It ensures we remain the pre-eminent military in the world. It preserves the talent of the all-volunteer force. It takes into account the lessons of the last 10 years of war.”

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Respect

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly decided it was necessary to reissue the NYPD’s noninterference order. Kelly ordered it read to all 34,500 New York City police officers.

It says, “members of the service who unreasonably interfere with media access to incidents or who intentionally prevent or obstruct the photographing or videotaping of news in public places will be subject to disciplinary action. Members of the service will not interfere with the videotaping or photographing of incidents in public places.

“Intentional interference constitutes censorship. The media will be given access as close to the activity as possible, with a clear line of sight, and within hearing range of the incident.”

The NYPD must deal firmly with those thugs with badges, who willfully violate the rules. The disciplined of losing some vacation days doesn’t seem to have been effective. They should start firing bad police officers.

The quality of policing in New York would improve immediately, if NYPD would begin firing its law breakers. Losing vacation days isn’t sufficient discipline for those, who have been assaulting and battering the citizens and reporters of New York.

NYPD wants to be respected. All police officers want to be respected by its citizens and the large majority deserve respect.
But, as long as the NYPD continues to protect the law breakers, who knowingly violate the Constitution of the United States of America, the uniform of the NYPD will not be respected.

Law abiding police officers know who the unworthy police officiers are, and that those law breakers are hurting the reputation of NYPD. Law abiding police officers have the power to get rid of the bad cops, who are dishonoring the badge, that they all wear. They should do it for the good of their department, and for the Constitution of the United States of America.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Loyal Obligation

Last September, Obama warned: “Some of them are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day.  They need help, and they need it now.”

The Obama administration is cutting programs that we don’t need to pay for those we do. It’s made hundreds of regulatory reforms that will save businesses billions of dollars. It’s not just throwing money at education, but are challenging schools to come up with the most innovative reforms and the best results.

Many American business leaders understand that their obligations don’t just end with their shareholders. Andy Grove, the legendary former CEO of Intel said: “There is another obligation I feel personally, given that everything I’ve achieved in my career, and a lot of what Intel has achieved…were made possible by a climate of democracy, an economic climate and investment climate provided by the United States.”

More CEOs are deciding that it’s time to bring jobs back to the United States, not just because it’s good for business, but because it’s good for the country that made their business and their personal success possible.

During recent negotiations three auto companies agreed to create more jobs and cars in America, and then decided to give bonuses not just to their executives, but to all their employees, so that everyone was invested in the company’s success.

Obama insists: “That’s how America was built. That’s why we’re the greatest nation on Earth. That’s what our greatest companies understand. Our success has never just been about survival of the fittest. It’s about building a nation where we’re all better off. We pull together. We pitch in. We do our part. We believe that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, and that our children will inherit a nation where those values live on.”

Friday, January 06, 2012

Defense Authorization Bill

Obama has reluctantly signed a $662 billion defense authorization bill. He announced: “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

Obama lifted a veto threat against the bill after Congress made changes in language involving detainees. Congress make clear that nothing in the bill requiring military custody of al Qaeda suspects would interfere with the ability of civilian law enforcement to carry out terrorism investigations and interrogations in the United States.

Obama said: “I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens... Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”

The key issue under consideration was the president’s authority in deciding whether people detained in terrorism investigations would be held in military or civilian custody.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the legislation included a “national security waiver” that allows the president to transfer a suspect from military to civilian custody if he chooses.

Obama said a section of the bill provides the executive branch with broad authority on military custody for non-citizen detainees.

In addition, Congress agreed to tough new restrictions on Pakistan to ensure that country is not participating in the manufacture and transport of improvised explosive devices, the hidden bombs that have caused havoc for coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Obama insisted: “Ultimately, I decided to sign this bill not only because of the critically important services it provides for our forces and their families and the national security programs it authorizes, but also because the Congress revised provisions that otherwise would have jeopardized the safety, security, and liberty of the American people.”

Thursday, January 05, 2012

No Religion Too

Recently, while having my haircut, over the radio came the song, “Imagine” as written and preformed by John Lennon.
 
"Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try,
No hell below us, above us only sky,
Imagine all the people, living for today.
 
"Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too,
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.
 
"You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
 
"Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.
 
"You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one."

Robert Reich, secretary of labor in the Clinton administration 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.

This years presidential election will demonstrate the validity of Robert Reich’s opinion.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

“Kill or Capture”

On-line a right wing Tea Party supporter, who goes by the alias of Ber complained: “Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them. US citizens (labeled ‘unlawful combatants’) have been held incommunicado and refused attorneys. President Barack Obama signed into law a four-year extension of this unconstitutional act. And has used it!”

Congress passed the extension of the Patriot Act. Had Obama vetoed it, and another 9/11 occurred, he would be blamed for being weak on terrorism.

Al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born Islamic militant cleric who became a prominent figure with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network’s most active branch.  He was involved in several terror plots in the United States in recent years, using his fluent English and Internet savvy to draw recruits to carry out attacks.  Obama signed an order in early 2010 making him the first American to be placed on the “kill or capture” list. 

Obama has called for drone strikes against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.  He pointed out: “The death of Al -Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate, because he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans, and repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda.  The strike is further proof that Al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.”

Americans are diligently and judiciously working to protect our citizens by using the weapon that Congress has authorized.

Ber seem to want the terrorist to succeed whenever we have a Democratic Commander- in Chief. Ber isn’t a terrorist sympathizer. He’s merely a right wing propagandist with poor judgement.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Clear and Unequivocal

Senator Obama stated: “We have to be clear and unequivocal.  We do not torture, period.  Our government does not torture. That should be our position.  That will be my position as president.  That includes, by the way, renditions.  We don’t farm out torture.  We don’t subcontract torture.

“And the reason this is important is not only because torture does not end up yielding good information -- most intelligence officers agree with that.  I met with a distinguished group of former generals who have made it their mission to travel around and talk to presidential candidates and to talk in forums about how this degrades the discipline and the ethos of our military.

“It is very hard for us when kids, you know, 19, 20, 21, 22 are in Iraq having to make difficult decisions, life or death decisions every day, and are being asked essentially to restrain themselves and operate within the law.  Then to find out that our own government is not abiding by these same laws that we are asking them to defend?  That is not acceptable.  And so my position is going to be absolutely clear.

“It is also important for our long-term security to send a message to the world that we will lead not just with our military might but we are going to lead with our values and our ideals.  That we are not a nation that gives away our civil liberties simply because we’re scared.   We’re always at our worst when we’re fearful.  One of the things that my religious faith allows me to do, hopefully, is not to operate out of fear.  Fear is a bad counsel and I want to operate out of hope and out of faith.”

Keep in mind, that Tea Party Republicans voted for the Patriot Act extension.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Shared Responsibility

The banking crisis left a huge deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. The major banks that were rescued by TARP funds have an obligation to go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit of trust. They should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis. They should be working to keep responsible homeowners in their home. They should be providing more time for unemployed homeowners to look for work without having to worry about immediately losing their house.

Big banks should increase access to refinancing opportunities to borrowers who haven’t yet benefited from historically low interest rates. Those steps are in the interest of middle-class families and the broader economy, as well as, in the long-term financial interest of banks. What will be good for consumers over the long term will be good for the banks.

America must be investing education that give everybody a chance to succeed. We need a tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. We need laws that make sure everybody follows the rules that will help transform our economy. That is the blue print that will grow our middle class again. Rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share will require all of us to recognize, that we have a stake in each other’s success. It will require everyone to take some responsibility.

It’ll require parents to get more involved in their children’s education. It’ll require students to study harder. It’ll require some workers to start studying all over again. It’ll require greater responsibility from homeowners not to take out mortgages they can’t afford.

It’ll require those in public service to make government more efficient and more effective, more consumer-friendly, more responsive to people’s needs.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Tea Party Agenda

Although, health care reform is one of Obama’s most important achievements, Tea Party Republicans revealed last year, that they want to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.

Among its provisions are insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime expenditure limits on anyone, even those with major illnesses; no one can be denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions. About 2.5 million young adults who lacked health insurance are now covered by their families plans. Republicans want to put control back in the hands of insurance companies.

Republicans lined up in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan’s extreme budget plan early last year. The plan would kill Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program. Senate Democrats were there to stop them and keep our promise to senior citizens.

Another part of Paul Ryan’s plan was to give huge tax cuts to corporations. Our middle class is struggling to survive, but Republicans insist on making things worse by reducing taxes on the very wealthy.

After, Republicans won the governorships in Wisconsin and Ohio, one of the first things they did was go after public workers, by taking away the rights of teachers and firemen to bargain for better pay and benefits.

Republicans have decided that since they can’t beat Democrats on issues, they’ll resort to cheating at the polls. They’ve passed laws that will have the effect of suppressing Democratic voter turnout in crucial swing states. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that more than 5 million voters will be affected by these laws. That number is higher than the margin of victory in the 2000 and 2004 presidential election.

House Republicans declare war on women. They tried to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning programs. Next, they tried to change federal law to redefine rape. Although, the “Protect Life Act” would have continue to permit Catholic Hospitals not to treat women in life threatening situations requiring an abortion, they’ll no longer have to transfer the woman to a hospital that would provide an abortion.

A huge victory for civil rights and basic human dignity was realized, when Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Finally, all Americans could serve openly in the military. Nevertheless, some Republican presidential candidates have promised to return our military to the discriminatory policies of the past.