Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Florida Voter Purge


In 2000, in the run up to the presidential election, the state of Florida undertook a massive purge of the state’s voter rolls.  It was led George Bush’s brother, Florida’s Republican governor, and by Florida’s Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris.

The stated goal of the Florida voter purge was to make sure that felons who lost their right to vote in Florida wouldn’t be permitted to vote by mistake in that year’s election.  The goal was to remove the ineligible names from the voter registration list.  

A private company that Florida contracted to purge its voter registration rolls gave state officials a list supposedly of 8,000 ex-felons to remove from the voter rolls.  However, not a single one of those 8,000 voters had actually been convicted of felonies, only misdemeanors.  Legally, they were people who could still vote.

Nevertheless, that list was used all over Florida.  In Duval County, Florida more than half of the voters on a list of probable felons to be purged from the voter rolls were not felons.  In Clay County, Florida, 71% of the voters on a list of ineligible felons should not have been on that list.  Leon County was the only county in the state to independently research every name on the purge list.  They were able to verify that only 5% of the voters actually had criminal records.

Under the leadership of Bush’s brother, the governor, Florida officials targeted 173,000 names for removal from the state’s voter rolls ahead of the 2000 election.

At that time, Democrats argued that the list disproportionately affected African-American voters who were expected to vote for Al Gore in that election at rate of 90%.  Bush won the state of Florida in the final vote count by 537 votes.  Consequently, Bush became our president.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moving Forward

We’re building a health care system, that is becoming more efficient and is providing better quality.  The Kaiser Foundation released a study showing that because of the Affordable Health Care Act, there’s going to be over a billion dollars of rebates going out to millions of  American families. 
The Obama administration is helping to initiate school reform in more than 40 states.  They’re doubling the amount of energy that’s coming from wind and solar, and we’ve established an advanced-battery industry that will be the future of automation.
We’ve made enormous progress towards ending the lingering conflicts in Iraq, and have also started transitioning our troops out of Afghanistan.
Obama won’t be satisfied until every American can find a job that pays a living wage that allows them to stay in the middle class, and we’ve created ladders of opportunity into the middle class for every young American.  We must not be satisfied until America again has the best education system in the world, and college is affordable for young people.
Without a doubt the Obama administration has a lot more work to do.  The good news is  that when you look at the issues; look at where people stand in terms of making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot; doing their fair share; playing by the same set of rules, we find that the majority of Americans share Obama’s agenda.
Most Americans believe that young people should be able to stay on their parents’ health care plans; they believe that seniors should be able to afford prescription drugs and get bigger discounts; they believe that our government should prevent reckless behavior on Wall Street; and they believe that we should have an energy strategy.
When you break down the issues, a majority of American support President Obama. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Going to War


They’ve come to rely less on congressional approval for military actions.  Drones have made fighting less costly to the public, and if a president doesn’t want the public to become upset about the blood spilled, the number of those deployed can be bolstered with people who work for private companies.  

Fewer Americans actually serve in the military these days or are even affected by the war in terms of their families.  We’re a country that sends our military to war and they do the work.  The lives of military families are much different than the lives of civilian families. 

It’s not typical for our country to have 1% of its population looking at multiple combatant deployments, and the civilian population debating how big our tax cut ought to be.  Civilians haven’t sacrificed in proportion to what military families have had to do. 

Our next commander in chief will have never made the slightest effort to serve this country in the way they’ll be asking others to do.

Under our system of government the military doesn’t decide when and where it’s used, the military takes orders from civilian leadership that’s elected from our democratic population, and democratically-elect members of Congress need to consider the sacrifices of military families, since they get to decide when and where our military goes to war. 

A recent "New York Times"/CBS poll found that 69% of Americans believe that we should not be involved in Afghanistan.

We’re having a cavalier political discussion of war with Iran.  Military action against Iran should be debated on its merits, but nobody should be under the illusion that it wouldn’t be something that would take intense national sacrifice from everybody in this country.  It’ll mean people being killed.  It will mean American blood and treasure in significant amount. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

War Has Taught Us


          
The following two excerpts are from “On This Memorial Day” that was written in 2008, by Dr. Carmillo Bica: 

* “In war, we are conditioned to put aside the lessons of our youth, of our parents, teachers, and clergymen who stressed the importance of compassion, understanding and loving our fellow man.  We are transformed into warriors capable of unleashing untold horrors and devastation.  The legacy of war, therefore, is not of honor or glory, for such virtues can never be derived from causing the death and suffering of so many of God’s children.  War is in fact hell as is living with the memories and nightmares.
   
“On this Memorial Day, I do not celebrate the successes and victories of wars long gone or those currently being fought, as war is not a cause for celebration.  Rather, it is a day like any other in which I remember and grieve the deaths of those who fought by my side and those against whom I fought.  The warrior is conceived in the womb of battle, breathed life in the midst of suffering and death, and lived, loved and hated with such intensity that life ever after loses its meaning.  I believe, sometimes, that death in war is benevolent, and those who died more fortunate than we who are condemned to live as penance for the sacrilege of war.”

* “War has taught us that patriotism has its place as long as it is tempered with reason.  And war has taught us that the suffering of children who inevitably do the fighting is so great that everything must be done to ensure that human life never again be wasted on the field of battle.  For isn't that why we made our sacrifices and those that we allege to remember and honor gave their lives.  And war has taught us that when the frenzy of death and destruction has subsided and the smoke of battle has cleared, amidst the death and suffering that remains there are no winners, only shattered lives and grieving families and loved ones.  And war has taught us that if those of us who know the insanity of war find solace in embracing the fantasy of glory and heroism and allow those blinded by greed, hatred, misunderstanding, and misguided patriotism, to again place our children on the battlefield unnecessarily, the very survival of our nation, perhaps, even of our species, may well be placed in jeopardy.  War has taught us this.
    
“We must mark this Memorial Day, then, not with parades and air shows that celebrate the instruments of destruction.  Nor with picnics or sales at the mall.  Rather, we must use it to remind all Americans of the tragedy of war, of its futility and waste.  We must make them understand, distasteful though it may be, the true nature and the lessons of war.”
  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Republican Radicalism


The Romney campaign has send out e-mails announcing that former Vice President Cheney will be hosting a July fund-raiser for the former Massachusetts governor at his home in Wyoming.

When Congress investigated the Iran-Contra scandal, its verdict was not at all partisan.  There was a minority report filed by a congressman, who agreed with the Reagan administration on his Iran-Contra rationalization.  (See yesterday’s post.)

Wyoming Congressman Richard Cheney agreed that if the president does it and it is about national security, then by definition, it isn’t illegal.  Cheney agreed that to a commander-in-chief, our laws mean nothing.  A president can do whatever he wants when it comes to national security.

Furthermore, Dick Cheney voted against asking the South African government to let Nelson Mandela out of prison, and he voted against a federal holiday to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr.

While in the Defense Department, Cheney gave Halliburton a million dollar contract to study, if it would be possible for a private company to handle all the logistics for our military operations abroad.  Halliburton decided that it could be done, but they also found that there was really only one company that could do it, themselves.  A new business model was created, whereby out government saw at least $30 billion go up in smoke during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  He also insisted: "Deficits don’t matter."  

Cheney went to the CIA to personally comb through their intelligence to cherry-pick stuff that might be used to justify a war against Iraq.  He had the oil companies come to the White House to secretly write the administration’s energy policy, and then fought to keep it a secret that they had ever been there.

After leaving the Defense Department, Cheney, become CEO of Halliburton.  As Vice President, Cheney responded to a Senator questioning him about the Halliburton on the floor of the Senate by telling that the Senator to: "Go fuck yourself, Senator."

Reflecting back on his vice presidency after leaving office, Cheney looked back on the "Go fuck yourself moment fondly by saying: “It’s sort of the best thing I ever did.”

When Bush left office, his approval rating was 22%, and Dick Cheney’s was 13%.  Cheney is the personification of Republican radicalism.  I wonder if as commander in chief, Mitt Romney would consider himself above the law.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Above the Law


In an interview with David Frost, former President Nixon was trying to rehabilitate his image, but instead made an outrageous assertion, that didn’t help.  Nixon claimed: “If the president does it, by definition, its not illegal.”   

For many American, Nixon will forever be viewed as a crook and a disgrace to the presidency.  Not only because of the crimes committed by his administration, but because we’re not a country where presidents are above the law.  No person is greater than the Constitution, even if they are the president.   That is fundamental to who we are as a country and why we exist as a country.
Less than 10 years after that Nixon interview, Americans elected Reagan an virtuous and confident man, who knew that he was a very good communicator.  Reagan wanted the U.S. to get involved militarily in Central America and despite all of his powers of persuasion, he couldn’t persuade Congress to go along with him.  Congress responded by passing a law saying, that you cannot do it with the military. You cannot do it with the CIA.  You cannot do it, it is illegal. 

Reagan went ahead and did it anyway, and since it was illegal and he couldn’t get the money from Congress, he illegally sold weapons to Iran.  This was after the hostage crisis, and at a time when it was clearly illegal to sell weapons to Iran.

This was not putting a bug in the office of the Democratic Party chairman’s office.  This was not stealing somebody’s psychiatric records.  This was selling missiles to Iran, that got delivered in order to fund the breaking of another law in Central America.

When Reagan got caught, his justification was essentially, what Nixon had said about Watergate.  “If the president does it, by definition, its not illegal.”   

Friday, May 25, 2012

Look at the Record



During Romney’s time as governor of Massachusetts was 47th out of our 50 states in job creation.  General motors and the automobile industry was left for dead at the time Obama took office.  Today, GM is number one in the world and the United States automobile industry is on it’s way back.  Romney would have allowed the automobile industry to go bankrupt. 

In 2007, Romney said it’s not worth moving heaven and earth to get Osama bin Laden. Bush resorted to torture trying to capture Osama bin Laden.  Obama didn’t use torture, but the world’s number one terrorist is no longer a threat. 

Bush gave us two unfunded wars, off the budget.  Obama got us out of one of them, and he’s getting us out of the other one.  Romney wants to get us into another conflicts with Iran.   Colin Powell said: “Now, if we are to believe his warmongering on Iran, holy smokes, we ought to be nervous.”  

It should point out, that a lot of the same people, who worked for Bush are now working for Romney. 
It’s a fact, that the greatest cause of the deficits through 2019 are going to be the Bush tax cuts, and the Bush’s wars, that were put on a credit card.  Of the last five presidents, spending under Obama has grown the slowest.  

President Obama has pointed out: “Since I’ve been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years.  This other side, I don’t know how they’ve been bamboozling folks into thinking that they are the responsible, fiscally disciplined party.  They run up these wild debts, and then when we take over, we’ve got to clean it up.  And they point and say, look how irresponsible they are. Look at the facts!  Look at the numbers.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Middle Out Economics


Henry Ford wanted to pay his workers enough, so they could go buy the automobiles, that they built.  It’s called middle out economics, as opposed to the ridiculous theory of trickle down economics.  

Jobs are a consequence of a feedback loop between customers and businesses.  Whenever, middle class customers thrive so do businesses.  Middle class customers are the job creators, because it has always been their purchasing power that has driven the economy.  If those folks aren’t making money, they’re not going to be able to spend it.

Global trade is okay, but our government has to acknowledge that it comes with trade offs.  Globalization has been working incredibly well for the shareholders of Walmart and shareholders of companies like Apple.  But, as we ship jobs overseas, it’s become a disaster for ordinary Americans.

Members of Congress need to appropriately tax wealthy people again, so that we can invest in our middle class.  We need to defend our industries with advantageous trade agreements, and workers need to possess more power, so they can negotiate fair wages. 

By re-doing our tax system, trade agreements, and restructuring our economy to support our middle class workers, we’ll be helping both small business and large business to become more successful.

Republicans seem to be obsessed with the idea of protecting and rewarding their so called job creators, the wealthy few at the top.  A decade ago, they used job creators as a way to argue for Bush tax cuts.  Recently, they used job creators as a way to lobby against the Buffett rule.  Lower taxes for the wealthy doesn’t lead to economic growth or more jobs. 

Job growth soared when the top tax rates were higher, but Republicans continue to cling to a trickle down myth at the expense of the middle class.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nick Hanauer


Nick Hanauer is a technology entrepreneur, and a billionaire venture capitalist.  Recently, he gave a lecture rebuking the Republican false argument on job creators.  

Hanauer insists: “If there was no one around who could afford to buy what we had to sell, all those companies and all those jobs would have evaporated.  That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs.  Nor do businesses large or small.

“Jobs are a consequence of a circle of life-like feedback loop between customers and businesses.  An ordinary consumer is more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

“That’s why when business people take credit for creating jobs, it’s a little bit like squirrels taking credit for evolution.  It’s actually the other way around.  Anyone who has even run a business knows that hiring more people is a course of last resort for capitalists.  It’s what we do if and only if rising consumer demand requires it.  In this sense, calling ourselves job creators isn’t just inaccurate; it’s disingenuous.  If it was true that lower taxes for the rich and more wealth for the wealthy led to job creation, today we would be drowning in jobs.”

In a "Bloomberg View" op-ed, Mr. Hanauer wrote: “It is mathematically impossible to invest enough in our economy and our country to sustain the middle class, our customers, without taxing the top one percent at reasonable levels again.”

When told: “You’re a very unselfish man to speak the way you’re speaking.  Most people that have a lot of money want to have a lot more.”

Nick Hanauer answered: “No!  I think you misunderstand me. I’m not saying this because I’m generous.  I’m saying this because, ultimately the more customers there are, the more opportunity there is for capitalist like me.”



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Representative Democracy


     
At the time of the country’s founding, seven of the 13 states representing 27 % of the population could muster the majority in the Senate to command action.

In the early years of our Republic, the population ratio between the most populated state, Virginia and the least populated state, Delaware was 12 to 1.  By 2004, that ratio was 70 to 1 between California and Wyoming.  Currently, the Senate is skewed in favor of sparsely populated states.  In theory, if the 26 smallest states held together on all votes, they would control the Senate, with a total of less than 17% of our population.

Furthermore, by using the filibuster, 21 of the 50 states representing a mere 11% of the population can muster the 41 votes necessary to stop a majority in the Senate.  It’s obvious, that we’ve gone too far toward disadvantaging the large states.

The minority has an unfair advantage, since each state presently has two senators no matter what their population.  These unfair filibuster rules have served to compound the advantage of the minority in a way that the founders never imagined, and runs contrary to the democratic spirit of our country.

Dr. Larry Sabato is considered an expert in the field of Constitutional law.  He has pointed out that Jefferson, Madison, and Washington expected the Constitution would be regularly revised each generation to reflect the country’s changing needs.

In “A More Perfect Constitution,” Sabato recommended that we expand the Senate to 136 members in order for it to become more representative.  He proposed, that the 10 most populous states; California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina gain two additional senators.  The fifteen next most populous states would gain one additional senator each, with the District of Columbia represented by one senator.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fifty-five Votes


Senate Democrats needed only 55 votes to pass Medicare, because President Lyndon Johnson didn’t have to worry about the filibuster.  The Senate didn’t always need 60 votes to get something done.  

There have been more filibusters during Obama’s time in office than in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s combined.
During the constitutional convention the idea of requiring Congress to use a two-thirds majority vote came up, but it was rejected. 

In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a super majority Congress by writing: "Its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure of an insignificant turbulent or corrupt junta to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority."

In Federalist 58, James Madison wrote: "In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws be pursued, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed.  It’ll be no longer the majority that would rule.  The power would be transferred to the minority."

The filibuster has eroded accountability because voters are no longer judging the majority on what they do, but instead they’re judging the majority on what a minority of Senators allowed them to do.

In recent years the filibuster has gone from an extraordinary event to a routine parliamentary maneuver, designed to block legislation from ever receiving an up or down vote without a supermajority in favor.

Recently, after a minority of Senate Republicans successfully filibustered legislation, Senator Harry Reid went to the floor of the Senate and apologized to those Senators, who have been trying to reform the filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader, Reid admitted: “I was wrong to fight your efforts to reform the filibuster.  The filibuster has been abused and it should be reformed.”

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Basic Oversight


President Obama insists: “The recession was caused by Wall Street treating the "financial system like a casino," and this week’s $2 billion loss suffered by JPMorgan Chase could have cost taxpayers.
“Congress should back reforms such as those enacted nearly two years ago "because we can't afford to go back to an era of weak regulation and little oversight where excessive risk-taking on Wall Street and a lack of basic oversight in Washington nearly destroyed our economy."
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase admitted: “It’s a stupid thing that we should never have done, but we’re still going to earn a lot of money this quarter.  It isn’t like the company is jeopardized.  We hurt ourselves and our creditability.  Yes.  That we have to fully expect and pay the price for that.”

Regarding JPMorgan’s $2 billion loss, Elizabeth Warren the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Massachusetts said: “They crashed the economy in 2008.  We had to bail them out...  What happened was that the companies that brought the economy to its knees did not take any responsibility...  They lost that fight.  But then they just moved to a war and it was to spend in armies of lobbyists to lobby Congress, to weaken the rules, to go light, to describe to the regulators that really intended less and less regulation and to two after the regulators, and they just say to the regulators, you know, you’ve got to do less, let’s create this little technical part over here, another loophole over there. Let’s delay implementation.

“The problem now is that JPMorgan has had to admit that, it really did take on a whole lot of risk and that it really got bitten by that risk, but it still wants to hold off any form of regulation.” 



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Recent Attacks


The Republican Party continues its war on women, but they won’t admit it publicly.

In Arizona, Republican Governor Jan Brewer just signed into law a bill to roll back access to contraception.  It’s a new version of the tell your boss that you’re on the pill.

Governor Brewer signed into law a plan to defund Planned Parenthood, that targets birth control and care for about 4,000 low income women.  Last month, she signed a bill deciding when women are allowed to have an abortion.

The Republican governor of Utah signed into law a three-day waiting period for women who are seeking an abortion.
In Alabama, the Republican controlled legislature sent the state’s Republican governor a bill to ban coverage for abortion in the new healthcare insurance exchanges. 

In Oklahoma, the Republican governor signed into law a bill making it easier for doctors to be sued, but it only makes it easier to sue abortion doctors.  The Oklahoma Republican governor signed a bill making it easier for doctors who prescribe abortion pills to be sued.

In Kansas Republicans revamped the state’s tax code to financially punish women who seek abortions.  It includes what amounts to a new tax on abortions.  There’s also personhood style language in the Kansas bill suggesting that a fertilized egg is a person.  There are new restrictions on when you’re allowed to have an abortion and new mandatory, anti-abortion script and reading materials doctors will be forced to give to women, including the factually untrue medically discounted myth that abortion can cause breast cancer, and as well a measure that makes it legal for doctors to essentially lie to women about their pregnancies.

Republican Congressman Steve King has 46 Republican co- sponsors for a bill he introduced to put new federal restrictions on medication abortions.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More of the Same


President Obama has pointed out, that the Republican Party was kidnapped eight years ago, by an incompetent, highly ideological subset of that party.  Nevertheless, his intend has been to reach out to Republican moderates, who are hungry for change.  However, by next year there may not be a single Republican moderate left in Congress.

Republican Senator Lugar has said, that the Republican candidate for his seat in Congress, Richard Mourdock  has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.  Senator Lugar insists: “This is not conducive to problem solving and governance.”

If Mitt Romney is elected president, Americans can expect more of same policies, that brought on this recession in the first place.   

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.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Debt Ceiling Crisis


Here we go again House Speaker, John Boehner has threatened to create another debt ceiling crisis unless Republican demands for spending cuts are met. 

Last year, Obama said that Standard & Poor’s didn’t doubt America’s financial ability to pay its debts: “They doubted our political system’s ability to act.”

The 2011, downgrade wasn’t based on some sophisticated analysis of the numbers.  The Treasury pointed out to Standard & Poor’s, that among the many miscalculations it has made, it had miscalculated our debt by $2 trillion.  After accepting our Treasury’s correction of its calculation, they went ahead with the downgrade, but announced it’s reason in entirely political terms.

They concluded: “The political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.  The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.”

The Republican brinksmanship in 2o11 lead to an epic Washington fight and a first-ever U.S. credit downgrade followed by a major disruption in global markets.

The difference between then and now is that the debt ceiling fight is just one in a line of self-created dilemmas facing lawmakers this year.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described the simultaneous onset of tax increases and spending cuts that will be triggered on Jan. 1, 2013, as a fiscal cliff.

Unless Congress compromises on those tax increases and spending cuts, deadlock would take $7 trillion out of the economy over 10 years.  About $500 billion of that loss would occur in 2013.  Such measures include the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, middle class protection from the Alternative Minimum Tax, and more than 50 temporary tax breaks for individuals and businesses that have been on the books for years.

They also include nearly $1 trillion in deep spending cuts across many areas of the federal budget.  These include significant bites out of defense and non-defense spending.  A number of stimulus measures such as the payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits will also be ending.

Regarding the raising the debt ceiling last year, Speaker of the House John Boehner bragged: “I got 98% of what I wanted.”  

Tea Party Republican may again refuse to compromise and get 100% of that they want.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jobs Report


Private employer payrolls increased by 130,000 jobs in April, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 115,000.  The unemployment rate dipped from 8.2% in March to 8.1%.  Labor force participation fell over the month according, since August the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.0 percentage point, from 9.1% to 8.1%, and nearly three-quarters of that drop is attributable to increased employment.
Despite a lack of cooperation by congressional Republicans, headwinds for economic growth the economy has added private sector jobs for 26 straight months, for a total of 4.25 million payroll jobs.  With upward revisions of 65,000 jobs to the past two months’ employment reports, in the first quarter of 2012 private employment expanded by 697,000 jobs, the largest quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2006.  So far this year, 827,000 private sector jobs have been added.
Manufacturing added 16,000 jobs in April.  After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 489,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010.  To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, President Obama has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and encourage the growing trend of insourcing. 
Other sectors with net job increases included wholesale and retail trade (+36,700), professional and business services (+62,000), and education and health services (+23,000).  Transportation and warehousing lost 16,600 jobs, and construction lost 2,000 jobs.  Local governments shed 12,000 jobs, mostly in education.  
Federal, state and local governments have reduced their work force significantly, since Obama became President.  Had those jobs come back the unemployment numbers would be about 7.1%.
Every month the Obama administration stresses, that the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Personal Opinion


Obama announced: "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally.  And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, you know, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth.  At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
The following excerpt regarding that announcement is from a column published in the Oneonta Daily Star.
“Our children see our hypocrisy.  Polls consistently show that younger Americans overwhelmingly favor gay marriage.  The latest Gallup poll on the subject found that 70 percent of those between 18 and 34 believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.

“President Obama, whose laudable actions on gay rights had far surpassed his rhetoric, mentioned Wednesday that even college Republicans who don't support him on other issues ‘are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation that they believe in equality.’”

“That sentiment was backed up by North Carolina's Republican House speaker, Thom Tillis, who even after his state voted 61-39 percent against gay marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions, predicted that the initiative would be reversed within 20 years because of young people.

“The president, who had been ‘evolving’ on the topic for some years, said he was guided by his children to do the right thing.”

Obama had explained: “You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples.  There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gay Rights


First, North Carolina voted to ban gay marriage.  The next day, Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage rights.  Then, the "Washington Post" published a story about Mitt Romney as an 18-year-old, bullying gay classmates in high school. 

One of the victims of Romney’s bullying was a kid who was described as a soft-spoken new student, who was one year behind Romney.  He was being teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality.

According to one of Romney’s classmates, when that student came back from spring break with "bleach blond hair that draped over one eye,” Romney said: “He can’t look like that, that’s just wrong, just look at him.”  The classmate recalled: “A few days later, Romney marching out of his room in front of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut student’s hair.  They followed the youth tackled him, and pinned him to the ground.  As the student with his eyes filling with tears screaming for help, Romney clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.”
Gay issues and policy around gay rights have suddenly moved to the center of presidential campaigning.  

Perhaps in an effort to make himself seem less anti- gay in light of this new story about himself as a teenager.  Romney went on the FOX News Channel to emphasize that he is okay with gay people adopting children.

Romney said: “If two people the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, and even want to adopt a child, in my state, individuals of the same sex are able to adopt children.  In my view, that’s something which people have the right to do.”

Mitt Romney’s trying to make it clear that he would allow gay people to adopt kids, although when he was governor of Massachusetts, he did support legislation to let some adoption agencies ban gay people from adopting kids in Massachusetts.

Most recently, Romney said: “Today, same-sex couples are marrying, under the law, in Massachusetts.  Some are actually having children born to them.  We’ve been asked to change their birth certificates to remove the phrase ‘mother’ and ‘father’ and replace it with parent ‘A’ and parent ‘B.’  It’s not right on paper.  It’s not right in fact.”

Apparently, Republican Jon Huntsman was correct, when he called Romney a perfectly lubricated weather vane.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Richard Lugar


After 36-year Senate veteran Richard Lugar finished his concession speech, his aides distribute a prepared statement that cautioned both parties regarding the divisive state of American politics, starting with Richard Mourdock, the Republican who beat him.

Mourdock had appealed to Republican voters by arguing Lugar's tolerance for compromise should be replaced by stand-your-ground confrontation.

Lugar believes, that if Republicans continue to make it difficult for legislators to find compromise, “we will be relegated to minority status.  Parties don't succeed for long if they stop appealing to voters who may disagree with them on some issues."

His words were reminiscent of moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe's open disgust for what the process has become when she announced her retirement.

Lugar said: "Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change.  Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases.  For two consecutive presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc." 

Lugar was criticized for voting for Obama's two Supreme Court picks and supporting other parts of Obama’s agenda from immigration to energy.

Senator Lugar pointed out: “One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset.  Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas.  It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times.  

“Ideology cannot be a substitute for a determination to think for yourself, for a willingness to study an issue objectively, and for the fortitude to sometimes disagree with your party or even your constituents.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Same Sex Marriage


Some Republican’s claim that the change in Obama’s position is an “Etch a Sketch” event.
Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Eric Fehrnstromn said: “Well, I think he hit a reset button for the fall campaign and everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch, you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”
Like an Etch a Sketch, Republican presidential candidate, Romney has a history of erasing his old principles when it’s convenient and writing new ones to meet new political needs.  Which is why the Etch a Sketch gaffe by his campaign was one of the most significant gaffes of his entire campaign.
The claim that has been made is that the far right positions Romney has taken in the primary can easily just be erased and forgotten and replaced with whatever they need to be replaced with for the general election. That is exactly the criticism that Romney’s Republican rivals have thrown against him since he has been running for president.
Obama supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't tell, and his administration has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.  He had supported the idea of Civil Unions, but has now moved on to the next step of ensuring legal rights for same sex couples by allowing them to get married.
Objections to Obama’s new position seem to be based on Christian beliefs, that not all Americans share.  Apparently, some of those Christians don't believe in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”  
Some folks actually claim, that as president. Obama has become a bully.  However, the only bulling that has been going on is by those fascist Christian, who in some cases have driven young people, who are struggling with their identity to suicide.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Our Only Defense


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

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

The union movement has provided Americans with the end of child labor, the right of workers to negotiate with their employers over wages, benefits and working conditions, the 8 hour work day, paid overtime, compensation for workers injured on the job, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, pensions, healthcare insurance, paid sick leave, vacations and holidays, limitations of job discrimination by ethnicity, color, religion, sex or national origin, and family medical leave.

President Obama has pointed out: “We’ll never be able to compete with countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages, who’s best at busting unions, who’s best at letting companies pollute as much as they want.  That’s a race to the bottom that we can’t win, and we shouldn’t want to win that race.  Those countries don’t have a strong middle class.  They don’t have our standard of living.

“The race we want to win, the race we can win is a race to the top.  A race for good jobs that pay well and offer middle-class security.  Businesses will create those jobs in countries with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers, the most advanced transportation and communication, the strongest commitment to research and technology.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cleansing the Party


Regarding his defeat in the Republican primary election Sen. Richard Lugar said:

“I knew that my work with then-Senator Barack Obama would be used against me, even if our relationship were overhyped.  I also knew from the races in 2010 that I was a likely target of Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other Super Pacs dedicated to defeating at least one Republican as a purification exercise to enhance their influence over other Republican legislators.

“Ultimately, the re-election of an incumbent to Congress usually comes down to whether voters agree with the positions the incumbent has taken.  I knew that I had cast recent votes that would be unpopular with some Republicans and that would be targeted by outside groups.

“These included my votes for the TARP program, for government support of the auto industry, for the START Treaty, and for the confirmations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.  I also advanced several propositions that were considered heretical by some, including the thought that Congressional earmarks saved no money and turned spending power over to unelected bureaucrats and that the country should explore options for immigration reform.

“It was apparent that these positions would be attacked in a Republican primary. But I believe that they were the right votes for the country, and I stand by them without regrets, as I have throughout the campaign...

“In effect, what he (Richard Mourdock) has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party.  His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook.  He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

“This is not conducive to problem solving and governance.  And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator.”

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

To Do List


Staff writer for the Oneonta Star, Joe Mahoney reported on Obama’s visit to Albany, N.Y.   The following excerpt is from that report.

“President Barack Obama argued in a speech at a nanotech research center Wednesday that more Americans would be employed if only Congressional Republicans would agree to back a new job bank for veterans and approve income tax credits for businesses that expand their workforces.

“The proposals were two of a five point “‘to-do list”’ that Obama urged Congress to support in order to pump new life into the sluggish economy.

“His wish list also included expanded tax credits for clean-energy manufacturers, new incentives for Americans to refinance their mortgages and tax breaks for companies that relocate in this country.

“In a 20-minute speech punctuated with applause lines at the State University College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Obama countered GOP criticism that he favors “‘bloated”’ government, pointing out that public sector employment has shrunk under his administration.

“However, he noted, public sector employment increased while Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were in the White House.”

“‘The only time government employment has gone down after a recession is under me,”’ he said.

“Speaking to an audience that included Gov. Andrew Cuomo and was studded with numerous state government political appointees, Obama argued it was crucial for Congress to put partisan differences aside and agree on legislation that will yield jobs.“  In this make-or-break moment for the middle class, there is no excuse for inaction, no excuse for dragging our feet,”’ he said, then added for emphasis: “‘None.”’

“The backdrop for the election season speech was a state-of-the-art, $365 million computer chip lab that is part of the state university system and whose partners include IBM, Samsung and GlobalFoundries.  Obama toured the facility before his speech, later telling his audience that it is a national model of technological innovation.”


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Abortion


Wealthy woman have no problem going to another country to have their abortions.  Banning abortions tell poor pregnant women; “Do as we say, not as we do.”  

Our current laws and many American don’t consider a fetus a person until the umbilical cord is cut.  That seems to be the issue the disagreement on abortion is centered around, regardless of whether a religious or moral value is involved.

Opposition to a woman’s right of choice regarding abortion is viewed by many as a violation of her Constitutional right to privacy.  Some folks are in favor of abortion only in a few rare cases, but who will make the decision in those few very rare cases.  It’s not a decision, that I want to be made by a religious extremist, since they’re determined to to take away a woman's right to make that choice.  Such a decision should be left up to the woman, who will have to live with that decision for the rest of her life. 

Separation of Church and State is important, otherwise America isn’t significantly different than the Taliban in Afghanistan, who insist that woman not be educated.

In 2004, Catholics nationwide voted for Bush, by a margin of 52% to 47%.  They were told that in order to be pro-life, you’re expected to support a candidate whose mission is to overturn Roe vs. Wade.  However, pro-life is not just being concerned about the womb.  It’s about being concerned about life.  Studies have shown that there’s a direct correlation between poverty and abortion.  Perhaps, the best way to lessen abortion in society is to vote for the candidate that you think is going to do the most about poverty.

Since 1977, the Hyde amendment has prohibited federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.  

Monday, May 07, 2012

Extraordinary Progress


We’ve experienced the worst financial crisis, that this country has seen, since the Great Depression.  The month Obama took office American lost 750,000 jobs.  Our auto industry, that helped to create our middle class, had two of the Big Three auto companies on the verge of liquidation. 
We were in the midst of two wars.  For decades addressing the important issues of health care, energy and education had been put off.  There was an assumption, that we couldn’t get done what needed to get done to ensure that middle-class families regained a sense of security.  Many Americans no longer believed, that if they worked hard and acted responsibly that they’d be able to afford a home and send their kids to college, and retire with dignity and respect.  The Obama administration has made extraordinary progress in turning things around. 
In the last three months, 600,000 jobs were created; 4 million jobs have been created over the last two years.  The auto industry has been saved and GM is now the number-one automaker again in the world.  Possibly, a million jobs have been saved throughout the Midwest.  Our auto industry is making better cars that are being sold around the world.  Fuel-efficiency standards on cars have doubled so that not only are we helping to save the planet, but we’re saving people at the pump and helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  Our dependency of foreign oil is below 50% for the first time in 13 years.
Health care reform provides 30 million people the opportunity to get health insurance that they didn’t have before.  It has made it possible for 2.5 million young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance.  Preventive care includes mammograms, cervical cancer screenings for women, as well as contraceptive care.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Economic Imperative


In the coming months we’re going to have a debate about whose vision will deliver for the American people.  Obama wants to make sure that the next generation of manufacturing takes root in the factories of our country. 
We want our nation to be known for building and selling products all around the world.  In order to accomplish that goal, we’ve got to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that are creating jobs here in America. 
We’ve got to making our public schools the envy of the world.  It starts by recognizing the importance of those men or women at the front of the classroom.  A good teacher can increase the lifetime earnings of a classroom by over $250,000.  
Our representatives in Congress shouldn’t be defending the status quo, nor spending time bashing teachers.  They should be providing schools with the resources they need to hire good teachers and retain them.  We should be allowing schools the flexibility to teach with creativity and passion.  We must stop teaching to the test, and replace those teachers who aren’t helping our children.  Obama wants to provide resources, but insists on reform and accountability. 
The biggest challenge, that our young adults are facing today is how to afford a college education.  Tuition debt is now greater than credit card debt.  In July, interest rates on student loans are scheduled to double, if Congress doesn’t do anything about it.  Our government has got to focus on making sure our young people can get good value for their money, and that they're making informed choices.
Colleges and universities must do their part, by controlling costs and stop raising tuition.  Higher education cannot be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Economic Fairness



Vice President Biden pointed out, that Mitt Romney wants to give additional tax cuts to the rich at the expense of middle class families.  He said: “To put it bluntly, we think it’s out of step with basic American values.  Governor Romney calls the president out of touch.  Out of touch.  Hey, how many of y’all have a Swiss bank account?”

Congressional Republicans claim, that you can’t raise taxes on the job creators.  That is the same argument Bush made, when he pushed through those tax cuts for the super- wealthy without paying it.  Those cuts were supposed to create jobs, but Americans have experienced the slowest job growth in 50 years.

White House budget director Peter Orszag estimated, that roughly 50 percent 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.

Romney wants an additional $250,000 a year in tax cut for those making over $1 million.  That would be on top Bush tax cuts, and would amount to $800 billion over the next 10 years.

The middle class understands the unfairness of our current tax system, and 67% of the American people want the wealthy to pay more. 

In order to put 400,000 teachers and teacher aides, 15,000 to 20,000 firefighters and police back to work, all Congress has to do is raise five tenths of one percent in taxes on the first dollar a millionaire makes after the first million.  Polls have shown, that even a majority of millionaires supported that proposal.

If we want to incentivize businesses, we should be giving tax breaks to the innovators, while investing in high- tech manufacturing capabilities and alternative energy.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Inquiring Minds


The online forum of the Oneonta Daily Star has the inquiring mind of Andrew Reinbach asking some clutch of questions: 

“From whom, exactly, do you want to take this country back?  Who has it now?  Who had it before they lost it to whomever has it now, and how and when did that happen? How, exactly, do you plan to take it back?  What will happen to the people you take it from?  And when you do take it back, what will the country be like, and will the Constitution really still govern?  Because I hear a lot about taking this country back, but never hear anything that answers those questions.  For instance: Will non-Christians still have Constitutional rights?  Mormons, for instance, or Hindus, not to mention Muslims, Jews, or Native Americans?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Reinbach has also pointed out: “The Rev. Wright is free to believe what he wants, and write what he wants, and publish it if someone wants to publish same, and people are free to join him or not and be regarded as such.  The only problem that can arise is if anyone's religious beliefs are pressed or used as a litmus test in the political sphere, or taught as fact in public schools, or used as requirements for employment, or pushed on unwilling targets of conversion.  This is America, folks.  We don't need to protect popular speech, and defending unpopular speech is how said right is guaranteed to all.

Reinbach wrote: “If you want to discuss reality, try this: There are 7 billion people living on a planet that can support 2 billion, that number will rise to 10 billion within a generation, and very large portions of that population are both growing exponentially, and experiencing rising standards of living--and consumption.”

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Exiting Afghanistan


Obama’s plan for Afghanistan: “First, we've begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half of the Afghan people live in places where Afghan security forces are moving into the lead.  This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year.  International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. 
“As we do, our troops will be coming home.  Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.  Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer.  After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home.  And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.
“Second, we are training Afghan security forces to get the job done.  Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year.  The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military.
“Third, we’re building an enduring partnership.  The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: As you stand up, you will not stand alone.  It establishes the basis for our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions.  It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people.  And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans -- men and women, boys and girls.
“Fourth, we’re pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban.  We’ve made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws.  Many members of the Taliban -- from foot soldiers to leaders -- have indicated an interest in reconciliation. 
“Fifth, we are building a global consensus to support peace and stability in South Asia. In Chicago, the international community will express support for this plan and for Afghanistan’s future. And I have made it clear to its neighbor -- Pakistan -- that it can and should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty, interests and democratic institutions. In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al Qaeda safe havens and respect for Afghan sovereignty.”

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Ted Nugent



Ted Nugent comments about President Obama resulted in his being questioned by the Secret Service.

Nugent said: "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."  The National Rifle Association had posted a video on YouTube, in which Nugent insisted: "If you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made out of."

“A Paranoid Personality Disorder is a condition characterized by excessive distrust and suspiciousness of others.  Individuals with this disorder are generally difficult to get along with.  Their combative and suspicious nature may elicit a hostile response in others, which then serves to confirm their original expectations.  They are often attuned to issues of power and rank, and tend to develop negative stereotypes of others, particularly those from population groups distinct from their own.”
An example of a Paranoid Personality Disorder could be the man that shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other innocent people.  
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government.  The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.  And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital.  We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
In reference to Christina Taylor Green the young girl, who was killed, Obama said: “She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model.  She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.” 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

“That’s the Choice”

President Obama pointed out: “The share of our national income going to the top 1 % has climbed to levels we haven’t seen since the 1920s. The folks who are benefiting from this are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years.”

 “That’s wrong. That’s not fair. And so we’ve got to choose which direction we want this country to go in. Do we want to keep giving those tax breaks to folks like me who don’t need them, or to give them to Warren Buffett -- he definitely doesn’t need them -- or Bill Gates -- he’s already said, I don’t need them -- or do we want to keep investing in those things that keep our economy growing and keep us secure? That’s the choice.”

Forty thousand factories closed during the Bush administration. However, Republican politicians continue to claim, that tax cuts benefit the economy even after the Bush-era tax cuts provided irrefutable proof that tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires didn’t stimulate the economy.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote: “Whenever, we diminish equality of opportunity, we are not using some of our most valuable asset (our citizens) in the most productive way possible. Much of the damage that results from inequality are associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests, that undermine the efficiency of the economy.”

America is suffering from an under-investment in infrastructure, especially highways, bridges, railroads and airports. We should be investing in basic research, and education at all levels, but instead we’re making cutbacks.” Budgets are about choices, but also about values. The Golden Rule states: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” It’s also called the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.