Mind and Destiny

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

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

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Constitutionality of Obamacare


The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, by a 5-4 vote.  Thus, it reaffirmed a fundamental principle that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin. 
More than 250 million Americans, who already have health insurance will keep their health insurance.  Obamacare will make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care we receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop our coverage if we get sick.  They can no longer jack up our premiums without reason.  They’re required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms, a provision that has already helped 54 million people with private insurance.  By August, nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate from their insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on their policyholder’s health care. 
The Affordable Care Act allows young adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parent's health care plans.  That provision has already helped 6 million young Americans.  The Affordable Care Act, enables seniors to receive a discount on their prescription drugs.  That discount has already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.  
Today, 30 million Americans don’t have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer them an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with  an even better way of covering more people at the same quality and cost, Obamacare allows them to do that, too.
Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.  They won’t be able to charge women more just because she is a woman.  They won’t be able to bill us into bankruptcy.  If we get sick, we’ll have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  And if we can’t afford the premiums, we'll receive a credit that helps pay for it. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fast and Furious


The following excerpt is from Katherine Eban’s recent article in Fortune Magazine.

“In 2009 the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives promoted Dave Voth to lead Phoenix Group VII, one of seven new ATF groups along the Southwest border tasked with stopping guns from being trafficked into Mexico's vicious drug war.

“The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico.  The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow.  No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws.  For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority.  The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one.

“Dave Voth, 39, was a good choice for a Sisyphean task.  Strapping and sandy-haired, the former Marine is cool-headed and punctilious to a fault.  In 2009 the ATF named him outstanding law-enforcement employee of the year for dismantling two violent street gangs in Minneapolis.  He was the ‘hardest working federal agent I've come across,’ says John Biederman, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department.  But as Voth left to become the group supervisor of Phoenix Group VII, a friend warned him: ‘You're destined to fail.’”

“Voth's mandate was to stop gun traffickers in Arizona, the state ranked by the gun-control advocacy group Legal Community Against Violence as having the nation's ‘weakest gun violence prevention laws.’  Just 200 miles from Mexico, which prohibits gun sales, the Phoenix area is home to 853 federally licensed firearms dealers.  Billboards advertise volume discounts for multiple purchases.

“Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they're 18 or older and pass a criminal background check.  There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns.  ‘In Arizona,’ says Voth, ‘someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich.’

“By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers.  Voth and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

No Evidence


The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ “Fast and Furious” program was first called “Wide Receiver.”  It was started during the Bush administration.  The Obama administration didn’t created it as scheme to send guns to Mexico in order to create more gun control.  In fact, there’s no evidence whatsoever that Obama, or top officials in the Justice Department knew about it.

Although, the ATF operation was started in the Bush administration, Darrell Issa chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform refused to call Bush’s Attorney General Mukasey, who was involved in the gun-running investigation from the beginning.

Darrell Issa doesn't feel compelled to go right to the heart of the issue and get the head of the program from its inception to find out if these weapons were traced, because there’s conflicting information. 

The contempt charge against Attorney General Holder helps to fire up the right wing base.  Congressman John Mica was one of the committee members who voted for the contempt charge against Eric Holder.  He claimed: “This administration is a gun control administration.  They tried to put the violence in Mexico on the blame of the United States.  So they concocted this scheme and actually sending our federal agents sending guns down there and trying to cook some little deal to say that we’ve got to get more guns under control.  That’s how it started.”

Democratic House Leader Pelosi pointed out: “It is no accident, it is no coincidence that the attorney general of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country, that issues that relate to the civil liberties of the American people are upheld.  These very same people are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Specifics


An independent study reports that about 70% of $5 trillion in tax cuts, that Republicans have proposed would go to those making over $200,000 a year.  Those making over a million dollars a year would get an average tax cut of about 25%.
Republicans refuse to specify where cuts will be made, but if they were to be spread evenly, we’d see 10 million college students lose an average of $1,000 each in financial aid.  We’d see 200,000 children lose the chance to get an early education in the Head Start program.  
There would be 5,600 fewer medical and scientific research grants, thereby eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students and teachers.  However, if they wanted to make smaller cuts in areas like medical and scientific research, they’d have to cut things like student financial aid and education even further. 
The Republican plan would eliminate health insurance for 33 million Americans by repealing the Affordable Health Care Act.  According to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation, it would also take away coverage from another 19 million Americans who rely on Medicaid, that includes millions of nursing home patients, and families who have children with autism and other disabilities.  Furthermore, Republicans have proposed turning Medicare into a voucher program, which would shift more costs to seniors and eventually end the program as we know it. 
Even if all the cuts that they’ve proposed are made the math still doesn’t allow them to pay for both a $5 trillion in tax cut, and bring down the deficit.  Romney’s allies in Congress claim that we can do both, by reforming the tax code and taking away certain tax breaks and deductions, but they refuse to specify the tax breaks and deductions that they have in mind.
The truth is that the only way tax breaks and deductions can get Republicans anywhere close to $5 trillion are those that help middle-class families afford health care and college and retirement and homeownership.  Without those tax benefits, tens of millions of middle-class families would end up paying higher taxes.
Remember, all of those tax cuts would only pay for the Republican plan of $5 trillion in new tax cut.  If you want to close the deficit left by the Bush tax cuts, we’d have to make deeper cuts or raise middle-class taxes even more. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Avoiding Specifics


In a CBS interview, Bob Schieffer asked Mitt Romney: “You haven’t been bashful about telling us where you want to cut taxes.  When are you going to tell us where you’re going to get the revenue?  Which of the deductions are you going to be willing to eliminate?”

Romney replied: “Well, Simpson/Bowles went through a process of being able to say where they would be able to reach a setting where they had actually under their proposal, even more revenue for the government with lower rates.  So, mathematically, it’s been proved to be possible.  We can have lower rates, as I propose, that creates more growth, and we can limit deductions and exemptions.”

Actually, the Simpson/Bowles process embraced eliminating all charitable deductions.  It embraced eliminating mortgage deduction, the single largest deduction that Americans take on their tax returns.

Mitt Romney pretends to be in favor of the Simpson/Bowles process, but is unwilling to say he’s in favor of eliminating specific deductions.

Alan Simpson, former co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform said: “I guess I’m known as a RINO now, which means a Republican in name only, because I guess of social views perhaps, or common sense would be another one, which seems to have escaped members of our party.  For heaven’s sakes, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he will defeat you.  He can’t murder you.  He can’t burn your house.  If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise to east or something.  But if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise.  Show me a guy who won’t compromise and I will show you a guy with rock for brains.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not Enough


Recovering from the economic crisis that hit in 2008 has been Obama’s first and most urgent order of business, but it’s not enough.  Our economy won’t be healthy until we reverse a fundamental erosion of middle-class jobs. 
Everybody knows that the economy isn’t where it needs to be.  The debate in this election is about how we grow faster, how we create more jobs, and how we pay down our debt.  In this election, we have two very different visions to choose from.
Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans believe in the theory that was tried during the Bush administration.  That theory claims that the best way to grow the economy is from the top down.  They maintain that if we eliminate most regulations, cut taxes by trillions of dollars, strip down government to few basic functions, such as national security, we’ll witness the power of businesses to create jobs, and prosperity will be unleashed, and will benefit all of us.   
That is their economic plan, and has already been placed before Congress.  Romney has given speeches about it, and it’s on his website.  If Republicans win the election, that agenda will be implemented as they’ve pledged to their financial supporters.  They’ve promise to roll back regulations on banks, polluters, insurance companies and oil companies.  They’ll roll back regulations designed to protect consumers and workers.  They will not only keep all of the Bush tax cuts in place, but add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that. 
An independent study reports that about 70% of their proposed $5 trillion tax cut would go to folks making over $200,000 a year.  Those making over a million dollars a year would get an average tax cut of about 25%.  That is precisely what Republicans have proposed. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Acted Fast


The wealth of most American families has declined at a rate nearly seven times faster than when the stock market crashed in 1929.  Millions of homes have been foreclosed.  Our deficit has soared and 9 million hardworking Americans, who had been meeting their responsibilities, have been forced to pay for the irresponsibility of others. 
Historically, it has typically taken countries up to 10 years to recover from a financial crises of this magnitude.  Today, the economies of many European countries still aren’t growing, and their unemployment rate averages around 11%.  The unemployment rate in Spain is over 25%, and Greece isn’t far behind.
To their credit Obama and congressional Democrats acted fast.  The Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was passed on 2/13/09, twenty-four days after Obama took office, and without a single vote from a House Republican.  Our economy started growing six months after Obama took office and has continued to grow for the last 27 months.  
Our businesses have created over 4 million jobs.  That’s more private sector jobs than were created during the entire seven years before this recession hit in 2008.  
Manufacturers have started investing in America, and we've seen them create almost 500,000 jobs in the last 2 years and 3 months.  That’s the strongest period of manufacturing job growth since 1995.  
Romney argued to allow Detroit to go bankrupt, but Obama bet on American workers and the ingenuity of our companies.  Today, our auto industry is back on top.
Not only is the Obama administration digging out of the hole of 9 million jobs, that were lost, but they’re digging out of an entire decade during which 6 million manufacturing jobs left our shores.  A decade where costs rose but incomes didn’t, and where the middle class fell further behind the very wealthy. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Middle Class Jobs


David Gregory, of NBC asked Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich: “Auto bailouts particularly in the northeastern part of your state created jobs, not just in that sector but in sectors that rely upon in it.  Is there not credit for the president there?

Gov. Kasick answered: “The fact is we are thrilled with the auto jobs.”

Gregory pointed out: “Romney would not have bailed them out.”
Kasich responded: “I’m not here to debate.”

Gregory reasoned: “No, but that’s a fact, is it not, Governor?  You said that the things that turned Ohio around, and one of them was the auto bailout.”

If governors like John Kasich would give credit where credit was due, it would sabotage the entire case for a Mitt Romney presidency.

Romney has a problem going into states like Ohio and Michigan, and arguing that the economy is bad, he’d be overlooking the work of their Republican governors, while trying to at the same time make an argument about Obama’s failure.

Since, the auto bail outs were successful, and produced a lower significantly unemployment rate not only in Michigan but also in northern Ohio.   Ohio often goes Republican in presidential elections.  Obama doesn’t have to win in Ohio, but if he manages to win, he will be well on his way to the 270 electoral votes.

The Romney campaign claims that things are better in states with Republican governors, such as New Jersey, Florida, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina.  However, when he makes that argument, he’s also giving credit to Obama. 

President Obama argues: “So, recovering from crisis of 2008 has always been the first and most urgent order of business but it’s not enough.  Our economy won’t be truly healthy until we reverse that much longer and profound erosion of middle class jobs and middle class incomes.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Slowest Job Growth


In late 2008, the Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 777 points in one day, the biggest point loss ever.  Wall Street melted down, because a relatively small number of irresponsible people who controlled a great deal of money had been allowed to get away with breaking rules, that were originally put in place to prevent Wall Street from creating a massive public risk in order to chase private gain. 

Dramatic action had to be taken to try to save the economy.  Bush's appointee, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke the Chairman of the Federal Reserve asked Congress for $700 billion.  A bi-partisan vote passed the $700 billion the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), and George W. Bush signed it.

We had witnessed 8 years of the same old economic theory that gave tax cuts to billionaires and big corporations with the farcical hope that prosperity would trickle down to everyone else.  For 8 years, no one in the Bush administration payed attention to Wall Street because politicians repeatedly killed common-sense regulations.

Recently, Obama noted: “We were told that huge tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest Americans would lead to faster job growth.  We were told that fewer regulations, especially for big financial institutions and corporations would bring about wide-spread prosperity.  We were told that it was OK to put two wars on the nation`s credit card, that tax cuts would create enough growth to pay for themselves.  That is what we were told.

“So how did this economy theory work out?

“For if wealthiest Americans it worked out pretty well.  Over the last few decades the income of the top one percent grew by more than 275% to an average of $1.3 million a year.  Big financial institutions, corporations, saw their profits soar.  But prosperity never trickled down to the middle class.

“From 2001, to 2008, we had the slowest job growth in half a century.  The typical family saw their incomes fall.  And in the fall of 2008, it all came tumbling down with a financial crisis that plunged the world into the worst economic crisis since the great recession.”

Since Obama became president, Congressional Republicans have expressed a need for less regulation, including in the financial sector which they think is overly burdened by the Dodd-Frank reforms.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Walking a Fine Line

Immigration continues to be the difficult issue for the Republican Party.  Obama’s new policy on young, undocumented immigrants is making things worse for their presumed presidential candidate.  Romney doesn’t seem to know which way to turn. 

In an interview on CBS, Mitt Romney repeatedly avoided a direct answer to Bob Schieffer’s  question about the new policy.
Schieffer: “Would you repeal this order if you became president?

Romney: “Well, let’s step back and look at the issue.  First of all, we have to secure the border.  I don’t know why he feels stopgap measures are the right way to go.”

Schieffer: “What would you do about it?”

Romney: “Well, as you know, he was president for the last three and a half years, did nothing on immigration.”

Schieffer: “But would you repeal this?”

Romney: “Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution.”

Schieffer: “Would you leave this in place while you worked out a long- term solution or would just repeal it?”
Romney: “We`ll look at that, we’ll look at that setting as we reach that.”

Romney has said: “The question is, if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it?  And the answer is yes.”  

Those remarks demonstrate the absence of a core belief by Romney.  Who is this man who wants to be president?  He refuses to take a stand on the tough issues time and time again.  Romney is trying to walk a fine line between the views of a majority of Americans and the extremist fringe of the Republican Party.

It should be pointed out, some of the most outspoken voices from the right wing have come out in support of the president’s new policy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Defining Liberals


By definition a liberal isn’t interested in controlling other people's behavior unless those people are infringing on the rights of others.
Most liberals have no problems with homosexual behavior or with access to contraceptives, abortion rights or even the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
In fact, it's religious conservative extremist who are the control freaks in our country.  They insist that every American abide by their religious doctrine.  They’re intolerant of homosexuals and insist on imposing their radical religious dogma on every American.  
Liberals believe a woman's right to use contraception or have an abortion isn’t something that should be limited by a bunch of old men in Congress or on the Supreme Court.  
Liberals want to regulate Wall Street to ensure that American taxpayers don't have to pay for another TARP bailout for too big to fail banks.
Liberals want to see that the 38% of corporations that don't pay any taxes begin to pay their fair share.
Liberals believe women should receive equal pay for equal work, and insist that every American start paying their fair share.
Most liberals support the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, because it makes health care a basic cornerstone of middle class security.
It prohibits insures from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, and canceling coverage when someone gets sick.
It keeps premiums low, because insurance companies must justify rate hikes: provide rebates if they don't spend at least 80% of consumers' premiums on care instead of overhead, marketing and profits.
It expands care to 32 million more Americans, who will be able to afford insurance for the first time.  Actually, 95% of Americans under the age of 65 will have insurance.
It gives parents the comfort of knowing their children can stay on their insurance until they're 26.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Different Approach


This economic crisis didn't start in 2008.  For more than a decade before, we knew things weren't working the way they should.  We saw costs for everything from health care to education rising faster than wages.  Good paying, middle-class jobs were becoming harder to find, as many more companies moved production overseas.

Incredibly, Mitt Romney and his congressional allies want to go back to those same, disastrous policies: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and free rein for Wall Street to write its own rules.  We tried Romney's failed formula for most of the last decade.  It benefitted a few, but exploded the deficit, crashed our economy, and devastated the middle class.  It didn't grow our economy, create good jobs, or pay down our debt.  It did the opposite, and it won't work this time around either.  Independent economists confirm that Romney's plan wouldn't cut the deficit, or create a single job.  In fact, it could slow growth and push us back into recession.

President Barack Obama has laid out a very different vision, one where everyone, no matter who they are, where they’re from, or how big their bank account is, are asked to pitch in to rebuild the foundations of our country and economy. 

Instead of another $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, President Obama believes we should pay down our debt and invest in the things we know we need to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class.  That means restoring and upgrading our crumbling infrastructure, investing in education, paying down our debt responsibly, and most importantly asking our wealthiest Americans to pay a little more.  The approach that the Obama administration is advocating requires tough choices and shared sacrifice.  That’s how we were able to built our country’s economy in the first place.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rose Garden Heckling



President Obama responded firmly to being interruption during his announcement of new immigration rules in the Rose Garden.  Neil Munro from the conservative website the Daily Caller, began shouting questions at our President.  He shouted: "What about American workers who are unemployed while you employ foreigners."  

Obama responded by pointing out: "Excuse me sir, it is not the right time for questions sir.  Not while I'm speaking.  The next time I prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask your question.”  
He continued: “I didn't ask for an argument, I'm answering your question.  Here's the reason, because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions, and are already making contributions to our society." 
Obama elaborated by saying: "I've got a young person who is serving in our military, protecting us and our freedom.  The notion that in some ways we would treat them as expendable makes no sense.  If there is a young person here who has grown up here and wants to contribute to this society, wants to maybe start a business that will create jobs for other folks who are looking for work, that's the right thing to do."
When Obama finished his comments, he turned and headed back into the Oval Office ignoring any further questions.
Munro told CNN: "I have to ask the questions you all won't ask," referring to the reporters gathered who regularly cover the White House.
Munro wrote that he miscalculated the ending of Obama's speech, while the site's editor-in-chief and publisher praised their reporter for his dogged attempt at an answer.
Tucker Carlson, the conservative cable news pundit who is the Daily Caller's editor-in-chief, said his organization was proud of Munro.
The Daily Caller's publisher claimed that, Munro's questioning was not intended to be "heckling."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Different Visions


The Republican Party offers the same solutions, that got us into this mess in the first place.  Massive tax cuts benefiting mostly the very wealthy, and roll back regulations.  Let’s remember it was risky behavior on Wall Street and those “too be to fail banks,” that caused this recession.

Clinton left a record surplus  However, the Bush administration put two wars, two huge tax cuts, and the Medicare prescription program on a credit card.

The November election offers a choice between two very different visions of how to grow our economy.  Romney and congressional Republican want to take our country down the same path that led to the 2008 fiscal crisis.  In 2008, voters reject those policies and embraced Obama's vision of growing the economy, not from the top down, but from the middle class out.

The issues most important to ordinary Americans include:

A Better Education * We need to invest in good teachers and help more students go to college and get job training.  We must not pack kids into classrooms or slash scholarships.

More, Cleaner Energy * We need to invest in promising new sources of energy to create a market for innovation and good jobs of the future.  We can’t go back to relying on foreign oil.

Leading Through Innovation * We need to invest in our best scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs so they innovate in America.  We must not concede new ideas to countries like China and India.

Job Creating Infrastructure * We need roads, bridges, ports, and broadband technology that attract businesses that will create jobs in our country.

Fair, Simple Tax Reform * We need to be rewarding businesses that create jobs here instead of rewarding outsourcing, and we must ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share again.  We can’t sacrifice investments critical to the middle class. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Immigration Rules


President Obama said that his administration will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered our country as children if they meet certain requirements.  

Obama insisted that his executive order will make immigration policy "more fair, more efficient and more just... This is not amnesty.  This is not immunity.  This is not a path to citizenship.  It's not a permanent fix.  This is a temporary stopgap measure."

Obama pointed out that children of illegal immigrants "study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, befriend our kids, pledge allegiance to our flag, and it makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans."

Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation.  It also will allow those meeting the requirements to apply for work permits.  Participants must be in the United States now and be able to prove they have been living in the country continuously for at least five years.

Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano said the change is part of a department effort to target resources at illegal immigrants who pose a greater threat, such as criminals and those trying to enter the country now.  She believes that it’s: "well within the framework of existing laws."

A 2009 study showed that 4 million illegal immigrant children are native born citizens.  The change addresses a major concern with in the Hispanic community.  It contains some of the provisions of the Dream Act that has failed to win a 60 vote supermajority in the Senate.

Obama has been criticized by Hispanic-American leaders for an overall increase in deportations of illegal aliens.  Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 396,906 illegal immigrants, the largest number in the agency's history.  This policy change is expected to potentially affect 800,000 people.

Obama and Janet Napolitano have called for Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would put into law similar steps for children of illegal immigrants to continue living and working in the country.

Napolitano said: "But as someone who is charged with enforcing the immigration system, we're setting good, strong, sensible priorities, and again these young people really are not the individuals that the immigration removal process was designed to focus upon."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Boxer-Inhofe bill


The unemployment rate is at 8.2%, but there’s a highway build that is stalled in the Tea Party controlled House, that could create one million new jobs.  Approximately, 1% of the unemployment rate equals 1.5 million people.  

The Boxer-Inhofe bill passed the Senate with 74 votes.  The bill could reduce the unemployment rate well below 8%, but it’s not happening.  Why?

Senator Barbara Boxer is the chair of the House-Senate Transportation Conference Committee, and Senator Jim Inhofe is the ranking Republican member on the committee.  They don’t agree on lot of things, but they agree that this bill is critical for our great nation being able to move people and produce across our country more efficiently.

Furthermore, it’s critical for safety, since 70,000 bridges across our nation are deficient.  Boxer and Inhofe thought the House would pass the bill immediately, because they knew that there were enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass it.  Instead, the House Republican leadership refused to allow a vote, and sent back a bare-bones bill.  Presently, the bill is in the conference committees trying to iron out the differences. 

The Speaker of the House, John Boehner is pushing for a simple six-month extension, with no real growth in the transportation program.  He seems to be just kicking the can down the road.

Since the ’50s, when Republican President Eisenhower came up with the idea of a national highway system, both parties have set aside politics and passed this kind of bill.

The non-profit organization Transportation for America has a new study showing, that the bipartisan Senate transportation bill would create and save a total of three million jobs.  Nevertheless, the Republican controlled House hasn’t pass the transportation bill, and their approach to the legislation would actually kill a half-a-million jobs.

Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood is a former Republican congressman.  He insists: “If they pass the Senate bill we’ll have an opportunity in this construction season to get thousands of people to work.  These aren’t make-work projects.  There are 300 bridges on the list, that are unsafe.  They can start to fix those bridges as soon as Congress passes, and the president signs the bill.  We need to put Americans to work.”
Tea Party Republicans need to be remind, that it was Republican President Lincoln, who approved the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Insidious Traitors


President George H.W. Bush, a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency said: “I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources.  They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.”

Let’s not forget, Republican columnist Bob Novak revealed Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as a covert CIA agent.  Novak acknowledged that he learned her identity from Karl Rove.  Revealing Mrs. Wilson's identity is viewed as political payback for her husband revealing the truth about Bush misleading Congress in his State of the Union Address.  The threat of a nuclear weapon was the key component in gaining support for the invasion of Iraq.  By revealing Mrs. Wilson's identity, the Bush regime served notice to all other conscientious citizens that there would be a price to be paid for contradicting this president.

The matter was referred to the Justice Dept. by the CIA and on Dec. 30, 2003, Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed special counsel to investigation this matter.  The case raised speculation on how high up in the White House the source was.  Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage eventually came forward to admitted being Novak's primary source.

In October of 2005, Fitzgerald brought an indictment of five counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice against Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Libby was found guilty of four of those counts.  He had testified under oath, that he learned about Mrs. Wilson's identity from Cheney, forgot about it, and then was reminded by "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert.  Russert testified that Libby never told him about Joe Wilson’s wife.

At the press conference after the verdict, Fitzgerald said the trial had proven that Libby learned Plame's identity from Cheney, who obtained it from official sources.  Trial testimony made it clear that Bush had secretly declassified a portion of the prewar intelligence estimate that allowed Libby to leak the information to Judith Miller of the New York Times.

Judge Reggie Walton sentenced Libby to 30 months in prison.  Prosecutors hoped the threat of jail would convince Libby cooperate and finally tell the truth, but Bush commuted Libby’s sentence.  Bush said that he would not rule out giving Libby a pardon to wipe away the felony record.  Karl Rove retained a White House post with high security clearance and Cheney remained vice-president.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cyberattack


Andrea Mitchell reported: “And because the Iranian nuclear program is not on the internet, this actually required having an agent insert a thumb drive, and as David Sanger describes in his book, ‘Confront and Conceal,’ it was actually inserting mechanisms into the centrifuges in Iran, in Tehran, and giving us a mirror image -- and the Israelis, as well, whom he brought into this of what was happening in the Natanz nuclear plant.  And it was U.S. initiated, not, as had been previously suspected or inferred...”

Predictably, Republican leaders, including former presidential candidate Senator John McCain accused the Obama administration of leaking classified information.

President Obama has rejected Republican accusations that his administration deliberately leaked classified information about a cyberattack on Iran's nuclear centrifuge program.

Obama responded: "The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive.  It is wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office.  We are dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people, our families, or our military personnel or our allies.  And so we don't play with that."

Obama added: “As commander-in-chief, the issues that you’ve mentioned touch on our national security, touch on critical issues of war and peace, and they’re classified for a reason, because they’re sensitive and because the people involved may, in some cases, be in danger if they’re carrying out some of these missions.”

Attorney General Eric Holder has assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead investigations into the possible leaking of state secrets.  Holder pointed out: "The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Partisan Divide


United States Congress is more partisan than ever, and a new study proves the movement isn’t from the left to the further left, it’s from the right to the far further right.  A Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the public’s divide since 1987 found the American public is more politically polarized now than any other time in the past quarter century.  According to this study, Republicans have moved sharply right on a number of key issues, including the environment and the role of government on taking care of people who can’t care for themselves.

The Pew study tracked the attitudes of Democrats and Republicans on a number of key issues to examine how positions have changed on the issue of safety net issues.

In 1987, when asked if they agreed government should take care of people who can’t take are of themselves, 75% of Democrats, 62% of Republicans agreed they ought to do that.  Twenty-five years later, the number is about the same for Democrats, but for Republicans, the number has dropped to just 40%, about half of what it was in supporting of taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves.

On the environment, Democrats and Republicans had essentially agreed there needed to be stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment.  Both sides were environmental, but today, only 47% of Republicans say environmental protection should be getting tougher.

A lot of people who used to be Republicans aren’t any more.  Moderates began leaving the party in the ‘90s.  Some became independent, and some became Democrats.  They’re not voting in Republican primaries anymore.

The ideological makeup of the parties has also changed, according to this study.  Today, moderates make up only 26% of the Republican Party.   Sixty-eight percent, of Republicans call themselves conservatives.  Compare that to Democrats where 38% considering  themselves moderate, and 38% call themselves liberal.  Candidates seeking the Democratic vote don’t want to be too puristic when seeking the Democrat vote, because there’s a lot of moderate Democrats who may not vote for that person.

The Pew study also shows the racial make-up of the party.  Over the years, the Democratic Party has grown more diverse, while the Republican Party remains overwhelmingly white.  Eighty-seven percent of Republican voters are white. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Private Sector Jobs


Recently, President Obama again called on Congress to pass the entire American Jobs Act, that he proposed in September of 2011.  That bill included employer incentives to boost hiring in the construction, public safety and education sectors. 

In the speech, he said: “But one of the biggest weaknesses has been state and local governments, which have laid off 450,000 Americans.  These are teachers and cops and firefighters.  Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work right now, giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring.”

While answering question from a reporter, Obama noted: “Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job creating jobs.  We've seen record profits in the corporate sector.  The big challenge we have in our economy right now is state and local government hiring has been going in the wrong direction.  You've seen teacher layoffs, police officers, and firefighters being laid off.  And the other sector that's still weak has been the construction industry.  Those two areas we've directly addressed with our jobs plan.  The problem is that it requires Congress to take action, and we're going to keep pushing them to see if they can move in that direction.”

Although, the stock market had just recorded it’s best week of the year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reaction was: "We just listened to the president say that the private sector is doing fine.  And my question would be to the president:  Are you kidding? 

Republican presidential candidate Romney asked: "Is he really that out of touch?  I think he's defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people."

Obama defended his earlier remarks against Republican criticism, by again reminding them that: "We have actually seen some good momentum in the private sector."


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Government Does Work


Versions of: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” are shared by 21 world religions.  It’s an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others.  It’s called the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

Many Republicans believe that Social Security was the start of a cradle-to-grave dependency class.

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

Social Security has become a very popular program, because it has worked for 77 years. It clearly demonstrates that the Republican claim that "government is the problem," is untrue.  That is why many congressional Republicans want to have it fail.  They want to  privatize it, so that Wall Street can gamble with our Social Security funds.

Social Security hasn’t contributed one nickel to the deficit, because it’s paid for by the payroll tax and has 2.5 trillion dollar surplus.  Telling aging senior citizens, who are surviving on $14,000 a year, that they’ve got to be the people, who must shoulder the burden of reducing the deficit is absolutely unconscionable.

Six years ago, Warren Buffett suggested: “I personally would increase the taxable base.   I pay very little in the way of SS taxes.”  

Independent Senator Sanders recommended: “lift the income cap so that people making more than $250,000 contribute more into the system.”

Presently, those making $1 million are putting the same amount into the Social Security system as somebody making $110,100.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

European Financial Crisis


Since, Obama took office, he’s been fighting back from the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  After losing jobs for 25 months in a row, private sector businesses have created jobs for 27 consecutive months, for a total 4.3 million jobs. 
Today, Europe faces a threat of renewed recession and financial crisis.  This matters to us because Europe is our largest economic trading partner.  If there’s less demand for our products in Europe it could mean less businesses for manufacturers in our country.  Given the signs of weakness in the world economy, it's critical that we take the action to strengthen the American economy.
Last September, Obama sent Congress a jobs plan full of the kind of bipartisan ideas that would have put Americans back to work.  Had Congress passed it, we’d be on track to have a million more Americans working this year, and our economy would be stronger.
Congress refused to pass the American Jobs Act.  They acted on a few parts of the bill, most significantly the payroll tax cut that’s putting more money in every working person’s paycheck.  However, they left most of that jobs plan just sitting there.  Obama has urge them to reconsider, because there's steps we can take right now to put more Americans back to work.  
Presently, one of the biggest weaknesses in our economy is that state and local governments have laid off 450,000 teachers, police and firefighters.  Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work by giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring.
We’ve a million construction workers out of work.  We could be putting a lot of people back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and some new schools.  There's work to be done, and there are workers to do it. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Blatantly Lying


In November 2011, Mitt Romney’s first anti-Obama ad attacked President Obama in a way that was blatantly untrue.  The ad had Obama saying: “You need to provide relief for homeowners.  It’s going to take a new direction.  If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

In fact, what Obama had said was: “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, "If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose."

The Romney ad was a lie, because Obama was quoting Senator John McCain.  He was reading somebody else’s words in order to criticize them.  The Romney camp edited the sound to make it seem like the statement about our economy was something that President Obama said regarding his own political strategy.

That ad was not just standard political slime.  It was an outright lie.  It is rather unusual to think that the Romney camp would think, that they could even get away with such a blatantly deceit ad.

The initial response to that first Romney ad in the Washington beltway was that the ad has got to be a mistake, and the Romney campaign people will have to correct it.  Instead, that first Romney ad from November 2011 is still up, and running at Mitt Romney’s YouTube page.  They’ve never corrected it even after they got caught in a lie.

When, Romney was asked about why his first ad resorted to blatantly lying about President Obama, he was not embarrassed at all.  He insisted that his campaign meant to edit the ad like that, and that it was on purpose.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney acknowledge:  “There was no hidden effort on the part of our campaign.  It was instead to point out what is sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.”

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Solyndra


Solyndra is the solar energy firmed that received a loan from the George W. Bush era Energy Department investment program to try to incubate alternative energy technology, but then the company went bust.
Republicans tried to make the Solyndra story into a scandal for Obama, however it didn’t really work.  Even their top attack dog in the House, Congressman Darrell Issa eventually concluded that there seems to have been no real criminal or political wrongdoing in this case. 

Romney did the exact same thing in Massachusetts while he was the governor of that state.  In Massachusetts, the companies that got taxpayer money to try to build them up were Acusphere and Spherics Inc, and Evergreen Solar.  Those companies got millions of taxpayer dollars from Romney as governor of Massachusetts and then they went bust. 
Some of the people running those companies had made substantial donations to the Romney’s political campaign.

Nevertheless, Romney tried again, to push the Solyndra story, by busing reporters to the site of the empty Solyndra plant.

Romney told reporters: “Two years ago, President Obama was here to tout this building and this business as a symbol of the success of his stimulus.  Well, you can see that it’s a symbol of something very different today.  It’s a symbol not of success but of failure.  It’s also a symbol of a serious conflict of interest.  An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the administration had steered money to friends and family to campaign contributors.”

When the Romney campaign started claiming those allegation in an ad, “Time” magazine’s Michael Greenwald started asking questions of the campaign.  He asked the Romney campaign for documentation, and it produced a “Newsweek” article asserting that Energy Department inspector general Gregory Friedman testified that contracts have been steered to friends and family.

Actually, the “Newsweek” article contained an excerpt from the book “Throw Them All Out,” written by Peter Schweitzer, who served as an adviser to Sarah Palin’s PAC.  Schweitzer had written a slew of books portraying liberals as “pond scum.”

Romney claimed that the inspector general looked into Solyndra and concluded that the Obama administration steered taxpayer money to its friends and family.  It turns out that inspector general never testified that stimulus contracts were steered to friends and family.  He said his office was indeed investigating, whether stimulus contracts were steered to friends and family.  But, so far, it has not been confirmed anywhere.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Americans for Prosperity



Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s most powerful allies are the Koch brothers, and their political group Americans for Prosperity.   

The multi- billionaire Koch brothers have been funneling massive amounts of money into organizations such as Americans for Prosperity.  David and Charles Koch financed Americans for Prosperity, who created the Tea Party movement. 

Six days before the Scott Walker’s recall election, Americans for Prosperity buses began a bus tour of 10 Wisconsin cities.  Allegedly, the bus tour is not at all related to the recall election.  The group paid to bus in people from Illinois for at least one of their Wisconsin rallies.  Food was provided at those rallies, and the buses were free.  

Again, the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity 10-city bus tour to rally conservatives in Wisconsin the week before the election had nothing to do with the election, because Americans for Prosperity claimed: "We’re not dealing with any candidates, political parties or ongoing races.  We’re just educating folks on the importance of the reforms."

Supposedly, Americans for Prosperity is not advocating for Scott Walker.  The bus tour last year was called the "Stand with Walker," shouldn’t be confused with the current tour, which has nothing whatsoever to do with standing with Scott Walker.  It’s merely a coincidence, because if the bus tour had anything to do with trying to rally the conservative vote for Scott Walker, or with advocating for Scott Walker it would be illegal.  The Koch brothers group could lose their tax-exempt status if they did something like that, and the one thing that the Koch brothers hate the most is the prospect of paying taxes.

Therefore, we’ll pretend the timing of the bus tours and rallies funded by Scott Walker’s billionaire oil and chemical fortune benefactors right before the election is just a coincidence. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Voter Disenfranchisement



After the 2000 election, the Brennan Center for Justice reported more than 12,000 eligible Florida voters were kept from voting.

In 2000, Bush, his Republican Congress,  his Department of Justice and the entire Republican conservative government insisted voter fraud was a problem, however by the end of 2006, they were only able to come up with 32 cases nationwide.

If there was voter fraud in America, all the Republican prosecutors and judges would be bringing cases and convicting people to have show trials to demonstrate the premise that voter fraud is actually a serious problem.
Nobody has been convicted of voter fraud because it’s not happening.  Actually, the problem in this country is that not enough people get out to vote.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has been told from by his own secretary of state that what they’re doing is potentially illegal.  Under the 1965 Voter Rights Act, there cannot be any effort to change the law without putting the Justice Department on notice.  Scott didn’t do that.

The Justice Department has sent a letter to the Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner demanding the state stop purging its voting roles because the process it’s using has not been cleared under the Voting Rights Act.  Rick Scott faces legal issues, but the question is whether the Department of Justice will bring the state into federal court to stop this from happening.

Florida’s 29 electoral votes are very important, because Romney needs Florida to win. 

Congressional Republicans want to raise taxes on the middle class, and they want to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.  They realize that they can’t win on the issues.  Therefore, they’re depending on the Kochs brothers, who are going to spend 400 million this cycle to put out voter fraud misinformation, and to promote voter disenfranchisement. 

Monday, June 04, 2012

Combined Effort



President Obama has articulated the concept of looking out for everybody, because our cumulative well-being matters a great deal.

Conservatives used to have a very strong sense of community.  Both sides of the political spectrum used to honor the importance of community.  We honored liberty and individual effort, but we also honor what we can do together.  We’re seeing Republicans opposing things that government does that Republicans didn’t used to oppose.

We’re best when we strive as individuals, however we also know how to accomplish things together.  Currently, conservatism is devoted to the idea that we can do some things collectively, but we should never do things collectively through government. 

Henry Clay, the Whig leader, who was Lincoln’s hero, talked about the American system and about doing internal improvements that we now call infrastructure -- roads, canals, bridges, and also building up our manufacturing capacity.  He called it the American system to distinguish it from British laissez-faire.

Today, Henry Clay would insist that the American way is to combine individual effort with collective effort, and not just to leave us all out there on our own.

Many Tea Party patriots act as if our Founders didn’t create a strong government through the Constitution.  They argue that government really didn’t get involved in things until the New Deal era.  

During the New Deal, FDR talked about balance.  He didn’t wreck capitalism, he saved it.  The fact of the matter is that presently, it’s progressives who are the moderates.  They’re not saying, they want total state ownership of the economy.  They’re not saying, that they reject the concept of individual liberty.

We should respect conservative traditions, but today, they’ve gone off track and their new brand of conservatism has to be defeated, and returned to the better parts of those traditions.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Moral Obligation


As a nation, will we prosper by virtue of everyone striving individually for their own self-interest or is there a goal that we should be trying to accomplish that benefits every American citizen.  I’m suggesting that we should begin to recognize the value of taking responsibility for building an economy that could benefit everybody, instead of  just looking out for ourselves.

Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney insists: “For me, politics is not a career.  For me, my career was being in business and starting a business and making it successful.  I spent my life in the private sector.  I understand how the economy works.  I spent most of my life outside politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy.  Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

Obama has pointed out: “This is part of the debate that we’re going to be having in this election campaign, about how do we create an economy where everybody, from top to bottom, folks on Wall Street and folks on Main Street, have a shot at success.  And if they’re working hard and they’re acting responsibly that they’re able to live out the American Dream.

“When you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits.  Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.  And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is, I knew how to make a lot of money for investors, then you’re missing what this job is about.
It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity.  But that’s not what my job is as president.  My job is to take into account everybody, not just some.” 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Potential Non -citizens


The state of Florida is a key swing state.  Florida Republicans are again purging voter rolls in their state.  Republican Governor Rick Scott has started a push this election cycle to remove potential non- citizens from Florida’s voter registration rolls.  In the last few weeks, the state sent local election supervisors a list of more than 2,600 registered voters who they claim are not American citizens and therefore aren’t eligible to vote. 

The “Associated Press” reports that local elections supervisors have already pointed out inaccuracies.  One Republican county election supervisor tweeted a photo of himself with a registered Florida voter who was incorrectly targeted by the state of Florida as a noncitizen.  In that picture the registered voter, who had been purged from the rolls, was holding up his passport to prove that he’s a citizen.

Maureen Russo, who was born in Akron, and lived in Florida for the last four decades.  Russo got a letter in the mail telling her: “The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office has received information from the state of Florida that you’re not a United States citizen.  If you believe this information is false, you may request a hearing with the supervisor of elections for the purpose of providing proof that you are, in fact, a United States citizen.”

The Miami Herald has carefully studied the purge list.  They found: “Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted by the state’s purge.  Only 13% of the potential non-citizen list is white, even though 68% of Florida voters are white.”
The voter purge going on in Florida is riddled with errors.  It’s targeting Latinos that appear to be key constituency for Obama in this year’s presidential race, because President Obama holds a 34- point nationwide lead among Latinos.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Ohio Voter Suppression


In 2004, John Kerry got more votes than any Democratic presidential candidate in history.  

A Rolling Stones article entitled: "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" by Robert Kennedy Jr. made a convincing argument that a Kerry victory in the 2004 presidential election was subverted by a Republican strategy of fraud, vote suppression and other crimes against the democratic process.  Kerry would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

The efforts to disenfranchise Democratic voters were headed by Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell, who was both the chief election official and co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Ohio.

Every foul-up and arbitrary new regulation, that occurred in Ohio in the election favored Bush.  Proving that Republicans hijacked the Ohio election was not possible at the time, but a range of problems and dirty tricks have come to light.  For example, the shortages of voting machines and the long lines with waits of seven hours or more occurred in urban areas and discouraged mostly Kerry voters.

Walter Mebane Jr. a professor of government at Cornell University compared the distribution of voting machines in Ohio's 2004 presidential election with the distribution of machines for a primary election held the previous spring.  For the primary election, he found that there was no sign of racial bias in the distribution of the machines.  However, for the general election in November, there was substantial bias, with fewer voting machines per voter in areas, which were heavily African-American.

The integrity of our election process has been compromised in two consecutive presidential elections, while Congress continues to allow the states to subvert the will of the voters.