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

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fortitude to Disagree

Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri is trying to defeat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.  Last August, while answering a question about whether or not abortion should be legal in the case of rape.  He said: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

Akins claimed: “I had heard one time a medical report, that said it’s hard to get, it’s harder for somebody to get pregnant under those conditions.  First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare.”  He’s wrong about the rarity of pregnancy resulting from rape in the country.  According to the “Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology,” 32,101 pregnancies per year are the result of rape.

Richard Mourdock, another Republican candidate for Senate recently announced: “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Obama responded: “I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas.  Let me make a very simple proposition.  Rape is rape.  It is a crime.  The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women`s health care decisions.”

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said: “So I’m very proud of my pro-life record.  And I’ve always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”

In 2007, Romney called a bill to ban all abortions terrific, and said he would be delighted to sign it.  The same year, Romney said he’d support a human life amendment to the Constitution.  That amendment would outlaw abortions even in the case of rape or incest.

Richard Mourdock had beaten 36-year Senate veteran Richard Lugar.  After that defeat Lugar cautioned: “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.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rhetorical Fraud

The following excerpt is from comments made by Andrew Reinbach in the online version of the Oneonta Star regarding a letter to the editor submitted by Robert Olejarz.
“People of all stripes--not just Americans--want to earn their own living and be responsible for themselves.  The problem comes when the ‘job creators’ are profitable, but hoard their cash and then don't hire in the United States--which any glance at the business pages will tell you has been going on.
“In a word, the ‘dependency’ meme heard so often from the Right is a fraud.  The numbers thrown around--$1 trillion in payments, 47% of the population--are manufactured by re-defining terms to suit the occasion.  That $1 trillion in payments, for instance, is not welfare--it's mostly Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
“Actual welfare payments have been falling since Bill Clinton reformed welfare in the '90s.  But Republicans don't mind calling Social Security and Medicare, or disability payments to badly injured veterans, dependency--if they can use that fraud to advance their policies.
“And the payments Mr. Olejarz, Paul Ryan, and their ilk are complaining about will grow no matter what they think: There are 77 million Americans right now who are 55 and above.  We've worked all our lives and paid into Medicare and Social Security. According to Mr. Olejarz, we all are or are about to be slaves afraid of speaking our minds.
“The truth is that the Right is using this rhetorical fraud to change the subject from the questions on everybody's mind--how did we get here, and how do we get out of it?  That's because the answers to those questions are:  Thirty years of Republican policies--tax cuts, minimized financial regulation, massive defense spending, etc.--got us here; the best way to find a right ending is to ditch a wrong beginning, which in this case is abandoning said Republican policies.
“When Mitt Romney put Paul Ryan on his ticket, he turned the election into a referendum on those policies.  In two weeks Americans will have a chance to render their verdict on the above.  This will be a good thing, in my opinion, because we have a real choice:  Policies that have pulled America out of the ditch--slowly, since Republicans refused to help--or the failed Republican policies of the past that sent us into the ditch.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Public Property

The Obama administration increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years.  Potentially, America has 600,000 jobs and a hundred years’ worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas, and Obama want’s to utilize that potential.  Natural gas production is the highest it's been in decades.  Furthermore, there has been an increases in coal production and coal employment.
We must look to the future, and and can't just produce traditional sources of energy.  Under Obama’s leadership we’ve doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars.  In the next decade car that you buy should be capable of going twice as far on a gallon of gas.  Clean energy production like wind, solar and biofuels have likewise doubled.  These achievements have contributed to our country lowering our oil imports to there lowest levels in 16 years.
China and Germany are making investments in clean energy, as well.  However, unlike Romney, Obama is not willing to cede the jobs of the future to those countries.  He wants those new energy sources to be built here in the United States.  
Romney plans to let the oil companies write our energy policies.  He understands the oil and gas part, but he doesn't grasp the importance of the clean energy part. 
Many of the oil companies who had leases on public lands weren't using them.  The Obama administration decided, that they shouldn’t be allowed to sit on those leases for 10, 20, 30 years, until they decide when they want to drill, or when it was most profitable for them.  That is public lands, and if they wanted to drill on public lands fine, but if the oil companies aren’t going to use that land they should lose it.  Our government is now reletting those leases so that our government can share the profits.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Raising Taxes

In the last presidential debate Obama said: “Now, the reason I want four more years is because I’ve got a plan that will actually create jobs, a plan that will actually create middle class security.  And unlike Mitt Romney, I’m actually proud to talk about what’s in my plan, because it actually adds up.”

Former President Clinton insists: “The stuff some folks are saying about President Obama sounds kind of familiar.  The same people said my ideas would destroy jobs and they called me every name in the book.  Well, we created 22 million new jobs and turned deficits into surpluses.

“President Obama has got it right.  We should invest in middle class education and innovation.  And pay down our debt with spending restraint and asking the wealthy to pay a little more.  Sound familiar?”

When, Clinton was passing his budget 1993, every Republican speaker on both the Senate and House floor said raising taxes will kill jobs, and the economy.

Vice President Joe Biden pointed out: “They say it’s (Romney’s plan) just like what Ronald Reagan did.  I served with Ronald Reagan.  Ronald Reagan had a massive tax cut.  When it didn’t work, he ended up raising taxes 11 times.  Ronald Reagan did not do this.  Ronald Reagan couldn’t even be the standard bearer this time based on what he did.”

People in the Romney camp insist, that 14 days from an election, you shouldn’t be bringing up brand new ideas or proposals.  This isn’t new.  They don’t understand that Obama outlined his plans in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.  He wants to continued that record, by enacted the American Jobs Act in his second term.

President Obama has been steady on issues, like the economy and every other issue.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Joe Stillman

Yesterday, the Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by Joe Stillman.
“On Nov. 6, we will be making a fundamental choice between re-electing a president or hiring a new boss.  I could get into Mitt Romney’s constantly changing positions, refusal to release all his tax returns, etc., but I’d rather focus on what President Obama has actually done for this country.
“I think our president has made some very tough decisions that weren’t popular but ultimately saved this country from succumbing to one of the worst financial disasters it has ever seen.  He inherited a mess, got us out of one war and is ending another, and has dealt with an obstructionist Congress that is more loyal to lobbyists such as Grover Norquist than to our country.  He’s a person who has demonstrated good judgment, understands that a country with allies is stronger than going it alone in the world and is motivated by what is right and just rather than what powerful entities want him to do. He has kept us safe and continues to do so. 
“I thank President Obama for saving the auto industry, reforming banking and Wall Street and for tackling health care, which no president prior to him had the guts or the will to pursue.  I believe he is a humanist and understands the value of respect and dignity for others with opposing perspectives.  Yes, he has flaws and may not be perfect, but at the very least, President Obama is a man of conviction, and he represents every person in this country. 
“I say stay the course with Barack Obama because we know where he stands.  We may not agree with everything he does, but at least we understand where he’s coming from.  That’s what a good president should do.  And that’s what our commander-in-chief has done.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

Local Soup Kitchen

On the campaign trail in Youngstown, Ohio, Paul Ryan stopped by a local St. Vincent de Paul Society dining hall on his way to the airport.  He put on an apron and washed several large pans, that didn’t appear to need to be washed. 

According to "The Washington Post," by the time Ryan arrived, the meal had been served and volunteers had already cleaned up.  But, that didn’t stop Ryan from missing out on a photo-op.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vince de Paul Society told "The Washington Post," that Ryan’s family and publicity team pressed their way into the soup kitchen and has cause him worry.  Brian Antal points out; "We’re a faith-based organization.  We are apolitical because majority of our funding is from private donations."  He is worried that Ryan’s visit will alienate or upset donors, and explained: “He did nothing.  He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

If you’re going to have a photo op, get permission from the group, and don’t cause them trouble.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 62% of the Ryan budget are cuts are in programs for low-income people.  Faith-based organizations do great work, but the people who run them will tell you they cannot pick up all of the slack that there would be if the government had cuts of that kind.

Sister Simone Campbell insists, that there’s a study by Bread for the World that showed if you took those food stamp cuts, every church in the country would have to come up with 50,000 bucks.  Most churches don’t have that money.  Republicans shouldn’t be cutting people off Food Stamps and expecting groups like Saint Vincent de Paul to pick up the slack.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Expensive and Inefficient

In 2009, President Obama and House Speaker Pelosi favored a single payer healthcare system, but the votes weren’t there in the Senate.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act will expand access to healthcare to 30 million Americans.  It’s far from perfect, because it does little by way of controlling costs.  Unfortunately, it still maintains the connection between employment and health care, which is inefficient and a huge burden on American business.

Businesses pay tens of billions of dollars to provide health care for their employees and former employees while their German, Canadian, Japanese, and British counterparts pay nothing in health care costs.  All of those countries provide universal health care at much lower costs than we do, because they cut out the insurance companies.

America has the most commercial enterprise health care system in the world, but also the most expensive and inefficient one.

The health insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry spend billions of dollars on public relations every year to deny Americans affordable health care.  The most significant reason, that we didn’t get affordable health care reform is the fierce opposition fueled by lobbyists, who used fear tactics to misrepresent efforts to achieve reform.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus, was the Chairman of Senate Finance Committee.  The “Billings Gazette” reported: “In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana Democrat and his political action committee has come from individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply firms, health service companies.  These donations total about 3.4 million, or 1,500 dollars a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.” 

Senator Baucus refused to allow advocates for a single payer national health policy to testify at the Senate Finance Committee hearings.  Unquestionably, the Senate Finance Committee was corrupted by corporate health industry lobbyist.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moderate Mitt

Regarding Mitt Romney, former President Clinton asked: “Would you sign the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay law?  No answer.  He can’t even say whether he would sign a law which is already on the books.”

Romney’s senior adviser Ed Gillespie told "The Huffington Post," that Romney would have opposed the bill, but the next day, he corrected that statement saying Romney has never held a position on the bill.

Obama pointed out: “I don’t know why this is so complicated.  Governor Romney still won’t say whether or not he supported a law to protect that right.  No matter how many times he’s asked.  This is not that hard.”

The campaign can’t give a straight answer because they don’t have a straight answer.  Romney doesn’t believe in equal pay for women, because the congressional Republican delegation doesn’t believe in equal pay for women.  He’s a captive to the extremist wing of  his party. 

Romney has been trying to be a moderate Mitt, but it’s a little too late for most voters to believe him.  Most women have gotten the message that Romney doesn’t support equal pay and that he would attempt to make abortion illegal, by nominating right wing extremist judges to the Supreme Court.   

Furthermore, Romney not only wants to eliminate the contraception mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, he wants to wipe out all the health care reform in that act for women’s health.  If elected Romney would put us on the path to birth control becoming illegal again in some states. 

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.  The insurance companies won’t be able to charge women more just because she is a woman.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

David Siegel

The wealth gap between the bosses on the hill and everybody else is greater than it has been at any other time in history.

David Siegel is the founder and and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately owned time-share company in the world.  He’s building the largest home in America, a 90,000-square-foot Florida edifice they call Versailles. 
He sent an e-mail to his workers, arguing that: “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.  
Siegel explained: "I wanted to let my employees to know what will come if they make the wrong choice.  They need to worry if Obama gets reelected.  The company is doing the best we have done in our history.  We’re making lots of money, but we’re not growing."
In an interview with "Bloomberg BusinessWeek," Siegel claimed: "I have always looked out for their best interest.  We’re like a family. They’re like my children.  And I’m the Jewish mother telling them to eat their spinach and vote for Romney."
Seigle was referring to grownup adults, male and female, who are working hard to take care of their families.  They need the food and the education money, their jobs provided.  His workers are adults who have taken a job and probably sweated hard to make him rich.  Talking about them that way was insulting.

Today, we live in a different era now.  Workplaces are much less secure.  So that when the boss says, that if Romney doesn’t get reelect, there could be some cutting back, it scare some otherwise strong people.  They may be deeply insulted, but in the end fear could be the determining factor in the way they vote.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Melinda Hardin

Melinda Hardin of Cooperstown had following letter to the editor published in the Oneonta Daily Star. 
“I strongly urge voters to elect Julian Schreibman as New York’s 19th District representative to Congress.
“Chris Gibson rode the Tea Party wave to become our congressman in 2010.  Although he claims to be bipartisan, he has voted more than 90 percent of the time with the Republican majority — a majority so invested in ‘making Obama a one-term president’ that it spent two years doing absolutely nothing.
“Not only does Rep. Gibson oppose a woman’s right to choose; he also wants to defund Planned Parenthood, which would deprive thousands of women of basic health care, and would cause a rise in teen pregnancy, which we cannot afford as a district or as a nation. 
“Mr. Gibson is a climate change denier who cares more about oil industry profits than about the health of our children and grandchildren.  His voting record on environmental issues is 17 percent, and he wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, giving corporations free rein to pollute our air and water.  He and his party talk about ‘job-killing regulations.’  What about health-destroying pollution?
“Chris Gibson signed Grover Norquist’s ‘no tax’ pledge, mindlessly asserting that all of the nation’s financial problems can be solved only by cutting programs.  We need a representative whose loyalty is to the people, not to Grover Norquist.  Julian Schreibman sensibly believes that we need to look at both the spending and revenue sides of our budget problems, eliminating waste wherever it exists and increasing revenues from those who have benefitted most. 
“Julian Schreibman has a strong background as a prosecuter who helped bring al-Qaida criminals to justice.  He wants to save Medicare, not turn it into voucher care.  He knows that caring for our children and teenagers today will mean more productive citizens tomorrow.”

Sunday, October 21, 2012

“Sketchy Deal”

At a campaign event the day after the second presidential debate, Obama said: “So let’s recap what we learned last night.  His tax plan doesn’t add up.  His jobs plan doesn’t create jobs.  His deficit reduction plan adds to the deficit.

“So Iowa, you know, everybody here’s heard of the New Deal.  You’ve heard of the Fair Deal.  You’ve heard of the Square Deal.  Mitt Romney’s trying to sell you a sketchy deal.  We are not buying it!  We know better!  We’ve been there!  We’ve tried that!  We’re not going back, we’re moving forward!  That’s why I need your vote!  We’ve got to finish what we started in 2008!

“You don’t want to invest in that sketchy deal!”

During the debate Romney asserted: “I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as someone who’s very different than who I am.  I care about 100 percent of the American people.  I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future.

Obama replied: “When he said, behind closed doors, that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about!  Folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives, veterans who sacrificed for this country, students who are out there trying to, hopefully, advance their own dreams but also this country’s dreams, soldiers who are overseas, fighting for us right now.”

Republicans don’t care about most Americans.  Two years ago, Obama extended the Bush tax cuts as part of the lame duck 2010 session compromise to extend unemployment insurance.  Today, he’s willing to discuss extending the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans.

Although, it’s very difficult to justify continuing tax cuts for 2% of the wealthiest Americans, Republicans are again holding that compromise hostage. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012


In the second presidential debate, Obama defended his actions:  “So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team, and I gave them three instructions.  Number one, beef up our security and procedures not just in Libya but every embassy and consulate in the region.  Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure that folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again.  And number three, we are going to find out who did this, and we are going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.
“Now, Governor Romney had a very different response.  While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release trying to make political points.  And that’s not how a commander in chief operates.  You don’t turn national security into a political issue, certainly not right when it’s happening.
“Not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made.  But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say.  I said I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did.  I said that we’d go after al-Qaida and bin Laden.  We have.  I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security.  That’s what I’m doing.
“And when it comes to this issue, when I say that we are going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable, and I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there, because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home, you know that I mean what I say.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tremendous Advantage

About 10 miles south of the North Carolina border just off Interstate 95 is the community of Dillion, South Carolina.  Dillion is considered by some to be the focal point of a so-called Corridor of the Shame.
The Dillion Central School has about 50 percent of their students reading two or three grades below level and a dropout rate of 50 percent.
Ironically, South Carolina is getting back $1.35 per dollar more than it’s citizens and corporations send to our federal government in taxes. 
Many Americans feel cynical and powerless, and our cynicism comes from a belief that we must have a lot of money in order to have our voice heard.  Expressions such as; "people with money will always be on top."  Not necessarily so, since in a democracy we have a tremendous advantage  in numbers.  We need a different attitude, which encourages the belief that each of us has the ability to in our own small way effect change.
Cynical, apathetic and uninformed voters have helped create this mess.  The changes that are needed must come from us.  Reasonable voters recognize that we must not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
Foolish defeatism infects others, and many Americans have lost hope for a better world. It’s the political will of the voter which sustains the political will of our government.  Changes must come from us, and we can’t wait for our political leaders to do it for us.  Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s up to us to sustain this democracy and reclaim our birthright from corporate lobbyist and the very wealth at the top.
I urge you to get informed and stop being a spectator.  On election day prove to the world that Americans refuse to be apathetic, cynical wimps.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

“Please Proceed”

During the debate, Romney asked a question regarding the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Obama replied: “Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job.  But she works for me.  I’m the president.  And I’m always responsible.  And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.”.
“The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.  And I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.  And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
“And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive.  That’s not what we do.  That’s not what I do as president.  That’s not what I do as commander in chief.”
Romney: “I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.  You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror.  It was not a spontaneous demonstration.”
Romney: “Is that what you’re saying?”  
Obama: “Please proceed.”  
Romney: “I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.  
Obama: “Get the transcript.”  
Crowley: “He did in fact, sir.”  
Obama: “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Math

During the debate Paul Ryan claimed: “You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle class taxpayers.”  He went on to claim: “Absolutely.  Six studies have guaranteed, six studies verified this math adds up.”

Actually, three of those six studies are blog posts and one of them is by a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.  More than twenty AEI scholars and fellows served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of that government's many panels and commissions.  It’s one of the most ideological marketing organizations that pitch you their view of the world just the way companies advertise other products.

The math still isn’t adding up for Romney.  His adviser Ed Gillespie attempted to defend Romney’s tax plan on Fox News.

Chris Wallace pointed out: “They are very questionable.  Some of them are blogs, some from the AEI, which is hardly an independent group.

Gillespie: “These are very credible sources.”  Wallace: “One of them is a blog from a guy who was a top adviser to George W. Bush.  These are hardly nonpartisan studies.”

Gillespie: “Chris, if you look at Harvard and AEI and other studies, they are very credible sources for economic analysis.”  Wallace: “You wouldn’t say that AIE is a conservative think tank?”

Gillespie: “I would say that it is a right-leaning think tank.  That doesn’t make it not credible.  Wallace: “It doesn’t make it nonpartisan.”

Those six studies don’t hold water.  Besides the blog posts and the right wing bias, two of the so-called studies had had to change Romney’s tax plan to make it work.  These aren’t the only numbers the Romney camp is lying about.  There was vice presidential candidate Ryan’s claim about the unemployment in Ohio.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On The Same Page

In the Vice Presidential debate, Joe Biden demonstrated that he’s not a left wing ideologue when it comes to abortion.  He believes in the Catholic Church’s teachings that life begins at conception, but stressed that he doesn’t believe in imposing his faith on others.  

On the other hand, Mitt Romney has embraced an extreme anti-choice agenda.  His stated positions is that he’d defund Planned Parenthood, and sign legislation reversing Roe v. Wade.  Vice President Biden pointed out: “The court, the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees.  That’s how close Roe v. Wade is.  Just ask yourself, with Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for Mr. Romney, who do you think he’s likely to appoint?”

Paul Ryan supports personhood amendments.  It’s legislation that would decree that life begins at conception, and if it becomes law it would have the effect of criminalizing all abortion. 

Tens of thousands of women are impregnated by rape every year, but Ryan doesn’t think that they should have access to abortion.  Ryan wants to make reproductive health care unavailable to women.  

Paul Ryan has recently said his position on abortion and Romney’s were unified.  They’re unified to being completely opposed to women having access to a full range of reproductive health care.  They also would cut off women’s access to birth control.  Romney has repeatedly said he would defund Planned Parenthood.
Congressman Ryan co-sponsored legislation and voted for legislation to defund family planning clinics generally.  He has opposed the part of Obamacare that makes contraception available to women without a co-pay.  We know that when women have access to reliable birth control, they have better health outcomes generally.

Romney and Ryan are on the same page and very much opposed to women’s access to health care.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pressure Tactics

Americans workers are seeing high-pressure tactics by their wealthy bosses to vote for Romney or else.

Time share billionaire David Siegel sent an e-mail telling employees he’d lose his motivation to work if President Obama was re-elected.  He threatened to retire and close up shop.

David and Charles Koch sent a list of suggested candidates to 500,000 employees during the last election.  Recently, they launched a million dollar ad campaign against Obama in 13 states.

These billionaire are supporting Romney, because he’ll cut their taxes and deregulate their industries.  They’re worried that their taxes might be raised, even though the 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans put together, even though we are now seeing more inequality than we’ve had, since the era of the Robber Barons.  They have the nerve to tell their employees that if Obama is re-elected, they will fire employees and close up shop.

Taxes are lower for them, than they were in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s.  These billionaires are saying if I’m taxed, then I’m going to take it out on all of you.  These pressure tactics could work, because there’s not enough job security out there to guard against the possibility of this kind of intimidation.

Government has a responsibility to protect the rights of workers in terms of their free speech, free association, and their right to vote. 

The Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and that corporations have First Amendment rights.  But, what about the First Amendment rights of the common worker, who are trying  to make enough money to keep their family in a home, and who are being told by an employer that they’ve got to vote a certain way?

If the First Amendment has any meaning, these workers ought to be protected.  These bullying billionaires are worried, that a slight hike in their taxes would take America back to the Clinton’s era. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is almost back to what it was before the recession.  The economy is so healthy that 93% of the benefits of this recovery so far have gone to the top one percent.  Nevertheless, some of the people in the top one tenth of one percent are saying, we don’t want to be taxed and we’re going to take it out on our employees.  If anybody has declared class warfare, it’s those billionaires.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Out of the Sky

Since Obama took office there are 5.2 million new private-sector jobs.  Democrats want to to pass a permanent tax cut for the middle class, but House Republicans are blocking it.  They won’t allow assistance for 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgages are upside down, although they’ve never missed a mortgage payment.
In the debate, Joe Biden told Paul Ryan: “Stop talking about how you care about people.  Show me something.  Show me a policy.  Show me a policy where you take responsibility.
“And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, ‘Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?’  It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.  I was there.  I voted against them. I said, no, we can’t afford that.  And now, all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt that they created.”
Obamacare cut the cost of Medicare by $716 billion.  It stopped overpayments to insurance companies, doctors and hospitals.  Both the AMA and AARP endorsed those cuts, because they extend the life of Medicare to 2024.
When, Paul Ryan first proposed his voucher program, the Congressional Budget Office said it would cost $6,400 a year more for every senior, 55 and below.  Nevertheless, every congressional Republican voted for it, and Romney said, he’d sign it.
Democrats have pledged not to privatize Social Security.  Had Congress listened to Romney and Ryan during the Bush years, imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money had been in the stock market.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate

In his debate with Paul Ryan, Joe Biden said; “Let's look at where we were when we came to office.  The economy was in free fall.  We had the great recession hit; 9 million people lost their job; $1.7 -- $1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes, in retirement accounts for the middle class.

“We knew we had to act for the middle class.  We immediately went out and rescued General Motors.  We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that occurred, what did Romney do?  Romney said, "No, let Detroit go bankrupt."  We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, ‘No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.

“But it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.  My friend recently in a speech in Washington said ‘30 percent of the American people are takers.’

“These people are my mom and dad -- the people I grew up with, my neighbors.  They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax.  They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security.  They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, ‘not paying any tax.’

“I've had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent -- it's about time they take some responsibility here.  And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class we're going to level the playing field; we're going to give you a fair shot again; we are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and Main Street, making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super wealthy.

“They're pushing the continuation of a tax cut that will give an additional $500 billion in tax cuts to 120,000 families.  And they're holding hostage the middle class tax cut because they say we won't continue the middle class tax cut unless you give the tax cut for the super wealthy.

“It's about time they take some responsibility.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Short Stories

Peasant Mentality

Add up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Then double that number, and you’ll be in Romney territory.  The former Massachusetts governor has disclosed only the broad outlines of his wealth, putting it somewhere from $190 million to $250 million.  That easily could make him 50 times richer than Obama, who falls in the range of $2.2 million to $7.5 million.  If elected, he would be among the richest presidents in American history.   
I've never understood working people, who are fascinated with the Royal Family of England, nor do I understand the peasant mentality of  Americans citizens who adore the very rich and want them to receive more tax breaks.               
Glenn Doherty                                                                                                                                                                                         
Mitt Romney said: “I met some wonderful people.  One was a former Navy Seal, Glenn Doherty.  And, we chatted for a while.  He came from Massachusetts, where I’d been governor.  And you can imagine how shocked I was to learn that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi.”

In a statement to NBC’s Boston affiliate, Glenn Doherty`s mother made clear she did not approve of this use of her son’s legacy.  She said: "I don’t trust Romney.  He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda.  I feel when he brings up my son’s death, he’s politicizing it.  It’s wrong to use these brave young men who wanted freedom for all to degrade Obama." 


Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said:  “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it, that that’s an entitlement.  And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.  And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, - he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax.  Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.  So, our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.  So, he will be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich.  I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.  And so, my job is not to worry about those people.  I will never convince them the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Fact

Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan say churches and charities are the only antidote to poverty, but Sister Simone Campbell strongly disagrees.  The group “Nuns on the Bus” is kicking off another leg of their anti-poverty tour in Ohio.

So far, Paul Ryan isn’t backing down from his budget which would gut the nation’s social safety net.  Ryan has proposed cutting 133 billion dollars from nutritional programs that would help the poor.  He has credited his Catholic faith for helping shape his proposals and says churches and charities should pick up the slack for the government.

Congressman Ryan continues to insist: “The best thing to prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities, is to help teach people good discipline, good character, that is civil society.  That’s what charities and civic groups and churches do, to help one another make sure that they can realize the value in one another.”

In fact, many charitable organizations are stretched to their limits.  A study from the nonpartisan faith based group Bread for the World points out the flaws in Ryan’s plan.  Ryan’s proposed cuts to the nation’s Food Stamp program would mean every church in America would have to come up with approximately 50,000 dollars dedicated to feeding people.  They’d have to come up with that amount of money  every year for the next 10 years, so that the wealthy can get their tax breaks.

Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of “Nuns on the Bus, a national Catholic social justice lobby points out: “It’s really shocking to think that he believes that churches can do this.  What he doesn’t know is how hard people are working right now, how much they depend on the food subsidies, just even to keep food on family tables, and how churches are stretched already in food pantries, feeding programs, all kinds of places already giving so much.  This 50,000 dollars for each house of worship would be an additional amount to what they have already raised.  It’s impossible.

“Every day in Washington, D.C., I see the folks, the working poor, out early on the bus to get to their jobs, the folks that work late cleaning and janitors in the various office buildings.  I see tremendous discipline.  And I see an incredible desire to really make a go for their families.  He just is out of touch.” 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Free Markets

We seen how the "free markets"work.  Prior to Bush leaving office, Wall Street profits remained privatized, but losses had been socialized.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, we’d been in a recession in 2007.  Most Americans, were aware that it was a recession, but the government agency that’s supposed to report those things took a year to get around to telling us.  Bush didn’t admitted that we were in a recession until two days after the National Bureau of Economic Research made its announcement and 533,000 jobs were reported to have been loss in November 2008.  Sen. McCain continued to defended the economy by reiterating that it was fundamentally strong, until the day the stock market dropped 500 points.
A California mortgage lender wrote to federal regulators in January of 2006, to expect fallout, foreclosures, and horror stories.  Some bank regulators proposed capping risky mortgages, providing clearer explanations regarding mortgage backed securities, but federal regulators delayed putting any new rules in place for the mortgage industry until the end of the year.
Bush ignored the warnings, because he was being lobbied by some of the same financial institutions that ultimately failed.  Republicans have always been about trusting market forces and avoiding government intervention in the economy.  The Associated Press pointed out that that philosophy ironically ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s.   
America had lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  An additional 750,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in.  Twenty-four days after Obama took office the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed, without a single Republican vote in the House and only 3 Republican votes in the Senate.  By doing so, they prevented the worst financial crisis from getting worse and turned the economy from contraction to expansion.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Jack Welch

The morning after the presidential debate, Jack Welch, former GE CEO and Chairman tweeted: "Unbelievable jobs numbers.  These Chicago guys will do anything.  Can’t debate, so change numbers."

Many people were astonish that Welch would lend his name to this kind of conspiracy-mongering.  He’s a partisan Republican, who has hated Al Gore, since the Clinton/Gore administration made G.E. cleaned up the PCBs, it had been spewing into the upper Hudson River for decades.

When asked by Chris Matthews on national TV, what proof he had that the “Chicago guys” got the Bureau of Labor Statistics to falsify the numbers by 0.3 percent, Welch admitted: “I have no evidence to prove that.  I just raised the question.”  He was asked: “Do you want to take that back?”  Welch insisted: “No, I don’t want to.”

Next, Welch was asked: “Do you believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lacks integrity.  Do you mean it’s a coincidence or do you mean you have evidence that there was corruption?”  Welch admitted: “None whatsoever.”

In the end, Jack Welch claimed, that he was just “raising the question for some good analysts to go look at.”

Welch’s allegation strikes at the heart of a statistical agency with a tremendous amount of integrity.  The firewalls between the White House and the Bureau of Labor are extremely thick and the data processing, analyses, and reporting are very strict.  Its numbers moves markets.  So for a guy like Welch, who claims to be an experienced businessman to come out with that kind of allegations is outrageous.

George W. Bush appointee Keith Hall, who was commissioner of the Bureau of Labor told "The Wall Street Journal": “There’s no way someone at the Bureau of Labor Statistics could change any of the data from its surveys.  These numbers are good.”

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Details

President Roosevelt said: “Let me warn you and let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion that says, of course we believe these things.  But we do not like the way the present administration is doing that.  Just turn them over to us.  We will do all of them.  We will do more of them.  We will do them better and most important of all the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”

In the first presidential debate, Romney claimed: “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut.  I don’t have a tax cut of the scale that you’re talking about.”

President Obama responded: “For 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan.  And now five weeks before the election he is saying that his big, bold idea is never mind.”

The Tax Policy Center has determined, that if implemented Romney’s plan would have cost $5 trillion.  Nevertheless, Romney continues to insist: "I will pay for that tax cut." 

The question has always been if you’re not going to tell votes any detail regarding how you’d pay for a tax cut, why should we believe you when no Republican in the past 30 years has paid for a tax cut?

Every analyst, who has run the numbers insists that it can’t be done.  You can’t have a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut, that doesn’t cut taxes on the rich, while protecting the capital gains rate that the people like Romney benefits from, and not increase the deficit. 

Romney is saying trust me, when the analysts say the numbers don’t add up?  Obama should ask: Why should we believe that you’re not just going to do what George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did and blow up the deficit with another gigantic tax cut?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Romney Claimed

In the presidential debate, Romney claimed, that Obama had given $90 billion in tax breaks to solar and wind companies.  Actually, it was more like $21 billion. 

The larger number refers to all of the investments in the 2009 stimulus package that the administration designated "green" in any way.  That number included $6 billion for advanced batteries to make electric cars possible, $29 billion for energy efficiency and home retrofits, $3 billion for job training, and $18 billion for transit and high speed rail.

Many of those initiatives began under Bush, including some of the loan guarantee programs Romney attacked.  With the exception of Solyndra, Obama’s record on renewable energy investments is strong. 

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, but Congressman Darrell Issa 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 Governor Romney and then they went bust.  Some of the people running those companies had made substantial donations to the Romney’s political campaign.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 3.1 million green jobs in the America.  There are 75,000 Americans employed in the wind energy business, compared to 81,000 coal miners.

Employment in the coal industry is still high, and regulations that place more stringent public health standards on coal mining have in fact created more jobs.  Should the number of coal miners go down, dynamite would be to blame, not government regulations.  Increasingly, "mountaintop removal" has become standard practice for coal companies.  Blowing up a mountain to scrape the coal out requires fewer workers.

Obama has not been willing to open up some public lands for oil drilling and coal mining.  Our country is on its way to becoming an oil exporter, without jeopardizing the beauty and integrity of our public lands.  Oil, coal and natural gas production is up, but energy efficiency and conservation is also up.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Debate Impostor

During the presidential debate, Mitt Romney said: “I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans... But number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.  We’ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.   If I’m president, I will create - help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes.”

In fact, Mitt Romney has been saying that he’s going to give a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut to everyone, and that the top bracket would come down from 35 percent to 28 percent.  His plan was to give people who make as much as $3 million a year a quarter of a million dollar in tax cut.

Romney insisted, that his healthcare plan would cover pre-existing condition, but actually his plan does not cover pre-existing conditions for people who don’t already have insurance.  During the debate Romney pretended that it did.   Romney’s campaign manager Eric Fehrnstromn came out afterwards to say that he didn’t mean to say that, because he only meant people who already had a policy.

The morning after the debate the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8% in September, from 8.1% the prior month. 

And, at a campaign event the next day, President Obama joked: “When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney.  But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy.  The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”

“Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.”

Friday, October 05, 2012

First Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate was an Etch a Sketch debate for Romney.  He had been against hiring more teachers, but now he's in favor of more teachers.  He was against Obamacare, but now is in favor of most of what it includes.  He was for a 20% tax cut across the board, but now that's not his plan.

Six months ago, 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, Romney has erased his old principles, because it’s convenient and written new ones to meet his political needs.  That was the criticism that Romney’s Republican rivals argued against him since he began running for president.  In 2008, the same claim was made when Romney disavowed so many of his previous positions, to run as a 2008 model year conservative.  Early this year, Jon Huntsman made the same accusation, when he called Romney a perfectly lubricated weather vane.

Romney refused to divulge specifics about his proposed tax plans and his replacement for the health care law that Republican has pledged to repeal.  The American people should ask themselves what’s the reason that Romney is keeping the plans to improve the economy a secret and why does his plan lack specific details?

Romney rejected Obama's characterization of his tax plan, saying it won’t add to the deficit, and criticized our President's proposal to allow tax rates on income over $250,000 for families and $200,000 for individuals to return to the higher rates of the 1990s.

An analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that extending tax cuts for people who make more than $250,000 per year ($200,000 for single filers) would disproportionately help the richest taxpayers, because 82% of the cut would go to people with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income, who would get an average tax cut of $164,000 apiece.

Obama insisted that the revenue issue is "a major difference," that he has with Romney over the question of deficit reduction, noting the former Massachusetts governor had repeatedly rejected the idea of cutting $10 in spending for every $1 in new revenue during the Republican primary campaign.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Deficit Reduction

The $700 billion defense budget is the largest in history, but Republican have no plan to cut any of those funds from a $3.5 trillion budget.  
Republicans complains about entitlements, but have no plan to strengthen Medicare or Social Security.  Social Security is a solvent program and has been for 77 years.  However, for the last 40 years, Congress has been raiding Social Security and spending it on aircraft carriers.  The problem with Social Security is the $2.8 trillion of IOUs that are in the trust fund have nothing behind them.  Those IOU’s will never be funded unless Congress increase taxes.  
President Obama was ready to go big on the deficit reduction package, but the Republicans backed off.  Paul Ryan played a major role in telling his leadership that if we do that, they’d be handing Obama a second term. 
Obama wants to cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower.  He suggested that we cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars.  Obama recognizes a need to cut waste and fraud out of health care programs like Medicare, and at the same time, make adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations.  He insists, that we require the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions.
A bipartisan balanced approach should ask everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.  It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt.  The cuts shouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Voter Registration Fraud

The Republican Party announced that in Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, it has stopped voter registration.  Each of those five swing states are in play this year and could be critical to Romney winning the presidency.

The reason the Republican Party stopped registering voters is that Strategic Allied Consulting the company it hired to do the work of voter registration has been fired.  

Problems first surfaced last week, when an elections supervisor in Palm Beach County, Florida flagged 106 fraudulent registration forms, and it’s snowballed significantly since then.  The registration forms were suspect because they were missing obvious information or names were spelled one way and then signed another.  Strategic Allied Consulting blamed the problems on a single employee, a single bad apple in that one county.  However, Florida election officials found registration forms that also looked fraudulent in nearly a dozen Florida counties. 

Strategic Allied Consulting exists, because the Republican Party told the chief consultant who ran the company that he needed to come up with a new corporate name.  The companies old corporate name had gotten bad press over the way it handled voter registrations in the past.

In 2004, the same consulting company was accused of destroying hundreds of voter registration forms of new voter, who signed up as Democrats.  The company was accused of either ignoring voters who said they wanted to sign up as Democrats or completing their forms and later trashing them.

The greatest concern regarding voter registration fraud is that after you tear up a form, because you don’t like a persons party affiliation, the person who fill out the voter registration form assume that they are registered.  But, the person show up on Election Day only to find out they are not on the rolls and not allowed to vote.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Intimidation and Suppression

Florida’s Republican Governor Scott started a purge to get people off the voter rolls.  Uhroll Arroliga is U.S. citizen, who immigrated from Nicaragua 17 years ago, became a citizen, and registered to vote.   Last spring, he got a letter from the state of Florida ordering him to prove his citizenship within 30 days or lose his right to vote.  He sent in his proof of citizenship.   Now, Arroliga is told by the administration that his proof was not good enough.

The “Miami Herald” reported that less than six weeks before this election, Governor Scott’s election division sent Florida counties another list of voters, that it wants purged from the voter rolls.  The last purge list targeted 82% minority voters, in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade County,  Actually, 98% of the people who Governor Scott tried to purge off the voter rolls as non-citizens, actually were American citizens.

The people targeted by the purge have been threatened by the state of Florida should they exercise their right to vote.  The counties who were told by the state to start another round of purging are busy getting 11 million potential votes cast and counted.

It’s obvious, that the increase in purges and changing the voting laws in states where Republicans are in control is designed to make voting and registering to vote harder for this election. 

The public knows the immorality of putting up barriers to voting is just plain wrong.  Democrats have to make sure that every person, who is eligible to vote gets an ID, registers to vote, and their vote is counted as cast.

The laws and regulations that Republican controlled state legislatures have passed across our country are designed to intimidate American citizens in order to suppress the vote.  Republicans are afraid of fair elections and the voters.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Rage and Violence

The following is an excerpt from Cary Brunswick’s column in the Oneonta Daily Star.
“The amateurish film, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ posted on YouTube, angered many Muslims for its negative portrayal of Muhammad, and more than 50 people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, have been killed in the resulting violence.
“It may be difficult today for Americans to understand how public criticism of a prophet or savior can lead to organized violence and murder.  Even President Obama, speaking at the United Nations this week, challenged the world to seek out the root causes of the rage and violence.
“But those issues shouldn’t be that elusive.  The causes go far below the surface of protests, riots and deadly violence, and include religious tolerance and fundamentalism, the continued U.S. meddling in Middle East nations, and free speech.
“The evidence of history shows that religions, and especially their fundamentalist adherents, have instigated as much of the world’s wars and violence as their secular counterpart, nationalism.  When the two forces are linked by extremists, the results can be deadly.  The horrific tragedy of 9/11 is a prime example.
“But it wasn’t too many years ago that Christians in Northern Ireland were killing each other because of their Catholic and Protestant differences.  And centuries earlier, you probably wouldn’t want to know how many so-called heretics were put to death for alleged blasphemy by Christian authorities.
“Anybody can post a video to YouTube, and the fact that enraged Muslims linked it to the United States as a nation and government illustrates that, despite the Arab Spring changes, there continue to be fundamentalist factions that hate the West.
“Today, Americans pride themselves for tolerance, though it may seem lacking in our everyday arguing about political and religious issues and especially with people like pastor Terry Jones and his ‘Burn a Quran Day.’  That’s why President Obama, shortly after the Muslim protests over the video began and before they became deadly, reiterated religious tolerance as one of our values and condemned the film.
“In some parts of the Muslim world, blasphemy is grounds for a death sentence and any medium expressing it is banned.  Look at the case of Salmon Rushdie, whose execution was ordered in 1989 and his book ‘The Satanic Verses’ banned in much of the Muslim world.”