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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Additional Warnings


Scientists are warning about rising sea levels.  A study written by James Hansen NASA’s foremost climate scientist and 16 co-authors many of whom are considered the top in their field have found that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting 10 times faster than previous estimates.  This means sea levels could rise 10 feet in the next 50 years.

Pope Francis and five dozen world leaders signed statement pledging to take strong international action.  New City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among the leaders who met with Pope Francis.  He announced an interim goal to reduce carbon emissions levels in the city of New York by 40 percent before 2030.  The larger goal is to cut them 80 percent by the year 2050.

Florida is ground zero for the impacts of climate change with over 1,200 miles of coastline.  Florida is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels.  Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse visited Florida twice last year to see the effects firsthand.  He insists Republican presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are ignoring the realities of science in their own state.

Senator Whitehouse note: “It’s OK, if we’re not scientists.  The Republican candidates from Florida are running against the facts and they’re running against the opinions of experts and local leaders in their own home state.  The question is why Republican presidential candidates continue to refuse to engage on climate change.”

“Climate change is actually going to be a lot worse than we currently anticipate.  And when you look at what 10 feet of sea level rise means to an ocean state like Rhode Island or to a sea front city like Miami, it is a lot of pain.  It is a lot of catastrophe.  It is a lot of expense.  It is a very, very significant danger.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Years of Negotiations


In 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president in Iran, by promising to the Iranian people that he’d find a way to end the crippling international sanctions against Iran, and to end the international isolation of Iran because of its nuclear program.

In Rouhani’s first press conference, he said: “The Iranian people will be happy to build trust and repair relations with the United States.  Both nations need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things.”

Within months, he and President Obama became the first Iranian and American heads of state to speak directly by phone in more than 30 years.  Shortly thereafter, the United States and Iran started what would amount to 20 straight months of talking.  That had never happened before.  That could not have happened without a president on both sides saying it had to be done.

The George W. Bush administration had pursued sanctions against Iran, but they weren’t as strict as the internationally agreed upon ones imposed under President Obama.  President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney said they’d never talk to Iran.  They expected their vague threats of war against Iran and the sanctions themselves to somehow just make Iran capitulate and give in and do what the United States wanted.

Under the Bush administration the sanctions got tougher, because the goal of the sanction was to force Iran to capitulate.  Bush called Iran the axis of evil, but clearly, that strategy  didn’t work.  The Bush/Cheney strategy didn’t work.  Iran’s nuclear program went from essentially zero centrifuges when George W. Bush took office, to more than 6,000 by the time he left office.

The goal under President Obama was to instead use those sanctions to get Iran to negotiate.  And it worked.  They came to the table, and they negotiated for 20 straight months, and after 18 straight days without a break, the negotiations resulted in a deal on the Iranian nuclear program.

Accordingly, President Obama announced: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not -- a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change, that makes our country and the world safer and more secure.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reinstating Glass-Steagall


New legislation to break up investment banks and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act has the backing of Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Maria Cantwell, as well as, Republican Senator McCain.  The bill would force banks to separate their traditional banking practices like saving and checking from very risky speculation practices and those investment banking practices historically associated with an economic meltdown. 

When Congress repealed the original Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, Senator Byron Dorgan argued: “The fusing together of the idea of banking, which requires not just safety and soundness to be successful but the perception of safety and soundness.  To merge it with inherently, risky, speculative activity is in my judgment unwise.  We are with this piece of legislation moving towards greater risk.  We are almost certainly moving towards substantial new concentration and mergers of the financial services industry.  That is almost certainly not in the interest of consumers.  I think we will in 10 years time look back and say we should not have done that.”

Senator Cantwell pointed out that the only thing her former colleague Senator Dorgan got wrong in 1999 was that it would take 10 years.  Actually the 2008 meltdown took only nine years.  She insists: “There’s no reason why you should mix the savings of U.S. consumers with the risky investment of those on Wall Street.  Separate those so that we don’t have another implosion and cost our economy $14 trillion, which is what the Dallas Fed said that whole implosion cost us.

“So, the reason why we have a chance now is that consumers are seeing that we passed Wall Street reform in the Congress, the Dodd-Frank bill and they see that Wall Street is up here every day trying to roll it back, delay it.  Stop its implementation.  And these guys are just getting bigger and bigger and the risk of this happening again is very present.”

Senator McCain explained: "Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, a culture of dangerous greed and excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world.  Big Wall Street institution should be free to engage in transaction with significant risk.  But not with federally insured deposits." 

There are 6,500 banks in America, but only 24 banks with more than 100 billion dollars in assets.  In 2008, risky speculation caused tens of trillions of dollars in damage to Americans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Netroots Nation


Recently, progressive activists gathered in Phoenix, Arizona for Netroots Nation.  It’s an annual liberal conference that bills itself as the largest progressive gathering in the nation.  They gathered to discuss a strategy for the 2016 election.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley, were invited but Clinton declined due to a scheduling conflict.  She had spoken at Netroots in 2007, and was booed, because of her support for the Iraq war while she was a senator.  This year, O’Malley and Sanders were interrupted and shouted down by “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators, who demanded to hear how the candidates would address the issue of police brutality.

O’Malley found himself in hot water after saying that “Black lives matter, white lives matter, and all lives matter,” which some activists interpreted as missing their point about the disproportionate number of black people killed while in police custody.  

Sanders attempted to respond by talking about how his economic policies could help address racial injustices.  He had introduced legislation to tackle youth unemployment and boast jobs programs, but the “Black Lives Matter” activist seemed unimpressed. 

In frustration, Sanders said: “Black lives of course matter and I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity but if you don’t want me to be here that’s OK.”

Politicians can’t merely talk about what they’ve done for African-Americans in the past.  They’ve got to specifically address racial inequalities and police brutality.

African- American voters already know that white lives matter, because they live in a white supremacy society where greater value is place on white lives.  Empirical evidence has repeatedly proven that reality.  Politicians can’t simply reduce systemic racism into an economic problem as Bernie Sanders is doing. 

African- American lives matter most when they turn out on election day and vote.   

Monday, July 27, 2015

People of Conscience


The Oneonta Star published the following letter that was submitted by Bud Hammond.

“The June 29 Street Talk asked six local citizens if they thought the Confederate flag should be removed from the various sites where it remained in South Carolina.  Four of six thought it should remain. 

“I have great difficulty trying to understand why people of conscience could approve of the Confederate flag. 

“In the first place, this symbol represented those who were willing to break up our nation in support of one of the worst atrocities in our history — slavery.  It was not a noble cause. 

“As for those that say the flag honors Grandpa and the glory of the Southern resistance, do we glorify bank robbers, or other thieves, because they displayed bravery at achieving their goals? 

“Every breeze that has blown over people who hate blows that flag to and fro.  Every wave from it shouts out that slavery was an ‘American right,’ and strikes at everyone who has been hurt by slavery’s injustices. 

“Try something for me.  Ask those who will keep the symbol waving what feelings they hold for blacks.

“Also, remind those that would keep the flags waving that the flags seen today were used to create negative feelings in the early days of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s.

“I thought that the feelings expressed by the four citizens would be what a Southerner would hold. 

“Please forgive me for my assumption that only Southerners would express themselves that way.  I am having trouble understanding anyone who can condone the flying of that flag.”

********************************************************************************************************* Fifty-eight years ago, in a sociology class at Siena College, Tim was asked by Franciscan priest Father Victor to complete the following sentence: “The sight of a negro is?”  Without hesitation, Tim replied: “Is usually 20/20.”  Tim lived in a racially mixed neighborhood, and graduated from the most integrated high school in the Schenectady, New York.  Indeed, we must keep on fighting and not become complacent.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Diversity Rules


The following letter to the editor was submitted by Jim Koury to the Oneonta Daily Star for publication.  Koury is the editor of “Diversity Rules” magazine.

“On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges and declared same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, thus legalizing gay marriage throughout the nation.

“It is a decision activists and others have been anticipating and hoping for during these many years of incessant and ongoing litigation.  It is a hard-fought prize and one that advanced our country forward toward its inherent purpose of equality for all.  We are a much better nation because of this decision.

“The Supreme Court voted in favor of humans, not just liberals.  It was the right thing to do.  This epitomizes what this country should be about and that’s what the affirmative rulings handed down during the last week in June were all about — PEOPLE and their dignity — which the GOP and the ‘Christian’ right seem to have abdicated and lost sight of for whatever reason.

“We can take a breath momentarily and rejoice in our victory.  However, despite marriage equality coming to America, it does NOT mean all is well!  We still have many battle lines to gear up for.

“In many states, LGBT folks can still be fired, evicted, denied adoption rights and denied services simply for being who they are.  Our transgender brothers and sisters are still persecuted, as many of the advancements gained do not apply to them.

“We have lots to do yet, folks. ... LOTS TO DO!  Do not tolerate any second-class treatment.  Keep fighting and, more importantly — do not become complacent!”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nuclear Proliferation Experts


Fifteen member of the U.N. Security Council have authorized measures to begin lifting sanctions on Iran.  President Obama insists that Congress should consider that strong international support when debating the merits of the agreement during the 60 days they have to review the deal.  

He has pointed out: “There is broad international consensus around this issue, not just among the international community but also among experts in the nuclear proliferation and my working assumption is that Congress will pay attention to that broad-based consensus.”

Editor at large for “The Atlantic,” Steve Clemons noted: “The world sees this as an infliction point and Barrack Obama, in addition to other world leaders has sown that we can still do things in the world and not everything is a failure from the start and you’ve basically successfully applied crippling sanctions to Iran, gotten Iran to move in one of the best and most thorough arms control negotiations that have been negotiated right now and the Republicans have to decide whether or not they’re going to isolate the United States in this effort to put Iran on a new course and commit the Unites States to something that might look like more of a military track...

“What Barrack Obama has done and what this U.N. vote did is essentially give the Republicans an opportunity to stand up and to demonstrate that they’re more about politics than they’re about the substance and core of vital national interest of United States.

“It’s fine to be skeptical of Iran arms negotiations and nuclear weapons program negotiations but they need to come in and look at the content and substance of that deal, put on the table what they would do differently and look at what a 15 to zero vote in the United Nations is about.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Managing Diabetes


Experts agree the best way to effectively manage your diabetes is a combination of good lifestyle choices—notably, diet and exercise.
By exercise, they mean a blend of aerobic activity, strength-building exercise and flexibility training.  In fact, a combination of strength-training and aerobic exercise seems to be more effective for keeping your blood sugar levels under control than either type of activity by itself.
However, you can’t just lace up your sneakers and start pounding the pavement or hoisting the dumbbells.  You have to prepare for the effect that exercise has on your blood glucose levels—namely, it tends to lower your blood glucose levels.  The specific amount will depend on how long you’re active.
Before you do anything, check with your doctor and get screened for any underlying complications or anything that might predispose you to certain types of injuries, like severe peripheral neuropathy and retinopathy.  They can help you develop a plan and set a target range for your blood glucose levels, too.
Eating a couple of hours prior to a workout can help you keep your blood sugar level at a normal level.  It’s crucial to have a good handle on your specific blood glucose levels before, during and after you exercise.
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse suggests writing down in a journal your blood sugar levels and the length of time you spend exercising to help you track how your activity affects your blood glucose.
If your blood glucose levels dip below 70 dg/ml, you might experience shakiness, dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, confusion, fatigue or some combination of these symptoms. According to the American Diabetes Association hypoglycemia tends to be more of a problem for people with type 1 diabetes than for people with type 2 diabetes, except for people who take insulin or an insulin secretagogue.  It’s worthwhile to be prepared, though, just in case.  Bring along a snack containing carbs, juice or glucose tablets in addition to your blood glucose testing supplies.  Your muscles keep on burning glucose even after you stop exercising, so keep your eye out for possible signs of hypoglycemia for the next 24 hours.
Drink plenty of water during your workout.  Guzzle 17 ounces (approximately 2 cups) about two hours before you exercise.  Since you’re going to lose fluids when you sweat, you’ll need to keep on drinking water, especially if it’s really warm outside.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Enormous Challenges


The following is an excerpt from an e-mail that I received from Senator Bernie Sanders.
“For many months I have been traveling from coast to coast across our country, and have had the opportunity to meet with thousands of good, hard-working, and remarkable people.   Like you and me, they are deeply concerned about the future of our country.
“They wonder why they are working longer hours for lower wages.  They worry about whether their kids will be able to afford college or get decent jobs.  They fear that they may not have the savings to retire with dignity and security.
“The challenges facing our country are enormous.  That's why I am running to become the next President of the United States.
“You've already signed up to join our campaign, and for that I thank you.
“It's not just that, for forty years, the middle class has been disappearing. It's that 99% of all new income is going to the top 1%, and the grotesque level of wealth and income inequality today is worse than at any time since the late 1920s.  The people at the top are grabbing all the new wealth and income for themselves, and the rest of America is being squeezed and left behind.
“The disastrous decisions of the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case and in other related decisions are undermining the very foundations of American democracy, as billionaires rig the system by using their Super PACs to buy politicians and elections.
“And the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet.
“The middle class in America is at a tipping point.  It will not last another generation if we don't boldly change course now.”
************************************************************************************************************
In fact, I have not signed up to join Bernie Sanders’ campaign.  Presently, I believe that Hillary Clinton would be the best candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lawrence Wilkerson


Regarding the nuclear weapon deal with Iran, former chief staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, Colonel Lawrence Wilkinson insists: “This agreement is probably the most historic and intrusive inspection agreement under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or any other treaty for that matter in the history of nuclear weapons.  And maybe even in the history of international agreements.  It couldn’t be any tighter. 

“I think Iran will probably comply with the agreement, so long as we comply with our sections, simply because it is a way for them to come back into the international community as a responsible partner in that community.  It may take a decade.  It may take 15 years.  I think as long as everyone is agreeing things are going the way they should be, Iran would find more good fortune by comporting itself with the agreement than by violating it.  That’s the whole mechanism here.
               
“On the one end, Iran support Hezbollah.  On the other end, they’re fighting the most potent terrorist threat in the region, ISIS, alongside us. 
               
“So, this kind of complexity has been dealt with in this exquisite diplomacy.  It needs to continue to be dealt with, and it does not need the kind of apocalyptic statements that are coming out of Lindsey Graham and others who should know better but for political purposes, they’re making the statements they’re making. 
               
“They covet the White House.  They want the White House in 2016, and they see that dream falling apart already.  And they see President Obama’s popularity with the American people possibly being increased by this deal.  They don’t want that to happen because they want the White House so bad in 2016. 
               
“I’m sad to say that about my own party, but this is mostly not about substance, it’s about politics.” 
               

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Limits of Reason


Without the Iraq War, Senator Obama wouldn’t have become the Democratic presidential nominee.  In 2008, Barack Obama pointed out: “This is an area where Senator McCain and I have a fundamental difference, because I think the first question is whether we should have gone into the war in the first place.  Six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war, at a time when it was political risky to do so.”

In the first hour of Obama’s presidency, he warned: “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit, and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Shortly after he took office, he went to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace prize and announce: “I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated.  Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my reseat of this prize is I am the commander-in-chief of the military, of the nation in the midst of two wars. 
     
“We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.  There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary, but morally justified.
     
“I face the world as it is and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.  But make no mistake: evil does exist in the world.  A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.  Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.  To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism.  It is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

“Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.  So, yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.”

Barack Obama was never a pacifist.  However, he does value giving diplomacy a chance.
     
      

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rep. Brad Sherman


Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California has explained: “When the president took office, he was in a very tough position, because his predecessor had not only blocked all new sanctions laws during eight years but had refused to enforce any of the sanctions laws that had been adopted in the 1990s.

“Now, that will sound odd because President George W. Bush was so noted for his aggressiveness.  But you’ve got to realize that sanctions are sanctions on international oil companies, especially the sanctions we adopted in the 1990s that President George W. Bush refused to enforce.

“So, Iran had gone from zero to well over 5,000 centrifuges.  It was going all out.  And the president has been trying to put a brake on this program starting from a very difficult position.

“That being said, this deal has some good aspects to it and bad aspects to it in the first year.  And then later on, and by then we’re going to have a different Congress, a different administration.  I think it’s got some really big problems.  The good part of this deal and the critics aren’t given the president credit for this is that 95 percent stockpile of enriched uranium that could be purified to make ten bombs, has to be shift out of the country before Iran gets any benefits.  Second, two-thirds of Iran’s centrifuges need to be mothballed before Iran gets the benefits.  That’s very important.

“The bad part of the initial phase of this agreement is that Iran will get its hands on $120 billion or so of its own money.  They will use this to help their own people to some degree because they’ve built expectations.”

The CIA predicts that Iran will put most of the money from sanctions relief toward its domestic economy. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Global Security Foundation


As noted in yesterday’s post the global security foundation’s President Joe Cirincione is in favor of the nuclear deal international negotiators worked out with Iran.  The Ploughshares Fund has hailed the Iran nuclear agreement as a groundbreaking triumph for U.S. diplomacy and is urging Congress to support this step to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Cirincione noted: “This is a very good deal.  It is a major victory for American national security.  We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, without putting a single U.S. soldier in harm’s way.
“But we haven’t crossed the finish line yet.  Congress will now give it a review, and a majority of nuclear security and policy experts agree that this deal deserves its full support.”
Tom Collina, Ploughshares Fund Policy Director points out: "For those who oppose the deal, the onus is on them to provide a viable alternative.  This deal is far better than any other option we currently have to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.”
Philip Yun, Ploughshares Fund Executive Director said: “The talks have delivered a solid agreement resulting from an extremely rigorous and carefully calibrated diplomatic process.  We must remember that the U.S. was not alone in negotiating this deal.  We were part of a coalition of five other world partners, all seeking to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.”
In accordance with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review bill signed by President Obama in May, Congress now has 60 days to review the deal with Iran signed in Vienna by the P5+1; the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.  Congress can approve the agreement, reject it, or do nothing, in which case it would still go into effect.  Congressional approval of the deal is not required.
Research shows that a clear majority of Americans support the deal, which is the best way to block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons.  The deal will require Iran to cut its enrichment capacity by two-thirds and slash its existing uranium stockpile by 98 percent.  Highly rigorous and intrusive inspections will detect any Iranian attempt to renege on the deal and enable rapid response if it does.  U.S. sanctions will be suspended only after inspectors verify that Iran has complied with its part of the deal. And terrorism and human rights-related sanctions will remain in place.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ploughshares Fund


Concern about the world’s burgeoning nuclear arsenals led San Francisco philanthropist Sally Lilienthal to found the Ploughshares Fund in 1981.  Ploughshares enables individual contributors to pool resources and provide support for initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons.  Since it was founded, Ploughshares has become the largest grant making foundation in America whose exclusive mission is peace and security funding.  After Sally Lilienthal died the Board of Directors appointed Joe Cirincione to be Ploughshares Fund’s president.

Regarding the Obama administrations landmark deal over Iran's nuclear program, Joe Cirincione insisted: “This is a war or peace issue.  This is our chance to solve a problem that has vexed every president since Ronald Reagan.  Every president since Reagan has tried to stop Iran’s nuclear program.  Four presidents have tried.  Four presidents have failed.  Obama may have just found the right formula, the right combination of force and diplomacy. 
    
“This deal cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.  This deal puts in place an inspections system unlike anything we’ve ever seen, that will make it extremely difficult for Iran to cheat or break out of this agreement.  This deal keeps together the global coalition that include our closest allies in Europe. 
     
“So, if Iran does cheat, we have sanctions that can snap back to punish them.  This is a way to stop Iran from getting a bomb without going to war.  It has its risks, but those risks pale in comparison to the alternatives. 
     
With respect to the criticism, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) isn’t up to the job, in terms of their responsibilities to be the watchdogs, to be the inspectors here, that they’ll get duped, locked out, they won’t know when they need to raise the international alarm.  Ploughshares Fund President, Cirincione has pointed out: “It is a daunting challenge.  I’ve spoken to the head of the IAEA, and he assured me and the world that they are up to the job.  This is a deal that they helped negotiate.  This is 21st century technology, state of the art.  Fiber optics seals, cameras, sensors, audits, inventories, 24/7 inspections on all the declared facilities and the right to inspect suspect facilities, including the military sites that have been so much in dispute.  Iran could possibly evade one layer of these inspections, but the chances of them evading them all of them are quite remote. ”
     

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pelosi’s Pragmatic Decision


The Affordable Health Care Act strengthens Medicare by cracking down on fraud and keeping it solvent for decades to come.  Importantly, it protects guaranteed benefits, eligibility and the right to keep your doctor for all seniors.

According to the Congressional Budget Office health care reform should cut the deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years, and as much as $1.2 trillion, the following 10 years.  The healthcare reform bill should bring $1.3 trillion in deficit reduction over the next two decades.  A report from Congressional Budget Office indicated that the Affordable Care Act is the most significant effort to reduce our deficits since the Balanced Budget Act in the 1990s.

It should be noted, that Democratic Senator Max Baucus was the Chairman of Senate Finance Committee, when Congress was attempting to pass healthcare legislation.  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 and other health professionals.  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, he was corrupted by corporate health industry lobbyist.

President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, that protect all Americans from the worst practices of insurance companies.  Coverage can’t be revoked, premiums won’t be arbitrarily raised and insurance companies won’t be allowed to use a pre-existing condition to deny coverage.

Obama and Nancy Pelosi recognized that single payer healthcare legislation wouldn’t get passed in the Senate.  Instead, congressional Democrats wisely decided to be pragmatic.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Efforts Were Blocked


Regarding a single payer healthcare system, Bernie Sanders wrote the following:  “Today, because of the Supreme Court's decision to protect the modest gains made under the Affordable Care Act, it is a good day for millions of Americans who will be able to keep their access to health care.
“It's also a good day for the small business owners who, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, couldn't afford the escalating cost of providing insurance for their employees.

“But while I am glad the Supreme Court upheld the law, in my view, the only long-term solution to America's health care crisis is a Medicare-for-all single-payer system.

“I start my approach to health care from two very simple premises: 1. Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege -- every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access quality care regardless of their income.

“2. We must create a national system to provide care for every single American in the most cost-effective way possible.
“Tragically, the United States fails in both areas.  The health insurance lobbyists and big pharmaceutical companies make ‘national health care’ sound scary.  It's not.

“In fact, a large single-payer system already exists in the United States.  It's called Medicare and the people enrolled give it high marks.  More importantly, it has succeeded in providing near-universal coverage to Americans over age 65 in a very cost-effective manner.

“It's time to expand that program to all Americans.  The American people understand that our current health care system is not working.  They understand that the profiteering of the pharmaceutical industry and private insurance companies causes the United States to spend more per capita on health care than any other nation, while our life expectancy, infant mortality and preventable deaths outcomes are worse than most other countries.

“We should be spending our money on care and disease prevention, not paper-pushing and debt collection.  But the simple truth is that our efforts to eliminate waste and profiteering are endangered by these powerful corporate interests.

“A single-payer system will expand employment and lift a major financial weight off of businesses burdened by employee health expenses.  And the millions of Americans stuck in jobs they don't like, they would be free to explore more productive opportunities as they desire.

“I attempted to offer a single-payer amendment during the Affordable Care Act debate, but my efforts were blocked.  But our time will come.  I am convinced today more than ever before that universal quality health care as a right will eventually become the law of the land.  It is the only way forward.”
Tomorrow, I’ll post a more comprehensive explanation of the reasons that we don’t have a single-payer system.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Moral Obligation


 At his final stop in a weeklong trip to three South American countries, Pope Francis said, that the poor are often sacrificed on the "altar of money" and accused the wealthy of worshipping a new "golden calf."
He told a group of prominent civic leaders in Paraguay: "Certainly every culture needs economic growth and the creation of wealth, but political and business leaders have a responsibility to ensure that profits reach the pockets of the poor as well as the rich.
"I ask them not to yield to an economic model which is idolatrous, which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit."
During the South American trip, Pope Francis has also been quoted as saying: 
1. "This system is by now intolerable: farmworkers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, people find it intolerable ... The earth itself ... also finds it intolerable."
2."And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea, one of the church's first theologians, called 'the dung of the devil.'  An unfettered pursuit of money rules.  That is the dung of the devil."
3. "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy.  It is a moral obligation.  For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment."
4. "I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America."
5. "The new colonialism takes on different faces.  At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain 'free trade' treaties, and the imposition of measures of 'austerity' which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Unimpressed


When the Confederate flag came down at the South Carolina State House, 74 year old Willi Glee was unimpressed.
He was outside the historic "Mother Emanuel" AME Church, where nine people were gunned down.  Their deaths and the gunman’s glorification of the flag finally spurred its demise after decades of contentious debate.  Willi Glee noted: "It's great symbolically, but it shouldn't have been there in the first place.  It doesn't mean a damn thing, really.
"The problem in America is we fail to educate our children, all of them, white and black.  A long history of mistrust and mistreatment led us to today... And when you've lived in America as long as I have, you have no faith they'll do better."
Visitors had flock to the memorial that had grown outside the AME Church.  Twenty-six year old Amelia a white woman stood in front of the memorial weeping for those killed at the Charleston church.  When asked about the flag coming down, she said: “It was a symbolic maneuver, but it's not a step to bringing justice to those who passed or diminishing the severity of what was done here.  These are people I didn't know, but they were giving their lives to community, service and God.  They were role models, and for someone to maliciously disrespect and dishonor their goodness so violently and selfishly, it's hurtful to me and to all of us."
Amelia pointed out, that while one person killed these churchgoers: "He stands in for a number of people in our country who feel the way he did.  And until our country tackles that, achieves true equality and combats violence, a ceremony is little more than a ceremony.”
William Ray III is the president of the Black Student Alliance at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  He appreciates how moved his mother is by the Confederate flag's removal, but he doesn't think anyone should pat themselves on the back for doing it.  He conceded: “Yes, it's historic, but it's a piece in a billion-piece puzzle.  The cold truth is that there are plenty of people who feel what the church shooter feels, and racism doesn't go away when a flag comes down.

"America was built on the backs of racism, and racism is a system that needs to be deconstructed... We put Band-Aids on the leaky pipes, and we have to replace the pipes."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Investigating Police


Governor Cuomo has announced an independent system for investigating police shootings of unarmed citizens.  Instead of District Attorney’s and police investigate themselves, he is empowering the State Attorney General as acting special prosecutor for those killings.  It should eliminate the conflict of interest that can exist when prosecutors are asked to investigate officers they often work with every day. 

The conflict became an issue after officers killed Eric Garden with a chokehold and the local prosecutor didn’t indict anyone on murder, manslaughter, or of using excessive force. 

New York’s Attorney General asked for the authority to conduct independent investigations of all police killings last December, but many police groups and prosecutors have been opposing it.  Governor Cuomo didn’t initially embrace the idea publicly but there has been growing calls for some kind action.

Counsel to Governor Cuomo, Alphonso David has been working on these issues.  He explained that this executive order by Governor Cuomo is a landmark decision: “In that for the first time in the history of the state every district attorney will now have to seed jurisdiction to the attorney general.  The attorney general will have jurisdiction over every case when an unarmed civilian is killed by a law enforcement officer or where there are substantial questions as to whether or not that civilian was armed and dangerous at the time of his or her death.

“We have had executive order issued in the past in the state. But certainly not an executive order that applies to every single county throughout the state and certainly we’ve never had an executive order that applies to this issue.  The governor feels passionately that it is important to instill public trust in the criminal justice system.  And so, he felt that it was important to pass and sign this executive order.”

According, to Counsel David the order expires after one year, because the governor is: “focused on is addressing the public perception that there is lack of trust in the criminal justice system.  With respect to the time frame the governor is hoping that New York legislature will pass comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation next year.  And in the interim he’s signed an executive order to allow those cases to be handled by an independent special prosecutor. But the governor hopes that in the state at some point, within the next year we will have comprehensive legislation that addresses this issue.”

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Judged Frivolous


In 2011, as a freshman Senator Rand Paul compared the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act to slavery.

Recently, he made the following comment regarding taxes: “You can have some government.  We all need government.  Thomas Payne said government is a necessary evil.  What did he mean by that? 

“You have to give up some of your liberty to have government.  That means you have to pay some taxes.  I’m not against that.  I’m for some government.  I’m for paying some taxes.  But if we tax you at 100 percent, then you got zero percent liberty.  If we tax you at 50 percent you are half slave, half free.  I frankly would like to see you a little freer and a little more money remaining in your communities to create jobs.  It’s a debate we need to have.”

The rhetoric about income tax has been part of the conservative movement for a long time.  The fifth circuit court of appeals, that includes Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi addressed the issue 60 years ago and declared that the claim that the income tax is a form of slavery and involuntary servitude is frivolous.

In fact, reasonable people recognize that we are free because of taxes.  The North won the Civil War, because its government had the taxing capacity and borrowing capacity in place to defeat the South.  Taxes are fundamental to our freedom, and is the very first power, that was granted to Congress in our constitution.

There are only 97,000 households in our entire country that pay 30 percent or more of their income in federal income taxes.  Their average rate is 33 percent, and their average income is $2.7 million.  They can afford to pay 33 percent of their income to support the most powerful military in the world.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hillary’s Progressive Values


Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to be ignoring Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.  He’s doing well in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls, and has drawn large crowds at his speaking events.

Hillary delivered an unbridled defense of her record to a crowd estimated to be more than 850 in Hanover, New Hampshire the town that is home to Dartmouth College.  Obviously, she doesn’t plan to cede any ground to her Democratic rival Senator Sanders, and has vowed to defend her record on “progressive values” against anyone.

Presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton firmly asserted: “I take a back seat to no one when you look at my record of standing up and fighting for progressive values.” 

Mrs. Clinton’s early poll number’s were sky-high when she announced her candidacy, but politically savvy people recognized, that those numbers would be almost impossible to sustain.  Her comments demonstrated the challenge, that she must keep a eye on Bernie Sanders without attacking him, while also engaging in attacks on the numerous Republican candidates in the field on issues like the Affordable Care Act.

She warned: “If the country elects a Republican president, then they will repeal the Affordable Care Act.  I will defend it and I will do everything I can to improve it.”

Hillary denounced the administration of George W. Bush for “poor management” of the economy that led to the recession, and pointed out that at the end of her husband’s two terms there was a “surplus that would have paid off the national debt had it not been rudely interrupted by the next administration.”  She insists that President Obama: “deserves a lot more credit than he’s usually given for pulling the economy back.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Republicans:“just don’t know the theory of original sin, because we wouldn’t have had to have a recovery if we hadn’t had the kind of poor management and bad economic policies that put us into the ditch in the first place.”

In New Hampshire where many residents own guns, Mrs. Clinton called for new gun control laws, and pledged to continue discussing gun control: “We have to work very hard to muster the public opinion to convince Congress to support universal background checks for gun buyers.  I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it, so I will talk about it.” 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Brian Beutler


The following is an excerpt from an article published by Senior Editor, Brian Beutler in the “The New Republic.”
“Three months ago, as the prospect of an international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions came into focus, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pledged that as a first-term president in 2017 he would unilaterally void any deal, even over the anticipated objections of our European allies.
“Walker’s tack was predictable and stunning at the same time.  Predictable because pledging to erase President Barack Obama’s accomplishments is a ticket to political success in the Republican Party; stunning because—whatever you think of the coming accord itself—unilaterally abrogating it would be a devastating setback for any president.  The international community would, by consensus, hold the U.S. to account for its failure, and, without a crushing sanctions regime to deter it, Iran would reanimate its weapons program.
“Walker is particularly reactionary when confronted with questions about the political and social changes that define the Obama era.  But across the board, Republican candidates are committed to adjusting the status quo backward.  They oppose the Iran negotiations, the normalization of relations with Cuba, and the very notion of an international agreement to curb global warming; they oppose administrative policies, like deferred action and overtime pay rules, that improve the lives of minorities and workers; and they oppose social legislation like the Affordable Care Act.  Of the leading GOP presidential candidates, Walker holds the most extreme view that the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage should be reversed and returned to the states.  But all of these candidates oppose same-sex marriage, and when conflicts arise between supporters and opponents of marriage equality, they will side with the opponents.
“Taken as a whole, these issue positions will make it difficult for Republicans to cast themselves as forward-looking candidates.  But the substantive developments themselves share a thematic quality that will do more than simply complicate the GOP’s branding strategy.  They are all designed to force Republican candidates to make unreasonable promises that will be hard to defend in a general election, and harder to execute should a Republican become president.  Obama is using his first-mover advantage not just to shore up his own legacy, but to set the terms of the coming presidential campaign favorably for the Democratic nominee.”

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Changing a Policy


Last December, President Obama observed: “Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

Recently, President Obama announced: “The progress that we marked today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past.  When something isn’t working, we can and will change.”

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana for the opening of the U.S. embassy next month.  He has explained: “This transition, this moment in history, is taking place because President Obama made a personal, fundamental decision to change a policy that didn’t work and that had been in place not working for far too long.  I believe that’s leadership, and I appreciate that leadership.”

Ricardo Herrero the former Executive Director of CubaNow insists: “It’s a momentous stop in the right direction, and one that takes us away from a 50 year old policy of confrontation, of isolation and instead towards a policy that’s focus on helping to empower the Cuban people to increase the flow of contacts, resources capital from the United States to the Cuban people and at the same time advance our interest inside that island.”

Regarding negative remarks made by several of the Republican candidates for president, Ricardo Herrero pointed out: “Well, if any of them wanted to actually show some leadership they would but I think they are more concern about the immediate math of the Florida primary.  So they know that the folks are going to turn out for the Republican base are the elderly Cuban-Americans of the one’s that lost everything 50 years ago and still maintain very strong emotionally charge positions towards this issue.

“And their not really going to take into account the younger Cuban-Americans who respect the views of the generations that came before them and are in no way more sympathetic towards the regime, but they just simply don’t see the old policy getting anywhere and we haven’t, we’ve been living our entire lives under it and we’ve seen a yield zero results.

“So, I think those candidates their not looking to lead their looking to just do whatever it takes to win and that’s what we’re going to see for the next few months, hopefully after the primary we’ll see some common sense inserted into their discourse over Cuba policy.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Rehan Allahwala


A relative on Facebook sent my wife the following pearls of wisdom attributed to Rehan Allahwala.

“One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.  Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

“He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him.  They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.  At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.  Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

“A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well.  He was astonished at what he saw.  With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.  He would shake it off and take a step up.

“As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.  Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

“Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt.  The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up.  Each of our troubles is a steppingstone.  We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!  Shake it off and take a step up.

“Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.  2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happens.  3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.  4. Give more.  5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.”

Apparently, that donkey wasn’t a “Dumb Ass.”

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Overtime Pay


President Barack Obama has been repeatedly stymied by congressional Republicans in his attempts to raise the federal minimum wage at a time when income inequality is emerging as an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.  In order to reduce income inequality, he took executive action to improved the minimum wage for employees, who work for companies that have contracts with the federal government.  That action affected several hundred thousand people.

Recently, Obama announced plans to raise the wages of millions of Americans who work more than 40 hours a week by requiring employers to pay them overtime.  Workers who earn as much as $970 a week would have to be paid overtime even if they're classified as a manager or professional, according to a plan outlined by the Department of Labor.  It’s anticipates that 4.7 million workers nationwide would be affected in 2016, the first year the new regulations take effect.

Workers in retail stores and restaurants are among those most likely to be affected.  Employees, who are presently receiving as little as $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, which happens to be below the federal poverty line for a family of four, aren't entitled to overtime pay because they are classified as managers.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez noted: “The new overtime rules should raise overall wages paid to U.S. workers by between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion annually... The administration chose a salary level that is at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time, salaried workers.  The threshold may be tied to either the consumer price index or a fixed percentile level.”

The new rules would be the broadest action taken so far by the Obama administration to bolster middle and lower income workers, whose wages have stagnated since the recession.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Stagnant Economy


The U.S. added 223 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3%, which is the lowest, since April of 2008.  Unemployment is now back to levels last seen before the financial crisis.

Coming on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, health care gained 40,000 jobs in June.  Jobs gains came across the board.  Hiring in professional and business services such as accountants, lawyers rose by 64,000.

A major concern for many economists continues to be where is the wage growth?  Average hourly earnings rose only 2% annually in June, which is far below the goal for a healthy economy of 3.5% or more.  

If the minimum wage had kept pace with incomes going to the top 1 percent, the minimum wage would have risen to $33 an hour before the financial crisis.  And, if the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity, it would be far higher than what even Elizabeth Warren and congressional Democrats have called for.

Senator Warren noted: “If we just started in 1960, not the high water mark for minimum wage, but a good time on minimum wage, if we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same.  And if that were the case, the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour.”

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama wanted an increase of $9.00 an hour minimum wage, but later on supported a congressional proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and link it to inflation.  All attempt to raise the minimum wage have been defeated by House Republicans, who were unanimous in their opposition.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Racism is Alive


If “racism is largely over in this country,” as Chuck Pinkey said, why did five conservative Supreme Court justices commit an act of judicial activism by ruling a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional? 

Section 5 was the heart of the Voting Rights Act, because it required pre-clearance of any changes to the way elections are run in certain parts of our country.

Before the Voting Rights Act, local racist would enact new voting rules to make it harder for black people to vote.  Black voters could sue, but it might be a year, before the lawsuit was heard.  Meanwhile, the election would have taken place and the damage would have been done.  Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was designed to be stop those types of discriminatory rules from being enacted.

Basically Section 5 targeted state and localities that were using special tests to restrict voting rights.  Most of the jurisdictions targeted under the Section 5 formula were states of the old confederacy, states with a history of racial terrorism, oppression, domination and exploitation.  It also includes some localities and states you wouldn’t expect such as a couple counties in South Dakota and California, and the borough of Brooklyn.

Congress had reauthorized the Voting Rights Act four times, most recently in 2006 by huge bipartisan margins.  Two years ago by a 5-4 majority decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, it decided that the formula Congress passed was unconstitutional.

The 15th Amendment gives Congress the authority to enforce right to vote laws, but  justices told Congress, if you want to keep that law, fix it in a way that we like. 

Why aren’t SUNY Delhi students being allowed to vote on campus after all the village polling stations were moved miles away from Delhi’s population center?

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Clean Air Act


The Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-4 decision that the EPA unreasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act when it decided to set limits on the emissions of toxic pollutants from power plants without first considering the costs of the industry to do so.  Conservative Justice Scalia wrote the majority decision.
Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette claimed: "Today's ruling is a victory for family budgets and job creation in Michigan.  The court agreed that we can and must find a constructive balance in protecting the environment and continuing Michigan's economic comeback."
The Obama administration argued that air pollutants like mercury and arsenic are associated with birth defects, cancer and other risks, especially for pregnant women and children.  They say coal and oil fired power plants are the single biggest contributor to mercury contamination of rivers and lakes.
The Clean Air Act directs the EPA to regulate hazardous pollutants from power plants if the regulation is found to be "appropriate and necessary."  Therefore, the EPA determined it was appropriate to regulate coal and oil fired power plants.
At issue in this case was whether the EPA violated the Clean Air Act when it declined to consider costs in determining whether it was appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants.
The EPA argued that it didn't take costs into consideration initially because the threshold decision is meant to be based on public health alone.  Lawyers for the agency said that once it was determined that the air pollutants from coal and oil fired power plants posed a major hazard to public health they moved to the next stage of process under the Clean Air Act to determine what the limits on these pollutants should be.
Neil Gormley’s Earthjustice DC group filed a brief in support of EPA.  He insisted that the court's ruling “doesn't change EPA’s authority to protect the public from toxic air pollution.  It just gives the agency another hoop to jump through.  Now EPA should act quickly to finalize these crucial health protections.
“EPA did exactly what the Clean Air Act requires.  The agency correctly focused on public health initially and considered costs once it had the information it needed.  When you add up all the costs and all the benefits.  The health benefits of this rule dwarf the costs to the industry.  The public gets 9 dollars of health benefits for every 1 dollar that the industry spends.”

Friday, July 03, 2015

Aquifers Being Depleted


Data from a NASA satellite system shows more than half of the Earth’s 37 largest aquifers are being depleted.  Aquifers supply 35 percent of the water used by humans worldwide.  Demands on these underground basins become even higher during drought.  California is presently tapping aquifers for 60 percent of its water use, but scientists are concerned that California’s aquifers could account for nearly every drop of the state’s fresh water supply by the end of this year.

Jay Famiglietti is a Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California Irvine and Senior Water Scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has reported that the first contemporary picture we have of all of the world’s greatest aquifers allows us to see how rapidly they’re being depleted at the same time.  

A 10 year study of data from the NASA Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment has given scientist a look at several key earth system parameters, such as how fast the ice sheets are melting, how much mass is being added to the oceans and how much water we’re losing from the world’s aquifers.

Professor Famiglietti is warning that decades of not quite drought but the decades of perennial water shortage are on the way.  And, they’ll be exacerbated by the increasing frequency of drought due to climate change.

“We can tell from the wells on the ground that the water table is falling.  We can see in California the streams being depleted and the ground subsiding at a foot per year some places.  It’s not up for debate.  It’s an observation.

“The biggest solution that we have really is to conserve, is to use a lot less, and we do have to start with agriculture because that’s a biggest user of water around the world, not just in the United States.  Eighty percent of the water that we withdraw from rivers or aquifers is used for agriculture.  And you know solutions like desalination that we hear about all the time and sewage recycling are very important but they’re really only going to be effective in metropolitan regions.

"So we really need to be thinking about how we are allocating our water to agriculture looking for more efficiencies with irrigation, maybe changes in water pricing, changes in crop selection and we can manage our way through it.  We’re not going to be reversing the depletion.  We’ll only be slowing it down."

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Hate


Immediately after 9/11, our emotions of anger, fear, and hate and were not tempered by reason.  At the time, many of us fail to recall a warning by Ann Landers: "Hate is like acid.  It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured."  Ann Landers was a pen name used by advice columnist Ruth Crowley in the 1940’s and 50’s, that I read as a child and young adult.

The emotion of hate again resulted in a deadly attack against innocent people, when on the evening of June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed in Emanuel Africa Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.  The victims included Clementa Pinckney the senior pastor, and a state senator.  The church is one of the United States' oldest black churches and and has long been a site for community civil rights activism.

The shooters father and uncle contacted police to positively identify Dylann Storm Roof upon seeing security photos of him in the news.

An image from his Facebook page showed the 21 year old Roof wearing a jacket decorated with two emblems that are popular among American white supremacists, the flag of the former country Rhodesia during apartheid era South Africa.  Reportedly, Root told friends and neighbors of his plans to kill people by attacking the College of Charleston, but his remarks were not taken seriously.

Dylann Roof website included his opinions of "Blacks", "Jews", "Hispanics" and "East Asians", as well photos, that including an image him posing with a handgun and a Confederate Battle Flag.  After reading information about the Travyon Martin case, Roof insisted George Zimmerman had been in the right and that he was unable to comprehend how that case had gained national attention.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Fear


Fear is one of several emotions, that is being expressed as a cartoon character in a children’s movie entitled “Inside Out.”  It’s currently playing in theaters.  Children seem to enjoy the movie, but I found it confusing.

President Franklin Roosevelt famously said: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

A favorite tactic of the far right has been fear-mongering, because it seems to be the only argument available to them.  Fear was used by the Bush administration to scare Congress and the American people into what could eventually be a three trillion dollar war in Iraq.

They used fear mongering prior to the invasion of Iraq, when Vice President Cheney said: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has a weapon of mass destruction.  There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

President Bush insisted: “We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”  And, Bush’s infamous 16 words in a State of the Union address stated: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice added: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapon, but we don’t want the smoking to be a mushroom cloud.”

For decades, Republican politicians have insisted that Democratic bureaucrats were giving taxpayers money to welfare queens, and claiming that Democratic politicians were soft on both crime and terrorism.

Prior to the Health Care Act being passed, House Minority Leader, John Boehner warned: “The next 24 hours are armageddon because the health care bill proposed by Democrats will ruin our country.”

On the Senate floor, Republican Judd Gregg compared health care reform to not only a huge asteroid, but a huge asteroid that will land on our children’s heads.  Glenn Beck cried out tyranny and socialism.  What is wrong with these people?

In “Superpatriotism,” Michael Parent points out: “Once fear takes hold, evidence becomes largely irrelevant.”  

The question remains, are we still going to allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear?  Our representative Democracy requires calm, dependable, pragmatic and reasonable voters.