Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Easter On The Sunday Talk Shows (Don’t Read This If You Are Allergic To Profanity)


Easter On The Sunday Talk Shows (Don’t Read This If You Are Allergic To Profanity).

Since I haven’t written a damn thing in years, please give my erstwhile friend a visit or two.

This post is a good place to start…..

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Dylan Ratigan (rightfully) Loses It On Air


Liberal media? HUH?

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Gridlock and Bedlam


It’s scary, but I’m starting to agree with my pessimist friend.

Donald KaulBy Donald Kaul

My friend Richard is a little crazy and very smart. He spends his days filling the Internet with screeds and rants on his favorite subject — the continuing collapse of our society. I’d tell you his last name, but if you wrote him, you’d get his scary emails too.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent effort after the stock market had a bad-hair day.

“As I’ve said all along, it’s Depression II. The stock market is catching on. Dow is down 4.5 percent today. Has a long way to go (down) to get to a reasonable value considering the fundamentals…Corrupt and disintegrating governmental systems here and in England. Gridlock. Incompetence everywhere…”

Did I mention that he is an angry old man? He seems to have caught the zeitgeist, however: that vague feeling of terror caused by being at the mercy of mysterious forces we can’t control.

To scroll through a good newspaper (there are still a few) is to be confronted with one horror story after another.

If the “Arab Spring” isn’t threatening to go sour on us, the Israelis and Palestinians are making rude Italian gestures at each other in the United Nations. Every time the Greek government blows its nose, financial markets throughout the Western world get pneumonia. Pakistan’s military is preparing its country for war, quite possibly with us — even though we supply them with weapons and money. Every other month or so Congress goes to the brink of shutting down the government and with it the economy, which is already dead in the water and sinking, slowly.

In 18th-century London people used to go to Bedlam, the city’s mental institution, to amuse themselves by gawking at the insane, sometimes paying a penny for a special peek. Today we watch Republican presidential debates.

So far we have heard cheers for both executions and America’s shortage of health insurance. There have been boos for a soldier who served in Iraq because he was gay. During each of those appalling moments, no candidate raised his or her voice in protest.

We have seen Mitt Romney and Rick Perry back away from their most noble achievements as governors simply to appease the unappeasable.

We have witnessed Michele Bachmann make a fool of herself time after time with no one, apparently, noticing.

What an awful bunch. It’s like an early round of “American Idol.” I suppose Romney is the least worst of them. If elected, he’s likely to abandon his current positions as readily as he did most of his previous positions.

Barack Obama has been no great prize either. He holds his great achievements — the health care bill and the rescue of the auto industry — at arm’s length, as though he doesn’t want them to stain his suit.

The world has begun the fourth year of a financial crisis with no end in sight. Our leaders not only don’t have the answers; they don’t seem to know the questions.

I don’t agree with everything my friend Richard says, but I’m beginning to share his rising sense of panic.

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Shouldn’t Americans repair America’s infrastructure?


by Jim Hightower

Listening at last to his inner-FDR, President Obama is going straight at the Know-nothing/Do-nothing Republican Congress.

At a recent rally on a bridge connecting Rep. John Boehner’s state of Ohio to Senator Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, Obama challenged the two GOP leaders to back his plan for repairing and improving our country’s deteriorating infrastructure. “Help us rebuild this bridge,” he shouted out to Boehner and McConnell. “Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work.”

Yes, let’s do it!

However, in addition to the usual recalcitrance of reactionary Republican leaders, another impediment stands in the way of success: many of the infrastructure jobs that would be created could end up in China.

Holy Uncle Sam! How is this possible?

It’s due to a trap door that was built into the 1933 Buy American Act. This law gives preference to U.S. companies bidding on major infrastructure projects – except it allows the general contractor to opt out of this requirement if the difference in U.S. and foreign bids is significant. This is no theoretical concern, for it’s already happening. For example, the $7-billion reconstruction of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland is in the hands of a state-subsidized Chinese company that made the lowest bid.

While there are Americans involved in this huge project, the design, engineering, pre-fab, supervision, and other work – as well as profits – are going to China. Consequently, California’s hard-hit people and depressed economy are deprived of the wages, taxes, and consumer spending they would’ve gotten from some 3,000 jobs that went overseas.

Yes, let’s approve Obama’s infrastructure proposal, but let’s improve it by nailing the opt-out trap door shut. For information, go towww.americanmanufacturing.org.

“Bringing America Back: Are Infrastructure Jobs Being Shipped to China?”www.abcnews.com, September 23, 2011.

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Ten Years In Afghanistan


The U.S.-led Afghanistan war is 10 years old today. As Americans protest on Wall Street and even Wichita, the longest war in our history passes quietly.

On Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush told Americans that “their patience would be tested in the months ahead.”

Ten years on, there are more than 10 times as many U.S. troops there as when the war began. And a majority of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Almost half of the population of Afghans is younger than 15 and have little or no firsthand memories of the day. Older Afghans seem to feel the war, which ended Taliban rule, has moved beyond its original intent.”

Although President Obama plans to withdraw 10,000 troops this year, few people know the facts.  Numbers like these;- $1.28 trillion,- 1,801 U.S. troops killed, 11, 200 Afghan civilians killed. These numbers, even when seen and heard, have little effect on people today.

Are we so desensitized by ongoing war, political bickering, and the world’s poor economy that we forget? 

Didn’t we go there with intentions to make the world a better place and help those oppressed by the Taliban?

Of course, I do not have the answers, only doubts and questions. I do know one thing in my heart; might, power and money do not make anyone’s point of view more correct than another’s, but only serve to hide the truth…. and, history repeats itself.

PRAY FOR PEA CE

This is a poster that hangs in my bedroom. It’s the real thing, printed in 1969.

For those readers who are not old enough to remember, there was something you don’t see today; real, honest reporting directly from the war-front & great journalism by people like Walter Cronkite, always accompanied by the nightly “body count”.

vietnam

Printed at the bottom: All statistics from Department of Defense – March 1, 1969

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Columbus Day Questions


On this Columbus Day, let’s consider the discrepancy between how newcomers are celebrated in our history but ostracized in our society.

By Sara Joseph

Many of us will never forget that famous elementary school rhyme: “In fourteen hundred ninety-two / Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” At the time, it’s not likely that we would have sensed any looming controversy behind those grade school lessons. With Columbus Day just around the corner, however, it’s worth asking whether affection for the holiday is really a serious case of misguided nostalgia.

Columbus Day celebrates the “discovery” of the Americas. But it’s clear that the continent had already been inhabited by well-established indigenous communities.

The people who already lived in the region welcomed the first European immigrants with curiosity and open hearts and minds. But it soon became clear that the explorers sent by European royalty had come to dominate, defeat, and destroy.

On October 12, 1492, Columbus wrote of the native people he encountered: “They should be good servants…they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.”

Columbus is credited with forging the first links between American and European civilizations. But whether the manner in which these cultures collided merits commemoration as a federal holiday is doubtful at best.

Throughout most of the Americas, schoolchildren don’t remember Columbus Day with cutesy images of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. In fact, it’s often called by an entirely different name: Dia de la Raza (Latin American Heritage Day). This is a way to recognize indigenous roots in the Americas. It also serves as a tribute to the lives and civilizations lost in the name of slavery and European expansion — beginning with Columbus’ arrival in 1492.

Today, Latin American and Caribbean schoolchildren that migrate to the United States are unlikely to receive a hero’s welcome. In fact, they are often forced to live in the shadows as their parents struggle to survive. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann recently went so far as to mock Rick Perry’s statement that anyone with a “heart” would want to protect the rights of immigrant children to an education — even if they were brought to the United States “through no fault of their own.”

Migration across what’s now the U.S.-Mexican border has existed for centuries. The reality is that this history was marked by periodic shared interest in promoting immigration. But as economic and anti-narcotic policies initiated by Washington have increased pressure on Latin American people to migrate, immigration has become a hot-button issue for people across the political spectrum.

To many, the flow of immigration seems daunting. Bachmann recently proposed a solution: “Build a barrier, a fence, a wall…every mile, every yard, every foot, every inch will be covered on that southern border.”

But spending billions on border militarization hasn’t stopped undocumented migration. In fact, one of the only notable outcomes of beefing up the border has been more death, danger, and lives lost in the desert.

Ideally, every October we would celebrate the coming together of the cultures of the Americas. Sadly, the legacy of cultural domination and separation continues with border militarization as a tenet of our foreign policy.

According to President Barack Obama, it is Columbus’ “intrepid character and spirit of possibility that has come to define America, and is the reason countless families still journey to our shores.”

To whom is Obama referring if not the immigrants who come to the United States for a chance to support their families? On this Columbus Day, let’s consider the discrepancy between how newcomers are celebrated in our history but ostracized in our society — and what we can learn from a modern analysis of Columbus’ story.

For a quick read about the people native to my own part of this country, go HERE.

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With Poverty on the Rise, this is no Time to Slash the Safety Net


The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

Karen DolanBy Karen Dolan

The increasingly extreme conservative ideology pervading Congress and the tea party is infused with a dogmatic creed of rugged individualism, used to justify policies that benefit only the super-rich and large corporations, while hurting — even killing — the rest of us.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) points out, living with economic hardship in this country means an early death. Rugged individualism works for those individuals lucky enough to be born with silver spoons in their mouths. For those unlucky enough to be born with a steel shovel in their hands…well, data shows they’ll die about 6.5 years before their silver-spoon peers do.

(martnpro / Flickr) Poverty, which the government defines as a family of four eking by on less than $22,113 a year, is soaring, and American children are suffering the most. In the world’s wealthiest nation, the Census Bureau recently revealed that more than a quarter of our children aged 0-5 are poor. The number of people young and old in poverty grew by 2.6 million, up from 43.6 million to 46.2 million. The poverty rate is the highest it’s been since 1993, and the number of people in poverty is the greatest since records began 52 years ago.

Meanwhile, as the poor get poorer, the middle class is shrinking.

Fortunately, our social safety net has kept millions more American children and adults out of poverty. Since the Great Recession began, government programs such as unemployment insurance, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit have played a critical role in keeping the poverty rate from rising even more dramatically.

In 2010, 3.9 million Americans, including 1.7 million children, were lifted out of poverty because of food stamps, while 3.2 million Americans were kept out of poverty by unemployment insurance benefits. Social Security provided a safety net from poverty to 20.3 million of us.

Purveyors of right-wing nonsense about government spending impoverishing our children and the middle class miss the big picture. Although those lacking health insurance increased from 49 million in 2009 to 50 million in 2010, and employment-based health coverage continued to decline, children were protected from this downward trend because Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covered them. Additionally, President Barack Obama’s health care reform act, so much maligned by the right wing, enabled the number of insured 18-24 year-olds to actually rise by half a million last year.

What’s needed is more public investment, not less.

Obama’s American Jobs Act is a good start. It shows that the White House recognizes that we need public money invested in jobs that won’t just employ people, but will also fix our crumbling infrastructure. However, his calls for Congress to approve new so-called “free-trade” agreements with an anti-job track record is counter-productive.

Plus, we need a much larger-scale public effort to directly create green jobs that will quickly employ people, provide good wages and benefits, and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. If we were to bring home the billions of dollars now being spent in devastating and costly wars overseas, we could actually pay for the significant investments that must be made at home.

We taxpayers are paying $1 million per year per U.S. soldier deployed in Afghanistan. For that same money, we could bring that soldier home, employ her in a well-paying green job for $50,000 per year, and similarly employ 19 more unemployed Americans.

There’s a way out of this misery. The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

Don’t drink the tea. Instead, fight for a way to end our unemployment crisis and for our children to be healthy and able to participate in a thriving future.

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. www.ips-dc.org

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How To Talk To The Tea Party (via The Erstwhile Conservative: A Blog of Repentance)


Since I don’t have the time and wherewithal to write good stuff like this, for now, please read what Duane has said so well!

How To Talk To The Tea Party Here's the way some future historian might describe our times: Millions were still unemployed; lavish government expenditures had not restored prosperity; the budget was unbalanced, and the national debt was mounting; taxes and government restrictions alarmed businessmen; many conservatives saw constitutional government in danger.  There were signs also of restiveness in Congress. That future historian was Eugene Roseboom writing in 1957—about th … Read More

via The Erstwhile Conservative: A Blog of Repentance

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It’s time to name the tea party politicians….


(and their sponsors)–and call them out

In just one year, the tea party went from hating billionaires to fronting for them

By Jim Hightower 

As he keeps demonstrating, President Obama is not exactly Mount Rushmore material. But — good God! — the petulant pettiness and corporate servility of Congress’ tea party Republicans makes Obama’s timidity seem like a chapter from Profiles In Courage.

America has BIG needs right now–a jobs crisis, housing crisis, infrastructure crisis, energy crisis, climate crisis, middle-class crisis, democracy crisis. But they can’t even be addressed because tea party ravers in the House, joined there by a gaggle of old school right-wingers, keep throwing hissy fits over far-out ideological gimcrackery.

Our problem in Washington really comes down to this: We have too many 5-watt bulbs in 100-watt sockets. Take, for example, the astonishing clamoring by tea party congress critters to pass a light bulb bill. Yes, light bulbs! In July, these addle-brained lawmakers actually spent time, energy, and their credibility on stopping the horrible scourge of energy efficient bulbs from spreading across the country.

This non-issue was literally drummed up by the billionaire Koch brothers (who, by the way, are in the dirty energy business and profit if you have to use more of it to light your home). During the past couple of years, various Koch front groups have been shrieking that nanny-state Democrats have banned Thomas Edison’s old, glowing 100-watt incandescent globes. As of next January 1, they wailed, sales of Edison’s marvel will be outlawed, replaced by the cold glare emitted by spiral, fluorescent bulbs.

Only, none of that is true. There is no ban, just a new standard for all bulbs to consume less energy. And it was not set by Democrats, but by a Republican-sponsored law signed in 2007 by George W. Bush. Furthermore, the light bulb industry backed the new efficiency standard. “Everyone supported it,” says a top executive of bulb-maker Philips. So did Edison’s descendants, who issued a simple statement that old Tom himself could’ve written: “Technology changes. Embrace it.”

Plus, the new law shows that government rule-making can work beautifully, producing a major surge in industry innovation. In only four years, Philips, GE, and Sylvania have already developed incandescent bulbs that meet the government’s higher efficiency standard and save money for consumers.

Nonetheless, such dim bulbs as Michele Bachmann, along with the tea party caucus, joined the Kochs’ silly circus. They merrily rolled the bizarre anti-efficiency light bulb bill right through the House. Luckily the Senate won’t pass this folderol, so it won’t become law, but that won’t stop congressional tea partiers from continuing their goofy rant against big government “telling us what kind of light bulbs we can buy.”

Name the names Continue reading

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So You Think You Can be President?


Likening Social Security to a Ponzi scheme was the least crazy thing Perry said during the recent debate among Republican presidential candidates.

Donald Kaul By Donald Kaul

 In a country with a functional political system, Rick Perry‘s presidential candidacy would be laughed out of the room.  I mean, really. This is the 21st century, right? It’s the information age.

 Is it reasonable to take seriously a candidate who doesn’t believe in evolution, is contemptuous of  even the possibility of climate change, and calls the chairman of the Federal Reserve a traitor for attempting to help the economy?

It…is…not.

Gov. Perry’s dismissal of global warming is especially ironic. His state, Texas, is in the midst of the hottest weather and longest drought in its history. Fittingly, when Perry led a mass prayer meeting to ask God for relief, God answered by giving him the biggest wildfire in the state’s history.

You might imagine that the “lamestream media” — the aggressive left-leaning press that exists largely in the fevered imaginations of the hard right — would characterize him as a fool and buffoon.

It…does…not.

It considers him a legitimate candidate, a worthy opponent for President Barack Obama. Actually, he’s dumber than Michele Bachmann.

Perry doesn’t get an entirely free pass, of course. Following a recent debate among leading GOP presidential hopefuls, the media got on him (naturally) for his least crazy statement — his calling Social Security “a Ponzi scheme.” You would have thought he’d insulted Nancy Reagan.

(DonkeyHotey / Flickr)In reality, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, of a kind. It was sold as an insurance program, but it never was. It depends on people putting money into the system faster than other people take it out. That’s classic Ponzi.

But Social Security isn’t the theft kind of Ponzi. It’s one that simply recognizes that younger generations have a societal responsibility to help support older generations. That responsibility is becoming heavy, however.

When Social Security began in the 1930s, there were far more workers than retirees, and the retirees didn’t, as a rule, live all that long. Providing them with a minimal lifetime income was a cinch. That’s no longer the case. We can now see a time when each worker will be supporting a single retiree, who in turn expects to keep driving around in his or her RV. Not going to happen.

My solution would be to raise or even eliminate the cap on payroll tax contributions. That way, a guy who makes $30 million-a-year would pay the same percentage of his income into Social Security as the guy who cleans his office. (I guess I’m just a flat-taxer at heart.) In any case, something has to be done, and we’re not doing it.

Overall, that Republican debate was kind of depressing, inspiring an “Is this all there is?” feeling.

Mitt Romney continued his imitation of the job-seeking teacher who, when asked if he believed the earth was round, said: “I can teach it round and I can teach it flat.”

Bachmann didn’t do much. The rest of them were…the rest of them.

Folks, we’re trying to pick someone who might become the next U.S. president. There’s no sign so far that Republicans actually care which candidate would make the best president. They just want the thrill of a contest. I thought that’s what “So You Think You Can Dance?” was for.

The day after that Republican debate, Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on the economy where he laid out a program that would create jobs, cut taxes, and might do some good.

The Republicans of course were dismissive, even though he promised to travel the country hitting them over the head with their reluctance to provide jobs for workers instead of tax cuts for people who don’t need them.

All of which is fine. But his solution, while welcome, is still too timid. It’s better than nothing but where was this speech and this program last year?

We’ve officially got 14 million Americans unemployed, and the total number of people who are out of work, have given up looking for work, or are scraping by with part-time jobs when they want to work full-time is an estimated 25 million. Yet these guys keep playing games.

None of this would be happening if the news media were still alive.

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. – www.otherwords.org

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