Month: February 2009

Two More Cabinet Posts Finally Filled

President Obama, after false starts on the cabinet posts of Commerce and Health and Human Services, has finally filled those positions with two competent Democrats.

Former Washington Governor Gary Locke, the first Chinese American governor, will be Secretary of Commerce after the withdrawal of Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg.  Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, one of the earliest and most vocal supporters of Obama’s presidential candidacy, will become the Health and Human Services Secretary, replacing Tom Daschle.

Both candidates should sail through the nomination process, and both will add a lot to the Obama cabinet.  Now the cabinet can move full steam ahead and deal with the problems of the American people!

Mitt Romney the Choice of CPAC Straw Poll

CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) has chosen former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts as its favorite for the 2012 Presidential nomination in a straw poll conducted during the meeting.  In second place is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, followed by a tie for third place between Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

The conference, which included speeches by Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, has therefore at this early date settled on the idea that Romney will be their best bet to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.  This despite the fact of his basically liberal record as one term Governor of Massachusetts and the issue that many Christian evangelicals do not accept him as being Christian because of his Mormon religious beliefs.

What can be said in favor of Romney is his extremely telegenic looks and his outstanding speaking ability.  These are definite assets in a race against a person as charismatic and well spoken as President Obama.  Were this scenario to work out for 2012, it certainly would be a very interesting and fascinating race, but it behooves former Governor Romney to come up with a detailed explanation of how he would revive the American economy in an alternative way that will work for the masses of Americans and small businesses that face hard times.  So far, he has proved better in criticism than in clearcut, defined programs or ideas.  Now the burden is on him as the so called "front runner" in  the race to show us why we should put him and his party, which greatly helped to cause this economic mess and undermined our world image, into power in January 2013.

First CNN Poll on 2012 GOP Presidential Race

CNN has come out with its first poll on the 2012 GOP Presidential race, and it is not encouraging for the near term future of the Republican Party.

Coinciding with the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering, the poll indicates Alaska Governor Sarah Palin runs ahead with 29 percent, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is second with 26 percent,  former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is third with 21 percent, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is a distant fourth with 9 percent.

So the list includes two governors who have been embarrassing in their public performances (Palin and Jindal),  and two former Governors who have already been also rans (Huckabee and Romney),  who show no evidence of being able to unify conservatives as both have a record of being "spendthrifts" when they were governors.  Their statements calling President Obama "socialist" only make them look more ridiculous and lacking any real alternative ideas. 

The fact that the CPAC gathering sees its "star" guest as Rush Limbaugh, the talk show host, and that other talk radio spokesmen are prominent at the convention truly shows just how bankrupt the conservative movement and the Republican party are as the next round for the Presidency begins.  IF the Republican party refuses to reform its message and start to appeal to groups and geographical areas it has lost because of its ideological base and narrow mindedness and stubbornness, it will remain in the political wilderness for a long time to come.  Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower are turning over in their graves as their once proud, reputable party spins out of control and disgraces itself!

The End of the Iraq War in Sight?

President Obama today announced that all combat forces will be out of Iraq by August 31, 2010, a full seven and a half years after the intervention began on March 19, 2003.

This will make the Iraq involvement the second longest war in US History, only outdone by the slightly longer operation in Vietnam, if one considers the real combat stage to have begun under Lyndon Johnson in February 1965 after the attack by the Viet Cong at Pleiku, South Vietnam, and the end being in March 1973 when Richard Nixon finally withdrew the last US combat forces after eight years and one month.

While this is, of course, an event eagerly awaited, one has to wonder if a change in the war situation between now and then might delay that date.  Also, the intention of Obama is to keep somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000 non combat forces in Iraq beyond 2010, which leaves the impression that we are going to have a long range presence in Iraq, similar to Korea, Germany and Japan.

That is not a welcome thought, but probably inevitable, as we have never really left anywhere we have intervened in a major military conflict, with the one glaring example of Vietnam.

A Sad Day for American Newspaper Journalism

The news that the Rocky Mountain News is shutting down today after 150 years, leaving the Denver Post as the only newspaper in the area, is a sad commentary on the decline in promotion of information and of alternative sources.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Francisco Chronicle are also in danger of being silenced forever due to the economic hard times and the fact that fewer people buy and read newspapers, other than online.

American democracy is the loser, and this is yet another example of the decline of American culture and American society.  This is a day that will be mourned when we look back in the future at the horrible turn of events, the rapid disintegration of what is good about America!

The “Old” South Continues Its Disgraceful Historical Record

Here we are in 2009, and the "Old" South is back!

The Republican governors of the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are now promoting policies that remind us of the "Old" South of the Democratic party for the long period from after Reconstruction ended in 1877 through the early 1960s.  That is, in that disgraceful past, racism, antisemitism,  and sexism reigned.  A small elite of wealthy Southern whites victimized African Americans, Jews, Catholics, Hispanics and women but also gave short shrift to poor whites.  These states became infamous not only for discrimination against the poor, but also for lackluster education, health care, and social services, and reveled in the denial of equality as the rest of the nation advanced.

Now, those  newly unemployed or those already terribly deprived will become greater victims by the refusal of these governors to show responsibility and concern for those less fortunate, by their stated refusal to accept increased aid for unemployment benefits.  Poverty will spread ever more in this section, which includes already the poorest states in the United States.

What a nerve that these governors are shirking their responsibility to their citizenry and only show concern for the rich and powerful!  This is another argument for mandating that the states MUST accede to federal regulation and controls.  The Southern Republicans, the backbone of the present GOP, have become as despicable as the old Southern Democrats of past eras!

“Joe the Plumber” and the Conservative Political Action Conference

Regrettably, “Joe the Plumber” is back in the news.  :(

Fresh off the John McCain campaign and being a Middle East “correspondent” on the Gaza War, Sam appeared yesterday at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, and talked again about running for Congress from Ohio, but also expressed the thought that he might spend a lot of time in jail because he would hit fellow Congressmen in the head who he disagreed with.

What a degrading of conservatism is taking place, when CPAC feels a need and desire to invite this man to their conference and give him a starring role.  He actually makes Sarah Palin look like a genius in comparison!  :)

If “Joe the Plumber” is being considered one of the “leaders” of the Republican party along with talk show host Rush Limbaugh, then liberals and the Democratic party have nothing to worry about.  As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has observed, “Joe the Plumber” running for Congress will provide comic relief in the midst of much tension and turmoil economically.  If by some chance, his Ohio congressional district were to elect him a member of the House, they would deserve what they had done to themselves.  But to bring things down to a sober level, the sitting member of Congress in that district won by 75 percent of the vote, so let’s not get too carried away that “Joe the Plumber” is about to join other “distinguished” members of Congress of both parties who would embarrass the Founding Fathers, who would be shaking their heads and wondering what has happened to the “voice of the people” that they created in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention.

Obama’s Budget Plans a Reversal of Ronald Reagan

President Obama is attempting to reverse the Reagan economic plan, which promoted a growing economic inequality over the past 30 years.

It is about time that the middle class and the poor got a fair shake, and it is clear that not only did the Reagan Administration promote a policy of the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle class being pushed downward, but also the rapid promotion of deregulation,  accelerated in the administration of President George W. Bush, has led to the economic disaster this nation  now faces.

New books are coming out now that demonstrate that our national adulation of President Reagan is misguided, as much of what he brought about can now be seen as negative and counterproductive.

Conservatism has had its run, and the damages wrought now must be reversed, and Obama is making clear his readiness to bring fundamental change.  This should be applauded and promoted, and the American people seem prepared to back this necessary transformation  in government policy in many different areas!

Change in Policy on Media Coverage of Returning Military Coffins

It is a great development that the Obama Administration is changing the Bush policy that prevented the news media from covering the return of our war dead from Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was despicable that the American people were denied the right to be fully aware of the loss of men and women fighting overseas.  This was part of former President Bush’s attempt in his years in office to manage the news and de-emphasize the war effort coverage in order to quell opposition to the war. 

We should have the right to honor and respect our dead soldiers and keep their memory alive, so this change in policy is to be applauded.  They have paid the ultimate sacrifice and we should never forget them!

President Obama and Tax Increases on the Top FIve Percent of Americans

President Obama has created a firestorm with his proposal to increase taxes on the top five percent of Americans, those who make more than $250,000 as a couple and $200,000 if single.

While it is true that this five percent pays a substantial tax bill already, it must be pointed out that they have as a class become very wealthy in recent years due to the Bush tax cuts, along with the earlier Reagan tax cuts.  During these years since 1981, the rich have gotten richer, the poor have become poorer, and the middle class has had a horrible decline in their fortunes.

Meanwhile, we have seen much evidence of greed and malfeasance by the top group in society, and much evidence of avoidance of taxes and corruption on a wide scale.  The attitude that has been promoted is ME, instead of WE.  This ugly atmosphere needs to be reversed, and everyone must share in the sacrifice that is unavoidable because of this maldistribution of wealth that has occurred in the era of conservatism.

Our country has so many problems internally that needs to be addressed, and it is fair, therefore, to increase the commitment expected from those who have had good fortune and success because of our system of capitalistic democracy.  The harm to this elite class will still be far less than the daily sufferings of the declining middle class and the deprivation faced by the poor.