Archive for July, 2009
The news today that the second quarter of 2010 saw only a one percent drop in GDP, after the worst quarter in many years during the first few months of this year, gives early signs that economic revival hopefully is around the corner.
While unemployment continues to rise, and there are many other problems for the economy short term, at least the precipitous drop in GDP has been overcome, based on figures just released. Also, the rapid rise of the stock market from a low of 6700 to about 10,200 now is an encouraging sign.
No one can expect a quick recovery, and it will take at least through much o f 2010 before we can be sure that the economy is back in better health. There is no doubt that the economic revival or lack of it over the next year will determine the future of the congressional strength of the Democrats. But then, that was obvious from the beginning, as the most important issue to many Americans is always their economic status. At least, we cannot say that the Obama Administration sat on the sidelines and waited for revival. They have been aggressive in pursuing an economic strategy of intervention as the only way to promote the revival of the economy from the Great Recession we have been in now for 19 months, since December 2007.
Let us hope for their success!
Former CBS News Anchor Dan Rather has come out in favor of the US government bailing out news media in trouble, in order to promote an independent, vibrant news media for the future. His argument is that the loss of much of the news media, particularly newspapers and magazines dealing with public affairs, would be a tremendous loss for the nation at large over the long run.
While I certainly do not want government interfering in any way with the news media independence and ability to expose evil and corruption in government, it is obvious that print media in particular is facing dire straits financially, and this could lead to many cities losing a newspaper, as in the case of newspapers in Denver and Seattle. The Boston Globe recently faced the threat of a shutdown, and even major newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, LA Times and the NY Times have had financial difficulties.
If we allow our newspapers and magazines to go out of business, the country will suffer dearly, and the field of journalism as a career will dry up, a development which would be detrimental to the free flow of information and the promotion of educating the American people on public affairs. To have only electronic journalism, and fewer sources overall reporting the news, would not be a good situation.
So therefore, I agree with Dan Rather. If we can help banks, insurance companies, and the auto industry, then we need also to assist the survival of newspapers and magazines in a difficult financial environment, as otherwise, the American people will be the ultimate losers.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City is in the process of shipping homeless people elsewhere to take the burden off of New York City taxpayers, with most of them being sent on a one way paid trip by plane, bus or train to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, but some overseas and far away.
His argument is that it is cheaper to give one way tickets than house the homeless in shelters, which indeed it is, without a doubt. But all he is doing is shifting the burden to other states and territories, and demonstrating that the value of human life is less important than that of animals.
Why is it that the homeless, the majority unfortunate victims of the economic recession, are being treated so shabbily by a government usually known for its compassion as compared to much of the country? While certainly no one likes seeing homeless people, and no one in theory wants to pay for them, the fact is they exist and have the right to expect some human compassion by those of us more fortunate.
When there is more concern for pets and animals in general than for people, it indicates what a sick society we live in, in these times. People are willing to spend tons of money on pets, but not on fellow human beings who are down on their luck, in most cases through no fault of their own, and including large numbers of children.
I guess what it comes down to is the following: There but for the grace of God go I! That has always been my way of looking at it. As President Franklin D Roosevelt expressed seventy five years ago, a society is measured more by the way it treats those less fortunate than by its material wealth and success.
Apparently, Michael Bloomberg has forgotten this, and the fact that he, himself, has been very lucky, acquiring immense wealth in the billions of dollars, and yet has no compassion for those who are down and out is to be condemned! With his vast wealth, he could easily, with tax advantages as well, offer to contribute a portion of his endless riches to help the poor, rather than set out to dispose of them. With his amazing good fortune, and as a Jew, he should wish to pay back in thanks for his success in life, but I guess that is too much to expect from a man not known for more than his interest in his self aggrandizement.
Michael Bloomberg should be ashamed of himself!
Research has now shown that people text messaging while driving are four times more dangerous than a drunk driver, so the legislation just introduced in the Senate to make texting while driving illegal on a national basis is extremely urgent.
It is demonstrated that a driver takes his eyes off the road for about five seconds when texting, and puts himself, his passengers and other drivers in dire danger. This is unacceptable, and there is also the record of trainmen, bus drivers and others who operate transit systems causing major accidents and loss of life, specifically in Los Angeles and Boston within the past year.
I know there will be people who say this is an issue of states rights and individual freedom, but I vehemently disagree. If you want to take part in behavior that is detrimental to your health and safety but affects no one else, fine. But if it affects others in a negative way including death, it MUST be outlawed with heavy penalties for those who break the law, including banning them from their jobs in transportation, and taking away drivers licenses from those who cause death or injury to others.
If one wants to be stupid and reckless for himself, we cannot regulate that. When it affects society, we certainly can and MUST!
Just as we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Americans landing on the moon in 1969, the news comes that any expectation of returning to the moon, which President Bush had as a goal for the year 2020, was being pushed back to no earlier than 2028.
This is unacceptable, and Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has meanwhile suggested an extension of the space shuttle beyond 2010 so that American astronauts don’t have to go on Russian space missions to reach the international space station.
It is amazing to me the shortsightedness that exists in this country toward the exploration of space, and I hope President Obama will address this issue soon in a positive way.
A Fox News poll indicates that ten percent of those polled think Sarah Palin, the former Alaska Governor, should have a career as a college professor, while seven percent of Republicans feel the same way.
The good thing is that a substantial minority think she should just be a housewife and mother, which is, I think, what is best for her.
But the concept that Palin would be qualified to be a college professor is preposterous to the extreme, and actually is insulting to me, a college professor, who knows the amount of years of work and sacrifice that one must go through to achieve the goal of teaching on the college level.
Palin has only one degree, gained after attending five colleges over six years. She majored in communications and minored in political science. She has shown no evidence of being competent in anything other than complaining about how her family is being treated, and in being demagogic to gain attention of Americans who share her biases and prejudices. She has shown no evidence that she can think on her feet, come up with any profound thoughts, and even to demonstrate curiosity and the desire to learn. She is no intellectual, and has no capability to teach college students. The best she could do is deliver a political speech tailored to a certain narrow group which represents maybe one quarter to one third of the country. She is in in many ways one of the least qualified people ever to run for public office in this country, and would be ignored if it were not for John McCain’s mistake in picking her as his running mate in 2008.
I really hope that Sarah Palin will make a few speeches for money, publish a book ghost written by someone else, be satisfied with her materialistic accomplishments, and then leave us alone. As I have said earlier, good riddance, Sarah Palin!
A new poll commissioned by the NY TIMES and CBS NEWS indicates that a majority of Americans are concerned about the growing budget deficit.
At the same time, they do not want to pay more taxes, but also are against cutting of the defense budget, education and health care.
This situation is obviously incongruous, and demonstrates just how confused the American public really is.
It is ironic that in a country that loves to say that more than ever we are educating more people through more years of school, that the public seems ever more ignorant than it was in the past. It is a sad commentary on America’s future if we have the country’s citizens unable to understand reality, or just possibly unwilling to do anything in the way of sacrifice, a trait that brought America to its greatness in past generations.
President Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress are now faced with outrageous accusations being promoted by conservatives in think tanks, talk radio, television ads, and Fox News Channel: that IF Obama’s health care plan becomes law, it will lead to the deaths of millions of senior citizens by leaving the decision on their health care to federal bureaucrats, rather than their doctors and hospitals. This could be called promotion of "euthanasia", but the demagogues promoting this scare tactic add to it the idea that abortion would be paid for by a government that is out to kill seniors. This is totally untrue and must be condemned without any pretense of niceties. The "Deathers" are liars that must be exposed!
We are now embroiled in a battle royale, and the President and his supporters need to stop pulling punches, and aggressively attack and expose these despicable special interests who have no concern about health care, but only are out to promote the continuation of the outrageous profits in the drug and health insurance industries, without any concern on their part for those lacking health care coverage, those who have pre existing conditions, and those who are being forced into bankruptcy or being faced with the reality of death, because of skyrocketing health care costs that they cannot afford.
There is no longer the need or desire to promote bipartisanship, as it is obvious that the opposition will stoop as low as possible to get their way. So I say, let’s see discipline among the Democrats, and an understanding with the "blue dog" Democrats that it is time to stop flirting with those who distort reality, and come to the support of their party and the American people.
Passage of a comprehensive health care bill will win support for the Democrats in 2010, and this opportunity of a lifetime must not be allowed to go the way of the failed Clinton health care plan in 1993-94. We must not allow people like Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, among many others who should be ashamed at their behavior, but who obviously have no shame, to destroy health care reform!
Glenn Beck has been acting crazier than usual lately, as has Rush Limbaugh. It is time for both of them, despite the 1st Amendment, to shut up, as they are a disgrace to journalism and public discourse.
Both men are fanatics, irresponsible, promote hate, and are obvious racists, and both have the gall to call President Obama a racist, as well as Sonia Sotomayor a racist.
This morning, on Fox and Friends on Fox News Channel, Glenn Beck emphasized his hate of Obama as a supreme racist, and referred to the Gates controversy, and imagine this: Fox News Channel, which gives him an hour each day to rant and rave, issued a statement making clear that his comments represented his view, and not that of the station.
This is a first for Fox News Channel, which has overlooked all of the outrageous assertions of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, among others. Could it be that Fox News Channel realizes finally that they are losing all credibility by having all these demagogues representing their image in journalism? It would be hoped so, but don’t count on it!
Sonia Sotomayor has proven by her record and experience that she deserves confirmation as the first Hispanic and third woman Justice of the Supreme Court.
She would become the 111th person to serve on the Court, and the American Bar Association gave enthusiastic backing to her nomination. She has had more experience and been involved in more decisions than anyone in the past century who was nominated for the Court, certainly a lot more than Chief Justice John Roberts or Associate Justice Samuel Alito.
Despite all this, it is apparent that Sotomayor will not get many votes from the GOP in the Senate, although with 60 Democrats, she is assured of confirmation. Up to now, only five Republicans have stated they will vote for her confirmation: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Mel Martinez of Florida, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Graham was tough on Sotomayor during the Judiciary Committee hearings, but still has shown statesmanship by deciding to be the only Republican on the committee to vote in her favor. Snowe and Collins have been cooperative on the economic stimulus bill and their backing Sotomayor is not a surprise, therefore. Lugar is, as I have stated before, a very respectable and fair minded conservative willing to back someone who he might not have picked. Martinez, being Hispanic and from a major Hispanic state, Florida, and with the reputation of being a moderate, was a pleasant surprise in announcing support.
It is hard to gauge now, a week before the vote of the full Senate, whether the final vote will be simply the 60 Democrats and five Republicans, or whether more will back her. I can imagine five more backing her, but I doubt more than that, but it will be interesting to see what transpires. The five I imagine might back her are Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John McCain of Arizona, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and George Voinovich of Ohio. When the vote is taken, I will comment on the final result, but I heavily doubt that there will be more than 70 in favor of her, and probably in the mid to high 60s. Of course, it really does not matter, as long as she has the Democrats behind her, but it will be interesting to see if the GOP will realize the dangers of opposing the first Hispanic nominee simply on party lines.