Day: July 6, 2011

The “Do Nothing” 112th Congress: Worst In Generations!

The 112th Congress, the first at least since 1900 to have a Republican House and Democratic Senate rather than the opposite when there is a divided Congress, has managed in six months to create a disgraceful record of NOT dealing with the economic crisis facing the nation!

With Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and others in the Republican Party focused on making the economy worse as a reason to have the voters turn out President Obama for a second Presidential term, we have seen no action on creating jobs, passing bills, approving Presidential appointments to various judicial and executive posts, or doing anything constructive in any form!

This irresponsible Congress comes right after one of the most constructive Congresses in American history, the 111th Congress under Speaker Nancy Pelosi!

This could be the most negative, unaccomplished Congress since Harry Truman ran against what he called the “do nothing” 80th Congress of 1947-1948, leading to his surprise victory and the Democrats regaining the majority in both houses in the 1948 election!

Instead of offering a real alternative for 14 million plus unemployed people, all the Republicans can do is promote economic instability and threaten the safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which one would think were well established and would not come under sustained attack!

It all comes down to the old reality that Democrats care about people, and Republicans care about property and possessions–or material things in another descriptive manner–rather than the welfare of the masses of citizens!

The Tragic End Of The Space Shuttle Program: A Mistake!

This nation is going through difficult economic times, but still one has to have vision about the future, and not only think about the present!

Therefore, it is a mistake that the space shuttle program is ending, and that many of the talented engineers, scientists, and support staff at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in central Florida and in Houston will now, after years of dedication, lose their jobs, and in the process, leave us rootless in space!

While President Obama today suggested travel to the nearest asteroid before going to Mars, there is no plan for any definite commitment to a space future, a mistake once made in the 1970s, but then revived with the Space Shuttle beginning in 1981 under Ronald Reagan.

Two weeks before astronaut John Glenn’s 90th birthday, we are faced with the fact that the only way now to reach space, specifically the International Space Station, will be through Russian vehicles, of all situations imaginable!

It is again a shortsighted view of what really matters, and a sad commentary on the fact that America is losing its vision of the future in so many ways, while the elite rich become wealthier, with a larger portion of income and a greater stratification of the social classes than at any point in American history, and greater than the worst extremes in the history of Great Britain!

Here We Go Again: Exxon-Mobil Oil Spill In Yellowstone River In Montana’s Pristine Wilderness!

It is hard to believe, but Exxon-Mobil, the most profitable corporation in America and the world at large, has committed an oil spill of at least 1,000 barrels of oil in the pristine wilderness of the Yellowstone River in Montana!

Already, there are indications that the corporation is reacting slowly, and with old technology, to the job of limiting the environmental damage!

But Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, one of the leading Democratic governors with ambitions to move beyond the Governorship in the future, has indicated he will have his hands on the throats of Exxon Mobil management until the cleanup is resolved to the satisfaction of the state of Montana and its citizens! However, he still seems willing, at the same time, to support a project of a pipeline of Trans Canada Corporation, which supposedly could not have the same type of tragedy occur, according to that company’s executives! It makes one wonder whether Schweitzer can be believed in his sincerity on this issue with Exxon Mobil!

Hopefully, this is not just rhetoric, and Exxon Mobil will be expected to restore the environment as much as possible, at a total cost to them, and not to the state’s citizens! But many will have doubts about the Trans Canada corporation plans!

This just reminds us again of the reality that this nation MUST find a way to get off oil dependency for the long term environmental, energy and economic future of America in the 21st century!

The Problem Of The Media, Justice, And Fairness!

The controversial decision in the Casey Anthony case, along with that of the much more famous O. J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Michael Jackson, and many other cases, brings to mind the reality of our justice system.

The media tend to exaggerate, distort, sensationalize and over dramatize cases, using pundits and “talking heads” who tend to poison the public mind, and make them angry when a jury, going by the evidence presented in court, comes up with a decision they do not agree with, after tons of propaganda have been planted in their heads!

It is also troubling how much more than not, innocent people are found guilty, and some are on death row or have been executed, with new evidence often not being permitted to reconsider their cases!

The old saying is “Better that a guilty person go free, than an innocent person go to prison for a long time or be executed”!

In the midst of the anger and outrage at what happened in the case of Casey Anthony, let us remember that, and dedicate ourselves to a better system in which true justice can be accomplished!

And also realize that the average prosecutor is paid far less than the average defense attorney, and that many prosecutors switch sides because of that reality!

So if we want so called “better” prosecutions, besides having adequate evidence, let us realize that the compensation of prosecutors needs to be dramatically improved!

Again, if taxpayers are not willing to pay for better services in so many areas of government, including prosecutors, then we get what we deserve–inadequate legal response to crime by our government!

Proper Policy Change: Letters Of Condolence From President Obama To Families Of Soldiers Who Commit Suicide!

An important change has been made to military policy, regarding Presidential letters of condolence to families of soldiers who die in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

With the suicide rate of soldiers who have served arising at an alarming rate, it is appropriate that the President of the United States send letters of condolence to the families of those tragically taking their own lives, as it is the stresses of combat that led to such suicides.

It is important that the American people recognize that soldiers are not only victims of physical injuries, but also of mental illness arising from their patriotic service, and they should be appreciated and mourned for their sacrifices for this nation!

More must be done to assist soldiers in dealing with the mental strains of combat zones, as we owe it to them with their decision to serve our nation in wartime!

The Arizona Dust Storm: Hints Of A New Dust Bowl As In 1930s?

The news yesterday of the Arizona Dust Storm over Phoenix, one of the largest metropolitan areas in America, was stunning.

It demonstrated once again what a crazy year we are having weather wise–with devastating and frequent tornadoes, major flooding, wildfires–and now a massive dust storm at least 50 miles wide and churned by near hurricane force winds!

It also reminds us of the dust storms over the rural Great Plains during the 1930s, which led to mass migration to California as an escape.

Hopefully, this Arizona dust storm is a fluke, but it could also be a forerunner of the future, of shortages of rain leading to many metropolitan areas in the Southwest and the Southeast being subjected to massive dust storms that threaten lives and health of millions of Americans in urban areas, not the comparatively small numbers of people in rural areas, as in the 1930s!

America is certainly starting to see the effects of climate change or global warming, no matter how much the naysayers deny it!

The Transportation Infrastructure Crisis In America’s Future

The United States became the nation it is today because of the development of transportation infrastructure, highlighted by the transcontinental railroad system in the middle and late 19th century, and the interstate highway system of the middle and late 20th century, along with the growth of cities and mass transit.

Now, a century and more later, with growing population and the aging of the infrastructure, there is a dire need for renovation and rehabilitation of our transportation network, but the cost will be substantial, and the trend is toward delay and avoidance of the responsibility of our government at all levels to deal with the essential rebuilding and expansion of our transportation network.

With the Republicans in control in the House, it seems as if there will be major cuts in spending on infrastructure, estimated to be a one third cut on interstate highways and mass transit, and attempting to end federal support of the Amtrak train system in the Northeastern United States.

It is estimated by experts that $1 trillion needs to be spent on maintenance and growing demand with increased population, and this does not include the estimated $2 trillion necessary to rebuild roads, bridges, water lines, sewage systems, and dams that have reached the normal level of longevity. These estimates do not even include the cost of air transportation investments for the long term future.

The US is way behind investment in the area of infrastructure, as compared to Russia, China, India, and Brazil, and the economic competition of the future will be shaped by decisions made now, often in a short sighted momentary way, to our tremendous need for investment in large amounts.

Are we again to wait until there is a literal short term crisis to react to the reality of what needs to be done? Is the answer just to patch up with band aids, rather than to face the responsibility of dealing with the future now, rather than later, when it will be more expensive?

The reality is that lack of action will cause state and local governments to raise sales and property taxes to deal with what the federal government has reneged on, and it will also lead to more privatization of services, which will also cause much higher taxation down the road, no pun intended!

There is an old saying that applies here: “Penny wise, Pound foolish”!