Day: February 26, 2009

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.

President Obama and Afghanistan Policy

It is very disturbing to learn that President Obama is planning a commitment in the next six months to a year of an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and Al Quaeda.

While certainly the US and NATO cannot totally abandon the fight against international terrorism, the history of Afghanistan does not bode well for any possibility of success.  Afghanistan has historically overcome all invaders, including Great Britain and the Soviet Union.  Its mountainous, inaccessible landscape has led to tragedy after tragedy over many centuries.  There is no way to WIN in Afghanistan and the thought of a major escalation, and the likelihood of a growing number of casualties, is alarming.

The investment in money and personnel will create a tremendous burden on the US economically and create more disillusionment and division at home.  We cannot afford the sacrifice involved,  in the midst of problems presented by the move to withdraw troops from Iraq, dealing with the growing threat of Iran and North Korea and Venezuela, and the constant challenge from Russia and China. 

We do not have the ability to commit troops everywhere and expect to have any opportunity to bring urgent domestic reform.  President Obama, please reconsider what you are doing, and do NOT allow Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a carryover from the Bush Administration, to commit us to a situation which has no practical end!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Human Rights in China

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has angered human rights activists by her statements de-emphasizing the role of human rights in dealings with other nations, and most particularly, China.

This is very disappointing, as China is well known as one of the leading violators of human rights.  It indicates how much the former Bush Administration harmed our economy by greatly expanding trade with China, and allowing that nation the ability to lend our country so much money that they are our leading creditor, therefore undermining our ability to promote morality and ethics in foreign policy.

An alarm bell is ringing loudly, that due to our economic crisis, the Obama Administration seems to be on a course of abandoning a very important principle–that we should be the leaders in promoting or restoring a sense of ethics and morality in our dealings with the outside world.

It is hoped that President Obama will reconsider this very important issue as he works on reshaping our relationship with the world’s nations!

Two Senators Who Are Burdensome to their Parties

Unfortunately, both the Republicans and Democrats have senators who are a big embarrassment to the party faithful.  I am referring to Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Senator Roland Burris of Illinois.

Senator Bunning, a Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, has been considered strange in his behavior since before his re-election  by a very small margin in 2004.  Now he is threatening to sue the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee if they do not support his re-election with campaign funds.  It is obvious that Republican leaders in the Senate would like him to go away, as it will be very difficult to retain that seat due to Bunning’s penchant for saying inapppropriate things, including recently asserting that Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be dead from pancreatic cancer in less than a year, and then having to issue an apology for his insensitive statement.  He also has made other statements that raise eyebrows.

Senator Burris looks more crooked in his dealings with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as the days go by, and it is obvious that he is refusing to resign, despite the entreaties of fellow Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in a private meeting.  His appointment and behavior in the last month is very much a burden on his party, and fellow Senators privately wish he would just go away.

It is sad that the Senate has its reputation sullied by such embarrassing individuals, this particularly after the chamber finally got rid of Senator Larry Craig of Idaho who remained in the Senate a full year and more after being arrested in a men’s room in Minneapolis for inappropriate conduct involving an undercover police officer.  One would wish that the American people could have confidence that all Senators are truly the best available to fill those important positions in our government, but tragically that is NOT the case!  🙁