Day: March 28, 2011

Danger To American Democracy: The Power And Influence Of Billionaires!

The recent recall of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez is, in one way, encouraging because it means politicians can be held accountable to the people they serve.

But in another way, it is a very disturbing development, as the charge against Carlos Alvarez was led by a multi billionaire car dealer, Norman Braman, who used the power of his fortune to accomplish the goal he wished, the removal of the mayor.

How is that different than the Koch Brothers helping to put into office such people as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and using their money and influence to promote a political attack on labor unions, environmentalists, and others interested in promoting progressive goals?

Of course, conservatives would say that the billionaire George Soros is a major influence on and is a dangerous threat to American values.

But what is the difference on the other side from Soros? At least, Soros promotes the advancement of progressive values.

But, honestly, the whole concept of billionaires having so much influence, on the left or on the right, over government in America in the 21st century is troubling, as in either case, the promotion of democracy is harmed by the wealthy participating in promoting their agenda.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to transform our system, where money talks in American politics! Plutocracy rules, rather than the voice of the people through democracy!

The Obama Doctrine: Uphold Values Of Human Life By Intervening To Stop Massacres Overseas!

President Obama tonight gave a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, justifying American intervention in Libya as part of an international force to prevent a massacre of civilians in that civil war.

Obama called it a basic principle of the United States that we should oppose all violations of human rights when it involves the likelihood of mass murder by a deranged dictator who does not value human life, and is only too willing to conduct mass operations against civilians in large numbers.

This is a direct contradiction of what the United States did in the past: failure by Woodrow Wilson to intervene in the Armenian Massacre by Turkey in 1915 during World War I; failure by Franklin D. Roosevelt to step in during the mass Holocaust by Nazi Germany against Jews, gypsies, and others during World War II; refusal by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to intervene during the holocaust in Cambodia in the late 1970s; and failure by Bill Clinton to step in during the massacre that went on in Rwanda in 1994.

All of the above are seen as moral failures by the United States and the world, but this new doctrine, while admirable and principled, does bring up the issue of how the United States and NATO are supposed to afford the cost of constant interventions all over the world!

What if similar massacres are imminent in Syria, Iran, and other unfriendly nations in the Middle East? Why should not the United States step into the situation in the Sudan, the Ivory Coast, the Congo Republic, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and elsewhere?

Are we to be selective in where the US and NATO intervene? And what about the deaths in Bahrain, where the US Naval Command in the Middle East is situated, and in Yemen, where there are dangers of Al Qaeda influences that could affect world wide terrorism?

And how in the world are we to afford more defense and war spending long run, as we cut ruthlessly into education, health care, and other public services all over the country? How much longer can we tolerate the worsening of our every day lives and commit ourselves to reforming the world of its evils?

It is hard NOT to agree with the purposes of the Obama Doctrine in theory, but in practice, it seems impossible and a losing proposition politically for Barack Obama to seem to commit us to never ending intervention in the name of human rights and decency!

This is a torment for those of us who consider ourselves progressives and liberals, as even the best intentions cannot be fulfilled within the budget constraints the country faces in the short run and the long run!

John Stossel, Fox News Channel, And Native Americans!

John Stossel, who used to be on ABC News, and now works for the Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel, has come to the conclusion that native Americans are a fortunate group, and has received more aid from the federal government than any other ethnic group!

What an amazing statement for Stossel to make, although he is noted for making whacky statements before now, which have no basis in fact!

How exactly have native Americans “benefited” from federal aid, when their land, their culture, their tribal government, were taken away from them, and citizenship only came in 1924, and only after Franklin D. Roosevelt became President were they allowed in 1934 to reclaim their tribal governments and culture, after 47 years of being “Americanized”?

Native Americans were killed in large numbers, and they lost their dignity and humanity to the US Military and to settlers, who thought the only good Indian was a dead Indian!

Native Americans remain the poorest ethnic group in the United States bar none, and their country was taken away from them without apologies, and with plenty of treaty breaking by the US government on a regular basis over the years!

So John Stossel shows no understanding of the disaster visited upon native Americans, and as usual, comes across as totally stupid and insensitive! But then again, he now works for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel, not ABC, where it is clear many of his colleagues had to be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads on a regular basis, by his total inability to see how off base he was!

Unemployment Compensation Being Downsized In Many States!

In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, many states run by Republicans are working to downsize unemployment compensation to those who lose their jobs.

We are witnessing more people long term unemployed, including “99ers” who have received benefits for nearly two years, and cannot find work. And many companies are now making it clear that they will only hire people already working, not anyone who is presently without employment.

So now, in the midst of this tragic situation, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, and Arizona are in the process of cutting basic unemployment benefits down from 26 weeks to 20 weeks, showing no concern at what that would do to families!

How obscene these GOP state governments have become, and what they fail to realize is that desperate people often will take desperate action, and gun violence is bound to shoot up as more Americans have no alternative for survival than to commit crimes!

This action by these various states and their governors is a crime against humanity, and it shows that these cynical politicians do not understand the basic reality that “there but for the grace of God go I!”.

This is not certainly Christian values, which conservatives and Republicans love to claim!

The Danger To Academic Freedom At Universities, The Media And All Free Thinkers!

It is interesting that a person, with no special qualifications other than a big mouth and ability to be outrageous in his statements on radio or cable, can be totally protected in his free speech rights, but if a college professor or intellectual voices his educated judgment, the move is on to discredit him, and destroy him if possible, as a radical or an extremist!

This has happened to Professor William Cronon, the President Elect of the American Historical Association, of which the author is a proud member, for his criticisms of the Wisconsin state government for what it has done and is doing to the rights of state employees regarding collective bargaining, an idea that came to Wisconsin earlier than anywhere else!

Paul Krugman of the New York Times brings attention to this issue in the Sunday edition of his column, and it is, indeed, very troubling.

The same tactic has been used against those scientists who promote climate change legislation, and the aim of the right wing in the Republican Party and in the news media is clear: Do everything to “shut up” the college professors and intellectuals who dare to challenge the right wing agenda of destroying academic freedom and free speech for those who disagree with their agenda!

The Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks, Sean Hannitys, Bill O’Reillys, etc of talk radio and television will continue to spew forth their propaganda, but those who oppose their lies and deceptions must not allow themselves to be intimidated from telling the truth, and promoting an open minded look at history, science, public affairs, and every other area of knowledge, as it is precisely these professors and intellectuals who keep the hope alive of a truly educated population who understands history, science, public affairs, rather than the misconceptions and fabrications of the far right, which will stop at nothing to promote their propaganda, and have taken control of the Republican Party, lock, stock and barrel, to the detriment of the American people!