Day: September 2, 2011

Chilean Miners And First Responders On September 11: A World Of Difference!

A year after the Chilean Copper Mine disaster, leading to the ultimate miraculous recovery of 33 miners, we have known that the miners have suffered from physical and psychological harm, what is considered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But now, the most wonderful possible event has occurred, as the government (meaning its taxpayers in effect), have decided that all of the miners should receive a pension for life, after what they went through, which will scar them for the rest of their lives! This is a wonderful gesture, making the lives of the miners a bit more pleasant and secure!

Why bring this up?

Because this is precisely the proper thing that our government at all levels should do, in response to the sacrifice of the First Responders on September 11 in New York City and Washington, DC!

Many have developed cancer, and many have other physical ills. Many have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well. But the reaction has been to deny a connection between these physical and mental ills and September 11!

This is morally wrong, and despicable, as again the priorities are messed up! Those who protect us, defend us, sacrifice for us, are pushed aside as just “public servants”!

Meanwhile, others who have gotten away with low taxation on their profits and fortunes are made out to be untouchable, to have no sacrifice needed, as America faces massive economic problems caused to a great extent by the refusal of the Bush Administration to make taxpayers pay for two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the only time in history that our taxes have not gone up in time of war! This is another long range impact of September 11.

And to top it off, the decision of the Bush Administration to LOWER taxes on the wealthy is truly IMMORAL to the extreme, and only promotes more selfishness and greed!

It is time that we honor those who sacrificed on September 11, and stop coddling wealthy people and corporations, who enriched themselves in many cases on September 11 and its aftermath!

Time to do for FIrst Responders, what Chile proudly has done for the copper miners who went through so much in the mine disaster a year ago!

Historian Allan J. Lichtman And Presidential Election Predictability

Professor Allan J. Lichtman of American University in Washington, DC has published over many years his theories about predicting Presidential elections.

Originally publishing THE KEYS TO THE WHITE HOUSE in 1984, Lichtman has continued to update his predictions and his theory.

Lichtman suggests that there are 13 factors involved in a Presidential election, and that IF a candidate is positively rated on EIGHT or more of the 13 factors, he wins the election.

Based on this, Lichtman now predicts that Barack Obama will win the 2012 election, since he has NINE of the 13 factors in his favor!

The positive factors include:

1. No serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
2. The President in office is running for reelection.
3. There is no significant third party challenge.
4. The party in power has brought about major policy changes.
5. There is no major social unrest during the term.
6. There is no major scandal during the term.
7. There are no major foreign policy failures during the term.
8. There are major successes in foreign and military policy.
9. The candidate of the incumbent party is charismatic and well liked personally.

The four factors against Obama include:

1. The party in power has lost seats in the midterm election in the House of Representatives as compared to the number of seats in the previous midterm election.
2. The economy is in poor shape.
3. The long term economy outlook is not good.
4. The challenging candidate may be charismatic.

Lichtman claims this series of factors has always worked, going back to the beginning of our popular vote elections for President in 1824.

There is much debate about the validity of this series of factors judging who will win Presidential elections, both past and the future.

Nate Silver of the NEW YORK TIMES contests the validity of much of what Lichtman says.

If nothing else, however, the Lichtman formula makes for interesting discussion and debate, and it will be interesting to see if his prediction of an Obama victory holds up.

For that, we will have to wait 14 months!

Bush And Cheney Emerge: Reminders Of How We Became What We Are!

The emergence of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from “exile” helps to remind us of how we came to be where we are today!

Bush was on National Geographic Channel, explaining and justifying his administration’s actions before September 11, on September 11, and since. You would think he would be a bit humble about the shortcomings of his administration regarding terrorism and the wars he initiated, but not one bit of apology was offered!

Even worse, Dick Cheney, who is seen overseas as an international war criminal, has been gloating about his attacks in his memoir on Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and George Tenet, and claims no mistakes, no shortcomings, no regrets about the foreign policy of the Bush Administration!

And of course, the man who said as Vice President that deficits did not matter, helped to preside over budget deficits that doubled the national debt, and convinced “fat cats”, corporate leaders and super rich people, that it was patriotic NOT to pay their fair share of taxes!

Adding insult to injury, we have today the former CEO of American Express, Harvey Golub, having the nerve to go on MSNBC this afternoon, and attack Warren Buffett for his assertions that wealthy people should pay higher taxes as part of patriotism, and appreciation for their success in America!

Golub says he earned his salary, worked very hard, and should not be forced to pay higher taxes until it is proved that the government handles money in a better fashion. While no one can criticize that assertion, it must be realized that CEOs are paid outrageous salaries to head major corporations, just at a time when many corporations have no morality or concern about firing their employees, cutting their benefits or pay, or adding more tension and pressure to their jobs!

But really, when a CEO says he works HARD, what does that mean? It means he “barks” orders to his underlings; spends time in his office intimidating others in meetings; uses his time on the phone and pushing papers to make himself look busy; and often could not survive without good staff, which he almost certainly treats in a disrespectful and disdaining manner! All he is concerned about is how much wealth he can acquire, how many perks he can have, and the level of arrogance and abuse that he can practice without accountability!

It is time to stop giving deference to corporate leaders, and start demanding that they do their part for their country, instead of expecting the “peasants” below them to bear the whole burden!

So Bush and Cheney emerging reminds us of the alternative of Barack Obama, and cannot but help make the choice for 2012 much clearer!

The “Joes” And Barack Obama: “Joe The Plumber”, Joe Wilson, And Joe Walsh

In the age of Barack Obama, we have “Joes”, just about the most common male name, but three of these “Joes” are an embarrassment to their country and to politics!

First of all, we had “Joe The Plumber”, actually Samuel Wurzelbacher, who became a Republican propaganda point for John McCain and Sarah Palin in the 2008 Presidential campaign, making a total fool of himself, and being revealed as NOT being a plumber, regarding the issue of lack of proper licensing in Ohio. Wurzelbacher has made money from the title given him, and has worked as a motivational speaker and commentator since then, without much renown or brilliance being revealed!

Secondly, we had Joe Wilson, Republican Congressman from South Carolina, who had the gall to attack President Obama, when he gave his speech before a joint session of Congress in support of a health care law in 2009. Yelling “You lie”, Wilson refused to apologize after the fact for his insulting behavior, which could not be recalled as having occurred before, but immediately he became a celebrity in right wing circles, and raised quickly a lot of money for his 2010 reelection campaign. Now Joe Wilson has declared that he will NOT attend the joint session of Congress next Thursday when Obama speaks on his jobs program, at a time of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, something caused by the Republican Party during the years of the GOP control of Congress and the Presidency under George W. Bush!

Finally, we have Joe Walsh, Republican Congressman from Illinois, a freshman who has drawn great notice for his insulting, belligerent, and rude behavior, including his constant use of the first name of his interviewer on any cable channel or news show, as he talks over him with non stop attacks on President Obama. He, along with Joe WIlson, has decided NOT to attend the joint session of Congress next Thursday, claiming what Obama is doing is purely political, and he will not be part of it! He also has called Obama “idiotic”, claims he was not vetted by the news media, and that he was elected only because whites who felt guilt about racism hooked onto an intelligent, articulate black man to feel better about their guilt over the past of race relations. Walsh claims that private enterprise knows how to create jobs, but seems unwilling to offer any advice on the topic, but instead simply uses rhetoric to keep public office, so that he can pay the back child support he owes his former wife after his divorce and bankruptcy!

The idea that any member of Congress refuses to attend a joint session of Congress to listen to a President is mind boggling, and there is no historical record of such a snub being done before!

These three “Joes” cannot match the intellect, the brilliance, the sincerity, the decency of our President, and every principled American should condemn the despicable, disrespectful behavior they have demonstrated against our President! Instead of attempting to come to the aid of their country, they would rather just throw darts and zingers at our Commander in Chief and wish for his downfall!

Important To Remember: Elections Are About The FUTURE, Not The Past!

In the midst of all the heated debate about who is best to be our President in the future, one point is often forgotten.

That is the reality that elections are about the FUTURE, not the past!

The past is always full of negative, as well as positive, developments, with, of course, the negative somehow easier to recall, since most human beings remember negative over positive.

So the issue of 2012 is not the high unemployment rate, which the opposition Republicans have no solutions for.

The issue is which party and which candidate is best equipped to make a better future, and in that, it is clear that the Republicans see the future as one without all of the social safety net programs of the New Deal and Great Society, which despite criticisms, have worked very well, made for a stronger middle class, alleviated poverty, and given the masses, who are not born to or inherit wealth, to have a belief in the “American Dream” and a faith and hope in a better future.

If such faith and hope is dashed by wiping out the virtues of the New Deal and Great Society, then what is to prevent violence, bloodshed, and revolution against the ruling economic class? By softening the worse aspects of unbridled capitalism and giving people dignity and consideration, whether young, old, poor, or disabled, we have a safety valve that allows all of us to coexist in society, with the elite rich still holding on to most of what they have!

The price of higher taxation actually protects the elite rich from troubles they would not wish to see occur!

So the better, more dignified future is definitely with Barack Obama, and this is not even considering his many accomplishments, which are often forgotten, but will be emphasized as the campaign of 2012 continues, so that voters do not go to vote with the thought that nothing good has been accomplished in the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression!

And do not forget that foreign and national security policy only adds to the credentials of Barack Obama, as compared to all his potential opponents, with the one exception of Jon Huntsman! But the Republican Party seems suicidal in nature, not smart enough to give Barack Obama a really competent opponent as his rival. So this is another of the many positives about Barack Obama that will be emphasized as the campaign develops!

A Moment Of Reckoning For Barack Obama: Acting Aggressively, But Realistically!

As we reach Labor Day next Monday, the economy is the number one issue, and it is only 14 months to Election Day.

The economy has stalled in relation to job growth, the first time to have no job growth since February 1945. We are likely going into a deep recession, although one could argue that we have never left the Great Recession, which supposedly ended in 2009.

This is an extremely tough time for President Obama and the nation, and he MUST act aggressively, but also realistically about the economic situation.

People have been speculating in the news media about the “What Ifs”, if Hillary Clinton had won the Presidency, or of John McCain had defeated Obama in 2008.

This is pointless, as we must live with reality, but to believe that Hillary Clinton, who had already gained the hatred of Republicans and the Right Wing conservatives, would somehow have magically produced a better economy and more support from the opposition party is to dwell in fantasizing on a major scale!

And to believe that John McCain, who had reportedly had plans to select former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, one of the architects of the financial disaster through his corrupt connections, to be his Treasury Secretary, tells legions about what he would have done regarding the economy. And having Sarah Palin, rather than Joe Biden, as an adviser on foreign policy, is enough to make anyone have nightmares!

So, as Michael Beschloss, the historian, told Obama at a retreat recently, he must make it clear to the American people that he is fighting difficult forces, not all of which can be controlled, and that things are going to get better, and that a lot of the responsibility for the mess we are in is due, not only to the Republicans led by the Bush Administration, which put us in the financial crisis, but also by Republicans now who are willing to sacrifice high unemployment as a way to convince voters that they should switch back to the failed policies of the past!

So, as Beschloss told Obama, fight like hell like Franklin D. Roosevelt, who faced much higher unemployment rates, but was reelected, by making it clear that the GOP hates him, and he accepted their hate and would fight them tooth and nail for what must be done! Obama can no longer be “Mr. Nice Guy”, but must instead “give them hell”, as Harry Truman did in 1948!

So therefore, a very bold, aggressive jobs plan MUST be offered by Obama next Thursday, even if it seems likely that nothing will be done by the Republican House of Representatives! Use the plan against them in the upcoming Presidential campaign as an issue if they will not budge, and make it clear to voters that it is because of the Republicans that nothing can be done! Emphasize education, health care, infrastructure projects, and energy programs, making it clear these are the future of America, now, or after the Election of 2012, with a rejuvenated Democratic majority, at least in the House of Representatives, if not the Senate!

And as part of this strategy, Obama has already, through his Justice Department, decided to pursue those corrupt, evil banks that helped to cause the housing crisis, and have been continuing their harm in the mortgage market by their dirty, corrupt tactics even up to the present! These banks include Deutsche Bank, J P Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. The executives who run these banks, and others that have proved to be greedy and selfish, having no concern for the American people, need to be prosecuted and sent to prison, held accountable for their evil actions, and finally, it looks as if the administration is starting to show its muscle in this regard!

And the unpopular decision today to delay the smog standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency to 2013, while highly regrettable, seem reasonable now with the high unemployment rate and the stagnant economy. But it should be seen only as a DELAY, not an abandonment, of higher environmental standards for business and industry, and hopefully, with a Democratic President and Congress in 2013, the crackdown on the pollution standards can be revisited!