Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union - There will be no cooperation from the right. Forget it!

President Obama is a great speaker. I liked most of what he had to say. In retrospect, I am glad he is president and not John McCain and more than grateful that Bush is no longer president.

I think Obama got a lot done but he let the GOPhonies water down much of it. Enough to make it less effective; enough so that, with their total lack of regard for fact and the help of the corporate owned media, they can call his legislation a failure. The stimulus package was Keynesian and the right thing to do but he let the GOPhonies dilute it. It just wasn't enough. Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winner, said so in 2009 and he was right.  The health care legislation was historic and overall, a good thing but he eschewed single payer and the one thing that would make it tamper proof by the always resourceful health insurance industry, the public option. 

I like dumping "No Child Left Behind," so will all the teachers I know. I also like his line in the sand over dismantling the health care reform, that IS on the book. It's a good start and needs to be improved, not dumped. The GOPhonies want it dumped because their insurance company campaign donors are ordering them to. I also like the high speed rail but where is the beef? Nothing is being done. It has to go beyond talk.

I'm still concerned about his commitment to the so-called free trade agreements and his tacit endorsement of unrestrained globalization. The Nafta-like contract with Korea will cost US jobs not create them just as all free trade agreements have.

He also has a problem with funding clean energy investment. Ending subsidies for Big Oil and fossil fuels is intrinsically good but the $4 billion a year isn't nearly enough to fund energy transformation, according to Robert Weissman of Public Citizen.

I fear that President Obama is too close to banking and Wall Street and not as in touch with where I live. I found his willingness to support Republican obsession with tort reform close to sycophantic and unlikely to win any support from them.

Neither did I like his adopting the Republican faux alarm with the debt.  There is absolutely no way to priortize deficit reduction in the short run and expect to create jobs. Their demand for a tax cut for those who will not spend it on consumer goods disqualifies their concern for deficit reduction. Nobody wants to tell the truth about  the cause of deficits and about them being out of control. We have had many periods of time when our debt, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) was much higher than now and it had no lasting negative effects but it's important that the deficit has a purpose, like financing WWII, or getting us out of the Great Depression. The debt we are in now is a function of two ill-advised wars at the same time we are awarding Republican campaign donors with tax cuts.

Obama is looking forward while the GOPhonies are looking back which is the definition of conservative but he needs to forget about Clinton's triangulation. Even if it were a good idea, this group isn't going to cooperate enough to be included in such efforts.

William F. Buckley once said that a conservative is one standing in history yelling stop. It's being proven today.

President Obama is a good man. He means well but he needs to listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Demand "Made in America," the jobs you save will be your family's!

When is the last time you called for help from your internet service, Microsoft, Charter Communications, or customer relations for just about any product and talked to an American? Personally, I can't remember. Microsoft is typical.

My internet provider is Charter. Today, I couldn't get on the internet. I talked to an agent with a strong accent. I could hardly understand what he was saying. He had me crawling under and behind my equipment disconnecting and reconnecting wires with instructions that I, each time, had to repeat back to him to make sure I was doing what he wanted. His response to my objections or complaints were usually scripted and non sequiturs. Finally, out of patience, I asked for a technician which he scheduled. I asked him where he was sitting and it was Manilla, Philippines. I asked him if the agent that was coming tomorrow would be coming from Manilla and he politely told me he didn't know. Ironically, after a while, just on a wild hunch, I disconnected my power to all my equipment and turned it on again. Voilla, my websites lit up like a Christmas tree. The obvious reason for this is they can get people to work for less than a dollar an hour. They ostensibly are interested in customer relations but are actually hurting their image by connecting customers that are minimally qualified and barely speak English. I have nothing against foreigners but they should be payed a wage so that the competition for the job is skill not who will work cheapest!

A few weeks ago, a door to door salesman caught my interest in solar energy.  My son-in-law is an executive with Souther California Edison and he had told me with the stimulus inducements that it could be a good deal for relatively low I agreed to have an assessment to crunch the numbers. Before the meeting, it occurred to me to find out where the panels they would install on my roof would be made. I called and after some minor subtrefuge, they told me, "one of serveral countries, none of which were American." I cancelled and talked all my neighbors out of signing with them. They told me that foreign sources were their only alternative.' I checked and found that there are plenty of cell makers in the US. The real reason is that they are made by workers being paid just above poverty level wages and are cheaper. I would like to have the option of paying more for an American made panel and I think many others would too. We deserve the chance to choose and American workers deserve the opportunity for us to choose as well.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The biggest threat to USA since Pearl Harbor: Citizen's United and the Supreme Court.

Thom's blog
Could the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision soon be overturned?
One year after the ruling - could the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision soon be overturned? The progressive organization Common Cause is asking the Department of Justice to look into possible "conflict of interest" behind the scenes of the Citizens United ruling. In the petition to the DOJ - Common Cause argues that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia should have recused themselves from the Citizens United case since they were actively involved in political strategy sessions hosted by the billionaire Koch Brothers - two men who benefited considerably from the Supreme Court's ruling.

The allegation is based on documents obtained by ThinkProgress and the New York Times that suggest the two Justices attended a Palm Springs event hosted by the Koch brothers around the same time the high court was hearing arguments in the case. If the petition is successful - the DOJ could disqualify Justices Scalia and Thomas from the ruling - and thus overturn the decision altogether. Of course this wouldn't be the first time Scalia and Thomas demonstrated a "conflict of interest". Thomas didn't recuse himself from the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 that handed the presidency over to George W. Bush even though Thomas's wife was working on the Bush transition team. And Scalia went on a hunting trip with former Vice President Dick Cheney right before he ruled in favor of Cheney in a case before the high court. Overturning Citizen's United based on these guys' impropriety should be just a start - they should also be impeached for corruption.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Beware the industrial military complex!____Dwight Eisenhower, 1961

Fifty years ago, outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower warned us of what we are seeing today, the merging of the industrial military complex. His words were prophetic but ignored. The Bush oil wars have seen war profiteering elevated and privatized to a level that even Milo Minderbinder would have never dreamed possible.
The war has been outsourced through private contracts with firms like Blackwater.

CEOs of war industry firms like Halliburton/KBR, GE, CACI and Titan, as well as the oil industry have had total access to the Bush/Cheney administration. Industry leaders go back and forth between government and industry assignments to the extent that is difficult to discern who is working where at any given time.

Now,with the Citizens United Decision, the war profiteers, the industrial military complex , as well as other international firms own the government and it may well be too late to heed Ike's warning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Is your representative going to vote against your right to health care coverage?

The GOPhonies now have power. At least in the House. Their first order of business is to undertake something that, even if it were desirable, is impossible. They are doing it as a forum for postulating more lies, to stir up more hatred and to accomplish their only discernible goal; make sure Obama is a one term president.

Each voter in America has only one representative in the House. It's like voting for your mayor or councilman. He must be responsible to YOU.

Their stated goal of overturning the recently passed Health Care Reform is specious. They know they have no chance of succeeding. Their opposition to it's passage was based on lies. For example:
Listen to Joe Wilson as he shatters decency and protocol in accusing Obama of being a liar. It comes at the 1 minute mark in the video. He accuses Obama of lying when he said the new law would not insure those in the country illegally. His disgraceful and rude out burst of "You lie" is the lie.

Many of the top ten lies in the initial opposition, like "death Panels" and "government takeover" and "too costly" will be trotted out again. Not satisfied with the lies in the initial debate, they have added another outlandish one in title "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." Make no mistake, it CANNOT pass and the GOPhonies know it. And even having been fed lies and misinformation about it's contents, more voter want it expanded than repealed.Doe

Your representative, if he/she votes to repeal, will be doing one of two things: voting insincerely to make a statement to the Neo GOP, or telling you that he is against: ending exclusion of coverage for pre-existent conditions, insuring young adults on their parents plan, reinstating caps on lifetime coverage or other immediate benefits.  Make it a point to check how your representative votes! Here's how

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Insist on American made products.

Last week, I was contacted by American Solar Direct, a company that installs solar panels for home generation of energy. I was told that it was part of the stimulus package through rebates from the government. It sounds like a good deal. I still think it could be.  I agreed to a consultation with an agent. I strongly believe in developing clean renewable energy.

While reflecting on the implications for the economy, I wondered where the panels would be made. I realize that installation and maintenance would be local, but I am totally against our government creating any more jobs overseas because the product being made there, for consumption in America, can be made by cheaper foreign labor. I contacted the company and they were candid and told me that the panels would be imported. I didn't have to ask them why they couldn't be made here. I know.

It's not always easy to demand American made products. This is a situation where it is. If EVERYONE, or even many consumers of solar panels insisted on American manufacturing, we would get it. Our tax dollars should not be used to create jobs in cheap labor markets even if the process creates a few sales jobs here. We do not have high unemployment because we can't create jobs here. We have high unemployment because we choose to export our manufacturing to countries we can demand cheap labor and the jobs fail to generate enough purchasing power to feed the American economy!

Please tell our government to attach strings to any program to generate business in this country; require that all products be manufactured domestically and don't accept anything less. The job you create may be filled by someone in your family!

Amazing! From providing health care for all Americans to murder....

in one easy lesson. Free speech comes with responsibility. Where would a disturbed mind pick up the idea that killing a government official would be accepted and admired? What has happened to the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ike?

Ironic how, in a state and town with an Earp vs Clanton mentality, not one of the heavily armed crowd managed to fire a shot in defense. How happy would a shootout at the OK Corral have made Bachmann, Palin, Kaufman, Angle, Cheney, Beck, Limbaugh and the NRA.

View this video.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Never underestimate the power of the corporate press

to incite violence.  Only in America can hate groups financed by people like the Koch brothers metamorphose a wholesome thing like providing health care for the people  into something evil and worthy of murder. Thank you, Teaparty, thank you Supreme Court and Citizens United and thank you corporate greed and amorality.

Arizona Shooting Sets Off Debate on Violent Political Rhetoric

by: Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | Report

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and seventeen others were shot Saturday after a gunman opened fire at a public event in Tucson, law-enforcement sources confirmed. Six people were killed, including a federal judge, an aide to Giffords and a nine-year-old girl.

The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat was shot in the head once at point-blank range and rushed to University Medical Center (UMC). During a press conference Sunday, Dr. Peter Ree of the University of Arizona Medical Center said that she was out of surgery and in critical condition, but was awake and following commands. Ree said that he was "very optimistic about recovery."
U.S. District Judge John Roll was among those killed at the scene of the shooting, U.S. Marshall David Gonzales confirmed to the Associated Press.
A number of national news organizations including CNN, NPR and Reuters reported prematurely that Giffords had died.

The shooting occurred during Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner" event in northwest Tucson, when a gunman ran up to the group and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

The shooter, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, was tackled by a bystander and taken into custody. The FBI has said he was the only shooter; Loughner purchased his semi-automatic pistol legally in Tucson,the Washington Post reported.

Pima County Sheriff Clarance Dupnik would not confirm that Loughner was the suspect in the shooting, but said the shooter was targeting Giffords.
“He ran into the crowd and when he got to (Giffords), he started shooting,” said Dupnik. 

Giffords, Arizona’s first Jewish congresswoman, was first elected as a representative of Arizona’s 8th District in 2006 and was reelected to her third term in November.

During her time in Congress, Giffords focused on immigration reform, military issues, stem cell research and alternative energy. Just days before she was shot, Giffords, who was voted one of the "Top Ten Rebels in the House" last year, introduced a bill for a 5 percent reduction in congressional salaries, and said she had real hope for bipartisan cooperation in the next Congress.

Giffords had been the target of death threats, vandalism and harassment in recent months – Dupnik noted a political event at which an audience member dropped a weapon. During another incident, windows in her office were broken shortly after her vote for health care reform in March, and authorities are currently investigating a suspicious package found Saturday at Giffords’ Tucson office.

The shooting has been connected to the heated political rhetoric around issues such as health care legislation and immigration recently, and according to Dupnik the atmosphere in Arizona was particularly tense.

“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capita,” Dupnik said. “We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Giffords was one of 20 Congress members placed in the crosshairs on Sarah Palin’s "target list," meant to highlight Democrats in vulnerable congressional districts, which stirred controversy for the use of gun sights.

Speaking to MSNBC about Palin’s list in March, Giffords said, "Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action."

In a statement on Facebook, Palin said “my sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”

In the Palin camp's first extended comments on yesterday's attack, an aide to Palin said the crosshairs were never meant to evoke violence. "We never, ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," Rebecca Mansour told talk radio host Tammy Bruce.

Gifford’s Republican opponent in the November race, Jesse Kelly (R-Arizona), was also criticized for a campaign event at a shooting range,advertised with the words "Get on Target for Victory in November," "Help remove Gabriel Giffords from office" and "Shoot a fully automatic M16."

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), who has also been the target of vandalism and harassment, told KOLD News 13, "The lesson we can take from the terrible thing that just happened" is that "we can differ, but that difference does not need to go to an extreme where it becomes danger."

"Civil discourse and civil debate should be exactly that," said Grijalva.

In a statement, President Barack Obama called the shooting an "unspeakable tragedy," and said that while we do not know the motive of the shooting, "what we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society."

Sarah, the Great Huntress scores a hit.

Isn't it ironic that the Great Huntress uses a rifle sight as symbol for political opposition.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Free Trade is like high stakes musical chairs.

International corporations are after one thing, higher profits so their CEOs who are paid to a large extent with company stock can make more money. That's an accepted fact. They do this by increasing sales and reducing costs. Good business. Who can argue with that! But how they do that can produce results which, while being good in the short run, can have disastrous long term repercussions. That's not such a well known fact but it should be and some people are aware of; among those who are aware of it probably include these high paid CEOs. The problem is, they don't care. In the long run, they take the money and run!

Free trade, with help from the USA controlled International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, enables firms to economically invade undeveloped countries where, with the governments willing or forced cooperation, they can hire workers for slave level wages working under slave-like conditions. Back in the USA, good paying jobs are lost and can no longer buy the product that they were previously employed to make. Doesn't matter; with free trade, they can sell them somewhere else where there are customers. Lose some in the USA, gain some world wide.  It matters not that they lost consumers and wages go down back home; it's all about profits.

The problem is, this is going on all over the world and wages are lowering and spendable income is too. Pretty soon, we will see the same thing, world wide, that we saw in 1929. Nobody had any money to buy anything. The CEO's have to know this will happen. Ross Perot, the funny little guy with the big ears who we all laughed at was the only guy that got it right!

Think of the world being a large room where the game of musical chairs is being played. There is one more player (worker/consumer) than there are chairs. The players walk around a circle of chairs until the music stops and they scramble for a chair (job). The players get up, the music resumes, and the players start circling again, this time a little readier to push to get the seat. Again the music stops and everyone but one gets a seat. Maybe, this time a player gets pushed down. This goes on until there is only one player left sitting in the last chair. Now the game is more music.

Pretty soon, no more customers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Boehner and CIGNA are after you!

These are just a few of the things that the Insurance Industry's agents in the new congress want to take away from you. 

1. Children can stay on their parents coverage until age 26
2. You cannot be denied coverage because of pre existent condition
3. Insurance companies cannot end coverage because of an illness.
4. Small businesses get tax credits for coverage costs
5. An end to the donut hole which limits coverage over $2700
6. Insurance companies have to spend 80% of their revenue on health car
7. No cap on what they will pay out on your illness
8. New plans must include coverage for preventive care
9  Insurancers have to reveal administrative costs

Others will kick in in the next two years.

No matter what Faux News tells you, it's a no brainer.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Get these people out of Fort Benning.

School of the Americas:
School of Assassins, USA

The School of the Americas

World War II was the "good war". After that conflict, most Americans believed that US intentions in the world were noble -- the US was the punisher of aggression and a warrior for freedom. This image was for generations of Americans the measure by which they judged their country in world affairs. The war in Vietnam ended the illusion that America was always on the "right side". Today, America's image as a defender of democracy and justice has been further eroded by the School of the Americas (SOA), which trains Latin American and Caribbean military officers and soldiers to subvert democracy and kill hope in their own countries.

Founded by the United States in 1946, the SOA was initially located in Panama, but in 1984 it was kicked out under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty and moved to the army base at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then-President of Panama Jorge Illueca called it "the biggest base for de-stabilization in Latin America," and a major Panamanian newspaper dubbed it " The School of Assassins."

Today, SOA instructors and students are recruited from the cream of the Latin American military establishment. The School trains 700-2,000 soldiers a year, and since its inception in 1946, more than 60,000 military personnel have graduated from the SOA.

If the SOA concentrated its training on protecting country borders from foreign aggression or safeguarding citizens from invasion by outside enemies, it would be considered an exemplary institution, worth the cost of American tax dollars and US prestige. But, the SOA has very different goals. Its curriculum includes courses in psychological warfare, counterinsurgency, interrogation techniques, and infantry and commando tactics. Presented with the most sophisticated and up-to-date techniques by the US Army's best instructors, these courses teach military officers and soldiers of Third World countries to subvert the truth, to muzzle union leaders, activist clergy, and journalists, and to make war on their own people. It prepares them to subdue the voices of dissent and to make protesters submit. It instructs them in techniques of marginalizing the poor, the hungry, and the dispossessed. It tells them how to stamp out freedom and terrorize their own citizens. It trains them to destroy the hope of democracy.

The School of the Americas (SOA) has been given other names -- "School for Dictators", "School of Assassins", and "Nursery of Death Squads". And, countries with the worst human rights records send the most soldiers to the School.

Countries / Graduates (since 1946)

Argentina / 931
Bolivia / 4,049
Brazil / 355
Chile / 2,405
Colombia / 8,679
Costa Rica / 2,376
Dominican Republic / 2,330
Ecuador / 2,356
El Salvador / 6,776
Guatemala / 1,676
Honduras / 3,691
Nicaragua / 4,693
Panama / 4,235
Paraguay / 1,084
Peru / 3,997
Uruguay / 931
Venezuela / 3,250

When they return to their home countries, graduates of the SOA hold a rather unique and peculiar view of their countrymen. They look upon priests, social workers, journalists, and liberal intellectuals, not as assets to their societies, but as dangerous subversives, working to undermine the system that keeps these soldiers, army officers, and their sponsors in power.

Graduates of the SOA have been among the most repressive tyrants in Latin America, and their actions have been some of the most cruel and violent. In El Salvador, in 1989, a Salvadoran army patrol executed six Jesuit priests as they lay face-down on the ground at Central America University. According to the United Nation's Truth Commission Report on El Salvador in 1993, 19 of the 27 officers who took part in the executions were trained at the SOA.

In 1990, in El Salvador, populist Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated. Three-quarters of the Salvadoran officers implicated in the killing were trained at the SOA. Roberto D'Aubuison, the late leader of El Salvador's Death Squad, was implicated in the plot to assassinate Archbishop Romero. He also participated in numerous murders, including a massacre in the village of El Mazote, where more than 900 men, women, and children were killed. He graduated from SOA as well.

The U.N. Truth Commission's statistics reveal the extent of the School's murderous role in El Salvador .

Romero assassination 3 officers cited --- 2 were SOA graduates
Murder of US nuns 5 officers cited --- 3 were SOA graduates
Union leader murders 3 officers cited --- 3 were SOA graduates
El Junquillo massacre 3 officers cited --- 2 were SOA graduates
El Mazote massacre 12 officers cited --- 10 were SOA graduates
Dutch journalist murders 1 officer cited --- he was an SOA graduate
Las Hojas massacre 6 officers cited --- 3 were SOA graduates
San Sebastian massacre 7 officers cited --- 6 were SOA graduates
Jesuit massacre 26 officers cited --- 19 were SOA graduates

In other Latin American countries, graduates of the SOA have been equally prominent enemies of human rights. Former dictators Omar Torrijos of Panama, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, all overthrew constitutionally elected governments in their countries. Leopoldo Galtieri, the former head of the Argentina junta defeated in the Falklands War, was responsible for thousands of "disappeared" citizens who supported freedom and democracy in Argentina, and paid the ultimate price with their lives. He was an SOA graduate.

In Honduras, General Humberto Ragalado Hernandez, was trained at the SOA at the same time that he was linked to Columbian drug cartels, and the highest ranking officers in the Honduran Death Squad were trained at SOA as well.

In Peru, the most senior officers convicted of the February 1994 murder of nine university students and a professor, were graduates of the SOA. In Columbia, a 1992 human rights tribunal cited 246 officers for crimes against the people of Columbia. 105 of the officers were trained at the SOA. In Panama, ex-dictator Manuel Noriega, formerly on the CIA payroll, graduated from the SOA. He is now in a US prison, convicted of trafficking in drugs.

In Guatemala, a country of 10 million, the indigenous Mayan population of 6 million have endured the greatest suffering in Latin America. During more than 30 years of civil war, tens-of-thousands have been slaughtered, with the total killed estimated to exceed 200,000. Most of the ranking generals involved in the numerous coups and acts of terror and murder during this period were trained at the SOA.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, in Guatemala, thousands of political activists and opponents of government policies were assassinated. General Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, Chief of Army Intelligence at the time, was cited by the UN as the individual responsible for most of those murders. He graduated from the SOA. One of the most vicious tyrants in recent Guatemalan history is Jose Efrain Rios Montt. General, dictator, and a former president from 1982-83, Rios Montt was proud of his political philosophy of "beans for the obedient; bullets for the rest". He was also a graduate of the SOA.

The impact of SOA graduates on Latin American freedom has been devastating. Armed with sophisticated training, modern weapons, and up-to-date techniques of control and surveillance, graduates of the SOA have terrorized their own countrymen for a generation.

In the name of its citizens and using American taxpayer dollars, the United States, the most-democratic of countries, has for decades been training some of the most anti-democratic leaders in the world. Administrations that have decried terrorism abroad, have encouraged terrorists right here at home -- at the SOA.

Our country, for generations, a beacon of liberty and democracy to the world, should play no part in subverting democracy and killing hope in other countries. Americans who condemn world terror should condemn just as strongly America's training of Third World terrorists. It is time for all of us to demand that the School of the Americas be closed.

What you can do

Call, fax, or write the President, and your Senators and Representative. Ask them to end funding for the SOA and stop training terrorists and murderers in America.

Ask them to support House of Representatives Bill -- HR 2652 -- introduced by Representative Joseph Kennedy (D-MA). This bill would close the School of the Americas and establish in its place an Academy for Democracy and Civil-Military Relations, to identify the proper role of the military in a democratic society and bring about civilian control over military matters in Latin America.

Father Roy Bourgeois founded SOA Watch to inform the American public about " the School of Assassins" and to close it down. But, he cannot do it alone. He needs the support of all Americans who abhor the training of terrorists and murderers in this country. Support SOA Watch and Father Roy Bourgeois at:

SOA Watch
PO Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903

Foreign Policy and Pentagon

Terrorism watch

School of the Americas Watch

Recommended Reading: Rebooting the American Dream by Thom Hartmann.

This is an outline for returning America to the pre Reagan days of a strong middle class, unions and economically sound tax structure; as it was before voodoo trickle down economics called by supporters, "Supply Side" economics.

Hartmann sets forth 11 points to bring this country back as a major manufacturing nation.

1. Last year, manufacturing in the USA dropped to an all-time low of 12% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This trend will continue without a change in our trade policies.  Corporations since the free trade agreements under Bush-Clinton-Bush have made it profitable for firms to off-shore their operations where the labor is unprotected and cheap. This could be reversed by protective tariffs on imports and tax policies that discourage rather than encourage outsourcing.

2. Roll back the Reagan tax cuts for the upper end income groups. Statistics show that our economy has flourished when upper end taxes were higher providing more spendable income for those, middle class, who spend more of their income.

3. Resume enforcing the anti-trust laws. Huge businesses have changed the face of America. In the past, small business kept their revenue locally in local banks which, instead of investing it in high risk ventures that did nothing for the local economy, made the funds available for local real wealth producing activity. Of course small business is less efficient than big ones in the short run but at the price of opportunity to have a business! What is the chance of a small dress shop or men's store surviving in the same town with a Wal-Mart who pays 40 cents an hour for factory workers in a 3rd world country.

4. We need to revive our informed and educated electorate which is vital to democracy. Our news media due to corporate ownership has turned our news outlets into entertainment centers at best and dispensers of right wing propaganda at worst. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, political opponents, both emphasized the need for free public education. When Reagan took over as governor, one of his first acts was to impose, for the first time in history, a tuition for California state universities. Once the door was opened, conservatives have continued to increase them regularly. For example, Tuition, called resident fees, euphemistically, but tuition none-the-less are now $10,781 at UCLA. This effectively eliminates many of our lower income families--the intent of Reagan and his conservatives.*

Additionally, under the California Master plan of education, as articulated in the Donohoe Plan, Community Colleges were to be open to all. They are now turning many students away due to inadequate funding. 

5. Medicare - Part E for everyone. In addition to the fact that freedom from worry about health care induces better workers and more creativity, Taking the burden of supplying health insurance for it's workers would make US employers more competitive. No where else in developed nations does business owners have to undertake this responsibility.

6. Stop the undue influence of corporations in our government through better methods of financing political campaigns and by taking remedial action to overturn the Citizens United decision or by full disclosure laws. This is critical. There is nothing that will stop the already apparent steam-rolling of democracy by international corporations whose primary interests are not those of the citizens of the USA unless that decision is reversed or neutralized.

7. Get off our addiction to oil. Our survival as a great nation depends on it and it is easily in reach.

8.  Stop trying to impose our way of life throughout the world. If we have something that others in our universe want, they will steal it.

9.  Put Lou Dobbs out to pasture! Address the illegal workers problem by eliminating the availability of work by attacking the problem where it starts, unscrupulous employers who exploit them. No work for them, they will stay home. This is simple and easy but hasn't been seriously addressed because of number 6 above, the influence of business, particularly large business over government.

10.  Wal-Mart is not a person is related to number 6 and offers legal reasoning, or lack of reasoning legally, as to how the courts misused prior case law to rationalize their decision...which was never based on law but on political considerations.

11. Hartmann offers an example of the Mondragon Corporation of Northern Spain which is a large and succesful business actually owned by the workers; and exercise in true democracy.

Another review of the book:

*comments in italics are mine 

Monday, January 3, 2011

A real American - forced out because he was dangerous to the Republicorps.

Dear Brooks,
Last night, at 10:38 pm, a woman called my home. She said that she had just read the article below, and she had never heard of me before, but I had said just what she had been thinking.
What about you?
Alan Grayson

He Entered Congress Swinging, and Exits That Way

Published: January 2, 2011
He derides the Tea Party’s successes as “bought and paid for by the enormously rich and the selfish.”
And he can barely contain distaste for his Republican successor, whose views he sums up as “bizarre fundamentalist.”
Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida’s Eighth Congressional District, is leaving office on Wednesday much as he entered it two years ago — as the pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress.
But in a wide-ranging interview as his term drew to a close, he repeatedly aimed his artillery in an unexpected direction: toward his own party.
Not for overreaching, in this age of hand-wringing over big government and creeping “socialism,” or for ideological purism. Instead, while surveying the wreckage of the November elections that cost him his seat and looking to the Congressional term ahead, Mr. Grayson posits that many Democrats have not been acting Democratic enough.
Judging by the results of the midterm elections, it does not exactly seem to be a widespread sentiment.
But at a moment when centrism seems to be the party’s antidote to a redrawn political landscape, Mr. Grayson is setting forth a radically different playbook of sharp elbows and unapologetic liberalism.
During the long conversation, Mr. Grayson, a 52-year-old father of five, faulted Democrats for failing to deliver for some of their most potent constituencies, among them labor unions and antiwar voters.
“What did the environmentalists see over the last two years?” he asked. “A proposed monumental increase in subsidies for nuclear power industry and offshore drilling.” As for gay voters, he said: “What they got to see was a judge order that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ no longer be enforced and a Democratic president appeal that decision. That is what that constituency saw before Nov. 2.” (The law was repealed in the final hours of the 111th Congress.) By Election Day, Democratic voters in many districts felt that they had no real choice, Mr. Grayson said.
“If you want people to support you, then you have to support them,” he said. “You have to think long about what you did for people who voted for you, made phone calls for you, who went door to door for you.”
Mr. Grayson, of course, finds much to like within the Democratic Party. He offered a glowing assessment of the departing speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, giving her an A “without reservation.”
And he considers the political right to be intolerable. He called the Republicans “a hopeless sellout party that will never do anything constructive for ordinary people in this country.” “I don’t have to speculate about it anymore,” he said. “I worked with them for two years.”
But hanging over the interview was a lingering frustration with the Democratic Party.
He is annoyed with Democratic senators for waiting until now to challenge the procedural rules that, he said, allowed a determined group of Republicans to use filibusters to stymie much of the president’s agenda.
And he bemoaned what he said was President Obama’s reversal on a campaign pledge to let the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire.
“I try to keep my promises,” he said, adding that Mr. Obama’s evolving views on the matter “will not help his credibility.”
The remarks carry special weight because Mr. Grayson has become a darling of many on the left. A Bronx native with a fondness for steel-toed cowboy boots (the better to kick Republicans with, he jokes), Mr. Grayson rose to prominence as a lawyer by successfully suing wayward military contractors who profited from the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
After losing his first bid for the House, he jolted Florida’s political establishment in 2008 by capturing a seat that had been held by Republicans for three decades.
In office, he quickly earned renown for colorful floor speeches and elaborate props. During the health care debate, he declared that the Republican plan was for Americans to “die quickly.” To fight the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, he produced cardboard posters detailing how the richest 1 percent of Americans could spend their tax savings. “Buy 20,000 jars of their favorite mustard, Grey Poupon,” was one suggestion.
He even gave his legislation provocative names, like the “The War Is Making You Poor Act,” which sought to reduce taxes by requiring the Defense Department to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan within its relatively small annual budget. (It did not pass.) Outside of politics, much about the congressman is also unorthodox. He bought a used white limousine to shuttle his young children around. “You can’t change a diaper in a van,” he explained at his home.
Republicans called him incendiary and over the top, or worse. When Mr. Grayson set up a Web site for himself called Congressman With Guts, a local Republican operative countered with a site called My Congressman Is Nuts.
Mr. Grayson said he had simply tried to put complex issues into accessible — and, yes, memorable — terms. “People say the same thing to me over and over again: ‘You say what I am thinking but nobody else will say,’ ” he said. He likes to boast that his YouTube channel is the most popular of any House member’s.
He would not rule out running for Congress again “if that’s what people want.”
For now, though, Mr. Grayson is committed to making up for lost family time — and maybe catching up on a bit of television. It was switched off during his bruising re-election campaign to avoid having his children glimpse advertisements that portrayed him as a bumbling clown.
“At least,” he recalled dryly, “we had Netflix.”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Beware of Corporations who know what's best for you. 3 reasons why they don't.

Before the rise of liberalism even high-minded philosophers, founders of religions, clerics animated by the best of intentions, and statesmen who genuinely loved their people, viewed the thralldom of a part of the human race as a just, generally useful, and downright beneficial institution.  Some men and peoples are, it was thought, destined by nature for freedom, and others for bondage. And it was not only the masters who thought so, but the greater number of the slaves as well.
What was astonishing was that one could hear these views expressed even by many of the slaves whom one questioned (Republicans making near poverty level income). In order to counter such opinions, many liberals believed it necessary to represent as the general rule and even on occasion to depict in an exaggerated manner the exceptional cases in which serfs and slaves had been cruelly abused. But these excesses were by no means the rule. There were, of course, isolated instances of abuse, and the fact that there were such cases was an additional reason for the abolition of this system. As a rule, however, the treatment of bondsmen by their masters was humane and mild.
When those who recommended the abolition of involuntary servitude on general humanitarian grounds were told that the retention of the system was also in the interest of the enslaved, they knew of nothing to say in rejoinder. For against this objection in favor of slavery there is only one argument that can and did refute all others-namely, that free labor is incomparably more productive than slave labor. The slave has no interest in exerting himself fully. He works only as much and as zealously as is necessary to escape the punishment attaching to failure to perform the minimum. The free worker, on the other hand, knows that the more his labor accomplishes, the more he will be paid. He exerts himself to the full in order to raise his income. One has only to compare the demands placed on the worker by the tending of a modern tractor with the relatively small expenditure of intelligence, strength, and industry that just two generations ago was deemed sufficient for the enthralled ploughmen of Russia. Only free labor can accomplish what must be demanded of the modern industrial worker.
The liberal critique of the argument in favor of war is fundamentally different from that of the humanitarians. It starts from the premise that not war, but peace, is the father of all things. What alone enables mankind to advance and distinguishes man from the animals is social cooperation. It is labor alone that is productive: it creates wealth and therewith lays the outward foundations for the inward flowering of man. War only destroys; it cannot create. War, carnage, destruction, and devastation we have in common with the predatory beasts of the jungle; constructive labor is our distinctively human characteristic. The liberal abhors war, not, like the humanitarian, in spite of the fact that it has beneficial consequences, but because it has only harmful ones.
The peace-loving humanitarian approaches the mighty potentate and addresses him thus: "Do not make war, even though you have the prospect of furthering your own welfare by a victory. Be noble and magnanimous and renounce the tempting victory even if it means a sacrifice for you and the loss of an advantage." The liberal thinks otherwise. He is convinced that victorious war is an evil even for the victor, that peace is always better than war. He demands no sacrifice from the stronger, but only that he should come to realize where his true interests lie and should learn to understand that peace is for him, the stronger, just as advantageous as it is for the weaker.
When a peace-loving nation is attacked by a bellicose enemy, it must offer resistance and do everything to ward off the onslaught. Heroic deeds performed in such a war by those fighting for their freedom and their lives are entirely praiseworthy, and one rightly extols the manliness and courage of such fighters. Here daring, intrepidity, and contempt for death are praiseworthy because they are in the service of a good end. But people have made the mistake of representing these soldierly virtues as absolute virtues, as qualities good in and for themselves, without consideration of the end they serve (My country right or wrong____Nazis). Whoever holds this opinion must, to be consistent, likewise acknowledge as noble virtues the daring, intrepidity, and contempt for death of the robber. In fact, however, there is nothing good or bad in and of itself. Human actions become good or bad only through the end that they serve and the consequences they entail. Even Leonidas would not be worthy of the esteem in which we hold him if he had fallen, not as the defender of his homeland, but as the leader of an invading army intent on robbing a peaceful people of its freedom and possessions.


There are two distinct reasons why all men should receive equal treatment under the law. One was already mentioned when we analyzed the objections to involuntary servitude. In order for human labor to realize its highest attainable productivity, the worker must be free, because only the free worker, enjoying in the form of wages the fruits of his own industry, will exert himself to the full. The second consideration in favor of the equality of all men under the law is the maintenance of social peace. It has already been pointed out that every disturbance of the peaceful development of the division of labor must be avoided. But it is well-nigh impossible to preserve lasting peace in a society in which the rights and duties of the respective classes are different. Whoever denies rights to a part of the population must always be prepared for a united attack by the disenfranchised on the privileged. Class privileges must disappear so that the conflict over them may cease.

Editorial comments in Parenthesis are mine.


GOPhonies #1 goal: keep Obama from being elected. #2 goal eliminate Social Security and health care

This is what the GOPhonies want to eliminate with their new found (purchased) power.