Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingrich Will Re-elect Barack Obama – In a Landslide

Barack Obama is the luckiest candidate for president in the history of the United States. Struggling with unemployment and desperate business conditions, saddled with the costs of two wars he did not start, Obama appeared politically helpless as the constituencies that elected him in 2008 drifted away from him disappointed with his policies.

Zany Newt has reversed the political equation as Obama’s key supporters are terrified at the prospect of a wild Gingrich presidency. That possibility is reuniting the Obama coalition and has deferred complaints about his performance in office.

• Organized labor was disaffected about administration failures to support revision of organizing rules.

• Civil libertarians were stunned when Obama withdrew his threat of veto a Pentagon – funding bill that allows detention of American citizens without time limit, without charges and without trial.

• Advocates for the poor are unhappy about the failure to adopt adequate measures to rescue the housing mortgage crisis.

• No plan has been devised to put the trillions of dollars held by large banks into stimulation of the U.S. economy.

• Expensive and deadly military activity by U.S. forces continues around the world with bases in 140 counties and US troops moving into additional theatres in Australia and Uganda.

As the Obama coalition faltered, along came a most unlikely rescuer – Newt Gingrich, barely a survivor, left among the politically dead in the sleepy political summer – now the bad boy of the Republican presidential candidates. Showing once again his political dexterity with argument and repartee, brimming with confidence despite his past failures, Gingrich has captured the imagination of the far-right conservatives, of the haters, of the pseudo warriors who threaten the use of nuclear weapons and are committed to American Exceptionalism as a synonym for world hegemony. In the current campaign, Gingrich has solidified his political support among the GOP. A quick-witted excellent campaigner, he always makes his points as a debater and effective responder to accusations. A tough fighter, he always has an answer often based on distorted information and fueled by self adulation.

The Obama coalition is coming together again under the pressure and danger of the Gingrich threat. Complaints about Obama policies must wait until after the election and take second place to repelling the challenge. The voting turnout for Obama must be huge. The financial contributions must set new records. Gingrich’s candidacy has created a political emergency that must be repulsed for the safety of the nation, even the planet.

And if, like Mitt Romney, you have an extra $10,000.00, bet it on Obama. His winning coalition has organized once again and he will sweep to re-election, courtesy of Newt Gingrich.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Attention to The 99% Must Be Paid

The unifying desire of the world movement known as “Occupy Wall Street “is absolutely clear. They want attention paid to them and their imprecise groping for a more equitable society. With extraordinary simplicity and without an explicit agenda, the 99% have placed their bodies on line before the world as symbols of the overpowering requirement to modify the dictatorship of the financial overlords.

Remarkably, this revolutionary movement originated in the poorest and least democratic societies on earth. One thousand years ago, the Crusaders tried to impose a different view of God and Man on the societies of Islam, but today’s challenge to the dictatorial financial overlords originated in the poverty-ridden squares of Cairo and Tunis. This latest revolt has found a ready market in the streets of the West.

The Western revolt is intentionally peaceful although it threatens the financial base of the 1%. Will the challengers develop ideas and programs without seeking the power to implement them? Will the style and strategy be consistent with its multi-ethnic and multi-religious origins and orientation? Consideration of alternate forms of economic and social orientation is a necessity for promotion of new approaches without the usual fratricidal conflict. Above all: attention must be paid to the breadth of the public protest sweeping the world.

The Occupiers, in Cairo, in New York or wherever have demonstrated remarkable self control. They have brought the protesters together while avoiding the fatal noose of infighting. At the moment the movement’s energy is primarily directed at keeping the forces of fusion alive, to focus on what unifies – that our system of capitalism is out of control and that our political system has broken down. Promoting more financial equality and overcoming the dictatorship of current overlords might include these considerations as part of the new agenda for the serious change demanded in the name of the 99% occupiers.

• Should some bankers be prosecuted for violations of current law?
• Should some bankers be sued to return unjustified unearned bonuses?
• Should there be limitations on outrageous bailout and corporate salaries?
• Should the federal government nationalize the banking businesses, operating as a public utility on a limited profit basis?
• Should government policy promote employment and industrial development as the primary aim of our business system as an alternative to private profit?
• Should new products and production systems be promoted with government risk while preserving the profits for new product development?

The Occupation movement has given us a method to experiment with new forms of economic organization geared to greater efficiency and a fairer division of the gains. It is no accident that this opportunity came at the heart of a world-wide depression. We must use it to improve our economy and make the rewards fairer. But first – attention must be paid. Public frustration at inequality and inefficiency has increased public anger to dangerous levels.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Money’s Still Out There

The amount of money parked in U.S. banks and financial institutions has risen to a two year high as banks hold back from lending to each other and from financing growth industries. Fears of contagion from Europe have now infected America inhibiting the development of new ideas and products.

Can America find its entrepreneurial spirit once again? Probably not, now that those business executives have found their way to the bailout window of the Federal Reserve Bank. Profits may be divided among the bosses but losses are likely to be socialized by government subsidy.

Equity investors are running scared, holding their breath during the stock market rallies. Any serious expansion of the labor force will require guarantees that will hold investors and companies free and clear of financial loss while they manage the wave of hiring.

Utilizing their experience and trained personnel, the dominant companies in each industry will be positioned to identify talented workers and management and break thru products while getting the political credit for employing the jobless on Uncle Sam’s credit card. And one of the rewards is likely to be a share in ownership of the subsidized company.

This is one jobs bill that will not hit a wall of opposition in the US Congress. It will satisfy the popular demand for a jobs employment bill. It will subsidize industry without government imposed management, it will take the political wind out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, it will have averted a Washington Spring demanding national reorganization toward economic justice and social equality.

And the money will still be out there, in the vault of the banks, while the US Treasury picks up the costs.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Living Outside the American Dream

The Tea Party doesn't have a national headquarters or unofficial governing body. Nor is there a reliable count of its members, because there is no formal way for adherents to sign up. It is a collection of unrelated local groups: six people gathered in the living room to talk and complain over whiskey and soda.

Indiana has 72 such affiliates, many named after Johnny Appleseed. Name variations often include the phrase “small government”. The local groups buy Tea Party golf balls, Tea Party cigars and children's coloring books.

Loosely bound for serious political combat, this unimpressive group has 60 members in the US House of Representatives where they exercise their leverage in the Republican Party to change the focus of the nation from the crisis of widespread unemployment to cutting taxes and balancing the federal budget

Only a few months ago, the consensus in Washington, in the media, in the Democratic Party and in the White House located the American crisis and in the vast and growing need to create jobs for the millions of Americans living outside the American dream. This humanitarian goal has been replaced by the bankers’ issues: balancing the federal yearly budget and reducing the long-term federal deficit. A serious jobs program would put funds in the hands of the poorest. The current national dialogue does not include a serious jobs program to increase production and put funds in the hands of the unemployed. An effective program for deficit reduction would cut the military budget, increase taxes on the wealthiest and limit US military adventures around the world

The Tea Party agenda fits the ideology of the Reagan Republican Party supporting military intervention abroad and opposing social intervention for the unemployed at home. The masses of American workers are disappointed in the motivation of the Democrats that moves them to switch priorities from Social Security to deficit reductions, from a massive jobs program similar to the Roosevelt New Deal to a banker support program

What happened to Obama? In this moral and economic crisis, the media cry out in virtual unison, expecting the president to rescue his constituency as headlines scream, “As corporate profits rise, workers income declines.” As unemployment staggers the nation and social programs are cut, there is no FDR in this administration, so stop looking for one.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Voting Blocs May Decide the 2012 Presidential Election

The political face of America is changing as immigrant groups, legal and illegal, build our population to at least 310 million - and rising.
As the presidential election of 2012 approaches, the prime question will be turnout, that is, which voting bloc will respond to which candidate.
Will the giant demographic trends already in place benefit President Barack Obama and his Democrats sufficiently to overcome the negative effects of joblessness and unresolved wars in remote lands?
The basic constituencies of the Democratic Party are minorities, working women, educated voters in urban areas, and younger voters. They are growing at a faster rate than other blocs.
Republicans achieve their largest voting potential among the white and upper income voters where Obama’s support has been weakening. These Republican blocs have been shrinking as a share of the overall electorate.
However, Democratic turnout dropped in the 2010 congressional election as the higher percentage of white voters and senior citizens overcame the Democrats demographic advantage.
Working-class white voters will be the key to the 2012 presidential election. US unemployment numbers will be the crucial figures - not the frantic and ineffective attempts to rebuild foreign societies thousands of miles from American homes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Wars on Libya

The current attack on Libya by the United States is not the first. According to the authoritative Library of Congress, the attack is the second such war; the first was fought intermittently between 1800 - 1815 against the so-called Barbary States of North Africa led by Tripoli.

The war was never declared by the US House of Representatives as required by the U.S. Constitution. The Library of Congress study analyzed the 250 wars fought by the US and reported that Congress declared war in only five of them: the war of 1812, the 1848 war against Mexico, the 1898 war against Spain, the 1917 World War I, the 1941 World War II.

The Barbary States regular source of income was piracy. The young US paid cash tribute as did European nations to buy immunity for their ships and cargoes. When the Pasha of Tripoli raised the price for American immunity, US refused payment, negotiations failed, US set up a blockade. President Thomas Jefferson persuaded Congress to authorize the building of warships that saw intermittent action until the US blockade was lifted, the US considered resuming payments, a US ship and prisoners were captured and ransomed.

In the final settlement, Tripoli renounced all rights to halt or to levy tribute on US ships. It was not a brilliant triumph and did not end piracy until US Admiral Stephen Decatur scored a significant naval victory over the pirates.

In recent decades, Libya’s pirate/dictator Moammar Qaddafi has engaged in domestic and foreign terrorist actions earning the enmity of the US and other victims. A few years ago, a settlement was reached that satisfied the US and other affected nations: acknowledgment and payment was made by Libya for the destruction of a plane and passengers over Scotland, the responsible criminals were remanded for punishment, and Libya surrendered materials and plans for the manufacture of nuclear weapons they had imported.

Some Libyan tribes have revolted against the harsh Qaddafi regime. NATO and US military forces are helping them, mostly by bombing government installations. US participation has mainly been firing powerful, Tomahawk missiles from US ships in the Mediterranean Sea – an act of war but without authorization from Congress. Congressional resolutions demanding that the president adhere to the U.S. Constitution have failed by close margins despite receiving votes from both Democrats and Republicans.

The attacks on Libya continue. Libya’s prime oil export has been diminished, affecting the world price. Libya's assets frozen in US banks amount to $29 billion. American actions against Libya were acts of war by all international standards and are parallel to US military actions now in effect against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where we are currently fighting wars authorized by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama in violation of our constitution.

Qaddafi and his regime can fairly be described as modern pirates who ought to be resisted militarily - but by methods that conform to our prized national document and heritage, the United States Constitution. Presidential wars are illegal in the United States and unwise everywhere else. Making war, wasting the lives of our youth, and spending the enormous cost are too important to be left to the responsibility of one person and his advisers.

While NATO and US intervention in the Libyan civil war is carried out in the name of human rights, it is not clear which intervening nation will benefit from the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. And big money is at stake - from the oil funds frozen in the US and future revenues from Libya's oil wells in a world of diminishing supplies. The armed conflict in Libya has taken more than 1.3 million barrels a day off the world market, helping to support the current high price of oil.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Killing Bin Laden – An Opportunity Missed

Osama Bin Laden was killed at the same time that a new model of Moslem change was emerging in the region, a model that is completely the opposite of Bin Laden's. Since January, popular uprisings have overthrown the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, challenged rulers in Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and Jordan, the greatest change the world has seen since the fall of the Berlin wall. And this revolution was based on non-violence and the public participation honoring law and order in an exercise of peaceful democracy. In contrast, the seizure and killing of Bin Laden was an authoritarian response to the brutal enmity of September 11.

Few Americans are criticizing President Obama for his key role in planning and guiding the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Celebration was the order of the day, as most Americans felt an overpowering need to revenge the massacre when 19 criminals took the lives of almost 3000 innocents in a plot that benefited no one.

Some questioned the killing of the unarmed Bin Laden who did not resist seizure. Others questioned the immediate disposal of the body into the anonymity of the ocean along with the celebration of revenge. Perhaps the most effective critique was of the failure to seize Bin Laden alive, arrest him for his crimes, and then give him a trial on documented charges in accordance with established legal principles.

While there was and is more than enough evidence to convict Bin Laden of capital crimes in a trial, he would have the democratic right of self defense, Bin Laden's criminal acts would be explored and analyzed, his defenses examined. The whole world would be watching. Bin Laden’s supporters would examine his justifications against the teachings of the Koran and the accumulated legal experience of the centuries. The murderers of September 11 would face the cries and the descriptions of the victims.. The trial would be a profoundly religious, moral and educational event based on the accumulated legal tradition dating back to the holy instructions given at Mount Sinai.
Bin Laden could not escape retribution. His crimes would be delineated for Muslim and world opinion. And the world system of law would be strengthened at every human level if Bin Laden had been seized by US troops and kept alive for trial. The Israelis weren't afraid to keep Nazi murderer Adolf Eichmann alive after they captured him in Argentina. At his trial in Jerusalem he was accorded his rights, confronted with his crimes, did not deny his guilt, and paid with his life. The whole world was watching. The whole world learned the ugliness and destructiveness of anti-Semitism and religious prejudice. The courts, the evidence, the fair procedures, the rights explained and utilized were compelling examples of a democratic society.

Did we miss another rare opportunity for strengthening our legal system and promoting democracy?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Out of Libya

Recently at West Point, President Obama’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that “any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” Gates was opposing any US intervention – big or little - in the civil war in Libya – but here we go again.

At that time war talk about Libya came from the architects of the misbegotten Iraq war, Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, Paul Wolfowitz and his fellow neo-cons. Now the President has been persuaded by Senator John Kerry and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that we must fight a third war against a Muslim nation.
We were able to pressure the dictators who run the Arab League to support war against Libya even though Saudi Arabia has invaded Bahrain while denouncing Libya for defending itself against rebels in its own country. The Arab dictators rule their rebels with iron fists.
As we write this blog, eleven US warships and a cloud of airplanes are attacking Libya from the Mediterranean; US planes are bombing Libyan airfields and military installations. If Qaddafi does not surrender, ground troops will surely follow even though Libya is hardly a threat to the United States. With only 6 million people, a persistent rebellion and little industry, Libya is outgunned and outmanned by an enormous margin. However, Libya has 2% of the world's oil reserves, giving it plenty of cash and making it mighty attractive in some quarters. Since September 1, 1969 it has been ruled by Dictator Gaddafi in a brutal and dictatorial manner. In 2003, Libya improved its international relations somewhat, stopping biological chemical and nuclear weapons development, signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, accepting responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, UN sanctions were suspended; the US soon ended all sanctions, re-established diplomatic relations and began to purchase Libyan oil.

Libya’s military dictatorship is an outgrowth of its tribal rivalries and Gaddafi represents the dominant tribes centered around Tripoli. The perennially rebellious minority tribes live in or about Benghazi in Eastern Libya. The invasion by the US and its Allies is designed to change the tribal order, reversing control in a manner that virtually guarantees continued strife.

Although US forces are already on the attack, there has been no declaration of war by Congress as required by the U.S. Constitution so the legality of the war could be challenged. Of the 250 wars the US has fought only five have been formally declared. So much for our declared respect for the Constitution. No supporter of the US war against Libya claims that Libya threatens the US. Al Qaeda is not involved. The basis for the attack is stated as humanitarian, the spreading of democracy, the saving of Libyan lives. Opposition is based on the cost of the war at a time when US domestic expenditures are being cut. An attack for whatever reason on another Muslim country while we attack Muslim Pakistan with drone airplanes could stimulate anti-crusader attitudes and another attack on the US homeland. Once again it establishes US military intervention as the prime element in our foreign policy, concentrating US power in the presidency without traditional constitutional controls.

Libya does not threaten the US or our allies. Follow the advice of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The oil isn't worth the trouble and the loss of reputation. The tribes of Libya will have to work out their differences themselves.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oil or Israel or Both

When Egyptian youth began their occupation of the Cairo square, it was difficult for the Israeli public to take it seriously. They knew that the Egyptian army dominated the government, that the so-called dictator Hosni Mubarak served at army pleasure. One of the most popular jokes circulating in Israel during the first outburst of protest in Egypt read "Dear Egyptian Rioters, Please don't damage the pyramids. We will not rebuild."
Israel's seeming indifference in the current continuing crisis is matched by its indifference to popular outrage in almost every nation over its 44 year occupation of the West Bank territories once controlled by Palestinians. This indifference was sustained by its belief that authoritarian Arab regimes would keep their subjects’ rage in check and that the survival of the authoritarian Arab regimes would be defended under the United States security umbrella for geopolitical reasons and especially for the continuity of the oil business. The deference to the US was responsible for the stability of Egypt's and Jordan’s peace accords with Israel.
This functioning of power reaches beyond the limits of representative democracy into sanctified areas of corporate profits, national income and world hegemony. Hosni Mubarak is out of power but Israel may once again become the pariah nation in the region. If democracy becomes a way of life there, at least one of the nascent political parties will make demands of Israel. A change of government in Egypt, still undetermined, is likely to undermine Israel's strategic situation, even the degree of US support, as America might be forced to choose between Israel and the wildly profitable flow of Arab oil.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Test of American Exceptionalism

General James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, told a Senate Committee that his group was aware of the deep-seated problems and tensions in the Muslim Middle East nations long before the current riots.

The secret 18 page classified report was ordered by President Obama. It concluded that the area was ripe for popular revolt due to massive unemployment, the large impatient youth population, rising food prices, and corrupt government practices.

However, neither the White House, the State Department, the CIA nor the Defense Department was able to muster enough pressure on their Middle East allies to change policies to avert the current revolutions.

Has President Obama launched a similar study of the condition and attitudes of American workers, suffering from some of the same pressing wounds?

Unemployment in America is receiving media attention but not a serious program to solve the crisis - and the real numbers reveal a catastrophic decline in family income. While the official unemployment numbers are about 9% and not declining, worker income has been reduced even more dramatically because so many discouraged workers have stopped looking for work, so many qualified workers are working at wages far below their skill levels, so many are working part-time, that the accurate number of unemployment is likely at 25 million.

Figuring a typical family of four, the 25 million grows to 100 million people whose standards of living have been dramatically reduced even with government assistance. That is one third of the total 300 million population of the United States – an authentic crisis. How long will it take before there are popular uprisings in the US, uprisings led by the youngest workers, those with the most anger, perhaps with the most idealism, with the uncompromising determination and energy to stake out positions in the public square and to maintain their demands until the nation takes care of all its citizens?

The richest nation in world history can do no less. The land drained by the mighty Mississippi should take inspiration from the revolution of the land of the ancient Nile. Not to respond would be a negative redefinition of our proud tradition of American Exceptionalism. We like to think of ourselves as a new kind of nation, a unique model for the political world, the proverbial City on the Hill. This crisis is a test. Prove that we are as noble as we say we are. The whole world is watching.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Protecting US interests in Egypt

The Obama administration's official position on the Egyptian uprising has been changing almost daily. Their immediate response was to back President Hosni Mubarak, to the dismay of the protesters. On January 27, VP Joseph Biden went so far as to insist that Mubarak was not a dictator. Then that position was reversed, President Obama himself abandoned Mubarak saying it would be better if the transition process began now and not in September. Today, February 7, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned against a hasty exit for Mubarak, saying that moving him could threaten the country's transition to democracy.

At the same time, all administration spokespersons insist that these decisions must be made by “The people of Egypt”, even though it appears that the United States is pushing Egypt in multiple directions according to the numbers and strength of the protesters in the Egyptian square.

The US ought to follow its own advice and stay out of the internal Egyptian crisis except as it affects basic US interests. It has massive clout with Egypt because of its $2 billion a year support of the Egyptian military and economy.

The US could protect its interests by insisting that it would support a new government if the following conditions were met: The 1979 peace agreement Israel would be continued. The Suez Canal would remain open to all shipments of oil regardless of origin. Egypt would continue to cooperate with the world community in the struggle to eliminate terrorism. Egypt would adhere to United Nations prohibitions against the use of torture.

The US would have a policy that met international norms and protected its vital interests The US would affect Egyptian foreign policy without intervening in local political combat. The path for cooperation between the two nations would be clear. The US would have a coherent policy based on its own needs not relying on the number of protesters in the Egyptian square. The uncertainty of US policy would be eliminated. The world’s only superpower should protect its interests without waiting to measure which way the wind was blowing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Reduce Deaths by Guns

For the safety of all Americans, the purchase and use of firearms must be controlled and regulated by the federal government in a uniform system applying to all gun owners in all states. Qualifications for ownership and use should include: passing a written test, a physical test, and a medical test as well as training in use of firearms.

A fair and workable system should have as a basic principle that every gun owner should have a reason to have a gun: military, security officer, police, hunter, target shooter. There should be uniform regulation in all states so that a person cannot buy a gun in one state but then take it to another state to evade regulations.

Enforcement should be the responsibility of the local police chiefs, who know the angry and unstable people in their area, who have self-interest and motivation because their officers are most often in the line of fire. All guns should be stored in the local police station, signed out for use, and then returned to the police station. No guns should be allowed at home to avoid children or unauthorized persons having accidents, to avoid the use of guns as a tool to settle an angry argument, to avoid gun use in a vehicle during road rage, to avoid availability during mental depression.

The cost of installing such a system would be far less than the current cost of gun incidents. It would give law-enforcement another tool at the local level where most crime and accidents take place.

Legitimate use of guns under safe procedures would be protected, even encouraged - but murders, suicides, and deaths by gun accident and errors would be reduced dramatically.


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