Barely holding on to office, disgraced South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford penned an opinion piece that was published all over the state’s newspapers on Sunday. (The text of the Op-Ed is reprinted below).
Citing “God” numerous times in his apology, the governor continues to treat his contituents as idiots. Does he really feel that this mea culpa actually vindicates him? Apparently, he thinks so. The published apology is nothing more than a public relations stunt. If he really felt contrite, he would have done what any other decent person would have done: Resign and take your lumps as a private citizen. The fact that this charlatan had excoriated other politicians for lesser indiscretions makes this apology hollow.
Governor Sanford is simply morally corrupt. Had he not gotten caught would he have come out with this? Of course not! Much like Nevada Senator Ensign, Governor Sanford has demonstrated to the nation the hypocrisy and moral emptiness that rules the Republican Party.
Governor Sanford… you were a liar then and remain a liar now! If you want to get your life together with your family again… do it on your own time and at your own expense. The sooner, the better!
Ihavestruggled with how best to convey my regret in letting so many down, and in that regard I realize this column does not do justice to the process of saying “I am sorry.” A hand-written note or phone call would ultimately be more appropriate, but given the number of people I need to apologize to, I write this to begin the journey of trying to get things more right with you and others.
It is true that I did wrong and failed at the largest of levels, but equally true is the fact that God can make good of our respective wrongs in life. In this vein, while none of us has the chance to attend our own funeral, in many ways I feel like I was at my own in the past weeks, and surprisingly I am thankful for the perspective it has afforded.
If you ever have the misfortune of being at this point, whether self-induced as in my case or not, it will give you an indeed amazing perspective on life and on what really matters. I read notes from someone who worked in a sandwich shop I ate at 10 years ago, from 7th-grade classmates, from state employees and more. While there have been lifetimes of lessons learned over the past weeks, three things most immediately come to mind:
• One, forgiveness and grace really do matter. I used to believe that at an intellectual level; now it is at the level of heart. Over my life I have not given enough of either, and yet given all the ways in which my failings have come to light, I write to apologize for, in the most profound of ways, letting you and so many others down. It’s always the people closest to us whom we hurt the most, and given my standing of public trust, I know I’ve hurt many across our state. I apologize for this, and more than anything would ask for your forgiveness going forward.
• Two, life is indeed about way more than public standing or political views; it’s about recognizing that none of us is the arbiter of truth, that there are moral absolutes and that there is a God to whom we will all report for our actions. My failure has been most glaring on this front, where no public apology can make wrong right. As a consequence, it is on this plane that I’ve grown the most over the past weeks — and where I’m committed to growing the most going forward.
I’ve been humbled and broken as never before in my life, and as a consequence have given up areas of control in a way that I never have before. And it is my belief that this will make me a better father, husband, friend and advocate.
It’s in the spirit of making good from bad that I am committing to you and the larger family of South Carolinians to use this experience both to trust God in his larger work of changing me and, from my end, to work to becoming a better and more effective leader.
I think all that has transpired will be particularly relevant in the way I deal with the legislative body and other state leaders going forward. Micah 6:8 asks us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, and as I begin these steps into the last 18 months of this administration, it will indeed be with a more contrite and humble spirit.
I’ve realized that as much as I have and will continue to advocate for things ranging from restructuring to responsible spending to school choice, my approach needs to be less about my will and more about looking for ways to more humbly present the greater principals and ideas at play. It needs to be less strident and more about finding ways to work with legislative leaders to advance the ideas so many of us believe in. It means less time fighting the tide, and a greater awareness of the fact that God controls it. In working with a few alterations to my approach, I think this could be a far more productive last session than the one that would have been had the tragedy that has unfolded not occurred, and in turn, people’s lives can be made better.
• Finally it is at your funeral that you in many ways not only can see most clearly the things that really matter in life, but also get the best glimpse of who your real friends are — and how much they matter. For that reason, I want to thank so many for their kindnesses and support over the years and for their kindness in this latest chapter in our book together as South Carolinians.
An open letter to the circus of fools currently oppressing the Iranian people!:
I hope that when you read this letter, you have stopped killing your own citizens.
Okay, the elections are over and the clerics have decided that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has won the elections fair and square. Never mind that the votes were hand counted at the speed of light and Mr. Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by a near 2 to 1 margin. Never mind that second place finisher Mir Hossein Mousavi lost his home district by a similar incredible margin. Never mind that the Iranian people did not accept this electoral result. Yet, you are blaming the “west” for the unrest at home.
C’mon Iran! Give us a freaking break!
Are your clerics really that stupid? For years now there have been a growing group of individuals in the west who have championed dialogue with your regime, despite mutual distrust. With the election of Barack Obama as US president, there was a very real opportunity for dialogue and reacceptance into the global fold. President Obama had made overtones to that effect. So what do you do? You run a Zimbabwe-like presidential election and when your own people peacefully protest the results, you go ahead and kill them! Then you have the audacity to blame everyone under the sun for the unrest.
Get it through your thick totalitarian head Iran… Only you are to blame!
In just a few short weeks, you have managed to destroy what little sympathy and legitimacy your government had in the eyes of the global community. Making matters more ridiculous, one of your powerful clerics, Ayatollah Zeinolabedeen Ghorbani has stated, “anyonestill saying they don’t accept the results … should be ashamed of themselves as a believer and a Muslim.” Such a stupid statement would be hilarious if not for the fact that many actually accept this as true. Another idiot, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has called for protesters to repent and seek forgiveness from God. Comments such as these make your nation look foolish and backwards.
I hope that you guys get your act together really soon. In the mean time, we’ll be here sitting and watching; laughing and crying.
As the situation in Iran continues to deteriorate, the government has stepped up its bloody repression against its citizens. Opposition presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai have quietly scaled back their criticism of the electoral fraud perpetrated by the government while Mir Hussein Moussavi continues defiant. Declared winner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a victory celebration that was attended by less than half of the members of parliament. Reports contend that Tehran remains tense.
Earlier this week I posted a tribute piece about Neda the young lady executed by Basij paramilitary thugs. The image of her lifeless body has become a symbol for the opposition. I received a response to the piece from Luis Tijerina. His comment included a poem which I thought was both touching and beautifully written. With Mr. Tijerina’s permission, I have reprinted the poem. Thank you Luis for your moving words!
THE VOICE OF NEDA AGHA SOLTANI
(For The Iranian People)
Your beautiful face and voice speak to us
in the streets, on the rooftops of Tehran,
O Neda, O Neda!
Voice of the stars, voice of the earth, voice of the people…
Your death will be remembered
where you have fallen, the street is swelling
with protesters who have taken up your banner.
Who will ever forget seeing you die bravely
among those marching in rage against the dictator,
against the tyrannies in your country!
Your name is now the “call” to humanity,
It is our voice for all time.
As reported on my last blog piece, South Carolina’s Republican Governor, Mark Sanford’s hiking trip excuse seemed “fishy”. As it turned, the governor was enjoying a brief sabbatical from both his state and his family in Argentina with his mistress. His political career in shambles, the clock continues to tick towards resignation hour. In a poll conducted by The State, a Colombia SC newspaper, readers responded that he should resign at a 70% clip. Yet, for some insane reason, the governor has yet to indicate that he will be quitting.
I am sure that there are many people out there whining that the “liberal media” is piling on the governor in his moment of crisis. Granted, this is a tragedy for his family. Surely, this will not be the last high profile politician to be caught having an affair. What makes this case unique is that he clearly was derelict in his duty by simply vanishing without explanation. He lied to his wife. He lied to his staff. He lied to his constituents. Did he really think that no one was going to uncover this tryst? If he did, then he deserves this harsh treatment not for having an affair but for being stupid enough for thinking he could get away with it unscathed. His mea culpa press conference was bizarre and he still continues to be deceptive.
Someone in the Republican Party needs to stand up and say enough! The party is in complete shambles. Last week, Senator Ensign of Nevada admitted to his Republican colleagues at a caucus meeting that he had an affair with a former staffer. The caucus responded with a round of applause. That’s right… applause! Does this sound like the party of family values? The Republican Party for years has excoriated the Democrats for their “deviant” views on traditional values. What has become apparent is that the Republican Party’s stance on values is fraudulent. Governor Stanford, Senators Ensign, Craig, and Vitter have given true meaning to the phrase, “Do as I say…”
While spousal cheating is a bipartisan activity, it is the Republicans who claim moral superiority and thus, deserve the scorn and ridicule of all. Yet, I am sure that the governor will hold a press conference, shed some tears and ask for forgiveness. We being the forgiving people that we are we will probably show compassion and do so.
But please, save the applause for truly noble actions.
I’ve got to hand it to Republican Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. In the short life of this blog he holds the dubious distinction of being named LPL’s Idiot twice. His latest idiotic episode had him going AWOL from his governor’s post allegedly without informing anyone in the state government of his whereabouts.
Apparently, the Governor had decided to go “hiking” on the Appalachian Trail sans his security detail and without informing his own family. Boy… does this one smell fishy. Here are a few selected readers’ comments to the news taken from the Columbia SC newspaper The State:
Note: LPL admits to being extremely biased and has made no attempt to post comments defending the Governor’s actions.
eharrisonjr wrote on 06/23/2009 01:13:24 PM: My question is how soon would he do this if he were elected President. If he can handle the pressure of running South Carolina were he has a very nice Republican majority. How can he handle running the Nation with all of its problems.
XanderB wrote on 06/23/2009 01:04:29 PM: So he takes off over Fathers Day Weekend. Nobody knows what he’s actually doing, but everyone gives conflicting stories. Now he was suddenly hiking? With no form of communication? Riiiiight. How about we hear what really happened? Or are we asking too much to have the truth given to us?
bronksgrl wrote on 06/23/2009 12:49:57 PM: I felt Gov. Sanford should have taken a hike a long time ago!
CaryG wrote on 06/23/2009 11:43:33 AM: The typical stay in detox is 3-7 days. Do the math.
rmcswain wrote on 06/23/2009 11:43:22 AM: Let’s see now, Obama spends father’s day with his family emphasizing the importance of fathers. Sandford of the “family values” party spends father’s day who-knows-where and according to his wife, was writing something and “wanted to be away from the kids.”
Writing something on the AT??? Oh puleeze. Lugging a laptop I presume which would only have a few hours of battery life and no place to recharge it for miles. Yeah, right…
Stateworker wrote on 06/22/2009 06:07:24 PM: Does that mean he’s coming back……I’ll chip in 5 bucks if he stays where ever the hell he is………
And my personal favorite:
jerseyjack wrote on 06/22/2009 07:27:28 PM: Kinda reminds me of our former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevy. He used to disappear sometimes, too.
For disappearing for nearly a week, without telling your wife or kids where you might be (during Father’s Day weekend no less) and leaving your state with no one in charge while you were “clearing your head”, South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford… You are an IDIOT!
The ayatollahs in Iran have put an end to its people desire for reform by essentially rigging yesterday’s presidential elections in favor of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to authorities, Mr. Ahmadinejad garnered 62.3% of the vote. His main rival, popular candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi received 34% of the votes cast. Pre-election polling had Mr. Moussavi leading all candidates. In 2005, Mr. Ahmadinejad became president receiving 62% of the popular vote.
What makes this election rather odd is the anomaly of the results for the last place finisher, Mehdi Karroubi who received a paltry 300,000 votes. In 2005, he finished third in polling receiving over 5,000,000 votes. Mr. Karroubi decried the results. Mr. Moussavi has publicly claimed victory while calling the results fraudulent. There has been sporadic violence through out the country. Skirmishes between Moussavi supporters and police have lead to the death of one protester.
It is a shame that in this era of political awakening through out the world, the Supreme Council of Iran has decided to “steal” the elections. The people’s desire for reform is undeniable. As Iran tries to join the nuclear club of nations, it has shown, through this sham election that its political conscience is no more sophisticated than that of Zimbabwe. Much like the neo-conservative movement was thrown out of power in this country in 2008; the Iranian people have expressed their desire to shift away from their archaic theocracy.
Will there be real change in Iran? I doubt it. Will the protests escalate into a full blown revolution? The next few days will tell.
The United Nations has 192 member states. FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, has 208 international members. For generations, the United States has considered itself superior than all the rest of the world. Granted, we have the planet’s largest economy, strongest military and have been at the forefront in science and medicine. We are the largest donor of humanitarian aid as well as the Earth’s largest exporter of arms. Being at the head of virtually all things, we have managed to exert influence through out the planet politically, economically, and culturally. Unfortunately, that power has corrupted our nation’s standing in the world. Many countries view ours with envy. Many more view us with disdain. For too long, we have been looked at as ugly Americans. The nations of the world do not hate us because of “our freedoms” as President Bush used to say but because we became drunk with power and became arrogant. Our well deserved pride transformed into ugly arrogance. We lectured the world on the virtues of democracy yet we have propped up oppressive and murderous regimes through out the world. (Hussein in Iraq, the Saud’s in Saudi Arabia, Marcos in the Philippines, many South American generals) We were a leading supporter of the apartheid regime in South Africa. We trade with China while ignoring Tiananmen. We scold nations because of their nuclear ambitions yet remain the only nation in history to have actually used nuclear weapons; and we did it twice. We decry the lack of freedom of ethnic minorities in the world, yet we have a sad legacy of enslaving, stealing from, expelling and disenfranchising our own minorities. We are reckless in our use of the world’s resources. Our foreign policy is unambiguous in its favoritism thus negating any semblance of diplomatic credibility.
Enter President Barack Obama.
While there are many who are characterizing President Barack Obama’s overture to the world as American defeatism, the president is on the mark on one thing. While recognizing America’s role as a global leader, he realizes that with that leadership comes global responsibility. America is not an entity independent from the rest of the world community. Though clearly the strongest member, it is still just one of the 192 world nations. To regain the respect and credibility of the world community, Barack Obama has chosen to disarm our adversaries with humility and not with threats of force. His overtures to the Muslim world are nothing short of monumental. It’s still a carrot and stick approach but the stick is not overtly displayed.
President Obama’s action on the international stage has strengthened our presence and reputation. He has added a new word to the vocabulary of many nations when they describe us. And that word is FAIR. A fair leader is a respected leader. A fair leader is a powerful leader. A fair United States will be a powerful United States. This nation has reassumed its leading role in the world through cooperation and not coercion. The coming months will be telling. Will America continue on its march to restoration while remaining a collaborative member of Earth’s community of nations? I certainly hope so. And so does every one else.
The world is waiting. And watching.
What do you think? Drop me a comment and let’s discuss it.
As I have stated on numerous occasions in the past, the Republican Party really doesn’t give a damn about the people they allegedly represent. They only care about their political power and the benefits that said power can generate exclusively for themselves.
Case in point: The state of Minnesota.
The supreme court of the state has upheld the senate election results and its recount paving the way for Democrat Al Franken to occupy the seat formerly held by incumbent Norm Coleman, a Republican. Now if this were any other run-of-the-mill election, the winner of the recount – in this case, Mr. Franken would have been seated without much question. But because Mr. Franken will represent the cherished 59th non-Republican vote in the senate, opposition to his seating is vicious. Former Senator Coleman has vowed to continue his challenges. His continued fight for a reversal goes beyond being a sore loser. His continued actions border on unabashed political self-indulgence that has acquired a Robert Mugabe-esque quality.
Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican has gone on record saying that he will not certify Mr. Franken until all legal challenges have been “exhausted”. This could mean a ridiculously lengthy battle that could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Pawlenty, who has national political aspirations, should be disgraced for this act of treacherous partisanship. It is obvious that the governor is under immense pressure from the Rovian wing of the RNC. The Republicans have all intentions of manipulating the legal system to prolong this mess. It is not surprising that these same Republican idiots have been vociferous in the past against this type of abuse of the legal system. In the meantime, the state of Minnesota will remain solely represented by Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member Amy Klobuchar.
For placing your own political interests and those of your reprehensible party ahead of those of the constituents you were elected to represent…
Governor Tim Pawlenty, Republican governor of Minnesota, You are an IDIOT!
South Korean prosecutors are seeking an 18 month jail term for the blogger who accurately prognosticated the fall of Lehman Brothers and other financial calamities in an online forum last year.
According to the Korea Times,Park Dae-sung remains behind bars without bail. Better know as “Minerva”, he was arrested in January 2009 and charged with spreading alleged false financial information with the aim of hurting the public interest. His posts, though accurate, have been a major embarrassment to the South Korean government which finds itself mired in numerous ongoing financial scandals at the moment.
It is obvious that the case against Minerva is nothing more than a sham. The Last Person Left again calls for Minerva’s immediate and unconditional release.
North Korea has failed again in its attempt to launch an object into orbit. I wonder if they should just give it up. Leader Kim il Jong should follow the lead of his compatriots to the south. Start with automobiles and work his way up. Can you spell Hyundai?
Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in human rights abuses in the 1990’s. He probably will serve just a fraction of his sentence should his daughter, Keiko, win in her bid for the presidency in 2011. She is the current front runner. So much for justice.
Staying in the Americas, the Fifth Summit of the Americas opens this week in Trinidad and Tobago. The island nation expects 6,000 dignitaries, journalists and other visitors. The problem is that they only have about 1,700 hotel rooms on the islands. The solution: Chartered cruise ships. The question is which ambassador gets stuck in the bottom bunk?
Do As I Say… Not as I…
Fifteen years ago, the first Summit of the Americas was held in Miami. The meeting produced a declaration against corruption that all nations signed. The result? Of the 34 signatories, nearly one-third have faced jail time, are under indictment or on the run. Way to go Americas!
Shake It Like a Polarizing Figure
A recent Pew Poll has found that President Obama is a polarizing figure. Republican talkers have made a big deal of this citing how few Republicans support the President. Why am I not surprised? Only George W. Bush managed to unite both the Republicans and Democrats… against his own policies.
President Obama has a crisis on his hands. No, not Iraq or Afghanistan but of all things… Pirates. Reportedly, pirates off the coast of Somalia are holding an American captain hostage. Yet, another conflict inherited by the President from a past administration – Not the Bush Administration but the Jefferson Adminsitration.
The world may be a funny place… but it’s the only one we have.
The year was 1997 and I was living in a pillbox sized apartment on a building rooftop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On one warm and balmy evening, I and two expatriate friends of mine, Blake, an American and Terry, an Irishman, sat on plastic chairs on the roof as we did as usual to talk and pass the time away. We had met a year earlier upon arriving at King Khalid International Airport. We had decided to leave the confines of our cozy homelands seeking good tax-free salaries and adventure. We were all recruited by the leading hospital and research center in Saudi Arabia. It seemed like a good idea at the time and we embraced the challenge.
As we idled the night away gabbing, we could see the flying saucer shaped building that housed the Saudi Ministry of Interior a few blocks away. The building was off the main highway in Riyadh, the architecture odd - but it was a marvel to look at especially at night. Our roof top vantage point made it a sight to behold.
Our conversations were usually deep, philosophical, and apocalyptic in nature. We would discuss politics, history, war, and matters of religion. The conservative nature of our host country’s culture left us very few options for amusement and diversion. There were no pubs or movie theatres. Co-mingling of the sexes was prohibited unless on the grounds of a foreign embassy. Alcohol possession and consumption was also illegal. This too was remedied with a prized invitation to an embassy.
We spoke at length about Islam. After all, we were living in a conservative Islamic country. As we conversed into the night, I recall Blake asking me, if the U.S. will declare Islam our next mortal enemy, much like we did with communism in years past. I responded, “Absolutely… we cannot live in a world without an enemy.” Terry, with his Irish accent, retorted with a high pitched, “You’re joking!” And the conversation continued until the early morning hours. Little did we know how prophetic our conversation would be.
In the twelve years since, we have witnessed the following:
Side-Hamed Algeria Massacre (1997)
Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings (1998)
Apartment bombings in Russia by Chechen separatists (1999)
USS Cole (2000)
Bali bombings (2001)
3/11/2004 Train bombings in Madrid
7/7/05 bombings in London
Mumbai bombings (2008)
Wars, invasions, bombings, and insurgent movements in Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, Chechnya, Israel/West Bank/Gaza, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Philippines, and Indonesia among others, that has left hundreds of thousands (perhaps many more) dead and injured.
Yesterday, while in Turkey, President Barack Obama declared that the United States is neither at war nor an enemy of Islam. I am sure that the global jihadists will dismiss this statement. Many in this country will characterize his overture as appeasement and wishful thinking.
I, for one, take the President at his word. It is time for a fresh global initiative. Muslims make up nearly ¼ of the world’s population or about 1.6 billion followers. Acknowledging their concerns on a global level is absolutely the correct and intelligent thing to do if peace is the ultimate objective. And although there will be many who would want to continue the “wild west” approach to dealing with what they consider “outlaws”, it is obvious that responding violently to violence just creates more violence. Only firm diplomacy can end this conflict. We must negotiate from a position of strength but we also must understand the deep rooted skepticism of the Muslim world. President Bush’s characterization of the war on terror as a “crusade” offended millions – for many, the damage irreparable. But we must continue to explore all avenues and work towards a lasting reconciliation.
President Obama’s declaration is a great starting point. The arrogance of past administrations must be discarded along with the penchant for group think and saber-rattling. Continuation of this hubris will prove disastrous in dealing with the Iranian nuclear situation, one that the Eastern world is watching intently.
Yes, much has transpired since that fateful conversation overlooking the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh in 1997. As fate would have it, the world and our lives took many dramatic turns.
I returned to the U.S. in 1999. I ran into legal problems (I’ll explain later in a future post) and left the region – disgraced and dispirited but happy to have experienced life in the kingdom.
Blake passed away while on vacation in the U.S. in 2000. A few weeks before his death he sent me an email telling me of his vacation plans. I have read this final email hundreds of times in the years since his death. I cry every time.
Terry also ran into legal problems. He converted to Islam, returned to the U.K. as Khalid Kelly and became an outspoken radical. Last year, he went into hiding and his whereabouts today are unknown. It has been more than a decade since we last spoke. I never met Khalid. The fun loving, open-minded Terry I had come to know in Riyadh is also gone.
Here’s to my old friends… Blake, Terry, and the pre-9/11 world I knew and loved.
I miss you all. With any luck I might just get to experience a pre-9/11 world once again.
Want to discuss this post? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it! I personally respond to any and all comments
Year in and year out, the Republican Party has counted on the support of a certain group of individuals of our society to win elections. The historic election of President Obama changed the Republican playbook. No longer can the Republicans employ the politics of stupidity. Their conservative “base” is simply not enough to deliver electoral victories. Much like the Democratic Party of the early 1980’s, the Republican Partyof today finds itself lost in the wilderness and in search of the crumbs that would lead them back to power.
Wedge issues continue to dominate the Republican platform. Prayer in school, Gay and Lesbian rights, stem cell research, abortion, immigration policy, gun control, and the display of religious symbols can no longer divide the electorate sufficiently to affect an electoral result one way or another. Any politician, regardless of party affiliation, who makes any of these issues the cornerstone of their campaign, is relying on the “moron factor” of his/her constituents. The reality is that this political tactic simply does not work any more. No politician can overturn Roe v. Wade single-handedly, nor do they have the power to personally rescind constitutional amendments. Voters have finally realized this. The debate over LGBT rights and immigration are the only wedge issues that remain legislative susceptible to politicking. This too may soon change.
The American electorate has evolved exponentially during the past two decades. We have become a plurality of voters who refuse to fall for the wedge issue debate. It is amazing that these issues have lasted so long and have pushed the electorate to vote against their own economic interests in the process. The country is in the grips of a new progressive reorientation which no doubt has left the Republican Party gasping for air. This is evident in their present day politically nomadic state.
Will wedge issues eventually cause a split within the Republican Party? Probably. Libertarianism is not the answer for the disaffected base. As these issues become less relevant to the American electorate the Republican Party will continue to lose ground. And that is some thing we liberals can all be thankful for.
Want to discuss this post? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it! I personally respond to any and all comments.
As I begin my road to recovery from surgery, I want to publicly thank all those who took the time to wish me well during this trying time for me. Being sick is not an easy thing. Yet, with the kind words of encouragement from my fellow bloggers, the pain seems to be lessened.
On Saturday morning, April 4th, 2009, an obviously deranged man, Richard Poplawski, shot and killed three police officers who responded to a domestic dispute between the alleged shooter and his mother at their Pittsburgh home. Sadly, this has become an all too common occurrence in the country. What makes this story more disturbing were the comments made by the mother, Margaret Poplawski, as to why her son had a cache of weapons in his possession.
According to the AP, Mrs. Poplawski told police that her son had been stockpiling guns and ammunition, “because he believed that as a result of economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society.”It was also reported that the alleged perpetrator feared having his guns confiscated by the Barack Obama administration.
If I recall correctly, this unfounded fear was a major Republican talking point before and after Mr. Obama’s election. Republicans need to understand that there are some members of our society who literally believe the crap that they spew. It would not be surprising to see more incidents like this one play out in the future.
I am a staunch first amendment advocate (see my Blogger Freedom site list), but that does not give people the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Freedom of speech is the fundamental cornerstone of our democracy but it is time for the right wing to end the seditious commentary that characterizes their anti-Obama agenda. There are more constructive ways of expressing dissent without inflaming the passions of the lunatic fringe. Appealing to the base is one thing… A call to arms is a different story.
I hope that the next time people like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachmann, and others call for an “uprising” and or “revolution” they remember the three dead police officers and their families. These irresponsible commentators should be held criminally accountable for this and any future incidents.
Want to discuss this post? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it! I personally respond to any and all comments.
As President Obama continues his presidential debut tour in Europe, there a few things worth noticing that highlight the nature of his management style thus giving us some insight into what to expect through out the rest of his presidential tenure.
Like it or not, the President has the charisma and political charm to disarm the fiercest of his opponents. His seeming non-confrontational style is a refreshing and savvy change to that of the outlaw “bring them on” style of his predecessor. To have mediated a dispute between diplomatic France and power house China reaffirmed the President’s campaign assertions that he was indeed ready to lead despite his thin foreign policy resume. Who do you want getting that 3:00 a.m. call now?
Mr. Obama has characterized America’s attitude towards Europe and the world as “arrogant”. On the other hand, he mildly scolded the Europeans for their anti-American sentiments. Again, the President has challenged these sociopolitical realities head on. Could you imagine Presidents Bush or Reagan taking this approach? By making others feel like equals, Mr. Obama has strategically captured the political high ground. In a world on the brink of economic and political collapse, Mr. Obama has stealthily assumed the mantle of global statesman. Mark my words, the President is laying the groundwork for a diplomatic solution to the complex Iranian situation. Do not be surprised if there is a major break through before the Iranian presidential elections this June.
During his town hall gathering in Strasbourg France, Mr. Obama delighted the crowd with his self-deprecating humor and wit. He has, in effect, humanized the presidency and in turn, humanized our nation in the eyes of the world. (Some thing the world needed to see badly) He pauses contemplatively while answering unscreened questions. There is nothing pretentious about his performances. He does not appear evasive in his responses. The Republicans mock the President for his lack of polish when not using a teleprompter. Yet, when the President improvises, he is confident, informed, and above all, articulate, reducing the Republican talking point to nothing short of hollow whining.
While in Europe, the President has yet to give any world leader a back rub and has managed not to run over police officers while riding bicycle. There have been no reports of the President throwing up on any one’s lap. He has not mispronounced any one’s name and has managed to correctly conjugate verbs.
As ludicrous as this may sound the derisive accusations by Republicans that Mr. Obama had messianic qualities may not have been too crazy after all.
In short, his performance to date has been brilliant.
His partial grade for this trip: A+
Want to discuss this post? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it! I personally respond to any and all comments.
Much like our nation’s economy, the Last Person Left has been suffering from ill health as of late and will be out of commission for the foreseeable future. To my friends and readers, I apologize. I will be back up as soon as my body allows me to.
President Barack Obama has maintained a hectic pace during his first 100 days in the oval office. He has promised health care and education reform, while attempting to manage the economic meltdown. Not all of his nominations have panned out. The executive bonus fiasco has been a major distraction. Yet, the President appears to be very competent in the art of multi tasking. Having few substantive issues to hang on to, the Republicans have come up with one of the silliest criticisms towards the President. Their new hollow critique is that he is “doing too much”.
I suppose that the Republicans would prefer a President that does too little than one that does too much. And why shouldn’t they want a part-time President? The last Republican President, George W. Bush, spent 977 days either at Camp David or at his ranch in Crawford Texas. In other words, Bush the Younger spent 33.4% of his presidency on vacation. That is more than 2½ years of his 8 year tenure! Another inconvenient fact is that President Bush had been on a month-long vacation barely 6 months into his presidency in 2001. Shortly upon his return, terrorists attacked. In a vacation sequel, the President was also on vacation when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
George H.W. Bush spent 543 of his 1460 days as President on vacation (36.5%). The Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan was a pretty good vacationer in his own right, spending 335 days on vacation (11.4%). Contrast this with Presidents Bill Clinton (5.2%) and Jimmy Carter (5.4%).
No wonder Republicans think that government is broken.
When those who are supposed to run it… are on vacation.
Let’s get this straight. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) did not make it possible for AIG executives to collect these outrageous bonuses. He, in fact, had added an amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 prohibiting this hideous act. It was the Treasury Department that lobbied Congress to remove this clause, thus allowing AIG and others to legally collect these bonuses. Although I am a liberal partisan, I will call out the Obama administration for dropping the ball on this one. Officials from the Obama administration made these payouts possible. But where did the pressure stem from? The Treasury Department! Led by whom? Timothy Geithner, a Bush appointee to the New York Fed.
It is time to let this guy go. Period… End.
I understand the President’s desire to have an all-encompassing bi-partisan administration. It was a noble gesture. I believe that my President believes that humans are by nature good hearted people. But, he screwed this one up. Geithner, is simply, one of them so to speak. He must have had knowledge of the Dodd amendment and had his people kill the effort to restrict bonuses. He was, in effect, helping his people.
President Obama. Cut your losses. It’s time to change course! Mr. Geithner is a liability and it’s time to bring on a Secretary of the Treasury who will advance the progressive agenda. Mr. Geithner is not the guy.
I have two names for you:
Want to talk about this? Make a comment or drop me an email.
As the bonus payment flap continues, AIG is crying that they are contractually bound to pay their executives bonuses in spite of their economic standing. The question that begs to be asked is what was the performance incentive required to qualify for these bonuses? There is nothing inherently wrong with dabbling in uncertain financial instruments. But AIG is an INSURANCE company. Their job was to practice prudent actuarial science. It was AIG who was insuring the reckless banking industry. AIG may not have invented the problem but by insuring those who indulged in this foolishness they were complicit. Readers, the real outrage is not that they are paying out the bonuses but that the law allows this miscarriage.
Who in the Congress allowed these bonuses to become legal? Remember, that as part of the bailout, AIG was obligated to restructure previous commitments, much like the automakers were forced to do. And even though the Republicans are now pointing the finger at Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), it is clear that someone other than Sen. Dodd inserted the language allowing for these bonuses to be legal when the bill passed into law in mid-February. This is the troubling nugget mysteriously inserted into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.
Now the Republicans have become the people’s hero. They are crying foul! The Democrats are to blame for allowing AIG execs to fleece the American taxpayer. Any one who swallows this spin is out of their mind. I am sure that Limbaugh’s audience is salivating. Folks, not too long ago it was the Republicans who excoriated Democrats for having the gall to suggest that the government regulate executive pay and bonuses.
In September of 2008, Republican Senator Richard Shelby (SC) made it very clear that government had no business regulating private corporations. He said,
“It should be up to the board of directors of a private corporation to set the compensation of an executive…it shouldn’t be Congress’s role.”
In early February, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) had this to say about regulating executive pay, “I really don’t want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do.”
But today they sing a different tune! This is nothing more than elitist conservatives trying to pass over as populists. (yes it’s the Republicans who are elitist!) They are for the working person (not). They are fighting for the American taxpayer (not). They are liars! The Republicans created this freaking mess! They rejoice in their deceit! Their past success has been based solely on their ability to spin, deceive and trick the American electorate. They have no shame. Call it what it is. The Republican Party of today is a party of self interest and personal gain. They pledge allegiance only to themselves and to their ideology regardless of the consequences to the nation and its citizens while shamelessly wrapping themselves in the flag and criticizing Americans who want to see America succeed.
The 2008 elections demonstrated that Americans are no longer that gullible. With an educated and savvy electorate, the 2010 mid term elections will prove that Americans will no longer fall for this Republican bullshit!
Disclaimer: I do not believe that conservatism and the Republican Party are one and the same. The party of deceit has hijacked conservative ideology in order to advance their hideous agenda. Though I am an advocate of liberalism, I do respect conservative ideology as an alternative economic, political and socio-cultural view point however much I may disagree with it.
Republican Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is taking some heat for his comment regarding AIG executives stating that they should resign or commit suicide. Granted, it is a pretty stupid comment, but coming from a Republican lawmaker, it should surprise no one. Here is the quote:
“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed but I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.
Yet there is a tangential point to be made here. The act of seppuku, or Japanese ritual suicide, was performed in feudal Japan to avoid capture by an enemy, as act of protest, or as a remedy to atone for a shameful act. To imply that AIG executives have shame in their portfolios is foolish.
Though paying out bonuses while receiving bailout money is reprehensible, the true shame lies on those responsible for allowing this to happen. The greed seen on Wall Street is a direct result of the Republican led Congress of the George W. Bush era. That Congress, scaled back regulations, changed existing laws (see bankruptcy law) and overtly looked the other way in the name of laissez-faire capitalism. Republicans were duplicitous in this and for them to a point finger now is simply hypocritical and disingenuous. (In other words… truly Republican)
Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa… You are an IDIOT!
One of the more amusing things of the economic quagmire left by the Republicans in 2008 is that they did the same thing to our country in the late 20’s and early 30’s. The asinine revisionist history that the Republicans spew today regarding FDR and the New Deal just exemplifies the insanity of conservative ideology. It’s a crying shame that so many Americans simply do NOT know (or care to know) our nation’s history and readily accept the conservative spin as outright truth.
A recent piece by a fellow blogger and friend at The Modern Left titled “Employee Free Choice Act = Radical Islam?”, exposes the lies and fear mongering that big corporations have been disseminating in order to defeat this vital piece of legislation. So here we are facing an economic catastrophe and the present administration is supporting measures to ensure workers’ rights while big business fights rabidly against it and as usual all we have to do is read a bit of history and we will see that this has happened before, under similar circumstances and the nation as a whole benefited greatly from enhanced workers’ rights.
Rewind to 1933
The nation was in the midst of the First Republican Great Depression. Unemployment was rampant. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had assumed the presidency in March of 1933, inheriting the worse economic catastrophe in our history to date. Corporations and banks were clamoring for government assistance, which the government provided. Big business was more than happy to get relief but they balked at a few caveats that the administration included. Under the guidance of Labor Secretary Francis Perkins, (our first ever female Cabinet member) the administration enacted provisions that prohibited child labor. It enacted a minimum wage requirement and a maximum hour work week. The legislation dramatically improved workplace conditions and created unemployment compensation. These provisions that we now take for granted were vehemently opposed by business interests and the Republican Party. Now imagine what this country would be like without these safeguards today! It is not surprising that the same arguments that are being made today in 2009 are exactly the same nonsense that was made in 1933. And in much the same way, I am sure that the progressive agenda will succeed under President Obama as it did under FDR, no matter how the conservatives want to spin it.
South Carolina Republican Governor, Mark Sanford, in his infinite non-existent wisdom, is warning that President Obama’s stimulus plan will drive the United States towards a Zimbabwe-like recession. Ludicrous to say the least!
Okay let’s assume Governor Sanford knows a little bit more about global economics and geography than Sarah Palin. (The jury is still out) The governor has requested a waiver from the administration to be able to use stimulus money to pay down South Carolina’s debt. This obviously is not the intent of the stimulus and will not be allowed. The governor who has previously crusaded against extending much needed unemployment benefits to state residents. In his waiver request, he informed the President that he will not use stimulus money for unemployment benefits.
While the governor is making ridiculous comparisons, he fails to realize that it is South Carolina that is looking more and more like Zimbabwe; both neglecting its poor and disenfranchised.
Besides the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, South Carolina ranks 4th in the nation in infant mortality; behind the great Republican-run states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. In 2008, South Carolina ranked #1 in violent crimes per capita. In 2007, the state ranked 47th in personal income. Not to mention that the state receives approximately 35% more in federal funds that it contributes to federal coffers. South Carolina also ranks 49th in high school graduation rates, 8th in occupational fatalities, and is ranked the 3rd least healthy state in the union according to the United Health Foundation.
Governor Sanford leads a state that is failing its residents.
I am sure that he cannot see the misery of its citizens from his mansion in Harare… I mean Columbia.
Republican Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina… You are an IDIOT!
Though the District of Columbia was initially envisioned by the founding fathers as simply a dormitory for employees of the federal government, it has grown into a vibrant, mainly Democratic enclave of over 600,000 residents. These residents pay federal income tax yet they do not have a vote in the House. That’s called taxation without representation. After years of wrangling, the District of Columbia is on the verge of finally acquiring their representative.
Republican (Dirty) Politics as Usual
Republicans are crying foul over the constitutionality of granting D.C. a sure Democratic seat in the House of Representatives. Congress has plans to allocate an additional seat to Utah, a Republican stronghold, thus negating the political argument. Constitutionally, there are valid legal arguments on both sides.
Yet, leave it to a Republican to throw his idiotic two cents into this issue. As the District of Columbia continues its battle for fair and equal representation in the House of Representatives, Senator John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada has made use of the legislative powers of Congress over D.C. to introduce an amendment that would repeal the District’s strict gun control laws. The senator from gun-loving Nevada has willfully poisoned this important piece of legislation with a strictly partisan and obtrusive amendment. This smacks of pure issue driven politics. While Republicans champion “states’ rights” they find no problem in injecting their politics into what is simply a local issue.
Hypocritical Senator John Ensign of Nevada… You are an IDIOT!
Now that the Obama’s Administration agenda is just about ready to hit a Republican wall, it is time to for the President to go through with his much promised “change for America”.
The nation is on the precipice of an economic and social catastrophe. The stock market continues to sink. The financial sector remains on life support, barely gasping for breath. The planet’s economic health rests almost exclusively with our nation’s financial stability. Social upheaval as a result of tough economic times is a real possibility in this country.
And while all this is happening, the Republicans and other obstructionists continue to play partisan political games. These shenanigans continue to leave this nation vulnerable. The Republicans simply do not care if the economy goes into the crapper. They are more concerned with the mid-term elections in 2010 than the immediate crisis. In addition, the Republicans are so ideological that they would be willing to see the administration fail than to credit it if it succeeds. That is a fact!
What the President needs to do is to alter his political course in fighting this crisis. Unfortunately, bipartisanship is only reserved for times of justified war. President Obama needs to get this picture and get it quickly. Bipartisanship is not the answer to this crisis. The President needs to act decisively and expeditiously and if the Republicans refuse to come along, then so be it. Mr. Obama needs to alert the nation that this is not simply another bubble bursting but a calamity with national security implications.
It may be early in the administration, but Mr. Obama needs to go “all in” on this issue. Should the President continue the current course of action and the economy fails (as predicted) he will be judged harshly. It is time to act boldly. After all, we did vote for change!
The administration of President Obama has threatened to boycott the upcoming UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva unless language equating the State of Israel’s policy of Zionism with racism is removed from the conference’s final communiqué. The conference is scheduled for mid-April and is a sequel to the contentious meeting held in Durban South Africa in 2001, where the U.S. and Israel both walked out. Objections have also been raised to the Conference raising awareness over the issue of slavery reparations, another sore point for the United States.
One can only conclude that this is world politics as usual.
Mr. Obama has missed an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to the world his progressive sociopolitical agenda. Although the administration has made good will gestures towards the Arab world, boycotting this Conference offsets any previous gains. Having Dr. Susan Rice, a lady of color, as the UN Representative to the United Nations, spearheading this travesty makes this episode even more regrettable.
The State of Israel presents a harsh political reality for the administration. Yet, the driving force of Obama’s sociopolitical legitimacy is severely undermined in the progressive world with this action. Mr. Obama and Dr. Rice are in a unique position to slowly erode the concept of Zionism as an acceptable form of governance, much the same way that apartheid was eventually discredited in the early 1990’s in South Africa.
Failure to moderate from our historic hard pro-Zionist stance smacks of hypocrisy in its most hideous form.
President Obama and Dr. Rice need to think this one over.
The decision by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to challenge incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will pose a fascinating set of circumstances for both the Iranian people and the nascent foreign policy direction of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Khatami was President of Iran from 1997-2005. He was the fifth president of the Islamic Republic. The previous two presidents before Khatami currently serve as the two most powerful figures in Iran today. Former President Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i (1981-89) now serves as the nation’s Supreme Leader, having succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini upon his death. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997) succeeded Khāmene’i and is now the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts (electors of the Supreme Leader).
When Khatami assumed power in 1997 he was widely viewed as a reformer and a progressive thinker inside of Iran. Over time during his presidency, the ruling religious elite managed to rein in the reformist imagery that he had carefully crafted. Political expediency dictated that Khatami publicly retreat from his reformist ideology, prompting criticism from the reform movement in Iran. Simultaneously, a ground swell of conservatism in the country, as well as, the disqualification of many reformist candidates running for office on dubious grounds, ushered in the presidency of the former mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
An interesting dynamic is forming in the run up to the June 2009 presidential elections. Khatami will be up against the formidable incumbent Ahmadinejad and another reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, who had a strong showing in the 2005 presidential elections, finishing third in the first round of voting. He is an outspoken cleric and has challenged the ruling theocracy, albeit cautiously, in the past. He dared to accuse the religious elite of manipulating the 2005 elections in favor of Ahmadinejad earning a strong admonishment from Supreme Leader Khāmene’i in the process.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that both Khatami and Karroubi will spilt the reformist vote forcing a run-off election between either candidate and the incumbent Ahmadinejad. Incidentally, the same occurred in 2005, when Karroubi, former President Rafsanjani and physician Mostafa Moeen split the reformist vote. Rafsanjani, who was the first round winner eventually lost to Ahmadinejad.
One thing is evidently clear with the upcoming elections. Should Ahmadinejad win the election, the Iranian government will almost surely strike a defiant tone in its negotiations with the Western powers over its nuclear ambitions. A reformist victory may invite a more mollifying approach from the Obama administration. Regardless of the results, any Iranian administration will demand that the United States be less arrogant and more conciliatory at the negotiating table. Iran will not negotiate if it feels that it must do so under duress and pressure. One thing is certain. The Iranian nuclear program will continue to expand regardless of the diplomatic overtures made by the Obama administration. The nuclear program is for the Iranians a matter of national energy security. A reformist victory will not change the nuclear chess match in the region.
The mayor of Los Alamitos is coming under fire for an e-mail he sent out that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons, under the title “No Easter egg hunt this year.”
Local businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, who is black, said Tuesday she received the e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose’s personal account on Sunday and wants a public apology.
“I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes,” Price told The Associated Press. “I honestly don’t even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin’-mayor – come on.”
Here is the image:
Grose confirmed to the AP that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn’t mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.
…which is clearly horseshit. If Mayor Grose was truly ignorant of the racist stereotype about watermelons…what would be the point in the email? It would be completely nonsensical to send out an email about our first black President having a White House lawn full of watermelons if the watermelons signified nothing at all.
I have written about the racism Obama’s election has sparked in the past…but this, coming from an elected official, is just offensive on a whole new level.
Citizens of Los Alamitos…I’m sorry your Mayor is a dumbass.
Following an inspiring speech by President Barack Obama is indeed a tough act to follow. Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal now knows as does the rest of the nation.
To the lions!
The decision to have the Louisiana governor give the Republican response, I believe, was not coincidental. Where was the Republican Party leadership? The Republicans knew that following the President would be simply inconsequential, sound irrelevant and probably appear sophomoric. And it did! To his credit, the governor’s personal story was engaging. Had this been the Republican convention, it may have played better. Following the President, who is fast becoming recognized as one of America’s greatest orators, Governor Jindal purpose seemed confused; not very good for an aspiring presidential candidate. I am positive that Governors Pawlenty and Palin (other Republican hopefuls) must have watched this spectacle with a degree of morbid satisfaction.
What was he thinking?
Much to the nation’s surprise, Governor Jindal evoked the federal response to Hurricane Katrina as an example as to why government does not work. No governor, Hurricane Katrina is an example of how Republican controlled government does not work!
No one, including myself, doubts the governor’s sincerity to his cause. The Republican ideology is becoming more and more irrelevant and those who publicly and fervently espouse these views are looking more and more clownish. The circus must have been in town in Baton Rouge last night!
Here is Governor Jindal doing his best Bozo imitation and getting grilled on Fox!
Since his inauguration, President Barack Obama has had to endure indignities that no other President has had to tolerate. Granted, during the election cycle, certain things are always said that are not very endearing to the candidate. But once the election is decided the political bickering is expected to subside somewhat while the personal attacks should stop. In both cases, the Republican Party has increased their political attacks on the President while the personal attacks have continued.
The president has been in office less than two months and he has had to endure:
§Zero Republican support for his economic plan.
§An about face from a would-be Republican cabinet member.
§The publication of a garish cartoon in a NY newspaper alluding to the president as a simian who has been shot by the police while making reference to his stimulus plan.
§A sitting United States Senator (Richard Shelby R-SC) rehashing the already discredited notion of the president not being a citizen.
At this point, the political hijacking, character assassination and plain disrespect to the President of the United States must clearly stop. These antics are obstructionist at best, racist at worst. I shudder to think what lies in the future, but if I were the president, I would put an end to this right now!
Call me naïve, but I for one am sick and tired of being held hostage by the banking/financial industry. And you should be too! The stimulus bill that was recently passed included a little nugget that prohibited top banking executives from receiving any type of cash bonus until the institution repays in full their TARP obligations. What is somewhat surprising is that the Obama Administration opposed the provision.
The reasons for any opposition to restricting executive compensation are as creative as they ridiculous.
Prohibiting bonuses will cause the banks to repay the TARP funds more quickly thus limiting their ability to lend.
Since when is it a bad thing to repay a loan quickly? The banks should be required to repay the loans in the most expeditious manner while loosening credit at the same time. Am I missing some thing here, but if I am loaned money I do not have the right to set conditions for my repayment. I can hear the credit card company collector laughing in my face!
Prohibiting bonuses will encourage financial institutions to increase salaries in lieu of bonuses.
Let me get this straight… The bank is going under but since the CEO cannot collect a bonus we’ll just quintuple his base salary. Real smart!
The banks claim that raising base salaries removes performance incentives. No, paying performance incentives for poor performance removes performance incentives!
Prohibiting bonuses will cause a flight of top executives… a “brain drain”.
Let us hope that it causes exactly that. Why in the world would we allow the very same characters who caused the greatest banking catastrophe in global history to remain in their positions? The bankers and traders have committed criminal acts. A great place to empty the brain drain may be the state pen.
When the government moved in to provide bridge loans to the automakers, the Republicans where bitching and moaning about the salaries of the union autoworkers. Where are those Republicans now? I don’t hear a peep from these robber baron, class warfare loving legislators. They will not be happy until our national economy resembles the Walmart model. I guess if you make $45.00 an hour you are destroying the company but if you rakeit its in a $500 million dollar bonus while the company is failing, you are part of a much needed brain trust. I’m sorry folks but for the first time on this blog I will have to make use of an expletive. This is absolute, complete and total BULLSHIT!
It is time to nationalize the failed financial institutions. Call it government appropriation of assets, nationalization or call it socialism.
Imagine for one second if the Russians had invaded and installed friendly regimes in both Canada and Mexico. Also imagine if both these North American nations were occupied by Russian forces. Then add to that a Russian missile presence in Honduras and possible Russian controlled nuclear arms in Cuba. Pretty scary thought right?Now replace Canada, Mexico, Honduras and Cuba with Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and Israel and you have the actual real life scenario that Iran confronts.
In a previous blog piece about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I explored the evolution of Iran’s program and how the West has generally mishandled it. Now, in 2009, the stakes are much higher and the reality of a nuclear Iran is much closer to reality. The ability for Iran to deliver a nuclear payload has been greatly improved with the successful launch of a space orbiting satellite earlier this month. Despite the assertions of western intelligence sources that Iran has exhausted its nuclear materials, the Iranian program continues to evolve.
What should Obama do?
Once the Obama Administration settles into Washington and the economic situation begins to settle down, the issue of Iran must take center stage. It is in the best interest for all parties that cooler heads prevail in the region. The fact that the United States remains embroiled in Iraq and in Afghanistan reduces the appearance of American sincerity in any type of political negotiation. The era of American arrogance may have peaked with the Bush administration. The Obama administration should usher in an era of honest diplomacy. It would be shocking to see a continuation of the disdain that the Bush administration had towards diplomacy in the new Obama administration. Until the American State Department treats Iran as a respectable partner, and not like a rogue state, the crisis will continue to disintegrate. The U.S. must also realize that Russia has a vested interest in the region. Low level, multilateral talks may serve as the spring board to higher level direct negotiations.
Israel’s role in the process
The recent victory by the Kadima Party in Israel will create more pressure on the Obama administration to negotiate with a more forceful tone. The disastrous showing of the left wing Labor Party in the recent elections reflects the political mood in Israel. The ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party will wield immense power as a result of its strong finish. This shift to the right in Israel will make negotiations with Iran very delicate. It would not be surprising if the Iranians, as a precondition to any nuclear negotiations, request that the United States formally recognize the existence of Israeli nuclear capabilities. In President Obama’s first news conference, he carefully dodged the Israeli nuclear question that was posed by reporter Helen Thomas. If the United States is serious about dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it must seriously consider and effectively address the region’s suspicions of Israel’s capabilities. Israel follows a policy of deliberate ambiguity in neither confirming nor denying possession of nuclear weapons. Yet, it is considered the region’s worst kept secret. Should the Iranians put the Israeli question on the table and the United States side steps the issue, the negotiations will be dead in the water and a sham.
Development of Iranian nuclear capabilities is of great concern for the United States, in the context of the balance of power in the region and its relationship with the State of Israel. Any negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program should also include Israel’s nuclear capabilities. Approaching this dilemma in an even handed and fair manner may just be the strategy for long term peace in the region and mutual security in the region.
Call me overly simplistic but I think that it’s time for President Obama to make a major course adjustment in dealing with the whole economic stimulus bill. I have to hand it to him though. After his electoral mandate, he arrived in Washington and extended an olive branch to the opposition. The Republicans, in typical fashion, responded with partisan politicking. In the meantime, the clock continues to tick and the economy worsens.
Looking Back Again
As I have been blogging recently, there numerous parallels between the economics crises of depression era and post-Reagan Americas. The causes are eerily similar; the ideological actors are laughably alike. FDR, at first brought in officials from he failed Hoover administration. His Budget Director was a Republican and one of the most fiscally conservative voices in the Congress at the time. Yet, when push came to shove, FDR knew that he had won the election by a landslide and the American people would not support complacency. FDR was granted enormous power by Congress to wage war against the economic depression. While wielding that power judiciously, he was not averse to twisting an arm or two in the process.
President Obama’s persona is that of a calm, collected and composed politician. We are not aware (at least not yet) of his political persuasion skills when it is time to get down and dirty. I believe that it is time to publicly show a flexing of political muscle. And here is how he can do it:
Should there continue to be political squabbling over the stimulus package, the President should reintroduce a series of separate bills, each addressing the fundamental problems that this nation faces. A separate bill for jobs creation; another for the mortgage crisis; yet another for middle class tax relief and yet another addressing the banking crisis. In trying to address all the issues with one mega piece of legislation, none of the problems are being addressed efficiently and are subject to petty political squabbles. Let’s face it, should the current legislation fail to solve the crisis (and it will fail), the Republicans will be first in line to blame the President. Even as he accommodates the Republicans, the reality is that zero Republicans voted for the bill in the House and he has only garnered the support of 3 in the Senate. If he wants Republican support then he needs to submit a pro-tax cut, anti-spending bill to Congress; which is what got us into this mess in the first place! The Republicans will never support a progressively inspired bill regardless of the potential benefits of its success. Never!
If the Republicans wish to filibuster the separate legislations, the President can call them out for being obstructionists. In addition, the President needs to completely scrap the notion of tax cuts that have been negotiated into the present bill and publicly denounce the dogma that tax cuts lead to economic prosperity thus breaking from the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush cabal of laissez-fair free traders. President Obama needs to strong arm his economic plan in much the same way that George W. Bush shoved his “let’s keep America safe at whatever cost” ideology on the American people.
President Obama must realize that 53% of American voters voted for change last November. Pushing through an economic agenda that upsets the other 47% is nothing to be afraid of when 95% of all Americans will be adversely affected by inaction. The President has 66,882,230 reasons to act decisively.
There are many progressives in this country who are angry, confused or disillusioned with President Obama’s handling of the political shenanigans that the Republican Party has indulged in during this time of crisis. His historic victory emotionally energized the progressive movement. Yet, less than a month into his presidency, there may be who now doubt his prospects of success. (Note: This writer is not included in this group). Given his resound electoral victory, his calls for bipartisanship appears somewhat incongruent. I strongly believe that there is a method to this somewhat bewildering approach.
What is going on here?
It would be palatable for progressives to see the President just go on the offensive and attack the opposition. I am sure that lingering in the back of liberal minds is the notion that it’s our turn to do to them what they did to us the past eight years. But, Mr. Obama may be looking beyond this natural “red meat” reaction in appeasing the party faithful. His broader goals may be more grandiose. And although I think that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is a mere propagandist, he nailed it right on the head when he recently declared that the President is out to change the political landscape for the next few generations. While the right wing has been pretty much diplomatic in their attacks on the President, they have assailed the legacies of the “New Deal” and FDR. Facing a nearly identical economic morass as was seen in the 1930’s, the Republican Party knows that their conservative ideology will be dealt a mortal blow should this President succeed as FDR had. Moreover, the Republican Party knows that President Obama is aware of this also.
Change is coming soon… but not just yet!
It is obvious that the current economic stimulus package is nowhere near the size that it should be to be effective. It has been reported that up to 42% of the “stimulus” is in the form of tax cuts that Republicans demanded be included. Let’s face it… the package will fail and the country’s downward economic spiral will continue. When this happens, the President will then have all the pieces in place to enact a much broader and sweeping agenda that will forever change the political landscape. He knows full well that any plan that relies on the conservative tenets of increased tax cuts and the likes are destined to fail. The country is hurting badly now, but there are no images of Americans standing in line at soup kitchens. As cynical as this may sound, this may have to happen. Mr. Obama has already warned us of the troubles that lay ahead. When all is said and done, a package that will dwarf FDR’s New Deal will be clamored for, legislated and succeed.
Like FDR, Mr. Obama commenced his presidency attempting to enlist the opposition in solving the nation’s economic crisis. Like FDR, President Obama will eventually get the support of almost all Americans. Like FDR, Mr. Obama will enact changes that will dramatically change the definition of prosperity in this country for decades to come. Ironically, much like FDR, President Obama will have the Republicans to thank for the next Great American Progressive Revolution.
Ever verbally flatulent right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh has ratcheted up his attacks on President Obama’s handling of the economy with his entertaining yet deceptive brand of pseudo-journalism. Mr. Limbaugh unashamedly is attributing the recent increase in lay-offs across the country to what he is framing as President Obama’s “War on Prosperity”. This catch-phrase will surely go viral as most Republican talking points tend to do. As expected, the conservative spin machine blames the nation’s economic mess on Obama, who has been in office barely TWO WEEKS, while ignoring the past EIGHT YEARS of disastrous economic policies. This is typical of the conservative liars movement. Facts are mere inconveniences to these purveyors of deceit.
You will never hear this on Rush Limbaugh’s propaganda show.
The Republicans love to point out that whenever the country is run by their party the country prospers economically. But a cursory glance at history tells an entirely different story. In the last 100+ years, the United States has suffered through ELEVEN (11) severe economic downturns. Of the 11 economic disasters, the Republicans held the presidency at the onset of NINE of them! Most notably, the Republicans were directly responsible, through their rabid belief of laissez-faire capitalism, for the two greatest economic collapses in our history. Fiscal responsibility is a Republican oxymoron. There have been 5 presidents in the past 32 years. (3 Republicans and 2 Democrats) In those 32 years, the federal budget deficit relative to GDPgrew from the previous year on 22 occasions. Republican Presidents oversaw 19 of those 22 deficit growth years. In fact, under Presidents Carter and Clinton, the year to year budget deficit relative to GDP grew only on 3 occasions. Only once in 20 years of rule (Reagan in 1981) did Republicans manage to decrease the yearly deficit.
The Republicans in the House have indicated to President Obama that the “honeymoon” period after his inauguration may be short-lived. After making concessions to conservatives in an attempt to garner bipartisan support for H.R.1 – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Republicans repaid the President by voting unanimously as a party against the measure (244-188 with 10 Democrats voting no and 1 non vote). The bill now heads to the Senate where there will be certain rewrites.
Where’s the Payback?
If I recall correctly, when the Republicans were in control of Congress during most of George W. Bush’s presidency, Democrats had nowhere near the influence as a minority party as the Republicans currently enjoy. Even when the Democrats threatened Senate filibusters, the majority Republicans threatened invoking a “nuclear option”, in essence, changing the voting rules to end the filibuster. Democrats were bullied then and are wondering now, why the President has not assumed an adversarial tone. To some, it appears that President Obama is governing without looking up at the scoreboard and realizing that his team is in the lead. The Democrats have a big majority in the House and are within one vote of a super majority in the Senate.
The Mid-Term Elections
The President has the political capital to nudge Republican senators on the stimulus bill. The 2010 mid-term elections are fast approaching. Of the 15 Republican incumbents running for reelection, four represent states that voted for Obama in 2008 (IA, NH, NC and PA). In addition, 3 of the 4 retiring Republican senators are also from Obama won or nearly won states (FL, MO, and OH) while 2 other Republican incumbents are in trouble (KY and LA).
Should the Republicans in the Senate attempt to hijack the intent of HR-1 in their version, President Obama should take his case to the jury of the American people. A well timed television, radio, and YouTube address to the nation would put pressure on the Republican Party, as well as, reassure the core of the increasingly restless progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Like FDR’s masterful use of the media to get his point across in the 1930’s, President Obama could easily sway public opinion given the harsh economic climate. Doing so may create the necessary groundswell to force the Republican Party to act in a truly bipartisan manner. And if that doesn’t work, Mr. Obama should unleash Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid and resort to the partisan tactics that Republicans truly understand.
As the scrum over the federal stimulus plan continues in all circles in Washington, both liberal-progressives and conservatives alike are crying foul with many elements of the plan. These inter and intra party squabbling appears to be taking the stimulus plan off the rails. Obviously, the minority opposition party complains about the levels of federal spending and the apparent minor attention being paid to tax cuts. The majority Democratic Party is up at arms because they feel the President is relying too heavily on the prospects of creating bipartisan support at the expense of a progressive agenda. Both the Left and the Right are playing a dangerous game of tug-of-war with the American economy with President Obama playing the role of arbiter. Many are questioning his leadership. His lack of “taking over and pulling rank” may be disturbing to progressives. In addition to giving the Republicans what many feel is too much say in the process, he also has kept on board a few Republicans in his administration.
REWIND to 1932
The country was in the midst of its greatest economic crisis when FDR assumed the presidency. The economy was on the verge of collapse and the nation’s banking industry was on the brink of failure. FDR was being pulled in contrary directions. In his wisdom, the President initially made use of some of Herbert Hoover’s economics team to advise his own economics staff at the onset of his administration. He did so not to maintain the illusion of bipartisanship but because he and his team knew full well that to arrive at the best possible solution they needed the brains of those who were in control when the problem was created. In fact, Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury as well as, other Treasury and Federal Reserve officials coordinated with the incoming administration to begin the climb out of the national economic disaster. As it turned out, it was a brilliant move and the first strategic baby step of the New Deal.
The blogosphere has weighed in on Rush Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” comment regarding the Obama presidency. And now it’s my turn.
To just take those four words from Mr. Limbaugh’s interview with fellow right wing radio host Sean Hannity would not be fair in this debate.
Here is the entire quote:
“If he does not eliminate the Bush tax cuts, I would call that success. So yes, I would hope he would succeed if he acts like Reagan, but if he’s going to do FDR, if he’s going to do the new, new deal all over which we will call here the raw deal, why would I want him to succeed?”
“Look, he’s my president. The fact that he is historic is irrelevant to me now. It matters not at all. I — if he is going to implement a far left — look it. I think it’s already decided. $2 trillion in stimulus? The growth of government. I think the intent here is to create as many dependant Americans as possible looking to government for their hope and salvation. If he gets nationalized health care, I mean, it’s over, Sean. We’re never going to roll that back. That’s the end of America as we have known it because that’s then going to set the stage for everything being government owned, operated, or provided.”
“Why would I want that to succeed? I don’t believe in that. I know that’s not how this country is going to be great in the future; it’s not what made this country great. SoI shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail, if his agenda is a far- left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?”
The argument here is that Mr. Limbaugh and many far right conservatives continue to equate President Obama’s stimulus package and other policies to socialism. This is the same argument that Senator McCain, Governor Palin, Joe “The Plumber”, and the Fox Network cadre made during the campaign. So for Mr. Limbaugh to repeat such assertions are not unexpected.
The real debate here is the stimulus package and what it means ideologically to the right wing. Since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, we have rolled back the gains of FDR’s New Deal. And now, we find ourselves facing a similar economic situation ala the Herbert Hoover era. When FDR assumed power, the Republican Party had similar qualms of FDR’s plans as conservatives have now of Barack Obama’s prescription for economic solvency.
The economic and political scenarios that President Obama confronts today are EXACTLY what FDR faced in 1932. Conservative politicians and columnists warned about the grave dangers of FDR’s plans. Not coincidentally, FDR was also referred to as the “Messiah”. And like Rush Limbaugh, some hoped for the failure of the New Deal just for the sake of ideology.
Contrary to the revisionist history that is being spun today, FDR’s New Deal worked. We must keep in mind that at that time, the banking system of this country was nearly bankrupt. People were starving, yes starving, in this country. The stock market had crashed 3 years prior to FDR assuming power while the Republican, Hoover, was president. Hoover inherited (a Republican favored term) and then exacerbated this disaster. The two previous presidents, Harding and Coolidge, were Republicans.
So, I am not surprised that Mr. Limbaugh and others sharing his views wish failure upon President’s Obama’s policies. Success would deal a mighty blow to conservative ideology as FDR’s success did in the 1930’s (Democrats held power uninterrupted for nearly 20 years afterward). Conservatives would be well advised to read up on this nation’s political and economic history.
Mr. Limbaugh’s hope for failure is not motivated by hatred but by fear!
Barely 72 hours in office, President Barack Obama appears to be flexing a bit of political muscle at the White House.
Today, while meeting with members of both parties, the President took a few swipes at the Republicans. The President has been trying to build consensus for his economic recovery package since assuming office. Republicans are none too happy with the amount of money from the package directed to their coveted tax cuts.
The President realizes that it would be politically expedient to get Republicans on board, though he has enough votes in the House and Senate to get his plan passed anyway. Yet, he is acutely aware that the right wing smear and spin machine is still alive and well. Mr. Obama pointed out, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”
Interestingly, when Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia voiced his objection to the President’s plan to increase benefits to lower income Americans, Mr. Obama responded, “I won” and “I will trump you on that.”
In what can only be described as Republican obstructionism, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn has begun the expected tactic of delaying the confirmation of Attorney General Designate Eric Holder.
According to reports, the senator has cited Holder’s “ambiguities” on issues of torture. Mr. Holder has been steadfast in stating that “no one is above the law”. It may be this statement that troubles Senator Cornyn. Many Republicans are simply crapping in their pants over the possibility that there may be criminal investigations and prosecutions over the use of torture. Cornyn and others are just stalling.
In yet another display of folly, Republicans are now claiming that the terrorists held at Guantanamo are too dangerous to be transferred to prisons in the United States once President Obama closes the prison base. This assertion is outright laughable. Torture apologist John Cornyn in particular has sent a letter to President Obama stating that he does not want terrorists in Texas jails. Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri went on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews yesterday and echoed the same ridiculous talking point.
Again, these separatist senators fail to realize that their respective states are part of the union.
I have a habit of not sticking to my New Year’s resolutions. This year is different. As opposed to resolving to stop doing this or that, I resolved that this year would be my year for reading books again. Over the years, I have seen myself rely more and more on online content for virtually all of my current events and historical research. But 2009 so far has been different. Needless to say, I procrastinated (another resolution work-in- progress) in finding my way to my local Barnes & Nobel but last week I finally walked in, $25.00 B&N gift certificate in hand, and purchased Thom Hartmann’s “Cracking the Code” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers).
Mr. Hartmann is a radio host on Air-America Radio. His radio program is by far one of the most intelligent talk shows on the AM dial. His remarkable speaking skills on the radio easily transitions into well written books. (He has authored close to 20 other books) “Cracking the Code” is one of his finest works.
As the title implies, the book explores the many ways in which we communicate (codes) and process information. Though not exactly a treatise in human neuro-lingusitics, the reader is easily guided through the complexities of the senses and the brain in processing information.
He identifies and details numerous examples of the different language “codes” that are used in persuading others. The book specifically highlights the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that the Bush administration used a myriad of techniques to dupe the American people into accepting and following their misguided policies. He explores and crisply explains concepts like “framing” and “pacing” and how such practices can easily manipulate the recipient of the information into subconsciously agreeing.
Given the events of the past eight years, reading this book will serve as a retroactive blue print for understanding how the Bush administration mastered these codes and applied them effectively. He points out numerous examples where codes have been successfully used by progressive leaders in advancing the liberal agenda. Mr. Hartmann uses past speeches, campaign ads, and interviews and breaks them down so the reader can appreciate the built in codes. Like playing a record album backwards on a turntable to reveal a secret message in the lyrics, the book shines lumen upon lumen on linguistic manipulation. This masterful decoding reminded of me of when I had to deconsruct sentences using “non-verb-adjective” diagrams in elementary school.
His reliance on real events and anecdotes gives the book both pedagogical and political legitimacy. The book is part psychology text, part advertising how-to manual and part political exposé.
After reading this fine work, you will never listen to a speech, watch a commercail or read a political article in quite the same manner again. All liberals should have “Cracking the Code” on their bookshelf!
Read a better written book review from The Nation magazine:
Though he fumbled a few lines of the oath, President Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
NY Times Photo
Text of President Obama’s Historic Inaugural Speech:
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers … our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
As we commemorate the birth of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., I reflect on the true meaning of the term civil rights. By definition, civil rights mean that all citizens are guaranteed due process and equal treatment under the law regarding liberty, property, enjoyment of life and protection. These rights are natural. But why then did we have to have a civil rightsmovement?
Unfortunately, many people in this country view this day as an “African-American” holiday. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though Dr. King espoused the cause of the African-American travesty, he was also speaking of a much greater injustice of the day.
Reflect on this for a moment.
When the Civil Rights Act passed in Congress in 1964, women had “earned” the right to vote only 40 years earlier. Barely one year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, was the Equal Pay Act of 1963 passed, assuring equal pay for equal work for women. The civil rights movement had created a national dialogue where society was forced to examine the state of injustices for all Americans. The essence of the civil rights movement is that of equality for all citizens of this nation regardless of race, color, gender, political beliefs, and sexual orientation.
President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964
So as we pay tribute the memory of one brave man today, we must also acknowledge that he promoted the movement of equality, liberty and protection not just for African Americans but for ALL Americans. Equality is a natural right. To think otherwise is not just un-American but inhumane. The civil rights movement in general and this day of remembrance in particular should serve as a noble and secular way of reaffirming our own humanity.
Another blogger, this time Korean Park Dae-sung, who blogs under the nom-de-plume,“Minerva”, was arrested last week in South Korea and charged with spreading false information over the internet.
It appears that “Minerva” has been blogging with astounding accuracy about the world’s economic collapse. Unemployed and a self educated economics aficionado, he reportedly prognosticated the devastating demise of Lehman Brothers. He has also been critical of the South Korean’s handling of the economic crisis. Mr. Dae-sung blogged using the portal Daum, the parent company of search engine Lycos.
Mr. Dae-sung who has plead not guilty is currently detained without bail and if convicted, could get a jail term of up to five years or a fine of up to 50 million won or $37,000 USD.
As with the case of Hossein Derakhshan, (Hoder) in Iran, this is yet another attempt by government authorities to quash the freedom of blog-speech.
The Last Person Left again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Minerva and Hoder.
The Decider-in-Chief, George W. Bush addressed the nation tonight and bid farewell (finally). Fortunately, the Bush era is over. Unfortunately, the Herbert Hoover inspired consequences of the Bush era have yet to hit its full stride.
Mr. Bush again employed the well worn 9/11 references to extol the successes of his administration. Barely two minutes into his address, Mr. Bush not unexpectedly elicited images of the 9/11 tragedy:
“This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house – Sept. 11, 2001.That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock. I remember talking to brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon and to husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93.”
Not surprisingly, again, he attempted to turn this act of utter incompetence into a triumph of heroic proportions. Referring to his decisions regarding his actions in response to 9/11:
“There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil.”
His arrogance was in full display:
“Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.”
No statement can be further from the truth. His setbacks have been a direct result not of making “tough” decision but of making “bad” decisions. One does not get credit for simply following one’s conscience and doing what was thought to be right. He acted with the best interests of a failed and debunked ideology in mind. The only thing tough about the decisions he made was coming up with the creative spin to pedal the crap.
The Bush presidency has not made this nation safer but has created a new generation of people that hate us. Under his tenure, torture was deemed acceptable and war became the option of choice. The economic disaster that he has created will forever be associated with his presidency. He inherited a trade surplus and leaves us throttled with the most massive deficit in the history of the republic. A second Republican Depression is inevitable.
As he wound up his address, he noted the resilience of the American people. I hope that we are resilient enough to shake off this presidential nightmare.
The late great cowboy/soldier actor John Wayne purportedly said, “Never apologize and never explain; it’s a sign of weakness”. Evidently the outgoing wannabe-cowboy/soldier/president that has occupied the White House for the past eight years shares a similar philosophy to the beloved actor.
In what can only be described as a bizarre event, Mr. Bush gave his final press conference yesterday. (Is that applause I hear?) The out-going president used his entire arsenal (avoidance, misdirection, denial, falsehood, self-deprecation, and lecturing) while conducting this farce of a press conference. His tactics were no surprise.
Mr. Bush again repeated that the federal response to the Katrina disaster was competent. He defended the nation’s actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had the temerity of stating that he inherited a recession! That is simply an outright lie. He inherited a budget surplus and leaves office with the greatest budget deficit in the history of this nation’s economy. He continues to rely on the passage of time to vindicate his legacy, which may be wishful thinking. Never in the history of the presidency, has a president left office with such gutter-low approval ratings. (Even Nixon had better numbers) It’s going to take more than time for his legacy to be revived.
So, Mr. Bush as you ride off into the sunset after shooting up the town, we wish you well. I am sure the “Duke” would have been proud of you!
In video excerpts from a a soon to be released documentary titled, “How Obama Got Elected”, Republican vice-presidential nominee has suggested that she was unfairly treated by the media during the campaign. Watch the absurdity here:
The comments by the folksy Alaska governor ranged from her unfair treatment by the media, her being mishandled by the McCain campaign, perception double standards, and attacks on her family.
Responding to questions on the Katie Couric interviews, Mrs. Palin snorted, “Katie, you’re not the center of everyone’s universe.” She blamed her poor performance on the network editing of the interview spots. She did acknowledge that the interviews went poorly but then pointed a blaming finger at her handlers for allowing the interviews to continue. What the governor fails to realize is that the criticism leveled at her as a result of the interviews were totally justified. She was unprepared, appeared to be evasive and when actually addressing questions, she demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge on the issues.
She also took exception to what she perceived as attacks on her family, namely her daughter’s pregnancy out of wedlock. Ms. Palin has spent her political career championing parental responsibilities, the sanctity of marriage and the morality of abstinence. When a member of her family indulges in behavior contrary to these precepts, the public is entitled to question the practice of these values. Mrs. Palin knew that running for national office would invite scrutiny of her family’s activities. The media actively searches for hypocrisy. And within Mrs. Palin’s own family they found a glaring chasm between what she professes and her own reality.
Referring to Caroline’s Kennedy’s bid for appointment to the New York Senate seat Mrs. Palin remarked, “It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out and I think that as we watch that we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here also that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy may be”. I find this absurd being that it was she who invoked the “two Americas” philosophy into her own campaign. She distinctly went out of her way to distinguish herself as a non-elitist, plain old hockey mom. If anyone injected class into the race, it was Palin herself.
Mrs. Palin has the audacity to suggest that she may have fared better had she been Barack Obama’s running mate. Crying media hypocrisy, she stated, “I think they would have loved me as a candidate . . . You would have seen an absolutely different and . . . much prettier profile of Sarah Palin and the Palin family and my administration.” Wrong again, Sarah! You would have been vilified a hell of a lot more had you been on the Democratic Party ticket. The so-called Republican base gave you a pass that you would not had received by the Democrats. The Democratic Party has a history of eating their own when things do not appear right, sometimes to the detriment of the party’s own goals. The Republicans are not ashamed of employing sheep herding tactics for the sake of winning an election.
Sarah Palin’s remarks again demonstrate the parallel universes that most Republicans choose to live in. When confronted with absolute rejection and repudiation, Mrs. Palin chooses to blame every one around her; every one but herself, her politics and her shear lack of knowledge. In a previous blogs, I have excoriated Mrs. Palin incompetence and her lack of preparation for holding any national office. After this sad ridiculous display by Mrs. Palin, I am convinced that the American electorate made the right decision.
There are tons of progressive websites and blogs out there. As a liberal blogger, I find many of these websites and blogs highly informative and quite entertaining. I am constantly updating my blogroll. There are many great stand alone blogs maintained by very creative writers.
Now… imagine if you were stranded on a deserted island with your laptop and the island had a wireless internet connection (pretty cool deserted island) but you could only access ONE progressive news site or blog… which would it be?
I have included in the poll below the more popular ones but you can write-in another if you so choose.
In 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected to his second term as President of the United States. The country was still suffering from the pain of the Great Republican Depression of 1929-30. During FDR’s first term, he initiated numerous strategic actions to relieve the American people from the economic misery they were suffering. And while doing so, create the conditions for an economic recovery.
Fast forward nearly 8 decades, and we see our President, Barack Obama, facing eerily similar circumstances. The nation’s recovery is still in limbo, still suffering from the disastrous economic policies of the past administration (FDR-Hoover; Obama-Bush). There remains a very serious and real banking crisis in the world (FDR actually closed all banks for a week in 1933). FDR faced a mysterious and somewhat secretive oil millionaire from Kansas in Alf Landon, while the current President will face ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney who continues to hide his tax returns from the American people.
What President Obama needs to do if reelected, is to forcibly push his economic agenda in much the same way that FDR did during the first 100 days of his first term. President Obama must, for the sake of the country, assume a less passive and conciliatory approach in dealing with the so-called Tea Party and their Republican cohorts with their reckless approach to dealing with this economic crisis.
FDR warned the Republicans back then, that he would push his agenda with or without them for the sake of the nation. This President needs to do the same. There are many liberals out there who want the President to show the courage that FDR demonstrated while in office. And although times have changed since FDR’s presidency, the basic struggle between what is right and what is wrong has not. One cannot negotiate in a bipartisan manner with those who would rather see the ship sink than to help the captain save the ship.
After nearly a 3 year hiatus, the Last Person Left has returned! It is time to once again expose the right wing lies, the Tea Party deceptions and all the assaults on common sense that the estreme right perpetuate. I will be re-posting my entries on Facebook and hope to start a group of followers. I am officially back on line and let the debate begin! The Last Person Left is back… Elevating the collective intelligence of the blogosophere and Facebook… One post at a time! HF