Thursday, October 4, 2012

If You Believe

The president’s performance was not up to snuff and that’s for sure. Romney was aggressive and seemingly articulate though without the specifics that his rhetoric so sorely lacks. He also changed his explanation of how he would handle giving tax rate reductions yet again without any elaboration. So the president had a bad night for some unknown and unknowable reason and Romney came to fight. All of that changes nothing in the mind of an intelligent and well informed voter.

If you believe that we should have an every person for themselves society where the poor and disadvantaged are left to their own devices to improve their lot and reach a level of competency that allows for them to contribute to that society vote Romney. If you believe that by educating all children according to their desires and talent in order to build a sound foundation of competent and knowledgeable people able to advance our society vote Obama.

If you believe that the rich have no further obligation to the society from which they come and that they are entitled to pass laws that insulate them from the just interest of that society vote Romney. If you believe that to whom much is given, much is also required and that society has a moral obligation to protect itself from the poison and shoddy products of the immoral capitalist and his corporation vote Obama.

If you believe that society has no moral obligation to the genetically defective, aged, and infirmed or to the hungry and destitute vote Romney. If you believe that a just Society must provide for the least among them through their laws, their courts, and their traditions vote Obama.

If you believe in the privatization of prisons, schools, nursing homes, the military, and everything else vote Romney. If you believe that government should dispense justice, insure safety standards, inspect producers and enforce compliance vote for Obama.

If you want a hard right politically driven Supreme Court that will continue to steal elections, grant personhood to corporations and allow Wall Street to run away with your money vote Romney. If you want a Supreme Court that will overturn Citizen’s United, protect individual freedom and liberties, and see corporations for what they are, a legal fiction, vote Obama.

Elections are about choices and this one is no different. There are even more stark choices about the character, veracity, and openness of these two men that should be considered. A man who won’t disclose his past tax returns and manipulates his current ones in pursuit of the presidency is hiding something. So America make your choices and take your chances. The ball is in your court now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dirty Words

The Republican Party has done everything in its power to make compromise a dirty word. It has gone from describing the process of negotiation, for the sake of the greater good, to a pejorative of the worst kind. This certainly is not news to anyone, but it is also not the only word they have moved into this category. Profit is also now among the more despicable words in the English language. By associating profit with healthcare, education the environment, and the justice system they have endangered the capitalist system, diminished our republic, and made the word profit just as much of a pejorative as compromise.

In education for profit schools have turned into marketing machines that overcharge for an inferior product and provide such poor support that their dropout rates are exorbitant. In healthcare the United States has the most expensive healthcare on the planet and one of the lowest measures of quality. For profit prisons are becoming more prevalent everyday and have already been involved in scandals including unjust incarceration. They have waged war on science by denying global warming to protect profits regardless of the damage to our environment and the long term consequences.

Profit is a good thing when it comes from honest effort, good products, and excellent service. Monies that flow from the hardship inflicted on others are better described as unjust enrichment. Our system of government is also a profit center for the majority of the elected representatives now in office. For the most part they are more interested in the pursuit of power, riches, and prestige than in public service.

The trust, as measured by polls and popular acclaim, between the people and the politicians has been destroyed. They no longer represent our best interest, but rather those of the corporations and special interest with the money to fund their reelection and retirements. The system has been broken, and if the republic is to survive it must be fixed. We are just as oppressed, just as bereft of representation, and just as unjustly governed as we were in the days of our first American Revolution. It is time for the second American Revolution; time and past time.

The constitution gives us the tools to conduct this revolution peacefully and without bloodshed, deaths, and tears. It does not give us the courage and determination to lock arms and join in the good fight to reclaim our freedom and prosperity. That must come from within. It will require the majority of the “people” to rise up, read up, study up, stand up and be heard. We can restore the American dream by making our voices heard at the polls, and calling a constitutional convention to make the changes necessary. We can make profit and compromise intelligent and meaningful words again too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Response to Romney's VFW Diatribe

One would have to be a complete idiot to believe that President Obama has been anything other than exemplary, insofar as his foreign policy management is concerned. He has done more to restore the national reputation ruined by the previous republican administration than we could have rightly expected. His penchant for truth telling has earned the respect of leaders worldwide if not the sycophantic adulation that the right would demand through sheer force.

Budget cuts pending for the military are the result of the rights intransigence and refusal to consent to a budget deal; that includes all the cuts they demanded, and the increase in revenues from the wealthiest one percent of the population. All that increase involves is a return to the once widely accepted tax rates prevalent until Bush decided to demolish the surplus Clinton bequeathed him.

As to things, the American people are entitled to know let’s start with Mr. Romney’s last twelve tax returns shall we? His talking about things people are entitled to know is like the pot calling the kettle black. People who live in glass houses should refrain from throwing stones at another’s brick abode. Did he have years where he paid no taxes? Was he involved in the Swiss amnesty deal in 09? Has he invested in China or other dictatorships for personal gain?

Quoting Romney these are things “that Americans are entitled to know, and know right now.” Romney has been so duplicitous about so many of his stances on various policy issues that one wonders why he is so insistent on refusing to be transparent about his earnings, investments and tax liability prior to 2010. It is not like him to take a firm stand on anything after all.

It is easy for a wannabe know nothing who has never been briefed on world affairs by the various intelligence and administrative agencies that monitor such things, to be critical of things in a general way. Specifics of course elude them because they are unaware of the underlying facts that require a top secret, need to know clearance. It is convenient also to ignore Bush looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing his soul.

Romney is a man of low intellect and less character. He wants the presidency so intensely he is willing to try and buy it, with the support of right wing extremists like the Koch brothers and others, who are willing to pay any price to rid themselves of a black president. He is a man who will try to sell a lame horse on drugs to mask the illness, tie a dog to the roof of the car, and refuse to disclose his finances to “you people”. His money does not command respect nor entitle him to the position he so desperately seeks.

He and the others of his ilk on the right are so fearful of the country becoming one where once all powerful white males find themselves in the minority of a population growing ever more colorful, diverse, and liberal that their paranoia is debilitating. It keeps them up at night, and in a state of perpetual terror about their ability to design the future according to their self-styled aristocracy. They have decided to wage a war of total destruction rather than acquiesce to the foregone conclusion driven by birth rates and the yearning of the poor for a fair shot at the American Dream.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Percent Economics

When Romney tried to make his ten thousand dollar bet with Newt it was taken as a sign, of his cavalier attitude toward what he certainly considers chump change. It adds to the impression that he is a card carrying member of the “one percent”, and has no regard for the challenges, aspirations, or life style of the “ninety nine percent”. To him ten thousand dollar bets are equivalent to the five dollar bets, of the average person participating, in the office Super Bowl scoring pool.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, this year’s ticket prices are the highest yet, and fifty yard line seats on the bottom level even exceed the dollar value of Romney’s proposed wager. Of course, neither of these expressions of economic value can hold a candle to the asking price of the Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn’s yacht, which at One hundred and twelve million dollars exceeds the team’s annual payroll. Then there is the Koch brother’s decision to spend one hundred million dollars to defeat President Obama.

What all these expressions of monetary value have in common, is the sort of people who consider them just the usual cost of satisfying their current inclination. The access to vast wealth does not in and of itself make one an immoral person or diminish one’s sense of the most valuable things in life like love, truth, and kindness. Take Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, for example, they are extremely wealthy people whose selflessness and philanthropy set shining examples to their financial peers.

There is though the other either already extraordinarily wealthy or wannabe wealthy individual, whose value system is driven exclusively by the pursuit of wealth. I am talking about the hard, right wing tea party republican who believes they should be taxed at less of a rate than the common member of the proletariat. This individual judges their own self worth, and everybody else’s, by their amount of net worth. You know the type; they are the ones who want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

These are the ones who will resort to any tactic, no matter how unpleasant, any prevarication, no matter how false, and any subterfuge, no matter how reprehensible, to further their aims. They revel in their ability to hoodwink the masses into believing the unbelievable with propaganda, innuendo, and outright lies. They have called into doubt Obama’s genealogy, birth place, religion, and political affiliation with no regard to the truth. They have lied to the country to garner support for unjust and immoral wars.

There is no limit to their perfidy, and no limit to the deaths, and destruction they are willing to inflict on the rest of humanity, to further their pursuit of money. Their value system does not consider justice, truth or common humanity of value. They care not one whit for the health of the planet or anyone on it, including their own children. They are self indulgent, self-absorbed, and greedy beyond measure; and consider all of these attributes to be among their finer qualities.

Some will disagree and point to Romney’s supposed largess in contributing so much to his church. One must take into account his belief though that god commands him to do that, in order to achieve the highest of three levels of exaltation that exist in the Mormon version of heaven. His tithing is not from the heart as much as from a fear of his god. When it comes to how he feels about the poor he has made that exceedingly clear through his actions and pronouncements.

President Obama and the democrats are right that this coming election is about choices, consequences, and the direction of the country into the foreseeable future. If we don’t give him a clear and decisive mandate along with the house and senate needed to achieve it, we are guaranteeing the destruction of the middle class as we know it, and the impoverishment of all, but the one percent. Oh, we’ll get our bread and circuses in the guise of soup lines, and super bowls, but the American Dream will die a miserable death, and the stench will live in our nostrils for generations.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I was tying my tie in the hotel room where I was staying in Salt Lake City getting ready to go to work and the TV was on. I heard the announcer say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and they thought it was a commercial aircraft. My family and I had lived in Monmouth County New Jersey for ten years and whenever we had company from around the country we would always follow the same routine. We would get a suite in Manhattan and spend the day sightseeing, have dinner at either Tavern on the Green or Windows on the World at the top of the North Tower, go to the theater and ride a carriage through Central Park before going to Sardis on 44th street for a nightcap. Turning up the volume and sitting down on the edge of the bed I watched as the second plane slammed into the South Tower and along with everyone else realized that it was a terrorist attack and at once was struck by the loss of life and the savagery of anyone who would commit such a perverted and insane act. It was a physical reaction that is hard to describe but it was accompanied by tears of both sorrow and rage and an absolute inability to turn off the TV or even look away. I sat there and watched as the towers collapsed and the crowds ran through the streets seeking safety. It was a chilling and earth shattering experience and it also created a fear of what else might be coming. We had friends in the New York and New Jersey area and friends and family in Washington DC that we were scared for based on not only what had happened but what might possibly be coming in the days ahead. It was obviously a game changer and would result in a response that was necessary but would cost more lives very probably. So many things go through your mind. You think about the times you took friends and family up in those towers and the pride and joy of being a New Yorker for a day. Thoughts about the people in the towers just going through their day and doing the ordinary everyday things that made up their normal routines and added sustenance and substance to their lives. The tragedy was a result of human evil and hate and madness that is just hard to understand. The victims were all completely innocent of any violence, aggression or harm against the perpetrators. They were just ordinary people doing ordinary things and they did not deserve the violence that was visited on them. I still get choked up when I go back to that morning and all of the same chaotic and emotional feelings are just as powerful as they were that morning. What happened did not change me in any fundamental way. I still have the same political beliefs, values and principles that I try to live by with varying degrees of success and failure. Our intrusion into Iraq was wrong in my opinion and it took way to long, cost too much and it was completely inexcusable that it took ten years to get Bin Laden. I think the poor and middle class get the short end of the stick in this country and that we are fumbling the ball in terms of managing our economy, our climate and our preparation for the future. None of those beliefs changes the fact that I love this country, its history and people; especially the people because without them all the United States represents is a beautiful land with a lot of unrealized potential. I hope and pray that at some point we will as a people realize that we are squandering that potential in great measure and return to the ethics, morality, work ethic and accountability that enabled us to build this country in the first place. Democracy is hard work as is progress, economic growth and living life in general. We have in some measure lost focus on the future and I believe that 9/11 exacerbated that loss of focus by causing us to react way out of proportion to the events of that day as tragic and reprehensible as they were. Instead of going after the people responsible with everything at our disposal we used it as an excuse to wage a war that destabilized the entire Middle East, strengthened Iran’s hand and increased their influence and emptied our coffers creating the national debt problem we have now. Our focus at the time should have been on finding and killing as many Al Qaida leaders including Bin Laden in as short a time as possible until their organization was totally decimated. What we did do only increased the number of extremists willing to engage us around the world but particularly in the Middle East. Our political leadership is being held hostage by the financial interests that determine their futures in office, legislative agendas and comfort level in retirement. As a result we have a totally dysfunctional government that is unresponsive to the people and unwilling and unable to focus on the many serious challenges this country faces. Over the next fifteen to twenty years these challenges will demand our attention in ways that will not be easily ignored. Environmental concerns like availability of water, drought, and food supply and climate change cannot be solved in the current political climate and in some parts of the world will lead to war, genocide and worse if allowed to fester without resolution. Our infrastructure, children’s education, seniors’ health care, economic stability and a host of other serious problems need and deserve the undivided attention of our elected representatives with an eye towards concrete solutions fashioned in a non-partisan manner for the benefit of all. This current climate where the efficacy of any solution is secondary to the political cost associated with it will only lead us all over a cliff that will make 9/11 seem like a family picnic. 9/11 was a terrible and heart wrenching occurrence in the history of this country but what we are doing to ourselves since then is even worse and we need to snap out of our partisan mind sets and return to a mind set of we are all in this together and we can overcome anything together.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Time for Some Changes...

There are only two long term solutions to the partisan gridlock paralyzing the government. One is meaningful campaign finance reform and the other is term limits. Under our current campaign finance laws politicians are not only allowed but actually forced to accept bribes in exchange for their vote and influence. Their first thought after obtaining elected office is about raising the funds necessary to get reelected and perpetuate their prestige, position, power and influence. They become hostages of the special interest and ideologues’ from both sides of the aisle who control the purse strings that lead to incumbency.

What we need is a system that does not incentivize greed, corruption and avarice through the selling of one’s soul to the devil for the purpose of self-enrichment. You cannot accept vast amounts of money from anyone or any entity without incurring strong and binding obligations to favor their positions regardless of their probity, logic and value to the country. The current system and laws just don’t work in favor of “we the people” and never will as long as the driving force behind all legislative action is money and not ideas, principals and values based on what’s best for the country.

The legal fiction that corporations are people with constitutional rights should not extend to the ability to subvert the electoral process through the use of legalized bribery. Their right to free speech should not include an unfettered ability to purchase access, influence and votes contrary to the best interest of the country as a whole. Their petitions to the government should be limited to the empiric proofs, logical arguments and pleadings they can present in public meetings. We would not countenance such behavior in any other political or business forum and the congress and senate should not be an exception that proves the rule.

The implementation of term limits will in my opinion guide us back toward a paradigm where we are served by citizen legislators as opposed to professional politicians more interested in the power, prestige and self-aggrandizement that attaches to perpetual incumbency. Public service should be just that, a service to the public and nothing more. Public financing of political campaigns, open primaries and term limits would ensure a constant turn over and infusion of fresh ideas and perspectives. There would be more citizen’s motivated to participate in public service via the pursuit of elected office.

Limiting terms in office would also reduce the incentive to engage in less than pure motives and instead focus people’s efforts on creating a sound legacy of participation in the political process. If you know as a senator you are limited to two terms or as a congressman you are limited to three terms your motivation changes from pursuing incumbency to leaving a legacy of good works behind when you return to private life. Even if your goal is continued public service the motivation remains the same.

There are entirely too many members of both parties currently afflicted with ideological intransigence based on political naiveté, paranoia, prejudice and unwillingness to see the other side’s positions as valid. We cannot tolerate a situation where our politicians consider each other enemies instead of colleagues. This country as well as the entire world faces some daunting long term challenges that require study, solutions and bipartisan solidarity. We will not be able to effectively shape our future if we cannot even agree on what the problems are because of the influence of money and the fear of losing the next election.

The best definition of insanity I have ever heard is to keep on doing what you have always done and go on expecting better results. As a wise man once said that dog won’t hunt. It is time to change the rules of the game and remind the players who they play for and why. We have always had and will always have the quality of government we deserve based on our own participation in, commitment to and demands made of that government. This situation will not fix itself. It will require drastic changes and the determination of the electorate to restore even a modicum of functionality to Capitol Hill. Sitting around complaining will accomplish nothing. I urge all Americans who are tired of the perpetual impasse and gridlock on the hill to get involved and write and call your representatives to demand the implementation of these two changes to our constitution in order to end partisan gridlock, the influence of money and the pursuit of incumbency.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What must they think?

We are without a doubt as a species the most self absorbed, selfish, narcissistic, greedy and obtuse collection of similar life forms on the planet. Every other species on the planet works together within their environment on the collective survival, welfare and general good of the entire species. Sure there are some predator prey relationships between differing species and some intra species cannibalism but you never find them fouling their own nest, killing indiscriminately, over using their resources or partaking in genocide. The other species on this planet could survive in relative harmony with both the planet and each other if not for extraordinary cataclysmic events or our presence as the dominate species. They do not war on each other or ignore the honest results of whatever intellectual capacity they have for understanding their long term survival. They have no lust for monetary gain or power over other members of their community. In short they live in harmony with each other and the planet even though they supposedly have less intelligence than we do and the fact that they are living in a very hierarchal food chain that requires the taking of life for nourishment.

Imagine if you will what an unbiased outside observer of this planet must think of the quality of stewardship we have exercised over this plant and its environment and natural resources. Additionally what must such an observer think of our level of morality or potential for development into a species capable of self actualization or our collective level of intellectual and altruistic advancement. In the case of an advanced alien life form analyzing our fitness for inclusion in any kind of inter-galactic community they would likely be interested in our potential for scientific achievement capable of launching us into that community and the potential we show for bringing our greed, avarice, homicidal tendencies, and other less altruistic qualities with us. They might also look at things from the perspective of how to best put the planet to its highest and best use. It would not be very hard to conceive of an advanced civilization that would consider us of no more worth than we consider those other life forms we cohabitate this planet with. If we were capable of interplanetary travel but morally no more advanced than we are right now would we treat a less advanced civilization any better than we do each other? Should we expect better in return than we are capable of giving another less able?

What if the observer was the self same Christian god so many of us purport to believe in? Would he have any reason to believe that we will fulfill his wish that we love each other as we are supposed to love him? It is interesting to note that in our own religious beliefs we prognosticate the failure of mankind to live up to god’s expectations, requirements and wishes relative to our behavior and growth as a living representation of his power and love for us. We even prophetically see the end of the world as a partial retribution for our sins and a temporary triumph of evil on this planet due to our inability to follow god’s commandments which are all relative to developing our more altruistic natures and learning to love each other as we are supposed to love him. Supposedly he has already destroyed all life on this planet with the exception of the one good man he could find and a representative sample of breeding stock from among the other less advanced species. Of course this fresh start for our species has apparently not worked out as planned since we still have the book of revelations to look forward to which indicates we are incapable of learning our lesson and putting love for each other first among our thoughts and priorities.

Having considered the aliens and god we are left with only our children to contemplate as observers of our behavior and unlike a god or an alien they will not have the advantage of a real time observation point or the power to exercise any influence over what they observe. Unfortunately for them their observations will be of what we have wrought and the results of our actions that they will have little if any ability to ameliorate or modify. They will get what we leave them in terms of the quality of the environment, the quantity and quality of natural resources and the capacity to love each other. Their altruistic abilities and level of concern for each other and the planet will mirror our parenting, teaching, and example. Regardless though of their advancement or lack of it as human beings what will they think of us if we leave them a planet riddled with high radiation hot spots, depleted natural resources, polluted seas and diminished capacity to feed the population? If their inheritance includes ongoing wars, interracial conflict and continuing episodes of genocide what must we think of ourselves as parents and stewards of this planet and our children’s future? Is it really necessary for the sake of short term gain or stock market performance to ignore the reality of climate change and the damage we are doing to the planet? Can we really justify on a balance sheet making no real attempt to develop eco friendly alternative forms of energy or taking the poisons out of our food sources and the environment?

In my mind these are all questions relevant to our survival and the quality of life we leave our future progeny. The answers we give will create the world and environment we pass down to our children, our grand children and so on and so on. The aliens may never show up and god could certainly be forgiven for just giving up and leaving us to our own devices but our children will live with the consequences of our choices and actions or lack of them. They will look back and wonder at our foresight, compassion and love for them or they will wonder at best how could we have been so stupid in the face of incontrovertible and empiric proofs that our choices would ruin their inheritance. Many say “but I am too busy just trying to survive, or get ahead, or take care of my family, or get rich and I just don’t have time to even think about the future or my responsibility to it much less do anything about it” and they are right in that just doing any of those things can be all consuming. That does not change the fact that we do in fact have a responsibility to the future and to fulfill that responsibility requires that we be up on the issues of the present that will have an impact on that future.

That responsibility and our children’s perception of how we helped shape it also requires more than a modicum of political activism and engagement in the process of developing the answers to those questions and many more just as important. That responsibility brings with it an onerous and burdensome weight under which we have to labor if we are to be able someday to hold our heads high and proclaim we did the best we could for you and the rest is up to you. It is the price of being the captain of your own ship and the master of your soul and the consequences of abandoning it are too grim to contemplate. I can imagine no shame so deep, no despair so dark and no guilt as oppressive as that of knowing that you let your children down along with your children’s, children’s children. This planet can be one of our most precious gifts to our progeny or it can be the prison within which they live a miserable and mean existence and the choice is up to us.

Regardless of how big we think this planet is it really does have a finite amount of space and resources with which to sustain our lives and those who will come after us. It is very much like a life boat or raft upon a sea of vacuum with limited survival supplies of food, water and shelter. We are all aboard for good or evil, rough seas or fair and there is no other means of survival short of our ultimate destination. To make it we must conserve our supplies, treat each other with respect and compassion and keep the boat in good repair. It is an apt analogy even if you are used to thinking of the earth as an unlimited resource that can take all the punishment we can dish out because it in fact is not. There is ample proof of the deleterious affects our lack of respect for the planet has already had and the inevitable consequences of our continued disrespect will bring about. There is no need to try and cover all of that ground here but a recitation of the main issues might be though provoking for some, eye opening for others and a reason for pause to all to contemplate the harsh reality of our lack of good stewardship. Everyone is somewhat cognizant of environmental pollution and its effects on our air quality, water quality and soil quality but there are other issues and conundrums just as great we should all be considering how to handle.

There are things like ocean deoxygenation, global warming and dimming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, shutdown of thermohaline circulation, species extinction, pollinator declines or extinctions, eutrophication, genetic pollution, pesticide drift, plasticulture, desertification, nuclear issues and the list goes on and on. We don’t all have to be experts on these issues but we do have to demand that our leaders and politicians take them seriously and make decisions in accordance with what’s best for the planet and our long term survivability as opposed to short term personal gain for them. If we turn away from these issues and trust someone else to study them and make the necessary decisions we assume a terrible responsibility for the ultimate outcome of those decisions. To allow our politicians to pass resolutions that discount all environmental issues and their long term consequences in favor of short term corporate profits is unconscionable. I am not the sharpest pencil in the drawer vis a vie this long rambling narrative but I am smart enough to know our government in particular and most others in general are focused on short term gains of one kind or another instead of the long term consequences of failing to prioritize our responsibilities to each other and future generations honestly. I hope this all make sense and helps even a few people to focus on the real issues that we face collectively as passengers in this little life boat we are all stuck on.