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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

IRAQ

The President made his speech about ending combat operations in Iraq and Republican leaders had the gaul, the absolute nerve and unbelievable chutzpah to suggest he thank George Bush and the supporters of the war. This is what we have to be thankful for?:
4400 dead. No government in Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction. No connection to 9-11. Taking our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. Billions of dollars spent helping to exacerbate the recession. Claims that Iraq oil revenues will fund the war totally unfounded. Tens of thousands wounded. An unsuccessful surge Mr. McCain...there is no stable democracy in Iraq and a heap of lies after lies and no accountability for those who did lie while the Republican party supported this fiasco. This is what we have to be thankful for? What a rotten, smelly, despicable group of Republican leaders we have. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Doom, Gloom and Politics

Listening to talk radio, watching cable news and reading polls of late, you get the feeling of malaise that makes you want to stick your head in the oven. Bad news makes us feel bad, but it also sells. Republicans are seizing upon bad news or making up bad news to anger a restless population prone to swing faster than a nuclear powered pendulum. The strategy of saying NO and feeding anger seems to be working if you believe what you are hearing. Today, the Case Schiller real estate report said that housing prices rose in June. The Intuit small business report reported that since November 09, 329,000 small business jobs were created. According to Bloomberg news, the August consumer confidence report showed an improvement in sentiment in opposition to what the pundits were expecting. The economy continues an anemic pace of growth, but growth it is. The TARP money is being paid back to taxpayers, the domestic automobile industry is no longer teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and the banking sector is once again alive and well although stingy with its loans. Lastly, the collective corporate earnings report of the last quarter, shows the highest rate of earnings since 1988. If you report the FACTS like I just did, and then listen, you may not put your head in the oven after all. The doom and gloom of politics, is just that, politics. Americans need to separate from the rhetoric, the hate, the partisanship and mean spiritedness and realize that America is slowly recovering, has looked depression in the face and said no. The American engine is slowly moving ahead after two years of being totally stalled and impotent. POTUS is loudly calling for more small business help, recommending extending tax cuts for the middle class, appropriately condemning Republican obstructionism and bringing troops home. Now onto jobs. So, fellow citizens, as bad as things seem, they are getting better. Don't listen to the McConnell/Boehner clan. They just want you to forget that they created this mess. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Private sector responsibility.

While those of us that follow the political news in this country watch and listen, sitting quietly on the sidelines is the capitalist engine known as corporate America. We listen to their whining about uncertainty, not knowing what the regulations will cost them, how much will health care reform cost, how will the new credit regulations affect them etc. etc. They complain while they build up amazing stockloads of cash, pay dividends to the shareholders and declare collectively, record earnings at levels not seen since 1988. They encourage the mean spiritedness of the political scene by complaining and blaming Obama and the Congress for failed economic policies. These companies are run by smart people who can easily estimate the costs that may be incurred by recently passed legislation. They can take these estimates and do what they always do, pass them on to the consumer and to their employees. Instead of whining, they should hire people. They certainly need the labor as evidenced by increasingly long work weeks and increasing amount of overtime being paid out to current workers. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, lobbying against any regulation at all, against any legislation that may cost money and encouraging the nastiness of the debate, if they really cared about the country, they would put people back to work. It isn't the Government's job to find you a job, but to put conditions in place that allow the capitalist engine to make money and thrive. The government has done their job. Now it is time for the private sector to do theirs. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thank You Glenn Beck

While I am writing this post, Glenn Beck, the most obnoxious, self serving charlatan I can think of, is holding a rally in DC by asking Americans to turn back to G-d and reclaim civil rights. This on a day and at a place, made famous by MLK's Dream speech. ( Just a coincidence...right) What rights are we reclaiming? Which rights did we lose? The fact that Beck and Limbaugh can lie and say anything certainly is an example that we haven't lost our right to freely speak. What needs reclaiming? And what if you don't believe in G-d? Are you unwelcome at the rally? Are you less American? These types of rallies bring out a certain extreme kind of language and person and they will be worthy of a blog or two and some cable news coverage, but most Americans do not like the spector of G-d being publicly displayed. They prefer to practice their faith in the privacy of their homes and chapels. Thus, our religious nation by individual, is uncomfortable when we collectivize G-d and by implication, certain religions only as Beck is doing today without saying it. And Mrs. Palin is there as well to annoint the rally and combine grizzly bear moms with G-d. I think this will be a good thing for Democrats and the upcoming election. If R's and Independents look at Beck as one who aligns with Anti-Pelosi, Anti-Obama rhetoric, they may fear voting for R's because of their greater discomfort with G-d on public display. While Lincoln's statue hovers over this rally, it is a stark reminder that real civil rights are not wrapped around a flag in the name of G-d, but separate from religion and we are more comfortable that way. So, thank you Glenn Beck. You may be the D's secret weapon this November. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

John McCain

John McCain the right wing Republican Senator from Arizona won yesterday's Senatorial primary in Arizona. He was challenged by another right wing member of the Republican party. Six months ago, moderate maverick Senator John McCain was working on a comprehensive Immigration reform package to include a pathway to citizenship for those Immigrants who have been in the country for many years but without the appropriate legal documents to be here. 18 months ago, Senator McCain told us the fundamentals of the economy were fine in the middle of an historically bad recession. Since the Presidential election, Senator McCain has been talking about how bad our economy is and how awful the President's policies are for economic recovery. In his book, John McCain boasted about his maverick behavior within the Republican party. During the primary campaign, John McCain distanced himself from the maverick label and laughingly said he was no such thing. All for votes. Which John McCain did Arizona vote for yesterday? The John McCain that would sell his values and his beliefs for a few votes. This patriot and war hero, talking about honor and earning respect is simply another member of Congress for whom the job is more important than their beliefs. Shame on you John McCain. The nation got it right in 2008, Arizona got it wrong yesterday. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Frightened by Ignorance

What much of America has never appreciated is the need for leaders to be smart enough to understand the complexity of issues. Clearly, love him or hate him, President Obama does. The same people, however, who challenge his birth, or his religion, or his fitness, also view intelligence as elitist, perhaps because they themselves do not understand. It is easier to listen to a cliche or a political slogan or a sound byte than to do the work required to understand. This is what is so frightening about Sarah Palin. She is great at capturing the ignorance and running with it for media exposure and book sales, but truly the most frightening thing is that she doesn't think understanding complexity is important. She views intelligence and educational background as unecessary baggage. She is not an elected official and may we all pray that it remains this way. Ignorance is not bliss and we should be frightened by it. What is most scary is that all the criticisms I just leveled against Mrs. Palin, apply to the most important Republican in the House, a man who could be second in succession to the President after the November election. Be frightened, for his ignorance is only exceeded by the intensity of his tan. John Boehner's upcoming possibility as Speaker is the greatest incentive Democrats and the nation have to vote. Ignorance is frightening. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Republican Tax Increases

10 years ago, a Republican President supported by a Republican Congress, passed tax law that reduced tax rates for a temporary ten year period. That ten year period is up at the end of the year and with their short, distorted, disingenuous, inaccurate and mean spirited memories, Republicans are now calling for an extension and they have the audacity to blame Democrats for a tax increase. They go on to claim that their law won't increase the deficit, which it will by 3.2 trillion dollars. R's are running against deficit increases but won't pay for a change to their own law. If this sounds nuts, it is, but we seem to be listening to these idiots, responding to their lies and are not being a rational or fair minded electorate. There is still time. Where are you Americans for Reason and Truth?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My day

Yesterday I went to the city of my birth, New York, to see my mother. My mother's dad, my grandpa, came from Russia which later became the Soviet Union our deepest enemy for decades. My grandfather was a tailor, lived and worked in the city, raised three daughters and was accepted in the fabric of our immigrant society. He wasn't associated with Soviet Communism and treated with extreme prejudice. My mother lives in Queens with my dad. In their neighborhood, many Chinese people and Korean people live and work. They have businesses, send their kids to public schools and when I walked the streets yesterday, no one was humiliating them because North Korea is a dangerous and dysfunctional enemy and China remains a nation without freedom. While in NYC yesterday, I ate a falafel, food from the Middle East. Delicious. I went to the store, run by Arabs, paid my money, was treated well, thanked for my business and enjoyed the food. This business is always packed with lines into the street with people waiting for the delicious food they serve. This type of food comes from an area of the world that continues to be unstable and filled with Anti Western rhetoric, but I didn't think of this at all. I enjoyed the fact that I could get a wonderful lunch from wonderful people without even thinking about their religion or nation of birth, or immigrant status. I can give dozens of examples of this kind of diversity and experiences from yesterday or any other day living in America. Our greatness comes from our principles and our acceptance. Yet, for weeks, I am seeing polls about Obama's religion, and hearing discussion about where the Mosque should be, or listening to the most extraordinarily bigoted and prejudiced comments from an extremist segment of our population. Their association of this Mosque with terrorism and bigotry toward a religion is the most outrageous and despicable ignorance that reminds me of the days of internment camps and racial hatred toward blacks. Most sad, is the fact that our media establishment has piled on and is quite responsible for giving these people a louder voice than is necessary while setting the news priorities of each day. My day, is more representative of reality. A reality based on acceptance, respect and tolerance on the part of the vast majority of Americans. Don't get sucked up by the maelstrom of ratings and hate. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why I vote

I vote because it is my responsibility as a citizen to try and elect a government that can serve my needs and the needs of my country. As a republic, we elect candidates to do our bidding because it is not possible for a country of our size to directly decide every single issue through referendum. So I vote to put people of conscience, respect, knowledge and good will to do what is right. So what have I gotten? Mean spirited, partisan lightweights who would rather perpetuate a lie for a vote, feed the irrationality of extremists, and scream cliches that sound good to the time strapped voter but have no depth or basis in fact. I get politicians who weigh in on issues that they are totally unfamiliar with just so they can feed the anger and fury of bigots and idiots as a down payment on their votes. I will continue to vote, but the reasons have become less clear. We are not being served well as a nation where hate, religion, race, the color of your tie and your tan, trump what is important. We better change, or we are in deep deep trouble. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not so Fast

Congratulations to those marvelous combat troops who are in Kuwait and have left Iraq. You are and have always been in our hearts. Now let's talk about reality. Before we commend Pres. Bush for the surge, Pres. Obama for honoring his campaign committment and the military for saying we won, not so fast. We do not have a government in Iraq, we do not have any conciliation between Sunnis and Shia, Iraq cannot provide electricity to its citizens, and insurgents are continuing their violence. We are not leaving a stable country and haven't accomplished much in the past seven plus year no matter how hard the politicians try to spin it. While this investment in military life, limb and equipment was deployed, we allowed the Taliban to re-arm, Iran get closer to nuclear weapons and now are entrenched in a violent and unsure struggle in Afghanistan with no end in sight and no accomplishment of real significance to date. Almost 5,000 dead and an investment in dollars that is growing the deficit and keeping valuable resources from needed investment in jobs, health care reform, deficit reduction and small business incentives. Not so fast. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

One more Mosque comment: I have heard people all support religious freedom and the right of any religion to build its facility wherever, but then comes the kicker, "should they build it there". So what is the motivation to challenge the location? No debate, it is because of the specific religion. Because the terrorists were Muslim, it is insensitive to build a Muslim cultural center. It is all about the specific religion, it is all about prejudice, and both statements are irreconcilable. And that's that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maureen Dowd...It's not easy

I love Maureen Dowd. I read her columns always and generally agree with her sentiments. However, it is easy to sit as an esteemed member of the press, with no official portfolio of responsibilities to government and "We the People" and criticize the President for weakness, nuance and ineffectiveness. Ms. Dowd's recent criticism of POTUS was his handling of the Mosque controversy. She said he fumbled the ball. I cannot quite agree. This President is a smart man, and anyone who thinks he did not realize the firestorm that his remarks would create, is not paying attention. He knew darn well and our reactions as a nation are no surprise to Obama. So look what has happened. We are currently in a debate about the principles of our first amendment. We are discussing religious freedom and tolerance and reflecting on our values. The extremist bigots in this country will never change and the Gingrichs and Palins of this world will continue to stir the pot of prejudice and anger. The vast majority of us, however, will be more thoughtful and realistic in our approach to things. We will weather this controversy, come out stronger and try not to feed the flames of extremist and hateful language. In fact, we will continue to progress toward even more tolerance and appreciation of diversity. And yes, even for Muslims. So, thank you Mr. President for allowing us to discuss, debate and live our values. It isn't that easy Ms. Dowd. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Second Class

No one likes to think of themselves as second class. In our country, the rhetoric has always been that we are the strongest, most innovative and greatest nation on Earth. Due to our inherent patriotism, we have come to believe it and get quite upset if people talk about the failures of the United States. It is deemed unpatriotic by many Americans to talk ill of your own nation, but if we continue to live within the falseness of our rhetoric, the United States may become a second class nation. Our public education system is far from the top of the list of the bests, our infrastructure is eroding, we have no national rail system that is quick and efficient, we rely on oil from the most unstable part of the world, many scoff at the realities of global warming and as such, we have done nothing to improve our commitment to alternative energy, we are fighting expensive wars that are going nowhere, squandering resources that could be used to fix the real problems of the world, we have a political process that is mean spirited and does not work on behalf of the people, we have a trade deficit and an anemic manufacturing sector and we have a business community that still believes that any government is bad government and paid lobbyists have used this feeling to ramp up populism while leading to near financial ruin. Despite Obama's best efforts, we still have a mismanaged and dysfunctional health care system which will continue to be costly and not really universal in nature. Lastly, we have dangerous and incapable people rising to the top of the heap of potential future leaders wihout the appropriate abilities that are needed. These individuals portray our nation in simplistic and dangerous ways preferring fear over accomplishment and bigotry over our values. These are facts and if we choose to ignore them and reside within the bluster of American greatness, we will find our country not so great. The hopefulness we felt once President Obama was elected was tied to his recognition of these facts. When one fairly listens to his agenda about the future, he gets it. Our frustration with him according to polls, is unwarranted, unfair and just plain stupid. Americans must embrace change, embrace the future and lift us from the manufactured rhetoric of greatness to the reality of greatness. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I would Rather

I would rather be represented by leaders who appreciate the Constitution and try and educate people to understand the greatness of America's values, than to be lead by fearmongers who prey on American bigotry and ignorance for the sake of a few votes. You decide which ones you prefer and live with yourself. Instead of leaders calling the Mosque in NYC an election issue, they ought to be telling those who are against religious freedom why this Mosque represents who we are as a nation. Trumped up bigotry and prejudicial language from elected officials can never be good for our nation. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Mosque Comments

President Obama has rightly followed Mayor Bloomberg's lead by supporting the building of the Mosque with a location near the 9-11 tragedy. It is nice to have a Mayor and President that understand the First Amendment. Peter King, a Congressman from Long Island in his typical fashion has said the President is being political with this decision. Yeah Right. 68% of those polled are against the location so I think Representative King has really lost his senses. The Oklahoma bomber was Christian. Did we stop the building of churches in that area? Could this have anything to do with the Mosque representing the Muslim faith? Ya think? For any American to be opposed to the building of a religious institution because of which religion it is, is an insult to 8 million American Muslims and an ignorance of our First amendment that is dangerously shameful. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

SALT

And now except for one R, the party of no is against the strategic arms limitation agreement (SALT)with Russia. Secretary of State Clinton announced US participation in such an agreement and lone Senator Lugar from the Republicans represents sanity from that side. So the Republicans are against job creation, against health care reform, against stopping discrimination of gays in the military, against regulations to limit potential abuse by finance institutions, against extending unemployment benefits, against aid to the states, against limiting dangerous drilling for oil, against any comprehensive energy plan to limit reliance on oil and now against protecting the world from nuclear weapons. And you don't know who to vote for? Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do the Math

Today, the President signed a 26 billion dollar state aid bill. Thanks to Speaker Pelosi, the House continued to work during August break. This bill is paid for with cuts from other programs and will not increase the debt. 16 Billion will go directly to states for Medicaid payments that were reduced from previous legislation and 10 Billion to save jobs. Yes, to save jobs. At an average of 50,000 dollars in salary and benefits for example, 200,000 teachers, policemen, fireman and other state workers will continue to serve the public and keep their jobs. Why are Republicans against this? Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prop 8

Politicians will do and say anything for a vote. Now there are those who are challenging the 14th amendment as too lenient and looking to change it. These individuals know that there is no chance in heck to do it, but it sounds great in a country that is losing its way and seemingly unable to engage in civil discourse. The 14th amendment represents the foundational principles of this great nation. I personally believe that this is simply a distraction to avoid the more serious discussion about gay marriage. To those who are opposed to it, including our President, a Constitutional scholar in his own right, it is time to start reading. Read the Constitution. Start now. It really isnt that long at all. My students are doing it as a summer assignment. As you read, look for the words or phrases that make marriage between two men or two women illegal. Try and find it. That should keep you busy for a while. Here is a hint, you won't. It ain't there. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Who's to Blame?

There is no doubt that our economy continues to struggle, but compared to two years ago, incredible progress has been made. No matter how much you hate our President, even in the privacy of your own thoughts, it is not possible to argue this. The political Mantra is Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and we have heard this all before during other recessions. Unemployment remains at 9.5 percent and people continue to wait for better numbers, but on average after a recession, it takes 5-7 years to be restored to near full employment. It is unreasonable to suggest it be done during less than half of a Presidential term. However, even though Republicans have attempted to defeat job creation legislation, there is private sector job creation going on, although modest. The bigger problem is how politicians spend their entire careers fixing blame and trying to destroy the opposition. With absolutely no plan of their own to create jobs, Republicans have stood in the way of every piece of job creation legislation and even though the Democrats have passed many reform bills, each one had been watered down and less than what was wanted or needed. This watering down was due to consistent Republican obstructionism for political gain and the self serving attitude of one independent Senator from Connecticut and one Democratic Senator (yeah right) from Nebraska. I dare not speak their names today to avoid indigestion. The sad thing is that the Republicans were successful in causing watered down bills, still voted against them, and can revel in their hurtful and vindictive unpatriotic acts. They are to blame. Where the HECK are you Americans for reason and truth.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SCOTUS

Today, the Senate in its role of advice and consent, will confirm Elena Kagan as the 4th woman in history as the newest justice of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). This, happily despite attempts by Senator Sessions from Alabama leading a partisan campaign against this most accomplished and capable woman. Ms. Kagan has been serving as Solicitor General. This job is the lawyer who defends the Federal Government in all cases that appear before the High court, so any suggestions as to lack of experience are ludicrous at best. This is a good day for America. Hopefully Ms. Kagan will provide some balance and perspective for a court that has dangerously veered toward the right with its recent decisions. This is the second justice appointed by President Obama during his brief tenure as President and one of the most interesting facts of our Government. The President chooses justices who may serve for life and often, in their role, they completely surprise and disappoint the President who nominated them. This is because they are not politicians, but legal scholars who value law over mean spirited and vitriolic aspects of elected government. Kudos to our founders for getting this right. Kudos to you Ms. Kagan. Congatulations and congratulations to those Republican Senators who were able to put aside politics for a moment, and confirm a qualified and capable nominee. Sorry Senator Sessions... Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shameful with no end in sight

Republicans have been on this campaign to object to all Democratic legislation unless it is paid for with other cuts...except of course tax relief for the rich. Today, the Democrats overcame a filibuster, but still the vast Republican block led by the disgraceful Mitch McConnell railed against legislation for state aid and saved jobs even though it was paid for with other cuts. Today's claim...it isn't the Federal Government's job to bail out the states. Every person whose job will be saved by this bill needs to follow what happened today and recognize who is responsible for their employment. There is no end in sight to the arrogance, hatefulness and vengefulness of these Obama haters and Democrat bashers. One can only hope that voters will begin to wake up, not listen to cable celebrities and really see who is trying to help America. There must be an end to this shameful behavior. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No Inflation...yeah right

Economists and Government officials are telling us that inflation is not an immediate worry. In fact some are concerned about deflation which would affect our ability to grow as an economy. Constantly we hear that interest rates are at record lows and mortgage rates are more favorable than at any time in recent memory. Sounds good not to have to worry about price increases. Yeah right. What these geniuses don't understand is that the average person doesn't care and isn't really impacted by these broad statistics. Inflation may be low, but if your mass transit costs rise by 15%, college tuition rates rise by 6% and your supermarket basket by several dollars at each visit and yes, health insurance premiums which have not yet stabilized and continue to rise, you are experiencing huge inflation. Debilitating in fact. Individual families are dealing with those price increases that affect their daily lives. These are user fees. You must use your mass transit to get to work, you must shop for food, you must pay the tuition bill and you should go to the doctor when sick. So to all those who manage and evaluate our economy and promote various statistics, there is inflation. It is huge and it is real. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Good News

Democrats...stop whimpering. Today the President confirmed another campaign promise met. The 7 year war in Iraq fought under false pretenses is winding down with combat troops about to come home. This is great news and the Democratic party ought to embrace this news with enthusiasm and pride....Additionally, the Democratic House gets to put its money where its mouth is and clean up alleged corruption, giving its accused members their day in court. This is showing that they have no stomach for such lack of ethics no matter from which party. I am not frightened. Seeing the Democrats take care of business no matter what the timing, this is good news....Democrats need to stop waving the white flag, get out there and run on their accomplishments and show us that it isn't always just about politics. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Run on your Record

Much of the punditry in DC during the Summer months is revolving around Republican gains in the upcoming election. Now it would be no shock if the out of power party gains seats in an off year election, the issue is the scope. John (inept) Boehner is frothing at the mouth. He tastes the Speakership and is convinced his Just say No agenda is the ticket to victory. I say this, let the Republicans believe in America's impatience. Let them continue to say No and try to thwart progress. I believe that we are smarter. Democrats should run on their record....stimulus that helped end the recession and saved the domestic car industry. Financial reform to rid us of the worst unchecked practices of Wall street. Health care reform that will work once all the lies are finally proven to be lies. Credit card reform so that fine print practices are a thing of the past. Education reform through our "race to the top" program recognizing high achieving states. A full withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq as promised in the near future....This ain't bad. Run on it, not from it. If you run scared, you not only lose the House, you lose your moral compass. Where are you Americans for reason and truth?