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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Shift - A Changing America

In an article in the Toronto Star today, DAN DUNSKY speaks about the political changes taking place in the United States. The political climate in the United States is taking a turn as dramatic and possibly as important as it did when FDR made radical changes in the role of government in Americans lives. W. has made proposals and the Democrats can only offer reasons why we should not believe W., but in no way offer any alternatives. Why does W. appear to be so successful in making dramatic policy changes in the US? Because no one is making any alternative recommendations. We are living in a country dominated by one party. This party shares only one thing in common with its past, its name. That is it. Honestly, the republicans should be called the W.'s because the policies are not historical republican nor or they historically American. What we have now is a president who takes care of his cronies in the top 1% of the country, and the other 99% allows this to happen with glee. W.'s policies are so archaic in nature, that we are moving back to the age of robber barons and 70 hour work weeks with little compensation and little to no benefits. Fat cats run supreme and the common man has no power; the corporate world rules. With this new vision of America is slowly moving to fascism. Plain and simple. Capitalism to its logical extreme is fascism. Think about, everything will be about branding. The corporate world will control America through their sponsorship. Nothing will happen without a corporate sponsor. A yeah or nay from a company can make or break families and cities and economic devastation will simply be part of the economy. Europe will rule the US, or at least try to and the US will one day say, what the hell happened? How did America become a fascist state? How did Europe usurp our economic power? Why am I paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gas? I will have one word for them in response: W.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

White House refusing to pay POWs

The White House refusing to pay American POWs tortured by Saddam during the 1991 Gulf War from a $1 billion settlement already awarded from lawsuit filed in 2002. W. claims that Iraq isn't a rogue nation anymore and consequently, the POWs should not be compenstated. White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs. Apparently Iraq needs money more then Americans do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Something to brighten up your day

Rove Met With Saudis After 9/11 to help smooth our relations with Saudi Arabia. I guess that few remember that 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Funny, I was under the impression that United States government did not negotiate with terrorists?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

President Bush, making the world a safer place

N. Korea Announces It Has Nuclear Weapons This headline should scare anybody who reads it. It scares me to no end. The United States refused to talk with North Korea. Now the world is paying for the Bush administrations policies. It is beginning to get serious now. Bush administration said Iraq is a looming threat. Guess what, that is no longer the case. What is so freighting is the reason North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons, "'We ... have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's ever more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the (North),' the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency." Makes you feel all nice and cozy inside. Condi seems to be working her way around the wrong part of the world.

Oh, let's not forget about Iran. Remember the axis of evil? I believe Iran and North Korea were part of that. Bush: World Must Speak with One Voice on Iran Nukes It is nice that Bush has decided to include the world in the nuclear problem that we all have. Iran today made a promising statement today, "Iran, facing mounting U.S. pressure over its nuclear program, promised Thursday a "burning hell" for any aggressor as tens of thousands marched to mark the 26th anniversary of its Islamic revolution." Problem is no one in the Bush administration is directly dealing with the problems. No one in the Bush administration is likely to tell Bush about the real issues. There is a grave nuclear threat that looms. Two countries who do not like our current administration have the capacity to change our way of life forever. Nuclear threat is now greater than any other time in the history of our country. The world needs to act together to take care of this concern. Bush needs to do something different: be diplomatic. Nuclear weapons are not something to be a cowboy about. Unless you are riding one, remember Dr. Strangelove?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bush's bloated budget is this the new republican party?

It is phenomenal how much Bush wants to control the American people and what they do behind closed doors. I was always under the [mis]conception that the republican party wanted government to stay out of the American peoples lives. That doesn't seem true anymore. Bush is "proposing new federal accountability and testing requirements for all public high schools, after imposing similar mandates on grades three through eight during his first term. To limit lawsuits against businesses and professionals, he is proposing to put a federal cap on damage awards for medical malpractice, to force class-action cases into federal courts and to help create a national settlement of outstanding asbestos-related cases." On the cultural and social aspects, Bush wants to push "a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in the states and continuing to define and expand the federal government's role in encouraging religious groups to help administer social programs such as community drug-rehabilitation efforts." The most concerning part of the Bush budget is the deficits.

Bush's $2.57-trillion budget for 2006 if it goes unscathed through congress, would be more than a third larger than the 2001 budget he inherited four years ago. With his proposed budget, spending and deficits appear to be the norm. The republicans use to say all democrats knew how to do is tax and spend. The republicans have come up with a different schema, reduce taxes, spend more, and just borrow against the future of every living (and to be born) American. What a plan indeed. The government spent $2.3 trillion and ran a $412 billion deficit in 2004, compared with the $1.8 trillion it spent and the $86 billion surplus it ran in the final full year of the Clinton administration. Let's remember here, Bush inherited a budget surplus in his first term which he promptly blew with a tax cut for the rich. There is a lot to be concerned about with deficits. Most substantially, inflation. The failing dollar may increase revenues, but it is a sign of the times. A lack of trust in the US treasury. Does anyone remember the republicans of old? Jefferson and states rights please exit stage right, Hamilton and stong federal government, please enter stage left. Here is a good article on what use to be the republican party.

It is one thing to cut taxes and increase spending, but reducing benefits to veterans of all people is just shameful. There is an inherent danger in using public taxes to fund controversial domestic issues. There is also a danger in not including 70 billion dollars in funds for Iraq and other special projects in your budget. If companies acted the way the federal government does, they would likely have to declare bankruptcy. Bushes unsound economic polices are not good for us or our children.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The State of Union

The State of the Union

"The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution

When George Washington delivered the first annual message to Congress on January 8, 1790 in New York to the Senate and House, he was well aware of the historical importance of this single speech. For the next 112 years, no President delivered their state of the union in person until Woodrow Wilson. I am not sure when the state of the union became a pep rally. Over 55 times this speech, any minor sound bite by the president is followed by incessant clapping and cheers.

With W.'s speech, one gets the impression that his speech writers have learned what made Reagan such a well respected president: rheortic. What they seem to lack though is a very basic understanding of facts and "truth". His speech set out a mighty domestic agenda that outlines his continual hopes of putting America back into the depths of its darker days. These darker days are when Darwinism was not taught in schools, the word homosexual was not used in the same sentence as family, if spoken at all. He longs for the days before science was able to actually help us at all. What about God? I don't know what Bush is not a scientologist. And most certainly before the days of abortion. While all his socio-cultural czar tirades are nothing more than fancy wishes of less curious days, what really concerned me about his speech is what he wants to do to social security.

Social Security

FDR created social security as a security blanket for the poorest Americans. FDR said social security is "to act as a protection to future administrations of the Government against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy--a law to flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation--in other words, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness." Under Bush what will happen? The greatest corruption in government, ever.

Before I explain the corruption, let's first understand what Bush is proposing.

The current system of social security invests in Treasury Bonds which earns about 4 percent on average. According to the Social Security Administration, "Presently, Social Security collects more in taxes than it pays in benefits. The excess is borrowed by the U.S. Treasury, which in turn issues special-issue Treasury bonds to Social Security. These bonds totaled $1.5 trillion at the beginning of 2004, and Social Security receives more than $80 billion annually in interest from them. However, Social Security is still basically a "pay-as-you-go" system as the $1.5 trillion is a small percent of benefit obligations." Right now, social security is OK. But, we have the baby-boomers about to retire. Even the social security administration knows reform is needed. In The Future Of Social Security, one of the sections says, Social Security must change to meet future challenges. It is agreed that reform is needed. The question is how to reform the system.

Bush Administration Proposal

W. is proposing that "workers could invest as much as 4 percent of their wages subject to Social Security taxation in a limited assortment of stock, bond and mixed-investment funds. But the government would keep and administer that money. Upon retirement, workers would then be given any money that exceeded inflation-adjusted gains over 3 percent." According to MSNBC, here is the low-down: "Under the system, the gains may be minimal. The Social Security Administration, in projecting benefits under a partially privatized system, assumes a 4.6 percent rate of return above inflation. The Congressional Budget Office, Capitol Hill's official scorekeeper, assumes 3.3 percent gains. If a worker sets aside $1,000 a year for 40 years, and earns 4 percent annually on investments, the account would grow to $99,800 in today's dollars, but the government would keep $78,700 -- or about 80 percent of the account. The remainder, $21,100, would be the worker's. With a 4.6 percent average gain over inflation, the government keeps more than 70 percent. With the CBO's 3.3 percent rate, the worker is left with nothing but the guaranteed benefit. If instead, workers decide to stay in the traditional system, they would receive the benefit that Social Security could pay out of payroll taxes still flowing into the system, the official said. Which option would be best is still unclear because the White House has yet to propose how severely guaranteed benefits would be cut for those with individual accounts." Essentially the government would become one of the largest investors in the stock market. W. would certainly be taking care of his friends. Can you fathom the amount of corruption that would take place over where to put these funds? The government would become the single largest investor in the stock market. The economic devastation on private individuals if the government were to sell large shares, or have a corrupt administration administering this program could cripple or ruin our economy. W. would be doing nothing more than making his wall street cronies even wealthier. The whole idea of the government investing in the stock market for individuals is insane. It sounds good, until you read the fine print. This proposal is simply allowing for the end of capitalism as we know it. The market would not be free. With government wielding its economic power in the stock market, we can all be assured the end is near for a free economy. W. is desperately trying to remove the democratic aspects of our government that allow us to maintain the delicate balance between democracy and capitalism. Democracy taken to its logical end is communism. Capitalism taken to its logical end is fascism. Together in the balance that America has worked so hard to create, it creates a system of freedom both economically and politically. W. is doing everything he can to move us towards the path of fascism. Between his social engineering and now his economic engineering, America may have finally met its match. God help the country who elects the village idiot, not once, but twice. Of course, at this point, we might just get what we deserve.

Jesse Helms, a continual embarrassment to North Carolina

I cannot be the only one who misses Bill Clinton. His good times administration is still fresh on the minds of so many Americans. How we only wish that FDR had not run for that 4th term. Just like every republican wanted to re-elect Reagan again, every democrat only wished that we could have re-elected Clinton. However, it does not come as any surprise that Jesse Helms reminded the moral and ethical individuals at the U.N today about Clinton and his past. Helms cannot help but continually be a black eye on North Carolina. Unlike Thurmond, Helms is still alive and cannot seem to keep his mouth shut. Is it me, or does anyone remember when Helms threaten Clinton's life? He said that "[Clinton] better watch out if he comes down here. He'd better have a bodyguard." What would happen if any human being in this country said that about Bush? Of course the long history of Helms career, including being against civil rights, holding fellow party members hostage to his personal agenda, and being a voice and image of the past that many southerns long to have removed from our modern day lives is not exactly the most moral or ethical. Many times Helms has been on the wrong side of history. I have to believe that Helms will not be remembered favorably in history. As time goes by, Clinton will only be cast as a superman like president. Like Darrell Hammond said on SNL, "Next time you best bring Kryptonite." It was Clinton's enemies that vanished, not Clinton. As for Helms, he has always been an embarrassment to North Carolina, the south, and his party. Today he only reminded us that he was alive, and it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Congratulations W., but who else cares?

Being able to pat oneself on the back, is something that each of us probably needs to do more often. Today, we know one person is doing that very happily; W. With Iraq having what appears to be a successful vote in Iraq yesterday, W. must be ecstatic. W.’s administration admittedly had no idea what was going to happen. US soldiers (along with Iraq soldiers) locked down the country and border to secure the country for a what appears to be a successful vote. Preliminary numbers have come in that 8 million out of 14 million eligible voters voted yesterday. This is an excellent number for Iraq. Sadly, this number is higher than the US in our last election. Shame on you American for not voting. Of course Iraq didn’t have W. as one of their candidates.

No one can dispute that what happened yesterday in Iraq was a good thing. What is easily disputed is whether or not the path that was taken to get to yesterday’s vote was worth while. Over 1000 soldiers have died already, over 150 billion has been spent. There is a sense of deja-vu too. The US has seen how the hope of voting has worked in other wars. Take the vote that took place in Vietnam in 1967. In the NYT, 1967, “U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote : Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2) WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.” We all know what happened there….

Other individuals have made rather interesting observations concerning the eventual outcome of Iraq. In Fareed Zakaria’s article, Elections Are Not Democracy, he makes many wonderful observations concerning the current state of Iraq. Zakria is concerned about not only the fate of Iraq, but in essence the fate of democracy. Democracy is after all the tyranny of the majority. It may be called a democracy, but it is a tyranny. In order for a democracy to work, the minority, those who are ruled by the majority, must agree to be ruled. Iraqis think they can just vote someone out of office if they don’t like their policies. While this may be true, another aspect of democracy they may not realize is that the pool of talent that lines up to be voted into office is limited; extremely limited. While Iraq may be voting, they have a long way to go. One of the most profound statements in the article sums up distinctly the current US state of Iraq: “America is spending billions of dollars in Iraq and getting very little for it.” To me that sums up the state of Iraq. Especially with Bush asking for more and more money, it is must be obvious to the American people that we are in a quagmire.

Democrats are asking for exit strategies, at this point, it would be nice to just have a strategy. I for one am not happy about Iraq. I believe the situation is for all intensive purposes nothing more than W.’s attempt to take care of what his father could not. This is John Adams trying to do what his father could not, but with a 2nd term. Is there not anybody else who thinks sons of ex-presidents should not be allowed to run for president?

In the end, the Iraq elections gave 8 million Iraqis the chance to vote at least once in their lives. For W., well W. can pat himself on the back and say good job. It is very likely very few others will be doing the same. Much like Jimmy Carter was able to when he finally got the Mid-East peace accord signed. Carter accomplished this even though his advisers said it was a bad idea all along. Carter knew he was doing the right thing. W.'s advisers have wanted this ever since the 1st Gulf war. One thing for sure though, W. will not be getting the Noble Prize for Peace anytime soon......

Thoughts on Bush's administration paying the media to promote their policies

At what point does a “democracy” stop being a democracy? Is it when people loose the right to vote? Is it when there is no separation of state from church? Or does a democracy simply loose its luster when the current federal administration pays, that is right, pays with tax payers money to columnists to be proxies for their administrations policies. The Bush administration since 9/11 has tried desperately to remove so many democratic ideals: freedom of speech, separation of church and state, even the power of Congress. A new low was reached when it has become apparent that the administration is paying columnists to toot the horn of the administrations more controversial policies.

It is well known that Fox news and Rush Limbaugh are mouth pieces of the republican party and any news that comes from these sources is definitely slanted. What is less known, and even more troubling is that the Bush administration is paying columnists, of which only two have been identified so far, to propagate Bush policies in the media. These columnists did not disclose they were being paid by the federal government, nor did they openly admit to it. In accordance with all policies run out of the White House, Bush did not accept responsibility for these issues. The commentators were to blame, not Bush. As it should be said, if not already, God save the W.

It is beginning to feel more and more like the pendulum of this country is moving to a place where it will not move left for a long long while. Presidents have been surreptitiously elected since the beginning of our country. Washington was the perfect fit for our country. He was tall, quiet, well liked, and not very talkative. He was exactly what we needed as our 1st president. Other instances are sprinkled throughout our history. With Carter Americans wanted a genuine president who was likable; someone who would restore the greatness of the presidency. This of course happened with Reagan, who lead the United States in defense spending and out spent the USSR. Kennedy was the perfect fit after Eisenhower. The country was youthful and revitalized. Over and over, US presidents have been able to come in and do what the country needed done at the right time. Over and over I have tried to figure out how Bush has been able to do that same thing. And for once, it doesn’t make any sense. The country is intensely divided into two factions, and the pendulum as it were, is so far right, that it may be lost for a long time. When the pendulum does move back though, it will come heavy, quickly, and strongly to the left. It will be youthful again, and America will be ready to embrace the hardships that it must take head on. America will need to restore its image over seas, our budget, finances, taxes, social security, and civil rights. Liberty may be excessive, but now it appears to be lost amongst fear and war mongering.

The media shapes how Americans think and ultimately act. Policies are driven by media. Actions are driven by the media. So when it comes to free speech and paying the media, all of us should be concerned about our rights, the use of our tax dollars, and liberty (and freedom of speech). Even “Steve Rendall, an analyst with the independent media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), said [concerning Bush administration paying the media] "The real offence here is that readers or radio listeners are being defrauded in a sense lied to," he said. "They believe they are reading the words or hearing the opinion of an independent pundit but they are being propagandized to by a covert government agent." He added: "Mr Bush says his policies can stand on their own but they apparently can not."

With a republican congress, it is no wonder that no committee has been formed to review these policies. It is also not surprising that the media is not really hounding Bush on this issue. Again, I will ask the same question, at which point does a “democracy” stop being a democracy?

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