Quick Takes

QUICK TAKES

Follow the Rule:
I must profess; I thought that there was hope in the Obama administration to finally begin applying real pressure to the state of Israel in making them realize they can’t just do what they want. But alas, Obama’s administration is blindly following the rule of all former presidencies and that is to allow Israel to make a mockery of the U.S. in the world’s eyes.

Last week, the Obama crew bowed to Israeli and lobbyist pressure and the prevailing American political atmosphere in vetoing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. They should at least have cast an abstention. This only encourages Israel to continue on its merry way in building more settlements specifically for Israeli citizens in Palestinian lands. Internationally this is illegal. The main argument in allowing this is that the U.S. hasnt the right to tell Israel, a sovereign state, what to do. I say fine; then if we have not the right, let’s retract all the tens of billions of dollars we give them in financial and military aid. An estimated amount of $2.59 from the average American taxpayer goes to buying weapons for Israel in this year’s budget. Let’s face it…Israel is Israel strictly due to the U.S. We have every right to tell them to conduct themselves appropriately.

Israel is a transgressor state and with the lame excuse that the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice gave for the U.S. veto was that “it is unwise” for the U.N.s Security Council to put its hand in attempts to sway key issues between Palestinians and Israelis. This she said just after confessing that the U.S. agrees with the rest of the council’s yay votes and the wider world’s feelings “about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

With the Middle East people revolutions currently going on and the Palestinian’s insistence in not continuing peace talks while Israel continues West Bank settlement construction, it is the worst of timing in casting the veto. It undermines the enforcement of international law and makes the Obama presidency appear hypocritical when telling the Arab world that he opposes Israeli settlements, but won’t allow the U.N.s powerful Security Council to take an affirmative stance against it.

The U.S. knows of its possible consequence and repercussions, for after the veto vote, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem restricted staff movement in and around the West Bank for their own safety and protection.

I do realize full well the stigma in appearing to favor Moslems by the constant right-wing barrage of misinformation on Obama being a Muslim (such as lately passing around a totally false email stating Obama himself endorsed a U.S. postal stamp celebrating Islam), might have something to do with this veto. But for the country, right-wing misdeeds and wrack injustice need to simply be ignored. It is high time that Israel realize that it must be responsible for consequences of its actions and that the U.S. can no longer continue covering Israel’s infringements. Yes, we feel sympathy for the Nazi holocaust, but this doesn’t justify Israel to conduct their own little Palestinian holocaust simply in stating that this land was given to Israel by a god.

So Be It:
Last week, the unsympathetic words of John Boehner when addressing a group of journalists after a question was forwarded to him concerning 42,000 jobs will be lost strictly due to the House Republican budget cuts, were…“So be it. We’re broke.”

Actually I’ve been under the impression from all the conservative hoopla that Republicans are for creating jobs…not axing them. But if you notice, what has been on their plate’s agenda are purely political mandates and not one mention of moves to create employment. They have been passing legislation right and left to do harm and cuts to regulations and laws that Republicans not only disfavor, but disdain. If you hold your breath through the smokescreen and get to the source of ignition, they are waging war on policies, regulations and legislation that are for the American citizen, but are ignoring downsizing exploitation for corporate America and the very wealthy.

Throughout the first two years of Obama’s presidency, John Boehner and other Republicans insistently wailed, “Where are the jobs,” as if Obama was fully responsible for the high unemployment that actually was the direct result of eight years of Bush and Republican Houses.

Presently, the Republican House is behaving just as before. They’re not interested in creating jobs for American families; not focused at all on job creation. No, they’re pushing agendas to aid their polluting industrial cronies by attempting to defund the EPA by 30%, essentially cutting its legs off to regulate and enforce environmental laws. Forget seeking job creation, Republicans want to prohibit the EPA from setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions from the biggest U.S. polluters, namely power plants, refineries and smeltering factories. Republicans even want to bar the EPA from collecting pollution data essentially denying the U.S. from record monitoring and statistics keeping on polluting industries. Now, how is that good for the average American; it only benefits irresponsible industry at the sacrifice of our healthy environment and lives. We’re just going to have to dig deep and ask ourselves, what is more important...bigger corporate profits due to gutted regulations or our families’ health due to sensible regulation?

If the country is as broke as Boehner points out, why did he not defund the funding for the extra GE F-35 engines, which cost the taxpayers $3.5 billion? It would not only save federal dollars, further, it would cut out waste of federal dollars, for the Pentagon does not even want or need the engines. Could it be that the engines are not on the axing block because part of the engine is made in his Ohio district while the other half is assembled in his sidekick’s (Eric Cantor, another jobless creator Republican) Virginia district? They are not out to honestly cut the budget, it is political maneuvering. If not, then why is there over $100 billion that has been dished out to big business in the form of corporate welfare? $29.5 billion in subsidies alone is enjoyed yearly by the oil industry and commercial agriculture. Remember, Exxon/Mobil made a record of a momma record profit in 2008 of $45.2 billion while not paying one red cent in income tax for 2009. According to US PIRG (United States Public Interest Research Group), in 2010 an estimated $1trillion in federal revenue was lost due to offshore corporate tax havens and this is while one in eight Americans go hungry on a daily basis. According to the GAO (Government Accountability Office), during most of the Bush years, two out of every three American corporations did not pay a dime in federal income taxes.

Yes, Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republicans are hell-bent on budget cuts for social programs, conservation and elderly entitlements, but fight tooth ‘n’ nail for the wealthiest to keep their tax cuts and grant corporations and financial institutions with regulation immunity, while sparing business from even paying a bit of their fair share. After all, American corporations are sitting on over $14.5 trillion, refusing to use it for hiring or research. Really, instead of riding all of this debt on the backs of senior citizens, the middle class and hard working families, can’t Republicans come up with a more across the board sacrifice for the well-off as well?

Remember, a dictator is one who squelches his people while embellishing his elite. As for Republicans today, with their new found power and slanted agendas, I’m not going to flat out call them little dictators, but I will state that dictatorial actions most likely dictates thinking. The true core of America’s dilemma at the moment is lack of jobs and budgetary cutting issues. This will only prolong and add to unemployment dragging us in deeper into the hole.

And as for Boehner, the Speaker of the House, I here tell his title has been revised to...Boehner, Weeper of the House. Ya know, with all of his crying and carrying on and all. So be it…

Demagogue:
Republicans as of late are spreading a sermon of demagoguery. They are claiming that Obama won’t jump into the foray and announce that budget cuts are going to have to dip into entitlements and is leaving that up to Republicans to contend with. They are accusing him of being a demagogue. As defined, demagoguery is the practice of a leader obtaining and retaining power by appealing to the emotions and prejudices of the populace. Actually, in any democracy that sounds like the definition of any politician, no matter his party affiliation. But in their haste to cut budgets on everything that benefits America’s average citizen, they want Obama to make the first move into entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It appears they want to attack entitlements, but are too afraid in making the first jump. So, to promote their agenda, all of a sudden the big issue is in promoting Obama as a demagogue.

The deal is Republicans need to recheck their arithmetic, for social security does not add one penny to the national deficit and is currently solvent until the year 2037. Medicare is so direly needed for senior citizens to compensate the exorbitant high cost of insurance company premiums and Medicaid has kept the disabled and poor’s heads above water. Of course Obama, with any sense of compassion, does not want to take these embedded and endeared rights away. Funny though, with the high rise in health insurance, Republicans during the health care debates were more than happy to accuse Obama of being a demagogue then too, when he jumped into the arena fighting for citizen rights to affordable and quality health care. No, Republicans can forget it. Obama will gladly wear the demagogue tag long before attacking entitlements. That is the Republican agenda and for them to contend with.

Unconstitutionality:
Well, I see along with the false tags of “government takeover bill” “too costly bill” and “job killing bill,” Republicans still portray the bill as “Obamacare” instead of its legitimate billing, ‘The Affordable Care Act.’ I suppose Republicans feel coy and cute in their thinking that it demeans the bill.

Nonetheless, all this recent hoopla on two federal judges deciding the bill as unconstitutional, still doesn’t override the other two judges’ conclusions that it is constitutional and the dozens of others who have actually thrown the frivolous Republican lawsuits out of their courts rather than in hearing them.

For all of you benevolent Republicans out there…one of your own in Senate Judiciary Committee testimonies earlier this month lit into Florida’s federal judge, Roger Vinson’s conclusion that the bill was unconstitutional. That Republican is none other than Charles Fried, former Reagan Solicitor General and current Harvard law professor. Fried emphatically rebuffed Vinson’s decision and stated, “I am quite sure that the health care mandate is constitutional.”

The affront on the new health care bill Republicans are charging with is that the bill cannot enforce American citizens to buy health care plans. With this reasoning, I suppose first up for repeal is required liability auto insurance and mortgaged homeowner’s insurance. These insurances have been required by law for decades. Don’t Republicans first, need to repeal these? Naw, just the health care provision, because that is the Republican political ploy…there’s no ground to gain politically in the other two insurance laws; besides, it would only make Republicans look stupider, now wouldn’t it.

A country’s true greatness is only a measure of how well it takes care of its citizenry. One needs to only look at the current citizen uprisings in the Middle East to figure that out.

Bush has Left the Continent:
George W. Bush was scheduled to make an appearance as a guest speaker on February 12th for a Jewish gala in Davos, Switzerland. For fear of being arrested, Bush cancelled his trip. Reed Brody, a lawyer for a human rights group, stated, “He’s avoiding the handcuffs,” for ya see, there are criminal complaints against Bush on the European continent for war crimes, human rights abuses and for the ordering of torture. This is all under ‘The Convention on Torture,’ where it states any high official is libel for their actions. The U.S. signed off on it as well during its ratification into international law. In his new book, Bush even admits to condoning and allowing the use of waterboarding, a torture procedure that the U.S. military hung Japanese officials for in conducting it during WWII on American GI prisoners of war.

Normally, Switzerland is neutral in international events, but on this subject, Bush was assailed on both sides in the country’s governmental parliament. The liberal side was protesting his entrance into the country and filing suits, while the right-wing side was calling for his arrest if he entered the country. I guess we all can be rest assured, Bush won’t be taking any European trips or Mediterranean cruises anytime soon.

Also, as of late in Davos, Switzerland, in late January of this year there was an international business forum where it was concluded that businesses, instead of accommodating climate change, must join the fight in curbing climate change. Of course, most American corporations are ran by conservative officers, so opted out in joining the forum, preferring instead to go the easy route in wanting laxer regulations to allow more polluting capability, rather than being innovative enough in creating greener business conduct.

At the forum, it was agreed upon that overall American business strategy is part of the problem and needs to become part of the solution as American industry accounts for over 25% of current world pollution emissions. In a panel discussion of some 2,500 international business leaders, they concluded if businesses would begin to lead in the fight against global warming, then governments and politicians would have to change attitudes and opinions in recognizing global warming and enact policies geared more towards thwarting its progression. So true...

Deserved Credit?
Since the wave of Middle Eastern protests in the Arab world, there are some who blindly want to credit it all to Bush due to the Iraqi invasion. Elliot Abrams, who was a national secretary adviser under Bush, is currently pushing and broadcasting this false idea. Let’s make this clear, Bush may have used the excuse of freedom and democracy in justifying his invasion of Iraq, but the core reasons the Bush administration preemptively invaded the country was due to American corporate and energy interests and national political strategies in securing a U.S. foothold onto Arabic and Persian Gulf turf at the expense of our military.

As Gregory Gause, an expert on Middle East politics stated, “The Iraq War, if anything, gave democracy a bad name because of the violence associated with the American occupation.” Iraq, with its corrupt fledgling democracy still in place is still witnessing violence. Since post Saddam, Iraq is one of the most dangerous and violent spots in the world.

Truthfully, no American politician can claim credit for what’s happening there. Democracy cannot be forced on from an outside source as what was done in Iraq, it must come from within. When a simple Tunisian fruit vendor became so despondent by the corruption in his government, he protested by dousing himself in gasoline and striking a match to himself in front of a police station. This ignited all Tunisians to lose their fear and amass in unison protest that eventually led to the hated government to cower and leave, which further spread like wildfire into other Middle Eastern countries.

Mad in Wisconsin:
Up to something, but good for nothing. Do ya like that phrase? I borrowed it from a Simpsons cartoon. I feel the phrase catches the theme at what is happening in Wisconsin. Let’s see if we can make that theme evolve in the next couple of paragraphs or so.

As we all know, the newly elected Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker is trying to pass a bill in his state to effectively take away the rights of public unions to collectively bargain. He is doing this he claims, due to the risk of the state going broke in continuing state payment of pensions. But, he refuses to negotiate with unions, who are willing to sacrifice cuts on wages and pensions. No, Walker wants the union’s collective bargaining rights to be permanently dissolved. This is what the members of the teachers, state and university employees, nurses, child care workers and all other non law enforcement public employee unions’ are protesting about. Collective bargaining is the bedrock of unions, with that stripped from them the union has no say or rights to have a legitimate voice. Up to 70,000 union member protesters have been filling the state capitol’s grounds and building. The turnout of the final development in Wisconsin on whether the bill passes or not, will serve as a bellwether for national voting trends.

Since it is far more American than any tea party, Im dubbing the Wisconsin protesters as the new...Mornin' Coffee Party.

Now, as Walker fervently stresses that it is strictly for budgetary reasons, most critics feel he merely wants to do the Republican thing and bust unions. Their reasons…Walker laments that his state has a $137 million deficit and wants that to be corrected off the backs of state employee pensions, but he totally ignores speaking about the millions in income tax cuts he gave to Wisconsin’s richest residents. Also one of his first duties in office was to push through his Republican congress, $147 million in new spending for special interests groups this past January. If anything, this is what has given the state its deficit if it really has one, not employee pensions and wages. It could be questioned if there really is a deficit concern, because the Wisconsin’s budgetary fiscal bureau on January 31st sent a report to the state’s congress determining that the state should end the year with not a deficit, but a surplus balance of $121.4 million.

Just as Walker did when he was the Milwaukee county executive, where he pushed for a $2 billion cut in the state’s wealthiest income bracket and pay for it by repealing and defunding BadgerCare, a bipartisan program created to provide basic health care for the state’s low income residents, he is now doing as governor. He wants to pay for his $287 million tax cuts for the state’s top one percent wealthiest and his special interests tax forgiveness and built in loopholes with middle class public employee pensions. And why do we really know what he is up to, well because he was duped, bamboozled, hoodwinked and punked by a prank caller pretending to be none other than billionaire conservative Tea Party front man, David Koch.

During the twenty minute fake phone call, by an editor of the website Buffalo Beast, Walker discussed how he was working to cripple the unions and hopes that it spreads across America. He also stated he thought of sending goons into the protesters midst to disrupt their civil demonstrations and even once thought about sending in the state’s National Guard; this while Americans were cheering on the Middle East demonstrators, insisting that the governments there not send in military force. The phony phone interview immediately went viral over the internet.

With Koch and his brother, Charles giving $43,000.00 to Walker’s campaign and another $1 million to the Republican’s Governors’ Association which funded Walker for ads to attack his opponent during last year’s Wisconsin gubernatorial campaign, of course he graciously accepted the call. Seven lobbyists have recently registered in Wisconsin’s capitol, Madison to serve the interests of the various Koch industries and they are there in full force to reap rewards from their invested interests. One of their interests is in a provision of Walker’s budget bill where it would allow the governor to sell off publicly owned power plants to private businesses without first soliciting bids or need the authorization of the solicitor general. This is how Koch industries have worked in the past through their energy subsidiaries. They buy public held utilities with a low no-bid sale, then raise rates and revenues. This is not a good forecast for Wisconsin utility consumers.

I realize Walker is from Wisconsin, but he is a true cheesy-head. If Walker’s bill goes through, all the state’s public union members will be negatively impacted, for market private pension plans for middle class Americans turn out to be less than a quarter of what’s needed today to retire. Walker’s proposals and legislation is political and assuredly not practical. His stone cold stubbornness does not fully understand the collateral consequences for the overall citizenry of his state.

Ya know, everyone has heard the dribble when their peeing hits the toilet water and just the same, Walker’s righteousness for the wealthy does not exclude him from his drivel failures toward middleclass savoir-faire.




In Correspondence,
BJA
02/25/2011