Tag Archives: Obama

Mic Check

Occupy Atlanta at the State CapitalSaturday was a day of occupation and solidarity in cites around the world. In Atlanta, there was a march from “Troy Davis Park,” the name used by the occupying residents of Woodruff Park, to the state capital.

Economic Refugee Camps
Occupy Atlanta is a populist movement. It is not affiliated with any political party and vows not to be hijacked either. It is, at least by intent, neither liberal or conservative. Those in the camps are, generally, young or homeless. They are symbolic refugees in the richest country in the world. They are our surrogates.

Occupy Atlanta at Troy Davis/Woodruff ParkThey represent the tens of millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed and cannot find work to sustain their lives. They represent the millions of homeless men and women who have lost everything in their path to the American dream. They represent all of those whose lives have been upended by the richest one percent among us who have gamed the system. They represent those who fought for our nation and returned to find there were no opportunities in the land of opportunity. They are standing in for those of us who live off peanut butter and oatmeal. Those of us who live day to to day and are just one missing paycheck from being homeless. Those of us whose homes have been repossessed or sold by bankers with fake documents. Those of us who borrowed tens of thousands or more for college tuition, only to find no work. Those of us whose homes are worth less than we paid. Those of us who put their faith in the system and were betrayed by their leaders who have been bribed by lobbyist shills of the one-percenters. Those of us who had the audacity of hope and had it crushed by compromise and a just-say-no Congress. Those of us who believed in the Republicans or the Democrats to do the right thing and were lied to. They may not look like us, but they are us. They are “we the people.” They are the 99%.

Violinist at Occupy Atlanta at Troy Davis/Woodruff ParkThe urban campers seem to be motivated by the deep sense that something is fundamentally wrong in our nation and the world. That something must to be changed. They are earnest and brave. They have given up their lives to stand in and stand up for us.

The rally to the capital was “organized” by MoveOn.org, and not without some discontent from the folks at Occupy Atlanta who expressed concern that MoveOn was attempting to subvert the Occupy movement to support President Obama.

The march and rally was a diverse crowd. Aging activists. Middleclass believers. People of all walks, skin color, origin, hair length, wardrobe choice and life experience.

Occupy Atlanta is not the sixties antiwar movement. The sixties may have been easy in comparison – one real issue, one solution. This time, the issues are complicated.

Signs at Occupy Atlanta rally at the Capital StepsI had a deep feeling that something was different while listening to those on the capital steps who walked up to the microphone or took the people’s mic, and said, “mic check.” This was the real deal. The speakers were not polished. The talking points were largely unrehearsed. Anyone could take the mic. It was messy. There was chaos – confusion, sure, but more in the definition of “the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.”

The goal of the rally was not to convince, but to be heard. Some at the mic sounded eerily like the tea partiers. Some seemed awkward Obama apologists. Some had watched too many television pundits or listened to too much talk radio.

All, however, were seeking change. All were challenging each other to find solutions. Some argued that we the people can make the jobs and change America and the world. Others just told stories of hardship and overcoming since the economic collapse. The banksters and multi-national corporations were a consistent target of the anger. The bailout money was blamed as a missed opportunity. The war a terrible waste of our people and our treasure. That the wealth disparity was terribly wrong and had to be fixed. They spoke of the need for justice – social, and for those on Wall Street. But each came back to the need for jobs.

Occupy Wall Street’s goal is not to overthrow the government, but a revolution to overthrow the status quo. The movement is seeking the people’s solution from the people’s voice.

I don’t pretend to know what it takes to motivate one person to get off their couch and into the street. Perhaps, it will take a second wave of bank failures and layoffs. Or another Selma moment. Or a leader who could emerge inspired by yesterday’s dedication of the MLK memorial, realizing the civil rights movement is part of the human rights movement and so much work is left to be done. But as Chris Hedges wrote today in Truth-Out.org, it is “A Movement Too Big to Fail.”

One month old today:
Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future. – OccupyWallSt.org

 

 

 

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Post updated 10.18.11 9:53 am. Author’s note: It has come to my attention that I, nor my editors, could save me from my embarrassing blunder that my “playfully anthropomorphizing” [NYT] of microphone, should not be “Mike,” it should be “Mic.” The post has been updated to make sure every reader knows the potential that I have for stupid.

Leadership, Carville & Truth

Leave it to James Carville to get people thinking. His advice this week to President Obama was to panic, fire a bunch of people and indict some of the people responsible for the financial crisis. I, respectfully, differ.

This President has done his darndest to play the traditional role of cheerleader President. No matter the reality, reassure the masses and do the “right thing.” Find compromise. Reassure his base through incrementalism. Reassure his opponents by putting everything on the table. I don’t think that I am the first to say that this ain’t working.

These are not normal times. The opposition party sold out their patriotism a long time ago for corporate favor and corporate-sponsored ideology. President Obama is being played. Over and over and over again.

I have a suggestion. Tell the American people the truth. Sounds un-American, doesn’t it?

Sure, the stock market up 30% since Obama took over and the Bush economy that was going down the toilet is growing again slowly up the side of the bowl. Sure, some of the bleeding has stopped, but there is a limit to what a President can do without Congress. Even less with a Congress that is doing everything they can to undermined America. I say, cut the crap and tell us the truth.

Tell us that the banks have been lying and most are insolvent – as bad as as what’s going on in Europe. That we face a multi-trillion dollar under-capitalization of banks. Tell us that we, the treasury, has colluded with the financial industry to allow them to classify assets as preforming that are junk. Tell us that the only thing that has kept them in business is the abuse of the Fed window allowing them to bet on a totally rigged Wall Street – and, of course, the continued rape of consumers – aka: Americans. Tell us truth, while reminding us that bank CEOs are paying themselves billions in bonuses – while we are wondering whether this is the week that a bank will repossess our house with fraudulent documents. Then remind us that our homes can’t be sold for what we owe and that millions of repossessed houses aren’t even on the market, yet.

Tell us that we are in real trouble. That most of our pension funds are also insolvent. That they have invested in worthless real estate and our treasury has colluded with them to pretend it isn’t true. That those empty office buildings around the country are being counted as if they were worth something. That commercial real estate is a scam and it is the other shoe that will drop, unless we can just pretend our way out it this mess. Tell us the truth: there is a limit to how many offices Homeland Security and the NSA can lease.

Tell us that we are in unwinnable wars around the world. That Iraq and Afghanistan are as big a mess as when we arrived. That we continue to fight them because we are terrified at the thought of bringing 300,000-400,000 fully armed private mercenary soldiers, along with a 200,000 of our real troops, back home where there is no work. Tell us, that we have had a wartime economy since Reagan. That if we were to have peace, this depression would be number one. Tell us the truth.

Tell us that most of the the 13 million official unemployed will never work again for real wages unless we do something to change it now. Tell us that 10-20 million more who are doing everything they can to keep their families together by working fast food and driving cabs, shouldn’t expect find real work again, either. Tell us that the reason we haven’t done re-training of these Americans so they could find jobs, is that there aren’t jobs to be found. Tell us the truth. That stimulus was misnamed. A third of of it was typical pickle barrel stuff to get votes. A third of it went straight to the states to keep them from firing people. And the final third, was, well, a mix of shovel ready jobs and liberal aspirations that was oversold.

Tell us, that, we the people, have screwed up big time. That corporate bribery of our Congress is so rampant that we have totally f’cked our tax system and need a new one. That we have an economy where the American dream, aka: Bernie, is really dead. Tell us 90% of us are slaves to the other 10%. Tell us the real plot of Ayn Rand capitalists is to get the wages of the poor down to the pennies a day they pay in third world countries. Tell us the truth.

Tell us the truth that organized labor working with organized business is what created the middle class and made our economy the envy of the world. Tell us the truth about the bill the Republicans passed last week to weaken the NLRB. That it is an attack on the middle class at a time when we need Labor more than ever.

Tell us the truth that tens of thousands of bridges and roads are crumbling and that investments in our infrastructure to rebuild them will create good jobs and lasting value for all of us.

Tell us that our nation’s school systems are failing and that the most important investment we can make is in our next generation. Tell us how we can fix it.

Tell us the truth that our farm subsidies have ruined family farmers around the world and caused deadly food inflation in the places most vulnerable. That our subsidies for corn is a huge part of the obesity problem. Tell us the truth that by subsidizing corn and corn ethanol, which will always be inefficient and penalizing sugar cane and sugar-ethanol imports, which are very efficient, we are preventing our own southern hemisphere from a rich and sustainable future.

Remind us that gasoline costs over $10 to get to the pump, but that the Federal Government subsidies allowing you to buy it for $3.50 – something that has to stop. Tell us the truth that free trade is not fair trade. That low prices are good for Walmart customers, but not people wanting a job anywhere but Walmart. Admit that you caved on ozone rules because you were afraid it would cost you reelection and that the new rules need to be implemented. Apologize to all those you could have appointed during recess, admit you were afraid of Senate Republicans and promise not to do it again.

Tell us that the reason Medicare and Medicaid are in trouble is the greedy bastards in the pharmaceutical, medical equiptment and health insurance industry who have rigged the system. Tell us to look at every other country in the world and we’ll see that we are a nation of chumps. Tell us that “Obamacare” is a bullshit compromised bill. That it should be repealed and replaced with a new bill with a single payor that would give us all better care for way less money. Tell us the truth: that privatization is just a more expensive way of doing the same thing, but will make some individuals rich, but not you. Tell us the budget deficit is meaningless to most of us, but the rich do want the government to pay them interest. Tell us the truth: that if the rich won’t pay taxes and the poor can’t, just who the f’ck is left pay? We, the whoever is still working, are. Tell us that we are acting like lemmings marching behind the t-party idiots off the cliff.

Tell us that unless we get rid of the bastards in the House and push back the lowlife lobbyists on K-Street, the whole friggin’ thing, our American way of life, is going to topple down. That we the people will starve in the streets of the richest country in the world while the top 1/10 of 1% are laughing their asses off behind their gated communities. Tell us the truth.

Remind us that the President is part of the executive branch of government. That the executive powers are limited to carrying out the wishes of Congress. And when Congress, or their lobbyist masters, wishes the country to go in the ditch, the President is powerless to stop them. Tell us the truth.

Tell that creationism and intelligent design are silly and that evolution is fact. Tell us that global climate change is real, will kill us all and may already be too late to reverse. Tell us that tax cuts do not and never have created jobs. Tell us that water boarding is torture. Remind us that Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real. Tell us the truth about Roswell, Kennedy and Elvis.

Tell us that the games are over. That he, President Obama, is going to tell the truth. That when these crazy pink Republicans say blatant lies, he’s going to call them on it. That we are going to hell and take the world with us unless they stop this idiotic fantasy.

On the other hand, maybe he should just fire a bunch of people and indict some of the people responsible for the financial crisis.

US to Shed 1.5 Million Jobs to Create New Recession

Right Wing Raising the DebtUpdate: 08.09.2011, 4:00 PM. President Obama has now signed the legislation to raise the debt ceiling and avert default. The bill immediately raises the debt ceiling by $400 billion. The additional steps that our country will have to endure to raise the debt ceiling for the balance of next year are described below. “Enough talk about the debt. We have to talk about jobs,” said Democratic Minority Leader, Nancy Peloisi.

Only two days remain in this season’s final episode of the made-for-cable-news mega-series drama, “The Right Wing – Raising the Debt Ceiling”*. The whole world is watching. Whose jobs will be lost? Whose fortunes, real, imagined, hedge, shorted or political, will be wiped out? Who will blink or tear up? Will the T-Party take to the streets or is just too damn hot? Will the golf partners stick to their “deal” for an entire news cycle? What will Sarah tweet? Will a deminted Senator sabotage it all with a last minute filibuster? Can Pelosi be turned to the dark side? Will S&P downgrade the credit rating anyway leading to higher interest and a need for even greater cuts? Will we do this again before Christmas?

The stranger-than-fictional leaders of our government have leaked elements of their surprising planned finale where they use this totally made-up crisis to solve the nation’s, and the world’s, great problems. The markets have already rallied in anticipation. As has the dollar. As have oil prices. The pundits, blogmeisters, and spin doctors have already picked the winners and losers. The bottles of sparkling tea have been chilled.

The drama couldn’t have been cast with a more exciting backdrop:

  • Two official wars (Afghanistan and Iraq), one official unofficial war (Libya), two well-known secret wars (Yemen and Pakistan), revolutions underway or being brutally suppressed in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, on-going and potential conflicts in Palestine, Iran and North Korea, and chaos, famine and human tragedy in Somalia and the Horn of Africa;
  • An earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan that will continue for a hundred thousand years;
  • A massacre of white people by a white, right-wing Christian anti-muslim lunatic;
  • Worldwide recession with grave concern for the Euro zone, specifically Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland;
  • A dismal 1.3% US GDP growth last quarter after only .04% first quarter growth;
  • The lowest percentage of Americans working in almost 30 years with 9.2% unemployment (20+% black unemployment) and at least 18.5% overall underemployment – more than 25 million Americans are out of work and glued to their TV sets;
  • More than 50 million Americans without health insurance;
  • 28% of US homeowners are behind on their mortgage, a backlog of six million US homes in foreclosure with more than three million homes already seized, and home prices continuing to decline;
  • Executive pay has risen 23% this year, plus, record earnings continue to be announced by our largest corporations – US companies have now accumulated and horded, depending upon who counts, $20-30 trillion in cash, while spending millions on lobbyists to whine about regulation, taxes and certainty;
  • The wealth gap continues to widen with whites now averaging 20 times the wealth of blacks, 18 times the wealth of Hispanics;
  • US worker productivity is at an all time high, yet real wages are lower than they have been in 41 years;
  • Federal, state and local taxes are the lowest per capita since 1954;
  • The number of government workers has gone down more than 500,000 since Obama took office;
  • And, it is hot, though not officially from global climate change even though the northern hemisphere is trying to endure a record-breaking heat wave.

For those who may have missed an episode, ignore the backdrop (above) – the crisis in America is clearly our deficit. With total government revenues, as a percentage of our economy, at their lowest level in more than 60 years, obviously, the only answer is to cut government spending.

The announced plans include an immediate $400 billion debt limit increase (whew) and $900 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. These cuts will be from the annual appropriations of the day-to-day operations of Cabinet agencies (specific cuts will be determined by the Appropriations Committee after annual lobbying and whining by each agency and their related lobbyists), but largely the cuts will be from capping projected inflation-adjusted increases. These cuts do not include Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Another $500 billion debt limit increase would be allowed later this fall, which Congress could only disapprove, which President Obama could veto, which Congress could overturn by a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate (I’m not making this up).

A third installment of debt limit increase of between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion would be available after enactment of the recommendations on November 23, 2011 by a 12-member super Congress (also to be announced) of three members from each party and each chamber.

The super Congress’s report to the mortal Congress could include tax code changes, maybe even revenues, and changes in any other program – including Social Security, Medicare, Pentagon spending. All dependent upon an up or down, no amendments allowed, vote in Congress on December 23, 2011.

Should super Congress not agree (how likely is that?) or the mortal Congress does not act on the recommendations, we’ll face the poison pill of across the board spending cuts to be implemented by the White House including cuts to the Pentagon, domestic agency budgets and farm subsidies… beginning in 2013, after the next Presidential election. However, Social Security, Medicaid, veterans benefits and military pay would not be subject to cuts.

Oh, yeah, the House and Senate are also required to vote, but not pass, which they won’t, a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution. The bill will establish at a cost of $1 billion, a “program integrity” initiative in an attempt to stem abuses in Social Security and federal health care programs. This bill will also preserve Pell Grant funding for 2012-2013 by cutting student loan subsidies. Go figure.

This is one terrific plan.

“The result would be the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was President,” said President Obama in announcing the deal. “Now, this process has been messy; it’s taken far too long… We’re not done yet.”

“I know this agreement won’t make every Republican happy. It certainly won’t make every Democrat happy,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

“Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world. But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town… There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles. It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down. And as I vowed back in May – when everyone thought I was crazy for saying it,” said Speaker of House John Boehner (R-Oh.).

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “I would say … that symbolically, that agreement is moving us to the point where we are having the final interment of John Maynard Keynes… So here we are in the horns of a dilemma. In order to avoid the disaster that would occur August 2 if the United States defaulted for the first time in its history, we are being told we have to cut back on government spending and by cutting back on spending, we may also have a negative impact on our economy.”

The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, (D-Mo.) called it “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”

Over time, the combined cuts should add about 1.25 million to our unemployment rolls, and could bump unemployment over 10%. The cuts in spending will almost certainly turn our anemic GDP growth into negative numbers putting us back into official recession – this time, an official bipartisan recession. But don’t be fooled that the impact will stop there. The cuts will have dramatic impact on every state. Those laid off will be teachers, law enforcement and regulators. Food and medical care will be cut for our poorest children and their families. Transportation and infrastructure spending will also be cut.

When the series continues, we’ll get to watch who is to blame. How gerrymandered districts will make things even more partisan? How the T-party will get revenge on Boehner? How Obama will seek to mend fences with his base? And how all, but a few of us, will continue suffering and electing these fools? I wish I could change the channel.

 

*A sequel to the popular series, “The West Wing.”

Note: This story was updated at 5:45PM, August 1, 2011 to correct details once the bill was announced.

The Timidity of Hope

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16, New International Version.

Obama - Hope With Blood on His HandsIt should be no surprise* that our President decided to continue the 10-years war. The choice to order more thousands of our brave men and women in uniform to give their lives, and many more maimed and permanently scarred, is consistent with his presidency, his campaign promises and his life’s story. It is his war now. The choice to accept tens of thousands more innocent civilian lives to be lost or ruined as collateral damage is one that weighed the risk of peace against the advice for war against the political climate in Washington at odds with the history of Afghanistan.

Why is ordering peace so hard? The needs here at home are evident. Most Americans want the war to end. The spun reason for the conflict has been achieved. Must we stay in Afghanistan to wage clandestine war in Pakistan? Are the bordering countries of China, India and Iran not strong enough to control their neighbor? Or is it some lingering fear and presumptive need to have our forces pre-positioned surrounding Iran? Shouldn’t we be more concerned that the presence of our forces surrounding Iran may make a future conflict more likely?

Our President does not have the audacity of hope that he once so successfully promoted. The lessons of Mohandas Gandhi, Thoreau and Dr. King have been lost in his parsing compromise. Violence begets violence. Peaceful civil disobedience takes too long (suggested search terms: bombing campaign Libya). Wars not paid for and fought without the draft with the drones seem so easy. Or, is it simply that no sitting President has ever lost reelection during wartime?

This President is a pragmatist. He didn’t fight for healthcare reform because of the 40-50 million Americans without health insurance. He fought for a bill, any bill, because the GAO told him that costs were out of control, and until healthcare was reformed, our country could not have a balanced budget.

He didn’t allow green initiatives to be included in the stimulus bill because it was right for our country or our planet. He did so because it could create jobs and would make members of the House, who actually believe, placated for a while.

He didn’t promote Wall Street reform because of the grotesque change in the distribution of income in our country, or the outrageous profits made from no-interest Fed money. He supported the reform bill, any bill, in an attempt to prevent another meltdown. He has since backed away from the reform and strong rules his administration gets to write, because the economy is stagnant and banks are tanking.

Obama is also likely to accept the Republican demands to undo three-generations of Democratic achievement on social policy – even without a tax increase on the wealthy or getting rid of needless, mindless subsidies for corporations – because failure to pass the debt extension could destabilize world financial markets. That, and keeping the Republicans on track to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid increases the likelihood of winning the next election and while providing the cover to undo any budget deal in the next Congress.

There was a time that I thought that Rahm Emanuel was the force that had him compromise his beliefs for a pragmatic government. I was wrong. Obama never believed.
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* In a previous story, I wrote that he would be out of all of wars by the election. I was surprised that things in Obama’s world changed so dramatically in such a short time.

Managing for Peace

52nd Infantry Regiment Teaches the Peace SignYesterday, President Obama announced planned changes to his security team. CIA Director Leon Panetta will be nominated for Secretary of Defense. General David Petraeus, now head of operations in Afghanistan will be nominated to run the CIA. Lt. General John Allen will replace Petraeus in Afghanistan. Ryan Crocker will be nominated to be the next US ambassador to Afghanistan.Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration kept around to protect Obama from typical first-term weak-on-the-military attacks by the opposing party, is stepping down and will likely enter the revolving door into the defense industry boardroom – or several of them.

There is nothing unusual in changes. The President is running for reelection and it is smart politics to announce changes prior to the campaign. The President continues to manage government well. None of the changes will be abrupt. Gates will step down June 30 and Panetta, assuming confirmation, will take over July 1st. All are non-controversial defense insiders and should get an easy confirmation and even a few Republican votes.

Nothing unusual, except for why Obama’s really doing it — Obama’s planning to end the war in Afghanistan, and with it, cut back on military spending. You didn’t hear it here first. Obama has been saying it for two years. He could not do it with the team he had. He can do it with the new team.

Gates, has been dead-set against Pentagon budget cuts, now he won’t have to make them. Petraeus has an unfinished job and wasn’t about to tell the President to draw down troops or tarnish his reputation or ego. Now he can continue fighting in Afghanistan using the CIA and trust Allen to be a good soldier. Panetta will do what he’s always done — manage well and make the Commander-in-Chief look good. Ryan Crocker, with his experience in Iraq and Pakistan is the person to manage Karzai and his corrupt government. This is the team to end the war before election day 2012. You did hear that here first.

Things could change, but it seems perfectly aligned to happen. We’ve been at war since 2003. The men and women in service deserve to come home. Our reserve units need to be retooled. Our allies are tired and have had enough. Voters stopped paying attention when they lost their jobs and their homes.

So what’s next? How will the corporate side of our military react? Just how much clout do their lobbyists for war have? Will our private contractor army stand down? Will the neocons give up on invading Iran until after the election? How will Israel react to the idea that we would not be actively making enemies on their behalf? Could Libya or Syria heat up and be next? Have the oil sheiks enough guns, tanks and jets to fight off revolution without us?

It is all part of the plan. The political plan. If America is truly ready for peace, as defined by good poll numbers for Obama fall a year from now, we’ll finally have peace. If not, well, whatever it takes to get elected. Please tell your pollster you are ready for peace when they call.

Stimulus Hawk

In a dramatic achievement of bipartisan compromise, the Clinton-Obama administration has announced a compromise with Republicans for continued stimulus spending – deficit be damned – as long as the economy, as judged by the Chamber of Commerce, deems it appropriate. No, extending the Bush tax cuts for the superwealthy was so last week. Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stuck in the malaise of the post-prozac depression, we simply cannot afford to have hundreds of thousands of Americans return home off combat pay. The effect on Visa and Mastercard write-offs would be massive. Public relations spokespeople for virtually every economist who has ever appeared on TV, have stated that, “America needs the stimulus from combat-death life insurance pay-outs to the surviving families to keep our communities vibrant and our schools and VA hospitals open.” Were one of these wars to suddenly come to an end, every American would suffer from the effect of those laid-off in the bomb, bullet, flack jacket, tank, predator drone, helicopter, MRE, spy satellite, cargo plane and cable news industries. The effect would be enormous – we would have to go back to watching people talk about abortion and the protection of marriage.

Were the totally implausible to occur, ‘peace’, the opportunity for middle-aged former veterans to sell themselves to companies formerly known as Prince, for only five times what real soldiers make, is over. Stop. Think for a moment. Without thousands of flights per month half way around the world, what would happen to the price of oil? What would happen to community college language programs in middle eastern dialects? What would happen to the army of friendless nerds working for letter divisions of government who spend their waking hours listening in on phone conversations to and from war zones? Zeltch. Nada. Unemployment. Just imagine for a moment how long they could make it on the street as homeless.

We cannot afford to let his happen. We must support the wars. We must stand against peace. Whatever wars they want, for whatever reason, we need this. For capitalism. For free enterprise. For if we stop fighting over there, the war will leave your street and come to Wall Street.

It is cannot be about winning un-winnable wars. Look what happened to Russia when they left Afghanistan – their economy was destroyed and their government overthrown. We’ve been in Afghanistan now longer the Russians. We cannot afford to ever leave.

If you have not gotten it yet, think for a moment about the people. Awash with dollars in a country where malls are made of clay, how could they survive on poppy production alone? What will happen if the Taliban were to take over the Pakistan nukes? Preemptive strike by India? Or will Ms. Clinton invite a short Pakistani general to come back to power? Would Pakistan make new nuke sales to future terrorist states, such as Brazil or Canada or, god forbid, Mexico? Would Osama come out of his cave leaving us with no enemy to be the focus of our fear? No, we must stay the course.

The joint chiefs, in an announcement approved by Hillary Clinton, have weighed in, “No comment.” Unnamed, anonymous and/or innocuous or vague sources have confirmed that “as long as Wikileaks is plugged, you’ll have to check with the White House or, even, the State Department for an official statement that can be parroted in your blog.” China and Saudi Arabia are on board. Publicly, the EU is for peace, but not at the price of not war. The rest of the world is just too busy or hungry to care.

Perhaps, someone like Senator Jim DeMinted (T, SC) will state it best, “In this time when our very way of life is being threatened by godless people who have run out of money, I’m pro-offense spending. Especially, if we have to cut taxes and social security to pay for it.”

We need to stop thinking about war as, well, “war.” We need to cease our fixation with the sounds of explosions, the blood of innocent children and camps of refugees. We need to embrace that war is about the economy and jobs – our jobs. We need to come together and support our troops in protecting our way of life.

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence. ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic. ~A. J. P. Taylor

When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid, it can’t last long.” But though a war may be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. ~Albert Camus

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one. ~Agatha Christie

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~Anonymous (German)

War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Make wars unprofitable and you make them impossible. ~A. Philip Randolph

All I wanted for Christmas

I stopped all my pouting. I haven’t cried all year.* I have been good only for goodness sake. Sure, I had a long wish list. It had been eight long years since I’d even gotten a lousy lump of coal. I wrote my letters. Waited to see him in hopes of sitting in his lap.  Told him what I wanted and listened, oh, so closely, to his answers. I hung my stocking with care. I had such anticipation, I could barely sleep. I hoped. I let myself dream. And, I really, really believed.

Here’s some of what he promised that hasn’t been delivered, and, at least, not yet**:

  • A public option health plan in the new National Health Insurance Exchange
  • Repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich
  • Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • Anything serious, cap and trade included, to reduce global warming
  • Comprehensive immigration reform and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
  • Increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour
  • A Freedom of Choice Act
  • Closing Guantanamo and ending the use of torture and extreme rendition, and restoring habeas corpus rights for “enemy combatants”
  • Restricting warrantless wiretaps
  • Eliminating oil and gas tax loopholes
  • Including environmental and labor standards in trade agreements
  • Expanding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Passing the Employee Free Choice Act
  • Streamlining the Social Security disability approval process
  • Expanding the Family Medical Leave Act to include leave for domestic violence or sexual assault
  • Fully funding debt cancellation for poor countries
  • Helping Iraq refugees
  • Forbidding companies in bankruptcy from giving executives bonuses
  • Lifting the payroll tax cap on earnings above $250,000
  • Ending no-bid government contracts above $25,000
  • Allowing imported prescription drugs, allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper drug prices and preventing drug companies from blocking generic drugs
  • Requiring health care providers to report preventable medical errors
  • Providing $50 billion by 2013 for the global fight against HIV/AIDS
  • Mandating insurance coverage of autism treatment
  • Doubling federal funding for cancer research
  • Doubling the Peace Corps
  • Doubling funding for after school programs
  • Allowing bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages
  • Implementing tougher revolving door rules for lobbyists and former officials
  • Signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Including humanitarian international missions in long-term budgeting
  • Establishing transparency standards for military contractors
  • Fully and properly equipping our troops
  • Making military deployments predictable for troops and families
  • Limiting Guard and Reserve deployments to one year for every six years
  • Restoring 24-month limit on cumulative Guard and Reserve deployment time
  • Ending the “Stop-Loss” program of forcing troops to stay in service beyond their expected commitments
  • Double U.S. spending on foreign aid by 2012
  • Securing our chemical plants, ports, refineries, pipelines and power grids
  • Expanding the child and dependent care credit
  • Requiring publicly traded financial partnerships to pay the corporate income tax
  • Closing loopholes in the corporate tax deductibility of CEO pay
  • Amending the Medicare “homebound” rule to allow some travel without loss of benefits
  • Opening “America Houses” in Islamic cities around the globe
  • Creating loan sanctions to stop private creditors from lending to repressive regimes
  • Reinstating a special envoy for the Americas
  • Seeking independent watchdog agency to investigate congressional ethics violations
  • Exposing Special Interest Tax Breaks to Public Scrutiny
  • Making White House communications public
  • Supporting college credit initiatives
  • Creating scholarships to recruit new teachers
  • Requiring all schools of education to be accredited
  • Creating a national performance assessment for educators
  • Repealing of the Defense of Marriage Act
  • Allowing five days of public comment before signing bills
  • Eliminating caps on damages for discrimination cases
  • Banning racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies
  • Creating a national catastrophe insurance reserve
  • Establishing a Global Energy Corps to promote green energy in developing countries
  • Limiting subsidies for agribusiness
  • Banning the permanent replacement of striking workers
  • Enacting windfall profits tax for oil companies
  • Requiring plug-in fleet at the White House
  • Including reproductive health care “at the heart” of health care reform
  • Strengthening international rules against commercial whaling
  • Changing the tone of politics in Washington
  • Inspiring hope

For what we got, thank you. A hell of a lot better than lumps of “clean coal.” Here’s what’s been delivered:

  • Directing military leaders to end war in Iraq
  • Beginning removing combat brigades from Iraq
  • Establishing a credit card bill of rights
  • Extending and indexing the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch
  • Closing the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug plan
  • Requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions
  • Giving tax credits to those who need help to pay health premiums
  • Requiring large employers to contribute to a national health plan
  • Requiring children to have health insurance coverage
  • Expanding eligibility for Medicaid
  • Expanding eligibility for State Children’s Health Insurance Funding (SCHIP)
  • Requiring health plans to disclose how much of the premium goes to patient care of their premiums for patient care
  • Establishing an independent health institute to provide accurate and objective
  • In non-competitive markets, forcing insurers to pay out a reasonable share of
  • Eliminating the higher subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans
  • Expanding funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners
  • Increasing funding to expand community based prevention programs
  • Creating an Advanced Manufacturing Funding to invest in peer-reviewed manufacturing
  • Increasing minority access to capital
  • Requiring economic justification for tax changes
  • Implementing “Women Owned Business” contracting program
  • Changing standards for determining broadband access
  • Expanding loan programs for small businesses
  • Expanding the Senior Corps volunteer program
  • Reinstating the executive order to hire an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years.
  • Increasing the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals
  • Fully funding the Veterans Administration
  • Assuring that the Veterans Administration budget is prepared as ‘must-pass’ legislation
  • Expanding the Veterans Administration’s number of “centers of excellence” in specialty care
  • Appointing a special adviser to the president on violence against women
  • Fully funding the Violence Against Women Act
  • Making no bases in Iraq permanent
  • Sending two additional brigades to Afghanistan
  • Strengthening and expand military exchange programs with other countries
  • Making greater investment in advanced military air technology
  • Ending the abuse of supplemental budgets for war
  • Making U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional on anti-terror efforts
  • Giving a speech at a major Islamic forum in the first 100 days of his administration
  • Allocating Homeland Security funding according to risk
  • Creating a real National Infrastructure Protection Plan
  • Increasing funding for local emergency planning
  • Standing down nuclear forces to be reduced under the Moscow Treaty
  • Appointing a White House Coordinator for Nuclear Security
  • Initiating a grant and training program for law enforcement to deter cyber crime
  • Improving relations with Turkey, and its relations with Iraqi Kurds
  • Launching an international Adding Value to Agriculture Initiative (AVTA)
  • Creating a rapid response fund for emerging democracies
  • Granting Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba
  • Restoring funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program
  • Establishing an Energy Partnership for the Americas
  • Expanding the Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers
  • Releasing presidential records
  • Requiring new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions.
  • Providing affordable, high-quality child care
  • Recruiting math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession
  • Reducing subsidies to private student lenders and protect student borrowers
  • Encouraging water-conservation efforts in the West
  • Increasing funding for national parks and forests
  • Increasing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Funding
  • Encouraging farmers to use more renewable energy and be more energy efficient
  • Expanding Pell grants for low-income students
  • Pursuing a wildfire management plan
  • Removing more brush, small trees and vegetation that fuel wildfires
  • More controlled burns to reduce wildfires
  • Expanding access to places to hunt and fish
  • Pushing for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors
  • Restoring funding to the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
  • Reforming mandatory minimum sentences
  • Creating a White House Office on Urban Policy
  • Fully fund the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
  • Establishing program to convert manufacturing centers into clean technology leaders
  • Establishing ‘Promise Neighborhoods’ for areas of concentrated poverty
  • Creating an artist corps for schools
  • Champion the importance of arts education
  • Supporting Increasingd funding for the NEA
  • Promoting cultural diplomacy
  • Adding another Space Shuttle flight
  • Using the private sector to improve space flight
  • Working with international allies on space station
  • Partnering to enhance the potential of the International Space Station
  • Using the International Space Station for fundamental biological and physical research
  • Exploring whether International Space Station can operate after 2016
  • Conducting robust research and development on future space missions
  • Increasing spending to prepare for longer space missions
  • Working toward deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system
  • Enhancing earth mapping
  • Appointing an assistant to the president for science and technology policy
  • Supporting commercial access to space
  • Establishing school programs to highlight space and science achievements
  • Establishing special crime programs for the New Orleans area
  • Rebuilding schools in New Orleans
  • Funding a major expansion of AmeriCorps
  • Creating a Social Investment Funding Network
  • Bolster the military’s ability to speak different languages
  • Appointing the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer
  • Providing grants to early-career researchers
  • Working to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear
  • Creating a national declassification center
  • Appointing an American Indian policy adviser
  • Creating new financial regulations
  • Increasing funding for land-grant colleges
  • Banning lobbyist gifts to executive employees
  • Signing a “universal” health care bill
  • Creating new criminal penalties for mortgage fraud
  • Raising fuel economy standards
  • Investing in all types of alternative energy
  • Enacting tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars
  • Asking people and businesses to conserve electricity
  • Creating a ‘Green Vet Initiative’ to promote environmental jobs for veterans
  • Creating job training programs for clean technologies
  • Requiring states to provide incentives for utilities to reduce energy consumption
  • Supporting high-speed rail
  • Investing in public transportation
  • Equalize tax breaks for driving and public transit
  • Sharing enviromental technology with other countries
  • Doubling federal spending for research on clean fuels
  • Providing grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes
  • Increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Appointing at least one Republican to the cabinet
  • Raising the small business investment expensing limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009
  • Extending unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits
  • Reversing restrictions on stem cell research
  • Eliminating capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups
  • Expanding the earned income tax credit
  • Creating a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners
  • Establishing a small business initiative for rural America
  • Creating more public-private business incubators for poor communities
  • Creating a National Health Insurance Exchange
  • Creating a small business tax credit to help with health premiums
  • Strengthening antitrust laws to prevent overcharging for malpractice insurance
  • Reimbursing employer health plans for a portion of catastrophic costs
  • Investing $10 billion per year in early intervention educational and developmental programs
  • Allowing all veterans back into the Veterans Administration
  • Ensuring the Guard and Reserves can meet their homeland security missions
  • Seeking code of conduct for space-faring nations
  • Convening a summit on preventing nuclear terrorism
  • Creating a national cyber adviser to coordinate security of electronic infrastructure
  • Significantly increasing funding for the National Endowment for Democracy
  • Requiring more disclosure and a waiting period for earmarks
  • Creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit to offset college costs
  • Spending $25 million a year on programs to raise awareness of college financial aid
  • Protecting forest service lands from more roads
  • Providing more funds to educate young hunters and anglers
  • Cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants
  • Eliminating disparity in sentencing for crack and cocaine
  • Repealing law that limits the sharing of gun-tracing data
  • Restoring housing in New Orleans
  • Appointing experienced disaster official to head FEMA
  • Encouraging more public service by college students
  • Setting a three-month moratorium on foreclosures
  • Extending Production Tax Credit to encourage renewable energy
  • Requiring drilling on current oil and gas leases
  • Weatherizing 1 million homes per year
  • Using revenue from cap and trade to support clean energy and environmental restoration
  • Seeking more funding for transportation security
  • Phasing out incandescent light bulbs
  • Giving Al Gore a key role on global warming
  • Creating clean technology venture capital fund
  • Creating a $3,000 tax credit for companies that add jobs
  • Going “line by line” over earmarks to make sure money being spent wisely
  • Making no signing statements to nullify instructions from Congress
  • Getting your daughters a puppy

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I didn’t ask for, and really didn’t want some of what you brought us. A lot of it ended up being quite a bit different than you described when you promised. Some of it didn’t fit anyone very well, was already broken or has been back-ordered and won’t be here for years.

Here’s all I want for Christmas:
Jobs. Ok, jobs and world peace.

Please deliver that or I’ll know for sure that you are just like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny – imaginary.

_________

* Except when viewing photos of those lost in our wars. And those horrific scenes of those harmed from natural disasters, our economic policies and our bombs. And the tragic losses from disease or accidents. Okay, so I cried a lot, but privately.

** Much of this list is from the comprehensive lists of Candidate and President Obama promises, tracked by the St. Petersburg Times’ PoliticalFact.com: Broken Promises; Stalled Promises; Still in the Works; Compromised Promises; and Promises Kept.