Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

We Deserve Better (2): The Damnation of the Democrats

A few days after President Obama took office I remember him emerging from a meeting at the Pentagon.  The summit was arranged to brief the Commander In Chief on the progress of the wars and to assure the nation that the new president was in-sync with his generals and admirals charged with running the war.  Emerging from the highly publicized meeting America’s new war time president stated “as long as the generals take care of what they have to do, we’ll take care of what we have to do.”  I found the statement to be unsettling.  It implied that  the new administration would not alter the course set by the previous administration insuring that the inertia of Bush’s policies and strategies would continue unabated.  On another level Obama’s statement also seemed to suggest an abdication.  I get nervous to think that the Commander in Chief  has ceded civilian control of the greatest military force the world has ever known.  The decision to pursue war or enjoy peace is too delicate a matter to be left to the decisions of an entrenched military-industrial bureaucracy.  The abdication of assertive control, weather its born from the desire to get along, build consensus or a deep seated need for acceptance has been a disturbing custom of Obama’s presidency and the prevailing characteristic of the Democratic Party.

Obama’s easy surrender to established protocols, processes, precedents has been a hallmark of his presidency.  It exemplifies the failure of the Democratic Party’s oppositional legacy to Republican rule during the two previous Bush Administrations.  At every turn, the Democrats gave in to the Republican conservative legislative agenda with little or no dissent.  The Patriot Act, the blind march to  two unnecessary wars, the dismantling of government oversight and regulatory controls on business, the slavish submission to Republican led expenditures or tax cuts in service to corporate welfare and the tepid lip service to the struggle for social justice made the democrats complicit accomplices in America’s dramatic conservative swing.

The democrats failure as an oppositional force to counter the reactionary juggernaut of neo-conservatism has emboldened the reactionary impulses of the ruthless power elites.  Threatened by economic distress and disintegration of our political institutions, Americas ruling  plutocracy has spawned a malevolent Tea Party movement to crush any progressive populism that may arise to counteract their social position, economic power and political sovereignty. The democrats adamant refusal to stand firmly against the destructive impulses of xenophobia and virulent nationalism has allowed an ugly chorus of fear to become our new national anthem.  The resentful voices of suspicion, intolerance and  exclusion grows ever louder each day as emboldened Falangists and neo-fascists take center stage on a surreal  commercial production of American political theater.

In defense of President Obama his presidential campaign and his administration have expressed a deep desire to pursue a political consensus.  This sentiment is admirable and the ability to form a consensus is an absolute and critical virtue to the health of a democratic society.  The freedom to express differing opinions, voice dissent, air grievances, petition, ability to listen, interest to hear, converse, change opinions and assimilate these competing impulses to form a consensus to express the common will are what makes democracies imperfect yet the fairest expression of governance.  Mr. Obama has sought to pursue and build consensus with an opposition Republican Party that has been nothing short of obstructionist since the democrats assumed control of the Executive office.  Rush “Country Firster” Limbaugh said it best “I hope he fails” set the tone and sealed the intractability of Republicans and any possibility of bipartisan cooperation to deal with the critical issues confronting the nation.

Last summers spectacle of town meetings designed to initiate a national conversation on Health Care Reform devolved into a partisan shouting match and an opportunity for the formation of the Tea Party galvanized by propaganda about a socialist takeover of the economy, death panels, and the idea that President Obama was a fascist dictator.  At this point President Obama still took the opportunity to sit down with the leadership of the GOP in a televised discussion to initiate a dialog.  The Consensus Builder in Chief was rebuffed again.  The democrats responded by killing single-payer and backing down on universal health coverage.  The watered down health care reform bill accomplished an extension of coverage for more, but not all Americans and eliminated preexisting conditions as a disqualification for coverage while also extending the power of insurance companies by making it mandatory that all tax payers purchase health insurance.

This reform is not a significant ground breaking legislative event.  President Obama and the democrats should have recognized early on the inability to work a compromise with the obstructionists in the Republican Party.  As is the case with Cap and Trade legislation, rescinding  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan war, financial services reform, TARP and the economic stimulus bill;  the GOP, “Party of No” has done everything in its power to derail the efforts of the democratic party to address the deep problems confronting America.  The Democratic Party should have leveraged its control of the legislative and executive branch of the Federal Government to push through a program for a new America.  The pressing circumstances of history required decisive leadership and bold ideas to address the complex problems confronting America.  FDR’s “New Deal” or Johnson’s “Great Society” were ideas accompanied by innovative legislation to solve systemic problems.  The democrats tepid response acquiesced to the conservative demands of the GOP.   The Blue Dog Democrats yelped and barked louder then any rabid GOP hound subverting a robust game changing legislative response to the problems confronting America.

The democrats would again demonstrate their timidity in how they responded to the Gulf Oil Spill.  If the free falling economy was the equivalent of economic Armageddon the Horizon Deep Water catastrophic oil spill was its environmental equivalent.  In each case President Obama fashioned piece meal responses designed not to offend “free market evangelists” for fear of being accused of over reaching.  Both instances provided opportunities to mobilize the nation and its significant resources in these titanic tests of national resolve.  In both instances the cojones challenged donkeys failed to seize the reins of state to wield its power.  I am still shocked by images of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein pulling the strings on Timothy Geithner like a marionette to exact concessions during the banking crisis.  Or consider the high profile of BP CEO,  Tony “I want my life back” Hayward mounting a $50 million PR campaign to quell any concerns that the benevolence of corporate capitalism will eventually “set things right.”    The Republicans turned this into President Obama’s Katrina with Bobby “don’t spend no stim in Louisiana” Jindal taking the EPA to court for declaring a moratorium on deep water drilling.  And the fattest of fat cats Republican Mississippi Governor Haley “rebuild the casinos first” Barbour shaming Obama to spend a portion of his non- Martha Vineyard family vacation swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a PR disaster for President Obama because he failed to act with the resolve or manner of a strong decisive leader.

But now as the midterms approach the democrats must answer to a crumbling alliance of constituencies that they have taken for granted and failed to help.  They are unable to see  constituents as anything other then a demographic voting block devoid of a face, personality or soul.  The democrats see stereotypes not people.  Labor unions are blue collar voters that now approximate 7% of registered voters.  This year the democratic controlled legislature failed to act on Card Check legislation that would protect the right of labor unions to vote and organize non-union companies.  Another important constituency of the Democratic Party is the LGBT community.  The military said it would comply with the decision of a California District Court  that overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Incredibly, President Obama’s Attorney General appealed the decision and asked the court to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Teacher unions are also big supporters of the Democratic Party, but many democrats support school vouchers and Charter Schools and seem unconcerned that financial and institutional support of public schools continues to erode.  Working class families and woman  are under severe distress as unemployment rates approach 10%, home foreclosures rise , spiraling cost of living increases spike, the cost of sending kids to college slip out of reach and a marked erosion in quality of life and expectations for a secure future and comfortable retirement evaporate.    The democrats did little to solve these pressing problems save the offer of cheap lip service that they understand their pain.  Charlie Rangel secure in the refuge of his four rent controlled apartments will not feel the cold experienced by a homeless mother and her children this winter;  nor will Hillary Clinton lose any sleep worrying about  deploying Chelsea to fight an incomprehensible war in Afghanistan.

This mid term election democratic candidates are running away from their unpopular president.  They will run on a platform of tax cuts and appear as local election district manifestations of gun toting patriotic Christophanies.  The poverty of a party with no conviction of principle is made plain.  Having no principles, Democrats have not offered a true alternative to reactionary Republicanism.  Nearsightedness has robbed them of a vision for a new republic.  They offer no demarcation with the broken policies that preceded their rule.  The hallmark of their governance has been the complete compromise with an recalcitrant opposition; content to administer a broken and corrupt apparatus rather then chart a new path.  The democrats remain shining examples of self serving politicians retuning to office  on mythical inertia to secure rent controlled apartments while public housing remains an endangered and dear want for many.  They believe themselves to be righteously led by the presiding shame of a president made possible by an epic civil rights struggle who cannot muster the fortitude or conviction to extend the equal right of marriage for one of his liberal constituencies.

We deserve better.

You tube Music Video: Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Compared to What

Risk: democracy, two party political system, liberalism

 

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October 28, 2010 Posted by | Bush, conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, environment, labor, LGBT, Obama, politics, recession, republicans, social justice, TARP, taxation, Tea Party, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Special Mission 28,000

Bush boarded Executive One.

He left town.

Flying back to Texas to clear some brush.

Badly shaken but still standing our nation
begins the earnest work of reconstructing the republic.

Fortunately the foundations of our nation remain strong.

Our constitution, our Bill of Rights, our rule of law,
tolerance, economic liberty and spirit of the people endure.

Thank you for your service to our country.

Goodbye Mr. Bush.

You Tube Video:
Alvin Lee, I’m Going Home

Risk: peaceful transition

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Bush, politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RTAs Movin On

A question confronting our nation is how do we process and come to terms with the Bush Administrations 8 years of mismanagement and abuses of power? Do we set up commissions and special hearings to root out the miscreants to get to the root of how these problems arose so we don’t repeat them? Or do we take a cue from Gerald Ford as he did with his pardon of Nixon and offer the Bushies a kind of absolution for their flagrant abuses of power, falsification and gross mismanagement so we can put this “national nightmare” behind us.   President Obama certainly thinks its the latter.   President Obama and the nation has a lot on its plate, and to till the soil of the Bush’s Administrations politicization of government we run the risk of losing focus for the task at hand to rebuild and heal our deeply wounded nation.

Obama believes we should move on. But before we sprinkle holy water on a blanket absolution for Bush’s high crimes and misdemeanors spawned by 8 years of Republican rule and excessive nationalist ideological zeal; we must offer a comment concerning the hiring practices at the much maligned Justice Department.

It is particularly disturbing to learn that the hiring practices at the Justice Department were guided by an applicants ability to demonstrate that they were an RTA, (Right Thinking American). The degree to which the Bush Administration has politicized government is striking. The Justice Department above all others needs to recuse itself from politics if it is to remain an objective arbiter in defense of our constitutional republic and the rule of law. The administration of justice needs to be conducted without prejudice or malice. It must be free from any ideological predisposition of political parties. Nazism, fascism, theocracies and other dictatorial forms of government use political ideology to administer justice unencumbered by the protections offered by constitutions and citizen bills of rights. It is the deeply held respect for the the rights of individuals that make the “great experiment” of the USA a light to the nations of the world.

Most disturbing are the anecdotal testimonies of civil servants providing insights into the extent that the Bush Administration placed the protection of political considerations over the pursuit and presentation of the truth. We are reviled by stories of the suppression of reports on global warming by the National Science and Technology Council because it would undermine Bush’s opposition to the Kyoto Accords. RTAs know that ordinary thinking Americans need protection from the truth about global warming and climate change. RTAs know that the disclosure of truth and transparency are dangers to a representative democracy.

Equally appalling were Bush’s legislative initiatives to deny equal rights to gays under the Federal Marriage Amendment. The law sought to define a marriage as exclusively the union of man and woman. RTAs know that ordinary thinking Americans need guidelines concerning acceptable life partners who can enjoy the right to marry. RTAs know that civil rights for every citizen is not in the best interest of the country.

RTAs also sought to bring an enlightened curriculum to the public schools through their control of the Department of Education. RTAs fought hard to have intelligent design added into the science textbooks of public schools to combat the pernicious liberal influence of Darwinism, evolution and the Big Bang Theory. RTAs know that ordinary thinking Americans must not concern themselves with scientific inquiries free from the context of theology and religious dogma. RTAs know that their concept of God needs to be accepted and worshiped by all Americans.

RTAs in the regulatory agencies fought hard to live by a laissez faire approach to business and commerce; thus protecting corporations from unfair and cumbersome regulations. The result, a world wide banking crisis, numerous cases of corporate governance breakdowns, environmental justice violations and obscene wealth accumulation for a very select chosen few. RTA know that the social contract first and foremost protects the powerful corporate interests. Whats good for large political contributors is most certainly in the best interests of ordinary Americans.

Most disturbing is how RTAs justified the right to use torture to extract information from the perceived enemies of the republic. RTAs know that it is right and just to use any means necessary to defend the Fatherland against terrorists and evil doers. RTAs fail to understand that America is a special place because we respect the right of individuals and the sanctity of life. If RTAs have their way, the great American Experiment will be DOA as we seek to confront the challenges of the 21st century. Thankfully like Bush, the RTAs are vacating their positions within the departments of government. They’ll be moving on to claim their great reward by putting their RTA skills to good use as lobbyists on K Street.

As a nation lets move on, but let us not forget.

You Tube Video: Bruce Cockburn, Mighty Trucks of Midnight

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Bush, Civil Rights, democracy, Federalism, government, LGBT, Obama, regulatory, republicans, rock | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Perfect Christian Gentleman”

The BBC News Hour ran a piece on US citizens reflections on the Bush Presidency. One woman from Ohio referred to Bush as “the perfect Christian gentleman.” Her point that Bush restored the morality and integrity of the Office of the President after the tidal wave of sin Clinton unleashed in the White House with his sexual dalliances and uncontrollable peccadilloes. According to this fundamentalist Christian woman, Bush achieved this do to his steadfast faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. She even cited Bush’s refusal to covert to Islam after he received an urgent appeal to do so by the Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ I take great exception to the characterization of George Bush as a “perfect Christian gentleman”. First I must say that my understanding of Christianity is that as human beings we are imperfect and need to be ever mindful of the mistakes and shortcomings we as human beings exhibit and practice every day of our lives. During the past couple of weeks Bush’ has been on a farewell media tour. He has been asked by many correspondents about any mistakes he might have made. To date Bush has not come up with anything of significance. I guess Bush believes himself to be the perfect Christian gentleman. But I believe that any cursory examination of the Bible revels that Mr. Bush has severely fallen short of the glory of God as advocated, taught and lived by Jesus Christ.

We not going to get into a theological debate concerning what a Christian is or what makes one perfect or imperfect. What I wish to convey is my understanding of what the ministry of Jesus Christ is all about and why I believe that George Bush and the rest of the religious right that thinks Jesus Christ is the Chairman of the GOP are dead wrong and misguided at best and damnable propagandists at worst for cooping a great faith tradition to serve their narrow political interests.

The first damnable indictment of Bush is his pernicious use of fear. Anyone with any knowledge of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ are aware of his consistent message of not to be afraid. Mr. Bush and his Republican party propagandists have fed the citizens of this country a steady diet of fear laden manna since 9/11 to justify their radical reactionary political agenda. Fundamentalists codify and justify their view of the world, actions and narrow beliefs with biblical certitude by citing chapter and verse. They turn the Bible or Quran into ideological dogma that protects the powerful and justifies their actions to protect their privilege. Jesus Christ took this world to task. He would not approve.

Another damnable indictment of Mr. Bush and the claim of his perfect Christian gentlemeness is his insistence on war as a means to project power and engage the world. Their are numerous examples of the Prince of Peace teaching that violence is not the chosen way Children of God engage the world. One can start with the Beatitudes and conclude with the night Jesus Christ was taken into custody in Gethsemane and one will have a pretty good insight about his position on violence and war. I often think of St. Peter greeting Mr. Bush at the gates of Heaven. I believe he’ll be asked about the lives of over 4,000 service women and men and significant collateral damage he initiated by his invasion of Iraq. He may also be asked about the 2 mn Iraqis that have been displaced by the war and the hardship it has wrought. Bush is convinced that history will absolve him for his actions. I wonder if St. Peter will do the same?

Mr. Bush’s justification of torture, his obstinate refusal to free the prisoners of Gitmo, his policies to exclude Gay people as equal citizens of our “One Nation Under God” in my opinion are additional examples of how our current president falls short in the perfect Christian gentleman category. Jesus Christ was about respecting life. “Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done to me,” he said. The idea that Bush tortured, imprisoned or excluded Jesus Christ is most unsettling.

As a Christian I am aware of the log that is in my eye. After 52 years on this earth its as big as a Sequoia and in desperate need of removal. But I am comforted in the faith and knowledge that redemption is available to everyone. All it takes is some self knowledge that we are not perfect, that we have turned from our sinful ways and we put ourselves in service to God by helping others. Mr. Bush still has a shot. I’ll be praying that he becomes painfully aware of his imperfections and takes up the task of rectifying his shortcomings. Perfect Christian gentlemen? Don’t think so, not yet anyway.

You Tube Video: Cool Hand Luke, Just a Closer Walk With Thee

Risk: myopia, fundamentalism, dogma

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Bush, Christianity, faith, gay rights, LGBT, politics, Quran, religion | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Know Where Your TARP Money Is?

Obama wants Congress to authorize the release of the second $350 Bn in TARP money authorized under EESA. Apparently he has called his good buddy Bush and asked if he would be kind enough to pull the trigger and release the funds. Perhaps Obama is concerned about the ability of Citicorp to make good on its separation agreement for his key adviser Robert Rubin?

When Paulson envisioned the TARP, I guess they figured that if they just threw a TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) of money over the banking problem everybody would forget that our banking system is broken. I believe this a a kind of ostrich strategy. Just suggest to all American taxpayers that all they have to do is stick their heads in the sand and pretend that the TARP money is saving our crashing banking system. All should be oakie dokie.

During the holidays I welcomed a little respite from the real time news feeds of the capital market carnage that the credit crisis has wrought. The daily bulletins that our investment portfolios and 401K’s are worthless and that our home equity nest egg is gone with the wind seemed to have abated. But now that the holidays are over the sad news concerning our nations economic health is starting to trickle in again. Today two little news items came across our desk arousing our curiosity about the $350 Bn Paulson, Kashkari and the rest of the crew at the Treasury Department has been throwing at US banks and bank wannabe’s.

The first item elevated my comfort level a couple of notches. The FDIC is requesting that banks receiving TARP program monies need to improve reporting on how the provision of credit products and lending is being enhanced through the participation in the program. WOW what a thought. The Treasury Department dolls out $350 Bn and as an after thought is now setting reporting requirements as to how the taxpayers capital is being used for lending to restore the economic vibrancy of the stalled economy.

If taxpayers and politicians remain unsure as to how the TARP monies are being put to good use by the banks one doesn’t have to look further then the news items concerning Morgan Stanley’s interest in purchasing Citibank’s investment banking arm. Citibank owner of the remaining vestiges of Salomon Brothers and Smith Barney have been under investor pressure for years to divest its brokerage divisions. The transformation of the banking industry as a result of the credit crisis will accomplish this feat. Citibank continues to require major capital infusions. So far, Citibank has received almost $45 Bn in TARP and federal assistance monies. It still requires substantial capital to remain solvent, Mr. Rubin’s separation package notwithstanding. Morgan Stanley flush with at least $10 Bn in TARP money will put it to good use by acquiring Citi’s brokerage unit on the cheap. This asset for cash swap exchange is a telling example as to how TARP funds are being deployed by its recipients.

I can’t believe that many American taxpayers are feeling too good about their money being used to enrich the shareholders of Morgan Stanley and to protect the threatened equity capital of our countries once largest banking institution. In a capitalist economy you need institutions that are allowed to fail. If capitalists are protected from the possibility of failure they can’t be rightfully called a capitalist. Given all that the capitalists have been through with the credit crisis, recession and bank failures; we cannot allow our financiers to experience an identity crisis as well. That would be cruel.

You Tube Video: Grateful Dead, US Blues

Risk: banks, market, credit

January 13, 2009 Posted by | banking, Bush, credit crisis, EESA, Obama, Paulson, TARP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Decider Says Adios to Press

“The American country’s greatest presidential misspeaker and grammatically challenged gaff and guffaw prone talker had his last talk about himself ahhh as he was to leave ahhh the Office of the President held his last press conference today.”

I have used a filter on Bush press conferences for at least the last three years. At one point I couldn’t even look at him outside of Jon Stewart’s’ Daily Show. So it was unusual that I watched a bit of his news conference today. Bush’s well documented gaffs, incorrect grammar, incomplete thoughts and dangling participles would make his high school English teacher ashamed and Slip Mahoney and the Bowery Boys proud. From what I heard during today’s press conference, Bush was fluid, he made no grammatical errors when speaking, he seemed to complete most of his sentences and thoughts and he played with the press in his dead pan style. He was quintessentially glibly Bush.

Bush did speak boldly about the trap of the psychology of victimization and how he abhors it. I liked what he said. Unfortunately his point was at odds with the last seven years of his presidency as he and his Republican Party propagandists used every opportunity to use the fear of being victimized by terrorism to justify their every move.

Bush also stood firm in his assertion that history will absolve him. The unpopular president is confident that history will look kindly on his war in Iraq, his support of torture, his curbing of civil liberties, and other policy and program errors Bush resolutely denies to accept responsibility for.

I won’t get into any comedic riffs over Bush’s speech patterns. I’ll leave that to Stewart; but I did feel strangely nostalgic concerning his exit from office. Perhaps I’m concerned about the loss of the great material he nightly provides Olbermann and Stewart. Maybe its the fact that I’m 8 years older from the day this presidential disaster took office. I have to be content in the knowledge that he and his failed policies are vacating the White House. Less comedic material is indeed a minuscule price to pay for that relief.

We’ll do a more detailed exposition on Bush’s presidency in future posts.

You Tube Video: Clark Terry, Mumbles

Risk: misspoken word,

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Bush, Civil Rights, jazz, media, psychology, republicans, war | , , | Leave a comment

G20 Mulls State of the Globe

The leaders representing the largest world economies will sit down this weekend to plot some strategies to deal with the global economic crisis. The challenges confronting this group is extensive and vast. Inflation, deflation, credit markets, energy prices, political stability, capital markets, exchange rates, balance of trade, and the slowing growth of the world economies are problems that will require more then a weekend meeting to solve. The Economist Magazine has some thoughtful insights into the extent and depth of the problems, some possible solutions and potential roadblocks to implementing them.

One point The Economist raised for consideration is the conflict between the global reach of capital market institutions and the national based sovereign regulatory bodies that are responsible for governance and oversight. This glaring challenge came to light last month in the EU when national banking governors were forced to enact national solutions to Pan Euro Zone banking problems. Regulators are concerned that savvy global banking institutions will engage in a type of regulatory arbitrage to skirt national governance laws. The global banking system has surpassed the constraints of national regulatory laws and it is a principal challenge that the G20 must address. Indeed during the height of the credit crisis national regulators were hard pressed to explain why it was in the best interest of the countries taxpayers to bail out foreign banks and to share credit facilities with other central banks repo desks. The supranational nature of our economic and political institutions is a difficult pill for some to swallow. Country Firsters will certainly use this as an opportunity to beat the isolationist and nationalist drum.

This G20 meeting is likened to the Bretton Woods agreement that adopted fixed currency exchange rate and formed the IMF and IDRB. These initiatives foreshadowed the Marshall Plan and were key to the ascendancy of American economic dominance in the post WW2 era. Though many are playing down the similarities of the two events this meeting comes at a time when the American economic colossus has lost its groove and whose preeminence is now being challenged by the EU, China and a slew of Third World confederates that are demanding more equitable distribution of world resource and a chance at sustainable economic development.

The conference is certain to adopt some classic Keynesian solutions to stimulate growth. Indeed the activist interventionist actions the world central bankers have employed to deal with the crisis, like the TARP will become more widespread. This will certainly raise the debate about protecting the sanctity of free market capitalism against the creeping socialism advocated by the proponents of the Keynesian approach to stimulate growth. Here it is necessary to remember that this is not about an ideological debate concerning the righteousness of conservative or liberal political dogmas. The global economic crisis is real and it is creating political instability and economic hardship across the globe. For many in the Third World this crisis has acutely spiked their struggle for survival as the barest subsistence levels are not being met.

As the G20 makes the big decisions to patch the broken world economy we believe that the real business of the G20 should be a careful examination and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Millennium Development Goals provide an opportunity for the world leaders to unite behind a program that promises to offer the potential of long term sustainable growth, prosperity, peace and a commitment to our shared humanity and respect for life. This I believe is the the real business that the G20 men and women need to address this weekend.

You Tube Video: Charlie Chaplin, Great Dictator Globe Scene

You Tube Music: Bob Marley and the Wailers: One Love/People Get Ready

Risk: global economy, sustainable development, political stability, peace

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Bush, economics, jazz, Millennium Development Goals, politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whats Good for GM

I always thought the quote “Whats good for General Motors is good for America.” was a vile admission that the rights and interests of individual citizens was subservient to the vested interests of corporations. I always thought this was uttered by Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover, the historical poster boys of an out of touch presidency intellectually immune and emotionally removed from the pain and troubles of the working class. Happily ignorant or seemingly unconcerned of a country slipping into a paralyzing depression while they whistled past the grave yard.

More recently the voices of average citizens have again been raised to decry the power and privilege of special corporate interests. They buy access and favor through the deft abilities of well compensated lobbyists and generous financial contributions by the monied interests to encourage politicians to adopt their world view. America’s economic and political history is a sometimes sordid, sometimes splendid tale of the restive relationship of labor and capital and how their respective political interests are made manifest in our laws, policies and programs that emanate from Capitol Hill.

Since at least the beginning of this year we have been barraged with prognostications of a catastrophic economic collapse. The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have moved with dispatch to bolster bank capital to assure that liquidity and confidence in the banking system is protected. The EESA and TARP responded to the capital formation needs of banks. Most legislators supported EESA even though it only had tepid support by taxpayers. But the deal went through because we were told that if we failed to pass the bailout legislation for banks our nation would be swallowed by an economic black hole. Paulson’s defense of the TARP and its strategic transformation will be covered in subsequent posts but this authors skepticism of the TARP and Paulson’s intention is on record. The TARP and EESA are temporary short term liquidity fixes to frozen credit and capital markets. Supporting and protecting manufacturing is how the US will transition its bankrupt merchant capitalism to an economy based on the manufacture of value capable of long term sustainable growth.

So today we go on record in support of a Federally mandated capital infusion and formation initiative for the automotive industry. As we have previously stated the dismantling of our countries manufacturing infrastructure lies at the root of our current economic dilemma. We advocate acceptance of The Hamilton Plan to address economic recovery and long term sustainability of the US economy. Manufacturing is the bedrock of recovery and the Federal Government needs to encourage the formation of capital clusters of all stakeholders to incubate support structures that will accelerate the recovery of manufactures. The support program is not about writing a blank check to an industry that is badly managed. The automotive recovery plan needs to recognize, aggregate and focus all forms of capital to address this rapid deterioration of our ability to create value through manufactures.

The Hamilton Plan advocates that the Treasury Department form an SME Development Bank to encourage manage and administer the capital formation required to address a GM turnaround. The recovery proscription will need capital, cooperation and political will from all parties. Those include, government, business, labor, social service and academic institutions. The need to support manufacturing is paramount if we hope to recover from structural economic malaise. The failure of GM would have a profound impact on the fiscal, physical and psychological health of the US economy and its citizens. In this instance what is good for GM is not only good for America but it is vital for its survival.

We will offer a more detailed outline in future posts.

You Tube Music Video: James Cotton, Rocket 88

Risk: manufacturing, recession, unemployment, sustainability

November 13, 2008 Posted by | blues, Bush, manufacturing, recession, TARP, unions | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Centralia PA

The high water mark of the Confederacy was achieved at the Battle of Gettysburg along Cemetery Ridge on the afternoon of July 3 1863. Here the futile and costly charge led by Confederate General George Pickett ended the hopes of the secessionists to extend the war north of the Mason-Dixon Line. It also signaled the beginning end of the Confederacy and their hopes to dismantle the Union.

November 19 will mark the 145th anniversary of the Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Lincolns speech is revered as an oratorical masterpiece. It ably conveyed a free people’s resolve and reverence for a representative democracy and the price free people’s must pay to secure the grace of liberty.

I bring this up because the great state of Pennsylvania is again a high water mark in the presidential battlefield of this historic election. Pennsylvania is the battle ground state whose electorate may decide who sits in the office of our next president. And as the candidates jaw on about Joe the Plumber, Six Packin Six Packers and the sacred patriotism of Hockey Moms, I hope voters continue to consider the environmental degradation that has visited this region too such terrible effect.

The town of Centralia is a scant 101 miles northeast of Gettysburg. Centralia was founded in 1840 and its residents have made a living mining the coal along the Reading Seam for over 100 years. Today however, Centralia is a ghost town. It had to be evacuated due to an underground fire that has been burning for 40 years fueled by the coal that once provided the miners and residents of the town its livelihood. The experts predict that the inextinguishable fire will burn for 250 years and its toxic emissions and danger of ground cave ins have made the town along Highway 61 uninhabitable.

The devastation of this environmental industrial disaster should be a prime issue in the campaigns of the candidates along with occupational safety, environmental protection, the provision of health care and jobs for these distressed areas. Unfortunately as the Bush Administration continues to allow strip miners to operate with impunity without regards to any environmental safeguards the devastation and degradation of small towns like Centralia will remain a real threat.

I ask my fellow countrymen in Pennsylvania to consider your vote and turn back the tide of ignorance to the real issues confronting our nation. Environmental degradation and ecological risk is a real threat to our livelihood and well being. Ask the former citizens of Centralia. Today’s video shows the devastation of the once small town of Centralia accompanied by great guitar work by Mr. Winter.

You tube Video: Johnny Winter Highway 61 Revisited

Risk: environmental, brownfield remediation, mining

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Bush, elections, environment, rock | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viceroy for Life

The Colossus
Francisco Goya

I like Mike. Michael Bloomberg has been a wonderful mayor for the City of New York. I am in awe of his accomplishments as a businessman and as a political leader. As a person, from what I have been able to observe through the lenses of the media I like his temperament, sensibility and believe him to be a good man. I feel a strange kinship with the man. He seems honest, direct is beholden to no one and seems to be a man of his word in whom I can trust. I also believe Mr. Bloomberg to be a man of integrity and his dedication to public service is borne from a desire to serve and to give back to society some of the bounty that society has richly conferred on him. Yes, he is a billionaire and I guess it is at this point that my kinship with the man takes diverging paths. Yet I believe Mr. Bloomberg is one of the best and most capable persons ever to sit in the NYC mayoral office. So it is with regret that I cannot support Mr. Bloomberg’s desire to change the election laws so he can run for a third term in office.

Democracy in the United States is imperiled. The United States once seen by the world as the great laboratory of participatory democracy with the constitution and a citizens Bill of Rights as its guarantor is quickly losing that honored designation. The passage of FISA by our legislative branch of government is a clear and present danger to The Bill of Rights. And during the eight years of the Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush, at times he and his lieutenants seemingly treated the Constitution as an occupational nuisance and an unfortunate cost of doing business for America Incorporated.

The ascending power of the US Treasury threaten unfettered markets operating free from government control. Unilateral interventionist actions into the capital markets and the tremendous power that EESA confers on Cabinet officials to throw a TARP on toxic assets, is a transformational event in how our economy functions and is controlled by the influence of appointed government officials.

The continued war posture of our country and the seeming abrogation of the executive branch’s responsibility to decide strategy, direction and manner of how to prosecute the Iraq war to General David Petraeus’s discretion is a dangerous surrender of civilian control of the military branches.

The judicial branch of our government is also complicit in the dismantling of the great experiment of American democracy. Their autocratic decision to sanction the Florida election that gave Mr. Bush the presidency was based on no precedence nor will it carry the weight of precedent for future cases heard before the court. Bush may have won the election but the protection of voter rights and a respect for the electoral process was the clear loser.

I believe that these represent serious challenges to a free and democratic society and the institutions that support it. That is why I cannot sanction Mr. Bloomberg’s desire to change the law so that he can run for election.

If I recall correctly Bloomberg’s first mayoral primary election was scheduled for 9/12/01. That is a day after that transformative event that continues to inform and direct Americans political consciousness. Though we didn’t vote on the 12th, New Yorkers eventually went to the polls and brought this great mayor into office. I am glad that New Yorkers had the wisdom and foresight to elect Mr. Bloomberg.

But the election process and protocol was respected and continued. Mr. Giuliani wanted to run for a third term but thankfully he did not run. This opened the door for Mr. Bloomberg. I remember at the time thinking that whoever takes office under these conditions will be severely tested by the adverse economic and political conditions of the time. Mr. Bloomberg has conquered and mastered the adversity and his constituents are the better for it. Thank you Mr. Bloomberg.

But you can do one more great service to New York and to our country Mr. Bloomberg by stepping down in deference to democracy. During the next four years you can work to get the law changed so you may assume the office you so richly deserve.

Honor the existing term limits law that were enacted to protect against the abuse of power. Honor a crumbling remnant of our rapidly evaporating democratic culture. Your honor is at stake.

Thank you for your service Mr. Bloomberg.

You Tube Video: Johnny Cash, I Am The Nation

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Risk: term limits, representative democracy, elections, laws

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Bush, EESA, elections, folk, politics, TARP | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment