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Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

Recently, there has been much discussion of possible attacks on U.S. citizens by drones operated by the U.S. government. This became the “issue of the day” when Attorney General  Eric Holder told Congress that he would not rule out the use of drones to attack American citizens. This of course conjures up images straight out of films like War of the Worlds or Independence Day. Imagine unmanned space ships,or government drones, taking potshots at panicked and unsuspecting U.S. citizens. There would be no place for anyone to hide! And of course, that’s OK with Eric Holder, and presumably President Obama, for whom he works. The media of course loved it because it is a story sure to stir up emotions and then people will watch the television news or buy a newspaper and the sponsors and advertisers will capture a large audience and sell more product. It’s a great story and sure to sell as long as it remains in the minds of the public, which it is certain to do for at least a day two until they are distracted by something else, like maybe the resignation of the Pope, and then the media will have to find a way to turn that story into some sort of advertising or commercial success.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering. What about the drones? Will they be used against U.S. citizens in the future? I think the answer is this: No. There is a good reason for that – it doesn’t make sense. The principal advantage of a drone is that it doesn’t have a pilot, so it can fly into really dangerous skies and if it gets shot down by the enemy, there is no pilot to get killed. In the U.S. it is unlikely that criminals or others who are enemies of the state would be walking around with anti-aircraft weapons. So, the government can easily use a small piloted airplane or helicopter to watch people and launch missiles at them if they want to. However, it is more likely that airborne platforms would be used for surveillance and ground forces, like the FBI or State Police would be guided by the pilot to the location of the bad guys. That’s what happens now and it seems to work pretty well. It’s hard to see why a drone would be be any better.

The real thing people should be afraid of is not whether the government has the right to track down and apprehend criminals, either from the ground or the air, or whether the government has the right to shoot it out with a criminal. This happens all the time. There are even times when the government launches an attack that will likely kill a criminal when it is deemed too dangerous to try to capture the criminal alive. Just recall Bonnie and Clyde.

So, should we be afraid of the U.S. Government? You bet we should be. Should we be afraid of President Obama? You betcha there too. Why? Well, it’s not because of drones; its because of the law and the Constitution. Let me give you an example: the Iraq War. Let me give you another: The Afghanistan War. Let me give you another: Guantanamo. How about one more: locking up American citizens by the U.S. military on U.S. soil without a trial on order of the President. So what is wrong with these? They are all in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Only Congress can declare war according to the Constitution of the United States, yet Congress has not done so since World War II. Instead, Congress has sidestepped its responsibility and delegated authority to the various Presidents to do as they see fit whenever military action might be required.

Similarly, the indefinite imprisonment of people, whether they are U.S. citizens or not, without a trial is also a violation of the U.S. Constitution – something that the President and Congress seem quite comfortable with.

The recent uproar about the use of drones against American citizens is silly. It doesn’t even make tactical sense. If the government wants to come for you via the air, you can bet they will be using manned helicopters or maybe small spotter planes and a whole bunch of people on the ground. The drone thing is fiction. Unfortunately, the gradual dismantling of the Constitution by the current and several former Presidents, with the spineless acquiescence of Congress, is something we should all fear. Yet, the media never mention it at all. Could it be they are too afraid to bring the issue up?

Or is it just not the sort of news that will sell product?

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In 1605,  Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the British Parliament House, and, in the process, kill the members of Parliament and the Protestant King James. Their goal was merely political – they just wanted to restore a Catholic king to the throne. Fawkes was caught and ultimately put to death – after he confessed (under extreme torture) to treason and implicated the other conspirators. Guy Fawkes Day (November 5th) was then created as a reminder to the citizens of England of the horrific consequences, i.e. horrific torture, that would be dealt to any other persons who attempted to overthrow the government. Interestingly, Guy Fawkes Day now seems to be more a rallying day for people who despise the current government of England. It would seem that perhaps not everyone thinks that treason is a bad thing.

Which brings us to the current day.  Most of us are aware that over the past week or so the American public lost a great deal of money in the stock market. On August 8th alone the market lost over $1,000,000,000,000.00 (One trillion dollars). A good deal of this money was from 401k investments, upon the earnings of which many Americans hope – or had hoped – to retire. Now they have lost any not only the earnings they might have accumulated, but they also lost a good amount of principal too. How could this have happened? How could the entire world have become so frightened that a worldwide selloff was triggered? Was it simply because a rating agency (S&P) published an opinion that downgraded the U.S. from a AAA risk to a AAa risk? Or was it something else?

The events that led up to the S&P downgrade are indicative of a pernicious attitude among some people in our Congress. Clearly, one expects the opposition party to oppose the agenda of the majority party. That is the way democracies always work. However, our democracy is no longer a functioning democracy. The opposition gang decided to refuse to compromise until the 11th hour. They were playing “chicken” with the welfare of the country, like a bunch of ignorant children, unaware that they are playing with fire.  And the world is scared.

However, these were not children. They were intelligent men. They knew what they were doing. They were well aware of the potential catastrophic effects of their refusal to bargain in good faith for the “good of the country”. These men, who had all sworn to uphold the Constitution, had, with their eyes wide open, driven the bus over a cliff. Why? There is, of course, only one reason – wealth. The Party of individual wealth had decided that they owed nothing to the American people. Their loyalty was only to their own individual wealth – their businesses, their cronies,  and  their Party – loyalty to the Party was paramount (just like in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union). And they stayed loyal, until at the last possible moment – then they grudgingly made a miserly deal. But it was too little and too late. S&P had seen enough. These guys in the Party were not working for the people of the United States – in fact they were harming the people of the United States. And they didn’t care. S&P had no option but to advise their worldwide clients to beware because the U.S.A was no longer a stable country, and you could no longer rely on the government’s ability to pay its debt. All because of the uncaring, foolish zealots of the Party.

Today, the entire world is still feeling the aftershocks of this pernicious collusion in Congress. Today the economy of the U.S., Europe, and Asia are all weaker because of the fanatics who have been elected to Congress. The problem is apparent to the world. Congress has been seized by a group of fanatics, zealots,  and true believers in crackpot economic theories, and others who just want to profit from the collapse of the U.S. economy. How can a member of Congress, in good conscience, sell the U.S. economy short? How can these people, elected to do the will of the people, cause such economic devastation and still hold their heads high?

Legally, these activities are not treason in the U.S. However, they hardly indicate love of country, or a sense of duty. These people clearly have no feeling of empathy for the economic ruin their activities have caused and will continue to cause to millions upon millions of innocent Americans.

Call it what you will, but as far as I am concerned, T is for treason.

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Ask anyone who has ever bought a used car. Negotiation is an art, a skill. It is not something that is innate. It is not something they teach you at Harvard. It’s something you learn from experience, from buying and selling merchandise on a daily basis in a bazaar or other situation where the buying and selling is brisk. Just travel to Asia and the Middle East if you want to see how it is done. Most Americans who wander into these areas as tourists are prime targets for merchants who happily charge tourists ten times or more the usual selling price for goods.

Which brings me to President Obama. My advise to the President: don’t plan any vacations to the Middle East or Asia – unless you plan to bring a lot of money. The recent “deal” the President agreed to with the Republican Party concerning taxes is evidence enough – when it comes to bargaining, the man is a neophyte, a rank beginner, a bumbling, misguided, do-gooder who has no idea or stomach for tough negotiations. He says he got a good deal for the American people, but in reality all he got was exactly what the Republicans want.  Perhaps President Obama needs to be taken aside by one of his advisors and told the truth: “Mr. President, when it comes to negotiating, you just don’t have the right stuff. ”

I hear that Donald Trump is now considering a run for the Presidency. Would he make a good negotiator? Probably, but I would guess he would be a Republican negotiator and their lineup is already pretty strong. Just look at the implacable faces of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. (By the way, I know he pronounces his name sort of like “Baynor”, but shouldn’t it be “Boner”? Or is it more like the Germanic sounding “Burner”? Just a thought…) Look at the eyes of these people – their slack expressions – their humorless gaze. There isn’t an ounce of compassion or caring in either man. Obama is trying to deal with cold fish, sharks. He doesn’t realize that sharks don’t make deals with minnows –  they eat them. It’s amazing that a man can reach the Presidency and still be so naive. I’m sure George Bush knew the score – so did Cheney. They never, for a heartbeat, thought about deals or compromises. They just made up laws, declared emergencies, did whatever it took to get their way; and as for Congress, they were told to just get out of the way – and they did, without a peep.

Recently, Donald Trump said that he might consider running for President. Hey, we had a Republican movie star President already, right? Remember Ronald Reagan? He didn’t destroy the country’s economy – at least not totally anyway. So, if it’s a choice between Sarah and the Donald – who would you choose? Maybe, if the Republicans bring on the Donald, the Democrats should also turn to Hollywood. I’m thinking William Shatner here.  Would he make a good negotiator? Just listen to his Priceline commercials. What other qualifications would he need? He knows how the game is played – “No!” he shouts to foolish neophyte negotiators.  “Lower! Lower!” Shatner has learned to be a tough Negotiator, and he always wins! But our poor, polite, Harvard educated President doesn’t. He just doesn’t have the tough negotiating experience. He doesn’t know how to negotiate, and he doesn’t know when he is getting a really bad deal.

Negotiating is all about bluffing. Who will walk away? Who will give in? How much does the other side really want it? How much do I want to give up? It’s about risk. It’s about taking chances. Will the other side walk away from a deal? What if they do, can I live with that? Apparently, Obama was afraid the other side would walk away from the very first moment, and he was afraid of what would happen if they did – more afraid than the Republicans were. The question is would they really have walked away – or at the last minute would they have made a real deal? It seems we’ll never know now.

There is, however, one thing I do know: if I ever go out to buy a used car, I will never ask President Obama to come and help me negotiate the price – but William Shatner?

In a heartbeat.

 

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It seems obvious, doesn’t it? After all, that’s where the money is.  As of 2007, 85% of all the wealth in America was owned by 20% of the population. Indeed, just 1% owned almost 43% of America’s entire financial wealth. Yet, to hear the Republican Tea Party talk you would think that these people are starving and just couldn’t bear to pay another penny in taxes. They say they are already taxed to the max and, instead, they say we should tax the poor because there are so many of them. Now, as the Bush tax cuts are about to expire, the party of the 1% is holding the country hostage refusing to do business with the President unless he caves in and agrees to extend the Bush tax cuts.

The question is this: will President Obama cave yet again? Well, if history is any indication the answer would be “yes”. Meanwhile, the party of the rich has just allowed the unemployment compensation for the poor people who have lost their jobs to expire. Just in time for Christmas. Can anyone spell Ebenezer Scrooge? Today’s Republican Tea Party is no longer the Party of Lincoln. It is the Party of the stingy, heartless, greedy, businessman who doesn’t give a rat’s behind about the common man, the poor, the starving, the immigrant, the sick, or the dying. They are the bankers and insurance people who created the worldwide economic catastrophe through their avarice and neglect for our country’s financial health. They are the destroyers of people’s lives, homes, and families – and they want EVERYTHING YOU OWN.

And yet, so many Americans vote for them, again and again – people who are not rich and never will be. People who, but for the grace of God, have not yet lost their home and income, rally for the Republican Tea Party. It is inexplicable. One can only believe that the ability of the Republican Tea Party to deceive American citizens is unrivaled in the history of this country. Their ability to convince the people to vote against their own best interests and their ability to maintain this support, even while they seek to destroy every effort the government makes to help these people, is difficult to comprehend. Why would anyone vote for a Party that almost destroyed the economy only two years ago? Why would any person who doesn’t make at least a million dollars a year vote for a Party that seeks to have millionaires pay almost no tax (or in some cases zero tax) and then shift the majority of the tax burden to people who make less than a million dollars?

But there we are. The Republican Tea Party has shown that they will use the power they have, even though they are in the minority, to prevent the government from helping the people unless they (the rich) get favored tax treatment. The Republican Tea Party cares little about the people of America – it is simply and solely and single mindedly, the Party of the wealthy. And, it seems, it is now the wealthy – the 1% who have an ungodly amount of wealth – who now call the shots. It is they who rule. We have become a true oligarchy.

If there is one thing we should ask President Obama and the Democrats to do, it is this: stand firm. Do not cave in again. Give the Republican Tea Party a taste of their own medicine and introduce new tax laws that would tax only the rich. Tax their wealth with massive property taxes, and tax their incomes with 90% tax rates. Write tax laws that say anyone who falls into the bottom 75% of income earners pays zero tax, and let the entire tax burden of the country fall upon the rich because they can most afford it, and they are the ones who have benefited the most from living in this country. Now, it’s payback time. And as for that old Republican Tea Party lie that says it is the wealth of these rich people that creates jobs, think about this: they wouldn’t have all that money if it was being used to create jobs. The simple fact is that the rich do not use their money to create  jobs for you; they use their money to make more money because that is their only true goal and concern. They are of one mind, and they do not care about you or this country enough to actually pay their fair share of taxes. In fact they will fight against it to their dying breath.

There is only one solution to America’s financial problems.

Tax the rich! That’s where the money is.

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If there is one thing that can be reliably deduced from American voting patterns it is this: the people want change.  Consider the case of Bill Clinton. If you look at his record while President, he rescued the economy from an impending collapse due to the economic fantasies of Ronald Reagan and the economic incompetence of Bush #1. During the Clinton years we had an era of prosperity that was among the best the country ever enjoyed. Furthermore, as President, Bill Clinton pretty much kept the United States out of war – a feat achieved by very few Presidents in our history. Bill Clinton’s problem was his intern that he kept under his desk. True to our Puritan heritage, the American people just could not handle that, and come the next election they voted for CHANGE, i.e Bill was a Democrat, so they voted Republican.  (Our CHANGE button is basically a binary switch, for all practical purposes you get to choose between a Democrat or a Republican – that’s it.)

When Bush #2 became President we became the victims of a man who was arguably the least intelligent man to ever hold that office. He promptly reverted to the insane economic ideas of Ronald Reagan while following the Republican economic battle cry of “No controls, no government oversight”. The result was a plunge into an economic abyss, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression. That President also involved the country in a mindless, unjustified war in Iraq that cost uncounted billions of dollars and the loss of many lives. That President also made a mess of the war on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Again billions of dollars were spent, many lives lost, and the supposed objective of the war – the elimination of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden – was a failure.  So, when it came time for the next Presidential election, the American people voted for CHANGE.

When America voted for Barack Obama to become President they knew they weren’t getting a white knight in shining armor who would wage wars with the enemies of America and who would right all the wrongs of the previous President. They thought they were getting a black knight in shining armor who would do those things. They just wanted a fearless and true knight – just like in the fairy tales. The problem is that after two years on the job, our black knight hasn’t led the attack. He has played “let’s make a deal”. True to his background as a United States Senator, he thought he could negotiate his way to achieving the “shining city on a hill”. Well, that didn’t work, did it?  Sure, he did save the country from a mind-numbing plunge into an economic abyss – but it’s one thing to be hanging by the life-saving strands of a safety belt, it’s another to be climbing to the top of a mountain. This isn’t what the American people voted for. They want the mountain top.

So, as we approach another election day, it looks like the American people may well push the binary CHANGE button again. If so, we will be facing more people in Congress who are the economic disciples of Herbert Hoover (the President who presided over the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the resulting Great Depression).  The problem is our binary button. We often have to vote not for the best of all possible candidates, but the least of the evils.  We have to vote for either the failed policies of the present or the failed policies of the past. Our CHANGE button doesn’t work. That is the message of the Tea Party, but the sad thing is that the Tea Party doesn’t bring any fresh ideas either, just ultra-extreme Republicanism which might have worked well in the early days of the country when you could just grab the land and natural resources from the Native Americans. (Those were the good old days, weren’t they?) But those days are gone, and the “every man for himself” philosophy is not a recipe for a modern functional society. Even the Republican Party knows that.

The recent meltdown of the world’s economy demonstrated, to anyone open-minded enough to objectively look, that Herbert Hoover and his disciples are wrong about economics in a capitalist system. They were wrong in 1929, they were wrong in 2007, and they are wrong in 2010. Hoover/Reagan/Bush economics always leads to economic disaster, and this is the problem we now face because when the voters push the CHANGE button on Tuesday it will toggle our economy back to a plan for economic disaster. It’s not the CHANGE we need, nor is it the change for which we voted two years ago. The change we need is this: our black knight needs to put on his shining armor and fearlessly lead this country forward. He needs to understand that we are not playing “Let’s Make a Deal”. President Bush never made a deal, yet he was able to do all of the insane/illegal things he wanted to do: things like illegal wiretaps, torturing prisoners, waging war for fabricated and untrue reasons. Bush, like a European Emperor or a Russian Czar, simply scoffed at the rules and did what he wanted to do. I don’t hold this up as an example for Barack Obama, but I think he needs to learn that he is a President and not a Senator anymore. He needs to put on the shining armor and get out there on the field.

The question is: is it too late? Will the American people push the broken CHANGE button again? It looks like it, but the CHANGE that will come on November 2nd won’t be the one they want or the one we need.

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