Iran Mad at U.S. Again. Yawn.

So Iran is upset with the U.S for removing MEK from the U.S. terrorist list. I have to admit what I know about MEK comes from a small handfull of articles where they were mentioned in the story. I am not on record either way about their status as terrorists or not. But it is pretty choice that Iran is complaining about who the U.S. puts on and takes off of its terrorist list. Don’t you think.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/29/mek-iran-terrorist_n_1925217.html

Here is another take on the election: “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama”

Can Liberals move the president in the direction of a better human rights policy?

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/why-i-refuse-to-vote-for-barack-obama/262861/

I don’t see how anyone who confronts Obama’s record with clear eyes can enthusiastically support him. I do understand how they might concluded that he is the lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly, but I’d have thought more people on the left would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers. Conor Friedersdorf

While I wholeheartedly plan to support and vote for President Obama this November, I can’t help but appreciate the viewpoint in this article.

Election Day Nears: Review the Obama Scorecard

As election day nears, Romney’s repeated gaffes continue to illustrate vividly his disconnect with the American people. His pathetic and inept campaigning comments have become the topics that dominate serious Sunday morning round tables along with the not-so-serious late night comedy shows.

However, it is not enough to realize just how unthinkable a Romney victory would be. The American people need to recognize just how important an Obama victory is for America and for the world. Lost in the instant media coverage of the Gaffe-Attack strategy of this campaign, is an impressive list of accomplishments that this administration has amassed.

From the PCTC Blog–one of the best sites out there for information on Obama’s accomplishments–I have re-posted an impressive selection of my favorites. Read, share and enjoy. And visit PCTC for a more comprehensive list.

http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/what-has-obama-done-since-january-20-2009.html

Within his first week, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.   http://1.usa.gov/dUvbu5

Phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems and signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.  http://bit.ly/hOw1t1

Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.   http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSs   http://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk

But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy by  3.5%.  http://reut.rs/i46CEE

Not only did he complete the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVS   http://bit.ly/eCNrD6

Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. http://bit.ly/hrrnjY

Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs.  http://bit.ly/ibhpxr   Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest.  http://bit.ly/gj7mt5 This resulted in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.  http://lat.ms/zIJuQx Willard Romney, on the other hand, advocated for the entire industry to go belly-up. http://nyti.ms/k0zp

Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect. http://bit.ly/f77aOw

Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses.  http://1.usa.gov/eu0u0b

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.   http://1.usa.gov/ez30Dc

Along with Congressional Democrats, provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.  http://bit.ly/g0IKW

Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.  http://huff.to/eAi9Qq

Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore.  http://1.usa.gov/bd1RTq

Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.  http://thedc.com/gxkCtP

Repealedf the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.http://bit.ly/fdahuH  http://bit.ly/mZV4Pz

Publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-sex marriage.  http://bit.ly/JsiFKp

Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families.     http://bit.ly/e1puTk   http://1.usa.gov/rFfqMM

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill.   http://bit.ly/fT3Cxg

Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.   http://bit.ly/hZycda

Helped to restore America’s reputation around the world as a global leader.   http://bit.ly/h743y7  http://bit.ly/ho4TCr

Closed a number of secret detention facilities. http://nyti.ms/rpUc9l

Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program.  http://bit.ly/xVmSZK

Established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba.  http://n.pr/hY3Kwa   http://nyti.ms/emQBde

Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow through.  http://bit.ly/eW6CVF

Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed.  http://bbc.in/h6N9ax

On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture.  http://1.usa.gov/dL6Zve    http://nyti.ms/hzWWys

Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program. http://1.usa.gov/wLtNjb

Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.  http://bit.ly/f3JVtw

Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.  http://yhoo.it/n5lXs6

Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.  http://1.usa.gov/aHp0Cn

 

 

Damon A. Thibodeaux, Louisiana Death Row Inmate, Exonerated By DNA Evidence 15 Years After Being Condemned

Are any politicians even interested in talking about the death penalty anymore?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/damon-thibodeaux-death-row_n_1924776.html

Thibodeaux ”confessed” after 9 hours of interrogation. What do you suppose those nine hours were like? Pleasant? Did the officers of the law read him his rights and get him a lawyer? Do you suppose when he was hungry during that ordeal they brought him food? When he had to go to the bathroom do you suppose they just let him go on his own? Since the DNA verified that his confession was false can you imagine what conditions made him admit to a murder he didn’t commit? In the last 12 years as a result of DNA testing, Louisiana has released 6 men who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. We can only guess how many others were executed before DNA could save them.

 

John Sununu Criticizes Obama Administration Over Libya Attacks

Are These Guys Mean? Are They Stupid? How could they be so out of touch with real people?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/27/john-sununu-libya-attacks_n_1921541.html

When I listen to Romney and any of a number of his surrogate spokesmen, a number of the “in” words come instantly to mind: Insensitive, insecure, incapable, insipid, indictee.  Anyway…

Once again, and it seems everyone is asking this question, who the hell advises the Romney campaign? Is there any kind of central strategy and consistency? A game plan? It has to be either:

A) These vulgar Romney Surrogates and spokespersons who have risen to the top of the Conservative ladder have quit listening to their advisors? And/Or

B) This is the real party and the real message their strategists want out there. And/Or

C) There is some serious infighting going on between the party and the candidate’s team, leading to a whacky disconnected strategy with horrible timing. And that is the nicest thing I can say about them!

 

 

Educational Fraud: A Call to Action. Reject Common Core!

The so-called educational reform movement in America is a total fraud. There I said it. No mincing of words, no watered down argument. The movement to standardize all classrooms in America with a so-called Common Core is not only un-educational, it is un-American. It is everything that we should not want. It is counter to everything that is great in America: individualism, creativity, inventiveness, entrepreneurial spirit, democracy. Education reform in America is all about standardizing and narrowing curriculum choices for students and teachers. This is about handing over control of our schools to businessmen who know nothing about educating young people. Corporate America only wants to institute (reinstitute) the factory model back into the system as a complement to the lowering of American wages and work expectations. And in the process, if a few large and wealthy and politically connected publishing houses make a ton of money, all the better.

Are there some schools failing our children? Yes. Is the narrowing of the curriculum while limiting exploration and creativity and discovery the answer? Abosultely not! It is time for America to reject these false reforms.

There is so more much to say about the myth of bad test scores and the myth of what American students don’t know and the myth of where American students stand in the world, but there isn’t room to say it all here on this post. Comments? Thoughts?

Aristocracy vs Wealth Redistribution– What Did the Founding Fathers Say?

There are many well-documented misunderstandings regarding the opinions and values of the Founding Fathers. One of the biggest and farthest reaching misunderstandings regards the role of government in redistributing wealth among the American people. Democrats are drided as the Take-From-The-Rich–and–Spread-It-Around folks while the Republicans jump on every opportunity to criticize any tax plan that they see as shifting wealth from the wealthiest to the working classes. “Class warfare!” they cry. “Socialism!” they shout. “Un-American and un-patriotic!” I listen and wonder if we are witnessing the last  best stand of the American Aristocracy fighting to maintain its unfair advantage, and access to, the economic and political stage.

Shall we call it socialism when govenment uses tax policy and regulation to share the nation’s wealth to deliberately cause some level of equity? If so, America has lost touch with vital parts of the original foundation of American democracy.  Men such as Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson, Noah Webster, Theodore Roosevelt, William Gates Sr. and others would disagree heartily with modern conservative claims of “socialism.” In fact, according to these men, equitable distribution of wealth in America is one of the founding principals of American democracy.

I think that people who have the good fortune, the skill, the luck to become wealthy in our country simply have a debt, simply have a debt to the source of their opportunity. So I just don’t see any problem with an estate tax which recovers from those folks at the time of their death, and at the time of the transfer of that wealth to their progeny or wherever, of imposing a tax which in some part recovers and generates payment of what seems to me to be a very clear and simple obligation. That is why so many of us feel that this is not only an appropriate tax, it strikes me as about the fairest of all. William Gates, Sr., Forum on Estate Tax, Tax Policy Center, 2003.

What a simply wonderful, patriotic idea. If one is fortunate enough to have been born in a time and place that provides the opportunities to amass great wealth, one owes the nation something in return. Why not? America gave you order and structure, saftey and rules, not to mention physical infrastucture. All of these helped lead to your success. And those all have a value. A value that should be returned as a debt paid back. President Obama addresses the same idea in his Roanoke Va. speech from last July.

“I’m always struck by people who think, well, [my wealth and success] must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

 The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together…So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. Barack Obama

We have a great nation that is great because of what we have accomplished together in the name of American exceptionalism.  So when productivity rises, yet real wages drop, somebody is getting the big payoff and it isn’t the workers. Conservatives love to quote Jefferson about “a wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” -Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801. I agree, but only in the context of the rest of Jefferson’s beliefs. Today, corporate power is so consolidated and powerful that it is the corporate leaders who “take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned” by forcing the working class into jobs that do not pay enough to live on while expecting those workers to shoulder the highest percentage of the tax burden. The Corporate Aristocracy has elevated itself to an “entitled” position of power and importance. This Aristocracy–this entitlement–is inherently damaging to a democracy.

“The causes which destroyed the ancient republics were numerous; but in Rome, one principal cause was the vast inequality of fortunes.” Noah Webster

“The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” Adam Smith

“If there was one thing the Revolutionary generation agreed on — and  those guys who dress up like them at Tea Party conventions most  definitely do not — it was the incompatibility of democracy and  inherited wealth.” Stephen Budiansky’s Liberal Curmudgeon Blog, October 2010.

Early Americans were all too familiar with European Aristocracy and as they began to conceive this new nation they wanted a new idea based not on Aristocratic order but on shared political power. For that to happen they believed there had to be relative equity in wealth among the citizens of America. There was a strong belief that inherited wealth would lead to a rising Aristocracy with wealthy families consolidating unfair political power. Both Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith, that great Conservative champion, found it impossible to accept that great wealth should be passed on from parent to child. Because of this they stood firm on a redistribution of wealth in the form of an inheritance tax.

“A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly  absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every  generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from  posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.” Thomas Jefferson

“There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.” Adam Smith

If developing laws and tax policies that redistributed wealth with the specific purpose of creating relative equity among the citizenry were priorities for the Founding Fathers, how would they feel about the current marriage of politics and economics in our country today? Would they be horrified by the American Aristocracy and its spokesman, Mitt Romney’s comments about the 47%?  Would our Founding Fathers, knowing even then how extreme wealth corrupts democratic institutions, condemn or accept the Citizens United ruling? Would the Founding Fathers shake their heads at the lowest tax rates going to those who, by luck of their own birth, inherited their wealth, as well as to those who do no actual work for their gains?

So I wrap up my thoughts on this topic (for now at least) with the following. I believe it articulates exactly what is happening today in American national politics.

“A State divided into a small number of rich and a large number of poor will always develop a government manipulated by the rich to protect the amenities represented by their property.” Harold Laski, British political theorist (1893-1950). You know, like car elevators and offshore bank accounts and tax dodge loopholes.

 

Romney Presidency Will Boost Economy ‘Without Actually Doing Anything,’ Mitt Romney Says

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-leaked-video_n_1891664.html?ref=topbar

That Mitt Romney is an outstanding role model. I can see this thing catching on. In fact…

I’m going to lose thirty pounds this week “without actually doing anything.”

I will get better gas mileage in my car “without actually doing anything.”

I’m going to clean my garage “without actually doing anything.”

I can get a raise at work “without actually doing anything.”

I’m going to get better looking “without actually doing anything.”

I’m going to make the world a better place for everyone ”without actually doing anything.”

I feel so much better now.

 

Mitt Romney: All Summary, no details.

Is anyone surprised that Mitt Romney is releasing a summary of his tax returns? Not the actual returns themselves. Trust him, he paid lots and even kept some of it in the U.S. You have to give it to him for consistency, though, because this summary-with-no-details thing is in perfect keeping with the rest of the Romney campaign. Summaries. He has released a summary of his tax plan. Trust him, it’s solid. He has released a summary of what loopholes he might fill. Trust him you’ll be satisfied. He has given a summary of what countries he would like to invade: Iran was specific but any other uppity Islamic nation was the summary part. Trust him, he’ll pay for it somehow. He has released a couple of summaries of how he might deal with health care. Trust him, you won’t lose your coverage (for the right price, or maybe not). But the one place Romney has released a whole lot of details, is on the disrespect and disdain he has for the American working people. That is one area where he seems to just let his real feelings come out before his advisors can shut him up.

Highest Priced Worst Comedian in History

This week from the Mitt Romney Joke Book:

Mitt was joking about the 47%

Mitt was joking about being the grandfather of Obamacare.

Mitt was joking about not caring for those who won’t vote for him.

Mitt was joking about if he was Latino he might get elected.

Mitt was joking about Obama’s birth certificate.

People paid $50,000 a plate to hear these kinds of jokes? I have heard better at a middle school talent show.