Rick “P Guv.” Perry Keeps It Simple

Presidential candidate Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, looks, sounds and acts like another former Governor of Texas and President, GW, also known as just plain W, a man I often call Bush the Younger. Like W, Perry, or P for short, no, P. Guv., that’s it – P. Guv. has taken to the idea of privatizing social security which he calls a Ponzi scheme, as if Wall Street could and should be trusted with our retirement money. He was saying that Americans ought to take responsibility for their retirement – but I ask how can we invest responsibly when investment bankers and fund managers are not regulated? Without proper regulation, they essentially have a license to swindle the American people.

P. Guv. called the federal government a “nanny”, suggesting almost that we don’t need government doing things for us. How can we act responsibly if the government does not have our backs. After all, don’t we rely on the government to protect us from scams, from tainted food, from air pollution? Don’t we look to the government to ensure our Constitutional rights, and to protect our basic freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights? Isn’t this a good thing?

As to taxes, I believe that all residents should pay taxes, but not the same taxes, as P. Guv. suggests. The flat tax would be an absolute disaster and give yet more tax relief to those who have not been paying their fair share. Not one for big ideas, P. Guv. is banking on simplicity – a simple tax code and a simple dismantling of government to benefit corporate America. Profit over people – a very simple message indeed.

President Obama Wins Republican Debate

I watched the last Republican debate in Las Vegas and came to the conclusion that if any one of those jokers gets elected, we are going to be in a whole heap of trouble as a nation.

Moderator Anderson Cooper lost control very early in the debate when Rick Perry and Mitt Romney nearly had a fist fight as Perry accused Romney of hiring “illegals” to mow his lawn. It was one of those childish “did not”, “did so” moments that nearly escalated to a wrestling match. Why do they keep picking on the undocumented? Rick Perry who I thought was pro immigrant, is no different from the others and is just pandering to the lunatic fringe on the right. Not to be outmatched, Michelle Bachmann promised to build a fence or wall (I guess like the Berlin Wall) to separate the South from the North. Herman Cain had been talking about an electrified fence, but if I’m not mistaken, and I could be, he’s since backed off that idea. His 999 plan, just flip it and that’s about what this country would become – a living hell. Now Perry has come out with his version of 999 – a regressive flat tax. Good Lord.

Newt Gingrich seemed half asleep. Radical Ron Paul whined. Santorum had some fiery responses but is polling at like 1% or something and has no shot at the nomination. Cain hardly spoke and when he did he made very little sense but sounded confident. Romney got flustered and seemed distracted by all the negative attention. It was good theater and comedy, almost like an SNL skit. Maybe it was. The clear winner was not even in the debate: President Obama.

Occupy Your Base Mr. President

The Occupy movement has picked up steam these past few weeks spreading throughout the U.S. from San Jose, to Portland, ME. Estimates suggest that upwards of 1,000 cities have had some sort of Occupy meetup or protest.

While protesters would rather not be labeled as liberal or leftist to keep from being painted and dismissed with a broad brush, they do represent progressive ideas and once could be considered Obama’s base. If Obama were wise, he would try to win back the base, but it may be too late.

Many progressives are fed up with him and the do nothing Congress. To be fair to the President, he has a list of achievements that have kept the country from sinking even further into the danger zone. The stimulus helped, but it wasn’t big enough to make much of a difference. TARP was a necessary evil, but did not result in significant Wall Street reform. Bailout banks no longer lend. Cash for clunkers was clever, but its impact was short-lived. Health Care Reform was so divisive that it may be dismantled before it’s true impact can be felt. Why the President abandoned the single payer system so early in the game is beyond me. The law that ultimately passed will insure more people, which is positive, but will not do much to keep costs down in the future or to reform the health care system which values profits over people.

One of the biggest disappointments for me is that we still spend billions to keep the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan where countless lives on both sides have been lost, despite the campaign promise of “bring the troops home”. And Guantanamo Bay is still open after all these years. I recall very clearly Obama’s fierce opposition to the detention facility as a global embarrassment. As to the war on terrorism, the initial fear among conservatives was that the President would favor diplomacy and dialogue over brute force. Though conservatives will never admit it, the Obama administration has been hawkish and comparatively more effective in the war on terrorism. The administration has drawn down troops in Iraq, but remains determined to stay in Afghanistan whatever the costs. And the President has been aggressive in going after terrorists killing a number of Al Queda operatives in drone attacks including eliminating Osama Bin Laden in a bold raid on his compound in Pakistan.

For progressives, maybe the most significant achievements of the Obama administration are its two Supreme Court appointments – both women who have kept the court from being overwhelming corporatist and reactionary. For this, I am grateful. Thank you Mr. President.

Unless there is a viable progressive alternative to the President, I will vote for him again in 2012. I would rather that he be the viable progressive alternative to the corporatist forces on the right who value profits over people and who view corporations as people. Time will tell, but time is running out.

Solyndra and Republican Hypocrisy

Ok, so Solyndra was a bust. It was the first loan issued under the Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program for companies that develop renewable energy, electric and biofuels systems. There may have been some warning signs about Solyndra’s fiscal health which should have given the administration pause. That said, Solyndra represents just a fraction of the almost 36 billion in loan guarantees made or committed to 37 other projects in 42 states including solar initiatives in speaker Bohener’s Ohio and majority leader O’Connell’s Kentucky.

Loans have also been given without complaint to companies in Virginia and Wisconsin, home of two relentless critics of the Obama administration in Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, both of whom object to virtually any kind of government spending and who would prefer that government be privatized. And while ultra-conservative Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss has campaigned vigorously to fight waste, fraud, abuse and earmarks, he has not objected at all to the 8.3 billion federal loan to the Georgia Power Company for a nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, GA. Interestingly, as Republicans have voiced skepticism over clean, renewable energy sources, preferring fracking, drilling and mining, they have not objected to federal loan guarantees to companies in their own states who specialize in solar energy.

Occupy Walstreet

What is the Occupy movement all about?  Is it just a bunch of peace-loving hippies sharing green tea, organic vegetables and dancing freestyle to Fish and the Grateful Dead?  Who are the folks involved and why do they assemble day after day?  Are they young “radicalized” students, with trust funds to support their “soul-searching”, who romantically fashion themselves as Marxists?  Are they socialists, dreaming of the day when the U.S. has a more even distribution of wealth?  What are their issues?  Is there a coherent theme, or is it just a collection of progressive causes and complaints? Is this movement simply a counter to the Tea Party, which is not a party at all, but just an eccentric assortment of disaffected right-wing anti-Obama folks who incidentally initially shared some of the same concerns as the Occupy crowd, but who have been taken over by the lunatic fringe?

Clearly, many have had enough on all sides.  As the country’s economic situation deteriorates, and people lose their jobs, their homes and stay unemployed; and as the do nothing Congress does nothing and our try to do something President fails to do enough; and as corporate America continues to thrive, making record profits and doling out millions in executive bonuses, as banks continue to look for ways to pilfer money from its customers,the average American struggles to make ends meet; people have had enough.

The Republican answer is to create even more favorable conditions for corporations (not main street, Wall Street that I would like to refer to from now on as Walstreet) who keep whining that they can’t hire or invest because of the “uncertainty” of the economy while the only thing that is certain is that they care more about profits than people. Wait, corporations are people, I forgot.

The Democrats and the Obama administration have been utterly ineffective in bringing about any meaningful changes, though they have tried and have been either blocked by the do nothings or forced into compromising positions so to speak.  Where is the Walstreet reform promised?  Why has the EPA been under attack?  What happened to Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? What happened to the simplification of the tax code?  Where is all the infrastructure spending? After being bailed out, why aren’t the banks lending? What happened to all the manufacturing jobs?  You know, U.S. corporations are creating lots of jobs abroad, and making huge, untaxed profits.  What’s up with that?

And finally, back to the original question of who the Occupy folks are and what they want?  In summary, I would say they are a diverse group of progressives who demand social and economic justice. And I would add that, I think it’s time for a new party to emerge in American politics or time to do away with the party system altogether because they have become simply too divisive.   A declaration from the original Occupy Walstreet is below:

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City


As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

RIP Steve Jobs

I’ve never been a Mac or an Apple guy.   I bought one of those PC clones in 1985 and become a loyal PC man for better or worse, probably worse.  The fact is, I always admired Mac and Apple products and secretly wanted to be an Apple guy.  Out of sheer stubbornness, I never bought an iPod, an iPhone and to date, an iPad.  I don’t feel hip enough – I don’t move in the Apple circle, but aspire to one day.

I always had a lot of respect for Steve Jobs.  He was like the James Bond of technology, so cool and always one step ahead of the game – a hip genius with the compelling and inspiring rags to riches story.

I’ve been listening to clips of the Stanford graduation speech he delivered and have even read the transcript.  One of my teacher colleagues has used it in her class to guide and  inspire adults learning ESOL.  The takeaway:  pursue your passions, whatever they might be.  He talked about listening to your inner voice and not the voice of others.  It’s kind of like the old proverbial saying, “you can be whatever you want to be”, with the caveat that whatever you decide, you have to enjoy doing it.  And the secret to Steve Jobs’ success was that he found something he absolutely enjoyed doing, and of course it helped that he was good at it, really good at it.

At age 56, Steve Jobs was much too young to leave this world.  But his spirit will live on in all that he left the world.  And he left a lot.  RIP Steve Jobs.

Things are looking rosy for the Prez.

After 977 days of office, President Obama’s Job Approval rating is at 41%, according to a Gallop Poll .  How do these numbers stack up against other Presidents’ polling numbers at day 977?

Bush the Younger – 55%

Clinton – 48%

Bush the Elder – 66%

Reagan – 45%

Carter – 33%

Are these numbers troubling for the Obama administration?  Maybe not.  Bush the Elder, with the highest job approval ratings after 977 days was not reelected.  Both Reagan and Clinton whose numbers, like Obama, were in the 40s, got reelected.  And given that 90% of Americans polled by CNN say that the economy is in poor shape, a 41% approval rating is stunningly impressive.  How could this be?  Well, folks don’t exclusively blame the President for the crappy economy.  Only 32% say Obama is largely to blame while 52% blame George W. Bush.  And 82% of Americans polled by various outlets, as reported in Real Clear Politics, have noticed that the “do nothing” Congress has done nothing. It is Congress, not Obama, who should be concerned.

Now, onto the matter of the 2012 election.  How would Obama fair against the Republican field? Head to Head, according to polling complied by Real Clear Politics, only Romney would give Obama a close run, followed by Ron Paul, who has no chance to win the nomination.  Romney is polling better than the others, but he will have trouble with the Tea Party over his views on climate change and his many flip flops on matters that matter most to the hard core conservative wing who have taken over the Republican Party.  Interestingly, when looking at Republican vs. Democrats, the polling suggests a dead heat.

Prediction:  President Obama will win a second term as President by narrowly defeating Rick Perry in the 2012 Presidential Election.