Archive for the ‘American government’ Category

On the Rick Warren Invitation

December 18, 2008

You can admire President-Elect Obama on many things. His eloquence is extraordinary. His charm and charisma refreshes the stale halls of the White House. His earnestness is something that is needed–especially in terms of the dark times ahead. Resoluteness and intelligence marks his leadership ability especially when trying to deal with chaos and unrest as a result of the economy and the conflict overseas.

But the most remarkable thing about Mr. Obama is his capacity to forgive and extend a hand to those who do not agree with him. You’ve seen this aspect when he had met with his former opponent in the 2008 election, Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ). It was also apparent when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) showed up at the governor’s conference held recently in Philadelphia.

And now, one will see it again with the future American leader’s choice in picking Reverend Rick Warren to give the Invocation at the Inauguration. The pastor is a rising star in the Christian Evangelical world.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m highly supportive of Mr. Obama’s efforts to get our country together. This is despite the fact I’ve disagreed with some of his choices for his Cabinet such as Hillary Clinton, Larry Summers,Tom Vilsack, Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Timothy F. Geithner, Tom Daschle, and Ray LaHood (R-Ill). The keeping on of Bush Crony Robert Gates did not strike my fancy as well.

But, for the sake of all decency, Mr. Warren being given a position of honor at the Inauguration is a slap in the face and a travesty to all that is right and justified in this society. The spiritual leader’s views of the GLBTQ community is quite derogatory and hateful. His pro-life stance is appalling and antiquated. Furthermore, his position on Prop. 8 distastefully shows his narrow-minded and rather boorish views in regards to extending humanity and decency to all sectors of society.

Mr. Obama publicly stated his reasons why out of all the progressive clergy in America he could have chosen, he settled with Mr. Warren. As a result, the President-Elect demonstrated his capacity to reconcile with the very people who have slandered him and his beliefs. It is, in essence, turning the other cheek.

If it were only that simple in this complex world.

No matter how enlightened, powerful and astute that some in the MSM perceive this invitation on one of the most important days in American culture and history, it is still a decision that is rather controversial and troublesome. With his ideas and actions, Mr. Warren attacks true equality and freedom in a thriving democracy. That is why this choice cannot be respected.

The President-Elect could have invited the spiritual leader to do anything in a variety of capacities other than appear on this noteworthy event in January. But to put the pastor of the California megachurch on the national stage is to give wider recognition of his negative views. Although America has prided itself on freedom of thought, there are times the basic civility and respect for human-kind outweighs the promotion of a closed-minded individual who hides behind his religion.

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What Should Be Done About the Iraq War?

December 14, 2008

This is an open thread, so The Political Megaphone wants to hear your ideas about what American policy should be in regards to the Iraq war. Historical references, as always, are welcomed and highly encouraged. Sometimes, we need to look at the past in order to understand the present.

However, spam, hate speech and personal attacks are not welcome.

So, put your two cents in!

The Shoes Thrown Around The World

December 14, 2008

One could only bet that out-going American leader George W. Bush was going to have one of his saccharine, superficial photo-op events propping up his legacy without incident. However, he got a surprise Sunday morning in Iraq. An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at the 43rd President. He then proceeded to give Mr. Bush a piece of his mind.

As told in the Los Angeles Times:

“This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog,” the man said, according to a pool translation.

Seconds later, the journalist hurled his other shoe with similar precision as another Iraqi journalist reached over in an attempt to stop him. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq,” he said.

What was especially off-putting is Mr. Bush’s response to the incident. With his usual frat boy smirk and swagger, he could only retort the way a spoiled scion of entitlement would do:

“All I can report is it is a size 10,” he said jokingly.

“So what if a guy threw his shoe at me,” the president added, dismissing it as “one way to gain attention.”

Mr. Bush’s nonchalance is rather revealing when looking at the profound nature of what Muntader Zaidi did. When he hurled those shoes at the podium, he was in essence showing his disgust and revulsion at the superficiality and horror of what has happened since the U.S. first occupied Iraq five years ago. Who wouldn’t be quite upset with the “shock and awe” starting off such atrocities?

The American people have a long memory when it comes to the handiwork of the United States government and the Iraqi War. The Bush Administration’s constant referral of the civilians caught in the crossfire as “collateral damage” reflected insincerity and ruthlessness which cannot be swept under the rug. When it comes to the Iraqi people who are displaced, tortured, wounded, terrorized and killed by conflict everyday, the anger against what Mr. Bush and his cronies did in Iraq is justified.

That is why the shoes “thrown around the world”, mean more than just an expression of contempt during a press conference. The hurling of the shoes in Middle Eastern culture, is synonymous with giving someone the “one finger salute” in American life. It is the ultimate F. U. to a man who by his mere record and presence represents the dark side of American policy and history.

In essence, Mr. Zaidi’s demonstration depicted the pent up frustration quietly rising since the beginning of the Iraqi War. His sentiment did publicly what a lot of folks would dream of doing privately: to give Mr. Bush our derision and indignation over five years of senseless conflict. The Iraqi journalist’s anger is indicative of a whole lot of us who are sick and tired of the toll this war has taken on not only Iraq, but the rest of the world.

Enough is enough. Something’s got to change.

A Time of Reckoning

December 12, 2008

If anything, the Senate vote Thursday night told us that some our dignitaries are at open war with the working folks of America. Nixing aid to the automotive industry was a “mission accomplished” based on ideology and party, plain and simple. The failure of the Big Three didn’t matter to the Southern Republicans who led the fight against the bailout. In their refutations, what came out repeatedly was a repudiation of the UAW– even to the point of injecting falsehoods concerning the salaries of unionized workers in the MSM.

In that light, it isn’t surprising that the Southern Republicans acted the way that they did. If anyone stopped and looked at where the foreign car companies had their facilities in America, one could see why the outcry against the UAW was vocal and vindictive.

Put it this way: the Senators who lashed out against the bailout were pretty much protecting their own.

Before you think that this is a completely new trend, it isn’t. The late President Ronald Reagan, shuttled to sainthood by his GOP followers, battled unions throughout his two terms. The most celebrated case was the former American leader’s war against air traffic controllers in the early 1980’s. In the midst of campaigning for better working conditions and benefits, nearly 11,500 striking air traffic controllers were let go from their jobs. Consequently, the union representing them (the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) ended in October 1981. Since then, union memberships as a whole decreased in size and importance as America fell under the shadow of conservative rule.

Three decades have passed. Another union struggles against the GOP machine. Once again, the Republicans’ efforts are mean-spirited considering how low the economy has sunken. It is as if the conservative party ignored the dire circumstances of nearly three million people who will lose their jobs if the Big Three isn’t kept running during these hard times.

The good thing is that the actions of the GOP Senators had, in essence, reignited the passion and the anger of citizens who have been put through the ringer of trying to fight to keep from being tossed out into the street. It sure beats the apathetic cynicism that hung like a cloud over the Bush 43 years. These scary times are giving each one of us something to care about. Our livelihoods depend on it.

So, is President Bush’s suggestion of taking the funds out of TARP to help the Big Three a noble gesture? No. However, it is certainly necessary for his legacy, is it not?

One Small Request For President-Elect Obama

December 10, 2008

Even though these days find President-Elect Obama with his hands full, I hope that one of his advisers would mention this little tidbit: if the Department of Homeland Security must be kept, please change its name. Ever since the Republicans began throwing around the word “homeland”, it has always been a quiet reminder of a fascist dictatorship instead of a democracy.

Well, heck. Let’s be blunt. The word, “homeland” is synonymous with the Third Reich and the “vaterland”. It is rather offensive. Furthermore, the word and its connotation flies in the face of everything Americans have fought for and believed in.

The very notion of tying America to the “fatherland” reeks of authoritarianism conveying a society that is submissive and child-like. The “homeland”, as a concept, also emits a sense of McCarthyism pitting neighbor against neighbor in the race of who represents the most patriotic and servile to the state. This aspect could be seen in the eruption of super-patriotism right after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade center.

In the spirit of change and the restoration of an American government of the people, the notion of the “homeland” has outlived its use. We must not live in a nation of fear and terror anymore. Striking down the word and meaning of the “homeland” shows that as citizens of the United States, we didn’t let September 11th own us.

The time for empowerment has come.

Karl Rove Calls Out the Opposition In New Book

December 8, 2008

As the administration of President George W. Bush lurches to a close, there is always room for parting gifts. One of which, by virtue of the Huffington Post, deals with a story behind what political operative and current FOX News consultant Karl Rove plans to reveal in his upcoming book. After the ink was dried on the $1.5 million dollar publishing deal, the former Deputy White House Chief of Staff to the 43rd President of the United States has vowed to point out people who opposed Mr. Bush during the leader’s time in office.

Why, that almost sounds like another situation entirely, doesn’t it?

Read it for yourself from the Huffington Post article:

Also reserved for between the covers of Rove’s book is his checklist of the “great many of the political actors in this town (who) never accepted [Bush] as a legitimate president.”

“I’ve got behind-the-scenes episodes that are going to show how unreceiving they were of this man as president of the United States,” Rove said, adding: “I’m going to name names and show examples.”

Let’s get something clear. Mr. Rove can name names all he wants, but the evidence shows otherwise why Mr. Bush was not treated as legitimate in some circles. Why, he must have been asleep the last eight years as Mr. Bush dragged this country right down the toilet. Well heck. He also must have missed the fact that sometimes, Mr. Bush even brought this lack of respect upon himself.

So while Mr. Rove thinks he can use such outing tactics to shame others via the printed word, there are folks who have gotten wise to his modus operandi.

After all, Executive Privilege does not last forever.

Will The Corporations Change Their Tune?

December 7, 2008

In a lengthy interview on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning, President-Elect Barack Obama said a number of things that were highly important when setting the agenda during his upcoming term as American leader. Firstly, the former Illinois Senator sided with the laid-off Republic Windows and Doors factory workers as they protested the loss of their jobs in the wake of the recession. Another item of note is that there needs to be work done to stop the slide in foreclosures that are happening daily across the country. Although Mr. Obama described the economy getting a lot worse before it recovers, he advocated for immediate and meticulous attention to reignite it via introducing much needed policies that would work on rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

But the best thing? Mr. Obama said that the corporations must be more responsible and ethical in their daily dealings:

What we haven’t seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions. And what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors who are doing a lot better.

Now, it’s not unique to the auto industry. We have seen that across the board. Certainly, we saw it on Wall Street. And part of what I’m hoping to introduce as the next president is a new ethic of responsibility where we say that, if you’re laying off workers, the least you can do, when you’re making $25 million a year, is give up some of your compensation and some of your bonuses. Figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care and they can still stay in their homes. That kind of notion of shared benefits and burdens is something that I think has been lost for too long, and it’s something that I’d like to see restored.

Simply put, drastic times call for measures which favor the American worker again. For years, the corporations have enjoyed the perks the government has given them. The biggest gift of all happened to be the gradual dismantling and eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933. The passage and signing of the Gramm-Leech-Billey Act of 1999 signaled the regulations of the New Deal were over. At first, these measures for financial institutions were liberatory. Commercial and Investment banks could join forces into a single entity. This type of corporate marriage in the financial world meant more ways to make money hand over fist by pitting the greedy against the most vunerable. It didn’t stay within the borders of one’s country. These dealings extended internationally too.

But, the higher the high, the greater the fall. Not only did large entities like Citigroup, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bear Stearns take a nose dive; a string of other companies people have known and loved over the years (such as Archway & Mother’s Cookies Co., Tower Records and Sharper Image) have shut their doors to the public as well. Within the last four years of the Bush Presidency, the list of folding business (especially those filing for bankruptcy) has grown larger and more nebulous. Those who survived the trial by fire this far has pared down their operations so much that consumers deal with bare-bone operations with few luxuries.

But even despite all the horrific happenings of the economic downturn, the managment still kept their golden parachutes and other perks while their employees suffered cut-backs. Similarly, the story of Enron depicts one of the most heinous examples of corporate greed and employee negligence. The Enron scandal still stings for a lot of people–including many Californians.

In light of this, corporations are not going to change over night to be more ethical entities if they continually get rewarded by their political cronies year after year. Instead, there has to be a reintroduction of more regulations along with more support to enforce the restrictions already on the books. Without such backing, the same old thing will happen in a quid pro quo fashion.

We have to start somewhere in order to rebuild a new type of society from the ruins left in the wake of the Bush years. This means more consideration for workers and their rights. Without the support of the workers, management cannot get anywhere. After all, the workers are voters and conscious consumers. They read the papers, discuss politics and even watch the news just like the majority of other citizens in the United States. Ignore and treat them like the dirt under someone’s shoe and the outcry becomes enormous. Case in point? The 2008 Elections.

“I will leave the presidency with my head held high.”

December 6, 2008

Well, that’s what George W. Bush told Charlie Gibson during the first of a series of “exit interviews” earlier this week. The sheer ironic nature of that statement is the fact that if he had a true conscience with less hubris, he might see why he is already ranked as one of the worst Presidents of the United States. Furthermore, his governing style resembles that of a petty dictator who lives for affirmations of his followers at his every whim. The smirk–which is off-putting and rather indicative of the utter smugness belonging to his station–cannot erase the fact that America has been brought down into its nadir as a country by the likes of the incurious, narrow-minded and bellicose.

Oh no, Mr. President. There is nothing to be proud about these last eight years.

Voter disenfranchisment is one such case where there hasn’t been an apology made by the RNC or its operatives. In fact, where was the President’s remorse when John Ellis, a Bush cousin and consultant with FOX news, called the state of Florida for him in the 2000 election? Where was his tears of regret as voter’s names were purged from the rolls?

How can one hold his head up high when it comes to advocating state-sponsored torture? How can one be proud over the fact that rights for the incarcerated were shot down? What dignity exists in the statements of bravado and American exceptionalism when they threatened to abandon other nations who didn’t fall to the party line of the United States?

How can he sleep at night knowing that he launched a failed and indelibly flawed conflict based on lies and false evidence? Do the screams and horror faced by the Iraqi civilians even haunt him? Does the massacre at Haditha give him nightmares?

Lest we not forget the many times the President went on vacation. On one particular occasion, the levees broke in New Orleans and disaster ravaged the Gulf Coast. How can Mr. Bush feel any sort of pride of patting former FEMA head Michael Brown on the back while people drowned? How can he leave his office without the picture of the starving, abandoned and hurting while they screamed for help at the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome? Kanye West didn’t have to go far when he mentioned that “Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

And then, we have the piece de resistance of why it is such an affront for Mr. Bush to say he is leaving his post proudly: the horrific realities of the economy. Does it even tickle his conscience a little bit that while the corporations continue to get tax breaks as they down-size, everyday people are faced with lay-offs and homelessness? Does he even care about the audacity of buying a $2 million dollar house while families are seeing their American dreams go up in smoke by foreclosure?

Although there are many other examples to come by, it still is mind-boggling how Mr. Bush tries to gloss over the utter hardship, derision and sorrow that has been left in the wake of his Presidency. it is even astounding to think that something positive can be even made out of policies that have laid waste to America and the world during his two terms. With all that laid upon the table, Mr. Bush should be worried about his legacy.

From the viewpoint of a lot of people, the 43rd President’s place in American history is already set by not only events, but by actions as well.

Now, Finally the FDR Influence Kicks In

December 6, 2008

Forget about the “team of rivals” drivel that keeps on getting airtime in the MSM. Finally, President-Elect Obama is getting into FDR territory by introducing some policies his Administration has proposed to work on. This comes from the pages of Politico:

—ENERGY: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”

—ROADS AND BRIDGES: “[W]e will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”

—SCHOOLS: “[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”

—BROADBAND: “As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m president – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”

—ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

I think what he’s suggested is sensational. What do you guys think?

The Economy Is Nothing But a Lump of Coal in Everyone’s Stocking

December 6, 2008

As time goes on the economic crisis in America and abroad becomes more sordidly complex. This is especially the case about the long, protracted struggle to find a way to help the Big Three out of their financial woes. Relief is supposed to come in a $14 billion package that would help keep each company running until a more substantial plan could be decided upon in the Obama Administration. To put it aptly, the ingredients are there to make a move to save the Automotive Industry. Yet, the main course hasn’t been prepared, cooked and placed on a silver platter.

Mark Representative Barney Frank’s words: if nothing is done, the stalwarts of the car industry will come crashing down. That means the already staggering 6.7 percent of unemployment in the United States will get worse. After all, the caustic financial climate has already gripped the nation in ways that will be felt for many years.

You can see the results happening just this quickly in the midst of the volatile market. Institutions that lend out money won’t be doing so for “high risk” customers. And while the more well-to-do holler at the poor to “get jobs” (that are being axed due to down-sizing as we speak) or “get an education for upward mobility” (an affordable college education is getting scarce too in the states), they at least can stay comfortably in their houses while their tax breaks expire in 2011.

The struggle between Main St. and Wall St. becomes a battle royal of who is most important in eyes of the government.

What angers a lot of Americans is that Wall St. is continuing to get more support than everyday folks in this economy. The corporations ask the government for bail-out money, take it and instead use some of it to have a small retreat with a couple of golden parachutes for their CEO’s thrown in. Despite all this, they continue to ask Congress to help them solve their business failures. The jury is still out whether the government has learned its lesson after the $700 billion hand-out.

(You have to hand it to the Big Three though. They got wise before their hearing Friday and showed up in electric cars.)

Do the people of Main St. have to keep on waiting before there are policies that will bail us out too? It always seems that way.