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Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

THE IDEAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE

In Bureaucracy, Humor, Politics on September 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Yes, it’s Presidential campaign season again.  That special time when, every four years, would-be Republican leaders try to prove

  • Who hates liberals the most;
  • Who will suppress abortion and birth control the most;
  • Who hates gays the most;
  • Who will abolish the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Who will build the most prisons;
  • Who will execute the most convicts; and
  • Who will most support the right of the rich to not pay taxes.

For 2012, Republican voters have embraced one right-wing candidate after another–Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry. 

And, in each case, these voters have found, to their dismay, that s/he’s simply not right-wing enough. 

Thus, Republicans fear that none of these candidates is sufficiently Fascistic to win Rush Limbaugh’s nomination for President.

So it’s possible that the future of the Republican party may one day rest on the still-to-be perfected science of cloning.

Imagine how this procedure could affect the way Republicans choose their Presidential candidates. 

The top officials of the Republican party decide to create the perfect, unbeatable Presidential candidate.   

They direct scientists at the National Institute of Health to use DNA samples to resurrect several past, hugely popular Republican leaders. 
 
The first is, of course, Abraham Lincoln–destroyer of slavery and defender of the Union.  Then the scientists introduce him to a sample of Republican voters to gauge his current popularity.  
 
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://republicans-abroad.net/Abraham%20Lincoln.jpg&imgrefurl=http://republicans-abroad.net/RAIndex.html&usg=__pvybU4aLNywYHE8aeLxdR22vL5w=&h=640&w=461&sz=59&hl=en&start=197&zoom=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=u2jjFVrgmy2YsM:&tbnh=137&tbnw=99&prev=/images?q=Images+of+Abrham+Lincoln&start=180&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&ndsp=18&tbs=isch:1
 
The test-audience goes crazy–but not in the way party officials expect. 
 
“If it hadn’t been for him, we wouldn’t have all these damn civil rights laws now,” yell some. 
 
“He invaded the South and destroyed states’ rights!” scream others.
 
To head off a riot, Republican officials rush the bewildered Lincoln clone off the stage.
 
Then they bring out their next resurrected clone-candidate: Theodore Roosevelt, the trust-busting conservationist. 
 
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Theodore_Roosevelt_laughing.jpg&imgrefurl=http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Theodore_Roosevelt_laughing.jpg&usg=__anr7PXKIgS2JBeAN2QDBL39wXao=&h=3474&w=2849&sz=769&hl=en&start=8&zoom=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=opyM89MlZJ2Y1M:&tbnh=150&tbnw=123&prev=/images?q=Images+of+Theodore+Roosevelt&um=1&hl=en&sa=G&tbs=isch:1
 
Again the test-audience goes wild: “Tree-hugger!  Tree-hugger!”
 
“Trust-buster!  That’s the guy who attacked the big corporations–lousy Commie!” 
 
Once again, there is a near-riot as startled Republican officials hustle Roosevelt off the stage and out of the building.
 
Then they introduce their third resurrected candidate clone: Ronald Reagan. 
 
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.science.co.il/People/Ronald-Reagan/images/Ronald-Reagan-1981.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.science.co.il/People/Ronald-Reagan/&usg=__kZLft8l0bMx6w1-8OAntu_V_GVM=&h=1000&w=780&sz=87&hl=en&start=52&zoom=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=AH9_hlsR_c_YJM:&tbnh=149&tbnw=116&prev=/images?q=Images+of+Ronald+Reagan&start=36&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&ndsp=18&tbs=isch:1
 
“Not him!  He legalized abortion in California when he was Governor!”
 
“Yeah, and his first wife–Jane Wyman–divorced him. We can’t have a divorced guy in the White House.”
 
Desperate, Republican leaders go into a huddle: “What are we going to do?  Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan were the most popular leaders we’ve ever had.”
 
“Yeah, but that was in the PAST,” says another party hack.  “We need a candidate who appeals to our base TODAY.”
 
“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” says the first one.  “But it’s a bit radical.  The guy I have in mind wasn’t actually born in the United States.”
 
“So what?  People won’t mind if he gives them what they want.”
 
“What about the Constitution?  You have to be a native-born American to be President.”
 
“Hey, you know what the oil companies say: Why spoil the beauty of the thing with legality?”
 
So the Republicans once again call in the geneticists and tell them to go back to work one last time. 
 
When the last resurrected candidate is finally presented to the test-audience, the crowd rises as one, shouting: “That’s him!  That’s him!” 
 
“The one we’ve been waiting for!” 
 
 “The one who REALLY speaks for us!” 
 
“He’s totally anti-abortion–and he HATES uppity women!”
 
“Yeah–he hates Commies, gays and non-whites, and he REALLY believes in a STRONG military!”
 
“All right, I’ll do it–I’ll accept your nomination,” says the clone-candidate.  “But the last time I tried to lead people to greatness, they proved unworthy of me.  So I’ll do it again–but only on ONE condition.”
 
“Of course, of course!” yells the test-audience.  “Anything you want!  What is it?”
 
“This time…. 
 
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://img7.footnote.com/img/thumbnail/137396737/400/400/0_0_255_288.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.footnote.com/document/137396737/&usg=__IepuWRL72W4nNqqASFeAPbs0XqY=&h=400&w=354&sz=22&hl=en&start=106&zoom=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=HXbocM3r__PGHM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=110&prev=/images?q=Images+of+Adolf+Hitler&start=90&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&ndsp=18&tbs=isch:1
  
…no more Mr. Nice Guy!”

YOU GET WHAT YOU CHEER FOR

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on September 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Texas Governor Rick Perry is shocked–shocked!–that his Tea Party supporters would openly cheer the notion of society’s allowing an uninsured patient to die.

Just that happened during the September 12 GOP Presidential debate in Tampa, Florida.

“What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage?” CNN Correspondent Wolf Blitzer asked Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas).

When Paul fumbled for an answer, Blitzer persisted: “Are you saying society should just let him die?”

“Yeah!” several members of the right-wing crowd yelled out.

Hoping to counter negative reaction to the sudden unmasking of his supporters’ bloodthirstiness, Perry later claimed: “I was a bit taken aback by that myself.  We’re the party of life. We ought to be coming up with ways to save lives.”

He shouldn’t have been surprised.  Perry had heard the blood-lust of his supporters just five days earlier, during the September 7 GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

“Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times,” said the debate’s moderater, NBC’s Brian Williams.

Suddenly, the right-wing audience broke into cheers and applause, interrupting Williams’ question.

“Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?” asked Williams.

“No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” answered Perry.

“In the state of Texas, ” Perry continued, “if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed.”

The audience again cheered at Perry’s mention of “the ultimate justice.”

So add it up:

  • Perry’s Tea Party supporters cheer at the thought of 234 men and women executed by the State. 
  • Perry utterly rejects the possibility that “any one of those might have been innocent” to more Tea Party cheers.
  • Perry’s Tea Party supporters cheer at the thought of letting an uninsured patient die rather than save his life through public-funded coverage.

Is it possible to imagine that Perry’s supporters would cheer:

  • For the right of a raped woman to abort the fetus of her rapist?
  • For the right of an impoverished defendant to have a publicly-funded attorney?
  • For the right of same-sex couples to marry?

Hardly.

The crowds attending the rallies of Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew knew what they were cheering for. 

They relished the slanders of “Communist!” and “traitor!” hurled at every Democratic opponent–including decorated veterans.

Perry’s supporters knew what they cared about when they burst into applause at both GOP debates. 

They exulted in the executions of 234 men and women in a state infamous for its failure to protect the most basic rights of its accused citizens.

And they exulted at the prospect of leaving millions of uninsured Americans to die because they couldn’t afford the costly insurance premiums of wealthy patients.

And for all of Perry’s claims that Republicans “are the party of life,” it’s well to look closely at the realities of medicine for ordinary Texans under the 11-year Governorship of Rick Perry.

In fact, the Los Angeles Times recently did just that.  Among the findings:

  • More than a quarter of Texans lack health insurance, the highest rate in the nation.
  • Those costs are passed to the insured. Insurance premiums have risen more quickly in Texas than they have nationally over the last seven years.
  • Nearly a third of the state’s children did not receive an annual physical and a teeth cleaning in 2007.
  • Over the last decade, infant mortality rates have risen in Texas while declining nationwide.
  • One in five seniors, despite guaranteed Medicare coverage, ends up back in the hospital within a month of being released.
  • Texas has among the fewest physicians per capita in the country, according to census data.
  • This year, the governor and state Legislature slashed funding to train physicians to less than half of what it was a decade ago.
  • That came atop $800 million in cuts to hospitals and other medical providers that serve poor children, pregnant women and others who rely on Medicaid.

To understand what the United States would look like under President Rick Perry, it’s only necessary to:

  • Discover the true goals championed by Perry and his followers; and
  • Contrast his official claims of intent and performance with the realities of life for most Texans.

The result will be both startling and dismaying.

THE AMERICANS WHO GAVE US 9/11 – PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on September 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

September 11, 2011, marked the tenth anniversary of the worst terrArabist attack on United States soil.  Inevitably, this is a time to remember all those whose lives were so cruelly snuffed out.

But it should also be a time to remember those who made this atrocity inevitable–by refusing to acknowledge and address the impending threat from Al Qaeda.

British historian Nigel Hamilton has chronicled their arrogance and indifference in his 2010 biography: American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

Hamilton noted that Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism advisor to the President, was certain that Osama bin Laden had arranged the [USS.] Cole bombing in Aden on October 12, 2000.

For months, Clarke tried to convince others in the Bush Administration that Bin Laden was plotting another attack against the United States–either abroad or at home.

But Clarke faced a serious handicap: As chef counter-terrorism advisor to President Bill Clinton, he had held cabinet-level access.  Although he retained his position under President George W. Bush, he was now denied such access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with higher-ranking Bush officials–such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

These turned out to be the very officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Clarke was forbidden to brief President Bush, despite the mounting evidence that al-Qaeda was planning to strike.

Even more vexing for Clarke: During his first eight months as President before September 11, Bush was on vacation 42% of the time, according to the Washington Post.

Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject.  Then she “insisted the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting” in April, 2001, writes Hamilton.

Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginnning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.”

Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz–whose real target was Saddam Hussein–said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.”    Wolfowitz insisted that bin Laden couldn’t carry out his terrorist acts without the aid of a state sponsor–namely, Iraq.

Wolfowitz, in fact, blamed Iraq for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  Clarke was stunned, since there was absolutely no evidence of Iraqi involvement in this.

“Al-Qaeda plans major acts of terrorism against the United States,” Clarke warned his colleagues.  He pointed out that, like Adolf Hitler, bin Laden had actually published his plans for future destruction.

And he added: “Sometimes, as with Hitler in Mein Kampf, you have to believe that these people will actually do what they say they will do.”

Wolfowitz heatedly traded on his Jewish heritage to bring Clarke’s arguments to a halt: “I resent any comparison between the Holocaust and this little terrorist in Afghanistan.”

Writing in outraged fury, Hamilton sums up Clarke’s agonizing frustrations:

  • Bush’s senior advisors treated their colleagues who had served in the Clinton administration with contempt.
  • President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed content to ignore the danger signals of an impending al-Qaeda attack.
  • This left only Secretary of State Colin Powell, his deputy Richard Armitage, Richard Clarke and a skeptical Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, to wage “a lonely battle to waken a seemingly deranged new administration.”

Clarke alerted Federal Intelligence agencies that “Al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us.” He asked the FBI and CIA to report to his office all they could learn about suspicious persons or activities at home and abroad.

Finally, at a meeting with Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged Rice to “picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.”

Apparently Rice couldn’t imagine such a scenario, because she took no action to prevent it. Nor did she urge anyone else to do so.

Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically–and needlessly.

Neither Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence. Nor would any of them be brought to account.

Disgustingly, these are the same officials who, afterward, posed as the Nation’s saviors–and branded anyone who disagreed with them as a traitor, practices they continue to this day.

THE AMERICANS WHO GAVE US 9/11 – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on September 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Today is September 11, 2011–ten years after Islamic terrArabists slammed planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, killing more than 3,000 Americans.

(They would have slammed a fourth plane into the White House or the Capitol Building, but for the heroic resistance of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.)

In the years immediately following 9/11, politicians of both parties used this anniversary to trot out flags and patriotic speeches.

This was especially true for officials of the administration of George W. Bush–which, even as the rubble was still being cleared at the Pentagon and World Trade Center, was preparing to use the attack as an excuse to topple Saddam Hussein.

(Hussein had had nothing to do with the attack–and there was absolutely no evidence proving he did.  But that didn’t matter.  What mattered was that “W” had the excuse he needed to remove the man he blamed for the 1992 defeat of his father, George H.W. Bush.

(Bush believed that his father would have been re-elected if he had “gone all the way” into Baghdad.  He, George W. Bush, would finish the job that his father had started but failed to complete.)

So here it is ten years later, and, once again, those who died are being remembered by friends and relatives who knew and loved them.  They are also being celebrated by politicians who knew them only as potential constituents.

Yes, it’s well to remember the innocents who died on that day–and the heroism of the police and firefighters who died trying to save them.

But it’s equally important to remember those who made 9/11 not simply possible but inevitable.

And that does not mean only the 19 highjackers who turned those planes into fuel-bombs.  It means the officials at the highest levels of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Officials who, to this day, have never been held accountable in any way for the resulting death and destruction.

Obviously, such an indictment is not going to be presented by TV commentators today–not even on such liberal networks as CNN and MSNBC.  And most definitely not on the right-wing Fox network.

Fortunately, British historian Nigel Hamilton has dared to lay bare the facts of this disgrace.  Hamilton is the author of several acclaimed political biographies, including JFK: Reckless Youth and Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency.

In 2007, he began research on his latest book: American Caesars: The Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

The inspiration for this came from a classic work of ancient biography: The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus–known as Suetonius.

Suetonius, a Roman citizen and historian, had chronicled the lives of the first twelve Caesars of imperial Rome: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

Hamilton wanted to examine post-World War II United States history as Suetonius had examined that of ancient Rome: Through the lives of the 12 “emperors” who had held the power of life and death over their fellow citizens–and those of other nations.

For Hamilton, the “greatest of American emperors, the Caesar Augustus of his time,” was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led his country through the Great Depression and World War II.

His “”great successors” were Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy–who, in turn, contained the Soviet Union abroad and presided over sustained economic prosperity at home.

By contrast, “arguably the worst of all the American Caesars” was “George W. Bush, and his deputy, Dick Cheney, who willfully and recklessly destroyed so much of the moral basis of American leadership in the modern world.”

Among the most lethal of Bush’s offenses: The appointing of officials who refused to take seriously the threat posed by Al-Qaeda.

And this arrogance and indifference continued–right up to September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon became targets for destruction.

Among the few administration officials who did take Al-Qaeda seriously was Richard Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.

Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton.   He continued in the same role under President Bush–but the position was no longer given cabinet-level access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with other, higher-ranking Bush officials–such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

These turned out to be the very officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

WHY REGULAR JOBS PROGRAMS DON’T WORK

In Bureaucracy, Business, Politics, Social commentary on September 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Imagine this: A future President seeks to disband the FBI—and offer bribes to career criminals to not rob, rape and murder.  To sell his proposal, he chooses as his slogan: “Let criminals be criminals.”

If that sounds impossible, consider this:  Politicians on both the Right and Left have adopted just that mindset toward holding corporate employers accountable for their criminal greed and irresponsibility.

Case in point: The Obama administration has signaled that it may adopt a Georgia program that allows businesses to train jobless workers for two months without having to pay them.

Its supporters claim the program—Georgia Works—lets workers get their foot in the door and reduces businesses’ hiring risks.   Unions assert that it exploits workers and violates federal labor laws.

The drawbacks to this program:

  • It’s only open to workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Businesses have no obligation to hire participating workers.

Mississippi, in turn, has launched the Subsidized Transition Employment Program and Services.  Funded with left-over stimulus dollars, it initially covers 100 percent of an employee’s wages, gradually reducing the subsidy for every 160 hours worked.

Its drawbacks: 

  • It lasts only four months—from August to December, 2011.
  • Businesses will be excluded from the program if funds are exhausted or the September 30 enrollment deadline has passed.
  • Only 80 companies had signed up for the program by early September.

Then there’s the Minnesota solution.  Instead of adopting Senator Al Franken’s proposal to use public monies to subsidize wages, Congress enacted the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act.  This gave businesses $13 billion worth of tax credits for hiring unemployed workers.

The drawbacks to this effort:

  • The measure has not been evaluated.
  • It does not require employers to hire.

In Connecticut, another jobs program, Platform to Employment, puts workers through a four-week training period followed by an eight-week tryout at a participating business.

During the tryouts, the employees’ wages are paid by The Workplace, Inc., a private company which raised enough funds to support 100 jobs starting this fall.

The drawbacks to this are:

  • Employers get, in effect, free labor. 
  • Only those who have already exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment benefits are eligible.
  • Employers have no obligation to hire participating workers.
  • The funds will create only 100 jobs.
  • Employers are not required to participate in the program.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate keeps steadily rising.  In 2007,  228,000 people were unemployed for 99 weeks or longer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Today more than 2 million Americans have been unemployed for at least 99 weeks—the cutoff point for unemployment insurance in the hardest-hit states.

And the longer a person is out of work, the less likely s/he is to find an employer willing to hire.

What all these “job creating” programs have in common is this: They apply plenty of carrots–but absolutely no sticks.

Bribes–in the form of tax credits or tax breaks–are liberally applied to entice employers to behave like patriots instead of parasites.   But for employers whose refusal to hire condemns their country to economic catastrophe–there are no penalties whatsoever.

A policy based only on carrots is a policy of bribery.  A policy based only on sticks is one of coercion.  Some people can’t be bribed, and some can’t be coerced.  But nearly everyone is open to a policy of rewards and punishments.

Thus, corporations across the country are now sitting atop $2 trillion in profits.  But their CEOs are using those monies for:

  • Enriching themselves, their bought-off politicians, their families—and occasionally their mistresses.
  • Buying up other corporate rivals.
  • Creating or enlarging companies outside the United States.

In short, the one expense they refuse to underwrite is hiring their fellow Americans.

This is because:

  • They want to pay their un-American employees far lower wages than would be tolerated by employees within the United States.
  • They want to escape American employee-protection laws–such as those mandating worker’s compensation or forbidding sexual harassment.
  • They want to escape American consumer-protection laws–such as those banning the sale of lead-contaminated products (a hallmark of Chinese imports).
  • They want to escape American laws protecting the environment–such as those requiring safe storage of dangerous chemicals.

They want, in short, to enrich themselves at the direct expense of their country. 

In decades past, this used to be called treason.

Yet no major political figure–on the Left or Right–has so far dared to blame employers for selling out their country and destroying its economic prosperity.

No job-seeker, however well-qualified and -motivated, can hire himself onto an employer who refuses to hire. 

But corporate CEOs–and their paid political stooges–continue to blame the unemployed for being unable to find employers willing to honor their integrity, qualifications and initiative.

Americans generally–and the unemployed and under-employed in particular–must hold corporate America accountable for its criminal greed and irresponsibility.

Until they do, the United States will continue to sink further into decline–economically, socially and politically.

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