Thursday, July 5, 2012

Obama's Perfect Storm

The Democratic leadership should have realized and prepared for it, but didn’t. The writing was on the wall for anyone with a sense of historical or political perspective to see it coming. It was the inevitable perfect storm for Obama. It started primarily with the Bush administration. Eight years of Republican leadership, with its contempt for financial regulation, its collaboration with Wall Street, its tax cuts primarily for the wealthy and corporate America, and its unfunded spending on two wars and a prescription drug benefit, all led or contributed to the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1929.

So enter President Obama, inheriting an economy spiraling into collapse, 23 million unemployed Americans the day he entered office, the financial markets in a tail spin, and an electorate outraged over what had happened to their well-being and their future. Faced with the need to enact emergency legislation to stop the spiral, Obama pushed through his stimulus bill, a middle-class tax cut, and a continuation of Bush’s bailout of the financial industry to stop the downward spiral. From the start, his initiatives encountered unwavering opposition by the Republican Party and, later, the Tea Party that now controls it. It was near total opposition to any financial regulation to prevent another collapse, opposition to any effort to save the automobile industry and its 1 million jobs, and even refusal to extend unemployment benefits to the millions of unemployed who could no longer find work. The latter was eventually approved.

In a brilliant and well-funded effort to blame the sorry state of the economy on Obama, the Republican right wing began a strategy of blaming all this on Obama from the day he took office. It never stopped thereafter. It was so effective that even many of those who initially favored Obama began to swallow it. Even now Romney and the Republican leadership continue to proclaim the entire debacle as Obama’s failure, not theirs. In reality the failure they attribute to Obama is nothing more than a continuous strategy of blocking every meaningful initiative proposed by Obama to increase employment and improve the economy. In fact the only strategy the Republicans are intent on pursuing is the defeat of Obama in the next election.

So what is Obama’s perfect storm? A deep recession created by the Republicans who can turn around and blame it all on him, then stonewall every meaningful initiative of Obama to end the recession so that they can then blame him for not doing enough to end it. It’s a strategy to do whatever is necessary to continue the recession in order to insure his defeat in the next election. It is a brilliant strategy because even if the economy does improve, they will have positioned themselves to proclaim it was their opposition to Obama’s agenda that was responsible for the improvement -- even though it was their policies that created the recession in the first place.

Enter the final part of Obama’s perfect storm. It’s the democrats. From the day Obama took office the Democratic leadership has shown little passion or outrage over the Republican attack on Obama and his initiatives. Every day on every major network, we have seen right wing republicans spewing their right wing propaganda as if it were legitimate and justifiable discourse. Every day one Republican leader after another has preached an agenda that is little more than hate, fear, and hypocrisy as if these were the only truths. Rarely has there been an effective response from the Democrats. Often, there have been only weak and pitiful attempts to defend President Obama’s agenda. An agenda that millions of middle and lower class Americans depend on, but Republicans are now in the process of destroying. If this pattern of disinterest, weak response, and lack of outrage by the Democratic leadership continues, Obama’s perfect storm will have ended with the emergence of a new plutocracy controlled by the super wealthy and corporate America.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Catholic Church and Contraception

The Catholic Church and Contraception

The leadership of the Catholic Church has expressed outrage over what they see as the Obama administration’s war on freedom of religion. They are referring to Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires health care providers to offer free contraception as part of the preventative health care provision for women. Because the church believes that contraception is a sin, they argue that the government has no right to require it to provide contraception. The Obama administration backed down on the mandate by requiring that the insurance companies provide the contraception rather than Catholic employers. This did not placate the Catholic leadership.And, of course, it provided the Republican right wing with another propaganda bonanza. The outrage and indignity it expressed on every media outlet was almost ear-deafening. It was Obama the enemy of Christianity, suppressor of religious freedom, and the president who wants to remove Christ from everything society needs for salvation.

It is a deceptive and self serving reverse hypocrisy on the part of the Catholic leadership, supported by the Republican right, that misrepresents the true reality of the church’s agenda. It is not an issue of the government dictating what the church can and cannot do. That is protected by the Constitution and Obama quickly recognized that. The real issue and true agenda of the church is to prohibit women from using contraception all together. Even though over 90 percent of Catholic women have used contraception and most continue to practice it, the real intention of the church is to simply outlaw it for all of them. No choice, no exceptions, just obedience to the church hierarchy in fear of going to hell. And what punishment could be worse than going to hell? As far as the Republican right is concerned, it is a ticket to insure Obama’s political doom.

Welcome back to the 19th century

Welcome Back to the 19th century

The Republican Party wishes to welcome you back to the 19th century. The 19th century was remarkable in many ways. It was the time of the industrial revolution. Men, women, and children worked six and seven days a week for wages that maintained them in little more than abject poverty.
The old and incapacitated had to be cared for by family members who themselves had little time and resources to do so. Adequate health care was little known to the working classes. Except for the well to do, there was no such thing as retirement benefits or pensions. The country was controlled by ruthless industrial magnates who not only controlled the government, but were the government.
Attempts by workers to plead for living wages were met with ruthless repression -- not only by the corporations they were working for, but by the local government authorities who were bought and paid for by those corporations.
So what was the political ideology that spawned these conditions? It was a laissez-faire free market system in which the primary role of government was to promote the accumulation of private and corporate wealth rather than serve the social needs of society. Only through a free market system removed from government interference could the "legitimate" needs of society be satisfied. The poor and working classes chose to be where they were by their own choice, so there could be little sympathy for their plight. It was a self-serving system for and by the wealthy to control all aspects of society in favor of their own interests. It still is the basic political ideology of the Republican Party.
Jump forward to the last 10 years of Republican rule. You may question this considering that a Democratic majority was elected to both the House and the Senate in 2008. Even with that majority, the Republicans controlled the political agenda with their use of the filibuster and a constant stream of propaganda financed by the wealthy and corporate America. So now with their control of the house, what do we have? We have a continuation of Republican control that over the eight years of the Bush Administration sent this country into the greatest recession since the Great Depression of 1929, and sent 14 million people to the unemployment lines.
So how does this relate to the 19th century? You need only to look at the Republican agenda to see the parallel. Virtually every social program enacted to correct the social disparities of the 19th and early 20th centuries are under attack by the Republican Party and the Tea Party that controls it. The attack continues on many fronts. From gutting critically needed social programs by diluting their size and effectiveness, to outright dismantling the major programs that the poor and middle class paid for or relied on to sustain an acceptable standard of living in their remaining years. Only by forcing these cuts can the necessary tax cuts for the rich and corporate America be accomplished, supposedly for the benefit of everyone. In fact, it is all to further one ideology. That is to maintain a totally free and unregulated market in which the only role of government is to promote the free market accumulation of private and corporate wealth.
It's an ideology that is not only self-serving for those who proclaim it, but a complete myth fed by constant propaganda claiming that the working classes are its greatest beneficiary. It is propaganda that is nothing less than double-speak, a widely publicized tax reduction proclaimed to further the economic well being of the American people, when in fact it is primarily pay back to the wealthy who paid for and control the Republican Party. It is legislation claimed to improve the health insurance system for the benefit of the American people, when in fact it is intended to protect the profits of the insurance and drug industries.
It claims to protect the environment when in fact its intent is to degrade the environment by gutting the laws that protect against industrial pollution, air pollution, and the exploitation of our last remaining wild lands. It is denial of climate change, let alone man-caused climate change, when the real basis for the denial is to protect corporate America from regulations that would negatively affect its profits and influence over the political process.
So what is the destiny of America? Are we to see the continuing income explosion in the disparity between the super rich and the middle and lower classes? Are we going to see a continuous reduction in the programs that have protected the poor, elderly, incapacitated, and helpless for generations?
Are we going to see an increasing number of people dependent on a free market health insurance system that rejects applicants, disallows coverage, cancels policies, and restricts treatment of any medical problems that would diminish an insurance company's profits? Are we going to look over a landscape of oil and gas wells, strip mines, high end commercial developments, and off road destruction of the most pristine and irreplaceable landscapes on earth? Some one some where needs to speak up. They must do so if America is to survive that return to the 19th century

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Republican Meaning of a Constitutional Republicblic

The Republican Meaning of a Constitutional Republic

Some could say that no one is fooled by the rational of the Republican dominated legislature in justifying the law requiring teachers to teach that the United States is not a democracy but instead is a constitutional republic. They are wrong. The public is fooled because it has been conditioned to be fooled. It has been fooled into the belief that only their definition of a constitutional republic can describe a government capable of providing the moral and political leadership necessary for the people’s well-being.

In Utah this conditioning is related to the culture. People are taught from infancy to old age that adherence to the wisdom of higher authorities, whether religious or secular, is necessary to insure the orderly conduct of society. The authorities are right and to challenge that authority can lead to immorality and chaos. So here then is the Utah Legislature. Most are highly religious, and many have been leaders in their respective church and political organizations. They have been imbued with the mindset that people must have authoritative leaders who know what is best for them. It’s not important for the people to know the basis for their leaders decisions, hence a law that eviscerates any requirement for transparent government.

How often is the frequent words of ministers, priests, and bishops heard that refers to the members as their flock. The term has innocent meaning to those who use it, but the meaning has substance to others who see it differently. Sheep are considered to be inherently weak by nature and, because of this, need firm and authoritative control. In the case of the human flock, the higher authority is necessary in order to provide appropriate guidance on the path of righteousness.

It’s counterproductive for the people to interfere with the legislature by countermanding its decisions through popular referendums, hence a law that makes referendums almost impossible. It doesn’t matter that virtually every legal transaction between a citizen and a state agency is available for processing and signature online. In order to curtail the nonsense of a citizen referendum that might reverse the legislature’s “just” laws, they simply declare that online petition signatures are illegal.

In view of the inherent weakness of the populous and its need for moral leadership, the job of the legislature is to define and enforce the acceptable morality by which the masses must comply, hence the enactment of ludicrous liquor laws designed to curtail consumption to the highest extent possible. It doesn’t matter that these laws may be the laughing stock of the rest of America. What does the rest of America know about morality?

Because of the greater effectiveness of a constitutional republic it’s not really necessary that we have a strong two party political system. In fact a two party system only detracts from the focus of the rightful authorities to determine what is best for the populous. The other party must never be allowed to attain power because only the majority party has the moral leadership qualities to govern. This of course is more than adequate reason to institute the worst gerrymandering of political districts in the country.

It’s not necessary for the people to know or question the ethical issues raised when well healed special interests purchase legislation that favors their interests. The politicians involved often claim they receive valuable assistance from those interests. Many are in partnership with those interests. If they are questioned about the ethics of their actions, they can simply state that they are far beyond being influenced by the many gifts and campaign donations they receive or the legislation favorable to the interests they promote. As eminent and principled leaders of the people their intentions should not be questioned.

Republicans like to make the case that democracy is synonymous with chaos and that a pure democracy would lead to confusion and disarray. It’s a self serving justification that encompasses the real Republican ideological agenda. It’s an agenda that says that only a supremely qualified, and selective leadership is fit to govern the people. They may be elected or appointed through some democratic process, but once in the leadership position, it is they and they alone who are the most eminently qualified to make decisions for the people regardless of whether the decisions are popular or not. That’s why a constitutional republic has always been necessary.

A far right Republican Legislature that constantly decries Federal mandates and overreach has no problem imposing their own mandates on the state’s cities and counties whenever they stray from the ideological beliefs that the legislature holds true. Hence we see punitive laws aimed at corrective action against wayward city and county ordinances that deviate from the far right policies of the legislature. The legislature simply knows better how the cities and counties should behave.

Many people assume that the recent legislation requiring abstinence-only or no sex education at all in our schools is nothing more than the fulfillment of the legislature’s moral and religious beliefs. This assumption is only partially correct. The real reason for the legislation is to prohibit parental discretion in requesting that their school teach sex education to their children. By prohibiting parental choice the legislature is simply exercising its responsibility in insuring that parents comply with it’s “just” moral values.

In view of the conditioning, it’s no secret that Utah is the scam capital of the nation. It is a society of unquestioning trust in its higher authorities. Many of the most fraudulent schemes that people have been sucked into were perpetrated by people who prayed on the unquestioning trust of church members. Remember they are the ones who were taught since birth to be compliant and trusting members of the flock.

So here again is the Utah legislature. Since they always know what’s best for the people their pre-eminence as leaders should not to be questioned. It is a leadership determined to annually pass legislation that in some cases are ludicrous, and in other cases unconstitutional and draconian. The most draconian laws may result in widespread outrage and even a successful referendum campaign where polls show that huge majorities are in support. However, this only results in even greater determination by the legislature to counterman the referendum, if only through a series of obscure changes in the law that will eventually meet the same ends.

It doesn’t matter that education funding in Utah is dead last in the nation. More education only results in more troublemakers. These are people who because of education are more knowledgeable, informed, and susceptible to disagree with the laws being proposed. They are also people who are also more conscious of the environment, the legitimacy of science over religious superstition, and more outraged at the hypocrisy and self serving opportunism of the politicians they elect.

With all the self serving hypocrisy, cronyism, and corruption these people are famous for, no one should be deluded here. With the next political election the same self serving, corruption ridden politicians who pass their legislation will be elected again by huge margins. The justification for a Constitutional Republic rather than a democracy will again be rubber stamped by all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Letter to the Democratic National Committee

In the last few days leading up to the election this last fall I received e-mails from your committee and dozens of other officials of the Democratic Party. They were all pleading for donations to help turn the tide of the projected Republican victories. It was far too late. The Republicans and the tea party had already won the election weeks if not months earlier. You and the rest of the Democratic leadership gave it to them.

Every day on every major network, I watched a continuous parade of right wing Republicans spewing their outrageous propaganda as if it were legitimate and justifiable discourse. Every day I watched one Republican leader after another preach an agenda of hate, fear, dishonesty, and hypocrisy as if these were the only truths. During all this time I saw virtually no effective response from members of your committee or any other Democrats. During this time I saw only weak and pitiful attempts to defend President Obama’s agenda. An agenda that millions of middle and lower class Americans depend on, but Republicans are now in the process of destroying. Most of the time there was no response whatsoever. Even now as I watch the news on every major network this same parade of right wing propaganda and lack of effective response by the Democratic leadership continues.

Where was your collective expression of public outrage over the Republican’s stonewalling of every initiative that President Obama proposed, many of which the Republican party itself had previously embraced. Watching television each evening the only outrage that I saw was that expressed by the Republican leadership and its right wing surrogates over Obama’s “unconstitutional and socialistic” destruction of America. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Sara Palin were in the news constantly, while the only news I ever heard about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid was either attacks by the Republicans or negative comments from the media. This was all the media, not just Fox News.

Why was your lack of outrage and your feeble response all that could be heard when the Republican smear and fear campaign started shortly after the election of President Obama? Why was the Democratic Leadership so weak, and ineffective in responding to the lies and misinformation by a Republican Party responsible for the greatest recession since the great depression, that these same people were given control of the House of Representatives?

Where is your show of outrage at the disastrous initiatives that the Republican controlled House of Representatives is now in process of implementing? Each night on television I continue to see the same parade of right wing Republican extremists venting their self serving hate and fear propaganda with such intensity and passion that the American public is actually believing it. The fact of the matter is that the Republican Party is determined to destroy or render ineffective every progressive social and protective institution that has been enacted since Roosevelt. Where is the Democratic response?

It would be easy to say that that you and the rest of the Democratic Party deserved the dramatic losses that the party sustained in the last election. The real loss, however, is to the millions of people who depended on you to stand up to the daily onslaught of ludicrous propaganda proudly proclaiming the end of socialism and the successful implementation of the Republican agenda.

I am sending this same note to those democrats who continue their spineless response to the Republican onslaught because I’m certain that I’ll continue to receive their solicitations for additional money. I have no intention of doing so until you and the rest of the Democratic leadership obtains a spine and real determination to confront the right wing attack on America. It is a war on the middle class and the Republicans are winning it with ease.

J.E. Allen

The Indoctrination of America

The Republican Party energized by its victories in the last election, and convinced that it now has the momentum to change the face of government and America has incorporated in its agenda a determination to eliminate funding for PBS and National Public Radio. George Wills, the conservative columnist and eminent spokesman for the right, has written commentaries supporting this position. They all proclaim that neither has any value or relevance, that their perceived liberal bias is far from the “conservative” mainstream of America, and that they are an inappropriate drain on the public tax payer. It’s not hard to see what their goal is. It is to maintain the populous as compliant, subservient, and unquestioning true believers in their right-wing agendas. In order to do this, they must eliminate any media that questions their intent.

Each day on network television, we are served with a continuous barrage of infantile commercials, childish sitcoms, slapstick entertainment, meaningless news, and shock reporting that appeal to only two things—ignorance and gullibility. The brainwashing is further reinforced by hundreds of talk radio and Christian-right radio stations, which spew out right-wing propaganda on a twenty-four-hour basis. Yet this is what the Republican Party and their right wing patrons would have the American public receive as “legitimate” alternatives to the liberal bias of PBS and NPR. The major networks, continuously attacked as “liberal,” have long since been intimidated into a reluctance to touch any issue that might offend the right wing.

Anyone who values free and open discourse in the media should view the continuing attack on PBS with outrage. National Public Television and Radio are among of the few sources for truly balanced news and commentary. It is the only medium that confronts issues that the major networks are too intimidated to cover, and issues that the right-wing media choose to distort and manipulate. The fact that it provides moderate views and perspectives as well as conservative views is simply not acceptable. To them any semblance of perceived liberal thought and discourse is heresy and should be expunged from society.

Those of us who value the right to receive balanced and objective information with which to make intelligent decisions had better wake up. If the Republican right wing succeeds in suppressing all discourse but its own propaganda, there will be no accurate and objective media. They will have succeeded in establishing a national level of political acceptance in which their interests and agenda are the standard of thought and behavior. Right wing politics and Christian fundamentalism will be the norm of society. Any beliefs or opinions different from this will be automatically branded as disloyal, anti-American, and deviant. At that point, the Republican far right, George Wills and the neo-conservative establishment he represents will have achieved their goals.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Real Republican Agenda

During the eight years of the Bush administration, this country endured one of the most incompetent, dishonest, and ideologically biased administrations in American history. For most of that time it endured a right wing Republican Congress that either rubber stamped the incompetence of the Bush administration or initiated the incompetence with the willing approval of Bush. Because of this, Bush became one of the most unpopular presidents in modern times. His popularity and that of the Republican party became so low that, for the first time in years, the Democratic party was assured a clear and commanding victory for the presidency. It received that victory with the election of Barack Obama and what was essentially a Democratic supermajority in Congress. But what has happened since? The repudiation of the Republican agenda so clearly realized in the Obama victory has now been thrown into confused irrelevance by a well funded and organized fear and smear campaign by the Republican right and more importantly by the ineffectiveness of the Democratic party in responding to the Republican attack. Because of this the Republicans have succeeded in generating a level of discontent with the public that has compromised the Obama agenda. More importantly the Democratic Party’s ineffectiveness could already have begun to cost them control of Congress.

So what happened to the Democrats in all this? They have been incapable of any meaningful response to the Republican fear and smear campaign, completely ineffective in promoting Obama’s election commitments, and terrorized into virtual silence by the Republican right wing with its Fox led tea parties, staged town hall meetings, and media attacks on the Obama agenda. In their continuing but useless efforts to seek bipartisan agreement, the Democrats have only created more disgust and disillusionment with the public, and they still don’t seem to understand why. They don’t understand that the Republicans have no intention of allowing any of Obama’s initiatives to become law. They have one and only one mission. That is mission is to make certain that Obama is defeated in the next presidential election and that the Republican right wing is reinstated in Congress. They have publicly continuously stated this and nothing else matters. No bipartisanship, compromise, cooperation, reconciliation, and nothing but total annihilation of Obama and the Democratic agenda.

The amazing thing is that while the Republicans have been successful in stopping Obama’s initiatives, it has been able to mask its agenda by feeding on the fears, bigotry, ignorance, and emotions of very classes whose interests it suppresses. It was accomplished by dispensing heavy and continuous fear propaganda proclaiming the destruction of America caused by big government, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, government welfare and waste, affirmative action, and the outlawing of government approved school prayer. It is an agenda that works.

So what is the real Republican agenda? It is the hallmark of the Republican right. It’s an agenda that proclaims minimal government, minimal taxation of the rich, a free market economy unfettered by government regulation, a repudiation of affirmative action, and maintaining a social agenda that eliminates or cuts deeply any spending on social programs. They are well-publicized beliefs that while real are also code words for much more than what Republicans view as the appropriate role of government. It’s to safeguard, secure, and promote the wealth of their primary constituency – the wealthiest Americans and corporate America.

It’s the self serving belief that every society has its lower classes, and because of the inherent apathy and lack of ambition of the lower classes, those who are successful in life, including the wealthy, have no obligation to subsidize their welfare. It’s also the self serving belief that the poor are poor because of their own poor choice, and accordingly there is no obligation to tax the wealthy to support the poor. To insure that this taxation is minimized it is the responsibility of those in power to exercise sufficient control over the social order that a laissez-faire free-market system free of government taxation and interference will prevail. Republicans do not loudly promote this agenda because of the negative backlash they would engender. However, they do so with code words and politically correct responses designed to mislead their real agenda. These are reducing the size of government, cutting government spending, cutting taxes primarily for the wealthy, and opposing social programs because they have no place in a free market society – all, of course, proclaimed to benefit the lower classes they are designed to suppress.

It’s propaganda that is nothing less than double-speak. A widely publicized tax reduction proclaimed to further the economic well-being of the American people, when in fact it is primarily a subsidy for the wealthy. It is legislation claimed to improve the health insurance system for the benefit of the American people, when in fact it is designed to protect the profits of the insurance industry and drug companies. It claims to protect the environment when in fact its intent is to degrade the environment by gutting the laws that protect against industrial pollution, air pollution, and the exploitation of our last remaining wild lands.

It’s a trickle down economic agenda designed to embellish the rich with tax cuts and subsidies which are then touted to create jobs and economic progress for the rest of the country. In fact it is an agenda that results only in higher corporate profits, unconscionable income levels for CEOs, and an ever widening income gap between the rich and poor. It is an agenda that rewards extravagant compensation for corporate CEO’s while sending U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas where the far lower wages of third world peasants simply guaranties higher corporate profits and greater compensation for America’s CEO’s. It’s an agenda that protects corporate America from the imposition of needed consumer protections, environmental restrictions, and the health and safety of the working class in order to favor its primary constituents – the very wealthiest Americans and corporate America.

No one has to look very far to see why the Republican Party won over the South during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The South had been heavily Democratic when the Civil Rights Movement emerged. However the Democratic party of the South was the party of Jim Crow, segregation, and racism. It was loyal to the national Democratic Party only so long as it ignored the deeply entrenched segregation and discrimination of blacks. It was a political awakening that would elevate the GOP to a new and winning political strategy. Pander to the hate, fears and bigotry of the masses and political victory is assured. It worked then and it works now.

It is pandering to the religious right by asserting that America is an exclusively Christian nation and that its laws and governmental policies should reflect this. Support the belief of the religious community that there never was a separation of church and state. Pander to the biblical based beliefs and fears of the evangelicals that homosexuality, same sex marriage, prohibiting God and religious instruction from public schools are destroying American, repudiating the theory of evolution and any science findings that are contrary to the bible, and raging that democrats the party of godless socialism and evil must be defeated is America is to be saved.

It is preaching that only with an unregulated free market can the best interests of the working class be protected. This of course means returning Health care to the insurance companies that maximize profit at the expense of meaningful coverage to the public. It means destroying unions so corporations are free to cut worker wages and benefits to improve their bottom lines. It means eliminating environmental regulations allow big oil and the mining industry to plunder the most pristine and irreplaceable lands on earth.

It is an agenda that is being sold to the American public as one that is in their best interests when; in fact, it is designed to serve only the wealthiest in the country and corporate America.