Thank You GOP Debate

January 23, 2012

I admit that I have been pretty hard on President Obama in this blog, but as MLK said once, you can’t be disappointed in something or someone you don’t care about. I also admit that my enthusiasm has been waning for the re-election campaign. However, the GOP debate last night in the birthplace of the Civil War hosted by Fox News and on MLK day was like an electric jolt of motivation. To hear men like Romney and Newt and Perry talk about “States Rights” (code words for bigots resisting civil rights) and quoting Dr. King in almost the same breath was infuriating. Every man on that platform represents exactly what Dr. King fought against in his lifetime: economic injustice and bigotry. Obama has not been as successful as we had hoped, but we had better pray and do everything in our power to assure that he is re-elected.

When Newt called President Obama the “food stamp President” and was challenged by Juan Williams it was like a flash realization: this IS what this election is all about. They criticize spending tens of millions to help feed the poor and not one word on the billions of dollars we give the rich in corporate welfare.  Dr. King would have asked the candidates “why is it that when we give money to help the poor it is called “welfare” and when we give money to the rich it is called “subsidies?” Or he might ask them “why is it that it is harder now for a man or woman to be economically successful in the U.S. than it is in 19 other countries in Europe and Asia? What is it about your policies that has all but removed opportunity in this society?”

When President Obama took office our economy was in a freefall and we were losing 750,000 jobs a MONTH. His policies stopped that rush toward economic Depression – and he did it without a single vote from Republicans. To have Newt ignore the results of GOP economic policies and claim that the poor are poor because they lack a work ethic, and mock a government that helps feed them when in need was like watching  Bull Conner confronting King in front of an all white audience. Now this was South Carolina, but GOP audiences in past debates have applauded executions and jeered at an active duty serviceman. The fact that South Carolina is suffering the more than most States from GOP economics is apparently trumped by intolerance. White Carolinans would rather cheer intolerance than change their own lives. Who is really being lazy freeloaders?

The GOP has become the Party of intolerance and men like Newt and Romney are carrying their banner. This debate made the choice clear to me do we create a society of compassion and opportunity for all Americans, or do we become a society of intolerance and opportunity for the 1%?   

Why Ron Paul Amuses Me

January 23, 2012

As odious as the thought may be, when I consider my politics right now, in a mindless moment I might consider voting for an Independent Ron Paul. I campaigned as a Democrat/Libertarian, so my natural inclinations are towards Libertarian policies. Paul, like me, is also anti-establishment.  Perhaps this is just a post-Holiday, sugar high hangover? It’s like listening to a really, really bad song that just happens to have a few good notes that you can’t get out of your head.

With the exception of the recently departed Huntsman, all other GOP candidates are excluded from consideration. The GOP has degenerated faster than a remake of “Idiocracy” into a Party with cultural policies that are driven by fear and intolerance, and economic policies which will only complete the destruction of the middle-class and codify our Nation as the fastest growing Plutocracy in the world. A GOP win will be a disaster for our Country economically and civilly.

That leaves only President Obama and a possible Independent, Ron Paul.  There is no question in my mind that Paul’s foreign policy is far superior to President Obama’s and attacks the most destructive influence of our lifetime: the military-industrial complex. Obama has ended Iraq, but significantly increased militarism elsewhere. We now have our military fighting and dying in more Countries than under any Republican administration. The “Masters of War” are cleaning up under President Obama. This is the most compelling argument Paul makes.

One argument against a President Paul is that his economic policies are bizarre. This is true, but the President is virtually a gate-keeper to Congressional budgeting. Paul might, at least, stem the tide of economic injustice and the steady movement toward Plutocracy. For example, Paul says he would decrease Federal regulation of the Wall St. robber-barons, but increase enforcement of existing laws. President Obama has only implemented inadequate and ineffective regulations and virtually ignored criminality on Wall St. A President Paul would at least go after economic criminality, which could arguably have a greater effect than the present policies. Obama and Paul say they will reform tax codes, but who would you trust to actually do it? President Obama has had over three years to do it and has only now begun to talk about it. The government is still owned by the 1%.

Another argument against Paul is civil rights. In the past some flagrantly racist and xenophobic articles have been published in his name. He has disavowed them, but continues to attack the Federal role in the Civil Rights Act, i.e. he doesn’t disagree with the goal, just the implementation. That position pretty much ends any consideration of Paul in my mind. On the other hand, a President Paul could not reverse the Civil Rights Act on his own, and the one consistent feature of Paul has been his insistence on civil liberties, much to the chagrin of the GOP. Whatever harm Paul presents to civil liberties, we also have a clear track record of President Obama attacking them via the Patriot Act and the recent Defense Appropriation Bill virtually abrogating Habeas Corpus rights for citizens. Ron Paul would have vetoed both.

How bad is it when I am actually considering Ron Paul?  Anyway, it is unlikely that Paul will survive the process. He challenges the real power behind all politics these days, and those guys don’t last long…

Deregulation and Jobs

January 10, 2012

We hear it all the time from the GOP contenders and leaders – we need to create jobs by “deregulation”. In the Republican world, Federal “regulations” are a major obstacle to creating jobs – and they are right, in a way. However, for anyone wondering what the Republican vision of a deregulated America might look like might want to take a close look at one country which has prioritized jobs over regulations and is the fastest growing economy in the world. Communist China has become the Capitalist paradise, attracting major investments from US Corporations. Recent news reports from one corporate adventure there reveals a lot about what Republicans have in store for us.

Apple Corporation is one of the most lucrative companies on the NYSE, but virtually all of its manufacturing is done in China. Apple’s involvement with Foxconn, a Chinese company that manufactures their I-Pad is a good example of what “deregulation” means. There is no age limit on workers at Foxcon . (Remember Gingrich calling Child Labor Laws “stupid”?). At Foxconn, 12 year olds work a 12 to 16 hour work day at wages that barely cover the costs of living, with no benefits. (Perry’s success in Texas at creating jobs meant most of them at near minimum wage jobs, with no benefits. Romney’s company just eliminated good paying jobs with unemployment). Workers at Foxconn could work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 10 years and still could not afford to buy the I-Pad they are manufacturing.

Oh, by the way, check out the quality of air in Beijing or Shanghai. How’s that de-regulation thing working for ya?

Striking or causing work slowdowns results not only in firing, but also in jail time. (All GOP candidates support “Right to Work” laws and eliminating OSHA regulations). Dozens of workers have been killed at Foxconn in the past year from explosions and other workplace related accidents. Others have died from organ failures resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals. Many workers are totally disabled and fired by their late 20s from preventable injuries and illnesses. Chemical spills and pollution has caused numerous illnesses in the surrounding city. (All GOP candidates support either eliminating the EPA or defunding it to virtual non-existence).

It is true that the unemployment rate in the surrounding Province of Shenzhen is less than 3%. However, Apple Corporation, which knows of all these horrible work conditions, makes a lot of money for US investors. So whenever you hear Republicans talk about eliminating regulations to create jobs, they mean turning the American workplace into another China.   

2012: End of Days?

January 5, 2012

Well folks, it’s now 2012 – the year when time is supposed to end. I am not referring to an ancient Mayan Calendar, but the electoral calendar.  The Caucus in Iowa yesterday was a foreshadowing of the end of times. Long before December 2012 the end of the illusion of American democracy will be complete along with the American dream for generations to come.

Yesterday in Iowa, Romney barely wins with Santorum trailing behind (apologies to Google). The real significance of the Romney-Santorum result is not in the religious overtones of an American Mormon virtually tied with a Christian Taliban and the whole pseudo-religious-cultural values nutery going on with the GOP.  The real significance of the Iowa Caucuses is the fact that after 5 years of organizing and over  $10 million spent, Romney could do no better than to tie a man who spent about $1 million who talks to God via the fillings in his molars. The bottom line in Iowa is who and what wins elections (the rich and money). That is the state of our (former) Democracy. The man with the most money will win, because this is a country of the 1%.  This election will not be decided on the policies on issues that really matter to the liberties and security of most Americans. Sure, there will be the usual stuff about “values”, “jobs” and “terrorism”. However, the discussion will be nothing more than appeals to fear and prejudice rather than reality. The results will be virtually the same no matter who gets elected.

Maybe this is the cynical ramblings of a disappointed Obama supporter (Summers, Geitner – really? Afghanistan – really? Military detentions for American citizens – really?) however, the sense that whatever happens in the next elections matters very little to most of us is shared by many, and for good reason. The critique that money buys elections and government serves the 1%, applies just as much to the Democrats as the Republicans. While Romney has been beating off the religious bigotry of the GOP base by implicitly appealing to their racial bigotry against Obama, President Obama has been quietly raising millions from Wall Street firms, millionaires and billionaires, with the same devil’s bargain.

Is 2012 the end of times – or just the end of any illusion of American democracy?