Republicans In Denial (As In Denial Of Any Democrat Proposal)

Today, Congressional Republicans pulled out of negotiations to resolve the deficit.  And (here’s a shocker) they blamed Democrats.  Their reasoning is that Democrats insist on tax increases rather than merely relying on more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicare and other programs. 

“Let me be clear.  Tax hikes are off the table,” said House Speaker John Boehner. 

So, according to Republicans, even though the major cause of the deficit is the Bush era tax cuts (primarily for the wealthy), the only way to cut the deficit is by cutting spending for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Planned Parenthood, Public Broadcasting, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Protection Agency, the Department of Education, etc.  At the same time, Republicans refuse to consider cuts to subsidies for Big Oil and corporate agriculture which they say would be tax hikes.  Of course, they also want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and repeal regulations on the financial industry.

So according to Republicans, when it comes to deficit negotiations, everything is on the table.  Except anything that Democrats want.

I guess that’s what passes for “bipartisan negotiations” these days.

Warring States, Part Two

Recently, I posted a list of wars fought by the US military.  What I didn’t include were the many more military threats intended to force trade with US corporations or to protect our corporate interests overseas.  That list would be many times longer.

In search of resources and markets for our corporate products, we have forced our way into nations all over the world – from Aregentina to Zaire.  And now that we have created the so-called global marketplace, we use the threat of military action to protect our corporate investments anywhere in the world.

That being the case, next time you hear the media refer to a foreign policy or a military deployment as necessary to protect American interests, ask yourself the following questions: 

When did we amend the US Constitution to require our military to protect greedy corporations?  What is the real reason behind the Teapublican push to replace government agencies with for-profit corporations under the label of “privatization”?  Who is really running our government?

Warring States

The current debate about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the anniversary of Daniel Ellsburg’s release of Pentagon papers started me thinking about our history of wars. When I looked it up, I was stunned!

Since our Declaration of Independence, the United States of America has been almost constantly at war. In fact, not counting the Cold War and relatively minor deployments intended to protect American “interests” abroad, the US has been at war all but 33 years of its 236 year history!

Now you may try to justify those wars (as I used to) by assuming they were the result of our desire to spread democracy around the world and to defend human rights.

You could use that argument. But you’d be wrong.

After wresting the continent away from Native Americans, Great Britain, France, Spain, Russia, and Mexico, our military has spanned the globe. Few of our enemies actually attacked us. More often, wars resulted from a perceived threat to our future and security, especially that of our large corporations. Following is a partial list of military actions involving the US:

1775-83 – Revolutionary War
1776-1915 – Indian Wars
1798-1800 – Quasi-War (undeclared naval war with France)
1801-05 – First Barbary War
1806-10 – Mexico
1810-18 – War with Spanish Florida
1812-15 – War of 1812
1815 – Second Barbary War
1824 – Puerto Rico
1838-39 – Indonesia
1840 – Fiji Islands
1841 – Samoa
1843 – China
1844-48 – Mexican-American War
1853-54 – Japan
1854 – Nicaragua
1857-58 – Utah War (dispute with Mormons)
1859 – Mexico
1861-65 – Civil War
1863-64 – Japan
1866 – Mexico
1866 – China
1867 – Nicaragua
1868 – Japan
1871 – Korea
1873-96 – Mexico
1889 – Kingdom of Hawaii
1893 – Kingdom of Hawaii
1898 – Spanish-American War
1899-1913 – Phillipine-American War
1900 – China (Boxer Rebellion)
1914-17 – Mexico
1915-34 – Haiti
1917-18 – World War I
1918-19 – Mexico
1918-20 – Soviet Union
1941-45 – World War II
1945 – China (vs. Japanese)
1950-53 – Korean War
1955-75 – Vietnam
1957-75 – Laos
1965 – Dominican Republic
1968 – Laos & Cambodia
1975 – Angola
1983 – Grenada
1989 – Panama
1991 – Gulf War
1992-96 – Bosnia and Herzegovina
2001-present – Afghanistan
2003-present – War in Iraq

Moreover, since the end of World War II our military, led by the Central “Intelligence” Agency, has overthrown numerous democratically-elected leaders throughout the world. As a result of this incessant meddling, millions have been imprisoned, tortured and killed. For example:

1953 – In Iran, the CIA overthrew democratically-elected Mohammed Mossadegh and replaced him with a brutal dictator, the Shah of Iran.
1954 – In Guatemala, the CIA overthrew democratically-elected Jacob Arbenz after he threatened to nationalize the United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles owned stock. The right-wing dictators who replaced Arbenz killed more than 100,000 Guatemalans.
1957-73 – In Laos, the CIA carried out approximately one coup a year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections.
1959 – In Haiti, the U.S. military helped “Papa Doc” Duvalier become dictator.
1961 – In Dominican Republic, the CIA assassinated Rafael Trujillo, a brutal dictator supported by Washington. But only after his business interests began competing with our own.
1961 – In Ecuador, CIA-backed military forced democratically-elected President Jose Velasco to resign.
1961 – In Congo (Zaire), the CIA assassinated democratically-elected Patrice Lumumba.
1963 – In Dominican Republic, the CIA overthrew democratically-elected Juan Bosch and installed a repressive, right-wing junta.
1963 – In Ecuador, CIA-backed military overthrew President Arosemana. A military junta assumed command and began abusing human rights.
1964 – In Brazil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrew democratically-elected Joao Goulart and replaced him with a brutal junta.
1965 – In Dominican Republic, a popular rebellion tried to reinstall Juan Bosch. The revolution was crushed by CIA-led U.S. Marines.
1965 – In Indonesia, the CIA overthrew democratically-elected Sukarno. His successor, General Suharto, massacred 500,000 to 1 million civilians.
1965 – In Greece, with CIA backing, the king removed George Papandreous as prime minister for failing to support U.S. interests in Greece.
1965 – In Congo (Zaire), CIA-backed military installed Mobutu Sese Seko who exploited his country for billions.
1967 – In Greece, CIA-backed military overthrew the government two days before elections. The ensuing “reign of colonels,” backed by the CIA, tortured and murdered political opponents.
1967 – In South Vietnam, the CIA helped identify and murder 20,000 alleged Viet Cong leaders.
1969 – In Uruguay, notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione ascended to power becoming so feared that revolutionaries kidnapped and murdered him a year later.
1970 – In Cambodia, the CIA overthrew popular Prince Sahounek and replaced him with Lon Nol. The move strengthened the Khmer Rouge, which rose to power and massacred millions.
1971 – In Bolivia, CIA-backed military overthrew leftist President Juan Torres. He was replaced by Hugo Banzer who had more than 2,000 political opponents arrested, tortured, raped and executed.
1973 – In Chile, the CIA assassinated democratically-elected Salvador Allende. He was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet, who tortured and murdered thousands of his own countrymen.
1975 – In Angola, the CIA helped launch a war killing more than 300,000 Angolans.
1979 – In Nicaragua, following the fall of CIA-backed Anastasios Samoza II, the remnants of his personal National Guard became the Contras, who fought a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government.
1980 – In El Salvador, following the murder of Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, the country dissolved into civil war. CIA-trained death squads roamed the countryside, committing atrocities and killing 63,000 Salvadorans.
1983-89 – In Honduras, the CIA taught Honduran military officers how to torture people. The notorious “Battalion 316” used the techniques on thousands of leftist dissidents.
1986 – In Haiti, following the exile of “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the CIA rigged elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. The CIA-created National Intelligence Service (SIN) suppressed popular revolt through torture and assassination.
1990 – In Haiti, after leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captured 68 percent of the vote he was deposed by CIA-backed military which brutalized the country.
1993 – In Haiti, as chaos grew, military dictator, Raoul Cedras, is removed on threat of U.S. invasion. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.

Here’s an idea. If Americans are as serious about wanting peace as most claim, maybe we could stop meddling in the internal politics of other nations. Then we could take half of our massive defense budget to solve real problems like poverty, climate change, diminishing energy resources, air and water pollution, and health care.

But given our propensity for war, that will probably be viewed as unpatriotic.

Who Really Cares About Weiner’s Wiener?

Okay, enough already! We all know Congressman Anthony Weiner did something dumb and distasteful. But enough is enough! Yes, he tweeted pictures of the little wiener to a few adult women on Twitter. Yes, he got married after the exchanges began. And, yes, he lied about his indiscretion after Republican hit man, Andrew Breitbart (purveyor of false claims against ACORN, Planned Parenthood and Shirley Sherrod), made the photos pubic…er, public.

But for more than a week, the Weiner story has dominated the news. The story has pushed aside debates over the federal debt limit, Medicare, and jobs programs. Can you for a moment imagine Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid and David Brinkley reporting this story daily?

Where is the media’s sense of fairness and proportionality?

What Congressman Weiner did was show his body to a few women in what is supposed to be a private medium. He didn’t distribute the photos to the masses (Mr. Dumbart and the media did that). He didn’t have a physical relationship with those women. And though he may have intellectually cheated on his wife, he didn’t have a physical affair (as former Republican Senator John Ensign did). He didn’t hire prostitutes (as current Republican Congressman David Vitter did). He didn’t use the Internet to solicit sex (as former Republican Congressman Christopher Lee did). He didn’t dump his wife as she was fighting cancer (as former Democratic Senator John Edwards and former Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich did). And though Congressman Weiner lied to cover the truth, he didn’t have his mother write a $96,000 check as a bribe for silence (as former Republican Senator John Ensign has been accused of doing).

Yes, Congressman Weiner’s actions constitute a legitimate news story or two. But more than a week? It’s as if Lindsay Lohan had just been elected to Congress!

With the exception of media coverage of John Edwards, stories of indiscretions of all the other ethically-challenged elected officials combined haven’t equaled the media attention of Weiner’s wiener. And when is the last time you saw a story of Congressional corruption receive this kind of coverage?

One has to ask the question, Why? Does the public really regard the Congress-man’s behavior as that egregious? (According to polls in the Congressman’s district, the answer appears to be no.) Was his behavior worse than the aforementioned perpetrators’? (The answer has to be that cybersex between adult individuals does not rise to the level of actually breaking the law or physically cheating on one’s spouse.)

So why the non-stop media frenzy? I submit that the lazy and sensation-driven media have, once again, been manipulated by Breitbart and Fox News Channel. And in their rush for damage control, Democratic leaders have, once again, fallen into the conservatives’ trap by piling on with their own calls for Weiner’s resignation.

To put an end to the story, Congressman Weiner should tell the media that he will announce his resignation the day after Congressman Vitter resigns and after both Democratic leaders and sanctimonious Republicans censure all of those who have done worse.

That ought to shut them up.

Why President Obama Can’t Fix The Economy.

It’s not his fault. And it’s not for lack of trying. But he’s dealing with a stacked deck.

For decades, the cornerstone of the US economy has been durable goods, driven primarily by housing starts. In other words, our economy has depended mostly on housing construction.

For example, in 2004, more than 2 million home-building permits were authorized nationwide. In 2005, the number had risen to more than 2.1 million. Then in 2007, the number dropped to less than 1.4 million. By 2009, the number was just 583,000. And even though the number increased to more than 604,000 last year, you can see that it’s only slightly more than a third of the annual building permits from just prior to the Great Recession!  And half the number in 1959!

Now think of what those numbers mean. Each of those permits requires building contractors, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, sheet rockers, flooring contractors and more. In addition, the homes need new appliances, furnaces, air conditioners, cabinets, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, garage doors, etc.

Get the picture?

When the financial giants swindled billions from American homeowners, they destroyed confidence in homeownership. And, as the same crooks are now disposing of their inventory of foreclosed homes, they are driving down home prices which puts more homeowners in foreclosure and prices drop even farther. The end result is massive unemployment. And, if you’re unemployed, what’s the last thing you’re going to do? That’s right. The last thing you want to do is buy a home.

So what’s a President to do after the real estate industry has been driven off a cliff? The problem certainly wasn’t of President Obama’s making. Indeed, his administration has done Herculean work getting things moving back in the right direction. But he needs to do more. He needs to push for additional stimulus that will create more jobs which will encourage more people to buy homes which will create even more jobs.

But don’t hold your breath. Because, in addition to the GOP (Grand Obstructionist Party) in the Senate, he’s now faced with a Republican/Teabagger majority in the House. And all of them are determined to deny him another term in office.

If you think you hear the faint strains of Nero fiddling, you can be certain that he’s now a Republican.