Friday, June 1, 2012

What I’d like to see Obama do

The Fact that Obama is only a little better than Romney demonstrates Obama's tragic shortcomings

I’m planning on voting for Obama because I believe he will will continue our slide towards fascism begun with the Bush presidency SLOWER than would Romney.

Here’s what I would like to see Obama do to immediately fix our government and enhance everyone’s quality of life and bring all Americans closer together as a community with similar interests in democracy, fairness, accountability, health, and success.

Appoint the Right People
  • Fire Holder for NOT upholding the constitution and then hire an Attorney General who will.  Holder has not prosecuted any Wall Street or war criminals even thought their crimes are well documented.
  • Fire Tim Geithner who enabled a lot of Wall Street’s fraud BEFORE Obama hired him as Treasury Secretary. He’s the one who fought against holding any of his colleagues accountable. Hire an independent person aggressively committed to accountability for criminal and ethical breaches and for strictly enforcing civil rights protections.
  • Appoint Elizabeth Warren, who is committed to aggressively protect consumers rights, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until she hopefully wins her Mass. Senate seat. If Republicans oppose her, force them to publicly state their objections.
  • Fire Jeffrey Immelt as  chair of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. While CEO of GE for 10 years, GE’s stock dropped nearly 60%, GE closed more than 31 plants let go of more than 19,000 employees.
  • Prosecute all war criminals including those who lied us lied us into an unjust war in Iraq, those who gave false justification for the war and for torture, and those who committed torture (there is no legal justification for torture such as “I was only following orders”)
  • Prosecute all financial fraud criminals who brought about the collapse of the US economy and who are continuing their mortgage fraud.
  • Strictly enforce all regulations protecting the environment, worker safety, labor unions, individual civil liberties, voting rights, women’s rights
  • Strictly enforce ethical violations of public officials
  • Add strong ethical regulations forbidding conflicts of interest by government officials – including judges
  • Close, or tighten, the revolving door between lobbyists and politicians – they now just switch roles
  • Close, or tighten, the revolving door  between businessmen and those who regulate them – they now just switch roles
  • Impeach supreme court judges who engage in flagrant breaches of judicial ethics as well as for perjury committed during their confirmation process – remember impeachment is just a trial to examine the veracity of charges
Protect Civil Liberties
  • Protect the right to vote for all people including the poor, minorities, and those accused unjustly of being unqualified to vote.
  • Pass strong legislation upholding civil liberties such as
    • the right for gays to marry and
    • the right of any woman to get an abortion free of harrassment
  • STOP all government actions that violate the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all persons such as
    • incarcerating people without any trial (much less a fair trial) for eternity
    • rendering terror suspects to other countries who may torture them and/or confine them without a fair trial.
  • Insure that justice is done
    • Many people are prosecuted for crimes prosecutors know they didn’t commit – hold prosecutors accountable
    • Lower or eliminate unreasonable mandatory sentences
    • Accelerate the release of inmates who are found to be innocent
    • Eliminate abuse of inmates – rape is common and is a form of torture and should not be tolerated.
Open Government as Promised
  • Open up his government to public scrutiny according to his campaign promise.
  • Reveal all secret military operations that would not endanger our troops – especially the ones everyone already knows about (like the drone program which he finally confessed to)
  • Explain all his legal reasoning for his actions.
  • STOP his war against whistle blowers.
  • NEVER prosecute someone for revealing a crime. But if you insist on doing that – NEVER prosecute for revealing a crime WITHOUT prosecuting those who committed that crime
The Military
  • Implement the draft
    • All Americans should share the burden of securing our country
    • Americans whose businesses would benefit from a war would not be as quick to vote for war if their sons would be drafted
    • This would reduce the division in our nation between those who whose stake in war is personal from those whose stake is business
    • The military should not be seen as a jobs program – the economy should be seen as such. This will shift more effort into creating viable jobs and training for those whose only previous recourse was placing their lives in danger in order to get these
  • Raise taxes to cover the cost of current wars and past wars that were not covered by taxes such as Iraq
  • End the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Columbia, Iran, and Waziristan and save billions of dollars and many soldiers’ lives and health
  • Reduce defense spending so it’s no longer the size of the rest of the world’s nations combined
  • Stop the drone wars which kill many civilians and create more terrorists than are killed – it’s an unsustainable strategy
The economy
  • End the war on drugs
    • Make marijuana legal
    • Decriminalize, tax, and regulate many currently illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine
    • Spend money saved and income gained for drug dependence treatment and education
  • Raise the top marginal tax rate which applies only to the very wealthy
  • Stimulate the economy in real ways by
    • Building up our infrastructure
    • Preventing layoffs
    • Investing seed money in promising businesses and technologies
    • Strategic tax cuts to stimulate business and encourage creating and keeping jobs in America
  • Health Care
    • Medicare for all
      • this would hurt the private health insurance industry but would same American immense amounts of money as well as enhancing their health
      • this would make American businesses much more competitive with those in other nations who subsidize their companies’ health care costs
    • Allow Medicare to negotiate with other countries about drug prices – saving billions of dollars for consumers
  • Education
    • Subsidize public colleges
    • Subsidize student loans
    • Increase scholarships
    • Experiment with different models of public education based on best practices here and in other countries
  • Foreign Aid
    • Continually re-examine the effectiveness of each nation’s aid – for example, Pakistan’s and Egypt’s
    • Encourage commerce through strategic aid in American products in addition to cash
    • Increase aid to Israel who is on the front lines of our war against terrorism. Make an example that any country denying the right of a democratic nation to exist will be opposed strenuously by the U.S.
Our broken political process
  • Eliminate the filibuster in the Senate – it was ended in the House of Representatives in 1842.
  • Limit the power of billionaire bullies to have more influence than any other single voter
    • Pass legislation for public financing of elections
    • Correct the horrendous Citizens United Supreme Court decision with a law mandating limits on corporate spending in elections and publicly revealed sources of all campaign contributions
  • Make it easier to register and to vote and prosecute those who illegally conspire to make it harder or impossible
  • Eliminate  incumbent  insurance
    • Set reasonable limits on gerrymandering - arbitrarily manipulating the shapes of election districts limiting opponents’ voters
    • Enforce voting rights violations like
      • Voter suppression by
        • Making highly inaccurate lists of those accused of being ineligible to vote
        • Requiring arduous processes to vote like
          • Having to wait in lines for many hours
          • Having to present documentation that they are unlikely to have
          • Preventing early voting
        • Lying to voters about the dates of votes
  • Obama should use his considerable influence to encourage the formation of a private fund dedicated to restoring democracy to the individual voter. The fund would contribute matching funds to the opponent of any politician accepting a private donation of greater some specified limit, let’s say, one million dollars.
Final Words

This is what I would hope Obama to do – not what I expect.

If he had done some of this in his first two years we would have a completely different country – one that was promised by Obama who asked us to believe in change.  He squandered that rare opportunity when he had a majority of the Senate, the House, American people rooting for him to keep his campaign promises of an open government, protection of civil liberties, an end to senseless wars, and the value of accountability.

Obama apparently made the political calculation that he could afford to stab liberals in the back because they have no where else to go; the GOP has no limits on how it is willing to violate the rights of anyone different from them.  It may turn out that Obama is right and that he will win; however, at what a great price to our country!

He could have protected civil liberties, prevented soldiers’ lives being shattered, enhanced the economy, reduced the inequality of wealth,  helped many Americans receive the proper health care, and united our country as a community.  By trying to placate his foes he only empowered them!  Once the American people had seen the beneficial effects of true accountability, economic stimulus, health care and financial reform, strict enforcement of regulations; they would have compelled the Republicans to acquiesce to Obama’s successful policies or be driven out of office. And Obama would have won re-election, but with a thriving country. Obama decided the more sure path to re-election was by stomping on the effing retards as his chief-of-staff called the liberals.

So, this is why I have some lingering negative feelings towards an eloquent man who knows intimately the very Constitution that he is willfully ignoring.  But I also have some negative feelings towards those of Obama’s supporters who criticized Bush’s repressive and regressive policies but not the same ones of Obama. If they had strongly objected when Obama started using them, he would likely have been much more reluctant to continue down that dark road. But, with hardly a peep from the establishment Democrats who were looking for political crumbs from Obama’s table,  the strongest complaints Obama received were from Republicans who said he wasn’t dictatorial enough!

But Romney, as hard to imagine as it is, is worse.

So I’m going to vote for Obama.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Economy - A Poem by Joel V Benjamin

I bought a computer with which to play;
It was not made in the U.S.A.
But in some place a world away
By children working 14 hours a day
In terrible conditions for their pay

It was not always this way
Unions used to have their say
And kept jobs from going away.

Businesses wanted wages low
So their jobs had to go

To other continents like Asia
To nations like China and Malaysia

How could we let this occur
Without so much as a stir?

Corporations gave politicians cash
To stuff workers’ rights in the trash

While the pols tell voters lies
The press fools all but the wise

As workers here saw their jobs flee
CEOs pocketed bonuses with glee

For cleverly cutting their cost
Never mind what else was lost

Fired workers searched classified pages
To find jobs with lower wages

Some found work; others did not
Americans’ savings dropped a lot

Consumers used credit instead of money
The economy continued to look sunny

Financial regulators looked the other way
As banks made borrowers their prey

The news media played their part
Letting bankers practice the art

Of bundling bad loans
That floated like stones

News consumers did not learn
Of financial fires that started to burn

Until the house of cards went up in smoke
And everyone from their dreams awoke

To the horror of an economy in collapse
Then the journalists could play taps

When brokerages bundled bad loans to their clients
Banking regulators didn’t worry about compliance

No one made the simple deduction
That financial instruments of mass destruction

Would cost tax payers many trillions
As individual speculators each made millions

Our government chose to give their thanks
By rescuing those predatory banks

While giving no such monetary relief
To those who suffered the grief

Of having their homes taken
And their whole lives shaken.

While we were stressed to the max
We saw the wealthy pay less tax

What’s wrong with this picture?
As we grew poorer, the rich got richer.

Politicians and judges should go to jail
For taking bribes to make the system fail

Bankers and brokers should pay their price
For taking our money and rolling the dice

Fire the financial regulators who let crooks
Take our money and cook the books.

When there’s true equality before the law;
The rich will be treated as are the poor.

Where is all the rage?
When will we engage

In a fight to save our land
And finally make a stand

Against the arrogance and greed
Of those who refuse to heed

The plea of workers everywhere:
“Give us our fair share

Of profits we helped you earn
You grew rich, now give us a turn.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Civil Rights - Some Essentials

Americans' misunderstanding about the nature of civil rights lead to arguments that are based on false premises.  The core properties of civil rights that I'd like to discuss in this article are:
  1. Civil rights are competitive
  2. Civil rights' conflicts are resolved by policies that limit the rights of the parties in conflict
  3. There are no absolute rights
  4. Some rights are more essential or basic than others
  5. A essential rights trump less important rights
Civil rights are competitive means that everyone's civil rights conflicts with someone else's. I am free to dance but not if I land on your feet. I can play music but not if it is so loud it damages your eardrums. One consequence of this obvious concept is that there are no absolute rights. There is no absolute right to dance or to play music or to speak or even to be born. Every right of one person may conflict with at least one of the rights of some other person.

Civil rights' conflicts are resolved by policies that limit the rights of the parties in conflict.  Laws that deal with these issues set limits on the rights of individuals when they conflict with equally important rights of other individuals. Row v Wade is an example of determining how to limit the rights of an embryo and its mother. I believe that did it in a thoughtful manner considering the rights of both parties to such conflicts. People who say that an embryo has an absolute right to be born do so be completely ignoring the rights of the other individual involved, namely the mother.

There are no absolute rights.  When anyone asserts that someone has an absolute right, they do so by ignoring or depreciating the rights of someone else.

Some rights are more essential or basic than others.  If I'm on fire, I should have the right to yell for help louder that it is pleasant for some people to hear. It is unlikely that I will prosecuted for disturbing the peace.

More essential rights trump less important rights.  I own a store. I have the right to serve who I want but I do not have the right to exclude customers on the basis of race.  If I did, it would stomp on the right of people to be served in public places.  I don't have the right to deny your rights.  This sounds simple but politicians every day assert their right to deny other people's rights.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Arab/Israeli Conflict - Great Sites, Articles, and Quotes

Here are some Great Sites, Articles, and Quotes regarding the Arab/Israeli Conflict. They were chosen for these fairness, accuracy, and eloquence.  I hope you find them enlightening.  

Let me know what you think - and if you have any other great sites, articles, or quotes that you'd like me to include.


Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us. -- Golda Meir in a statement to the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. in 1957

“The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war.” -- Benjamin Netanyahu, 2006

The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  --  Abba Eban after the Geneva Peace Conference with Arab countries (21 December 1973).

"How is it that half a billion hostile Arabs have managed to successfully portray themselves as the victims of five million Israeli Jews?  . . . . .  How did more than a dozen Arab tyrannies successfully portray Israel, the region's lone democracy, as the bad guys in the Middle East?   . . . .   What Israel has failed at utterly is framing the conflict with the Palestinians in moral terms.  This is not a dispute over land.  Rather it is a conflict between good and evil . . . . . . . Whatever grievances the Palestinians claim to have against Israel, choosing to settle them by maiming and murdering innocent men, women and children is a crime against God and a sin against humanity.   The Jews were put into ghettos and turned into piles of ashes by the Nazis.  But they never retaliated by machine-gunning German schoolgirls. . . . . "   Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.   Jerusalem Post Jan 9th 2003

There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist. -- Golda Meir as quoted in The Washington Post (16 June 1969)

Sites Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America - The best, fairest, and most credible media watch site on the internet! 
    Here's an example of their quality commentary Deconstructing "Israeli Apartheid" - March 1, 2012 and
    Here are articles about a number of fundamental issues

10 Facts about the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do HIV Tests Detect HIV?

Here's a fascinating article that shows clearly that HIV tests do NOT detect the presence of the HIV virus!

It's criminal that, on the basis of these unreliable tests, people would be told that they were going to die or be prosecuted for serious felonies!

Here's an except:

On the surface, the fact that the CDC would recommend the use of antibody tests for the purpose of telling persons that they are, with certainty, infected with a deadly and contagious virus – when the manufacturers of these tests warn that the tests cannot be used to establish (with any degree of stated certainty) that this is the case – may seem so incredulous that it cannot be true.  This is particularly the case for persons who were young adults in the late 1980s and 1990s who recall reading in reputable organs of the popular press that the tests being used to diagnose infection with HIV are “greater than 99.9 percent accurate.”

Our American Democracy is a Dead Man Walking Betrayed by Bush/Obama

"Better 10 Guilty Men Go Free than to Convict a Single Innocent Man":

Whatever happened to this basic principle that made Americans so proud of their justice system? For hundreds of years, this principle was upheld and maintained against many temptations. It took a dunce with no character (Bush) and a constitutional law professor with no principles (Obama) to destroy the ideal that made our justice system the envy of the world.

Now, how is our justice system better than those of the world's worst tyrannies? It isn't any longer. The fact that only several Americans have been murdered by our government with no even a pretense of due process does not mean that thousands can't be killed tomorrow based on the same illegal principles approved by our Congress and president!

Obama claims we are at war and will be forever and the president will always have war powers against a stateless enemy. He claims that he is not required to reveal even the legal reasoning for claiming the powers he claims to have. He refuses to admit that he is murdering Americans even though he officially is taking credit for it. He also claims the power to keep in prison without charges anyone he claims is a terrorist without revealing his evidence and without giving the prisoner a right to prove his innocence or to even see a lawyer.

What has happened to us? Obama offered us hope in a renewal of the rule of law and an open, transparent government that will be accountable for its misdeeds.  It has stabbed our hope in the heart and has perpetuated the moral and legal travesties of his odious predecessor. He refused to prosecute the war crimes of Bush including starting an illegal war, lying to the American public and Congress, imprisoning and torturing innocent people, etc - but he has prosecuted many of those whistle blowers who expose those crimes! And not only prosecuted them but accused them of violating the Espionage Act which carries a potential death sentence. Obama has prosecuted more whistle blowers with the Espionage Act more than all others presidents combined! And he promised to value and to protect whistle blowers.

And Obama begin his administration by hiring one of the chief enablers of Wall Street malfeasance that brought down the whole world's economy, Tim Geithner. Then he hired Goldman Sachs leaders to staff his treasury department. These thieves would not investigate financial crimes because they enabled, and profited from, them!

How have most Americans, both conservatives and liberals, reacted to Obama's betrayal of basic democratic principles?  Conservatives criticized him for not destroying more liberties and most liberals have acquiesced in his betrayal because the alternative to him is even worse, they fear.

And the press? Have they been screaming in their headlines that our prized American system of government which  guarantees liberty for all is a dead man walking, destroyed by fear, lies, neglect and betrayal? The press has been silent about the last gasps of our democracy while it has been covering celebrity candidates, actors, pundits, and miscellaneous famous people. Our democracy has died under the unwatchful eyes of the press!