February 16th, 2009
June 12th, 2009
Category: News Watch
YOU, ARCHBISHOP, HAVE NO RIGHT TO ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE LAWS REGARDING THINGS THAT WILL INFLUENCE MY LIFE
Recently, New York’s Roman Catholics celebrated the installation of their new Archbishop, Timothy Dolan. Dolan, an outspoken preacher, if ever there was one, replaced Cardinal Edward Egan who chose to retire. I have a message for the good Archbishop, which may surprise you. However, if you read further, I am sure you will get the message and fully understand my position.
Archbishop Dolan, I fully support you in your statements to your flock expressing your positions on abortion and gay marriage. You have every right to ask devout members of your faith to take the stances you espouse on those issues.
However, here is where we differ.
I am not a devout Roman Catholic. In fact, I am not any kind of Catholic or, for that matter, Christian. I also live in a Republic, not in a theocracy. You, Archbishop, have no right to make an attempt to change the laws regarding things that will influence my life or the lives of my friends who do not support your rather narrow belief system.
That does not say that you cannot speak out on these issues. It just says that your demands that others follow your beliefs are un American.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
This country was founded by people who understood that the rights of minorities should not be impinged upon by the majority. Yes, I know that they didn’t include their African slaves in their beliefs, but that is something that was based on the culture of their era. It was wrong, and it is something that our country has been trying to rectify since the time of Lincoln.
Yet, as far as religion is concerned, the founders were very clear that faith is a highly personal matter. In fact, when we are told by people on the right that this country was founded as a Christian nation, we are being told a lie. This country was founded with the specific dictum that it would not have state sponsored religion. Yet, Republicans, and some conservative Democrats, have constantly tried to push religion down our throats. They use faith based initiatives as an excuse to glom government funds for their proselytizing. They arrange to have parking spaces reserved in front of their houses of worship, and they expect non-believers to close their business on their religious holy days.
As far as the two issues at hand go, here are some important differences between the Archbishop and many, if not most, Americans.
The Archbishop believes life begins at conception. I don’t. A zygote is not life. It is simply a bunch of random cells that managed to come together and gestate. They become life when they become viable. To me, that is when they are outside of the mother’s body as living breathing beings. Until that moment, they are still not life. Now, others feel that once a fetus is able to sustain life on its own, even if it has not been born, it has become life. I can deal with that. But, come on! The morning after pill isn’t killing a living breathing being. It is just expelling a zygote that has barely begun to develop.
On the issue of gay marriage, the Archbishop and I also disagree. First, the notion of the “sanctity” of marriage is completely ridiculous. Marriage as an institution originated to assure the rights of heirs to their parents’ fortunes. Today, it remains the same. Otherwise, the government would not be issuing marriage licenses prior to the ceremony and marriage certificates afterwards. At the end of weddings, we hear the official performing the ceremony, whether a priest, a rabbi or a judge, using the term, “by the power invested upon me by the State of (fill in the blank)” for a very good reason. In the end, it is the state that controls marriage and the rules pertaining to marriage, not the religious institution. The churches and synagogues may be sanctifying the ceremony as a method of keeping their believers in line, but it is the government that is making it legal. And that is not sanctification. That is the law.
And so, if Archbishop Dolan or any of the other myriad of holy folks from the various religious sects that abound in our country want to tell their adherents that it is wrong for gay people to marry, that’s OK with me. But to have the temerity to tell others who do not follow their dictates that they should be denied the right of marriage is unacceptable. And to try and influence the government to deny that right to others is, as I said earlier, un American.
I repeat I am not a Christian. I am also not an Orthodox Jew. I believe that the Bible may have been inspired by God, but it was definitely written by man. It was created at a time when man’s culture was far different from the culture that exists in today’s world.
Only the most delusional among us could actually believe that the deity sat down with quill and parchment and wrote down the words of the Torah. Only those so enchanted by the words of their religious leaders would adhere strictly to the 613 commandments that appear in the Five Books of Moses. Would they stone sinners? If not, then would they not be violating God’s commandments? Well, yeah, they would.
So, why, you may ask, do I support Archbishop Dolan’s right to tell his congregants not to have abortions or participate in gay marriages? I support him because, unlike the Archbishop, I believe in what America is supposed to be. I believe that we can only have freedom if we grant freedom to others. If we tell Archbishop Dolan and others that they cannot speak their minds, then others will impose the same rules on us, much in the manner that New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, attempted to silence protestors during the Republican National Convention, last year. If we want freedom, then we must assume that freedom should be given to all, even those with unpopular or false points of view.
Bu, Archbishop, and all those other bishops, ministers, priests and rabbis who are trying to impose their points of view on the world at large, speak to your congregations. Leave the rest of us alone.
Thank you very much!
HENRY A. HONIG
January 27th, 2009
PACKAGE CONTAINS OVER 60 BILLION IN DIRECT SPENDING ON GREEN INITIATIVES AND ANOTHER 20 BILLION EARMARKED FOR GREEN TAX INCENTIVES
The final stimulus package, which President Obama is expected to sign into law today, President’s Day, contains many victories for beleaguered environmentalists, not the least of which is a reported $6o billion allocated for direct spending on green initiatives, and another $20 billion earmarked for green tax incentives.
While this package is by no means a cure-all, it is a vital he first step into a new green age and is necessary to combat the ever-worsening effects on our planet from Global Warming.
That being said, here in no particular order is the breakdown:
$11 billion for the construction of an advanced Digital Smart Grid and $7.5 billion for renewable energy and transmission-line construction, which will enable the renewable energy to be moved from the rural areas that best lend themselves to wind, solar and thermal installations, to the cities where the power is needed;
$2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable-energy research;
$6.3 billion for local government energy-efficiency grants;
$400 million for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency for Energy for the development of alternative energy sources;
$500 million for green jobs programs through the Workforce Investment Act;
$5 billion to weatherize old buildings;
$4.5 billion to boost the energy efficiency of federal buildings;
$2.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partners Program to fund energy-efficiency retrofits for low-income housing;
$5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program to fund the retrofits of 1 million modest-income homes, saving the families living there an average $350 a year;
$6.3 billion to improve federally backed and public housing projects with new insulation, windows and furnaces. For every dollar spent, such programs are expected to produce about $3 in electricity savings. The legislation also provides tax breaks for higher-income households making similar improvements;
$1.2 billion to fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental cleanup programs, including the long neglected Superfund;
$510 million for energy-efficiency retrofits for Native American housing programs;
$420 million for energy-efficiency improvements at the Department of Defense;
$300 million for Department of Defense research on energy efficiency at military installations;
$6 billion for cleaning up toxins on former military sites;
$6 billion for new loan guarantees for wind and solar;
The package also extends tax credits for wind-energy production for three years where previously they had to be renewed year to year. But more importantly, the legislation allows renewable-energy developers to get cash grants in exchange for the tax credits, which is crucial in light of the current economic downturn and the fact that many companies engaged in renewable-energy haven’t had the profits against which to take a tax credit;
Over $17 billion for public transportation;
$8.4 billion for transit capital assistance programs;
$9.3 billion for high-speed rail, intercity rail and Amtrak;
$27.5 billion for highways though some of that highway money could be redirected to fund public transit, if states and municipalities decide it should;
$300 million in grants and loans for technologies that reduce highly toxic diesel emissions;
$6 billion for improvements to drinking-water systems;
A tax credit of up to $7,500 for families that buy plug-in hybrids;
The new bill also allocates $300 million for a federal fleet of hybrid vehicles.
But perhaps the best of all is what was left out of the final draft of the stimulus package: the $50 billion in federal loan guarantees to the nuclear industry, as well as all money for coal and for the farce that is clean coal.
BANK OF AMERICA AND AIG AMONG COMPANIES INVOLVED
Apparently a mere three days after receiving $25 billion in borrowed taxpayer money to keep their saggy, greedy, inept asses afloat, Bank of America Corp. together with representatives of AIG, also the recipient of taxpayer welfare, hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the EMPLOYEE FREE TRADE ACT.
For those of you too caught up in the daily battle to keep food on the table and a roof over your heads, the EMPLOYEE FREE TRADE ACT is this game changing legislation, which if passed, will allow workers to form a union, either by holding a traditional election, or by having a majority of employees sign written forms.
The mere thought of the American working man and woman actually regaining some measure of control over their working lives has those in the executive suites - fat and happy after 8 years of George Bush and Dick Cheney’s his anti-worker agenda - quivering. Apparently, they prefer the model that has their workers subservient, poorly paid, and expendable.
To get an idea of the depth of Corporate America’s trauma over the EMPLOYEE FREE TRADE ACT, one needs only to listen to the words of Bernie Marcus, a founder of Home Depot, who in the October 17th conference call likened the EMPLOYEE FREE TRADE ACT to “the demise of a civilization. This is how a civilization disappears,” Marcus wined. “It is incredible to me that anybody could have the chutzpah to try and pass this bill in this election year, especially when we have an economy that is a disaster, a total absolute disaster.”
Marcus then yielded the floor to the other corporate big wigs and conservative activists, lobbyists and miscellaneous sycophants also on the call, who then spent the rest of the available time challenging each other to write six figure checks to Republican politicians in the hope of creating a “firewall” to block the legislation’s passage. Also discussed was a plan to financially blackmail Democratic politicians running for reelection in 2010 in the hope of forcing them to kill the bills chances of passage.
While corporations and special interest groups coercing weak-willed politicians into voting their way is nothing new in this country, using taxpayer money to do so is. That’s right, money which was intended to keep business from collapsing in the wake of the sub-prime debacle, was being used to figure out ways to further screw the American worker.
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this type of behavior, nor is there a way to stamp out the arrogance and sense of self-entitlement from which it originates. Both of these are too firmly entrenched in our political system’s psyche, and have been for far too long. The sad reality is that fixes of this sort require politicians of greater moral character, transparency and determination to do what is right then we currently have representing us in our national and state capitols. Politicians with the stones to not only reign in our largest companies, but, most importantly, have the courage to allow these companies to fail when their reprehensible behavior results in their becoming insolvent, as was recently the case. This means the end of the ridiculous notion that any one organization or business entity, no matter how powerful, be considered too large to fail.
In the future, this means no bailouts. When financial crisis occurs, spend that money that we recently gave to those companies deemed too large to fail bailing out the individuals affected and not the corporations who’s unmitigated greed got them in trouble in the first place.
In the case of the banks, this would mean saying goodbye to today’s bloated, monopolistic, federally-chartered institutions such as Bank of America, Chase Bank, Citicorp, etc., and hello to the time in our history when banks were smaller, more personal operations, which were restricted to the business of taking deposits and making loans in the state where their charter was issued.
Then when all of these too large to fail companies are reorganized and returned to their pre-Reagan era business models, Congress needs to investigate the causes of the recent economic collapse and prosecute those responsible, if only to insure that it never happens again. We owe this to our children and grandchildren, as they are the ones who will be paying for his disaster for many years to come.
Since I am not holding my breath for any of this to happen, we need a faster, more immediate way of making Bernie Marcus of Home Depot and his friends from Bank of America and AIG suffer for their part in trying to kill the EMPLOYEE FREE TRADE ACT.
The best way I can think of doing this is with our remaining dollars. Essentially, if you have money in Bank of America, move it to a smaller local bank or credit union. They will be thankful for you business and you will find, will treat you far better than Bank of America ever did anyway. Similarly, if you do business with AIG, consider moving your account to one of the many other companies out there that do what they do. As for Marcus’, Home Depot, Lowe’s, I hear, has pretty much the same products at the same prices as Home Depot, so take your business there.
Only by denying these modern day robber barons your dollars will they get the message that the working men and women in America do not taking kindly to be dumped on by the same SOB’s that they were recently asked to rescue from financial ruin.
December 22nd, 2008
Category: News Watch
December 10th, 2008
RUDY GIULIANI USED TO BE NUMBER ONE, BUT THEN HE DROPPED THE COMB OVER
It has been a rather remarkable year. So, now, as I get ready to embark on my Winter Solstice journey across the pond, I would like to share some of my year end thoughts with you. These are in no particular order, but, hey, it’s my (in part) blog, and I can do whatever I want.
Illinois’ Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been the center of just a bit of controversy for what has been alleged to be his attempt to sell President Elect Obama’s now vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Now, I am not excusing what the wire taps show Blagojevich did, but, ya know, he comes from Chicago.
Between the late 80s and early 90s, I spent a great deal of time in The Second City, and, believe me, what Blagojevich did is business as usual there. What set Barack Obama apart from the scuzz balls that make up politics as usual in The Windy City is that he didn’t buy into that crap. He stood head and shoulders above it all and wouldn’t play along when Blagojevich tried to solicit a bribe from the incoming President. But this is the city of the Daleys and Harold Washington. This is the state where Governors routinely go to prison while still in office. This is Illinois. Why should we be surprised? Remember, a whole bunch of dead folks in Chi Town did vote for JFK in 1963.
And, by the way, is it really necessary for the Governor to have a staff member charged with the responsibility of always having the proper model Paul Mitchell hair brush handy? Really, what could Blagojevich possibly have been thinking when he appointed someone to handle that job? After all, he may just have the second worst hair do in politics, only trailing John McCain. Rudy Giuliani used to be number one, but then he dropped the comb over.
And speaking of open Senate seats and the Kennedys, it seems that JFK’s daughter, Caroline has decided that she wants Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s seat as Junior Senator from the State of New York when Senator Clinton becomes Secretary of State. There has been a great deal of rhetoric circulating on both sides of this issue since Ms. Kennedy announced her desire to take over the seat. Much of the negatives circulate on her lack of experience, her unknown positions on most major issues and her abysmal voting record (or, more to the point, her record of not showing up at the polls on election day). All of these are valid. On the positive side, by all indications, she is a brilliant attorney, an accomplished author and heir to a family legacy that includes her father and her uncles, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, among others.
First and foremost, I don’t believe that DNA qualifies anyone for public office unless the government is a monarchy, which ours is not. Second, there are far better choices from which Governor David Patterson can select. Finally, the Governor should show some back bone and not knuckle under to the desire of the incoming administration on this matter. I am certain they (the Obama bunch) want to reward Ms. Kennedy for her unpopular support of Senator Obama in the New York primary against Senator Clinton, but that should not be the issue.
The issues should be two fold.
On the issues directly tied to doing the job as Senator, we need to have a qualified Democrat representing New York, one who can stand the challenge of two upcoming elections, the one in 2010 to fill the remainder of Senator Clinton’s term and the one in 2012 for a full term. Representative Peter King, a popular and highly qualified Republican from Long Island, has already announced his intention to run for the seat in 2010, and I, frankly, don’t think Ms. Kennedy would stand a chance against him. King is anti choice, and pro war and gun. He is the last guy we want to fill that seat.
The second issue should be purely opportunistic for Patterson.
David Patterson became Governor as a result of the resignation of Elliot Spitzer. The Governor must run for election for a full term in 2010. There are two potential primary rivals that could shorten his chances of even getting the Democratic nomination. The first, New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has similar political DNA to Ms. Kennedy, as the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo and was once married to Caroline Kennedy’s cousin Kerry Kennedy. He is also very qualified, having served both in federal and state government positions, both elected and appointed. The second is Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who has been the Mayor of the City of Glen Cove and now runs a county that is larger than most cities in our country. Both men want to move up and could be potential rivals to Patterson. To prevent that, Patterson should appoint Cuomo to the Senate seat and Suozzi to replace Cuomo as AG. Deal done. Or he could accept the appointment of Caroline Kennedy as a done deal, and risk all the consequences that carries with it. I think (or at least I hope) he is smarter than that.
Politics makes strange bed fellows, and so the auto bailout that President Bush just authorized seems truly strange, given that the Congressional delegation from his own party was against it. But face it. Bush no longer has to kiss their posteriors. He is about to become an elder statesman. He ain’t ever running for anything ever again. So, for once in his miserable life, George W. Bush has done the right thing. Almost. You see, the one thing that is missing from this whole equation is punishment for the executives that brought their own companies to their collective knees. These guys need to be fired and replaced by management that will work for compensation on a level with that received by Japanese and Korean CEOs. How dare the heads of these companies go to Washington in private jets when they are shutting plants and putting workers on the unemployment line? How dare they receive annual 8 figure salaries when their successful Japanese competitors get less than 5% of those salaries? Any long term deal from the Obama administration and the Congress must throw these guys out and install competent management none of whom should make more than the highest paid worker on the assembly line until the companies are profitable again.
The auto industry is vital to our economy. It is our last manufacturing giant. It cannot be allowed to fail, but its survival must deal with issues that have been avoided for years. Yes, auto workers make decent livings, but they are not the problem. Bloated management being rewarded for bad decisions is the real issue, and that needs to be fixed.
I am disappointed in the conservative nature of the Obama cabinet. I am also disappointed that there are only 6 women out of 24 members of the cabinet. Mr. President Elect, women are 51% of the population. Couldn’t you have done just a little better in that area? Yes, I know that successful leaders govern from the center, but you were elected because the country is fed up with what the Republicans have done for the past 14 years (the time when they first took over Congress). We at The Lib wish you well. Our country needs you to succeed, but we need you to remember who elected you and why.
Finally, the wars in which our country is still engaged.
We have experienced some success in Iraq recently, but, even if we hadn’t, the time has come for us to cut bait and leave.
We have a far bigger problem in Afghanistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda are reappearing and seem to be stronger than ever. We need to concentrate on destroying them, not only for our sake but for the sake of mankind. We also need to make it clear to our friends and enemies, alike, that no matter where these monsters are hiding, we will find them and destroy them. We will not do this by running torture chambers like Guantanamo. We will just beat them into submission in a war that we should have won long ago. We need to finish the job that the Bush Administration left undone left undone when it went into Iraq.
You may ask why I have not spent much time on Senator McCain or any time on Governor Palin. He is now permanently off my radar, and I hope that she never appears there again. I fear that she will, but that probably will wait till 2011 or 2012. I’m not holding my breath. I sort of hope she just stays in her igloo, and we never hear from her again.
I doubt it, but in the words of comedienne Judy Tannuta, “It could happen!”
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT
NON-PROFIT INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM GROUP DOCUMENTS THE WORST FAILURES OF THE LAST EIGHT YEARS
Recently the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit investigative journalism group, set out to document “just how off-track things have gone,” during the reign of King George, the younger. To this end, the group assigned thirteen investigative reporters to the massive task of documenting the worst failures of the last eight years. The result of this was a list of 250 Bush administration failures and screwups, perhaps a record for any American president. Of this list, more than 100 have had a major impact on the lives of ordinary American citizens.
Among the more troubling of these fall under the heading of what the Bush administration and conservatives in general like to refer to as “entitlements,” conservative speak for any program that benefits any group of people or individuals other than themselves and their rich benefactors.
Topping off this list of so-called “entitlements” was the 806,000 American Veterans who had the gall to file disability claims, and then raise hell when these claims fell into an administration black hole where they remain to this day, unprocessed.
The irony here was that most of the men and women who qualified for these payments did so as a result of injuries sustained fighting in George Bush’s ‘war for oil’ in Iraq, a fact which you would think would guarantee them the care and benefits that their situations demanded. You would think…
But the sad fact was that the Bush administration apparently felt no loyalty to these men and women. If they had, this situation never would have existed. Apparently in the administration’s warped way of thinking, the injuries sustained by these brave men and women were their problem, as should be the solution.
This attitude of callous indifference carried over as well to the 760,000 American citizens who had filed Social Security disability claims in recent months, only to find their claims ignored. Here too, as in the case of the Vets, the administration felt no responsibilty to help these people obtain the benefits that were due them. The fact that they were taxpayers, and in most cases had paid into the Social Security system for many years, and desperately needed the money, was apparently meaningless to the administration.
Now there was no rational reason in a rich, educated county like this for either of these situations to exist. No reason that is other than politics and misfuided conservative ideology, which as I mentioned earlier, only believes in financially rewarding the richest among us. Sadly, neither the disabled vets nor those who applied for Social Security benefits were in this select group.
Moving ahead, we come to an area outlined by the Center for Public Integrity that had more to do with money spent foolishly, than that which was withheld, callously. In most of these situations the cash in question made its way to administration supporters and friends in the defense and defense related industries for projects that were either unnecessary, not completed, or which failed to do what they were supposed to when they were completed.
Topping this list was the $12.5 billion taxpayer dollars foolishly squandered on the joint civilian-military weather satellite system, which while it enriched it’s developers and the companies selected to build it, as of this writing is still incomplete and non functioning.
Then there was the $300 billion additional dollars squandered by the Defense Department in recent years, over and above the amount budgeted by Congress, to acquire weapons to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Then of course, who could forget the $4 billion taxpayer dollars already wasted on the National Security Administration computer system, a system which has never operated the way it was designed to do, and will require further expenditures, unless of course the project is abandoned the way the $100 million dollar attempt by the FBI to create a new system of internal information sharing in the wake of 9/11 was.
When the Bush administration wasn’t handing out blank checks to corporate loyalists for harebrained ventures that were either not completed or which failed miserably, it was dismantling laws that their friends in corporate America considered burdensome, even if those laws protected American citizens from harm.
One of the areas to suffer most from this policy was the environment. Now you should know that respect for the environment is right up there with entitlements for conservatives on the list of things they would like to eliminate, as it stands in the way of unchecked profit. For this reason it was not that surprising to see a two-thirds drop-off in the cleanup of toxic waste sites during the Bush years. Nor was it to learn that unchecked pollution is now known to be responsible for on average 20,000 deaths a year while placing as many as 60,000 newborns at risk for pollution related neurological problems.
Additionally, this hands-off attitude toward the corporations and the way that they do business has resulted in over 2.5 million toxic toys being recalled to date, most of them for lead or chemical content higher than is permissable by law. Now in most instances, these products would have been caught prior to distribution, that is if the Bush administration had not done away with most of the product safety inspectors.
- - LIB
December 9th, 2008
Category: News Watch
BY TRYING TO PREVENT PRESIDENT ELECT OBAMA FROM TAKING OFFICE, THEY MAY BE COMMITTING TREASON
There is a group of right wing Republicans that do not believe in America, although they profess to be the true patriots. They do not accept the notion that we, the people, have the native intelligence to be able to choose our own leaders. They claim that they know best who should be in charge of our government and what that government should be permitted to do.
In the Presidential election of 2000, they prevented the man who should have been President from taking office by challenging ballots, preventing African Americans from getting to the polls in Florida and manipulating the justice system of our country. In 2004, they did it by messing with the computers that ran the voting machines in several states, arranging for too few machines to be placed in primarily Democratic precincts in Ohio and through voter nullification, the arcane practice of, among other things, telling prospective Black voters that they would be arrested if they showed up at the polls.
They would have had trouble doing these things in 2008 because the country was so sick and tired of them and their politics, that it might actually have been impossible for the Democratic candidate, no matter who that person was, to be defeated. So, what’s a Fascist to do?
The answer, while frightening, is just another example of who these people really are. They are trying to prevent President Elect Obama from taking office by claiming that he is not a natural citizen of the United States.
First, let me explain their rationale.
Article II, Section 1 of our constitution states:
“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Essentially, that means that if you weren’t born here, you can never become President (sorry Ahnold!). To counter the will of the people, a group of right wingers has taken it upon themselves to “prove” that Barack Obama was not born in this country.
The available government records seem to indicate that Senator Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, two years after it became a state. Even if he were to have been born there prior to Hawaii becoming a state, he would still have been considered a natural born citizen.
That would be fine for most folks, but for right wing nut jobs like radio personality, Alan Keyes, it isn’t good enough. These folks have opined that since the President Elect’s father was a Nigerian citizen, he might actually be Nigerian. Or, since his step father was an Indonesian, who took his family to live in his native country for a few years when he was a child, Obama is Indonesian. Or Saudi. Or a “Como se llama.” Or in the immortal words of Shania Twain, “Whatever?”
And, of course, who is helping them along in their legal battle to prove the unprovable? If you had guessed Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Clarence Thomas, you would have been right.
Yessiree Bob, who else but the two most self hating African Americans in history, Keyes and Thomas would be trying to unseat the first President of African descent? These guys are an embarrassment to their race and their country. Thomas, a man who became what he is by virtue of affirmative action, has never found a cause favoring of Black people that he could support, and Keyes is nothing more or less than the African American Pat Buchanan. These guys are racists, but the race they seem to hate most is their own. They are White Republican wannabes who don’t get the notion that no matter how they try to kowtow to the party leadership, in the back rooms at the Republican convention they will still be thought of as unequal.
There are some people that I have never understood being Republican. Not Republicans like Abe Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt. No, those were Republicans who loved their country and did what they perceived to be right for America. Today’s Republicans, the Bush Republicans, are not of that ilk. They are haters. They are neither compassionate nor conservative. And, yet, some folks who are hated by the vast majority of those Republicans try to be a part of that party, thinking that if they espouse conservative view, they will be accepted.
These include gay people like the Log Cabin Republicans, women, Hispanics and African Americans like Keyes and Thomas. In the Republican Party they see the people they aspire to be, at the top of society’s hierarchy and never the subject of discriminatory actions. The problem is that the prevailing sentiment of most rank and file Republicans is that we will put up with you as long as you don’t move next door. They are the people that Phil Ochs described in his folk song, “Love Me, I’m A Liberal,” except they aren’t liberal in any way shape or form.
These are the people Keyes and Thomas would like most to become, but they won’t. To the Republican Party, each will always be what the number two guy in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri called an abeed al bayit, a house servant, always obedient and polite to the master but never quite rising to the level of equality. Al-Zawahri used it as a slur against our incoming President, but, in reality, it really does provide a good descriptive of the mentality of Keyes and Thomas. That would be better described by “Yes sir. No sir. You’re so right sir. Black is White sir.” (from the song “Perspective” from the musical She Loves Me lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock)
Certainly, both of these men have achieved great success, far above that of average citizens. Yet, in the smoke filled rooms of Republican caucuses, I would be willing to bet that they are regarded as less than equal, along with Secretary of State Rice and General Powell. In those rooms, each is still a house servant who will do as they are told when they are told. In the cases of Rice and Powell, that may have been proven wrong. I’m not so certain about Thomas and Keyes.
And they, Keyes and Thomas, are willing to attempt acts bordering on treason to undo the will of the American people. They, like the Swift Boaters of a previous election do not get it. They all seem to think that the Republicans are defending their country, but the reality is that they are doing anything but. The reality is that they are not helping anyone to succeed at anything, and they are doing everything within their power to prevent those who have earned equality and who or are entitled to certain benefits as veterans from receiving what is justly theirs. That is today’s definition of Republican leadership. They are not American patriots. They are American Fascists.
And that is the leadership that has give Keyes and Thomas their marching orders, either spoken or tacit, to overturn this election, to prevent the elected President from taking office and to throw our country into turmoil.
Both Thomas and Keyes are supposed to be smart men.
I somehow doubt that they are as smart as they think they are. If they were. they would not allow themselves to be the puppets of those who hate them as much as they hate themselves.
They will lose in their quest, and they will be shamed for trying to destroy our country. They should also be brought to trial for treason, but they won’t. We are, we believe, better than that.
Perhaps, we shouldn’t be!
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT
December 4th, 2008
Category: News Watch
December 3rd, 2008
THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND NEEDS TO BE FIXED
In the weeks leading up to the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, there is a date we should all think about, March 4. For those of you who either don’t know much about history or are simply too young to remember, that was the day on which the President took office until, in 1936, it was moved to January 20.
The reasons this happened were quite simple. The country was in the throes of a depression. When Roosevelt took office for his first term, on March 4, 1933, people believed that, had he been able to assume command earlier, the changes needed to end the depression would be put into place immediately and happy days would, in fact, be here again. The outgoing President, Herbert Hoover, had been thought to be so incompetent that the country would have been thrilled if he had left office the day after the election. That wasn’t to be.
When our country was founded the first date for a Presidential inauguration was April 30, 1789. Four years later, it was moved to March 4. The reason for the long wait between the election and the inauguration was largely based on the lack of speedy transportation between the states. By the time horseback riders got around their states collecting the ballots to give to the electors of the Electoral College, those electors cast their ballots and the riders then brought the total to the capital, weeks or even months had passed. In FDR’s era, the 48 states voted and managed to get the Electoral College vote taken far more rapidly.
And so, the need for change in which the people of that era could believe needed to be accelerated. There was no time to do it during the transition from Hoover to FDR, but, certainly, it was accomplished over the course of the following 4 years, giving us our current inauguration date of January 20, but even that date is nearly three months after the ballots were cast.
There are changes needed in our system of transition from one administration to the next, and the first of those changes needs to be the moving of the Presidential inauguration closer to the date of the election. This would, among other things, lessen the impact that a lame duck President might have on the future.
But that is just the beginning.
The power of the outgoing President to issue a myriad of pardons just as he or she leaves office must be curtailed. While the current President has been remarkably stingy, thus far, there is no guarantee that on he won’t be pardoning every good Republican in sight on January 19. Think of the potential list. It would, of necessity, include Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzalez, Wolfowitz and every other thief and scoundrel who was involved in taking our country into an illegal war, in not protecting our country from the attacks of al Qaida and in turning us into the antithesis of everything we believe by torturing our prisoners of war.
We also need to end the power of the President to issue signing statements on legislation passed by the Congress. If the President is uncomfortable with legislation, it can be vetoed. Signing statements that say that the President is approving a bill but only has to enforce the new law when and if he feels like it must be eliminated. Such statements are probably unconstitutional, and, even if they are not, they go against the spirit that is imbued in that Constitution which makes up the backbone of our American society.
There are tons more, but I will only touch on two, the Electoral College, itself and the system of Presidential primaries.
When our country was formed out of the amalgamation of 13 distinct colonies, it was believed that a large percentage of the population was simply not bright enough to be entrusted with choosing a leader. It was, further, believed that if popular vote, alone, were to decide the Presidency, then, the small states would always be under the thumbs of the larger states. The result was an Electoral College that was charged with actually electing the President. Each state was to be represented by electors equal to the total number of Senators and Representatives for that state in the Congress. That meant that even the smallest of states had at least three electors. Today, with 50 states, there are many more small states than large ones. That means that, in theory, and actually a couple of times in fact, a person could be elected President with a smaller number of popular votes than the loser. That’s not good, and it needs to be fixed. We need to elect the President by a strictly popular vote. It wouldn’t have changed the results this year, but it might have in 2000, particularly if all of the votes had honestly been counted.
Which takes me to the system used to nominate candidates in the first place.
By the time the political parties hold their quadrennial conventions, they already know who their candidates will be. The problem is that the primaries that get them to that point are run in such a haphazard manner that hey are, or at least they should be, meaningless. One state has a caucus. Another state has a primary. Yet another state had both. Some states award proportional delegate. Other states have winner take all primaries. And there are a gazillion different dates on which the primaries are held, giving little states like Iowa and New Hampshire disproportionate power simply by virtue of the fact that they hold their primaries early.
The parties need to have a single set of rules that for all primaries. This must include allowing only members of a party from voting in its primary. There cannot and should not ever be crossover voting in a primary. It give the opposing party the opportunity to force the nomination of a weaker candidate on the party holding the primary.
And the primaries need to be held on one day. That will give the voters a chance to choose their candidates based on their perception of the needs of their party, not on the decisions made by the folks of Iowa and New Hampshire.
The electoral system is broken and needs to be fixed, and these are just a few ideas that could help.
This is more than change we can believe in. This is change we need.
HENRY A HONIG – THE PUNDIT
REGULATIONS SEEN AS A GOING AWAY GIFT TO SUPPORTERS
President-elect Obama’s ability to hit the ground running on January 20th has been hampered, somewhat, by the Bush administration’s recent enactment of a rash of last minute regulations aimed at rewarding party loyalists in both the social conservative and big business communities.
Among these regulations is a particularly onerous one which would grant medical professionals, and those in their employ, carte blanc to opt out of performing, or participating in, any procedure, or providing any service, that they personally find offensive, or which violates their so-called moral principles. This little piece of legislative skullduggery is clearly aimed at making an end run around Roe v. Wade by making it more difficult for women, particularly poor women, to obtain reproductive services, including abortions and oral contraceptives.
Also feeling the sting of the administrations regulatory pen in this latest attack are American workers, a frequent Bush administration target. No less than twenty last minute, pro-big business regulations have been announced in recent weeks aimed at eliminating those remaining worker protections that corporate America considers unnecessary and too expensive to continue to comply with.
Included in this group are regulations which would make government regulation of workers’ exposure to toxic chemicals more difficult, one which would allow power plants to be built closer to parks and wildlife preserves, and perhaps the most distressing to environmentalists, a regulation that would severely limit the role of environmental and animal experts in determining where major infrastructure projects may be carried out in the future.
Neither the Labor Department nor the Bush administration has cited any extraordinary circumstances to attempt to justify these regulations.
Now the good news here is that President-elect Obama on taking office can ultimately remove these regulations. But it is a difficult and time-consuming process, and one that will clearly take his attention away from other pressing matters.
Now wouldn’t a nice easy impeachment solve this problem and stop George Bush dead in his tracks? It wouldn’t really matter all that much if the bastard was convicted or not, only that he was stopped from issuing regulations and from pardoning the felons and thugs, which have made up his administration these past eight years.
- - Lib
November 28th, 2008
Category: News Watch
IN SHORT, DR. AL-ZAWAHIRI’S USE OF THE WORD, “ABEED,” WASN’T MEANT AS A COMPLEMENT
There are certain words or phrases that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. More often than not, these have racist over tones.
During the course of our recent elections, I would, from time to time, hear some idiot refer to our new President Elect using the dreaded “N” word. When a group of skin heads were recently arrested for threatening President Elect Obama’s life, that word was bandied about as if it were proper to use. It’s not. It never is.
Recently, Dr. Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri, the second in command to al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden decided to make his pronouncement on the incoming President of the United States. After listening to his statement, I was equally offended. Al-Zawahiri used the Arabic idiom, “abeed al bayit,” in describing Senator Obama. Literally, this translates to house servant. Figuratively, it says much more. In fact, it speaks volumes about the alleged freedom fighters of Islamic terrorism more than it does about us and our electoral process.
Over the course of my career, I have had many business relationships with people of Middle Eastern heritage. Mostly, these people have had light skin. They were both Muslim and Jewish. Uniformly, they used the word, “abeed,” in referring to people of African descent.
Since I am not an Arabic speaker, I took my acquaintances word in their defining “abeed” as being the Arabic equivalent to our “N” word. In short, it wasn’t a complement. When Dr. al-Zawahiri issued his recent statement, I decided to delve a little deeper into the words he uttered. I learned that the idiomatic meaning of abeed al bayit, is just as I described, but there is more.
Some African Americans use the phrase, “Uncle Tom” to describe members of their race who have grown close to Caucasian colleagues and friends. The term comes from the Civil War novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which describes the kowtowing ways of house slaves during one of our country’s most shameful periods as opposed to the belligerent and more independent attitude of field workers, who were often subjected to far harsher treatment than those who worked directly for the slave owners.
In using the idiom that translates to “house servant,” Dr. al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician, was describing the President Elect as being subservient to his White masters. I believe Dr. al-Zawahiri and his master, bin-Laden, will receive a rude surprise when our new leader assumes his new position. I believe that, unlike the current occupant of the White House, President Obama will prove to have a strong back bone and will do what is necessary to defend and protect our country and its way of life. That doesn’t make him a house servant. It makes him the competent man that we elected. That makes him a man who will seek out our enemies, our real enemies, and destroy them, once and for all. He will do this for the good of our country, and he will also do it for the good of all humanity. It is something President Bush was incapable of doing. It is something that I fully expect will be successfully accomplished by President Obama.
It would seem that Dr. al-Zawahiri made his statement more to demean Senator Obama in the Third World than to defame him in his own country. However, by all accounts, the doctor’s statement may have backfired, causing many Muslims in Africa to reconsider their support of a radical Arab leader who defames a man of their people who has risen to the position of Leader of the Free World.
Sorry, doc, you still may be good at inspiring insane folks like the monsters that attacked Mumbai this week, but normal people, no matter what religion they practice, see you for what you are, an even bigger monster than the terrorists who do your bidding. And when the President that you have incorrectly called an “abeed al bayit” brings you and your cohort bin Laden to your ignominious ends, as you die, you will understand that the alleged house servant is really your true master.
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT
November 20th, 2008
Category: News Watch
GORDON GECKO WAS WRONG
The notion of our government bailing out private industry is not new. In the 1970s, when Chrysler Corporation was about to go belly up, our government put up the money to get them over the hump, and, under the highly professional leadership of Lee Iacocca, they got back on their feet.
And branches of government bailing out other branches of government is hardly a new concept either. It happened here in New York when, under Mayor Abe Beame, the city was about to go bankrupt. The result was that the state jumped in, took over several of the city’s functions and brought fiscal stability back to the Big Apple
The problem here is that we have never done a bailout as large as the ongoing 700 BILLION dollar bailout currently being foisted upon us by Congress and the Bush Administration.
I was not in love with the bailout right from the beginning, but I believed that something had to be done. I saw that the imminent collapse of banks and other financial institutions could drag us into a depression deeper than the 1929 crash.
Then, everyone else wanted their piece of the pie.
Municipalities on the verge of fiscal collapse want their piece.
The Big Three Automakers want theirs.
The airlines are saying, hey, what about us.
Meanwhile, average folks are losing their jobs and their homes because of their bad financial planning, and they want theirs too.
Let’s look at each of these situations.
New York learned a long time ago that you simply can’t continue to spend money you don’t have in government, if there is no reasonable chance that you will ever get that money. Governments issue bonds to do projects that pay tax exempt interest. The problem is that the interest must be paid out of tax revenues, and those revenues are lessened by the tax exempt status of the bonds. It’s sort of like a giant Ponzi scheme.
The automakers started crying that they couldn’t sell enough cars to complete with their Japanese counterparts. Of course, when gas was expected to reach 4 or even 5 dollars a gallon, the U.S, car companies continued to push gas guzzling SUVs into the marketplace. When those didn’t sell, or lost their resale value because of the gas crunch, what did the Big Three do? They ended their leasing programs.
Leasing, as a rule, is based on the expected resale value at the termination of the lease. Since our automakers were pushing vehicles with severely diminished resale values, they were getting hung for big bucks at lease termination time. Should I feel sorry for them? Not really. They knew what was on the horizon and chose to keep selling Expeditions and Hummers. The Japanese companies, on the other hand, began turning out more and more hybrids, including hybrid SUVs that sold well and retained their value, making them excellent for leasing.
It was sort of a self fulfilling prophesy. If the auto companies make vehicles that don’t sell well, then they won’t sell enough vehicles. Then, they can abandon their lease programs, which will increase the monthly cost of their cars, thus causing them to sell fewer vehicles. Wowee Zowee! What a novel concept. It guess the heads of GM, Chrysler and Ford missed that class in Economics 101.
Which takes me to the airlines that also want a piece of this action. You see, their convoluted logic is that since people aren’t flying as much as they used to they should charge them for things that once were included in the price of a ticket. That includes a guaranteed seat, luggage checking and a can of soda. Yes sir, that same economics professor would have been proud of folks who think that if customers aren’t buying your product, the way to get them back is to charge them more. That goes double in a bad economy.
As far as those folks losing their homes go, I do feel sad for them, but . . . . You see, nobody forced them into buying homes they couldn’t afford with adjustable mortgages that would eventually lead them into to foreclosure. Sure I understand that some of these folks were unsophisticated, but didn’t they have lawyers at their closings? And why should we bail these folks out? What about the people who pay their mortgages on time every month? Shouldn’t they get something? What about renters, folks who realized that they couldn’t afford those adjustable mortgages? Shouldn’t the government be doing something for them too?
I mean, really, there’s 700 Billion dollars in Hank Paulson’s bank account. Couldn’t I get just a little piece of that? I own a business. Can’t Mr. Paulson put a couple of mil in my company’s bank account? And what about subsidizing my rent? I’m a nice guy, shouldn’t I get my piece of the pie?
Of course, the answer is no, but the notion of people being bailed out by the government because their own greed and foolishness put them in a bad way sort of irks me. In fact, it pisses me off. It really pisses me off.
Now, I understand that the Democrats and the Republicans have both taken part in this elaborate shell game, and I do not know that partisan arguing will solve any of the problems that exist in our country. However, I have come to believe that all of these companies need to go into some form of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, have new management installed, and learn how to do business in a fiscally responsible manner. As for the old management teams, they need to be kicked out on their collective butts with no golden parachutes of any kind. In fact, perhaps, some of them need to go to jail for malfeasance or be sued by their shareholders for the loss of those shareholders’ investments. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
And, yes, I understand that those poor folks in danger of losing their homes need to have something done for them. The country simply cannot afford to have that many vacant homes and possibly homeless people. That aid, however, should be in the form of lower fixed interest rates and extended term mortgages, not in the lowering of the principals of their loans.
This recession, depression, or whatever it is, will eventually end. They always do. We need to then get back to having our economy on sound footing and to operating our country and our businesses in fiscally sound manners. When that happens, it is important that we come to also must understand that we cannot go back to our old, profligate ways when things get good again, or we will end up in the same old place that we are in today.
Gordon Gecko was wrong.
Greed is not good.
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT