Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where Were You When the Country (Nearly) Stopped Working?

There is a popular profoundly patriotic country song that asks the question "Where were you when the world stopped turning?." The event in that song refers to 9/11 and serves as a remarkable and touching reminder of that day of infamy. I get tears in my eyes every time I hear the song. Less than two years ago, our country experienced another crisis of magnitude several hundreds of times greater than the 9/11 catastrophe. Around that time we were at the precipice of a free fall in our economy that nearly wiped out life savings, pensions, the job market and the dreams of most Americans. We are still in the grip of that potential disaster with double digit unemployment the leading indicator of how far we have to go to recover from this disaster. I bring this up because today my topic is short term memory loss on the part of Republicans. This catastrophe, like 9/11, also took place during a Republican presidency and Congress. The ongoing Goldman Sachs debacle should have served to refresh the memories of Republicans as to just who, when and how this fiasco occurred, but apparently it doesn't. Obama is instead blamed for everything; excessive spending, increasing the deficit, etc. Add to that the current Republican theme that he is trying to do too much, trying to exert too much authority over people's lives, trying to over-regulate the banking industry and one gets the distinct impression that this short term memory loss is in a pandemic state. The free fall of our economy as a result of the likes of the unregulated bastards at Goldman Sachs is the lesson that needs to be preserved in song and remembered. I have written a little ditty that will probably not reach the best seller list, but should be memorized by everyone who want to make sure that it never happens again. It goes something like this:

Where were you when your job disappeared?
Where were you when your boss said sorry?
The day your job went calling?
Where were you when the stock market plummetted,
and damn near disappeared
You held your kids, you hugged your wife, the country stopped working?
Where were you?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Am a Tea Partier

I was surprised to find out this morning that I am a bona fide member of the Tea Party movement. That informal organization revealed the essence of its thinking yesterday in a newly-revealed “Contract From America” which contains ten points that the ‘membership’ stands for in its ongoing tirade. The contract, to use its own language, asks candidates to agree to: 1) protect the Constitution; 2) reject cap-and-trade regulation of climate-warming gases; 3) demand a balanced budget; 4) enact fundamental tax reform; 5) restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington; 6) end runaway government spending; 7) defund, repeal and replace government-run health care; 8) pass an “all-of-the-above” energy policy (referring, in part, to the exploration of domestic energy reserves); 9) stop the pork; and 10) stop the tax hikes.

The problem is that my new found realization also creates a conundrum for me; except for number 7) (defund, repeal and replace government-run health care), I note with alacrity and curiosity that President Obama campaigned and won the presidency by advocating for the other nine points. In fact, since attaining his office, Obama has reduced pork to a mere shadow of its former self, cut taxes for 95% of the citizenry, adapted an energy policy which includes expanded off-shore drilling and abandonment of the cap and trade regulation of climate warming gases, protected our constitution by forcefully speaking out against the recent Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited corporate spending on campaign issues and candidates and responsibly required that the newly passed health care bill pay for itself. As to the latter it must be kept in mind that part D of Medicare was rammed through a Republican Congress by Bush in 2003 providing prescription drugs for all seniors without any plan whatsoever to pay for it. That program and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were all put on the credit card by Bush for future presidents, such as Obama, to have to deal with. Obama went to the drug industry and extracted an eighty billion dollar concession from that industry to the benefit of taxpayers with regard to the Bush unfunded Part D. Obama has fashioned a plan to remove most if not all, troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 which in my opinion, will help reduce the ten million dollars a day cost of that war. I would imagine that the rest of my Tea Party friends will not object to this savings of ten million dollars a day as a consideration in the ‘reduction of runaway government spending’ category.

According to a poll the results of which were reported in the New York Times on April 15, 2010, the vast majority of Tea Parters are white married, males over 48 years of age which also helps to describe me. A difference is that these men are
Republicans whereas I proudly claim my fiercely independent status. In follow-up interviews this poll, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.” Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits. Others could not explain the contradiction. “That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

So there you have it, my friends. I am a Tea Partier. This country is full of people like me. We all participated in electing Barack Obama to stem the tide of runaway spending, constitutional violations and other misdeeds of the Bush presidency.

Wait. Maybe I am missing something here. Is there something else going on that I don't understand?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Horrible Example

25 workers died in Massey Corporation coal mines in West Virginia this week. One would be hard pressed to come up with a better example of the lack of wisdom inherent in the recent Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court allowing unlimited spending on election issues and candidates. Don Blankenship, Massey's CEO, contributed three million dollars several years ago to a candidate for West Virginia's state supreme court. Quite naturally, the judge who was elected gave Massey the deciding vote relieving it from the impact of a multimillion dollar jury award for, you guessed it, mining violations that placed miners at substantially increased risk of harm. Although the issue in Citizens United was different, i..e., the conditions which must exist before a judge should recuse himself/herself from participating in a decision in a particular case, the lesson is open and obvious. Money talks. The tie-in between these two events did not occur by coincidence or mere tragic accident. Just think about the possibility that spending three million dollars on the correction of unsafe conditions in the Massey mine that culminated in this week's outcome might have prevented. I have often criticized the concept of treating corporations as 'persons' within the meaning of the Constitution principally on the basis that their only purpose for existence is the making of profit. Corporations have no soul, no moral purpose in 'life' other than generating earnings for owners or shareholders. The U.S. is a strange country in at least one respect; if the events in West Virginia this week resulting in the deaths of these miners had been caused by a single person, very few of us would lose any sleep if that person was put to death. Why we don't offer the same solution for a corporation whose actions cause so much harm is the question that begs an answer. This horrible example of the impact of money on the governmental process serves as a poster child for why such changes are necessary. Our current U.S. Supreme Court is headed in exactly the wrong direction. As I said above, Money talks.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Follow Up from Yesterday's Blog

Prior to yesterday's bog, I wrote the person who schedules our once a week golf game and asked that I be removed from the list because of the reasons stated in the blog. I received a reply from that individual and what follows below is that reply and my response.

I have taken you off the list. however this also takes you off the tuesday skins game list.

i think maybe the follows of the all mighty one my be too senstive about email that are for entertainment and not to be taken seriously. it is no secret that i do not like obama and his social programs. and i think time will prove he is the worst president that this country has ever had.

i dont know your income level but i dont like paying as much tax as i do and see it wasted on lazy people who would not strike a lick at a snake but wait for the government to come to their aid.

Dear ____: Thanks for your response. Anyone who know me knows several things about me; I have a great sense of humor and I enjoy all types of 'entertainment.' I am not a follower of the all mighty, as you put it. I pay a hell of a lot more in income taxes than I want to each year. On several occasions during my legal career I have represented persons free of charge (pro bono) who have done or said things that qualify for protection under the various amendments to our U.S. Constitution and I have experienced the public repercussions of representing the unpopular client for doing so. I was raised and still live in the Detroit area where, as you know, racial issues, to put it mildly, are constantly on the front burner. I respect absolutely and without reservation your right to say whatever you want to say about others. However, there is a line that I draw that is about me, not you. I believe that the continuous fanning of the flames of racism is destructive and not funny. My personal belief is that one is either part of the problem or part of the solution and I simply choose to be part of the solution. The choice I have made in the instant situation is to not participate in the continuous dialogue. Tom