Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stephen Views the News 2/5/09

* Get out the metal polish – Obama’s “change you can believe in” has rapidly developed a coat of tarnish as ethics questions surrounded Obama selections Richardson, Daschle, Geithner and Killefer. It reminds one of the Grouch Marx quote: “There's one way to find out if a man is honest - ask him. If he says, 'Yes,' you know he is a crook.” Obama has said he was not looking for “yes men” to serve in his administration. In one respect that is what he is finding.

* A note to President Obama ~ remember Howard Dean – With Daschle dashed you need a solid replacement to guide America into a new era of health care. Howard Dean has the qualifications and expressed interest. He is a medical doctor, the former six-term governor of Vermont and the recent leader of the Democratic Party where his dedication and intelligence played a vital roll in Democrats having huge successes in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Rumor has it that your Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, has issues with Dean stemming from disagreements over past political strategies. Mr. President, as you bend over backwards to accommodate Republicans, please do not ignore valued Democrats. May I suggest that you take the time to seriously consider Dr. Dean to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. He is a individual partially responsible for your reaching the White House, he has impeccable credentials and he should not be ignored because of petty internal politics.

* Maintaining the shine ~ campaign promises being fulfilled – On the positive side of the nascent Obama administration one can note:

~ Passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that helps ensure redress for women that did not receive the same pay as men doing the same job in a firm. Many Republicans/conservatives are lamenting that this will open the door to lawsuits. I often wonder why these GOPers are rarely concerned when employees are screwed over by the firms that employ them. These same screwees were once embryos.

~ On Wednesday Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program, granting 4 million more children access to affordable health care. Former President G.W. Bush twice vetoed this legislation. With so much on his special-interest plate he probably forgot that these 4 million children were also once fertilized eggs. Warning to embryos: do not leave the womb lest Republicans/conservatives will abandon you.

~ On January 23rd President Obama repealed the Global Gag Rule, which prohibited family-planning programs in other nations receiving U.S. aid if the programs were pro-choice. I find it curious that conservatives genuflect to smaller government and less regulation until it comes to regulating other peoples’ lives. “Abstinence only” is absence of effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and especially the spread of HIV AIDS that is decimating large segments of populations in Africa and is inflicting tragedy throughout the world. I suggest that if one bears an ideology that harms people, cryovac it in a condom.

~ “The Obama administration has asked the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon's budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent -- about $55 billion.” I recently saw a statistic that the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 40 countries combined. I have read articles that billions are being spent on Pentagon projects that are outmoded or have little chance of being operational. The Pentagon and the defense industry enjoy a tremendous influence on the decision-making process of how our society allocates it resources. It will take strong leadership from Obama and Congress to assess and rein in these powerhouses that Dwight D. Eisenhower, over 50 years ago, termed the military-industrial complex. It has achieved a momentum and life of its own that many feel is substantially beyond reason and practicality. It is my sense that we are in a hostage situation to these forces.

~ The Bush administration and the EPA consistently blocked California and 13 other states from setting stricter automobile emission standards. President Obama will direct federal regulators to re-evaluate the Bush decision to reject California’s application and it will likely lead to the Bush policy being reversed. Auto makers and their lobbyists will balk but it is well beyond time to direct our attention and resources to rehabilitating our environment. Our once pristine planet is close to being on life support. Its potential demise is not likely to occur in my lifetime but do we not all have a responsibility to the embryos that will follow?

~ The Times of London is reporting, “President Obama will convene the most ambitious arms reduction talks with Russia for a generation, aiming to slash each country’s stockpile of nuclear weapons by 80 per cent.” Nuclear weapons reduction was a core element in Obama’s candidacy. The 1991 US-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), which expires in December, had reduced each country’s stockpiles from 10,000 to 5,000 weapons. It is felt that further reductions by these two powers could assist in influencing countries such as Iran to not develop nuclear weapons. It seems to me that reducing the number of nuclear weapons is critical. From one standpoint their existence has been primarily a deterrent between the two powers since no country benefits by using such weapons given the assured retaliation it would generate. The greater danger today is that the larger the number of weapons in existence, the greater the danger of such a weapon getting into terrorist hands. Such radical ideologues/idiots do not fear retaliation. And that is a very dangerous enemy.

* The nuance of language - The federal judge overseeing the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy has been charged with assault and arrested for hitting his wife. Many have called for tougher judges but it appears that Judge James M. Peck has misinterpreted the intent of “tougher”. According to the NY Times article, “Judge Peck is known for his patience in handling matters as complex as the Lehman case.” Apparently his “patience” did not extend to his complex marriage. If the pecker keeps this up he may find himself patronizing his own courtroom. It will look like an Abbot and Costello routine as da judge bounces between da bench and da defendant’s table.

* Reality issues – I am 6’ 9” tall with biceps too large for my body. George W. Bush and Ronald Regan vie for the title of Best President in the history of the U.S. Paris Hilton is Obama’s nominee to oversee his Abstinence Only program. Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson is historically correct in denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers. While none of these absurd assertions have merit, Williamson does in fact maintain his position concerning the Holocaust. This came to light because he had been excommunicated by the Church in 1988 and last month this moral moron was reinstated by Pope Benedict XVI. I imagine the Pope has some down time between Christmas and Easter and was looking for a way to keep busy. May I recommend macramé?

Since the reinstatement there has been global outrage and the Vatican was forced to issue a statement that Williamson “must absolutely, unequivocally and publicly distance himself from his positions on the Holocaust, or else he would not be allowed to serve as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.” Congratulations to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, several prominent figures in the German Catholic Church and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for condemning Williamson and in some cases criticizing the Vatican. The NY Times observes: the fact that the Vatican issued a statement is a clear indication that the Vatican was facing nothing less than an internal and external political crisis. The reality is that when good people stand up and speak out about institutional and individual ignorance, altered behavior can result. This is a wonderful lesson for us in America where leadership at all levels of government and across society permitted the Bush administration to intimidate any expression of criticism.

* When the brass is AWOL - Another U.S. service member has been determined to have been electrocuted in a shower in Iraq, and Navy criminal investigators are investigating. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class David A. Cedergren, 25, of South St. Paul, Minn., died Sept. 11, 2004, while showering. His family was told he died of natural causes. Cedegrens’s death is among 18 electrocution deaths (16 were U.S. service members) under investigation for improperly installed or maintained electrical devices. I have noted on many occasions the damage perpetrated by the no-bid contractors such as KBR, hired by the Bush administration for supplying the troops and rebuilding Iraq. Among the many disgraces that pall the tragedy known as Bush and Cheney’s Iraq war the abuse of America’s service people and the abuse of taxpayers’ money is yet to be fully told. Recall the drinking water tainted with human fluids, inadequate body armor, overly extended tours of duty, insufficiently plated vehicles, inadequate medical and psychological care upon the return to the states… To the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Generals, the Admirals and other military leaders I ask, “WHERE IS YOUR OUTRAGE?

* “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”
Edward R. Murrow (1908 – 1965)

1 comment:

Sue Katz said...

You said: "The reality is that when good people stand up and speak out about institutional and individual ignorance, altered behavior can result. This is a wonderful lesson for us in America where leadership at all levels of government and across society permitted the Bush administration to intimidate any expression of criticism."

As I watched the huge demonstrations in the Arab world and in Europe against the war in Iraq - and again against the assault on Gaza more recently. As I see the French take to the street over the economic situation. As I see the righteous anger of others, I just can't figure out why Americans are so docile and how they failed to talk back to Bush, Cheney and "Hank" Paulson. I'd love to hear your explanation some time.
Thanks as always,