Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Powerful Speech that Made Santorum Throw Up and Lose Michigan and Arizona

Breaking News: James Murdoch Steps Down

by Nomad
According to the BBC, James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, has decided to step down from his position as executive chairman at News International the United Kingdom newspaper publishing division of News Corporation
News International publishes The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. News International has been the center of an ongoing scandal involving illegal phone-hacking and as a result, several top editors were arrested. Additionally the News of the World, once considered Murdoch's flagship, abruptly closed last year. 
James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, will now be taking on a new role. Rupert Murdoch issued this statement:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Faith in Politics Exposed: Controversial but Necessary Questions for the Presidential Candidates

by Nomad

Here's an excerpt from an NPR article, entitled "Has Obama Waged War on Religion?"
Newt Gingrich warns the U.S. is becoming a secular country, which would be a "nightmare." Rick Santorum says there's a clash between "man's laws and God's laws."
Religious conservatives see an escalating war with the Obama White House. One Catholic bishop called it "the most secularist administration in history." Another bishop says it is an "a-theocracy." Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, believes the First Amendment is clear: The government cannot make people choose between obeying the law and following their faith.
Whether Newt Gingrich knows it or not, America is NOT becoming a secular state. It is a secular state and has been since its inception. It is in very real danger of becoming a theocratic state and that, many people would say, is the potential “nightmare.”

Two Roads Diverged: Jimmy Carter’s Speech - July 15, 1979

By Nomad
Two roads in the wood

Few people recall that night in July 1979. With uncompromising directness, President Jimmy Carter laid out the truth for the American people. It was time to chose between the two ideas of progress.

A President in Search of Redemption
The recent stunning images of revolution in the Islamic world is reminiscent of the Iranian revolution of 1978. Protests throughout Iran had led to the dethroning of the Shah of Iran and in his place, Ayatollah Khomeini- a fundamentalist cleric- became the leader of the nation.

The revolution had thrown oil production into decline and, this, in turn, had driven up prices.

To make up for this loss, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations boosted their respective production; however, the cartel had also announced that a series of oil price increases would accompany this increase. Gasoline prices skyrocketed and the perception of a shortage had led to widespread panic.

Beginning in California and spreading eastward, the panic soon turned to anger from the American public and this hostility was primarily directed at the Carter administration. One of reason for this was Carter’s decision to cut all imports of Iranian goods, following the seizure of American hostages when students raided the American embassy in Tehran.

Carter's approval rating had dropped to 25%, even lower than Richard Nixon's during the Watergate scandal. Following an exhausting summit in Tokyo, the one thing President Carter desired most was a break. He had planned to travel to Hawaii for a vacation. However, his chief of staff took a look at the poll numbers and warned him that his chances of re-election would be in serious doubt unless he took some action immediately.

Monday, February 27, 2012

You Cannot Deny Women..

Gender Equality women

American Dreams: My Father, Karl Marx and the Man who Sold the Rope 2/2

In part one of this two-part series, I wrote of how the American dream had changed since my father's time. The promise of ever-increasing prosperity seems to belong to a shrinking minority. History had played an ironic joke on the West. While the Soviet Union was collapsing due to the pressure of union labor, the United States under Reagan was signaling to corporate America that unionized labor was to be discarded on the ''scrap heap of history.''

And Then The Slow Decline
Now let's take a look at the consequences of this policy and who actually benefited.
At one time, when the main challenge to capitalism was Communism, leaders of the free world touted rising consumption afforded by rising wages as a measure of its success.

Starting around the 1980s, however, real wages and productivity, which once went hand in hand, decoupled. No longer did harder work mean higher wages. Productivity continued to rise- adding to the wealth of corporations- while wages remained steady. This trend has continued to the present day.

Additionally, access to easy credit has allowed the American citizen to shop and shop, giving, at least, the illusion of prosperity. But buying a lifestyle built on credit is a gamble because credit assumes that tomorrow will be as good or better than today. Life could be pretty good with a high credit limit. Especially with the flood of cheaply-priced merchandise on offer, all of it made possible by non-unionized workers in Asia and elsewhere.
Consider these facts.

Before credit became so widely available, personal savings rates were rising steadily each year. In 1960, Americans were saving 5.4% of their total income, It reached a high of 14.6% in 1975, and by 1982, it leveled off at 10.9%. But all that changed in the mid-1980s under Reagan when consumer credit became more commonplace.

At that point, personal savings began dropping hitting an all-time low of just .09% in 2000 and it stayed low until the last few years. After hitting depression-era lows, it has been slowly rising again since 2008.

Saving Your Baby Bonds
During the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt encouraged Americans to buy US savings bonds then called “baby bonds.” These bonds provided a safe investment option for investors- not a get rich quick scheme- and helped finance government operations and initiatives. It was true, as my mother told me, “a means of investing in the country.”

Essentially, with the purchase of savings bonds you were lending the government money. Today, our government must borrow vast sums of money from China. Today we are told that the only way the economy will be on the rebound is by consumer spending, not consumer saving. Saving money for a rainy day is frowned upon. Spending like there’s no tomorrow is the answer. Even when that spending is on credit. 

The PBS Frontline report, "The Secret History of the Credit Card" lays out the case quite well:

As the deregulation of interest rates enabled more people to get credit cards, the industry began to expand and became the most profitable sector of banking, with $30 billion in profits last year...Today, nearly 144 million Americans have credit cards, and they are using their cards like never before, charging $1.5 trillion last year alone. Credit cards have become an essential part of the American economy.
With all that convenience, it is easy to ignore the potential danger to the consumer. As Professor Elizabeth Warren points out:
And what families are discovering, even with Mom and Dad in the workplace, is they often can't make it to the end of the month, and so they often use credit cards to bridge the gap. They borrow to make ends meet. And then what happens is something goes wrong. Somebody loses a job, somebody gets sick, family breaks apart through death or divorce...
The main things that triggers a bankruptcy filing are job loss, a medical problem or a family break-up. Without these things, most American families can deal with their credit card debt. But high credit card debt puts them at much great risk, so that if they stumble, if they get hit by one of the other blows, they get their feet tangled up in those high interest rates, and they just get sunk.

All of these dramatic changes brought about the wholesale deregulation of various industries have caused people to question the entire capitalist system- as it has been allowed to evolve in the last thirty years. Most importantly, they ask where it is going and whether it is a sustainable model. Should self-respecting people tolerate a system such as this? But, of course, all this corruption was predicted well over a century ago- by a man named Karl Marx.

Why Marx was Wrong and Right
I hear what you are saying. Oh no! Karl Marx and the Marxist theory were proven wrong. The workers did not spring up and overthrow their masters. Communism, or at least the perversion of it that emerged in the Soviet Empire, was proof that Marx got it wrong. 
Professor of Political Science from Rutgers, Dr. Michael Curtis, writing back in 1965, would have agreed. In his book “Great Political Theories” he writes:

“..(M)any of Marx’s predictions about the course of history have not been fulfilled. The condition of the working class in industrial countries has grown steadily better, not worse. class struggles have been reduced rather than intensified; the middle class and other classes between the capitalists and the proletariat have not been eliminated; state power has not withered away in communists countries, but has increased in scope and intensity; the supposed international solidarity of the working class has retreated before bellicose nationalism. Perhaps the greatest irony is that the social revolutions that have occurred have been, not in the most highly industrialized countries when “the conditions were ripe” as the theory predicted but in the less developed or undeveloped countries.”
End of story. Or is it? That was written back in 1965 and the battle of ideologies was still unfinished. It is probably even now not quite complete.

In any case, perhaps it’s important to ask why was Marx wrong? Capitalism has proven, at least, until recent years, to have been a smashing success and eventually triumphed over Communism. 

So where did Karl go wrong and what can we learn from it? The world that Marx saw and commented on was not the same world that evolved afterward. Many of the intolerable conditions that he witnessed were reversed or kept in check by four main factors:
  • the growth of organized labor, 
  • a strong government with effective regulating authorities, 
  • a court that acted as a fair arbitrator and deliverer of the appropriate punishments. 
  • a free press which served the public interest by being the indifferent observer, separate from corporate influence and from political bias. 
With these institutions in place, capitalism, tamed but dynamic, could be a world-changing force for good. Without them, life could be hell on Earth.

Admittedly it was never a perfect system but it was good enough to allow a tolerable sense of democracy. It might not have been free from corruption but at least, it allowed each of us to cherish some precious bit of self-respect and individualism. While often as not, equality was more of an ideal to attain than a reality, there was a sense of constant improvement. Things would get better, if not for me, then for my children.

Unions were there to protect the workers from capitalist excesses and exploitation.This allowed the growth of a middle class which stabilized society and contributed to the unprecedented growth we saw in the middle of the last century.

When one sees the failure of Marxism in this light, it begins to make much more sense. It is only natural that Marx’s warnings were more appropriate to less developed countries (that were unable to use these capitalist-taming tools) than to the industrialized nations, which had managed to restrain the excesses of capitalism. Wherever these tools did not exist, one could see the same conditions that Marx described repeating themselves time and time again. 

And sadly, during the Cold War, whenever the impulse to rise up occurred in a developing nation, it would be attributed, in the West, to the Communists and it had to be fought with all of the weapons of war that a capitalist society could produce.

China and America: A Search for Solutions 
All this is important because the four factors I have mentioned are now being eroded by the unprecedented corruption by corporations like Koch Industries. Our dependence on oil- as well as an empire's taste for luxury has created monstrously powerful corporate entities who would stop at nothing short of treason itself to have their way. 

We see more and more every day of this kind of slide toward decline and desperation. The infiltration of the Supreme Court, the mutation of the free press into a propaganda machine for special interests, the purchase of politicians from both parties to make legislative reform impossible. 

The slow demolition of organized labor has not brought about better conditions. It has not improved the living standards of the middle class. It has not made America any more competitive. If anything, it has achieved quite the opposite.
But how can America be competitive with nations like China which have an unlimited supply of cheap labor? There's only one way and it's a solution you aren't likely to hear from corporate owned mainstream media.

First of all, we have to remember that the situation in China is not a static one and China is not our enemy. In time, the Chinese worker will soon reach critical mass and make the same demands as the American worker once did. And this seems already to be happening, much to the chagrin of Western companies doing business there.
When workers at a Honda transmission plant in China went on strike for higher wages last month (May 2010), they touched off a domino effect of high-profile labor disputes.
As the strikes, many of them at foreign-owned plants, rippled through China's southern manufacturing heartland, the government — usually quick to crush mass protests of any kind — did not step in, but allowed them to spread.
That's because it views the strikes less as a political threat these days than as an economic tool — a way to help restructure China's current export-driven economy to a more self-sustaining one, driven by ordinary people with more cash to spend.

Unionizing China
There are other signs of hope from across the Pacific, but they are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media.
In September 2010, the Teamsters, including Joint Council 25 President John T. Coli, welcomed five delegates from the Shangdong Provincial Federation of Trade Unions of China (SPFTU) to Chicago. The groups signed an official memorandum of exchange and cooperation. As part of the agreement, “the delegations will share views and common concerns on a variety of labor issues, including the benefits of collective bargaining and protection for workers’ rights. The unions expect to share information on organizing and management techniques, and will be looking for new opportunities to support and communicate with workers.” This advancement in labor rights in China is supported, rather surprisingly, by the Chinese government. 
The American Chamber of Commerce (along with other groups) did all it could to water-down the new labor reform laws last year, but their efforts were fairly unsuccessful. Corporations complained that China might not be such a great place to do business, but have since, begrudgingly accepted the situation. There was very little they could do. 
In line with its provisions(of the recent Chinese labor law), the ACFTU (All China Federation of Trade Unions) that serves as a government endorsed umbrella for the world’s largest trade union organization, is currently implementing a mass unionization initiative. Thus, the unions’ significance is likely to grow in the coming years, which should be taken into account by any company doing business in China.
So, competition with China need not mean a race to the bottom. Chinese workers- as well as the Chinese government- must be allowed to see the success of the American system, as a model to imitate. Not the other way around. Perhaps the key, the solution, is the encouragement, by union groups, by the Left, of worker rights in China in order that Western corporations would have to chose the high productivity of the American worker compared to the low cost of the Chinese worker. That is a fair competition. 
It is a marvelous irony to have American unions calling on a former Communist country to reform and empower its own unions to control unbridled Capitalism.

China’s present policy to allow union labor with collective bargaining is a wise move, especially when added to a court system ready and willing to hand down punishment for abuse. Imagine how much more timid white collar criminals would in the US if they were punished like they are in China.

The Man who Sold the Rope
Despite what Mitt Romney might think, corporations are not people.To quote Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow:
Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned; they therefore do as they like.
They don’t fall in love, they don’t get hungry in the middle of the night and they especially don’t feel patriotism. Corporation’s interests are actually quite narrow. The search for greater profits, ever-cheaper labor, and new markets may be all-important to corporations, but it is also a blinding one. 

So relying on politicians who have been bribed- isn’t this the word?- by corporations is extremely foolish. The allegiance of politicians of this ilk is not to the tax-paying citizen but to the hedge fund managers, religious fanatics with the money of their followers to spend, the anxious CEOs and the corporate board of directors.

Ultimately it is the corporations themselves that are being foolish. In their zealous abuse of the capitalist system, they are destroying its very foundations. As Karl Marx reportedly said, “The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”

Therefore, when you hear the Republican candidates call for “de-regulation” and for “less Big Government” it is important to consider what exactly that means in practice. The definition of “to govern” is “to restrain” “to control” and “to direct.” Who is government supposed to restrain, control and direct? Only its citizens but not its corporations? Only the law-abiding, the weak and the defenseless or the powerful, the wealthy, the selfish and the corrupt?

So in effect, when conservative politicians speak of de-regulation they are speaking of a land without rules, with no checks and balances, in a word, lawlessness. When they demand “less government interference” they actually mean anarchy, disorder and accepted injustice. It is a vision of America as a third world nation, without class mobility, without representation, and in most respects, intolerable for Americans. It is, therefore, an act of patriotism to send a clear message in the next election. This is not an acceptable future for the nation.

The Right wing vision isn’t even a system that offers stability- the very lowest standard for any political system. Whenever market-oriented economies are de-regulated, that is, allowed to manage themselves without government interference, inevitably the economy goes into overdrive, a few become incredibly rich while the rest are stripped of all they own. 
The astonishing part of all of this is that anybody should have to be reminded of what happens they corporations go “free-range.” People only need to look around and see the misery caused by deregulation of the last decade. Yet, this is the only vision the Republicans have to offer for the next election, it would seem.

What we are seeing and experiencing is a slow decay of America led by foolish policies from the Far Right. The trickle down theory redux. The Bush tax breaks for the super wealthy (continued), and the progress of the corporate corruption of democracy’s most valuable institutions. 

Business as Usual
In this upcoming election, the same illegitimate slogans and wrongheaded solutions are trotted out to the American public. Once again, the spokesmen for the party of the 1% will attempt to mislead an easily fooled electorate into voting against their own best interests. Rest assured they are planning to use every dirty trick, every negative ad, every divisive tactic and all fear-mongering they can think of in order to return to power. Clearly they are not finished with destroying the country.

There is good news despite everything. According to The Atlantic Monthly,
Although support for government regulation of business hasn't risen, 50 percent of Americans think it is necessary to protect the public interest, compared with 38 percent who say that regulation usually does more harm than good. In fact, not only do more Americans worry that businesses are snooping into their personal lives (74 percent), than think government is doing so (58 percent), fully six-in-ten think that business makes too much profit, and an overwhelming 78 percent think there is too much power in the hands of large companies.
According to Pew Research Center, the majority of American appear to know where to place the blame.
Although fully 80% of Americans attribute at least some of the blame for the current financial crisis to weak government regulation of financial institutions, public support for regulation more generally has not shifted upward.
One doesn’t need to be an atheist Marxist or some wild-eyed revolutionary to understand the obvious. Back in 1891, Pope Leo XIII- who probably had very little in common with Karl Marx- stated things pretty clearly:
The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.
Between Those Who Have Much and Those Who have Too Little
This ray of enlightenment simply has not reached many in the Republican party. What can you say when you still have people like Representative Spencer Swalm from Colorado, arguing that families can stay out of poverty by avoiding having kids outside of marriage. It certainly hasn’t hurt Bristol Palin.

Or when a South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer compared poor people to stray animals by saying, "You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply"? And yet, this is a man who doubtless goes to church every Sunday.

As notes:
When Rush Limbaugh says that food stamps enable people to "buy Twinkies, Milk Duds, potato chips, six-packs of Bud, then head home to watch the NFL on one of two color TVs," he encourages his millions of listeners to engage in low-grade class warfare, whether by voting for candidates who similarly oppose helping those in need, failing to donate to organizations doing their best to help, or engaging in even more rants against people struggling to survive in the wealthiest country in the world. Words like Limbaugh's, Bauer's and Swalm's are a self-perpetuating cycle that serves only to keep those who need help even further down.
And it isn’t merely small-time politicians or bloated radio talk show hosts speaking such nonsense. It is even more disgraceful when you have a candidate for president, Herman Cain, saying things like “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself! […] It is not a person’s fault because they succeeded, it is a person’s fault if they failed.”

To that, I would quote to Mr. Cain the words of Franklin Roosevelt- a man whose reforms proved Marx wrong. 
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann can say things like "Literally­ if we took away the minimum wage —if conceivabl­y it was gone—we could potentiall­y virtually wipe out unemployme­nt completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level." 

To that, I would again quote Franklin Roosevelt- a man she might have heard of. 
“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”
Americans are indeed fortunate to have a heritage of intelligent and compassion leaders from the past to recall and take courage from and remind us who were are whenever we need a touchstone. Their words offer a shelter from the day to day bluster from the Far Right.

We can only hope that voters across the nation are as equally intelligent and understand where all of these “bright” Republican ideas will lead. When they hear a Republican candidate tell his audience that he wants to take this nation back, they should inquire how far back they plan to go and at what cost to the average citizen.

I welcome any comments or questions so don't hesitate to drop me a line to let me know what you thought.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

American Dreams: My Father, Karl Marx and the Man who Sold the Rope 1/2

by Nomad
Let’s Begin With My Father
My father, born in 1929, grew up in the midst of the Great Depression, in what most people would consider extreme poverty. His father died one week after his birth leaving his widowed mother to raise her five children alone. Had it not been for a productive farmland, it is doubtful they would have survived. “We didn’t have two nickles to rub together,” he’d often tell me,”but we never even realized we were poor. Everybody we knew was in the same situation as we were.”

In 1951. he left the farm to join in the Korean War to fight the spread of the Communist threat. The Red Menace- China- was on the verge of expanding across the border into Korea. Following that, he received credit from a GI loan which allowed him to buy a very humble mobile home to start his married life.

In the economic boom of the 1950s, my father found employment as a precision sheet metal worker at a aircraft manufacturing plant. Along with thousands of other unskilled workers returning from Korea, the company trained my father with the idea of steady long term employment. In turn, my father worked at the company for thirty years. He did not particularly desire to rise up in the hierarchy of the company. He told me that he’d prefer not to have the stress that went with the responsibility. He preferred to spend more time at home at the end of his shift. There was also the goal that he knew that his children would, by his hard, boring and unsatisfying labor, have a better life than he did. It was an attainable goal. Through the use of collective bargaining of his union or the rare labor action, my father’s wage steadily increased.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Evangelical Candidates: Personal Faith vs. Public Policy

by Nomad
A Sin Against God
In the 2012 election year, the subject of a presidential candidate’s religious beliefs is once again becoming a matter of public discussion. Of course, this isn’t, by any measure, the first time. In fact, in modern American politics, the issue of personal faith has become a more or less common feature in American elections.

What has changed is to what degree this once personal issue has become a candidate's "selling point" to the politically powerful Christian Right Wing of the Republican party.

When this problem was brought up in the 1960 Kennedy vs. Nixon election the matter was mentioned because some people were concerned that Kennedy could not represent all people and that there might well be conflicts between the Catholic doctrine and the Constitution. How this problematic issue was dealt with, the answer Kennedy gave to critics, is an example of the kind of politics and politicians that have come and gone.

The Sudden Death of the Living Wage: ACORN 3/3

by Nomad
In the previous posts (Part One) (Part Two), we have looked into the meaning and importance of the living wage movement. We have also examined both the Conservative argument against and the history of the movement. In the final part of this three part series, we will examine at the more recent attempts at establishing a living wage and the organization that was destined to achieve some impressive results.  

The Rebirth of the Movement
One organization took up the cause of campaigning for a living wage and throughout the 1990s, won unprecedented successes. It was called “the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities" with the name the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN.

Ilyse Hogue, writing for The Nation, gives this summary about the important role that ACORN played.
ACORN was unique as an organization that served our nation’s poor people. Wrangling with life’s common challenges like mortgages and housing forms, ACORN employees built trust by offering help person to person, neighborhood by neighborhood. They then leveraged that trust to lobby for federal legislation to address the root causes of the crises facing these people—predatory lending, lack of community investment and stagnant wages.

The Sudden Death of the Living Wage: Republican Class Warfare 2/3

by Nomad
In Part One of this series we introduced you to the concept of the Living Wage, which is entirely different from the Minimum Wage. Next we will look at conservative's arguments against the idea and the true and somewhat surprising history of the living wage.

A Threat to Health
The Republican party has had a long-held opposition toward any talk of a living wage. This latest crop has their own ideas about how to deal with the poor. Rick Santorum, for example, seems to think that marriage is the solution to poverty.
What two things, that if you do, will guarantee that you will not be in poverty in America?” he asked the crowd. “Number one, graduate from high school. Number two, get married. Before you have children,” he said. “If you do those two things, you will be successful economically. 
Michele Bachmann, who recently claimed she had been the “perfect’ candidate for president, had announced her intention to do away with any sort of minimum wage limit in order to stimulate the economy. Newt Gingrich called child labor laws “stupid” and Herman Cain told unemployed OWS protesters that
“ If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself ... It is not a person's fault if they succeeded, it is a person's fault if they failed."
This attitude is fairly common with Fox-News-watching public. Reagan played that mish-mash of religion, patriotism and the much-touted work ethic very convincingly. The logical runs like this:
America is the land of opportunity. 
We, as a nation, are blessed by God. 
Wealth and success is a sign of God's blessing. 
Every man's success and failure depends on the his individual attributes. 
Therefore, government has no responsibility in the matter.
It is linked with the delusion that that the United States of America is a meritocracy where everyone is treated fairly and anyone can pull himself up by his bootstraps if he or she just works hard enough, pays their dues and keeps their nose to the grindstone.

The Sudden Death of the Living Wage : Mitt Romney Flip-Flop 1/3

Mitt Romney Nomadic Politics by Nomad

Romney’s Double Back Flip
Last week Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney somehow managed to flip-flop from the frying pan into the political fire when he told reporters that he didn't fret about the poor because of the social safety net. He explained to a CNN reporter:
“I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.”
President as handy-man? Naturally, like every politician who finds himself in a pickle, he blamed the media for taking his statement out of context. Like his “corporations are people too” remark, Romney once again seemed unable to hear how out of touch he actually sounds. Until everybody else notices. 
Coming from one of the richest candidates in American history, it gave the (probably accurate) impression that he has no real understanding or sensitivity for the poor. After all, how much more 1% can Mitt Romney be? How can a person like that really represent all of the people?

But then, in order to rectify the gaffe, Romney immediately followed that up with a new problematic statement which had his corporate backers falling out of their cushy chairs. By Wednesday he underlined his commitment to address the problems of the poor by mentioning his support for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. 

"I haven't changed my thoughts on that," the former Massachusetts governor told reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane, referring to a stand he has held for a decade.
You could almost hear the gasp of a million CEOs and the moan and groan of a thousand Republican Party elites. In that one sentence he confirmed the Right Wing’s darkest suspicions about this candidate. Namely, he is not committed to their agenda after all. Good God, he might even be a moderate, which is next door to a liberal, which is just around the corner from a socialist which is on the same street as a Communist!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Amazing Story of Clarence Thomas' Confirmation Hearings 3/3

By Nomad
Part One
Part Two
In this the final part of the three part series, I will look at the stormy conclusion to the confirmation hearings. The Senate judiciary Committee, unable to reach a decision, passed the issue to the Senate for a vote. Unknown to most of the members, a storm was brewing and it would prove to be a public relations nightmare for the Bush Administration.

Allegations and Revelations
Thomas' Confirmation Hearings
It was at this point- when the Senate took up the task of voting on the confirmation- that the process took an unexpected and ugly turn. A leaked Judiciary Committee/FBI report revealed that a colleague of Thomas, an Anita Hill, University of Oklahoma law school professor, had alleged that Thomas had made inappropriate remarks of a sexual nature while working together at the EEOC and the Department of Education. 

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Danforth, as Thomas’ protector pulled out all stops in order to force a vote before the Senate was able to hear Professor Hill’s testimony.

Additionally the Senator threatened to refuse to support a civil rights bill presently under discussion if moderate Democrats opposed Thomas. According to sourcewatch
In his book, Danforth would later admitted displaying very un-diplomatic behavior when Thomas' nomination was challenged: "I completely lost my temper in a table-pounding, shouting, red-in-the-face profane rage." Danforth wrote that he saw his role defending Thomas as "a warrior doing battle for the Lord."
The entire question of Thomas’ qualifications suddenly took a back seat to the more sensational allegations of sexual misconduct in the office. The White House had worked hard to build up the image of Clarence Thomas as a man who had risen from abject poverty to an esteemed position of trust. It was a focus away from qualifications and competence to character and judgement. And suddenly, with the testimony of Anita Hill, they watched as all their hard work slip away as the young black woman began her testimony..
My name is Anita F. Hill, and I am a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma. I was born on a farm in Okmulgee County, OK, in 1956. I am the youngest of 13 children. I had my early education in Okmulgee County. My father, Albert Hill, is a farmer in that area. My mother's name is Erma Hill. She is also a farmer and a housewife. My childhood was one of a lot of hard work and not much money, but it was one of solid family affection as represented by my parents. I was reared in a religious atmosphere in the Baptist faith, and I have been a member of the Antioch Baptist Church, in Tulsa, OK, since 1983. It is a very warm part of my life at the present time.
She then describe the duties and responsibilities while she worked with Thomas. It was, however, the troubling allegations about his behavior that caused a stir.
After approximately 3 months of working there, he asked me to go out socially with him. What happened next and telling the world about it are the two most difficult things, experiences of my life. It is only after a great deal of agonizing consideration and a number of sleepless nights that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone but my close friends.
Her allegations were specific and detailed. From a television producer’s point of view, exactly the kind of sensationalism that could turn a rather dry debate about judicial matters into a television news event.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Amazing Story of Clarence Thomas' Confirmation Hearings 2/3

by Nomad
In the first part of this three part series, we took a closer look at the rise of Clarence Thomas, starting from his graduation from Yale to a circuit court judge. 

Now I want to report the story of the reaction when the Bush Administration pushed to have Thomas, after only one year as a circuit court judge, confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

The Battle Begins
Even before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings had begun, it was clear that a public relations battle was brewing about the administration’s choice. President Bush clumsily said, at the announcement of Thomas’ nomination, that he was the "best qualified [nominee] at this time." This was odd phrasing, to be sure. In typical Bush fashion, the president floundered while trying too hard to explain what he really didn’t mean: 
"I've kept my word to the American people and the Senate by picking the best man for the job based on merits. And the fact that he's a minority, so much the better. But that is not the factor, and I would strong resent any charge that might be forthcoming on quotas when it relates to appointing the best man to the court.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Amazing Story of Clarence Thomas' Confirmation Hearings 1/3

by Nomad
It  always comes as a shock to realize that many people may not be aware of the history of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
As a service ,I thought I would take a careful examination of the lead-up to his confirmation, the struggle and the scandalous allegations in a three part post. I hope you will find it an interesting and enlightening peek backwards.

In the autumn of 1971, Clarence Thomas, having graduated from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts with an A.B. cum laude in English literature, enrolled in Yale Law school, in part under the university’s affirmative action plan to increase the numbers of minority students. As a black man, Thomas was troubled by this policy which he saw as nothing more than a selection by quota. 
According to the book, "First Principle" the jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas, Thomas would later say of the policy,
"You had to prove yourself every day because the presumption was that you were dumb and didn't deserve to be there on merit."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Republican Faust: The Rise and Fall of Mike Connell -3

Mike Connell by Nomad

Part One and Part Two of the Series. In this last part of the series, I'd like to take a closer look at the strange circumstances of the airplane crash that took the life of Mike Connell.

Accident or Conspiracy?
The timing of Mike Connell's sudden death in a plane crash was. given the situation he was involved in, remarkably coincidental. So coincidental that it is the kind of event that naturally creates speculation about conspiracy. All the elements are certainly there.

On the other hand, planes all too often do fall out of the sky. Pilots make misjudgements about their abilities, or the weather. Planes may be poorly maintained. Planes crashes involving light aircraft are much more common than you'd think.
In the year of Connell's death, there were 156 other crashes and 884 other deaths. And the most likely scenario- as opposed to sabotage- would be problems with ice on the wings.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report speculates that the most probable cause of the crash was a combination of pilot error and weather conditions. 
In this case, Connell was faulted for deciding to conduct the flight into "known icing conditions."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Republican Faust: The Rise and Fall of Mike Connell -2

by Nomad

In Part One of this three part series, we discussed the rise of one of the GOP's insider, who quite possibly helped to engineer the 2004 presidential election fraud.

Taking the Fall
After agreeing initially to give critical information in a vote-rigging case in Ohio, Connell, for whatever reasons, apparently had a change of heart. Given the potential disastrous consequences of defying his former bosses, it is perhaps understandable.

Back in Ohio courts, King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell was an ongoing case filed on August 31, 2006 and dragged on and on. The former Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell the defendant, was accused of 
"having conspired to deprive and continue to deprive Ohioans of their right to vote and have, in fact, deprived and continue to deprive Ohioans of their right to vote by, in a selective and discriminatory manner, unfairly allocate election resources (such as voting machines), institute a system of provisional ballots, purge voter registrations, and broke the bi-partisan chain of custody ballots."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Republican Faust: The Rise and Fall of Mike Connell - 1/3

by Nomad

The story of rise and fall of Republican insider, Mike Connell isn't a familiar one. This investigation looks at the life and death of one of the people who was implicated in the rigging of the Ohio results in the 2004 presidential election. 

At about 6 p.m. on Friday December 19, 2008 a single-engine 1997 Piper Saratoga aircraft, with only the pilot aboard, crashed into a residential area in Uniontown, Ohio as it was preparing to land at Akron-Canton airport.

Upon arriving to the scene, fire crews found only burning wreckage of the plane scattered between homes on Charolais Street. The pilot had been thrown upon impact and had died instantly of massive blunt force trauma, his belongings scattered in the yards.

First responders arrived on the scene immediately after the crash. Even then, irregularities began. Simon Worrall in an article The Mysterious Death of Bush's Cyber-Guru, writes of those first minutes:
Capt. Lorin Geisner of the Greentown Fire Department was the first person to arrive at the scene. “We received a 911 call, so we contacted the tower and asked what size plane it was and how many souls were on board,” he recalls. “But we were informed that the tower was in lockdown and that no information was available.”
This was to be the first of many abnormalities in a case that would send shock waves through the blogosphere with speculations of sabotage and foul play. In the bewildering reality-bending world of conspiracy theories, the events that surround the Connell crash belong in a class all their own.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sarah Palin: Fooling Some of the People

by Nomad
Back in March of 2001, speaking at the Gridiron Club dinner, George W. Bush made this remark, presumably in an attempt at humor. "You can fool some of the people all the time... and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." 
Perhaps nobody, since that time, has put those remarkably un-funnny sentiments into practice better than Sarah Palin

Palin is an instructive example of how a demagogue can collect enough of a following to become something of a phenomena in American politics. The techniques she has used have been effective for a small percentage of the population but seem now to have reached a kind of limit of diminishing returns. The Palin package, which has been sculpted and revised since the moment she was chosen as McCain's running mate, is a triumph of modern-day political marketing. 
Sadly, outside of the bloggers and their followers, practically the only challenge or threat the marketers, press agents and handlers ever faced was Sarah Palin herself. This is a person who obviously has a lot of skeletons scratching at her closet doors. Like a majority of politicians perhaps. 
More importantly, Sarah Palin's larger problem is her own behavior when challenged. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Santorums and the Bully's Defense: Rick and Karen Play the Victim Card

by Nomad
Victimhood and the Messiah-Complex
I saw this interesting video clip at The Raw Story. Here’s the background information to the clip. At  a question-and-answer event in South Carolina for mothers, “Moms Matter 2012″ Rick and Karen Santorum alleged that the gay community has been attempting to vilify her husband by portraying him as a gay-hating religious bigot.
Nothing could be further from the truth, Karen Santorum declared to the friendly audience. She took the microphone to defend her husband who meanwhile wore his best victim expression.
“As Rick’s wife, I have known him and loved him for 23 years,” she said. “I think it’s very sad what the gay activists have done out there. They vilify him. It is so wrong. He loves them. What he has simply said is marriage shouldn’t happen.”
It’s all very confused in Karen Santorum’s mind, it seems. She somehow managed to twist things around a great deal. Very conveniently.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Things You Should Know about the Rise of the American Police State

By Nomad

From Fiction to Fact

Here is a clip from that brilliant, strange but frightening film "Brazil." The film was a surreal tragic comedy involving a Dystopian authoritarian world where the last refuge of the common man is in his heroic dreams. 

Because of the threat of terrorism, the state relies on an aggressive policy of No-Questions-asked policy which soon becomes mere intimidation. 

Even then, sometimes things go wrong. But this was all fiction, you say. Just a harmless bit of entertainment. I mean, it couldn't happen in the free nations of the West. We have protections for our civil rights built into the system, after all. These have to be respected by authorities.
In America and Europe, according to the conventional wisdom, there are safeguards making sure abuse of power cannot happen here. That is a proud notion based on a small degree of truth and a great deal of wishful thinking. In fact, beginning with the war on drugs and dramatically increasing with the war on terror, the local police have become more and more aggressive in their assault on the rights of citizens.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Americans for Prosperity: The Koch Industries - Tea Party Nexus

By Nomad
Americans for Prosperity: What It is
The Tea Party members seem to take great pride in portraying themselves as modern day revolutionaries, the conscience of the people taking back their government. In their minds, the Tea Party is a spontaneously organized, leaderless and populist grassroots movement. 

In fact, many- if not most of them- have never heard of the oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, or what they do or how they spend their wealth. It is a sadly ironic fact that even those saluting the Kochs’ flag may not know who these brothers are. If they have heard of the organization named Americans for Prosperity, it would have probably have been on Fox News. And, for a news organization, Fox News is exceedingly good at keeping secrets.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Michael Glassner - Palin's New Chief of Staff - The Haiti Connection

by Nomad
If CNN's latest report is true, Sarah Palin may be serious about running for president after all. In the last few days, she has apparently decided to add a veteran Republican strategist to serve as chief-of-staff for her political action committee, Sarah PAC. If so, she is off to a pretty bad start.

Michael Glassner, an attorney and longtime adviser to former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, has signed on to steer the former Alaska governor's political operation as she considers a possible 2012 presidential bid.

One would assume that this is the very same Michael Glassner who was in charge of campaign operations during the 2008 McCain-Palin bid. Glassner, registered as a federal lobbyist, was a member of the McCain New York, New Jersey Connecticut Finance Committee and a bundler for John McCain.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tornadoes and Koch Industries: An Elegant Solution

by Nomad

On one hand, we have the Tea Party demanding less government, except in an emergency, and on the other hand, we have the Koch Brothers- who've spent a fortune trying to undermine climate change legislation. Why not unite these two and cut out the middle man? That's the taxpayers. I'm just surprised nobody thought of this solution before.

(originally posted in April 2011 at Nomadic View blog)

A Declaration of Emergency
On April 28th, 2011, tornadoes swept through the south of the United States, killing 128 people in Alabama and 32 others in Mississippi and leaving long trails of destruction. Homes and businesses were left as piles of rubble. Towns were plowed down the middle and many residents, having lost all they owned, felt lucky just to be alive. My sympathies went out to the survivors and my condolences to the families that have lost loved ones.

This all came after a week in which storms torn through a half a dozen states in what meteorologists have called the deadliest season in nearly four decades. Republican Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama declared a state of emergency and said he was deploying 2,000 National Guardsman.

Similarly, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency for 39 counties. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones or property in these devastating spring storms,” Gov. Barbour said. “A large section of our state has been impacted, and our emergency responders are doing an excellent job in helping communities. This State of Emergency declaration will allow the state to offer aid to begin recovery efforts.”

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency coordinates with the Federal emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA in administering disaster recovery. Federal sources contributes at least 75% of damage repair costs while while state and local entities share the remaining 25 percent or less of repair costs.

Nobody can blame the governor for requesting money when it is urgently needed. However, there's a ugly, hypocritical side to Barbour's requests. Like numerous Republican politicians of late, Gov. Haley Barbour last March chastised Obama for "limitless government" and out of control spending. His stand against Big Government has made him something of a "politician of note" in the Republican party.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Michele Bachmann's Constitutional Classes: Spring Training for the Minor Leagues?

by Nomad
Normally when a Republic as great as the United States elects a citizen to a high office, the public expects that person to be politically "fully-developed." Naturally we don't expect to have to give classes to teach them what they should already be familiar with, such as, for example, the laws of the land or the basic principles upon which that republic was founded, namely the Constitution. And we certainly don't expect the American taxpayers to foot the bill for these remedial classes. 
Yet, apparently Rep. Michele Bachmann thinks that new members of Congress - read, Tea Party members - need some indoctrination into the the extreme far right's world view.