Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Brings an October Surprise

by Nomad

n a rather surprising show of solidarity, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has been bashing President Obama for the last year on his lack of leadership- did an about-face after his state was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. 

Christie called the level of cooperation between the local, state and federal governments "excellent" and praised President Obama's involvement. "I was on the phone for the third time yesterday, last night, with the president of the United States. He called me at midnight last night as he was seeing reports," he said before adding that President Obama accelerated the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area "without the usual red tape."

"The cooperation has been great with FEMA here on the ground and the cooperation from the president of the United States has been outstanding. He deserves great credit," Christie added.
Meanwhile Jay Carney, spokesman for the White House, gave this assessment of the relief efforts:
"When disaster strikes, Americans suffer -- not Democrats, not independents, not Republicans -- Americans suffer. And then we come together and put politics aside to make sure that those Americans get the assistance that they need."
With a week left before the election, Obama  canceled campaign trips planned for Tuesday and Wednesday to stay in Washington and supervise storm recovery. On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to visit New Jersey, and is expected to return to campaigning on Thursday.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The US and Greece: Does the Public Have a Right to Know What Politicians are Hiding?

by Nomad

No matter how cynical Americans are about their politicians and the political process, nothing can compare to the Greeks. Most Greeks you ask on the street would tell you that their government has been corrupt for as long as they can remember.
And that way of thinking goes back to the ancient times too. The philosopher Anacharsis once said,
Written laws are like spiders' webs, and will, like them, only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them. 
If the Greek public weren’t already by their nature skeptical about the politics, the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the European Union have pushed that cynicism to the breaking point. Mass protests have erupted into violence throughout Greece as European Union leaders in Brussels have attempted to pull the nation back from the edge of bankruptcy.

The Lost LaGarde List
When journalist and HOT DOC magazine editor, Kostas Vaxevanis, published a list of 1,991 people who had 1.95 billion in deposits in the Geneva, Switzerland HSBC bank branch, many were enraged but few were totally surprised.

According to Greek law, there is nothing illegal about having a Swiss bank accounts as long as they are declared and taxes are paid on them. The editor stressed that people on the list should not be considered tax evaders unless it is proved they did not pay taxes on the deposits.

What was interesting was the names on that list which reported included “several politicians, an advisor to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, well-known businessmen, journalists, doctors, lawyers and engineers, actors and civil servants – some of them working at the Finance Ministry.” The list contained names, not only of Greeks, but foreign nationals who had apparently emptied their accounts from Greek banks and transferred them to HSBC.
The list contains also the names of three former ministers, of whom one died sometime ago. Also the names of owners of enterprises that have gone bankrupt. But also students studying abroad, pensioners and housewives.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Line It Is Drawn: A Look Back at October 1963

by Nomad

1963 March

Of the many critical moments in American history, the year 1963 stands out as one of the most climactic.

Yet there were so many things going on and so many stories being told just before that awful moment that were lost in the shadow that fell over the nation after the assassination.

The year 1963 was a momentous one for the fight against discrimination and events were moving quickly. By that year, many leaders in the civil rights movement had begun to question the sincerity of President Kennedy’s commitment to racial equality.

A Great Change is at Hand

In terms of social unrest, it had been a very hot summer. In June, the president had been forced to take a bold step, to federalize the Alabama National Guard when George Wallace, the segregationist governor of the state, refused to allow two black students to attend the state university in Tuscaloosa. Peaceful protests throughout the south had been met with police brutality which, in turn, ignited violence and rioting in many cities. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The "Milk Before Meat" Candidate: Why Romney Doesn’t Deserve Your Vote

by Nomad

Mitt Romney Liar Puppet

The Truth about Lying
Most us as children were taught that lying was wrong. There was never any need to inquire too deeply. It just was. Why? Because I said so. End of discussion.

Later, things started getting complicated. Some lies were more acceptable than others- white lies, for example, though, in fact, all of them were still wrong. Technically.

Around the time of high school, that great petri dish for social behavior- most of us simply stopped asking this basic question and accepted lying a part of the human condition. Get over it.
Throughout the long history of philosophy the subject of deception has been a hot topic. Immanuel Kant was pretty categorical. Lying, he said, was always unethical. To be human means having the ability to be rational and to make own choices. It gave a sense of dignity to humanity. A life with any rational choice was no life for a self-respecting human being.
Bear with me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Romney on Iran: The Dangerous Non-Policy of the Hollow Man

Iran Romney Nuclear Policy by Nomad

ast night’s third and final debate proved once again that the Republican presidential candidate Romney really has nothing new to offer in terms of foreign policy leadership. And when it comes to Iran, Romney demonstrated last night that he is really a hollow man.

His statements on Iran and how he would deal with this sticky problem are really fascinating, though not in a good way. If you listen to the things he said, they might sound impressive but actually upon a closer inspection, they are filled with peculiarities, political posturing and sparkling fluff.

It is also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are something I called for five years ago, when I was in Israel, speaking at the Herzliya Conference. I laid out seven steps, crippling sanctions were number one. And they do work. You're seeing it right now in the economy. It's absolutely the right thing to do, to have crippling sanctions. I would have put them in place earlier. But it's good that we have them.
So basically then he would do what the president is already doing. No change of policy but he would be happy to take credit for the results. Begun in the last two years of the Bush administration, the sanctions were expanded and strengthened under the Obama administration, according to the Christian Science Monitor "at a speed that has made current US sanctions policy on Iran the harshest in contemporary history. This leaves a potential new Romney administration with few policy alternatives."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Eye of the Needle

Check out this excerpt from one of the (hundred) debates during the Republican primaries. 
That was an interesting reaction, wasn't it? Romney stammers his answer and has to think fast before he commits his soul to the fiery furnace. As Anderson Cooper gives him a second chance to clarify, Romney hesitates and finally- to smattering of applause- takes the plunge. 
(In an earlier post, we pointed out how Romney has violated repeatedly his own Mormon code forbidding lying in every form. He was quite willing in that case to break the tenets of that faith to the cost of his salvation.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Trickle -Down Government Nonsense

Romney Nomadic Politics by Nomad

Mitt Romney's use of a new catch-phrase "trickle-down" government deserves a closer look. What does he mean? And why are his ideas about "trickle-down" downright wrong.

Maybe you heard it too. At first, I thought I had mis-heard what he had said. 
Near the end of last debate we heard Mitt Romney say:
This is the way we're going to create jobs in this country. It's not by trickle-down government, saying we're going to take more money from people and hire more government workers, raise more taxes, put in place more regulations. Trickle-down government has never worked here, has never worked anywhere.
In case you missed it, “trickle-down government” is a new catch-phrase that Romney has deploying at every possible occasion. Here’s another example in the first debate:
The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government — would work.
In one speech in Colorado, he clearly put pedal to metal and came out chattering like a manic shopping channel salesman:
”I saw the president’s vision as trickle-down government, and I don’t think that’s what America believes in….We have very two different courses for America – trickle-down government or prosperity through freedom. And trickle-down government that the president proposes is one where he will raise taxes on small business….

“We’re going to have a stronger America with more jobs, rising incomes, moderated prices – that’s a very different path than one with trickle-down government…Under trickle-down government, you have the president saying – well, you remember in his last campaign, that under his policies of energy, that prices of energy would necessarily skyrocket…

“The Congressional Budget Office says that by the end of a four-year period, if he were to be re-elected, trickle-down government would lead to a setting where we would have $20 trillion in debt…Trickle-down government will not create the jobs Americans need.Trickle-down government will not bring down the cost of energy. Trickle-down government will not allow incomes to rise…
Well, the reasons for this rhetorical strategy are clear. By now most intelligent voters have caught on to the fact that the whole trickle- down theory has been pretty thoroughly discredited. Most people have understood that rewarding the super wealthy has not led to an increase in jobs. In fact, much of the money derived from the Bush tax cuts was apparently stowed away in offshore accounts in the Cayman islands or in Swiss banks. If the trickle-down theory actually worked, then we would have seen some sign of its success after ten years. 

So Romney’s idea? Continue with the same policy but re-frame the debate by changing the catch-phrases. Now it’s trickle-down government. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Binders Full of Women": Shredding Mitt's Myth

by Nomad


ourtesy of The Atlantic, this photograph from last night's 90-minute debate at Hofstra University in Hemptstead, N.Y seems to capture the inner truth about the candidates.

One exchange during the debate which emerged as an online talking point was Romney's remark on hiring women. 
Here's is a transcript of that segment:

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I -- and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are -- are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we -- can't we find some -- some women that are also qualified?"
And -- and so we -- we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America. Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort.
His statement seems to contradict his already foggy stand on Affirmative Action. After all, why is hiring from a pre-selected category any different? How is a binder full of women any different than hiring from a binder full of blacks or a binder full of Hispanics? His statement doesn't make sense because, as we shall see, it is based on a misrepresentation of the facts.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Romney's Stolen Line: A Cuban-American PR Disaster

by Nomad

When it comes to foreign policy, Romney has had more than his share of missteps- even before he began this campaign. Back in the 2008 presidential race, for example, he accidentally caused a public relations nightmare with Cuban-Americans

In March 2007, while speaking in Miami, Romney made a play for the Latino vote, telling his audience:
Hugo Chavez has tried to steal an inspiring phrase. Excuse me for my pronunciation: ‘Patria o muerte, venceremos.’ It does not belong to him, it belongs to a free Cuba.’”
That phrase means ‘Fatherland Or Death, We Shall Overcome.” Obviously somebody thought Romney could take a page from the Kennedy playbook and speak as the natives do. When Kennedy mangled German, it somehow added to the charm. That an American president would make an attempt to speak their language saying, literally, I am one with you.” It's pretty old schtick but effective when it goes right. 

In Romney’s case, it all went ..not right. By that I mean, it went horribly wrong. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Musical Sanity Break- Three by Prine

Some Humans Ain't Human 


Hello in There

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NATO: A Closer Look at Mitt Romney’s Two Percent Solution

by Nomad


s any businessman or lawyer will confirm, the art of deception often involves things are not said, rather than the things that are actually specified. Mitt Romney's recent foreign policy speech the other day, entitled "The Mantle of Leadership, delivered at  Virginia Military Institute, definitely fits this profile. 

Here's an interesting statement from that speech.
And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent of their GDP to security spending. Today, only 3 of the 28 NATO nations meet this benchmark.
Compared to both the United Kingdom and the United States, the rest of the NATO-member countries spend noticeably less of their GDP on defense. Therein lies the Republican complaint. According to a journalist for CQ Press:
European NATO members also spend a smaller percentage of their income on defense than the United States. Although under NATO rules all members vow to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, most European members now treat the 2 percent minimum as a ceiling instead, spending about 1.4 percent of their GDPs on defense. The United States spends about 4 percent of its GDP on defense.
American critics of NATO say that with a productive population of 445 million and a combined GDP of about $11 trillion, Europeans can afford to look after themselves militarily. But by spending less on defense — and refusing to pool their resources on most joint projects — the Europeans create resentment across the Atlantic about the unfair financial burden borne by the United States. The situation also undermines efforts to create a common defense policy within the military organization.
This has been an ongoing gripe by the Republican warhawks since the Bush administration. Certainly they have a point. Michael Cohen, writing for The Century Foundation, a progressive non-partisan think tank, points out:
Why should the United States be responsible for underwriting European security (and in turn the European welfare state), especially when European countries face not a single legitimate military threat to their well-being? Moreover, if Europeans don't think it's important enough to spend their own money on their own security, why should America? Now granted, the Europeans are a little short on cash these days, but then so is the United States. But of course as the House of Representatives reminded us recently—as they eviscerated key social safety net programs to restore cuts made to the defense budget—you can't put a price tag on a huge American military that does little to keep America safe and underwrites the security of other countries.
As unfair as the situation appears to be to some Americans, it cannot be overstated that NATO is not an American organization. Although the United States comprises the largest military force within the organization, NATO is voluntary organization, a working alliance of many nations, all with shared interests, all of them treaty-bound for mutual defense. It's not a company. If you own 51% of the hardware, you still don't have controlling shares or anything like that. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Presidentially-Unfit Mitt Romney’s Loose Talk about Syria

by Nomad


hen it comes to foreign policy, Republican nominee Mitt Romney gives every indication that, as a leader of the nation, he would prove to be a full-scale ("un-mitt-agated"?) diplomatic disaster.
All of the warnings signs are already apparent.

Take this example. In July of this year, The Washington Post reported:
Appearing via video at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual meeting Saturday morning, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) delivered a speech that hinged on social issues but also focused in on what remains the top issue in the presidential election — the economy.
However, that subject seems to have been a little too boring for the members of the Christian Right organization.
And to the third question — “How would Romney strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship?” — Romney had a quip at the ready.
“Basically, I think you could just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite,” he said to laughter.
Nothing striking about that remark; it is pure Romney- an appeal to the sense of Christian Right’s disgust that Obama is actually their president. However, in ad-libbing, the candidate also stated this:
He added that he would “be leading in Syria by encouraging our friends there like the Turks and the Saudis to provide weapons to the insurgents.”
This casual, (some would call it reckless) remark says a lot about the manner in which Romney as president would conduct foreign policy. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Political Poisons: Voter Fraud and The GOP Platform

by Nomad

Voter fraud is political poison. It strikes at the heart of representative government. We call on every citizen, elected official, and member of the judiciary to preserve the integrity of the vote. We call for vigorous prosecution of voter fraud at the State and federal level. To do less disenfranchises present and future generations. We recognize that having a physical verification of the vote is the best way to ensure a fair election. “Let ambition counter ambition,” as James Madison said. When all parties have representatives observing the counting of ballots in a transparent process, integrity is assured. We strongly support the policy that all electronic voting systems have a voter verified paper audit trail.

- from the 2012 Republican Party Platform

Like a lot of political proclamations, this party platform sounds pretty sensible, even noble. It’s a platform that few could argue with. However, when it comes to putting it into practice, or even standing by the statement, it’s not so easy. Especially if you are the Republican party.

The Realities of Zero Tolerance
Last week, a consulting firm contracted by the Republican Party of Florida to register GOP voters was being investigated by state and local officials on charges of election fraud, Romney as leader of his party, gave no public statement, condemning any possible wrongdoing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- The General Electrifying of the President 3/3

by Nomad

PART ONE- David Stockman
PART TWO- Trickle Down

In this post, we will look at who actually benefited from  the con known as Reaganomics. The answer might surprise you.

Between Words and Deeds

If Ronald Reagan hadn’t existed, then the neo-conservatives would have had to invent him. In some respects, that’s exactly what they did. It seems sadly ironic that Reagan is more valuable as a myth to the Republican party than when he was a living president. He has allowed them to hold on to a very useful fantasy. 

Moreover, he has been used time and time again to justify inexcusably outrageous tax cuts for the minority of the population that clearly needs them the least. Besides, it would highly be embarrassing to have the real Reagan contradicting his own myth-makers and exposing them as hypocrites and frauds.
Still, for anybody who actually lived during the Reagan years and paid any attention whatsoever, the repeated make-overs, the erasures and exaggerations can be irritating, astounding and, at times, just plain amusing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- Trickle-Down 2/3

by Nomad

In Part One of this series, we looked at David Stockman, Reagan's budget adviser and his candid assessment back of Reagan's application of supply-side economics, better known as the trickle-down theory. Now let's take a look at the intellectual origins of the idea.
Plutocracy is abhorrent to a republic; it is more despotic than monarchy, more heartless than aristocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It preys upon the nation in time of peace and conspires against it in the hour of its calamity.
Horse and Sparrow Theory
History is sometimes a fickle thing. Often it remembers those who should probably be forgotten while forgetting those who, for one reason or another, deserve our lasting appreciation.

William Jennings Bryan is one of those people who was quite popular in his time but has now been largely consigned to unread records. However, not unlike his contemporary, Teddy Roosevelt, Bryan’s words and thoughts, once considered fixed to a particular time and particular circumstance of American history, seem to be suddenly just as apt in our own times.

Born in 1860 in Salem, Illinois, Bryan was a gifted orator of his day and as an American political figure,, ran three times for president in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Bryan never won the presidency but eventually became Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State in 1913

His name is familiar in some circles because of his role in the famous Scope’s “Monkey Trial” in which he argued against the teaching of evolution in public school. Although he was left humiliated after being called to the stand himself to defend religion against science, Bryan, in fact, he won the case; the teacher was found guilty of breaking the law but the verdict was later overturned on a technicality. For that to be his only claim to fame is a pity. He appears to have much to say to our present age.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- The David Stockman Debacle 1/3

 by Nomad

President Reagan

For some time now, every GOP candidate wants to find some way, any way, to make a linkage to Ronald Reagan. It goes way beyond an illegitimate comparison into the offensive and idiotic. During the campaign in an interview with CNN, for example, Newt Gingrich had the audacity to say,
"I think a big mistake on my part was to try to bring in conventional consultants. Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I'm such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I'm trying to do."
As if by invoking the name of the 40th president- like some enchanted spell- it will bring them political magic or a cloak of invisibility to hide their shameful ideological nakedness. 

Trickle-Down is Reaganomics

Many have objected to Obama’s call for a fair tax system, in which the super wealthy will pay their rightful share. Taxing the “job creators” is, they bewail, out of the question. Where on earth do you expect jobs to come from if you punish success? they moan. Of course, anybody familiar with history will recognize that line of thinking as the trickle-down theory, which was a key feature of Reagan’s economic plan.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Musical Sanity Break- Under Pressure

This Musical Sanity Break- UNDER PRESSURE, by David Bowie and Queen- is dedicated to the upcoming debate between Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States and Mitt Romney, Republican candidate and former governor of Massachusetts.

Romney, whose campaign has largely become a series of missteps, is banking his hopes for winning the election on his performance at the debates. It is quite a gamble when you look at all of his gaffes and the possibility that he could fail under the stress is, indeed, high. On the other hand, Obama has repeatedly shown that he is able to maintain his poise when challenged. So it should be interesting.

This 1981 song is one of my favorites, by the way. For a popular song, the lyrics are pretty impressive. 
Why can't we give ourselves just one more chance?
Why can't we give love just one more chance?

'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And loves dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves... 
under pressure.