Putin and Obama may hate each others guts? But you can bet that both have their "interests" involved in this Syrian deal. They are not doing it because they are "friends".
I can't help but think that Obama is going against some very strong pro-war "interests"? They would prefer that he make the decisions all by himself, without Congress, and bomb the hell out of Syria so they can make more bombs and make more money. But Obama seems to be going against the grain, in my opinion.
He seems to be thinking of his legacy? He has mentioned constitutional reasons for taking the issue to Congress. This is not politics as usual, with Presidents making decisions about going to war all on their own. If he can pull this off in Syria, it will be a big part of his legacy. And he will piss off a lot of influential "interests".
However, the pro-war devils are whispering in his ear at all times. They have grown accustomed to having their way with the Presidents. They do not want him to go to the UN. They do not trust the UN. They do not want a peaceful resolution to the crisis. They would prefer another war.
Putin, on the other hand, is the ultimate pragmatist and realist. He believes Obama will carry thru with his threat to bomb Syria. He knows that Syria does not have the means to defend itself against the modern American weapons. Also, he knows that Assad has been weakened immensely by his war with the "rebels". He understands that Russia could lose one of its oldest allies in that part of the Middle East. It is in his "interest" to negotiate. If he can give up the chemical weapons but keep Assad in power and keep Syria intact, then it would be a victory for him. He is negotiating for survival of Syria as an ally of Russia.
Sun Tzu said, "Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."
After all, he was a constitutional scholar before he was a politician. Many of his supporters always expected him to adhere to the Constitution in which he was so well-schooled. That is why many supported his decision to send the Syria "question" to the Congress because it is the way our Constitution meant for questions of war to be handled.
The War Powers Act had done nothing but give our Presidents excuses to use our military in whatever way they saw fit, even for personal or political reasons, as with the capture of Noriega and going to war with Saddam Hussein. Remember, "He tried to kill my Daddy"?
We have been at war constantly and will continue to be at war constantly so long as the President, whichever Party, can declare on his own when to send troops into battle. Before, it had always been the responsibility of our Congress and should return to the way our founders intended.
This is the destiny of Barack Obama. He can once again return our government and our military back to its constitutional foundation. That would be quite a legacy. And that is what his life has been about up 'til now.
But, he is being pulled away from his conscience and his destiny and toward the siren song of the war mongers. Will he listen to his conscience? Will he follow our Constitution? Will he engage our allies before he unilaterally involves us in another war? The President is at a crossroads. He will choose the path of his destiny or he will continue to lead our nation down the road to ruin....
...there was a great country.
Their citizens had jobs and they worked. They labored long and hard.
And they had food and shelter. They had respect. They were happy in life.
Then one day a dark prince rode into the village. He hitched his horse to a post and went in to see the little shoemaker. "Can you fix the soles on my boots", he asked the little fellow? "I sure can! And do it at a good price, too", the shoemaker said.
But the dark prince saw that he could get those boots fixed at a better price in that country over the oceans. There would be so much more profit left after the job was done. And he shipped the little fellow's job over the seas.
And he and his friends did it with the carpet makers and they did it with the dressmakers and with whomever they could make a profit. Soon, these people had nothing to do. They were not happy. They were just a number.
The great country had lost its respect. The little people, the farmers and the general store owners, were very patriotic toward their country. They did not like that the dark prince and his friends had taken their jobs and left such a sadness.
The people gathered in the middle of their villages and discussed the problem. They knew they had to change it. They knew that when people lost their jobs, they lost their respect. They were not happy and their families were unhappy also.
But the dark prince and his friends were not accepting of any suggestions from the little people.
They had divided the countryside into redshirts and blueshirts and they seldom talked with each other like they did in the old days. They had the power and they were not going to give it up.
So, the little folks grew restless. They wanted their country to be great again. So the redshirts began talking to the blueshirts and the blueshirts said, "Why are we wearing these stupid shirts?"
And they united and defeated the dark prince and his friends that had made the great country so unhappy.
In my opinion, we absolutely do.
Simply because technology has advanced to the degree that it has, with Internet, Facebook, email, cell phones, etc, does not in any way take away any person's right to privacy.
We did not give up our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms simply because guns became far more advanced than our founders ever imagined. Neither should we give up our 4th Amendment rights because technology has become advanced to the point that it makes it easy for the government or other individuals to spy on us or to invade our privacy.
It is not just our responsibility to protect our privacy. It is the responsibility of others not to invade our privacy. Just as you cannot put secret cameras in a hotel room to peep on customers, you cannot listen to others' phone calls or read their emails, or sell their information without their permission. Simply because technology allows you to do it does not make it legal or right.
It is absolutely wrong to say that you no longer have a right to privacy. You have just as much a right to privacy today as you did before the newest technology became available. Those that would use this technology for such purposes should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They have no right to collect information that is personal to you. Technology does not change that one iota.
My hope is that someday we will see this tried before the Supreme Court.
Some of the oldest advice we might find, when we are looking for someone with a motive for doing something wrong or illegal, is to "follow the money". Who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose?
As far as we know, Edward Snowden has not received any great compensation for blowing the whistle on the spying program of the NSA. He gave up a good paying job and a good life in Hawaii and may be in custody at any moment. Except to satisfy his personal narcissism, it is difficult to see where he benefits?
But the NSA has a lot to lose. The Agency is presently receiving about $80 billion per year from the taxpayers of this country. They work closely with the Carlyle Group, who have been involved in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for several decades. They, in turn, contract their work out to folks like Booz-Allen, whom Snowden was employed with until this earth-shaking incident.
It is an incestuous relationship whereby officers of Booz-Allen and others work their way into the NSA and then, after they built up their infrastructure of connections within the government, they then move back into the contracting business, and one of their friends then move back into the leadership of the NSA.
Over the last 25 years, we have seen the Carlyle Group, under the leadership of Cap Weinberger, and with folks like George HW Bush on their Board, receive much of the government payola. They were also the parent company of Booz-Allen.
But the "war on terror" brought new opportunities for these contractors. With the assistance of John Poindexter, a computer information analyst from the Reagan Administration, they created the Total Information Awareness program. They wanted to "own the Internet".
So there was money to be made with the new "war on terror". Eventually they would be able to collect information on everyone. They would be able to catch the terrorists before they were able to act by connecting all the information. They received more and more government largesse. Their payroll got larger and larger as they hired more and more analysts, like Snowden.
But they could not produce the results that they promised. The centerpiece of their several years of spying and collecting information was the capture of the NYC subway bomber. But even that is under question. They have little to show for all the money they have received.
Naturally, they want to keep that money coming in. More than national security, it is about personal wealth for the cadre of political scam artists that gather government contracts. The fact that they were such a failure is the biggest secret of all.
Edward Snowden had very little "real" intelligence to give anyone. Phone numbers and email addresses and Internet communications were not as valuable as they thought for intelligence gathering. But the money they made from collecting this information was very valuable.
That is the secret they did not want exposed. Many in the NSA and the contracting business stand to lose a lot of money if the truth is known. This whole episode is not about national security. It is about scamming the American taxpayers. That is why everything is a secret. That is what Edward Snowden has exposed.
As Republicans stroll along the streets singing about the evils of "big government", it has never been more obvious that we need our "government" to fix the massive problem with unemployment in this country. We do not need that many unemployed. Why should we care?
People need jobs because jobs can add meaning to their lives. But let's face the truth: The private sector is not going to fix our roads, they are not going to re-build our bridges. They are not going to repair our infrastructure on their own. It's just too big of a job to undertake. That is why we have to have government take the lead in rebuilding our infrastructure.
But, of course, the government can do nothing if the private sector is not involved. For example, if there is a bridge that needs repaired or built, the government does not stop people on the street and ask if they "know how to build a bridge"??
Government goes to the existing private sector, including small construction companies, and take bids for the jobs that need to be done. The private sector benefits from their work and their hiring others to work for them. Government leads but government is not taking the profit from the infrastructure that benefits us all. That is how government serves us all, regardless of your Party affiliation.
If we were to maintain a workforce of 100 million workers who paid $20 per week in FICA taxes (contributions) out of each paycheck, that would mean $2 billion dollars per week would go into the Social Security Trust Fund. (I am only using this as an example because the numbers are quite a bit higher)
So, if we were paying $2 billion per week, that would equal $104 billion dollars per year into the Social Security Trust Fund. That is a lot of money. It is not going to go broke so long as the workers continue to pay into it. The worst scenario would be that the benefits would have to be cut if it ran into a shortfall. Or it would need to be changed in some small way to meet its needs.
The point being that Social Security is not going broke and cannot go broke so long as workers pay into it. The only way it could go broke is if we stop paying those taxes and say that we are going to pay for it out of the "general fund". The "general fund" is always at the discretion of the politicians in power. They can spend it on whatever they desire. This is the danger in the "payroll tax cut".
Bottom line, Social Security is one of the greatest programs ever created and gives workers and citizens an independence from the capitalists and the conservatives in government that despise the program. We should protect it at all costs.
Wasn't that a royal screwing of the American people?
If we traced our present economic problems back to its roots, we will probably find that they began with the free trade treaties. We were led to believe that getting everything produced overseas would somehow help the workers of this country? Were we morons or what??
The most obvious consequence of these trade treaties was that it drove the price of labor down in this nation. It drove the profits up of those that chose to make their products in China and elsewhere. And the biggest problem we face at this time is not necessarily the debt we owe these nations because we do not have the tax base to pay for our programs anymore, but rather, the impact it has had on jobs and wages. Something has to change.
We have become a nation for the few, rather than the many. We all must now sacrifice for the good of the top 1%, the so-called "job creators". They are not job creators but capitalist profiteers. More than 60% of all jobs created in this country are by smaller businesses. The top 1-2% of income earners do not create jobs. Over 96% of them only create wealth for themselves. Something is wrong with this picture??
Under the guise of saving the SS system, FICA taxes were raised on workers wages during the "big fix" of Social Security by Ronald Reagan. The wealthy were content to let the workers pay for all the programs we needed, including a defense department with a voracious appetite. But, when companies were moving overseas and we were losing jobs here, the SS fund started to shrink. In kind, the deficits went up proportionally to the number of unemployed.
We have now come to a meeting of the minds. In less than a dozen years, we went from a balanced budget to over-whelming debt. There are so many loopholes nobody can count them. We have a useless, and mostly destructive Congress to block anything that might be proposed. We have really screwed the pooch with this Congress.
So the decision is ours. Do we want a country for the few or do we want a country for the many? The time is now to make that decision. We hope the Democratic Party will be up to the task? But many of us have our doubts. Nobody seems ready to tackle these problems?
I hate to sound too negative but that is the way I see it...
Democrats blame George W Bush and his policies for most of our economic problems that we are enduring today. And he deserves much of the blame.
However, when we dig deeper, we can see the true culprits. Yes, the policies of Ronald Reagan were responsible to a large degree, also.
But the true cretins in all that we have experienced for the last 12 years is the US Supreme Court and Antonia Scalia, more specifically.
It was they that took the votes away from the people, because they did not trust the Democrats in Florida to count the votes accurately. They did not want to count the votes. Instead, they (Supremes) took it upon themselves to give the election to George W Bush. And this country has been going downhill ever since.
It is Antonia Scalia that has brow-beaten every conservative on the Court into doing his bidding. He is a bully which none of them dare to stand up to. He, more than anyone else, is responsible for putting George W Bush into office in 2001.
They inherited a balanced budget and a 4.1% unemployment rate and a projected surplus for as far as the eye could see. They even projected a balanced budget in the year 2012. Today. Now. But Bush and the Republicans said, "It's not the government's money, it's the people's money" and proceeded to give away the entire surplus plus everything that was projected to be a surplus in the future, to those at the very top. They called it "trickle-down". It has decimated our country to the point where we many never fully recover. At least, there will be few dollars for the social programs that might be needed in the future.
Add in 9/11, two unpaid wars, an expensive giveaway to the drug companies in Medicare "reform", $4 trillion in tax cuts, stock market crash, unemployment skyrocketing, and we get Barack Obama as President.
But it was not Ronald Reagan that put George W Bush into office. George W Bush was an ignorant chimp and he acted the part. But the real culprit for where we are today is the US Supreme Court and Antonia Scalia most specifically.
Just my historical opinion.
The President's comment about Mitt Romney in the last debate.
The President is right. It's "salesmanship".
But if you cannot sell your own program and achievements, you do not deserve another term.
If this campaign wants to get back on the right track, they are going to have to spend less time trying to define Mitt Romney and Big Bird and more time defining their own record.
It's been four years since George W Bush left office and we have spent the last 4 years trying to save this country and get it back on track. As Bill Clinton said at the Convention, no President, not Barack Obama, not Mitt Romney, not even Bill Clinton could clean up the mess that was left in just one term. Perhaps that is where you want to start Barack?
We knew it was bad when George W Bush and Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, walked out in front of the cameras to tell the American people that if they did not get $700 billion dollars in a few days, the entire economic system could collapse. That would include the stock market and the big banks. It was bad news. It was not a simple recession.
By the time Barack Obama was sworn into office, we were losing 800,000 jobs per month! This was millions of jobs over just a few months time. This is what you have to remind people about, Mr President.
Many Americans had their savings in 401K's and in the stock market. The market was dropping like a rock. By the time this Administration was able to stabilize the markets, it had gone down to about 6500. People were losing their life savings! The stock market today is more than double that and people have regained most of their savings from the collapse of Wall Street. This is what you need to say, Mr President. Forget about Big Bird.
Not only are we not losing 800,000 jobs per month, we gained 114,000 jobs last month and we are back on the way to a recovery. Those numbers are not great but we were in a mess.
Do not be deceived by slick talking Republicans that want to double down on trickle-down and give more tax cuts to the wealthy and cut back on regulations that we have put in place so we do not go through another collapse like we had in 2008. Not only do they want to cut taxes by 20% for everyone, they want to increase defense spending by $2 trillion dollars! They don't have the money for Social Security or Medicare but they have the money to spend on defense contractors and taxcuts. Tell it like it is Mr President. The times are too serious to be playing games with these jobs-destroying Republicans.
This is the message the campaign must get on if they are going to win this election. It's time to get their heads out of their asses.
Republicans were giddy as their guy was widely accepted as the winner of the second debate against the evil and widely-despised Barack Obama. Lost in the celebration was the new agenda of the Republican nominee:
He called for nationalizing the five largest banks.
He wanted health coverage for all Americans thru a new one-payer system.
He said that it would not be enough, in this time of crisis, to only return to the Clinton tax rates but should have an extra 5% surtax on everyone making over a million dollars per year.
He proposed a new Works Program, mostly on infrastructure, to put America back to work.
He insisted that the cap on Social Security be raised to $250,000 and stated that would save the system for the next 75 years.
He called for complete overhaul of the tax system and proposed that all Congressmen and Senators would no longer have the cushy retirement they now have, but instead, would pay into Social Security like every other citizen.
He called for 50% cuts across the board in the Defense Department with the savings going to save the Medicare system for our elderly.
He called for the total dismantling of the Homeland Security Dept because of its infringement upon our freedoms.
He proposed a new law stating that no elected officials could have any money invested in off-shore accounts, for national security reasons.
Finally, he called for new investment in our educational system, from Kindergarten thru College to prepare our nation for the challenges of the new world.
Obama was speechless. All he could do was look down at his paper and look to the moderator, Candy Crowley, for some help. He received none.
Romney was widely applauded in the press and he had to be protected from the adoring crowds of Republican supporters at every stop. The polls have turned in his favor nationwide. Republicans loved the man that could defeat Barack Obama so handily in two straight debates.
But it is time the Republican voters in this country faced the truth.
They say they want a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility. They say they want the Parties to work together. They are dishonest.
Because if they were honest, they would get rid of those Tea Partiers that have vowed to never compromise with this President on anything.
If they were honest about fiscal responsibility, they would not continue to vote for those Senators, Congressmen, and Presidential candidates that sign a pledge to never raise taxes for any purpose. Just yesterday, their candidate for President said he was going to increase spending on our military, some estimate as much as $2 trillion dollars. Not only that, he has hinted that he would go to war with Iran. How would we pay for this?
Also, he has said that he would cut tax rates across the board by 20%, even for the very top. Top economic experts say that would cost us $5 trillion dollars. On top of that, they want to continue the Bush taxcuts. How would we pay for this if every Republican in Washington has signed a pledge to never raise taxes?
It's time to ask for a little honesty from the Republican voters of this country. We cannot survive with such dishonesty from so many people. To their credit, the Democratic Party has never signed a pledge to never make any cuts or never to raise any taxes.
The Obama campaign should not only be taking Mitt Romney to task, but they should be taking to task the dishonest Republican voters also. They cannot handle the truth but it must be told. They are the reason we do not have a balanced budget. Their continuing votes for those folks that sign pledges is the main reason we have such fiscal irresponsibility.
I do believe that this world is connected by threads that are beyond our comprehension or understanding. It can be very disturbing and depressing when someone we know takes their own life. This afternoon I went to view the body of a lovely neighbor. She was a teacher of young children. I do not know all the details of her death. She was a very intelligent and lovely person.
This was the same day, Monday morning, as I was standing in my garden, that I saw my first large yellow and black butterfly of the year. (a Monarch?) It almost startled me as it zoomed by me and was gone. I was in awe. Then I had to go to work, which is about a ten-mile drive one way.
Since I only work part-time, I got out of work before noon. As I exited the building and was on my way to my car, I was surprised as a large yellow and black butterfly flew over my head. What a coincidence, I thought. It looks just like the one I saw in my garden this morning! That's two in one day.
It was Monday evening, at dusk, when we noticed the police car and the ambulance down the street in front of her home. Our nearest neighbor told us that she had died. It was shocking. We did not know any details at the time.
So today I come home from work and get ready to go and see her and pay our last respects. I have a little time while I am waiting for my wife to come home so I turn on the sprinkler on my small garden. It's been a very poor garden this year - although I do have dozens and dozens of beautiful morning glories.
As we close the front door and get ready to go and view her body, I remember that I have to turn off the water to the sprinkler in the garden. I open the side gate and go around the side of the house to turn off the water. I am surprised as I turn the corner. A large yellow and black butterfly, just like the others, flies directly in front of me, from right to left, and is gone.
Remember when Christine Romer, an Obama economic adviser, said that if we did not pass the stimulus program, the unemployment rate would go to 8%? Soon after the stimulus was passed, however weak, unemployment shot past 8% like a rocket. Soon after that, Ms Romer left the Administration and Republicans have been making hay off those comments ever since. However, they lie about it. They give Obama the blame for saying unemployment would not go above 8% when it was actually Christine Romer.
Although the President did not say those comments about the stimulus, he did say that the people would judge the job that he has done in three years and decide whether or not he deserved another term? He seems to be backing away from those comments just a little at the present time. The economy is not doing as well as maybe the President expected it to do?
The Republicans are attacking the President on the worst economy since the Great Depression. People have lost an average of $4000 per middle class family. There have been 42 straight months of unemployment above 8%. One in six Americans are now in poverty. Obama may have inherited a mess but he has only made it worse, the Republicans say.
From the day he took office, the President did not give the Republicans the blame they deserved for running our country so far into debt, cutting regulations, or letting the economic system collapse around our ears. He accepted responsibility. And the Republicans are more than happy to give it to him.
In hindsight, it was probably a huge mistake not to glue this economic catastrophe to the Republican Party for the next 40 years, just like FDR did after the Great Depression? Now, it is considered to be the sole property of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is getting off scot-free from any ownership of the present economy.
But many could see, four years ago, that it would take a long time to get out of this mess. And we are still in a mess, even though the stock market is doing much better and many in our society are doing quite well. The poverty rate continues to increase and the unemployment rate is actually much higher than officially reported. And it is the fault of Barack Obama because he accepted it. That is the way the Republicans want to re-write history. I don't believe it is fair. I think we should have used the economic collapse just like FDR used it but we didn't. I think that will turn out to be an historic political blunder.
The right wing is comparing the jobs recovery of Ronald Reagan to the jobs recovery of Barack Obama as a way to show that Reagan's policies were much better. And they say that Reagan's recession was worse than Obama's because unemployment went up to 10.4%. However, they say, at the same time in the recovery, Reagan was creating many more jobs. They cite this as evidence of the failure of Obama's policies and the success of Reagan's policies. No doubt, the Reagan recession was very serious.
However, the two economic downturns were as different as night and day. With the Reagan recession, we were recovering from the first oil shocks and embargoes and the first wave of inflation to hit our country in a long time. This was also left over from the spending of the Vietnam War. Reagan and the Republicans blamed Jimmy Carter but Nixon and Ford did nothing to prevent or to cushion the inflation blow, other than to print out WIN buttons. It was a severe recession.
But with the "Obama recession", which really began before he took office also, it was deeper and worldwide in its scope. It was on a depression level, with the collapse of the banks and the bubble bursting on the housing market, like none we had seen in our lifetimes. We were in dire straits. In many ways, we are still there. We have never recovered.
History will likely record that Barack Obama saved the capitalist system just as much as FDR did, or maybe even moreso, and prevented the nation from sliding into a deep depression with 20% unemployment. We are actually very, very lucky to only have 8.3% unemployment at this time. Obama inherited a much more dangerous economic downturn than did Ronald Reagan, there is little doubt.
Unfortunately, the President did not do a good job communicating the depth of the problem to the country or the time it might take to recover from the depression. Perhaps they underestimated the severity of the problem or they did not want to put too much of a negative spin on the disastrous situation we were in?
Regardless, the Republicans are now able to spin the economy as a failure on Obama's part by comparing it to Reagan at the same time in his recovery. In hindsight, it may have been better to have informed and warned the people from the beginning that this would take more than one term to fix? Perhaps it would have been better to move people's expectations a little more slowly?
Now, the Republicans are taking advantage of the slow recovery by saying that it is a failure of the Obama Administration. It didn't have to be this way.
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