Friday, December 19, 2014

THE STATE OF THE UNION PRESIDENT OBAMA SHOULD GIVE IN JANUARY

Guest Post from Ray Gonzales, Ph.D.  

Dr. Gonzales is retired from the California State University system, served in the United States Marine Corps (1957-59), was elected to the California State Assembly from Kern County in 1972, served in the first Jerry Brown administration, was a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1980 to 1990, and Director of Recruitment for the Peace Corps from 1993 to 1997. 

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As President Obama begins the last two years of his Administration, this is the speech he ought to give to the Nation as his State of the Union Address:

My fellow Americans, as I begin my last two years as your President, there are a few things I have to say which I have refrained from saying over the last six years.  I did not say these things because I had a deep hope that our country would come together after a tough partisan election and work harmoniously to improve the American economy, get us out of unnecessary wars, and improve the lives of our middle class Americans while also protecting our free enterprise system and providing the needed social services for all of our people.

Unfortunately, things did not work out that way.  In many respects I have failed in my efforts, failed primarily because of circumstances beyond my control and a very negative and prevailing attitude of some of our citizens, especially the members of Congress from the other Party.

When I was elected, I, and the rest of the world, believed that it was a great day for America, not because I am an especially worthy person, or that I brought some special gifts to the office.  It was significant because, after several hundred years of racial divide and animosity that characterized much of our history, a black man was elected President of the United States of America.  This was a tremendous political statement by the American people.  It said to the world that despite much of our troubled past as it relates to race, we Americans have now elected an African American because we believe he was the best choice of candidates from all the Parties in the nation.  The joy expressed and seen around the country was remarkable.  It humbled me and made me very proud to be an American.

Unfortunately, this feeling of joy and pride was not shared by all Americans.  We can understand and accept the sorrow and disappointment experienced by the members of the losing Party.  That always occurs after a hard fought political contest.  But the feelings felt and expressed by many of the losers in the 2008 election were not your normal dissatisfaction with the outcome.  Instead, one attitude that came out after my election to the Presidency was, “What is happening to our country.  We’ll now have a black man as president.”  

Many attempted to hide their resentment and mask it in political terms, but the truth is, they were offended that a black man would now be the Commander and Chief.


Immediately, there were concerns about my name — Obama, and my origin and the story of my black father from Africa.  I was accused of falsifying my birth certificate, of having Muslim connections, of being anti-white and anti-Christian.  There was no end to the charges that were leveled at me publicly and the hatred of me expressed in private.  We have not shared any of the hate mail we receive in the White House that attacks me, not as being a bad president, but for being black.  Some Americans just cannot accept that someone, not exactly like them, is now the leader of the strongest country in the World.  How could this happen?

But my effort to accomplishing much of what the country needs was met with opposition at every turn.  

My plan of developing an infrastructure program to repair the aging bridges, pipelines, docks, tunnels, air and rail systems while creating thousand of jobs was not supported.  My efforts to raise the minimum wage and protect women’s equal rights in the workplace were thwarted as well.  I failed in getting comprehensive immigration policy passed, that the country so badly needs.  I was unable to pass reasonable legislation on gun control, even after the horrendous mass shootings in the country.  Eighty-two of my appointments were blocked by filibuster compared to 86 for all other presidents in the history of the country combined.  There have been many failures in my efforts to move our country forward.  

I am sorry for these failures.  I apologize to the American people for not being more successful in these endeavors.

But while I take some responsibility for not getting many of the important things done, I can say with a straight face and in all honesty that I tried.  My failure and the country’s failure to see the needed changes that we expect are primarily due to a recalcitrant Congress, led in the House of Representatives by the Republican Party.  It is a well-known fact that on Inauguration night of 2009, when we thought our country took a giant step forward, Republican leaders were meeting at the Caucus restaurant in Washington to discuss how they could thwart my efforts and sabotage my presidency. As present Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated at the time, "If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority…We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."


Their stated goal was to oppose every effort that I made, every law I would try to pass, every appointment I would try to make.  They were going to say NO to everything I attempted.  Understand that they made this decision on Inauguration day.  They made this decision before I proposed any legislation, made a single appointment, or even talked about my plans as president.  It was to be their philosophy of non-cooperation for my entire term, regardless of how it affected the nation.

They rejected the hand of friendship I extended and an offer to work cooperatively for the betterment of our country.  I would like to think that their reasons for declaring their policy of NO was based on political party differences.  Some of this may be true, but more true is that many of those Congressional leaders, pushed by their Base, believed that my presidency was illegitimate.  They could not accept that a black man named, Barack Obama, could be president of the USA.  A degree of racial animosity existed in the ranks of the GOP leadership as it did in their grassroots. 

It is clear that the GOP’s efforts to attack voting rights and limit access to the polls, to block all efforts at immigration reform, and to oppose the expansion of healthcare in this country have been aimed at the middle-class, the working poor and racial groups.  While they hide behind their arguments of budget issues, smaller government, and Christian values, the fact is that a certain degree of racial animus motivates many in the Party and many in the leadership of that party.

Many will protest now that I am playing the race card, that I am a cry-baby who has been a failure as president, that I have stooped to a new low.  The truth is that the GOP’s attitude and behavior during my six years as President has been a new low in our American political system.  


History will show that what I say is true, that this has been the reality of the political friction during the last six years.  I will take my chances with history.  I have more faith in historians, political scientists, and the media to get things right and tell the American people the truth about my Presidency.  I have not failed as much as our political system has failed.

And despite my inability to accomplish many of the items I have listed, the truth is that some things did get done. In many ways I made a difference.  

* Our stock market has reached historic highs at 17,864 for the first time in our history; an increase of 141 percent, while under George Bush it declined by a minus 38 percent. 
* We turned our financial crisis around as we created 10 million new jobs in 54 months, dropping our unemployment rate from 9.5 to 5.9 during my tenure, the lowest level in 14 years.  
* We cut the annual deficit left to us by President Bush by 70 percent.  
* The country has seen a GDP growth rate to 4.6%, while under Bush it declined by -5.4%.   
* We increased government spending by only 1.8 percent while Bush increased it to 8.1 in his last term.  
* Bush took a Clinton budget surplus of $129 billion and left us with a national debt of $11 trillion when he left office.  
* We have provided new healthcare for 33 million new Americans, despite the opposition of the Republican Congress.  
* Consumer confidence has gone from  25% under Bush to 94.6%.  
* We got out of a war that the Bush Administration started on the basis of lies and false intelligence reports.   
* We killed Osama in Laden, and have had no foreign terrorist attack in our country during my Administration.  

I am proud of these accomplishments.

And while the GOP Party leaders have fought me at every turn, I am proud that a majority of Americans elected me to be their President not once, but twice.  This says much about our country even while some Americans refuse to accept the changes that are taking place in our demographics, as we continue to be a nation of immigrants.  We took a big step forward in the election of 2008 and showed the world that a majority of the American people is open to new things that will come with new generations.  There is no turning back, as minorities, women, the middle class, the poor, take their rightful place in the future of our nation.  We have seen that the “trickle-down” has not worked as corporations and the top 10 percent of the country grow increasingly richer while the poor and the middle-class are stuck in a situation with little hope.


The next two years are going to be difficulty for the country, but I do not intend to be cowered by the other Party.  Bring it on, I say.  The American people will not continue to be duped by a minority of individuals who do not have the best interest of the country as their main goal.  Thank you for your kind attention.

Your President,
Barack Obama

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- Mark 

BUSH FAMILY LEGACY ... GENERATIONS OF TOMFOOLERY

So, Jeb Bush wants to run for president. Good for him, but what about us? 




And, for the record, here's Dubya's take on all the Tomfoolery ...


- Mark

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FOX NEWS' "CLOWN CAR OF PUNDITRY" HITS A NEW LOW IN DOUBLE STANDARDS, AGAIN


Fox News' Clown Car of Punditry doesn't think people should be allowed to march on our streets because impeding traffic's "a form of violence." Jon Stewart calls them on their ignorance, and their double standard ...


What makes the Fox News Clown Car of Punditry so ridiculous is that the clown team had absolutely no problem promoting and encouraging the Koch brothers-Big Tobacco inspired Tea Party to take to the streets to protest President Obama's policies.



While most of us know that Fox News regularly embarrasses itself on issues like this, we can at least be thankful that Fox wasn't around during other critical moments in our nation's history.

Let's take a look at what the headlines might have looked like if Fox News was around throughout American history.

IF FOX NEWS WAS AROUND WHEN ...


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Let's take this full circle.

Fox News' recent coverage of events in Ferguson, Missouri - especially Sean Hannity's early musings and suggestive commentary about Darren Wilson being savagely beaten - was Clown Car Punditry at its finest (worst?).


For the record, here's what Darren Wilson looked like in the hospital after he was "nearly beaten unconscious" ...


- Mark

RUSSIAN ECONOMY COLLAPSING ... HOW COME PUTIN'S U.S. FAN CLUB (i.e. the GOP) IS SO QUIET?


This past year the Republicans continuously ridiculed President Obama for his policies towards Russia, while openly admiring the strong arm tactics of "manly-man" Vladimir Putin ...


What GOP's man-crush fawning over Vladimir Putin completely ignored was the long-term impact of sanctions, and how Putin's false bravado policies were setting his country up for an economic freefall that's affecting his base of support in the country.

The Russian Ruble against the U.S. Dollar, Sept.-Nov., 2014.

The Russian Ruble against the U.S. Dollar, December, 2014.

If we've learned anything during this past year it's that at least we know conservatives are consistent ... consistent at being wrong. Check out the list of big ticket items that the conservatives have gotten wrong over the years in this Vanity Fair article.

And, for the record, President Obama's economy is humming along nicely, and might even be stronger than you think ...


- Mark 

RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE ... THE RIGHT THING TO DO


- Mark 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

READING FOR THE WEEK (12-18-14)


This may be the most remarkable story in the CIA torture report (Huffington Post).

Ryan Leaf's jailhouse confessions (Playboy).

17 corporate Darwin Award nominees - yeah, they goofed (Brainjet).

Jewish angels and Roman gods: The ancient chronological origins of Christmas (Salon).


WASHINGTON'S GIFT TO CORPORATE AMERICA: THE CROMNIBUS
Cromnibus winners and losers (Creators).

Cramming the CRomnibus: Rushed spending bill creates systemic moral hazard (Aljazeera America).

Incumbency Insurance: Provision in cromnibus bill dramatically increases the amount of money wealth political donors can give to political parties (AlterNet).


BANKING ON ARROGANCE 
A brief history of modern Citigroup: The original gangsta (Creators).

Bernie Sanders: Destroy the big banks before the banks destroy you (AlterNet).


ARE YOU SURE WE'RE A CHRISTIAN NATION?
10 things conservative Christians got horribly wrong (AlterNet).

10 ways conservatives don't act anything like Christians (Forward Progress).

One nation under Galt: How Ayn Rand's toxic philosophy permanently transformed America (Salon).


WHILE YOU WERE CHECKING YOUR PHONE ...
Bush convicted of war crimes in absentia (Foreign Policy Journal).

Hero Mom calls C-SPAN to yell at her arguing pundit sons (Washington Post).

Sean Hannity explodes after being confronted by ThinkProgress about previous offer to be waterboarded for charity (ThinkProgress).

Deadly hazing and the dildo brigade: 5 shocking fraternity horror stories from the past year (AlterNet).

Tarrant police officer delivers groceries to woman caught stealing eggs at Dollar General (AL).


REALLY?
Facepalm: Antonin Scalia isn't aware of anything in the Constitution that prohibits torture (If You Only News).

FedEx: Corporate tax dodger? Here's the numbers/facts (Americans for Tax Fairness).

The Koch brothers Wall Street crusade to rob pensions is under way (Politics USA).


MISCELLANEOUS
No, you didn't build that on your own: A Look at Government Involvement in Technological Development (The Breaktrough Institute).

A simple and very accessible group of charts that tell us what's happening in the state of California (Legislative Analyst's Office of California).

Are charter schools segregating America's school system (Creators).

10 ridiculously useful parenting tips for the holidays (Salon).

Here's how much the storm is helping California's epic drought (Mother Jones).

WHAT WE PAY IN GASOLINE TAXES, PER STATE

Via the American Petroleum Institute / ExxonMobile we get a map of the United States that shows us the combined local, state, and federal tax rate for 2014.



For the record California has the highest gas tax in the country, where it's more than 70 cents a gallon. The federal gasoline coast-to-coast is the same in every state, 18.4 cents a gallon.

Click here for an interactive map, which breaks down the taxes per state.

- Mark