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Saturday, January 31, 2009

We Americans Need to Learn from Our Mistakes

Hello Papamoka Bloggers - I thought I would try an experiment today. I was talking to a friend yesterday about the stimulus package and the Republican opposition, and something interesting happened during the debate. I found myself saying that I used to love to believe what the Republicans preach - smaller government and lower taxes - until I found out it doesn't work. So, what changed my mind?

I wanted to remember, so I began to recall my political past, and how I wasn't always what Republicans like to call a "liberal" Democrat. (I personally like the term "progressive," because it describes our thinking better.) I was a Democrat, just not the same kind. I was misguided.

Growing up in New Orleans, I campaigned and worked for Representative and later Senator John Breaux (D-LA) in the mid-eighties. He was a moderate "Blue Dog" Democrat, believing in many Republican issues at the time. Smaller government and lower taxes were high on the list. I supported many of the same positions, and even voted for George H. W. Bush after leaving the Senate.

I was young and foolish, and like so many Americans believed their stories about how smaller government and lower taxes would create a fantastic economy and society where success would trickle-down to everybody willing to reach for it. Reagan was a GREAT salesman, and charlatan. After the first Bush presidency, it all started to smell like old, rotten fish.

For those of us who were paying attention, the Lee Atwater movement under the first Bush began to show the ugly side of Republicans. If anybody wants to learn more about that political period, I recommend watching "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story." It's an excellent documentary about how Republican tactics evolved to create Karl Rove and George W. Bush. Be sure to have a friend nearby while watching - it's VERY SCARY!

Anyway, Republicans at that time started to look negative, racially divisive (their "Southern Strategy" was in full swing), and unconcerned about the economics that help ordinary people. They were looking great at getting people to vote against their best interests. It was weird. They started to divide and conquer the nation based on "wedge issues." It was also obvious nothing was "trickling down" to help Average Americans. If anything, they were shipping jobs overseas and destroying the middle-class.

Unfortunately, most Americans weren't paying attention. By and large most Americans hate politics, and would rather be spoon fed slogans than do their homework. They didn't want to know or understand Lee Atwater or Newt Gingrich during the first Bush recession; they only wanted a promise of better times.

That ignorance led to support priming the gears for the Republican revolution, but fortunately for Democrats they suffered a significant set-back when the "Man from Hope" - or Clinton - came along. He was the kind of salesman Americans love. Unfortunately, Americans eventually gave Newt Gingrich and his Republicans Capitol Hill.

Before they won the bulk of their power, Bill Clinton and the Democrats passed legislation to lower the debt and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans called it "job killer" legislation, just like they did with the stimulus this week, and voted against it en masse. Democrats called it responsible government. They focused on reducing the Reagan-Bush era debt and creating jobs.

They Republicans followed-up with their "Contract with America," and despite being bold at the time, it was pretty much ignored and dismissed in the end. They were more concerned with acquiring more power, and they knew they could if they turned their attention to wedge issues, creating a cult-like following, and impeaching the President.

The real political irony of the nineties is how the Republicans took credit for the work of the Democrats. Incredibly, they convinced their flock, and many independents, that the greatest economic boom in American history was the work of Bush and the Republicans in Congress. Clinton's debt reduction initiatives and national stabilization programs were dismissed. Despite facts to the contrary, their ignorant, sheep-like constituents believed it.

Eventually, after creating a web of lies about their "success" and tactical wedge issues like gay marriage, the Republicans stole the 2000 election. Instead of Al Gore - who we voted for, we wound up with George Bush, Dick Cheney and more Republicans. It was a very sad day for the majority of Americans who actually voted to continue with the Democrats, and the well managed Clintonian economy.

The Republicans got to work on their "ill gotten gains" and focused immediately on castrating the government. In early 2001, George Bush and his team began installing incompetent, unqualified people into positions of power - EVERYWHERE in government. They were mostly loyalists it turns out; people they could count on to shrink what they saw as a bloated, inefficient and ineffective government. Unfortunately for them, it turned out to be the opposite. It turns out that less government led to less of everything!

Their version of the US government FAILED to prevent a massive attack on 9/11, FAILED to protect Americans from predatory lenders, FAILED to enforce financial regulations that created a housing bubble, FAILED to regulate Wall Street losing trillions in American savings, FAILED to provide assistance that led to the death of thousands after Katrina, FAILED to prevent war profiteering and incredible waste, and FAILED in just about every area of running the US government and helping the American people. The Republicans would later call it bad luck.

They pretty much FAILED everywhere, leading to the LOWEST APPROVAL RATINGS of any administration in history. They said they didn't care, but what else could they say. They were failures. Overall, the Republican principles that guided George Bush and Dick Cheney led to the worse government in American history, which contributed to some of the greatest disasters in American history.

At this unique time in American politics, listening to the Republicans continue to insist their principles of smaller government and lower taxes work best for the American people, it's important for us to assess what is right and what is wrong about their sales pitch.

So, let's try something we all do from time to time. Let's create a list of pros and cons, to help us visualize it. Let's explore whether our Republican friends should continue to believe their REPUBLICAN policies and beliefs. Here are just a few of my examples for now. Feel free to add your own.

PRO: Smaller government is better government.
CON: Republicans have proven smaller government is not better government. Size isn't the issue. It's about effective government, and the best value for money. Democrats like Obama support that idea.

PRO: Lower taxes help grow the economy and create jobs.
CON: Republicans proved that lower taxes are not enough. Most economists believe growth is encouraged by multiple factors, including government assistance related to education, health care, regulation/oversight, and all kinds of government stabilizing forces. Surgically applied tax cuts are good, but Republican efforts to simply lower taxes across the board have led to lower wages and bubble economies. It's also untrue that lowering taxes on the rich creates jobs - at least AMERICAN JOBS. The rich create some jobs, but how and where is debatable. It's also true that many hoard their money; the middle-class always spends it.

PRO: Less or no regulation is better for a free market.
CON: Republicans proved that reducing or eliminating regulations can lead to bubble economies and chaos. Republican-led deregulation has led to disruptions in every major area supporting the economy, including infrastructure, transportation, state and local economic development initiatives, health care, industrial safety/mining, industrial pollution, protecting the environment [for human health], urban planning/growth, executive compensation, investor protections, and much more. Deregulation has proven to be very dangerous to both the economy and people.

PRO: Transfer payments/social safety nets are harmful to the market and society.
CON: Republicans support transfer payments and social safety nets when it applies to saving large corporations or their own investments, but call it "socialism" and harmful when it's designed to protect individual, less affluent Americans. It's obvious to most Americans now that Republicans support the "privatization of profit and the socialization of risk." Republicans tolerate the "redistribution of wealth" as long as it benefits wealthy Americans. In the end, transfer payments like Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare stabilize the economy and society.

PRO: A strong defense is critical to American power and overall success.
CON: Just like Dwight D. Eisenhower predicted, the American military-industrial complex has become a behemoth that threatens to strangle the nation. Republicans are obsessed with American power. They have grown to believe in American unilateralism and hegemony. The truth is America must work with partners in today's multi-polar world, and those partners must be forced to share the burden. The industrial-military complex needs to be put on a diet, and Republicans need to accept that America cannot continue to go it alone. America needs to invest in a renewable economy, not just bombs and guns.

That's it for now. I hope you enjoyed my little list. Feel free to add your own.

So, based on this little journey through time, I now see why I left the Republican sales pitch behind. Smaller government and lower taxes SOUND AWESOME, but are really nothing but a pipe dream when you begin to see them applied in the real world. Republicans need to realize that Milton Friedman was wrong. Republican efforts at supply-side economists are a failure. Free trade over fair trade is a failure. American jobs have become CRAP!

We took a chance on Republican principles, and Americans are overwhelmingly throwing in the towel. We're ready to go back to the principles that work. The Democrats didn't invent those principles; Democrats simply embrace what works. I hope the American people understand that and support what is right.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Republican Party R.I.P.

Is it just me or has the Republican Party abandoned even its core base? Christian Conservatives in the Bible Belt, folks in the Heartland, and pretty much everyone making under $100,000 per year, they have all been left on a doorstep and abandoned. Mind you, hard working Republican Americans have not changed their values, not strayed from a government that supports itself, stays out of small and big business pockets, Washington D.C. Republicans have chucked them out with the bath water so to speak. When the House Republicans voted unanimously against the proposed stimulus plan they also voted against every single Republican working hard to pay their own bills all across America. Don’t feel left out, those of us in the middle and on the left were voted against too but it still passed.

The past two elections for Congress, the Senate, and the President has changed the atmosphere and political membership in our nations capitol from a full speed ahead regardless of the icebergs in our way to full reverse to avoid economic icebergs. Without this change in course our nation could and would suffer the same fate as the Titanic.

So what the hell happened to the backbone of the Republican Party that it felt the need to chuck the bird at hard working Americans who still own their homes, for now still have jobs, and have always been loyal? Why was the vote tallied and not one Republican in the House of Representatives totaling zero, nada, not one? Don’t even think about arguing the point that Democrats were slamming this down the pipeline of politics. President Obama met with Republicans many times, they did lunch, they did dinner, he went to the House, something I thought was a poor move on his part and the vote proved my point out. Why has former candidate for President John McCain gone one hundred and eighty degrees from what he talked about that he would be as President on the campaign trail for the highest office in the land? Did he or did he not say he wanted to work a bipartisan and unified Congress to save America during this economic crisis? This week and next, you will see the true John McCain, the man that lives the life of a millionaire and can afford to have higher than thou economic and political morals in his vote. How does that work for someone trying to run a farm based on those same morals and principals but doesn’t have a couple of million bucks to fall back on?

I think it needs to be said, the Republican Party was buried alive with and by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Supporting cast including Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and the list goes on of former White House operatives that are or will be facing jail time for crimes against America. All of the scandals including Jack Abramoff, the Speaker of the House Denny Hastert hiding the facts of a known pedophile having to resign, the two Senate majority leaders having to resign in disgrace, one for trying to rig elections and the other for praising a known racist and hate monger. Tom Delay and Trent Lott had great political careers till they thought they were omnipotent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad these scumbags are out of our government, but I think they damaged the fabric that is our political collective. Not everyone thinks the same or has the same values and I would be an idiot to think they should. That is the beauty of our political nation in its entirety. We can debate any issue but we will still look out for one another and our collective interests. Be it our local school system, fire department, police department, national defense, or even caring for all of our elderly. Pick a topic, it can be debated, thought out, and a compromise come too! Somewhere in the middle is the meeting point where any topic can be agreed upon, it takes serious discussion, logical thought on all parties, but most of all compromise. In that thought, I honestly believe that President Obama could have chopped down a grove of olive trees and covered the house with olive branches and the Republican Members would still have spit on him and the House Stimulus plan. Is that a lesson learned by the new President courtesy of the Republican Party in the House?

While the main stream media is in hot debate over the latest stimulus plan, I’m wondering how the folks on the right side of the aisle feel seeing the sheer refusal to even negotiate on it. Letters from the leaders of the Republican Party went out before the bill was even drafted to vote against it? What does that tell Joe and Jane Six Pack Republican? It tells him or her that his and her job is not important, his or her company that gives them a paycheck every week is not important, it tells them that their political party is unified against any logical thought process that comes from the left even with tax cuts regardless of the end means. Buy an apple cart Joe or Jane and make sure you put a GOP sticker on it! Your Republican representative in the Congress will be by in two years to greatly appreciate your vote and lay a rose on the grave of your children.


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Thursday, January 29, 2009

French and British Diseases

Somewhere between a million and two and a half million French people took to the streets across the country today to protest their government’s handling of the economy, bringing much of the country shuddering to a halt. From Britain, a country where Thatcher broke the backs of the unions twenty five years ago and presided over a decade of public rioting in the process, the French tendency to protest, riot and strike at the slightest encouragement can sometimes seem ridiculous, sometimes perplexing, sometimes inspiring and sometimes worrisome. Two years ago, most Brits would probably have looked with some condescension at the “French disease”. A year ago the French would have responded by looking back with equal condescension at the collapse of the “Anglo-Saxon” capitalist model. Now, perhaps, the signs finally are indisputable that we’re all on the same side in this crisis.

Of course, each country’s vulnerabilities are different. The French are benefiting from a stronger currency than the nose-diving pound, though this naturally has an attendant impact on export competitiveness. Unemployment in France is likely to reach ten percent pretty soon. The country remains dominated by a system of education and high office-holding that is even more elitist than the Oxbridge model in Britain or the Ivy League in the US. Tight employment regulations mean that job creation has been and remains a problem. Yet these latest anti-Sarkozy protests are just the most recent indication that a generations-long hostility to attempts to open the market shows no sign of disappearing soon. As far as I can tell, employment deregulation is considered by most French people to be nothing more than an a cynical excuse to pay people less, employ them in worse jobs, and fire them sooner. Personally, this argument would make more sense to me if France – hit far less directly than Britain by the housing market or the financial crash – were not already haemorrhaging jobs.

In Britain, unemployment is lower – just over six percent – though it’s climbing fast, and to be honest it’s hard to trust the figures as so many people are reclassified by the government in different ways so as to get them down. And rising unemployment in Britain, as the eighties showed, brings its own forms of conflict and hostility over here. Whilst the French were indulging their national pastime today, the darker face of Britain showed itself too, as hundreds of workers at oil refineries in the North of England walked out after a construction contract was awarded to an Italian firm employing foreign workers.

It’s hard not to sympathise with workers who watch jobs get handed to outsiders instead of their own communities. Just as it’s hard not to sympathise with workers in France who are looking at redundancies, or deflationary pay settlements, or hours and benefits cuts. But we’re in a global economy now, and that means free movement of capital and labour, people creating jobs in other places if your country isn’t competitive, and bringing workers from other places to your country if it makes sense to do so.

Whatever the way out of this crisis turns out to be – and, as I say, it seems pretty certain that the path will be a little different in each country – there’s no doubt that we won’t find our way out unless we all start to realise we’re all in this together.

Alex Goodall
Papamoka’s European Contributor
From A Swift Blow to the Head

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What in Hades is Happening to the Republican Party?

Good Morning Bloggers - It's amazing, but Republicans are completely ignoring the wishes of the American people, who - based on recent elections - are asking their leaders to change course and try new solutions.

Democratic attempts at compromise on the stimulus bill by eliminating programs important to Democratic constituencies meant nothing. The Republicans are playing hard-ball and rejecting everything the Democrats are trying to do.

Instead of new solutions, Republicans are pitching tired old ideas of lower taxes and corporate give-aways that have proven ineffective at growing the economy and creating jobs for Americans. When Democrats refused to go along, the Republicans took their votes and went home, like pathetic brats.

I challenge those Republicans who believe their party always has the best of intentions to defend the Republican version of the stimulus package. It offered no new solutions to the problems facing Americans in the immediate future - job creation and growth!

It featured [politically and economically] untenable tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. It was nothing more than a rehashed version of what was attempted under the Bush Administration, which created few jobs and created the housing bubble-type economy that crashed. To be blunt, it was BS!

Despite history and facts, Republicans tried to claim their version would create over six million new jobs in just two years. It was an absurd claim, dismissed by most reputable economists as well as the Congressional Budget Office.

The GOP offered no immediate assistance to state and local governments that require quick help to avoid disaster, and did nothing to help Americans without jobs or prospects. The GOP is much more charitable to the Iraqis. Americans be damned! Overall, their plan was a joke!

Their childish adherence to ineffective policies of the past borders on the psychotic. Americans should now ask themselves a few questions? Do Republicans really care about creating and growing new jobs? Do Republicans care about them?

If they do, they don't show it. Why don't they try to compromise with the Democrats for the good of the country? Why don't they care about creating a united front that would signal better times, economic improvement and encourage new public spending?

Instead, Republicans are willing to allow the US government to appear conflicted, thus adding to economic uncertainty and consumer anxiety. It's already clear the Republicans are willing to allow Americans to suffer a great deal. How? Because MILLIONS OF AMERICANS NEED HELP NOW!

Democrats are listening to the American people. President Obama is listening. They are trying to respond. They know Americans will endure more debt now to save the nation, their jobs and the economy.

Despite OBVIOUS REPUBLICAN LIES that "Democrats wish to create debt," the Democrats are responding to the nation's demand for change. Republicans can chant their old tunes of "government waste" and "Democratic tax-and-spend debt" all they want, but all it does is make them look unhelpful, absurd, hypocritical, and out-of-touch.

We Americans know that Republicans created the overwhelming majority of today's debt, and that Democrats wish to lower the debt.

Just like under Clinton, Obama wants to lower the debt again once the crisis is over. The American people know that Democrats want to help Americans, while the Republicans are now famous for primarily helping the Iraqis, the industrial-military complex, and their own interests.

So, what are the Republicans really up to? It's all about taking back power! Republicans enjoyed being in power and they want it back. They want it back so bad they can taste it. It's now clear they don't give a damn about bipartisanship, and they'll do whatever they can to undermine President Obama, serve their own interests, and take back their power.

In the same way they reject science, they will reject any responsibility for the crisis and focus on scoring political points. They will force the Democrats and the American people to go it alone. They are nothing but power hungry political game players. They are pathetic, unpatriotic, unAmerican, harmful, unethical and at times downright evil in the cynical, dangerous way they behave.

I only hope that most Republican Americans see what's happening to their leadership, and act to do the right thing before it's too late. Let's all work to make 2010 another year of change.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Idiotic Political Stance on Stimulus

While it is wise to be conservative when it comes to our government spending it is idiotic to think that the government has absolutely no business interfering in the free markets of our economy when our nation is facing an economic depression. Republicans in the Congress are railing against the stimulus package simply because they have always been conservative when it comes to their constituents. What about the same constituents that are getting pink slips all over their districts? While Republicans demand fiscal responsibility they miss the point that many of the people that voted for them in the past have now been laid off or facing a layoff and will depend on unemployment insurance to feed their families and live on.

Unemployment benefits to the states is included in the stimulus package for Republican voters as well as Democrats, Independents, Green Party and the notorious moderates that have no clue as to which side of the fence to sit on from issue to issue facing the long road to finding some form of employment. Are unemployed Republicans not going to sign up for unemployment insurance? I can understand Bernie Madoff not signing up for benefits but that is another topic for another post.

Over at The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder has some interesting thoughts of the Hoover’esque style of Republican Congressional leadership and its members on why they are trying every tactic possible to stop any stimulus to our economy and why it is failing in public opinion…

The Political Case For The Stimulus, If You're A Vulernable Republican
28 Jan 2009 10:58 am

Over a 48 hour period when 100,000 job layoffs have been announced, Hill Republicans have decided to take a stand against the stimulus.

Now - President Obama's approval rating is about 70%;
Congressional approval is still around 20%;

After the election, Democrats still have a 9 point lead in generic identification.

The public approves of the stimulus plan by a very large margin - the numbers vary with the wording of the poll question, but it's at least a plus 40%.

Obama is the most talented political figure of our generation - Boehner and McConnell are, uh, less talented.

Obama's got the megaphone, they've got...

Republicans are trying to use fiscal discipline as their excuse for opposition, but they whistled away that former strength away over Bush's presidency.

- The Atlantic and Marc Ambinder

A good friend reminded me in the comment section on another post what politics is really all about and that some folks do okay with government politics and others excel at it. The end result of what you want achieved is all in the dance steps and ability to know the tempo of the music. While I didn’t think President Obama should be kissing the Republican leadership back side, I do see that he let them paint the canvas and paint it they did. President Obama is seeing an approval rating not seen in decades by the American people because of his desire for true bipartisan politics and leadership. Thus I believe we elected the right person for the times ahead of us. President Obama.

Republicans would rather see the American people suffer simply because they can stand on millionaire bank account standards. The Republican members only solution to the economic crisis is more tax cuts for the mega rich and that is the end of the discussion. Could that be that not one single Republican member of the Congress has a net worth of less than a million dollars? Extending the Bush era tax cuts and the trickle down theory will save the nation… NOT! Big business tax cuts for the benefit of the few and nothing for the people that used to work on the factory floors that just need to find a new job somewhere else is the Republican mantra. Get a job you dead beats, even if it is at one quarter of the pay you had just a few months before is their mentality. That my friends is the “Let them eat cake” thought process and we all know what happened to the person that the quote was uttered from.

Word to the wise to you deadbeats (Republican Terminology, not mine), don’t apply for work at Home Depot and the hundreds of other minimum wage employers and companies that are announcing thousands of layoffs per day. They are not hiring because the economy is in a tailspin. Hoover did nothing and we all know the result of his inaction. So that makes my point that Republicans are just playing the field against the stimulus and their election or re-election will tell the tale in 2010. The “I’ve got Mine” mentality is not about the lower and middle classes of America when it comes to anything the Republican Party and their representatives in government are concerned. Buy a freaking apple cart and start your own small business!

This all makes me wonder if you have to be a millionaire to be a Republican elected leader and speak from such a higher than tho pulpit.


Update 10:04 PM 1/28/2009
Not one Republican in the House voted for the current stimulus plan that passed in the Congress late today. President Obama wins the higher road benefits in the peoples hearts.

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Eric Holder Must Act Fast

Hello Papamoka Bloggers - I am very excited that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) finally dropped his opposition and voted to nominate Eric Holder as our next Attorney General. He should be confirmed very soon.

This is a great day for America. The abused and abusive Justice Department will finally have a new boss to clean house. Not only is Eric Holder considered a highly respected constitutional expert, he will be the first African-American attorney general.

Of course, there were two Republican malcontents who voted against Holder: John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Cornyn criticized Holder's role in "controversial pardons" during the Clinton years, despite the fact that Holder apologized for not properly vetting Marc Rich and expressed deep regret over the mistake.

Both Senators question whether Holder will "protect intelligence agents who participated in harsh interrogations," the Associated Press notes. "Harsh interrogations?" That's nothing but Republican political-marketing-speak for TORTURE! Republicans are good at lying that way.

I'm sorry Senators, but that's a ridiculous assertion. Whether military or intelligence, "following orders" is not a sufficient defense. People should not be "protected" from breaking the law. Mr. Holder, the majority of Americans want major crimes under the Bush Administration investigated, so please do your job.

Senators Cornyn and Coburn, like so many of their associates on Capitol Hill, turned a blind-eye to Bush's "harsh interrogations" and lawbreaking, and are now partly responsible for US domestic and international lawbreaking. Unlike Bush who - at least - admitted to breaking the law, on issues like torture and eavesdropping, they hid and hoped to avoid the problem. They were cowards, and they were wrong.

The Justice Department should investigate whenever possible, and even if we don't get convictions, for whatever reason, at the very least expose exactly what despicable things happened over the past eight years. Even the lesser crimes need some kind of South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Committee to find the truth. We Americans need to know who broke the law, and why, and make sure that it never happens again.

Anyway, I'm just happy things may begin to change. I, like so many Americans, will be watching to see if Eric Holder restores American justice. In the same way evangelicals cherry-pick bible scripture, Republicans cherry-pick the US Constitution. That Republican BS approach to American justice must change. President Obama and Eric Holder must WORK FAST to restore equal justice under law, and the US Constitution.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

PS - The BAD NEWS is that the conservative Washington Times is reporting that Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview that he will support Eric Holder's nomination for Attorney General because Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama's Justice Department will NOT prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program." That makes me VERY NERVOUS, and it better be WRONG! Please join me in writing President Obama and Eric Holder to DEMAND REAL JUSTICE, NOT Republican justice! Thanks!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama Risk’s GOP Slap

One has to give President Obama credit for daring to go into the lions den of Republican’s on Capitol Hill on behalf of the stimulus package and the American people. Umm, when was the last time you saw an American President kiss the ass of the Congress on any issue? Could this be a signal of the Obama style of politics has actually proven out and if the issue is important enough, the Congress can expect a visit from the executive branch of our nation and its leader? When was the last time you heard of this happening other than a television episode of the West Wing?

The President does not need to visit the capitol, the capitol needs to visit the White House! It was a large mistake in my opinion for President Obama to over reach to the right side of the political aisle in such a gesture. When the dinner table is set, the food is on the table, you do not change the menu simply because a few of the kids will not eat the peas and carrots. Mom likes peas and carrots, Dad likes peas and carrots, and the rest of the children in the family are eating peas and carrots with the rest of their dinner. Why the hell is President Obama bending over backwards for the die hard Republicans that will vote against the stimulus package regardless of what is in it?

MSNBC has this video on it…

Video Link

Reports out of the media are running the gambit depending on what television network you watch or what news media you depend on. The simple truth is that President Obama did not need to kiss anyone’s back side to get his stimulus package passed. To be honest with you, I don’t like the idea of President Obama calling anyone in the Senate or the House his colleagues. The Senate and House members can hide behind the school of fish in the numbers in the congress, the President answers to nobody but we the people. The same people that voted for CHANGE.

Ask the people what we want President Obama and let the flood gates of the people slam the dissenters of your stimulus package phone lines and email in boxes. We appreciate your taking the walk down to the hill but we elected you as President and not the minority members of the Congress. It’s called CHANGE!


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Mr. Bush

One sunny day in January 2009 an old man approached the White House from
Across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He
spoke to the US Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in
and meet with President Bush."

The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr Bush is no longer
president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay," and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to
the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr Bush is no
longer president and no longer resides here."

The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the
very same US Marine, saying, "I would like to go in and meet with
President Bush."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and
said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to
speak to Mr Bush. I've told you already that Mr Bush is no longer the
president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand
perfectly... I just love hearing it."

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow,
Sir." - Author Unknown

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Monday, January 26, 2009

McCain and Republican Double Speak

If you haven't been following the political rhetoric on the stimulus package then you will not believe what MSNBC and Dr. Rachell Maddow has to say. John McCain was for the stimulus package till he was against it. It's politics at its worst and the big joke is that Democrats are kissing their back side anyway??? This video rates a ten on must see videos...

Video Link

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Boehner Stimulated on Stimulus Package

Apparently, the main stream media elected Representative John Boehner of Ohio to the office of President of the United States. That and the fact that Democrats who took over the House, the Senate, and the White House on election day have been duped by a little known signing statement by former President George W. Bush that stated that no political party other than the Republican Party will be recognized by the press. Dick Cheney added his own personal signing statement that can not be released due to national security reasons and the fact that there were far too many expletives toward the Democrat Party.

Boehner is leading all of the news agencies around by the nose and telling them and the now also former President Obama how politics in Washington, D.C. is going to work. It is the Boehner way or the highway President Obama and you better get used to it! He's the Minority leader and you do not want him calling the ACLU on your ass!

The latest is that Boehner is “aroused” over the fact that part of the “stimulus” package is for perverted Democrats with their filthy dirty minded sex obsession. One little thought in the back of Boehner’s mind is that this is how so many of the little pukes voted Republican’s out of office. Waskilly wabbits! Somebody needs to stop them before they multiply again and no, we are not talking mathmatics educational stimulus. Over at Washington Monthly they have this to say…

STIMULUS AND CONTRACEPTIVES.... House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared on "Meet the Press" yesterday, complaining about a proposed stimulus package. He noted, in particular, a proposal to spend "over $200 million for contraceptives." He asked, "How will this fix an ailing economy?"

Apparently, the contraceptives proposal has become quite an issue for conservatives. It was the lead story on Drudge this morning, far-right blogs are all worked up, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quizzed on the spending on ABC yesterday.

What's this all about? Are Democrats trying to spend "over $200 million" on condoms? What's the story?

As you might have guessed, it's not quite as scandalous as conservatives would have you believe.

[T]he family-planning program that Pelosi supports expanding in the stimulus bill was created in 1972 under the leadership of Republican president Richard Nixon.
What's being proposed is an expansion in the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies.
- Washington Monthly

Damn if I wasn’t right, President Nixon was onto the espionage and deceitful tactics of free love, sex and happiness, and the master plan of those flower wearing hippie liberals in the early 1970’s! Nixon was no fool, he knew that all that free love crap would lead to free Democrats and Independent voters one day that could vote and they had to be stopped.

Thus I propose a bait and switch tactic to President Obama and Speaker Pelosi on the sex stimulus part of the legislation. Instead of offering condoms or other forms of birth control we provide a free year of cable television. For those Liberals, Independents, and Democrats that promise to watch TV and not do the Mommy and Daddy thing, we upgrade their HBO package and include 158 channels that Reverend Ted Haggard and Reverend John Hagee can be seen on twenty four hours a day. Then in small print we offer Larry Craig ten million frequent flier miles. I think that would make most Republican’s happy enough to vote for the stimulus package.

Mr. Boehner should respectfully shut his pie hole and by all means offer to triple the “Contraceptive” stimulus package aka “Condoms For Good Republican Government” legislation. Doesn’t he realize that without the money to prevent pregnancies that all of us liberals will populate the nation by ten fold in eight years. From this point forward I am calling that future generation of Americans the KY generation.

Sit down and shut the hell up Boehner. President Obama has a nation to fix you smuck!


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American Fear

Hello Bloggers - As many of you already know, I've been on the "Save American Justice" bandwagon lately hoping for leading Democrats and Obama to take a strong position against the Bush lawbreakers since the inauguration. Unfortunately, I may be giving up on convincing our Republican friends based on numerous recent debates.

To be blunt, I'm having trouble meeting ANY Republicans - yes, I mean ANY - that are willing to admit that Bush went too far. They always defend Bush as honest at first, but when pressed with the facts they always turn to a "laws and the Constitution be damned" response. The "he kept us safe" and "that's all that matters" argument always prevails. Many finish with "the ends justify the means" even if they don't always realize they're saying it.

No matter what I say to them, our nation's founding principles of justice, humanity, and fair play during wartime mean very little to today's frightened Republican minority. They are completely uninterested in fair play these days. They seem almost brainwashed.

Our nation's "rules of engagement" have been pretty much the same since George Washington fought the British. Our founding father was a great example of fair play, despite the atrocities committed at that time. A few Americans have been charged with war crimes during past wars, but so far America has been considered a role model on how to act during times of crisis. American presidents have been pretty great leaders, representing our higher ideals during conflict, by and large.

America helped create the international conventions that guide civilized modern conflict. We always fought to protect civilians and war prisoners on all sides for decades. We didn't waiver on our principles in the past despite enemy atrocities and crimes. We always took the high road, hoping to serve as a good example of what is right in the world. Until Bush and his sheep-like Republicans, we were a shining example of good in the world - that "shining city on a hill" that Reagan liked so much.

The Republicans I've been talking to recently all seem willing to do "whatever it takes" to keep us safe. They all seem unconcerned with past rules of engagement. They seem to feel that "everything has changed in the world." I'm sure our forefathers would disagree with them if they could share some of their horror stories. I don't care what you say, but this nation has faced horrible enemies for over two centuries, and I'm sure we can handle a few thousand religious, pirate-like zealots, without abandoning our principles.

Bush and Cheney somehow brainwashed a large part of America into profoundly changing their national mindset. "9/11 changed everything" is a phrase they use far too often, and one that should be eliminated from our national debate. Their "war on terror" is also counterproductive.

The conservatives I've debated seem perfectly comfortable with the idea of torture ("on Americans if necessary" was said), eavesdropping ("on AMERICANS too" was mentioned), open-ended suspension of habeus corpus, soldiers on our streets, detention camps, neighborhood informants, private armies, and even genocide against those who they say "threaten our existence." It's very black and white with them. There is a rancid, ugly fear out there today, and it's mostly coming from Republicans. Let's hope our democracy holds; a potential dictator could have a field-day with today's Republican minority.

Bush, Cheney and the irresponsible right-wing media have helped turn a large chunk of Americans into pathetic, frightened cowards. Yes, if that applies to you, that's what I consider you - a COWARD! Yes, I said it, a COWARD!

That's what I've been calling my Republican friends who espouse undermining our national principles out of fear. You see, I would rather we risk our lives, and remain brave Americans, than sacrifice the best of what this nation is about - justice and human decency - out of fear. YES, I said it, and I mean it. OUR LIVES, ALL OUR LIVES, EVEN YOURS! For God's sake Republicans, grow a pair! Trust me, I'll feel the same way if we're attacked again. Being attacked will change NOTHING! NOTHING!

Just like our soldiers, we need to stand-up for what we believe in. Our nation needs to be an example for good in this world. No matter how bad they get, we need to stay above it. We need to always treat our enemies as human beings. Justice should not be sacrificed at the alter of fear. I will never stop fighting to preserve our national honor and system of justice. We need to fight to remain a just and honorable nation.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Music Box Dancer for Politics

Frank Mills had a beautiful piano piece called the Music Box Dancer and when it comes to politics, President Obama needs to learn how to dance to the beat...

Video Link

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State Workers to Feel the Economic Pain

Downsizing is all across the news reports, and all over America is talk about all of the fifty states having a hard time meeting their budget obligations. Governors are cutting corners where they can and still more cuts are needed. It’s the same scenario in privately run businesses as well. If the customer is cutting back and not visiting your business with paid orders then the only thing to do is cut back where you can save the most money the quickest way possible. Survival of the business aka state government service is the end objective.

That means layoffs and if the private sector is suffering that inevitable choice then the public works, government service, and government agencies must do the same. If taxes are not being paid into the state governments to keep up with the payroll of that state then they can’t pay out for services expected by its citizens. But is layoffs the only choice Governors have? I personally do not think so. Over at MSNBC courtesy of the Associated Press they have this thought on it…

Governors seek sacrifices from public workers
Money-saving measures include pay and benefit cuts, truncated workweeks

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Governors across the nation are seeking significant concessions from public employee unions in hopes of helping to balance their teetering budgets during the economic downturn.

From Maryland to California, Ohio to Hawaii, governors have asked or ordered state workers to accept furloughs, salary reductions, truncated workweeks or benefit cuts. They say the concessions are a better alternative to further job losses in the face of record-breaking unemployment.

Unions argue their members shouldn't be singled out and are even more vital in hard times — securing neighborhoods and prisons, educating children and providing social services to growing numbers of citizens.

I’m personally a huge union workers supporter but I am also a realist that sees that the states can not be paying benefits and providing services when the money is just not their to do so. With the credit markets tightened to the point of a stranglehold on businesses, it isn’t like each state can go to the credit markets and float bonds till things pick up in the economy. Wall Street and the markets just do not work that way. States can also not rely on the federal government to support all of them with a total bailout till the point of if and when the economy starts to recover. That thought process is the way to total economic destruction far beyond the Great Depression of the early 1930’s.

Governors in all states need to look to the budgets they currently have and cut wherever is required. They must also negotiate with not just the unions that are the employees of the state but the suppliers of all items including benefits to the state first and foremost. If they have to combine bargaining power with adjacent states to gain far better rates, then so be it. It’s called demanding better terms from your suppliers. Be it health insurance, paper products, light bulbs, paper clips, or even new equipment for law enforcement. If you have ever known someone that has worked in the private sector in purchasing, its called getting the best terms and rates for your company and it is called competition. If one supplier isn’t willing to negotiate, you move on to another, and another till you get the price you need to maintain your business. Some people call it beating up your vendor but I like to call it the art of negotiation. Each participant knows the value of the deal and each person is looking to find the perfect price where both parties are happy. The purchaser is happy and the seller is happy. AKA, its business 101!

Each state in the union pays millions if not billions for gasoline and diesel per year for the fleets of vehicles they own, millions if not billions to heat or cool state run offices all across each state. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the energy suppliers need your base business to survive. Demand competitition from your current suppliers and then seek out alternative sources for the same products. Wind power, solar power, bio-fuels, and the list goes on.

There are still many investors in the market looking for state bonds that make sense. If a bond was floated from Massachusetts or any state just for the sake of paying salaries and maintaining a payroll the state itself could not maintain it would have little interest in the markets on Wall Street. If the same state came out with a bond based on putting 100,000 or 250,000 solar panels on state run offices that would save the state millions of dollars per month once installed that would never have to be paid to an energy utility for the next thirty plus years it would draw huge attention, and not just here in America on Wall Street, but around the world. The beauty of the “Purchasing Negotiation” is that you could demand that each unit purchased will not be paid for till it is installed and generating power. That should work out to a thirty to sixty day payment deal for the manufacturer if they take the initiative to hire qualified people and install each and every single unit on the state buildings. Something that they could and should take the initiative to outsource to mulitple companies across every single state. More jobs, more state tax income.

Those savings even with repayment of the bond could equal thousands of state jobs and services that are needed elsewhere. It is the initial investment that is needed and we have several Solar Power Panel manufacturers right here in the United States of America that could and would benefit with increasing the workforce to meet the demand of high tech jobs at good wages. Schott Solar of California has a manufacturing facility in Billerica, Ma and Evergreen Solar of Marlborough, MA has a facility in the former Fort Devens military base to name just two.

President Obama is on the right track with his renewable energy initiatives in the current bailout package and the states need to look at the thought processes behind renewable energy and apply the thought process in public buildings all over the nation. If solar panels on the roof are paying 10% to 30% of the energy needs then how many jobs does that save in the public sector? Same thought process goes to private businesses as well. Back in the mid 1980’s I worked in a wire and cable manufacturing facility, the building was about 300,000 square feet full of equipment that was all powered by the local electric utility. The monthly bill at the time for the power was over $30,000 dollars. Then you had to figure the cost to heat such a large facility by gas per month and the bill was even larger than the electric in the winter months.

Even with the current drop of the cost of oil, the largest bill for any business other than raw materials is the energy cost. Cut that cost down by going with multiple renewable energy systems and the probability that you never pay an electric bill or gas bill ever again is within reach! How many jobs is that bill paid to the electric or gas, oil, propane company worth every month to any business or a greater point, how much does that allow you to pass those savings onto your customer and get the business you could never touch before? Our economy is built on competition and innovation, we need to look at the innovations not just in the private sector but in each of our state governments.

Each of our states need to be creative budgetary wise and think long term when it comes to their energy needs. Payroll is not the biggest cost they have but it is the easiest to cut. Demand more long term economic thought process from your state Governor and Legislators!


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Friday, January 23, 2009

Catching Criminals is Important Too Mr. President

Hello Papamoka Bloggers - It's only the first week, and I don't wish to be negative, but so far President Obama seems lukewarm on Bush crimes. It's early, but I'm still nervous. He signed impressive executive orders restoring transparency and ethics, and ordering Guantanamo Bay closed and ending torture, but going after Bush crimes and Justice Department priorities are still a mystery.

Republicans are still trying to cover their tracks. Many believe Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is delaying the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Eric Holder by one week to delay him from going after Bush, Cheney et al on wiretapping. They may be trying to make a deal. Other Republicans are threatening to withdraw their support on the stimulus bill and other legislation if the Administration moves against Bush. So far there's a lot of smoke, but the fire is missing.

The biggest crime is about to expire, and Obama knows it. George Bush reauthorized the illegal wiretapping himself because Colmey stopped the hospitalized John Ashcroft from signing the paperwork. Remember, Colmey criticized Gonzales for trying to force him in front of that congressional committee. Well, that bit of lawbreaking is about to expire - the statute of limitations runs out in March. We need Obama and his Justice Department to act soon .

Whistleblowing on the day Obama took office has revealed the extent of the wiretapping. The NSA spied on all Americans, including journalists and politicians. George Bush probably benefited from knowledge learned through wiretaps. It's probably one reason why he always seemed to have inside information. His Administration, especially Rove and Cheney, were a little too good at exploiting weakness; it's obvious now they had an edge. If they did it, it represents a string of felonies and it should NOT BE IGNORED! Obama must act!

I find the whole justice debate mind-blowing. Evidence of Bush lawbreaking is extensive, yet the majority of Republicans still defend him. They impeached Bill Clinton over perjury, yet fail to criticize Bush over anything. They act as if he's above the law. They call anyone who questions him an "extremist." They always describe him as a "good guy" who "did his best" during very "difficult times." They describe him as a "decent man" who "tried to do the right thing" but fell short. It's extraordinary listening to them.

My Republican friends and family won't even question his past actions. They're almost "sheep-like" in their reverence for the man. They say "he kept us safe" as though nothing else matters. It's obvious to me now that objectivity, self-awareness and reflection are not strong Republican personality traits.

It's obvious there's a double-standard in the country today, but I can't figure out why. Is it party loyalty? It's very strange. We threw Nixon out of office, and he was a Republican, so why not question Bush? Do we need White House tapes? What do they need? Ordinary Americans appear almost brainwashed. They scream about Blago, and call for investigations and justice against Democrats on a regular basis, yet rarely question their own actions. It's amazing to watch.

Even journalists seem to ignore the severity of the Bush crimes. Dismissing FOX "News," correspondents on corporate news networks like CNN and MSNBC these days talk about how "difficult it would be to prosecute" and how "most in Washington are looking ahead." Except for a few like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, they talk as if enforcing the law [for politicians] is optional. I often walk away from the news dumbfounded that our nation has become so selective in the way it views justice.

So, ask yourself what will happen if nothing happens? I'll tell you! Average Americans will begin to question the fairness of justice, and start to see unequal justice. "Why care if they don't" will be asked everywhere? It will mean a slow and steady erosion of respect for the legal system. Is that wise? It may not be obvious right away, but it will begin to surface in courtrooms across America over time. Do you really want to take that risk Mr. President?

The Obama Administration may be playing political gamesmanship, knowing something we don't know. We can only hope they're doing the right thing, because inaction would be a disaster for the future of the nation. A majority of the country knows that Bush lawbreaking was extensive, and ignoring it would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents - both Republican and Democrat. American justice should be more important than political expediency. Catching criminals is important too Mr. President, so please act soon.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Are the culture wars over?

The Republican domination of American politics in the past thirty years was built on three core planks: fiscal conservatism (meaning tight monetary policy, deregulation and privatisation); foreign policy aggression (the party that ‘defends America’); and social conservatism.

The Obama victory occurred because the financial crisis played havoc with this calculation in all manner of ways. First, the Wall Street elites abandoned their commitment to keeping government out of business when they discovered that government was the only thing that could keep them in business. Meanwhile, the public exposure of corporate greed made the public as a whole question its commitment to free markets uber alles. And – in the longer term, over a decade – the Democrats became increasingly dominated by centrists who accepted many of the more sensible principles of fiscal responsibility, or at least appeared more sensible than the Bush Republicans were on the matter.

Not only did the financial crisis mean that the importance of items two and three on the list was sharply reduced, but it also put the failure of eight years of aggressive foreign policy into stark relief. Money that should have been going on constructive growth projects creating jobs and businesses in America was lining the pockets of Bechtel and KBR, or being poured down the sink through the manufacture of self-destroying bombs and bullets; and yet the product of all this ridiculous spending was a world that was more and more suspicious of American power.

This left cultural conservatism as the sole plank on which to build a Republican majority, and it starkly failed to work in the last election. Partly this was because the Obama campaign did a good job of avoiding any number of red flag issues; and partly because in the context of the looming destruction of the economy ‘values’ issues came to be depicted as little more than a cynical attempt by politicians to sucker the electorate: a bait and switch of the worst kind. And once cultural politics started looking like a political tactic, it suddenly became counter-productive ... by definition, since the essence of the argument was that it was a conflict over sincerely held values.

But there might be a deeper trend going on here as well: namely, that it seems that the world has moved on since the splits of the 1960s. Andrew Sullivan was on the television the other day over here in the UK, and argued that people just don’t care about these issues as much as the activists – that there was a basic consensus emerging in America on cultural issues. Namely, most people don’t like abortion but they don’t want people going to prison for it; and most people aren’t gay but don’t really care if other people are. To some extent the role of activists in the structure of primary voting had disguised how far the public as a whole had moved on on this issue.

So here’s my question: is it really true that the culture wars are dying out? In Europe, so many of these things are such non-issues that it’s hard to credit their persistence in the US. But they've lasted a hundred years already. And given that culture wars remain – for the next four or more years at least – the one part of the Republican triumvirate of power that may still hold traction with some voters, it’s an important question whether the consensus has genuinely shifted toward social liberalism or whether social conservatism is just in hiding whilst the maelstrom of economic crisis and foreign policy failure drowns it out…

What makes me wonder was a recent feature in the New Yorker on congressman Barney Frank – a figure heavily involved in the horse-trading over the financial bailout but known to many Americans simply as the openly gay congressman. Frank complained that Obama’s decision to place Rick Warren on the inaugural programme reflected a real problem: the new president's reluctance to admit that ideological differences can’t always be negotiated away, that sometimes they need to be confronted. He also laid out his legislative agenda for the forthcoming year: “We’re going to do three things in Congress,” he told me. “First, a hate-crimes bill—that shouldn’t be too hard. Next, employment discrimination. We almost got that through before, but now we can win even if we add transgender protections, which we are going to do. And finally, after the troops get home from Iraq, gays in the military. The time has come.”

Obama’s reference in his acceptance speech to tolerance for straights and gays suggests he may support this agenda; but his invitation to Rick Warren suggests that he might try and duck these issues, since they offer an opportunity to revive cultural conservatism. What he decides, and how the public reacts, therefore, could turn out to be a critical underlying issue of his administration. Compare FDR, for instance: the first term was so dominated by economics that the old fashioned version of the culture wars (anti-communism) took a back seat. But it came back resurgent by 1938. And on the even bigger issue - an anti-lynching law - FDR ducked the question entirely, knowing that it held the potential to split his party.

So, two questions:
  • Are the culture wars really dead? Has America moved on about this stuff?
  • Will the desire of the Democratic left to win these victories for personal rights provide a stick with which to beat Obama in the way that gays in the military was used against Clinton?
These two questions might prove to be very important indeed…

Alex Goodall

Papamoka’s European Contributor
From A Swift Blow to the Head

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Madoff the Robber of Widows

Bernard L. Madoff is all over the news for his Ponzi Scheme exploitation of the mega rich, building a pyramid type scam that would and could only collapse under its own weight. Paying quarterly dividends to older investors with new investors contributions and deposits to his made up investment scheme. Some people might say that it serves the mega rich right for putting all their eggs in one basket and at times I can agree with that thought process. My family and I don’t have a pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out of but we know that we should never put all of our investments for our retirement and the kids college money in just one investment vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, Madoff should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and then put in a room with some of the widows he stole from for a couple of hours. I’m sure the widows would stop ripping his skin off just one breath short of death. I’m also sure that they would be willing to nurse him back to health so they could repeat the first step. And like the shampoo bottles say, repeat the process.

Over at Philly.Com they have this on one widows story and my heart goes out to her…

Posted on Thu, Jan. 22, 2009

West Goshen widow's riches-to-rags story
By Harold Brubaker
Inquirer Staff Writer

When Maureen Ebel's uncle called her at 10:45 p.m. Dec. 11, she feared a death in the family.

Instead, her Uncle Leonard gave Ebel news of another kind of disaster that would upend her life: New York investment manager Bernard L. Madoff had been charged with massive fraud.

Ebel, 60, a widow who lives outside West Chester and winters near West Palm Beach, thought she had $7.3 million with Madoff.

It became sickeningly clear over the next day or so that all her money was gone. "The thought that I have to work now as long as I can stand up to feed myself" shattered her comfortable world, she said.

Six days after Madoff's arrest for allegedly bilking investors in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, Ebel had a strenuous temporary job caring for a wealthy friend's 93-year-old mother and keeping her house, pushing the vacuum cleaner and ironing.

"The first day, I went home and cried," Ebel said.
- Philly.Com

What Bernie Madoff, aka the Widow Maker Bandit did is called a white collar crime and thus the son of a biscuit eater is still living in his penthouse while the widows of his crime are scrambling to save what they can. If somebody broke into your house and stole your life savings that you put in your mattress, that person would be in jail till the trial. Why this scumbag Madoff is allowed to live in the lap of luxury till his trial is beyond me? A thief is a thief, be it stealing a car worth ten or twenty grand or over $50 Billion from investors.

I hate to say it but Bernie (I Made-Off) with over $50 Billion in ill gotten gains is in fact the greatest bank robber ever. People blindly put their money into what they thought was a secure investment company and the last statement they received was from the F.B.I. telling them they had a balance of zero courtesy of Mr. Madoff. Forget the Brinks robbery of the 1950’s, or the Los Angeles robbery of over $18 million in the 1990’s. Bernie is the king of the thieves and he should reside in the palace built especially for them all. It’s called jail!


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bush Last Plane Trip Home

I'm pretty sure there is a no smoking rule on all federal property but I just happened to notice a big fat Cigar in George W. Bush right hand on what was formerly Air Force One. What the hell, he broke every other law in the land. What's one more!


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Now We Change to Evolve

Hello Papamoka Bloggers - We did it! We voted for change! The Republicans are out of power! So, what's different already? A great example could be seen on the National Mall yesterday, as well as at celebrations around the nation and the world.

People everywhere were celebrating the victory of a man who speaks about the hopes and dreams of families, communities and nations, and not just about those of individuals - especially selfish individuals. We elected a man who understands how America and the world, our very lifestyle, cannot survive without change.

His inaugural themes echoed his campaign, but were more blunt. He stressed more cooperation, sacrifice and charity. He's challenging us to help him heal our nation, and hopefully help the world. "A new era of ourselves, our nation, and the world" is a good start to a presidency that is required to return balance to a suffering world.

If I heard him right, personal ambition is now less important than creating jobs that will employ all Americans. Wall Street is now less important than Main Street. Free trade is now less important than fair trade. Health care for some Americans is now less important than health care for all Americans. There's no doubt a lot has changed today.

Priorities also changed. I heard him describe a government no longer focused on saving the wealth of a few. That was yesterday. Today we want corporations and the banking industry to help people keep their homes, and create good jobs for average Americans. Wall Street helping Main Street! I heard a man talk about jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs!

If you listened carefully, you could hear him say that a rising tide will lift all boats - or at least close to it. That rising tide will be the middle-class.

I also heard him talk a lot about helping others. "The selflessness of workers who rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job" is a great example of self-sacrifice at a time of great suffering. Tough times require us to help our fellow Americans. I've done okay in life, so I'm prepared to help if I can. Are you?

It shouldn't have to be said, but after Reaganism, trickle-down economics and the "small government" Bush years, it must be said: Americans need to know their president, and their government, will not allow them to starve in the streets. That's what changed yesterday. Obama's "spirit of service" is infectious, and people need to know they will be okay.

Let us hope that Obama renews the original ideas embodied in our Declaration of Independence, where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness suggests hope to all. We should not live in a selfish society. The only way mankind is going to survive on this small planet, with billions arriving each generation, is to work together.

Other western, capitalistic democracies know it. It's time for more Americans to figure it out. Selfishness and unilateralism is a luxury we Americans can no longer afford.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inauguration Speech Video

Video Link

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Change of Power in America

People all over are amazed at the almost simplistic transition of power from one outgoing United States President to a new incoming President. Stories go that George Washington, our first President, could have become a King for life but chose to walk away at the end of his term as President. In some respects it took a ton of personal will power for Washington to do that but he did and so has 43 other Presidents to date.

I’m by no means a George W. Bush fan but I mean him no ill will. Regardless of my thoughts and hopes for our new President Barack Obama, it was sad to see W go bye bye. Mind you, I would have been more than happy to drive them back to Texas if they needed a ride. His political philosophy never matched my thoughts but he was still my President. He left the highest office in the land with the least amount of approval rating in history and that alone may be why the 44th President was taking his place. Did I mention I would have driven him and Laura to Crawford? History may give a kinder version of President Bush but I find it hard to believe how. There was large gasp of relief at 12:05 PM on January 20th that was the relief valve of the American people as Barack Obama was officially sworn in as President.

Today I was drawn to the television by seeing our past President’s coming together for a historic event. Each one of them was once the most powerful leader of the free world in their time and now are just citizens of America.

Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn were there and for his age, Carter looked damn good. Habitat for Humanity must keep him in shape. Then when I saw Bush the father come in shuffling with the assistance of a cane and what looked like he was in pain, my heart went out to him. I did not know that he was in ill health. Then Bill and Hillary Clinton came in and that was my generations President. The bad boy of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was back and allegedly President Carter ignored him and Hillary and rushed by them to get to their seats. Former President Carter denies the snub. He spent some times with the Clinton’s earlier.

We now have a new President, times will be tough for Obama but the honeymoon is on and by all means he should take full advantage of it politically. If he has any political capital he better spend it fast, the way things are looking economically, he needs to go on the offense and tackle that situation with the teeth of a lion.

It will be interesting to see how things work out with a Democrat controlled White House, Congress, and Senate. President Obama will either get his initiatives through or his own party will sink him and the nation.


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People Power: Immediate Thoughts on the Inaugural

Well, all in all a pretty impressive ceremony. I can’t say Rick Warren would be my first choice, but I can see the ‘unity’ logic behind it. Aretha was great (especially the little ‘Georgia’ riff). I’m not sure you could imagine a better quartet (though the annoying commentators on the BBC talked through half of the piece.) And Obama’s speech was strong, sensible, thoughtful.

No-one who’s followed him at all can have been all that surprised by its content, but I was certainly impressed once again by his considered construction and delivery. Sounds silly, but I was struck that this is a man who’s willing to use long sentences... or at least longer ones than the seven-word norm that’s the usual limit in the sound-bite era. Obama expresses his intelligence with an unashamed clarity, doesn’t apologise for being smart, and proceeds from a certain faith that the public will respond to someone who doesn’t assume they’re stupid, rather than hate them for being pretentious or uppity. Hopefully his example will encourage more politicians to have a little faith in people, to stop talking down to them all the time. And the George Washington imagery at the end, I thought, was great. An interesting choice, given that we all expected more Lincoln and FDR than revolutionary war. But it worked well in the context of the central point about national sacrifice, expressed elsewhere in his remarks condemning an era of greedy self-interest by elites, an unwillingness to make tough choices by the public, and of a refusal to compromise principles for expediency. I think this ceremony has, in one shot, put back the ‘Bush legacy’ project at least two years!

All that said, and all praise due President Obama, it was Reverend Lowery who took the biscuit for me. When he took the microphone to talk, the authentic voice of the civil rights movement finally arrived, a voice that guides much of Obama’s politics, but isn’t the quite same as him, and – if truth be told – transcends his experience in its multitudes. A friend of mine said to me that Lowery’s voice was like a gravelly jazz trumpet; his words resonated along the Mall and back through the decades to MLK’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial; he was the one person truly to engage the ceremonialism on the steps of the Capitol with the people who watched all around: through humour, and through the call and response at the end of his benediction.

After all, the marvel of this moment was only partly about the new president, Obama, it was also about the desire of so many people to witness the fulfilment of the promise of the civil rights movement, two million people coming together to share their faith in ideals higher and broader than self-interested money-grabbing, suspicion of difference, or fearfulness of threats. Obama expressed it, but Lowery was the one who put it into practice. Amen!

Alex Goodall
Papamoka’s European Contributor
From A Swift Blow to the Head


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Monday, January 19, 2009

Earl W. Stafford, Angel in Disguise

All across America people are traveling to our nations capitol to see the swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. Most people could never even dream of making this trip simply because they are the poor and forgotten. Earl W. Stafford has made it his personal business to make sure that they get to D.C. and are put up in the best of accommodations at his own expense. Some reports put it that Mr. Stafford has spent almost $2,000,000 of his own money for the folks to see the swearing in of Barack Obama. God bless him!

One news report showed a gentleman from Louisiana that is 100 years old, he was a cotton picker when he was young man, and he cried upon his arrival in Washington D.C. and that touched me. Earl W. Stafford is indeed an angel in disguise. In his gesture and ability to pay for all of these people that could never dream of ever being there for the swearing in of the first African American President, he has opened the hearts of people that just read or see the news reports on it.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC has a great piece on the people coming to Washington D.C. and Earl W. Stafford and his unselfish gift to America…

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My 13 year old is going to the Hanover Theater here in our home town from school to watch the inauguration ceremony. The kids will be watching the ceremony live on a movie theater screen that I watched Tora, Tora, Tora on as a kid, aka the battle of Midway with surround sound. She is excited about it and is looking forward to the whole process. Yes, my 13 year old followed this past Presidential election and she had her opinion’s and thoughts on it all along. She has more than a clue as to how important this moment will be in her life. She could care less about the People’s Inaugural Ball or even know what it is all about but I will make sure that I explain to her that somebody in business (Stafford Foundation) cares about the little people and footed the bill for many to see this historic day that never could have afforded to do so.

You have to love a guy like Earl Stafford. He just made the difference in millions of peoples lives by sending just 400 people to the inauguration of Barack Obama as President on his dime and he put them all up in first class accommodations. Limousines included! First class hotels and all the fixings. By millions of people, I mean the millions that will read the story not just here but everywhere. Say a prayer for him and thank him for being an angel in disguise.

I would send a few dollars to Earl Stafford but apparently his quiet gift to the people has leaked out and they are turning away far more than they can accept. For those lucky enough to go, have a ball!

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President Obama

With one hand on the holy bible and the other raised in oath and promise, Barack Obama will become the next President of the United States of America. It has been a long hard road to this point and it marks the coming of a new generation of America. A new page in our children’s history books will need to be written for them to study, learn from, and know that nothing is impossible in America.

With all of the financial crisis America is facing, President Obama, and his entire cabinet will have their hands full on day one. Not since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt has such a dire set of circumstances existed in our country for a President to face and conquer. And just like FDR, President Obama and Vice President Biden will get to work on not just fixing the fundamental problems that caused this economic meltdown but also the heart and soul of America. How they manage to bring America back from the brink or screw it up even more will also be something for the history books as well.

At times like these, I am so glad that we have someone like President Barack Obama that knows how to build a bridge over troubled waters not just politically but in the financial part of our nations economy. President Obama will also be able to talk to the average American and surpass President Ronald Reagan as the great communicator. Having faith in those entrusted to get our nation past this crisis is half the battle of fixing this mess that we are all stuck in…

Video Link

Yes we can! Get out of this financial crunch, yes we can! Get out of the housing collapse, yes we can! Turn the economy around, yes we can! Create millions of new jobs in new industries, yes we can! Work together as one people to save our economy, yes we damn well can!

Congratulations President Obama, Vice President Biden, now get your asses to work and fix this nation! The clock is ticking… tick, tock, tick, tock…


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Goodwill and Patience

Hello everyone! I’ve been invited to join the Papamoka crew, I suppose to add a kind of European perspective for the site (not that I can really speak for anyone but myself). My name’s Alex, I’m from Britain, and I’m delighted to join you all in ranting and raving about American politics. Given the timing, I’d be tempted to call this my inaugural, but I think perhaps that might be a little presumptuous!

I was watching Madeleine Albright in an interview on the news a moment ago, and she commented that she couldn’t recall the last time that so many people around the world had such enthusiasm for an incoming president, and – from my experience at least – she’s absolutely right. If Europeans had had a vote in the election, it would have been pretty much unanimous for Obama. I teach American history to students at a university here in the UK, and their political memory rarely stretches beyond the Bush years. So it’s exciting for me to think that the upcoming period might help to change the stereotyped, negative views of the United States that are so common in Europe and elsewhere around the world, and highlight some of the many great things to be found in the good ol' US of A.

As much as tomorrow’s about partying and celebrating, though, we all need to temper our excitement with a healthy dose of patience. If last September was our generation's Wall Street Crash, then we’ve got a long journey before things get back on track. After all, FDR didn’t really bring the American economy back to life until World War Two. In a year or two, if Obama’s not managed to bring everything back to the ‘everything on credit’ days of 2005 and the belts still remain tight, that’s when we’ll need to have some real goodwill for the new boss. (And I suspect that Obama will more or less say as much tomorrow...)

Anyway, enough from me. Thanks, Papamoka, for the invitation to the party. I wish I was in Washington to witness these miraculous events first hand with you all. And I hope everyone enjoys the show as much as I plan to. If you want any more reason to feel good about what you’re going to be watching, just remember: Barack Obama has single-handedly ensured that there’s at least five billion people out there who want America to do well for a change. Feel the warmth!

Alex Goodall
Papamoka’s European Contributor
From A Swift Blow to the Head
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