Category: Politics

My Obama 08 Bumper Sticker

I covered up my Obama 08 bumper sticker today. It has been on the back bumper of my 1997 Honda Accord for several years. I tried to scrape it off with my Swiss army knife, but that wasn’t working very well. It has been baked on I guess through a couple of hot summers and cold eastern New York winters. Duct tape did the trick.

Obama 08 Bumper Sticker

Obama 08 Bumper Sticker

Enough is enough. The latest tax “deal” that President Obama made with the Republicans was too much for me. I can’t take it anymore. I would gladly have had my taxes go up next year instead of having this tax deal passed.

Here is the bumper after covering up the offending sticker:

Photo of taped over bumper sticker

Photo of taped over bumper sticker

I am going to try and find a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker to put over this. He is the Senator from Vermont who stood up in the Senate for over 8 hours the other day and told the truth about the Obama tax deal with the Republicans.

As Paul Krugman said, “We need a better government than we’ve got.”

Why Are Property Taxes So High In New York?

The Times Union of Albany recently published a story called “New York’s Property Tax Nightmare.” It was written by Bob Port and James M. Odato. Thank you Times Union. It is a great article about out of control property taxes.
*This is required reading for all New Yorkers.

You can read it here: New York’s Property Tax Nightmare

I wrote an article in January of 2009 about property taxes in New York. It is still relevant and contains links to property tax information that you will find interesting or useful.

You can read it here: Why are Property Taxes in New York so High?

What do you think?

Christmas As Usual

The  commercials on television this year for Christmas 2009 have already started. They seem especially odd to me this year. It seems that it is business as usual. It’s as if nothing has changed in this country from previous years. The ads ignore the horrible financial disaster that many Americans are going through. The ads ignore the ridiculously high unemployment rate in this country. The ads ignore the suffering. It’s like nothing happened. How can that be? Has it been like this for years and I just didn’t notice it? Or, has what happened over the past year in this country really changed things?

The “too big to fail” banks have been bailed out and they are making money again. They are giving out billions of dollars in bonuses to their employees. The wall street firms are doing the same. ( I refuse to capitalize “wall street” anymore. They don’t deserve it.) The incompetent, greedy idiots on wall street who brought this country to its financial knees, still think so highly of themselves that they actually believe they are worth the ridiculous bonuses that they get. They think that by creating, marketing and selling trillions of dollars of worthless derivatives they are actually contributing something of value to this country and should be proud of themselves. They are not.

I know that stores like Walmart, Target, Kmart, Kohls, J.C.Penney, Macys, etc., have to sell as much stuff as they can. That’s what they do. That’s how they survive. Besides, if they don’t sell lots of stuff, and we don’t buy it, millions of people in China will lose their jobs. But  the ads just strike me as very odd this year. I can’t exactly put my finger on it. I guess in a way, it’s just like pretending that things are the same as they always were. It isn’t. I never liked Christmas marketing prior to the Thanksgiving holiday anyway. Is Christmas shopping just one more fraud that is being perpetrated on this country? Do we really need this insane shopping period between now and December 25th every year?

Is there a better way to celebrate this holiday without all of the credit card debt and other spending that a lot of people can’t afford anyway? Since the credit card companies, owned by the banks that the American people just bailed out, have raised interest rates on many accounts to a mind boggling 30%, will people be falling off their chairs in January when they get their credit card bills, hurting themselves in the process and needing to go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital? (At least the ones that are left that still have health insurance?) Will the health care insurance companies be raising their rates again because of all of this? You bet they will. It’s a vicious cycle. Maybe congress should have put some rate limits in the Credit Card Reform Act of 2009. Duh.

I know a lot of people who are unemployed, under employed or at best, living on the edge of economic oblivion and struggling to survive. They are one paycheck, one illness or one accident  from financial ruin. And yet nobody talks about it. There are people like Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman and Charles Blow in the New York Times that write columns about it, but the people who are experiencing the real pain and suffering don’t talk about it. At least not to me. They suffer in silence.

Do you think the clowns in Washington, D.C. who supposedly represent us are worried about any of this? They have spent all summer and fall trying to reform health care in this country. The final bill that came out of the House of Representatives should be titled, “How I spent my summer vacation.” They threw commonsense out the window when they began the debate and were never able to find it again. The bill that passed may be progress and it does fix some problems, but it is totally lacking in commonsense and much more complicated and stupid than it needs to be. Are these the people who are going to put people back to work so that they can spend a lot of money on Christmas 2010?

I’m very disappointed. Our new president and his party are squandering an opportunity to really make a difference. It reminds me of the Newt Gingrich days in the ’90s when the Republicans won control of Congress and were going to do all these amazing things. They didn’t. I supported Obama for president.  I still have his bumper sticker on my car. I want him to succeed. But he obviously doesn’t get it or he would have done something by now to stimulate employment.

He has had over a year to try and put the economy back on track for working Americans. It seems that it is the last thing on his agenda. We need some sort of incentive for businesses of all kinds and sizes in this country to stop sending jobs to China. We need to start doing things here in America again. Where are the green jobs that the president talks about? They are needed now. Today. Not two years from now. Our roads, bridges, underground infrastructure, and railroads etc. are falling apart. Millions of jobs could be created by fixing these problems. If more people need to be trained, and they do, let’s train them.

There is no reason in the world for so many people to be unemployed when there is so much that needs to be done.

What are we waiting for? Everyday that goes by is another day wasted. Let us seize the day. The Great Recession will not end until Americans can go back to work at jobs that pay a living wage.

A few days ago, I found a 1946 Roosevelt dime in my pocket change. I was very surprised because most of the 90% silver coins went out of circulation in this country years ago. Where is Franklin Delano Roosevelt when you need him?

What do you think? Does Christmas 2009 seem a little different to you?

The Born Warning

I watched a very disturbing story called “The Warning” on Frontline last night. I urge you to take an hour and watch it yourself. You can watch it on Frontline’s website now.

It is the story of a courageous woman named Brooksley Born and how, way back in 1998, she warned Congress and the American people that the over the counter derivatives market needed to be regulated. Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Phil Gramm all fought hard against regulation. They won. The Amercian people lost. It is just shameful. I did not know who Brooksley Born was until I saw the story on Frontline.

Even after the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management collapsed in 1998, nothing was done. Greenspan still didn’t think regulation was needed. I didn’t know until I watched this that Greenspan was a huge follower of Ayn Rand. She didn’t believe in regulation of the markets either.

We still don’t have any regulation over the derivative market. It is a $595 trillion market that operates in the dark. Even now, after the economic collapse of last year and the government bailout of the banks, Wall Street is fighting against regulation.

What horrible thing is hiding under that rock?  Someone needs to shine a light on it. I have more questions.

Why isn’t there an investigation of exactly why the economy collapsed so the guilty parties can be punished?

Is Bernie Madoff the only person going to prison?

Why hasn’t anyone given Brooksley Born a medal for what she did? Alan Greenspan should take off his Presidential Medal of Freedom and give it to her.

Why hasn’t anyone turned this story into a movie?

At the end of the show, I sadly concluded that our government is either totally incompetent, horribly corrupt, or both. There is just no other conclusion to be reached. It’s disgusting.

As Paul Krugman says, “We need a better government than we’ve got.”

Watch “The Warning” on Frontline.

The Courageous Decision

President Obama must make a decision soon on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. The most courageous decision he can make is to just say NO.

The Republicans will scream bloody murder, but I would rather have them screaming in Washington than some young American kid dying in Afghanistan.  We can defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda without sending more troops.

We didn’t invade Afghanistan to rebuild their country. We invaded because the Taliban would not turn  Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda over to us. We wanted to deny Al Qaeda a training ground and a safe place to plot against us. What do you think they have been doing in Pakistan for the past eight years? Do you think they have been waiting to get back into Afghanistan to train and plot against us? Of course not. An imaginary line in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan did not stop Al Qaeda from doing anything.

Let’s fight the most primitive means of warfare, suicide bombers and roadside bombs, with the greatest technology that the world has ever seen. Let’s use our overwhelming, unopposed, superior, air power to defeat the Taliban.

In “To Beat the Taliban, Fight from Afar” in the October 14, 2009  New York Times, Robert A. Pape suggests that we rely on air and naval power from a distance and work with local security forces on the ground. That’s how we beat the Taliban in 2001. We had some troops on the
ground, but we mainly worked with local Afghan fighters by providing air strikes against the Taliban. The Taliban may be able to survive underground in caves in Pakistan, but large groups of them out in the open, whether at night or during the day, are toast.

We have Reapers and Predators, unmanned aircraft that are operated remotely from bases in the United States. The assembly lines should be running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week making these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). We certainly have enough laid off auto workers that they could be put to good use building UAVs to defend America, our ground forces and the ground forces of our Allies and friends. Let General McChrystal have all the UAVs he wants.

The November 2009 issue of Esquire magazine has an article by Brian Mockenhaupt called, “We’ve Seen The Future and It’s Unmanned.” Here is a quote from the article: “An F-16 burns a thousand gallons of fuel an hour and can stay over a target for about an hour before it must swap out with another plane or refuel midair. A Predator carries a hundred gallons of fuel with which it can stay over a target for twenty-four hours.”

Arizona Senator John McCain said that if President Obama didn’t send the 40,000 troops requested by General McChrystal it would be an “error of historic proportions.” He also said that more troops were “vitally needed” in Afghanistan and that any delay in ordering more combat forces to the fight would put American lives at risk. He will probably lead the criticism of the president if he says no.

Frank Rich wrote a column for the NY Times called, “Two Wrongs Make Another Fiasco.” It documents all the different ways that Senator McCain has been wrong since September 11, 2001. McCain has been wrong on just about everything.

Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t want the president to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan either. He supports using UAVs and Special Forces to target Al Qaeda in Pakistan and letting the Afghans take over their own security. I’m with Joe.

What happened to all of the Afghans who fought the Taliban in 2001? Where are they now? Let’s invite 40,000 of them to defend their own country again. If we fight with local Afghan forces on the ground, they should be covered by an umbrella of massive fire power from unmanned drones and whatever other air power our military thinks is necessary.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote a column on September 21, 2009 called, “The Hard and Bitter Truth.” He doesn’t want the president to send more troops either.

We should use all of the technology that we have to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda from operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we shouldn’t send more troops. Why should our soldiers have to die because the Taliban and Al Qaeda want to live in the 12th Century?

As Robert A. Pope says, “To Beat the Taliban, Let’s Fight From Afar.” May I suggest, “Kill them from a distance?”

President Obama, be courageous and just say NO!

Bob Herbert and The New York Times

Bob Herbert is my favorite columnist. You can read him every Tuesday and Saturday in The New York Times. Or should I say “on” The New York Times? His column today is called, “Does Obama Get It?“  The column is about the huge unemployment problem in the United States.

After I read the column I commented the following: Bob, Thanks for another great column. It seems extremely stupid to me that they don’t count unemployed people who are so discouraged that they stop looking for work. When an individual becomes unemployed, they are no longer making deposits into their Social Security account. That is what should be tracked.

Unless the person has retired, and that should be easy enough to figure out based on their age and whether or not they are collecting unemployment from a state, they should be counted in the unemployment figure. I’m sure that computers could track that quite easily.

The federal government bailed out Wall Street and the banks. They didn’t help the average citizen. Another jobless recovery in this country is going to be very ugly for a lot of people.

Where are the green jobs and when are we going to start rebuilding our infrastructure? Perhaps the president should read, “Freedom From Fear” by David M. Kennedy. (end of my comment) We need to bring counting the unemployed into the twenty first century.

Freedom From Fear, The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945″ was published in 1999 by the Oxford University Press.

Bob Herbert’s September 15, 2009 column is titled, “A World of Hurt.” In it he says, “This recession, a full-blown economic horror, has left a gaping hole in the heart of working America that is unlikely to heal for years, if not decades.” It is another great column that is well worth reading.

If you click on his name under the title of the column, you will see a brief biography and a list of the columns he has written over the past several years.

If you haven’t discovered Bob Herbert yet, I’m glad that I can introduce you to him.

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