Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
World leaders have pledged to take wide-ranging action to prevent millions of deaths from cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung disease by tackling the key causes -- smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and unhealthy diets dominated by fast food.
Holy shit! This means Alabama can apply for UN assistance!
The GOP-controlled House remains on track to pass $3.7 billion in disaster relief as part of a bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, the No. 2 House Republican said Wednesday. But first the party must overcome opposition from Democrats and some tea party Republicans.
Democratic leaders, including some who said last week they would back the stopgap measure, came out solidly against it Wednesday morning because it contains $1.5 billion in cuts from a government loan program to help car companies build more fuel-efficient vehicles.
That money would pay for the most urgently needed portion of the disaster aid that's required to avoid a cutoff next week of Federal Emergency Management Agency relief to victims of Hurricane Irene, recent Texas wildfires and Tropical Storm Lee.
Now, no one denies the need for America to wean itself off oil. Even oilman George W. Bush confessed in a State of the Union address that America is addicted to oil.
We don't cotton to addictions in this nation, no sir. So you'd think fuel efficiency would be something everyone would get behind. It helps our national security, it helps our environment, it helps our citizens keep more money in their pockets to spend on housing, food, and clothing. And other stuff.
I mean, slam dunk, right? (The Teabaggers oppose it because it raises spending above limits the GOP agreed to last spring.)
So why would the GOP leadership stand in opposition to the wishes of nearly everyone in America? Why would they send a letter to the Fed all but demanding the Fed abrogate its statutory responsibility to the country, and commit treason? Why would Congress deliberately sabotage the authority of the legislative branch of government?
I mean, sure, we can all list the obvious reasons: economic royalists, corporate stooges, etc, etc.
But here's the thing: history, indeed American history alone, dictates that pendulums swing, parties switch positions, and power is both temporary and fleeting. And karma is a real bitch.
Then I started to think about recent history. I started to think about the evolution of the Presidency, from a chief executive officer to what some called during the Bush years an imperium.
Note this does not abrogate the responsibilities of the Democrats like Clinton and even Obama in this evolution. Clinton was foursquare for dismantling the Fourth Amendment for drug busts, and Obama still hasn't moved that far away from the odious provisions of the PATRIOT Act, both of which invest enormous and dangerous powers to the Executive Branch.
The behavior of Congress started to take shape, and it's not pretty.
Congressional approval ratings stand at around 20%. Congressional Republicans fare a little worse, Democrats a little better.
But did you notice something? Let me highlight this next question.
Which party claims to be anti-government?
Cui bono? Who benefits more from making government seem out of touch, ineffectual and driven by an agenda that has little to do with the average American?
The question has to be asked, then: why? What's in it for Republicans to simultaneously dismantle one of the three branches of government, the one most directly responsible to the population of the nation?
Take a look at the legislative agenda of the first Bush term. The clues are there: imperium.
Bush proposed. Congress disposed. Like clockwork. The legislative branch became nothing more than a rubber stamp for legislation proposed by the executor, and written by the crony capitalists from the lobbying industry.
Karl Rove spoke of creating a permanent Republican majority in this nation. Fortunately, they've fumbled that in the populace, but watch out. They're trying to do it by fiat in Congress and the Presidency.
And the judiciary. We cannot forget that third body politic, that entity that has so odiously sold off the rights of Americans for a bowl of porridge. From the 1886 decision acknowledging limited corporate personhood (Santa Clara) to the recent Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that humanity is just a drone, that there is nothing special about having a physical body that distinguishes us from a faceless, nameless, soulless corporation.
Except that corporations have no responsibility for their actions, and no criminal recourse is permitted. As the latest internet meme goes, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."
You can start with Enron.
If you want to understand the path to power of corporate America, the rape of our natural and human resources, you have only to take this to its extreme. Adam Smith must be rolling in his grave, because he mistrusted corporations and believed the government had a duty to regulate them closely. And yet, as even Grover Cleveland observed, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."
He was not the first. From day one, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were raising alerts.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Israel called on the Palestinians to abandon their drive for United Nations recognition and restart peace talks as the U.S. and other countries try to work out a compromise aimed at avoiding a Security Council showdown.
Israel is ready to “negotiate at the highest level,” Mark Regev, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, said today, hours after the premier urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to talks this week in New York.
Meeting with Netanyahu in New York is not on Abbas’s agenda, Husam Zomlot, a spokesman for the Palestinian delegation said late yesterday. “This is part of Netanyahu’s routine of playing games,” he said.
Suddenly, Israel is "ready to talk." Nevermind that they've done plenty of talking in the past, and still allowed West bank settlements to go on, and nevermind that Gaza is continually under assault by Israeli forces. Now, they're ready to discuss this, last minute, at the highest levels.
Curious. I wonder how much of this is pressure from President Obama? Especially in light of the Saudi threat to cut off oil exports to the US if they veto the bid, full stop.
The national security of four nations is at stake today: Israel, the US, the Palestinian homeland, and the Saudis. By extension, every nation in the Middle East is threatened here.
And here's a thought to chew over: if we fought a Cold War with the Soviets in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, we're heading into a Glacial War with China now.
My reasoning? The Saudi threat.
Clearly, the royal family has sussed out what our own Teabaggers refuse to acknowledge: the declining influence of the United States in world affairs, partly because of the current economic woes but mostly the loss of prestige and authority by spending global political capital in a war that was an act of aggression on our part. If there was ever a signal to nations like Iran, Egypt, Jordan and the Sauds to run to the arms of the Chinese, that was it.
It's very possible that the biggest blunder of the Bush aggressive neo-conservative stance on the world stage will be ironically the elimination of the state of Israel in the coming decades. After all, Israel's existence is massively dependent on being the proxy of the most powerful nation supporting the region (this is partly why I never took the Cold War seriously after the Cuban Missile Crisis). With one sweep of its influential claw, the Chinese dragon can clear Israel off the map, or at the very least force it to exhaust its resources battling for its very existence. Its back is to the sea. You never want to be strategically trapped against water, either militarily or politically.
So is the Palestinian bid a bluff to force Israel back to the table? Hard to say. It could be, and one would hope it is, but the lack of good faith Israel has shown in recent years towards negotiated settlements leads me to suspect people have just had enough.
Monday, September 19, 2011