Posted in Economy, Georgia, News, Obama, Politics, President, Race, Racism, Uncategorized

Bill Looman, Georgia Business Owner, Draws Fire For ‘Not Hiring Until Obama Is Gone’

We will not hire until Obama is gone

Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that this business owner is unwilling to hire anyone while the President is still in office. He’s in good company, and the only thing that makes this particular man unique is his willingnes­s to be upfront about it.

There are many people on the right- including a lot of the elected politician­s- who do not want America to thrive in any way while President Obama is in office. If we, as a country, fail on his watch, they get to blame Obama without having to confront their personal racism against him.

Those same people will claim racism is dead in the US, pointing to our black Commander in Chief as proof, while simultaneo­usly hijacking our country to all-but guarantee his failure.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Cynthia Davis, Economy, Family, Hunger, Keith Olbermann, Missouri, News, Politics, Poverty, Recession, Single Parent, Stephen Colbert

Rep. Cynthia Davis, Hungry Kids and Marie Antoinette

Generally speaking, I don’t follow local politics too closely.

This little nugget, however, has made national news, shaming the state of Missouri, and helping to further cultivate the image of the backwards state so many people already perceive it to be.

Unfortunately, these people are not altogether wrong in their assessment, thanks in part to the recent contributions of such political gems as Cynthia Davis.

Cynthia Davis is a Republican currently serving in the house of Representatives.

She’s landed herself in hot water most recently due to the absolutely jaw-dropping comments she made regarding poor, lower-income, hungry children in the state of Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has a summer program that provides food for impoverished families throughout the state. For too many children, their only guaranteed meals came in the form of free or reduced lunch, during the school year. This program offers meals throughout the summer months, while school is not in session.

Rep. Davis has decided that the program isn’t warranted, and has even come up with a benefit to having hungry children.

Hunger can be a positive motivator.

Yep.

She really did say that.

Davis then goes on to ask, “What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.”

It is worth mentioning, Ms. Davis is the chairwoman of the state’s Children and Families Committee. Not only should she know better, she is charged with advocating on behalf of… well… children and families.

Wowsa.

I feel like I’ve been thrown back in time, to the days of Marie Antoinette and her famous quote, with a slight modern twist:

Let them eat french fries and a double cheeseburger!

Thank goodness McDonald’s stopped using trans-fat.

Otherwise her fast-food suggestion would have been downright unhealthy.

Nice Job, Cynthia.

I wonder if she’s aware of the fact that currently, in the state of Missouri, 1 in 5 children are hungry.

Or that Missouri has a whopping 9% unemployment rate.

If hungry kids really is a great motivator, Missouri ought to be gearing up for a heck of an upswing… we should see it any day now…

… Right?

Perhaps Representative Davis needs to be reminded that we are in a recession, a terrible economic downturn, and most people have already had the bright idea of  just “getting a job”… but have been unsuccessful in actually finding one.

Davis needs to drive to my neighborhood- located less than 15 minutes from hers. I live in a strong middle class area of the state where unemployment is slightly lower than, say, the City of St. Louis, and yet, there are no jobs here. Even McDonalds has a sign on its wall stating that they are not currently hiring… as does the grocery store down the street.

My neighborhood, in fact, is nearly a mirror image of Cynthia’s.

Many people who never in a million years thought they would find themselves needing to accept food from aid programs, have realized that in order to feed their families, they must do just that.

Our Cynthia claims to question the importance of a program that feeds hungry children because of its cost to regular citizens in the form of state tax dollars.

Unfortunately, Ms. Davis did not do her homework prior to shoving her big ol’ foot into her big ol’ mouth.

Most of the feed-the-hungry programs in MO are hosted by churches, funded by parishioners by way of tithes and donations.

Not at the expense of taxpayers.

In addition, the program offered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is actually funded by theU.S. Departmentment of Agriculture, not by way of state tax dollars from hard-working Missouri families.

Interestingly, it is Cynthia Davis herself, who in the past, has been observed stuffing leftover food into her purse at various committee and lobbyist dinners back in the capital city. One would assume she is taking the food home to feed her hungry children.

Perhaps that is what the hungry of Missouri should do…

Simply follow Davis’ lead and steal.

Why not?

Poor people are a bunch of unmotivated degenerates anyway, right?

The good news is that it does not appear Representative Cynthia Davis will be getting out of this mess unscathed.

Keith Olbermann has recently labeled her his “World’s Worst Person” for the second time.

Perhaps even better is Stephen Colbert’s satirical coverage of Davis’ very serious screw-up.

On a recent episode of the Colbert Report, he pretended to applaud her idiocy, through his “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger” segment.

According to Colbert, the fact that she never managed to rise above the level of state representative is due to her development of the anti-motivating habit of eating.

He asked that Missouri residents begin denying her food as often as possible so that she can gain her edge back.

Kudos to the nation for taking notice.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Conservative, Economy, Liberal, News, Policy, Politics, President, Recession, Socialism, Wall Street

Pete Sessions, Socialism and Barack Obama

As big a political junkie as I am, one would think I’d be past the point of being shocked when a politician says something stupid.

I’m not.

Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) believes Obama is both driving the stock market down and unemployment up on purpose.

He’s quoted in today’s NY Times as saying that Obama “intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it.”

Lord have mercy.

Have we been taken over by a power-crazed maniac whose sole purpose is to wipe out all that America holds dear, so that he can take over the entire world, reigning from Capitol Hill as…

… Gasp…

A socialist dictator?!?!

I suppose the fact that Sessions believes Obama to be some sort of socialist terrorist, hell-bent on thoroughly demolishing Capitalism and the free market as we know it is nothing to be surprised at.

Sessions is, after all, someone who likes to use terrorism- specifically the Taliban– as an example when speaking.

What’s surprising is his deviation from the norm

Typically, he’s the one advocating terrorist behavior…

… At least where his own party is concerned.

It was a mere 3 months ago- in February- that he suggested, during an interview with the National Journal, that perhaps the GOP needed a “Taliban-like” insurgency.

His remarks, he claimed, were the result of what he had determined to be a lack of bi-partisan politics in the House of Representatives.

So clearly, strange terror-esque statements are nothing new.

Not from this guy, anyway.

So let me get this straight.

He wants the Republican Party to act in a non-American fashion… actually going as far as to suggest the party adapt the strategy of one of the worst terrorist, anti-American groups in the entire world to survive… and then condemns Obama for non-American behavior… behavior that he not only condoned within his own party, but completely imagined and fabricated where our President is concerned.

Ok, got it.

Truly, this nonsense would be absolutely hilarious if there weren’t several actual, bona-fide yahoos out there taking him seriously.

People do believe President Obama is a closet Socialist.

People do believe that our President hates our country, its governmental structure, its free market economy, our constitution- and all the rights and freedoms we all hold both near and dear.

Never mind that he has yet to take a single fundamental right away from any of us, and in fact has spent his adult life advocating for equal rights- for minorities, women and homosexuals, to name a few.

Never mind that he inherited a real live nightmare of a mess to clean up- and has done more for the average Joe in this country in his first 100 days in office than his predecessor ever did in 8 years.

What is it about him that draws such ire?

Is it jealousy?

Is it the color of his skin?

Is it the fact that he actually cares about people other than the top wealthiest individuals and organizations, and we just don’t know how to accept that kind of compassion?

It’s funny to me how a man who has lived his life trying to protect the dignity of the impoverished and preserve the little things the middle class holds dear, can be painted as the evil villain.

It’s ok, haters.

He hears you…

… And despite your ugliness, he still wants to serve you.

You certainly don’t deserve it.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Economy, News, Parenting, Policy, Politics, Recession, Single Mom, Single Parent, Wall Street

Recession: Are We Working Too Much, Or Not Enough?

By now, there are few of us that haven’t been affected by the recession in some way.

Personally speaking, while I have managed to remain employed by a company that still offers great benefits and good pay…

… Even I am feeling the burn.

Most recently my company froze our salaries, offered a “voluntary” reduced work schedule, reduced our medical coverage, and slashed our 401K match.

Everyone, world-wide it seems, is being forced to make do with less.

We need to be more productive than ever, even as our resources are diminishing.

If we slip up… we could lose our jobs… and with unemployment hovering around 8.5%, we know there are many workers that will be happy to take our places.

At home, we have to figure out a way to continue supporting our families with a smaller number of resources- be it finances, time or energy.

I have a friend, for example, who is a single mother with 2 sons.

She never got much in the way of child support from her ex, so she’s accustomed to having to get creative, figuring things out on her own.

Most recently, my friend, who already works full-time for a large company, had to get a 2nd job.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from a very prestigious university…

… And now finds herself working part-time at Blockbuster Video.

That (small) additional income is buying her groceries every month.

She doesn’t get to spend as much time with her kids as she used to able to…  and now their grades are slipping… they’re developing major attitude problems… their teachers are complaining… she barely recognizes them… but dammit, the mortgage is paid.

I know this problem isn’t a new one.

For generations- well before this particular recession, people- single parents, low income families- have been struggling to learn how to get more out of less.

How do you mandate your children’s behavior, or whether they’re outside playing with friends when they’re supposed to be inside doing homework, when you have 3 jobs- all 3 of which are necessary simply to put food on the table and have gas and electricity?

So many of us are having to choose between that all-important family time and working, so that our rent is paid.

I remember trying to comfort my sobbing friend after her son’s teacher called to let her know he’d been caught stealing another child’s homework… she was also surprised to learn he was failing his classes.

“We’ve talked to your son, and he says you’re never around anymore- that you’re too busy to help him with his studies. You really need to take a more active role in your son’s life”, snarled the teacher.

“Sir, with all due respect, I love my children, and I am doing the very best I can”.

“It’s not good enough”, she was told.

They’re both right.

She is definitely doing the best she can…

… And, as evidenced by her son’s behavior, it isn’t good enough.

So what is it that we’re to do, when the very best we have, simply doesn’t cut it?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Current Events, Economy, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Bonuses, Bailouts and Buttheads

Like many of us, I was pretty upset to learn about AIG’s decision to pay out more than $165 million in executive bonuses.

Much of the funds are retention bonuses for employees that are no longer with the company. All of it is going to reward AIG’s top decision-makers for decisions that were…

Well…

… Shitty.

The recipients of this money are the same people who ran the company into the ground to begin with, resulting in four federal bailouts to-date.

AIG claims they had no choice, that they were obligated by contract to distribute the bonuses.

The federal government has considered forcing AIG to stop the pay-outs, voiding the employer/employee contracts but wisely decided against such a move. I’m as ill as the next person over AIG’s nonsense, but I don’t like the idea of my government involving itself- potentially nullifying- legal contracts.

I wouldn’t mind the fallout in the case of AIG, but I cringe at the precedent such a move would set.

The Senate is currently mulling legislation that would allow the government to recoup the bonuses, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to pass the legislation by unanimous consent was blocked by Representative Jon Kyl, from Arizona.

I think blocking the legislation is the right move.

AIG has made some terrible business decisions… and has definitely shown that they haven’t learned their lesson, as evidenced by the greedy, nonsensical method in which they have spent their billions in bailout funding.

However, horrible business decisions do not equate to illegal activity.

Currently, as far as I know, it is still legal in this country to be both stupid and greedy.

Simultaneously, no less.

Next we learn that the House, no doubt knowing Congress doesn’t have a leg to stand on with regards to pulling AIG’s bonuses, yesterday passed a bill that would instead tax the bejesus out of the funds.

The bill stipulates that any employee who works for a company that has received more than $5 billion in federal bailout funds and makes more than $250,000 a year will be heavily taxed on their bonuses- and by heavily, I mean 90%.

Huh.

Now that’s what I call a bonus tax!

If this crap didn’t so drastically effect my loved ones- their day to day lives, and their hopes for financial security during their later years- it would be downright humorous.

Unfortunately, because the stakes are so high, and so many little people are paying the price for these shenanigans, the situation falls less in the “ha ha funny” category and more in the maddening “OMG how can people fuck up this damn badly?!?!” category instead.

Many of us were against the idea of a federal bailout to begin with.

Some of us were against it because of our belief in a free-market economy… a notion that is decidedly in jeopardy once the government gets to intervene any time it chooses.

Most of us simply don’t trust Uncle Sam- not to the extent of handling our investments, anyway. We knew, instinctively that if the government started runnin’ this particular show, mass chaos and huge amounts of dumb-assery were sure to follow.

True to form, the government has managed to make a huge clusterfuck out of an already distasteful situation.

Does anyone else remember, for example, back when the bailout was orignally being mulled by congress, that Senator Dodd (Chair of the Treasury Committee) was busy messing with the law to make sure that once the bill passed, the bonuses would be legal?

Seems to me, had he not done that, perhaps we could have already had a bill in place- one that is part of the original bailout legislation- that would have stopped AIG (and others) from even considering such wasteful spending as bonuses for irresponsible executives who have made deplorable financial decisions… and special spa retreats… and million dollar office renovations.

So, am I pissed off that it has come to this?

You bet.

Do I think AIG is comprised of a bunch of greedy bastards?

Yep.

More importantly though, I am even more pissed off at our own government and its hasty, poorly thought-out involvement in this mess.

Hindsight is 20/20, but had our congressional representatives heeded the wishes of their constituents- the little people like you and me- and not jumped headfirst into this stinky hole to begin with, perhaps we wouldn’t be dealing with this bullshit today.

The vast majority of us were against the bailout to begin with. We knew Congress was going to figure out a way to make a jacked up situation even worse.

Will they ever listen?

Not if the currently pending legislation is any indication of lessons learned (or not learned, in this case).

Oh well.

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m just going to sit back, grab some popcorn and watch the show.

I hear there’s gonna be fireworks towards the end.

Posted in Barack Obama, Basketball, C-Haze, Current Events, Economy, Funny, Humor, NCAA, News, Politics, President, Sports

Duke Is Puke

I hear Duke’s Coach K doesn’t appreciate that Obama has been making NCAA Final Four picks.

He claims he thinks the Prez should be concentrating on the economy.

I have to wonder if he’d feel the same way if Duke had made its way into Obama’s bracket.

Anyway- I tend to agree with Obama on most issues- and his Final Four picks are no different.

My father, the UNC grad, taught me the following- I live by it:

Duke is puke

Wake is fake

The team I hate is NC State

GO TARHEELS!!!

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Children, Conservative, Current Events, Economy, Elections, Governor Mark Sanford, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Wall Street

Stimulus, Schools and Sanford

A few weeks ago (on February 24, 2009), Obama addressed the nation in front of a joint session of Congress.

It was a moving speech, focusing primarily on the economy, and the challenges faced by America today.

There were a couple of attendees at the event that are not politicians, but rather, people whose personal stories touched the President and First Lady personally.

One was a banker by the name of Leonard Abess Jr.

Located in Miami, Mr. Abess was recognized for his generosity- he received a $60 million bonus from the proceeds of the sale of his bank’s shares- and rather than keep it for himself, he split it up among his 399 current employees- and more than 70 previous ones.

Another guest of the Obamas was Ty’Sheoma Bethea, an 8th grader from South Carolina.

Once President Obama told her story, we all fell in love with her.

Ty’Sheoma is from a tiny town in South Carolina. Her school is dilapidated- in fact it isn’t even up to code. Classes are interrupted several times a day to allow for the noisy trains that roll through the area.

Desperate for a decent school- a building that isn’t falling apart around her- a place where learning can be uninterrupted, Ty’Sheoma wrote to Barack Obama.

She requested some of the stimulus money for her school.

Her letter read, in part, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.”

Our President was so moved by her words that he invited Ms. Bethea to attend his speech, sitting with his wife in a place of honor.

We all had warm fuzzies at the close of the speech, knowing there were hundreds of millions of dollars in that stimulus package- set aside just for South Carolina- money that the state’s governor could use for education.

Ty’Sheoma, her fellow students and their teachers can now attend a school that stands on its own and isn’t interrupted by the constant din of passing trains.

Right?

Ha.

Not so much.

Now comes news that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will not accept the more than $700 million in stimulus funding that is available for his state.

Money that will patch holes in the roofs of public school buildings… money that will go to purchase school books and teaching supplies- replacing outdated and inaccurate materials… money that will save teachers’ jobs… money that will pay the salaries for qualified educators to join the ranks of the South Carolina Public School System.

Is Governor Sanford really so arrogant as to think we aren’t watching him? Does he believe that we have forgotten Ty’Sheoma Bethea? Does he assume we don’t care about her, her fellow classmates, her teachers and their administrators?

If so, he is sadly mistaken.

Sanford only wants to accept the stimulus money if he gets to choose how to spend it- and has stated if that were the case, he would focus on paying down South Carolina’s other debts- not on extending unemployment benefits and education.

Oh.

In that case, I’m sure Ty’Sheoma will understand.

I mean, let’s face it.

She wasn’t going to be a doctor, lawyer or anything else, right?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Current Events, Economy, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, War on Terror

Clocks, Socks and Glocks…

By Andrew Heaslet, Coordinator, Peace Economy Project

What do clocks, socks, and glocks have in common? Socks, underwear, oil in a car, batteries in your smoke detector, Mr. Rogers’s cardigan sweater, and the time on your clocks on the evening of March 7th – what do these all have in common? These are all things that need changing.

In terms of word association, we should add to that list: the military procurement process, the military budget, our policies towards foreign military assistance, our ramping up of the war in Afghanistan, and the clout that military contractors wield via K street lobbying in our nation’s capital. They, too, desperately need changing.

And pushing for such change is precisely what the Peace Economy Project strives to achieve. That’s why we’ve taken a role in planning and forming the upcoming national campaign that’s being called “Beyond War, A New Economy is Possible.”

In 1967, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, in a speech at the Riverside Church in the Upper West Side of New York city called for change; a change of our national policies towards the giant triplets of Poverty, Racism, and Militarism. In this address, he warned, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Juxtaposed with the location of King’s historic speech in which he publicly came out against the war in Vietnam, less than 10 miles away, is today’s most famously beleaguered street in America, Wall Street.

This campaign is calling attention to the fact that King’s message, unfulfilled for more than 40 years, is related to the debacle on Wall Street. Because we didn’t change.

There is an enormous, near unanimous public outcry about our financial system that makes a house of cards look up to code. We’re furious at the fact that one man was able to cheat away $50 Billion from so many. But let’s face it, when placed next to the $165 Billion price tag of this past year in Iraq, $50 Billion isn’t looking so bad. The current $700 Billion propping up of the banking system, is, well, just a hair more than we’ve spent on the Iraq War already ($600B+), and, depending on how you break it down, ($800 Billion to $1.4 Trillion) right on par with how much we spend on the military every year. And that needs to change.

If, over the decades since his speech, our nation had, instead of investing trillions and trillions of dollars into superfluous military programs and get-rich-quick banking schemes, we had followed Dr King’s admonition to declare “eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism,” one can only imagine the possibility of change we could have seen.

Despite the passage of time, Dr King’s message has not died. It is very much alive with the Peace Economy Project and with our roll in this national campaign. We’re calling for change. And at the tip of the spearhead of this call for change, is a call for a 25% reduction in total military spending. And from that point onward, we’ll be pushing for that long awaited realization of the change Dr King wanted us all to see. And by attending community events, donating to Justice and Peace Shares and the Peace Economy Project, by attending the upcoming statewide rally marking the 6th “Anniversary” of the war in Iraq in Columbia, MO on March 21st, or even going to New York City on April 4th, the 42nd anniversary of the good Doctor’s speech for the major rally of the Beyond War campaign, you’re doing the same thing you’re going to do tonight when you switch that clock and throw your socks and underwear in that laundry hamper… it’s all about change.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Science, War on Terror

Beyond War: A New Economy Is Possible- Part III- Militarism

By Andrew Heaslet, guest Author, Coordinator, Peace Economy Project

Militarism

 

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation… I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Address, Dec.10 1964

 

 

Out of Iraq and Afghanistan

 

A 16  Month Plan for Iraq is 16 Months Too Long

 

Reuters reported last December, “Obama said a new security pact between Iraq and the United States already put the United States on a “glide path” to pulling out of Iraq. He also noted that a “residual” U.S. force may need to remain in Iraq longer than combat troops.”

 

16 months does not fulfill our demand for “Troops Out Now,” and we will not be satisfied until every American serviceman and woman is back on US soil.  “Residual” forces existing in Iraq is unacceptable.  John McCain mused about being in Iraq for 50 to 100 years – if the American people wanted that, he, not Obama, would have been elected president.

 

End, Don’t Escalate the Occupation of Afghanistan.

There is No “Good War”

 

For all of his flaws, former president Bill Clinton has sagely said, “you cannot kill, occupy or imprison all your actual or potential adversaries… You have to try to build a world with more friends and fewer terrorists.”

 

The spouse of the current secretary of state’s words should be heeded, especially considering Foreign Policy in Focus’s Conn Hallinan words: “As the United States steps up its air war, civilian casualties have climbed steadily over the past two years. Nearly 700 were killed in the first three months of 2008, a major increase over last year. In a recent incident, 47 members of a wedding party were killed in Helmand Province. In a society where clan, tribe, and blood feuds are a part of daily life, that single act sowed a generation of enmity.”

 

Hallinan continues, “According to U.S. counter insurgency doctrine… Afghanistan would require at least 400,000 troops to even have a chance of “winning” the war. Adding another 10,000 [or 30,000] U.S. troops will have virtually no effect.”

 

Furthermore, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, “Britain‘s most senior military commander in [Afghanistan]” has said “We’re not going to win this war,” and, according to the Telegraph.co.uk, “said the goal should be to find a non-violent resolution.”

 

Finally, the FY 2008 supplemental spending bill already pinned the cost of the war in Afghanistan at $173 billion.  At a time when our economy needs a boost to the tune of a trillion dollars, increasing spending on an unwinnable war is not only a strategic mistake, but also a cost we simply cannot afford.

  

Nuclear Weapons

The United States should make nuclear disarmament the leading edge of a global trend towards demilitarization and redirection of military expenditures to meet human and environmental needs. (Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security?)

 

In 1995 testimony before the International Court of Justice, Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka told the Court: “History is written by the victors.  Thus, the heinous massacre that was Hiroshima has been handed down to us as a perfectly justified act of war.  As a result, for over 50 years we have never directly confronted the full implications of this terrifying act for the future of the human race.”

 

The Nuclear Information Project has estimated that there are still more than 25,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The United States and Russia have by far the largest nuclear arsenals, with thousands of deployed weapons, capable of destroying any country and killing tens of millions.  The United Kingdom, France and China each have hundreds of modern nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of carrying them. All of these countries promised the world, decades ago, when they signed onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), that they would negotiate to get rid of their nuclear arsenals. There are no such negotiations underway. 

 

Remaining outside the NPT are India and Pakistan, believed to have fewer than 100 nuclear weapons each and engaged in an unpredictable new arms race; Israel, the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, believed to have several hundred nuclear weapons that can be delivered by plane or missile; and North Korea, which claims to have conducted a single nuclear test in 2006 and which has not tested successfully any missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States. (Western States Legal Foundation Information Report, Fall 2006)

 

The United States is the only country that has used nuclear weapons in war.  And it is the only country with nuclear weapons deployed on foreign soil. Nuclear weapons continue to play a central role in U.S. “national security” policy. Today the U.S. possesses approximately 9,400 nuclear warheads.  Of these, some 2,200 strategic (long range) warheads are actively deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles and at long range bomber bases.  Another 500 or so tactical (short range) nuclear weapons are actively deployed, about 200 of them in Europe. (Federation of American Scientists, Strategic Security Blog)

 

But it’s not just about the numbers. A September 2008 Department of Defense report on the Air Force’s nuclear mission describes “the importance of nuclear deterrence” this way: “Though our consistent goal has been to avoid actual weapons use, the nuclear deterrence is ‘used’ every day by assuring friends and allies, dissuading opponents from seeking peer capability to the United States, deterring attacks on the United States and its allies from potential adversaries, and providing the potential to defeat adversaries if deterrence fails.”

The Pentagon’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) expanded the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security policy, including the possible use of nuclear weapons in “immediate, potential, or unexpected contingencies” and called for indefinite retention of a large, modern, and diverse nuclear force.  The NPR has served as the primary justification for each subsequent annual nuclear weapons budget request as well as the current “Complex Transformation” plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories and manufacturing plants for decades to come. (Western States Legal Foundation, Information Brief, Spring 2008)

According to a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report entitled, Nuclear Security Spending: Assessing Costs, Examining Priorities ,in fiscal year 2008, the United States spent $52.4 billion on nuclear weapons programs alone.  This staggering amount is a drop in the bucket compared to overall U.S. military spending ($711 billion), but it exceeds the entire military budgets of nearly every other country. In 2006, the last year for which figures are available, only China ($121.9 billion), Russia ($70 billion), the United Kingdom ($55.4 billion) and France ($54 billion) spent more on their militaries than the U.S. spent on its nuclear weapons. (CACNP)

 

Atomic Audit, a study by the Brookings Institution completed in 1998, found, as a conservative estimate, that the United States spent $5.5 trillion dollars on nuclear weapons from 1940–1996 (in constant 1996 dollars). The Brookings study found that nuclear weapons spending during the 56 year period it examined exceeded the combined total federal spending for education; training, employment, and social services; agriculture; natural resources and the environment; general science, space, and technology; community and regional development, including disaster relief; law enforcement; and energy production and regulation.

 

 

Foreign Bases

Bring all troops, everywhere, home.  Now.

 

Former Cold War hawk and CIA analyst, Chalmers Johnson, has written: “As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize — or do not want to recognize — that the United States dominates the world through its military power.  Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire — an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class.” Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can’t begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.”

 

Noting that “official records on these subjects are misleading,” Johnson in 2004 estimated that the Pentagon maintains more than 700 overseas bases in about 130 countries, with an additional 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. “These numbers,” he concluded, “although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally…. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people’s countries, but no one — possibly not even the Pentagon — knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.”  According to Johnson, “Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases – surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries. . . .”

 

When establishment of the new United States Northern Command was announced in April 2002, the official press release declared: “For the first time, commanders’ areas of operations cover the entire Earth.” (DefenseLink.mil)

 

Military Industrial Complex

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. 

            Dwight D Eisenhower, Jan 17, 1961

 

James Quinn’s article entitled “The Economic Cost of the Military Industrial Complex” summarizes the current status of this nexus well: “The top five U.S. defense contractors generated almost $129 billion in revenues and $8 billion in profits in 2006, double the revenue and profits in 2000 when George Bush became President. The War on Terror has been a windfall for the defense industry and their shareholders. These companies have intertwined themselves into the fabric of our government and defense department. They contribute tremendous amounts of money to Congressional candidates and have thousands of lobbyists pushing for more defense contracts.”  Boeing, for example, reported spending $16.6 million on lobbying in 2008 (opensecrets.org).

 

There is also the issue of the “revolving door,” where politicians cycle between governmental positions and private sector companies posing serious questions about conflict of interest.  Famous examples are Dick Cheney, who went from the government to CEO of Halliburton, back to the government.  In the new administration, Obama’s national security advisor, Gen James Jones (Ret.) sat on the board of major military contractor, Boeing as well as oil giant Chevron (TheHill.com).  Additionally, a former Raytheon senior vice president now sits as the nation’s deputy defense secretary (Bloomberg.com).

 

B.R. Reece recently summarized some of the Economic Conversion guru, Seymour Melman’s arguments against the power of the Military Industrial Complex in a book review for The Peace Economy Project. “The defense industry profits through inefficiency at the expense of the general population,” she writes. “The difference is that consumers are free to purchase vehicles that are price competitive, efficient, have high technical standards and low failure rates, and so the inability of domestic automakers to produce competitive vehicles has resulted in lost sales. No such situation exists in defense contracting: inefficiencies and losses are absorbed by the taxpayer, not by the producer. The contractors thus have an incentive not only to ignore the hemorrhaging created by inefficiencies, but to build in greater inefficiencies in the form of huge bureaucracies, inefficient production and innovation practices, and pricing methods designed to maximize cost to the final purchaser (a practice that would be impossible to sustain if the company had to compete for buyers).”  Melman’s commentary, though 35 years old, still describe the waste we encounter today; a 2005 NY Times article notes, “The Pentagon has more than 80 major new weapons systems under development…  Their combined cost, already $300 billion over budget [emphasis added], is $1.47 trillion and climbing.”

 

 The Pentagon is NOT a Jobs Engine

Jobs should never be used as a justification to produce instruments of war.

 

31 year veteran of the defense analysis field, Winslow Wheeler has written extensively against the idea that Pentagon should be used as a jobs program: “With its huge overhead costs, glacial payout rates and ultra-high costs of materials, I believe the Pentagon can generate jobs by spending but neither as many nor as soon as is suggested.

 

“…even if Congress appropriated today the USD11 billion needed for [60 new F-22s], the work would not start until 2010: too late for the stimulus everyone agrees is needed now.

 

“…if employment is the aim, it makes more sense to cut defence spending and use the money in programmes that do it better. As for the defence budget, less money offers the opportunity for reform – just what the doctor ordered. Despite high levels of spending, the combat formations of the services are smaller than at any point since 1946. Major equipment is, on average, older, and, according to key measurables, our forces are less ready to fight.”

 

The Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report in mid 2007 noting the following: “It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy… In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.”

 

A 2007 University of Massachusetts, Amherst study wrote that dollars invested in alternatives to defense spending such as education, healthcare, mass transit, or even tax cuts “create more jobs and,” potentially, provide “both an overall higher level of compensation… and a better average quality of jobs.”

 

An honest look at the defense industry does show that millions of jobs are related to massive military contracts but it does not have to remain this way.  As the above comments demonstrate, creating jobs in other sectors would be a more effective means of widespread employment.  The workers who design, build, and maintain these elaborate, high priced machines are incredibly skilled workers whom could relatively easily be retrained to produce goods that create and maintain higher levels of capital.

 

Our current military philosophy and actions are unnecessarily dragging our nation to the poorhouse.  If we actively confront the threats of illness, disease, poverty, racism, unemployment, and the environmental crisis, our dollars will create more jobs and capital and will finally honor the words of one of our nation’s greatest heroes, Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

 

*              It should be noted that increasing reliance on biofuel is controversial.  A Sustainable  Energy Future is Possible Now, a report by Abolition 2000, warns that “unconstrained industrial biofuel production will produce dire consequences for the natural environment.” Concerns range from biofuel feedstock taking priority over food crops due to limited arable land, to use of pesticides, to widespread deforestation.  The report makes the case that solar, wind, and geothermal power, tidal and smaller scale hydro-electric energy, and hydrogen fuel are good choices for the economy, citing a University of California finding that sustainable energy sources provide more jobs “per MW of power installed, per unit of energy produced, and per dollar investment than the fossil fuel-based energy sector.” The report concludes that “switching to sustainable energy would have an added benefit of promoting democratic values and the international aspirations embodied in the United Nations.”

 

A “renaissance” in nuclear energy is being promoted as part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  But nuclear power is fraught with problems including the potential for proliferation of nuclear weapons by virtue of the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons materials and technologies; the potential for catastrophic accidents; the unsolved problem of nuclear waste storage and disposition; and the very high financial costs associated with all aspects of nuclear power production.

 

The United States can and should implement energy production, distribution, and use policies that will phase out the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power by the year 2050. A recent book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, by the Institute for Environmnetal and Energy Research and the Nuclear Policy Reseach Institute, provides a detailed analysis that shows that this goal is technically and economically feasible. The Roadmap lays out how we can get from a 4 percent reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy (as of 2005) to none by mid-century. Oil imports would be completely eliminated along the way.

  

Document compiled and organized by:

Andy Heaslet, Coordinator of the St Louis based Peace Economy Project

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, Elections, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Relationships, War on Terror

Beyond War: A New Economy Is Possible- Part II- Racism

 Part II of Andrew Heaslet’s (Coordinator, Peace Economy Project) talking points, dealing with Racism.

 

Racism

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

            Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

 

While the election of Barack Obama represents a giant landmark in overcoming racial barriers, Racism is far from behind us.  The income and healthcare gaps illustrated above show clearly that minorities, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, are significantly disadvantaged compared to their white counterparts.  The following statistics further show the distance still to be overcome by minority citizens in order to be at a level of prosperity equal to their white peers.

 

 

Criminal Justice System

Racism runs rampant throughout the “justice” system and must be stopped.

 

“At year end 2007 there were 3,138 black male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,259 Hispanic male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males and 481 white male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 white males.”

            (US Dept of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics)

 

Dr Manning Marable, a Columbia University Professor and director of the Center for Contemporary Black History, has written, “In practical terms, by 2001, about one out of every six African-American males had experienced jail or imprisonment. Based on current trends, over one out of three black men will experience imprisonment during their lives.” (Incarceration vs. Education: Reproducing Racism and Poverty in America)

 

An organization called “the Rights Working Group,” explains how immigrants are often targets and victims of profiling by law enforcement officers:The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regularly conducts warrantless and aggressive raids on homes and workplaces to round up hundreds of immigrants, often sweeping up legal residents and citizens. Raid victims are often detained without access to counsel or a phone call to contact family members…

 

“Individuals detained by DHS, including vulnerable populations like the elderly, infirm, refugees and children, are being held in inhumane and overcrowded conditions often without charges for months and even years.”

 

The Washington Post tells us that between 2003 and 2008, “Some 83 [immigrant] detainees have died in, or soon after, custody.”  Conditions are dangerous and inhumane.  The same article quotes a former detention center nurse saying, “Dogs get better care in the dog pound.” In a recent case of blatant disregard for human dignity by law enforcement officials, “more than 200 men in shackles and prison stripes were marched under armed guard past a gantlet of TV cameras to a tent prison encircled by an electric fence” under the orders of Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (NY Times 2/5/09)

 

Since 2001, Arab Americans and Muslims have been victims of racial and religious profiling by local and federal law enforcement, especially via the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Operation Front Line.” The Yale Daily News notes, “’Though Operation Front Line claimed to target terrorist suspects, it was actually targeting people from Muslim majority nations…’ But in looking at a random sampling of hundreds of cases, it became clear that there were no crimes or immigration violations shared by those targeted… In fact, 250 of the 300 random sample cases given to the [Yale] Law School cited no immigration-related violations. The only feature the targeted group shared was that 79 percent of those targeted were from mostly Muslim nations.”

 

Black and Hispanic Poverty

Estimated Median Income 2007: White $52,115 – Black $33,916  – Hispanic $38,679

(2007 Census data, pg 7)

 

“Predatory lending practices and slumping real estate markets threaten hundreds of thousands of American families with the imminent loss of their to foreclosure. Given the disparate number of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minority Americans who have been and continue to be targeted by predatory lenders, the foreclosure crisis is certain to be especially severe in communities of color across the nation.” NAACP letter to the Senate, Feb. 22, 2008 (Center for Responsible Lending)

 

“A United for a Fair Economy estimate in January (2008) put the wealth loss for people of color at between $164 billion and $213 billion, roughly half [emphasis added] the nation’s overall loss. “

(The Subprime Swindle – How Banks Stole Black America’s Future, by Kai Wright.)

 

 

Education

Thirty percent of white adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2005, while 17 percent of black adults and 12 percent of Hispanic adults had degrees.

(MSNBC: Census report: Broad racial disparities persist)

 

Statistically, African-American youths are two to three times more likely than whites to be suspended, and far more likely to be corporally punished or expelled. Also from the ACLU study, “nationally, African American students comprise 17 percent of the student population, but account for 36 percent of school suspensions and 31 percent of expulsions. (Incarceration vs. Education: Reproducing Racism and Poverty in America)

 

Just because a minority has reached the highest level of power, this nation cannot allow itself to become lazy when it comes to confronting the very ugly reality that racism and disparity between races that exists.  Continuing with Affirmative Action, supporting home-ownership among minorities, investing in education, especially in urban centers, a re-evaluation of policies imprisoning non-violent offenders, and widespread, frank discussions of the realities that exist regarding attitudes towards minorities may represent a path towards overcoming racism and racial inequalities.