Monday, March 28, 2011

Why Obama's Intervention in Libya is Important to American Interests.

President Obama is handling the Libya intervention well. Moammar Gaddafi promised to slaughter many of his own people. After what happened in Rwanda, America (and much of the West) had to help prevent a coming genocide. It also was in our strategic interest to improve America's image in the Arab world by being willing to support the Arab League in bolstering a rare, democratic movement in the Middle-East. Our image would have been shattered for another generation in that important part of the world if we would have turned our backs on the Arabs and North Africans to allow a mass genocide in Libya.

The Arab League rarely supports such actions, so if they believe the world should act, it gives the west legitimacy in an area of the world where we haven't traditionally had much. It is in our direct strategic interest to support these democratic movements because of the potential they offer for a new Middle East. And, that is something America has been hoping to see unfold for generations.

The difference between this "Arab Spring" (the overall democratic movement in the region) and past revolutions in the Arab world is that it's largely been supported by those seeking democracy. In years gone by, revolutions against hard-line regimes were done in the name of theocracy but this time the young people saw the mistakes of their parents generations. They know now that clerics and other Islamic radicals failed them in the past. Plus, seeing the information explosion in the world via the internet, they want what the rest of the world has; true freedom, democracy and economic opportunity. In many cases these throngs of young people were educated in the West and have adopted the lifestyles and beliefs of true democracy.

So, how could America, the shining beacon of democracy on the hill, as Ronald Reagan described it, ignore this chance to welcome the Middle-East into the community of modern democracies? If Obama had failed to act, allowed genocide to unfold, as well as, ignoring the unprecedented support from the Arab world, (and countries like France), he would have been seen as weak and ineffectual on foreign policy. He would have been mocked by conservatives and disappointed the entire freedom loving movements of the Middle-East. This "Arab Spring" of democracy has been a long-time in coming and it would have been disastrous to America's strategic interests in the area to have ignored it.

As for the military operation itself, success is unfolding as I type this out. Already Benghazi is liberated, which prevented a near unprecedented massacre in a city of over 650,000--all largely opposed to Gaddafi. Gaddafi's troops have been repelled from Benghazi and the opposition has steadily pushed his forces back all the way West to Gaddafi's home city of Sirte. Capturing Sirte will be a huge psychological victory for the freedom fighters. The tide is turning and as the rebels get further and further toward Tripoli there are already fractures in Gaddafi's inner circle (according to reports). It seems, the Butcher of Libya, Moammar Gaddafi is running out of time, and support.

PHOTO CREDIT: Libyan flag of the democratic revolution by "anonymous" on Deviant Art.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Voters Favor Obama over Republicans in 2012.

Nearly half (47%) of registered voters say they would like to see Barack Obama reelected, while 37% say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate win the 2012 election.

James: That from a new Pew Poll. I have had my disagreements with President Obama because he hasn't been progressive enough but I still really like having his calm personality as our leader to the foreign world. I feel like his efforts have stabilized the economy and set us back on track to slowly climb out of the ditch. I'm also willing to give him a break from all the major crises that he has to juggle in his first term: The Great Recession, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, ending the Iraq war, Afghan war, revolutions in the Middle-East, collapse of two of America's big three automakers, Iran, North Korea, terrorism, unemployment and now Libya!! I think no president has faced more challenges at once then perhaps JFK, FDR and Lincoln.

Despite all these challenges, I just can't see Sarah "fake it till you make it" Palin, Mitt "Chamilion" Romney, Tim "put you to sleep" Pawlenty, Newt "Am I crazy" Gingrich and Haley "good old boy" Barbour being any better. I think Obama will win re-election because most of America like his character--he's a likable leader. He's not bombastic or fake and I think much of America likes him being our representative to the world. His background makes him uniquely suited to lead America into the 21st century in conjunction with a diverse world that demands someone who can relate to that diversity.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Donald Trump Clueless on Nuclear Energy.

“We have to be very concerned,” Donald Trump, the New York real estate mogul, said on Fox News on Tuesday. “I’m in favor of nuclear energy, very strongly in favor of nuclear energy. If a plane goes down, people keep flying. If you get into an auto crash, people keep driving. There are problems in life. not everything is so perfect. But we do need nuclear energy, and we need a lot of it fast.” From The New York Times blog, "The Caucus" written by Michael D. Shear

HBW: How can he compare a potential nuclear meltdown to a car crash?!! Wow, I knew he was insulated and isolated from the middle-class schmucks and their daily commute, but you'd think he'd be smart enough to realize that a car crash affects far fewer lives than a nuclear disaster!! And people actually think this guy has what it takes to be president of the strongest country in the world?!! Well, they're just as deluded then as, "The Donald."

He's not the only Republican contender for 2012 who's clueless on nuclear energy. Mike "The end is near" Huckabee doesn't understand why their is a bias against nuclear energy, which is the deadliest power on earth!!

“There’s been a real bias against nuclear energy in the United States, going all the way back to Three Mile Island in 1979, but I think most of it is unfounded. I mean, we’ve been running nuclear submarines for 60 years without accidents,” he said in an interview in October 2007."

HBW: There's a bias, Mike, because the cost of an accident is too high for the benefit it would bring. We should be killing the traditional nuke sources and go with Thorium, which is just as good but much less dangerous and radioactive.

But, to get back to the "bias" against old nuclear sources; It's like wondering why there would be a bias against a body guard (nuclear energy) who is referred to you as being the best for your providing for your families needs, (nuclear energy) well into the future. However, he has one draw-back; he has been known to blow up (nuclear disaster) and kill countless people (nuclear radiation leakage) but you're assured the chances of that happening are low. Oh, and even if you destroy him after his rampage, (shutdown the reactor) his buddies (radiation half-life and radioactive waste) would hang around for hundreds of thousands of years to haunt and injure your childrens' children. Would you still take that risk?

Then there's this bit about there not being any nuclear submarine accidents!! The evidence is starkly against his preposterous claim, according to the following list of accidents as found this page titled, U.S. Nuclear Accidents:

18 April 1959

An experimental sodium-cooled reactor utilized aboard the USS Seawolf, the U.S.'s second nuclear submarine, was scuttled in 9,000 feet of water off the Delaware/Maryland coast in a stainless steel containment vessel. The reactor was plagued by persistent leaks in its steam system (caused by the corrosive nature of the sodium) and was later replaced with a more conventional model. The reactor is estimated to have contained 33,000 curies of radioactivity and is likely the largest single radioactive object ever dumped deliberately into the ocean. Subsequent attempts to locate the reactor proved to be futile. Secondary link

The USS Theodore Roosvelt was contaminated when radioactive waste from its demineralization system, blew back onton the ship after an attempt to dispose of the material at sea. This happened on other occasions as well with other ships (for example, the USS Guardfish in 1975). Secondary link

12 December 1971
Five hundred gallons of radioactive coolant water spilled into the Thames River near New London, Connecticut as it was being transferred from the submarine Dace to the sub tender Fulton. Secondary link

October-November 1975
The USS Proteus, a disabled submarine tender, discharged significant amounts of radioactive coolant water into Guam's Apra Harbor. A geiger counter check of the harbor water near two public beaches measured 100 millirems/hour, fifty times the allowable dose. Secondary link

HBW: And that's just with the United States!! Russia has had all kinds of nuclear accidents aboard nuclear powered submarines.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Republicans Cut Tsunami Relief and Preparedness Funds from Budget.

In the wake of the shocking, horrible earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan it is appalling to hear that the Republican budget cuts tsunami relief and preparedness!! This is especially reckless and foolhardy with a whole state, Hawaii, surrounding my the Pacific ocean!! I have family in Hawaii and from Hawaii, so I am very sensitive to this issue.

Hawaii did in fact see a tsunami after this 8.9 quake off Japan but fortunately it wasn't too big. But, we also have our entire West coast (covering three states) sitting on an earthquake zone and prone to tsunamis from Japan, as well. Is it too cynical for me to think that the funding was cut in part because these four states are traditional strongholds for the Democratic Party? Probably.

But, still, you have to wonder about the wisdom of a party, the Republican party, so hell-bent on chopping the budget that they do away with services that protect our country from natural disasters!!

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

NPR Funding Cut by Republicans. Strange Way to "Create" Jobs.

Breaking news!! The funding for National Public Radio has been cut by Republicans!! The NPR crisis is over--thank god!! We can all breath a sigh of relief now that this national emergency of tax payer money going to NPR is over. Now, that we've cut that budget breaking $2 million, I think we can all relax about the deficit (sarcasm).

Should the government be funding NPR? No, it shouldn't and I don't really care about cutting the funding; especially considering that funding is only 2% of NPR's budget. But, to say, as the Republicans are, that this is about the budget is laughable because $2 million is pocket change when compared to the huge deficit we face. It helps, sure, but it's about as helpful to cutting the deficit as draining a pail of water from a flooded house.

My biggest problem though is that this is another distraction and another day that Republicans go without tackling jobs. Where are the damn jobs!! You, Republicans ran on jobs, jobs, jobs but now that you're in power you've worked on everything but jobs. When are you going to stand up for the American worker by direct involvement in improving employment in this country? Because, cutting $2 million from NPR isn't going to cut the deficit much nor do anything to get Americans back to work.

The only one I see going across the country and introducing job building projects is President Obama. These Republicans don't seem serious about helping blue collar, middle class workers while we struggle to hang onto our houses and jobs. They'd rather play around with NPR, trying to redefine rape, attacking planned parenthood, attacking union jobs and now the investigation the Muslim community!! They're not serious--and why should they be? They are the party of millionaires, for millionaires and by millionaires. And, last time I checked, millionaires and billionaires are doing just fine in this economy. So, no wonder they'd rather spend their time on pet projects, such as ending the NPR scourge!!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Republicans, Where are the Jobs?

The Republicans hounded the Democrats and President Obama, claiming they haven't done enough to create jobs despite the unemployment rate recently dropping and unemployment claims dropping month after month. Well, Republicans convinced voters last November that they would focus on creating jobs further if given power in the election.

So, they won the election, went to Washington D.C. and proceeding to do everything but work to create jobs: attacking womens' reproductive rights, trying to redefine rape, attacking unions, attacking health care reform and going after deep budget cuts, which the non-partisan economic analysis firm, Moody's said could cost America 700,000 jobs. On top of everything else, now they are publicly investigating the Muslim-American community for generalized, "radicalization" which is a word that presumes guilt of an entire religion and ethnicity. The fact that he isn't including non-Muslim groups in his investigation (KKK, Neo-Nazis, militias) is proof enough of the bias. Just a year or so ago the government said right-wing hate groups are on the rise. So, if we are going to investigate potential terrorism then we must look at all groups--not just one religious minority.

But Americans aren't stupid. Americans don't seem impressed with the Republicans results, so far in Congress. They understandably still want them to focus on jobs. A new NBC/Wall-Street Journal poll found that a majority, 56% think job and economic growth should be priority number 1 and 40% want cutting. In fact, another number in the poll said that 51% of Americans want their government to do more, not less. In the meantime, President Obama keeps pushing investment to increase jobs--traveling from state to state showing Americans that he's focused on jobs like a laser. Meanwhile, Republicans are hold-up in D.C. squabbling about how deep to cut Medicare and Social Security. They talk non-stop about chopping these social programs.

I believe that Republicans were elected last year to push for further jobs but they'll soon be out of a job themselves if they keep going after social issues instead of decreasing unemployment and boosting economic growth. To that end, the Republicans also stopped Obama's job-creating high-speed rail program. The Democrats want to take the jobs train into high-speed but the Republicans are still back in the station arguing over things like whether gays should serve in the military!! If it wasn't for the Democratic Party, there'd be no government working to improve job growth!! (see government shut-down).

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Confederate AND American? Redneck Oxymoron.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Ken Webber wears his redneck heart out in the open, for all to see. On his right arm a red, white and blue tattoo depicts his skin ripped open to reveal an American flag and the words "100 percent American." On his left, the tears reveal a Confederate flag and the words "Pure Redneck." So when Webber was told to surrender the Confederate flag that flies from the CB antenna on his pickup truck – or be suspended from his job driving a school bus in Talent – the choice was easy. Webber chose his flag.

HBW: Being Friday, I decided to post something funny. I found it ironically hilarious he has the "100% American" tattoo on one arm and the Confederate flag on another because the Confederates were all about seceding from America!! He claims the flag only means "Redneck pride" but most people from historians to average Americans understand that the Confederate flag will forever symbolize a flag of rebellion from the union and support of slavery.

The American Civil War was such a scaring period for the United States that it's roots, symbols, events and burned into our collective memory. The Confederate flag is and always will be a flag of rebellion from American values.

To says it's about "Southern pride" or "redneck pride" is just code for racism and rebellion from American government. If the Confederate flag is just about "Southern pride" or redneck culture, then is the Nazi flag merely a "German pride" flag? Of course not. The Nazi flag is a chilling, infamous symbol of hatred, violence and enslavement (of Jews).

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ohio Republicans Strip Union Rights to Strike and Negotiate.

The Ohio State Senate just passed the controversial SB 5, aimed a limiting unionized state employees' ability to collectively bargain or go on strike. Pushing the bill through the Senate has been tough for supporters of the plan, with the Republican leader of the state Senate removing two Republicans opposed to the measure to get the bill to the Senate floor today. Ohio's bill would go farther than Wisconsin's, which exempted police officers and firefighters from its proposed anti-collective bargaining language. The Ohio bill also makes it illegal for state workers to strike and gives local governments new powers over contract negotiations with union workers.

HBW: The right to strike has been considered an essential tool for the working class to keep the giant corporate conglomerates from exploiting them too far since the late 19th century. In that era, and up until present day, strikes were not just considered lawful but necessary to prevent exploitation of workers and the widening gap between the rich and poor. If it wasn't for unions, a strong middle-class would never have grown to be the power house it was up until the late 20th century.

It was the great Franklin D. Roosevelt (the president who led us out of the Great Depression who established the rights of federal employees to unionize, take part in collective bargaining and have the right to strike). It was all about taking back the power of the people, in the face of an out-of-control business class. He is considered one of our greatest presidents, and yet, he would be shocked to see the state of the working class--as would his cousin, President Teddy Roosevelt, a true populist.

Pundits and other experts, along with political junkies have known for awhile that the Mid-West would be the big battleground of the 2012 election. There were some indications in the last election (2010) that Obama's support in Wisconsin in particular was a bit weak. It was clear that 2012 will most likely be decided in that region. Well, rather than working with the unions to come to a settlement where both sides gave something, the Mid-West Republican governors went full-force after the unions to crush them ahead of 2012, in hopes of weakening the union's power to help re-elect Obama.

But, as we know now, it has back-fired on them and Democrats and Independents seem united strongly for the working families who rely upon unions for descent compensation and work rights to petition their government for adjustments (especially if you read the polls) The Republicans tactics in the heartland seem heavy-handed, cruel, excessive and vindictive. Governor Walker, and his buddies in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana have unified the base of the Democratic Party and tipped the scales toward the public supporting their side. Americans, left, right and center won't take anymore bullying of working families.

If that is what the Republicans have to offer the people of the upper-Mid-West then they're in for the battle of their lives up there in '12. I already know that I'll be donating to help Democrats win those states for Obama and the Democrats for the next year or so. And, I know many like me. We won't stand idly by while you Republicans systematically dismantle the last true barrier keeping the corporate oligarchs from smashing working families into pieces.

So, thanks Republicans, for uniting Democrats and showing Independents your true nature of disdain for the working class. Don't mess with the good-natured, Mid-Westerners. Despite their politeness, they won't be insulted and taken advantage of by bullies seeking to silence their voice. And, calling the protesters "slobs" as Wisconsin state Senator Glenn Grothman did is like spitting in their faces.

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That kind of ugly talk doesn't go over well in that region. I can tell you that for sure because the majority of both sides of my family come from Minnesota, N. Dakota and Wisconsin. So, beware the power of the Mid-West. They are kind and docile for the most part, until you come after their bread and butter. Watch out, Republicans. Mid-Westerners are ready for you, and you'll face some serious backlash, so be ready. We're waiting for you.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

U.S. Must Not Intervene Militarily in Libya.

HBW: I have been distressed over some in America raising the specter of military intervention in Libya. When will we learn that our military isn't the world's police!! Every time we have intervened militarily in the region of the Middle-East, it has back-fired on us. We should follow the same track as we did in Egypt--encourage but allow them to do the heavy lifting. This is their time, not ours.

After forty years of oppression and division they are united under the banner of democracy and they are proud to be routing the Gaddafi forces themselves. I see no need to send in the Marines or even establish a, "no-fly zone" as some military hawks are saying. Unless, there is mass genocide and/or the people ask for it. Even then, I would only support the "no fly-zone" if they ask for it in convincing enough numbers. The Libyan opposition appears to be holding their own and seem to be on the path to toppling Gaddafi--unless we intervene and screw it all up for them!! The era where America arms everyone must end.

What we should do, though, is send in food, medicine, water and other supplies of that nature across the Egyptian border and into opposition held ports. Non-military aid that sustains the peoples' basic needs will be appreciated much more so than military intervention.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels Thinks Teachers are the, "Privileged Elite."

Indiana Republican Governor Mitch Daniels said on FOX News Sunday this past weekend that teachers are the "privileged elite." Read it from the transcript for yourselves. The interviewer is Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: All right. You took away -- what is going on in Wisconsin now, you took away public workers' collective bargaining rights by executive order six years ago the day after you were sworn into office, but now you are calling their unions the privileged elite. Question, teachers, public safety officers -- the privileged elite?

DANIELS: Across America, Chris, we've had a huge inversion. There may have been a time, a century ago, where public employees were mistreated and vulnerable and underpaid. If that was ever a problem, we have over-fixed it. Not everywhere but in many places.

(HBW: Privileged elite?!! Teachers make on average around $54,000 nationally and $48,000 in Wisconsin, according to the NEA and the Associated Press. The median income for American workers is about $43,000, which as you can see, is roughly in the range of the teachers--especially in Wisconsin. And, my bet is that most teachers aren't seeing even that much money. Teachers in South Dakota for example make about $35,000!!!

Now, for comparison, let's look how much the average Wall Street banker made in 2o1o, just in bonuses--a whopping $128,530!!!! And that's a number in a year when bonuses are down 9%!!! If you were lucky to have worked at Goldman Sachs last year, you would have gotten a bonus of $431,000; according to Reuters. So, yes, there has been an inversion in this country, Mitch, but it's not the teachers who get to enjoy that status, or the rest of us--it's the Wall Street bankers, CEOs, hedge fund managers, oil executives, etc.

The rich are not just getting richer, but are, in fact, coming close to making as much as a small country does in GDP!! The average employee at Blackstone got a bonus this year of $810,717!!! By comparison, the Netherlands GDP (the market value of all final goods and services from a nation in a given year) is $770,312!! The Netherlands is a highly industrialized, successful country, and they are ranked 15th in the world. So, the average Blackstone bonus receiver made more money in bonuses than the GDP of 166 of the 181 countries measured by the International Monetary Fund!!!! WoooooW!! Yet, Mitch Daniels thinks the teachers are the privileged elite?!!!! Say it out loud with me, BULL-SHIT!! Anyway, back to Mitch "Money Bags" Daniels:

DANIELS: As you know very well, public employees in America -- most decidedly federal employees, but everywhere -- are better paid than the taxpayers that pay their salaries. When you add much more generous benefits and much more generous pensions on top, the gap widens, and then there is near total job security in the last recession.

HBW: Hold on, Mitch. First of all, when you say, "Public employees in America" you are including teachers in South Dakota who make $35,000 with the President of the U.S. who makes around $400,000. So, that's a vast variance. Secondly, these public employee also pay taxes. Don't make it sound like they don't pitch in to the general tax fund. As for benefits, in Wisconsin, ten years ago the public employee unions (teachers) made salary concessions for better benefits. HOWEVER. They are willing to cut the amount of those benefits in the face of Governor Scott Walker's austerity measures. But, as you know very well, Mitch, your colleague Walker, want's more--he wants to crush their ability to bargain in the future.

Lastly, there isn't total job security--teachers get laid off all the time. We know who the privileged elite are, Mitch, and it isn't most of us in the middle-class; least of all, teachers, sanitation workers and fire fighters. I know you are thinking about running for president Mitch, and your denigrating teachers and the middle-class might work in Indiana but not in the rest of America.

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Polls: Americans Show Wide-Spread Support for Wisconsin Unions.

This from Mark Blumenthal @ The Huffington Post:

More side with the unions (42 percent) than with the governor (31 percent), with more than a quarter choosing neither side (9 percent) or unsure (18 percent). That's roughly the same result as another Pew survey taken earlier this month that found Americans typically side with public unions (44 percent) rather than state or local governments (38 percent) when the two disagree.

A second survey conducted by CBS News and The New York Times asks a series of questions on unions and the Wisconsin dispute, including a question on the issue of collective bargaining rights. Since that concept may be unfamiliar to many Americans, the CBS/NYT pollsters provide a brief description:

As you may know, collective bargaining refers to negotiations between an employer and a labor union's members to determine the conditions of employment. Some states are trying to take away some of the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Do you favor or oppose taking away some of the collective bargaining rights of these unions? IF FAVOR OR OPPOSE: Do you favor/oppose that strongly or somewhat?
They found 60 percent opposed to taking away collective bargaining as described, 33 percent in favor and 7 percent uncertain. Strong opposition to efforts to remove collective bargaining on this survey also exceeds strong support by better than two to one (38 percent to 18 percent).

TPJ: This is back-firing on Republicans. Americans are willing to take cuts, so long as they are fair and everyone is taking a cut. But, Republicans in D.C. passed a $900 billion tax cut for the rich, while Republicans in Wisconsin passed a similar tax cut. So, in other words, they get to keep their money while the rest of us in the middle and lower classes take all the pain. That's not fair and they know it but the worst part is that they don't seem to care. But, don't fret--the working class is wining this argument. So, to keep your spirits up, here's a joke:

A public union employee, a tea party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."
From ... Shelby Wright (Maine, political activist).

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