Invitation

This is an invitation for anyone with a constructive commentary on President Obama and his administration to add it to this Blog.






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The President
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Invisible Hand and the Greedy Heart

  
Adam Smith, acknowledged as the Father of modern economics and of capitalism, introduced the term “invisible hand” in economics. This explains his concept that as a result of each individual acting in his economic affairs in his own narrow interest, all such actions are guided by a sort of invisible hand which ensures that they are also to the advantage of the community as a whole.
As far as the 18th Century Classical Economists were concerned the individual was motivated by self-interest which somehow always coincided with the interest of the wider community.
By the way, that concept offers the theoretical rationale for modern day Republican  “trickle down” economic theory.
In the classical theory of economic behaviour, greed is of necessity characterized as a virtuous human motivation. In essence it was the greed or indefatigable pursuit of wealth and plenty, of the very rich which motivated them to do the things which would generate the productivity and the wealth that in turn provided employment and wages for the labouring classes. So, greed had to be lauded as being for the public good and in the public interest.
To be fair, it may be that these men were writing at a time when it was generally assumed that noble intentions and concern for one’s fellow man would be dominant. The truth is that today many businessmen have a sort of gross self-interest that places no store on the pain and deprivation their practices place on the working poor, whose only interest is in a living wage.
The Invisible Hand theory is basically an optimistic view of life and does not regard seriously the darker personal motivations and desires of men: extreme manipulation of the system for enormous personal benefit and advantage, self-aggrandisement and the acquisition of obscene wealth at all costs, no matter who it hurts or defrauds.
The Invisible Hand is now caught in the pockets of the poor and the cheated -the occupiers of Wall Street.
You may well ask how a man with 1$Billion, cannot sleep until he gets two. First Century Roman Philosopher and Statesman Lucius Seneca has an answer as good as any other “For greed all nature is too little”. So many of the Wall Street captains of commerce and hoarders of undeserved wealth caused a major and costly erosion if not collapse of the American and global financial system from which millions have not recovered. Why? As Thoreau reminds us: “It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly”.
The greedy heart keeps pressing the invisible hand down on the scales of justice, tipping the scales against the local consumers of goods and services. It is so unfortunate that the avaricious businessman does not grasp the limited pleasure to be derived from having an overabundance of the things money can buy him. To quote Mark Twain: “Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.”
The Capitalist system of wealth generation is not in itself evil; no system is. The problem is what humans do with and within the system. If a person or a corporation simply wants to accumulate wealth for personal use and not for the public good, this can generate untold suffering to the underprivileged, as it has done in the United States in recent years. It is as bad as the entertainer Little Richard says: “But men are so full of greed today, they'll sell anything for a little piece of money”. Of course, it need not be so. Capitalism as a wealth generator can work and has been shown by rich men of the past, like Henry Ford, to work for the public good. Wealth is not the problem. Mahatma Gandhi has made a very insightful comment concerning this: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed”.
Central to the American view of life is what has been immortalized as the all pervasive American Dream - a concept born of the Constitution which enshrines the pursuit of happiness as a human right. Why is that dream so illusive in today’s America? Perhaps Rick Danko has it right. “As time goes on we get closer to that American Dream of there being a pie cut up and shared. Usually greed and selfishness prevent that and there is always one bad apple in every barrel”. We would argue that there were a lot more rotten apples in the recent Wall Street debacle.
Not very long ago, men seemed to have been content to be millionaires, and even then there were relatively few; today to be successful one has to be a Billionaire. This is a major paradigm shift gone unnoticed. Paradoxically, we affect to be alarmed when we learn of the amount of wealth deposed dictators like Sadam Hussain, Moammar Khadafy and Hosni Mubarak had amassed at the expense of their subjects, without taking into account that so many on Wall Street have done the same thing even if on a slightly more modest scale, and then only within the bounds of the possible.
Paul Samuelson found it “An intriguing paradox of the 1990s, that it isn't called a decade of greed”. Samuelson had not yet experienced the 2000s, the true golden age of corporate greed! The age of Wall Street madness, or greed gone mad; The age of Enron, AIG, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Arthur Andersen, Lehman Brothers, Delta Airlines Inc., Refco Inc., Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase.
The tragedy is that corporate greed is largely unpunished, but on the contrary is generously rewarded with the largesse of the undeserved bonus. And then some corporations beguile the public with practices that are generally not perceived as pernicious and antithetical to the public good.
The Walmart trick
A country exports to get the revenue (foreign exchange) it needs to buy or import the goods and services of other countries. It is advantageous to the economic well being of a country for it to have a favourable balance of trade, a situation in which export revenue, hopefully over a sustained  period, exceeds import expenditure.In the modern Global economy exports determine the wealth of a nation. The leading economies are consistently net exporters.
We can look at one example to see how corporations can impoverish the nations in which they operate.
The Walmart Company on the basis of sales, is the world's largest retailer and grocery chain. To assess its size, consider the fact that its sales are  estimated at some 50% more than its five closest competitors combined. In the US alone Wal-Mart has, according to one source, about “700 discount stores, 2,900 Supercenters that sell groceries and general merchandise.” These stores employ over 2 million people. The company is huge.
The secret of Walmart’s success is its scale of operation and global competitiveness, and its consequent ability to offer customers relatively low retail prices on a wide range of household necessities like food and clothing, as well as consumer durables. It is truly the poor person’s shop, perhaps on the level of the dollar stores that have recently proliferated in North America.
The problem is that Walmart is not very good as a corporate citizen in other important ways. Because of its purchasing policies, motivated by the desire for gigantic profits, it is a tremendous drain on the US economy.
Walk down the aisle of any Walmart store and randomly tip over any item. Every other item bears the tag: "Made in China". The figures are not published (although they should be required to be) but an estimated 40% or more of the merchandise in one of these stores is made in China. Hence the US’s humongous negative balance of trade with that cheap labour country. The billions of dollars of merchandise that Walmart buys annually from Chinese manufacturers, racks up a massive US balance of trade deficit with this “emergent” economy.
Because Walmart buys from cheap labour markets it is able to offer a price incentive of between 10 and 20 % to the consumer, largely the poor and the middle class. The average shopper can save an average of 15% by shopping at Walmart. The price incentive is irresistible to even the not-so-poor shoppers from the middle class. Walmart is a magnet to the frugal middle class shopper.
Customers are citizens who depend on their jobs for their purchasing power. To buy from Walmart or anywhere else they have to work and earn an income.
 Walmart buys all it can from the cheap labour Chinese market, and are able to offer a major price incentive to Americans. But the Chinese manufacturers who produce for them have already taken the jobs from the American workers, who are therefore unemployed and underemployed and not able to buy even the lower priced goods.
China is the manufacturing sector of the US, thanks to Walmart and similar companies.
So Walmart in effect impoverishes the US in order to sell cheap and amass hefty profits. It is the supreme trick on the American citizen, who is induced to buy at Walmart while in doing so, ensuring he (or his neighbour) remains unemployed.
In other words what Walmart  customers gain on the swings (buying cheap) they lose on the roundabouts (their jobs!).
The worst part is that because of the insatiable corporate greed, if Walmart could get away with buying every single item sold in their stores, from China, they would. It’s the financial profit imperative gone mad.
A business entity that large and ubiquitous has a tremendous spiral effect on the rest of the economy, dragging many other businesses in its wake. While the middle class shoppers are loading up their carts with cheap merchandise from China in the Walmart superstore, the Koch brothers are in the “free” parking lot siphoning off the high priced fuel from their gas tanks!
In the case of Walmart, our example, greed for profits and the Invisible Hand work well for the company but to the detriment of the nation as a whole.
It looks gloomy. And that’s why Economics was labelled  the gloomy science. Ah, but there is Warren Buffet who reminds us as Garrison Keillor beautifully said: “Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people”.
Having tried the pure models of both Socialism and Capitalist, what the world needs now is an economic system that has the basic machinery of Capitalism with the motivations of Socialism, combining as far as possible the virtues of both systems. The Soccap model will allow the entrepreneurial class, motivated by self-interest to generate economic wealth, while ensuring through joint Government and business intervention (regulation?), that the disadvantaged are fairly treated and rewarded.
That should meet the just demands of the occupiers of Wall Street around the globe!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Hand of God

                                        by Michael White
   Newt Gingrich is going to win the Republican nomination in an earth shattering victory. Hands down. His competitors will not even come close. He has all the qualities the plan requires. It is as we say, written in his stars; you see, it is a time of reckoning and retribution. The chickens must come home to roost.
Is God in it? Of course! There is never a moment in world history when God takes his hands off the controls. He sets up leaders and he brings them down as it suits his unerring plan for his creation. He is as aware of the mind and activities of Judas as he is of John the Baptist.
The Hand of God in the global political and economic arena in the “most powerful” nation on earth is evident. It may be hard to believe, but as God said to the doubters: “Look among the nations and watch - be utterly astounded (wonder marvellously)! For I will work a work in your days, which you would not believe, though it were told you” Habbukuk1:5.
The whole house of cards will be pulled down, with its sinister lies and devilish machinations.
It is amazing how religious and self-righteous these candidates and their right wing adherents appear to be, when so much of what they say and propose goes against everything the Gospel teaches. Think of the true meaning of Christianity and then think, at the same time, if you are capable of such mental gymnastics, of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell. What a contradiction! “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” 2 Timothy 3:5.
Michelle Bachman , Rick Perry and Herman Cain, all of whom were “told” by God that they were set aside for the Presidency of the US and world leadership, have already proven that God is not mocked, and have been swiftly diminished to clownish also rans.
The persistent president-elect aspirant and dreamer Mitt Romney, poor guy, is just wasting his time, not to mention his money, as he did four years ago. (I think that man’s father strongly impressed upon him that he has to be the President of the United States).
On the other hand, Gingrich’s ascendancy has been meteoric and astonishing even to Gingrich; in his grand self-deception and conceit, he thinks (and declares unabashedly) that it’s his talent and superiority that are propelling him along. The truth is far different. The path has been cleared for him. God has set up the scenario we are now witnessing. Gingrich is ordained to be Republican front runner. He is the ideal candidate. His nastiness is the embodiment of the bile that must be clinically expurgated from the bowels of the United States. His thirty pieces of silver cannot save him from his fate. Silver polish has to be applied to the shining city on the hill.
Gingrich is to Obama what God permitted Pharoah to be to Moses; and the more opposed to the will of God, obstinate, recalcitrant, and obdurate he becomes as God hardens his heart, the louder he will fall.
It is no accident that Donald Trump has successfully wiggled his way into the role of ringside coach and promoter of Gingrich; these men have identical personalities, interests and motivations; their hearts beat as one. Without batting an eyelid, they will say and do anything outlandish and sinister for publicity, money and prominence. How aptly this scripture applies to them both: “When he speaks kindly, do not believe him for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly,” Proverbs 26:25-26. We all remember, of course, that in a previous incarnation Gingrich’s wickedness was already revealed to the assembly. This is his second time around with the same old tricks!
Gingrich and Trump, two of the most odious, obnoxious and Machiavellian political characters in the world today, barring none, will burn and crash together. Wait and see. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” Proverbs 16:18.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have Yourself a Grand Old Partisan Christmas

The most notable anti-Christmas villain in literature is probably Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was a mean-spirited, selfish, self centred old, well, scrooge, with not a thought for the goodwill of others less fortunate.
He now has some serious competitors in the persons of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor.
As the doors of Congress close for “the holidays”, the tenants or “occupiers” will now find themselves on planes, trains and cars heading to the comfort and luxury of home, intoning smugly and quietly to themselves Chris Lea’s “I am driving home for Christmas” with breezy indifference to the plight of those left to fend for themselves.
At home they will be greeted by happy and doting family members, full larders, decorated Christmas trees and the expectation of happy family gatherings around elaborately adorned dinner tables.
Meanwhile those without jobs and income, out in the cold, are unable to provide food, far less ornate gifts for their loved ones.
Ironically, the lavish salaries with which the Republican legislators supply all their needs and largesse, are provided for them from the wages of the very people they deny food! Or perhaps not, perhaps they are guaranteed by the providence of the likes of the Koch Brothers and the Waltons.
Where, oh where have their consciences fled to!
The unemployed who occupy “Wall Street” across the country, can be heard wailing:
“The rich you protect with your lives have left me destitute;
they have rendered my savings and investments worthless;
they have caused me to go under water with my mortgage;
they have stolen my home;
they have increased the cost of my essentials;
they have stripped me of my means of livelihood and my self esteem.”
The consolation you have for me is that I should “go get a job after I get a bath”. You do not even sense the inhumanity in your callous, insulting words. You repeat endlessly until you convince even yourselves that they do not have a unified message or indeed any message at all. You ask why do they march? why do they occupy? why do they not articulate their vision? as if it is not self evident to everyone with an iota of common sense.
You are now quite devoid of feeling, hardened by your penchant to say no to everything asked of you.
You good Christian Republicans should take the words of Frances Duron to heart: If we want to capture the interest of the heathen, we must first divert his attention from his stomach.
The way I have heard it, the good Republican is first and foremost a Christian, a man and woman of impeccable faith, ever ready to obey the commandments and to do righteous things. Here is a command to consider: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”  Matthew 19:21.
Yes, sell your obstinacy, sell your refusal to support legislation that will provide jobs for others, sell your fixation on dislodging your President, sell your lust for power and control, sell your sense of entitlement to the throne, sell the hatred that is tearing at your heart.
If it is not too late to get that Christmas feeling, change your heart for the season of Goodwill, remember what you say you believe in, and go and pass the Jobs Bill that will put people back to work. Feed the hungry as you were commanded:
“I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?Then He will answer them saying Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew:25:43-45.
So be careful. As you celebrate the birth of His son, remember, from a distance God is watching us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Make Obama a two-term President


PETITION

  1. Whereas Barack Obama assumed the presidency at the worst of possible times, having inherited more national problems at the time of his election than almost any president before him;
  2. Whereas he implemented policies from the outset that saved the US economy from total collapse; bringing it out from the brink of a great depression;
  3. Whereas from the day of taking office he has been confronted by a hostile and merciless opposition determined to bring him to his knees and to make him “meet his Waterloo”, as they boldly put it, and be a one-term president;
  4. Whereas this opposition has blocked every single proposal for solving America’s problems that he has proposed, and deliberately deepened the country’s risks of failure, while at the same time blaming him for their failures and malevolence;
  5. Whereas as the first black president of the United States he has carried the weight of responsibility and challenge of an entire race but been subjected to all the disrespect and indignity one would expect from the era of Jim Crow;
  6. Whereas he has been vilified by an endless stream of  insults, lies and fictions about his origins, his sincerity, his loyalty and his bona fides;
  7. Whereas despite his humble birth and childhood circumstances he has distinguished himself as a remarkable scholar and writer;
  8. Whereas even his extraordinary eloquence and knowledge, with which he has served America so well, have been used against him with the charge of elitism;
  9. Whereas he has tried every avenue of compromise and conciliation to “change Washington” as he promised, only to be rebuffed and ridiculed at every turn;
  10. Whereas many would-be leaders have been uncomfortable with one who is so “other” occupying the hallowed white house;
  11. Whereas the Republican media talking-heads have unleashed an unrelenting storm of invective and hostility against him, to which like a lamb to the slaughter, he has uttered no defensive response;
  12. Whereas in pursuit of their diabolical intent they have labelled him with all the derogatory names they could possibly think up, including Hitler, Communist, Liar, and Satan;
  13. Whereas even when he has implemented manifestly successful policies, such as the auto bailout, he has been deemed a failure;
  14. Whereas although he has displayed over his presidency so many distinctive qualities of exceptional leadership his opponents keep decrying him as someone who is not a leader;
  15. Whereas many of the leaders of the very corporations that he saved from bankruptcy inexplicably turned against him to join his detractors;
  16. Whereas even so-called friends from his own side have seldom come to his rescue in confronting his adversaries;
  17. Whereas through it all he has maintained a remarkably calm, dignified and upright posture, becoming the leader of the free world;
  18. Whereas he has re-established the good name of America in the councils of the world and among most of the world’s peoples;
  19. Whereas his wisdom and clarity of thought have been heralded and courted by most of the world’s leaders;
  20. Whereas his personal life has been free from the scandals, misdemeanours and crimes that have characterized many of his detractors and opponents, and provided an admirable role model for the country’s youth;
  21. Whereas he has been an exemplary father, husband and son and raised an exceptional Christian family;
  22. Whereas even his remarkable wife has not escaped the villainy of his determined opponents;
  23. Whereas even his outstanding success, contrary to that of his predecessor, in pushing back the forces of evil determined to destroy the country’s security, he has been given little or no credit;
  24. Whereas people who call themselves Christian have shown him little of the Christian goodwill, charity and respect that he constantly shows to others;
  25. Whereas he is by nature and temperament, not an aggressive, confrontational or vengeful man; and therefore willing to let his opponents “win points” in the national interest;
  26. Whereas through sound foreign policy, careful deliberation and swift and astute action he has kept America safe from terrorist attacks;
  27. Whereas the propaganda war and the litany of lies levelled against him have played on the minds and turned the heads of even some of his most ardent supporters among the youth and his “base”;
  28. Whereas given the almost pathological need for his opponents to take his place in the white house, he can expect no letting up of the hostility and degradation over the next year;
  29. Whereas even the legitimate cries for honour, fairness and justice emanating from the Occupy Wall Street crowds are turned by the scam artists against him;
  30. Whereas many right-thinking members of the 1% understand his fight for justice in the system and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices;
  31. Whereas the people offering themselves as alternatives to this president are more suitable as participants in a pageant entitled “SEND IN THE CLOWNS”;
  32. Whereas he must win the just battle for the middle class and the poor, regardless of how intensely he is accused by the spinners of class warfare;
  33. Whereas he now needs all the allies that he can find to allow him to do complete the work he has started; work that can only benefit and advance the cause of the poor, the fragile and the young among the population;

We are resolved to do all we can to ensure that:

  1. Americans turn out in unprecedented numbers to educate and inform their countrymen about the truth of what has happened in the country in the years preceding Obama’s presidency;

  1. His base of support among Independents, right-thinking Republicans and Democrats is strengthened and expanded;

  1. Americans turn out in unprecedented numbers to ensure his re-election in 2012.
 Sign Petition at:



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

THE BIG LIE

By Michael White

   A small minded, insignificant man named Hank Williams Jr. on a popular daytime TV show, makes a comparison that equates President Obama and Hitler.
  He is, of course, following the precedent laid by the mass of deluded folk who a few months earlier waved banners and signs in the streets depicting the President as Hitler.
  These folk do not know the truth; they would not know it if it were printed on their weak minds. What Republican leadership have been doing is much more in tune with Hitlerian strategy than anything for which President Obama can be accused.
  The German politician Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s right hand man, and Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda in the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945. The wicked Goebbels was a key architect of the final solution which led to the extermination of millions of Jews, the Holocaust.
  Goebbels was an ugly and murderous piece of work, a diminutive man with a chip on his shoulder who would devise and approve any atrocity to achieve his ambitions. Really the right man to give effect to his hero Hitler’s inhuman, devilish agenda.
  One of the achievements Goebbels is best known for is creating and spawning the theory of the Big Lie. In a motivational speech delivered to the people of his party on 9 January 1928, Goebbels put forward the proposition that people sooner believe a big lie than a little one. He believed that if you repeat a lie frequently enough people will believe it as an article of faith and, worse, if you repeat a lie often enough, it actually becomes the truth. He pointed out that the English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. Goebbels contended that History "is made in the street," understanding that if you could persuade the man in the street of your lie through endless repetition you would be victor of the propaganda war. His whole life was a testament to this philosophy.
   In adopting Goebbels as their own intellectual hero and strategic precedent, the Republicans have excelled in implementing his practice from the outset of Obama’s Presidency, and indeed during his campaign for the job. Through repetition they managed to conjoin the identities of Obama and Pastor Jeremiah Wright until Obama felt compelled to leave his Church. The pressure was immense and unrelenting. The Big Lie had its effect and drawn its first blood.
  In his landmark work, People of the Lie: the hope for Healing Human Evil, published in 1983, the great M. Scott Peck explains how much of a sin lying is. When he started off as a psychiatrist and a Christian Peck believed neither in Satan nor evil. After a couple exorcisms he changed his mind. We are really indebted to Peck for enlightening us about the hidden depth of human evil and lying. Republican leaders would do well to read this book and if they read it long ago as young people, to read it again in the light of their vaunted “Christian” approach to leadership. They just might suffer a change of heart, or even get one.
  Republicans developed an arsenal of lies with which to destroy Obama’s credibility. The method they perfected was to never cease fire; as soon as the effect of one weapon seemed to be fading, the task was to immediately conjure up another. To date the Republican campaign of lies against Obama has been based on about six primary platforms.
  Depending on the fact that Americans would be afraid of a leader who is a Socialist (Marxist), they incessantly repeated that Obama was just that, trusting that it would eventually sink into the American psyche. For a while this seemed to work.
  Again, knowing the fear in American hearts that a leader weak on the external enemy would put their lives in danger, they moved to the lie that he would not be accepted on the world stage and that he is weak on foreign policy. When Obama’s victory led to an outpouring of acceptance, affirmation and support from the outside world, they concocted the lie that he was more interested in the opinions of foreigners than in the American people. As he has gone on to find and exterminate the major terrorists that have plagued America and threatened its security, they have found their claim of his being weak on terrorists pathetically lame and unconvincing and have abruptly deserted the grand foreign policy denunciation lie.
   Knowing the depth of the pit in which the previous Republican administration had left the country and knowing well that any succesor would have to stimulate the economy by spending, they turned against the policy of investing in the economy and in the process, decided to label Obama the big spender. As an integral part of this lie, “stimulus” was turned into a dirty word.
  Knowing well that the country had hemorrhaged jobs at an alarming rate through the previous administration's ineptness, their mantra became “Where are the jobs?” Since Obama now owned the economy he was the one responsible for America’s joblessness! All the while they followed strategies, particularly the “Say No” policy, they well knew would inhibit any Obama attempt to create jobs for the suffering Americans. By endlessly repeating the mantra “where are the jobs” they played on American fears and anxieties about the state of the economy which Wall Street and the Big Banks had created.
  Their most incessant lie is about Obama’s Leadership. “He is not a leader” has been repeated so often and in so many forms, that even those who admire the President’s effectiveness as a leader might begin to believe them. Truth is that by every acknowledged quality of good leadership, including integrity, generosity of spirit, honesty, warmth, persistence, compromise, long-suffering, loyalty and temperament, Barack Obama far excels his detractors.
  More recently the refrain has changed to “Obama is dividing the country through class warfare”; since they discovered this new lie, it can be heard in every public pronouncement every Republican leader makes, over and over again. Some lies are more insidious than others. There are the ones, for instance, that change the story from what the Republicans are or have been doing to what they are accusing the President of (Scott Peck has a lot to say about evils like scapegoating). The class warfare chant is one of those. A party that has been almost predicated on class warfare of the most pernicious sort, against the middle class, without the slightest blush, turns and projects their sin unto Democrats and the President, accusing them of class warfare.
  Republican leaders stand four square behind their infamous Republican activists. James O'Keefe (of ACORN notoriety), and Andrew Breitbart (Shirley Sherrod) have built their careers on lies and deceptions happily promulgated by Republican leaders. It is superfluous to mention the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

The People of the Lie








  The very policy of saying “no” to every Obama proposal, is soundly rooted in the same strategy of repetition of the Big Lie, because sooner or later every blind follower, and even the not so blind apologist, inevitably comes to believe that saying no is the acceptable and beneficial policy prescription.
  Among the Republican “leaders” offered as an alternative are John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy. This band of ignobles has sown the lie that they know the answer to America’s dilemma, and that given the chance they can reverse the trends. All they offer, repeatedly, is a return to the policies that caused the great American debacle of the 21st Century.
  What leader Boehner has to offer are uncontrollable tears and trite remarks, showing no capacity to take charge except for the negative role of leading in the infantile charge of just saying no.
  Eric Cantor’s contribution to leadership is appearing one step behind Boehner with an annoying and sardonic smirk on his face, uttering a snide remark at every opportunity. Like good Cassius, Cantor has that “lean and hungry” look.
  Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s role is being mute and showing up dutifully with the gang for every photo opportunity.
  And, of course, Mitch McConnell, a dour, sour-faced man with a matching personality will be remembered most for declaring honestly from the start that his No. 1 job is to make Obama fail and ensure that he is a one-term president, and good leader Mitch has displayed all the tenacity of Goebells in repeating his mantra and advancing this cause.
  For almost three years these men have done nothing constructive to advance the American quality and standard of life, but instead have blithely fiddled and enjoyed their lavish lifestyles as the people suffer and Rome burns.
   History will show, if perchance accurately recorded, that these ambitious and noble men did immeasurable harm to the American, and like Goebells, the global economy. But they are the leaders of the free world.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Speech Obama Should Give to Americans

Michael White

My Fellow Americans

Over the past two to three years we have endured some of the most acrimonious and counter productive debates Americans have ever heard.
Today I want to talk about our economy. Let’s get a few things straight at the outset. The major problems we now face are man made; and some of them are clearly manufactured to achieve narrow political ends. Over the past two to three years, or really since I was elected President, the national debate, driven by the Republicans, has been predominantly about politics, not economics. What they have been concentrating on, despite their cynical call for jobs at every opportunity, is not how to save the American working class, or to create employment, or to stimulate growth and productivity - the economic concerns- but rather how to frustrate your Government and guarantee that it is ineffective.
The reason for this is made clear by the numerous declarations from my opposition that I should be what they gleefully refer to as a “one term President.” This would not be of any great concern to me except that it has resulted in positions and policies from the opposition that have clearly not advanced the economic interests of the majority of our citizens, but on the contrary have frustrated our progress on all fronts. And it is getting worse.
America is a rich country, a very rich country, the wealthiest country on earth, and events of the past few years have not diminished our wealth. We are not now suddenly a poor nation. Our economic growth has been stalled, mainly because of failure to do the obvious.
I believe that the Keynesian prescription of stimulating growth is the right and reasonable prescription for our present impasse. Keynesian economic policy and prescription for growth are based on the idea that there are idle resources (productive capacity) in the country, and development or growth can be stimulated by putting these resources back to work.
The two most important components of America’s wealth are its people (educated, intelligent, productive and creative), and the vast capital stock in which we as workers and entrepreneurs have invested over the decades.
What causes our present dilemma is the fact that so many of these people and so much of that stock, are now idle.
If we get our people productively engaged by using our capital stock to produce wealth we will put the economic ship back afloat and on the right course.
I have given an example of how this works that has been deliberately ignored or minimized by my opponents. The proud automobile industry of America, our flagship, was taking a serious dive into oblivion. The tremendous capital of that industry was, with the loud approval of the opposition, going to the dogs along with all the hard working and productive Americans that the industry employed. We provided them with the hand up they needed to bring their work force and capital stock back into production. Should I dare say it? The rest is history. In normal circumstances that should be enough of a demonstration of how things can be done to get the country out of the doldrums. Not so in the present hostile political climate. These are anything but normal times.
Among the false debates that have lulled us away from our economic goal is the recent debt or deficit crisis. I know, like every one else, that as a country we cannot continue indefinitely to live beyond our means and increase our indebtedness to the rest of the world. That is self-evident and could have been a reasonable and balanced debate.
What is wrong with the turn the debate took is that the argument was presented as a choice between debt and economic growth. This is patently absurd. A false choice if there ever was one.
In its absurdity the choice is similar to a mother whose child is taken with a severe illness, enabling her child to die so that her problem could be solved.
The deficit problem is a long term problem that must be addressed and resolved by reasonable long term measures. But it requires first and foremost addressing and resolving the employment problem, which is urgent and immediate. (I recognize that just as troubling as unemployment is the problem of underemployment which denies our people the opportunity to fully employ their skills, abilities and training for the benefit of themselves, their families and the country and to live productive and successful lives.)
Focussing on paying down the deficit rather than on job creation in an economy at a near standstill through lack of private and public sector investment and staggering under a 9% unemployment rate, is economic suicide. It is irresponsible, despite the persistence and the noise volume of the advocates of such a regressive policy.
It is by getting the nation back to work (that is, gainfully and productively employed),  that we can successfully and reasonably resolve the deficit problem. It is by getting our workers back to the factory floor, producing goods and services, that the economy can generate the incomes and wages that will enable them to:
§         Pay their rent and mortgages
§         Buy groceries, clothing and appliances from the stores
§         Pay down their credit cards
§         Invest in their children’s education
§         Pay their monthly bills
§         Travel on a vacation, etc.
On all or most of their household expenditure the people would be paying indirect taxes; these funds would go into the Government coffers, enabling Government at the local, state and national levels to meet their obligations and employ workers, and the Federal Government to, among other things, pay down the national debt, that is, solve the deficit problem long term.
There would also be more people paying direct taxes, like income tax, to finance the Government’s projects and operations. A wider tax base is more important to paying down the debt, than cutting current levels of Government expenditure.
All this is as much common sense as economic theory. But we have not been too concerned about common sense in this hostile political season.
What we have done is strangle the flow of the needed investment in our capital stock and people to get them back to work. It has become so counterproductive that last month the whole of this wealthy economy produced not a single new job. Unbelievable!
This is particularly amazing as we know that Wall Street tycoons or the “job creators” class  have at least two trillion dollars in cash “under the mattress” which they are not investing in American growth. This is the class which we are told needs incentives and certainty in order to invest. What they need is concern for others less fortunate than themselves, the working class of America in search of productive employment. Certainty would flow to these hoarders of capital from the incomes of a solid working population purchasing the goods and services they provide. These “investors” or “job creators” as they are euphemistically referred to, in their selfishness are (deliberately) creating the uncertainty they rail incessantly against and seem to seek protection from through Government action, while at the same time curiously denying the need for any Government "interference."
Against this background I am today proposing a plan of action which will get us out of our dilemma. I know it will be opposed because this has become the new reality of our Governmental machinery. But it has to be implemented for the sake of our country’s survival as a strong economic power, but most importantly to put our people back to work, and earning the livelihood they deserve.
I am going to ignore the naysayers and all the names I will be called. There is little worse that can be said than what has already been said.
First we are going to ensure that every development project in the pipeline all across America has the infusion of funding it needs for full implementation. That includes every school, every road, every bridge, every train station, every public amusement park, every museum, every Government building. These are the main things we mean when we refer to our infrastructure. It is our past investment in the facilities that enable us to move, and to work, and to produce wealth in America. Every bit of infrastructure in which we already have invested billions has to be maintained in good working condition, and expanded and improved with advanced technology, if it is to continue to serve us. Now is a good time to invest in this when rates of interest are low and borrowing is cheaper. We are putting people together with our idle capital stock to generate income and national wealth. We are solving the unemployment and the deficit problems at the same time.
Through the Infrastructure Bank I have proposed, one trillion dollars annually over the next five years will be provided for this initiative. My concern is not about the cost of doing this, but the opportunity cost of not doing it. The jobs and incomes that will be created, the economic activity that will be stimulated through the multiplier effect, and the Government revenue that will be raised annually from this will more than compensate for the expenditure.
I attach high priority to implementing plans for a high speed rail system that will enable trains to cross our country at speeds of 250 miles per hour, bringing us into the 21st century. This would be the greatest boost to our economy, and in particular employment for the construction workers of America, over the next 5 years and would cost an estimated $60 billion if we get started immediately. The immediate contribution of this project to resolving the unemployment problem and increasing national productivity would be immense, while we greatly enhance our long term global economic competitiveness.
Another big stalling factor in economic growth is the stagnancy of our housing sector. The homes that have been in foreclosure or under threat of foreclosure, represent the past investments of our people in their “American dream”. It is a large part of the American capital stock. In addition to losing their incomes through loss of jobs, people also have had to be concerned about the additional burden of losing the homes in which they have invested so much. I am going to ensure that every deserving home-owner has access to the resources he or she needs to continue to live in their homes, while trying to dig their way out of a personal financial crisis. Repayment on the loans given by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to deserving home owners will be deferred for a period of 5 years. In extreme hardship cases mortgages will be forgiven. I define “deserving home owners” as people who have a history of repaying their mortgages, but who by virtue of being laid off, have had to discontinue these payments. Payment of interest on these loans will recommence when the owner is back on his feet. Under the terms of a renewed repayment contract signed with the mortgage institutions, payments of capital will resume after the 5 year grace period. This measure will increase the purchasing power of home owners to enable them to buy the products and services they need, and thus stimulate production in the durable goods industries of America, and more incomes and more jobs.
I am particularly concerned about the importance of facilitating the development of small and medium scale enterprise in America. Small enterprise development has been the focus of policy in developing countries, to good effect. The transformation of India for instance, one of the fastest growing “emergent” economies, along with China and Brazil, has been predicated on small enterprise and manufacturing development, at the same time that we in America have been losing our manufacturing capacity and output. It is time for us to renew and expand our small business sector. The most important input needed by this sector is finance. Our banks have been baled out and have re-established themselves, thanks to generous tax-payer assistance and support, which was a policy priority during the downturn, but they have not, after recovery, in turn poured back into the economy by expanding lending to the small businesses in need of financing to take advantage of market opportunities. We will provide $100 billion to local banks and financial intermediaries like credit unions for targeted lending for working capital and expansion to small enterprises over the next three years.
Small and medium sized businesses will also be given a tax incentive for every additional worker they employ over the next two years. I have already announced the special package of incentives for those businesses that employ veterans of our two wars.
We will also initiate a new business starts programme for fast track financing of new business ventures, with emphasis on the fields of technology and energy. A replenishable fund of an initial  $50 billion will be set up for that purpose.
I draw attention to the particular needs and challenges of African American and Hispanic members of our population who are experiencing unemployment levels far above the national average at 15% and 11% respectively. I expect these groups to take fullest possible advantage of the employment and self-employment programs we propose.
I will introduce a $25 Billion package of incentives for investment by both business owners and private citizens in capital improvements in derelict neighbourhoods in America. These improvements will include both generous tax exemptions and community development grants, as well as infrastructural improvements.
I have repeatedly emphasized the necessity for exploiting our renewable energy potential to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the threat to both our economy and  security. We have made strides in this area as we have seen critical energy saving innovations in the automobile industry as well as impressive developments in wind and solar industry. We need to speed up progress and innovation in this sector. In the next 5 to 10 years every public building in America must be retrofitted with solar panels to increase their energy efficiency. We will expect every Government agency to submit within the next two years detailed plans for these innovations and funding will come on stream immediately to enable them to be completed. New Energy sector enterprises will be allowed an innovation incentive tax credit of 20% on their taxable income.
We cannot ignore the two trillion dollars now held by businesses in safe havens overseas; not when this money can generate millions of jobs in America. I propose a tax holiday of up to 5 years, for businesses which agree to repatriate their overseas cash balances for use in investment in the American public works already identified. They will in addition attract a minimum guaranteed rate of 3% on these funds invested here.
As an incentive to relocate their operations to the US, Corporations which have shipped jobs overseas by relocating their businesses to take advantage of the lower wages, will be given tax benefits equivalent to the estimated difference between their total payroll if they were located in America and their total current payroll overseas. In effect we will be subsidizing their wage bill to the extent of the wage disparity between the US enterprise and the overseas enterprise.
On the subject of American wealth held overseas, it is important to deal with the situation of our trade with China. China owns a high percentage of our debt; they have been able over the years to export far greater quantities of products to us than we have provided goods and services to them; thus creating an unfavourable US balance of trade. This has been an escalating problem, largely the result of unfair trading practices and the manipulation of their currency. Their goal has been full employment and building a modern economy at home, and this has been regrettably at the expense of American productivity and jobs. They have acted in their own best interest and this is to their advantage; now we must act in ours. An excise tax of 5% will be applied to all goods imported from China with effect from January 2012. That will serve to make Chinese goods sold in America more expensive relative to goods produced in America and discourage imports of “cheap” Chinese goods, thus allowing our manufacturers a chance to meet our own needs. This will enable us to reduce our indebtedness to China and gradually equalize the balance of trade. We will at the same time enter serious trade practice negotiations with the Chinese government to ensure a level playing field going forward.
We will of course most definitely not extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans; they will be allowed to lapse and the revenue saved or gained from these will substantially meet the cost of our infrastructure initiative.
I expect the Fed will continue to keep the interest rate low to facilitate the flow of money for national investment.
These employment generating and revenue enhancing ideas are not exhaustive and we will be adding to them as we continue our internal deliberations and our on-going consultation with you, the American people, in whose judgement and common sense we have complete trust.
Government will do what it must; but we also call on the American consumer to play an important part. There is much he or she can do. One area is in the auto industry. The American auto industry will remain, through the myriad ancillary industries it promotes, one of the main employment generators in our economy for years to come. It is the backbone of our manufacturing sector and it must be kept strong. The surest way to achieve this is by continuously producing the best and most efficient and economical vehicles. The industry must maintain a competitive edge. But is has to be supported by Americans for it to achieve its full potential. I urge American citizens to buy an American made car whenever there is a choice. This way you will be contributing to a job for your neighbour or friend down the street.
I will end with an assurance to our Unions. I put myself fully behind the plans of the organizations which best represent workers in their efforts to improve the conditions of the working class, to enhance productivity and economic growth, and to expand the base of productive enterprise in America.
In closing, I have heard the arguments as to whether I should go bold or keep my proposals within the limits that the Republicans will find acceptable. There is nothing I can propose  that the “Just say no” party can find acceptable, whether bold or timid. Today we change the rules of the game, for a game it has been. We want all these proposals implemented in a concerted effort to put American workers back to work and the American economy back to its transcendent position in the world.














Monday, August 15, 2011

Obama's America

Michael White

The trials of the first Black President

Barack Obama’s administration can be viewed from three main perspectives, what he thinks of himself; what he does; what others think of him. Four things about the man himself stand out and define his presidency: his nature and upbringing, his trust and confidence in human nature; his propensity to conciliation rather than confrontation and total failure to believe, accept or acknowledge that there is prejudice of the vilest kind operating against him in “post-racial” America.

Obama’s predisposition for compromise and his aversion to confrontation, which under normal circumstances would be hailed as most desirable Christian traits, have placed him often in the unenviable position of seeming weak and indecisive.

From the outset Obama made an irreversible commitment to changing “the way Washington does business”; this was his dominant rallying call. Yet, this was somewhat na├»ve, and really underestimated the strength of his opposition’s determination to block and frustrate every one of his initiatives. Changing a culture assumes a willingness or even inclination of the culture to change; this is true whether you are talking about a family, a corporation, a parliament, or a country. A man cannot single handedly change a culture, especially one diametrically opposed to his very existence. He did not anticipate the strength of the Republican pushback.

Thus, the first and most persistent obstacle Obama was to confront throughout his first term, was a devilish opposition in Congress which, as an article of faith, made the decision to “just say no to everything” he proposed, however valuable or critical to the country’s growth and the peoples’ prosperity. It really is difficult to imagine a group of “tribal leaders” in even the most backward and primitive of nations who would deliberately choose to sabotage their country’s economy and cause the prolonged suffering of many of its people just to ensure that the leader fails and is not returned to office. There is the smell here of the miscreants in Somalia, preventing humanitarian aid from getting to starving multitudes.

Obama’s presidency started off confronted with distractions relating to falsehoods propagated by opponents, notably birtherism, his not being a real American, not being Christian (and thus lying about his own spirituality), that he is a Socialist, a Muslin; and a man who, in Sarah Palin’s eternally stupid phrase, has a tendency to “pal around with terrorists.”

Obama has not, even now, come to grips with the “hate” motivation of his opponents even after they have depicted him in the most derogatory terms and with the most vindictive images, such as a savage with a bone through his nose. He could not imagine and, less, come to grips with, the sheer personal venom directed at him from all the Republican leaders and commentators in and out of Congress.

Forgotten or minimized in all the talk across America about the country’s problems is the central fact that many leaders in the Republican Party, have vowed to make Obama a one-term President and are determined that his Presidency should fail!! Think about it, the people who are to work with the President to make things such as employment happen, are vowed that they will not help him in any way to achieve this goal. This must be the first President that has had to deal with such a resolution. A lot of the conversation among the pundits about what Obama should or should not do, ignores this reality. Why? Why is it so difficult to grasp that this presents a major constraint to action?

It is also difficult to comprehend the failure of commentators in America to grasp the disproportionate impact of wealthy vested interests in using their media advantage to influence national thought and policy. These vested interests with their vast resources, have unabashedly manipulated, controlled and directed the story through media advertisements in the great debates such as health care, the President’s citizenship, and corporate fiscal policy. This is of course a total perversion of democracy.

The first fight that Obama was drawn into, which he lost, was his identification with Reverend Wright. This fight started before his inauguration but it was the first test case raised by his opponents. He resolved it by disconnecting from the Church where he and his family nurtured their faith. Of course, a man’s faith, whether he is president or not, is an intensely personal affair. Yet his resolution foretold the pattern of his response to sustained pressure.

Obama tackled Health Care early in his administration because he was passionate about bringing to every other citizen the same health care benefits Congress enjoys; he also needed a key area of national life in which to make a great and lasting impact. That focus ensured that dealing purposefully with other important issues like jobs, while at the same time navigating through a recalcitrant Congress, took a back seat, never mind his justifiable argument that fixing health care was essential to fixing overall economic growth. And the problem is that his health care thrust was predictably met by the promised opposition; so despite his success, it was twisted by the Republicans to make him look ineffective. Nevertheless his success in passing this legislation showed a hard-nosed determination, an aspect of his persona that he is not often willing to display.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Obama made a calculated decision at the outset of his administration, not to seek to punish anyone who was in any way responsible for the financial meltdown under his predecessor’s administration. Part of that was because, for personal humanitarian reasons, he wanted to avoid imposing any unnecessary embarrassment on George Bush; part of it was to keep to his maxim of starting Government with a clean slate, that is, changing the way Washington does business. This writer would like to have heard the Obama-Holder debate about this decision. Sounds noble, but somewhat counterintuitive, since to start afresh, someone has to be held accountable for the damage that has been done, if only for the purpose of ensuring any recompense that may be necessary.

Thus, not only were the Banks and Wall Street not held to account after wantonly squandering the national wealth and jeopardizing the livelihoods and lifestyles of millions of citizens, but were even more emboldened to continue to profiteer at the expense of the economy and the unemployed poor. How could such a policy ever be justified? It is paradoxical, although easy to understand in the political context, that these same baled-out organizations are now the ones in league with the Republicans in keeping anything positive from happening in the Obama Economy.

Not wanting ever to appear racially motivated, Obama has run from, or kept a safe distance from race issues; perhaps the one exception was the one that led to the famous beer summit; he seemed to have learned from this particular experience that he would not be forgiven for even the appearance of taking a side in a racial dispute. He was, of course, correct in this judgement. After all, he is the first black president and for this, in the minds of his detractors, he should be grateful.

Inheriting an economy on the brink of ruin with massive debt and unemployment, Obama was forced to ensure as his main initial priority, that the whole financial structure of the country did not collapse. He also saw the need to bolster the major American corporations, providers of millions of secure jobs, at risk of going under. At the time when this was, and still is, opposed by the Republicans, his action in restoring the auto industry, was a stellar achievement.

From hindsight, the choice for priority focus should have been immediately getting people back to work. The jobs debate and jobs bill to which he is now “pivoting”, should have been Job One, and his economic advisers should have insisted on this. But one gets the feeling that this was not their area of expertise or dominant interest.

Not that creating jobs was not given some priority. The “stimulus” in principle was a good idea, but it clearly was not focused enough and sufficiently based on the real opportunities for economic growth or stimulation in the economy. It incorporated, as a concession to opposition voices, too much tax relief and too little financial investment in potential growth sectors, like construction and rehabilitation of civil works. The auto-industry model should have been applied to other sectors, with the focus on small business growth and expansion, from the very start of the administration.

In many public pronouncements Obama has repeatedly emphasized the importance he attaches to job creation; yet, after every critical issue he deals with, there is an outcry, particularly from media commentators, for him to introduce a jobs plan! As if he has never thought of it and they, the commentators, are the ones concerned about jobs and solutions. This is just amazing.

The underlying assumption behind the behaviour of the Republicans in Congress is that the American electorate is dumb and stupid. Everybody knows or should know by now that there are bills pending in the House that if passed would immediately result in significant job creation. John Boehner on vacation, leaves the indolence of the golf course just long enough to make a statement with the usual aggression, asking Obama: “Mr. President where are the jobs?” All Boehner has to do is forego a session of golf, dry his tears and convene the House for one day and pass, for instance, the transportation bill that would result in considerable road building works and jobs. Even intelligent commentators and analysts like Chris Matthews, fall into the trap of Boehner’s deceit, repeatedly asking why the President does not build roads and bridges to put people to work. If a reflective sympathiser like Matthews can be deceived by this, what hope is there for the ordinary man and woman?

Obama receives hefty doses of criticism from friends and foes. I have observed that there is a temperamental difference between Republicans and Democrats; in general Democrats come across as far less willing to lie their way through a problem or to start a lie and to stand resolutely by it through thick and thin. In a way it matches the President’s own temperament as the lead Democrat. There is another palpable difference, Republican commentators and strategists never, on any matter, trivial or substantive, speak against their own; democratic sympathisers are frequently, presumably in the interest of fair play and justice, far more critical when their man even appears to go wrong.

America has a system of “Government by catch-phrase”. One of the most paradoxical is: “He now owns the economy”. That is a conclusion the pundits and parties unceremoniously force on the new President after a certain imaginary period of about 1 to 2 years in office. How does a man after two years, own an eight year old emaciated economy, especially when half of the Government can decide to, and have the ability to deliberately block every initiative the President proposes?!

Republicans framed Obama’s presidency around the ‘Big Government’ argument: Government is too big in America and too intrusive in people’s lives. And that at a time when the country is in a state of near collapse and requiring all the Government intervention it could get. So even with Obama’s single handed salvaging of America’s most prestigious industry, the auto industry, he is at the same time, having to defend himself against the big government argument. He gets almost no credit for saving the one industry that most characterizes and symbolizes the success of American capitalism, an industry whose roots go long and deep into the American economy.

The American system of Government can work when it is based on integrity, honesty and reason; when the fundamental values of fair play and justice are in place and honoured. The assumption must be that everyone is acting from the best of possible motives and that actions will be taken that are in the public good. Otherwise it cannot work; when the checks far outweigh the balances you have stalemate and dysfunction.

So now that it is necessary to invest in infrastructure projects to get Americans back to work Obama is virtually immobilized by the box in which he has allowed others to place him. Following his initial efforts to stabilize a drowning economy, Obama was drawn into a deficit and debt debate which diverted attention from what he knows is the real malaise in the society: unemployment and the lack of productivity.

Friends as well as enemies have criticised Obama for being too timid; too intellectual, too professorial, better as a professor in a classroom than a manager in a global enterprise. It was so important for him to have captured the illusive Bin Laden. In his mind he must have thought that the success of the mission should settle the issue once and for all, and in a way it did, for a while; he should have known, however, that whatever victory he accomplished in the military arena, his enemies would immediately pivot the conversation, as they did successfully, to another assumed weakness. He should perhaps have been as bullish on the economy as he was on the wars that others started.

Obama’s Afghanistan war commitment was initially justified. It was predicated on the conviction that the threat from Al Qaeda emanated from that country and that for the security of the United States, that safe haven should be permanently disrupted. Prior evidence had suggested that this is where the main leaders of the terrorist organization, including Bin Laden were holed up. But he lost an opportunity on the capture of Bin Laden in a most unlikely arena, to pivot (that word again!) away from his commitment to intensifying the war in Afghanistan. Instead he initiated a mystifyingly slow draw down of troops; mostly I believe for fear of reigniting the tired debate about his weakness in use of American military strength. But to be fair, it may be that his calculation is that maintaining a strong presence in Afghanistan is the surest way of maintaining vigilance against terrorist organizations in that part of the world which includes Pakistan.

Americans like the notion of their military prowess and global ascendancy; they dislike the news of causalities of war. Going to Afghanistan to protect American security is good; staying in Afghanistan amid news of soldiers being killed is anathema. A President, any President has to, in the public mind, reconcile the irreconcilables. But since he can’t, he has to deal with the clamour which periodically erupts at the end of each battlefield tragedy, to end the war and bring the troops home. (By the way, the terrorists are exactly the opposite; when their troops die they are emboldened to become more vocal, committed and aggressive).

Similarly, he has been far too slow to pull out completely from Iraq; strangely those members of the opposition who are eternally hawkish about the war- all wars - give him the encouragement and moral support he needs to stay engaged in the Afghanistan war; so he chooses to be happy at their side rather than the side of his friends; it’s mostly about his conciliatory temperament, and making Washington work.

Another common American system catch-phrase is: “there is enough blame to go around”, used continuously by actors on the political stage who refuse to admit their culpability for their wrong choices. The truth is that in much of the great disputes one party is dead wrong and the other right. The Tea party’s insistence on no taxes and reduced spending by Government was the single predominant cause of the debt ceiling debacle and the near economic catastrophe. The blame is not to be diluted by being spread around; it is to be placed squarely on the backs of the culpable Tea Party Republicans led by Cantor!!

In conclusion I want to raise one more issue. It has to be brought into question whether Obama selected the appropriate advisors and lieutenants. Leaders select, organize and reorganize teams. It is important in selecting a team to choose sound advisers on whose judgement you can depend, from the start to the successful conclusion of the project. Obama in two years has lost several of his key advisers. Why did they have to bail before the job was done? Too much dependence on advisers with too little knowledge will inevitably lead you down the wrong paths.

LET US PREY...

Michael White

Arriving at the Waterloo Station

Those who naively thought that racism had quietly died when Obama was elected President of the United States had lost all sense of reality. There is a common saying in America which every young boy has heard a thousand times, that it is possible for anyone to become the President. To most white men, that is a reference to one of them, not to a black boy from….Hawaii (read Kenya!!)

Men like Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch “Midget” McConnell, Joe “ You Lie” Wilson, Jim “Waterloo” DeMint, John “macaque” Allen, John “That One” McCain, Dick “ Karl Marx” Armey, Newt “Con Man” Gingrich, Haley Barbour, and Mitt Romney, could never accept that a Barack Obama would be the one for whom this prediction would materialize; to them the 2008 election was an unpardonable aberration, and an attack on the Constitution and on their divine rights that a black man would precede them as President. How presumptuous of him! They are seething with rage and the outlet for it is their recurrent “no” vote and their mean-spirited accusations and denunciations of the President.

Can you imagine if a black man would succeed in cleaning up the mess in America that a white President left behind? Can you not feel the pain of humiliation that implies? Also, can you not imagine how difficult it would be to dislodge the party of that President if he succeeded? If that should happen how then could, for instance, Boehner, McConnell or Cantor or the other pretender to the throne Tim Pawlenty, all with few or no chances by virtue of age, ever inherit their birthright and become President as their fathers promised? No way! This presumptuous (I think they say “uppity”) black man has to be brought to ruin- meet his Waterloo- at all costs. Hence, the “no” to every measure proposed by his administration or “regime”.

In the much touted 2008 US elections an estimated 136 million Americans voted. A little over 65,182,692 votes went to Obama, and 57,212,032 to McCain. Obama gained a cool 52.5% of the popular vote against John McCain’s 46.2%. This was a remarkable result on a number of levels as a diversity of Americans -blacks, whites, young and old -voted into office the first black American president, the most powerful man in the world. This was touted not only in America, but worldwide as a radical transformation of American politics, the beginning of a new era in American society and of, believe it or not, a post racial society.
A whole lot of “post-racial” white Americans defied American history by voting with the majority; without them Obama could not have won. What I am saying in this piece has to be viewed in this context, or it is just unhealthy, alarmist racist commentary. I have known personally too many right-thinking, decent and progressive (small “p”) white Americans over the years to fall into that trap.

What we must note is that of those who voted, pretty close to half voted against Obama. Buried in that number, amongst the many reasonable white men and women who voted for the right reasons, were all the haters, the diehard racists and bigots to whom it was and continued to be anathema to defile the people’s house with a “man of colour.” These latter did not overtly demonstrate their anger and discontent at the time; they bided their time in the shadows until circumstances provided the opening they knew they would soon precipitate to wear their hearts on their sleeves. They went underground; they stooped to conquer in due course, humouring their misguided compatriots.

The peers, heirs and successors of the KKK are out of hiding and are as virulent and purposeful as ever!!!

Of course, these good folks have long replaced their hoods with the even more ludicrous tea bags dangling from their hats, and instead of flaming crosses, they today sport inflaming placards, but it is all the same thing; now we have the sons and daughters who stood as innocents on the backs of their fathers and in the arms of their mothers as Wallace brought out the fire hoses to stop little black boys and girls from attending a white school, or as the beatings and lynchings of black men proceeded before their innocent eyes but very conscious impressionable minds.

Thanks to the maverick-iness of John McCain, the underground movement of bigots were provided with the anti hero they were waiting for, Sarah Palin, as their rallying point. They flocked to her as bees to a flower; she was the perfect image to put up against a black man in redeeming American “values” and “virtue”. The misguided and manifestly unintelligent Sarah Palin was able to read the tea leaves and play the American bigots like a violin. We are made to understand by the crazy part of America, that this woman, God forbid, may yet succeed President Obama as the leader of the free world!!

Beck and Palin, the messiahs of the bigoted subset organize a rally to commemorate the famous Civil Rights march on Washington, rightly anticipating a full crowd of their anti-Obama supporters. It’s like an old time southern Rally. The Rally speeches, like those of the predecessor Klan jamborees, are cloaked in Godliness- clearly a god who is decisively on the side of racism, prejudice, lies, ill-speaking, hatred, anger, jealousy and animosity.

Grandmaster Beck, Pretender Palin and the passionate Pastor who lauded his leader at the Rally should all have begun their sermons with the invocation “LET US PREY”…on the ignorance, the fear and the pathological hatred of the majority of their audience.

Who could miss the outstanding sprinkling of black faces glowing in the darkness of this Beckian masquerade? No surprise here. From the early slave traders, to Jim Jones to David Koresh to Glen Beck, crusading, crafty, devious, demented, pernicious white men have always been able to cajole a selection of misguided black people to join with them in working against their own interests and their own kind. It is a gift.

Then there are these black luminaries who are really like crabs at the bottom of the barrel, who mistakenly think they can regain some traction for their failed personal aspirations, among white people, by bringing Obama down: the likes of Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, Ron Christie. Ah, Ron Christie, what a piece of work; a sad failed architect of the Bush-Cheyney fiasco now determined to rewrite history to look kindly on him and cover his tracks. These types are blind to the fact that, like Michael Steel, they are laughed at and loathed behind their backs by those they seek honor from. They see themselves curiously, as somehow not included in the disgust of the haters.

Back to the famous Beckian-Palin Rally. Let us say that the bigots were a mere 10% of those who voted against Obama; that would be some 5.7 million people. Then let us say that only a modest 10% of these attended the Beck rally as a demonstration of their solidarity and hatred of Mr. President, that would be a mere 500,000. Let us be conservative and say it was only 5% who attended, that would take us to our 250,000 which Beck claims to have been in attendance. Why would such an attendance surprise anyone? I can see all the haters gladly wanting to be part of the re-honoring of America! They would be as motivated as Klansmen to come out to the party. These people and their personalities are accurately represented in the film “ Mississippi Burning.” Beck and Palin would do well to organize a public viewing of this remarkable motion picture for their fans, who would then have an opportunity to look at themselves!

Constantly during his infamous rally and dramatic plea, with the usual crocodile tears flowing, the latter day saint Beck brazenly invokes God, apparently egged on by a devoted bunch of men and women of the cloth too blind or self-deluded to see through that rascal’s manipulation, overt racism and hatred of the first black president. God is, however, not mocked. They should be careful of the wrath they may be calling down on themselves and on the church in America with their hypocrisy and their false religiosity.

When is the new black truth revolution going to start in earnest in America? When are the voices going to be combined in a mass movement with the likes of honest and fearless white men and women like President Carter, Ed Schutz, Joan Walsh and Keith Olbermann? Where is the genius David Plouffe anyway? Where is the super silent majority of Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and other people of hope who couldn’t wait to shout their approval on election day?

Why are the positions of manifestly racist clowns like Boehner, Cantor, McConnell and Armey still so dominant in the American dialogue? Were the folks who genuinely tried to move away from America’s dark racial “whites only” past, lulled into a false hope and security by the apparent Obama victory? Now would be a good time to wake up from this sleep of forgetfulness and get some heads out of the oilly coastal sand.

Don’t get me wrong. I have issues with President Obama. There are times when he seems to me more interested in political victory than in doing what God raised him up to do. I know I am not on the same ground as some of my liberal friends on some matters of faith, but how can a Christian be neutral on or even support the scourge of abortion? Why can’t he take a principled stand on promoting the word of God in schools and public places? Why can’t he say unequivocally that gay marriage is against God’s law for man? What is he afraid of? If God is for him who can be against him? Who does he take counsel from on matters of the Spirit? Why does he allow a miscreant like Beck to seem more spiritual than he is?

I have noted a weakness, an achilles heel in President Obama; he is afraid of the condemnation of his loyal opposition; from time to time he rises above this fear and launches a veild counter offensive. But in general he is over-respectful of Republicans to the point of weakness. His administration hurriedly brings down Shirley Sherrod without due process or cause, but comes out in strong defense of the lame headed Republican Alan Simpson, who is adamantly against the fair and just positions. Periodically he or his spokesmen take unfair shots at the members of his party that support him most consistently. It is unbecoming.

The President took an extraordinarily long time to recognize the obvious truth of what the brave Ed Schultz has been shouting to him for months: that the Republicans are playing a game and never had any intention of cooperating with him in any way. He played the bi-pattisan card to its limits with disastrous results.

His blindness to John McCain’s patent chicanery is to this observer one of his greatest blunders. I think Obama with his very big heart believed that he could trust John McCain, who he never failed to applaud as a true American hero. John McCain is one of the most dishonest, self serving and untrustworthy politicians in the United States, and I believe President Obama still has not, even at this late stage, seen through McCain’s duplicity. It is not an accident that McCain was the one who unleashed the hero of the bigots Sarah Palin on an unsuspecting American public. Things have a way of working together, though not always for good.

Obama kept silent through the intense left-right debate over the public option, resulting in a disappointing compromise Health Bill which eventually lost him a lot of popular support. He has this unimpressive tendency of remaining out of the fray and letting things drift till a watered down version of things prevails. It makes him look spineless, which we know he is not.

His behaviour as President can be seen in several national issues as weak and indecisive, while he tries to play it as keeping a campaign pledge not to do politics as usual. But despite all his effort to be faithful to the pledge, one of the most sustained and effective attacks upon him by the right is that he has not kept his election promise to be bi-partisan. It’s a game and he should be smart enough to beat his adversaries at it.

In September 2009 that sage among US Presidents, Jimmy Carter, spoke the truth loud and clear to his country when he reiterated his belief that racism is an issue for President Obama in trying to lead the country.

In the former President’s words:"When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds," the past President told his audience at Emory University."I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American.” He continued: "It's a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States."

The former President's comments were made soon after his statement that racial politics played a role in South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's unruly outburst during Obama's speech to Congress and in some of the opposition the President has faced since taking office.

My amazement is that so few people seem to know or want to articulate the obvious truth of this. Carter was one of the brave and honest ones and he got bashed left, right and centre.

What is sad is that President Obama openly declared that he did not support what Carter so accurately presented. Was he again catering to the hostile, fearsome Republicans? It would have been better for him to have kept his tongue than to defend Carter’s critics, and in the process put the gentleman Carter in a position of him seeming to be wrong for speaking the rather obvious truth!

Carter knows of what he speaks, being a white man raised in the South. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shares the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans….I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American," Carter told "NBC Nightly News." How can anyone deny that?

Of Course, after this regrettable turn of events Carter has kept a respectful silence to Obama's loss. Did he lose one of his best and most perceptive and erudite advocates?

The great educator comedian Bill Cosby later put the matter in clear perspective with this statement:"During President Obama's speech on the status of health care reform, some members of Congress engaged in a public display of disrespect…. While one representative hurled the now infamous 'you lie' insult at the president, others made their lack of interest known by exhibiting rude behavior such as deliberately yawning and sending text messages." Cosby as usual is so correct!

James Baldwin, long, long ago, told us about another country. This is it, America in a disguise that cannot last; not when it is telling the rest of the world that it’s system is best and should be imitated globally, not when it takes up arms and puts its youth “in harms way” to plant and enforce that system in countries far away.