A VICTORY FOR SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE!

October 13, 2012   By Jack Jodell

Thursday night’s vice presidential debate between sitting Vice President Joe Biden and his challenger, Wisconsin congressman Paul RUIN, was a victory of Biden’s depth and substance over RUIN’s shallowness and attempt at “style”. Biden passionately defended the current administration’s support for government programs which aid the middle class and poor, while RUIN (aptly named that because his proposed budget would completely RUIN our economy) appeared dispassionate and callously unconcerned about the real, unwealthy world all around him.

On the subject of the war in Afghanistan, RUIN showed particular ineptness. It was clear he was out of his element, delivering canned, clearly-memorized talking points given to the Romney camp which were developed by notorious neocons like ex-Bush advisor Dan Senor. Lyin’ Ryan  gave little evidence he really knew what he was talking about and even hinted that the U.S. should not be withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in the middle of their summer fighting season. Biden wasted little time in educating RUIN  that these troops were being replaced by trained Afghanis, and that a full 49 of our allies, plus our Joint Chiefs of Staff, had approved the withdrawal. RUIN also unfairly criticized Obama for his lack of action against Syria. Biden again educated him, pointing out how the administration had worked skillfully with all the important Middle East countries, ranging from Turkey to Saudi Arabia to Jordan, in an effort to prevent the Syrian civil conflict from expanding into a full-blown regional war.  

On the topic of Women’s Reproductive Rights, it was easy to see RUIN squirming when discussing the subject. His own view is that all abortions, as well as Planned Parenthood, should be abolished, yet he is forced by his associaton with Romney to take the less extreme, less controversial position of approving abortions in the case of rape, incest, or health endangerment to the mother. Biden took a more sensible overall approach to the subject. He pointed out that he did not like abortion, but that he didn’t think it was right for him, as a Catholic, to force his own religious beliefs on others, particularly those who may be Jews, Moslems, Protestants, or nonbelievers. He also pointed out correctly that both Romney and RUIN would sponsor Supreme Court nominees in favor of reversing Roe v. Wade, and that Planned Parenthood is essential for maintaining women’s overall health.  

But it was on the subjects of Health Care, Medicare, Social Security, and tax fairness that Biden’s arguments beat those of Lyin’ Ryan hands down. For Biden exposed the sheer folly of RUIN’s and Romney’s plan to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and turn Medicare into a ridiculous voucher system! After all, without “Obamacare” in place to thwart insurance company discrimination, how in hell could an ill person in their 80s ever obtain insurance on the free market? And, without Medicare, how could they ever afford it? RUIN also failed again to disclose which SPECIFIC tax deductions he and Romney would eliminate to guarantee that their far-fetched t20%  tax cut for everybody wouldn’t adversely affect needed middle-class tax deductions , despite prodding from moderator Martha Raddatz. 

Paul RUIN was obviously trying to score points by appearing as if he were genuinely concerned about the plight of unemployed and poor Americans, but his proposed “solutions” were vague and uninspiring. He claimed again that he and Romney would help create 12 million new jobs, but he never provided a satisfactory explanation as to exactly HOW this would be done. Somehow, his and Romney’s vague explanations of further deregulation and tax cuts for everyone would do the job just didn’t seem to pass the smell test. Biden, on the other hand, appeared genuinely pained at the thought of privatizing Social Security and destroying Medicare. He claimed, quite accurately, that most poor and elderly people could not afford the radical transformation of social services that Romney and RUIN are proposing.  

Several times last night, Joe Biden looked directly at the camera and asked, “Who do you trust?” For THIS viewer, it is HIM. For he talked specifics and didn’t insult us with vague promises or foolish cliches. Paul RUIN, on the other hand, failed to inspire me or gain my confidence, especially wearing that impatient,  simplistic, shit-eating grin he had on all night!     

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A TIME FOR PATIENCE, REASON, AND COMMON SENSE!

October 10, 2012  By Jack Jodell
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Americans have become an increasingly impatient people. At times resembling small, spoiled children more than rational and critically-thinking adults, we are being transformed into a nation who goes with our latest snap-judgment rather than by careful examination of the facts at hand. Whether caused or aided by the growing reliance of soundbyte-making entities like Twitter; the constant barrage of rapidly moving videos and media advertisements; or the poor conditioning we have received from the endless stream of TV “reality shows” and sitcoms in which all of the world’s problems are simple, and are set right, in a mere half-hour – THIS is a very dangerous phenomenon! We cannot afford this foolish indulgence, and we must make a conscious effort to overcome it! For we are cheating and deluding each other when we allow ourselves to fall into this pattern of intellectual laziness.

Let us begin today with our troubled economy. While the official Great Recession ended in June of 2009, and there have been 32 consecutive months of job growth in the private sector since, economic growth has been steady but anemic overall. The official unemployment rate has now fallen to 7.8% (from a recession-high of 10.0% in October of 2009) Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment rate and long-term unemployment rate, January 1948 – December 2011, seasonally adjusted). Clearly, this is a VAST improvement over the situation which existed in January, 2009, at the start of the current Obama administration, when nearly 600,000 private sector jobs were being LOST each month! Still, there are far too many unemployed as well as UNDER-employed  workers today, and irresponsible, overly ambitious, LYING politicians like Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul RUIN, are trying to spin this as a failure on the part of President Obama! By examining the graph below, taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you will see at a glance how inaccurate this spin is! (Click on the graph to make it larger).

That this restoration of jobs has been slower than desirable is regrettable and undeniable, but it has hardly been solely Obama’s or his Democratic Party’s fault. For the obstructionist Republican Party, led by its powerful, reactionary Tea Party faction, has steadfastly refused to pass even a SINGLE jobs creation bill the entire time they have had control of the U.S. House of Representatives, dating back to January of 2011! This, of course, followed the Republicans’ 2010 campaign promise to create more jobs if they were to regain control of that body from the Democrats. How many remember John Boehner saying over and over that “jobs are our number one priority!”? Needless to say, this backward-looking, obstructionist party must be held responsible and PUNISHED for its obvious hypocrisy in this vitally important area! Because of their deliberate stalling tactics, designed specifically to defeat and remove Obama from the White House in next month’s election, is unprecedented and reprehensible. For it clearly shows the Republicans have placed their own political gain FAR ahead of the nation’s most important need and best interests! Common sense would dictate that these Republicans be justifiably thrown out of office in November.

I would like to offer our American electorate some advice on PATIENCE, using past precedent as my basis for doing so. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats took control of the Presidency and Congress in 1933, after years of Republican “free market” economic misrule which brought on the horrible Great Depression. Unemployment stood at an incredibly whopping 35% of nonfarm workers at that time! To the horror of these reckless “free market” conservatives, FDR began a massive economic redevelopment program called The New Deal, which gave the federal government unprecedented powers to involve itself in the nation’s economic affairs.  By looking at the chart below (click on it to view it larger), you will see that this effort took quite some time to produce suitable results.  By 1936, near the end of FDR’s first term, unemployment still stood at an unbelievably high 25%, and yet, that fall, FDR won re-election with an overwhelming majority of popular and electoral votes! Even more amazingly, he was re-elected twice more, with an unemployment rate above 20% much of that time!

How was this possible? It occurred mainly because of three things: the conservative Republicans did not exert a near-stranglehold on the federal government as they do today (their relative numbers were MUCH smaller back then); because FDR’s New Deal was actually WORKING and steadily creating more jobs for workers, and voters could see these results plainly; and because people in the 1930s believed that government AND workers had a vital role to play in the economy! Today, of course, reactionary Republicans and irresponsible media pundits are all screaming about the still too high, albeit much lower, unemployment rate of 7.8%. They have chosen to ignore the fact that it took FDR an incredibly longer 10 YEARS to undo the destruction wrought by conservative Republican economic misrule! The lesson we need to keep in mind here is that, today we must be more PATIENT with the President, and direct our wrath and impatience instead  toward the “free market, trickle down” Republicans who created this mess originally!

Mitt Romney, and especially his eager-beaver running mate, Paul RUIN, have both, in their own way, called for greatly reduced regulation, an expanded military budget, and increased tax cuts for the already ridiculously UNDER-taxed richest 1% of the American electorate. They are pushing for the elimination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and many other vital social safety net programs. In effect, they are calling for a return to pre-New Deal economic policies, the hallmark of which would be a vastly smaller and greatly weakened federal government. Common sense dictates clearly that, if your porch is on fire due to gasoline having been poured on it and a match having been lit to start the fire, the LAST thing any sensible person would do is try to put out the fire by throwing even more gasoline and lit matches back on it! Voters who think with reason rather than emotion will outright reject these far-right reactionary Republicans and all of their followers in the upcoming election.

I sincerely hope and believe that in this year’s election, American voters will display a great deal more patience, reason, and common sense than is currently being advocated by self-centered, reckless, and foolish far-right, radical, impatient, Tea Party-infested Republicans. Voters must realize the folly of electing either the Romney/Ryan team or ANYof its like-minded followers!

Our well-being and fiture as a nation both depend on it!

Posted in "free market" economics, commentary, conservative Republicans, Democratic Party, economics, extremists, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney's LIES, Politics, Progressives, reactionary Republicans, taxes, Tea Party, the 1% | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FIRST TAKES ON THE FIRST DEBATE

October 4, 2012  By Jack Jodell

The long awaited and greatly heralded first presidential debate of 2012 has come and gone. My first humble impression is that it was an overall draw. I rated President Obama much higher on sincerity, substance, truthfulness, and specifics. I rated Romney higher on enthusiasm and slightly higher on delivery; he appeared more excited and slightly more alert than did Obama, who looked slightly tired at times. But Obama more often looked right at the camera than did Romney, speaking directly to the public in all but his summation. There, at the very end of the debate, Romney held the edge as he spoke directly into the camera and therefore the vast TV audience at that most crucial point. Obama clearly projected a more polished, presidential aura and showed much greater compassion and concern for his citizenry than did Romney; you could read it in both of their expressions. Romney at times exhibited the behavior of an overly eager and opportunistic  salesman, several times interrupting moderator Jim Lehrer to sneak in a final comment. Yet he failed to deliver a satisfactory closing argument as to why he would be the better choice in the election  than Obama. Needless to say, he didn’t sell ME

Romney continued his big lies about how Obama had raided $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare, insinuating that seniors would suffer as a result. The truth of the matter, as Obama corrected him, is that recipient benefits are NOT cut but that the savings would occur in the form of reduced payments to gluttonous insurance companies and hospitals. Romney also lied about the $5 TRILLION in tax cuts he would provide for the very richest among us by claiming that it would be revenue-neutral, to be offset by vague, unexplained cuts in deductions and tax credits he failed to elaborate on specifically. He also lied by insinuation when he claimed there would be no cuts in our  overblown defense budget and that he would increase that budget. He tried unsuccessfully to advance the notion that Obama’s sensible cuts were dangerous to our security. In doing so, he was parroting the nonsensical neocon advice of such warhawks as Bush advisor Dan Senor, a man who belongs in jail for his role in promoting the unnecessary and very costly war in Iraq.

It was interesting that, for this debate, shape-shifter Romney all but divorced himself from his party’s extremist right wing. This is of interest because he had actually been courting them for much of the past 18 months! I can’t imagine those in the reactionary Tea Party being too pleased with his defense of “Romneycare” in Massachusetts, especially since it is almost a mirror image of the hated Obamacare he and they have denounced for so long.

I fault Obama, and Jim Lehrer, too, for never calling Romney on the carpet for his indefensible “47%” remarks made disparagingly about a huge segment of voters during a fundraising speech caught on videotape last May! Romney should have been grilled and pounded into a corner for his insensitivity in this area, and it was a huge tactical blunder for the President to let him off without even one solitary mention of the incident! Obama also failed to grill him enough on his voucher plan for Medicare, which would destroy the system by allowing younger, unaware voters the choice to opt-out of the program to join a bogus new private one.

I don’t quite know exactly how the public will react to Romney’s performance. My guess is that he may have picked up a point or two, but I rather doubt that his stale, same-old, same-old Republican arguments against raising taxes on billionaires and reducing regulation will garner him much additional support. His claims about creating 12 million new jobs over the next four years rings hollow, too, especially because they have never been satisfactorily explained. Rombey will have to advance some very realistic, attainable goals to replace his shallow and hollow platitudes if he expects to win this race. I doubt that he will be able to. Nonetheless, onward we shall go…            

Posted in commentary, economics, extremists, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney's LIES, Politics, reactionary Republicans, Tea Party | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

ROMNEY’S AMD RUIN’S LIES ROUNDUP FOR SEPTEMBER, 2012!

September 30, 2012  By Jack Jodell

Welcome back, readers, for this second-to-last compilation of the lies told this month by Mitt Romney and his overly-eager-beaver stooge running mate, Paul RUIN. It is nearly harvest time, and this month’s crop of whoppers told by these pathological liars should not disappoint or surprise you, since these lies are nearly constant.  So roll up your cuffs and put your boots on as we will now descend into this month’s batch of bull!

1). Romney told a reporter recently that, when it comes to being accurate, his campaign has been  “absolutely spot on…anytime there’s been anything that’s been amiss, we correct or remove it.” This has certainly NOT been true when it comes to his assertion that President Obama is “raiding Medicare” and stealing $716 billion from it to finance Obamacare, a claim that has been debunked by many fact checkers!

2). In his ads, Romney keeps repeating the doctored footage which shows Obama quoting his opponent IN 2008, John McCain, saying “If we keep talking about the economy, we’ll lose!” Romney is dishonestly attempting to make it look like Obama is talking about his own administration NOW!

3). Paul RUIN recently addressed an AARP convention by saying, to a loud chorus of boos, that “The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds.” First of all, Ruin and Romney both want to abolish Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system which would result in greatly increased costs to individual senior citizens. Secondly, abolishing Obamacare would doom Medicare to bankruptcy by the year 2016! Thirdly, Obama’s actions have strengthened Medicare and have made it solvent until at least 2024!

4). Romney said, to a group of wealthy donors, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims…. my job is not to worry about these people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” This foolhardy statement completely ignores the FACT that a number of these people are millionaires like him who NEVER pay income taxes, while others are low-income retirees who are not required to pay income taxes, while even others are on disability, cannot work or pay taxes, much as they would undoubtedly like to! To assume, as Romney clearly does, that pro-Obama voters are all parasitic low lifes sucking the government’s teat dry is callous, ignorant, and a LIE! 

5). Paul RUIN said, “… And by the way, under President Clinton, we got welfare reform … which moved people from welfare to work, to get people out of poverty. President Obama is rolling back welfare reform.” This, of course, is a gross distortion of the TRUE facts! What Obama did, AT THE REQUEST OF SEVERAL REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS, was  to enable them to exempt their states from his decree, PROVIDED THAT THESE STATES DEMONSTRATED WORKABLE PLANS TO INCREASE THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE GETTING OFF OF WELFARE TO GET JOBS. Ruin’s assertion is a LIE, and even Bill Vlinton has said so!

6). Romney claims that Obama’s proposed cuts in defense will adversely affect services for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet earlier this month, the White House proclaimed that virtually ALL of the Veterans Affairs Department budget would be EXEMPT if and when overall budget cuts go into effect January, 2013. Just another attempt at a fear-provoking LIE by Romney!

7). For a really comprehensive documentation of all the LIES told by Romney over a 30 WEEK period, go to
http://www.pathos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/08/29/mitt-romney-tells-533-lies-in-30-weeks-steve-benen-documents-them/. You will be utterly amazed that this gigantic phony isn’t in jail!

I’ll be back on Halloween with the tragic last installment of the disgraceful lies this 2012 Republican presidential ticket has been telling all year. They are truly despicably reckless liars with absolutely no respect or regard for the truth, and they DO NOT DESERVE YOUR VOTE!

Posted in commentary, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney's LIES, Politics | Tagged , | 12 Comments

A PREPONDERANCE OF GREED!

September 28, 2012  By Jack Jodell

From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” So wrote the founder of communism, Karl Marx, in his brilliant 1875 summation of what he envisioned would occur once the human race had achieved true communism. Indeed, on the face of it, at least, his Communist Manifesto seemed to provide a common sense and even noble goal for all to aspire to. After all, if followed and implemented properly, it would lead to pure democracy and equality in all aspects of life, including even pure economic democracy. But Marx failed to account for basic human selfishness, and his attempt to rechannel humanity into a more selfless type of race would be doomed. While Marx was a superb analyst and diagnostician of the failures of the 19th century capitalism of his time, his prescription for overcoming these failures through the establishment of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” was tragically flawed. The millions of people brutally fear-stricken, tortured, and even murdered at the hands of his followers – Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Castro, and most of the rest – are ample evidence of that. Yet there was a great deal of underlying truth in Marx’s writings. For example, whether or not religion is actually “the opiate of the masses”, as Marx had stated, none can deny the conservative, status quo-enforcing effect many far-right Christian churches have exerted on our society over the years. Marx had also predicted that capitalism would eventually bring anout its own downfall. The failure of modern day capitalism, with its ever-increasing disparity of wealth and rapidly disappearing upward mobility, makes me wonder if perhaps the end of the capitalist system as we know it may well be underway.

Of course, to listen to those in the Tea Party and the reactionary Republican Party it has now infested, Marx’s philosophy is all wrong and pure, laissez-faire capitalism is the only route to follow. Both Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his eager-beaver stooge running mate Paul RUIN insist that renewing  the failed economic policies of deregulation and sustained huge tax cuts for the rich will save our slumping economy. Ruin even continues to espouse the ridiculous philosophy of the hypocritical elitist Ayn Rand – who for decades preached that the rich should get everything and that the federal government had no business in providing a social safety net for the poor – but then accepted both Medicare and Social Security for herself once she became elderly! Meanwhile, a recently popularized video of Romney from last May has shown that he, too, cares not one bit for the poor or struggling middle class, and in fact views them as leeches and parasites! It is abundantly clear from this video that Romney only wishes to reward the very wealthy with even bigger tax cuts while ending or severely reducing social aid programs for the needy at the same time! These diabolical voices for the far-right just keep preaching the same old insanity, even though their preferred economic model has repeatedly failed for the past 83 YEARS! For they have been advocating an economic system which basically believes “from each according to his ability; to each according to his GREED!” You read it right, folks: with their constant calls for more deregulation and less opportunity for the poor through a reduced federal government, Romney and Ruin are proposing to destroy all the gains made from the New Deal and Great Society programs of the 1930s – 1960s, and this must simply NOT be allowed to happen! For their idea of economics is highly myopic and smacks of self-interest. It is merely a preponderance of greed!   

Posted in "free market" economics, capitalism, commentary, extremists, Mitt Romney, Politics, Tea Party | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

HEROES OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM (Part Three)!

September 25, 2012  By Jack Jodell

Our latest entrant into this select field is not even American by heritage. Rather, he is British – Pakistani by birth, but has been in this country a number of years; loves and respects our people and institutions; and even hosts his own one-hour news and commentary program on MSNBC-TV Mondays-Fridays at 4 PM Eastern time. His name is MARTIN BASHIR, and I urge those of you who have not yet done so to tune him in.

Bashir, who was born in London in 1963, has shown he inderstands very well the importance a strong government plays in the overall well-being of its citizens. The son of Pakistani parents, he had a brother who was afflicted with muscular dystrophy, and it was from his own firsthand experience with that he learned the value of “big government”. For it was the United Kingdom’s well-developed social safety net which provided the necessary medical, special education, day care, transportation, and respite services which were so crucial to the comfort and care of his afflicted brother as well as to the entire family who had to deal with that round-the-clock crisis.

Bashir has had a very broad, if relatively short, career in journalism. He attended King Alfred’s College of Higher Education, and became a journalist with the BBC and ITV before coming to America. He gained fame here through an exhaustive series of interviews featuring the late pop-icon Michael Jackson as well as having previously interviewed the UK’s late Princess Diana.  Before settling in at MSNBC in 2010, he co-hosted ABC’s popular Nightline series for a time.

Originally known for a kind of salacious style of reporting, Bashir’s current show is anything but that. He devotes his coverage mainly to serious topics of a political and sometimes cultural bent. Indeed, his demeanor is both probing and thoughtful rather than obsessed with scandal. His hallmarks are staying on topic (and keeping his guests there as well), and asking sharp, pointed, no-nonsense questions. Unlike his counterparts over at Fox “News”,  he never soft-serves his guests or spoon-feeds them the latest political party talking points. Bashir is far too analytical for that. He does not put up with any attempt at spinning by those who appear on his show, and will even cut them short and demand a truthful answer when necessary. The amazing thing is that he does all of this with a very genteel manner. It is particularly entertaining to watch him grill obviously-lying persons on the far-right, something precious few other political pundits do anymore (with the possible exception of Chris Matthews). He is particularly appalled at the obvious hatred and contempt the current extremist Republican far-right shows toward President Obama, and often editorializes against the hateful and uncooperative actions these types exhibit.

For these and many other reasons, especially because he understands the necessity of having government provide a strong social safety net for the afflicted and underprivileged, Martin Bashir is definitely worthy of the title “Hero of American Journalism.” I strongly urge you to tune in to a few of his shows, for if you do so, I am confident that you, too, will agree that this is an uncommon and very decent and honest reporter.

Posted in commentary, Fox "News", Politics, reactionary Republicans | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments