THE BLACKBURN REPORT

News and Opinion Based on Facts

Thursday, March 17, 2011

News Flash: Sec State Hillary Clinton Says Leaving Post At End of 2012

Another great Article by the Professor, insightful. 
His analysis is fascinating.


By Barry Rubin


In a CNN interview, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will not serve in a second- term administration of President Barack Clinton. She added that she didn't want any other high-level post and wasn't planning to run for president in 2012.


Some will attribute this to exhaustion or "been there, done that." But my assumption is that it isn't any accident that she's announcing this at the time of the biggest internal policy dispute of Obama's term. In handling the Egypt crisis, it seems apparent that Obama didn't listen to her, perhaps didn't even consult her. On this internal conflict over foreign policymaking read here and here. 


Moreover, it's long been a joke that Hillary has been shoved into a lot of minor assignments. And her husband, Bill, has just criticized Obama's energy policy. What do you want to bet that every night (you can put in a joke here because I'm not going to do so) they talk about how Obama is messing up and that she could have done a much better job.


And she's right, too!


I wonder when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates makes a similar announcement. Oh, wait, he already said he'd leave by August 2011.


In my humble opinion, Clinton--who has given many hints at our disagreement with Obama's approach--realizes that the White House's foreign policy is disastrous. A major dispute broke out over how to handle Middle East upheavals. Clinton  endorsed a traditional U.S. approach of supporting friends and opposing enemies, which seems revolutionary under the current president.


The way these things usually happen is that she'd make such an announcement in, say, August 2012, a few months before the event. Nobody wants to be in a high-ranking post for 20 months with everyone knowing their days are numbered. Perhaps she will be out well before the end of 2012.


Who will replace her? Well if she does wait until November 2012 we will only find out if Obama is reelected.  But maybe Obama will have her leave sooner due to policy disputes or because he wants to have his own person in rather than a self-admitted lame duck. 


And remember what I have warned: If the new secretary of state is Senator John Kerry then I recommend you buy a fallout shelter in New Zealand, lay in a supply of food, and hide there. Otherwise, disregard anyone else named as a candidate because nobody knows who it will be and when it will happen.


Let's recognize that this is not just the result of Clinton being tired. A key element here is the heating up of the conflict between the liberal and radical wings of the Democratic Party.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What if We're Not Broke?


 “We’re broke.”
You can practically break a search engine if you start looking around the Internet for those words. They’re used repeatedly with reference to our local, state and federal governments, almost always to make a case for slashing programs — and, lately, to go after public-employee unions. The phrase is designed to create a sense of crisis that justifies rapid and radical actions before citizens have a chance to debate the consequences.

Just one problem: We’re not broke. Yes, nearly all levels of government face fiscal problems because of the economic downturn. But there is no crisis. There are many different paths open to fixing public budgets. And we will come up with wiser and more sustainable solutions if we approach fiscal problems calmly, realizing that we’re still a very rich country and that the wealthiest among us are doing exceptionally well.
Consider two of the most prominent we’re-brokers, House Speaker John Boehner and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
“We’re broke, broke going on bankrupt,” Boehner said in a Feb. 28 Nashville speech. For Boehner, this “fact” justifies the $61 billion in domestic spending cutsHouse Republicans passed (cuts that would have a negligible impact on the long-term deficit). Boehner’s GOP colleagues want reductions in Head Start, student loans and scores of other programs voters like, and the only way to sell them is to cry catastrophe.
Walker, of course, used the “we’re broke” rationale to justify his attack on public-worker collective bargaining rights. Yet the state’s supposedly “broke” status did not stop him from approving tax cuts before he began his war on unions and proposed all manner of budget cuts, including deep reductions in aid to public schools.
In both cases, the fiscal issues are just an excuse for ideologically driven policies to lower taxes on well-off people and business while reducing government programs. Yet only occasionally do journalists step back to ask: Are these guys telling the truth?
The admirable Web site PolitiFact.com examined Walker’s claim in detail and concluded flatly it was “false.”
“Experts agree the state faces financial challenges in the form of deficits,” PolitiFact wrote. “But they also agree the state isn’t broke. Employees and bills are being paid. Services are continuing to be performed. Revenue continues to roll in. A variety of tools — taxes, layoffs, spending cuts, debt shifting — is available to make ends meet. Walker has promised not to increase taxes. That takes one tool off the table.”
And that’s the whole point.
Bloomberg News looked at Boehner’s statement and declared simply: “It’s wrong.” As Bloomberg’s David J. Lynch wrote: “The U.S. today is able to borrow at historically low interest rates, paying 0.68 percent on a two-year note that it had to offer at 5.1 percent before the financial crisis began in 2007. Financial products that pay off if Uncle Sam defaults aren’t attracting unusual investor demand. And tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 60-year low, meaning if the government needs to raise cash and can summon the political will, it could do so.”
Precisely. A phony metaphor is being used to hijack the nation’s political conversation and skew public policies to benefit better-off Americans and hurt most others.
We have an 8.9 percent unemployment rate, yet further measures to spur job creation are off the table. We’re broke, you see. We have a $15 trillion economy, yet we pretend to be an impoverished nation with no room for public investments in our future or efforts to ease the pain of a deep recession on those Americans who didn’t profit from it or cause it in the first place.
As Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) pointed out in a little-noticed but powerful speech on the economy in December, “during the past 20 years, 56 percent of all income growth went to the top 1 percent of households. Even more unbelievably, a third of all income growth went to just the top one-tenth of 1 percent.” Some people are definitely not broke, yet we can’t even think about raising their taxes.
By contrast, Franken noted that “when you adjust for inflation, the median household income actually declined over the last decade.” Many of those folks are going broke, yet because “we’re broke,” we’re told we can’t possibly help them.
Give Boehner, Walker and their allies full credit for diverting our attention with an arresting metaphor. The rest of us are dupes if we fall for it.
ejdionne@washpost.com
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Sunday, March 13, 7:49 PM

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

America is not broke

Speech delivered at Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, March 5, 2011
America is not broke.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.
Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'├ętat, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.
And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we'd have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic -- and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.
I have nothing more than a high school degree. But back when I was in school, every student had to take one semester of economics in order to graduate. And here's what I learned: Money doesn't grow on trees. It grows when we make things. It grows when we have good jobs with good wages that we use to buy the things we need and thus create more jobs. It grows when we provide an outstanding educational system that then grows a new generation of inventers, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and thinkers who come up with the next great idea for the planet. And that new idea creates new jobs and that creates revenue for the state. But if those who have the most money don't pay their fair share of taxes, the state can't function. The schools can't produce the best and the brightest who will go on to create those jobs. If the wealthy get to keep most of their money, we have seen what they will do with it: recklessly gamble it on crazy Wall Street schemes and crash our economy. The crash they created cost us millions of jobs.  That too caused a reduction in revenue. And the population ended up suffering because they reduced their taxes, reduced our jobs and took wealth out of the system, removing it from circulation.
The nation is not broke, my friends. Wisconsin is not broke. It's part of the Big Lie. It's one of the three biggest lies of the decade: America/Wisconsin is broke, Iraq has WMD, the Packers can't win the Super Bowl without Brett Favre.
The truth is, there's lots of money to go around. LOTS. It's just that those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know they have committed crimes to make this happen and they know that someday you may want to see some of that money that used to be yours. So they have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them. But just in case that doesn't work, they've got their gated communities, and the luxury jet is always fully fueled, the engines running, waiting for that day they hope never comes. To help prevent that day when the people demand their country back, the wealthy have done two very smart things:
1. They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day – this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart -- because you -- yes, you, too! -- might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep your head down, your nose to the grindstone, don't rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day.
2. They have created a poison pill that they know you will never want to take. It is their version of mutually assured destruction. And when they threatened to release this weapon of mass economic annihilation in September of 2008, we blinked. As the economy and the stock market went into a tailspin, and the banks were caught conducting a worldwide Ponzi scheme, Wall Street issued this threat: Either hand over trillions of dollars from the American taxpayers or we will crash this economy straight into the ground. Fork it over or it's Goodbye savings accounts. Goodbye pensions. Goodbye United States Treasury. Goodbye jobs and homes and future. It was friggin' awesome and it scared the shit out of everyone. "Here! Take our money! We don't care. We'll even print more for you! Just take it! But, please, leave our lives alone, PLEASE!"
The executives in the board rooms and hedge funds could not contain their laughter, their glee, and within three months they were writing each other huge bonus checks and marveling at how perfectly they had played a nation full of suckers. Millions lost their jobs anyway, and millions lost their homes. But there was no revolt (see #1).
Until now. On Wisconsin! Never has a Michigander been more happy to share a big, great lake with you! You have aroused the sleeping giant know as the working people of the United States of America. Right now the earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feet of those who are in charge. Your message has inspired people in all 50 states and that message is: WE HAVE HAD IT! We reject anyone tells us America is broke and broken. It's just the opposite! We are rich with talent and ideas and hard work and, yes, love. Love and compassion toward those who have, through no fault of their own, ended up as the least among us. But they still crave what we all crave: Our country back! Our democracy back! Our good name back! The United States of America. NOT the Corporate States of America. The United States of America!
So how do we get this? Well, we do it with a little bit of Egypt here, a little bit of Madison there. And let us pause for a moment and remember that it was a poor man with a fruit stand in Tunisia who gave his life so that the world might focus its attention on how a government run by billionaires for billionaires is an affront to freedom and morality and humanity.
Thank you, Wisconsin. You have made people realize this was our last best chance to grab the final thread of what was left of who we are as Americans. For three weeks you have stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois -- whatever it took, you have done it, and one thing is for certain: Madison is only the beginning. The smug rich have overplayed their hand. They couldn't have just been content with the money they raided from the treasury. They couldn't be satiated by simply removing millions of jobs and shipping them overseas to exploit the poor elsewhere. No, they had to have more – something more than all the riches in the world. They had to have our soul. They had to strip us of our dignity. They had to shut us up and shut us down so that we could not even sit at a table with them and bargain about simple things like classroom size or bulletproof vests for everyone on the police force or letting a pilot just get a few extra hours sleep so he or she can do their job -- their $19,000 a year job. That's how much some rookie pilots on commuter airlines make, maybe even the rookie pilots flying people here to Madison. But he's stopped trying to get better pay. All he asks is that he doesn't have to sleep in his car between shifts at O'Hare airport. That's how despicably low we have sunk. The wealthy couldn't be content with just paying this man $19,000 a year. They wanted to take away his sleep. They wanted to demean and dehumanize him. After all, he's just another slob.
And that, my friends, is Corporate America's fatal mistake. But trying to destroy us they have given birth to a movement -- a movement that is becoming a massive, nonviolent revolt across the country. We all knew there had to be a breaking point some day, and that point is upon us. Many people in the media don't understand this. They say they were caught off guard about Egypt, never saw it coming. Now they act surprised and flummoxed about why so many hundreds of thousands have come to Madison over the last three weeks during brutal winter weather. "Why are they all standing out there in the cold? I mean there was that election in November and that was supposed to be that!
"There's something happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you...?"
America ain't broke! The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers. And we aim to fix that compass and steer the ship ourselves from now on. Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it's one person, one vote, and it's the thing the rich hate most about America -- because even though they seem to hold all the money and all the cards, they begrudgingly know this one unshakeable basic fact: There are more of us than there are of them!
Madison, do not retreat.  We are with you. We will win together.


Follow Michael Moore on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MMFlint

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Corporations Control the Politics of the US

Today it seems there  is a lot of hate in politics. 
Pundits like to point out that politics has always been "dirty". 

Here is what I see: all around, good people, warm hearted people, well meaning people, like yourself. 
Good people on the right, like McCain or Alan Dershowitz on the left. 

People like Noam Chomsky. 

I have seen Chomsky debate Alan Dershowitz. 
Dershowitz clearly makes the case that we here are familiar with, and Chomsky makes the Arab case. 
My guess is that it's because an Arab "charmed" him. 
Have you known any Arabs? 
They can be extremely charming. 
He is a good man with a good heart, yet he is completely wrong on Israel. 
People have a tendency to agree completely with those they really like or admire. 

That's why some people like Obama, and some like Ronald Reagan. 
Obama seems to be mainly practicing the art of politics. 
He is trying to say the right things and do the right things to be re-elected. 
But he's not a Communist. 
I've read his books, I've heard his speeches and listened to people who have known him well. 
Obama wants to remain President. 
That is his goal, that is what he is committed to. 
 
Economics drives politics. 
It's all about economics. 

I believe corporations control the politics of the US,  others believes "the people" do, and that Communists are trying to take over, and that that is the major political economic conflict, that and Islamism, should be our concerns. 

One reason so many people are uncertain about what to do or how to sort out the political complexities is that our major problems today are economic, and economics are complicated, purposely. 

I think we as a nation need to be united, because the elite, the corporate elite, are united, and their interest is the bottom line, not the country or its people.