Archive for June, 2010

We’re All in this Together

June 26th, 2010

I occasionally need a break from the news, to just celebrate life, culture, and the goodness of people all over the world.

I put this video together for anyone else who needs such a break. I hope you like it.

Can You Pass the Citizenship Test?

June 24th, 2010

Can you pass the citizenship test that is required for all immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship? Give it a try…

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT

1. What is the supreme law of the land?

2. What does the Constitution do?

3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

4. What is an amendment?

5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

10. What is freedom of religion?

» Read more: Can You Pass the Citizenship Test?

Short-Changed by Obama?

June 23rd, 2010

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s message of a people-first public policy inspired people all over the world. His rhetoric was a breath of fresh air, especially copared to the unilateral approach of his predecessor. Many of us were looking for a return to New Deal-style governance, a truly progressive leader who would improve democracy in America. Noam Chomsky pointed out that, “Obama’s message of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ offered a virtual blank slate on which supporters could write their wishes.” Perhaps many of us are guilty of projecting our specific hopes onto Obama’s message of change. But his campaign was more than just vague proclamations about change and hope; he made a number of specific promises–actually, 510 specific promises (more than twice as many as Bush made in the 2000 election). So has he lived up to his promises? What can we say about Obama after his first year-and-a-half? Has “change come to America,” or have we been short-changed? Let’s look at his record.
» Read more: Short-Changed by Obama?

Phony Tony Get a Slap on the Wrist

June 22nd, 2010

What does is mean to “hold BP accountable”? We have heard this phrase over an over during the past month, as the Federal government responds to the Gulf crisis. We heard figures like $20 billion “slush fund for claims.” We even heard BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, get grilled before a congressional committee hearing (with the exception of Republican Representative Joe Barton’s apology to Mr. Hayward about the “tragedy” that BP had experienced during this “unprecedented” government “shakedown” of a private corporate). But is this accountability? As I listened to the hearing on C-SPAN, my sense was that this was a slap on the wrist. Mr. Hayward took his punishment (6 hours of lecturing), and had about five responses ready; and he found a way to use these responses in just about every question.

  • When repeatedly questioned about whether he should step down as CEO, each time, his response was: “I am focused on the response.”
  • When asked about any mistake on the part of BP in causing the explosion and subsequent leak, the answer was: Phony “The investigation is still ongoing, and if there is, I will take action.” Or, “I’m not prepared to draw the conclusions about this accident until the investigation is concluded.”
  • He frequently answered question about the decision making process on the rig with: “I wasn’t involved in any of the decision making.”
  • The most common response was: “I am afraid I can’t recall that [either].”
  • IN response to the status of hundreds of other BP wells in the Gulf, Hayward responded: “These are completed and secure.” (Whatever that means.)

Hayward got his lecture, and then he was off on his yacht for a little fun. Meanwhile, this is what is happening in the Gulf (watch this video).

Update on the relief wells:

Accountability?

I am thinking…Since the Republican insist that water boarding is not torture…that maybe…

Ford Recommends BP

June 21st, 2010

I noticed something interesting while I was fueling up at the gas station this morning.

This is a picture of the gas cap from my 2006 Ford Explorer. Notice anything that seems out of place here?

BP’s web site explains that, “This is the first time in the United States a major auto manufacturer has recommended an energy company’s fuel…[Gary Brinkworth, Vice President of Marketing, said,] ‘We’re proud that Ford, a company well-known for its quality vehicles, values the BP brand as its first choice for fuels. This endorsement from Ford recognizes our dedication to producing fuels that help to improve cars’ performance, efficiency and emissions’…Ford Division President Darryl Hazel said, ‘The fuel cap recommendation allows customers to establish a tangible connection between both companies.'” (Emphasis mine)

Connection made.

A Case Study in Economic Policy

June 14th, 2010

What economic policies lead to greater economic health? And what political policies will lead to better economic outcomes? These are complex questions, and can be difficult to test scientifically. However, it is useful to look at case studies in an effort to understand what policies work and what policies lead to disaster. Let’s take a look at the Golden State.

California has a $24 billion budget deficit. Unlike other states, California’s constitution requires a two-thirds majority legislative vote. This means the that minority Republicans—making up almost 40% of the state congress—have significant power to block legislation and budget plans that could avert further financial disaster. Because Republicans are against tax increases, the state is struggling to fix their current budgetary woes brought on by the global economic situation. When liberal social policy meets a policy of anti-taxation—and this combination is personified by Governor Schwarzenegger—we end up with exactly what California is facing today: A large budget shortfall, high unemployment, large numbers of foreclosures, and general economic sluggishness. Modest increases in tax revenues, effective utilization of federal stimulus dollars, and cutting costs are the obvious short-term solutions. But California’s budget crisis had been unstable from well before the global recession had an impact. » Read more: A Case Study in Economic Policy

The End of Poverty

June 14th, 2010

I just finished watching an excellent documentary called, “The End of Poverty?” The film explores how international poverty has been perpetuated by corrupt capitalism, through multinational corporations and the U.S. government. The film can be viewed instantly if you have NetFlix, or you can purchase the DVD from the web site. You can also view clips from the film on YouTube. Take a look at the trailer below.

The film features some of my favorite scholars, such as John Perkins (“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man“) and Chalmers Johnson (“Blowback“). The film, and these authors, bring to light some important facts about world poverty, including: » Read more: The End of Poverty

Crude Greed, Full Speed

June 11th, 2010

This is a great new song about the oil spill, by the great singer/songwriter, David Wilcox.