Thursday, December 15, 2011


We have established the reason why Cumulus killed KGO is so they can eliminate overhead and then bring in syndicated programming which will produce some profit. It is now clear, they are committed to local talk only where there are local sports teams and the reason is because its impossible to program syndicated talk for a local sports team and how it performs day-to-day or week-to-week. From Atlanta, they believe the issues which people in the Bay Area are concerned with are exactly the same as those in the rest of the nation and they don't believe there is a progressive audience of enough size to warrant continuing a station which offers a spectrum of opinion and which takes its cue from the people listening. There is no doubt now, the community will not be well served by this new product and many of the needs of people will go wanting because no one in Atlanta cares one way or the other.

If you needed any further proof of the disdain with which Cumulus looks upon the Bay Area, and KGO listeners in particular, you have to look no further than an email sent out to KGO Listener Club members. In this email, Paul Hosely, program director for KGO, says Cumulus did extensive research and discovered KGO listeners wanted the station to produce more news coverage, and the sacking of the weekday talk show hosts was done in response to what listeners indicated they desired. If you are so inclined, write to KGO and ask to see the research. No, don't bother because it doesn't exist. As mentioned before, the unique nature of KGO, which enabled it to dominate ratings for so long, and dominate all-news KCBS year after year, was the ability to cover the news and breaking issues and then be able to talk about both. Anyone interested in more news just had to switch over to KCBS. Anyone who enjoyed listening to KGO, did so because of the ability to be interactive and to react to the days events. KGO's listener's club, composed of the most ardent KGO fans, would be the last place you would find people lobbying for the station to cut talk programming and increase news coverage.

The fact Cumulus would send out such an email...send out such an obvious lie...send out something which has no connection to the reality of KGO listeners, actually shows what many of us already know. They don't care about the listeners...they expect to lose most of them...they will bring in syndicated programming and sell KGO to advertisers as a package mixed in with their other stations and like all of corporate America, they avoid the truth at all costs. They didn't want to admit the truth. They didn't want to take the hit, which would come if they put their plan on the table for all to see. They are worried, a little, about their license and so they make up phony research which anyone who knows anything about KGO can see right through.

The email was sent to me by a long time listener who couldn't believe what it said and was outraged by the temerity of current KGO management to lie to her and to think she didn't understand what they were doing. Talk radio in most of the country is an adjunct to the Republican Party. Talk radio on KGO, came at issues from lots of different sides. Owens is regressive on the economy, a hawk on foreign policy, a bit libertarian on drugs, but certainly no progressive. Gross... Pete Wilson before him...even Jim Eason before him, is a moderate, libertarian and occasionally progressive. Gene Burns is libertarian through and through. I was progressive some would say to the extreme and Ray maybe even more than me. It was a mixed bag, but anyone could find opinion with which they agreed or disagreed, but which always made them think. The email KGO sent out has no basis in truth whatsoever. The same people, who identified with a particular host, are the same ones who tuned in just to hear what someone had to say on any particular issue. It was appointment radio and Cumulus knows this but doesn't care.

Right before the Iraq war, we held an all-star remote at the Flint Center in Cupertino. Admission was free. More than an hour before the start of the show, the theater was packed. There were more than 2,000 people seated and the line was out the door to get in. It was a raucous night. The audience was alive and the atmosphere crackled with anticipation. KCBS could bring every reporter they have to one location and if more than a few hundred showed up to greet them it would be considered a triumph. It is not the station's zeitgeist to develop personalities who engender loyalty and anger...interest and distrust...intense hatred and passionate support. KGO has always been that kind of station. To suggest listeners want to go to a model in which reporters are faceless voices who give the news and fade back into the background is to show how little Cumulus knows about the station and how little they care.

The listener who sent me the email was insulted by Cumulus. She sent it to me outraged by the premise, new research, and the outcome, the execution of KGO as she knew it. Cumulus is secure in the knowledge they can continue to disrespect those who loved KGO and their license will not be threatened. I don't know how this battle turns out ultimately...I don't know if there is a way to resurrect the KGO aura in some other form. There have to be some people capable of thinking outside the box and coming up with a way to do this. For now, it is important to know how you are perceived (they think you are naive or dumb) and how little you matter to the corporation that controls KGO programming.

A listener wrote me to me and asked what is she going to do now without any outlet for interactive place to vent and hear others place where local issues, (be it a shooting by a BART cop or the occupy demonstrations in Oakland and San Francisco), can be place to hear articulate people present differing opinions and ask the audience to make up its own place to wonder what issues of the day will rise to prominence and no place to be part of a community which served her well for so many years. I wish I had an answer. I do know the public airwaves have to be re-regulated. I also know it will only happen if all of those who see what happened at KGO for the naked, corporate greed it represents, put pressure on the system to demand local content over local airwaves which you own.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Note About Purely Derogatory Comments

Please note that while I have never and will never delete comments that express a viewpoint contrary to "The Lions' ", I will not hesitate to delete as spam any that are purely just derogatory and add nothing to the conversation! I usually get comments within a matter of minutes, and I'm sure the vast majority of the readers of this blog would agree with me that such comments should be deleted, judging by how few of them we get. SO FEEL FREE TO DISAGREE BUT KNOW THAT ANY COMMENTS THAT ARE NOTHING BUT PERSONAL INSULTS WILL BE DELETED PROMPTLY!!! Those that are bothered that "The Lion" is blogging don't have to read it! Thank all the rest of you,
Yours Truly, ED the IT guy

Monday, December 12, 2011


I was sitting with a group of men reading Luke 21:5-19. We get together every Sunday night in the hope God will speak to us in some way. The passage is known as the "little apocalypse". Jesus talks about hard times we will all go through. "...Nation will rise against nation...there will be powerful earthquakes, famines, plagues and awesome sights...they will seize and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and will be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives and friends".

As we read and listened, it hit me how appropriate the passage is for today. The East Coast gets hit by rare earthquakes, and floods blanket part of the nation. Drought is rampant across the South. Around the world, millions are threatened by war and famine and disease. We are in the midst of an economic meltdown and millions of Americans have given up hope of ever finding a job. Iran seeks nuclear weapons and young Americans die in Afghanistan every day. In this room, everyone has made choices, which so hurt our families and friends and we lost our freedom because of our weakness. In political discussions, we see no middle ground and we watch as paralysis grips the nation's throat and we seem incapable of cobbling together solutions to any of the multitude of problems we face. Our children wonder if this is the end of the world as they have known it. Sound familiar? Pretty dark times.....

As the passage was being read a second time, I became aware of music coming through the wall. Our room is next to the chapel and someone was rehearsing. As Jesus described trials and tribulations we will all have to endure, I recognized the song. "O Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem!" This is my favorite Christmas carol. Right then it struck me as a total counterpoint to what we were reading. No one in the chapel knew what we were reading. No one in the chapel knew what we were doing, but in reality they were addressing the fears and anxieties we all have about our world and our time in it.

The entire work we call scripture is the story of God revealing Herself to us and our reactions to that revelation. It is a chronicle of our fits and starts trying to figure out how to relate to God in our own world. It is the story of an evolution in which humans begin to understand what is possible, what is promised and the hope that promise represents in an otherwise dark and scary world. O Come All Ye Faithful...why? The carol calls us to celebrate a human baby being born who is going to join God to humanity in a way where nothing can ever keep us in the darkness again. (Its called the Incarnation as we become one with God in an entirely new way) When we read the passage from Luke the first time, it was scary and troubling and each of us was alone with our thoughts and fears. The second time, as we listened to the faith and good news coming through the wall, w heard the rest of the message. "...for on this day a child is born and He shall be called Emanuel...God with us."

The world is a scary place. Each day holds the potential to be disastrous. Even those with plenty must wonder if they will find life to its fullest or accept the false promises of a commercial economy urging us to surround ourselves with lots of "stuff" so we don't have to face the real stresses and concerns of modern life. Darkness is so easy to give into and despair a blanket to pull over our heads.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke speak of "good news". What could be better news than to know we exist because God wishes us to have life...we exist to draw us as close to God as possible and it's what God desires most of all...we exist and not even death can stop us...we exist and are promised a full life (what is your definition of a full life?).

I live in a place where despair and hopelessness are constant companions. I'm here because of my own sinfulness and free choices I made. Along with everyone else here, it would be easy to give in to the temptation to surrender, give in, succumb to the sadness and let go of the light. However, the music reminds me there is hope and it's mine if I want to have it. It's yours too.

"Do not be afraid; for behold I proclaim good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today, in the City of David a savior has been born for you, who is Messiah and Lord." I am not afraid. (Ok, I still get scared and worry about my wife and family and I still haven't forgiven myself for my stupidity but I am a work in progress) I will sing and celebrate the birth of a Jewish boy who overcame the darkness of life to offer me hope. To all of you, I am so grateful for your care and support and I wish you a glorious and merry Christmas

Thursday, December 8, 2011


A friend recently told me her radio in the kitchen used to be on all hours of the day tuned to KGO. Now she is grieving because there is nowhere to go for anyone interested in hearing about and discussing the news. It is a void she can't fill and the silent radio reminds her constantly of her loss.

I have never run a business, but I'm told the key to success is the relationship between supply and demand. If you sell something a lot of people want, you make money. If you are the only one selling what they want, you make a lot of money. The recent decision by Cumulus to go to an all-news format on KGO violates the basic supply/demand principle. The public has been told they were bleeding money. Yet, the switch violates good business practice and will result in losing more money. What are they up to?

San Francisco is a tough city to open a new restaurant. It is foodie central and a high percentage of new restaurants go belly up within a year. As the 4th largest media market, the San Francisco Bay Area had 2 radio stations which were interactive, and listeners could talk about the news, but only one station was all local...KGO. (Yes, I Know Dean Edel was syndicated but he was still local and I know Bob Brinker was and wasn't) Green 960 is gone. There is no talk station out of San Jose. There is a small one in Santa Cruz and a sort of one in Santa Rosa. KGO had the genre to itself. Yet, instead of replacing or improving hosts, Cumulus dumps a format that has no competition and adopts a format with huge competition. Once again, what are they up to?

KGO's all-news format competes directly with KCBS. KCBS and KGO have been rivals for over 30 years. During morning and afternoon drive the competition raged and KCBS won some and lost some. The rest of the day KGO creamed KCBS. Why? Once you have listened for about 20 minutes, you have all KCBS has to offer. On KGO, you got the news, but then you got entertained and informed about it. You were encouraged to call, email, tweet and get interactive about it. You turned on Ronn, Pete, Gene, me or Ray to hear our take. The talk advantage is how we always beat KCBS. So along comes Cumulus and what do they do? They get rid of the one advantage they have over one of their chief rivals and go head to head against their biggest strength. They opened an Italian restaurant right next to the North Beach Restaurant but wont serve Ravioli, Gnocchi or anti-pasta. It's like they are trying to go out of business before they start. By killing talk and going all-news, they guarantee fewer listeners and less revenue. It will then allow them to justify what they have been wanting to do which is bring in all syndicated talk. They make less money, and have fewer listeners, but with almost no overhead they still make a profit. It's the model media corporations have been following for over 15 years.

The fly in the ointment is the airwaves are supposed to be owned by the public. An FCC license is supposed to guarantee a radio station will serve the local community. One of the ways the community is served is by local coverage of local events and local news. When Cumulus is done with KGO, there will be a 2-3 minute newscast at the top and bottom of the hour and that will be it. Ironically, there will be more local, live talk on KNBR then on KGO or KSFO. Cumulus will preserve local sports talk around the three franchises, whose games they broadcast, while abandoning the community with its castration of KGO. Sports we talk about...presidential elections, the economy, war, peace, corporate responsibility, income inequality, these we see no need to expand upon or update. God, I love corporate America.

Another way the community is served is through charitable campaigns. KGO raised over $20 million for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society over the years. The Cure-A-Thon was an annual tradition. An entire 24 hours of programming devoted to raising money for research. It isn't a coincidence the first thing Cumulus did was dump the Cure-A-Thon. Can you imagine them trying it without Ray and Ronn and without all the other hosts who worked it over the years? KGO raised over $5 million through the Thanksgiving Charity Drive. The money went to 4 Bay Area organizations serving the area's most vulnerable residents. Between just these two campaigns, KGO returned as much as $1.5 million a year back to the community. KNBR has an auction each year in which they offer sports memorabilia. If they raise $75,000 it is considered a stellar year. The Cure-A-Thon is gone as is the Thanksgiving Charity Drive. Yet, Cumulus' license is in no jeopardy.

KGO went beyond these two campaigns. Over the years, on the spur of the moment, KGO listeners contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to help someone out. When a little boy in the East Bay was attacked by a pit-bull, KGO raised over $400,000 for his care. A dog was killed at the San Jose airport and listeners sent in thousands to the owner because of the circumstances. When Dwayne Garrett committed suicide, listeners contributed over $85,000 to help his family cope with the devastating economic and personal losses they suffered. In Richmond, a health clinic for the poor was going to have to close due to a lack of doctor and nurse volunteers. A wonderful woman and advocate, Susan Prather, called and appealed on the air and within a day had enough volunteers to keep the clinic open. One Christmas season, a water pipe burst at Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose. The water destroyed all the Christmas presents intended for distribution to children of economically distressed families. The director called KGO one week before the day the toys were to be given out and asked for help. The response was overwhelming and they ended up with more toys than had been lost. With the change in format, and the abandonment of the community by Cumulus, all of these types of opportunities are lost. Yet, their license is not in jeopardy.

The "Occupy" movement heightened awareness in this nation to corporate and government collusion, which has resulted in more money in the pockets of corporate managers and investors and less in the pockets of average Americans. The 1% have brought about a radio environment where they have their message propagandized across the nation not because of its superior content, but because any competitive view has been wiped out. The average American has no place to challenge and few outlets to obtain information about what the real state of play is in the country today. The movement is criticized for a lack of specific solutions to solve the problem of the 1% vs. the 99%. Here is one specific solution. It is time to pressure your elected representatives, the White House and the FCC to issue a new regulation. No one can have a radio license unless a majority of the programming is locally created and broadcast. A "local content" rule would have stopped Cumulus in its tracks. It would also be nice to re-regulate radio and TV and force the divestiture of hundreds of radio stations by big corporations and see them owned by local community entities. It can all be done.

I don't know how many kitchen radios or radios in bedrooms, garages, back porches and cars are silent. I suspect the number to be quite large. If you stay silent, and defeated, they may never be used again. Pass it on.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The Thursday night massacre, which occurred at KGO, was not about ratings or people meters or a company bleeding money. What happened at KGO is the logical conclusion to a process started in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. De-regulating radio opened the door to companies like Clear Channel and Cumulus to own hundreds of radio stations and to dominate local markets. The Bay Area survived as long as it did because of the strength of KGO and the commitment of General Manger Mickey Luckoff to strong local programming (and because Mickey bought KSFO to give regressive talk a place to go). Over 50,000 jobs have been lost in this industry, not because local radio wasn't profitable, but being able to control hundreds of stations and put syndicated product on enabled these corporations to sell the overall listening tonnage which was even more profitable. As he did with NAFTA and GATT, Clinton gave no consideration to the local consideration to the public consideration to diversity of opinion and no consideration to the public airwaves and the obligation of radio stations to give back to the community.

This move by Cumulus was not about ratings. I heard Karel, and have been told Ronn Owens said the same thing, saying this is about declining ratings and a company bleeding money. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Karel pointed out the key demographic which stations are interested in is people between the ages of 25-54. He says he is getting good ratings in this demographic and has a lot of female listeners, which is also desirable to station management. If Cumulus' move was due to ratings, why not move Karel into an everyday slot? The precedent for such a move is well established at KGO. For KGO, weekends and late nights were places to grow new talent. It was intended to produce a bench to draw from in the future. Ronn Owens was on 10p-1a for years and then moved to days when Owen Spann left. Michael Krasny was replaced by me. (who started doing Godtalk on the weekends) I was replaced at 7p-10p by Gene Burns, who came to KGO to substitute for Ronn when he was out on strike. Ronn's contract dispute also led to the development of Dwayne Garrett who eventually moved to the 7p-10p slot replacing Lee Rodgers. Jim Eason was replaced by Gene Burns; and when that didn't work out, they brought in Pete Wilson. Shawn Nix was the first full time woman on KGO from 10p-1a and she came from weekends as well. If Cumulus wanted to boost ratings, they could have moved Karel and Pat Thurston and Christine Craft into weekday slots. Why didn't they do this? It's because this was never about ratings.

A company like Cumulus, which owns KNBR, KSFO, KGO and a number of FM stations in the Bay Area, doesn't sell ad time based on individual program or station ratings. They sell tonnage. They tell a local business if you advertise with them, your message will be heard across the entire swath of their stations and reach a huge audience. They will sell the raw numbers not ratings. This is the model which has been adopted ever since Clinton sold out local communities across the country. Since Hanbaugh et. al. came on the scene, they never had better ratings than any show on KGO. Local programming trumped syndicated every time. We were #1 for 29 years, the last 15 facing syndication constantly. The irony here is Hanbaugh, Beck, the Winer and others succeeded not because they got better ratings and beat the competition, but rather it was because their competition was eliminated in every market in the nation. If regressive radio had to compete against local talent in every market, it would lose 9 times out of ten.

This move by Cumulus isn't about a company or station bleeding money. Cumulus was able to buy KGO because Citadel Communications went bankrupt. They went bankrupt because they took on too much debt as the depression hit and ad revenues, and station values, plummeted (the whole ABC/Citadel sale was a tax scam to begin with). Citadel didn't want to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes for the appreciated value of ABC's holdings and ABC had to come up with a way to mitigate that or there wouldn't be a sale. ABC sold 49% of the radio network to Citadel so it could take over but avoid the taxes. You have to love corporate America's patriotism) KGO was still making money, but Cumulus had a problem. It could make more money by getting out of local talk, but face a firestorm of criticism. They decided on a two-step process to achieve their goals. First, fire all the full-time hosts (they would have fired Owens too except for the fact he was smart enough to have a contract which didn't allow it...I bow to his negotiating skills) and pretend to change to an all-news format. Keep some talk on the weekends where niche shows do well. In about a year or less, they will contend they are still losing money and cancel the all-news format and move to syndicated programming. By this time, the passionate listeners who could cause them licensing problems will have moved on. They will abandon any pretense about the local community and bring in shows with no local concerns whatsoever. Cumulus' Thursday night massacre was a bloodletting disguised by a format change in order to get where they really want to go.

If you want proof of my theory, watch and listen. News will be constant from 9am-midnight. Up until now, the news blocks were 5a-9a and 4p-7p. With an increase in news coverage one would suspect KGO would hire a number of new reporters and anchors. They will re-open a bureau at San Francisco City Hall and the Hall of Justice (this was my beat for many years). They will have a Sacramento bureau staffed full-time (this was done by Pat Davis for years) They will have and East Bay bureau (formerly staffed by Greg Edmonds) and an expanded South Bay bureau. (once dominated by Gene Rusco) If they are serious about going all-news, they will spend money, sending reporters to breaking news stories all over the world and nation. (Greg Jarett went to Iraq. I went to Kosovo and Macedonia. We won national awards for our coverage of the L.A. riots and the East Bay Hills fire) The test of the sincerity of the new owner's intentions will become obvious as they spend money on investigative journalism. (Susan Kennedy won a Peabody for her series on Muni and she and I won the Scripps Howard national investigative journalism award for our series on the Catholic Church in the Bay Area.) The reality is almost none of this will be done. They might hire a new anchor, but more reporters, new bureaus, investigative stories and national coverage will never happen. Instead the news product will lighter and fluffier and will involve ripping and reading more than anything else. (This is no knock on the KGO news. It is still a great department with wonderful people who are very talented. However, they will get no help expanding the product and will be hamstrung by lack of resources) This wasn't about ratings or people meters or loss of money. This is about a corporate model which takes advantage of the public airwaves (owned by you) to make a huge profit while ignoring any commitment to the local community. (It’s no accident the new owners dropped the Leukemia Cureathon and tried to get their hands on the money from the Thanksgiving Charity Drive)

The Bay Area is the 4th largest media market in the nation. It will soon be without any place to talk about the issues of the day. (to quote Gene Burns) This was the last market to have local programming. You can't go to New York, Chicago, L.A. or most large cities and find local Monday through Friday local talk, and if you can it is regressive only. This is not an accident. Hanbaugh et. al. aren't great at what they do. They have no competition. Progressive thought has no access. Imagine if, instead of a Fairness Doctrine, every radio license demanded a percentage of programming be locally originated. Hundreds of talk shows would pop up across the nation. They would span the entire political spectrum. Where the hosts were good, they would always beat syndicated product. A diversity of ideas and viewpoints would proliferate. Women and minorities would increase their presence. It would be a tonic for a nation bogged down by a media which starts every debate somewhere near the middle and then regresses.

What happened at KGO is exactly what the Occupy Wall Street movement was trying to highlight. What happened at KGO was designed to benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99%. You watch. There will be syndicated programming overnight. (Red Eye Radio...really? Have you listened to it? It is regressive pabulum at its worst) Oh, you will hear some say the new all-news format will still take calls when there is an earthquake etc, but you and I know the truth. They will take calls on soft, inane topics. (How 'bout them Kardashians?) They will have phone opinion polls on whether Christmas decorations go up too soon? They will conduct interviews and in the end, the Bay Area will be ill served.

There are those who say what happened to KGO was inevitable. It wasn't. They will say it was the natural course of events. It isn't. What they won't say, at least no one who still has a job, is this is corporate greed crushing the needs of the local community. (Oh and KCBS must be laughing and breaking out the champagne)

So what do you do? Seek out local content. Peter B. Collins has daily podcasts and you can listen. Much of this is going to have to done on the Internet and other devices. That is the wave of the future and you can create a local marketplace for content if you are willing to subscribe. I know for me, it will be possibly the only avenue available and I intend to pursue it vigorously even as I fantasize about pulling funding together for another station, staff it with great local talk and kick ass.

What happened at KGO was corporate rape disguised as a change in format, and it was done to maximize corporate revenues for companies who already don't pay their fair share of revenue to support the inner workings of this nation. I have told you deregulation is always designed to hurt the consumer and fill corporate coffers. What happened at KGO is just further proof of the accuracy of this observation.

P.S. Please pass this on to any KGO listeners you know so they too can understand what has really happened.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Lion's first reaction about KGO firings...

We received a brief communication from the Lion with his initial reaction to the KGO firings; below is a short quote. He says he will have a full blog on this very soon. ED the IT guy.

Quote from The Lion:
"I will write something (very soon). This change makes no sense and means there will be no local talk in the fourth largest market in the country. Red Eye Radio, sucks and I listen to it from time to time. There is no there there. I'm not surprised by Owens. He has a contract they can't end, so he is sitting pretty. I was amazed at Karel's take on all of this, that its just part of the business etc. Those who are still on the air have to tow the company line. It would be career suicide not to do that, but it doesn't mean others of us can't comment and point out the real facts about community commitment etc."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Note From ED the IT Guy on the KGO Firings. Also regarding comments and emails.

I'm sure we've all been shocked by the KGO firings this week. First of all be assured that Girl Friday and I have forwarded all of your comments on this matter that have been made by the time of this posting to our Lion already, as well as a couple of news stories and a few of the emails, and we are anticipating his comments on this matter just as you are. As soon as we get a response from him it will be posted here. This is certainly a dark time, and I invite all of you to use this blog site as an area to rally on this issue through posting comments. These will forwarded to our Lion as quickly as possible, especially at this critical time. For those that are concerned, here is what we've been doing in the last few months regarding comments and emails; comments have been forwarded periodically, and ALL COMMENTS DO GET FORWARDED TO THE LION. I will have to admit that emails have been a bit less regular, and I have a backlog of them to forward after the end of our school semester in about two weeks (Girl Friday and I have both been back in school for about the last year and a half). Our communication with the Lion is limited to text emails only, no images and no links, as all he has access to is text emails from a very limited number of people, and no other form of internet. As best as I know there is no way to get such things as you tube videos to him, and I know that he has been invited to Linkedin, but he has no way to utilize such a resource, though I will make sure and make him aware of all such invitations as soon as I am finished with finals. I have trained Girl Friday to do the postings and returning of comments to the Lion, but emails are still my responsibility, and I apologize for not being more on top of this, being a little overwhelmed by the responsibilities of school for the first time in many years since dropping out of high school. (Girl Friday, who is going for her second degree, is a far better student than I am). So in closing on this note, I am listiening to The Doors song Strange Days in the background, and part of the lyrics seem particularly appropriate regarding this issue, and I quote, "STRANGE DAYS HAVE FOUND US, STRANGE DAYS HAVE TRACKED US DOWN--THEY'RE GOING TO DESTROY OUR CASUAL JOYS--WE SHALL GO ON PLAYING OR FIND A NEW TOWN...AND THROUGH THEIR STRANGE HOURS WE LINGER ALONE....!!!" Remember let's all hang togeather or we'll hang alone, and as a gentleman I once knew who flew with the RAF in WWII once said, "Fly low and avoid the radar"! My best to all of you, and please post any and all thoughts you might have on this matter below.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Cindy Sheehan asked the seminal question about the war in Iraq. "What did my son die for?" In her new book, Condoleezza Rice says the war was the spark that ignited the uprising known as the "Arab Spring". By invading Iraq, the United States inspired freedom-loving Arabs to rise up against their oppressors following the example of the United States removing Saddam Hussein. Rice is whistling past the graveyard of history. Along with her boss, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet, the Bush national security team is trying to re-write history in their favor and they are doomed to failure.

With President Obama's announcement all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, our long national nightmare is over. There is no metric currently available that would contradict the conclusion this war, and to a great extent the war in Afghanistan, was a complete failure. The butcher's bill is striking in its scope. Almost 4,500 dead soldiers, over $1 Trillion spent, as many as 100,000 wounded physically and untold hundreds of thousands wounded mentally, as many as 1,000,000 Iraqis dead or wounded or fled from the nation, a military machine which is severely broken (perhaps irreparably), and a nation left in tatters and ready to explode again. All of this the result of a concerted campaign of lies perpetrated by the White House, with the corporate media's assistance, to convince the American people to support a foreign policy not in its own best interest. (Oh and don't forget a feckless Congress including Democrats like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and John Kerry, who voted to give Bush permission to go to war).

As the last troops exit, what do they leave behind as a testament to their blood and lives sacrificed in this glorious effort? Iraq's infrastructure is still dysfunctional. The government cannot provide electricity for 24 hours a day. Clean water is iffy if available at all. The three warring parties, Shiite, Sunni, Kurd, are still at each other's throats. There is no oil revenue sharing legislation. The Kurds in the north don't recognize the power of the central government. Attacks between Shiite and Sunni are on the rise. Prime Minister Malicki is trying to violently purge Sunni's from the government. No one believes Iraq's army or security forces can keep the peace and Sunnis don't trust them and fear them. After 9 years, and the loss of so much blood and treasure, Iraq is on life-support and the patient appears to be coding.

Geopolitically, the situation is even worse. Iran, which was a minor player in the region when Saddam was in power, is now the dominant force. Malicki is seen to be courting Iran and its influence on Iraq is growing. In an act of unbridled hypocrisy, regressives criticize Obama for bringing the troops home citing the increasing influence of Iran. The same hawks who said Iraqis should be free, should be a democracy, should control their own fate and used young Americans as cannon fodder to accomplish their goal, are now getting the vapors at the thought of an Iraqi government with close ties to Iran. America went to war with Iraq and Iran won. (These same hawks are now pressing for a military attack on never ends)

Turkey recently invaded Iraq to attack the bases of Kurdish separatists who demand an independent nation in Turkey and are engaged in a series of cross border attacks killing Turkish soldiers. The ongoing conflict could turn into open warfare if not contained. Turkey is a NATO ally and which side will we be on if hostilities break out? Iraq seems incapable of addressing the situation. The war in Iraq has de-stabilized the region to the detriment of United States' national security interests and goals.

We now know, the war in Iraq is a direct cause of the disaster that is Afghanistan. The Bush administration diverted valuable resources from Afghanistan to prepare to invade Iraq. At a time when the Taliban and Al Qaeda were on the run, Bin Laden and Mullah Omar trapped in Tora Bora, the country's fate up for grabs, Iraq dominated Bush's attention and Afghanistan slipped into an abyss of inattentiveness and apathy. (My favorite example is the decision to move some elite special force units, who spoke Farsi and Arabic, to Iraq and replace them with troops who spoke Spanish)

Anyway you measure, Iraq is a tragic and unnecessary failure. The military planning was inadequate and intelligence non-existent. Bush's senior staff didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. General Tommy Franks thought troops would be coming home in less than six months. The dissolution of the Iraqi army, failure to secure arms depots, de-Bathification of the government and failure to have enough troops to control security on the ground, led to a bloody civil war with American soldiers in the middle.

We all know the lies by now. We knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. What's worse, we know Bush knew it too. In October of 2002, the CIA station chief in Europe reported this news to the administration. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the same thing. U.N. weapons inspectors, who had removed or destroyed all of Saddam's WMD's in the 90's, reported that fact. Scott Ritter, one of those inspectors, told anyone who would listen there were no WMDs. He was pilloried by the White House and derided by the corporate media. We now know the White House invented the WMD strategy to sell the war. Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair it was the only story they could think of to get the American people on board. Former treasury secretary Paul O'Neil wrote at the first cabinet meeting of the Bush administration, Iraq was on the agenda. The Downing Street memos show the decision to go to war was made as early as June of 2002. As the memo stated,"...the Bush administration says it just has to cook the books to move the policy forward." We know every assertion made by Colin Powell in his famous speech to the U.N., a speech Chris Mathews proclaimed made us all believers now in the war, was a lie. Powell has never recovered his reputation from that ignominious performance.

Rice can try to revise history if they like. Maybe it helps her sleep better and not have to confront the blood on her hands, but history will conclude, the decision to go to war in Iraq was a disaster and the policy a failure which the U.S. may never recover from.

Ms. Sheehan, your son died for nothing except to advance a foreign policy, which left the United States broken and weaker economically and spiritually, and which continues to take the lives of young Americans to this day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Thanksgiving is the most un-American holiday of the year. Americans have been raised on a series of myths that portray this land as specially selected by God for great things. Americans are rugged individualists, pioneer stock, who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and became great. Republican presidential hopefuls speak of "American exceptionalism". This is the greatest country because we worked hard, persevered and accepted God's will we would come out on top. American school children learn about "manifest destiny", and discover it was our fate to conquer the whole nation and it was our job to supplant the native peoples so as to reap the rewards the land had to offer. We have earned the wealth, standard of living and dominance on the world stage. It's called "pride".

Thanksgiving is a celebration which requires humility to truly enjoy its meaning. It demands an acknowledgement of how lucky we are and how blessed. It recognizes the happenstance of events that led to so much prosperity. Thanksgiving is at its best when people admit so much of what they have is fortunate and could easily have turned out differently.

I know what it's like to suffer from excessive pride. I was an American success story. I was convinced I had earned or deserved the success I had achieved, the family that loved me and the material wealth that surrounded me. It's worse than that. Not only did I believe all this was earned, I was concerned others were getting what was rightfully mine. I was jealous of co-workers who received better treatment from management in my estimation. Less talented folks who were preventing me from my much deserved place in the sun. I chaffed at not having my talents recognized. A loving wife and caring children were a given. I swallowed the American myth hook, line and sinker. I was incapable of appreciating my luck and good fortune. So many Americans are like me in this excess of pride. They look disparagingly upon the poor and disadvantaged. It's their fault they are in the circumstances they find themselves in. My comfortable life is all my doing.

Thanksgiving is a seditious holiday if observed sincerely. It encourages us to take personal inventory and requires a humble honesty without which all the turkey and yams, the cranberries and mashed potatoes, the green bean casserole and apple pie, the family and friends gathered around the table, serve only to reinforce how much we deserve and how good it feels to be a "have" rather than a "have not". Nothing could be more un-American in this day and age than to admit that there but for the grace of God, I could lose everything, hurt my family, wreck my reputation and surrender my freedom because of a lack of gratitude and the absence of humility.

Thanksgiving has defied commercialization that increases its un-American nature. The best America can do is to turn the day "after" Thanksgiving into the biggest shopping day of the year. However, the day itself frustrates the American mythology. It is a day where the only purpose is to gather and give thanks. Unfortunately, much of that gratitude is about all we have and how hard we worked to achieve it.

I will tell you a secret I have discovered over the last 3 plus years. The job and the recognition, the cars and flat screen TV, the house and perks which come with economic success don't encourage humility and don't open the door to happiness. As this Thanksgiving dawns for me, I will wake with gratitude on my lips, and in my heart, for a wife and children who love me despite a thousand reasons why they shouldn't. I rise healthier physically than any time in the last 25 years. I have been blessed with words of kindness from so many of you, most of whom I have never met. I live in amazement at literally thousands of letters and cards from strangers encouraging me and deciding to go on this journey with me. At night, after a show, I would go home and sit in a room and feel lonely, dissatisfied and angry about not having more. On this Thanksgiving morning, I will awaken with a cross-section of people many of whom have shown me great kindness in an environment that encourages callousness and self-interest. I will hear voices of people I love over the phone. I will marvel at how lucky I am to have finally reached a place where all I have is a blessing I don't deserve nor have earned. My life is rich and full and this is still true even after the long, embarrassing and devastating fall my pride caused.

Thanksgiving celebrates values and emotions American exceptionalism downplays or outright derides. It reminds us how lucky we are and asks us to acknowledge all we have been given and we neither deserve nor have earned any of it.

May I ask you a favor? On Thanksgiving will you spend some moments in un-American reflection about all the reasons you have to give thanks and chronicle the real blessings in your life? Could you humbly offer a prayer of thanks, as you look around your table cognizant of all the bounty and gifts you have? Will you forsake the false pride that permeates our American ethos and gratefully accept what you have been lucky enough to experience?

I will give thanks for you and so many others who have shown me what friendship and caring are all about and I know I don't deserve any of it. I am a lucky man who some would say lost everything, but in reality re-discovered a humble spirit and has now found a priceless treasure.


Thursday, November 10, 2011


Lord, on this day grant us the humility to recognize all the gifts we have been given and acknowledge all the reasons we have to be grateful in our lives. It is so easy to let daily trials and tribulations convince us we have little for which to give thanks....nothing could be farther from the truth.

Thank you for the gift of life. Often we take our existence for granted and don't see it for the miracle it is. We have been born into a land of plenty and even as we struggle to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs, there are those so much worse off for whom each new day is a struggle to survive. For them, loneliness, despair and loss of hope are daily companions. As millions of Americans face poverty and our nation seems to be more selfish, thank You for those who care in our lives and for the generosity of strangers towards those in need.

Thank you for those we gather with on this day. We join family or friends or perhaps we reach out to strangers, please bless all who gather today in love and fellowship.

Thank you for all those who provide food on this day. Bless the farmers, and all who get it to our table. Thank You for those who spend hours and days lovingly preparing and creating the table we will all share. We are so grateful for the stories and tales, the laughter and joy, the love and care we will experience today.

Oh COMFORTER, we know it is difficult to be thankful with tragedy and economic storms battering our world, but we refuse to give in...refuse to become callous...refuse to lose faith.

With the knowledge we can make this a more bountiful land again, and belief in the basic goodness of people, thank You for all who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit prisoners and heal the sick, for through them the WORLD IS ALIVE WITH THE GRANDEUR OF GOD.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The corporate media have no idea what to do with the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations happening all over the country. They now call it the Tea Party of the left. They at first dismissed them as hippies trying to re-live the "be-ins" of the sixties. When that didn't work, they ignored the hundreds, and then thousands, gathered in lower Manhattan. Now, they criticize it as a ragtag movement without a message. It lacks cohesiveness. The regressive Hanbaugh wing of punditry attack their patriotism and the criticism reached its tipping point when Ann Coulter accused them of channeling Nazis.

In a recent piece, I asked if working Americans were willing to fight back against the class war that has been going on since at least 1980? 1% of Americans control almost 25% of the nation's wealth while the median income for American families has crumbled back to levels not seen since 1996. Perhaps the "Occupy Wall Street" protests could be the spark necessary for average, gum-chewing Americans to find their voice and demand a bigger piece of the economic pie.

The corporate media loved the tea partiers. Their message brought joy to front offices from Faux to CBS. The regressive partiers screamed for less government, less regulations, more corporate freedom and un-regulated capitalism. As AT&T tries to swallow up Verizon and monopolize cellular fewer media companies own more and more Facebook and Google eliminate privacy and insurance companies want to put electronic spies on our cars to watch us drive, the last thing any of them want is government regulators looking into their business practices. But, what do they do with angry Americans who want their voices heard? Voices calling attention to an economic system weighted to benefit the few at the expense of the many? What do commentators and anchors do about Americans who want to rein in corporations, end their domination of the political process and demand a change? CNBC and Faux Business Channel are apoplectic about this turn of events and what it could represent.

It is fascinating to see the intellectual bankruptcy of the media class as they confront this little, minor, dirt-poor and badly organized movement. They try to relate it to the Tea Party, but know how disingenuous they are. The Tea Partier's call for smaller government, less federal spending, rolling back environmental and financial regulations, is a call to return to the Gilded Age at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is regressive by definition. It harkens back to a time when the gap between the rich and poor was of Grand Canyon-like proportions. They long for a time when white men ruled with impunity. The "Occupy Wall Street" crowd demands jobs. It rails against the shrinking middle class, corporate bailouts, rapacious banks and the continued erosion of the American dream. It is no surprise folks like the Koch brothers, Bush brothers, Bass brothers and the Mellons and Scaifes have opened their wallets to fund the Tea Party. It is also predictable the OWS is run on a shoestring, and a frayed one at that.

The latest criticism is those wishing to occupy Wall Street have no message, no theme...they are just anarchists with no hook or tent pole for supporters to rally around. Though I doubt they need my help, perhaps a few possible poles seem ready for a very big tent.

Push Congress to pass the President's jobs bill. Put Americans to work refurbishing schools and public buildings, building roads and bridges and manufacturing a transportation system. End the Bush tax cuts and impose a 5% surtax on the richest 1% of Americans. Modify all home mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so principals are reduced and they represent no more than 25% of a family's monthly gross income. Stop any new trade agreements from passing. NAFTA has been a failure and GATT is a disaster. Even supporters of these new pacts admit they will help agriculture but cost jobs in the tech sector, textile industry and manufacturing.

More specifics?...Strengthen, rather than water down, financial regulations. If necessary, break up banks that are too big to fail. As corporate America sits on over $2 trillion in cash, and refuses to hire new workers, and since so much of that money is held overseas, tax it. For every American they hire they get a rebate. Make it easier for American workers to organize. It is no accident America's prosperous middle class rose at the same time union membership was at its highest levels. Get out of Afghanistan and Iraq now. Tell our NATO and other allies to put up...increase their defense budgets...or shut up because we are not going to do all the heavy lifting from now on. Make a college education free. Let middle class families send every child to college and without the burden of oppressive debt or massive borrowing.

Right now, it's a rigged game. Money is the mother's milk of politics and 1% of Americans own all the cows. The corporations and the rich will never surrender their power and unless politicians fear average Americans more than they want campaign cash, nothing will ever change. It isn't a coincidence one year after the passage of the Dodd/Frank financial reform bill only 45 out of 400 regulations have been written and those are watered down pabulum. It isn't luck when 3 trade agreements are set to move through Congress, bills that will cost Americans more jobs, but a jobs bill is dead on arrival. It isn't fate when corporations report record profits and the rich get richer while the middle class shrinks and an entire decade of income progress has been lost.

The Tea Party stands for regressing and returning to a time when robber barons and captains of industry stomped across the land. The nascent "Occupy Wall Street" movement could represent progressing towards the goal of a growing middle class and an economic system where there is the possibility of moving up and improving one's standard of living. The Tea Party has deep pockets. The OWS have no pockets at the moment.

As you watch and listen to the corporate media, see which side gets validation and which side is ridiculed and dismissed. If you stay on the sidelines of this war it will go exactly as it has for the last 30 years and many of you will end up as collateral damage. Right now, at least, someone is fighting back.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I have taken U.S. history classes all my life. In each of these the same message was conveyed. The United States, bristling under oppression by the British, demanded freedom, fought for it and was finally recognized as controlling its own land and destiny. Why then, does the United States have a problem with the Palestinian people asking for the same thing?

In 1948, Israel asked for a vote from the United Nations for partition. They wanted their own nation. They took land legally recognized as belonging to other nations and carved out their own. The United States led the lobbying to win this vote. Now, both Israel and the United States want to prevent the very same vote from occurring and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

President Obama told the U.N. General Assembly there is no shortcut to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He told members a vote for a Palestinian nation would not bring peace or solve the dilemma the two peoples face. He is correct. Ultimately, there will have to be negotiations. The Palestinians will have to recognize Israel's right to exist and give up the right to return, and Israel is going to have to agree to negotiate from pre-1967 borders and, most importantly, stop the building of illegal settlements and surrender many settlements already constructed on Palestinian land. There are other questions too ranging from water rights to whether the boundaries of the new state will be contiguous and all will require give and take.

None of these disputes addresses the fundamental question of whether or not the Palestinians should be recognized as a separate nation. The answer is clearly yes. There is no question about their ancestral connection to the land. Historically they were left out in the cold when Israel was created. They were rejected by Jordan and Syria and became a displaced people. It is time to end that wrong.

President Obama says the United States will veto any attempt by the U.N. Security Council to grant membership to the Palestinians. Why? The simple answer is pure politics. Recently, the Democrats lost a House seat formerly occupied by Anthony Weiner. It had been in Democratic hands since the 20's. It contained a large number of Jewish voters who are angry with Obama for a perceived lack of support for Israel and his demand for a freeze in settlement construction and for using pre-1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations. With 2012 shaping up to be a very close election, Obama cannot afford to alienate Jewish votes in the key battleground state of Florida. Thus, the veto threat.

Israel's supporters cheered when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publically upbraided Obama in front of a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu continues to support the building of more illegal settlements. He refuses to even agree to a starting point for negotiations. He supports continued construction in East Jerusalem knowing it makes the Palestinians more intransigent in their demands. He is on the wrong end of history and he is attempting to stop what will eventually occur.

Netanyahu could get away with stalling and posturing in the past, but that time is over. The change in governments in Tunisia and Egypt, particularly Egypt, could leave Israel totally isolated in the region. While the military government of Egypt says it will honor the peace treaty between them and Israel, there is no guarantee a new democratically elected government will agree. Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador from Israel and relations are chilly at best. Syria and Lebanon are unstable and Iran's influence is increasing not decreasing thanks to the U.S. war in Iraq. The plight of the Palestinians is the spark that could set off a whole round of repudiations of Israel and create a serious national security problem.

The United States has for years supported dictatorships willing to be friendly to Israel. The Iraq war was fought to get rid of Saddam Hussein because of his support for the Palestinians. Some Jewish interests in this country attacked President Obama for throwing Egypt's Mubarak under the bus. They had no concern for the freedom of the Egyptian people. With Mubarak in charge, Israel had a leader who was willing to maintain the peace between the two nations even as he crushed his own people. So much for freedom loving Americans.

It is possible the Palestinians could win a vote in the General Assembly to be upgraded to observer status. The U. S. could not stop such a vote. Observer status, among other things, would allow the Palestinians to control their own air space and give them access to the International Criminal Court in the Hague where they can press their case Israel has been committing war crimes. This might generate even more pressure on Israel or isolate it further and could also push them to restart negotiations. As of now, Netanyahu has shown no such willingness.

The Palestinians have a moral right to their own nation. The Israelis have a moral right to live in peace. As long as Israel and the United States continue the hypocrisy of promoting democracy and freedom for any people, other than the Palestinians, this conflict will be a flash point in the Arab world and a threat to U.S. national security.

The Palestinians will get no help from Obama. He is deathly afraid of alienating the Jewish vote and will not pressure Israel to open a new round of talks prior to the election of 2012. Republicans will try to attract Jewish and evangelical voters by unconditional support for Israel and condemnation of the Palestinians. Ironically, they once again will choose the wrong path as they have done for the last 11 years. It's a position that weakens American security but plays well politically. Now that is the definition of appeasement.


As governor of Texas, he wants to be president of the United States. He has no foreign policy experience. He believes in American exceptionalism meaning we can act unilaterally and damn the consequences. He runs against Washington and supporters say he will surround himself with the best and the brightest to fill in any gaps in his resume. He loves corporate America and doubts global warming and evolution. He got mediocre grades in college and Texas is at the bottom in everything from infant mortality to education funding. It is easy to think this is a trip in the wayback machine to the campaign of 2000, but the reality is Rick Perry is the mirror image of George Bush and once again an intellectual homunculus is asking the American people to let him lead this nation.

Perry gave a speech in New York that showed he learned nothing from the massive failure which was the Bush foreign policy. Even worse, Perry appears to be channeling the Project for a New American Century. The only thing missing form his speech was a reference to the axis of evil. He accused President Obama of advocating a policy of appeasement in the Middle East. (Interesting choice of words given he was surround by Jewish supporters.) Obama is appeasing the Arab street at the expense of Israel according to Perry. He, and regressives in general, see a chance to peal off Jewish voters from Obama by supporting Israel unconditionally even at the expense of American national security. (In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz wrote a paper arguing for an invasion of Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein and strengthen Israel's Likkud party. George H. W. Bush fired him over it. In 1998, the paper turned in to a document signed by the majority of Bush's national security team supporting an invasion of Iraq in order to use Iraq as a "strategic pivot" to put pressure on the entire Arab world and force concessions for Israel. The result was an American tragedy.)

Perry's speech could have been given by Bush or Cheney. He attacked Obama while surrounded by Jewish supporters. Obama had been too quick to pull support from Mubarak and Gaddafi and the regime in Tunisia. He had been too slow to support revolution in Syria and Iran. Perry came off as a toady to Israel and totally lacking in any sophistication or nuance in his view of Middle East policy or foreign policy in general. He is another Texas governor willing to waste American blood and treasure for dubious if not immoral reasons. The only question he has to be wondering about is whether or not he can conjure up another September 11th to use for cover.

It was frightening to think after 8 years of foreign policy disasters, the only lesson Perry absorbed was to march in lockstep with Likkud and offering intellectually vapid critiques of the Arab Spring and its implications for Israel's future. No one asked Perry how his policy would be different or what he would do as president to foment revolution in Iran. Perry showed no understanding of how U.S. overt interference could backfire and strengthen the Iranian rulers and allow them to label all opposition as tools of American foreign policy. Was Perry willing to go to war with Iran like Bush and Cheney threatened? What would he do to stop their nuclear proliferation different than what Obama is doing? If Assad steps down or is thrown out in Syria, who will replace him? If there is civil war how does that affect Lebanon and Israel and Iraq? Does Perry think there are military solutions to these problems and what does he do with a military that is broken, some say irreparably?

Obama has actually built coalitions in contrast to Bush's ersatz "coalition of the willing". He waited to go after Mubarak until other Arab countries were on board. In Libya, Obama refused to take the lead and insisted NATO and the Arab League shoulder the biggest roles. In Syria, Obama has let Turkey and Saudi Arabia attack Assad and call for an end to the violence and for political reform. He has been able to get Europe and China to support strong economic sanctions against both Syria and Iran. Bush could not get European support for any initiative. Perry wants to go back to a policy which was an unmitigated disaster for this country.

To quote Santayana has become a cliché, but even clichés contain an element of truth. The Bush policy in the Middle East will go down as one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in history. He allowed Netanyahu to run roughshod over the Palestinians and watched the peace process disintegrate. Even as Israel expanded illegal settlements, built a wall through Palestinian land and invaded Lebanon again, Bush had nothing to say and no roadmap to offer. By invading Iraq and Afghanistan, he played right into the hands of Osama Bin Laden and made recruitment of terrorists a snap. While we attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran sat back and, without firing a shot, emerged as the new power in the region. Today they have undo influence in Iraq and Syria and Hezbollah controls much of Lebanon and Iran had been fomenting problems in Bahrain and other Gulf states.

Perry appears not to have learned any of these lessons. He is as tone deaf on foreign policy as he is on Social Security, global warming, evolution, homosexuality, separation of church and state and the economy. It is truly frightening to envision him as commander in chief. He is an intellectual baby pool...30 feet wide and an inch deep.

Supporters of Israel do themselves no favor hitching their wagons to Perry. America was severely hurt by the foreign policies of George Bush and so was Israel. As the Arab Spring takes hold, Israel is more isolated than ever. Perry wishes to compound the problem. He is not unique. Other than former Utah governor John Huntsman, none of the Republican candidates have articulated any coherent vision of the world or offered any specifics as to how they would operate differently than the President. Is it possible none of them has learned anything from the Bush debacle?

Is Rick Perry to stupid to be president? No. However, if you asked me if he has the wisdom to lead this nation, my answer would be quite different.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


In the history of this country, the rich have never willingly given up income or power. The creation of the middle class was done over the weeping and gnashing of bright, white teeth. In 1928, the top 1% of Americans controlled 24% of all wealth in America. With the onset of the Depression, Roosevelt's election, World War II and the rise of unions and worker friendly legislation, the top 1% controlled only 9% of the nations wealth in 1976. In 1980, war was declared with the election of Ronald Reagan, and today the richest 1% are almost back to their high water mark as they control 23.5% of the nation's wealth. Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, "...there is a class war going on in this country and my class is winning."

According to former labor secretary Robert Reich, from 1947-1979 all lower income classes did better than the richest 20%. Since 1980, this trend has been reversed. Middle and lower class Americans continued increase their productivity, but wages did not keep pace. They continued to spend and drive the economy only because more women entered the workforce and, when that added income couldn't fill the gap, they borrowed themselves into serious debt. The end result is since 1980, no class of Americans has done better than the top 20%. Do you think this is an accident or coincidence?

President Obama has proposed a plan to create jobs and reduce the nation's debt. It relies on large cuts to government programs and on tax increases for the wealthiest of taxpayers. America's rich currently enjoy tax rates that haven't been this low since the fifties. Taxes from the wealthy and corporations are generating the same amount of revenue to the treasury as they did in 1950. If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, the top income bracket will see their tax rates return to the levels the paid under Bill Clinton. If the "Buffet" tax increase is implemented, the richest Americans will still be paying taxes 55% lower then they were in 1960. While Warren Buffet and his ilk pay about 16%-19% of their income in taxes, middle class Americans, due to fewer deductions...higher payroll taxes and increasing sales taxes, pay a real tax rate closer to 26%. Face it. They have won the war.

More and more wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The people with the greatest economic power make the rules on how the economy works. With the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, the rich can give unlimited sums to political campaigns and continue to run a rigged game. Since the Depression of '08, they have been paying millions of dollars into Washington to beat back efforts or re-regulate Wall Street and reduce the risks they take. Just this week a report will be issued on how Washington will implement the so-called Volker rule, which was intended to prevent banks from making risky investments, the type which caused the global economic meltdown, with your deposits. The Wall Street Journal reports the rule has been watered down so much; banks will still be able to do anything they wish and take the very same kind of risks that caused so much harm. In the face of corruption, fraud, theft, profligacy and unprecedented greed, the attempts to rein in a financial industry out of control have failed and they will once again be free to start the roller coaster moving.

Before the ink was dry on Obama's proposals, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, pronounced the President's ideas as class warfare intended to hurt those who create the jobs in this country. What's wrong with class warfare? It's been waged in earnest since 1980, what's wrong with fighting back?

What do regressives say when we point out to them we have been trying it their way since 1980? In 1981 and again in 2001, Presidents Bush and Reagan cut taxes on the richest Americans. (the job creators) What happened? For Reagan it was the depression of 1982. In the first four years of the Bush administration not a single net job was created. The eight years of Bush produced the worst job numbers in 30 years. President Clinton raised taxes on the rich in 1992 (without a single Republican vote). Over 9 million jobs were created in the next eight years and he turned over a budget surplus to President Bush. As my grandmother used to say, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.

Raise taxes on the rich, get out of two immoral wars, force corporations to actually pay any taxes and reduce government spending and you have the recipe for recovery. Make it easier for Americans workers to organize. Make health care available to everyone (taking away a huge cudgel employers use to force workers to choose between higher wages or higher health care costs). Make college free and improve public education by attracting better teachers with better wages. Rebuild our infrastructure. Re-invent the electrical grid. Spend money on basic research and green research and take back the manufacturing of everything from wind turbines to high-speed rail. All of this and more could be done but won’t be as long as the rich and powerful control the political process.

When someone declares war on you, you can either surrender or fight back. Why won't working Americans fight back? How is it so much anger is directed at government spending but not at government policies that give more and more wealth to the rich? American workers continue to increase their productivity and get no benefit in return. Corporate profits are through the roof, yet the median American household income has dropped back to what it was in 1996. An entire decade of progress lost while, at the same time, the richest 1% have seen their income skyrocket. How is it the Koch brothers and Joe Coors and Richard Melon Scaife and so many other of the uber-rich can pour money into the tea party movement and regressive think tanks and there is no pushback from working Americans? The billionaire Koch brothers have created an organization, Alec, which is designed to write legislation for state legislatures across the country. It will enable regressive politicians to bust public employee unions, ransack pension funds, pass right to work laws all aimed at preventing Americans from organizing and acquiring any political power to check this march to economic inequality. Where are the groups and organizations that represent average working Americans?

We need class warfare in this country. We need to take back the government currently in the pocket of Wall Street, bankers and the ultra rich. Will you fight so your children can have a future where they can see their economic boats rise, provide for their families, compete in the global economy, have hope for a better life or will you roll over and play dead? The rich Brahmans of this nation do not have your best interests at heart. They want to increase their wealth at you and your family's expense. They oppose anything that will lessen the widening gap between them and you. (Unions, social security, Medicare, minimum wage, 8-hour day, 40-hour week, OSHA are just some of the ideas they tried to destroy in the last 75 years) If you don't believe me, look at the most recent crisis in Washington. Regressives don't want to fund FEMA, (Federal Emergency Management Agency), unless Democrats agree to cut the budget for a program designed to research energy efficient cars. They are willing to let FEMA's coffers run dry even as this nation experiences an unprecedented year of natural disasters.

Huzzah to President Obama for firing the first shot in an overdo reply to the war started in 1980. We have been at war for over 30 years. One thing history has taught us is if the gap between the rich and the rest of us continues to grow, there will come a day when those on the bottom have nothing to lose if they simply tear the whole system down. We became the great nation we are because we spread prosperity to all segments of society. We fall when only a few continue to benefit at everyone else's expense.

Friday, September 16, 2011


New York Times columnist Paul Krugman posted comments on his blog claiming the memory of the events of September 11, 2001 have been poisoned by those who exploited it to start two wars, and played on America's fears to advance a regressive agenda diluting or eliminating over 75 years of court decisions expanding civil liberties in this country. I had written a similar piece more than a week before the anniversary. In last week's Newsweek, Andrew Sullivan writes about his reaction to that day and ends up in the same place I did as well. He bemoans how he, the punditocracy, and Americans in general, let fear lead them to support calls for war and excoriates the corporate media for shirking its responsibility to act as a check on government excess and falsehoods. He says he is embarrassed he found himself "trusting" the government. Along with Sullivan and Krugman, the publication The Week had on its cover a fortress America with the question, "Did We Overreact?". Once again, sentiments echoing my piece. It warms the cockles of this incarcerated heart to see my mind and perspective have not gone to seed yet. It is also proof what should have been a defining moment of unity in this nation; instead became a political instrument used to irreparably damage America economically, politically and spiritually. (Yes, this is a bit of a self-serving pat on the back, but believe me there haven't been many opportunities for such self-aggrandizement over the last 3 years)

I'm sure Mr. Krugman will not take much solace knowing he and I agree, nor will my words help him weather the tsunami of criticism which inundated the blogosphere in the following days. According to, "liberal" bloggers did not rise enthusiastically to his defense and regressive bloggers had a field day criticizing him. I have no idea why progressive bloggers wouldn't have agreed with everything Krugman wrote but I understand perfectly the vitriol from regressives.

What is most interesting is the nature of the criticism. The attacks on Krugman by the likes of Michele Malkin and Faux and Friends attacked his appearance..."ugly little man with a beard."...Patriotism..."how can one hate his country as much as Krugman must?"...Work ethic..."he only wrote 181 words which is an insult to his readers"...and timing..."how does he post this on the 10th anniversary of the attacks?" What I could not find, and did not see, was one attempt to address the meat of Krugman's piece. The criticism was all ad hominem attacks with no substance. In fact, if you read the more prominent regressive voices, they seem to have ceded the field to Krugman when it comes to the central point of his argument.

Osama Bin Laden knew us better than we knew ourselves. Sullivan writes Bin Laden baited us, set a trap and we fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Bin Laden said one of his goals was to bankrupt America's economy and he also apparently knew our history. Whenever Americans are scared, the first thing they do is abandon the Bill of Rights and look towards a benevolent dictator who will both assure them and keep them safe. 10 years later, not even Bin Laden dared to imagine his plan would work out so well. America is weaker today than it was 10 years ago. Our economy is in shambles and our military is irreparably broken. We have squandered over $1.5 trillion on two unnecessary wars. (Ironically, exactly the number the congressional super committee must cut from the federal budget further damaging a fragile economic recovery) We are at each other's throats on almost every domestic front. We are paralyzed and appear incapable of producing resolutions to vital economic and political problems.

Maybe Bin Laden read the PNAC document Cheney et. al. signed in 1998. Maybe he was a genius and knew given the chance, Bush and Cheney would implement the provisions calling for an invasion of Iraq and projecting American power in the Middle East to protect the Likud party and Israel. His plan would have failed had Al Gore been president. Gore would have invaded Afghanistan, but not Iraq. Gore would have opposed most of the Patriot Act's worst provisions. Gore would have killed Bin Laden at Tora Bora cutting the head off of Al Qaida and the Taliban. (Mullah Omar escaped at that time as well) He would have finished the job in Afghanistan and not diverted resources to Iraq and we wouldn't still be there today. Gore would not have cut taxes for the rich to the tune of almost $2 trillion in lost revenue to the government. He would not have eviscerated environmental and other regulations and he would not have set up secret prisons to torture nor the continuing eyesore that is Guantanamo. For Bin Laden to succeed, he needed Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Fife and Tennant in power. They did exactly what he wanted. They "poisoned" the memory of September 11th by so politicizing and manipulating it. Today it is a symbol of a tragedy not caused by terrorism by rather by self-inflicted wounds.

If I have one criticism of Krugman, it would be for turning off the ability of readers to comment. Donald Rumsfeld was forced to tweet. (I love that image) He was cancelling his subscription to the Times. Yes, the comments would have been nasty ad hominem attacks on him and his patriotism, but he also would have read many agreeing with him. More importantly, the dialogue would have been good for us and he could have taken great joy in provoking his enemies and giving succor to his friends.

The butcher's bill rung up for September 11th is still growing. When will it end?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


On the morning of September 11, 2001, my wife woke me and turned on CNN. I watched the second plane hit the tower and I watched the twin towers collapse. I saw the damage done to the Pentagon. We kept our children home from school and I spent the next 12 hours glued to the television. That night at 10 pm, I opened my program with a guest and asked whether American foreign policy played any role motivating the terrorists. In the middle of a commercial break, my boss called me and told me I was committing career suicide. "This is a time for being warm and consoling and sympathetic. People are scared. It is not the time to be asking about blame or suggesting we brought this on ourselves." He would call back 2 or 3 more times, each call more apoplectic than the last. He didn't think listeners could handle the questions being asked. He felt they needed to be coddled and handled with kid gloves. He knew I would be accused of insensitivity at best and treason and hatred of country at worst. He was right about the aftermath. The accusations flew fast and furious. He was right about the jarring nature of the presentation that night. He was right when he observed people were sad and distressed and wanted comfort. He was wrong about my career or my read of my audience. My ratings skyrocketed. People wanted an adult discussion. They wanted to explore and understand and they listened night after night. I killed my career... of that there is no doubt...but it didn't happen on September 11, 2001. On that occasion, I showed the respect for my audience they deserved. I refused to pander and I was convinced we had ignored the consequences of the "Gore in the Gulf" and other policies in the Middle East and Muslim world. Unfortunately, my audience proved to be the exception to the rule.

Newsweek's cover has the word "resilient" plastered across it; referring to the American people and their reaction to the events of September 11th. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My listeners refused to be afraid and demanded answers. Americans in general were just the opposite. The last thing they wanted was answers. They were scared and what they wanted was someone to promise to protect them and get those responsible for attacking us. They wanted to strike back. They wanted the fear to stop and anyone who promised to meet those needs was embraced. The American people aren't resilient. They aren't rugged individualists. They aren't continuing the line of good pioneering stock that won the West. The American people are easily frightened and easily stampeded and they don not want, to this day, to be confronted with uncomfortable truths about the nature of the world and our role in it.

Do you remember what happened to Bill Maher when he observed you could call the attackers murderers and terrorists, but the one thing you couldn't call them was cowards? He noted someone willing to die for their cause may be crazy or misguided, but they aren't cowards. For this, he lost he show on ABC and was drummed off the air even after engaging in a humiliating tour of media outlets apologizing profusely for committing the unforgiveable act of telling the truth.

Within months of the attack, Congress passed the Patriot Act and the "resilient" American people cheered. Have you ever asked yourself how a body which can't get out of its own way, was able to draft and pass and send to the President a comprehensive anti-terrorist piece of legislation in such a short period of time? Most members hadn't even read it. When civil libertarians raised questions about the wisdom of giving the government the power to spy on its citizens, sneak into their homes, bug their phones and computers, seize their library records and eviscerate the 4th and 5th amendments, and do all of this in secret, they were greeted by shouts of " appeaser" and "traitor" and accused of being "soft" on terrorism by those same "resilient" Americans.

We now know the corporate media was scared to death of the "resilient" American population. Dan Rather and other journalists have admitted they were intimidated and wary of asking the White House and Congress attacking...aggressive questions for fear of losing viewers or readers angry at the way their protectors were being treated. President Bush was given a free pass when he implied Iraq was involved in the planning and execution of September 11th and faced no scrutiny, except by Joe Wilson, when he claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. For years, he and Cheney et. al. would get away with lying and manipulating the facts to justify starting two wars, and the dismantling of most of our significant civil liberties.

In December of 2001, President Bush ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to being to illegally monitor all phone and electronic media used by American citizens. He told them not to worry about warrants or the need for probable cause. Because a feckless Congress, led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and with then Senator Obama's assent, agreed to give the telecom companies immunity from prosecution or lawsuits, we will never know the extent or the breadth of this illegal activity. The Congress was afraid to stand up to the "resilient" Americans and the people accepted all of this as if it were a pacifier to be suckled and embraced. These rugged individualist descendants of John Wayne and Paul Bunyan were willing to throw away the very protections the terrorists hated the most, because they were scared and were willing to give up any freedom to get a little security.

Give President Bush and Vice President Cheney their due. In 1998, they signed on to a document by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) that concluded the American people needed a new Pearl Harbor to scare them into accepting war with Iraq and a dramatic dilution of their civil liberties. 3 years later, they used the irrational reaction of Americans to turn this nation into a shadow of its constitutional self.

Americans are still scared. They can still be stampeded into accepting legislation and foreign policy that is crippling this nation. They have accepted a Department of Homeland Security which is sucking up resources with little to show for it. President Obama will ask for over $80 billion to fund the national security/anti-terrorism programs of our government. You can still be assured of garnering headlines and votes by waving the bloody shirt of terrorism and watching Americans kneel in fear. If you doubt this, just watch Congressman Peter King (R. NY). He raised money and politically supported terrorists (IRA) when they represented his political and personal views, but now gets front-page treatment any time he uses the word terrorism even if it is to oppose a mosque and community center being proposed for New York City.

September 11th proved one absolute truth. No one can ever lose politically by overestimating how easily the American people can be manipulated through the use of various bogeymen and their collective fear. Newsweek is wrong. A resilient people would have stood up, dusted themselves off, gone back to work and refused to be used to advance a regressive agenda which leaves the nation worse off 10 years later. A resilient people would have fought to protect their basic rights. A resilient people would have been outraged to find out their government was torturing people in secret prisons. A resilient people would never have supported two unnecessary and immoral wars and the loss of so many soldiers and treasure just to feel a little more secure. This anniversary would be worth celebrating were we a stronger and more mature nation because of the attacks. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


President Obama promised a different foreign policy than his predecessor. Obama said the U.S. would walk softer and seek to rebuild alliances and trust internationally. He rejected the unilateral, go it alone, cowboy policy of the Bush/Cheney crowd. He saw the damage this policy had caused and how it had hurt our prestige in the world. For all the criticism Obama takes on domestic policy, he has followed through on this campaign promise, and has achieved a significant number of successes.

The latest success is the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya. While it is proper to raise questions about why get involved militarily in Libya and not in Bahrain or Yemen or Syria, it is also true Obama's strategy worked. He refused to have the U.S. take the lead. He demanded NATO play the central role in any action against Gaddafi. Not only did NATO take over command and control, but numerous Arab nations, especially Qatar and the U.A.E., also participated. The U.S. did not put any boots on the ground. England and France sent some special forces into Libya, but the United States refrained. The United States led other nations to recognize the transitional government and, along with Italy, France and England, agreed to unfreeze Libyan assets and make them available to the new government. Libya is in a position to restore order and revive its oil industry and begin to transition to a democratic state. It will not be easy, and nothing is guaranteed, since Libya is a tribal nation and there will be jealousies and disputes. Democracy is a messy business. There is also the possibility of Islamic forces trying to hijack the process. However, the Arab world watched as the U.S. encouraged its allies to force Gaddafi out. The standard radical Islamist line used by al Qaeda, the Taliban and others, accusing the West of abusing Muslims and supporting dictators who are friendly to the West, can no longer be used for propaganda. The Libyan people know what the U.S. role has been and they know without it they would not be free.

Obama's successes don't stop with Libya. His approach to Syria is also paying dividends. Despite criticism he waited too long to condemn Assad and call for his ouster, Obama waited until voices in the Arab world and until Muslim countries were also willing to condemn Assad. Syria's propaganda line has been that the unrest in the country has been caused by the U.S. and Israel. By waiting, Obama lined up numerous Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, to call for the violence in Syria to stop. Turkey has led the call for reform and publically criticized Assad. Secretary of State Clinton has gotten European nations to agree to sanctions against Syria including refusing to buy Syrian oil. Even Iran, and its surrogate Hezbollah, are starting to hedge their bets in case Assad falls. If he does, Iran loses its chief provocateur in the region and Hezbollah would lose a sanctuary that would be a great victory for Obama and Israel. While Russia continues to oppose sanctions, Obama has gotten China to soften its opposition that has been crucial.

Obama's success cannot be chronicled without talking about the killing of Bin Laden and the decimation of al Qaeda through drone strikes in Pakistan. Just recently, al Qaeda’s number two, and its operational leader, was killed in Pakistan. Obama's policy toward al Qaeda has led many analysts to downgrade its ability to be an operational force against this country.

In a change in policy, the United States no longer automatically provides military aid and foreign aid to Pakistan. A new series of conditions have been put on the delivery of such aid. Obama refused to turn a blind eye to the treacherous double game Pakistan has been playing. They take our money while at the same time providing aid and comfort to Bin Laden and the Taliban. Pakistan is protecting the Haquani network and Pakistan's intelligence service has been cut out of the loop when it comes to American actions in Pakistan, due to the belief they are tipping off targets of value and hurting our campaign against both the terrorists and the Taliban. This is a complete about face from the Bush administration, which spent almost $8 billion in Pakistan with nothing to show for it.

Perhaps the biggest successes of Obama foreign policy involve Iran and North Korea. The United States has led a campaign to get the European Union, Russia and China to agree to tougher economic sanctions against Iran in an effort to stop their ongoing nuclear weapons program. Recently, Germany sanctioned a bank accused of laundering Iranian money. Technology sales are prohibited to Iran. Iran's economy is being damaged which is making its population restless and limiting the government's ability to mitigate the impact on everyday Iranian's lives. Bush and Cheney openly talked about going to war with Iran. Obama has cobbled together an alliance which stands the best chance of changing Iran's policy about nuclear proliferation. Since all experts agree a military strike would fail, Obama has led and come up with a viable alternative policy.

Recently, North Korean leader Kim Jung Il indicated publically a wish to restart the 6 party talks aimed at reducing or ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program. He had been adamantly opposed to such talks just a few months ago and thought he could pressure Obama into caving. Instead, the United States has stepped up sanctions, seized ships heading for North Korea that contained banned technology, engage in joint military exercises with South Korea and put pressure on China to bring North Korea back to the bargaining table. Obama let it be known, no new talks will occur until North Korea makes some concessions concerning its nuclear program. It seems to be working.

All is not sunlight and roses for Obama on foreign policy. His Afghanistan policy is a disaster with no possible victory in sight. We are disengaging with Iraq, but might stay if asked which would be a terrible decision. We don't know yet what will happen in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab spring nations.

It should also be noted regressive Republicans have opposed Obama on almost every foreign policy front. They criticized him for condemning former allies, like Mubarak in Egypt, too quickly and throwing them under the bus. They suggest we should prop up dictators even when their own people want them gone. Our national interests are more important than someone else's freedom for these freedom-loving Republicans. They tried to stop his foray into Libya and would have sat back and watched Gaddafi crush the rebellion. They had faint praise for killing Bin Laden and they accuse Obama of not acting fast enough in Syria. What is clear is in the current field of Republican pretenders to the throne, they all universally would continue the Bush policy of unilateral action, continued criticism of the United States and NATO, and a confrontational diplomatic mission, all of which was a disaster for 8 years and left the United States isolated and despised across the globe. In less than three years, Obama has been able to reverse much of the damage. Do we really want to go back to the diplomatic version of the Texas two-step?

Unfortunately, the election of 2012 will not be decided on issues of foreign policy. If it were, Obama would win in a landslide.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Ron Paul thinks the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should be eliminated. He and his colleagues for the Republican presidential nomination are on the record promising to dismantle as much of Washington's power and, in particular, to eliminate every federal regulation possible. They claim the regulations kill jobs and are ineffectual and intrusive. Then along comes Irene. Irene arrived in the shadow of the 6th anniversary of Katrina. The response to these two hurricanes contrast dramatically and represent the different governing philosophies which will be on display in 2012 and the clear differences have serious ramifications for the future.

In 2001, President Bush, reflecting a similar regressive bent as the Paul/Bachman/Perry wing of his party, demoted the director of FEMA and downgraded the agency. He appointed "brownie" to run it and we all know the end of the story. President Clinton had raised the profile and efficiency of FEMA and received high marks for the government's response to emergencies. Bush tore it down because he listened to those who attack any agency or program originating in Washington. The people in New Orleans were given a real time opportunity to see how regressive philosophy affected their lives and homes.

We have watched a summer of historic natural disasters throughout our land. The flooding along the Mississippi, Red and Missouri rivers, tornadoes which cut a murderous swath across parts of the South and Midwest, unprecedented droughts in Oklahoma and Texas, wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico and more. Not once, during all of this carnage has anyone criticized the federal government's response. Contrast this with Katrina or contrast it with Japan. They are about to get a new prime minister because of the failure of the last one to adequately respond to the earthquake and tsunami, which so devastated that nation. More importantly, or maybe ironically, the same "" red " states which produce and support the Perry’s, Paul’s, McCain’s and Palin's are the same states who welcome billions of dollars of federal aid. The day after a tornado destroyed a good portion of Joplin, Missouri, FEMA was on the ground setting up centers and beginning the cleanup. (The biggest complaint at the time was the failure of the government to better warn people about dangerous tornadoes in a timely manner.) Along the Mississippi, it was the Corps of Engineers, implementing a plan developed in 1937 by the Roosevelt Administration, which blew a hold in a levy and opened spillways to divert hundreds of millions of gallons of water to farmland in order to protect states like Mississippi and Louisiana from being inundated. The Republican governors of those states certainly didn't complain about Washington interference at that point.

It is hard to stomach the hypocrisy. They want to run against Washington and proclaim how useless and oppressive federal regulations are, until some disaster happens and then they have their hands out and will scream bloody murder if they don't get every ounce of money available.

I know I sound like a broken record when I remind you about what de-regulation has done to this country. The list is endless. From the weakening and elimination of financial regulations leading to the Depression of 2008, to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to salmonella and E.coli outbreaks, the common denominator is weak or non-existent oversight. The deregulation of the energy market in California has California ratepayers paying some of the highest electricity rates in the nation for the foreseeable future. Anytime you hear someone advocating getting rid of regulations, they are usually toadies for the rich and the powerful businesses in the nation.

The latest target, according to the Wall Street Journal, is the Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA) It is the favorite whipping boy on the Republican stump these days. The same politicians who live and work near the Potomac, a river so polluted humans weren't allowed to swim in it or eat anything they caught out of it, and which has now been cleaned up almost back to its more pristine shape, all due to federal environmental regulations, are the same people demanding the agency by neutered out of existence. Do you really want to go back to an environment before the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act? Would you want to return to the days of lead paint and lead in your fuel? Today, energy companies are pumping toxic chemicals into the ground to free up natural gas. Do you want to trust them when they say there is no danger to the aquifer and water supplies? Do you trust P.G.& E. when they tell you Diablo Canyon is perfectly safe from a large earthquake? Why are Americans seduced by this anti-regulation rhetoric? Average, gum-chewing working Americans are the beneficiaries of regulations, which hold the avarice of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the most evil organization in the nation) and its members in check. Moderates and independents should applaud the Obama Administration's attempts to beef up the EPA, SEC, National Labor Relations Board, and numerous other government agencies gutted by Bush and Cheney.

So, here is my proposal. President Obama cuts off federal aid to any state with a Republican governor or legislature. Perry and Paul say states are too dependent on the federal government. Ok, cut 'em off. Obama can justify this by claiming he is just following the will of the people and their leaders in those states. They won't get a dime of federal aid for roads, bridges, education, health care, law enforcement, unemployment or to help recover from disasters. No small business loans or disaster loans at low interest rates. Military and other government bases would be closed. The estimate is Irene did about $7 billion in damages. The federal government is prepared to pick up about 75% of the tab. Wouldn't you love to be in the executive mansions in Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, New Jersey and other red states when they receive the bill for services rendered?

PS Michele Bachman say the recent spate of natural disasters and the earth quake on the east coast were signs of God's disapproval of the moral climate in this country. She better hope she is wrong about God or she may be in for a very warm reception when they eventually meet. President Bachman...really?

Rick Perry says he wants to do for America what he has done for Texas. Houston is the most polluted city in the nation. The oil and gas industries are virtually unregulated by his state. Worker safety and environmental oversight are a joke. Imagine him and the damage he could do if he was in charge of the EPA, FDA, Agriculture Dept., Interior Dept, etc