Monday, October 10, 2011

The Cost of Exceptionalism.

In Chris Matthews’ ad, he talks about American “Exceptionalism” and how one of the primary examples of this is the man sitting in the White House right now, a man of different nationalities, who didn’t have a father growing up or special opportunities handed to him, yet, today, he sits at the pinnacle of power.

Pretty heady stuff!

When I was a kid growing up, I thought everything about America was exceptional. It was exceptional that me a poor kid growing up in Spanish Harlem could spend his afternoons visiting at the governor’s house, that he could get not only a good undergraduate education but a graduate one at that and could go on to run seven different businesses and make all the relevant “Who’s Who” books? What a great country!

I also believed that my good fortune required someone of my ilk to give back and I have tried to do that all my life in all possible ways.

But what Chris Matthews failed to address is that American exceptionalism is undergoing deep-rooted change! People of narrow vision and a meaness of spirit have taken over our government and steered us away from all the things that made us great in the past and pushed us towards balancing the books over greatness. And, sadly, the archetype for this American exceptionalism, president Obama has bought into their view of the world and is not only allowing them to have their way, he has been hard at work finding ways to cut back those areas that contributed to our exceptionalism!

Oddly, that nobody has connected the dots to see that ‘exceptionalism’ that we tout, did not simply fall from the heavens fully formed, but was the product of sacrifice, hard-work and commitment.

It is disappointing that America has listened to their claptrap and not declared it unfitting to a resurgent America; instead, we take it like lap dogs. In fact, it is astounding to me that we are so compliant that we are already sliding down the flag pole into a state of benign mediocrity. And that’s particularly troublesome for me having visited many of America’s cemeteries around the world where people fought and died to protect what we stood for.

How easily we forget!

I think about how dad spent most of his life in VA hospitals after five years on the front lines and wound after wound that sent him to the hospital and then back to the lines, only not to recognize all of his mates because they had been killed; and even after the War when he couldn’t adjust to civilian life, joined the Army air force until he crashed into a lake and spent a year recuperating. He had believed that America was worth the sacrifice.

I think about my own experiences visiting all the America cemeteries through-out the world, from northern Europe to Hawaii. I think about what I knew from my service during the Korean War and Vietnam era and the trips to Washington to see the black granite and weep openly for names I didn’t even know….

And I ask myself how is this happening after the passage of so few years. What we have failed to real;ize is that you have to work for exceptionalism; it is not a free gift.
And our particular brand extends back more than two hundred years to the founding of this great country. And I shed a tear to think that a blind-sided Congress which such little vision could somehow set the tone for an America I can no longer be proud of.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

The People’s Movement Escalates….

First observations:

Today, I watched and listened as they covered the build-up to the protest on Wall Street. And I came away with a few observations . For one, I disagree with most of the critics and especially Obama strategists, who see the election in terms of independents and democrats, and the black and white issue.

The Obama strategists recognize that their hopes rest on the Independents. I agree with that, but I do not feel based on what I’ve seen up ‘til now with the burgeoning protests anything that indicates color as an issue. What in fact I do see is not based on party politics, but issues. And it is to the credit of the planners of the protest that they have left it open ended, because under those conditions “one size fits all.”

As a result, people of every political persuasion and perhaps no persuasion at all are finding a place in this big tent where it seems everyone represents a different perspective, a different point of view that inveighs against the party in power.

Mostly, if we were to generalize the themes that come through have most to do, it seems to me, with politics and business in bed together and the dissonance it produces among the people who make up this country of ours.

What is most moving is the fact that the people are showing far more common sense, far more in common with each other than apart, and that the politicians, per se, don’t come close to representing their interests. And nowhere have I seen the specter of black and white politics introduced.

As a result of this open-ended spectrum that only invites more dissatisfied people into the tent, I don’t think it is a movement likely to fold any time soon….quite to the contrary, it seems like a movement that will continue to grow as long as there is dissatisfaction among the rank and file, and until the parties learn to talk with each other.
For them, the danger is that this kind of a forum could replace either one or both parties and it could happen relatively quickly if politicians forget the powers of the people to replace them.

I will have more to say in coming days.

In the meantime, I am getting pangs of deja=vu from old movements and old marches and having the Unions cover my back; maybe even plant a little time capsule at the foot of the Big Bull outside the Big Board to remind myself that the last decade was the decade of terrorism and big government controlled by business, and, now, ten year’s later, we are at the beginning of the Fall of those “Too big to fail!”

And, so, in these final moments in the lead up to 2012, the people are speaking out. When that happens, both sides of the spectrum should be paying close attention; their survival may depend on it.

The people are speaking.

And that most ephemeral of things, hope, is in the air again! Makes me feel like I’m back in the 60’s.

The question is will the rest of us listen.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Zombies of the GOP cannot settle on anyone they like enough…

Whew!....These repugs are tough; they’re apparently not happy unless they are eating their own!.... Case in point, the darling of the Conservatives, Bachmann is now scoring below Huntsman in the latest popularity polls. And the newer lover boy to come along, Perry is showing more cracks than a Tokyo skyscraper after the Tsunami.

What’s the operative word here, heartless, fickle? Call it what you will, but it seems that candidate popularity in “the party that takes no prisoners” lasts no longer than a cigarette between coffee breaks.

Front runner, Romney still holds the lead he has had in the last four years, give or take a blip here and there, but the faithful are not running out chanting Romney. Apparently, they are not sure that he is conservative enough and his Mormon credentials label him an unknown outsider even though he seems to have been running since I was knee high to a milkshake….Ask a southern believer what he thinks, and his expression tells you all you need to know.

But that seems to be the way it goes!

Now, the punjabs of the pocketbook are trying to reel Christie in, figuring him to be a populist and the next best thing to a serious candidate who can come on strong next to an Obama who is seen right now as stronger than their front line which seems to shift daily depending on the barometric reading.

Christie seems to be a plain talker but he may be vulnerable to the more radicalized right’s view of what a real conservative is….that hasn’t been determined yet; while one suspects that the whole Bush family is foaming at the mouth to get the real inheritor of the Bush mantle up and running, the one that is said to still have a few live brain cells, Jeb. How that is going to materialize is beyond even Swami-like prognosticators of the party’s future to comprehend.

Meanwhile, the most responsible of the GOP’s candidates lapses in obscurity, John Huntsman, who one could say, “he makes some sense….” But the mainline gurus think that Huntsman does not have enough of anything to endear him to anyone except perhaps intelligent independents and disenfranchised democrats who don’t see their future with Obama.

Even Newt has a good day now and then but lags behind virtually everyone. In fact, the other day, Santorum got off a good one that appealed to the GOP crowd and for a moment, he had a fleeting touch of fame that came and went. And the other day, the former Godfather pizza chairman razzle dazzled the onlookers by winning the latest straw poll and then alienated the minorities by referring to them as brain-washed.

By the end of this contest, it seems like they will all collapse into a hopeless mass of used up bodies and somebody will appear out of the woodwork to save the Republican’s proverbial backsides, yet, it seems that the party, influenced by the chronically intolerant would rather applaud death in the electric chair a la Perry and their anti-gay credentials than actually be taken seriously by anyone.

Les Aaron

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Manifesto for the Common Man...

or Kick-starting Democracy!.... A Way Forward!

I believe that change is compatible with a changing and growing America. It is especially critical at this time, when we find ourselves having endured ten years of special interests, an arrogant and intractable posture from Congress and a retreat from real world concerns by the bulk of the population who feel beset upon by the powerful moneyed interests who control increasingly the legislation and the dialog that is pervasive in America today.

In short, it’s time to take the government back for the people who have suffered a double, if not triple indemnity at the hands of the ruling class as the rest of us watch our democracy evanesce into wisps of smoke and democracy looks more and more like the faded symbol of what was once the beacon to the tired, and poor of half the world.

This foundation document is a work in progress; as such, it is not set in concrete, but may be easily modified, customized, adjusted to to suit individual needs; I am making it available to activist organizations at no charge who are interested in bringing positive change to government that benefits the people…

A Rationale;

Dear Activist/Reformer:

As a citizen concerned for the future of the Middle Class and Democracy, I have prepared
The following document, which I call a Manifesto for Change for the People.
The Manifesto incorporates three parts: an Introduction; Rationale; and the recommendations for a Manifesto for the people which I hope will be used as part of the foundation of a program to move Democracy from the present level of stasis, and confusion as to what is in America’s best interests, but also to stem what I see as an increasing drift towards surrendering to the agendas of the rich and powerful and the subordination of legitimate democratic concerns..

Thank you for this opportunity.

Here's the accompanying preamble:

The Democrats do not have a plan for the Nation much less the middle class. What we’ve seen has been not only amateurish but lacking in drive, continuity and commitment. What we have seen has proved to be sketchy—not fully drawn or articulated, uninformed, demonstrative of a lazy intellect, it suffers from being advanced serially as opposed to in parallel—as part of a total program. After three years, it is clear that the senior advisers Obama has selected are much more aligned with the status-quo than reformers; they know nothing about the needs of the people; nor do they seem to show sufficient angst about the problems we face. It is clear that despite their credentials, they operate more like a group of disjointed amateurs rather than those who had promised to change the status quo, too ready to accept what is on their plate than prepare a serious, real attack on the challenges we face. Out of a need that began when I put together the book, “A Blueprint for Change: Taking Back the White House,” we changed parties, and administrations only to discover that the past looks unfortunately like the present. More importantly, we have a party that doesn’t represent the people and an Admin that is on disconnect and needs life support! We have allowed the GOP to speak for us and there is no blow-back; this is irresponsible and insufferable.

Les Aaron

August 25, 2011

Respectfully submitted,
100 Committee
By Les Aaron, Chairman

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Facebook (1) | Les Aaron

Facebook (1) | Les Aaron

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

News and Notes: December 1, 2010

News and Notes for December 1, 2010:

Governor Ted Strickland, Ohio, said today that if the democrats can’t get their act together over defeating the tax extensions for millionaires, then “…they should pack it up!”

Mitch McConnell said in a speech today that he had received assurances from other republicans in Congress that nothing will be approved until they get what they want. That means, unemployment extensions and the Start treaty will be held hostage until the democrats agree to go along with republican tax extensions for the rich in the over
$250,000 category….

Adam Green, Bold Progressives.Org said that president Obama has not said one word in the one month since the mid-term elections as to what exactly he would find important enough to fight for….and this is very troublesome for his base.

Bold Progressives ran an ad today that said that president Obama should not forget his promise to those who voted him into office.

Big Ed, on MSNBC, said that many democrats are ready to bolt if Obama agrees to extend tax breaks for the rich.

A Republican spokesman stated that president Obama admitted to being a Blue Dog Democrat. Dear Mr. President, may we remind you that the Blue Dogs were successfully defeated in the mid-term elections.

The GOP has made clear their goals which include raising retirement to 69, meddling with health care, and SS, and dropping the tax rate from 35% max to 29% for the wealthiest people in America. It is clear that they although they preach fiscal responsibility, they are out to destroy government.

Leo Gerard of the United Steel Workers said that the Right Wing is holding a gun to the head of democrats who are, in effect, saying give us what we want or we’ll bankrupt America.

We must remember that they said nothing when America closed down 40,000 plants and cut back on 8 million jobs! Now, they want to abolish taxes on multi-national firms!

Senator Simpson attacked democrats over wasteful spending on things like Medicare and Social Security. Leo Gerard asks where was he when Bush was running the biggest deficits of all time.

Robert Reich says that the Republicans can’t have it both ways . They want fiscal responsibility and continued tax breaks. Reich says that the president has to stand firm and not extend tax cuts. The rich are already taking home one quarter of all income and not contributing anything to paying down the debt.

Racial Discrimination Reinforced by two Republican Representatives: Republicans Steve King and Michelle Bachmann attacked black farmers today in reaction to the settlement of Dept of Agriculture claims.. King said that they were drug addicts making dishonest claims who were encouraged by an Urban Senator who became president.. And Bachmann accused them of black farmers being “frauds” in making claims to the government. In truth, the payment of claims was made after a settlement with the Department of Agriculture that admitted that they had been guilty of discrimination in denying loans to black farmers.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Damn the Butterflies

Damn the butterflies

The folks in a small town in Western Mexico, not far from the coast, used to hail the annual migration that used to bring the Monarch butterflies from all over North America to their humble community. For some reason, the Monarchs assembled there. Maybe they liked the climate; maybe it was the special trees; maybe it was the fact that this place had been programmed within them for countless generations.

And it happened every year like clock-work. The Monarchs came from all over North America taking the 1700 mile or longer migration in stride, stopping along the way to eat and rest..

And then one day, it virtually stopped. The Monarchs came but in falling numbers—numbers that were noticeable.

And the humble folk asked, ‘what happened?”

Nobody seemed to know.

So the microbiologists and entomologists and others within the scientific community who were involved in the habits of different species started to inquire.

What had happened?

The scientists started retracing the routes of the Monarchs and discovered that many of them seemed to stop in the mid-west on their way down to Mexico.

They would go to the corn fields and feed themselves and rest and then join the rest of the migration.

Only, it wasn’t happening the way it always happened.

And then someone had a bright idea, it was their food.

You see, the Monarchs were eating corn on the way down. Only this time, it wasn’t providing the nutrition and the Monarchs were literally unable to digest the corn.

Why?, they wondered.

It turned out that the concerns of the people had been realized. In order to give the corn disease resistance and the ability to grow faster, scientists at Monsanto had developed a hybrid corn that they promised would not get mixed up with the natural corn.

It was now clear, that the hybrids were out of control and that there were inherent problems with them; they produced results that were indigestible to the Monarchs.

Science can be a two way street. In many cases, it can be used to produce a desirable result; but, in this case, it may be responsible for wiping out a butterfly.

Fewer people seem alarmed by such developments; but in Europe, anticipating that such a result—or something like it could occur—they banned agricultural imports from America that involve chemical or agricultural tampering with Nature.

Clearly, they knew something the rest of us chose to ignore.

And now we stand to pay the price.

It is not only corn, we have tampered with the genetic structure of many crops—including wheat, barley, oats—in order to give the crops important disease resistance. We add hormones to cows so that they produce more milk. We grow fish now in farms and when they escape the nets and mix with regular fish, they produce off-spring not as disease resistant as the natural fish in its environment.

In so doing, we have gone along far enough to affect natural diversity and some wonder whether in providing what we presume to be a stronger, more distant strains, we have also tampered with diversity, leaving us open to the hazards of unforeseen ravages that we yet don’t know about.

We won’t know the answer to that question until it happens but some in the scientific community are worried. To guard against such an eventuality, there is a massive ongoing program now to find original seedlings, with all of their diversity, and store them away against any emergency that might befall our lands—from draught to excessive rain-fall.

For the time being, this is all we have as back up against the possible loss of our primary food supply. For without grain, we will be unable to feed cattle, chicken, or the pigs that constitute our fundamental supplies of meat.

Something to think about as we tamper with Nature.

But we didn’t just mess around with grains and other basic food supplies. No, we were to clever for that. We even got down to the basics.

We messed with the equivalent of the canary in the miner’s cap….and then we blinked.

No kidding!

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The Cost of War!

Here’s where we have to draw the line folks.

It sickens me near to death to hear the same specious arguments being made over and over again by those who not delight in War but profit from it. Shouldn’t there be a place in Dante’s Inferno just for them?

And sadly, when they take up their false arguments, they argue against us for wanting peace. The implication is that we mournful wusses who think that war is dishonorable and a sickening display of macho power, do not understand the true meaning of war—as if there could be any logic in wanton destruction; nor do they mention that most sacrifices are made by the innocents on both sides.

Well, many of us, myself included, are here to tell you that War isn’t what you think—it’s either bloody or boring and it is the worst way for man to solve his problems. That being said, don’t say that to a republican who thinks war is some kind of sacred relic, yet when they come to balancing the budget, the republican never suggests touching the war budget as if to do so would guarantee immediate defeat for America.

I’m here to set this whole conversation right through the simple expedient of examining its costs, in terms of dollars and cents only, not the cost in terms of lives and suffering and pain. I’ll leave that for another day.

Truth to tell, while our army has grown smaller, the military budget keeps growing as if it has a life of its own until today it approaches 1 trillion dollars. If ever there was a place to cut back, it is the military budget!....

Yet, few people in the Pentagon are willing to face facts. And those who review such budgets have an axe to grind. Meanwhile, the public, brain-washed and anaesthetized as it is, believes that if we were to cut one cent from the budget, the sky would fall upon our heads; there is no underestimating the stupidity of the American public.

Why are we where we are?

The fact of the matter is when Clinton closed out his tenure, we were ahead in every category . So, how did we go from a budget surplus to where we are today.

Well, of course, we gave the rich a tax break and we went to war in Iraq.

A war that was not only unnecessary and had nothing to do with 9/11, it was based on speculation and rumor and make-shift research with no basis in proof. But we’ve discussed that elsewhere. But what we haven’t fully discussed is the fact that Americans are saddled with a 1 trillion dollar debt for Iraq and by the time we exit Afghanistan, another trillion dollars in debt….all the while, extending tax breaks for the rich.

Now, this may not seem like much, but consider what we could do an extra 2 trillion dollars in our budget.

Consider just the suffering areas, like education and infrastructure.

In Education, let’s assume that you could put up a pretty nice school for ten million dollars and that you can budget a new teacher for 50,000 dollars. If you spent a trillion dollars on teachers and a trillion dollars on school infrastructure using those guidelines, you would come away with the following:

20 million new teachers and 100,000 new schools! We’ll, realistically, we probably don’t need that many schools and teachers but we could use about 25% of that and shuffle some of the left-over money into needed infrastructure.

Or let’s look at it another way.

Let’s take that same amount of money, and divide it evenly across the board in each state, although the smarter way would be to divide it by population; but for the sake of example, what that would mean is that each State would average out at about 20 billion dollars per state. That would put us a long way back to rebuilding an infrastructure that for the most part hasn’t been improved in decades and set us on a path to modernization that’s been lagging for all too long.

That, my friend, is the price we are paying to conduct unneeded wars in places that as soon as we leave will return to what they have been doing for generations.

I’m sorry for that, you can be sure. But I also do not see America cast permanently in the role of the world’s policeman and you can reinforce what I’m saying when you write the president, your local newspaper and your elected officials and remind them of that.

In the meantime, nothing we say or do, will return the more than 4,000 who gave up their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and the more than 100,000 wounded who may never be fully rehabilitated. That, my friend, is the true cost of War!....

Les Aaron
The Armchair Curmudgeon

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