Archives For Reagan

Whitewashing of torture….

August 20, 2014

2014-08-07_08-41-18Out of the horror of World War II came one of the great achievements in all of human history: the Geneva Convention of 1949. It was a statement from humanity to itself that, in the aftermath of the bloodiest war in history, some decency might still be rescued. Despite the millions of senseless dead, despite all the mass murder and genocide and terror bombing, despite all the filth and hypocrisy and witless incompetence, the Convention states these things shall be held inviolate in war:

Wounded and sick soldiers shall be treated humanely, and medical facilities shall be off-limits to attack.

The same shall be true of wounded, sick, or shipwrecked sailors, and humanitarian ships.

Prisoners of war shall be treated humanely.

Non-combatants shall be treated humanely.

In 1988, President Reagan signed into law a treaty adding another stipulation to the list:

Torture shall be absolutely forbidden.

Reagan was no saint. His foreign policy caused tens of thousands of pointless deaths in Nicaragua alone. But he worked hard to get this treaty passed, and it is to my mind his greatest achievement. It added a bright star to the narrative of human progress….

Let’s compare that to the text of the Convention Against Torture:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of President Obama (aside from his unflappable, even cadence) is the way he instinctively tries to understand and legitimize both sides of every debate. When well-applied, as it was during his famous speech on race during the 2008 campaign, it adds needed nuance and complexity to difficult subjects.

Torture, on the other hand, is a simple subject that has little nuance or complexity. It is an absolute evil that has no place or function in a civilized, decent society. It is illegal under United States law. Only a complete idiot would try to use it to gather intelligence. Its only effective uses are thoroughly totalitarian: to intimidate, punish, and extract false confessions.

SOURE: President Obama’s despicable whitewashing of torture – The Week.

For the most part I am going to let the words above speak for me. Torture and anyone condoning it is simply idiocy. Yes, I kind of agree that one of President Obama’s most distinctive characteristics is trying to legitimize both sided of a debate.  Many times he is just too intellectual for his own, or the country’s good.

I also agree that Reagan was no saint but he came through with his abject hatred of torture.  I wonder how that affects his image for many of the current crop of conservatives who condone that tactic? Torture simply has no place in humanity.  Enough said…..

Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders. — Ronald Reagan April 28, 1966

If ever there was one quote that distinguishes the present difference between the two political parties in Washington this is probably it.

Nothing else needs to be said….

Vacation For Freeloaders….

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

2013-12-19_18-28-40The above quote is from the new Evangelii Gaudium, recently released from Pope Francis. This pope continues to amaze me with his courageous words for the least of these. Here the pope is directly calling those, like President Reagan and his crowd, who believed in trickle-down economics naive. As he mentioned trickle-down although still popular in some conservative circles has never been born out by anything resembling the facts.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a free-market capitalist but I know that capitalism is only successful when it is properly reigned in by regulatory forces. Unbridled capitalism is a dangerous thing since its primary driver is greed.  I may be a free-marketer but I am not naive enough to believe in the innate goodness of that system. Quite the opposite is true.

So, here is once again to you Pope Francis for saying what many do not have the courage to say in today’s world….

Reagan ObamaOne of my favorite FaceBook pages is a group called “Living Blue in a Red State”.  Having lived in Indiana most of my life I can so relate to that theme. I don’t know if you have noticed this but for as long as I can remember when the network news starts on presidential election night they always start with “We are ready to call a State for (whichever Republican is running) and then they say Indiana. I know what it is like to live Blue in a Red State. I don’t know if I am true blue or just a shade of purple but one thing is for sure, except for my bleeding heart I am NOT red! I simply care too much for my fellowman to throw any of them under the bus as so many of those “red” folks tend to do.

A recent post on the “Living Blue..” site showed the picture to the right.  Up until 1980 I most often voted for Republicans. Maybe it was because I just hadn’t matured enough to know what I was doing! :)  But when Mr. Reagan was running his “trickle down” logic just made no sense to me. His anti-government stands were just too radical for me.  I am a firm believer in the purpose of government is to do the people’s business and to protect us from the inevitable abuses of a capitalist system.  Mr. Reagan espoused almost an opposite view from me.  So as the Bible says I for the most part shook off the dust from my sandals and went elsewhere with my vote. I think that if things continue the way they are now many more people who vote Republican will be doing likewise.

But of course if Reagan were running today he would be quickly dismissed by the folks who control the current GOP as just too liberal. But there is at least a substantial group of Republicans who continue to treat Reagan as some sort of god of the GOP. While Mr. Reagan was in office he basically tripled the deficit but that is seldom mentioned by my conservative friends. Instead they like to rant on and on how Mr. Obama drastically increased it when he came into office. I am certain that if Mr. Bush had not left the country on the verge of financial Armageddon due to his constant cutting of regulations Mr. Obama’s deficits would be minuscule. My Tea Party friends love to say that they would have just let the country go down in flames instead of bailing out those too big to fail. But then again the so-called bailout is turning out to be one of the most profitable investments made by government in many years.  They have now actually turned a pretty substantial profit as a result of the bailout and as soon as Wall Street quits playing with the price of General Motors stock and allows it to reach its real value the government profits will go up even more.

Now I’m not saying as most Republicans were chanting in the 1980s that deficits are actually a good thing.  Mr. Stockman and his crowd had them thoroughly convinced that deficits were actually good for the country. I have always been one to live within my means and I think our governments should also except maybe under extraordinary circumstances and there have been only a few “extraordinary circumstances” in my lifetime….

Banner -In The News

GOP“The Republican Party is not really a party. It doesn’t stand for anything except re-electing itself,” Stockman, who directed the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, tells Newsmax. “The neocons are only oriented to an aggressive, imperialistic foreign policy of big defense establishment and suppression of our civil liberties. That’s bad.

“The tax cons want to just cut taxes — any time, any day — regardless of the fiscal situation,” Stockman adds. “That has gone to an absurd length. The social cons, social policy people — the right-to-life issue and gay marriage and all of that — that’s irrelevant to governing a democracy in a free society.

“That’s basically the heart of the Republican Party,” Stockman concludes. “In that mix, how can you find anything that’s going to stand for conservative economics, fiscal rectitude, free markets, sound money? It’s not there.

“The Republican Party is basically irrelevant to the economic crisis that faces the country.”

Source: Former Reagan Budget Head Stockman Critical of GOP.

Now before you conservatives out there start piling on I want you to know that these words above are from David Stockman who was a Reagan apostle who invented “Trickle Down” which still remains the siren of the GOP. The party seems to have taken on the mantel of being anti-deficit even though Reagan was anything but a deficit hawk.

I won’t add too many other words. These speak very well on their own:

  • imperialistic foreign policy of big defense
  • suppression of civil liberties (that was a Bush thing)
  • just want to cut taxes – anytime any day
  • No stands on fiscal rectitude, free markets, sound money.
  • basically irrelevant

These are awfully strong words coming from an apostle within the party. And here I thought Karl Rove was pretty harsh…..

It Takes A Long Time…

April 17, 2013
Banner -Off The Top
“It takes a long time to find out how wrong you are sometimes.” – Will Rogers, 8 August 1933

wrongI’m not sure why what Will declares here is true but I think it has something to do with our stubbornness. Once we get locked into a particular idea it is just so hard to admit that we might have been wrong to start with.  I know  it took the radical stands of Ronald Reagan for me to finally admit that I belonged to the wrong political party if I belonged to any party at all. ;)

I know everyone who is a member of the human species takes a long time to find out how wrong we are but I kind of think this is more dominant with us in the U.S. than it is with most others.  We strut around the world telling everyone else what is wrong with their way of thinking and then sending in our military if they don’t agree. As the Bible says we need to take the plank out of our own eyes first.

Sometimes we totally ignore how wrong we might be and never get around to admitting it. I kind of knew even in the beginning that I was probably in the wrong profession when I started out my engineering career so many years ago.  I ignored what I knew was probably wrong for thirty years. It is not that I didn’t have some fun and made some contributions in the profession I ended up in. It is just that I now know I have gifts that were unfulfilled.  Now I am trying to make up for those years when I should have been doing something else.  But that is life I guess, better late than never…..

The Turning Point…..

March 4, 2013
Banner -Off The Top
“Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”  – Ronald Reagan

ReaganSometimes when we look back at history we wonder how did we get to where we are.  We often have trouble pinpointing a particular person or date to where it all began. On January 20, 1981 when Ronald Reagan uttered the words above  he ushered in a new breed of Republicans. These particular words were the turning point to gridlock and jumping from crisis to crisis that we see today.  It is also the specific moment that I turned away from the Republican party to look elsewhere.

No longer was government to do the people’s business but instead they were to just get out-of-the-way and let our corporate elite run the country as they had during the Robber Baron days a century before.  Government had no meaning to those who swallowed those words hook line and sinker. The safety net for our citizens lost its meaning to them.  This was the turning point where we backed away on our pledge to make sure our citizens would not starve. This was the point where “entitlements” to our poor or aged became a dirty word for some. Government became a hindrance instead of the benefit. The people’s business took a back burner to corporate interests or was actually thrown entirely off the stove.

I believe that any serious student of U.S. history knows that capitalism without regulation was a pre-cursor to the death of the middle class. It was a point where those trying to keep our food and drugs safe were stymied by lower and lower budgets. The agencies responsible for our banking system and financial sector were gutted. Taxes which were from that point on deemed almost evil were difficult to obtain to maintain our countries infrastructure and safety nets. Common sense and compassion took a back burner to greed and corruption. The people’s business suffered greatly.

stoolAnother turning point that compounded these same problems  was the sudden popularity of the MBA program in this country. That was the point where employees changed from being an asset to be treasured and treated with respect to being a liabilities that needed to be removed or gotten at the lowest possible cost. I remember very distinctly when that happened in the corporation that I was employed.  Up till that point most employees were very loyal to the companies that hired them. Chevy guys would never dream of buying a Ford and visa versa. Suddenly employer’s loyalty to workers disappeared. Benefits were taken away. Wages were stifled in order to increase corporate profits. What used to be a three-legged stool of  owners/employees/customers was suddenly taken into severe imbalance.

These two events that created the “government is the problem” Republicans and “employees are the problem” business leaders caused a dramatic shift in our economy.  When workers lost their living wages they were no longer able to buy the goods and services they had previously. To counter the loss of buying employers cut wages and benefits further. Anyone without an MBA could clearly see this cause/effect but it just didn’t seem to occur to those who  now are on most rungs of the corporate ladder.

To end this post on an upbeat, I believe that the day is coming when a balance will be restored. The majority of us will realize that our government needs resources to keep us and our world safe. Employers will realize that without a living wage their workers will never buy an increasing number of the products they desire to make.  I am an optimist. I believe this day will come. I just wonder if we will be able to pinpoint that particular point in time as easily as when Republicans became the party of “government is the problem”

Trickle Down….

December 7, 2012

Banner - Will RogersI think we kind of need to balance out the post from this morning with a quote from Will Rogers.

Trickle DownMoney was appropriated in the hope that it would trickle down to the needy. Herbert Hoover was an engineer. He knew water trickled down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will find the driest little spot. So money was appropriated for the top in the hope that it would trickle down to the needy.

But he didn’t know that money trickled up! Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.   —  November 27, 1932  – Will Rogers

I’ll bet you guys who claim you know at least a little about history thought that David Stockman from the Reagan administration invented the term “trickle down”?  But as you can see it was President Hoover that coined that dog just Continue Reading…

About That Debt….

September 26, 2012

I know there is a lot of fury going on now about how President Obama has increased the national debt. So, when I came across this graph it got my attention. I have had several ranters here lately who proclaim that “that idiot Obama is bankrupting the country”. They go on and on about the increased deficit and how it is their sole reason to drive that “idiot” out of office. I am going to try and give you some insight into this situation but as President Clinton said recently you are going to have to pay attention…

Continue Reading…

In the old days, I’m talking about pre-Reagan, a company’s workers were considered an asset but it seems like today they have turned into a liability.  I read an article recently (I don’t remember the source right now so I can’t give it to you here ;) ) that basically said that many companies can’t find adequately trained people to fill their jobs and won’t hire someone and then train them for that job. It seems they would rather complain about not having skilled workers than actually training someone to do the job.

I can almost remember when I was turned from an asset to a liability by the “major communications company” I worked thirty years for. Indeed it was in the early 1980’s. This was about the time that telecommunications was being deregulated by Mr. Reagan’s clan so I thought the change was a result of that action but looking back on it now it was a broader thing than just the deregulation.  It was happening across U.S. industry.

What caused this to happen? Part of it was of course the Reagan White House. The guys he had around him never met a regulation that they thought was really needed or a company CEO they didn’t love and respect. We were all told that we should leave our future totally up to the benevolence of the corporate structures. They knew what was best for us and that was all we needed to know. Another part of this change was caused by the newly invented MBA degrees. That is “Masters of Business Administration”. All of the professors teaching at these schools had suddenly declared that “Greed is good” and that workers are liabilities.

With all these things coming to a head at the same time I was now treated like a cost that my company would rather do without but couldn’t figure out how to totally do that.  Of course, I watched over the years as my wages became stagnant, my benefits constantly shrink and my workmates constantly disappearing for one reason or another. Every time someone came up missing I was told I had to do “more with less”.  Every time another benefit was taken away I was told it was to give me more “choices”. Those words became the mantra for the next 15 years until I was  finally downsized and retired.

Will this type thing ever swing back to where the workers are treated with respect and given their fair share of the company profits?  We can only dream of that day but I kind of doubt! Now instead of deregulation, Reagan, and the MBAs they blame it on globalization. It’s all the same thing; the company want to squeeze blood from you their turnips. As long as we let them nothing is going to change.  Where is Norma Ray when we need her??

But what do I know….