Sunday, January 30, 2011

U.S. Dance With Ruthless Dictators Coming To An Ugly End

President Obama has to walk a thin line as protest in Egypt continues to grow. There are disturbing reports now that "agent provocateurs" are involved in looting activities, thus somehow justifying a "government"crackdown. When you get into bed with scum it can blow up in your face real easy and I think we are about to find out how ugly it can get. The Egyptian rioting has the potential to spread throughout the Arab World . We've supported anti-democratic Arab leaders for a long long time . As the voice of protest and freedom mobilizes on the streets of Cairo it doesn't help that the weapons used by government forces to crack down bear a "made in USA" imprint.

Obama promised "change we can believe in". Here's his chance. How about starting out by ceasing financial aid and support for anti-democratic, dictators... Hosni Mubarek for example. This might be wishful thinking on my part, but why can't we, the US, win the support of the "Arab Street" here and show ourselves to be a friend of freedom and self-determination?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jeff Immelt The Job Creator

President Obama has come to Upstate NY on this icy,snowy Friday to tout his focus on job growth. As part of this effort he appointed Jeff Immelt, GE CEO to be his chief outside economic advisor. This is somehow supposed to illustrate the Administration's job creation focus.

There's only one problem: Jeff Immelt hasn't created jobs, he has actuaaly been a job destroyer.

GE finished 2009 with 18,000 fewer US workers than it had at the end of 2008, and US headcount is down 31,000 since Immelt’s first full year in 2002. During his tenure, GE workers based in the US as a percentage of total employees has fallen to 44% from 52%.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Remembered

When Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered one of the first things that usually comes to mind is his "I Have A Dream Speech". I prefer to call attention to his April 1967 oration at the Riverside Church entitled: Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence.

This was a controversial yet powerful MLK presentation. What King was doing here was moving beyond the role of "civil rights leader" to a vocal role of opposing the US Government and its' prosecution of the war in Vietnam. This position certainly did not win King many friends in powerful places. Is it a coincidence that he was gunned down a year to the day of delivering this homily.

King wasn't perfect, but then again none of us are. In this Riverside Church speech he emerged as a moral leader and spokesman and demonstrated a courage is rare in any era.

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ike's Farewell Speech --50 Years On

January 17, 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a valedictory most famous for his warning of encroaching power by the military industrial complex. Jeremy Grantham, in this re-examination of Ike's speech focuses on another aspect that we all really should contemplate.

"As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

We as a society are entering a demographic nightmare that will surely strain the safety nets of our social fabric. I am talking about the aging and retirement of the baby boom generation. At a time when we need to harness our financial savings we as a society are eating our seed corn. As we ask the next generation to take care of us in our twilight years ,we , my generation needs a sobering self examination. What are we doing to help this next generation in this task. For example as Grantham states,"leaving them with no national debt and an impeccably up to date infrastructure".

The sad answer is : not much.