Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

Sending love to Congressman Steve Cohen

Posted February 15th, 2013 by Tom

Steve CohenI’ve been impressed with Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) ever since he caught my attention when he introduced legislation for the United States of America to apologize for its involvement in, and support for, slavery and the Jim Crow laws that followed. The bill passed in 2008. Though it does not heal the traumatic wounds and does not repair the damage, it was a start. Both the House and Senate apologized for America’s complicity in slavery and Jim Crow. This movement, limited in its impact as it was, was led by Rep. Cohen.

Today came the news that the 63-year old congressman had tweeted a message to a 24-year old Texas woman, a so-called “bikini model“, during President Obama’s State of the Union Address, including the acronym “ilu” standing for “i love you”. The Tennessee Republican Party‘s executive director quickly issued a news release comparing Cohen to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned n 2011 after tweeting lewd pictures of himself.

Turns out that the woman in question, Victoria Brink, is Cohen’s daughter. He learned of his paternity three years ago. It looks to me like he’s done everything right since he found out, including respect for his daughter, respecting the privacy of her mother and the man who raised her; the man she’s always known as her father.

Well done, Rep. Cohen. Shame on you, Tennessee Republican’s who were so quick to jump to the absolutely wrong conclusion.

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Posted July 12th, 2011 by Tom

It’s obvious to me now. Chicken Little has taken over Washington, DC. A tiny fowl succeeded in a fiendish coup d’etat in which almost every member of Congress (with the possible exception of Senator Bernie Sanders) and many political pundits have been replaced by exact duplicates. Chicken Little’s accomplice? Must’ve been the Body Snatchers. What else can explain the hysterics being spewed by pod people who scream, THE SKY IS FALLING!

Will Republican House Speaker John Boehner and other Washington insiders sell the Tea Party and our nation down the river by caving in to President Obama on increasing the debt AND raising taxes? Only one thing will stop such a deal: you and I raising a cry of opposition that scares sense back into the Republican leadership. — Ron Paul

THE SKY IS FALLING!

if this deal with the Republicans takes a dollar away from those people who do not have a dollar to spare while preserving the millions for those who have millions more, if this deal, sir, keeps intact funding the mechanisms we have for killing people while cutting the mechanisms we have for keeping people alive and healthy, then it is a betrayal of everything that makes this country great.Keith Olbermann

THE SKY IS FALLING!

The Republicans need to grow the hell up. Seriously, grow up. This is an M80 inside a clenched fist. It’s irresponsible and completely dangerous. And I’m not sure what the hell the president should do at this point. The Republicans are playing chicken with economic collapse. — Bob Cesca

THE SKY IS FALLING!

I’m not gonna play chicken with the notion that the United States would welsh on a debt. I think that is wildly political and irresponsible. — Sen. Claire McCaskill

Notice Cesca’s and McCaskill’s use of the word “chicken.” Coincidence? I don’t think so! Unfortunately, this ain’t no cartoon or science fiction movie. I also don’t anticipate a happy ending.

Like most Americans that pay attention to such things (outside of Congress, anyway) I’m frustrated by the inability of those in positions of power to compromise on our national debt, the deficit, the debt ceiling, tax loopholes, tax increases and budget cuts. The reason is the same as always: the very power, and the lust for more power, that those in positions of power crave. Everyone wants to retain power and will go to great lengths to do so.

Sadly, when the credits roll and the curtain falls on this lousy show, I expect the greatest burden to fall where it has always fallen: on the most vulnerable among us.

Logical people (in my opinion) know this posturing on both sides of the political aisle is all about politics and power and how to control both. But too few in power seem to be listening to logic.

Consider the opinion of Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Reagan and Treasury official under G.H.W. Bush:

…we are getting close to the 11th hour and it is clear that there are many Republicans willing to risk a default to achieve their ideological goal of slashing government. Although they say they are motivated by a concern for the nation’s finances, their total unwillingness to consider so much as $1 of tax increase proves that such claims are hollow.

Read Corporate Cash Con by Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. Watch “liberal” Mark Shields and “conservative” David Brooks calmly discuss these issues on PBS. Watch “liberal” Thom Hartman explain who ran up the national debt. Read what the pro-private-sector, anti-big-government magazine The Economist has to say.  Billionaire Warren Buffett recently pointed out that, “We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush Administration” and “We had debt at 120 percent of the GDP, far higher than this, after World War II and no one went around threatening that we’re going to ruin the credit of the United States.” I think his pod person then took over to claim that the Republican-controlled Congress is “trying to use the incentive now that we’re going to blow your brains out…”

Finally, consider the thoughts of John Avlon of the Daily Beast regarding the pathetic failure of both Republicans and Democrats:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the way to reduce the long term deficit and debt requires at least three things—spending cuts, revenue increases and entitlement reform. Economic growth is the final X-factor essential component.

Republicans won’t budge on taxes and Democrats (other than Obama) won’t budge on entitlement reform. Most people, according to a recent Pew/Washington Post poll, will blame the Republicans if a deal isn’t reached. If we want to play the blame game it appears the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats will win this game of chicken.

And who loses as a result of this childish insanity? Not the Republicans. Those who lose will be the people who can least afford it. And here is where the insidious specter of structural racism (as much as most of those in power, and many outside the halls of power, will deny it) can be clearly seen.

First read “Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown” published by the Institute for Policy Studies to understand that “…we’re not broke. Not even close. The United States of America is awash in wealth.” But two factors “have unleashed a fiscal nightmare.” Most of America’s wealth is concentrated at the very top and the wealthiest among us are paying significantly lower taxes on there windfall wealth.

Most of the wealthiest people in America and most of the people in power in Congress and throughout corporate America look like me: white men. President Obama and Herman Cain notwithstanding, the overwhelming share of power and wealth has always been, and continues to be, concentrated in the hands of powerful and wealthy white men. Those on the opposite end of the scale are disproportionately poor people of color.

Read The Children’s Defense Fund “Portrait of Inequality 2011,” a report showing the gross inequalities facing black children compared to white children, across all critical indicators of wellbeing. This report explains how “the economic crisis of the last three years has pushed black children and youth deeper and deeper into an abyss of poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair.”

Finally, United for a Fair Economy has published “The State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?” Here is the Executive Summary. This report surveys the impacts of a tax-cutting, government-shrinking economic agenda on communities of color. If  such an agenda advances, “the dream of a racially equal society, as described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over forty years ago, will be pushed even further out of reach.”

The sky is indeed falling. I wish the pod people in Washington understood, and cared about, upon whom it falls.

Thoughts on torture and hiding history

Posted July 12th, 2009 by Tom

eric-holderAs someone who has written about America’s hidden history regarding slavery and the slave trade I am following with great interest the battle now brewing in the Obama administration.

Attorney General Eric Holder is leaning toward appointing a special prosecutor to investigate “harsh interrogation practices” during the Bush administration. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel opposes such a move and President Obama has stated his intention to “look forward, not back.”

Senator John McCain also opposes a possible investigation. CNN reports that McCain said

a special investigation would only publicize “bad things” that harm America’s image in the world.

And there’s more: it now appears that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA to withhold information from Congress about about a secret counterterrorism program. The Bush administration’s surveillance program apparently went far beyond what Congress or the public previously knew. Questions are being raised about how the administration hid this information even from Justice Department officials.

If America didn’t do “bad things”, Senator McCain, then America’s image wouldn’t be subject to being harmed in the world. America has a long history of hiding, down-playing, or white-washing shameful incidents and episodes in our past.

It is this deception–on top of government-sanctioned actions such as slavery, annihilation of indigenous people, unjust wars, illegal surveillance that infringes on our civil liberties, and the use of torture as an interrogation tool–that harms America’s image abroad and taints the American dream here at home.

I love my country. And I deplore certain actions that continue to be taken in my name; actions that must be hidden, according to Senator McCain and others, in order to protect America’s image.

George Orwell called it doublethink.

I call it unconscionable.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry