Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 - The Year in Review (Politics)

  With only four days left in 2014 it is relatively safe for me to say that it was a good year for me. I enjoyed my first full year of semi-retirement. I had the good fortune to be an actor in plays of two up and coming playwrights Prudence Paez and Kasim Power. My family has overcome some rather serious challenges. Although it has been a good year for me. It has not been a good year for the world. It amazes me how much vitriolic contempt was hurled at President Obama, who like his Democratic predecessor  Bill Clinton was very accommodating to GOP as stated in this Noam Chomsky video. In spite of this I would still say that President Obama domestically is among our best presidents when you consider the economic ruin he inherited from George W. Bush. The country was losing over 700,000 jobs a month yet Obama was able to turn that around to a net gain of over 200,000 jobs a month. This is not an astonishing accomplishment but it is much better than what we had with Bush. What amazes me is how no one wants to give him credit. The Obama administration took the middle class out of the health care doldrums with the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Is this the ultimate solution, no it is not, but every other western industrialized nation had a comprehensive healthcare program except the United States. President Obama played a vital role in the recovery of the US auto industry helping to provide badly needed funds for survival. Today all three major car companies are either in a black or close to it.
   Although I have praise for the president on most domestic issues, there are some actions he could have taken but didn't. 2014 was a year we had a black president and black attorney general but civil rights as far as blacks are concerned took one giant step backward. 30 of the 50 states successfully passed laws that disenfranchise blacks, latinos, students and the elderly.......and NOTHING was done about it, in fact it was rarely discussed. The president is fond of saying that he is president of ALL the people, but with real black unemployment reaching 30 per cent and numerous cases of unarmed young black men being killed by white policemen it is easy to understand why many blacks feel they are being ignored.
   Why did the Ukrainian change of government have to be so immediate? What is usually done in most democracies when the party in power is not doing the job the people elected it to do the people wait for the next election cycle and they vote the leader out of office. John McCain and several others on the right made frequent trips to Ukraine to encourage the rebels that the US would support them. Suddenly after the change in government when Crimea decided it didn't want to be part of the new Ukraine and with Russia's help succeeded in separating itself from Ukraine suddenly Russian backed rebels of Crimea were the bad guys in the US and western media in general.
  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues on and unless there is a genuine desire to meaningfully negotiate this conflict could go on and on for centuries. I believe the state of Israel has a right to exist, but how can you negotiate peace when you continue to grab land from your adversary illegally. The Netanyahu government is not willing to negotiate in good faith.
   It is on the president's watch that the US has become a police state. The NSA has the president's endorsement to spy on everyone domestically and overseas. Staunch US allies like France, Germany and Brasil have had their heads of state spied upon. Drone technology has killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent women and children. Later an apology is given but the same actions are repeated. Even the CIA now admits that these actions serve as recruiting tools for those who are seeking revenge against the United States.
    The major banks (Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Goldman-Sachs) have stolen millions from US citizens through mortgage fraud, yet the President has forgiven them and tells us to "move on" As
of yet no one has gone to jail.  The lion's share of the funds raised to make Barack Obama president came from these same banks. When you go to a dance you have to leave with the one you came with.
   With only 37% of eligible voters showing up at the polls the Republican party has taken control of both houses of congress which means big trouble for this president and this country. The Republicans will do their best to destroy the Affordable Care Act and they may even have enough votes to impeach President Obama.
   What I find particularly distasteful is the media silence with regard to two projects that will definitely hurt the people of the United States. TPP or The Trans-Pacific Project according to Adam Grayson is something no member of Congress can discuss publicly, if they do it can get them jail time. Is this democracy or fascism? In spite of the threats and the intense secrecy certain information has been leaked. If this world-wide project prospers people will no longer be able to criticize multi-national corporations and will be subjected to lengthy prison terms if they do. Is this democracy or fascism?  The people of Maui, Hawaii decided that they want GMO labeling. Monsanto, Dow and other chemical giants are not waiting for the TPP to pass, they have already brought a lawsuit against the people of Maui. The other pending media sensitive outrage is the Keystone Pipeline project, once again most media outlets won't touch it and the public knows very little about it. This
project will bring dangerous tar sand oil from Canada through the heartland of the United States in route to China. President Obama keeps saying he hasn't made up his mind about it yet. In spite of the secrecy there are those who know exactly what this entails. Proponents say that this will create badly needed jobs, but detractors say it will only create about 58 jobs. This is a lose/lose endeavor for the American people, who will not share a role in the projected huge profit in sale. They will not be using the oil because its intended destination is China. The company behind this project is Canadian. There are several native American tribes who have promised to fight to their last breath of life to make sure the Keystone pipeline never is completed.
     In 2014 many innocent unarmed black men were killed by white police and these white police were never indicted. A twelve year old with a toy pistol was murdered because he was found to be in position of a toy gun. Another innocent young black man was killed in a Wal-Mart store when he picked up a toy rifle that was on sale in the store. Then this led to massive demonstrations across the nation by people of all races who showed their disdain for police who have been given a license to kill. The murder of unarmed 18 year old African American Michael Brown enraged black youth of Ferguson, Missouri to the extent that when a predominantly white police force pursued a small group of blacks that proceeded to an area near a river and an even larger group of unarmed blacks immediately surrounded the police, rendering them helpless being sandwiched between two groups of blacks. This could easily be done because Ferguson's population is 63% black with less that five black policemen.This is definitely a change in tactic that in the end resulted in saving lives on both sides since the police wouldn't dare deliberately harm any of the black demonstrators since they were heavily outnumbered. In Staten Island another unarmed African American Eric Gardner was killed by a white officer who used an illegal choke hold. This white officer was never indicted, just like the case in Ferguson. We would have never known about this if Ramsey Orta hadn't taken pictures of the whole incident with his cell phone. Believe it or not Ramsey Orta WAS indicted.
     The US government is very very quiet about the disappearance of 48 Mexican students in the state of Guerrero. Those outlets that do mention it provide nothing more than a soundbite. 43 thousand people demonstrated in Mexico City and little or nothing was mentioned here. Guerrero happens to be the site of petroleum deposits and the people who live on this land are native peoples. The proxy war technique so successful in Africa may be coming into play here. The people of the area say that the drug cartels and the police are working together. Keep in mind that United States involvement was found in the massacres that took place in Central America during the Reagan Administration when the horrific School of the Americas rewarded bogusly elected officials to kill their own people.  
    But the scenario is not all gloomy. New Jersey, Illinois and a few other states have voted against Citizen United. If the rest of the country agrees money would no longer decide elections and the Kochs and their ilk could no longer buy Congress. The city of Richmond, California embarrassed
Chevron buy defeating their entire slate of candidates in local elections and Maui, Hawaii did the same to Monsanto and Dow by insisting on GMO labeling. Monsanto and Dow lawyers are fighting back with a lawsuit. We will have to wait until 2015 to see how this battle will end.
    In the final years of his presidency Barack Obama finally realizes that bi-partisanship is NOT going to work so he is finally acting 1) initiating an historic re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and The United States  2) making a long term environmental agreement with China without consulting Republicans  3) supporting an immigration bill that would free over 5 million immigrants from immigration authority scrutiny. These actions are refreshing, but should have come sooner. So politically 2014 was definitely not a good year, hopefully 2015 will be better, time will tell.

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