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Eliminating Earmarks Cuts No Spending

Wastage by government will always exist, so long as the following are present: 1) Lack of patriotism, 2) Lack of respect for the other, 3) Greed, 4) Partisan interests in matters.

Legislature, like anywhere power is concentrated, is a club. Combined with a siege mentality and cognitive innoculation, such a group can easily mistake others' needs for what is important to them. We talk about cutting public expenditure but bailouts to the problematic financial sector remain. You talk about cutting down on overheads yet defense spending is in the runaway stage, connected contractors scheme to make money from Uncle Sam with the collusion of willing legislators, and so on.

Meanwhile what affects the masses at community level, education, taxation, social welfare programs of whatever kind, housing and suchlike all take a back seat to games like "earmarks". There'll never be true fiscal reforms when the factors listed above, and many more, exist.

Congress, as always with politicians, is missing the forest for the trees.
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No Tears for Charlie Rangel

In many ways, Rangel is a beneficiary of democracy and freedom of speech. In my book, such an individual is undeserving of such media coverage, but that would also infringe on his liberties. Gifted in many ways, charming, good debater, outspoken, genial; he's still let himself down by either losing focus, getting carried away with his years of public service, or even both.

It's a sad way to end for an experienced public servant but all that this shows is greed is universal, and that no single individual exceeds the value of his nation, party, even community. Power comes with responsibility and Rangel's failed his exam.

This again is one of the benefits, painful to some like CR, of democracy and free speech.
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Vikram Pandit Has No Clothes

I agree with jstrate that economics is a technical area few outside of the discipline know. What the media has consistently failed to do is simplify this for the people's sake e.g. CNBC. The other area most societies have failed in is glorification of weath and wealthy elites like Vikram. With great power (or wealth) should come greater responsibility. No one must be allowed to get away with malpractice regardless of societal standing.

Jargon is often used to hide meaning. The club Vikram belongs to is a small elite. That should be scrutinized even more and the public fully involved in this. The financial sector's madness must never occur again.
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Glenn Beck's Horrific Lie

Honestly, what does it take to stop Beck? It is clear that failure to stop this demagogue is endorsement of what he does. Could it be Glenn Beck speaks for someone at FOX, say the owner Murdoch? While the pro-right wing supporters might stand with their favored channel, a boycott of all advertisers should form a start of action against FOX. The ADL and Soros should also be in the frontline of suing Beck for libel and deliberate falsehoods. What a disgrace to liberty and freedom of speech.
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Does Social Security Have WMD?

A disgrace playing about with the future of individuals; a future based on enormous self-sacrifice such as Social Security.

Life is a cyclical belief in hard work and sacrifice, followed by a generation that has not undergone such pain. Such a generation can quickly deplete what they find from their predecessors, and a situation will force them to sober up - just as baby boomers did - and relearn such discipline. It's sad though using this Fund as a red herring and possible cash cow.

Expenditure is already too high in some areas, namely defense spending. This is where money meant for healthcare, education, all on behalf of myriad other social welfare programs. Funds like Social Security (pensions) and any pro-people sources of money should be left alone. Only government reprioritization will avail much needed funds for developmental activity.

I agree on two fronts, Social Security cannot spend more than it makes, and that it's a pure diversion from other real issues. There is no crisis on this Fund and if not broken what is being fixed?
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Iran to Defend Women's Rights and Philosophy? No, Unfortunately, it's Not a Joke

John 8 tells the story of the Pharisees bringing a woman accused of adultery before Jesus the Christ and he in turn challenging them to cast the first stone at her. I will ask a not so common sense Q, was Sakineh doing it alone? Does that mean she should be charged with masturbation or exhibitionism, not adultery? Where is the male or female accomplice in the matter?

Hypocrisy is at the heart of all self-righteousness. I know, not all of us subscribe to Judeo-Christian or equivalent tenets. However, all have an unspoken, unwritten moral code. It might be based on taboos or suchlike, but it does exist, right there with one's conscience.

Iran is a pariah regime, the kind the world should clearly stand against. You have demagogues, with borderline (if not outright) maniac behavior like Ahmedinajad, using fear and blackmail to make others tow the line. Who gives such a right? It might be that those who convicted this woman are the real adulterers in the matter.

I helped sign a petition to plead for her life, what are whole nations, the UN and any relevant international bodies doing about her plight? Shame on Iran and the kind of sovereignty which translates to oppression, not liberation.
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Cutting Social Security is the New TARP

What I wonder is the true story on Social Security worldwide? How much money is actually there? It is a hot potato for almost all governments I know, starting with my very own so far from the US.

Of course, creating fear is one of the best ways to justify a desired end. Whether it is lumping terrorism with any religion, doctoring stats to support global warming, or creating some amorphous fear targeting the sensitive area of one's finances. Fear is one of the best weapons ever devised, a paralyzer that takes away one's sense of reason.

It's always a matter of priorities. If all governments would re-prioritize and shift emphasis on armaments and defense spending (or space programs) to social-oriented education, healthcare, personal development, infrastructure, etc., there would be far more productivity and reception to the positive. Health and ageing would be discussable matters, part of debate, but not fear-driven. Just an ideal world I guess, but utopia can form standards to aim at.

Unless a proper audit of Social Security is done and results availed, no debate would be complete. It would all boil down to needless and endless speculation. Fear is part of what fills the information vacuum currently there.
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Tea Party Defense Guidelines

It's time for the Tea Party to put their mouths where their money is. Period.
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Islam and the West: Reaching Intercultural Understanding

The problem with foreign policy is exactly that, the foreign. No one should ever presume to know what's best for another culture. This doesn't say under nationhood there should not be attempts to harmonize some archaic and dangerously retrogressive practices, e.g. child marriages; but there should be respect, humility and sobriety when addressing others.

A case in point is the continued alienation and demonization of Islam, or reducing the affairs of the Arab world to alignments and alliances driven by oil. How about the people and cultures that pre-date Occidental civilization? Egypt, China, India and much of the Arab world precedes the West in matters of education, civilization and even Christianity.

The US is one of the chief causes of world hegemony and should take a lead role in seeking reconciliation and offering apologies. Sadly, experience shows there will be more Vietnams left behind in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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The Bush Tax Cuts and the Republican Cult of Economic Failure

Is there something good that actually came out of the Bush administration? Even Hitler contributed the Volkswagen as his parting gift to the world at large.
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Childhood Pneumonia: The Killer That's Slipped Through the Cracks

Useful information and sad too. Why not use more aggressive dissemination techniques, e.g. mass media, community awareness initiatives and campaigning to create awareness of this child killer? We still commit more and more resources to senseless war campaigns and uncovering fictitious WMDs while children keep dying needlessly.
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Am I Better Than Facebook?

Facebook is simply a realistic measure of today's modern, but very chaotic lifestyles we live. Period. How shallow are we today? In a way, a lot. We're inundated with tonnes of information, which bombard us from all possible angles (and more), and we can barely keep afloat. Add to that the generally fast-paced urban lifestyle and breakdown in culture, a vacuum that must be replaced by something else.

In that sense, Facebook isn't any different from the world portrayed in "Surrogates" (the film), where I can leave my humdrum reality and plug into an alternate universe of my own making, entirely devoid of inhibitions that hold me back in real life. However, it boils down to the same principles that govern accumulation of wealth, taking alcohol or piling up educational achievements.

None of those will ever be a substitute for personal insecurities or character flaws. What actually saddens and sometimes disturbs me is there is a group of people who cannot distinguish between realities, leading to enormous personal frustrations and social misfits.

I'm more a fan of Twitter, but use Facebook to share my love of sports with fellow fans. I'm not sure what profile that makes me fit but I long gave up on the tedium of excessive socialising, FB-style.
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George Bush's Deception Points

Too many things have been said about Bush's arrogance and manipulation by associates like Cheney. I can't add or compete with that.

I still feel that the transition from Bush to Obama is indicative of the weakening of old money and suchlike influence. I didn't say wealthy elites like the Bush family or Kennedys will never play their part in American politics. They still will, in fact this time behind the scenes which might even be more dangerous.

The gradual shift away from such individuals is positive for American politics and its future. To me, the real war criminals are the likes of Bush and Blair, two who influenced war under pretext. Bush might be a hero to a clique, possibly drawn from Texas and white supremacists, but their influence will wane. Nothing lasts forever. Just look at South Africa and the gradual weakening of the Afrikaaners after the death of people like Blanche.

Bush is no one's hero, just a glorified war criminal who has put the world at large in danger from the backlash of fundamentalism. Why on earth would Nairobi have to be bombed because of a very remote (and removed) "war on terror"?
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Enough Already With "The American People"

I feel some sarcasm in here somewhere but can't quite place the point. Sorry for not getting it.

There's no way any government can ever be fully absolved of responsibility, however remote. Idealism has to be tempered with reality, otherwise very good intentions can lead to misguided action e.g. Hitler's Germany. Not saying it was a benevolent regime, but it started out trying to give the nation some pride following the national humiliation from World War I. Look at where it all ended.
About Elections 2010
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Power and Passion

The only thing I'm sure about from all debates that dissect this president and his style, is I don't once envy his job or position.

While it's not his work to please, it is also not his work to displease, but more to do what he has to do to move things. It's not his fault that the economy was in the rut it still is, nor his fault that the US was more or less at war with the world through various guises, notably Islam. What can he do, if at all? He can call for a withdrawal, he can attempt or just plain rein runaway Wall Street, and can oppose unfair attacks on his person from the so-called Right Wing.

Above all, as a partisan, and he IS a Dem, he can define or redefine what his party is about and help clarify nagging doubts that link it with right, left or centre. That too can form a major part of any legacy Obama leaves behind. He has the unenviable, and very difficult task, of thinking big (nationally), while seeing details or small things (his own party politics). In that sense he can be like the first incarnation of Tony Blair, and the redefining of Labour into a slightly moderate New Labour.

I'd say Obama's White House needs to remember that they represent a Democratic administration, and that perception is both fickle and dynamic. Work on the small things and the rest is forgivable.
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Enough Already With "The American People"

Maximum marks for honesty.

The chief failing of ALL human systems is the "human." As long as men come up with ideas, the same will be as strong or as weak as their originators. Democracy is supposed to involve the people, are they? Democracy is supposed to be strong on citizen participation. Is it? Just like the economic theory of "perfect markets," there is supposed to be perfect knowledge of all products and sellers. Is this so?

Of course not, it's just the ideal. Anyone elected to the hot seat of Congress or any other legislative body is not their own man. They represent a vast army of interests behind them. If all the politician does is go to talk hot air and enrich self, they deserve worse than merely being voted out. It is an enormous bit of power that comes with a bigger amount of responsibility.

None of us is perfect as Lear points out, which creates the need to share truthfully and sometimes virally, debate, challenge and scrutinize. Those organizations that help us make decisions are equally culpable here, acting as watchdogs for those who can't find time to know. Equal responsibility to the legislator is given - with a great degree of humility for knowing more.

Honesty will always form the starting point of ALL debate. When we admit we don't know half as much as we purport, then there is hope for humanity after all. Thought provoking and kudos once more for honesty.
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Women in Congress -- Don't Sweat the Numbers

At no time would I be so parochial as to support the marginalization of any grouping in society. I believe in the most qualified filling their rightful position at all times. I simply wish these "debates" would move from "man" or "woman" (on behalf of any other such title), and to the more pertinent issues of justice, respect for the other, and access to as many rights as possible for all others.

At the end of the day, the truth is, it's not just about men and women, but more importantly about elites versus non-elites. Only recently have we seen a relatively poor man, Obama, win the coveted number one seat. Isn't that more of a victory to the have nots, that they too can dream?

I'm not once downplaying what this article is, and all articles have some spin they represent. It's more of a challenge to us all to see to it that no group is left behind by the train of progress (and development), whoever that group is or whatever our thoughts about that group are.

That is the start of a truly just society.
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Fueling Positive Emotions in a World Gone Mad

We cannot do away with criticizing various ills around us, or giving critiques meant to improve. We can however never stop needing such articles. Good read and thanks. Despite all the shit around us, it's still a beautiful world after all.
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10 Commandments to Revive Progressives After the November Defeat

Very idealistic points. The emerging key here is how courageous is Obama as a person? Is he willing to sacrifice a second term by going gung ho on a new political direction, inspired by JFKesque idealism? The key challenge is defining who the "enemy" is in American politics. Is it members of the political party that opposes your every move? Is it citizens of states that are openly anti any policy of yours? Is it even ideology and related philosophical differences?

The ideas given come from organized religion, philosophy and theories of altruism. While they will prove an ideological bridge too far, they are critically important as the benchmark by which all politics should be played.

I can only hope to see such realized - who'd have thought Obama would have been elected to the US presidency and thus prove Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's words right? - either in my lifetime under this president, or in future under any other.
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The 2010 Election: Bill Clinton Is the New "One"

Why reinvent the wheel? There is a case for Obama leaving his own political footprints behind, but he can best go forward by embracing (and accepting) the past that Bill represents. In other words, Obama needs all the help he can get, to aid him find himself and leave a legacy of his very own.
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Strategy Corner: Exit Polls Show the Voters Just Want Obama Back in the Center and on the Economy

At the danger of sounding anti-Obama, what does the president actually stand for? He seems to have successfully alienated his own Dems, by almost seeming to work hard to appease the opposition (far right and Republicans proper). This is what might have caused him problems. He seems weak in ideology and too bent on populism. This might have caused a revision of faith in him by allies and supporters alike. That might be the crux of the matter, not just where he stands, left, right or centre. The voter might just find it near impossible to define who their head of state actually is.
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The Olbermann Suspension and Corporate Media

All major revolutions were sparked by power games such as what's been listed above. France's revolution, the Bolshevik revolt in Russia, Rome's power games, call it. What would happen if the continued merging of media houses into fewer conglomerates was a consumer matter? What if the software industry only comprised of one of Microsoft or Google? I'm sure consumer groups would be up in arms.

All societies need the voice of news, especially that alternative voice. Whether that alternative voice belongs to extremist groups like the NF (France), BNP (England) or various supremacist groups in the US, it helps an individual make a balanced choice as regards their life.

What happens when ever fewer elites amass power or concentrate the powers of dissemination among them? Why should any such be allowed such power over other people?

The danger of right wing media outlets such as FOX is they shape policy, e.g. foreign ~, or policies towards government and taxation, all of which ultimately affects unsuspecting Joe Public. Joe Public in turn is robbed of the opportunity to choose for self.

If that's not a form of dictatorship, I shudder to find a relevant example.
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Planting the Seeds

The best solutions will always remain homegrown ones. A good example is neighboring Tanzania, where the founding father, the late Julius K. Nyerere, created a brand of socialism called Ujamaa. While it might have failed from an economic viewpoint, Ujamaa (collective socialism but with a distinctly Tanzanian flavor), united the country like few African states have - including my own, Kenya.

The fact that Nyerere tried shows there's life and ability to think and innovate. That remains the best way forward. No foreign government can fully appreciate the local viewpoint, as has been shown with the USA's misunderstanding and total misreading of the Arab-Jewish conflict throughout their involvement in the Middle East. All that's left behind is civil war (e.g. in Somalia, Iraq and now Afghanistan).

From a community development viewpoint, partnership goes a far longer way than imposing one's beliefs. The starting point is to listen, and this is an active process that doesn't allow the listener to speak. What do the locals want? What do they consider their core challenges? What do they value most and likewise hate? What are their myths and legends all about? Minus knowledge of these and more, no understanding can be got.

Where on earth, and through history, have conquests ever produced anything other than resentment from locals? The story's underlying premise is true. Allow the Afghans, on behalf of any other local people groupings, to actively influence and decide their futures. Only partner with them.
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Gratitude for the Life of Ted Sorensen

It is people like W. Edwards Deming and Sorensen who help me have continued faith in humanity. Greatness transcends religion, nationality and personal beliefs, which clearly their ideas have. We can all benefit from each other's thinking, the more different it is the better. I agree with Sorensen that humans have the power to change their circumstance, which we sadly ever take advantage of.

The value of sound is rarely appreciated till lost. This is too true and rarely confirmed except in hindsight.

Blessed [indeed] are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

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The Real Center of American Politics: A Reflection on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

A comedian and madman have something in common. They're able to laugh at self and society at large, and work outside the bounds of norms, all without repercussions that "normal" people would suffer.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ARE the voice of reason here. When all rationality, education and experience has failed Joe Public, you need a neutral voice; a voice outside Washington and the so-called corridors of power to speak up. I still think this rally should have happened sooner.

The chief lesson I draw from Ameripolitics and this piece is humans, regardless of melanin content, remain the same. The nature of the beast is beastly, the environment notwithstanding. I wouldn't say Stewart is totally right, having benefited largely from the very things he makes fun of, but he might just be the right guy to make such fun.

All in all, it's a timely reminder to all people to wrest back power from the politicians and take active charge of the processes that will ultimately affect them.
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