Photo credit: Reuters

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Dear Mr. President,
Here’s more eye-popping statistics for you. The latest Pew Research Center report on who’s got what in America, shows that the median wealth of Hispanic households s has dropped by 66% since 2005, Asian households by 54%, black households by 53% and white households by 16%. And that’s not all. 33% of Hispanics, 35% of Blacks and 15% of Whites have zero or negative wealth, a sharp rise. We now have the largest wealth disparities in the 25 years that data has been collected. Median wealth of whites is 20 times that of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, double the disparity of ten years ago. Of course, if the White category excluded the very rich, I bet the decline in wealth of that category would be right up there with Asians, Hispanics and Blacks; what’s skewing that number is the richest of the rich who get the tax breaks while the rest of us get skewed. It’s all those tax breaks for millionaires that started with Reagan and continues with Obama. This morning I read about the debt limit debate in Congress and in that long article there was nary a mention of increasing taxes on the rich, the obvious solution to solving the financial problems of the U.S. of A. You gave one great speech on how the Republicans are holding America hostage for the benefit of the rich and then silence. You keep caving in to the Republicans’ outrageous democracy-killing demands and that’s not just disheartening, Mr. President, that’s infuriating. Over the past three years it’s become obvious you’re not a fighter and your notion of compromise is most people’s notion of immoral. More and more you’re looking like the Republican president We The People didn’t elect, not the Democratic one we did. We have less middle-class, less opportunity, less Hope, less equality, and less democracy now than we did in 2008. We have more greed, more corruption, more mean-spiritedness and more of a gap between the only two classes left in America, the haves and have-nots. Much of this is the result of the wars we have started over the past 10 years. All war is immoral but when war is based on lies and deceit, it is especially egregious. The never ending “War on Terrorism” that justifies every outrageous act also drains us in every way–spiritually, morally, financially. You were elected to end these unjustified wars and instead, you have expanded them. You have turned your back on the will of the people and on the founding principles of this country. Shame on you, Mr. President.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear Mr. President,
Here’s an eye-popper for you: “America’s richest 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million.” Nicholas Kristof in today’s New York Times. That says it all: the maldistribution of wealth, the plight of the shrinking middle class, and the unfair and unjustified tax cuts for the wealthy. Our cities are going broke, pensions and services are being cut and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are under attack from all sides. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s state capital, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, is the first municipality that finally had the courage to reject the plan for “salvation” offered by Wall Street-controlled politicians which calls for slashing pensions and services, selling off city assets and freezing wages in order to pay bondholders. One council member who voted against the bailout for bondholders, in a moment of blinding clarity, said “When you take a risk on Wall Street, guess what? Sometimes it’s a loss.” That, Mr. President, is real capitalism, real common sense. It’s about time somebody said that. All over the country cities are struggling and there’s no help coming from Washington. The only people who can count on government bailouts are the banks, the big corporations and those wealthiest 400 Americans. What about the retirees in Prichard, Alabama whose pension payments stopped in 2009? How are they surviving? Or the pensioners in Central Falls, Rhode Island, another city headed for bankruptcy and under the control of a state-appointed receiver who put a gun to the heads of its pensioners by offering them the choice of cutting pensions by half or filing for bankruptcy and eliminating all pensions. As one of Central Falls’ citizens said, “It’s just insane that this is happening in America.” Yes, it is, Mr. President, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the down payment on the wars you continue, the tax cuts for millionaires you’ve extended and the cave-ins to Republicans’ obsession with reducing government and dismantling our social programs. You’re willing to make “tough choices” on reducing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, you said. That may be just a tough choice for you, a millionaire, but to the rest of us, it’s what’s left of the social contract and the vision of an equal and just society, of what democracy’s all about. Think about that in your backroom budget deals with the Republicans. And if you don’t care about that, then think about your re-election chances in 2012.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011


Dear Mr. President,
Just a hint of the future costs of warmongering in today’s paper. The plight of Staff Sgt. Brad Eifert, a soldier who cannot leave war behind, who was trained to kill and did, sometimes innocent women and children, and who will live with that for the rest of his life. Several times he pleaded for help but none was forthcoming. One Army psychiatrist told him, “You’ll get over it.” So much for taking care of our own. The only concern of politicians, Democrats, Republicans and Republicrats alike, is to stay in power, help those who can keep them there and to hell with the rest of us, the throwaway society. Lies, empty promises and secret deals, the stuff of political life in this day of polarizing paralysis and hidden agendas. More than $427 million a day for war while 100,000 people are being cut from Medicaid in Arizona, $30 billion given to Libyan rebels to fight Qadaffi while you propose cuts to Social Security. $700 billion bailouts for banks and no one held responsible for the blind greed, fraud and incompetence that got us there while four million Americans have already lost their homes to foreclosure, many illegally seized by the same banks and bankers your boys at Treasury bailed out. On every important issue you’ve caved in to the Republicans, to Wall Street and the big corporations, chipped away at what’s left of the social contract and turned your back on those who put you in office. Your administration prosecutes and persecutes with full force and fury government whistle blowers, those you once declared so important for democracy to thrive, while the Staff Sgt. Eiferts fight their demons on their own without help from the same government who sent them to kill in Iraq and Afghanistan. War has brought the U.S. to the edge of bankruptcy and yet you continue to expand the wars, six by my count: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. (Is Iran next?) Maybe you think the drones and Special Ops teams operating undercover and under the control of the CIA will be cheaper than sending American troops to invade other countries but you’re mistaken, Mr. President. Wars are long term investments in human misery. Wars guarantee atrocities. War IS an atrocity. War corrupts the very soul of a nation. The evidence is right here, right now, in Staff Sgt. Eifert. Your record on war is an abomination. The only way to restore this nation fiscally, morally and psychically is to stop the wars. All of them. It is your duty to do that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Mr. President,
With real unemployment near 20%, wages falling, prices rising and people losing their  pensions, their homes and their Hope, you should worry not only about your re-election chances but the future of America itself. Revolutions do not occur when people have enough, only when they suffer privation and injustice and we are fast approaching that point. While the wealthy see economic recovery, the rest of us see a bleak future. In the 1980s, the Reagan Revolution started the greatest transfer of wealth in history from the middle and lower classes to the wealthy and that trend continues to this day. Thanks to Reagonomics, we have gone from a creditor to a debtor nation, the rich have accumulated more and more of the nation’s wealth and the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened. The current budget battle has brought all this into sharp relief with the Republicans attacking government and social programs with greater ferocity than ever before, refusing to give ground on taxes, demanding the elimination of Medicare and pushing us into default on the national debt. None of it a surprise. What was surprising, however, was your proposal to reduce Social Security benefits as well as Medicare and Medicaid and shred what’s left of the social contract. The problem isn’t a lack of wealth but that too much is in the hands of too few and we spend what’s left in the wrong way: on unjustified immoral wars; on inequitable, unaffordable tax cuts for millionaires; and on billion dollar bailouts for banks and corporations whose incompetent greedy leaders have brought financial chaos and ruin to the economy but whose bloated paychecks and obscene bonuses continue uninterrupted thanks to the U.S. Taxpayer and friends in high places. Those of us on Social Security, meanwhile, haven’t had an increase in two years while the price of food and fuel, utilities and other essentials continue to rise. The average wage continues to fall, the lack of jobs is a crisis and the lack of healthcare a national disgrace. And you’ve gone right along with the misguided Republican ideology and their distorted view of capitalism. You’ve given up single-payer healthcare, extended Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires and continued to finance war on the nation’s credit card. The difference between you and Bush the Lesser is only a matter of degree, not substance. Yours is not a record to be proud of, Mr. President. It is shameful. It is un-American; at least the America I grew up in.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dear Mr. President,
Just received your email letter responding to my concerns about your double-dealing Republicrat budget proposal for 2012. Like your previous letters, this one avoids specifics and is filled with political clich├ęs and platitudes. Nary a mention what’s going on behind those closed doors. “…we have to live within our means so we can invest in our future,” you said. Mr. President, unless “we” invest in America there will be no future. We need jobs and only government can provide them through massive public works projects that will revitalize America’s infrastructure and the economy. We need to bail out states in financial distress, cities that are going bankrupt and people who are losing their pensions and homes. What we DON’T need are more failed Republican ideas of smaller government, eviscerated social programs, bailouts for banks and tax cuts for millionaires. The budget crisis requires only three things: stop the wars, raise taxes and a single-payer health care system that contains both health and care, that’s regulated and efficient, not the chaotic, substandard money-grubbing industry that now masquerades as healthcare, a national disgrace.

Recently I was in Pasadena and visited your alma mater, Occidental College. I tried to visualize what you must have been thinking when you were there as a student, your attitudes and dreams at that time, if you already had the idea that one day you’d be sitting in the White House pulling the levers of power. You were and are a smart guy, Mr. President, capable of so much. But like most politicians, you’ve been seduced by the corrupting influence of power, deserted your vision of a better America and turned your back on those of us who aren’t wealthy or powerful. How else to explain your rightward tilt, your  willingness to cave in to every Republican demand, your continuation of war, your persecution of government whistle-blowers, your attack on Social Security, pensions and government workers, and your willingness to extend tax cuts for millionaires. $13+ billion a month on war, Guantanamo still open, Bradley Manning still locked up for exposing war crimes by the U.S military, the Patriot Act’s ongoing erosion of freedoms…. It’s a sorry state of affairs we’ve come to. You didn’t bring us here, but you’re doing nothing to get us out of it. You had an opportunity to be a really special president but you are just another politician, disappointing so many of us who voted for you in 2008. Never again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Dear Mr. President,
Hope. Change. Trust. Believability. All four missing in action on your watch. Even Paul Krugman, an early supporter, has given up on you. As he said in yesterday’s column, “It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right.” But this is not a new phenomena. Last December, for example, you not only extended the Bush tax cuts, you out-Republicaned the Republicans with an unasked-for bonus of an extra $5 million exemption on estate taxes and a 35% cap on the tax rate for anything above that amount. Also last year you helped create an expanded deduction for corporate jets. But this year, well, this year’s grandstand play to out-Republican the Republicans by proposing reduced benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is in a category by itself. This one really breaks the back of the social contract. And not only is this consistent with your past actions but consistent with your style of secrecy and double-dealing behind closed doors. “We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing” you said Thursday. True. But what we can’t afford is continuous wars and tax cuts for the rich. It’s the Bush tax cuts, the ones you extended, combined with more than $1 trillion in unjustified immoral wars that are the cause of the deficit, not Social Security or other social programs. What seems to be forgotten in all this is that Social Security was, and still is, I believe, a separate trust fund which Congress has raided over the years and now considers part of the general fund. Krugman points out that you’ve adopted all the fallacies of the Republican rightwingnuts’ rhetoric as truth, even though reality clearly points to the failure of those ideas. You cannot de-fund social programs for the poor and the elderly in order to fund wars. You cannot continue to take from the poor and middle class to give to the rich. It is immoral, it is unconscionable. This is not equality or democracy, Mr. President. We are becoming a nation of haves and have-nots with the gulf becoming wider each day. Once again the jobless rate increases (officially 9.2% in June, unofficially, 16.7%) the number of new jobs is near zero, the rich get richer and the poor get more desperate. And in your flip-flopping and broken promises, your actions that put a lie to your rhetoric, you dishonor yourself and your country. And we are all the poorer for it.