Dec 29 2008

An open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

Dear President-Elect Obama,

As you are now working hard to build your new administration cabinet and team I would ask that you reflect on the fact that the hopes of millions of Americans are focused on you and your call for change in Washington D.C. The past eight years have been extremely rough on the country as a whole. We are now involved in two wars, we have watched our civil liberties erode, we have seen a government which has been mishandled and mislead, and we have now watched our value and our fortunes disappear in a puff of smoke in front of us. Many Americans have lost their retirement savings and many have lost their homes. In turn, we watch as the our government throws billions of dollars to banks who are one of the root causes of the current economic morass as well as to automobile manufacturers who have largely ignored the market conditions and refused, at every turn, to change their business models to meet the demands of the new century.

Many Americans are facing the possibility that this will be their last Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa in their homes. The new year brings with it the reality that Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae and Countrywide will allow their holiday moratoriums on foreclosure proceedings to expire and they will move forward in foreclosing on houses. Many Americans are facing the possibility that this may be the final few weeks of work for them as their employers downsize, factories close, or businesses shutter completely due to the economic downturn now facing the country. Many Americans are wondering what will become of them, their families, and their futures.

We have witnessed how the country has been led down a path of carefree spending as though the piper need never be paid, how our leaders in the White House and in Congress have resolutely refused to acknowledge that the energy infrastructure of yesteryear is inadequate and harmful for the world of tomorrow, and how our stature in the world has diminished greatly because we have failed to lead.

The world we face today is dramatically different that that faced by President Clinton in 1993 when he entered office and by President Bush when he entered office in 2001. We need leadership now in the same way that President Roosevelt led in 1932 and 1936. We truly need a new “New Deal” — one where we, as Americans, can build a better America not just for ourselves but for our children, and for generations to come. We are not asking for handouts without being willing to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. We are not asking for giveaways without a willingness to break a sweat on our brows. We are not asking for you to solve our problems without our input. We are simply asking for you to set a good example and to lead thoughtfully and responsibly.

What do we mean by a good example? Be frugal in what you do — show America that you feel her pain. Show Americans that you understand their plight. Do not be execessive in what you spend but buy what you need. Show Americans that you are saving money, that you are investing in America — in the right places — green energy projects, schools, infrastructure for the 21st century. Help us build a new economy out of the ashes of the old one so that when historians look back they will say that this was the turning point when America became a better place — a beacon, once again, for the world to see, to learn from, and to follow.

Thank You,
Ido Dubrawsky

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Nov 16 2008

Jesse Jackson – Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Published by under Election,Thoughts

Once again Jesse Jackson has managed to open his mouth and insert his foot. It seems that the two are magnetically attracted to one another. While I don’t necessarily attribute much to the New York Post, this piece caught my attention.

As Jackson put it the most important change in American foreign policy will be the end of “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” (Taheri, Amir, “The O Jesse Knows“, The New York Post, October 14th 2008) and that “‘Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades’ remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House” (Taheri, Amir, “The O Jesse Knows“, The New York Post, October 14th 2008).

Now, Obama’s campaign has already made it quite clear that Jackson does not speak for or advise Senator Obama. It is quite clear from the quote above that the good Reverand is still as anti-semitic as he has always been and goes so far as to bring back the spectre of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in his quote. He is trying to portray American Jews as being a fifth column in America and using our supposed power to guide American foreign policy.

Normally I would discount the Rev. Jackson as being a has-been and a wacko…but I, as a Jew, do worry about the untested Obama. My hope is that Biden’s experience will temper Obama’s lack of it in this area and will result in a continued strong support for Israel. I have no immediate problem with Obama’s willingness to speak with Iran and other enemies of the United States. Both Generals Petreaus and McKiernon believe that we should pursue dialogue before military actions and I feel that they have some experience in this matter…clearly the Bush doctrine hasn’t gotten us anywhere but mired in Iraq.

My biggest concern is that an Obama administration will be overtly hostile to Israel and pro-Palestinian given the fact that Senator Obama has relied on the likes of Daniel Kurtzer, former Air Force Chief of Staff “Tony” McPeak, and Anthony Lake as advisors. However, I believe that Senator Obama is smarter than to take the advice of this group seriously. I feel that Senator Obama is still the better choice as he can help put America back on track…and a strong America is the best support for Israel. As it is, we will have to wait and see on November 4th.

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Nov 16 2008

New Barack Obama Video

Published by under Election

Excellent video from the Obama campaign. It sums the situation quite well.

John McCain and Sarah Palin would simply be a continuation of the past 8 years of Bush/Cheney policies — and America can’t afford that anymore.

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Aug 29 2008

The Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

Published by under Election,Thoughts

Last night’s acceptance speech by Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States was excellent. Senator Obama did what he needed to do — define himself and counter Senator McCain’s claims that he’s elitist and out of touch with Americans. The Democrats have done quite well for themselves this week and it was good to see Bill Clinton come out unabashedly in favor and in support of Senator Obama. If anyone is out of touch with the state of America and Americans it’s Senator McCain and the Republicans.

Consider that Senator McCain and the Republicans have been chanting the tired old mantra of “Drill Here! Drill Now!” for several weeks — knowing full well that drilling “here” and drilling “now” will do absolutely nothing to lower energy costs here in the United States in the near or mid-term future. It’s all a matter of producing a platitude that resonates with the fears of Americans rather than their aspirations. The Republicans are way off the mark and out of touch with Americans these days and it represents a dramatic difference in perspective. Paul Krugman in his latest op-ed piece in the New York Times notes

Democrats say and, as far as I can tell, really believe that working Americans are getting a raw deal; Republicans, despite occasional attempts to sound sympathetic, basically believe that people have nothing to complain about.

(Krugman, Paul, “Feeling No Pain“, The New York Times, August 29, 2008 )

As Krugman outlines in his opinion piece the census of 2007 shows that Americans are worried about the direction this country is taking. And that was in 2007 — before the financial crisis really tightened its grip on the economy and made it’s impact known. Median incomes for American families fell between 2000 and 2007, poverty was up, health insurance down. And even with all these indicators pointing to significant problems the Bush administration puts its head in the sand and proclaims that the economy is “basically sound” and there are no problems. At least no problems that tax cuts for businesses and the rich won’t cure.

On the health care side we are facing a looming crisis. Health care costs are increasing faster than the rate of inflation in the United States on a year-over-year basis. Employers, facing an economic downturn, are looking to cut costs whereever they can to stay profitable. That means cutting the health care benefits of workers or pushing more of the costs of health insurance onto workers who are seeing the power of their paycheck decline already due to the skyrocketing costs of gas, food, and electricity. As these individuals face declining health care the Republicans can only repeat their tired old mantra of “tax cuts for businesses will cure the economic ills.” Many Americans don’t even have health care insurance.

visiting the emergency room in a medical crisis is no substitute for regular care. Furthermore, while a hospital will treat you whether or not you can pay, it will also bill you — and the bill won’t be waived unless you’re destitute. As a result, uninsured working Americans avoid visiting emergency rooms if at all possible, because they’re terrified by the potential cost: medical expenses are one of the prime causes of personal bankruptcy.

(Krugman, Paul, “Feeling No Pain“, The New York Times, August 29, 2008 )

As for health care coverage, President Bush and Senator McCain seem to think that the emergency room at the hospital is “affordable” health care. In fact President Bush stated so last year: “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” (Bush, George W., HealthCareTalk.net,July 10, 2007).

It’s hard to sympathize with the plight of people when you don’t even connect with their problems. And therein lies the Republican’s dilemma. How can they relate to voters when they don’t even recognize their problems. The disconnect is so bad that former McCain economic advisor, the former senator Phil Gramm, described America as a “nation of whiners.” (“Dr. Phil Gramm knows what ails America“, LA Times, July 11, 2008) How out of touch can you be?

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Aug 28 2008

We Can Solve It!

Published by under Energy Policy,Thoughts

It’s astounding to realize that the oil companies have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $427 million dollars on lobbying in the first half of 2008. Let’s see what that got them…a call from the Republicans to “Drill Here! Drill Now!” with no regard for the environment. We need to solve our addiction to oil and the quickly developing climate crisis in other ways. But don’t expect John McCain or the Republicans to jump on board. The following video comes from the Alliance for Climate Protection and drives the point home — We CAN solve it!

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Aug 28 2008

More Nation Building at Home

Published by under Election,Thoughts

Tom Friedman’s column yesterday, “A Biblical Seven Years,” highlights his experience and thoughts during the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. The focus is not so much on how the China has outclassed America but rather focuses on the reality that we need to do nation building here at home. Over the past seven years since the Chinese were awarded the Olympics they have invested dramatically in their infrastructure while we have spent our resources fighting terrorism. Their threats are small and primarily domestic; ours are significant and international in scope. Still, this year we need to make a choice — a choice between someone who offers a continuation of the failed, mishandled policies of one of the worst (if not the worst — he’s truly giving Jimmy Carter a run for his money) presidents in all of American history and someone who is untested and “unknown.”

There’s an old saying “better the evil you do know than the one you don’t.” In this situation I think we are better off with the evil “we don’t know.” Barack Obama represents, hopefully, a sea-change in the direction this country is taking. John McCain offers us more of the George Bush doctrine (if only he were capable of articulating a doctrine). We need to refocus our energies and our resources back here at home to tackle the hard issues facing us: our crumbling infrastructure, our dependence and addiction to foreign oil, the pollution of our environment, education, and global warming. We need to stop sending our money and our resources overseas and rebuild a great nation. Otherwise, as Tom Friedman said in his column, “Start teaching your kids Mandarin.” (Friedman, Tom, “A Biblical Seven Years“, The New York Times, August 27, 2008 ).

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Aug 27 2008

President Bush and the Constitution

Published by under Election,Thoughts

There are people in America that believe that if the election for the President in 2008 does not go to the Republicans then President Bush will “cancel” the elections in one fashion or another. Consider the following YouTube video

Here the poster brings about all sorts of arguments that elements which President Bush and the Republicans have put into place will allow him to suspend the Constitution and cancel the results of the election. Personally, I think this is very far-fetched and that Bush and his cohorts would have more to lose by trying such a tactic. However, don’t think that Bush has much respect for the Constitution. Consider back in 2005 it was reported in the Capitol Hill Blue that when the Patriot Act was up for renewal an argument ensued between President Bush and Congressional GOP leaders. As told by Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” (emphasis added)

(Thompson, Doug, “Bush on the Constitution: A ‘goddamned piece of paper’“, Capitol Hill Blue, December 5, 2005)

So, a document which George W. Bush has sworn to uphold, a document that has defined the basis for the law of this land for over two centuries, a document which has withstood the challenges faced by Lincoln during the Civil War and Roosevelt during the Great Depression…this document…the U.S. Constitution…is nothing more than a “gaddamned piece of paper” to George W. Bush.

When I think about this sort of perspective by the highest government official in the U.S. it makes me shudder. Here’s a document that represents and defines our system of government and is the very foundation for our government and George W. Bush shows such derision and disrespect for it. How this man ever got to be President of the United States is beyond me. It is time to make a change…we need to make sure President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the Republicans and their cohorts understand that you cannot take the Constitution for granted and you cannot actively work to undermine the rights and liberties that are guaranteed by it. It is time to vote these people out of office and return our government to what it should be — a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” (Lincoln, Abraham, “Gettysburg Address“, November 19 1863)

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Aug 18 2008

What John McCain Doesn't Want You to Know

Published by under Energy Policy

In Sturgis, SD last week John McCain addressed attendees of the annual motorcycle rally there by proclaiming

“We’re not going to pay $4 dollars a gallon for gas (when I am president) because we are going to drill offshore and we are going to drill now. We are doing to drill here and we are going to drill now,”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

How amazing. “Drill here. Drill now!” The mantra of the Republican party that they claim will solve our energy crisis. How deceitful of Senator McCain. But wait…it gets better. He then tells the rally attendees

“My opponent doesn’t want to drill, he doesn’t want nuclear power. He wants to inflate your tires.”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

In both of the above points McCain is a liar…or at the least completely misleading. Barack Obama’s energy plan includes nuclear energy as a part of his overall plan and notes that “Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option.” (“Barack Obama : New Energy for America“, 2008, found at http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/factsheet_energy_speech_080308.pdf). Senator Obama acknowledges that nuclear power generation is something we will need for a long time in order to meet our climate goals. John McCain’s proclamation that “he [Obama] doesn’t want nuclear power” is a ball-faced lie and Mr. McCain better own up to it. As for the “My opponent doesn’t want to drill” argument — that’s patently false. On August 1st 2008 Barack Obama told the Palm Beach Post during a trip to Florida

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,…If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,”

(Whitesides, John, “Obama says would consider limited offshore drilling“, Reuters, August 1, 2008 )

Just because Senator Obama is not in favor of the rape and pillage style offshore oil drilling that Senator McCain and his Republican cohorts want doesn’t mean that he’s opposed to offshore drilling. But it has to be done with consideration and forethought…something that appears to be outside of John McCains capabilities. In addition, “Drill here! Drill now!” will absolutely, positively not affect gas prices in the immediate or near-term future — unless you consider “near term” as being around a decade. That’s completely misleading and shows what a low impression Republicans and John McCain have for the voter’s intelligence. In fact it’s downright insulting.

But let’s move on. John McCain then told the attendees of the motorcycle rally

“Is there anyone that is tired of paying…four dollars a gallon for gasoline. Is there anyone that is sick and tired of it? Is there anyone that wants to become energy independent?” McCain said. “Well I am telling you right now we are sending 700 billion dollars (abroad) and your Congress just went on vacation for five weeks. Tell them to come back and get to work.”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

Those are big words for Mr. Mcain — “come back and get to work.” As Tom Friedman noted in his latest op-ed piece in the New York Times:

It was only five days earlier, on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems.

Both the wind and solar industries depend on these credits — which expire in December — to scale their businesses and become competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike offshore drilling, these credits could have an immediate impact on America’s energy profile.

Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote.

(Friedman, Tom, “Eight Strikes and You’re Out“, The New York Times, August 13th 2008 )

In fact, John McCain has missed a lot of votes over the years. Now, to be fair, Senator Obama also the July 30th vote which is inexcusable…however, he did vote on three previous ocassions in favor of tax breaks for solar and wind energy.

Finally, as it turns out Senator McCain doesn’t work weekends. (Thanks to Bob Cesca and his Goddamn Awesome Blog! Go! for the links). So before Senator McCain gets up and tells a crowd patently misleading and false rhetoric he should check his facts. And, perhaps he should show up in the Senate and vote more often…Congress might get some legislation passed if he did.

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Aug 18 2008

Breaking the Oil Addiction

Published by under Energy Policy

Why can’t we? Tom Friedman’s latest op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times focused on what the Danish have accomplished as far as energy independence. It turns out that the Danish have managed to make themselves 100% energy independent. That’s right…the 1973 Arab oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War initiated by Syria and Egypt against Israel impacted Denmark’s economy hard. The impact was so hard that the Danish had to ban Sunday driving altogether!

What’s most interesting is the response of the Danes to that crisis. Rather than deciding that drilling for more oil domestically was the solution they turned to alternative, renwable energy as their solution. How did they do it. Well, according to Tom Friedman the

Danes imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards that allowed them to grow their economy — while barely growing their energy consumption — and gave birth to a Danish clean-power industry that is one of the most competitive in the world today. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind. America? About 1 percent.

(Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 )

The increased taxes pushed the Danes to be more energy efficient and to innovate in many ways. They recycle waste heat from coal-fired power plants and use it for home heating and hot water and they incinerate trash in central stations also to provide home heating (Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 ) The reshaping of their energy market with high taxes on fossil fuels and high energy efficiency standards has not stifled innovation in the private sector. Rather it has created jobs and industries. In the 1970s Denmark’s wind industry was non-existant. Today one-third of all manufactured terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark and over the past 10 years Denmark’s energy technology exports have tripled. (Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 ) Denmark’s minister for climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard notes that

“It is one of our fastest-growing export areas,” said Hedegaard. It is one reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent. In 1973, said Hedegaard, “we got 99 percent of our energy from the Middle East. Today it is zero.”

(Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 )

So here’s the bottom line. Denmark had fewer resources than we do now to make this transformation over the past 30 years. What’s stopping us from doing the same thing. Consider that in the short term we will be paying higher taxes for energy but in the long run we will be breaking the oil addiction that OPEC wants us to be on and we will stop channeling money into the coffers of people like Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez who would love nothing better than a world without a United States. Both John McCain and Barack Obama must be willing to spell out a visionary energy plan that will end this stranglehold that OPEC and the petrodictators hold over us. We are already seeing what Vladimir Putin and the Russians are now doing with their newly discovered wealth and power…they’re invading former Soviet republics with the intent of reconstructing a Greater Russia. Similarly with President Chavez and the Arab leaders of the middle east. Our only way to break this is by breaking the oil addication.

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Aug 08 2008

Paris Hilton Strikes Back

Published by under Uncategorized

Senator John McCain used an image of Paris Hilton (and Brittany Spears) in his latest campaign ad against Barack Obama. Well, looks like Paris Hilton has struck back.

It’s very funny. “Old White Hair Dude” — at least she has a sense of humor. Can’t say the same thing about Senator McCain whose campaign is starting to sound alot like the George W. Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004. But that’s not a shock given that he’s hired Steve Schmidt (a protege of Karl Rove) and some others from the Bush 2004 campaign to bring back the low blow mud slinging that was their trademark. Whatever happened to the principled, high-minded, Senator McCain who was admired for his maverick stances on controversial issues? It would be nice to have him running for President rather than this new McBush.

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