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A little humor about the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage

Posted on June 29th, 2015 in General,Religion by Robert Miller

Republican Pundits whose mission is to insure that a Democrat will be elected to the White House in 2016

When Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee learned about the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, they remarked “We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court on which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.” Sen. Ted Cruz also called on Americans to ignore the SCOTUS ruling. Well Juan Cole consulted with the Bible and discovered that it contains numerous references to marriages that do not conform to the one man one woman definition assumed by Ted Cruze, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. As one example Solomon kept 300 concubines as sex slaves in addition to 700 wives. Clearly, neither Rick, nor Mike nor Ted know what’s in their own Bible.


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The British Election

Posted on May 18th, 2015 in General by Robert Miller
Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron

I was truly shocked by the outcome of the recent British election. Not only was Cameron and the Tories returned to power, but they now control 331 seats (out of 650), giving them a clear majority without the need to form a coalition government. David Cameron and the Tories can now impose their drastic, austerity-driven, privatization policies which will include increased surveillance coupled with the jingoism necessary to promote these onerous policies and do so without significant opposition. Ed Miliband (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) have now resigned as leaders of their parties. Unencumbered by the centrist Liberal Democratic coalition, the Tories will have free rein to advance their brutal politics of inequality. Here is what the Tories have imposed since Cameron came to power: under Tory rule, the number of food banks has already increased from 56 to 445, and, according to a University of Oxford study, the Conservatives’ cuts will force 2.1 million Britons to use food banks by 2017-18, double the current figure. When his government came to power in 2010, pledging to cut deficit spending, the budget reductions have only reduced government spending by 3 percent: the money cut from the services sector has in fact been recycled into lavish tax breaks for the rich—a 7-billion-pound prize (almost $11 billion) for returning Cameron to Downing Street. Cameron and the Tories want Briton to look a lot more like America when they are finished, with soaring income inequality, widespread poverty and giant holes in the social safety net.

Over the next five years a 10 percent cut in support of public schools will take place further accelerating income inequality. Stealth privatization of the national healthcare service (NHS) is underway. From an article by Roisin Davis published in Truthdig entitled Five More Years of Tory Government: What Fresh Hell is This?  “In March, Cameron signed the largest privatization deal in the system’s history, worth 780 million pounds ($1.2 billion), and increased NHS privatization by a staggering 500 percent in the last year. As an article in Open Democracy has pointed out, the U.K.’s transition toward the U.S. model was affirmed by Cameron’s Health and Social Care Act, which ended the government’s duty to provide its citizens with health care, a duty that had existed in some form since the NHS was created by Labour in 1948.”

Everywhere you look the Tories are destroying the social safety net by cutting the government spending that is vital to sustain these programs. But these cuts are all attended by jingoism, designed to convey just the opposite policy. For example Cameron has touted his policies to NHS saying that he is spending more money on this National Health Service program. But, by not including inflation into his math, he has in fact spent less than the erosion of the pound through inflation, so in fact the money spent by his government is actually a negative total. In this case more is less. The Tories have been told by the National Statistics Authority to stop their claim that more money is being spent on NHS.  Read eight reasons you can’t trust the Tories.  An article in the Guardian provides additional clarity on the budget cuts facing British citizens. Yet seemingly Cameron’s jingoism has worked: he got re-elected by a huge margin.

The Cameron government also intends to enhance surveillance on its own citizens. In January Cameron said “that there should be no form of communication that the government was [is] unable to read” The Tory plan is to force the internet companies to keep massive amounts of communication data available for government surveillance. This will lead to chaos among the many internet companies that use encryption to keep users’ data safe. The program, called Snoopers’ Charter was introduced earlier, but withdrawn because of liberal opposition. But now there is no liberal opposition and British citizens will see a punishing new form of government surveillance in the very near future.

From the Roisin Davis’ article “In this fresh hell, Cameron and his soon-to-be-unleashed radical agenda will preside over widening inequality and the further dismantling of social protections. As the shock subsides, inevitable questions will emerge about how Britain’s left will fight back. But with Miliband’s failed attempt at a slightly softer neoliberal agenda offering no real alternative, the next five years require a stronger fight than ever.”

Perhaps at the heart of Briton’s problem is that the opposition party is offering no real alternative; this is reminiscent of the our Democratic party here in America, offering no contrasting alternative. In America, the 2014 election for the Democrats was a disaster. Perhaps with Bernie Sanders, in the race as a Democrat, we will see an alternative that provides a true contrast for the American voter. But don’t hold your breathe. I expect Hillary Clinton to win with very little difference between her policies and those of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Let’s face it, the Democrats have become very centrist party and require funding from Wall Street and big business to run the affairs of the USA and get re-elected. If there is ever a populist movement in this country, it will have to come from the public, as it did before the turn of the century, when we nearly had a true democracy. For  information that issue you can go here, here or here.

At the core of this problem is the failure of Briton to practice Keynesian economics. Following Keynes’ formula would have forced the government to become the principal spender of record until economic vigor could be returned. Many modern Nobel Laureates (Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz come to mind) have advocated for this kind of policy and it is the way we came out of the Great Depression under the leadership of FDR.

The right-wing has disgraced itself with the economic collapse of 2008; yet these same forces are still in power, when in fact they should have been eradicated with something like a 50 year dominance given to the Democrats. But as we all know this didn’t happen—-the Democrats have become center right and the Republicans are in a modern death spiral, determined to take the country down with them. Perhaps there is one bright prospect on the horizon by the name of Bernie Sanders. Running as a Democrat he may force Hillary Clinton to move further to the left and in the process save the presidential memory of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: looking through the lens of the retro-spectroscope, both presidencies are in need of repair. Already she is on board for recognizing that our state and federal penitentiary system is in a serious state of disrepair, so much so that prison reform is now obligatory and not an option. Let us hope that whoever wins this next election, takes the issues, such as the war on drugs, prison and sentencing reform more seriously than ever before. While there are many issues that will occupy the next president, solving these two issues or making a significant dent in them will serve to calm the nation and help dissipate racial tension. This issue is front and center now and it cannot be ignored. It’s like the civil rights issue all over again. It is to our discredit that we cannot solve this issue and put it behind us once and for all. It seems like this will be our scarlet letter for all time to come.


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A death in the family

Posted on May 3rd, 2015 in General by Robert Miller
William Pfaff

William Pfaff

I just learned this morning that William Pfaff, longtime critic of American foreign policy, died in Paris yesterday from a heart attack after experiencing a fall. He was 86. For twenty-five years he was a columnist for The International Herald Tribune, now The International New York Times. He was an astute critic of U.S. Foreign policy and from his European vantage point (he moved to Paris in 1971) he effectively commented  on the European situation as well. He was a good writer and wrote several books, a few of which I own. He put out a weekly news article, which I found to be a must read. He wrote about the America we find today, confused about its role in international politics and delusional about what in fact America can do about it. He was critical about the Western overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine and saw it as both dangerous and poorly thought out. I communicated directly with him from time to time, one of which was when I was in a kind of fanciful mood thinking about moving to Paris. He wrote back and said that even if I could afford the expense of living in Paris, the health insurance costs would be monumental. One of his last postings “History’s judgement on Obama” can be viewed here.  The New York Times obituary has been posted.

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