Thursday, June 26, 2008
Posted by Hans Sandberg at 10:17 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
New York Times' columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote a sharp rebuke of President Bush's energy policy, if we are going to call it that. It's well worth reading.
"Two years ago, President Bush declared that America was 'addicted to oil,' and, by gosh, he was going to do something about it. Well, now he has. Now we have the new Bush energy plan: 'Get more addicted to oil.'”
The problem with Bush according to Friedman is that he is acting like a drug pusher struggling with his image, but always pushing his slimy slithery dark dope.
"It’s as if our addict-in-chief is saying to us: 'C’mon guys, you know you want a little more of the good stuff. One more hit, baby. Just one more toke on the ole oil pipe. I promise, next year, we’ll all go straight. I’ll even put a wind turbine on my presidential library. But for now, give me one more pop from that drill, please, baby. Just one more transfusion of that sweet offshore crude.'”
The occasion for Friedman's sarcasm is President Bush's recent attack on the Democratic Party for not allowing the oil companies to drill wherever they want, disregarding environmental concerns. Listen to Bush as quoted by Friedman:
“I know the Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the past. Now that their opposition has helped drive gas prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions. If Congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act.”
Your President has spoken.
Which makes Friedman mad, and righteously so:
"This from a president who for six years resisted any pressure on Detroit to seriously improve mileage standards on its gas guzzlers; this from a president who’s done nothing to encourage conservation; this from a president who has so neutered the Environmental Protection Agency that the head of the E.P.A. today seems to be in a witness-protection program. I bet there aren’t 12 readers of this newspaper who could tell you his name or identify him in a police lineup.
But, most of all, this deadline is from a president who hasn’t lifted a finger to broker passage of legislation that has been stuck in Congress for a year, which could actually impact America’s energy profile right now — unlike offshore oil that would take years to flow — and create good tech jobs to boot."
But wait, it gets better...or worse, if that's possible:
Ever wondered why so little is done to promote alternative energy in the U.S.? There is a very sensible proposal (H.R. 6049, “The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008”) to extend for eight years the investment tax credit for solar energy installations, for one year a wind power production tax credit, as well as a three year extension of tax credits for geothermal, wave energy and other renewables. "These critical tax credits for renewables are set to expire at the end of this fiscal year and, if they do, it will mean thousands of jobs lost and billions of dollars of investments not made," Friedman writes and adds:
"People forget, wind and solar power are here, they work, they can go on your roof tomorrow. What they need now is a big U.S. market where lots of manufacturers have an incentive to install solar panels and wind turbines — because the more they do, the more these technologies would move down the learning curve, become cheaper and be able to compete directly with coal, oil and nuclear, without subsidies."
The only pump that President Bush wants to prime belongs to Big Oil. What else to expect from an oilman without a clue? We're counting the days... and hoping that he doesn't try to pull the trigger on Iran in another miscalculated attempt to "save the world," or at least save the upcoming election for John McCain.
Friday, June 13, 2008
National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, June 7, 2008
More about the conference at http://www.freepress.net/conference
Saturday, June 7, 2008
(New York) The Swedish expat soccer team Blatte United FC beat Bowery FC 2, 1-0, in the Semi Finals of the Bowery Invitational Cup on Saturday, June 7 in Chinatown. It was a tough match under a scorching sun, but neither team buckled. After a short rest, Blatte United went on to defeat Bowery FC 1 by 3-0, and ultimately winning the Finals.
Marcus Samuelsson scored the goal for Blatted United in the final minutes of the game against Bowery FC 2. Oskar "Mohammed" Tilly shot the first goal against Bowery FC 1, while Medufia ”Keke” Kulego delivered the final two goals.
Watch Snippets From the Game and Blatte United's Victory Celebration!
Keke took a pretty bad fall, but kept fighting after a short break.
Marcus Samuelsson and Keke performs a victory dance.
Blatte United and friends.
Text & Photo: Hans Sandberg
Posted by Hans Sandberg at 6:08 PM
“I want to take all our energy and all our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president of the United States,” Hillary Clinton told a roaring crowd at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
She did the right thing, and she saved her place in history. America has changed. George W. Bush's extremism took America to the end of the road where there was no way ahead. America is in a deep crisis, brought on by greed and conservative dogmatism. Now is the time for a new New Deal, and the unifying of the progressive America behind Barack Obama is the key to launching it.
"We all want to restore America's standing in the world," she said.
This is hope we can believe in.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., who was so controversial that George W. Bush had to appoint him during a Senate recess, attacks Barack Obama in today's Los Angeles Times.
If it wasn't for John F. Kennedy's meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna 1961, Soviet Union might not have put his missiles in Cuba the year after, Mr. Bolton writes, "thus precipitating one of the Cold War's most dangerous crises."
He also attacks Obama for having suggested that "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela" are "tiny compared to the Soviet Union" and "don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us." Mr. Bolton can't deny that Obama basically stated a fact, but goes on to "dissect" his comment with the mind of a Cold Warrior.
Don't forget that the "Soviet Union's threat to the West was more than about nukes, he writes. "Subversion, guerrilla warfare, sabotage and propaganda were several of the means by which this struggle was waged, and the stakes were high, even, or perhaps especially, in 'tiny' countries."
After citing Cuba's support for guerillas in El Salvador and Nicaragua and "vigorous Moscow-directed communist parties" in Western Europe who "challenged the democracies on their home turfs" he turns to Italy as if it was still the 1950's:
"Had Italy, for example, gone communist during the 1950s or 1960s, it would have been an inconvenient defeat for the United States but a catastrophe for the people of Italy. An 'asymmetric' threat to the U.S. often is an existential threat to its friends, which was something we never forgot during the Cold War. Obama plainly seems to have entirely missed this crucial point."
The point being that the world is black and white, and anyone suggesting that it has shades is a suspect to Mr. Bolton, who in 1970 decided that the Vietnam War was already a lost cause, something he didn't want to "waste his time on". Black and white can be convenient. It makes it easier to turn away from the nitty-gritty while still feeling good about yourself. Hence Mr. Bolton did what George W. Bush did, that is, he joined the National Guard.
John Bolton is obviously carrying water for John McCain, but he is also selling his new book Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad.
The book was reviewed in the March 6 issue of the New York Review of Books by Brian Urquhart, the former Undersecretary-General of the United Nations. He points out that John Bolton's book reflects "how unhappy he was with the Bush administration's changing approach" as it moderated its most extreme and ideological positions from its first term.
One of the things new things that made Bolton bolt was, according to Urquhart, "the idea that it was important to talk, at least in a limited way, to those perceived as enemies or potential enemies and to make some effort to understand their concerns and their interests began, if intermittently, to gain ground." (Bold talics added by me, H.S.)
Hence, his attack on Obama is also a critique of the Bush's second term, and of Condoleezza Rice's attempt "to take some steps to revive US diplomacy."
The trouble with Bolton, which he shares with Bush is that he sees only what he wants to see. Like senor Don Quixote he is allways ready to mount his Rocinante to take on evil monsters and save his Dulcinea. His heart is good, but his perception of reality is a little bit off, to say the least, making anything else than saber rattling a "naive and dangerous" sign of weakness. Or, as Urquhart summarizes it:
"Bolton and his small band of co-ideologues apparently see themselves as fighting virtually alone against the forces of evil, compromise, and weakness. As far as foreign affairs are concerned, their beliefs seem to be roughly as follows:
- United States interests alone are to be considered as paramount; the United Nations is only relevant insofar as it serves those interests.
- Foreigners, even some supposed allies, cannot be trusted, and the hostile ones (North Korea, Iran, the enemies of Israel, and others) will always cheat, will never abide by an agreement, and only understand pressure and force.
- With such people there should be only sticks and hard words, no carrots, no rewards for good behavior, and no prolonged negotiations. Force always remains an option.
- The High Minded, Liberals, multilateralists, and most Democrats are, in their own way, almost as destructive as hostile foreigners.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Here is the full text as prepared for Barack Obama's speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Tuesday night, June 3rd, 2008.
Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.
Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said - because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign - through the good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.
At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.
That is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.
We've certainly had our differences over the last sixteen months. But as someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning - even in the face of tough odds - is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work at the Children's Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as First Lady; what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency - an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be. And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington, it's about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.
All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren't the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn't do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say - let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.
In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.
Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.
It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.
It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college - policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.
And it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians - a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.
So I'll say this - there are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.
Change is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged. I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years - especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.
We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in - but start leaving we must. It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future. It's time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve when they come home. It's time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda's leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st century - terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That's what change is.
Change is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy - tough, direct diplomacy where the President of the United States isn't afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That's what the American people want. That's what change is.
Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation. It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was President.
John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy - cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota - he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking for.
Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's ill, he'd understand that she can't afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and wealthy. She needs us to pass health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That's the change we need.
Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he'd understand that we can't afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future - an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's the change we need.
And maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he'd understand that we can't afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American. That's the change we need in America. That's why I'm running for President.
The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon - that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.
Despite what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I've walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. I've sat across the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to death row. And I've worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.
In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.
So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.
So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.
So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom's cause.
So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better, and kinder, and more just.
And so it must be for us.
America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
John McCain sounds so confident about everything her says. Trouble is that he flip-flops faster than a fish pulled out of water.