State of the Union


Chicago, IL
South Side
2013

“Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away.

Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. Today, our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years, home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.

But even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill. Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.” -Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 2/13/13

We Must Never Allow America to Become European.


“Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who served as a missionary in France and recently toured Europe, said Obama is determined to impose a Euro-style welfare state on the U.S. at the expense of free enterprise.”-Washington Post, Jan. 11, 2012

And here are some ominous photos, taken from Google Street Maps, which show the dangers that await America should it adopt a more European system of government, taxation and environmental policy.

Scania County, Sweden

Zurich

Strasbourg

Bergen, Norway

Alscace, France

Netherlands

Bergen, Norway 2

Epitaph for a Weak President and Lost Nation.


I did not write this, but the writer who did, printed in today’s NY Times, encapsulates and summarizes my sad feelings about the state of America and the weak character of our Chief Executive:

“When George W. Bush was President, I was ashamed of my country. Ashamed that we could have elected such an anti-intellectual, war mongering liar. My friends in Europe laughed at how stupid the American people had become. The nation seemed to be traveling down a path to all-war-all-the-time, led by a torturer-in-chief with a total disregard for civil rights and the truth. There was ample reason to be embarrassed and frightened.

But George W. Bush was a winner. That man did everything he wanted to do. His administration controlled EVERYBODY, including the media, and they brooked no dissent. They spied at will, tortured at will, started the wars they wanted to start and took the money they wanted and gave it to their friends. In terms of policy victories, it can be argued that the Bush administration was the most successful in history.

Now, I am ashamed of my country and my President for entirely different reasons. We are now led by a President with neither the desire, inclination nor the ability to win anything. Unwittingly, we elected a man with a fetish for defeat. With public sentiment on his side and victory at his beck and call, he chooses to surrender. He betrays his followers and chooses to lose. From a character standpoint, he is the biggest coward and loser ever to occupy the White House. This latest surrender is the most bizarre one to date, and will prove to be the most calamitous. He has ripped his own party to shreds. He has chosen to lock in the exponentially-widening gap between rich and poor. He has chosen a path to economic ruin. Things are about to get worse. Put another way, America cannot afford to have Barack Obama as President. We desperately need a leader, and I am terrified of what that leadership deficit might bring about in 2012.”

Infrastructure Photos from Around the World.


Michigan Central Station, Detroit, Michigan


Photo: by Juan n’Only

President Obama spoke today about infrastructure underinvestment in America and the critical need to finance and rebuild public construction projects in the US.

Our decaying roads, substandard transportation, shabby airports, underfunded parks, collapsing bridges; all of these are evidence of how America is falling apart. We need to invest in our own nation.

Around the world, other countries are spending huge sums of money to build better systems and facilities required in a modern world. China, Europe and even South America and Asia look much better than many parts of America these days.

If you don’t believe me, try using Google Maps Street view and just drop the yellow man on any part of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and France. You will see evidence of parks, bicycle lanes, smooth roads, and environmentally sensitive design. People will be walking, biking, or strolling along canal paths and well-paved streets. Cities and towns boast many trees, ornamental lampposts, modern and graphically up-to-date signs and well paved streets. This is what infrastructure investment means: better living through domestic investment in the public realm.

Los Angeles and places like Detroit look barbaric and primitive compared to other places around the globe.

 

Havenage Nyborg Denmark

 

 

Islands Brygge Copenhagen, DENMARK

 

 

Quai du Fort Alleaume,Orleans, France

 

 

Shanghai_Light_Rail_Caoxi_Road_Station.preview

 

 

Kuala Lumpur Airport, Malaysia

 

And recently Der Spiegel published photos showing East Germany in 1991 just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in 2010, after a massive reinvestment program undertaken by the German government.

 

Ostarchitektur/ East Germany, 1991

 

 

Ostarchitektur/ East Germany 2010

 

 

E. Germany, 1991

 

 

E. Germany, 2010

 

 

E. Germany, 1991

 

 

E. Germany, 2010

 

 

Vanowen near Kester. Housing in Van Nuys, CA

 

War and Health Care.


War and health care.

These are the two big issues I care about.

Even as I look for work, being unemployed for some time now, I think that our nation must end its destructive and expensive interference in other nation’s affairs, and bring our spending priorities and needs back to the US.

Obama has not ended the war in Iraq, and he has ramped up the war in Afghanistan. What war is next? Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia?  We are on a constant war footing with boogie men on every continent.  An endless battle with no end.

And what became of health care? It has been downsized, weakened, bended, fractured, anesthetized to make it palatable to Lieberman and Blue Cross, Pfizer and John McCain.  I still paid over $3,000 last year to cover one $40 doctor’s visit.

President Obama, you are losing my confidence because you seem to stand for nothing. You “lost” in Massachusetts because you don’t stand for anything. You are continuing the Bush, Clinton, Reagan policies of neo-conservatism, neo-militarism and neo-know nothingism that furthers the decline and impoverishment of the United States.

If you had only been bold and courageous enough to end the wars and demand single payer health care, I would respect you. Again.

The Nation: Obama at Year One.


From THE NATION:

Adolph Reed Jr.

Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Adolph Reed Jr.

Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

“In January 1996 I wrote the following about Barack Obama in my Village Voice column: “In Chicago, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program–the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics.”

In 2007 Matt Taibbi described him as “an ingeniously crafted human cipher, a man without race, ideology, geographic allegiances, or, indeed, sharp edges of any kind. You can’t run against him on the issues because you can’t even find him on the ideological spectrum.”

In 2006 Ken Silverstein noted Obama’s deep financial industry connections. Glen Ford, Paul Street and many others have stressed those and other disturbing connections, including his penchant for supporting more conservative Democratic candidates against more liberal ones.

Obama indicated no later than the summer of 2007 that he intended, if elected, to extend the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan.

The only surprise about his presidency is how many ersatz leftists cling to the fiction that he’s anything other than a superficially articulate neoliberal Democrat in the Clinton mold and that his administration would act in any other way.”

via Obama at One (Page 2).

Racialism and Obama.


Racialism and Obama

Suddenly, the cat is out of the bag and people are looking at those who oppose Obama and asking if the dislike of the President is formed out of racial animosity.

To an observer and historian of American history, the question should really be asked: What issues in our nation are not tinged by racial prejudice?

Very few.

Welfare reform, tax breaks for the wealthy, home schooling, public transportation, spending for domestic social needs, legislative redistricting, education, jobs, sprawl, the growth of the Sun Belt, immigration reform, the depopulation and decay in the Rust Belt, Christian values, states rights, affirmative action, prisons, law enforcement, guns. Almost everything has some underlying racial preference or prejudice influencing people’s beliefs and behaviors.

Obama is half white, but in this nation, that means he is all black. He married a black woman, and they joined a majority black church and lived and worked among working class black Chicagoans. Obama never lived post-racially but joined the very race based world of South Side Chicagoland.

Despite his immersion in South Side politics, Obama has tried and nearly succeeded in making white people forget that the history of America is as much about the exclusion of darker skin as it about the inclusion of everyone else. For the last two years, the liberal “elite”, if there is such a class, has pronounced, from its well-to-do white habitat, that we are a “post-racial” nation. We are not, and never will be that country.

Who among us, if given a choice, would rather have a black complexion? Who would choose to live in a mostly black neighborhood if they could live anywhere? We are lying if we say that we want to make our life harder. Anyone with common sense would like things to be easier: economically, socially, and racially.

If some sleeping liberals now detect that hostility to Obama stems from some hidden bigotry, they might realize that hatred of the man and his policies all share a common thread, however insignificant: race and color will always inform our policies.

Race and class are sitting in the debate room on issues as small as the renaming of a part of Van Nuys as Sherman Oaks; and as large, invisible spectators in the national tragedy of why we have spent 2 trillion dollars in Iraq rather than rebuilding Detroit, Newark, and Camden, NJ.

END

Colorful people for a Better World, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King (Ben Heine)


(Note : If you wish a print of this image, follow the following link and click on “Buy This Print” : benheine.deviantart.com/art/Obama-Luther-King-81753252 thanks)
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Liberals Voice Concern Over Obama.


Hope/Change

Illustration: jenniferXdaniel
[at] gmail [dot] com

From Politico:

“Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.”

A Presidency Without Laughs?


One of the only pleasures of the past eight years has been the great fun it is to make fun of President Bush. His malapropos, his goofy expressions, and his inability to form a complete sentence: these are everything that a humorist could hope for.

Now we have this upcoming First Family that is the youngest, brightest, most well spoken bunch seen in ages. And to top it off: they’re African-American.

The dignity, the profundity, the honor, the grace, the articulateness and powerful prose: all the Obama qualities are so comedically dismal.

And because the new President has a black father, we are all painfully self-conscious in our reaction to him. We must not rob the man of his dignity before he gets into office. We must give him a chance. He is the very embodiment of the American dream.

This nation defines pigmentation as the essence of one’s personhood. And is now eager to experiment with allowing an individual to be an individual and not a cog in the color wheel. So why are there hushed voices and sanctimoniousness?

Some of the funniest observers of the political scene in Washington, like the writer Maureen Dowd, are now suddenly the strictest and most reverent protectors of President Elect Obama. One must say nothing off-color about the man.

Dowd writes in the NY Times: “I had been astonished by the overt willingness of some people who didn’t mind being quoted by name in The New York Times saying vile stuff, that a President Obama would turn the Rose Garden into a watermelon patch, that he’d have barbeques on the front lawn, that he’d make the White House the Black House.”

He’d make the White House the Black House? What is so horrible about that? Isn’t it slightly funny? How about the fact that we will have a Black First Lady in a White House? Is that vile too? Dowd never backed away from her poison pen in attacking Mr. Bush. But Obama elicits mystical worship from a media that should be intelligently skeptical.

Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer,  Reagan an actor, George HW Bush a “patrician”, and Clinton was a serial adulterer along with his public accomplishments and leadership. But all of these men were subjected to skits, cartoons, mockery, and criticism. And nobody held back because they were afraid of offending those supporters who backed these aforementioned Presidents.

I hope that we are mature enough to allow ourselves to laugh at Obama without the inhibiting p.c. that risk turning the leader of our democracy into a personality cult worthy of the rulers of North Korea, Iran or Cuba.