Saturday, July 26, 2008

John McCain Controls the Airwaves

The McCain campaign has complained for months that Barack Obama is gets too much coverage on major media outlets. John McCain gets the majority of coverage and its mostly glowingly positive. Meanwhile, coverage of Barack Obama is generally negative.

McCain shows, over and over, that he doesn’t understand what’s going on. He says the ‘surge’ in Iraq caused the ‘awakening’, but the awakening started long before the surge. Was McCain questioned about this? Hardly.

McCain shows he doesn’t know how social security works. He calls the idea that money workers pay into the system goes directly to retirees a “disgrace.” Well, Mr. McCain, social security was designed as a pay-as-you-go system. Does the media question McCain’s misunderstanding of social security? No. Instead, they spent a week talking about how a comment by Jesse Jackson could hurt Obama’s campaign.

Obama meets with Hamad Karzai; rather than covering the substance of the meeting, the media questions Obama’s purpose. Coverage of Obama’s overseas trip started, on, with a article on how an Obama presidency could hurt black America.

This morning, Daniel Shore, a long time commentator on NPR, talked about Obama’s trip. Weekend Edition’s host pushed him, repeatedly, to condemn Obama purpose and finds mistakes in Obama’s performance.

John McCain’s complaints regarding media bias are just a show designed to create even greater bias.

This is, after all, a politician who has referred to the press as his "base," and a politician about whom MSNBC's Joe Scarborough has said "every last one of them [reporters] would move to Massachusetts and marry John McCain if they could." As Eric Alterman and George Zornick recently explained in The Nation, "no candidate since John F. Kennedy, and perhaps none since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has enjoyed such cozy relations with the press." Jamison Foser, Media Matters for America.

If the media reported on John McCain’s slips, mistakes, and senior moments the way they attack Obama’s bowling, this election would already be Bob Dole all over again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Karadzic's Destruction of Bosnia Lasts Long After War

Imagine this is your church.

The Ferhadija Mosque, in Banja Luka, Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH) was built in the 16th century. Until May 7, 1993, the mosque served as a center of faith and community for hundreds of Bosnian Muslims in Banja Luka, the second largest city in BiH.

This is your church now.
This is a photograph of the Ferhadija Mosque I took during the summer of 2001. On May 7, 1993, the mosque was destroyed by Bosnian Serbs who'd been whipped into a frenzy by war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Between April and September of 1993, in an effort to rid their city of Muslims, Bosnian Serbs destroyed every mosque in Banja Luka (16 mosques dating back to medieval Europe). In 1991, there were over 82,000 non-Serbs in Banja Luka. Only 15,000 non-Serbs live there now. During the war, Serbs destroyed numerous mosques and Catholic churches across Bosnia.

Even in June, 2001, 400 hundred policemen were needed, as security, at the corner stone laying ceremony to begin rebuilding the Ferhadija Mosque. The corner stone was immediately taken away and stored. Only in 2007 did the actual reconstruction begin.
Six years after the war ended with the Dayton Peace Accords, Sarajevo still smelled of smoke and the Parliament Building still looked like it was about to fall down.

Muslims, I talked to Banja Luka were sick of the war and the Serbs were tired of being the bad guys.

I worked with Terra, a legal-aid firm helping with property returns thru the Office of the High Representative and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Most of the staff were Bosnian Serbs. I got the sense that many were embarrassed by the actions of their countrymen; that they could be conned into trying to cleanse parts of Bosnia of their Muslim and Croat minorities.

This was the war that coined the term "ethnic cleansing." And, it wasn't just Bosnian Serbs. President Franjo Tuđman tried to eliminate Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia. He died before he could be indicted.

Radovan Karadzic, along with General Ratko Mladic, have been hidden from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the past 13 years. In order to 'cleanse' the country, these guys, with their goons, convinced Bosnian Serbs that their Muslim or Croat neighbours had already committed atrocities and were about to attack them. Serbs would then 'defend' themselves by attacking their neighbors, starting a village war, and justifying ethnic cleansing.

Karadzic and Mladic opened concentration and rape camps and wiped out entire villages. Just before the end of the war, they executed over 8,000 men and boys in Srebinica, nearly wiping the village off the map.

Bosnia is a beautiful country, filled with religious tolerance; one of the few countries where most villages have Catholic and Orthodox spires and Islamic minarets. Sarajevo is an eclectic mix of religious temples:

The arrest of the architect of the of Bosnian war, Radovan Karadzic, is promising signal for the future of this country and its Balkan sisters, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Kosovo.

Serbianna News Post reports that Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb autonomous region) Prime Minister Milorad Dodik recently said “Radovan Karadzic is not Republika Srpska. It is not his creation but the creation of its people.”

I'm sure the Bosnian Serbs I met are eager to separate themselves from the days of Radovan Karadzic. Hopefully, all of Bosnia is ready to retake its mantel as a home for Muslims, Serbs, and Croats.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why are conservatives so pessimistic about America?

Yesterday, Al Gore called on America to create 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources within ten years. This would take all of our prodigious intellect and ingenuity. But, aren’t we Americans?

So, why did conservatives and republicans respond with their customary pessimism? Yet again, they said we can’t do it, we’re not smart enough. Why can’t we raise the café standards to 50 miles per gallon? We’re not smart enough. Why can’t we get off fossil fuels? We not smart enough. Why can’t we provide health care and pensions for all? We’re simply not smart enough.

When are we going to return to the days of optimism? When the congress would pass “technology forcing legislation” believing we’ll figure it out? In the 1930s and 40s, we helped end a worldwide depression and defeat Hitler’s Nazi armies. We created social security, rebuilt Europe. In the 1960s we overturned a century of American apartheid. In the 1970s, Richard Nixon signed the clean air and clean water acts. Why can’t we get off oil?

If we don’t use our incredible ability to figure things out and get things done, Germany, France, Japan, and even China will do it, reaping all the benefits stemming from such advances

It’s time to call on the republican party to stop whining and help bring American back to its position as undisputed leader of the world.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why Investment Bubbles? Reagan’s Tax Slaughter.

Occam’s Razor tells us to look simply for answers. So, what basic principal applies to our current economic crisis? Supply and Demand. More than anything else, the basic laws of supply and demand have caused the investment bubbles of the past twenty years.

During the Reagan Administration, aided by a republican congress, Ronald Reagan slashed taxes on the rich. In 1980, the income tax rate on the highest bracket was 70 percent (Married, filing jointly - Income over $215,400). By the time Reagan left office, the rate on the same income was only 28 percent ((Married, filing jointly - Income over $155,320). With after-tax incomes soaring, the investment class invested irrationally, causing bubble after bubble. The economic downturn we’re experiencing, now, is the inevitable consequence of Reagan’s policies.

Let’s take the bubble for instance. The dot.coms started growing in the early 1990s. At that time Reagan’s tax cuts had fully taken hold, giving the investment class much more money to invest than there was equity in which they could invest. The basic laws of supply and demand tell us that when there is excessive demand for something and insufficient supply, prices will soar. Investors had too much money to invest and equity could only be created so fast. So, the demand for equity was extremely high and the supply was limited. Investors bid up the price of stock in dot.coms to levels many times higher than its actual value. In fact, no made a profit until the late 1990s. Because such prices were unsupportable, eventually the industry collapsed.

We’ve seen the bubble and the housing bubble. Now we’re entering into the age of the oil bubble. The collapse of the oil bubble could have catastrophic effects around the world. We need to re-graduate the tax system before the investment class causes the next disaster.