No Cure For That
By Dennis Trainor, Jr

First Tunisia, Egypt, and then every hour it seemed a new revolution was emerging Algeria, Iran, Libya, and Bahrain- I mean, Bahrain- come on- if you would have asked most Americans what Bahrain was two months ago, more people would have guessed it was a dip for Pita chips, not a country whose people were being gunned down while peacefully protesting.

Just two months into the last year before the final year of the Mayan calendar, the final year in the history of the world, according to 4 out of 5 nihilistic moon bat conspiracy theorists surveyed- the middle East, some real estate with a high level biblically apocalyptic significance, is about as stable as the trifecta of Charlie Sheen, Bolivian coke, and a harem of Heidi Fleiss employees.

So, are we witnessing the beginning of the end? Or is this, somehow, the end of the War on Terror?

Peter Beinart, writing in the Daily Beast, opines:
“the revolutions transforming the Middle East are also deeply sad because they underscore what a terrible waste the last decade of American foreign policy has been. Since September 11, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars have cost thousands of young Americans their lives and maimed many more. … From Egypt to Libya to Bahrain to Iran, the lesson of the last month is that any regime that offers its people neither free speech nor a decent job is ideologically weak… Had America’s leaders understood that after 9/11, they might have realized that waiting on events, rather than trying to remake the Middle East at gunpoint wasn’t such a bad idea after all.”

The conclusion here, paraphrasing Beinart, is that as democratically elected regimes pop up in the middle east that are less do not have a history of acquiescing to a US foreign policy, Al Qaeda will find fewer pockets of disenchantment to recruit from.

While Beinart stops short of pointing out that the trillions of dollars spent killing and maiming innocent civilians in countries that posed no immediate threat to us is not only illegal and immoral, but almost certainly blowback inducing. The freedom dance that is going viral in the Middle East is encouraging, and deserving of our full support. However, the U.S. has played the part of Imperial Bull in a Religious, Cultural and Geopolitical China shop for so many decades that it takes a special brand of born in the USA Hubris to think that when all of the dust settles on the tectonic shifts now happening in the middle east, we will wake up to a world that looks at the United States like a benevolent patriarch.

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by Dennis Trainor, Jr.

Make no mistake about it. Wisconsin’s recently elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s threat to call in the national guard if Union Members respond to his proposed bill that would strip collective bargaining rights away from Union Members, is not only an attack against Union members in his state, it is right now the main front on the war being waged against the middle class.

Among the many negative consequences of our extended great recession is the growing perception, nurtured by ultra right wing corporate interests, that paints the picture of Union members in this country who are over compensated and in some way need to sacrifice like the rest of us.

Ignored in this argument are two facts:

While real unemployment in this country continues to flirt with 20%, Wall Street records record profits. In fact, according to the Commerce Department, U.S. companies earned the highest profit rate in the 3rd quarter of 2010, since, well, EVER. So, for all of you worshipping at the alter of Ronald Regan, tell me, when is some of this shit gonna trickle down? Okay, let me glance at my figures- oh, yes that is right Regan was wrong. Ever since the Gipper busted the Air Traffic control Union, wealth has been getting redistributed upwards at a rate that threatens to eliminate the middle class. Are you familiar with the term serfdom? Ah …   What's in a name? That which we call a slave by any other name would work for free.
Also ignored in the argument that Union members in this country are over compensated and in some way need to sacrifice like the rest of us is the following.

The sacrifices made by Union Members in this country gave all of us, no matter if we ever paid a dime in Union dues, a minimum wage, a 40 hour work week, overtime, sick days and in many other tangible ways helped create what we used to call the American Dream: The belief that if we apply our will and work hard for a living that we would secure for ourselves and our family a well earned and secure place in the middle class.

That dream, like the middle class itself, is under siege and on life support.

This public war against Unions is a major front in the very real war being waged on the middle class. The deck, financed by the Koch brothers and other individuals and corporations whose interests lie solely in increasing the profit margins for the ultra rich, is stacked against us. So much so, that messaging on this issue has infected the middle class to the extent that many blue collar workers who no longer work under the protective umbrella of a union consistently parrot the talking points of Fox News; essentially defending their would be executioners.

The Citizens United Case that opened the floodgates for increased corporate financing in elections will give us more elected officials who act as brazen warriors in the fight against the middle class. The Citizens United ruling will yield be more Governors like Scott Walker and New Jersey Union busting crusader Chris Christie.

There need to be more of us, like the tens of thousands protesting in the streets of Madison Wisconsin, whether we be in Unions or no, who are willing to stand, together, against them.

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by Dennis Trainor, Jr

During Sunday’s Pre Super Bowl Interview with Bill O’Reilly, Barack Obama said a few things that jumped off the screen. Among them, on offhand comment in response to O’Reilly’s suggestion that the President had grown more guarded since becoming President. Obama said “Well, I think what is true is that, when you're in this job, everything you say could affect markets.”

I think the time has passed where Obama’s allegiance to Wall Street over Main Street just might cost him the 2012 election.  While the administration continues to point out that Obama’s maneuvers in the mine field left him by that Texas Village idiot avoided the Second Great Depression, the barometer they are using to judge our recovery are only important to the great Gatsby white glove top hat strata of our society.  Yes a good portion of the middle class has their retirement linked, via a 401K plan, to the health of the Dow Jones, growing legions of that dwindling middle class do not have the luxury of looking to the horizon.

Predatory lending practices have left many in underwater mortgages- loosing sleep over the moral quandary of walking away where, if a corporation were in a similar situation, they would walk away from that mortgage without batting a eyelash on their brow lifted, chemically peeled Botox infused faces.

While Wall Street thrives (corporate third quarter profits in 2010 increased 28% form the previous year, the highest year to year increase on record) Middle America is drowning. A deceiving statistic is that unemployment recently fell to 9%, but that is because statics do not account for those out work so long that they are no longer considered part of the workforce and those working part time that wish to work full time. Adjusting to include those last two groups, real unemployment is over 17%.

How does corporate America thrive then?

NAFTA and the culture of exporting jobs without demanding anything in return is a major culprit. So we can thank another so called Democrat, Bill Clinton, for that pat on the back – or shove off the cliff as it were given to the middle class. Corporate America takes jobs elsewhere and creates a culture where an hourly gig an Wall Mart is something wished for longed for and to be grateful for. Soon we will be begging for crumbs from the aristocrats’ table like beggars in some Dickensian pageant.

And Obama walks on eggshells because he is afraid of affecting the markets?

More and more I believe that Obama cannot be both a great President and get elected to a second term.

Were he to announce drastic cuts in military spending – even cutting the Department of Defense budget by 80% would keep the US the largest military spender in the world- and reallocate some of the money to education, green energy, or single payer Medicare for all- he would certainly be ostracized by the establishment of both parties.

Were he to announce now, that the Bush – and now Obama- tax cuts for the rich would not be renewed in 2012 (as they almost certainly will be as they are set) and that the rich will have to pay a progressive tax system – he would almost certainly be committing political suicide.

Were he to fire his current chief of staff, former JP Morgan exec William Daley and instead take council from consumer watchdog like, dare I even say it, Ralph Nader might – shudder the thought- “Affect the markets”.

Doing any of these things might make Obama less popular, but when judged by history, they would make him right.

Perhaps he would even be labeled as the man who saved the middle class.