An excellent opinion piece written by syndicated columnist, Maria Elena Salinas.
The political conventions in the next couple of weeks will have to be the most exciting, most extravagant, most appealing and most motivating ever in the history of conventions. If Democrats and Republicans don’t do something to fire up their base of supporters, we could be looking at an election in which apathy gets the upper hand.
The campaign currently is going through its usual summer lull. That is to be expected. But there is something going on out there that concerns me. I have heard too many people say that they are so confused or disenchanted with both candidates that they are thinking not of crossing party lines, but of not voting. Canyou imagine?
Now, this is totally anecdotal and not based on any polling data, but I keep getting a similar reaction to the election from Democratic, Republican and independent voters in different parts of the country. That is certainly a contrast from this year’s primary season, in which voters showed an unprecedented interest in the political process. Many states reported record voter-turnout rates, particularly among Democrats.
The discontent among many Americans with the Bush administration and the novelty of having a woman and an African-American as front-runners on the Democratic side didn’t just give the press a lot of material to cover, it gave voters an incentive. Now it seems like that passionate enthusiasm for the candidates has turned into a double-edged sword.
Many of those who had their heart set on Hillary Clinton are still having trouble with the idea of supporting Barack Obama, even if he is from the same party. And among Republicans, John McCain doesn’t seem to be stirring up a lot of passion. Some of the comments I hear about the candidates are so outrageous that they are not worth repeating. It makes you wonder if people are listening to the candidates’ speeches, or just the pundits and critics. The bottom line is that both parties are going to have to entice voters during their conventions with riveting speeches and alluring promises. In the words of one political expert, the conventions are going to have to be “mind-blowing.”
The success of the Nov. 4 election for both parties will depend on how many people vote. They both have to mobilize their base. In 2004, there was a record voter turnout in the general election. Sixty-three percent of eligible voters cast their ballots — 15 million more than in 2000 — and 47.2 percent of eligible Hispanic voters turned up at the polls, up 2 percent from the previous election.
It would be a major setback for our democratic process if all of a sudden voters decided not to cast their ballots because of lack of interest in the campaign or the candidates. I always say that if you have the right to vote and choose not to, you don’t have the moral authority to complain about the government. So, pay attention, make your choice and vote.
If you can remember Hungary in the 50′s or Czech rebellion of the 60′s–then you can understand why those people in Eastern Europe are worried.
Signing a missile-defense deal with its good friend the United States has earned Poland nothing less than the threat of nuclear attack from Russia — a threat that might not sound so empty these days, given Moscow’s bloody battle with Georgia.
That conflict has plunged Europe into crisis, sending waves of jitters through Poland and other eastern nations, once-occupied parts of a Soviet empire that some fear Russia may want to reconstruct. Moscow’s actions have also succeeded in driving deeper the wedge between Europe’s East and West.
Ukraine and Moldova are worried that they could be Russia’s next targets. The Czech Republic, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of a Soviet invasion that crushed the Prague Spring reform movement, is fretting about history repeating itself. Many Eastern European nations, Poland chief among them, are eager to find safe haven, and have turned to Washington for guidance and reassurance and partnership.
But the fact that the distracted and overly stretched Bush administration took little concrete action to protect Georgia from Russia’s wrath must also give pause to nations that would throw their lot completely with the U.S. Is the strategic alliance that many Eastern European countries have been building with the U.S. since the fall of communism nearly two decades ago still worth the risks?
How many times will Texas continue to play this game?
Some of the children taken from a polygamist sect’s ranch, placed in foster care and then returned to their parents could be headed back to foster care again.
Texas child welfare authorities are asking Texas District Judge Barbara Walther to put eight children, ranging in age from 5 to 17, back in state custody, alleging their mothers have refused to limit contact with men accused of being involved in underage marriages.
Individual hearings for the four mothers involved are scheduled to begin Monday.
None of the children currently live at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, where authorities swept roughly 440 children into foster care in April. Officials said at the time that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which established the ranch, was forcing girls into underage marriages and grooming boys to be adult abusers.
In the new CPS petitions seeking foster placement for the eight children, the agency detailed alleged underage marriages involving the children’s fathers or stepfathers, though only one faces any criminal charges.
Rod Parker, a church spokesman, said that even though the families are getting individual hearings this time, the argument that they shouldn’t be allowed to retain custody of their children remains unfair.
Bank repossessions grew significantly as a percentage of all foreclosure activity, “posting a 184 percent year-over-year increase, compared to a 53 percent year-over-year increase in default notices and an 11 percent year-over-year increase in auction notices,” according to James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.
When foreclosed properties fail to sell at county auctions, they are repossessed by banks pending their sale. Bank repossessions constituted only 16 percent of foreclosure activity a year ago, but they now make up some 28 percent, according to the report. While banks owned 224,000 foreclosed properties in 2006 and 445,000 in 2007, they owned 775,244 through July of this year.
Nearly one third of Americans who bought homes since 2003 have negative equity—that is, they owe more on their homes than their current value—according to Zillow.com, a property valuation company. Zillow also found that 45 percent of those who bought at the peak of the housing market in 2006 are under water.
Home values have fallen 15.8 percent in the year to May, according to the S&P Case-Schiller index, which tracks home values in 20 major cities. Moreover, nearly one quarter of home sales in the past year were at a loss to the sellers. Such circumstances raise the incentives to foreclose, driving property values lower and precipitating a downward economic spiral.
In addition to fueling a massive social crisis, the vicious cycle of falling home values and foreclosures will drag down economic growth and fuel unemployment, as the US ruling class seeks to purge the excesses out of its financial system by writing down billions of dollars in bad debt.
While throwing open the Federal Reserve Board and the US Treasury to Wall Street speculators, the government has done next to nothing to assist the millions of people having their lives uprooted. The housing bill recently passed by Congress assists at most 400,000 homeowners, representing only six percent of the 6.5 million people estimated to fall into foreclosure by 2012.
First edition of IWW “Little Red Song Book” published – 1909
Copper miners in Butte, Mont. begin what is to become a 181-day strike – 1959
The first North American McDonald’s is unionized, by the Canadian Auto Workers, in British Columbia. The campaign was launched by two teenagers – 1998
Some 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians, members of AMFA at Northwest Airlines, strike the carrier job security, over pay cuts and workrule changes. The 14-month strike was to fail, with most union jobs lost to replacements and outside contractors – 2005
Barack Obama’s tax plan is the opposite of supply-side economics. He proposes to raise marginal rates for just about every federal tax. He also proposes a raft of tax credits that taxpayers can receive if they engage in various government-specified activities.
Moreover, the tax credits would mostly go to those who pay little or nothing in federal income taxes. His trick is to make the tax credits “refundable.” Thus, if the tax credit is for $1,000, but the taxpayer would otherwise only pay $200 in taxes, the government would write a check to the taxpayer for $800. If the taxpayer pays nothing in federal income taxes, the government would pay him the whole $1,000.
Such credits are not tax cuts. Indeed, they should be called The New Tax Welfare. In effect, Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand a slew of government spending programs that are disguised as tax credits. The spending on these programs is then subtracted from the total tax burden, in order to make the claim that his tax plan is a net tax cut overall.
On the tax side of the ledger, the details released by his campaign last week confirm what a President Obama has in mind for our most productive citizens. The top individual income tax rate, for example, would be increased by 13%, to 39.6%; the next-highest rate would be raised to 36%. The top rates on capital gains and dividends would rise by a third, to 20%
The Social Security payroll tax would be raised between 16% to 32% for families making over $250,000 a year. This means that the real returns these people get from their lifetime payments into the retirement program will be driven below 0%, according to my own previous research, which was published by the Cato Institute and elsewhere.
Mr. Obama also wants a permanent federal estate tax, with a top rate of 45%; his health-insurance plan includes a new payroll tax on employers; and he also contemplates several increases in the corporate income tax, including a new so-called windfall profits tax on oil companies.
I understand why people would say that it is welfare, but if we are to have all these new programs it will take cash and without new taxes, where will that cash come from?
The government of Iraq is moving against the “Awakening” fighters that have helped make the surge a “success”.
The Shiite-led government is cracking down on U.S.-backed Sunni Arab fighters in one of Iraq’s most turbulent regions, arresting some leaders, disarming dozens of men and banning them from manning checkpoints except alongside official security forces.
The moves in Diyala province reflect mixed views on a movement that began in 2007 among Sunni tribes in western Iraq who revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq and joined the Americans in the fight against the terrorist network.
U.S. officials credit the rise of such groups, known variously as Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq and Popular Committees, with helping rout al-Qaida.
But Iraq’s government is suspicious of such groups, fearing their decision to break with the insurgency was a short-term tactic to gain U.S. money and support. The government fears they will eventually turn their guns against Iraq’s majority Shiites.
Government officials would not comment on specific claims about the push in Diyala. But aides close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, said the government was not willing to tolerate the existence of armed groups with “blood on their hands.”
“The continuation of the Awakening Councils as they are now is unacceptable,” said Ali al-Adeeb, a close al-Maliki aide and a senior member of his Dawa Party.
U.S. officers worry that disbanding the Sunni groups without providing alternate incomes could push the fighters back into the insurgency.
One Shiite official who is close to al-Maliki said the prime minister believes his successful crackdown this year on Shiite militias has given him enough authority to go after Sunni armed groups without alienating Sunni politicians.
But a lawmaker from the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country’s largest Sunni party, warned that the government must take into consideration the groups’ contribution to improved security.