Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

Continue reading

Republican Noise Machine Accuses President Of Politicizing 9-11

The full Republican media “noise” machine is rising up in a full-scale “hissy fit” because the President pointed out that Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago, under his watch. They are pretending to be absolutely outraged, accusing the President of politicizing the killing of bin Laden.
Yes, that would be the very same Republicans known for this:

Here is the 9-11 video shown at the Republican National Convention (oh, no, no politicizing here, look away, look away):

Yes, these Republicans: (Watch the whole video, and remember.)

Yes, those Republicans.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Steel: Important To Us But Not Important To Us

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
I had the opportunity to tour a steel plant outside of Pittsburgh yesterday. (I am here for the Netroots Nation convention.)
The word that keeps coming into my mind is “intense.”
I experienced intense heat, intense colors in the molten steel, and intense faces on the workers. We wore protective clothing, boots, earplugs, gloves and protective eyeware. Safety is a prime concern because without careful attention to detail this can be a very dangerous undertaking. The workers in these plants depend on safety procedures and each other to a degree that you do not find in many other occupations.
One of the notable things about this tour was the security. It was intense. I won’t get into some of the details, but plants like these are considered to be very important to the Department of Homeland Security and special precautions are taken. You need special permission to even enter the grounds. ID is carefully checked. We not only couldn’t even take pictures of the facilities but they will confiscate a cell phone if they see it out of your pocket. (You can have it back later.)
Let that sink in: Manufacturing plants like these are considered vitally important to the security of the United States and are assigned special protection.
Unfortunately our own government does not feel the need to protect plants like this beyond the vague post-9/11 threat of “terrorism.” They check your ID at the gate, but they aren’t concerned with making sure plants like this one stay in the United States. The two blast furnaces at this plant are the last two operating in the whole state of Pennsylvania. There used to be a dozen just at this plant. Nationally the decline is similar. We all know this but we do not seem to be capable of doing something about it.
This decline is not the “buggy-whip” phenomenon where an industry is being replaced or is evolving. Quite the opposite. Steel is the core component of the bridges, buildings, appliances, cars, etc. that we build. But now much of that steel comes from other countries. And much of it is inferior quality or produced in ways that harm the planet. This plant produces 1/3 the carbon emissions of similar plants in China. And then there is the carbon-emitting shipment across oceans to consider. But harming the planet is apparently someone else’s long-term problem when money is to be made today.
The problem is not even labor costs. Labor is not a large component of our steel costs. The cost of raw materials is a larger part of the lower cost of imported steel. When you hear about hundreds of people trapped in mines in other countries you are hearing about lower cost of raw materials. Lives can be cheap and it is someone else’s problem when money is to be made.
We have stood by and allowed other countries take over industries like this one by pursuing national strategies to build their economies at the expense of our own, or their own workers and of the environment. When competition is allowed to occur by continually moving the work to cheaper and less protective (of both lives and the environment) regions the result has to be a continued downward spiral of living standards. This is not sustainable and we are all living the results of this constant downward pressure.
Manufacturing is the key to economic power. Yet we worry about some fanatics in a cave somewhere, but we don’t seem to worry about losing the steel plants and other industries and the jobs and the economic benefits to us and the world. This practice of checking ID at the gate but standing back and letting the plant itself close because another country allows worker or environmental exploitation is beyond short-sighted. It is self-destructive.

Don’t Forget The July 10, 2001 Meeting

Here’s something very important that dropped out of the news. After ignoring bin Laden from the time they came into office, the Bush administration also ignored very clear warnings that an attack was imminent. (Except Atty. General Ashcroft didn’t ignore them – he started chartering jets instead of flying on commercial airlines.)
Remember this? Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice,

On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.
Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.
For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called “findings” that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance — Black called it an “out of cycle” session, beyond Tenet’s regular weekly meeting with Rice — would get her attention.

And this?

Continue reading