Archive for November, 2009

Lessons from President Johnson

Do the spineless Democrats control the White House and both Houses of Congress? If yes, why is President Obama trapped in a bipartisanship agenda at the expense of political principles? Even though, both the Democratic and the Republican Parties are bought and paid for by corporate interest, there is a continuous reason why elections are held.  In the election of 2008, citizens have elected to give their partisan support for Democrats to govern. If The Democrats are unable to fulfill this mandate, it becomes a lack of leadership quality.

While the idea of bipartisanship sounds very appealing, let us not forget, what it actually denotes is abandonment of principle. Moreover, let us ask how bipartisanship has helped move Obama’s policies. The fact is, that the Republicans are working to block everything that the President is proposing. They want him to fail. They want the Democrats to loose seats in both Houses of Congress. Which, they will.  Republicans clearly understand that they have a partisan agenda which is different from the Democrats. It is only the spineless Democrats who want to be loved by all. By bending backward for the cooperation of the Republicans, President Obama will end up antagonizing the people that elected him.

Alex Copulsky, writing on Harvard Political Review, on the topic of “bipartisanship” wrote:

Briefly: It’s a load of bull. Less briefly: “Bipartisanship” is a feel-good election-y term that should not, and cannot, be the way President Obama gets things done in Washington. Let me offer some thoughts on the matter.

First off, there’s now no incentive for most of the Republican Party to cooperate with Obama, especially in the House of Representatives. … The Republican Party is, in a very real sense, a rump party; it’s been stripped of nearly everyone politically vulnerable in their districts and tends to represent members from the reddest states and districts there are. It hasn’t shrunk as far as it theoretically could; there’s actually even more room for it to fall in the Senate, unless Obama makes a hash of his first year. But it’s almost at a minimum.

So the logical political move for the Republicans to make is, in fact, to go into full-on obstructionist mode, because otherwise they (especially in the House) may fall to a primary challenger tackling them from the right. In turn, the Republican leadership is pretty much compelled to go after Obama as hard as they can and hope that he messes something up; as the Democrats discovered during 2001-2005, there’s little electoral reward in being a watered-down version of the other party.”

Whenever I think of a presidential successful leadership, I think of President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson was able to pass historical legislations because of his skills in persuasion coupled with, threats, and pressures. He was always in charge. He never wavered when it came to principles. That is why, formidable legislations like The Civil Rights Act, The Voting Rights Act, The Civil Rights Act, The Economic Opportunity Act (war on poverty), Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Head Start, The Higher Education Act, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. that had changed the face of America were enacted. Had it not been for the Vietnam war, Johnson would have been one of the greatest American Presidents ever.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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We are far removed from the days of Native Americans celebrating harvest festivals. It has also been hundreds of years since the English colonists celebrated thanksgiving as part of their religion or giving thanks to Native Americans. In 2009, we still celebrate the day even though some Americans are more thankful than others.

American banks, who have received the biggest chunk of the $787 billion stimulus money, have been well greased and highly stimulated. They should be very thankful to their government who had made it possible for them to prosper more, and continue to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots in to a higher level.

To millions of average Americans this Thanksgiving Day is a day of unemployment, lack of insurance coverage, inability to pay mortgages and a day of stress like any other. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in October. That is an increase of 558,000 persons out of work. Bringing the” official” unemployment total number to 15.7 million Americans. What a dazzling result of the stimulus package. Really. What a recovery.

On this Thanksgiving Day, could the White House tell us who the genius is that came up with “jobs saved or created” nonsense? It is easy to philosophize in the comfort of the White House, and come up with totally unverifiable numbers that do not stand simple scrutiny. What a joke. The reality is to be on line for hours looking for non-existing jobs. Reality is to lose a job. The reality is to be unable to pay your bills.

Let’s hope, next year’s Thanksgiving will be a real “Thanksgiving” to those who are unable to make ends meet.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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Obama and America’s banker Hu-Jintao

Obama and America’s banker Hu-Jintao

“As with any nation, America will approach China with a focus on our interests. And it is precisely for this reason that it is important to pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern — because no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century alone, and the United States and China will both be better off when we are able to meet them together. “

But, all nations are not of equal importance to the national interests of the U.S. Some are more equal than others. The United States of America needs China more than ever as China is the engine that is driving the stimulus package in the U.S. China is the largest holder of U.S. Treasuries to the tune of $800 billion dollars.

Times have changed. Even though, the U.S. is still the top dog, more than ever it needs the support and council of other nations (as in Iraq, Afghanistan, N. Korea, Iran, Somalia, etc). When it comes to the economy of the U.S. most of all, America needs China. America’s version of Capitalism, (anarcho-capitalism: an economic system that destroys government regulation of the economy, and creates anarchy within the global economic system) is a disaster.

Anarcho-Capitalism created an atmosphere where a criminal and an immoral greed were allowed to grow and create havoc within the U.S. economy. The U.S. economy was on the verge of collapse. The U.S. government was forced in to infusing billions of dollars in to the economy to save the day. For this, the support of China to jump start the economy of the U.S. was exceptionally critical.

President Obama comprehends China’s decisive role in saving America’s economy. His ambitious commitment to strengthening the U.S. economy has no choice but to cooperate with China. The Chinese on their part need a strong U.S. economy, as it is their lucrative market.

Finally, what is humorous in all this, is the fact that the Chinese are lecturing to America, to save more, to reduce its deficits, and not to continuously print the dollar.

Professor Mekonen Haddis.

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Election Results. Nov.3,2009

Election Results. Nov.3, 2009

The election results of Nov. 3, 2009 in Virginia, New Jersey and New York, will not give us a conclusive answer as to the resurgence of the Republican Party, nor the coming demise of the Democratic Party. At the same time, not paying attention to certain clues will be politically futile.

Few reasons for Democratic Party loss.

  • Low voter turn out in historically Democratic strongholds.
  • High unemployment, (in spite of 10,000 points at the Dow and so-called economic growth ballyhoo.)
  • The disappointment of the progressive forces that helped put Obama in the White House. (Especially young white voters). Disparity between campaign rhetoric and reality.
  • The uncertain, dim future of the U.S. economy.
  • The unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and,
  • The Health Care Reform drama. (“not bound by any time lines” Sen. Reid)

For the time being, the Democrats might take third party candidates, as in (New York 23rd District) as their friends who might weaken the Republican Party. But, third party candidates are a double edged sword. In the future, progressive local candidates could arise challenging the status quo within the Democratic Party.

In other words, it will not be hard to envision for Conservatives and Progressives running their own candidates. After all, the rise of independents is based in the awareness that the two major political parties in the U.S. are not in step with the needs of the majority of the people. It is also an acknowledgment that the two party monopoly of politics is not conducive for democracy.

Finally, as my dear friend Ashley St.Claire says, “ may be, just may be, the so-called “ Blue Dogs”, ( I don’t know about the color but, the second part, they might be, if they call themselves one) might have a better fit in the Republican Party.”

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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Political Poetry-The Lecture. Part IV

An afternoon class

On Majority and minority rights.

Wasn’t Alexander Hamilton,

One of the founding fathers

Defending minority privileges

For the few, to control the masses?

Politics of the minority

Controlling the majority

By force if necessary

Or, in the guise of democracy.

The few having plenty

Power and money

Is this democracy

When the have-nots must only obey?

Where is Justice?

When people suffer at the whims,

Of ruthless corporations

Workers without rights

Where is politics of the masses?

Life in general, but especially, for us in the majority,

Whether it is politics or the economy,

Is depressing, and disheartening,

We have no control.

How are we to continue living like this?

Asked, one of my students.

By being optimistic and cheerful,

Like cancerous skin covered with spots,

So is life full of marks,

With troubled times and disappointments,

Unfulfilled dreams and illusions,

Trials, and errors.

A mother, who cannot feed her kid,

A father, who cannot clothe his child.

The keeper of the mosque,

Who knows the king is an alcoholic,

So good a Muslim he is devout,

But, can’t do a thing about.

The born again Christian, the preacher of the new right,

Who prays for the elimination of the left,

And, finds out that liberals too, have people’s support.

The person who lost his pants,

At the Dow Jones,

Did not commit suicide, and still survives.

The third world thinker told not to speak,

Nor write nor think;

Because his ideas are contrary,

To those who govern the country.

The Boeing engineer,

Who lost his job and became a taxi driver,

And the writer, who couldn’t find a publisher,

The soldier who is always in danger,

Standing guard, at his country’s frontier.

The politician who had once hoped,

If elected he would change the world,

And found out it was impossible, and failed.

The sick old man who thought his health would


And was told by his doctor, that he wouldn’t survive.

The person who lost whom he loved,

The hardest working person that was fired.

So what is in common here is, that everyone faces

Problems one time or another,

And yet, with all these miseries and more,

It is only humans, who ignore,

The sad realities of before,

And live for a bright and a better future.

Because we know we live with hope,

And, When we lose it, life will stop.

So as a result, from all the animals,

It is only humans,

Who hope that today’s sorrow,

Will be replaced with better things tomorrow.

Professor Mekonen Haddis.

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