Archive for the ‘1’ Category


Professor Mekonen Haddis giving a lecture on Ethiopian Foreign and National Security Strategy to students from Dila University.

Read Full Post »


E-waste in Ghana.

Ghana which has been viewed as one of Africa’s most stable democracies, has recently been getting bad press as the dumping ground for electronics waste. According to Greenpeace, “The latest place where we have discovered high tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution in Ghana. Our analysis of samples taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards in Ghana has revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals.”

There is an international treaty that was designed to make the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries illegal. This treaty, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was also intended  to ensure environmentally sound management of toxic wastes. In spite of the lofty goals of the convention, corrupt traders whose only motive is profit by any means, even if it means death to the young boys who breath the toxic fumes in Agbogbloshie market in Accra, Ghana. By the way, the United States has not ratified the Basel convention. For a seemingly environmentally conscious president like Barak Obama, it should be a priority to ratify the convention. Can the U.S. ratify the Basel convention? Yes, it can.

Realizing that Obama’s trip to Ghana was more symbolic than substantive, it is understandable that there was not enough time ( less than 24 hours) for President John Atta mills to have raised all the issues of concern to Ghana. Yet, during the bilateral meeting and breakfast with President Obama, was e-waste dumping in Ghana by western nations including the U.S. discussed as an issue? If not, the leadership in Ghana has lost a historical opportunity to show the leader of the most powerful country on earth, how the west is again committing a crime on Africa. Had President Obama seen the e-waste dump in Accra, Ghana, I am sure he would have been emotionally affected as he was during his visit to Cape Coast Castle.

Dumping of toxic waste within the environs of Agbogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, has attracted international concern, as it should. The challenge is for the leadership in Ghana to be able to respond to this environmental menace.

In his speech in Ghana, President Obama said, “Africa’s future is up to Africans,” he also said, “Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long,” “That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.” Very true.

In order for Africans to “unlock Africa’s potential”, the U.S. and other Western nations would have to stop being part of all interferences that actually hinder the progress of Africa.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

President Obama’s weekly address: “Holding Wall Street Accountable”. 4-17-2010

In the continuous saga of the failure of neo-liberalism, president Obama is doing his best in trying to save the U.S. version of capitalism from its demise. Truth be told, reduced government regulation of the economy is what led the U.S. to be in the dire economic state that it is today. So, when president Obama calls for serious regulation of the banks, he should be supported.

Robert Reich,(former Secretary of Labor) is on point when he writes: “The only way to avoid another bailout of Wall Street is to cap the size of Wall Street’s big banks”. “The only sure way to ensure that no bank becomes too big to fail is to make sure no bank is too big”.

The neo-liberal mantra that unregulated market benefits everyone as long as “private” enterprise is free of any “bonds” imposed on it by government is a sham. What deregulation has created is economic anarchy that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

Afghanistan, color revolutions and the critical role of the Voice Of America.

It is obvious that a huge political crack is appearing between Washington and Kabul. After the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the world knows that Hamid Karzai was installed as the President of Afghanistan by the U.S. So, when I heard President Karzai accusing the U.N. and the international community of “interfering with the outcome of last year’s presidential elections and attempting to weaken his authority”, and just so we would have clarity, when he stated to the BBC that the “U.S. and others played a role in perpetrating the fraud”, I thought this is the time to think in terms of a “color revolution”. But, Why?

It seems that the U.S. was not too happy with Karzai’s re-election, since then, it has become U.S. policy to blame Karzai’s government of corruption and incompetence. In pursuing the agenda of sidelining Karzai, the U.S. has started dealing directly with Afghan provinces (e.g.Kandahar,Helmand) bypassing the central government. Regardless of the wishes of the U.S. it has no choice but to stick with Karzai for the time being.

President Karzai also knows that the U.S. is not going to be involved in the affairs of Afghanistan for the long haul. At least, in terms of military involvement. Therefore, he does not want to be seen as an agent of a foreign power by Afghanis who have always been suspicious of foreigners through out their history. Moreover, he must think that the time is ripe for him to make amends with certain war lords and threaten the U.S. According to The Wall Street Journal, Karzai said: “that the U.S. was interfering with Afghan affairs and that the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance movement if it did not stop.” Interesting.

As stated already, despite a serious U.S. aversion towards its original friend, Hamid Karzai, America has no choice but to call him a partner and plan a meeting with him in May,2010. This state of affairs between Washington and Kabul, leads one to think in terms of The Rose Revolution in Georgia, The Orange in Ukraine, The Tulip in Kyrgyzstan, The Cedar in Lebanon, The Grape in Moldova, The Green in Iran, and some unnamed ones, like in Ethiopia, (2005)etc. give credence to some when they raise the issue of U.S. government and certain NGO’s support and even planning in order to serve the interests of the west.

Sreeram Chaulia wrote, “ transitional actors, comprising of international Ngo’s at the hub of advocacy networks capitalize on opportunity structures offered by internationalism, acting as vectors of influence and maintaining constant criticism of vulnerable target states.” Chaulia continues, “Transitional actors penetrate target states by harping on issue areas like human rights that enable coalitions with powerful state actors who favor such norms.” He concludes,” rarely has the US promoted human rights and democracy in a region when it did not suit its grander foreign-policy objectives”.

According to The Guardian, USAID, National Endowment For Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and Freedom House are directly involved with supporting the color revolutions. One can add to this list, The Soros Foundation, Open Society Institute in which a number of Central Asian nations were forced to shut down OSI regional offices after the Orange revolution in Ukraine and, the U.S. based Albert Einstein Institution that activists from Serbia and Ukraine have claimed to be trained by in the formation of their strategies.

Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the U.S. treasury writing on Iran, said “according to Kenneth Timmerman head of the Foundation for Democracy, it was the U.S. money that funded Mousavi’s claims that Ahmadinejad stole the last Iranian election.” Moreover,”during President George W. Bush’s regime, it became public knowledge that American money is used to purchase Iranians to work against their own country. In 2007 The Washington Post reported that Bush authorized spending more than $ 400 million U.S. dollars for activities that included supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics.”

A number of people who have closely followed the successes of color revolutions concur, that the key to victory rests with the able work of The Voice Of America, (VOA). Without its positive coverage of the works of International NGO’s and its local agents, and its continuous denunciations of the policies of target countries, nothing would have been accomplished.

The VOA which got its start in 1942 when it broadcast via shortwave to Nazi Germany is primarily a propaganda outlet for the U.S. government, which uses it to further its global political, military and economic interests. As a U.S. government propaganda outlet, the VOA is barred from broadcasting in the U.S. by the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948. “Information produced by VOA for audiences outside the United States shall not be disseminated within the United States”.

The U.S. understands how potent the VOA is as a propaganda tool. No wonder, it lashes out rudely on countries that try to limit or control VOA’s dissemination of what they consider to be irresponsible propaganda that leads to incitements. Now, consider H.R. 2278 which was introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, by an overwhelming vote of 395 to 3 with 36 abstentions.

The Bill entitled “Anti-American Incitement To Violence In The Middle East” States in its findings section:

“(1) Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are the foundations of free and prosperous societies worldwide, and with the freedom of the press and freedom of expression comes the responsibility to repudiate purveyors of incitement to violence.”

In the definitions section of the bill it defines Anti-American Incitement To Violence.

“(1) ANTI-AMERICAN INCITEMENT TO VIOLENCE.–The term “anti-American incitement to violence” means the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, advocating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a violent act against any person, agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the United States.”

In the Bill’s section of Statement of policy, it states,

It shall be the policy of the United States to—

“designate as Specially Designated Global Terrorists satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224, to broadcast their channels, or to consider implementing other punitive measures against satellite providers.”

Finally, the report section of the Bill directs the President of the United States to do the following:

(1)” REQUIREMENT FOR REPORTS.–Beginning 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the President shall transmit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East.”

(2) “CONTENT.–The reports required under paragraph (1) shall include—“

(A)” a country-by-country list and description of media outlets that engage in anti-American incitement to violence; and”

(B)” a list of satellite companies that carry mediums described in subparagraph (A) or designated under Executive Order 13224.”

I am a firm believer in national sovereignty for all independent countries of the world (irrespective of where they are located, or their GNP). In this case, America’s supreme and independent authority to rule, and make laws that it deems is in the interest of its people is unquestionable. It only becomes the mother of all hypocrisies when the U.S. denies other sovereign nations not to do, what it believes is the right thing to do for itself.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

As you know, for quiet some time, I have been concerned with Anarcho-Capitalism (capitalist economy with no or little government regulation), and the future of the U.S. economy. I found Cage Innoye’s article to have a fresh and different perspective on the subject.

With permission from the author for reprint, here is the article. Enjoy.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Will There Be a Recovery From Capitalism?

By Cage Innoye

Some are saying that US will have a “W” shaped recovery, that is, an upswing and then another decline. The bitter fact may well be that the “W” will be followed by a “triple U” and then a “quadruple U” and then a “quintuple U” and so on. The US economy is entering a long period of diminishing expectations with fluctuations but no overall substantial growth.

And because of this, it is time for the nation’s citizens to consider a completely different economic system, as this one will not get us out of our long term malaise. The present system of capitalism will only drive us down further.

Why the dismal prognosis? The US has lost its share of world production as other nations have come up quickly in the last 10 years; we are in a far more competitive world.

Much wealth was destroyed by the mortgage and financial crash. The costs of the bailout were enormous. These funds must be paid for by Treasury bond sales, and then eventually higher taxes to pay for the bonds. We have the continuing high costs of wars that cannot be politically, morally or financially justified.

The value of the dollar is declining, 13% to the Euro since the crash. This is the “other shoe dropping”, for as the dollar careens our prestigious Reserve Currency status and all of its advantages will end. US Bonds that nations have been buying will fall in value, as the dollar is worth less. This will lead to demands for higher interest rates on bonds to recoup losses, thus raising general rates in America and leading to inflation. If the dollar becomes too unreliable, nations will look elsewhere to find safe havens of investment. New financial instruments like mixed bonds from many strong economies may appear; these can spread the risk, removing a major source of funds for the US.

The future is grim. But it is not inevitable that we languish in stagnation, we can dig our way out of this hole, however, not with the same people in leadership who got us here in the first place — for as we dig they will supervise and take bonuses while we sweat and stress. We cannot continue with the same system based upon profit, greed, selfishness, corporate monopoly, lobbyists and political corruption.

The first thing to do is consider a new economic system, one that is not capitalism….or socialism either. What is needed are new economic principles and new economic institutions. And then we can have a comeback, one that is solid and not based upon

absurd loan policies, Wall Street gambling, war and war economics, trivial consumer production, environmental havoc, the lowering of cultural standards, the neglect of education, poor healthcare, avoiding the consequences of mass poverty and more.

A Diverse Economy is a new idea, it takes the best of a market system but leaves the worst behind; this is the next stage economics. What is a Diverse Economy?

A Diverse Economy is an economy of diverse performance targets, diverse social leagues, diverse ownership and a diverse market.

A Diverse Economy could also be called a Metric Economy because of the use of a varied set of metrics for key performance targets.

This economy could also be called a League Economy for the use of economic leagues including those for business but also for other social groups.

Sports Economy might be a term that relies upon an analogy with sports where teams compete, achieve stats and join franchises that agree to follow a specific set of standards and policies.

A “Diconomy” might be another term that merges diverse and economy into one word.

The starting point of this thesis is the nature of money and profit. Money is held to be special kind of metric that measures supply and demand. It is used to price and purchase. Price is determined by an agreement between buyers and sellers. Price has nothing to do with product quality or ethics or values of any sort. It is purely a measure of supply meeting demand and nothing else. Price goes up one day and declines another.

Money has an important role to play as a supply and demand metric. Its job is to tell us about the market, about need, about the immediate value of things, about the immediate direction of things, the flow of resources dictated by purchasing. It however is only one kind of metric that can be used. When it is the sole metric in an economy it distorts and undermines all other values within a company and in society at large.

A Diverse Economy would employ a diversity of metric performance targets. These might include: standard measures of efficiency, raw production and consumer data, product quality, innovation, environmental management, charity, community relations, customer relations, employee relations and reward, equity, family support, community service, marketing and advertising ethics, planetary cooperation and aid, measures of long-term investment, raising product standards and many more things

The list is unlimited. These metrics would work with money. Money would be used to tell us of supply and demand factors in a marketplace, the flow of resources. The other metrics serve their intrinsic uses.

We would thus have a system where other values are being achieved along with the monetary and profit. In this system we have quantified the values — leaving behind a longstanding philosophical, moral and scientific argument about quantity and quality. Quantity, that is pure money, has given in to qualities (values, principles, morals); and qualities have given in to quantity and are now ready to be standardized and measured.

When using these metrics together we have differing methods. In one method we have money and beside it we have our other metric list, the two methods stand side and side.

In another method we may merge the money and metric for practical purposes.

Systems of measure can be very simple as in a one to five or ten measure spectrum. Or we can have equations that yield more precise values though complex.

But the method is not important; this is subjective based upon issues to measure itself — its convenience or importance. What we can say is that the overall method is very simple yet it yields an infinity of applications, something pure money cannot do.

An attendant science is that of a philosophy measure, a general measure theory which can be applied to sciences and sociology and psychology.

When we have this metric arrangement, companies can have a set of measures. A hierarchy of targets can be created by priority. A general list of performance goals now drive the actions of a firm, money is merely one of the aims. Further, in a metric method, goals can change over time; they can be staged or altered as conditions demand.

Now a company is achieving many goals instead of the singular goal of money and profit.

The list of goals is now business and economic, Human and moral, and social and environmental. Previously we had one measure of success, now we have a diversity of measures.

We are now creating money, creating a new money. Money which was formerly not in our control, this wild and chaotic thing is now in our control. Our new money is a combination of many things, it is our new measuring tool and exchange unit, composed of many elements instead of a singular, narrow thing such as profit.

Nothing is fundamentally altered as far as business goes, we now simply have another layer of issues. Companies before competed on the basis of price, now they compete also around metrics. At first price will go up when a company installs these metrics, customers will flock to firm, then as competition appears, because other companies imitate the metrics or surpass them, you will see prices drop.

Education is a process here, the new economy grows by stages. As people become familiar with the new concepts, then products and companies on a metric basis will gradually become popular. A new identity will develop.

Basic management issues for metric companies are the same — efficiency, distribution, marketing, personnel management and so on. Companies compete and strive to grow.

All of the fundamentals of a market economy are still in place, we inherit the best techniques and experiences from capitalism. This is the next stage of a market economy. We leave behind the negative experience, the worst of capitalism, a leap is made. The power of a market economy is in its diversity, this is a sacred principle of new economics.

Market experience now merges with the key concepts of measure and diversity. We have an economy that is competitive and innovative, moral and socially minded.

Consumers choose the best metrics. Communities rate the performance of local firms. Investors invest in companies with the highest standards. Minority groups, women, environmentalists, groups for the disabled and many other social strata actively rate firms and their products. Small business forms its own unique leagues with its particular needs and support institutions.

Society now is directly involved in economics and business when before they were excluded. Leagues are formed. First is the industrial league with its metrics, these are the associations of businesses that unite and pledge to follow the new metric standards.

Then there are consumer, investor, community leagues and more. When before only businesses made decisions about economics and production, now all of society is involved in the economy, as it should be. Everyone has a stake in the economy, the days that business dictates to society are over. A check and balance system is created.

A diversity of economic organizations is formed, an economic diverse becomes a specific expression of the general social diverse.

Many new performance targets are added to a firm’s list –diversity, the environment, safety and health, giving to the community. Companies can help take some responsibility for relieving poverty. They can join with others to stop the killing of pets in pounds. They can support experiments in public education.

Principled marketing techniques can be established, particularly in relation to children.

General cultural themes are taken on. Consumerism can be ended, bad media and entertainment reformed. New metrics can help push for the raising of product and service standards and thus lead to raising cultural standards, instead of the general lowering to the lowest common denominator.

Executive compensation becomes a focus. Shareholder democracy becomes an issue.

We now become accustomed to a more harmonious culture where firms have high standards and help out the community, where executives do not only think of themselves, and money is not the bottom line.

The alternative is, of course, to continue to create cultural crisis and want, and the reduction of all Human values to profit.

To be continued

Read Full Post »

“Dialogues in public policy and the media”

I had the opportunity to listen to “ Dialogues in public policy and the media”, hosted by Bob Schieffer, which was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on March 16, 2010.

The topic of the discussion was, “An assessment of the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy”, with panelists: Steve Coll, Thomas L. Friedman and David Ignatius. I must say, with such high caliber moderator and panel, the program was very informative and highly educational. Had there been a Q and A session, the program would have been even better.

Some highlights:

On Israeli-Palestinian Issues.

The panel seemed to have a positive outlook towards the          “Fayyad Plan”. (Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad). His plan is to have a functioning government with institutions such as a central bank, schools, hospitals, a police force, etc. By mid-2011, his goal is to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian State. Prime Minister Fayyad believes that Israel would have no choice but recognize a well functioning Palestinian State. Failure to do so would result in a heavy pressure of international opinion on Israel to withdraw from territories it still occupies.

Mr. Friedman appreciated Fayyad’s policy of “let’s build institutions and then declare a State”. He said, “Israel and the U.S. should support Fayyad”. He also believes that, Hamas and Hezbollah are engaged in asymmetric warfare with Israel to destroy the international stature of Israel by turning world public opinion against it.

In terms of U.S. policy makers, Mr. Friedman called them “The weakest Mid-East policy makers I have ever seen”.

On Iran.

Mr. Schieffer, “do you think we can live with a nuclear Iran”?

Mr.Friedman, “Nobody wants Iran to weaponize, but no one seems ready to use force to stop Iran”.

Instead of an attack by Israel, on Iranian nuclear facilities, Mr. Friedman believes it is more likely that “an accident” inside Iranian nuclear facilities are more possible. Especially, with the rise of opposition forces inside Iran. He added, “The Israeli Defense forces have a very sober view of any attack against Iran”.

Mr. Ignatius said, “The U.S. has repeatedly told the Israelis not to take any action against Iran”. The U.S has made it clear, that “it is contrary to our interests”. He also stated, “While he had seen the strength of Iranian influence in Iraq, Egypt and other places, last year, that influence seems to have dwindled after the recent Iranian national elections”.

On Afghanistan.

Mr. Coll supported President Obama’s policy of” trying to make Afghanistan more stronger before exiting”. He said, the critical elements are:

  • “To build Afghan security forces”,
  • “To change the balance of forces within Afghanistan”, and,
  • “To influence Pakistan, in terms of change in strategic thinking”.

The two most striking thoughts to ponder.

The Saudis, to visiting Secretary of Defense, “What are you and the Israelis waiting for”? (Iran)

“What if, if we haven’t seen anything yet”. (commenting on the continuous Chinese economic power) T.F.

The most poignant Q and A.

“What is the biggest threat in the world for U.S. interest”? Mr. Schieffer.

“Our economic erosion in the U.S. Our political system is in peril”. Mr. Friedman.

Thank you, the CSIS.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

Ukraine: The natural decomposition of the orange revolution.

I am witnessing the worst snow storm I have ever seen in my life. I remember, years ago, driving back from Boston after a seminar, I was caught in a snow storm that stranded me for three days. But the blizzard of 2010 has no match in its severity. So, I am at home, reading, watching a lot of news, listening to music, (“if you go away” Julio Iglesias; and most of all Sade’s “Soldier of Love”) and trying to avoid phone calls from area code 310. Calls that would mention warm weather news. Alas, my brother A. just called and reminded me of my dire situation, weather wise, of course.

Meanwhile final results of the run off elections in Ukraine are coming in, 100 percent of the votes counted, Yanukovych has a 3.48 % lead over Tymoshenko.

Candidate Vote Percentage
Victor Yanukovych 12,481,268 48.96%
Yulia Tymoshenko 11,593,340 45.48%
Against All 1,113,51 4.37%
Informal 305,844 1.20%
Total vote 25,493,503

I have been keenly interested in Ukrainian presidential election because, Ukraine has experienced one of those color revolutions that had become the darling of the west, and a model to be followed by others. Five years since the so-called “orange revolution” of Ukraine, Ukrainians have said, enough. Even those, who were caught up in the euphoria of the “uprising” have seen enough of the social and economic devastation it has wrought on their country. According to the BBC, even some are saying,” This Orange nightmare has finally come to an end”.

The leaders of the Orange Revolution and their NGO supporters were successful in seizing power, but became unable to govern and produce any progress. Those who were presented as the icon of democracy actually turned out to be dictatorial. The leader of the Orange Revolution President Yushchenko received only 5.45% of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections.

All the promises for reform were for naught. ”What the orange revolution has to show for the euphoria of 2004 and massive western support is, factory closings, massive job cuts, the reduction of GDP by thirty percent”. Emotional politics: The Orange and the anti-Obama type. Sept.2009 politicalsnapshots.wordpress.com

By the way, GDP shrank by 15% in 2009.

Majority of Ukrainians are angered and embarrassed by the situation their country is in. Ukrainians have become largely disillusioned with the euphoria of 2004.

“Politics ruled by emotions is biased, as it lacks an open mind that can objectively evaluate more than one side on any issue. People who are unable to control their emotions are an easy prey to be exploited by any political force. Be it national or foreign. Not excluding those foreign forces represented by political NGOs. Politics without reason creates people who are hateful, panicky and vicious.” Emotional politics: The Orange and the anti-Obama type. Sept.2009 politicalsnapshots.wordpress.com

It seems intrinsic and extrinsic political forces had joined hands to come to power by force in Ukraine (2004). The intrinsic political forces were only doing the bidding of the extrinsic forces. But, just like the Orange fruit, spoilage was influenced by acid, temperature, anti-microbial compounds, etc. That is how an orange rots.

I am emboldened with the present election result because, it was found to “be free and fair” by international observers.  Election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the vote had been an “impressive display” of democracy at work. That is good for the democratic process in Ukraine. What is needed is to abide by the election results. Any delay in accepting the outcome by Mrs.

Yulia Tymoshenko will only prolong the misery in Ukraine.

In the United States of America, we are witnessing a new phenomenon in politics. The Tea Party movement. People that support this party claim President Obama to be a “committed socialist ideologue”, a person who has come to “destroy” America, etc.etc. In spite of the lack of logic, millions of Americans support this group.

Stuart Whately, writing on the subject:

“One must concede that the most well known, highly publicized American social/political movement today — the Tea Party movement — is a national embarrassment. At its core, the Tea Party movement is rife with contradiction, incoherence and a willful contempt for facts or reason. It is but a parody of the legitimate movements for which American democracy has historically been held in such high regard. It is, in fact, the latest installment in quite another American tradition: the exploitation of frustrated, desperate, and susceptible people by monied-interests and profiteers”. The Huffington Post

According to Sarah Palin speaking at the first National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee,

“This is the future of our country. The tea party movement is the future of politics,”

May be Sarah Palin is America’s Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko. As the new leader of the tea party movement and future presidential candidate, a tea party revolution could be in America’s future. It might not be an orange revolution; nonetheless, it is a tea party revolution.

Going back to enjoying listening to Sade’s “Soldier of Love”,

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

“ I Will Not Quit” President Obama.

I listened to President Obama’s first State of the Union speech with a group of people in Washington, D.C. (“Progressive
State of the Union Watch Party @ Local 16 in DC!”) During the speech, the audience seemed to be energized, supportive, spirited, and mesmerized by the president’s speech giving ability. Who wouldn’t?

Some of the loudest applause from the audience came, when the President said:

*“… realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response.”

*“I do not accept second place for the United States of America.”

*“we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.”

*“To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants.”

*“At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.”

*“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.”

*“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws — so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work.”

There was some laughter whenever some grim faces appeared on the screen. (McCain, Boehner, Alito, etc.) There was also some murmur of some disagreement and suspicion heard, when the President spoke of “ clean-coal technologies.”

My Take.

The “I will not Quit” speech as an oration was fantastic. As it is popularly stated,” the devil is in the detail”. To me, the issue is  the difference between image and substance, reality and politics. It is the difference between shallow promise and commitment kept. In other words, is this speech only a rhetoric or an admittance of mistakes committed, and a promise of going back to uphold the political plank that the President was voted in to office? Is this Obama’s renaissance speech?

Has the President learned from the lessons of the election results of Nov.3rd. 2009?

“The disappointment of the progressive forces that helped put Obama in the White House. (Especially young white voters). Disparity between campaign rhetoric and reality.” Politicalsnapshots.wordpress.com (nov.09)

Is President Obama conscious of the failure of the so-called bipartisanship?

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.” Politicalsnapshots.wordpress.com (lessons from President Johnson.Nov.09)

In dealing with health care, is the president considering the poll results in the aftermath of the Massachusetts election debacle?

“A poll of Obama voters conducted by Research 2000 on election night in Massachusetts paints a very different picture. The poll found that 18 percent of people who voted for Brown also voted for Obama in the 2008 general election. Of these voters, 82 percent said they wanted a public option, and 57 percent said they thought the health care reform bill in Congress did not go far enough. The poll also found that among the Obama voters who stayed home, 86 percent said they wanted a public option, and by 6-to1 they said the bill in Congress did not go far enough.” “Opinion: Lead Health Care Reform With Conviction.” Dr. Howard Dean.

We shall see.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

The Supreme Court, and the dictatorship of the corporations.

“It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” President Obama.

“The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation.”  Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

As if the chocking and oppressive corporate influence in the U.S. politics is not enough. As if the majority of our elected officials are not in the pockets of corporate interests. As if the millions of dollars needed to run a competitive campaign for governor and congressional elections have not made politicians dependent on the generosity of the corporations. As if the hundred of millions of dollars needed for presidential election did not skew the political landscape towards the corporate interests already, the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled that corporations can spend as much money as they wish, without any limits, to support or oppose political candidates running for office.

It is clear, that the influence of money in U.S. politics has damaged the democratic process in the country. The power of corporations on the political institutions has made citizens feel impotent. With millions of unemployed, with rising foreclosures, and mounting economic insecurity, our politicians are not focusing in finding ways to improve these dire predicaments. Rather, their total energy is spent in finding new ways of making their corporate masters happy. After all, corporations are not spending billions of dollars a year on no return. When they are investing billions on our so-called elected officials, corporations know what the profit is going to be.

Both Political Parties, the Democrats, as well as the Republicans have sold the interests of the people that voted them in to office, for cool cash. Corporations have made the outcome of elections to be dependent on huge amounts of money. This has corrupted the political system. The consequence, of course, has been a continuous erosion of the democratic system.

With this pro corporate ruling, what the Supreme Court of The United States has done is to put out the last flicker of a democratic light. The ruling is also a threat to freedom and equality as we know it. And, most of all, in one stroke, the Supreme Court has paved the way for the dictatorship of the corporation.

Professor Mekonen Haddis.

Read Full Post »

Haiti’s earthquake

Haiti’s earthquake.

Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake yesterday. The news and pictures of this awful natural disaster has been plastered all over our television sets. It is hard to see without being emotionally affected. According to news reports, Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince has sustained a serious damage. Power is out. In the aftermath of this destruction, it is obvious the needs of the Haitian people will be enormous.

For the sake of humanity, our government as well as each and every one of us should stand with the Haitian people in this dire time. We should all participate in any way possible to collect and send donations of medicines, blankets, food, etc.

I am pleased with president Obama’s engagement with Haiti’s relief effort. He is taking a wonderful leadership role in making the whole world focus on Haiti’s catastrophe. The president should be highly commended for his promise of an” all-out relief effort in Haiti”.

Good Afternoon,

The reports and images from Haiti of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching. As we learn more about the extent of the devastation, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and Haitian Americans around our country who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home.

I have directed my Administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives. The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States Government in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief — the food, water and medicine — that Haitians will need in the coming days.

This is also a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share, and Americans have always responded to these situations with generosity of spirit. If you would like to support the urgent humanitarian effort in Haiti, I encourage you to visit our website where you can learn more about how to contribute:


Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at (888) 407-4747.

We will continue to stand with the people of Haiti and keep them in our thoughts and prayers.


Barack Obama

With a broken heart,

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »