Monday, April 19, 2010

Poll: 4 out of 5 Americans don't trust Washington

..and "We, the People" are Ok with this? Doncha think its time for some REAL change?

Viva la' Revolution! http://www.freewebs.com/recruitnrevolt

Posted: Apr 18, 2010 8:16 PM EDT Updated: Apr 19, 2010 10:36 AM EDT

AP National Political Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - America's "Great Compromiser" Henry Clay called government "the great trust," but most Americans today have little faith in Washington's ability to deal with the nation's problems.

Public confidence in government is at one of the lowest points in a half century, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they don't trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills, the survey found.

The findings illustrate the ominous situation President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party face as they struggle to maintain their comfortable congressional majorities in this fall's elections. Midterm prospects are typically tough for the party in power. Add a toxic environment like this and lots of incumbent Democrats could be out of work.

Released Sunday, the survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively affects their daily lives, a sentiment that's grown over the past dozen years.

This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, reflected in fierce protests this past week.

"The government's been lying to people for years. Politicians make promises to get elected, and when they get elected, they don't follow through," says Cindy Wanto, 57, a registered Democrat from Nemacolin, Pa., who joined several thousand for a rally in Washington on April 15 - the tax filing deadline. "There's too much government in my business. It was a problem before Obama, but he's certainly not helping fix it."

Majorities in the survey call Washingtontoo big and too powerful, and say it's interfering too much in state and local matters. The public is split over whether the government should be responsible for dealing with critical problems or scaled back to reduce its power, presumably in favor of personal responsibility.

About half say they want a smaller government with fewer services, compared with roughly 40 percent who want a bigger government providing more. The public was evenly divided on those questions long before Obama was elected. Still, a majority supported the Obama administration exerting greater control over the economy during the recession.

Only twice since the 1950s has public skepticism dipped this deeply - from 1992 to 1995 during which time it hit 17 percent, and 1978 to 1980, bottoming out at 25 percent. The nation was going through economic struggles during both of those periods.

"Trust in government rarely gets this low," said Andrew Kohut, director of the nonpartisan center that conducted the survey. "Some of it's backlash against Obama. But there are a lot of other things going on."

And, he added: "Politics has poisoned the well."

The survey found that Obama's policies were partly to blame for a rise in distrustful, anti-government views. In his first year in office, the president orchestrated a government takeover of Detroit automakers, secured a $787 billion stimulus package and pushed to overhaul the health care system.

But the poll also identified a combination of factors that contributed to the electorate's hostility: the recession that Obama inherited from President George W. Bush; a dispirited public; and anger with Congress and politicians of all political leanings.

"I want an honest government. This isn't an honest government. It hasn't been for some time," said self-described independent David Willms, 54, of Sarasota, Fla. He faulted the White House and Congress under both parties.

The poll was based on four surveys done from March 11 to April 11 on landline and cell phones. The largest survey, of 2,500 adults, has a margin of sampling error of 2.5 percentage points; the others, of about 1,000 adults each, has a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points.

In the short term, the deepening distrust is politically troubling for Obama and Democrats. Analysts say out-of-power Republicans could well benefit from the bitterness toward Washington come November, even though voters blame them, too, for partisan gridlock that hinders progress.

In a democracy built on the notion that citizens have a voice and a right to exercise it, the long-term consequences could prove to be simply unhealthy - or truly debilitating. Distrust could lead people to refuse to vote or get involved in their own communities. Apathy could set in, or worse - violence.

Democrats and Republicans both accept responsibility and fault the other party for the electorate's lack of confidence.

"This should be a wake-up call. Both sides are guilty," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. She pointed to "nonsense" that goes on during campaigns that leads to "promises made but not promises kept." Still, she added: "Distrust of government is an all-American activity. It's something we do as Americans and there's nothing wrong with it."

Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican who won a long-held Democratic Senate seat in Massachusetts in January by seizing on public antagonism toward Washington, said: "It's clear Washington is broken. There's too much partisan bickering to be able to solve the problems people want us to solve."

And, he added: "It's going to be reflected in the elections this fall."

But Matthew Dowd, a top strategist on Bush's re-election campaign who now shuns the GOP label, says both Republicans and Democrats are missing the mark.

"What the country wants is a community solution to the problems but not necessarily a federal government solution," Dowd said. Democrats are emphasizing the federal government, while Republicans are saying it's about the individual; neither is emphasizing the right combination to satisfy Americans, he said.

On the Net:

Pew Research Center: http://people-press.org/


Monday, April 5, 2010

Clinton Appoligizes to Haiti

What Bill Clinton's Mea Culpa Should Mean

by Ruth Messinger April 01, 2010 02:19 PM (PT) Topics: Natural Disasters

As many of us have been paying close attention to the long-awaited passage of health care reform last week, it was easy to miss something else that was absolutely extraordinary. Former President Bill Clinton said at a recent Senate hearing that he regrets the impact in Haiti of the free trade policies that became a hallmark of his presidency.

"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton said this month. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."

Sadly, he's right. The rapid lowering of agricultural trade barriers in Haiti combined with misguided U.S. food aid policy allowed American agribusinesses to flood the country with cheap surplus rice and force tens of thousands of local farmers out of business. According to the Associated Press, six pounds of imported rice now costs at least a dollar less than a similar quantity of locally-grown rice. So how can a Haitian farmer compete? The past 15 years have shown they simply can't.

Prior to the era of so-called "free trade," Haiti could feed itself, importing only 19% of its food and actually exporting rice. Today, Haiti imports more than half of its food, including 80% of the rice eaten in the country. The result is that Haitians are particularly vulnerable to price spikes arising from global weather, political instability, rising fuel costs and natural disasters, such as earthquakes that register 7.0 on the Richter scale. In fact, since the January earthquake, imported rice prices are up 25%.

It is especially fitting that President Clinton's mea culpa comes as the Jewish community worldwide prepares to observe Passover. The story of Passover is a stark reminder that communities cannot rely solely on others to provide for their needs. Until people are empowered to help themselves, in-kind assistance from the outside is useful only in the immediate aftermath of acute emergencies. Long-term needs must be met principally through a community-led approach. The lesson we take from Passover is that once the Israelites spoke out against slavery their prayers for freedom were finally answered.

Today, the people of Haiti are speaking as loud as they can. They desperately want a voice and central role in the reconstruction of their country, including the ability to meet the country's nutritional needs with food produced by Haitians in Haiti. In fact, President Rene Preval, himself a rice grower, has asked for international food aid to be replaced by financial support for farmers and the re-development of the agricultural sector. Preval knows that sustained success in rebuilding depends on food sovereignty, or the ability for Haitian farmers to grow their own crops and feed their own communities.

Is the international community getting the message? It's hard to say. The AP also reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided nearly four times as much in-kind food aid since January as it invests each year in Haitian agriculture. There is of course a need in grave circumstances for actual shipments of food — but for decades we've used in-kind food as a tool for destroying local agricultural markets on an ongoing basis, not as a last-resort measure to be used in emergencies after all possibilities for local purchase have been exhausted.

Until our government abandons a system that dumps surplus from American agribusiness on the developing world, its efforts at ending hunger will remain counterproductive. Then again, if you are the D.C. lobbyist for Big Ag, maybe that's the point. Maintaining the developing world's cycle of dependence is profitable business.

The time has come for us to pay attention, to heed the wishes of the Haitian people to be empowered. We must demand that the purpose of our work in Haiti is not to merely rebuild an export market for our surpluses, but rather to support a Haitian-led effort to create a country that can stand on its own, build a sustainable economy and feed its people. Over the next couple of months, Congress will be discussing how to allocate more than $1.6 billion in supplemental funding for Haiti. I urge you to contact your elected representatives and let them know that this money must be used to empower communities, not corporations.

Each year, during Passover, we say "let all who are hungry, come and eat." Then, ironically, we proceed to enjoy a wonderful meal with our families and friends while our front doors remain closed. If you will be celebrating Passover this year, I ask that you open your doors — at least metaphorically — and hear those calls from a country just a few hundred miles off our shore. Recognize that the people of Haiti may not need our food. Rather, they need us to listen as they tell us how we can really help.


New Obama Appointee Opposes Employer Sanctions for Hiring Illegal Aliens

Of course, no one in power really wants to get rid of illegal aliens,...Big-Ag and other industries like horse racing - need the illegals who are the only ones they can get to work for cheap.

President Obama once again demonstrated his allegiance to pro-amnesty organizations by appointing a union lawyer to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who opposes employer sanctions for hiring illegal aliens. President Obama appointed Craig Becker to the NLRB last week as part of a series of recess appointments to fill 15 administration positions, a move that upset Republicans who argued the president circumvented the Senate’s authority to confirm nominations. (The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2010). Though both parties agree that most of the nominees are not controversial, the appointment of Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has sparked fierce opposition.

The main controversy comes from public comments Mr. Becker has made on employer sanctions for hiring illegal aliens. In a 2001 radio interview on WBEZ, Becker publicly stated that he opposes sanctioning employers for hiring illegal aliens. (Breitbart, January 8, 2001). Calling the impact of employer sanctions “discriminatory” and “harsh,” Becker said the policy of imposing sanctions ignored the fact that illegal aliens are here to stay. Becker’s nomination, which has been pending for about a year, has also been controversial because he is the associate general counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and also works for the AFL-CIO, both of which support amnesty and spend millions of dollars advocating for such legislation. Many feel that his history creates a conflict of interest because the NLRB oversees union elections and referees disputes between employers and unions. Opponents of Becker’s nomination feel he won’t be impartial.

Both Democrats and Republicans feel Becker’s radical positions should disqualify him from the position at the NLRB. Only two months ago, the Senate blocked Becker’s appointment through a filibuster. At that time, Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) remarked, “Mr. Becker’s previous statements strongly indicate that he would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB, and that he would pursue a personal agenda there, rather than that of the administration. This is of great concern, considering that the board’s main responsibility is to resolve labor disputes with an even and impartial hand.” (Politico, February 8, 2010). In fact, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has already said it will ask Becker to recuse himself from 12 pending cases due to his prior opposition to the group. (The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2010).

Obama’s decision to appoint Becker is a huge win for labor unions. The Workforce Fairness Institute, which is funded by business owners, called Becker’s appointment a “payoff to union bosses at the expense of America’s employers and employees.” (CBS News, March 29, 2010). While union advocacy groups such as American Rights at Work celebrate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warns, “the business community should be on red alert for radical changes that could significantly impair the ability of America’s job creators to compete.” (CBS News, March 29, 2010).