“Sorry, we’re closed.” In one of the saddest signs of the times, this message is popping up all across the country, as governors and legislators are cutting off funds (and shutting off access) to one of the finest, most popular assets owned by the people of our country: state parks.
More than 6,600 of these jewels draw some 700 million visitors a year to their grand vistas, historic sites, abundant wildlife, majestic forests, cascading waters, expansive beaches, nature trails, campgrounds, educational centers and lodges. Parks are a tangible expression of America’s democratic ideals, literally a common ground for every man, woman and child to enjoy, learn, absorb … or just be. Especially for the middle class and the poor — the great majority of our people who can’t jet off to luxury resorts for a getaway for vacation — these spaces offer a form of real wealth, something of great value that each of us literally “owns,” knitting us together as a community and nation.
Yet so many spiritually shriveled, small-minded and short-sighted state officials are snuffing out this invaluable, uniting social force. They are stupidly treating parks as nothing but a budget number or a piece of the “nanny state” to be axed in the name of ideological purity. Worse, they are sacrificing parks in order to keep the tax-dodging moneyed elites who pay for their campaigns from paying even a dime more in taxes.
The majority of states have been closing many of their parks, slashing hours and services at others or simply handing the public’s asset to profiteering corporations. Idaho’s governor has proposed eliminating the entire parks department; California shut the gates of a fourth of the state’s parks last year; officials in Arizona and Florida intend to privatize their parks; Washington state has cut off most of its park funding; and Ohio has okayed oil drilling in its parks to replace state financing.
Barack Obama won’t ask Timothy Geithner to stay on as Treasury Secretary if the president wins reelection, Geithner told Bloomberg TV’s Trish Regan Wednesday.
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner told Bloomberg. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”
Geithner, who has been Treasury Secretary under Obama since his inauguration, signaled to White House officials last summer that he was mulling leaving his post after Congress and the President reached an agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit — negotiations in which Geithner played a crucial role. Geithner is the only member of Obama’s original economic team still serving.
Geithner made it the center of his agenda to restore the banks to the pre-crisis status quo, rather than make way for a smaller and less consolidated financial sector, said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
“You have a much more consolidated banking system than you had even back in 2007,” Baker said. “The banks have basically become parasitical on Main Street.”
Baker added that Geithner and others inside Obama’s economic team “totally lost control of the agenda” after passing the stimulus and becoming overly optimistic about the recovery’s prospects. “That just made it very difficult for them to turn around and say, actually, that was wrong, we shouldn’t be focused on deficit reduction. They boxed themselves in,” he said.
It was hard not to cringe while listening to Obama speak like the stereotypically insecure Democrat, seemingly desperate to convince right-wingers that he’s the fiercest hawk in the room:
Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader railed against President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address during an appearance Wednesday on Democracy Now.
“I think his lawless militarism, that started the speech and ended the speech, was truly astonishing,” he said. “I mean, he was very committed to projecting the American empire, in Obama terms.”
“He should be ashamed of himself that he tries to drape our soldiers, who were sent on lawless military missions to kill and die in those countries, unconstitutional wars that violate Geneva conventions and international law and federal statutes, and drape them as if they’ve come back from Iwo Jima or Normandy.”
Nader, who has run for president five times, had tried to organize a primary challenge against Obama to “bring the best out of him.” But the effort never materialized.
It was the threats against Iran, it was the overall belligerent tone of Obama’s foreign policy remarks. This is the same man who promised, in the same speech, to streamline the military.