THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE RIGHT ON THIS ONE!

December 21, 2011

And this one only! I don’t necessarily agree with their tactical maneuvers on this payroll tax extension/long-term unemployment extension bill but, they are absolutely right on insisting a year extension, not the 60 day band-aid the Senate and White House agreed to. We all know, however, the House right-wingers’ rationale is not for the benefit of the 163 million Americans affected by this legislation, but is a way for them to think they are getting one over the President. It has nothing to do with any of these animals in the Tea-Bagger movement in the House trying to show America a bit of compassion. Truth is, based on their first year record of business in the House, they are quite the opposite, uncompassionate, uncaring, and subservient to the “owners”, i.e., Koch brothers, Wall Street, K Street, etc.

Now, to be clear, Speaker Boner did not favor this call for ignoring the affected 163 million people, he probably really wanted what the Senate and President agreed to. After all, Boner has a reputation of not liking to work, particularly after hours!

I go along with the House Republicans on this issue because what the Senate and the White House agreed to do was delay, yet another piece of legislation for political reasons. The President wanted ammunition to accuse the Congress of not acting on a bill that will harm 163 million Americans if not acted on, while the GOP wanted to throw out another case where the President didn’t stick to his word, therefore painting him as a poor leader.

This is just another situation of our dysfunctional government. When there is so much moneyed influence controlling how the country is governed, this is what you get. The pressure on these politicians to kowtow to their financial backers is immense. Go back over the past few years, notice the noncooperative and extreme positions being taken by these people we elect. They used to work in government as our representatives to govern on “our” behalf. When that was the case, compromise was a valuable tool which Americans favored because although some didn’t always get everything they wanted, they understood that something is better than nothing and that over the course of time, the people’s business was generally done in a fair and equitable manner. Now days, it’s strictly “my way or the highway”, being pushed and paid for by outside money, and goes for both parties. Do the unions pony up big for the democrats?, yes, does the world of Corporate America pay up big for the republicans?, yes. It’s a totally corrupt system that has been greatly exasperated by the activist SCOTUS Citizens United ruling, giving corporations carte blanche to spend as much money as they want support candidates, destroy opposing candidates, and put themselves into position of actually calling all of the shots in the governance of this country.

It’s both parties, you know how sick I get when the President, who I support, goes to lavish $38,000 bucks a plate fundraisers on Wall Street and then flies to Bumfuck Nebraska the next day and rails about the evils of Wall Street and Corporate America. They all do it. We no longer have representative government because our government is now a tool to see to it the private sector’s profits keep rising, education, infrastructure, health care, and law and order be damned!

Until America, both liberals and conservatives wake up and see what the “owners” are doing TO us, average American life will continue sliding. Back to the issue at hand, the fight between the House and the Senate on the payroll tax cut/unemployment benefits extension.

A 60 day extension would only serve as a delay for the current battle is, the passage of the bill. The GOP wants to load the bill up with a lot of pork to help pad the pockets of their employers, primarily Big Energy in this instance, while the Democrats simply want a one year extension of the payroll tax cut. A clean, one issue bill is what they want but, the GOP knows they can get more help for their employers by holding a beneficial bill hostage to get what their bosses want. It’s bullshit, and we all know that. Loading up less important bills with gifts for their bosses is fine, but this bill can have a huge direct impact on about 50% of America’s population. The Tea-Baggers might as well be wearing a mask and holding the Senate and White House at gun point!

By passing this bill for one year, with no additions or pork, will free up Congress and the White House to focus on the real job at hand, major tax system overhaul. This is where ALL of the problems with the governance of this country start. It needs to be fixed, and quickly. My solutions…

…The first step needs to be a mechanism to phase out the current system, entirely! Now get to the guts, eliminate all loop holes and deductions except home mortgages and health care assistance. The new personal income tax rates should be waived for those earning less than $25,000 per year. Then we go for a fair and graduated rate structure that has increasing percentage with increasing income, increased on the margins only. By having a fair system, with lower rates, that alone raises revenues by more participants paying in. I do believe there should be a surtax fee for those individuals making over 1 million dollars a year. On the corporate/business side of it, we simply apply a straight graduated rate structure without loopholes. The rates can be much lower than they are today, and the revenues will rise due to the closure of loopholes. The days of business “tax cuts” are over! They have proven to be useless, almost every business, hedge fund manager, surgeon, airline pilot, attorney, et al that has earned these cuts in the past, simply puts them to the their own bottom line. In the future, BUSINESSES ALONE can earn tax credits, by complying with all laws and utilizing the potential of receiving tax credits to be used for capital expenses, expansion, increase in payroll, etc. Currently, they receive tax cuts and don’t perform. This new way of doing business holds the business accountable for monies received from the government.

Lastly, al profits earned by business in the United States will be subject to taxation. Companies can move their production to other countries but, if they are U.S. based, all income shall be subject to taxation. If anybody or business is caught hiding profits in off shore banks or elsewhere in an attempt to avoid paying taxes, will be subject to the taxes owed, heavily fined, and subject to criminal prosecution. If an American company moves out of the country completely, any product or services sold in this country will be subject to tariffs, same as other non-American companies are.

The President should have a proposal such as this ready to turn over to the House and Senate by the end of March, 2012. That will give Congress ample time to work on their versions, go to conference for combining, and then presented back to the White House for signature, possibly by summer’s end. This will keep the politicians at work and not out on the campaign trail.

What I have proposed here is so easy, liberals and conservatives should rally behind my plan. It makes sense for this country. As an addition, I would propose going back to 100% tax funded political campaigns. This takes the money out of the equation, and puts the power of the ballot box back in the hands of Americans. All lobbying activity in DC and state capitals needs to be halted, now, cold turkey. When a person can make 1.6 million dollars for being a historian for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, you know there is incredible corruption there! Thanks for reading today!
Cam Obert

WISE REPUBLICANS OF THE PAST WARNED OF THE THE PATHS THE CURRENT NITWIT REPUBLICANTS ARE GOING!

December 19, 2011

In 1960, outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower made a speech where he made the famous warning of the growth of the military-industrial complex. His point being, don’t let the tail wag the dog. His fear, which has now been proven a zillion times over, is the Department of Defense is in business to keep suppliers and contractors in business.

I believe Ike knew exactly what he was talking about. He came into office as a successful General in the Army, having led the U.S. to impressive victories in Europe in The Big One, you World War Two! Having brokered a military backed settlement in Korea, the U.S. was moving ahead in the world in 1952 in a peace. There was the possibly imagined at the most and greatly exaggerated at the least Cold War, causing fears in the U.S. of us being invaded by the Red Hordes from the Soviet Union or Yellow Hordes from Maoist Red China. Based on these fears, the industrial segment of the U.S. economy needed more business to sustain its wartime production levels. Thus, the “manufactured demand” for weaponry. I’m sure Ike saw this happening right under him, particularly in his second term. His timing for making the military-industrial complex was fascinating. At the end of his final term as President. The fears were plenty well stoked in the ’50′s, what with Joseph McCarthy’s and others “witch hunts” looking for imbedded communists in this country. The defense supply industry was booming again! Or…was Ike concerned about the growing conflict in Southeast Asia? He supplied weaponry and advisors to the corrupt South Vietnam government. Perhaps, after seeing how badly France had failed in the region, he thought it wise to advise about the private sector pumping up the Pentagon for additional arms and supplies. Was our Vietnam incursion a result of private contractors pushing the effort?

In 1961, the Kennedy administration was sworn in with Ike’s threat fresh in their minds. Interesting point, Robert McNamara was Kennedy’s choice as Secretary of Defense. McNamara previously was the President and/or CEO of Nash-Rambler/American Motors, a leading contractor for DOD contracts, tanks, equipment, personnel movers, etc. Was this a political move by Kennedy to deliberately shun Ike’s famous warning? Maybe, looks suspicious!

Under Kennedy and then Johnson, Vietnam blew up to a major military involvement, ultimately with over one million troops on the ground at once, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent. The contractors and suppliers were delighted, rolling in the dough! After blowing the billions of dollars, almost 50,000 American casualties, maimed and injured U.S. troops in the hundreds of thousands, and God only knows how many innocent lives in Southeast Asia were lost.

In the 1970′s, after our escape from Vietnam, the military suppliers kept up the pressure for business from the Pentagon. That was the era of Senator Bill Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award. He awarded this prize monthly to the DOD supplier caught bilking the U.S. for the most money. This was the time of the $400.00 hammers and toilet seats.

The 1980′s brought the attempt by Boeing, Lockheed et al working Reagan over for the ill-thought “Star Wars” defense system. I think this was an attempt by the private sector to sway public policy for their own financial gain. fortunately, it was shot down.

George Herbert Walker Bush took the U.S. into war in the invasion of Iraq. The next war effort without the necessary by the Constitution, declaration of war by Congress. Haliburton, among others’ cashed in on this military effort. Though this was a relatively short affair, several entities profited nicely. Was this the beginning of the no-compete contracts awarded to friends of the Pentagon?

Another period of the world at relative peace occurred while Bill Clinton was President. We did have the short incursion into Bosnia, and I’m sure to the delight of military contractors.

In 2001, George Bush, made up a bunch of lies to get the U.S. to invade the sovereign and non-threatening state of Iraq. Coincidentally, the main war-hawk in the administration was Vice President Dick Cheeney. Just prior to taking office, Cheeney was CEO of Haliburton Industries. Are you starting to smell a rat yet? Until January of 2009, Haliburton pretty much managed the military efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This was done for a price, a very big price, into the trillions of dollars. Does anybody else find it peculiar that most of Haliburton’s contracts were offered without competing RFP’s posted? As an aside, Haliburton gave Cheeney a 30 million dollar parting gift when he resigned to become Vice President. Anything registering yet?

Now the U.S. is out of Iraq except advisors and security personnel and will be out of Afghanistan within 2 years, how will the military-industrial complex survive? Simple. Since the activist U.S. Supreme Court made the Citizen United ruling, now corporations can make unlimited contributions to campaigns and super-pacs. A different avenue granted, but very user-friendly by the private Corporate America.

Eisenhower was right, and despite all of the negative results of the control the military-complex has, nobody listened. Ike was very smart, today’s politicians are really stupid, have no convictions and march to the beat of the “owners”.

Another great Republican of America’s recent history, Senator Barry Goldwater(R-AZ), made a speech warning of the danger of the religious right hijacking the GOP. You see, Senator Goldwater understood the Constitution with respect to the separation of church and state. Goldwater rejected any influence of any religion on the American political and government systems. As an aside, to tell you how ahead of his time he was, he said the only “straight” in the military was the need for troops who could shoot straight!

Goldwater was also the consummate politician. He knew the importance and the art of negotiation and compromise. He understood compromise is a very necessary part of running the messy business of democracy. The religious right feels the complete opposite. The word compromise is not in their lexicon. We now have a minority of the majority in the House, the Tea-Baggers, who will not bend on a single issue. They have so bullied the Speaker into submission, that Congress is in such permanent grid-lock, that the approval rating of Congress is at 9%…the lowest in history! Senator Goldwater predicted this many years ago, and nobody in the power structure of the GOP bothered to get his message.

As the GOP will certainly go into free-fall and implode on itself, it only has to wonder…what if the party had heeded the wise words of their predecessors. It’s too bad that the era of open discussion, negotiation, compromise, and decency is gone. Meanness, politics of personal destruction, lying, playing games with the truth, sleaziness, racism, bigotry, fear mongering, have become the norm.

It’s hard to believe but, there is no longer a Republican party. It was hijacked by the religious zealots on the right, Wall Street, K Street, Corporate America, Big Finance, Big Insurance, and Big Energy. In case you’re wondering, the Democrats are in the pockets with all of the same culprits as well. It’s the system and Ike warned us all about it! Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.

HOW WE GOT HERE, IN MY LIFETIME

November 4, 2011

Two days ago I celebrated my 57th birthday. I was born on the night of November 2, 1954, election day! My parents were attending an election night party when apparently I decided I wanted to join in the fun, I’m sure to my parent’s dismay, the timing, that is! I was born on the day Hubert Humphrey won the election to the U.S. Senate and Orville Freeman won the race for the Governorship of Minnesota. After arriving at Our Lady of Mercy hospital in Alexandria Minnesota, I came aboard a short time hence. Back then, mother and child were required to stay in the hospital for many days. Mom and Dad hadn’t decided on a name for me yet, even after being born! Many of their DFL compatriots and friends recommended Hubert Orville or Orville Hubert. After a couple days, they named me Cameron Justin. Mom told me that morning, when a couple of the Nun nurses brought me into her room, they asked her if I had a name yet. Her response was; “Cameron Justin Obert!” To which, in horror, the Sister almost dropped me. You see, in 1954, Cameron and Justin were not common or known names at all. Today, of course, my name fits in with thousands of babies borne to yuppie couples!

My birth occured at about the halfway point of President Eisenhower’s first term. Ike swept into office in 1952 as the hero of the U.S. victorious World War Two(The Big One) effort. He actually was courted by both parties to run for the office, and once he decided to go the with the GOP, the Democrats turned to Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. My parents, of course, were big Stevenson supporters. He actually campaigned in Alexandria! I remember pictures of my folks with him, though I don’t know if was from ’52 or ’56.

The eight years under the Eisenhower administration was a time of economic stability, and a slow but strong sustained growth. Ike recognized the importance of a strong infrastructure in order to be considered the “other power’ on the globe. The interstates highway system was constructed during his administration. New hospitals and schools were constructed to meet the demand of a growing economy and population. Wise thinking! Under Ike, the entire system of roads, highways, bridges, railroads, mass transit, schools, governmental facilities, and hospitals were upgraded and modernized. Ike figured a strong economy bolstered by a strong infrastructure was necessary to a world power. And, of course, this expansion had to be paid for. Under Eisenhower, the top marginal federal income tax rates were as high as 92%! Interesting, huh? 92% tax rate and yet an economy on the move! Go figure!

As President Eisenhower was about to leave the Oval office and give way to the dynamic forward thinking Jack Kennedy, he advised Kennedy and the country…beware of the uncontrolled growth of the military-industrial complex. We’ll touch on this later.

President Kennedy faced many global threats as the Cold War deepened. He did, however, face down the Red threat from the USSR and implemented the Cuban Naval blockade. That single action, non-violent as it was, probably changed the course of history. On the domestic front, the strength of the GOP in Congress was starting to flex it’s muscles on taxes. JFK did say that too high of taxes could have a negative impact on the economy. Under him, the top marginal rates came down into the 50-60% range. President Kenndy also had to deal with a growing population of angry African-Americans. Civil unrest was the story of the days during that time. Riots, clashes with police and National Guard troops were all too common. JFK, recognized the out-dated and discriminatory laws on the books and began to right them, unfortunetly, he was assinnated prior to seeing his goals to the end. The age of Camelot in America died with him. The optimism, the forethought, the brilliance of a young leader taken from us.

President Lyndon Johnson was now in charge. Johnson began the “Great Society”. A society he envisioned of peace and properity. Where no Americans will be left by the wayside. He continued the work for a progressive America started under JFK. Two of the greatest legislative acts in the history of the country became law under the strong leadership of LBJ, The Voters Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Landmark legislation. Lyndon Johnson became, and probably will always be the greatest domestic affairs President this country has ever had or will have! Under Johnson, the economy was strong, the country had budget surplusses most years, paid for the Vietnam War as we went, inflation was kept in check, and taxes were down a little into the 40-50% range. Johnson blind spot, however, was the war in Southeast Asia. I believe it would have or could have been different had someone else other than General William Westmorland been advising the President on the management of the war. Westmorland convinced LBJ the war could be won militarily if the President would keep increasing the troop numbers and give him more time. The straw that broke that camel’s back was Tet in 1968. The U.S. was damn near slaughtered on the battle fields, thousands of casualties and wounded. That spelled the end of the Great Society and LBJ’s Presidency. On the domestic front, LBJ was getting killed in the polls because the anti-war revolution happening all over the country finally got the ear of Washington, very similar to the results from the civil rights campaigns starting a decade earlier. We’ll revivit this again in the paper later on.

In 1968, Richard Nixon won a very close election over Hubert Humphrey. In my opinion, this is where America started coming off the rails. I’m not saying Nixon was a bad President, but just didn’t have the vision to keep the country moving forward. Nixon was a very good tactician for foriegn policy. He opened the doors to the USSR and the old Red China. He was straddled with the Vietnam mess, it took him too long to get the message to get out. Southeast Asia had a long history of invading forces from countries from around the world, many years of massive blood shed and loss of human life, and yet the invading forces were never able to conquer, they all left with tails tucked between their legs. We’ll discuss this topic again as well.
Nixon initially cut taxes too deeply, and started the country into it’s first economic downfall since the great depression. He did raise them again prior to leaving office, but left the remains for temporary President Ford to pick up. Inflation was rampant, energy supplies were short and there didn’t seem to be a fix. Remember Ford’s “WIN”(Whip Inflation Now) campaign? Disaster. Enter Jimmy Carter in 1976.
President Carter was a man of vision. A very intelligent man, possibly the smartes President the country had since Woodrow Wilson in the teens. President Carter understood the what Ike said. A strong economy and infrastructure is the key to country’s strength. While dealing with a tremendous fossil fuel shortage, remember the gas lines?, he also was working with an economy still reeling from the Nixon-Ford years compounded by the oil embargo the US faced. With this on his plate, President Carter proposed a national policy for energy conservation, exploration, and scientific development. The republcan lead Congress never embraced these concepts. In retrospect, possibly one of the biggest errors the Congress of the US has ever made! President Carter also brought a level of decency and diplomacy to the office which at the time it was sorely needed. In 1980, still handcuffed by a poor economy and a hostage situation in Iraq, lost to Ronald Reagan in a fairly close race.

President Reagan brought to the American scene a feeling of optimism and hope. After the economy was down for a long time, though recovering by the time Dutch came into office, the hostages were released and America was starting to feel good again. It was later revealed, the reagan campaign was working with the hostage takers in Iraq, and asked them not to release the hostages until the day of the election. So much for Dutch’s squeaky clean reputation! Reagan began a campaign of systematically smashing the middle class. He fired the PATCO union strikers, cut the taxes for the wealthy quite deeply and started the shift of financial burden on the middle class. Funny thing is, he is the President who supported the “Star Wars Initiative”. A multi gazillion dollar fantasy boondoggle of space based weaponry! He was so derided by that non-sense he finally gave up on it. Reagan championed the “trickle down” and “supply-side” economics during his Presidency. His financial guru, David Stockman, sold these as programs to strengthen the economy by giving all of the assistance to the “job creators”. We’ve all heard that term, haven’t we? Just as the clone of this program exploded the economy in the early 2000′s, the economy went way south. He cut too deeply and the debt exploded. Interestingly enough, Reagan made a speech while in office decrying how morally wrong it is to under-tax the wealthiest of our population! Sound familiar? The new norm was budget deficits. Reagan so weakened the economy, it affected his predessessor, George Bush.

President Bush, a economically wounded successor to the office had no choice but to raise taxes. The country was headed to financial ruin without an influx of revenues. Unfortunately for him, he did this after the famous “read my lips…no new taxes”. That sunk him! He only has the mismanagement of the White House by Reagan to blame. It’s interesting that now, economic “wunderkind” David Stockman now says supply side and trickle down really hurt the economy and he was dead wrong. Enter Bill Clinton in 1992.

President Clinton went on a mission to clean up the office, still reeling in the after light of Reagan’s bunch of felons that got caught in the most despicable act of treason and espionage in history. The Iran-Contra Scandal was still fresh in the minds of America. Reagan should have done time for that. However, in retrospect, most of his second term, Reagan was probably there in body only, Nancy was calling all the shots as Dutch was probably starting be taken down by Alzheimers. At any rate, with Clinton, America has a very intelligent person in the White House again. He started with the progressive ideas of sexual orientation discrimination and health care reform. Though he was pretty much defeated in these areas, the table was set, for the first time, although Nixon made an attempt at health care reform. After Clinton won a resounding victory in ’96, he finished the job of leading America back to fiscal strength. He finally was able to lead the country back from the ruins the Reagan administration had left the country in. By the time he left office in 2000, he turned over a 200 billion dollar surplus to George W. Bush.

The “W” years are easy to review. He backed two unfunded tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, he proposed and got passed an unfunded Medicare pharmacicuedical plan, over a trillion dollars alone, he got the US involved in two unfunded wars, to the tune of over 400 billion dollars a month! History repeating itself? Lets look. Remember Ike said, beware of the military-industrial complex? You think Haliburton, Boeing, etc. prospered in the billions from Pentagon contracts? “W” kept feeding the pig, or should I say Cheeney? Remember how Westmorland almost took down the country with his advice to LBJ. You remember “W” and subsequently, Obama, giving Patreaus everything he wanted in unwinnable and unending wars? Remember Stockman saying it was his tax cut trickle down programs that sunk the economy under Reagan, then “W” does the exact same thing? “W” left office in January 2009, with a country posting a budget deficit of 1.43 trillion dollars! Hew came into office with a 200 billion dollar surplus. He flushed the economy by 1.63 trillion dollars. Trickle down and tax cuts were proven again they don’t work. Under “W” the economy contracted 9% in his eight years. The country was losing 800,000 jobs per year under Bush. Bush did get TARP passed in the final weeks of his term, that was a good move gone bad. It was a three page document with no forms of accountablity written in to it. Enter Barack Obama.

With President Obama, we got a return to intelligence to the White House, filling the total intelectual void from the previous eight years. With Obama, we got a return to hope and optimism. Like Clinton’s first term, the new President perhaps attacked issues in the wrong priority. It cost him. This poor White House management opened the doors for the whackos on the right, the Tea-Baggers, etc. The stimulus bill has worked. Most economists agree without it we would have suffered a worse financial fate. The Health Care reform Bill actually reduces the deficit by 100 billion in the first ten years and over a trillion dollars by the end of 2 decades. A win-win for the country.

The right-wing is rearing it’s ugly head all over the place in the country now. Remember the Civil Rights Act and Voter’s Rights Act from the years of LBJ’s Great Society? Now we have several renegade John Bircher-type governors trying to repael these laws in their respective states. There are many states that have already passed discriminatory marrige laws, barring some couples from getting married. We are returning to the days of Jim Crow, forcing aliens to carry their documents with them at all times. The conservatives are continuing their ongoing war against the middle class and poor. The country now has the largest descrepency in income in its history. The top 2% owns over 80% of the country’s wealth. The gap is widening. The US if it continues on this path is fast becoming the clone of any third world state.

These are desperate and discouraging times in our country. The compassion has gone. It seems its becoming a nation of all being in it for themselves. Now,, that might be a survivor mechanism but, it’s a concept which must be dealt with. The old saying of history for warns future, and if lessons aren’t learned from history, the same things happen again. It seems to be the contemporary way in America. Thanks for your read today, and I do look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

GETTING YOUR LANDSCAPE READY THIS FALL

August 20, 2011

Okay folks, it’s that time of year when you have to start preparing the landscape for late fall, winter, and next spring. If you live where I do, Minneapolis area, USDA Zone 4, we’re about a month away from our first frost. We are less than 2 weeks from the start of the possible snow season! Yuch! Anyway, I digress, if you are in Zone 4 or colder, Zone 3 is for north of the Twin Cities, and the only Zone 2 area in the continental United States, north central Minnesota, the first thing to focus on is the lawn.

Starting right now in Zone 3 and no later than Labor Day in Zone 4, your lawn could use an aeration. This could be via a punch or spike aerator or a core aerator which pulls plugs from the ground and scatters them about. The reason for aeration is just what it is. The lawn is composed of individual grass plants which need oxygen to live, just as we do! Aerating the lawn opens holes to get air, water, and nutrients to the roots of the plants. If it’s been more than a few years since you’ve done this, it’s time. If you have heavy or clay soil, aeration should be done at least every other year. Otherwise, just normal traffic, snow load, etc, compacts the soil making the transport of air, water, and nutrients to the roots less efficient. After aerating, it’s a great time to over-seed the lawn. Use a grass seed that compatible with or the same as the turf grass you presently have. Check the seed label for content, I prefer a high percentage of Blue Grass, and a little perennial rye with as close to no weed seed as possible. Don’t skimp on the seed. Check with your local agronomist or garden center for more information if you’re not sure. After spreading grass seed, you should apply seed starter fertilizer. This fertilizer is formulated to help new seed and seedlings get up and going. If there a larger bare spots or if you have some slopes, consider covering them with green mulch. You should get this at the same reputable source where your seed comes from. The mulch sticks the seed to the ground and retains moisture for the seed to help germination.

Around the end of September, it’s time to apply fertilizer to the lawn. If you did an over-seeding, you needn’t do this application. Spread a good inorganic fertilizer that is faster acting, in other words, not time released. This step feeds and strengthens the grass for winter. There are three numbers on the fertilizer bag. In Minnesota, you will have to use one with a zero for the middle number. Potassium is outlawed for general use on lawns and gardens. If you can find a fertilizer with a higher third number, Potash, that’s great. Potash helps the development of a healthy root system. Nitrogen is the first number, trey to avoid any fertilizer with a first number higher than 24 if possible. At this time of the year we don’t need a deep green and fast growing turf. In October, third week if it hasn’t snowed yet, use a “winterizer” or if you can find an organic fertilizer use that. This is the application that sets your lawn up in the spring. Organic fertilizer will lay dormant in the soil until spring when the soil temperatures go above 53 degrees. There’s your “spring feeding”! Once on a regular lawn maintainance schedule, you will not be feeding your lawn in the spring, you’ll only be applying pre-emergent weed and crabgrass control and insect and grub worm control.

Once the temperatures have dropped to fall-like numbers, end of September, lower the cutting height on your mower. The grass will survive and thrive because of the cooler temps. Keep your lawn well watered until ground freeze up. If you have an irrigation system, the companies that blow them out and winterize them are always doing it too early in the fall. If your system gets closed long before ground freeze, you’ll need to keep watering with hose and sprinkler, especially if you’ve over-seeded the lawn.

Removing leaves and debris from the lawn is important. I don’t believe in mulching leaves into the lawn. I think it chokes out the grass and the lawn has to devote so much energy in the spring to recover from a too heavy coat of leaf mulch and thatch. If you have many trees, rake up and remove the leaves. Once you’ve removed the heaviest of the leaf cover, then you can bag them as you mow with the mower. I do recommend using the mulcher of the mower when mowing before leaf drop.

This is the time of the year when you can start dividing perennials. Daylillies, Bee Balm, Daisies, etc. are divisible. Most of the perennials in my garden I’ve gotten as a result of divisions. It’s a cheap way to expand your gardens and add new varieties by trading with fellow gardeners. I prefer dividing Hosta in the spring, when the new growth spikes are up a couple of inches. Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs. As long as the ground can be worked, these items can be planted! The key, of course to late season planting is water, water, water.

If you have a compost pile, start getting it ready for use in late September and October. Turn it over again, water it, etc. If you are making new beds, removing sod etc., install what ever material you’re using for edging, then work on conditioning the soil. Use your compost by tilling it into the ground. If you don’t have compost, either get it from local free compost dumps or get peat moss to turn into the soil. If you don’t have a roto-tiller, turn the soil amendments into the soil with a shovel. Now you can plant this fall, or the bed is ready for spring planting.

Your annuals in the landscape are starting to leg out now. When you start yanking them out, dispose of them if they have any sign of insect or fungus damage. These things can live in compost piles so get rid of them, don’t compost them! Garden vegetables are producing now. If you have them growing in your garden, pinch all flowers on your vegetable plants, they are not going to give you fruit in time, remember we are a month away from frost! You can also pluck little fruits, small tomatoes, etc. By removing the blossoms and small fruit, the plant can focus it’s energy on ripening the larger fruit.

Trimming and pruning can be done now on certain shrubs and trees. A general rule of thumb to go by is if the shrub flowers, trim right after the blooms fall off. If the shrub is non-flowering shape and prune as needed. I don’t recommend trimming and pruning shrubs in the fall. They’ll need as much woody material and leaves if coniferous, like rhododendrons, to store moisture to get through the dry air of winter. If, however, the shrub has some random long canes or shoots, cut them off, they’ll die off in the cold dry winter wind anyway. It’s okay to prune trees right now but, only do it if you have damaged or dead limbs. The best time to prune trees in the dead of winter, January in our Zone.

I’ll write on the end-of-season duties in the landscape in about a month. If you have questions or remarks, please leave a comment on the blog or e-mail me at camobert@comcast.net. For seed and plant materials, I recommend contacting the folks at Linder’s Garden Center on http://www.linders.com. They have the know how and a superior quality of plants and plant products.

The essential thing to take away from this commentary is to water, water, water, all the way through the fall. I look forward to your comments and questions and thank you for today’s read.
Cam Obert

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND JOBS…

August 15, 2011

Reading today’s newspapers, it struck me that two stories were about the continued slide in job availability. The reason: budget cuts to governmental agencies which promote employment by engaging the private sector to build and update infrastructure etc. Mind you, this is not adding people to the government’s payroll, it’s giving the private sector a reason to add people to their payrolls.

After eight years of very robust job growth during the Clinton Presidency, a record, in fact, for an eight year term, it came to a screeching halt with the passage of the first unfunded Bush tax cut in 2001. As with the economy under Dutch Reagan, unemployment soared, bankruptcies sky-rocketed, and foreclosures became more the norm than the exception. Both of the Presidents, Dubya and Dutch, left the economy in a shambles upon their departure. The facts are clear, tax cuts do not help the economy, they hurt it. Under Dubya, by his last year in office, the country was losing 800,000 jobs a year! That’s quite a legacy, as well as quite a resounding, no screaming, reason why tax cuts don’t help, they harm. Except, of course, the top 2% of the income earners and businesses that actually benefit from that reckless policy by adding the extra money to their bottom line profit. Losing 800,000 jobs a year tells me businesses don’t use the unaccounted for tax cuts to grow and expand.

You’ll note I refer to the tax cuts as unaccounted for. That’s because they are. Persons and entities in the top bracket, the so-called “job creators” like tax cuts because it’s free money, not tied to any rules or performance. Though both the Health Care Reform Bill and the Stimulus Bill contain very small tax cuts to placate the republicans in Congress who work for the “owners”. More importantly, they contain tax credits. These are credits earned by individuals and businesses for performance to enhance the economy, like creating jobs and hiring the unemployed. These bills contain massive repayments for capital expansion too. This way, the government can hold recipients of tax breaks accountable to perform. It makes perfectly good sense to me. I worked under 100% commission or under a “management by objectives” system. In other words, I was held accountable for the results of my work, and rewarded very favorably for doing it right. A great system! it holds people accountable. I do not believe in paying salaries or hourly wages without any accountability.

Why does this matter? Because the right-wing, which has controlled the message in this country since March of 2009, believe in the opposite. They believe in free hand-outs from the government and they don’t believe those receiving tax breaks from the government should be held accountable. You see, that top 2% loves the gravy train from Uncle Sam. It’s a free money grab! So as they get richer, being helped greatly by free money from the government, the middle class is on its death bed, and the people living under the poverty level has expanded now to almost 15% of the population! This situation is happening in the “greatest country in the world”! Is this acceptable?

The reason why the calls from the right to CUT-CUT-CUT! are a joke. We have proof their method for fixing the economy doesn’t work. The private sector, even while receiving so many unaccounted for tax breaks, has shown a great reluctance, no, revulsion, to spending money to expand payrolls. They are making record profits on the backs of greatly reduced yet massively over-worked work forces. The collapse is coming, but not fast enough to help the economy now. In light of the fact the private sector refuses to grow and expand, the government now must invest in the country. With programs to upgrade the crumbled infrastructure, the private sector will be forced to expand to handle the scope of the work that is needed to be done. As growth starts happening, more people will be earning paychecks, meaning people will be able to spend more money on both essentials and luxuries. Having more people on payrolls adds to the income revenue to the federal and state governments, and a population with purchasing power adds to state and local coffers via sales and use taxes. By giving people the ability to start spending again, we’ll see manufacturing rise as demand for goods rises. Have I lost any of you yet? Does anything I have said not make sense to you? It’s pretty simple stuff here.

The Congressperson who has most railed against government spending, Batshit Bachmann, not only has she taken hundreds of thousands of dollars for her and her family’s businesses, but she wrote letters to the Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation 16 times after the Stimulus Bill became law to beg for project money for her district! She cited the terrific benefits of the Bill to provide many jobs, get private contractors work, and make things in her district better for every one. Can you say hypocrite?

The bottom line is this, if the country is going to break the chains of this stifling recession, the government has to take the lead. The country has patiently waited since 2001 for the private sector to start creating jobs. They haven’t thus far and there isn’t much time left before we start seeing London type scenes in this country. The government must move fast on this. The politics of mutual hate and destruction have got to cease so that the government can forge ahead with its responsibility to reverse the trend. It’s time to get big money out of politics, by the way, the right-wing mega-wealthy donors dumped over TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS into Wisconsin in the LOCAL state senate recall elections! Do you think this country can ever get fixed with that kind of influence on the government? It’s time to get rid of all the lobbyists on K Street, get rid of all of the influence purchase power of Wall Street, and get to a level playing field by publicly financed campaigns. After the initial job creating legislation in Congress and the White House, fix the tax system and you’ll see positive results! Simple right? Thanks for today’s read, and as usual, I look forward to your comments!
Cam Obert

TIME TO FIX THE ECONOMY…WORDS TO HEED!!!

August 12, 2011

Let’s take a brief look at what got the U.S. economy to this point. In January of 2001, the federal government was sitting on an approximate 200 billion dollar budget surplus. This was there because of strong and bold leadership by President Clinton for the last 4 years of his administration. He had to reverse all the deep damage inflicted on the U.S. economy by the totally bone-headed moves by the Reagan administration from 1980 to 1988. Reagan really did this guide this economy into the deep abyss that lasted until Clinton stood up the Newtie led republicans in Congress and changed the path. He did this by an intelligent combination of cuts and revenue enhancements…balanced! Once Dubya came into office, the influence of the now strengthening “owners” became clear. Claiming a surplus is a result of over-taxation, Dubya shoved an ill-advised and more importantly, an unfunded tax cut through. That act in itself dissolved every cent of the surplus, and began the growth of long term deficits! He followed that stupid act with an invasion of a harmless sovereign state, Iraq. Cheeney claimed we’d be in and out and the proceeds from hijacking the Iraqi’s oil would pay for the whole thing. Therefore, there was no funding mechanism in place to pay for this savage occupation of Iraq. Well, as most intelligent Americans knew, there never was proceeds from the oil, only trillions of unfunded dollars spent on a lie, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of human kills and permanent disabilities. As an afterthought, Dubya sent us into Afghanistan without setting up funding for that war. More trillions of dollars added to the debt and deficit! Dubya followed those stupid manuevers with another act of lunacy with a second unfunded tax cut in 2003. Can you see the influence of the “owners” taking hold of the federal government? This move, by all estimates from knowledgable economists added yet another trillion some dollars to the deficit. And then, for good measure, in a purely political move for the 2004 election, Dubya pushed through the unfunded Medicare prescription bill act. Another move that added several hundred billion dollars to the deficit. Those move, combined with the lower tax revenues left the government with a 1.43 trillion dollar deficit at the end of Bush’s Presidency. In his last act, to say “fuck you America”, he shoved through this 3 page document known as TARP, an 800 billion dollar gift to Wall Street. As you can well understand, a three page document of gift bill, couldn’t go far enough to make accountability a part of the bill. So as everyone with brains knew, the fat cats on Wall Street pocketed the money for their own use to spend, lavish vacations, million dollar office renovations, and payouts of huge bonuses for failed performance. It’s a good thing Eric Holder went after all of those thieves and recovered the money! Apparently, Holder didn’t get the message from the “owners”!

Fast forward to August 2, 2011. Washington DC showed it’s total lack of any leadership in the total failure of the debt ceiling increase. President Obama completely ran away from it as soon as the Tea-Baggers flexed their muscle. The really sad thing though was watching Speaker Boner and Senate Minority Leader McChinless also whither and shrink from the loud mouths in the Tea-Bagger caucus. That whole exercise of watching the “owner” controlled Tea-Baggers dictate the legislative obstruction on these issues was disgusting. What we saw was how governance will be done in this country from this point on unless the leadership problem is addressed.

The next point of failure is the selections to the so-called “super committee” on the budget. First off, the formation of another committee is pointless. Congress already has committees to deal with matters of the economy. To make it even more senseless, look at the appointees on the republican side. Everyone of them signed the asinine and infantile Norquist no tax pledge, that renders this committee moot. Everyone knows that correcting the problems of the economy be addressed at all angles! So, here comes yet another political gridlock. The only way to get the ball rolling on these issues of the economy is to have the President grow some balls and start acting like a chief executive. He needs to realize the republicans don’t like him in the least nor will they do anything with him to advance his agenda. Non-partisan legislation and governance is not working so it’s time for the President to go to the Lyndon Johnson playbook.

The fix has to work in this order, tax reform then government led job creation, followed by the hope of private sector job creation, deep and very severe cuts to the defense budget, and a streamlining of Medicare and Medic-Aid. The only changes needed for Social Security is the government needs to repay what it owes the fund and then from this point forward stop borrowing from it. Social Security is a self-operating entity funded by our money, not government money.

The steps needed for tax reform are very simple but will quickly pay billions in economic recovery! First, the tax code needs to be totally scrapped! There have been so many additions to fit special interests to it over the decades it’s just become too cumbersome. A simple set of tax rules will be a graduated rate system, starting with zero taxation on people working beneath the poverty level as determined by the government. The rates will then rise as tax payers income rises. As a person or company rises through the levels, they only pay the higher rate on the amount earned above the previous lower rate. The only necessary deductions for tax payers are for personal home mortgages and loans for paying for college education. All loop holes must disappear. Every person and entity pays their fair share, no exceptions. Companies and businesses may earn tax credits for company expansion and adding employees to payrolls. These are credits that must be earned and accounted for. Companies must perform the expansion and additional hiring first before applying for tax credits. Companies or individuals caught “hiding” income overseas earned from American business, will be severely penalized and ordered to bring the money earned in America back to America. By closing tax loop holes, simplifying the tax system, catching and penalizing tax cheaters, the rates for everyone and every business will be lower because of the increased revenue rates.

To jump-start the economy, the government needs to create a jobs program. The infrastructure of the country is in a shambles. The stimulus bill passed last year only scratched the surface. As a cave in to the republicans, the bill was weighted way to heavily to tax cuts rather than preparing a program for work projects to get people to work and get the private sector participating in the work to improve the lot and life of Americans. As China keeps blowing past the U.S. with massive expenditures on its infrastructure, high-speed rail, high-speed communications, and education of its population, the U.S. keeps sliding backward because of petty politics. The government needs to take the lead in this area because the private sector has shown no interest or inclination to expand and add to payrolls, in fact, despite record profits, they are still laying workers off! The Reagan and Bush tax cut failures are classic examples that unaccounted for tax cuts do nothing to improve or grow business. Documentation shows the top 3% of income earners not only don’t spend the tax sourced extra money on their business, they simply apply it to the bottom line profits and bank it. It’s a fact, indisputable!

The hope being that government initiated work projects eventually will knock the private sector off their fat asses and join in the process which is the right thing to do. Not only is it patriotic, but in the long run it will pay off financially for them. Remember, in the ’50′s under republican President Eisenhower, the country operated quite successfully under a top marginal tax rate of 92%! Not only was the economy strong, but the backbone of the country, it’s infrastructure was grown, renewed, and added to. Under Bill Clinton’s presidency, America suffered under that onerous and oppressive top tax rate of 39%. The result, a total reversal of the negative slide Reagan put the country into and a record eight year growth in the economy and a 200 billion dollar budget surplus! How can anyone dispute these facts? They are, after all, FACTS!

In conclusion, the President needs to become a strong leader ala LBJ, needs to start dictating what the course of action is going to be and not cave into the republicans who will continue on their path of the destruction of the Presidency of Barack Obama! President Obama needs to get word to Congress he will be bringing to them his plan for the economy. He must not accept anything from the Democrats or republicans on the Hill. The days of compromise are over. It’s time to start the political strong-arming and the threats. How do sensible people think FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, Nixon, Clinton, and mostly LBJ got things done in Washington? They were powerful and flexed their strength where needed. The republicans have no interest in bi-partisan governance, in fact, they have no interest in governance at all. The ONLY thing they have done since coming into power in the House in January is the wildly out of touch Ryan Bill proposal, which has proven out to be a job killer, and legislation that works against middle America and the poor. It’s solely an order from the “owners” to keep suppressing the masses and expand the strength and wealth of the top 3%. Other than this failed piece of proposed legislation, all we’ve gotten from them are anti-woman, ant-gay, anti-poor, and anti-immigrant legislative proposals! Let’s us all know who the true constituents are of the republicans in elective office.

Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to reading your comments.
Cam Obert

THIS COUNTRY LACKS LEADERSHIP…

August 9, 2011

…for politicians that will carry out the will of the people!!!

Beginning with the election of Barack Obama as President in 2008, interests other than the peoples’ have been calling of the shots. This is not only in Washington, but in the state governorships and state legislatures as well. The election of a progressive person of color has frightened the right-wing of this country to the point of the country’s owners, Wall Street, Corporate America, Big Energy, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and mega-wealthy hedge fund managers, to converge in an orchestrated effort to destroy the economy of the country, destroy the middle class, destroy the working class, and finally set up a government/society of a ruling wealthy minority over a population of poor and underprivileged people.

President Obama’s campaign in ’08 was primarily funded by a true grass-roots effort of individual donors of 100 bucks or less. I do not overlook the fact that he greatly benefited from huge donations coming from the “owners”. There was a segment of the ruling wealthy class in 2008 who liked enough of what they saw in him to pour money his way. Don’t forget the alternative in ’08, Senator Grampy McSane(R-AZ), it wasn’t too much of a stretch for them to go Obama’s way!

In 2009 the President punted on several opportunities to lead. He did get the Stimulus bill passed, which was greatly needed. He screwed up, however, by not selling it to the American people. The republicans seized the moment and went on the attack. Next, the total debacle of the Health Care Reform Bill. Obama totally dropped the ball on this very important legislation. He turned it over to Reid and Baucus in the Senate and Pelosi in the House. He showed absolutely ZERO leadership in the process of getting this legislation through Congress. Most importantly, when the republicans faced him up, he immediately caved in on the most important aspect of health care reform, a single payer system! His base was crushed. As this legislation stumbled around, sometimes with days and days of no action at all, that opened the doors for the right-wing to step up and take ahold of the message in this country. That was the beginning of the radical out-of-touch Tea-Baggers. That was when we saw the rise of total disruption of town hall meetings by nut cases all over the country. The extreme right used this total failure of the administration and Democratic Party to sell the benefits of this bill to change it from benefits to evils. It worked, as we saw in the mid-term elections of 2010.

In early 2010, this very active and radical majority on the U.S. Supreme Court invented and then made the “Citizens United” ruling giving corporate entities individual status as persons. By making this ruling, the flood gates have been opened for the “owners” to spend freely on political campaigns and spend freely on buying influence in American life as far as agendas and policies are concerned. Corporate America bankrolled the elections of 2010. The amazing thing is there was no outcry from politicians of either side as the political process of our free democracy was being hijacked by the “owners”. Actually, after it was too late to make a difference, some politicians did complain meekly.

After the paid employees of the “owners”, in other words the freshman class of Tea-Baggers overthrew John Boner as the leader of the House, they just about brought the economy of the U.S. and the entire world to its knees with its totally thoughtless threat to not raise the debt ceiling. This reckless action by arguably the dumbest most ill-qualified idiots to ever sit in an elective office has wrecked the economy recovery and tanked the markets around the world. After this close call, all the politicians simply started blaming each other and leaving DC to go on vacation! Not one politician has called for immediate action on this failed so-called compromise to start erasing the debt and deficits the country is facing.

President Obama has terrible management skills. He is not a good chief executive nor has he made any good appointments to his White House staff, except possibly the recent addition of William Daley. He is a consensus guy but that only works in a legislative setting. He does not like confrontation nor does he like to make decisions and stick to them. He is too political to be leader of a country. You cannot constantly check the winds of public opinion when you’re a leader, you must make a decision based on what you think is right for the country and doggedly pursue it to its completion. You don’t make grandiose speeches about your vision, then run away from them by assigning them to your people in Congress. It is now especially clear that President Obama is not the only “leader” in Washington that doesn’t know how to lead.

About two years ago or so, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Mitch McChinless(R-KY), made clear what the priority of his party as legislators, GOP governors, and GOP state legislators is. I’m sure by way of a directive from the “owners”, McChinless stated the most important thing for republican politicians to work on his the defeat of President Obama in 2012. This is leadership? I call it being a gutless coward who is afraid to face and deal with the real issues because the party’s position on these issues may hurt the chances of ousting Obama. As with all of the members of the right-wing of the GOP, McChinless is a mean rotten asshole who has no concerns for the people of his country. His constituency, like all of the right-wing politicians, is Wall Street. Wall Street doesn’t need to be concerned with the issues of the day where America is concerned, they are only concerned with what they need to do to increase the bottom line of their own P&L statements. McChinless has proven to be the perfect stooge for Corporate America. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest and most well compensated whore in America today.

John Boner, the Orangeman(R-OH), Speaker of the House is an example of everything a leader shouldn’t be. He’s gutless, he’s dishonest, he’s mean, and he doesn’t like to work. He is the leader of his party in the House, but Eric Goose Stepper Cantor seems to have the ear of the caucus, not Boner. When Boner was goaded into meeting with the president to hammer out a deal, he negotiated in good faith, reached a tentative agreement only to be rebuked by the idiots, the Tea-Baggers in the House. Because of his failure in leadership, the country’s economy was just about destroyed. We see what happened when they passed a compromise bill, can you imagine what it would be like without passing a debt ceiling rise in time?

There is plenty of blame to hand out on the American political scene for the lack of leadership. The underlying problem is nobody wants to address the problem of the “owners”. All politicians to one degree or other are beholding to the “owners” and that has to change before anything else can happen in the proper direction. I commented in a recent blog about what I feel the country and politicians need to do to fix things. It didn’t go far enough, so my next commentary will address the reforms and changes that Washington and the state capitals need to make to turn this plummeting mess around.

Thanks for today’s read, and I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

THE RECIPE TO MOVE AMERICA FORWARD…

June 24, 2011

…in my opinion! I’d like to quote something from a fellow commie on Facebook this morning. Think of the American political process as an automobile transmission. “D” is for drive, move forward, also Democrat. “R” is for reverse, move backward, also republican!

As America moves closer and closer to total political gridlock, third world status, and just a dysfunctional entity, it’s time to analyze the situation and promote ideas that will help the country as a whole, not just select groups.

Two items that must be acted on immediately are the raising of the debt limit and reaching a budget compromise that will include SOME cuts and SOME revenue generators. This is THE only way a budget can be done.

The most daunting and threatening problem facing the country today is the ever-widening gap between the classes of population. As the top 3% of the population gathers, controls, and banks over 70% of the wealth and savings in the country, the middle class is shrinking considerably and they are going down, not up. The number of people living below the poverty line is increasing lightning fast. This is the recipe for a nation on the verge of implosion. Think this over, when was the last time in human history a rich ruling class in a tiny minority was able to maintain that status quo for any length of time. This country is going to come apart at the seams if this problem is not addressed soon.

The ruling class, the republicans, fueled by billions of dollars from the Koch brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, keep maneuvering for yet more wealth to flow to the top 3%. The republicans are demonizing the wrong people and group in this unbalanced equation. They are making their followers believe the working class, both in the middle and the working poor, are responsible for the economic mess the country is in. The SCOTUS ruling on “Citizens United” has only strengthened the position of the wealthiest people in the country. The right-wing now simply buys politicians and influence in Washington to work legislation in their direction. Simple and easy. But look at the toll it’s taken on our country and the economy. The right sees no wrong with this ongoing grab and redistribution of wealth to those that are already mega-rich. What is lacking in the performance since 2000 by the right-wing and republican party is morals and ethics. They simply don’t care about anyone making less than 100,000 dollars a year!

So, let’s fix it! The tax codes have to be scrapped and we need to start all over again. Tax law one is a progressive tax rate that rise with income level. Now, before you scream about this, the rates ultimately will be lower because a new tax code will eliminate all loop holes and unwarranted deductions. Corporate tax rates will also be based on a scale via-a-vis income levels. Corporate taxes will be lower than today because all loop holes and invented deductions will be eliminated. Any income earned by U.S. business in foreign countries will taxed. U.S. based companies will be barred from setting up phony business headquarters in other countries to avoid paying tax. Businesses caught doing this practice will be severely punished and fined. Anybody or any company found to be hiding income in foreign financial institutions will also be severely punished and fined. Conversely, to make it a more level playing field in a global economy, any country putting up barriers to trade for U.S. made products will face the same if not more stringent barriers to them exporting product to the U.S. One thing that sorely needs to be fixed is the granting of tax cuts to businesses in the guise of needing more working capital to expand and hire more people. Tax cuts have proven, time and again, DO NOT juice the economy or business growth. It is also proven that when the wealthiest people and businesses get tax cuts, that money goes directly to the business bottom line as profit, and is rarely used to grow the business. Right now in America, businesses are banking over one trillion dollars! This money is not being spent to grow or add to the payrolls. U.S. banks are holding 1.3 trillions dollars by not making loans to business. These are two areas that have stalled the economy. How to correct this, eliminate tax cuts! They don’t work, it’s more free money for the people who don’t need more money! Change granting tax cuts to tax credits based on performance. In other words, don’t just give entities or people free and unaccounted for money, make them spend money to grow and expand, then award tax credits depending on the scope of the their growth process. If they actually spend money to start, expand, and hire more people for the business, then they get rewarded, but not until the have performed what they said they would do! Everyone benefits!

Obviously making these changes in the tax system will make a huge difference in the rate we can pay down the debt. With more revenues flowing in, the deficit can be addressed.

Spending cuts: start at the biggest waster of money in the budget, the Pentagon. I am convinced there is at least 100 billion dollars a years wasted in the Pentagon through, waste, fraud, no compete contracts, etc. Congress’ blank check to the Pentagon has to come to an end. How much does the U.S. spend per year maintaining way too many bases around the world. Do we really need these? We are no longer living in the “cold war” years. Conflict has taken a different turn. It no longer can be dealt with by sheer numbers of troops and armament. It now should be addressed by technology, special forces, drones, etc. That is why terrorist entities really don’t fear the U.S. any longer. We simply try to fight it the old-fashioned way, troops and bombs. Very expensive and very inefficient. Remember also, President Bush gave us two UNFUNDED wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These will take decades to pay off. Bottom line, what did the U.S. gain in these wars? NOTHING, except debt and needless fatalities. President Obama, it’s time for you to grow some balls and face down the generals and the old folks like Grampy McSane(R-AZ) and bring the troops home. That two billion dollars a month we are sinking in the quagmire in Afghanistan can be used at home for infrastructure improvements.

The only way to fix MediCare is to fix big medicine and big pharma first. Sorry republicans, but the only way to do this is tighter regulation on these industries. Right now medicine and health insurance in the USA is based on greed rather than patient care and fairness. Once brought under reasonable control, these industries will be more flexible, cheaper, more fair, and MediCare can administered in a much more efficient manner.

Social Security will benefit greatly from tax reform. With the elimination of tax cheats, loop holes, and deductions for the rich to get richer, the tax rates will fall dramatically. Based on a smaller tax bite to wage earners, a small bump up in Social Security rate will help refill the coffers. That doesn’t mean that waste and fraud should not be rooted out in both Social Security and MediCare.

These are longer term solutions to bring the economy back to health. It will take the closing down of business for the lobbyists on K Street, the overturning of the “Citizens United” SCOTUS ruling, and lastly the removal of private money from the political process in America. All campaigns for office MUST be publicly funded, thus eliminating the purchase of favors by special interests. Any lobbying done by private industry MUST be done in the open public, preferably in hearing rooms in Congress.

I’m not sure anyone can disagree with my theories in this article. They represent what is good for the people and the economy of the country. I will comment soon on the “social aspects” of reform in this great country of ours. Thanks for your read today, and I look forward to your comments!

Cam Obert

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CRUSHING BURDENS…

March 29, 2011

…now it’s Libya!

Two veteran journalists from the Washington beat, Tom Brokaw and Pat Buchanan, were in agreement today when talking about this subject. Both of them said there has not been an American President in contemporary history to face the challenges, the disasters, the catastrophies, the wars, and the failed economy like President Obama has in his first two plus years in office. Now, I’m not here looking for sympathy for the President. After all, when one decides to be President, it’s his or hers job, regardless of circumstances.

In a quick recap of the Obama presidency, he came into office facing an almost completely flattened economy. Former President Bush did a magnificent job of destroying the American and almost the world economy! It took Bush eight years, I’ll mention the importance of the time reference later, to take a 200 billion dollar budget surplus and turn it into a 1.43 trillion dollar deficit. Under Bush, the U.S. economy lost a record number of jobs in the history of the country as well. The only smart thing Bush did was sign TARP into law at the very end of his failed administration. Ironically, most right-wingers, in their abject hatred of the current President, blame Obama for the TARP give-a-ways, even though TARP did prove to save the economy from a complete meltdown! Next, the President was charged with dealing with getting out of Iraq, a war we went into based on lies from the Bush administration. With Iraq and Afghanistan wars to pay for, set up by Bush to simply add the cost to the debt and deficit. Then there was the terrible earthquake to hit Haiti. Over 100,000 lives lost there, and them leaning heavily on the U.S. to help them out. Let’s not forget about the Cheeney led explosion and eventual pumping of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf from the Deep Horizon oil drilling rig. Then came the earthquake in New Zealand, more horrendous tragedy and loss of life and property. Next came the unraveling of the Mubarak government in Egypt. A huge civil war engaged for the control of Egypt. At the same time, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, and Libya started boiling over. Then came, what may be the worst thing to occur in Obama’s administration, and possibly the entire world, in history and into the future; the 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan. The natural disaster in and of itself was bad enough, but the health of the world’s third largest economy is now in the emergency room heading to intensive care! Now, the overriding worry planet-wide is the risk of melt down in more than one of the nuclear reactors in the earthquake area. Already plutonium is showing up in ground samples from the area. Now this brings us back to Libya.

President Obama is getting slammed from the right and the left, me included, for the U.S. military participation in Libya to protect the rebels who are trying to throw Khaddafy out of power. I was, and am, vehemently opposed to this military incursion by the U.S. and NATO or UN forces. I still believe this is a civil war situation, and should be left to the internal factions to work it out. Now, the powers that be in the U.S. and the UN are stating this to be a “humanitarian” mission to keep the more powerful Libyan government forces from systematically killing the rebels, primarily in the Benghazi area. Do you see the parallel forming here. Iraq, after the WMD lie was revealed to be just that, we were told we had to save the Iraqi people from that brutal dictator, Saddam. Now we are apparently looking at Khadafy the same way. Do you see my point here?

My question for the people who favor the air bombardment being perpetrated on Libya by the NATO forces is; If this is a “humanitarian” rescue issue, where were we as the mass slaughter and genocide was exploding in Rhuanda, in the Darfur region of the Sudan and Chad, or Somalia? Many countries are led by brutal dictators who continue to kill their own innocent citizens, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Kim Jong Ill in North Korea, Assad in Syria, and the little guy, Acmadinajad and ayatolas in Iran. Why doesn’t the U.S. pursue these leaders who commit human atrocities in their own countries?

The President made the remark in last nights address that “the U.S. doesn’t stand for human atrocities being committed in any country”. That’s how he is justifying our military involvement in Libya. The flaw in his point is this; Where the hell was the U.S. in Darfur, in Zimbabwe, in Somalia, in Iran, in Syria, in North Korea, etc? The President and the republican leadership must believe we can pick and choose who and where we are going to send military power to fix human atrocity sites. This is so wrong! It is a an empty argument, it suggests we are morally responsible only to areas that we seem to think are important to us.

Circumstances around the world and domestically are putting this President into an almost no-win position on every issue. He was too slow to react to the oil spill/he was too aggressive going after BP and Haliburton, he was too slow to go after Khadafy/or his was too fast to get involved/or we shouldn’t go in there at all, he is too slow with presenting a budget proposal/ he gave up too much on his opening shot with the budget, it just goes on and on. Opponents to this President are so engaged in sound bytes politcal attacks, they don’t read much of anything, they don’t understand the complexity of the issues, especially from the President’s position

I thought the President’s address last night was very good. He explained his position and why he is moving on the Mid-east situation in such a tempered way. The U.S. has to move this way. We are now engaged in war in three Muslum countries in the Mid-East. I get his reasoning and I’m okay with it. I thought the President was very thoughtful and “Presidential” in his address. The political leaders of both sides of the aisle can and should take a lesson from the President about being researched and educated on the issues and acting a mature adult manner. The tail-gunning and sniping have got to stop, if progress is to be made on any front. And about the “time reference” in the first paragraph, President Bush used eight years to sink the economy and get the U.S. into two unpaid for wars on foreign soil, and yet Obama critics are insisting he should have fixed the economy and unemployent in less than two year and taken care of the the two wars the U.S. was wrongly involved in. Pretty ironic, isn’t it? President Obama is a very bright, responsible, and thoughtful leader, now if the members of the legislative branch will act in kind and work with him instead continually trying to tear him down and destroy his presidency, we as a country, could finally start forging ahead! Thanks for todays read, and I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

ONE TOURNAMENT TO GO! MN BOYS HOOPS…

March 22, 2011

Hopkins High star Joe Coleman. Gopher recruit!

…and with it, comes the second best high school tournament run in the country! The state of Minnesota has a long and rich tradition of state tournaments in February and March to close out the winter sports season.

The post-season flurry begins in February with the wrestling championships. Minnesota is still one of the nation’s high school wrestling hot beds, and is well attended by collegiate and Olympic coaches. This tournament attracts over 100,000 avid fans each year, with individual venues sometimes having as many as 19,000 fans in attendance! It figures the University of Minnesota wrestling team is ranked in the top five every year and has won three national championships in the past decade. J Robinson, head coach at the “U”, finds most of his all-america caliber grapplers right here in state. I love J Robinson, he’s a great coach, he’s honest, and he’s blunt, he really hates Title 9, the program that has destroyed athletic programs in schools all over the country!

Next, in early March, comes the premier high school sporting event in the United States. The Minnesota boys state hockey championships are a spectacle that none other can even come close to matching! This year was no exception. In the 2-A Championship game, the hated Eden Prairie Eagles beat the Duluth East Greyhounds in triple overtime! The game winner was actually kicked in off a Greyhound player’s skate in a scrum in front of the Duluth net. This was hockey at it’s very best! These kids are incredible hockey players. Very fast, very powerful, great puck handlers, smart crisp passes, great fore and back checking and quality goal tending. The games at this level are fast and competently played. I believe, high boys hockey is the fastest most exciting spectator sport there is. The 1-A championship game didn’t disappoint either. An overtime nail biter as well! Some of the “outstate” smaller schools, the pond and lake hockey schools also pump many players into D-1 hockey and the NHL! Folks, the bottom line is, if you want quality, if you want action, if you want speed and power, high school boys hockey is where it’s at!

This week, we close out the state tournament season with the basketball championships. This event will draw well in excess of 100,000 fans as well. There will be games at the 4-A level at Target Center that will host 18,000 fans! This probably is one of the premier state basketball tournaments in the country. Mostly based on tradition and avid fans, but in Minnesota it’s the best high school hoop action you will find. Does it compare to power states like New York, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida? Quality of ball playing, not even close! Our state still is way behind those states as far as quality of game goes but, it makes up for it in fan interest and enthusiasm. Though it is somewhat of a down year at the top-level, Hopkins will be there again. It’s amazing how coach Ken Novak Jr. year in and year out finds a roster full of blue chip players. While attending one of Hopkins’ games this year, I was speaking with a mother of one of their players. She told me the pipeline is so full of great players, that they are now losing some of them to other schools who are looking for more playing time! Almost sounds like D-1 hoops doesn’t it? Novak is the best high school basketball coach I’ve experienced since Morgan Wooten was running up championships at Dematha High School in suburban Washington DC. I’m thinking Hopkins will be the favorite again this year but, the hated Eden Prairie has thrown a lot of money at their program in recent years, recruited heavily and now they can compete with Hopkins! So I do look forward to an exciting tournament this year, with two powerhouse programs hoping to run the table!

I made an attempt again this year to watch some girls hockey and basketball. There really is a reason why the boys attract 15,000 to 20,000 fans to their games and the girls barely eek out a thousand. Sports fans understand the purity and competency of sports. The girls on the ice and on the hard wood fall way short of these goals. The play is slow, passes are not crisp and they are almost always telegraphed, in hoops, the shooting isn’t very good, though some, when given wide open looks, which happens way too often, can make shots. In both games, the pace is slow when compared to the boys’ games, and not physical at all! In hockey, apparently the girls are not allowed to hit, so most hard checking is either an accident or is called a penalty which sits the guilty party in the penalty box.

I give the girl participants credit, they play as hard as they can, they are very team oriented, and they don’t give up. Another point about the girl high school athletes, for the most part, they are all great in the classroom! More than the boys, the girls carry the athletic team discipline over to their study habits. I wish some of the boys, especially the ones with D-1 talent, would be better students thus making it easier for them to continue their playing days into big-time collegiate sports. Most girls athletes have no problem academically qualifying for college entrance.

It is about “student athletes” after all. Another point to make is what you see at the high school level carries over into college. The boys are the pieces in the multi-billion dollar revenue generating sports at college, football, basketball, and hockey, The revenues generated by those three sports must finance the athletic department at most schools. An example of why this is important, the Star Tribune pointed out that in the great couple years at the “U” with girls hoops, Whalen and McCarville years, the team barely averaged 3,500 to 5,000 people per home game. This was a team that went to the final four!

Then the “U” spends tens of millions of dollars to build Ridder Arena for the girls hockey team. This program hemorrhages money annually like no other, and they get a separate arena built for them? Does this make sense? They average a couple thousand fans a game. What is wrong with Marriucci? Many say it is the premier ice arena in the country! Oh well, it’s a no-win discussion.

So Minnesotans, sit back and enjoy the boys hoopsters for the next week, and relish the pride of hosting three of the great high school sports tournaments in the country! Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert


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