Archive for December, 2011


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



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.

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