LIBYA…HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!!

March 21, 2011

After watching all the weekend talking head shows, I found that anybody of authority either in the government or as a pundit, don’t have a real reason why the U.S. has joined Britain and France in the invasion of Libya. Haven’t we been down this road a few times too many already? Let’s see, there’s Vietnam in the late ’50’s, there’s Grenada in the early ’80’s, there’s Iraq in the early ’90’s, and again in 2003, and Afghanistan,soon after. Now, it’s Libya.

As best as I can tell, the result of all of these U.S. imperialistic invasions and occupations of sovereign states has been tens of thousands of lost American lives, trillions of American dollars wasted, millions of lost lives of the citizens of these countries we’ve invaded, and lastly, it’s resulted in most of the world looking at the United States as nothing but an imperialistic bully who likes to bring chaos and death to nonthreatening third world countries.

When will the powers that be, now it’s mostly President Obama, learn. As powerful as the military of the United States is, nothing is quick and clean when it comes to military action. So, the President has removed our troops from active military involvement in Iraq now but, there are still over 50,000 American troops on the ground there. Then in a major move of stupidity, he tripled the troop strength in Afghanistan to root out the remaining 100 Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. We now have 100,000 troops deployed there to find these 100 nasty Al Qaeda terrorists. A wise use of money and man-power, wouldn’t you say. The bad guys have moved to Pakistan, so now we fire on them with drones, which unfortunately, causes much loss of innocent life. Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, we’ve got tens of thousands of troops there to find these hundred bad guys and to help keep Karzai and his criminals in power. This does, of course, make perfectly good sense!

You know, in retrospect, the world actually has little old Afghanistan to thank for bringing the old Soviet Union to its knees. I like how the conservatives of the day gave President Reagan all the credit, but in reality, the Soviets bungle in Afghanistan so broke the U.S.S.R., financially and emotionally, when Dutch asked Gorby to tear down the wall, the Soviets had neither the money or the will to keep it up! That’s what Afghanistan did to the Soviets, and now, look what it’s doing to the U.S. President Bush and Obama have been so badly advised and misled about the whole situation there. It’s an endless war. There is no means to gain victory, let alone a simple end of conflict. The U.S. stays involved at the cost of 2 billions dollars a week, for what? The excuses of catching Bin Laden are gone, the excuse of making Afghanistan a democracy were never possible in the first place, it an ancient society composed of tribes and tribal territories. The way the Afghani society works is totally corrupt, that won’t change. So, again, why Mr. President are we still there?

Lately, as more of the Middle-East countries come under siege from their own citizens desiring more freedom, the U.S. has been very patient in not getting involved in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Iran. That’s a good thing. Here’s why. These are all internal conflicts within these countries, civil wars if you will. Unless these conflicts spill over the border and create problems elsewhere, no other country has any business getting involved. Do you recall how many countries came to the side of the Union or the Confederacy when the U.S. had its own civil war? See, that’s what’s happening in these conflicted states now.

After Bush got the U.S. to invade Iraq, using lies to justify his blood-thirsty pursuit of imperialism, he then had to resort to the lame excuse of “humane reasons” because Saddam was such a mean guy, actually killed his own citizens. And the U.S doesn’t kill its own citizens in gas chambers, electrocutions, fatal injections, and firing squads? The “humanitarian” card doesn’t work when it’s an after-thought upon being discovered in a huge and costly lie and cover-up. Bush, Cheeney, Rumsfeld, and many others should be in prison right now for these heinous crimes they committed.

The humanitarian card worked in the ’90’s in Bosnia. The party in power was using “ethnic cleansing” to rid the country of Muslims who were a threat to the power of the secular state. The U.S. provided air cover for UN troops to invade and end a bad situation.

When asked to explain the rationale for the U.S. to join Britain and France in the Libyan invasion, when they clearly did nothing to help the revolutionaries in the other countries like Bahrain, Tunisia, etc, she said it was the “magnitude of the crimes being committed against the citizens”, meaning, there isn’t enough killing going on in those other conflicted countries to meet the criteria for invasion!

Well, if you want magnitude of death, where the hell is the UN with Sudan and the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region? Millions of innocent people beings slaughtered endlessly. Isn’t this qualified as a massive abuse of human rights? Is it because there are not enough natural resources in that region for the UN to bother with? Remember Cheeney said “the oil we hijack from Iraq upon military victory will more than pay for the effort”. By the by, the U.S. has not received one drop of Iraqi oil since they invaded and occupied that country. Have any of you, my readers, ever heard much concrete action being taken in Washington with regards to Darfur? Oh, you hear a politician every now and again decrying the human slaughter taking place there but, has there been a bill, a resolution, a law offered of any kind directing the U.S. to do something about this needless bloodshed? No. I for one, would support a full-out military incursion to the area to help bring an end to this mass scale genocide. But, Washington thinks it’s more important to attack countries that are of no threat to us, have civil wars ongoing that don’t affect us or the world in general, and have bad guys leading them.

The genocide in Darfur is real, it’s huge, and it’s being carried out in the Sudan and Chad so it’s multi-national in scope. If the “chicken hawks in Washington and the Pentagon want to flex their muscles, why not do it for something worthwhile, like ending the mass slaughter of millions of innocent people? Thanks for today’s read, and I’ll look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

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WHAT THE H**L IS HAPPENING IN AMERICA?

February 17, 2011

The other day I was reading the new story of insanity coming out of South Dakota. You see, there are two Representatives in the South Dakota state legislature who have crafted a bill in committee that essentially will put a bounty on all doctors who perform abortions. These guys are serious! They believe it should be okay for abortion doctors to be murdered. Yes, murdered! Apparently it would be okay under this law to randomly gun down doctors for doing their job!

My thinking is this must be the extension of the bill the South Dakota legislature worked on last year. That bill banned abortion, period! The law leaves no room for exceptions like rape, incest, danger to the mother’s life and health, and fetal deformities such as spina bifada, cerebral palsy, etc. This basically the state government taking away all rights of women in the area of choice. I thought Roe V. Wade grants the right of choice for women nationwide.

That brings us to what might be the most dysfunctional state in the country, Arizona. The first thing might strike you about the balance, or unbalanced, state of the voters of Arizona is, how can they follow-up the governorship of the highly intelligent and fair-minded Janet Napolitano with the stupid and mean-spirited governorship of Jan Brewer? One of Governor Brewer’s first intelligent moves was to back the very racist “papers please” law to start throwing undocumented aliens in prison or automatically send them back to Mexico or where ever else they are from. The law pretty much mirrored the law in Nazi Germany prior to WWII. The Arian Nazi party was on a witch hunt to remove all Jews from the every day populace of Germany, just as Brewer’s desire to rid Arizona of all Latino aliens. Not only was this proposed law racist, but it was stupid. She wanted to literally flush the spine of the Arizona labor force because she and the republican legislature decided they didn’t want Latinos and Latinas taking jobs away from white Arizonans. I guess they didn’t know the Latinos were taking the jobs the whites didn’t want.

Then we find out, in keeping with Arizona’s long and rich history of political corruption, that two of Governor Brewer’s staffers are partners in some of the private sector owned and operated prisons! Is it any wonder they keep making more laws to imprison more people? I’d like to know if these guys are still in the Governor’s office and if so, why?

Let’s stay with Arizona for another point here. In poll last week conducted by the Arizona Republic regarding the potential republican candidates in the running for the vacated U.S. Senate seat that Jon Kyl is occupying now, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa county, is by far, the leading candidate! A little information on Arpaio. First of all, he’s 78 years old! Hello Arizona, you’ve already got the quaking antique Grampy McSane in the Senate! That’s what Arizona needs, another angry bitter old man to serve them in the Senate. Arpaio became famous for being the so-called tough guy sheriff. He fashioned tent cities in the prison for the inmates to live in. He makes them stay there all year round, and believe me, I lived in Phoenix in the winter, it gets cold at night! They must also live in the tents in the summer when temperatures routinely rise to the teens and higher over 100 degrees. Sheriff Arpaio is proud of the fact his inmates are fed bologna sandwiches made of discolored out of date bologna and stale bread. He claims “they’re prisoners, they don’t deserve any better!” Because, I believe, Arpaio is insecure about his own sexuality, he dresses his prisoners in pink, because he believes it belittles them, makes them feel less masculine! Is this the thinking of a normal rational person? I think not!

Now we move on to Texas. Ah Texas, the Lone Star State. Lone is right! It’s become the largest insane asylum on the planet. The esteemed pinhead,er, Governor, Rick Perry, a republican that panders to the absolute lowest base of voters in the country, has floated the idea of the state seceding from the union. Of course, the wacked out right-wing in Texas got right on board with him! Perry’s latest thing is the idea, or lie, that the economy in Texas is in better shape than most states due to his excellent leadership in this area. Again, leading republicans in the state cheering him on. Now listen to the mayors and school superintendents from around the state. You get the opposite story. Because Perry and the republican legislature has driven the Texas budget into a 28 billion dollar deficit, now there is no assistance coming to the cities and the entire state education system is teetering on total collapse! And yet, here’s Governor Perry making his regular appearances on Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly’s shows on Fox singing the economic praises of the health of his state’s economy. Here’s the truth; leading economists have rated Texas as one of the five states in the most economic trouble that could lead to entire state bankruptcies! Hello Texas, is anybody home?

Rick Perry continues to lead the country’s blood thirsty right-wing movement in favor of institutionalized murder, i.e., capital punishment. Always hiding behind the false excuse of execution being a deterrent to capital crimes, Texas still is one of the leading states in homicide and rape. It sure is a deterrent! Most Southern states hang on this excuse to kill people. The bible-beaters keep on quoting “an eye for an eye” as an excuse to murder people . Of course, they have taken that passage from the bible out of context to satisfy their potential self-guilt for supporting legalized murder.

In spite of the fact the United States leads the world in murders, murder rates, gun-related suicides, accidental death by fire arms, and deaths, murder, suicide, and accidental deaths, of teenagers and younger, the United States Senate in 2004 let the Assault Weapon Ban expire. This bill, passed in 1994 under the Clinton administration, included bans on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and hand guns, and a ban on multiple bullet clips or ammo magazines. The sale of these types of armament has been growing steadily since the law elapsed in 2004. An example of what has happened in our society lately, since the shooting in Tucson on January 8 this year, by a deranged guy using a 31 bullet clip in a Glock semi-automatic hand gun, sales of Glocks skyrocketed! This is simply put, sick. It’s as if people get a sick pleasure from seeing groups of people getting gunned down at one time. Let’s face the facts here, the only reason to own an AK-47, an M-16, a Glock, 31 bullet clips, hollow point bullets, and Kevlar penetrating “cop killer” bullets is to kill human beings. These weapons serve no other purpose in a free at peace society.

Then we move onto the insanity right now on full display from both President Obama and the republican leadership in Congress. President Obama in his SOTU address talked about the importance of education and competitiveness of our country in the global economy. He talked of China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and India out-doing the U.S. in education and infrastructure. So what does he propose in his first budget shot, cuts to education and infrastructure investment. Total sell-out to the right! Equally, the leadership on the right says he didn’t cut far enough! Keep in mind, the cutting both sides are talking about is within the 12% of the budget that is known as discretionary. When you cut the discretionary budget to the bone, you cut education, street, highway, bridge, railroad, airport, and building construction and maintainance. Anybody remember the collapse of the I-35W bridge collapse?

Neither side is taking on the other 88% of the budget, entitlements and defense. This is purely political, these guys are trying to get re-elected so they stay away from the socially sensitive programs. Let’s take a look here. The four areas are Social Security, MediCare, Medic-Aid, and the Pentagon. Social Security is in relatively good shape right now. will it have to be addressed in the future? Certainly, but that’s at least ten years out. Defense spending? This is the area where there is no accountability at all. The prevailing feeling in Congress and the White House is if it’s for defense, it’s good. No questions, no accounting, just a bottomless pit to keep throwing money down. In the annual 750 billion dollar defense budget, I believe at least 100 billion could be cut easily. Because there is no working oversight of pentagon spending, there is huge waste, fraud and mismanagement. This is how private vendors and contractors to the defense industry like Haliburton and Black water get non-compete contracts. This is where 700 dollar hammers and toilet seats for the military come from. Another 100 to 200 billion dollars a year can be trimmed by simply getting out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With Medicare and Medic-Aid, you have huge industrial bureaucratic organizations that have grown without close scrutiny and accounting. I like how the supporters of killing these programs believe they are money wasters and wrought with fraud. No more than the huge private sector corporations and industries. There are private sector entities that upon realizing they have a problem of waste, fraud, and inefficiency, hire efficiency experts and managers to get it cleaned up. the federal government can do the same with these two health care delivering organizations. Attacking the debt and the deficit really can be easy if Congress followed my aforementioned steps.

The federal government, upon cutting out the waste, fraud, and mismanagement in these non-descretionary areas, needs to write a new tax code to compliment the more efficient operations of government.

Now we have the case of Wisconsin. This is the picture of Governor, drunk with power, way over-stepping his limits to try breaking the backs of the labor force of the state. He has used cooked books from the budget to justify his targeting the unions as the reason for the debt the state has incurred. Cold, mean, and heartless. But, he is playing from the right-wing playbook, you build the economy by putting people out of work, the thinking apparently being a more efficient use of funds is unemployment payments rather than paying people to work!

I think, and my hope is this wave of right-wing, cold-hearted, and stupid economic moves will take care of itself. I think at this pace, the more intelligent progressive candidates will sweep right back into office in 2012, because the right have us on a certain track of failure. My hope is the republican leadership keeps caving in to the right-wing extreme fringe that not only will sink the economy, make the U.S. even less competitive in the global economy, keep wasting tax payers money paying them to overturn progressive human friendly laws and legislation. In the end it will be revealed, out in the open for the whole country to see what they have, a group intent on a social agenda they didn’t talk about in the campaign, remember; “smaller government, lower taxes”? They’re real agenda, keep helping the top 2% of income earners in the country, overturn health care reform, cut programs to the poor and disadvantaged, keep fighting same-sex marriage, repeal the repeal of DADT, cut funding for education, seal the borders and deport all undocumented aliens, overturn Roe V. Wade, redefine rape and incest so as to not allow for publicly funded abortions for the poor, and make everybody, regardless of their situation, personally responsible to migrate through the ever more difficult life in America. The right-wing track the country is going on right now will sink our society and economy. The country will wake up and vote the idiots out in 2012, and hopefully, those of us with functioning brains can perhaps relax a little again! Thanks for today’s read.
Cam Obert

A SALUTE TO GIFTED TEENS…

February 7, 2011

…who I have been associated with the past 8 plus years. In spite of the news about the disparity in quality in education in Minnesota, and the fact the U.S. has fallen so far behind other developed countries in the world in education, there is a group of very gifted and tough teens that are terrific!

Last evening, we were entertained at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis by the orchestras of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. This is a conglomeration of a couple hundred or so of the most talented and gifted kids in Minnesota. If you sit back in your seat and close your eyes and just enjoy the beautiful music being produced by these kids, you’d swear you were in the audience of a professional orchestra. That’s how good these kids are. There are actually four orchestras, the String Orchestra, the Philharmonic, the Repertory, and the Symphony Orchestra. Experience and talent move the kids along to the top, the Symphony. Last night, we enjoyed a long cello solo piece by Maple Grove High School junior, John Belk. He soloed in the Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor. He was stellar! In his bio, he has worked with the same coach for 8 years and HAS NOT missed one single day of practice in those eight years. True dedication to his craft. He, like many of these kids, have bright futures ahead of them, and that’s what really jazz’s all of us parents of these young people.

My son Michael, a gifted cellist in his own right, played his last performance as first chair in the repertory Orchestra. He starts with the Symphony Orchestra this week! He should have been with Symphony the whole year, even his directors have told him this, but last summer he didn’t practice as he should have and had a bad audition for Symphony. These teachers and directors are very tough, but they produce great musicians and that’s what it’s all about! Now Micheal will be taking his cello and talent to college for the next level. He’s applied to six schools, and has heard from two of them so far. Miraculously, he was accepted at the University of Minnesota, now considered the most difficult college in the upper Midwest to gain admittance. He also has been accepted at Concordia in Moorhead, MN, a great smaller liberal arts school with a terrific music department. He has been offered a huge scholarship to Concordia as well! He travels to Drake University in Iowa in a couple of weeks his audition there. To his otherwise credit, Michael gets excellent grades and this fall nailed the ACT, so college admittance shouldn’t be an issue, except for the “U”, but he already got that one! His preference is still Lawrence University and Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Michael is also quite the stage actor. He has been starring in productions since 6th grade and really has a gift. His director at Irondale says he’s natural. She commented she wouldn’t be at all surprised if one day he isn’t on Saturday Night Live! He is right now working on directing his cast for a production of a play he wrote. That will be in performance in about three weeks. He loves writing for the stage. I watched him in rehearsal one day last week, he’s quite a stern director as well! He has been such an inspiration for me too! I auditioned for and got a part in my college production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. This is literally the first thing I have ever auditioned for in my life! Don’t ever believe our kids don’t influence us!

We followed daughter Katy’s gymnastics career from age 3 to her finally retiring at the ripe old age of 18. She worked her way up from a little toddler to a Level 9 gymnast, the second highest level to attain short of “elite”, which comprises less than a couple percent of all gymnasts. Most collegiate gymnasts are Level 9 and 10’s. When she started competing at about age 8, that meant being in the gym 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. A brutal schedule for anyone! We took her and dropped her off for all those years. We watched her and her teammates work through countless injuries and mental anguish. I don’t think there is a more brutal and intense sport than gymnastics. These kids showed me a side of toughness that many of the best traditional sports athletes would not even be close to. In the end, the 50 weeks of practice a year, the travel, and the accumulating effects of countless soft tissue injuries, finally brought Katy to retirement. It taught Katy a toughness that I know few people to have, my father comes to mind, and a heart and compassion for others that is amazing. She will be going into the field of nursing, which is perfect for her, she’s just trying to figure out which area to focus on.

That’s my take based on my experience with some of the best and brightest kids coming up in our society today. With their talent, intelligence, toughness, and compassion, my hope is the country will be left in good hands with this group forming the core of our country’s future leaders. Karen and I are so proud that we have two of those gifted future leaders as our kids. Parents, make the sacrifices for your gifted kids. Nurture them and support them as they grow in their particular area of talent. the rewards will be huge, not to mention college scholarships, which never hurt to get!

Thanks for today’s read.
Cam Obert

MR. BOEHNER & MR. ZELLERS, WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

February 3, 2011

We all remember the campaign last year, right? “Jobs, jobs, jobs! The battle cry of politics last campaign. The republicans were convinced, and they convinced the people who voted for them they had all the answers. Remember too, when queried by the media or opponents on the topic of jobs, actually on any topic, there was never a response to put intelligent people at ease about their message. Why? Because they never gave any answers. They never gave details about how they intend to cause job growth. Not once, on the national level or here in Minnesota, did a republican candidate give a detailed plan to grow jobs, grow the economy, or even how they would “reduce the size of government and cut taxes”.

So they got the majority of voters in America and in Minnesota to fall for their snake oil and mirrors presentation, got elected to office and now have to go about the job of responsible adult governance. So how have they done so far? They’ve been office for a month now. The results of their responsible partnership in governance has been a big zero when put in context of their campaign promises and rhetoric.

On the national level, Speaker Boehner has allowed the extreme right fringe of the party hijack his authority to go after social issues and repeal of previously passed laws, under the guise of “campaign promise fulfillment”. The Congress was given a total of SEVEN hours to debate the repeal of perhaps one of the most important pieces of landmark legislation in the history of the country. After this joke and insult to Americans of a debate, the vote followed and fell almost entirely on party lines. Everyone in the United States knew this would be the result, and they all knew Harry Reid((D-NV), would not bring the bill to the floor of the Senate. Citing it would a waste of time and tax payer’s dollars to make a “ceremonial” and meaningless vote, he held out from bringing the bill to the floor. He, however, finally cave in, and the vote was made, again with little or no debate. Again, the vote fell along party lines, and the bill died. Doesn’t matter anyway, had it gone the White House, the President would have vetoed it and there are not nearly enough votes in the House to over ride. Now, the republican in the House are redefining “rape” as an excuse to not have governmental support for aborting a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. Another social issue that has nothing to do with job creation.

Boehner has suggested since becoming Speaker, that cutting Congressional budgets and federal government personnel levels are indeed in his plans. These measures would cut less than 5 billion from the overall federal budget, a drop in the bucket! Now lets take closer look, by instituting these measures, the end result is throwing more people out of their jobs and onto the unemployment rolls. So now, after campaigning on job creation, his answer is job cutting. How does this even make sense? But, so far it’s just casual talk from the Speaker, we have found with him there is no urgency in anything. His own caucus has accused him of being lazy, and he never works after 5:00pm.

Now let’s take a look at what’s happening in Minnesota with our republican led legislature, both houses. They too, campaigned on job creation. So far, here’s what we have gotten from them, in the throes of economic recession recovery. They have attacked the teachers union, threatening deep cuts in education, falling back on former Governor Pawlenty’s claim that it’s the public service unions’ fault for the economic hole, 6.2 billion dollars and they have attacked the SEIU for being ineffective and too costly. Have they offered options or alternatives or anything that might resemble workable solutions to the economic and unemployment woes of the state? Not workable, that’s for sure, their solution is to start firing teachers and state workers. Again, just like on the federal level, the republicans always go after the bottom or base of working society, they cavalierly claim there are too many people working in civil service, once considered a noble mission for people working in civil service. Now, the republicans have done such a fine job of sullying the civil servants and teachers, they feel it’s now time to start dropping the axe. It is typical of their way of thinking, always attack the most vulnerable in society, they always start on vilifying the poor, the homeless, the aged, and the unemployed. They never look at the creators of the ills of our economy and society, Wall Street, etc. You know, their buddies who gambled working Americans’ money into a huge hole that millions will never recover from. Do you think they care? Ha! They apologize to BP after BP and Haliburton poison the Gulf for being too hard on them! Anyway, I digress! In Minnesota, they have now started the process of eliminating state gun control laws. So, lets see, so far, they have proposed firing many thousands of civil servants and teachers, and making it easier for the less enlightened and criminal elements of our state’s society to buy automatic weapons and multi-bullet clips. Perhaps in the hope they will actually use them to kill more teachers and public servants. So, Speaker Zellers, where are the new jobs you promised. So far you promoted the idea of putting more people on unemployment and making killing people easier. So again, where are the proposals for economic and job growth?

Republicans nationwide embraced the idea of extending the Bush tax cuts for incomes of over $250K. They supported it on the basis of promoting business expansion and job growth. Two things th republicans didn’t tell us is tax cuts don’t work to promote business expansion. It’s been proven twice now. Under Reagan and under Bush II. The economy under both these tax cut promoters went right into the tank, and unemployment rates skyrocketed. The proof is in the numbers, these are documented facts. Under Bush, the United States economy lost a record in history, 8 million jobs, a record. Under President Obama, the trend has reversed. The private sector has been gaining jobs, although still too slow for many Americans, thus the disastrous election results in November. Apparently, when a republican takes 8 years to totally submarine the world economy, a Democrat is supposed to fix it all in less than two years. That’s pretty sensible reasoning in my book! NOT!

So here we are, one month into the new Congress and new state legislature, and not one concrete piece of economy improving legislation has been voted on yet. As thin and shallow thinking the extreme right-wing has trained this society to be, everything based on untrue 30 second attack ads, and attack bumper stickers, it will be interesting how fast they turn on this new Congress and legislature. For their own good, they better get to work and start “creating jobs” or the Tea-Baggers will turn on them in a New York minute! They are already in deep doo-doo because of their promise to cut federal spending in their first budget by 100 billion dollars. So far, they have only been able to come up with 33 billion. Oops, open mouth-insert foot! These wild-eyed extremists on the right won’t accept a penny less than 100 billion in cuts or they are in trouble. Same goes for Minnesota. There is 6.2 billion dollar deficit and so far nothing has been done to address it. For all you republicans in office, the clock is running and 2012 will be here sooner than you think. Good Luck!

Thanks for today’s read, and please submit you comments at the end of the commentary. It helps juice the debate!
Cam Obert

2011, LGBT STILL FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY

February 1, 2011

I last wrote on this topic in October of 2010. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the concept of a population group in America in the year 2011 that is still fighting for equality. I know there are many short-comings with American society, and maybe I’m naive enough to believe our citizens are smart , educated, fair, and open-minded, but why is the LGBT community still looking for acceptance and equality?

In 1973, homosexuality was officially removed from the list of mental or psychological disorders. It was then recognized by the medical and psychological research communities as sexual orientation. In other words, research proved that a person is born with their sexual orientation, it is not a learned “habit”. But now, 37 years later, why is there still a negative stigma attached to homosexuality? It’s based on ignorance, fear of the unknown, and guilt placed upon us growing up in whatever particular religious order we were raised. The amazing thing is, it’s still happening today, despite the facts available to all revealing it is not a person’s choice what their sexual orientation is, it is what they were born with.

I attended a seminar last evening in Minneapolis hosted by Mr. Wayne Besen, founder and director of the activist organization “Truth Wins Out”. Mr. Besen talks of the culture of “gay healing” or “gay curing”. He talked of many organizations based in the U.S. that prey on less enlightened people, people who they convince gay can be cured. There targets are parents of young people who are gay and gays who are so confused about the legitimacy of their sexual orientation, and are made to feel so guilty about it, they seek a “cure”. Remember, this is 2011, in the United States of America! This is going on here! I know, it’s hard to believe. Anyway, Besen and his organization have been researching these “ex-gay” operations and have found a huge failure rate, corruption, and hypocrisy. Yes, people who went to these snake oil salesmen found out who you are born as, can’t be changed, thus the failure rate. They found corruption, taking money from many sources to lavish on themselves, and hypocrisy, many of these “gay cure artists” turned out to be gay themselves, leaving their business, getting divorced from their wives and taking up with another man in fully committed relationships! Again, this is 2011.

The people who believe being gay is a choice couldn’t be more wrong. Common sense would tell you different. Members of the LGBT community in our country are faced with so many additional hurdles in life than straights. These people face bigotry and prejudice on a daily basis. They fear for their very health, safety, and well-being. The are discriminated against for most anything. Just as if you asked an African-American in 1955 if he/she would rather be white, you could ask any member of the LGBT community if they would rather be in the breeding community today. In both cases, the answer would be common sense, because of the struggles for racial justice in the ’50’s and LGBT acceptance now, they would opt for the easier. But, they can’t! It’s who they are. They are Black, they are gay. There is nothing they can do about it. So America, get over it! Put your petty, insecure and ignorance based prejudices aside and move on.

Since last I wrote on the topic, some important progress has been made. DADT was finally repealed by the government, so now LGBT members in our armed forces can serve openly, in other words, stop lying about who they are. That was definitely a case of institutionalized bigotry and discrimination. It’s gone now. Same-sex marriage bans are the next case of institutionalized bigotry. In most states, the laws prohibit consenting responsible adults from getting married based on their sex. My question is, who is the government to say who can and cannot be married? There is no rational basis for this discrimination to continue. Gay-hating organizations claim it’s not natural. Define natural. If a person is born as a gay person, what can be more natural than that. Why should that person be treated different from the person who happens to be born a breeder? There is no common sense answer. Gay-hating groups will say the very reason for spiritualistic marriages is for the purpose of propagating the race. How do you explain all of the straight married couples who choose to not have children or can’t have children for physiological reasons? They can’t give rational explanations because there are none. The gay-hating community’s last-ditch argument for opposing same-sex marriage is that it threatens the health and viability of the institution of marriage. What are they protecting? An institution with a failure rate of over 50% today, and a divorce rate that may hit 60% in another ten years. So what are they protecting? If anything, maybe same-sex marriage in this country will start to reverse that trend of failure. The good news on this front, Illinois is working on a marriage or civil union bill, and the Governor of Maryland is proposing a same-sex legalization bill in that state!

Support for equal marriage rights is coming from some unusual sources. Laura Bush, her daughter Barbara, her mother-in-law, Barbara, Meghan McCain and her mother, etc. these are women from conservative republican families that have realized the stupidity and discriminatory nature of same-sex marriage bans. Good for them, and I think more conservative leaders will be coming through. It only makes sense, common sense.

Unfortunately, right here in once progressive and proud Minnesota, we have the largest school district in the state, the Anoka-Hennepin District, being as paranoid and homophobic as you can get for a governmental agency. You see this district, has one of the highest rates in the whole country for LGBT student suicides. Despite hours and hours of testimony regarding the unstopped and unrelenting bullying of LGBT students in their district schools, the administration decided the schools were doing no wrong by not protecting these kids from harmful, and even debilitating bullying from other students. They say their “policy neutral” stance works just fine. Tell that to the families of the dead kids, tell that to the LGBT kids still getting bullied in school. All these kids want is be themselves without fearing reprisals. Is that too much to ask? Now, last week, the district struck again. Champlin Park High School was having their “winter formal” event where the students vote on the “royalty”. A lesbian couple was elected as the royalty. The school then announced there would be no “royalty walk”, where the royalty couples enter the event as couples. The district said they members of the royalty would enter individually. More blatant discrimination, breaking a school tradition simply to ruin the event for the LGBT kids. After threatened to be sued, the district backed down and the event proceeded like any other year. Why does it have to resort to the court or threats of that to get people to act and behave like people?

Members of the LGBT community only want whats do them as members of our society. They don’t choose to be gay, they just are. If the right thinks it’s choice they make for sexual gratification, how much more wrong could they be? A person can get sexual gratification from anyone or no one! The idea it’s a choice goes against human nature. Why would people choose the hard way to navigate through life, when the easy way is to just be a breeder and go about life by the “usual” American way? It’s time for all Americans to recognize all citizens as that, fellow citizens. No titles, no color or gender orientation labels, no social labels, just people. I see how easy things would be if that were the case, do you?

Thanks for today’s read, please submit your comments on the blog site itself, it does spur thought and discussion.
Cam Obert

AMERICA FIXATES ON GUNS…

January 27, 2011

…otherwise known as penis envy! I thought this would be a good time to comment on the state of guns in the most violent “civilized” country in the world.

Today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a front page story, above the fold, is about a representative, Tony Cornish(R-Good Thunder), in the state legislature who is a committee chairman, who brought forth a bill to repeal portions of Minnesota’s gun control laws. The two major police and peace officers associations both testified vehemently against these repeals. The Police and Peace Officers Association and the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association testified against weakening gun laws! D’ah! It should stand to reason cops do not want more guns floating around the state. Common sense, right?

Cornish was offended when queried by Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, is he in favor of protecting the criminals or are you on the side of the peace officers who must take care of the results of the criminals with guns? Cornish stated that she was “rude” to ask that question!

Having heard enough of this testimony, representative Steve Drazkowski(R-Mazzeppa), added a new bill in the one Cornish had. Drazkowski’s proposed bill would simply repeal all the state gun control laws! The proponents of such an appeal claim that Minnesota is only one of twelve states that has its own gun control laws. All others abide by the federal laws. In their minds, that makes repeal proper, despite the fact that expert testimony revealed that the federal law has holes and missing data that might allow people banned from gun ownership in Minnesota to buy one anyway. Minnesota’s laws are also a little more strict, like if a person was ever convicted of a crime related to gang activity or high level gross misdemeanors they would be disallowed from gun purchase and ownership in Minnesota. So, what’s so wrong with that? The NRA can’t give a straight commonsense intelligent answer.

Nationwide, guns have become out of control. The NRA battle cry of I’m protected by the 2nd Amendment no longer applies to these modern times. It was fine in the colonial period of America. The 2nd Amendment was written to protect the citizens of this new country from over-reach by the federal government and to form state militias to protect individuals and states from such an over-reach or from invasion by a foreign power. First, individuals nor states need to defend themselves from federal government over-reach any longer because of the restrictive controls placed on the government by various laws, and secondly, the federal government now spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year to protect our country from invasion. Also, research the colonial period of America’s history, was there rampant crime, gang warfare on city streets, thugs wielding automatic weapons, and the existence of 31 bullet clips for Glocks? I thought you’d find the answer to that. The 2nd amendment must be evaluated as a fluid instrument. It must change with the times for obvious reasons, otherwise you get an all for themselves mentality with everyone packing heat in the name of self-defense. Common sense tells you that is just not workable. And yet, there are thousands of citizens walking around armed because lax “conceal and carry” laws. There are millions of people going into Wal-Marts to make their 17 cents per bullet clip purchases. There is one reason and one reason only for people to buy these types of ammunition, Glocks, AK-47’s, M-16’s, etc. IT’S TO KILL PEOPLE! There is no other reason under the sun for people to own and have this type of armament!

Congress in 1994 passed the anti-automatic weapon bill included was the ban on high-capacity ammo clips. That bill passage, under great protest from the NRA and the pro-gun members of Congress seemed to be a common sense piece of legislation. The opposition to its passage had no ground to stand on. Their tired old argument of “2nd Amendment rights” didn’t fly that time, nor should it ever again. That law was sunsetted in 2004. Apparently that was a concession by the writers to the fence-sitting members of Congress that weren’t quite sure on which way to vote. There is a tremendous amount of kowtowing in the halls of Congress to the NRA. Isn’t amazing? It’s all about campaign funding and nothing to do with gun rights and a civilized society!

In the United States today there are approximately 308 million people. There are an estimated 275 million guns in the hands of citizens. That’s about a 90% gun to person ratio! By far and away the highest in the world!!! Second place is the country of Yemen, coming in at a paltry 63%! “Why hell, we’d blow them suckers away like nothing, us gun-toting imperialists from America!” Think about it, do Americans really need this obscenely high number of guns. Are American men that insecure about the size of their penis’? This is a sick and very sad situation for a supposedly “civilized” country to be in. America is number one in the world in murders and gun related deaths. America has had more heads of state and influential people of power assassinated than any other country. Other than politically motivated acts of terrorism, how many countries can claim the number of mass shootings, school-house shootings, shopping center shootings, serial killers, etc, that America has? NONE! You tell me, what do these stories and statistics tell you about the society we live in? What does it tell you about the ease of access to guns, armament, and ammunition? Does it say anywhere that Americans need this? Hell no! Does it say that because of the NRA, the misrepresentation of the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, and the thirst for human blood spillage that America has become a blood-thirsty society?

There is no argument of intelligence and common sense for not enacting very tough and strict gun laws. There is no intelligent and common sense argument against the enactment of what should be the most severe punishments in the world for weapon abuse on our society. America needs to be the shining beacon to the world for civility and domestic peace, but with the lax gun control laws and the thirst for human blood, we aren’t nor will we be until it is stopped.

Canada, our civilized neighbor to the north, is a nation of hunters. In fact, more people hunt in Canada than play hockey. It is, Canada’s favorite pastime. There are approximately 36 million people in Canada. There are about 7 million guns in Canada. Annually, there are less than 200 people killed from guns. In the United States, with our 308 million people and over 270 million guns, there are over 100,000 gun related deaths a year. Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say? Here’s the difference between Canada and the U.S. In Canada, in order to purchase a gun, most being for hunting, shotguns, etc. and a small percentage sport shooting pistols, you sign up for the gun, then you are subject to complete criminal, sociological, and psychological background check. This process takes about 28 to 30 days to complete. There are no exceptions. Canada, for obvious reasons disallows the purchase of guns on the spot at gun shows, so popular in the U.S. Is there any rational intelligent reason to believe there is something wrong with Canada’s system? No, unless you’re an idiot!

The gun violence has to stop in this country. Nitwit politicians supported by NRA dollars need to grow a back bone and stand the violent blood thirsty gun lobbyists up, or they need to be voted out. Gun play is way too serious and way too harmful to quality of life we try to enjoy as Americans. It’s time to clamp down on and ban any weapons that only have one use, to kill people, aka, automatic guns and multiple bullet ammo magazines. This is not a lawless Somalia we live in, it’s the United States. We are better than that and we need to start showing it and living it.

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

FEDERAL GUN CONTROL THAT MAKES SENSE…

January 17, 2011

…because it is well past the time. There needs to be some sanity brought to this issue on a nationwide basis.

On this national holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let’s take a brief moment about the end of his life, his cold-blooded murder by James Earl Ray. Fast forward this situation to today in America. While Dr. King and his entourage were moving along the balcony of that motel in Memphis, if this were today, Ray would have used an automatic assault weapon and easily taken out not only Dr. King, but the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the rest of the group. The difference between a single shot rifle and an automatic assault gun. Does this little example open any eyes at all? I don’t know but I can only hope.

On that horrible day in November of 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated at the shooting hand of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald used a high-powered single-shot rifle and got off a few shots, one being the fatal hit on the President and some that wounded Governor Connally. What would the difference be in that situation had Oswald used one of today’s popular automatic assault weapons? The shooter only needs to open up in the area of the target and then simply spray bullets around until the intended job is completed. How many other people would have been killed and injured?

Remember the University of Texas clock tower shooter? Charles Whitman used high-powered sniper rifles to kill 16 people and injure another 32. If you remember the video tape from the incident, the shots were separate and distinct, sometimes with several minutes between shots. Can you even imagine that same scenario in America today? Using automatic weapons with large magazines and ammo clips, Whitman probably could have easily killed many more people.

Again in 1968, Sirhan Sirhan was able to enter the hotel in Los Angeles armed with a simple single shot pistol. At close range, he was able to murder Senator Robert Kennedy with one head shot. If you remember how crowded the room was, if this were in today’s America, Sirhan would have been armed with a Glock type assault semi-automatic or automatic hand gun, and the result would have been many people murdered on site rather than just the Senator.

The last example brings us to the tragedy in Tuscon last week. This deranged person, Jared Loughner, was able to simply waltz into the area of Congresswoman Gifford’s Congress on the Corner meeting, pull a Glock out from his pocket, hit the Representative with a clean head shot at close range, and then sprayed bullets around, killing 6 people and wounding several others. Thankfully, the Congresswoman survived.

In the gang and drug wars being waged on the streets of so many of American cities, assault weapon gun play has become so commonplace, that in many cities, the news stories are on back pages of the local section of their major newspapers. These rotten people can perform drive-by shootings while squeezing one time and firing up to 31 bullets at a time! The result of any assault weapon violence is the “collateral damage”. In other words, the innocent bystanders who just happen to be in the area. Right here in Minneapolis, in the past couple years, there have been so many heart wrenching stories of youngsters being hit by random gun fire and killed. This is what the lack of serious gun control laws results in. Would the bad guys still get automatic weapons? Sure. Would the access to these assault weapons and multi-bullet clips be as easy with strict gun control measures? Of course not.

In 2004, the federal assault weapon ban for private citizen use expired. From that point, the sale of assault weapons, AK-47’s etc, automatic hand guns, Glocks etc, has skyrocketed. For whatever reasons, Americans in general, have a love affair with guns. The population of the United States in about 308 million people. Estimates are there are over 275 million guns in the hands of Americans. That’s about 90%! Not only is this insanity, but it makes for living as peaceful life in America a tad more difficult. There are actually many states that have “conceal and carry” laws! That’s comforting, isn’t it? Some states even allow persons to enter public buildings, places of worship, and even bars while “packing heat”! Is this insane or what? What possible reasons would a law-abiding person have for carrying a gun to church? The state of Arizona has become the American poster child for weapons insanity. The gun laws there are so lax, it literally has an environment of the old “Wild West”. Fortunately in Arizona, there is a bastion of some kind of sanity in Tuscon. It probably has to do with the academic environment driven by the University’s presence there. I have to believe most common sense driven educated people see the insanity of private gun ownership, except for hunters and gun sportsmen. Other than former Governor Janet Napolitano, it seems from the outside looking in, most Arizona politicians very much favor gun lawlessness in their state. I believe it’s a state driven by the wacked out fringe on the right that hide behind the 2nd Amendment to support weapon insanity. This nut job that performed the multiple murder in Tuscon, simple goes into Wal-Mart and buys 31 bullet clips for his Glock along with his toothpaste, deodorant, and other personal items and then proceeds to the killing site. That is so wrong in so many ways. I have to say, Loughner is not the only nut job with blood on his hands, I indict the whole state government for allowing the ease of this whole action that ended with horrible results.

The new Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, had an interesting give and take on the campaign last summer. In a debate with his opponents, both of which resist tight gun control, cornered a questioner about “cop killer” bullets. Dayton questioned the need for them because they serve only ONE purpose, to kill people. Tom Emmer, his republican opponent apparently believes conceal and carry, assault weapon ownership, hollow tip and cop killer bullets, and automatic hand guns are fine for personal private citizen ownership. The standing belief of the extreme right being “gun control laws only give the government more control over the citizenry” and therefore are bad for the liberty and freedom of Americans.

Over 100,000 thousand Americans die each year as a result of guns. Granted, a minor portion of that includes gun fired suicides. It has become too easy in this country for gun ownership. This country has more gun crimes committed annually than the next ten countries combined. The United States has more political or government leaders killed by gun than any other developed country in the world since it’s inception. The gun lovers will say it’s because of the freedom we enjoy as Americans. We enjoy the right to kill people freely? I have noticed you can’t debate the issue with NRA members or their leadership. To them, it’s all about the 2nd Amendment. That amendment was written to protect the central government from internal overthrow. “Arm yourselves and form state militias to fight the take-over of the government”. The amendment was written in Colonial times of early America. Can that really be equated with today’s society? No, at least not rationally. You see, in Colonial America, there were no armed and dangerous gangs marauding around urban areas killing people with automatic weapon fire.

I now blame the Democrats in Congress and since 2009, the President for not fixing the problem of the expired automatic weapons ban in 2004. In 2004, Congress and President Bush were bought and paid for by the NRA, arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington pre-Citizens United ruling. The republicans had no reason or desire to re-enact the measure. That, I understand. But, the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and kept control until January of this year. President Obama has been in the White House since 2009. As far as this writer is concerned, the Democrats and President share the culpability for this dangerous time Americans are living with today.

Let’s face it. There is no rational need for private citizens to own or have access to assault type weapons, rifles and hand guns. There is no rational reason for there to be access to multi-bullet clips for automatic weapons. Once these concepts of common sense bans has sunk into the minds of Americans, the government needs to ratchet up the background examinations of all people wishing to be a gun owner, including hunting guns. There needs to be complete and accurate checks for mental stability and criminal histories. If it takes weeks, even months to perform these checks, Americans simply need to plan ahead accordingly.

Denying Americans the “right” to own or possess assault weapons is not denial of their rights as a citizen of the United States. It is common sense for a world that is completely different from the world our framers of the Constitution lived in. The Constitution is a fluid instrument. It has to be or our society would cease to exist. We are not a society of hunters and gatherers anymore, and the Constitution or framework has to change to accommodate this modernization.

I don’t look at the issue of gun control as having to be partisan. Gun control laws are for the protection of all Americans and it is not right for one political faction or lobby group to hold sway over this protection. It requires a free debate free from the shackles of the NRA and others. I hope in the wake of the Tuscon tragedy, Congress can reinstate nothing less than a return to the automatic weapons ban which expired in 2004. Even tighter controls would be better but I’ll take what we can get for now. Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.

THE WISDOM OF INCREASING THE DEBT LIMIT

January 5, 2011

It looks as if for the eighth time in the past thirty some years, Congress and the White House to make the decision to increase the amount allowed of the national debt. In nearly every time the debt limit was increased, many members of Congress voted against it. This has always been a vote to make themselves appear to be fiscally responsible to the voters at home. In reality, they make the negative vote only after they are assured the legislation will pass. Heck, even President Obama in 2006 voted against it while serving in the Senate. He will also tell you he did it only after knowing it was going to pass. He cast his negative vote to “show how serious he is” to cut the debt and deficits.

This time around, there are many new members of Congress elected under the Tea-Bagger banner. These people campaigned on 30 second sound bytes and bumper sticker politics. I would say not even one of these new conservative members has any clue at all of what it takes to responsibly govern the country. Governance is not as simple as throwing out 30 second attacks or obstructing the business of the government. When Speaker Boehner takes these empty-headed idiots under his wing to try to teach them the ways of governance, hopefully, some of them will see the light.

The new members not withstanding, are also a part of a little larger group of legislators who believe taking care of this problem is as simple as their campaign sound bytes, “no taxes and smaller government”. In a brief look at contemporary American history, you will find the size of the federal government always grows under republican leadership. You will also find that in two of the three most recent republican White Houses, taxes were cut and the economy went into free-fall tanking mode. Under both Reagan and W, the middle class shrunk, unemployment sky rocketed, and the deficit exploded! The GNP shrunk precipitously under both administrations. So, as the current bunch of republican members of Congress pine for those days to return, they are in for a rude awakening!

If this bunch in Congress today wants to vote down the debt limit increase, they will not only bear the wrath of the American citizens, but they will also be responsible to the entire globe for the collapse of the world’s economy. It’s just this simple, if the debt limit is not raised, and we are about 400 billion dollars from that limit, we default on our debt, and full faith and credit in the United States will be destroyed. As the global economic leader, if our credit his ruined and our economy tanks, so does the world’s economy. This is what these members of Congress don’t understand. They can’t look past their own “nationalistic rhetoric” and see what the consequences will be. They are, in effect, “unpatriotic”. They intend to put their own agenda, once again, ahead of the health and well-being of their own country!

Most members of Congress understand the country’s economy is in a serious mess. It is, in fact so serious, that these short-sighted “quick-fixes” won’t work. The fact of the matter is, in the eight weeks or so until Congress has to vote on increasing the debt limit, there simply is not time to implement programs to address the rising debt. We all know that the top priority for long-term repair is a complete overhaul and re-write of the tax codes. Simply stated, in my opinion, a shorter and easier book of tax codes needs to be done. I believe lower taxes for Americans can be achieved by simply writing a graduated tax scale, lower for those in the lower and middle class, then ratchet up the rate as the income levels increase. This will still result in lower taxes for the wealthy because all loop holes need to be closed, and enforcement of tax payment needs to happen. Business and corporate tax rates can also be reduced simply by closing all money and income hiding loop holes and severely penalizing entities and/or individuals who try hiding earned income in off shore banks. If a person or business earns money in this country, they must pay taxes on every cent of it! Pretty simple, right? It’s time to eliminate blanket “tax cuts” for businesses and individuals earning over a certain dollar amount of annual income or profit. It’s already been proven for many years tax cuts to spur business doesn’t work. The only result has been a few individuals adding those tax saved dollars to their own bottom line nets. They don’t expand their businesses nor do they hire additional staff. It’s joke and a sham what K Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox News, and the republican party have done to flim-flam the American public. The real incentive for businesses to help make them competitive in the global market place is tax credits for performance. In other words, do the job, and earn the tax breaks. Completely transparent and 100% accountable!

Now this group of conservatives in Congress wants to repeal the health care reform bill passed last year. Another indication that they have no regard for even their own constituency. Americans like the health care reform and do not wish to have it repealed. Try telling a cancer patient they can’t switch insurance coverage because of their “pre-existing condition”. Secondly, the Congressional Budget Office(CBO) scored the health care reform bill as a deficit reducer to the tune of 100 billion dollars the first decade and over a trillion dollars in the second decade. So, tell me again the republicans are serious about tackling the deficit!

Another indication the Congress is not serious about tackling the deficit. They just black-mailed the President into extending the Bush tax cuts. Here are the consequences of this move, the rich get richer, the middle class gets squeezed more, and almost a trillion more dollars gets added to the deficit. So, tell me again the republicans are serious about tackling the deficit!

Until the executive and legislative branches decide the idea to cut spending needs to be focussed first on the biggest most fraudulent abuser of American tax dollars, the Pentagon, serious spending cuts can’t be accomplished. The Pentagon flushes over 700 billion dollars annually for what. There is no accounting. When was the last time the Defense budget was subject to audit? I can’t remember. Don’t forget what President Eisenhower said on his leave from office; “be wary of the military-industrial complex”. What he meant was this, do not give the Pentagon a blank check, which Congress and the White House do every year, and be mindful and account for all defense ties to the private sector, i.e. the continuing non-compete contracts Haliburton gets from DOD. Because there is no accounting or auditing going on in Pentagon matters, the DOD is jammed full of fraudulent expenditures. Why not start here? Because the “flag waving” by politicians blinds them from reality.

No, it’s easier for them, particularly the conservatives, to attack the entitlement programs. Social Security, Medicare, and aid to states such as Medicaid programs are easier marks. With the conservative mood in the country today, it’s so easy for the republicans to vilify Social Security and Medicare as being “fraud-filled welfare programs”, that only serve to keep people out of the work force and pay for their own medical insurance. Social Security is a promise to Americans from Americans to take care of the aged and ailing who have no other means. It’s a social contract. Medicare was started as way to help Americans deal with rising medical care costs and the inability to afford private health insurance coverage. Ony the right-wing can vilify such noble and humane programs. Is there waste in Medicare? Certainly. Let’s got after the medical industry and insurance industry, the root cause of all of the short-coming of Medicare.

Okay, so I’ve laid out the wisdom and reason for raising the debt limit. Hopefully it makes sense to even the most conservative of my readers. I have also laid out the common sense ways to start turning the economy around while pointing out the problems with the other side of the issue. This is not going to be easy, the pressures from special interest groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, K Street, labor, and even the SCOTUS will throw out road blocks as quickly as they can. It is, a “me first” society, and therefore the portions of the society which have made huge gains will stop at nothing to prevent anything from impeding their progress to more personal power and wealth. It’s going to take a great deal of courage and intestinal fortitude for this new Congress and White House to avoid these pressures and get on with the business of governing and moving the country ahead for all, not just the few. Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

THE IMMORALITY OF THE TAX-CUT EXTENSION

December 29, 2010

For the most part, today’s business deals in a “global economy”. The larger companies of “Corporate America”, strategize for their position in this “global economy”. Not only are they looking to find new markets for their products and services, they are also looking for ways to save money in their production, marketing, and service offering. This is business! This is how business works, it’s how it’s always worked and how it will probably always work. I get this. I’ve managed good-sized companies and I’ve owned and operated my own smaller business.

Addressing the immorality of the tax-cut extension for the top 2% of income earners is wrong for many reasons. Today’s headlines in the business section prove point number one. Many American-based businesses are adding to their work forces in other countries while at the same time cutting their work forces at their domestic installations. Is it moral that these companies are benefiting from a 3.5% break on their taxes while expanding their companies over-seas? Where is the benefit to the economy of the United States? The companies are based here, and the profits do come back to these companies, but they not only get the tax break, they don’t even pay their fair share of taxes anyway, and of course, they reduce their domestic work forces. Most of these companies hide their profits via using smart tax attorneys and accountants, the less profit they show, the less money they owe in taxes. Many of these firms hide their money in off-shore banking institutions. The IRS can’t touch them outside the country. Two years ago, General Electric had a profit of tens of millions of dollars. They not only paid no federal tax, they got a refund from the IRS of some $375,000! Is that fair?

In breaking this down a little bit more, if a company shows a profit of one million dollars, the tax savings from the regular rate to the reduced rate is about $35,000. Now, if a company is saving $35K in taxes, is that enough to make a difference in maybe hiring additional workers or expanding the business or adding capitalized equipment? It certainly isn’t enough to add a single full-time employee, it probably won’t play into a possible business expansion, and I’m not sure the purchase of new equipment at 35K will make much of a difference either. Looking at this business model, keep in mind, less than .5% of businesses make more than $250,000 profit a year. That means, the other 1.5% of income earners over $250K are regular “working” people, like attorneys, doctors, hedge fund managers, etc. These people do not have businesses, they do not hire people and they don’t make capital outlays to boost the business chain.

After trying the supply side, trickle-down crap with Reagan in the ’80’s, that left a huge deficit that took almost ten years to fix. After two years of a budget surplus from the robust economy of the Clinton years, George Bush walked into office with a surplus of 200 billion dollars. He promptly initiated two unfunded tax-cuts as well as some other bone-headed programs designed to benefit the wealthy, the end result being him leaving office with a 1.43 trillion dollar deficit. In the eight years he was in charge, the U.S. lost over 800,000 jobs, the unemployment rate sky-rocketed, and the economy almost completely collapsed. I’m still scratching my head about the conservative’s insistence on tax-cuts to spur business growth, when it has been proven time and again that it just does not work. Even David Stockman, Reagan’s economic guru says extending the tax-cut for the top 2% is wrong! The bottom line is, tax-cuts not only don’t get used to expand business and grow companies, they add to the ever-growing deficit that is what will eventually crush this country.

To add to the immoral nature of this continuing track of gifting the top 2%, is the growth of the bottom of the economic scale. The United States now has over 14% of its population living beneath the poverty line. The poverty line being defined as a family of four living on less $22,000 annually! This is alarming! This is morally criminal! At the same time, the wealthiest 2% of the population has now gained control of 90% of the nation’s private wealth. So, given this picture, what has happened to the “middle class”? It’s shrinking and it’s broke. A thriving “middle class” is needed to start climbing out of the economic hole the country is in. This is the group of people who spend money. They buy food, clothing, housing, transportation, and education. If you squeeze them out, the largest consuming block of the population stops spending. When you diminish the demand, business must downsize to stay afloat. That’s how countries get into trouble, they coddle the minute minority and over-look the population that keep the economy on the move.

A “middle-class” tax-cut makes sense. It helps lower-income families to keep food on the table and roof over their heads. At the same time it helps try to stave off the total collapse and disappearance of the “middle class”. At the same time, the country needs to take away the “free” tax-cut gift for the top 2% of income earners. It also needs to put into place a graduated scale of tax rates beyond the $250K level. Like at “bump up” at $500K and another at $750K, and another at one million. For business, put into place a series of aggressive tax credits based on growth and employment expansion. This makes the business accountable for the tax breaks they receive from the government. In other words, perform and get rewarded. Now, they simply sit back and collect the 3.5% rate cut and bank that money as they simply add it to the bottom line of the company. Obviously, a whole new tax code needs to be written. It needs to be simple, transparent, and without loopholes that allow it for cheating. The IRS and government need to be able to go after money gained in America by persons and business that is being hidden off-shore. Pretty simple solutions, right? It would seem so but, with K Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the activist Citizens United ruling by the SCOTUS, it makes things very difficult because there are entities controlling this government that are not elected by the people. Until K Street is shut down, until the Chamber is held accountable for its’ actions, and the Citizens United ruling is legislated into being moot, it will be a massive battle, and unfortunately, it’s the “regular” Americans that will suffer. That’s my view of this issue, your comments are welcome. I hope all are having a great holiday season with your families and I wish you a safe, peaceful and healthy new year!
Cam Obert

THE VIQUEENS’ SITUATION…

December 22, 2010

It seems many people in the fandom of the Minnesota Viqueens have been lamenting the collapse of the roof of the Metrodome. It did, unfortunately, mean the team had to move it’s final two home games to other venues. Those two games really showed what this team is made of, and has been made of since that fateful day in August. You all know what day I’m speaking of, the day a few guys on the team flew to Mississippi to beg Brett Favre to come back for another season.

That action was wrong in many ways. First, it showed quite glaringly, the Viqueens need for a proven “football guy” as the GM or VP of player personnel. On a “normal” pro sports franchise, this wouldn’t have happened. The lack of a quality general manager is partially what doomed Brad Childress as head coach, or in this team’s case, head baby sitter. Childress, was in his first stint as a head coach, he had only been a coordinator in the past. So the ‘Queens hire him, expect him to coach and make too many personnel decisions. This put Childress in way over his head. The baby sitting part is a reference to the fact the Viqueens never got involved in the game this whole season. They are one of the highest paid teams in the NFL, and they act and play like drama queens. The players, especially the offensive line, the defense, and special teams never played to their potential and pay checks this whole season. I love Favre, greatest quarterback of all time, except for Brady, but he spent this whole season running for his life. It’s the worst pass blocking I have ever witnessed in the NFL. When he finished the game Monday night face down on the frozen snow-covered turf at TCF Bank Stadium, that was a snap shot of his whole season with that offensive line. I love Favre because when gets on the field, it’s all about winning. He gives his all on every play, never gives up, plays with his foot on the gas pedal the whole game. Now, take a look at the rest of these over-paid under-performing louts on this team. They should be embarrassed. The home game from Ford Field in Detroit, was a game that with a victory, Queens would still be in the playoff race. What did they do for their coach and the Viqueen faithful?, they played what some have called the flattest, least inspired game by an NFL team this whole season.

For those of you that think Leslie Frazier is the answer as the new head coach, I say you are dead wrong. He was the leader of the defense until Childress got dropped. Anyone looking at this team this year would see the defense not only has played horribly, but more disturbing was the half-hearted way they went about their business. That’s on the coach! Frazier has allowed the defense to play at their preferred pace the whole season. The team got off to a horrid start mostly due to the lack of coordination between the quarterback and the offense. That was caused by a simple lack of practice time. The defense, which was strong last year, failed to pick up the slack until the offense got their shit together. Again, that’s on Frazier. Remember, Frazier has interviewed seven times for open head coaching jobs, and hasn’t gotten the call yet. Obviously, the owners and general managers in the league see something they don’t like with Frazier.

The team has been flat as a pancake all season. When they had the opportunity to win and stay in playoff contention in Detroit, they fell asleep. When Brett Favre led them onto the field Monday night for the team’s home finale this season, they fell flat on their faces again. When the team effort this whole season has been heartless, you can’t blame it all on the coaches. The team has a huge hole trying to compete in the league without a general manager, and the players! Don’t get me started on this group of lazy unmotivated multi-millionaires. On a proportion basis, the team’s miserable season falls more on the players than any other reason. Obviously you can’t trade the whole team and start over but, you can hire a general manager who knows the business, and let that person hire the next head coach. My advice to the team for the next head coach, you better get a Ditka type, who will come in here and kick the asses of the lazy slobs, and if they don’t respond, trade them. This team has, in one year become a team of softies, cupcakes if you will. They need to get their asses whipped good by a strong, vocal, and blue-collar coach who won’t bow down to these prima donnas.

So, that’s my view of this failed Viqueen season. Keep in mind, pro football is a made for television entertainment event, but the teams still owe it to their fans to at least give the appearance of trying. Have you noticed when channel surfing during NFL games, their commercial breaks coincide with programmed product on the other networks? And to think there are people who believe the NFL is “live athletic team competition”! Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to reading your comments.
Cam Obert


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