Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Save Democracy! Elect new Congressmen!

I have been making fun of our congressmen, particularly the Republicans. They (both the Republicans and Democrats) seem hopelessly deadlocked and unable to govern.

We need to remember that Democracy is fragile.

Giving power to the people means that the people must be able to do the job.

Man’s first experiments with democracy were shortlived. Ancient
Athens and other lesser Greek city states were able to sustain theirs for less than 200 years. Athens produced one of democracies most famous critics. Plato said “that the most aggravated form of tyranny arises out of the most extreme liberty”. His answer was a benevolent philosopher king. I don’t think there are too many of them available these days.

Rome attempted to establish a very limited democracy (only aristocrats could vote or serve in the senate) until Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon in 49 BC, and Augustus declared himself Roman Emperor in 29 BC. After
Rome, democracy died until it was resurrected and finally put into practice in the U.S. in the eighteenth century.

I shouldn’t ignore
England. In the eleventh century the people were given some rights but remained subject to the will of the sovereign and the aristocrats.

Our Democracy has lasted 200 years but I am afraid it may be reaching its end. Democracy requires that its citizens curb their appetites, postponing gratification for the sake of the long term and be willing to sacrifice self interest for the common good. Americans no longer seem able to do this.

Congressmen’s insistence on getting their own way reflects the will of the people who elect them. Until a short time ago I could have a serious thoughtful discussion about economic or political issues with most of my friends. I still can, but the number of people I can do that with is quickly shrinking and the numbers who become rabid at the mention of a political issue (in particular something positive about our President) is rapidly growing.

The controversies seem not to be limited to Democrats and Republicans but exist between Republicans and Republicans as well. While it is painful - I have been watching the Republican presidential debates. Each candidate has his own jobs plan, his own plan for dealing with the deficit, his own solution for Social Security and Medicare his own way of changing taxes and his own way to solve every other problem facing America. They do agree, however, that everything President Obama has done or will do was or will be wrong.

They also all agree that the job killing National Health Act must be repealed. They don’t even apologize to the 50 million Americans who will continue to be without health care insurance. Any attempt at rational discussion of health care cause these people to go ballistic. What’s amazing is any mention of Medicare reform has the same affect on the same people.

What is the answer?

During my lifetime we have had extremists on the right and on the left.
America has succeeded because the vast majority of us are in the middle. These are the thoughtful, intelligent and educated, the ones I can still have a meaningful conversation with.

We need to select candidates who recognize that they are fallible like the rest of us. We need to vote for the candidate that does not have extreme views, whether that candidate is Republican or Democrat. We need to elect the candidate who can and will compromise in order to move the country forward. We must elect candidates who consider doing the right thing more important than winning the next election. It means that we must reject tea party candidates as well as candidates from the extreme left.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The children (sometimes called congressmen and women) are at it again. Last time they held our entire economy hostage refusing to raise the debt limit while they bickered over which of our governments programs should be demolished.

 This time they have decided to stamp their feet and roll on the floor while refusing to provide funds to help the victims of tornadoes, floods and wild fires unless 1.5 billion dollars is taken out of the budget.

They even chose the program they want to destroy. They want to take the money away from an energy department program which loans to companies who make advanced engines, batteries, and alternative fuels for cars.

The Department says it won’t be able to fund 18 pending applications. The Center for American Progress says that will prevent us from creating at least 43,500 new jobs. Of course it will also slow the development of more fuel efficient vehicles.

 All this, as the “Super Committee” appointed after the last go around (the debt limit compromise) is trying to agree on a way to reduce our deficit by 1.5 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. You would think 1.5 trillion would be enough to satisfy the children for a few months, but it isn’t.

 Some one needs to explain to the children that there is a budget process. When they begin work to develop the budget(s) they can change programs and/or abolish programs to their little hearts content. The problem is that they won’t stop bickering long enough to develop a budget.

 Regardless holding the victims of disasters hostage is the wrong way to do it.

 We the people need to send these kids home and hire adults who realize that they don’t always get there way. Some times you have to divide the toys up so everyone gets a chance to play.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I received this list of changes that have occurred since January 2009, the month President Obama took office. Unlike most e-mails of this type the list was basically accurate. It then says the President was responsible for these changes.. Of course he wasn’t. Usually the facts are wrong but the conclusion inevitable.  In this one the facts are right and the conclusion ridiculous.

The first seven changes referred to is the price of commodities such as corn, sugar, wheat, gold and oil. These items are sold in a competitive market worldwide and price depends on many factors, the most important of which are supply and demand. The price is in dollars and is the same in China, Europe, America or any place else in the world. Only in a socialist economy does government have control over these prices. Although some people would disagree with me we do not live in a socialist country.

 The next four items dealt with unemployment. It points out that unemployment was at 7.2% when Obama took office and it is now 9.1%. The author doesn’t tell us that in January 2008, when Bush was president, unemployment stood at 5%, soared during the next year of his term in office to 7.2%, and continued to climb to 10.1. And then as the recession was brought under control, (while Obama was President) fell to 9.1% where, sadly, it remains today.

 I do not blame President Bush for the recession and since Obama didn’t become President until a year after the economy collapsed I would think that it is ridiculous to blame him. I believe that the banks, real-estate speculators, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, congress, the president and the Federal Reserve and many others all share responsibility for either causing it or failing to prevent it from happening.

 I also do not give all the credit to Obama for bringing it under control, although his was a major contribution. The steps to accomplish that began with President Bush and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson (Tarp1) and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. Their effort was continued under President Obama (Tarp 2, the stimulus bills which included 300 billion in tax cuts( a sop to Republicans) and the continuation of the tax cuts in December 2010). The bailouts of AIG and the automobile companies helped as did the bailouts of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae which began under Bush and continues to this day. While the Republicans say cutting taxes will reduce unemployment they say this 300 billion dollar tax cut did not produce 1 additional job Tax cuts by Republicans apparently are the only ones that work
The author then goes on to point out that household income declined and the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, food stamps and people in poverty have increased. Duh!! What does he think happens during a recession? He doesn’t tell us that these things began under President Bush and continued to increase until stopped by programs instituted under President Obama

He also points out that money supply increased during the recession. That is of course one tool that can be used to battle economic decline and, surprise, they used it.

 He also points to the declining value of the dollar against world currencies. I don’t know to what degree governments can influence this but the President has welcomed this change since it makes it easier for us to increase our exports.

 Last he points to our exploding deficit, a subject close to my heart. The deficit had increased by five trillion dollars under Bush as a result of the Bush tax cuts, spending for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D and two wars. The deficit under Bush increased on average by over 400 billion dollars a year. This clown says the deficit increased 27 times as fast since President Obama was elected in the middle of a recession, 27 times as fast as any time in our history. Can anyone multiply 27 times 400 billion? 

The author is an asshole but still someone sends his nonsense to me and to many others. In this country too many of the “others” accept it as if it were gospel. 
After writing this I think that reciting accurate facts and then arriving at a stupid conclusion is worse than making up your facts to support a conclusion you like. Actually both of these are working to devestate our democracy.

The following is the e-mail I have been discussing
After two years of
Obama, here's your change!

January 2009
% chg
Avg.. Retail price/gallon gas in U.S.

Crude oil, European Brent (barrel)

Crude oil, West TX Inter. (barrel)

Gold: London (per troy oz.)

Corn, No.2 yellow, Central IL

Soybeans, No. 1 yellow, IL

Sugar, cane, raw, world, lb. Fob

Unemployment rate, non-farm, overall

Unemployment rate, blacks

Number of unemployed

Number of fed. Employees

Real median household income

Number of food stamp recipients

Number of unemployment benefit recipients

Number of long-term unemployed

Poverty rate, individuals

People in poverty in U.S.

U.S.. Rank in Economic Freedom World Rankings

Present Situation Index

Failed banks

U.S.. Dollar versus Japanese yen exchange rate

U.S.. Money supply, M1, in billions

U.S.. Money supply, M2, in billions

National debt, in trillions

Just take this last item: In the last two years, we
have accumulated national debt at a rate more
than 27 times as fast
during the rest of our entire nation's history.
That's over 27 times as
fast! Metaphorically speaking, if you are driving in the right lane doing
65 MPH, and a car rockets past you in the left lane 27 times faster, it
would be doing 1,755 MPH!
(1) U.S. Energy
Information Administration; (2)
Wall Street Journal; (3) Bureau of Labor Statistics; (4) Census Bureau; (5) USDA; (6)
U.S. Dept. Of Labor;
(7) FHFA; (8) Standard
& Poor's/Case-Shiller; (9)
RealtyTrac; (10) Heritage Foundation and WSJ; (11) The Conference Board;
(12) FDIC;

(13) Federal Reserve; (14) U.S. Treasury
tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and
impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 29
months -- so you'll have one year and five months to come up with an
statement in this e-mail message is factual and directly attributable to
Barrack Hussein Obama. Every bumble is a matter of record and completely




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Its Class Warfare and we are losing

Recent studies have shown that Americans have no idea how badly wealth ownership is skewed in America.  When asked to pick the pie graph that depicts the percentage of wealth owned, they choose one that shows it pretty evenly divided. In fact, 1% of Americans own 42.7% of the nation’s wealth, 19% own 50.3% while the remaining 80% (about 250 million) of us get to fight over the last 7%.

The distribution of income is also surprising. 1% receives 21.3% of the nation’s income, the next 19% shares 40%, leaving 38% for the rest (250 million)of us. The income of the richest 1%, assisted by ever escalating tax breaks, rose from 12% in1982 to 22% in 2006, while the incomes of the remaining 99% were level or declined.

 Even more shocking is the fact that there are 400 Americans who each receive 344 million dollars in income every year, a total of 137 billion dollars.  Do you think that they pay their fair share of taxes? Imposing a 5% tax on a person making $20,000 per year affects that person’s ability to buy food clothing and shelter. You could tax the wealthiest at 95% and they would still receive millions each year.

When I talk about 80% of the population I am talking about 250 million people. When I talk about 1% I am talking about 3 million people. In a democracy it should not be hard to select leaders who are working for us, for the majority.

For the past 70 years I believe that has been largely true. We have created programs, despite strong opposition from Republicans, that provide for our medical care, our retirement, that protect us from pollution, that make sure our food and drugs are not contaminated, that protect us from attacks, and provide care for the poor and disabled. I am, however constantly confronted by people who want to cut or abolish these programs… programs which were created for their benefit.

These same people do not want to increase taxes on anybody. These people proudly tell me they are Republicans and /or members of the tea party. They are hard working middle and lower class Americans. I want to tell them they are crazy or stupid or at best brainwashed. Why do they support the rich? Why do they want to dismantle our safety net? Why don’t they act in their own best interests? Do they think they are the rich or that some day they are going to break into the upper 2% and there fore the hell with the rest of them? If that is what they think they had better start buying lots of lottery tickets. I believe that they just don’t understand where they are on the wealth/income totem pole

 Some of the wealthy recognize how unfairly the tax burden is apportioned. Warren Buffet recently said in an op-ed piece that because of tax breaks given to the rich he is in a lower tax bracket than his cleaning lady.

 The rich are not going to help us. The government can and will but only if we elect leaders who care about us. Let’s tell everyone that we like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and all the other programs that make living in America so fantastic.

If the government isn’t receiving enough money to pay for these programs then tell those that can afford it that they will have to pay a little more for the privilege of living in this great country. I am not advocating a return to the 80’s when the rich paid 70% of their income in income taxes and 50% on capital gains. I believe the budget can be balanced without cutting important programs with reasonable increases in taxes and the elimination of tax loopholes and tax credits for special interests.

 I also believe that since this is in the best interests of the vast majority it should be easy to accomplish.

The rich are already waging war on us. Listen to their soldiers on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal or their Republicans in Congress or in the State legislatures. Who pays them to use phrases like “job killings tax hikes” or that suggesting tax increases is “class warfare”. Who pays all those lobbyists and makes those huge contributions to elect Republicans?

 They don’t want to abolish the Bush tax cuts but they do want to abolish the cut in payroll taxes which are paid by the working class. This should tell you who they are working for and it’s not working class Americans. Under the Bush tax cuts the taxes of the rich were cut by 4% while taxes for the rest of us were cut only 3%. That should also tell you who holds power in this country and it is not the majority.

Wake up people, before they take everything away from you!!!

 If you question my numbers look on line at” Who Rules America   Wealth Income and Power” by Professor Domhoff and the studies he cites

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Congressman is also a hypocrite

A little more research showed that Congressman Eric Cantor not only wants to balance the budget on the backs of hurricane victims but is also a hypocrite.

In 2004 when Tropical Storm Gaston devastated his district, Richmond Va.. he worked hard to obtain Federal money to repair the damage. When he was successful he bragged about it in a press release. Those funds of course weren't offset by other budget cuts.

He also voted for no child left behind and Medicare part D. Those programs weren't paid for either. In fact he supported president Bush who added four trillion dollars to the national debt and increased spending by 85 % while cutting taxes

Tea party Governors Christie (N.J.) and McDonnell(Va.) have strongly criticized the Congressman. These guys are all for smaller government and a balanced budget except when it costs their state and their constituents. Even House majority leader Jon Boehner said that when disasters happen government has an obligation "to respond appropriately".

I am sure that all of them would be happy to cut unemployment insurance or Medicaid or some other program that benefits the poor, to pay for disaster relief. Perhaps they could impose that tax that they have been promoting on America's 50 million poor. Those people already have 2 and 1/2 per cent of the nations income and its time to take some of that away from them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our Congress is Controlled by Children

Again, some history but with present day ramifications. Last December our Republican senators announced that they wouldn't vote in favor of anything until the Senate approved tax cuts for Americas richest 2%. They reminded me of my sons when they were about eight years old.  My sons would stamp their foot or throw themselves on the floor and announce that they weren't going  anywhere or doing anything until they got their way. It was, of course, easier for me to ignore my eight year-olds than it was for President Obama and the Democrats to ignore Senators.

I hated to see the President compromise because I know that compromising with children encourages future bad behavior. He should at that point have gone on vacation but instead he capitulated, or perhaps the right word is appeased. Although the President did gain some things for the rest of us, he was also guilty of enabling the Republicans. We, the other 98% (the poor and middle class) received a tax break; the unemployed continued to receive a badly needed check and small businesses received additional tax breaks which might encourage them to expand.  In addition, " Don't ask don't tell" was repealed. It will be nice to no longer hear about this policy which forced young Americans fighting for their country to hide who they are. The new Start treaty was approved with a great deal of Republican support. This treaty was supported by our military and every living former Secretary of state but was opposed by the child in chief Majority leader Mitch McConnell.

 Sadly my prediction came true  This time they  threatened to destroy our, and perhaps the worlds economy by preventing us from borrowing the money needed to pay America's bills. Once again I think the President should have ignored them and let them continue to stamp their feet and cry but he  instead agreed to negotiate. That was enough to make me wish I had voted for Hilary Clinton We clearly needed a president with some balls and we didn’t have one. The result was massive reductions in spending on programs which benefit the lower and middle class and left us with a promise of more reductions to come. 
This brought us to last week when it became obvious the appropriation for FEMA and other agencies dealing with the emergencies brought on by tornadoes, flood and hurricanes would not be sufficient to meet the escalating costs.

 Eric Cantor, Republican and second in command in the House, said the Republicans would not agree to provide emergency funding for our storm ravaged Northeast unless the Democrats agreed to more budget cuts. When asked to confirm this position his office did. The President must say NO. I can't believe the Republicans will block a supplemental appropriation for storm damage but if they do lets see how their constituents feel about that. Lets see how the Governors (including the tea party backed Republicans) of storm ravaged states react to that. 

The right answer to this threat is a raise middle finger. The children have been spoiled enough.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Begin I WILL DIscuss the Past

I thought I would begin my log by looking back at the last election , 2010. It seems appropriate although the fun and games that will culminate in November 2012 have already begun. I am sure in the future they will inspire additions to this Blog . I would, for now, like to look briefly at some of the last elections more notable moments.

 Here in Florida we had a chance to elect a former CEO of a company that was forced to return one and a half billion dollars that it had taken improperly from Medicare. The candidate of course claimed he either didn't know anything about it and tjat after all it was only a billion and a half dollars He also pointed out that he had not been convicted of anything. He did have trouble explaining why he took the fifth amendment (the one where you say I can't answer that question because that might incriminate me) seventy five (75) times during a deposition and refused to release that or other depositions. Giving him the benefit of the doubt he simply failed to notice that his employees were billing for and his company was receiving all that money. In other word he wasn't a crook just incompetent. His opponent in the primary pointed all this out and refused to endorse him.  His opponent in the general election was a bright, well educated former bank president who had served as State Treasurer for the last four years. It seemed like an obvious choice but in America particularly in Florida the incompetents or the crooks usually win

.I would like to turn to Kentucky and it's hero of the Tea Party Rand Paul. Mr. Paul doesn't like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits or other programs created during the past 60 years He apparently also doesn't like the Civil Rights act announcing right after his primary victory that he wouldn't have voted for it. When pressed he said it wasn't necessary because you could trust business not to discriminate based on race. He Is too young to remember the lunch counter sit ins and that time Denny's refused to serve five FBI agents because they were black but you would think somebody would have told him about it.  He also missed Bull Connor chasing black children with dogs and water cannons through the streets of Birmingham. Doctors should be required to take a history course and everyone should be required to study the civil rights movement. After starting out so well he closed his campaign when two of his thugs pushed a young girl down while a third stomped on her head. His campaigns finest hour was when the stomper suggested that the young lady should apologize

 It is necessary to mention Tea Party favorite Dan Maes of Colorado. Mr Maes paid a $17500 fine for election law violations. He advised Colorado that Denver's bike sharing program was part of a plot by the UN to take over the country He also lied about his work as an undercover agent in Liberal Kansas. admitting to the lie shortly after he won the primary. The voters rewarded him with 11% of the vote which a lot of people felt was a lot more than he deserved.

 That brings us to Alvin Greene. With little education, suspect mental capabilities no money and a charge of obscenity hanging over him he marched through the South Carolina Senate primary without campaigning to defeat a known democrat who did campaign. Mr. Greene with almost no money, no help, and without one ad or one speech garnered 28% of the vote. Over 350000 South Carolinian's voted for him. A larger number and a larger percentage than Mr Maes receiver in Colorado. The "winner" Senator Jim (lets repeal health care) DeMint was thrilled with his victory. You would think he might be humbled by those 350000 really unhappy or really ignorant South Carolinian's but he wasn't.  

 We will next look at California where the voters proved that just because you were hired to run huge and successful companies didn't mean you would be hired to run a state even a failed one. Meg Whitman (E=Bay) spent 175 million of her own money and Carly Fiorina(HP)  5.5 million. Both were badly beaten each receiving only a little more than 40% of the vote. I think almost anyone could have lost these races for a lot less money. This is not the first time candidates have had trouble turning money into votes In 2004 Blair Hull spent 24 million of his own money while losing an Illinois Senate race to them little known Barack Obama.

 I of course can't forget Christine O'Donnell. Ms O"Donnell a Tea Party candidate and Sarah Palin favorite defeated the Republican establishment candidate in the primary. She opened her campaign by running an add in which she advised voters that "I am not a witch" She had previously admitted that she had dabbled in witchcraft. On the O;Reilly factor she said that scientist had crossed mice and men resulting in mice with fully functioning human brains That sounded more like witchcraft than science to Delawares voters On the same program she announced that the Chinese had a secret plan to invade the U.S/ She later claimed that she learned this because she had a top secret clearance which must have been higher than President Bush's who had not heard of it She closed her campaign by, during a debate, advising her audience that the constitution did not provide for separation of church and state Unfortunately her audience consisted of law students and their professors who reacted to this with gasps, moans and laughter. She was of course badly beaten but despite all of this she received over 100000 votes  Who are these people?

 Next we turn to Sharron Angle who was selected by the Tea Party to run against Senate majority leader  Harry Reid. While not quite as strange as O'Donnell she runs a close second. She started by advising the press that if they would just ask the right questions she would be able to give them good answers. She said on a radio program that if her opponent won the people would have to "take Harry Reid out" That coupled with her strong support for peoples right to carry a gun anywhere and any place should cause Senator Reid to increase security. During an Hispanic Union event she advised her audience that they looked more Asian than Hispanic. At the same meeting she said we need to be more concerned about our border with Canada than our border with Mexico because that's where the 9/11 terrorists entered our country.  In answer to a question about foreign affairs she answered "you know the two wars were in that's exactly where we are at" She also told a group of supporters that Sharia law had taken over Dearborn Michigan and Frankford Texas.She on numerous occasions said she wanted to phase out social security.    While the pundits predicted a win or at least a close race she was only able to obtain 45% of the vote. No wonder Senator Reid was grateful to the Tea Parties effort on her behalf

I will close with my favorite election of 2010, the race for Governor of Minnesota. Target gave a 150000 contribution to homophobic gay bashing Tom Emmer. That immediately resulted in a boycott by the gay community and Move on .Org. which in turn made Emmer and Target the target of millions of negative comments on face book and twitter and other outlets for the social media. It also cost Emmer the election. Thanks to the Supreme Court and a couple of Corporate (they are people you know) Minnesota has its first Democratic governor in over 20 years. I doubt that this will stop Corporations from contributing to candidates but it should force them to be much sneakier when doing it.

 A couple of final observations Three Republican candidates spent almost 250 million of there own money, Scott in Fl,Whitman in California and McMahon in Connecticut. Only Scott won but barely.

 If the Tea Party had not won the primaries in Delaware. Nevada, Colorado and World wrestling CEO Linda McMahon of Connecticut had lost to mainstream Republicans would the Republicans have taken control of the Senate? Its possible the democrats owe a vote of appreciation to the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

I should take a moment to discuss the tea Party candidates for the House but there was so many of them. I am sure that they collectively and individually will give me plenty to write about in the future.


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