Saturday, April 30, 2011

Obama & Seth Meyers Rake Donald Trump at White House Correspondents Dinner

READ > > > Obama Makes Trump His Bitch At White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Obama Roasts Donald Trump At White House Correspondents Dinner
Seth Meyers Slams Donald Trump at White House Correspondents Dinner

The Colbert Report on Corporate PAC Funds

Russ Feingold on The Colbert Report talking about the new Super PACs that corporations are using to pour millions of dollars into our elections.

Why Is All Our Money Spent on Defense?

This easiest, simplest, and most honest answer would be to say "corporate profits". But for the sake of those who might think I'm just "anti-war", I'll make my case, because I'm not anti-military at all.

UPDATE: May 1st, 2011 - "Congressional Republicans and Democrats are desperately working on ways to cut federal spending. But they now admit that they can't fix the problem without putting the biggest items on the chopping block: Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits and more. No mention is made of ending the wars and occupations in the Mideast and Central Asia, or closing down most of the 800 military bases the U.S. maintains all around the world. It seems that the costs of American empire cannot be touched. Too many U.S. corporations depend on the profits thereby generated. Eisenhower was right when he warned us of the possibility that the military industrial complex could become economically preeminent."

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist." ~ President Dwight Eisenhower,  January 17, 1961
I was born in a U.S. Army hospital and I grew up on military installations. Our people in the Armed Forces are the best you'd ever want to meet; and for the great work they do (and until the economy crashed in 2008), they were vastly under-paid compared to the private sector. 
I'm very proud of the service my father gave to this country, serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, and at the nuclear missile silos in Wyoming before he eventually retired with a slew of service medals and the highest rank possible for an NCO. They called him "Chief". Years later, after spending nearly 30 years in service to this country, my dad passed away in a Veteran's hospital not too far away from the farm he was raised on as a kid during the Great Depression.

But it was a different time back in his era of military service; then we were engaged in a "cold war" with Russia using a MAD war philosophy. But who is our enemy in the 21st century and should our war chest still consume half of our national budget year after year after year - - - and especially now with our ballooning national debt and poor economy while our state budgets suffer?
The money we spent over the  last 20 years just on "defense" alone equals our entire total national debt, or our annual Gross Domestic Product (GNP). Last year was China's 20th straight double-digit percentage increase in defense spending during the same past two decades, but it's still a lot smaller in comparison to the U.S. - - - and it's also a much smaller portion of their GNP compared to the U.S.  
The U.S. spends a greater percentage of its GNP on military spending than any other country in the world, while 7 million (and growing) of its unemployed have NO income at all. This number is expected to be near 10 million people by the end of 2011 when the last 13 months of UI funding is cut off for the remainder of the long-term jobless; and all while many states are cutting their initial benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks as people are STILL being laid off.

The U.S. seems to be on a quest to have an annual defense budget to exceed that of the rest of the world's combined, selling American-made arms by American-based multi-national corporations to our allies (and sometimes our own enemies). And this doesn't include the cost of three wars. Is this more for a "national defense", or is it mostly profit driven? Do our politicians and diplomatic "behind-the-scenes" contacts deliberately make Americans fear ghost-like "enemies" just to funnel such a vast amount of our resources and national wealth into our military industrial complex? How does a $1.5 billion "Boomer" submarine protect us from suicide bombers on a commercial jet airliner? Russia has actually dismantled a large part of their offensive weapons because our government had out-spent them in the last two decades.

So why is corporate America (by outsourcing millions of American jobs) now funding China's ever-growing military budget? And at the expense of our federal and state budgets; and for the lack of any additional corporate income taxes paid into our own treasury?

Recently House Speaker John Boehner said that the Republicans would take on entitlement spending (by using Paul Ryan's bill) and said Democrats are missing the big picture when they complain about spending cuts. "We’re broke!" Boehner had complained. But when the spending cuts occur in HIS back yard, it's an entirely different story.

1,000 workers may be laid off from the Ohio factory that builds the 65-ton giant M1A2 Abrams tanks due to a three-year pause in production. The Army wants to shut down the tank plant for several years because they don't need more tanks. "We look at limited resources and the many priorities we have," says Col. Lee Quintas at the Pentagon.

A statement released by Boehner's congressional office intends to ask Defense Secretary McHugh to review the Army's current plan to cut tank production. Quintas, who is in charge of equipping the Army, sticks to his guns on the plan to halt production between 2013 and 2016. But he sidesteps a question on whether he feels political pressure from Boehner and others.

Trimming a little off the top from a $700 billion-a-year defense budget may mean laying off  more "government workers", because while although it's a privately owned plant, it's really taxpayers who have been paying their salaries. John Boehner might not mind the layoffs of teachers in Wisconsin but, "not in my back yard!"

William Rivers Pitt at Truthout wrote an article "Making the Case From a Different Place". In it he notes, "We worship at the altar of the armed forces, and for two basic reasons:
  1. Average people pay respect to those in the military because that service to our country is worthy of praise; and, 
  2. A few very influential people - in the defense industry, the oil industry, and the media - make vast fortunes off the defense budget and the wide coverage of any military engagement that is given. 
China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people and an unemployment rate of just slightly over 4% - as compared to the U.S. with a population of 308 million people with a REAL unemployment rate near 14% - and China with its newest defense budget of "maybe" $122 billion while the U.S. is pushing over $700 billion, seems to be way out of balance just for "national defense". (Click photo below to enlarge and see what the rest of the world spends on defense.)
About the paper published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (that was written by two current active members of the armed services, Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy, and Colonel Mark Mykle of the U.S. Marine Corps.) William Rivers Pitt says, "What makes the document remarkable is the fact that both men are top-ranking members of Admiral Mike Mullen's team. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, surely was aware of this paper before it was published, and allowed it to go to print, giving this document at least a seeming stamp of approval from the Pentagon."

If this were so, it would appear that  despite what our military generals think our country needs for defense, House Speaker John Boehner intends to ask the Defense Secretary to "reconsider" closing the tank plant in Ohio for 3 years.

The biggest elephant in the room has always been defense spending. (Why call it defense, when we always use it for offense?) If you include all the hidden costs, according to economist Robert Higgs, the government is currently spending at a rate well in excess of  $1 trillion per year for all defense-related purposes, such as our nukes, which are budgeted under the Department of Energy. Yet corporate whores like Paul Ryan and corporate shills like John Boehner never mentions any real cuts here...just cuts for the working-poor and the absolutely poor - they are the ones who must make all the "sacrifices" while the wealthy lobby for more tax breaks. Republicans such as Paul Ryan and John Boehner would rather push more subsidies for the tobacco and oil companies rather than to end no-bid multi-billion dollar government contracts to union busters and corporate tax cheats like Boeing Corp who just got another HUGE military contact.

William Rivers Pitt also makes the point: "We have a trio of ongoing and savagely expensive wars. A catastrophically expensive health care "system." A national infrastructure collapsing into rack and ruin even as millions go without jobs. Hundreds of tornadoes tearing the country apart from Oklahoma to Birmingham to Richmond to Washington DC, yet another blow to an already fragile economy that seems to be heading inexorably toward a double-dip recession. A brazen, headlong conservative plunge towards the annihilation of the social contract. A game of political chicken over the debt ceiling that could blast the country apart."

House Speaker John Boehner was once in the military too. He joined the U.S. Navy at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968 after graduating from high school, but after only eight weeks of training, he was discharged ("honorably") because of a "bad back" (although he was fit enough to be a linebacker on his high school's football team). My dad had a bad back all his life too, and so did I, from very labor-intensive work all our lives (my dad was raised on a farm and I worked in factories when I was younger).

Eleven years later (after bartending in the family business) John Boehner graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati with only a bachelor's degree in business.

Now as a big shot congressman and Speaker of the House earning more than $223,500 a year, Boehner wants to raise the age of Social Security to 70 (so everyone else can break their backs longer), saying, "We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we're broke. We just need to be honest with people." But he never mentioned that his GOP buddy Paul Ryan had collected Social Security benefits to put himself through college even though HIS family was wealthy.

Only by way of politics could scoundrels such as Paul Ryan or John Boehner achieve such great success and hold lofty high-paying positions in our government. They don't feel empathy for the sacrifices our men and women in uniform endure. And  John Boehner could give a damn about 1,000 jobs lost in Ohio (because they weren't outsourced to China). It's only because his corporate masters and political campaign donors might make less profits from taxpayer-paid government contracts. Boehner and Ryan never sat in a foxhole with bullets flying over their head, but only received money from those who made the bullets.

From David Glenn Cox's excellent piece The Kingdoms of Greed - "Who would have thought that a nation which claims to love peace would be at perpetual war? And even more so, unable to win even a single campaign, where the head of the defense department becomes the head of the CIA and vice versa. That is a stunning policy that reverberates with totalitarian resonance. A nation at war with the world and at war with its own people."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, while speaking at the Eisenhower Library last year, talked about America's insatiable appetite for more and more weapons: "Does the number of warships we have, and are building, really put America at risk, when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined — 11 of which are our partners and allies? Is it a dire threat that by 2020, the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China? These are the kinds of questions Eisenhower asked as commander-in-chief. They are the kinds of questions I believe he would ask today."

But Paul Ryan and John Boehner will always dance a jig to keep their wealthy corporate CEO golf buddies happy, and maybe that's another reason why the Doomsday Clock now stands at only 6 minutes to midnight; but not because of the threat of nuclear war, but because of the possibility of an all-out revolt. Make sure our soldiers get paid Senator Boehner...and build more tanks! Because where you and your Republican's are taking this country, you'll need them here at home.

Before being our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a five-star general in the United States Army. In his final speech from the White House, he warned that an arms race would take resources from other areas - such as building schools and hospitals. Just like Ryan and Boehner, Eisenhower was also a Republican, but the biggest difference was, "Ike" had honor.

As an Aside: The United States has military installations all over the world. Every time a G.I. leaves the base to buy a shirt, eat dinner, or go sight-seeing, they're supporting the local economies of foreign countries...billions of dollars leave our shores in retail business alone (unless they purchase something from an American-based multi-national corporation, in which case, their corporate taxes would be going to foreign treasuries, not ours.)

(* I re-posted Making the Case From a Different Place by William Rivers Pitt)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Making the Case From a Different Place by William Rivers Pitt

"Here is a well-crafted argument for slashing military spending, resolving the health care crisis in a way that benefits people instead of profit, refining the way we educate our children so that educational funds are not an afterthought, fixing our crumbling national infrastructure, and turning away from the decades-old habit of approaching our national existence from a position of strife, distrust, conflict and war." ~ by William Rivers Pitt (Originally posted at Truthout)

A trio of ongoing and savagely expensive wars. A catastrophically expensive health care "system." A national infrastructure collapsing into rack and ruin even as millions go without jobs. Hundreds of tornadoes tearing the country apart from Oklahoma to Birmingham to Richmond to Washington DC, yet another blow to an already fragile economy that seems to be heading inexorably toward a double-dip recession. A brazen, headlong conservative plunge towards the annihilation of the social contract. A game of political chicken over the debt ceiling that could blast the country apart.
And what are we talking about?
Birth certificates.
Welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends.
If you've spent any time over the last couple of days watching "mainstream" cable news channels, no doubt you found yourself drowning in yet another round of coverage of the "birther" issue, i.e., the accusation that Mr. Obama is not a citizen compelled the release of his Hawaii birth certificate, which kicked off yet another round of "It's a fake, he's not a citizen, WHAAARGARBLE!!!" nonsense from people who only get news coverage because newsroom editors love car accidents.
Oh, right, and royal weddings, too. Can't forget that. "Exxon profits jump 69%" got a line-item in the screen crawl at the bottom of CNN's broadcast on Thursday afternoon, right beneath the talking head who gushed about getting up early in the morning to watch the British festivities. One hopes the prince has his own birth certificate in order. Could be trouble if not.
Don't be fooled, however. Despite the vast hurricane of nonsense and distraction being blown over the American people by the "news" media, by the clowns they cover, and by the politicians who avoid substance the way cats avoid water, there have in fact been scores of people shouting from the rooftops about the problems we face, and about the solutions that are not only possible, but within our grasp if we choose to reach for them. Some of these voices are from the present, some are from the past, yet they all share the same ignominious fate of the perpetually ignored. The problems we face are known - they are, indeed, standing right in front of us, stomping on our feet, and screaming into our faces - but until now, the right combination of volume, influence, charisma and argument have not yet coalesced into the kind of message that will not only resonate, but will be unavoidable in its assertions.
Strange problems make for strange solutions. In a country where people of good conscience are ignored in favor of megalomaniacs like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, our society has been well-trained to sit up and pay rapt attention in matters regarding the military. We worship at the altar of the armed forces, and for two basic reasons:
  1. Average people pay respect to those in the military because that service to our country is worthy of praise; and, 
  2. A few very influential people - in the defense industry, the oil industry, and the media - make vast fortunes off the defense budget and the wide coverage any military engagement is given. 
In order to keep the gravy train running, they have, over many decades, ensured that military matters are securely wrapped in a shroud of hallowed un-touchability, and as a culture, we have mostly swallowed this whole.  We are well-trained in this regard, and that glue holds fast.
The Trumps and Palins of the world run their mouths into many proffered microphones and cameras, while those interested in the genuine betterment of the nation are dismissed and ignored. Thus it has been for some time now...but when the military speaks, all ears turn to listen.
So be it.
The following are portions of a paper published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (pdf) that was written by two members of the armed services: Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy, and Colonel Mark Mykle by of the U.S. Marine Corps. What makes the document remarkable is the fact that both men are top-ranking members of Admiral Mike Mullen's team. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, surely was aware of this paper before it was published, and allowed it to go to print, giving this document at least a seeming stamp of approval from the Pentagon.
Something else remarkable: two serving officers have proffered one of the more eloquent arguments in recent memory against the direction this country has been led for decades, and made an unassailable case for addressing the problems we face while providing readily available solutions to those problems. It is, in the main, a profoundly progressive piece of work.
We don't listen to progressive politicians, public figures or media personalities - past or present - even as the truth of their assertions and solutions burn brightly before us. Maybe what America needs is to hear it from a couple of guys like this. To wit:
In one sentence, the strategic narrative of the United States in the 21st century is that we want to become the strongest competitor and most influential player in a deeply inter-connected global system, which requires that we invest less in defense and more in sustainable prosperity and the tools of effective global engagement.
Among the trends that are already shaping a "new normal" in our strategic environment are the decline of rural economies, joblessness, the dramatic increase in urbanization, an increasing demand for energy, migration of populations and shifting demographics, the rise of gray and black markets, the phenomenon of extremism and anti-modernism, the effects of global climate change, the spread of pandemics and lack of access to adequate health services, and an increasing dependency on cyber networks. At first glance, these trends are cause for concern. But for Americans with vision, guided by values, they represent opportunities to reestablish and leverage credible influence, converging interests, and interdependencies that can transform despair into hope. This focus on improving our strategic ecosystem, and favorably competing for our national interests, underscores the investment priorities cited earlier, and the imaginative application of diplomacy, development, and defense in our foreign policy.
In complex systems, adaptation and variation demonstrate that "binning" is not only difficult, it often leads to unintended consequences. For example, labeling, or binning, Islamic radicals as "terrorists," or worse, as "jihadists," has resulted in two very different, and unfortunate unintended misperceptions: that all Muslims are thought of as "terrorists;" and, that those who pervert Islam into a hateful, anti-modernist ideology to justify unspeakable acts of violence are truly motivated by a religious struggle (the definition of "jihad," and the obligation of all Muslims), rather than being seen as apostates waging war against society and innocents. This has resulted in the alienation of vast elements of the global Muslim community and has only frustrated efforts to accurately depict and marginalize extremism.
As Americans, our ability to remain relevant as a world leader, to evolve as a nation, depends as it always has on our determination to pursue our national interests within the constraints of our core values. We must embrace and respect diversity and encourage the exchange of ideas, welcoming as our own those who share our values and seek an opportunity to contribute to our nation. Innovation, imagination, and hard work must be applied through a national unity of effort that recognizes our place in the global system. We must accept that to be great requires competition and to remain great requires adaptability, that competition need not demand a single winner, and that through converging interests we should seek interdependencies that can help sustain our interests in the global strategic ecosystem. To achieve this we will need the tools of development, diplomacy and defense - employed with agility through an integrated whole of nation approach. This will require the prioritization of our investments in intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America's youth; investment in the nation's sustainable security - on our own soil and wherever Americans and their interests take them, including space and cyberspace; and investment in sustainable access to, cultivation and use of, the natural resources we need for our continued well-being, prosperity and economic growth in the world marketplace.
As Americans we needn't seek the world's friendship or to proselytize the virtues of our society. Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole, or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions. Our domestic and foreign policies will reflect unity of effort, coherency and constancy of purpose. We will pursue our national interests and allow others to pursue theirs, never betraying our values. We will seek converging interests and welcome interdependence. We will encourage fair competition and will not shy away from deterring bad behavior. We will accept our place in a complex and dynamic strategic ecosystem and use credible influence and strength to shape uncertainty into opportunities. We will be a pathway of promise and a beacon of hope, in an ever changing world.
(Emphasis added)
It is not a perfect document by any means, and many progressives may recoil at the deep vein of militarism woven throughout the work. Consider, however, the fact that here is a well-crafted argument for slashing military spending, resolving the health care crisis in a way that benefits people instead of profit, refining the way we educate our children so that educational funds are not an afterthought, fixing our crumbling national infrastructure, and turning away from the decades-old habit of approaching our national existence from a position of strife, distrust, conflict and war. Here, in short, is a blueprint for a progressive future that speaks to all the problems we face.
Consider this, also: you almost certainly have a friend, a spouse, a family member, or a neighbor who has been gulled into believing that anything liberal or progressive is by definition heretical to the idea that is America. They vote for the politicians who screw them and support a system that steals from them, but cannot be convinced to turn away from either.
Perhaps those people you know would find themselves receptive to a progressive argument made by a Marine officer and a Naval officer who both work in the Pentagon. We are, after all, a culture that attaches great significance to military service. Here are two service members speaking to the needs of the future while wearing the uniform. Here is a progressive perspective wrapped securely in the flag.
Give it a read, and share it around. See what happens. Maybe these messengers are just different enough to make a difference.

* See Bud Meyers related post - Why is all our money spent on defense?
* William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist.  He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.

End Oil Subsidies - Sign Petition

The Oil Company Gusher by Robert Reich, author of Aftershock - "Let's not fool ourselves – or be fooled. There's no reason to continue to give giant oil companies a $4 billion a year tax windfall. And why stop there? Why not a windfall profits tax to the oil companies, to be used for renewable energy?" 
As Americans continue to struggle with outrageous, unstable gas prices, big oil companies continue to benefit from them.
Exxon Mobil announced Thursday a first-quarter profit of $10.6 billion — a 69% increase from last year, and a number so astronomical, Exxon executives felt the need to issue defensive statements in advance. Also unveiling massive earnings were Shell ($6.3 billion, up 30%), ConocoPhillips ($3 billion, up 44%), and of course, BP (7.1 Billion, up 16%). In all, the five largest oil companies have reaped nearly $1 trillion in profits in the last 10 years.

But more outrageous than jaw-dropping oil company profits, is the fact that our government actually rewards these companies with even more of our money for maintaining this disastrous system — to the tune of $4 billion a year in tax credits and subsidies. It's time for that to end.

It is a testament to the influence of these corporate welfare recipients, and the power of the money they shower upon congress, that so many of our leaders have continued to defend these senseless subsidies.

As recently as this March, House Republicans — while simultaneously pleading poverty and fighting for crippling budget cuts elsewhere — voted unanimously against repealing these oil subsidies, at a total cost to us of $45 billion over 10 years.

But in the face of these huge budget cuts, painful gas prices and shocking oil company profits, it is becoming harder and harder for Republicans to defend this policy.

In a surprising move, Speaker John Boehner said Monday that repealing oil subsidies "is certainly something we ought to be looking at" and that oil companies "ought to be paying their fair share." While his statement was quickly walked back the next day by an aide who said Boehner was simply trying not to "fall into the trap of defending 'Big Oil' companies" it's clear that cracks are beginning to show in the Republicans' brazen defense of senseless oil handouts.

On Tuesday, President Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to end oil subsidies, and Nancy Pelosi also sent a letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to schedule a House vote next week. Harry Reid announced he will hold a vote in the Senate as soon as possible.

The momentum is building. This is a key moment to keep the pressure on, and force every member of congress to choose: Americans, or the oil companies? They're making record profits while the CEOs earn millions...yet they get off paying their fair share of taxes while we have to do all the sacrificing!
Budget cuts for us, tax cuts for the wealthy, bailouts for the banks, corporate tax loop-holes, and tax subsidies for big oil has got to end!
Dick Cheney Admits: Deficits Don't Matter - Ellen Brown, Truthout: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney famously said, 'Deficits don't matter.' A staunch Republican, he was arguing against raising taxes on the rich; but today, Republicans seem to have forgotten this maxim. They are bent on stripping social programs, privatizing public assets and gutting unions, all in the name of 'deficit reduction.' Worse, Standard & Poor's has now taken up the hatchet. Some bloggers are calling it blackmail. This private, for-profit rating agency, with a dubious track record of its own, is dictating government policy, threatening to downgrade the government's long-held triple AAA credit rating if Congress fails to deal with its deficit in sufficiently draconian fashion."
Read the Article

House GOP Members Face Voter Anger Over Budget - Carl Hulse and Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times News Service: "In central Florida, a Congressional town meeting erupted into near chaos on Tuesday as attendees accused a Republican lawmaker of trying to dismantle Medicare while providing tax cuts to corporations and affluent Americans. At roughly the same time in Wisconsin, Representative Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican budget proposal, faced a packed town meeting, occasional boos and a skeptical audience as he tried to lay out his party's rationale for overhauling the health insurance program for retirees."
Read the Article

Obama Sets an Election Trap for Paul Ryan and the Koch Brothers - Adele M. Stan, AlterNet: "Republicans are far from figuring out who will be their next presidential candidate, but Barack Obama has already decided who he's running against: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a guy who isn't even in the running - at least not yet. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, it was Ryan who put forth the draconian budget onto which nearly all House Republicans signed - a budget that would effectively end Medicare through a privatization scheme. The reasons why Republicans joined their names to such a politically risky proposition are several, but not least among them is the fact that Ryan is a favorite of David Koch and Americans For Prosperity. So, in his campaign against the Ryan plan, Obama has found his proxy for taking on the Koch machine."
Read the Article

Backdoor Bailouts: Banks Play Shell Game With Taxpayer Dollars - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Bernie Sanders Newsroom: "The Federal Reserve propped up banks with big infusions of cash during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Banks that took billions of dollars from the Fed then turned around and loaned money back to the federal government. It was a sweet deal for the bankers. They received interest payments on the government securities that were up to 12 times greater than the Fed's rock bottom rates, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis conducted for Sen. Bernie Sanders."
Read the Article

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are You Middle Class?

If you're reading this, it means you're probably wondering. And if you're wondering, it means you have doubt. And if you have a doubt, you're probably concerned. And you're concerned, you're probably right. No, you are not "middle class". If you earned about $75,000 a year in today's job market and economy (using the cost-of-living index ratio in today's dollars from 40 years ago), you might be considered to be earning a median middle class income - - - over $100,00 to $250,000 would be upper middle class.

If you were earning over $250,000 a year, you'd be too busy shopping at the mall, looking at bargain basement-priced new homes, a new car, or you'd be on vacation in Hawaii. You wouldn't be reading this blog and wondering what social class you belonged to in American society. You'd be living your life, not wasting your time.

(Estimated in round numbers for the sake of this post.)

If you were earning slightly less than $250,000 a year, I image you could live pretty well, and could easily afford the mortgage payments on a nice "middle-class" house and the car payments on a nice $40,000 car. Most of us don't need (nor really want) the "best" of anything, and we could live quite happily with just "nice".

So unless you earned OVER $250,000 a year, why would you even vote for a Republican? Even if you were a millionaire, and wanted to open your own business, there are plenty of ruthless predators out there that would do anything they could to kill your competition. Billionaires would either buy you out or drive you out of business...everyone will be after your money. And do you really want the hassle of driving a Lamborghini every day? They sit too low to the ground, are cramped for space, and there's no speed limit greater that 55 MPH - at least, not where I live anyway.

What would you need a 15 bedroom mansion for? Unless you entertained a lot and had a full-time staff of housekeepers, it would be just one gigantic dust collector. But if you think you have what it takes, possess the ruthless ambition, don't mind putting in the long grueling hours, and are willing to take the necessary risks with your life's savings, then go for it...if that's what you really want to do. Then you might want to vote for a Republican to save you a little extra on your taxes while you're staying up late at night burning the midnight oil as you count your gold coins.

But MOST of us don't strive for such lofty dreams. We just want a good paycheck, so as to buy a nice house, a nice car, and have a little bit left over to take a nice vacation once or twice a year. Maybe raise some kids and put them through a "nice" college too (and it doesn't have to be the "best" university, or the most expensive one, just a "nice" one).

Besides, most of us will never be rich anyway, no matter how hard we try. If it's not inherited, the odds are against hitting a lottery. The American Dream stories like Bill Gates are far and few between, and athletes and rock stars rely as much on good luck as they do talent and hard work. And if they were only paid HALF of what they earned now, they'd still be happy doing what they long as everybody else were making about the same amount of money for the work they do. And if this were so, maybe they'd be "middle class", because most of these people don't get signed to multi-million dollar contracts either.

Most of us are in fact NOT middle class at all, but are lower-middle-class to poor. Obama only wants to tax the top 5% (those earning over $250,000 a year) to balance the budget and preserve programs for the lower-middle-class to poor. But Paul Ryan and the Republicans want the richest 5% to be even richer, at the expense of making the poorest 20%, the working class, and the lower-middle-class even more poor.

The middle class is divided into two sub-groups: The lower middle class that constitutes about 30% of the population, and the working-class, constituting another 30% of the population. In terms of personal income distribution, that would mean a gross annual personal income ranging from about $20,000 to $50,000 a year - and most of those with household incomes ranging between $40,000 and $100,000 a year would identify as "middle class", or having a national "median" annual income of $35,000 per person in gross earned wages.

The Social Security administration quotes the average median NET income after taxes as $26,261.29 a year.

The middle class = working class households earning between $50,000 to $100,000 + the lower middle class households earning between $20,000 and $50,000 = 60% of the U.S. total working population's households.

(* Some sociologists estimate a household's gross income range of roughly $35,000 to $49,000 for the lower middle class, $50,000 to $99,000 for middle-class, and $100,000 to $250,000 for the upper middle class.)

The upper middle class constitutes roughly 15% of the population. Using this figure, one may conclude that the American upper middle class consist of professionals making more than $100,000 who commonly reside in households earning up to $250,000. These figures are considerably above the national median gross wage of $35,000 regarding individual income, $50,000 for the median household, and $40,000 to $100,000 median middle class gross household income.

Those earning below $20,000 a year (the working poor and poor = the under class) make up 20% of the population. The government's definition of poverty is a single person earning below $10,800 a year (try paying rent and eating on that!)

1.5% of the U.S. individuals earn $250,000 and up, but 5% of households have a net worth of $1 million or more.

80% of America is middle class to poor, and 20% is upper middle class (rich) to uber-rich.
  • 20% - lower class and poor - below $20,000 a year (homeless, welfare, unemployed, disability, Social Security, etc)
  • 30% - lower middle class - $20,000 to $35,000 or households $20,000 to $50,000 (janitors, bus drivers, receptionists, etc) 
  • 30% - working class - $35,000 to $50,000 or households $50,000 to $100,000 (factories, service, managers, etc)
  • 15% - upper middle class - over $100,00 to $250,000 (doctors, lawyers, CPAs, congressmen, small business owners, etc)
  • 5% RICH - over $250,000 a year, household worth over $1 million (CEOs, bankers, hedge fund managers, etc)
What About the Upper Middle Class? - "President Obama has proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, but he has said he will not raise them on families making $250,000 or less (that excludes 95% of the entire working population). So families making, say, $150,000 to $250,000 have done considerably better than middle-class or poor families in recent years. But those six-figure families will nonetheless be spared any tax increases."

Rich People Still Don’t Realize They’re Rich - "People who are rich but not the richest — in the $250,000 zone, say — see they have more than lots of poor people, but also much less than a few very visibly rich people. Then they conclude they’re in the middle, so they must be middle class."

Why So Many Rich People Don’t Feel Very Rich - "Why don’t people at the 90th percentile of the income distribution feel particularly rich? Because many Americans who are richer than this cohort are so much richer."

Everyone Is ‘Middle Class,’ Right - "If you’re mostly exposed to people earning about as much as you, you’re likely to think your earnings are average. Misinformation about one’s socio-economic standing can also help explain why low-income voters in the United States support tax cuts for the rich."

Inequality Is Most Extreme in Wealth, Not Income - "Most of the income gains over the last few decades have gone to the very richest Americans. That means the highest-paid Americans have been claiming a larger and larger share of earnings. The top 1 percent of earners receive about a fifth of all American income; on the other hand, the top 1 percent of Americans by net worth hold about a third of American wealth."

Everyone wants to believe they are middle class. But this eagerness has led the definition to be stretched like a bungee cord — used to defend/attack/describe everything. The Drum Major Institute places the range for middle class at individuals making between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. Ah yes, there's a group of people bound to run into each other while house-hunting.Dante Chinni

If you're not earning the government's definition of poverty of at least $10,800, or the average median net income of $26,260, or a medium household income of $50,000, you'd have to carefully manage your money...especially with the high cost of living just for food, rent, heat, and electric. Most people in these income brackets would need Social Security for retirement and Medicare sometime in their life. If you lost your job you might need unemployment benefits and Medicaid too. If you have kids, food stamps and SCHIP might be necessary as well; or if you got hurt, SS disability. These are the things the Republicans want to cut for the majority of us, denying us a chance of surviving with the very minimum.

Because of Republican polices favoring large corporations (such as wage depression and union-busting, etc.) most Americans are no longer in the "middle-class" any more, that's why it now takes two people working to support a true middle class household (i.e. a husband and wife or two room-mates). Remember when dad used to go to work to pay the mortgage while mom stayed home to welcome you home from school with milk and cookies? Those days are over most American families.

And they way things are today, I don't see it getting any better in the future...and it could possibly get much worse. The middle class is shrinking, a few moving up to the upper middle class, while most are moving down to the lower middle class. I'm just glad to be at the END of my working career rather than be a young person just entering the workforce in 2011. I can't imagine how they'll survive with another 40 years of Republican polices.

What most of us want (and are willing to work for) is just a nice job, paying a nice wage, to live in a nice house, and drive a nice car. To be "middle class". That's not too much to ask for. So unless you are REALLY earning middle class wages, or earned OVER $250,000 year (or were the CEO of a large corporation), why would you even vote for a Republican? Unless of course you're like Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP, and you just wanted to rob from the poor to give to the rich. But those people aren't nice at all, and they don't have any class.

Tell President Obama to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (those making $250,000 a year or more), and tell them and the GOP to stop whining like spoiled and greedy elitists. They don't NEED another house just because their neighbor's is a little bit bigger; and Paris Hilton hasn't been creating any new jobs anyway.

(Below) The Republican's constituents are those earning at least $250,000 a year. If you earn less than that and still vote for a Republican, then you're voting against your own best interests.

 “God loves poor people — he made so many of them.”~ Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nicole Sandler Arrested At Allen West Town Hall Meeting

April 28, 3011 - Update (with VIDEO)  from Nicole

CAUTION! If a congress-person doesn't like your question, they'll ask you to leave or have you arrested, jailed, and maced.

A "help board" was launched for the long-term unemployed (99ers) at It was created by the radio host Nicole Sandler who was arrested in a church for tresspassing. The church had been hosting a town hall meeting for Tea Party Republican congressman Allen West.

* A town hall meeting defined is a name given to an informal public meeting. Everybody in a town community is invited to attend, not always to voice their opinions, but to hear the responses from public figures and elected officials about shared subjects of interest. Attendees rarely voted on an issue or proposed an alternative to a situation. It is not used outside of this secular context. There are no specific rules or guidelines for holding a town hall meeting. If the turnout is large, and in a particular case the objective is to give as many people as possible an opportunity to speak, then the group can be broken down into smaller discussion groups. Each group in that case appoints someone to summarize discussion of their group.

From Crooks and Liars > > > Full video at the Daily Caller

I got the impression that just because she asked them for a name and badge number she pissed them off.

Radio personality and C&L friend Nicole Sandler attended Allen West's town hall today and was led away in handcuffs.

From Palm Beach Post:

Inside the meeting, West was less than a minute into his remarks tonight when two or three men began shouting from the audience.

"How about our Medicare that you're stealing?" shouted one.

"How about allowing questions from the audience?" shouted another man, apparently dissatisfied with West's decision to answer written questions submitted by audience members before the meeting.

At West's previous town halls, members of the public lined up to ask him questions in person, sometimes waiting 30 minutes or more to do so.

"What you have seen happen previously is you get such a line of people and a lot of folks want to come up and proseletyze for six or seven minutes and you're really not getting to the questions that people want to have answered," West said after the meeting.

West, who has gone back and forth with critics at his previous meetings, said the written format was not an effort to avoid tough questions.

"I don't duck," West said.

During the meeting, West had responded to a question about Medicare when Nicole Sandler of Coral Springs, a former radio host on the liberal Air America network, began shouting from the audience.

Other audience members began shouting at her and a police officer led her out.

"This is supposed to be a town hall meeting. That means back-and-forth," Sandler said as she exited.

Sandler argued with a Fort Lauderdale police officer in the lobby who told her to leave the building. After she yelled at the officer for placing his hand on her, she was arrested for "trespassing after warning" and led away in handcuffs.

Here's the video of her being ejected:

UPDATE: John Amato I just spoke to a source close to the situation and $25.00 was already posted for her bail. She's not out yet. Since the town hall was on private property, the police were allowed to arrest her on a trumped up charge. She was pushed by the cop to get out of the building while she was trying to leave. He arrested her for daring to ask a question from the audience. If it had been in a public building there would have been no grounds to ask her to leave. West only answered pre-approved questions. What a cowardly move by Rep. Allen West's people.

Karoli wonders... The "private property" Nicole was ejected from was Calvary Chapel's theater. Calvary Chapel is a tax-exempt organization. It seems to me that they should not be playing partisan politics, screening questions and supporting West's narrative without being accountable for that.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grover Norquist: Americans for Tax Reform

Grover Norquist Hates All Taxes...and All Poor People

As a devoted conservative Republican since the days of Ronald Reagan, up until I completely disavowed the GOP and all their principals last year, I have earned the right to say this: The Republican leadership only cares about the interests of the wealthy and large corporations. They don't even give a damn about their own voting constituents. I, like countless other Republicans, have supported that political party for years like a brain-dead against my own self-interests. My father was a Democrat, so if he were alive today he might be proud of me.

The Republicans have, for all my working life, enriched the banks, allowed the outsourcing of jobs, and permitted the busting of labor unions and depressing the average middle-class worker's wages. They killed the middle-class in this country and now, after the last mid-term elections, it's become crystal clear to anyone who is still breathing...especially after they held hostage unemployment benefits for extending tax cuts for the rich last December. For me, that was deplorable - and it was the final straw that broke the camel's back.

As soon as you go to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform website, you are greeted with a picture of Paul Ryan, so I immediately knew whose taxes they were so concerned about "reforming", and it wasn't my taxes, or just on the rich and corporations, but ALL taxes. Americans for Tax Reform and its Center for Fiscal Accountability were joined by forty other groups in urging lawmakers to establish Anti-Appropriations Committees in both chambers of Congress. This group wants no government at all; now THAT'S radical!

(See American League of Voters)

The billionaire brothers who lead Koch Industries and Grover Norquist have said that their goal is to reduce government "to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in a bathtub". But the poor and working-class actually needs government, the wealthy don't - - - with the exception of maybe congressional whores, law enforcement, and firefighters...items that are aren't usually included in Republican budget cuts. Even the military "defense" budget is mentioned by the ATR, and that's usually untouchable to the GOP because of all the inter-connected corporate interests and the multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts, such as for Boeing.

Grover Norquist is best known as the founder of Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, which he did at the request of President Ronald Reagan. Norquist has been a life-long conservative Republican since he volunteered for the 1968 Nixon campaign. And like all super-ultra-conservatives, besides taxes, he is against ALL social programs...such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security - programs that everyone but the rich and large corporations want nor need.

Norquist came from a wealthy family and attended Harvard University, so coming from a background of privilege, it would be a stretch to see how he could be advocating for the average working man and woman. Like Paul Ryan, who also comes from a wealthy background, he too would like to see taxes on the rich reduced more at the expense of old and sick retired people who didn't inherit a lot of money through their families. Norquist and Ryan don't need programs like Social Security or Medicare when they're too old and sick and can no longer work, and will eventually retire.

Since 1986, Americans for Tax Reform has sponsored the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", a written promise by legislators and candidates for office that commits them to oppose tax increases. There are two versions, one each at the national and state level.

It appears that it's mostly Republicans though that sign the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" (because the GOP has always been about cutting spending on the needy so that the rich can keep more of what they have). To date 237 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed the pledge. There are 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the house. To date 41 members of the U.S. Senate signed the pledge. There are 47 Republicans, 51 Democrats, and 2 Independents in the Senate.

"Read my lips: no new taxes" is a now-famous phrase spoken by then presidential candidate George H. W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention as he accepted the nomination on August 18. Bush at first refused to sign the pledge, but in 1987 eventually acquiesced.

Early in his term, Bush faced the problem that we do today, what to do with leftover deficits spawned by the previous administration. The deficit had grown to three times its size since 1980. Bush was dedicated to curbing the deficit, believing that America could not continue to be a leader in the world without doing so. He began an effort to persuade the Democratic controlled Congress to act on the budget; and just like today, with Republicans believing that the best way was to cut government spending (on programs for the poor), and Democrats convinced that the only way would be to raise taxes (on the rich).

Newt Gingrich, while a member of the congressional negotiating committee, refused to endorse Bush's compromise on the tax issue. He then led over one hundred Republican House members in voting against the president's first budget proposal. This made Gingrich a hero to conservative Republicans (Gingrich now proposes not just lower corporate taxes, but NO capital gains taxes at all!)

Bush's broken promise was one of several important factors leading to Bush's defeat. In fact, mulit-millionaire conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in his book "See I Told You So", believes that Bush would've easily won re-election had he not increased taxes to control the debt.

Working with eventual Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Norquist was one of the co-authors of the 1994 Republican Contract with America. Norquist's national strategy includes recruiting politicians at the state and local levels. Norquist has helped to set up regular meetings for conservatives in many states with the goal of creating a nationwide network of conservative activists that he can call upon to support conservative causes, such as tax cuts for the rich and big corporations and deregulation of banks and BIG businesses. We all saw how well that ended with the collapse of the housing bubble and stock market crash in 2008 (See "Inside Job: The Film that Cost Over $20 Trillion to make")

It was the Republicans who voted along party lines that gave us the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and deregulation of financial derivatives and the bank failures.

Norquist was instrumental in securing early support for George W. Bush. He campaigned for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. After Bush's first election, Norquist was a key figure involved in crafting Bush's tax cuts, which reduced corporate and capital gains taxes on the rich and BIG BUSINESS which caused our national deficit during the Bush years.

The stock market and housing market crashed long before Obama was elected or even took office on January 21, 2009. The Dow Jones Industrial Average went from a high of 14,000 on October 5, 2007 to 8,000 while George W. Bush was still President until Obama was sworn in. Then the Dow went to a low of 6,500 on March 9, 2009 and is back to 12,500 today. So we lost 6,000 on the Dow just before Bush left office and we gained 6,000 on the Dow since the March 2009 low under Obama.

Under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2008 America lost 2.5 million jobs just to China alone, while the GOP grew a $9 trillion national debt. Then Obama was left stuck paying for unemployment benefits for 10 million jobs that the Republicans killed while trying to keep the economy from falling off a cliff with "stimulus". But the Republicans want to blame Obama for this, the housing bubble, the unregulated banks, the stock market, the economy, and the deficit  - - - when everything points right back to the Republicans.

The only difference is, after the GOP enriched the few, they left the working-class out to dry during the Great Recession, while the Democrats at least tried to help them survive (i.e. UI benefits, food stamps, and Medicaid). A stinking Republican wouldn't even give you a slice of stale bread unless they were forced to by a congressional majority or were politically embarrassed into doing so. Now the GOP/Tea Party/Norquist are after Medicare and Social Security for the elderly, the sick, and the cut spending on the poor but not raising taxes on the rich.

In 2004, Norquist helped California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with his plan to privatize the CalPERS system, the California Public Employees' Retirement System. As of December 2008, CalPERS managed the largest public pension fund in the United States with $179.2 billion in assets; however, that represented a 31% decrease (because of losses in the stock market crash due to Republican de-regulation of the banks while on George Bush's watch) from the peak value of its assets of $260.6 billion in October 2007 (this needs a lot more research).

The Huffington Post - Does the Norquist No-Tax Pledge Violate the Congressional Oath of Office? - Comment: "With virtually all Republicans in Congress pledging their allegiance to Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform organization on, they have hobbled themselves so that they cannot act to raise necessary revenue. Damn their constituents or their country, they have made a commitment that prevents them from adequately dealing realistically with the problems they have created with their tax cuts, designed to reduce the surplus that existed when George W. Bush came to office. They have no intention of doing the right thing for the country, they were elected to serve Grover. Mr. Norquist is de facto currently in charge of the economy. Senator Coburn has just made an attempt to stand up to Mr. Norquist. Senator Coburn wants to eliminate ethanol subsidies and Mr. Norquist considers this a tax increase. Unfortunate y, since Norquist controls the Republican s in Congress, he will probably win. Every Republican who signs Norquist pledge abdicated their ability to think independent y and to do what is right for the country the day they put their signature on the line. The sad thing is that Grover Norquist's ideas are horrible for the middle class and the poor. Progressive groups should begin advertising g campaigns to make Grover Norquist a household name and to make sure that the public understands the consequence s of the "Starve the Beast" philosophy. No student loans, no Social Security, and no Medicare. Mr. Norquist is really a subversive force in our country, committed to making the government ineffectual."

I think wealthy people like Grover Norquist, Paul Ryan, Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Republican Senators, and Glenn Beck, and all the House reps who signed the pledge for Americans for Tax Reform might claim they "oppose all tax increases as a matter of principle", but I suspect it's really just taxes on the rich and big corporations - those who don't want to pay for benefits for old and disabled people like myself.

The New York Times - Corporate Taxes Enter Debt Debate - Comment: "Perhaps the middle-class could form one giant Corporate Interest and set up a subsidiary with a mail box in Switzerland and thereby become exempt from paying taxes too. Sounds like that is how the game is played. And I suggest that this will save the middle-class as they are too big to fail...sound familiar?"

HuffPostHill - Comment: "Maybe if poor people could actually AFFORD a carrot, they might get more than just the stick."

Top 20 PAC Contributors to Republican Candidates 2009-2010 

The bankers topped the list again last year because, after all, it was the Republicans who de-regulated the banks for us. The Republicans voted along party lines for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to de-regulate the banks. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a joke; the bankers are less regulated and more all-powerful than ever, making record profits, paying huge bonuses (and less caplital gains taxes), and very little-to-no corporate taxes at all.
PAC Name  Total
American Bankers Assn * Top Ten Tax Evaders for 2010 $1,949,224
AT&T Inc $1,789,775
Every Republican is Crucial PAC $1,710,346
National Assn of Realtors $1,669,797
Honeywell International $1,658,000
National Beer Wholesalers Assn $1,543,500
National Auto Dealers Assn $1,372,400
National Assn of Home Builders $1,341,500
Freedom Project $1,309,050
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $1,276,999
Associated Builders & Contractors $1,176,500
Koch Industries $1,144,500
Boeing Co * Top Ten Tax Evaders for 2010   $1,041,000
Credit Union National Assn $1,014,945
United Parcel Service $1,009,203
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu $972,500
Comcast Corp $965,000
Exxon Mobil * Top Ten Tax Evaders for 2010 $928,950
Lockheed Martin $907,250
PricewaterhouseCoopers $903,500

Top Ten Tax Evaders for 2010

1. Bank of America took $336 billion in bailouts in 2009, but in 2010, flush with $4.4 billion in profits, it paid no taxes. Even Forbes magazine asked, how is that possible? Probably thanks to their 115 offshore tax havens. 

2. Boeing just received $35 billion from our government to build 179 airborne tankers, but despite nearly $10 billion in profits from 2008 to 2010, it too paid no taxes, again thanks to foreign tax havens. 

3. Citicorp took $476 billion from the bailout and then made monster profits in 2010, yet it paid no taxes, thanks to 427 subsidiaries in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong. 

4. Exxon/Mobil, received huge oil subsidies from the government and earned $45 billion in 2009 but paid no taxes, again thanks to stashing profits in places like the Bahamas and Singapore. 

5. GE – $15 billion in profits last year, paid ZERO in taxes.

6. Google utilizes a technique that moves most of its income through Ireland and Netherlands to Bermuda, making its tax rate 2.3 percent. 

7. Mega Pharmaceuticals Merck earned $9 billion in profits and paid no taxes in 2010, while Pfizer (largest drug maker) owed $10 billion in taxes but found the necessary loopholes to pay no taxes, thanks to its offshore subsidiaries in places like Luxembourg and the Isle of Jersey. 

8. News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media monolith that owns Fox News avoids paying American taxes through its 152 subsidiaries in tax havens from the British Virgin Islands to Hong Kong. 

9. Verizon, despite making $24.2 billion in pre-tax U.S. income, paid no taxes and actually claimed a federal refund of $1.3 billion for the last two years, again all thanks to those offshore subsidiaries. 

10. Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US, which took $107 billion in bailouts, wrote off all its losses by acquiring Wachovia, thus paying no taxes. Yet its CEO earned $5.6 million in cash for his salary and $13 million in stock.

"So where are our elected officials and loud mouth politicians on this topic? Pretty quiet, aren’t they?" See: How Corporations Get Away with It

It's quite obvious that political fund-raising, political action committees (PACs), political "think tanks", and corporate campaign contributions don't just influence elections, they buy them. Because the financial industry and major corporations spend literally billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions, and fighting ANY kind of reform is nearly impossible.

According to the Gallup polls, today U.S. registered voters are evenly split about whether they would back President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012 (45%) or "the Republican Party's candidate" (45%). This is similar to the results for the same question when it was asked a year ago. Last December Obama "blinked" by not letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire, and thereby setting the table for more radical Republican budget cuts, like in Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" (tax cuts for the rich and program cuts for the poor and working people - a budget Grover Norquist fully supports).

Grover Norquist describes himself as a "boring white bread Methodist", yet ironically he is married to a Muslim named Samah Alrayyes, a Kuwaiti who was formerly a director of the Islamic Free Market Institute and is pro-mosque on the Manhattan issue. David Horowitz (a fellow conservative) once accused Norquist of having connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. While although 3,000 Americans lost their lives to Islamic terrorists on 911, it's because of people like Grover Norquist and his conservative Republicans that millions of American lives were left in ruin. I fear the Republican leadership more than I do the terrorists, but they don't want me to pay attention to what the GOP is doing behind my back, but prefer to distract me with other fear-mongering tactics. But I believe it's the "conservative" Republicans that the average working Americans have the most to fear. It's been the Republicans, our our enemy within, who have been destroying the American Dream, not terrorists.

Washington, D.C.-based organizations that run ad campaigns that reinforce key policy objectives of corporations and the right-wing politicians they back in the U.S. such as the Center for Fiscal Accountability, the League of American Voters, the Americans for Tax Reform, and the Braynard Group are all one of the same. They use the word "American" a lot to describe themselves and to sound patriotic, but they aren't. They are all just about the redistribution of wealth from us (the patriotic Americans) to them, the greedy profiteers.

League of American Voters
722 12th Street, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20005
Created on: 23-Jul-09 Expires on: 23-Jul-12
Bob Adams

Americans for Tax Reform
Created On:08-Sep-1995
Expiration Date:07-Sep-2011
Registrant Name: Thomas Baptiste
Registrant Street:1226 N Vernon St
Registrant City:Arlington
Registrant State/Province:VA
Registrant Postal Code:22201
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.5712687275
Registrant FAX:+1.2022801446
Registrant Email:
Americans for Tax Reform
Admin Name:Chris Butler
Admin Street1:1920 L ST NW STE 200
Admin State/Province:DC
Admin Postal Code:20036-5036
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.2027850266
Admin FAX:+1.2027850261
Admin Email:
Americans for Tax Reform
722 12th Street NW Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20005
Office 202-785-0266
Fax 202-785-0261

Braynard Group
Fax: 2024235333
Braynard Group, Inc.
1226 N Vernon Street
Arlington, VA 22201

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fox News Confirms: Obama is U.S. Citizen

Shepard Smith: "Fox News can confirm that the President of the United States is a citizen of the United States. Period."


Comment left at MediaMatters.Org: "How does Shepherd Smith behave so rationally and still keep his job at Fox News? I thought they didn't stand for that. Someone needs to sit him down and talk some nonsense into him."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Boeing Corp: A Blood Sucking Leech

America has been undergoing a combination of two things over the last several decades: nationalization and privatization by large American-based global corporations. The two opposite strategies have been used together in bilking the American people. We finance these monolithic corporate entities, and in turn, they take our property for personal use. I liken it to paying someone to rob you. (A re-nationalization occurs when state-owned assets are privatized and later nationalized again.)

There are a very few exceptions, such as when Alaskans receive their paltry dividend checks from the state's oil royalty investment program. But why aren't all publicly funded corporations treated this way, in every state?

By de facto a vast number American corporations, and in some cases, entire industries, have already been nationalized by us, the government...the American people. Because of U.S. taxpayers, through subsidies and government contracts, many of these corporations only have us to thank for their very existence. The only difference is, the small group of people who sit on their  Board of Directors and major shareholders reap all the profits, rather than having this revenue going back into the coffers of the U.S. taxpayers in the form of tax revenues.

But it is WE who were the stupidest investors of all. Because when WE buy into a large corporation, not only do we not see any profits trickle down back into the U.S. Treasury, or into our own pockets, if their are huge losses, we are the ones who end up picking up the tab for any risky and failed investments. The CEO's, whether the company fails or not, still gets paid...and they usually keep their jobs too, sometimes even getting huge bonuses. Looking back to 2008, we all saw that.

But what really pisses me off is, not only is this system of capitalism being turned upside down, our politicians are allowing the co-opting of our public lands and resources...The People's property for personal use and profit. Oil is but just one example in the energy sector alone...but there are many other industries that, not only did the taxpayers finance with their hard-earned dollars, but have been manipulated to price gouging (gasoline as one example).

The capitalists in western democracies have propagandized nationalization and conveniently associates it exclusively with Socialism, which usually make us ordinary Americans think of bad guys like Joseph  Stalin and Chairman Mao. But corporations, with the help of their bribed political enablers, have been doing this all along, even using Eminent Domain and other means to take public and personal property for personal use and profit. Paying someone to rob you.

And to top it off, these very corporations and industries (rather, just those people at the top who run them) don't even want to pay fair wages or benefits to their own workers...the very people who, collectively speaking with all other taxpayers, pay their damn salaries! Yet these same corporations don't want their workers to collectively bargain for their wages (union busting). The corporation would rather dictate the wages and then say, "Take it or leave it. If you don't like what we pay you, we'll leave the state."

So, it's a "right-to-work State" if you submit to all the corporate concessions. Or the company might just pick up all their marbles and relocate their factory to another country...hence, "outsourcing". Corporations make very few, if any, concessions to average working people without fighting it bitterly. It's a lie when they always claim to be a good corporate citizen of the community. They will poison the well and move on in search of ever more profits. Corporations have no souls, but oddly our Supreme Court says they have Constitutional Rights.

Boeing, who pays no taxes to the U.S. government, yet gets HUGE no-bid multi-billion dollar government contracts paid for by U.S. taxpayers (working people), but still whines when the government asks them stop union busting. And by appointment of U.S. President Barack Obama, Boeing's CEO James McNerney chairs the President's Export Council, which operates as an advisory committee on international trade. Yet Boeing wants it all! I want to tell Boeing, "STFU!"

Here's another good example of how Republicans always favor businesses over the workers: How the National Labor Relations Board pursues cases and rules on them. Democratic-dominated boards often tilt toward unions and reverse the decisions of Republican-leaning boards, which usually tilt toward management, and vice versa. This time in the case of Boeing.

Boeing executives had publicly said they were making the move from a unionized plant in Washington State (where they were headquartered for years) to a non-union plant in South Carolina to avoid strikes for fairer wages. Lafe Solomon, the labor board’s acting general counsel, said the company’s motive constituted illegal retaliation against workers for exercising their legal right to strike.

Corporations like Boeing often negotiate tax breaks from state and local governments as well, promising jobs to save on their fair share of taxes to any given community - and spends millions in lobbying and legal fees to find loop holes to avoid paying federal taxes too (great community citizens that they are). These companies pit one locale against another in "bidding wars" for lower taxes and lobby politicians with campaign contributions as well.

The factory workers in Washington never had a chance. The collective bargaining power of a labor union is their only tool for obtaining fair wages, basic healthcare, and safe working conditions. Big business thinks that THAT is too much to ask for, even while earning record profits and executive compensation packages and bonuses, and while paying ZERO in corporate taxes to the U.S. Treasury. Un-frigging-believable!

Enough is never enough. Greed is an addiction, even collectively as a group (rather than just single individuals) in a Corporate World Order.

Politically BIG BUSINESS has many other advantages over the single worker. An individual "person" has the right to voice their opinion about the candidate of their choice and against the "opposition", spend their money on the candidate of their choice, lobby that person, and vote for that person. But many times corporations even try to influence their workers in this arena - as in, "Vote for who I say or lose your job."

Corporations are made up of individual "persons", who each already have all of those "individual" rights as individual "persons", but now because of  Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, all those individuals that joined together to form the corporation have been clumped together as ANOTHER separate individual, who also has the right to lobby, spend as much money as they want on the candidate of their choice, and voice their opinion. The only thing the corporation CAN'T do as an individual, is vote for the candidate of their choice.

So basically, each of these original individual "persons" who united together to form the corporation now have the rights of, not one, but two individuals in one person (one as a natural person and one as a corporate person). They can use their own personal income as well as the corporation's income to influence the government and votes (like two separate people, but really are one and the same). While the natural, individual "persons" (like you and I), can only use our own individual income because we don't have corporate income to use. They get 2 votes, we get 1.

But back to Boeing: The remedy proposed by Mr. Solomon of the NLRB is that Boeing move the work back to its unionized Puget Sound facilities, after it had already made a $2 billion investment to diss the union and hired 1,000 non-union workers in South Carolina. He said Boeing had punished workers for past strikes by moving to South Carolina.

The National Association of Manufacturers was "outraged". According to their website, "The NAM Board comprises more than 200 of the nation’s top manufacturing executives...and provides national and global perspectives on the impact of federal government action upon their companies’ ability to grow and prosper."

But the majority of manufacturing jobs have already left America, so I will assume that this political action committee (PAC) will be around until the very last job has been outsourced...until the last man standing. The two top chair-positions are held by the CEO of the Vermeer Corporation and the CEO of Caterpillar Inc. - - - and Timothy J. Keating of the Boeing Company is their Senior Vice President of Government Operations  So of course the "National Association of Manufacturers" would be outraged, they are pro-business and anti-worker.

Financing Tea Party candidates and rallying the Tea Party faithful, Jim DeMint (the Republican Senator in South Carolina) complained, “This is nothing more than a political favor for the unions who are supporting President Obama’s re-election campaign.”  (But he failed to make mention of any of his corporate political campaign donors.)

No Mister DeMint , it's about fairness to the average working person sir. DeMint blasted the NLRB's complaint against Boeing and "right-to-work States" - - - but if you ask me, he's really defending the corporation's "right-to-leave States" (that is, if the company can get a better tax deal from the locals and they can pay poverty-level wages to their workers).

Jim DeMint also spewed the nonsense: "Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of hundreds of jobs in South Carolina and thousands of jobs nationwide." But like a cheating husband, Boeing had abandoned Washington State and it's citizens for a much younger and prettier girl in South Carolina. And Boeing will do it again if they get a much better deal somewhere else. China perhaps?

Boeing's website boasts: "The opportunities for career development stretch from sea to shining sea", although they have 158,000 employees on 5 continents in 70 countries. But we all know that corporations have no loyalty, no patriotism, and no conscience...and they definitely don't have a soul, but they do have Constitutional Rights, and can buy elections.

Senator DeMint went on to rant, "Using the federal government as a political weapon to protect union bosses at the expense of American jobs cannot be tolerated. I intend to use every tool at my disposal as a United States Senator to stop the President from carrying out this malicious act.”  In an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News he whined that the "administration is acting like bunch of thugs.” (The pot calling the kettle black?)

No Mister DeMint, it has nothing at all to do with union bosses or American jobs. Weren't Boeing's workers in Washington State real American workers? The complaint was filed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which is an AFL-CIO/CLC trade union representing approximately 650,000 workers. The National Labor Relations Board brought the action against Boeing on behalf of the union WORKERS, not the union BOSSES.

But it's common knowledge that the labor unions support Democrats who represent average workers...and the corporations support Republicans who represent the corporate profiteers on their Boards of Directors. During the 2010 election cycle the Club for Growth (a conservative political action group) spent more than $8.2 million, primarily advocating for Republican candidates or against Democratic candidates through television and radio. They donated $154,667 to Senator Jim DeMint.

Koch Industries also donated $57,000 and Air Transport donated another $80,500 to Senator Jim DeMint as well.

In a letter the Air Transport Authority wrote: "On behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we submit this letter to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) in response to a request for comments on PBGC regulations pursuant to Obama's Executive Order 13563, arguing that the PBGC overstepped the intent of the statute which is to ensure that financially troubled entities set aside money to pay promised benefits and do not increase the financial burdens on the PBGC." (Wasn't that for protecting worker's pensions from the financial shenanigans we saw on Wall Street in the recent past?)

But back to Boeing: Mr. Solomon of the National Labor Relations Board said,“My goal is to enforce the National Labor Relations Act. That law, enacted in 1935, governs private sector workers’ right to unionize as well as relations between tens of thousands of companies and employees." It's become common knowledge that Republicans always favor businesses over the workers.

By contrast, under Ronald Reagan, the National Labor Relations Board reversed about two dozen pro-union decisions in one year alone. The Obama board is expected to reverse a Bush-era decision that lets workers petition to decertify a union within days of a company’s recognizing a union through card check.

The United States Chamber of Commerce (who always favor businesses over the workers) opposes a proposal that would require all private sector employers to post notices explaining workers’ rights to unionize. It also faulted the NLRB for being more aggressive about reinstating pro-union workers who are illegally fired during unionization drives. Read that again: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is AGAINST hiring back people who were ILLEGALLY fired from their jobs.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes is an "Industry Partner" of ATA who gets HUGE no-bid multi-billion dollar government contracts from U.S taxpayers, but Boeing itself pays no taxes. So if the government is asking them to stop union busting, what the hell is Boeing complaining about?

What is also fascinating (beside previous taxpayer bailouts), is that Air Transport (Air Transport Association of America) gives a lot of cash to BOTH parties: Democrats $2,545,486 , Republicans $3,254,321. And didn't American taxpayers also bailout this industry too? And I never even got one damn frequent flyer mile in my whole life!

(Pictured below) Jim DeMint (A.K.A. corporate shill, corporate whore) speaking at the radical far right-wing Values Voters Summit and here is a list of their Evangelistic Christian sponsors. But they are all just greedy money-mongers hiding behind "family values" and Christendom - just scummy hypocritical liars, all. As a good good God-fearing Christian myself, I believe that Senator DeMint and the corporate officers of Boeing will have a lot of "splaining" to do when they get to the Pearly Gates. It's people have a much harder time getting into to Heaven than poor people do, because they (just like corporations) have no souls, and are responsible for millions of deaths.

America has suffered many causalities in wars, offering up our young men and women as human sacrifices for corporate profits. The cotton farmers alone are responsible for the lives of 623,026 people during our Civil War. Nowadays our corporate and political leaders allow for "deferments" for their own sons and daughters to escape death, so that they can continue on as the corporate heirs (our corporate masters) to their corporate dynasties...keeping the stranglehold over the American people.

The current CEO of Boeing, James McNerney, spent his years during the Vietnam War dodging the danger by attending Yale University (then later Harvard University). Ironically he knows the secrets behind some of the world's most fearsome military technology. That's power! In 2009, his compensation was $13.7 million, which included a base salary of $1.9 million, a cash bonus of $4.5 million, options granted of $3.1 million, stock granted of $3.1 million, and other compensation totaling $1 million. That's just in ONE year. And his personal income tax rate (capital gains) was lower than mine when I was still working (payroll tax) and when I collected unemployment benefits. Mister McNerney's whore, Senator Jim DeMint, earns $174,000 a year, plus government healthcare and corporate bribes (and besides all his vacations, I'm sure we pay him to take 3 martini lunches as well).

Senator Jim DeMint is bitching about the possibly of having one thousand jobs leaving his State and being returned to the other side of our country where they rightfully belong, but where the hell was he while millions of other American jobs were leaving our shores?

So what better way to end this post than simply stating the obvious: Senator Jim DeMint is just another corrupt corporate shill and Boeing Corp is just another corporate welfare case - a blood sucking leech.

* William Edward Boeing (1881-1956)
* Boeing and Early Aviation in Seattle