Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Historical Fact

In less than five weeks, unemployment benefits will expire for more than 6,000 Americans. In less than one week, Congress may raise taxes on more than 120 million families. Republicans seem to be ready to let both of them happen.

Republicans have threatened the extension of the payroll tax holiday, which provides $1,500 in cuts for 120 million families and 98% of businesses payroll tax cut. Failure to 
extend the tax holiday would seriously set back the economy.

Moody’s chief economist said, that without the payroll tax cut, we’ll be back in a recession. It would cause the nation’s GDP to drop between 1 and 2 percent, and we would lose half a million jobs in the economy.

Super-committee Senator, Jon Kyl doesn’t mind increasing the taxes on the middle class, but he insists any increases on the rich would put a wet blanket over job creation and economic recovery. Sen. Kyl asserts: “By taxing the people who provide the jobs, you put off the day that we have economic recovery and job creation in this country. And that’s precisely what the Democratic plan would do.”

Those job creators have benefited from the Bush tax cuts for the last 10 years. Maybe, Jon Kyl and the Republicans should explain, why those job creators haven’t rescued the economy after receiving a decade of historic tax relief ? The top 1% has gained while the rest of the country remains stagnant.

Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at their highest levels in the past five decades. Wage earners have seen their income dropped like a rock during that same period of time. The last time we had a gap this large was back in 1929, at the start of the Great Depression. We might be headed for another Depression.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Healthcare Law

In July of 1798, Congress passed and President John Adams signed: “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

Congress realized that foreign trade would be essential to our country’s ability to create a viable economy. They relied on the nation’s private merchant ships and their sailors for this trade. In those days reductions in manpower left ship without enough sailors to get underway. Thereby, causing a strain on the nation’s economy. Congress knew a healthy maritime workforce was essential to the ability of our private merchant ships to engage in foreign trade, and passed our first health care law.

The Marine Hospital Service built a series of hospitals and operated by the federal government to treat injured and ailing privately employed sailors. The healthcare service was paid for by a mandatory tax on the maritime sailors. One percent of a sailor’s wages where withheld from a sailor’s pay and turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay.

When a sick or injured sailor needed medical assistance, the government would confirm that his payments had been collected and turned over by his employer and would then give the sailor a voucher entitling him to admission to the hospital where he would be treated for whatever ailed him.

As our nation expanded, the system expanded to cover sailors working the private vessels sailing the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The program became the Public Health Service, a government operated health service that exists to this day under the supervision of the Surgeon General.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rate of Unemployment

When the Jobs Bill came up for a vote all 46 Republican Senators voted against opening debate on the bill. A majority of fifty-one Democratic Senators voted for the bill.

Nevertheless, President Obama is expected to reduce the unemployment rate.   He needs the help of the Senate, but Republicans have repeatedly filibustered attempts to pass the Jobs Act. A majority in the Senate means nothing, because it’s filibuster rule requires 60 votes to get anything passed.

Obama pointed out: “They might believe it’s in their political interests to oppose whatever the President proposes for the next 13 months, but we know that when it comes to jobs and restoring economic security, Americans can’t afford to wait.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to disclose what parts of the American Jobs Act he’d support. He has repeatedly insisted on that his highest priority, is to defeat this president. 

“The American Jobs Act would get to work now, providing incentives for businesses to hire unemployed veterans, helping hire tens of thousands of teachers, cops, and firefighters, and rebuilding and modernizing our schools, railways, bridges, and airports. Even though it’s fully paid for and made up of proposals both parties have supported.”

Obama needs the votes of Tea Party-Republicans in the House to pass the Jobs Act, but the Speaker of the House won't even let it come up for a vote.  By doing so he makes sure that none of the House Republicans will have it on their record, in the 2012 election that voted against it.

Republicans in Congress want the unemployment rate to stay high so that it can be blamed on Obama in the presidential race. They need a Republican in the White House, so that their extremist right wing religious agenda will become the law.

 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tea Party Extremist

A major Tea Party group announced the launch of a SuperPAC, “FreedomWorks for America.” This group is planning a $20 million campaign dedicated to electing candidates in the mold of senators Jim DeMint and Rand Paul. The Citizens United decision, will allow this PAC to spend unlimited amounts of money attacking Democratic candidates for the Senate.
 


Unlike many other organizations, this well-funded group will focus on electing the most extreme, right-wing candidates. In fact, the PAC has already pledged support for Tea Party Senate candidates in Texas, Arizona and Florida.
 


Should Tea Party supported candidates win, they’d take over the Senate, just like they’ve done in the House. The current Democratic Senate firewall blocking their dangerous agenda would be lost. Led by FreedomWorks’ Tea Party-Republican senators would end Medicare, privatize Medicaid, stop unemployment benefits, repeal health care reform, roll back civil rights, and eliminate the EPA.
 


The only way to ensure, that they don’t win is to fight them head-to-head in every state. Otherwise, Democrats hand over states and most likely the majority to Tea Party endorsed candidates.
 


The Democratic Party needs to protect 23 seats in the Senate, since they have only a four-seat majority. If the Tea Party gains a fundraising advantage, it could create runaway momentum before campaign season even starts.
 


More than 90% of the DSCC’s contributions come from grassroots supporters. In order to hold a majority in the Senate grassroots financial support is absolutely necessary.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will stand up and challenge the Tea Party extremists every step of the way. Her reelection will be challenged by the Tea Party, who can be depended on to try every trick in the book to defeat her.

We must keep Gillibrand in the Senate as our progressive champion.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sequestration Processes

Congress asked Obama to stay out of the negotiations of the super committee. Since, they’ve failed to reach an agreement, he announced: “I stand ready and willing to work with anybody that’s ready to engage in that effort to create a balanced plan for deficit reduction.”

The Republicans’ strategy of blocking every deal doesn’t look so smart, because if Congress does nothing, two sequestration processes go into effect. First, a budget cut and then a tax increase.  Those two measures will cut over $4.5 trillion from our deficit over the next 10 years. That’s more than the Simpson-Bowles Commission proposed. It amounts to $3 of tax increases for every dollar of spending cuts.

Approximately $600 to $700 million of those spending cuts will be cut from the Defense Department over the next 10 years. Keep in mind, that the Pentagon’s budget has risen for 13 consecutive years.

The Republican mantra about waste, fraud and abuse in government is vastly exaggerated. The exception is defense. There is enormous waste in the Pentagon. There is a lot of overlap among the military services, so much duplication and so much waste that no one bothers to defend it anymore.

Between 2001 and 2009, spending on defense rose from $412 billion to $699 billion, a 70% increase, which is larger than in any comparable period since the Korean War. Our defense spending went from about a 33% of total worldwide spending to nearly 50%. We spend more on defense than almost all the planet’s remaining countries put together. Going down from this high over a ten-year period shouldn’t be a serious concern, since were gradually leaving Afghanistan.

Actually, the failure of the super committee is not an indication that nothing will get done regarding deficit reduction.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Deceitful Campaign

Romney’s presidential campaign is taking Obama’s words out of context, in order to deceive voters.

Obama spoke to an audience of CEOs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Honolulu. During his remarks, he asserted that America has been “lazy” about attracting foreign business and overseas investment in the United States.

Obama said: “I think it’s important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity, our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture. But you know, we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted, that people will want to come here, and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”

Obama added, that he has assigned federal officials to work with state and local governments to help attract foreign investors.

Gail Gitcho, who works for the Mitt Romney’s campaign as it’s communications director, attacked Obama for making insensitive remarks. She claimed: “President Obama continues to blame Americans for his own mishandling of the economy. Most recently, he has called us lazy...”

Clearly, Obama wasn’t talking about the American workers. The word “lazy” was referring to our federal, state and federal governments failing to attract foreign investors for the last couple of decades.

Furthermore, a recent Romney ad misuses Obama’s words to make it appear as if he has said of the present political campaign: “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Actually, Obama was quoting someone on Sen. John McCain’s staff during the 2008 election; the deceitful ad doesn’t give any indication that the words are not Obama’s.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

“Doing Nothing”

Yesterday, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria posted this column on his blog.

“Many are bemoaning the super committee’s failure, but I actually don’t see it as such a big deal. Those who are concerned about the budget deficit will see an automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade starting at the end of next year. That’s more than anyone thought we’d get beforehand. And those who want tax revenues to increase will see the Bush tax cuts automatically expire at the end of 2012.

“So if Congress does nothing, two sequestration processes go into effect: A budget cut and a tax increase.  These two measures will cut over $4.5 trillion from the U.S. deficit over the next 10 years. That’s more than the Simpson-Bowles Commission proposed. And as Ezra Klien pointed out, that’s $3 of tax increases for every dollar of spending cuts. The Republicans’ strategy of blocking every deal suddenly doesn’t look so smart.

“I think that the real question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not we want these tightening, contractionary measures to occur now when the U.S. economy is still relatively weak. Better policy would be to delay the onset of cuts for a year or two until the economy begins to recover. As long as we can signal to the world, to markets and to ourselves that we have a serious, reliable process in place to deal with the deficit, there’s no immediate urgency.

“As for the much-feared defense cuts – the $600 to $700 million that will be whittled away from the Defense Department over the next 10 years - I don’t feel that this is as draconian as people think. Remember, we’re talking about cuts from an extraordinarily high starting point. As I noted in a Washington Post column back in August, the Pentagon’s budget has risen for 13 years, which is unprecedented.

“Between 2001 and 2009, overall spending on defense rose from $412 billion to $699 billion, a 70 percent increase, which is larger than in any comparable period since the Korean War. And over the past decade, U.S. defense spending has gone from about a third of total worldwide spending to nearly 50 percent. In other words, we spend more on defense than almost all the planet’s remaining countries put together. So the fact that we’re going to go down from these peaks over a ten-year period does not worry me so much.

“It’s also worth pointing that there is enormous waste in the Pentagon. Most talk of waste, fraud and abuse in government is vastly exaggerated; there simply isn’t enough money in discretionary spending. Most of the federal government’s spending is transfer payments and tax expenditures, which are — whatever their merits — highly efficient at funneling money to their beneficiaries. The exception is defense. There is so much overlap among the military services, so much duplication and so much waste that no one bothers to defend it anymore.

“So even though people say the failure of the super committee is a sign that nothing will ever get done on the budget issue, the fact is that the exact opposite is true. Congress could have, of course, done much better. The upcoming cuts are not finely targeted or well-timed. But maybe that’s how American democracy is working right now. And until Congress can agree on a better plan, we can at least be thankful that by doing nothing our political leaders can accomplish quite a lot.”

We have a lot to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No Deal

Congress handed it’s responsibility to come up with a deficit reduction plan over to a so-called super-committee. That committee has announced it can’t reach a deal.

Obama’s response was: “As you all know, last summer, I signed a law that will cut nearly $1 trillion of spending over the next ten years. Part of that law also required Congress to reduce the deficit by an additional $1.2 trillion by the end of this year. In September, I sent them a detailed plan that would have gone above and beyond that goal. It’s a plan that would reduce the deficit by an additional $3 trillion, by cutting spending, slowing the growth in Medicare and Medicaid, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

“In addition to my plan, there were a number of other bipartisan plans for them to consider from both Democrats and Republicans. All of which promoted a balanced approach. This kind of balanced approach to reducing our deficit, an approach where everybody gives a little bit, and everyone does their fair share is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans -- Democrats, independents, and Republicans. It’s supported by experts and economists from all across the political spectrum. And to their credit, many Democrats in Congress were willing to put politics aside and commit to reasonable adjustments that would have reduced the cost of Medicare, as long as they were part of a balanced approach. 


“But despite the broad disagreement that exists for such an approach, there are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington. They continue to insist on protecting the $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, at any cost, even if it means reducing the deficit with deep cuts to things like education and medical research. Even it if means deep cuts in Medicare.

“So, at this point, at least, they simply will not budge from that negotiating position. And so far, that refusal continues to be the main stumbling block that has prevented Congress from reaching an agreement to further reduce our deficit.

“Now, we are not in the same situation that we were in -- that we were in in August. There’s no imminent threat to us defaulting on the debt that we owe. There are already $1 trillion worth of spending cuts that are locked in. And part of the law that I signed this summer stated that if Congress could not reach an agreement on the deficit, there would be another $1.2 trillion of automatic cuts in 2013, divided equally between domestic spending and defense spending.

“One way or another, we will be trimming the deficit by a total of at least $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years. That`s going to happen, one way or another. We’ve got $1 trillion locked in and either Congress comes up with $1.2 trillion, which so far they’ve failed to do, or the sequester kicks in and these automatic spending cuts will occur that bring in an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.

“Now, the question right now is whether we can reduce the deficit in a way that helps the economy grow, that operates with a scalpel, not with a hatchet, and if not, whether Congress is willing to stick to the painful deal that we made in August for the automatic cuts.

“Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No, I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not the turn off the pressure.

“The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. That’s exactly what they need to do. That’s the job they promised to do.

“And they’ve still got a year to figure it out. Although Congress has not come to an agreement yet, nothing prevents them from coming up with an agreement in the days ahead. They can still come together around a balanced plan. I believe Democrats are prepared to do so.

“My expectation is, is that there will be some Republicans who are still interested in preventing the automatic cuts from taking place. And as I have from the beginning, I stand ready and willing to work with anybody that’s ready to engage in that effort to create a balanced plan for deficit reduction.

“Now, in the meantime, we’ve got a lot of work left to do this year. Before Congress leaves next month, we have to work together to cut taxes for workers and small business owners all across America. If we don’t act, taxes will go up for every single American starting next year. And I’m not about to let that happen.

“Middle class Americans can’t afford to lose $1,000 next year because Congress won’t act. And I can only hope that members of Congress who have been fighting so hard to protect tax breaks for the wealthy will fight just as hard to protect tax breaks for small business owners and middle class families.

“We still need to put construction workers back on the job, rebuilding our roads and our bridges. We still need to put our teachers back in the classroom educating our kids.

“So, when everybody gets back from Thanksgiving, it’s time to get some work done for the American people.
“All around the country, Americans are working hard to live within their means, and meet their responsibilities, and I know they expect Washington to do the same.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker, Newt Gingrich was paid more than $1.5 million dollars to persuade Republicans that Freddie Mac was a great organization. Recently, he claimed never having been a lobbyist and couldn’t remember how much he was paid. 


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were unregulated for the 12 years, when Republicans controlled the Congress from 1995 to 2006. Rep. Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd were in the minority until 2007. 


Henry Paulson became Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury in 2006. Democrats were still in the minority, but Paulson approached Rep. Frank to asked if something could be done about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In 2007, Majority Chairman Frank and Senator Dodd got a bill passed through Congress to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The legislation was ultimately signed into law by Bush in 2008. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put in a conservatorship and they stopped losing money. The old the losses were accrued during the period when there were no regulations, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker and then a Republican lobbyist.

Today, Gingrich doesn’t remember receiving $1.5 million five years ago. He insists, that he never peddled his influence on behalf of Freddie Mac. 


Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich claims: “I did no lobbying of any kind. I did no influence peddling of any kind. But the truth is, if you have the reputation and I’m not going to use the words because then they’ll distort them. If you just take what people say about me in the debates and say to yourself, Gee, is that a person somebody might have hired for advice? You know, I think it’s hard to argue that they should have hired someone that was truly dumb.”

Perhaps, former Speaker, Newt Gingrich was the highest paid historian in American history.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sit In

The first organized lunch-counter sit-in for the purpose of integrating segregated establishments began in July 1958 in Wichita, Kansas targeted a store in the old Rexall chain. In early August the drugstore became integrated. A few weeks later on August 19, 1958 in Oklahoma City a nationally recognized sit-in at the Katz Drug Store lunch counter occurred. The Oklahoma City Sit-in Movement was led by NAACP Youth Council, a local high school teacher, and young local students. The group quickly desegregated the Katz Drug Store lunch counters. It took several more years, but the teacher and the students, using the tactic, integrated all of Oklahoma City's eating establishments.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan backed off her initial tough talk, commending police action. First, she praised police for shutting down a protest camp that led to chaos in the streets. Now, she is committed to minimizing police presence in the protest area in hopes of building a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.

Oakland police used tear gas after officers were hit with bottles and other projectiles, rubber bullets and flash grenades were used on protesters by other law enforcement agencies. Authorities are investigated an incident involving 24-year-old Scott Olsen. Olsen survived two tours of duty in Iraq. He was critically injured with a fractured skull after getting hit with a projectile.

Mayor Quan stated: “Oakland is a city that wants peace and progress. Most of the people, 99% of the people who were out there, both police and demonstrators, yesterday were peaceful. I’m really saddened by what happened.”

Furthermore, the University of California at Davis has placed two police officers on administrative leave after video of them pepper-spraying non-violent protesters at point-blank range sparked outrage at school officials.

newsfeed.time.com/2011/11/19/watch-online-furor-after-police-pepper-spray-demonstrators-at-uc-davis/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Destroyed the Economy

Occupy Wall Street protesters are exercising their first amendment rights, that prohibits the making of any law that abridges the right of freedom of speech, interferes with the right of freedom of assembly or prohibits the petitioning of our government to redress grievances. Those making an emotional outcry must guard against saboteurs who seek to turn a peaceful protest into a violent one.

Protesting at the Supreme Court is one way of dealing with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC.  The decision that allowed corporations unrestricted campaign spending to influence our elections.  A better way is to re-elect Obama, because he’ll appoint justices like Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan, who won’t vote that way.

Many wealthy people support Obama, because they recognize that policies that are good for America’s economic growth are good for both Main Street and Wall Street. Obama insists: “Ultimately, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street.  We will rise or we will fall together as one nation.  And that is why I urge all of you to join me, and those who are seeking to pass these commonsense reforms.  And for those of you in the financial industry, I urge you to join me not only because it is in the interest of your industry, but also because it’s in the interest of your country.”


Trickle down economics is a myth and we must recognize that our government is the only institution that can protect us from a few greedy Wall Street gamblers, who destroyed the economy for both Wall Street and Main Street in 2007 and 2008.  

It’s the responsibility of voters to elect representatives to Congress, who will vote for Wall Street reforms, close corporate loopholes and ensure that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Logic Would Suggest

The top tax bracket begins at $373,000 of income and fails to distinguish between the “well off” and billionaires. We’re not going to be able to pay down the national debt unless more Americans are back at work and paying taxes. The Republican plan to deal with this issue is to guarantee that the unemployment rates remain high so that Obama is defeated in 2012.

Thirty years ago, about 10% of the total income went to the top 1 % of Americans. Today, more than 20% of total income goes to the top 1 %. Furthermore, the tax rates on the top 1% of Americans are the lower than they were 30 years ago. The wealthiest 20% of American households own 85% of our nations wealth.

The top 20 hedge fund managers average income is over $1 billion. Since, America has so much debt, logic would suggest that we raise taxes on the very top, have more tax brackets, and treat all sorts of income the same.

Capital gains requires no labor, and the capital gains tax is a big loophole, because it’s taxed at 15%. We have a tax code that honors earnings of capital gains more than we honor the earnings of labor. Real tax reform would treat all taxes exactly the same.

The IRS found that the 400 richest families in America are sitting on a total wealth that is greater than the total wealth of the bottom 150 million families. They have huge incomes, but are paying on average at a 17 % tax rate, because of the capital gains loophole. Our current tax system isn’t progressive, it’s regressive. Poor people are paying huge shares of their income in Social Security, payroll taxes and sales taxes. It’s unfair and a flat tax would make it even more so.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Obama’s Focus

Republicans want to roll back the minimum wage in America. They think the best way for America to compete for new jobs and businesses is to follow countries like China in a race to the bottom. Republicans want to have lower wages and fewer anti-pollution measures.

The Obama administration believes that we shouldn’t have any more regulations than the health and the safety of the American people require. He has already made reforms that will save businesses billions of dollars. President Obama has put in place fewer regulations than the Bush administration did in its first two years. Nevertheless, Fox News propagandist keep talking about how Obama is regulating businesses to death. Actually, his administration has put fewer and smarter regulations in place, that have resulted in higher benefits at much lower cost. 

We’re not going to the win the competition in the Asia Pacific region by seeing if we can have the lowest wages and the worst pollution. Our focus should be to have the highest-skilled workers, the best infrastructure, and the most innovative economy. 

We must compete to make our schools the envy of the world; give our workers the best skills and training; put college educations within the reach of anybody who is willing to work hard. We should be in a race to give our business the ability to move people and services quickly and effectively all around the world.  We should be in a race to make those investments in the things that help to create entire new industries like the Internet and GPS. We should make sure that the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in Asia or Europe, but right here in America.

We need to be known for building producing things, and selling those goods all around the world. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Freedoms

Since the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement two months ago, 23 journalists have been arrested and countless others have been roughed up, tear-gassed and pepper sprayed. NYC Mayor Bloomberg and the Conference of Mayors are failing to uphold the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

A million dollar survey found that almost one third of high school students, upon hearing the actual text of the First Amendment, think it goes “too far.” Perhaps, they should consider the following:

In John M. Barry's “The Great Influenza,” we learn that even before entering World War I, Woodrow Wilson warned Congress: “There are citizens of the United States...who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the arteries of our national life...Such creators of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out.”

In 1918, our government controlled freedom of speech in ways, not known in America before or since. Before television or radio, most political discourse went through the mail. The Postmaster General was given the power to refuse to deliver any periodical he deemed unpatriotic or critical of the administration. The post office stopped delivery of virtually all publications and any foreign language publications that hinted at less than enthusiastic support of the war.

During, Wilson’s administration the Sedition Act made it punishable by twenty years in jail to utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the government of the United States. One could go to jail for cursing the government, or criticizing it even if what one said was true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Values

Republicans have to be against Obama’s jobs bill proposals, even though they used to be for items such as the tax cuts in the bill.

Congressional Democrats are in favor of spending cuts, but they don’t believe our government should put all the burden to reduce the deficit on the middle class and senior citizens, while asking nothing from the most prosperous Americans.

This isn’t about class warfare, it’s about shared sacrifice. Many Republican experts agree that we need a balanced plan. A plan that would include increased revenues from the very wealthy in addition to spending cuts. Obama has offered a balanced plan, that should be passed, because 14 million Americans are out of work. The plan has spoken to Obama’s values.

Class warfare is being waged by the people at the very top, who control some of the largest corporations on Wall Street. They’ve been doing it for over a decade.

Republicans have continued to oppose the president’s plan to cut payroll taxes for every worker and every small business. They are sitting back and allowing hundreds of thousands of teachers in our schools be laid off. They need to stop being obstructionist. They need to hear from the American voters. If, Republicans begin to come forward and compromise with congressional Democrats, we’ll have an opportunity to get some meaningful progress at reducing unemployment this year.

The Grover Norquist pledge is going to cost Republicans politically. They’re allowing Obama to describe them as having signed away for the rest of their lives any consideration of closing loopholes in the tax code.

Republicans will have to defend taking a pledge to Grover Norquist who isn’t an elected official. He is a lobbyist, who has a very special interest in protecting the very rich from having to pay more taxes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.


If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.


If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.


If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.


If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.


If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.


If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.


If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.


If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.


If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.


If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.


If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.


If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.


If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.


If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.


If children live with fairness, they learn justice.


If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.


If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.


If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Written by Dorothy Law Nolte

Monday, November 14, 2011

“They Really Don’t”

If new tax revenues are taken completely off the table, reasonable people acknowledge balancing the budget and reducing the deficit will be impossible.

On “Meet the Press,” Republican Senator Tom Colburn said: “I think if you go back and look at the commission’s report, what we were talking about is getting significant dynamic effects by taking away tax credits, lowering the tax rate, and having an economic increase that will actually increase the revenues to the federal government.  We’re not talking about raising tax rates at all. So, if there’s a net effect of tax revenue, that would be fine with me.  I experienced that during Reagan’s period in 1986.”

Colburn admitted, that he’s willing to violate a pledge to Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. That pledge made in 2004 to Grover Norquist reads: “The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. We believe that that power should be minimized.”

Some Republicans believe that we should have raised taxes to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They didn’t dare say so, because that would violate the written pledge they made to Grover Norquist, who presents every Republican in Congress. The Norguist pledge would also be required of any Republican candidate for president.

The signed pledge says, that he or she will never support raising taxes in any way, including by cutting loopholes out of the tax code that might then force an individual or corporation to pay a higher tax, something closer to their actual rate that they’re supposed to pay.”

Colburn reasoned: “Is the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group, who claims to speak for all of American conservatives when, in fact, they really don’t?”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paying a Price

The Republican Party is paying for its deal with the tea party. The tea party helped the Republicans win control of the House. An establishment Republican, John Boehner became the Speaker of the House, but that deal is undermining the chances of Republican Party to win in 2012.

Tea partiers don’t believe in taxes, a strong central government or having powerful leadership. They like people who persistently attack our government. They prefer people like Sarah Palin who criticizes government and after two years discovered, that it was more to her liking to be outside of government than running Alaska as its governor.

The Republicans face a very difficult choice of having many conservative candidates for president, who don’t like or trust government. As president they will not want to have to defend their administration against the criticism that is sure to come.

The common theme of the tea party mentality is that you don’t have to know anything about government in order to run against it. All you need is self-confidence that you can do whatever you set out to do. You don’t need to apologize for anything or demonstrate in depth knowledge regarding important issues.

How will the Republican Party go before the American people with a candidate for president it does not trust in the White House, or with a candidate whom no one other than the tea party folks could imagine as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth?

Mitt Romney is the candidate they don’t trust and Herman Cain is the candidate who nobody but the tea party Republicans can imagine as president.

It will probable come to down to the Republican establishment deciding to cut a deal with the politically powerful tea party, who doesn’t share even a limited confidence in government.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On the Offense

Obama is on the offensive against the Republican do-nothing Congress for sabotaging the economy. The Tea Party controlled House will never allow Obama’s Jobs bill to be voted on.

Obama pointed out: “I can’t imagine that Speaker Boehner wants to represent a state where nearly one in four bridges is classified as substandard.

Obama added: “Construction workers, they want to do their jobs. We need Congress to do theirs. In the House of Representatives, what have you guys been debating. You’ve been debating a commemorative coin for baseball. You had legislation reaffirming that “In God We Trust” is our motto. That’s not putting people back to work. I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”

When Republicans lost the majority in the Senate in January 2007, they started using the filibuster on nearly every vote. They’re using the filibuster to force a 60-vote supermajority for every substantive vote in the Senate.

There are 308 million unemployed Americans, the Rebuild America Jobs Act would be paid for by a 0.7 percent tax on all income over $1 million. Only 0.2% of Americans would be affected. And, 99.8% of the American people wouldn’t have to pay a single penny if the Rebuild America Jobs Act is passed. The $60 billion package is designed to create 170,000 construction jobs and another 150,000 jobs in related industries. It hasn’t receive a single Republican vote.

A majority of Americans want a jobs bill, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insists that his highest priority is to defeat our president. McConnell opposed measures in the jobs bill, because Obama proposed them.

Obama’s poll numbers going up, because he’s staying on message and exposing a do-nothing Congress especially on the jobs bill.

Friday, November 11, 2011

America Has Changed

America has changed greatly during my lifetime. There is ample evidence, that the heart of the problem in our political discourse is that facts don’t seem to matter. Perhaps, the following words of wisdom will matter.

SEVEN SOCIAL SINS by Mohandas Gandhi

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Pleasure without conscience
Education without character
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

THE GOLDEN RULE

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”

A rule that is shared by 21 world religions. The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. It’s also called the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

STATUE OF LIBERTY INSCRIPTION

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty was authored by Emma Lazarus. It says: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

“APPALLING SILENCE”

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” - Martin Luther King.

The Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be breaking the “appalling silence.” Nevertheless, good people must not become violent and destructive, if they expect to be successful.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rattling Jim’s Cage

Yesterday, I posted a mission statement describing the Otsego Occupy Wall Street movement, and its current objectives.

Today, I’ll post a message sent on-line, that reveals the objectives of Tea Party Republicans, who currently control our House of Representatives. Rarely, does that group admit it’s true objectives.

“Dear Jimmy,

“As you indicated you can't wait for Nov 2012 just to let you know, we can't either. Think about it Jimmy both houses of congress and the White House in the hands of capitalists. Tea Party capitalists - even better. The repeal of Obama Care, more conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court. Elimination of the DOE, Education dept, Dept of commerce, why we could even get rid of the FED and Fannie and Freddie. Totally secure borders. An end to the Solar/windmill fantasy/farce and drill baby drill. Acorn and the like will have to go also, no more community action and community organizers. No more "gun control", we could even require people to own a gun and children to be taught to shoot on rifle teams starting in grade school. A federal balanced budget requirement and the end of the transfer of wealth through the tax code. Planned Parenthood gone too. God back in the schools. New conservative text books. May even get out of that farce of a UN, no more Soros "new world order". Gonna be a sad day for the godless communists, and a great day for America Jimmy. Thanks” 


Chuck Pinkey writes a right wing column for the Oneonta Daily Star. His comment to that writer was: “You’re rattling Jim's cage!”  

Mr. Pinkey and that writer confirmed the extreme agenda of the Tea Party. It should rattle every American, because they intend to shove those views down own our throats.
 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mission Statement

I recently received the following e-mail describing the occupy movement, occupy Otsego mission statement and current objectives.

“We are not fairly represented by the government who’s very job description is FOR the people BY the people.”

“OTO Mission Statement: “We stand together united as citizens of this country and members of various communities throughout the county under the common notion that we are no longer fairly represented by our elected government.

“This country was founded on the principles of electing public officials to represent the interests of their people. We feel that financial institutions and corporations now control public policy through campaign contributions and lobbying tactics. This is unacceptable to us, as it should be to all. We unify in order to spread awareness and gain enough public support to take our country back.

“Current objectives are: outlining group functionality, understanding long and short term goals, create awareness regarding the movement, self education, as well as local action maintaining a leaderless movement actively work on not dividing (actively work toward unity) be respectful, non-violent and work within the law.”

Congressman Barney Frank wishes, that the energy of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement had been around two years ago when he was fighting against Republicans, who wanted to protect derivatives from regulation. He was able to get a strong bill, but it could have been much stronger.

Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in and of themselves are not going to accomplish a great deal. Protesting at the Supreme Court is one way to of dealing with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. A decision allowed corporations unrestricted campaign spending to influence our elections. A better way is to re-elect Obama, because he’ll appoint justices like Justice Sotomayor and Kagan, who won’t vote that way.

Vote wisely.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Unfettered Markets

Economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote: “On one level, today’s protesters are asking for little: a chance to use their skills, the right to decent work at decent pay, a fairer economy and society. Their hope is evolutionary, not revolutionary. But, on another level, they are asking for a great deal: a democracy where people, not dollars, matter, and a market economy that delivers on what it is supposed to do. The two are related: as we have seen, unfettered markets lead to economic and political crises.”

On this website in 2006, I reported, that Americans were very concerned about their declining real wages and the lack of quality jobs. Congressional Republicans were distract the voters with divisive wedge issues. Thirteen million children lived in poverty, which is one in every eight. A total of 37 million of our fellow Americans lived in poverty and nearly 46 million lived without health insurance, which was 16% of our population. The number of Americans without health insurance had risen by 6 million since 2000. One-quarter of people with incomes below $25,000 lack any health insurance.

Republicans are also trying to block the funds necessary to implement the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. House Republicans have demanded that the bureau be run by a five-person commission; Senate Republicans have vowed that they will not confirm Elizabeth Warren or anyone else to run it.

Congressional Republicans want to cripple our government’s ability to police too-big-to-fail institutions. In the final analysis, their goal is to repeal Wall Street reform completely. They’re determined to re-deregulate Wall St, because the Republican attack on the Democrats’ financial reforms have paid off handsomely for them in the form of millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is “evolutionary, not revolutionary.”

Monday, November 07, 2011

Back to Work

Wherever, Republicans indicate an interest in doing things that would actually grow the economy, Obama has agreed. They insisted that passing trade bills with South Korea and Panama and Colombia would help spur the economy and it got done, with significant bipartisan support.  They suggested that patent laws be reformed and it got done. It was part of Obama’s long-term program for economic growth. However, in order to grow our economy Congress needs do something more significant. 

The American Jobs Act contains ideas that are historically supported by Republicans, such as rebuilding our infrastructure and providing tax credits to small businesses. 

Republicans insist, that they don’t want to tax small business. Actually, that rationale doesn’t make sense, because the component of the American jobs bill that every Senate Republican recently voted down would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure, and the entire program would be paid for by a tax on people making more than a million dollars a year, which is a little over 300,000 people. 

There aren’t many small businesses, that are making that kind of money.  In fact, less than 3% of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. Obviously, Republicans prefer to protect 300,000 people rather than put 300 million Americans who are hurting back to work.

When Obama took office and the stock market was 3,000 points lower than it is now. Our economy had contracted by 9%, which was the largest contraction since the Great Depression. A year later, the economy was growing by 4%, and it’s been growing ever since.  Congressional Republicans need to break out of the rigid ideological positions that they have taken. We can put people back to work and reduce our deficit. It’s just a matter of setting politics aside. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

We Produce Billionaires

When it comes to producing billionaires, America is doing great. Unfortunately, inequality has returned to 1920s level, because wealth is being redistributed from the poor to the rich.

Until 2005, multimillionaires could still make the Forbes list of the richest 400 Americans, but in 2006, the Forbes 400 was for billionaires only. Nearly half of the 45 new members made their fortunes in hedge funds and private equity.  Since 2000, America has added 184 billionaires, but an additional five million more people are living below the poverty line.  

We’ve a record number billionaires, but we also have reached a record numbers of foreclosures and seem to be stuck at 9.1% unemployment.
 
In 1982, Forbes 400 listed just 13 billionaires, and the highest paid CEO made $108 million, while the average full-time worker made $34,199. An amount, which has been adjusted for inflation in 2006. More recently year, the highest paid hedge fund manager hauled in $1.7 billion, and the highest paid CEO made $647 million, while the average worker made a mere $34,861, with vanishing health and pension coverage. The Forbes 400 is even more of a rich men’s club than when it began. The number of women on the Forbes list has dropped from 75 in 1982 to 39 today.

Tax cuts saved the top 1% of our citizens a projected $715 billion between 2001 and 2010, while costing our nation $715 billion in mounting national debt plus interest. Meanwhile, our infrastructure of bridges, levees, mass transit, parks and other public assets inherited from an earlier generations of taxpayers crumbles from neglect.
 
It’s time for Congress to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy and close the loophole letting billionaire hedge fund speculators pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries.
 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Eliot Spitzer Approach

At its annual press conference in 2005, the head of the Chamber of Commerce insisted: “Eliot Spitzer’s approach is to walk in and tell us: ‘We’re going to make a deal and you’re going to pay $600 million to the state and you’re going to get rid of this person and that person and if you don’t do it by tonight we’re going to indict the company.’” The head of the Chamber of Commerce complained: “It is the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we have seen in this country in modern times.”

After the protections in the Glass-Steagall Act were stripped away and Wall Street banks were allowed to merge. Bush became president, and the new sheriff wasn’t interested in watching Wall Street.

Fortunately, New York’s Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer was watching. He figured out that Wall Street firms were telling companies to give them their investment banking business, and they would tell suckers to buy worthless stock in their company.

The people who got stuck in these scams were trusting laborers, who had been investing in a pension fund that they incorrectly assumed had been invest wisely by those smart young guys on Wall Street.

Wall Street charlatans were so confident they would never get caught, they started talking about the scams they were pulling in company e-mails.

Eliot Spitzer used his power as attorney general to get copies of the those Wall Street firms’ very incriminating e-mails. When the firms came to him wanting to settle the scam quietly, and just pay a fine, Spitzer would called a press conference and released the e-mails publicly.

Recently, 44 Republican Senators have pledged to filibuster the nomination of anyone to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the agency itself is significantly weakened.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Graduated Tax Rates

Long ago the graduated income tax was initiated by congressional Republicans as being the fairest way to pay for the Civil War. Congress decided to turned to the income tax, since 7 states had them. First, they tried a 3 % tax on all incomes above $800 per year, but it couldn’t be enforced because Congress failed to create a government body to collect the tax.

Vermont Republican Congressman Justin Morrill didn’t like the income tax, but he believed it to be a necessary evil. The tax he proposed was designed to be proportionate to each person’s ability to pay. The Ways and Means chairman Republican Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania agreed: “It would be manifestly unjust to allow the large money operators and wealthy merchants, whose incomes might reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, to escape from their due proportion of the burden.” In the Senate, Republican William Fessenden of Maine pushed the income tax through the finance committee. The result was a bill that taxed income above $600 at 3% and income above $10,000 at 5%. And, this time Congress created an Internal Revenue Bureau to collect the tax and established a method for employers to withhold taxes.

Morrill and Stevens later changed their minds about the income tax. However, their reason for turning against the income tax was entirely political, since they wanted to raise tariffs, a solution favored by east coast industrialists and opposed by farm state populists. Eventually, they succeeded in raising average duties from 37 to 47%. The income tax was modified into a 10% flat tax that kicked in at $10,000.

The income tax raised less than $3 million in its first year but by 1866 generated $73.5 million, or 20% of all federal revenues collected during the war.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Status of Forces Agreement

Obama said: “As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. So, today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over. Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families. Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”

Romney wrote: “President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply 
sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American 
people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military."

The Obama campaign replied: “Mitt Romney didn’t lay out a plan to end the war in Iraq in his foreign policy agenda. He barely even mentioned Iraq, but he is apparently willing to leave American troops there without identifying a new mission. Mitt Romney’s foreign policy experience is limited to his work as a finance executive shipping American jobs overseas.”

Republicans have been predictably critical of Obama’s withdrawal plan. They seem oblivious to the fact that the withdrawal plan was put in place by Bush. A Status of Forces Agreement was agreed to by Bush and the Iraqi government.

The Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq required, that it be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but our Congress was never consulted. Bush signed a deal requiring our combat troops to be out by 2011. Romney and congressional Republicans didn’t complained when Bush signed it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Corrupted by Corporate Money

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” - Abraham Lincoln

After WW II, America decided to provide health care under the capitalist theory that free market forces would produce the highest level of care at the lowest cost. The European countries which had been bombed into disarray during WW II decided on government-sponsored health care. Today, most of those European countries provide quality care for all of their people at roughly half the cost of our government.

The health insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry spend billions of dollars on public relations every year to deny Americans affordable health care. The most significant reason, that we didn’t get affordable health care reform is the fierce opposition fueled by lobbyists, who used fear tactics to misrepresent efforts to achieve reform.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus, was the Chairman of Senate Finance Committee.  The “Billings Gazette” reported: “In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana Democrat and his political action committee has come from individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply firms, health service companies and other health professionals.  These donations total about 3.4 million, or 1,500 dollars a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.” 

Senator Baucus refused to allow advocates for a single payer national health policy to testify at the Senate Finance Committee hearings. Unquestionably, the Senate Finance Committee was corrupted by corporate health industry lobbyist.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Flat Tax

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is a version of the flat tax. All flat tax proposals are a fraud. Inevitably there are going to be exemptions and deductions in our tax codes in order to achieve fairness.

A flat tax would reduce the taxes of people at the top who in the progressive tax system pay more. The independent nonpartisan Center for Tax Policy examined Herman Cain’s plan, and found poor people would be paying much more and rich people would be paying a lot less in taxes. 


Thirty years ago, about 10% of the total income went to the top 1 % of Americans. Today, more than 20% of total income goes to the top 1 %. Furthermore, the tax rates on the top 1% of Americans are the lower than they were 30 years ago.

Since, America has so much debt, logic would suggest that we raise taxes on the very top, have more tax brackets, and treat all sorts of income the same. Capital gains requires no labor, and the capital gains tax is a big loophole, because it’s taxed at 15%.

Presently, we have a tax code that honors earnings of capital gains more than we honor the earnings of labor. Real tax reform would treat all taxes exactly the same.

The IRS found that the 400 richest families in America are sitting on a total wealth that is greater than the total wealth of the bottom 150 million families. They have huge incomes, but are paying on average at a 17 % tax rate, because of the capital gains loophole. Our current tax system isn’t progressive, it’s regressive. Poor people are 
paying huge shares of their income in Social Security, payroll taxes and 
sales taxes. It’s unfair and a flat tax would make it even more so.