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Above the door of the original Apollo Room,   the motto "Hilaritas Sapientiae et Bonae Vitae Proles"  was carved in gilt.  It may be translated "Jollity, the offspring of wisdom and good living."
Screeds from the Apollo Room "Hilaritas Sapientiae et Bonae Vitae Proles." It may be translated "Jo

How Does Reason Fit into a Free Market Society

What is reason?


By Shannon Browne Bertuch  11/10/2013

Apollo@blogitiks.com



Section 6 of the Clayton Act of 1914, enacted to close loopholes in the Sherman Act of 1890 (Clayton, codified at 15 U.S.C. § 17 ) says that the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce . . . this is actually a declaratory remark predicating the exemption of unions in the anti-trust laws, as unions represent human beings and therefore should be able to peaceably assemble.  


The Celler-Kevaufer Act of 1950 another overlooked law that was an attempt to further close loopholes in monolopies,  Interlocking Directorates, Vertical Agreements, Tying Agreements illegal mergers and conglomerate mergers.   This piece of legislation prohibited any action by private firms that would . . . “prevent the regulatory action of the U.S. market system.”   (Does this include bribing FDA & EPA agents?, isn’t lobbying, by its very nature — inclusive in this piece of legislation?)   The Celler-Kevaufer Act was enacted to encourage a market system diverse with rival competition in order to keep our  free markets.


But what happens to an individual’s protections when these laws are re-construed by a new era of American culture, such as during our conglomerate loving President Reagan and his administration’s  bigger is better policies; where mergers and acquisitions were encouraged and the FTC  reconstrued the anti-trust laws to create a kind of means test for bringing a case to be heard, resulting in  none being brought.   As each new administration comes to bear upon our laws and integrates them into our changing society, our laws, programs and policies get reconstrued based on the sitting administration’s position – not the actual law. Does that nullify original intent?   While we as Americans have used the idea of best practices as a way of integrating new usage of our laws into new situations, it does not nullify original intent, but original intent does tend to get lost over time.    


Reagan’s Administration was one of the first to use the premise of doing business globally as a reason to ‘free’ the markets and become globally competitive (this theory also was the undoing of our Glass-Steagall Act by the Clinton Administration).   The concept of everyone getting bigger,  through mergers, takeovers, and franchising, (as a Seattleite, I watched some of my favorite places go national such as Nordstroms, Red Robin, Eddie Bauer, REI, on and on, which concept ultimately contributed to the homogenous nature of American cities, that and the peppered casinos in between – definitely a separate rant).   


Is there really any fact to this whole idea that big corporations are better able to do business globally, or did Americans get swindled into succumbing to  big business shoving fake meat down our throats for their benefit, not ours ??   Here’s a quick look at the latest, October 23, 2013  report on trade deficits, so you can evaluate the basis of fact for these arguments for yourselves.  

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total August exports of $189.2 billion and imports of $228.0 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $38.8 billion, up from $38.6 billion in July, revised. August exports were $0.1 billion less than July exports of $189.3 billion. August imports were virtually unchanged at $228.0 billion.  (See Government Trade Report for 10/2013)  

http://bea.gov/newsreleases/international/trade/tradnewsrelease.htm 



And this is the problem with touting ‘free markets.’   Over time, as new laws make their way into our state and federal legislation, in favor of enterprise over human beings, the playing field for free market ends up enslaving the human being.   Since the lobbying special interests are the strongest voices in our Congress, these facts get overlooked as the individuals who are concerned about getting run over by power and money get delegitimized  as ‘socialists’ and kooks.   


If free markets merely meant people and corporations getting richer, it would be all right.  The problem with money in our society is the power that it wields (see Koch Brothers and others).   Using that power in Washington to the harm of human beings, then undermines the whole idea of free market.  Then, free market, like ‘big government’ become key political devils that are meant to scare people into believing that there is an evil to our freedom if we make efforts to protect ourselves from the powerful free market players.   


Quite the opposite is true.  Especially in this environment. 


 I somehow recently got on the Libertarian organization Reason Foundation, publication list – papers from reason.org.    The ideologues of these position papers don’t fit the reality of living in America. Privatizing prisons – handing over people to private enterprise for their purposes and uses.   Slavery.   Using people as a commodity.  I am pretty sure that’s illegal, but it is a practice here in America.   


And, let me  just get right to the heart of the matter.   Rather than arguing over who has the true facts correct on either side of an issue, let’s examine how they are applied in the economic culture and our human society and their impact on both, and then have a look at just how free markets can reasonably be.   


The latest article I received from Reason.org:   Free Markets.   Sure.  Free Markets.  What’s the matter with capitalism, except that  it’s capitalism.   Yes, I am a skeptic.  And, I should add, that asking these pro free market capitalists about the protections of the people, they will tell you that it isn’t their concern, that is another matter.  Clearly, they did some good lobbying over the years to not have to be concerned about that pesky issue.   The laws today speak for themselves on this point.  


There are so many facets of the free market that  expound benefits to people as well as business, but when life turns on an individual, usually business saw that coming and lobbied laws that leave rights and remedies of individuals unenforceable by other state and local laws.   Take for instance, the Big 3 Credit scoring companies:  Equifax, TransUnion and  Experian.  In the 1970s, there was actually an anti-trust lawsuit against Equifax because they bought up so many local credit reporting agencies it appeared to be swallowing up competition in order to dominate an industry. Ultimately, they overcame it by citing a need for also producing mortgage lending reports (I’ve never seen one).      (The case can be read here, for research buffs . . . openjurist.org/618/f2d/63/equifax-inc-v-federal-trade-commission  )



Privacy Rules?  This is a big subject today in terms of spying and data collection on individuals, but few people know or care that Reagan terminated many programs that were designed to monitor and collect data on the anticompetitive mergers, high market concentration, and supra-competitive profits.  Did another administration come along and then reinforce them?  No, because we don’t have any effective watch dogs or government programs that take the temperature of new business metrics as they are forged by companies today, now free to only worry about their own bottom line without considering  negative impacts against American people and/or analyzing those impacts on our society in whole.   Stand your ground laws are pretty irresponsible as a proffered solution to the American people and does not contribute to goodwill, good faith or quality of life.  


The government that we pay taxes to protect us has been bought by the Chamber of Commerce, who cry ‘buyer beware’ so it is our fault if we get taken.   For an example, Customer Service via 800 numbers headquartered in foreign countries, are not only cheaper for corporations to operate, they offer less solutions to the market they serve, and have little in the way of accountability.  The customer who needs assistance is either put off because the person on the other end of the line can’t be understood, has no authority to help, and usually needs to finish the phone call within a certain amount of time because that is the structure of call centers.   


So, what exactly is a reasonable free market?   It appears that as much deregulation as has already gone on through the Reagan, Bush, Clinton (repealed the Glass Steagall Act), the ‘free market’ wants more even as consumers lose their available remedies against predatory practices.   


The bankruptcy laws are pretty much an impotent  remedy for individuals caught in the complicit relationship of a ‘free’  market  – most people can’t meet the ‘means test’ for a Chapter 7, and further, the optional Chapter 13 reorganization process is rigged to cost an individual more money in interest  to go through the Chapter 13 process,  so that option is sub par.   Banks, responsible for much of the consumer debt of individuals by granting $50,000 in consumer credit to a $30,000  year college grad, among other targeted marketing scams of banks.  Of course the banks are complicit.   This is their game.  They are the originators of the concept of credit; they are the experts, they are the perpetrators, but have enough of a hand in shouting moral imperatives at those who get themselves in financial trouble over it.   Chapter 7 Bankruptcy has been tainted with the idea that only the worst kind of Libertine would resort to such a low tactic.   That is marketing, not reality.   But that is what power and money can buy.     


The next big rig that enslaves the individual in a free market economy:  The Bully Bully Big 3  consumer credit reporting agencies, (that broke the anti-trust & price fixing laws to become the ‘unions’ of business) and the ‘score’ they issue is  emperical when it comes to crossing the great divide between what you want and what you get from the decision-maker.   They have made it onto the free market place through lobbying efforts of Chamber of Commerce business.   They are the third party, neutral agency that only ‘reports’ therefore, there is no one to be angry at, except that everyone uses this system for such things basic necessities as  housing, jobs, along with everything else that impacts our ability to navigate through the ‘free’ market.   Turn the tables on them?  People have tried, with interesting results.   It seems that if you take on an individual case by case complaint with one of the Big 3 you may get your desired result, but if you are looking to publish their record of fairness, equality and exploit their level of authority authority over human lives, they will definitely push back.  These big machines are perfectly aware of what they are doing to people and do not want those tables turned on them.  They understand too well, the repercussions.      


In the cases of people legally taking on the Big 3 Credit consumer reporting agencies, there are even cases where  our court system has sided with business against a pro se plaintiff. (cite to case below)  This is a punitive discretionary action by the courts put in place not by American citizens, but by business to discourage anyone from looking to the courts for remedies or any actions that might hold them accountable in a free market.   There is the threat of a ‘frivolous lawsuit’ if the defendants can successfully make that case to the Courts that could cause the plaintiff to pay for the costs associated with the lawsuit.  The justice system that was originally put in place to equalize people against power is so skewed thanks to media and the marketing platforms of our lobbyists in Washington, that Judges are considering a question of law  based on presumption of facts.    (See, http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/11-56376/11-56376-2013-05-02.pdf )


Let’s move to the laws that are supposed to prevent  predatory practices upon our citizens?  They went for decades being unenforced and some were repealed,  and overlooked, during the 80s, under the Reagan Administration (hint:  These are the days that conservatives will tell you were the ‘progressive’ years).


The other main regulator in our ‘free market’ is the federal government, SEC, EPA, DOE, & FDA.  How much poison can corporations feed Americans and get away with it?    Below is an excerpt from a letter from Senator Metzenbaum when he was on the Labor & Human Resources Committee, writing to Orrin who at that time was its Chairman:


Dear Orrin:

I am at a loss to comprehend the thrust of your recent letters on my request for hearings on the safety concerns raised in the scientific community regarding NutraSweet. When I sent you a 110-page report on February 6 on the failure of the U.S. Attorney to hold a grand jury investigation, you replied the same day that there were no health issues raised. You then asked that I share with you all information raising safety issues. Orrin, the report I sent you included a summary of current health concerns raised by nine different scientists. My report contained all the relevant references to medical journals and other citations. Now you have sent me another letter, dated February 18, in which you again request evidence.

As you know, I met last Thursday with Dr. Roger Coulombe of Utah State University. You also had a conversation with Dr. Coulombe, as did your staff. Dr. Coulombe has informed both of us that his study of NutraSweet's effects on brain chemistry contains new and significant data. All of the 12 mice tested showed brain chemistry changes after ingesting NutraSweet. Four other mice received no NutraSweet and showed no brain chemistry changes. Dr. Coulombe also informed us that the issues raised in his study were not tested prior to NutraSweet's approval. So, the FDA never reviewed this research prior to approving NutraSweet. 


It is critical to note that some of the lab animals which had reactions to NutraSweet were fed doses at levels currently being consumed by humans. As you know, there have been many reports of seizures, headaches, mood alterations, etc., associated with NutraSweet. Dr. Coulombe's study, which, has been accepted for publication in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, states: "It is therefore possible that Aspartame may produce neurobiochemical and behavioral effects in humans, particularly in children and susceptible individuals. Based on the foregoing, there is a need for additional research on the safety of this food additive."

Orrin, you have asked for new and significant scientific evidence about NutraSweet. Now you have it. Dr. Coulombe's research as well as the other research cited in my report raises new health concerns which have not been resolved.

We need to hold hearings on NutraSweet— which is being used by over 100 million Americans. With an issue that is critical to the health of half the American population, how can you in good conscience say "no?" We cannot rely upon the tests sponsored by the manufacturer of NutraSweet, G. D. Searle, and ignore the concerns being raise by independent studies. We don't need the company which is making hundreds of millions of dollars on this product telling us it's "safe," particularly when the credibility of that Company's testing on NutraSweet has been severely undermined. You know that the FDA recommended a criminal investigation of possible fraud in NutraSweet tests. The FDA has never before or since made such an investigation. . . . .


over 100 million Americans who are ingesting NutraSweet in everything from soft drinks to pudding to children's cold remedies.

Very Sincerely Yours,

Howard M. Metzenbaum

United States Senator


And if you are a big business in a free market – that’s how its done!  


Or, what about employee remedies for those who work in an industry where big business and the government have had to admit that employees are in risky positions.  One such industry would be the nuclear plants throughout the United States.   In response to the various cancers that these employees have historically endured, the Department of Energy set up a bureaucratic claims process to receive a lump sum of $150,000 for victims called Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) – How’s that doing so far?   In 2006, there was a Congressional hearing entitled:  


2006 ENERGY EMPLOYEES OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS COMPENSATION PROGRAM: ARE WE FULFILLING THE PROMISE WE MADE TO THESE COLD WAR VETERANS WHEN WE CREATED THIS PROGRAM? (PART II)



Below is a sampling of excerpts from this anecdotal documentation to make the point that burden does inure to the individual even when  business and government decide to respond to  legitimate  situation, and even in dire and straightforward conditions such as nuclear exposure:  


There are facilities covered under this nuclear worker compensation program in 37 States and U.S. territories.


For radiation-related cancer claims the Department of Health and Human Services, through the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, is required to estimate a worker's radiation dose. It is not always possible, however, to estimate a worker's radiation dose. And during the earlier years of the nuclear weapons programs, especially between the 1940's and 1970's, some workers were not monitored, and the monitoring that was done sometimes was inadequate. Also, some records have been lost or destroyed.   (Translation:  Oh snap! We are unable to determine whether or not your cancer is really from this source, ugh!  Wish we could help!)


Workers may petition to be administratively designated as a Special Exposures Cohort, which establishes an unrebuttable presumption that certain cancers are work related. Many of the Special Exposure Cohort are eligible for benefits if they have one of 22 specified radiosensitive cancers, and in general if they have worked at a covered facility for at least 1 year in a job that exposed them to radiation. Special Exposure Cohort petition goes through an initial evaluation, and its recommendation is then reviewed by the Advisory Board before it goes to HHS Secretary for a decision. I think it is important to note, Mr. Chairman, that there are overlapping checks and balances. The Secretary makes a Special Exposure Cohort designation.  (Translation:   We’ve established cause, now we will send these sick people through enough bureaucratic rigors that should in all likelihood kill them before their claim is perfected!)

    The Administration recently declared its intention to reduce the number of Special Exposure Cohorts in a memorandum referred to as an ''Office of Management and Budget passback.'' The passback recommends establishing a White House-led interagency work group to develop options for administrative procedures that will contain the growth in the cost and benefits provided by the program.  (Translation:  We can reduce the amount of payout if we add a few more administrative hoops for workers to jump through).


 I have the highest regard for the work of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (hereafter ORAU, which is playing a key role in the compensation process. ORAU was awarded the contract to provide radiation dose reconstruction in support of the EEOICPA program. This organization has an exceptional track record of quality performance in its work.

TESTIMONY OF ZACH WAMP, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TENNESSEE


    ORAU has completed almost 14,000 dose reconstructions to date, and approximately one in four of the dose reconstruction claims have qualified for compensation. To perform this work, ORAU has gathered nearly 2 million pages of records and developed more than 150 detailed documents about DOE facilities.

    While there have been some major challenges in performing this complex work, ORAU tells me that when there is a question about an exposure, the benefit of the doubt goes to the worker. When assumptions or estimates are necessary, they made to favor the claimant.


Sorry, at this point the author has to break to an editorial remark:  AM I THE ONLY PERSON OF REASON THAT SEES THE FRIVOLTY  of even hiring a ‘dose reconstruction specialist or ‘dosimetry measurement specialists???” yes, it seems we do have dosimetry measurement specialists.  I would like a job, please. . . .



   ORAU's goal is to use the very best science currently available to produce dose reconstructions with sufficient accuracy to fairly determine compensation under the EEOICPA program.

    While parts of EEOICPA have been slow to evolve, it is my personal hope that the program will become an accurate and efficient tool to compensate workers for their illnesses. This was the intent of our original legislation.


Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, we are finding that these promises are not being met. In fact, at LANL, in the last 5 1/2 years since enactment of the EEOICPA, only 326 out of 800 dose reconstruction cases have been completed. In many LANL cases, delays in receiving compensation stem from missing or misreported dosimetry measurements.

Due to the unreliable nature of radiation dose records such as this example in these early years of LANL operations, a petition has been submitted to NIOSh for a Special Exposure Cohort. The SEC would cover all Los Alamos workers from 1944 to 1971. I introduced legislation during the 108th Congress, and am planning to introduce again, calling for SEC status for LANL claimants.


    My bill is only one of several SEC measures proposed by many in Congress. Unfortunately, as we know, legislation and SEC petitions face an uphill battle. The uphill battle was apparent even before the OMB passback memo recently surfaced, discussing efforts to quote—and I quote from the memo—''contain the growth and the cost of benefits provided by the program.''  (Translation:  There is a lot of room to mire up both the process and the claimant award and payout.  We can probably get a few more bureaucratic acronyms involved and lobby around  some legislation instead of paying people for their cancer they got at the expense of the concentrated wealth.) 

More fodder . . . 


    This is clearly contrary to the intention of the program and must be fought. By itself, the cost containment mentioned in the passback memo is alarming. Coupled with the recent actions in the President's Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, it is downright disturbing.

    
    Also, of the 19-member ORAU team responsible for the LANL site profile, 7 are current, and 3 are retired employees of LANL's radiation safety programs. 8 of these 10 employees do not have conflict of interest disclosure statements posted on the ORAU website. This is in contravention of ORAU's contract with NIOSH. The failure to police conflict of interest, and recycling those who defended these claims for the Government, is unacceptable.



So, the question for Reason.org is:  How do you want the society who lives in a ‘free market’ to look?   Should the interaction between individuals and business be equal in transparency, reporting, and ultimately remedy availability?   The easy answer for me would be to stop lobbying efforts by any entity that seek to make the labor of a human being a commodity or article of commerce in the broadest sense. 


Okay - I can't  omit some good news on this subject.  The payout for miners afflicted with black lung  through the (BLBA) federal agency.  Because of the Byrd Amendment, and the ACA, and other good conditions of time and place,  The Black Lung Benefits Agency has simplified the process for miners and their families to get their benefits.   This would be a case of the system working for people, not to say that the disease justifies the work or the compensation, but as a people moving through evolutionary stages of energy sources, we are doing so responsibly in this case it would seem. 


GOV SNYDER - R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Shannon Browne Bertuch

Governor Snyder, a day after signing a bill that basically tells all Michiganders to eat his wake, sends me a letter via email - worried that the abortion bill - yet another Koch Brother signature change in law from Republican Governors throughout the USA - may stretch the hand of government too far.  More to come on this - I'm going to really think about the many implications here.  Needless to say, Michigan citizens are feeling betrayed, oppressed and no longer living in America.  


Executive Office of the Governor

December 28, 2012

To Michiganders and the Michigan Legislature:

Some recent legislation has brought the tough, sensitive issue of abortion to the forefront in Michigan. Many people on both sides of the abortion question often take an emotional approach, and make little effort to work together. Since these bills have come up, I have been attacked and threatened by people on both sides of this issue even before I have indicated what action I would take on either bill. I clearly understand it is an emotional topic. 

Personally, I am pro-life and against abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life or health of the mother. At the same time, it is important to respect women’s rights and I acknowledge the Supreme Court’s decisions on this issue and that it’s a federally protected procedure.

I hope people will pause and allow me an opportunity to walk through my thought process behind the decision I’m making regarding these two bills in question, House Bill 5711 and Senate Bill 1293.

HB5711 was introduced earlier this year. In its initial form, it would have significantly impacted women’s rights. Now, though, the bill preserves women’s rights while also enacting measures to help ensure their health and safety. The bill as passed covers a number of issues; but, there are three major areas that I will address here. First, the bill adds inquiries for a physician or qualified health professional to screen patients regarding coercion to abort. Thoughtful, thorough information and training tools will be developed to ensure that women have the opportunity to review information regarding this type of coercion and the resources available to them. In my view, all coercion is wrong. Society should work to stop coercion in any form whether it’s bullying a classmate or forcing someone to get, or not get, an abortion. As the parent of three kids, I have personally experienced being asked to leave the examining room when I have brought in one of my children with a sports-related injury. It is unsettling to think that someone could believe that you may have hurt your own child. However, if it helps catch even one abusive situation, isn’t that worth it?  Second, the bill addresses the disposition of fetal remains. It essentially puts into law what current practices already are. Third, it requires that certain health facilities performing abortions be licensed and inspected. This is strictly for facilities that have advertised outpatient abortion services and that conduct more than 120 surgical abortions per year. Several locations across our state already meet and comply with these standards. This bill also provides that waivers can be granted to any facility that existed in 2012 or before. Proper oversight will help protect women’s health and wellness and seems to be a reasonable measure.

The second abortion bill, SB 1293, is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield modernization package.  This reform was one I proposed, however, without mentions or references to abortion. The bill as passed would change a significant portion of the insurance market for abortion coverage. I believe citizens should have the ability to opt in or opt out of abortion coverage in government-created health exchanges supported with public funds. “Opting in” to this coverage shouldn’t be difficult, and it is my understanding that the coverage would be available at nominal additional cost. However, the current bill goes too far in two ways. First, it treats situations that involve rape, incest and health of the mother as elective abortions. I don't believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage. Second, the abortion changes in this bill interfere in the current private market for insurance. Insurance companies and private buyers of insurance should be able to conduct their own affairs.

Since becoming governor, there is probably no decision that I have struggled with more or that has weighed on me as heavily. Is my analysis perfect?  It is not; but it is one person’s attempt to carefully balance an explosive and emotional issue in a thoughtful way. I have learned that there will be people on both sides of this issue that will hate me for either one bill or the other. I have already seen hatred and lack of reason from people who are friends of mine.  I signed HB 5711 because of its important and reasonable emphasis on protecting the health and wellness of pregnant women in Michigan. I vetoed SB 1293, despite it being a major initiative of mine, because it would have stretched the hand of government too far. I hope most of you, regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, will appreciate my effort to find the best answer and policy here.

Sincerely,

Signature

Rick Snyder
Governor


This email was sent to shannon@theraleightavern.com on behalf of: The Executive Office of the Governor · 111 South Capitol Avenue · Lansing, MI 48909 · 517-335-7858

Hey Newt, What Did you Just Say?

By Shannon Browne Bertuch
11/13/2012

 

 

Just this morning New Gingrich appeared as a guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to mostly talk about his new book, but of course,  he was asked to weigh in on the historic 2012 Presidential Election.   Here is some of what New Gingrich said :

 

            "I was wrong.  Last week I was wrong.  The Republican party  needs to take  a  few months to reflect on what went wrong and then move on. "

 

And, post this remark, Newt went on to say that Obama’s mandate isn’t Congress’s  only option.   Thanks, Newt, but let me go on record here myself.

 

Apparently, Newt Gingrich hasn’t taken his own advice on all that soul searching himself yet.  Mr. Gingrich?  You have been wrong for 4 whole years – last week was just the proof.  That is all.   You weren’t wrong one time last week.  And, let’s make this clear before you start up the rhetoric that got the Republican party into trouble in the first place.

 

For those of us who read  “Do Not Ask What Good We do” by Reporter Robert Draper,  we know that Newt’s rhetoric is exactly the same as the post 2008 election, when Newt decided that the Republican’s didn’t have to be irrelevant after all, if they just obstructed government at the expense of the people.  

 

All of the 2012 election results and events are fresh in the minds of most Americans, and the fact that Newt Gingrich is ‘resilient’ enough to only need a week of reflection , as he himself  conversely advises the rest of the Republicans to ‘take a few months’ to reflect on what went wrong, is the tell that we Americans need to heed if we don’t want a repeat of last Congressional session.   I hope that all Americans who had a hand in stopping the GOP self-serving government agenda from moving into the White House with their vulture capitalist candidate, will be more strict in stopping the rhetoric of those Republicans such as Newt Gingrich who believe they can outsmart the system; who tell themselves things like, “Last week, I was wrong” instead of looking at the last four years they left American people hanging in the balance while they waged a personal grudge against a Democratic President.  

 

 

 

 

 

THE MARCH HARE IN NOVEMBER - Just take some more tea

By Shannon Browne Bertuch

 

“Just look down the road and tell me if you can see either of them."
I see nobody on the road." said Alice.
I only wish I had such eyes, "the King remarked in a fretful tone. "To be able to see Nobody!   And at such a distance too!”

Romney may indeed be a kind of pioneer.  The hidden tape of 1985 is certainly one of those historical treasures that had no nexus of  ruin in its own time, in fact, it looks boring.   But today, with the Glass Steagall Act gone, we can look back at the evolution of the Wall Street meltdown and pretty much trace it back to the model business Mitt Romney was talking about back  in 1985.   It was only a couple of years later that Junk Bond King Michael Milken went to prison for his street hustler styled business wrangling, but the money was too good to pass up for the Wall Street sharks and now, without Glass Steagall to prosecute people for turning flawed instruments into millions, we see the depth and breadth of this kind of menace to our financial system and pervasive culture it has bred from the first junk bonds to hedge funds.   

In a couple of days, on September 30th, we are about to find out if the Bill H.R. 2827 (written by Rep. Dold-R, Ill) which refers to the Section in the Dodd-Frank  Act (signed into Law July of 2010) protecting our municipalities from swindlers on Wall Street, will become a part of the Dodd-Frank and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by mainly waiving the fiduciary duties of any municipal securities dealer  (a/k/a municipal bond advisor) that required them to put the interests of the municipalities’ taxpayers as the client when acting with their money.   (For many who didn’t know there really are cities hire their own in-house hedge fund experts).   But it's all in the words.  
 
 
“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

This amendment appears benign, changing little things like re-defining nomenclature.   As an article in the publication The Economist,  pointed out earlier this year, Dodd-Frank was written using  nomenclature as a basis for defining its terms, so banks have simply responded to those defined terms by making up new names to avoid being bound by those sections in Dodd Frank.  The word “proprietary’ for instance, is such a term defined in Dodd-Frank, which bank departments have now replaced with other terms not tackled by Dodd Frank, thereby side-stepping whole sections of content of the Dodd Frank Act.  (Perhaps Rep. Dold read the same article . . .)  
“When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark:
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.”

Glass Steagall Act of  1935 was abolished in 1999.   Since then, Wall Street has played fast and loose with flawed instruments, (LBOs, sub-prime mortgages), loaded up their own compensation packages at shareholder (and ultimately taxpayer’s) expense, and was highly inadequate in their use of investment and/or credit specialist attorneys when creating transactional forms.    
Sadly, none of the binding language from Glass Steagall returned in the Dodd-Frank Act, which means we left the door open for future strikes on our economy.   That is to say, we allow the industry to behave in the same way; Dodd-Frank simply holds the barf bag out so to control the spill.  

Of course, it is fully expected Wall Street will do a repeat, because Dodd Frank didn’t give our government the power to change the actual triggers to the Wall Street meltdown.  CEO salaries and bonuses are still a wild card, we still can’t audit them, the too big to fail elements all still exist, (have we broken up any banks yet?);  now with added chattel, we have a new element - the clearinghouses that are supposed to act as the safety net to failed banks, which when determined who they are going to be, will also be too big to fail, so double the jeopardy, along with the low demand for unflawed trading and derivative instruments, reasonable leveraging, nor did we create an aggregate point system for failed CEOs, because they are all still there.  And, shadow banking?  I mean, really, the term is unto itself a loser.   We must wonder if the new breed Finance major learns how to conduct business where Bribery is a common practice or do they get on-the-job training . . .

 The  Dodd Frank Act  tried to cover too many predatory loopholes  (covering also consumer protections and credit rating companies, extraction, EITI on and on ...) and paid too much attention to the minutia that we were left with a vacuous black hole for attorneys representing Wall Street to fill it in with new terms that render the Dodd Frank  Act impotent as  written.    The Dodd Frank Act should be broken up into separate entities of protections.   And, perhaps if Democrats can snag back the House, we will get another  bite at the apple to fix the flaws in Dodd-Frank.   (**There was much criticism about the slapdash manner in which this Act was passed and signed into law, only nine months on the table, however,  there must have been some kind of harbinger as to the elections swinging back to Republicans by that time-July.   It is my guess because it is an unusual practice for Congress to rush anything out the door).    
Not enough can be said about the power of the fiduciary duties, and good faith and fair dealings.   These are global core contractual words, but Wall Street hates them and so conned Congress (bribed perhaps?) into repeal of Glass Steagall on the basis it stifled their global competitive edge.  This premise for omitting fiduciary duties in transactions of course, in hindsight we learn was pretextual and only proves Lewis Carroll’s famous quote, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there, which is fine we are all fine with tumbling down the rabbit hole every few years.    

But removing binding language of good faith when it applies to our municipalities, which it does in the new HR 2827 being considered on the 30th of September 2012, should raise the eyebrows of our leaders. What next doom is coming.  Why would anyone bother reading this ridiculously large document and then find a ‘need’ to unhinge one of the few accountability measures the Act does contain.   What are we in store for – might be the correct response.  Why create a window unless we intend to open it up.   

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.” 
The Volcker section of the Dodd-Frank Act (systemic risks – the fundamental goal of the Act If I, a mere layperson have lost my naïveté with regard to Congress and Wall Street Shenanigans, where are our leaders on this?

“Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.” 
Suffice to say simply watching Jamie Dimond from Chase’s recent near fatal dip with 'the whale'  transaction gone awry for untold billions in a transaction earlier this year with no more consequence than to declare an act of ‘bad judgment’  was a great example of how ineffective  the Dodd Frank Act is.   My question to the Congress is, ‘why are these same people at the top of these companies?’  Foretelling, but the real systemic problem is that the middle class has become the feeding tube of Wall Street and Dodd Frank Act did nothing to change that.
  
Thanks to David Corn from Mother Jones for resurrecting the 1985 Bain Capitol tape, we can now see the origins of  corporations zeroing in on payroll for profit margin concepts, and it is said as clearly as can be stated,  in that new Bain Capitol lost tape of 1985 – [the few times we see Mitt Romney comfortable and lucid]   [you tube video here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caqHoUCTitQ ] that shrinking  the payroll becomes the liquidity.  [digression:  And, while pension funds are no longer protected by either the Bankruptcy laws or the SEC, the Pension Benefit Protection Act, thankfully the Pension structure is used less and less by companies, having been replaced by the individual 401ks.]   We can now see that corporate America had targeted our payroll as a liquidity measure as far back as 1985 which coincides with the tables and graphs showing when the American income started slipping away from the cost of living.   

The global significance of the Dodd-Frank Act is that it is our only reliance  to keep us from the Great Fall, and more importantly, may have been our last good faith effort to hold on as Arbiter  of the global currency , because we are one debacle away from completely annihilating our global standing as holder of  its currency.   Perhaps this is as it should be, but is it really in our society's best interest?

“If there's no meaning in it," said the King, "that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn't try to find any. And yet I don't know," he went on [...]; "I seem to see some meaning in them, after all.”
 
There is a recent clip of Rep/VP candidate Ryan who tells a woman who said that she couldn’t make it if she got off of welfare that the only thing between her and a good life was her willingness to get out there.  To everyone watching, we would immediately see that this woman is unskilled, uneducated and stuck with a few children.  Obviously, she is not going on The Voice to change her course in life.   But Paul Ryan showed no empathy or concern.  His Ayn Rand philosophy of let them eat cake prevails (Ayn Rand was a believer that rich people were naturally of higher rank and didn’t need to observe proper manners toward those beneath them, and were entitled to anything the lesser may have.  Quick example for movie fans:  in the scene in Dirty Dancing where Baby is trying to reason with Robby about Penny’s pregnancy, he hands her the Ayn Rand book “the Fountainhead” and offers to lend it to her, noting ‘hey, some people matter, and some people don’t”) and Ryan tells this woman he can only teach her to fish for herself.  Paul Ryan went on to speak about a land without government that would do anything but take our taxes and leave it up to those in the business of running our country to put the money where it matters to people who matter i.e.,  give it to corporations, give it to Halliburton through the DOD appropriations and any number of other irresponsible uses for our taxes.   But never  does the Republican Party plan to provide services that matter to us, the taxpaying people.   And it is clearly our money going into the government coffers.   

Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?' Alice asked.

We called him Tortoise because he taught us,' said the Mock Turtle angrily; 'really you are very dull!'

In what other time in our society could anyone take pensions away from the people who earned them when ‘liquidating’ or as Bain Capitol terms “harvesting” businesses.   In order to enable peoples’ pensions (um, must indulge here:  Andrew Carnegie while sitting on the Board of Trustees at Cornell University was so shocked at the low income of Professors, he realized they could not possibly save up for their old age and created the Professors ad Teachers Pension fund with the first $10 million he put in- such a far cry from the new styled 'industrialist. In the first place, Romney would never bother giving his time to any American interests such as education and healthcare, he is a hedonist) —   in the liquidation process of a business, corporations lobbied for bankruptcy laws to cut the strings of responsibility from our pensions and put them on the chopping block, even though the bankruptcy laws have tightened against individuals to the point where almost nothing is bankruptable through the courts for the people seeking relief from their debt.   —- And ironically, this is part of that hysterical, hate machine system that FoxnewsCorp is so good at revving:  riling up their base to believe that its the lefties - trying  beat the system at the expense and hands of  tax payers.  But that isn’t even the point.    FoxNews doesn't expose corporate inequities to those same people, so they aren’t angry at the system for taking advantage of the people.  And FoxNewsCorp escalates their emotions into a such a  frenzy,  they are too suspicious of other news sources to investigate the other side of the coin.   With Republicans presenting their candidates for the Executive Office, most of whom in any other time would not meet the bar in experience, judgment or character, FoxNews spent 4 years teaching their viewers how to spew vile rhetoric when talking about our elected President and all of its supporters which means 52% of the American people,  this campaign now reveals all the reasons why. 

O Oysters,' said the Carpenter, 
You've had a pleasant run! 
Shall we be trotting home again?' 
But answer came there none - 
And this was scarcely odd, because 
They'd eaten every one.” 
 
Now, I speak personally when I say this.  There is not a person in my calling circle who would ever, even if they stumbled upon a legal loophole to do it, take another person’s  pension money, the money for future use by an individual who was thinking ahead and willing to do with less for later.   And this reality points to what happens when people follow a person with warped views.   Even if these people happen to be rich, or genius even, if they are warped, they will bring everyone down.   It goes against our social contract at its core.   Going back to the Bain 1985 explanation of what Bain Capitol is about,  is educational for Americans to realize that jobs didn't go away by accident.  Romney is  very methodical in his explanation of taking over a viable operation, an honest company that actually contributes to society, whether manufacturing, bringing real services, then as Romney states, they beef them up, much like the Witch to Hansel and Gretel, and then they take the cow to sacrifice, pensions and all.   
 
It is this warped kind of leadership in the Republican party that would cause them to present someone like “I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then”  Mitt Romney, a robotic, amoral,  human harvesting enemy of our own society, taking pensions other people did the work for, and shipping them tax-free to bloated bank accounts collecting interest in other countries, to represent the whole Republican party.  The new Tea Party Republican view of a 'successful businessman’ they say, because he was willing to take the laws to their legal – not moral - limits.  Is that really successful?  Because as I stated, I don’t know anyone driven by money to such a point they would seize another’s hard earned savings and break it up as bonuses to top executives as Bain did,  causing people to start over and then speak as heartlessly about the 47% being victims and living off the government.   It probably is a good close-up snapshot of this breed of businessman.  Maybe we will be better equipped to decide if we like that sort of voodoo economics; get rich by doing nothing good for society, another form of predatory mortgage, flawed instruments.  I see Mitt Romney as a man with larceny in his heart and the ability to decriminalize his own actions so he can liquidate a company’s employee pensions for his personal income, just so he can sleep on $5,000 sheets at night.   
 
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.” 
There was a reason Romney spoke about the 47% in his speech to the Boca Raton donors.  Mitt Romney is not the answer to giving every American a fair shot and our jobs market is not going to self-correct too many rich people are profiting from the situation as it stands.  
As a matter of fact,  it has been the work of the radical right to sell the concept of fighting back for real pay, as socialism, (unions are bad) to a new generation of our kids who don't know anything better than the Bush years.  This election year’s Republican candidate is the very kind of capitalist living off of our money and selling us a  set of policies that are the very mindset that brought our Country with all of our resources on the global chopping block all from a Presidential candidate with a background in harvesting Americans.
Now,    off with their heads!

The Republican Scampaign of 2012

Shannon Browne Bertuch 

Back in 1992, Clinton was right about the economy.   Today, however, the landscape across America has been neglected, used up, and our urban centers in strange dissonance with time and place.  Homeless children curled up in abandoned  storefronts haunt the bypassing affluent .  Our large urban areas have come to look like the wasteland described in T. S. Eliot’s Ode to River Thames in The Wasteland: “The river sweats Oil and tar/ The barges drift With the turning tide”.

The vacuous resource left in Washington is a constant reminder that our Congress is morphing into a corporate nucleus.  As corporate influence takes over our government,  American citizens relent even further, because that is where we put all of our eggs.  

Our many wars attest to us as a warring nation.  We have a war on drugs, an open checkbook war on Terror, a War on Human Rights, even women still, and then there is that War on Poverty that we thought we won in the 1960s, but has found its back in domino effect.

Some of the corruption in our government is long rooted in the history of the Constitution.  But the cut that went from bend-to-break-away really appeared during the Reagan years, where the homelessness in America got its start, and where, through legislative actions of shutting down entitlements to the middle class poverty went on the upswing almost immediately.  With our 20/20 hindsight, we now see the empirical evidence of the effects of Reagan’s decisions.  The Welfare reform was an inept, oversimplified ‘solution’.  All that accomplished was more homelessness, a renewing surge of poverty and more money to the peoples’ biggest competition:  corporate welfare seekers.  Reagan welcomed them with open arms.  (Digression: Reagan cut the budgets of the Department of Housing and Urban Development 40%, the Department of Commerce by 32%, the Department of Agriculture by 24%, the Department of Education undetermined, because it is more complicated than that; and the Department of Transportation, again through various other related programs, hard to put a percentage on this. )

Post 9-1-1 Bush policy openly molested our Constitution, first with the institution of The Patriot Act.  In one document, it swept away many of our very basic freedoms.  The government convinced Americans it was necessary in order to fight “terror”.   To curb the blowback, the Administration began the anti-litigation campaign, demonizing the idea of litigation against our government in such a time in history. Though it sounded all ‘temporary’ (I believe the Patriot Act gets renewed every 6 years, but who will ever relinquish those powers?) it simultaneously created some sovereign immunities, (waived by some states as to judges, thankfully); and garnered the necessary assent from we the people to run over more rights with more ‘remedies’.  

 The Democratic Congressional houses managed, under Bush to wrangle into law the “pay to play” problems in Washington.  Bush signed into law Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which lasted about ½ a term, because in January 0f 2009, the Justices of our Supreme Court kneecapped the salient points of this Act when they came up with a legal question not before them at all- and ruled on it- in Citizens United v.FEC.  The corporate lobbyists shall now take over the whole election process, they (the Justices) decided, rendering the 2007 Open Government Act moot.   Why wine and dine your local congressman when you can go right over their heads and buy a whole election?

Currently,  the Republican-governed States are throwing Voter Suppression laws at us... ramming them in before elections even take place, which just feels unconstitutional in action, but also from a timing standpoint.  Want to have a conversation about voter laws?  Use a non-election year for that business.  It is not constitutional to jam it through before there can be any appeal time.  

Summarily, there are many systemic problems within our government (from “policy makers”, like ALEC), and the wrong-headedness of  Congress: the privatized prisons; the anti-governmental human rights violations; etc. The truth is in the rubble. The nucleus of our human society is our middle class, which then becomes the mirror of our society. We live in a country made up of people bound by our belief in the processes by which our country functions.  

I remember when President Obama was first elected, the Republicans cried that he would ‘undo’  thirty years of ‘progress.”  I was always puzzled by that perspective, because I saw erosion. Today, as we see the Republican choice in Candidate- Mitt Romney- and pairing the campaign with Paul Ryan, the corporate welfare cheerleader, I now understand their cries. 

The fakery of the ‘people’ portion of Republican scampaigning has no ring of authenticity.  They're stumping to Americans, inserting  canned phrases that have to do with ‘middle class’ and other terms that are so foreign to them, which have been taken from Democratic principles, because they really don’t have any of their own. Over this last decade, Republicans have honed their party down to economics, since they represent corporations who only care about the bottom line. Sometimes I think to myself, their words are so ineffective, because those Republicans who try to talk the talk sound uncomfortable selling it.  It is painful for me to watch them, for this reason.  This season's Republican congressional record so far has been like,  asking for a written law that an attorney must show up for trial when he or she is representing a party who is on trial. They’re hoping to score points on their campaign with the old Bush ideas that the budget needs to be balanced – when in truth, our budget is just the mirror of our society. When we fix our society, our first priority, our budget will follow. To tackle it the other way around, is like trying to win through liposuction.

 

It is with this backdrop of U.S. current affairs, that I bring up the Arab Awakening... because this is one place in the world where the people have pulled away from the corruption in their respective countries.  There is nothing stagnant about that.  In the throes of the Arab Awakening and under the duress of human rights violations, & new governments trying to settle in, the peoples are struggling to ascend to their new situations. And, much like post-war Japan, when Yakuzas found a foothold, the Jihadist movement will dig a wedge through the chaos.  That is a given.  But, for all of the burdens on the American people, as Americans, we are still enthusiastic for the Arab nations to experience a true democracy.  

Even though we Americans are also in the throes of all that is broken in our own government, and despite the election season, and our struggles, we still all want progress and change for the Middle East.  We wish for the whole world to experience those basics of ideologies – and mostly, the idea that our rights as human beings, which are human rights, are not grounded in our citizenship, or in a national origin, but to our humanity, our link to the human race.  And it is on this premise that violations of human rights is a global priority. And right now the iron is hot.  We cannot allow this moment to pass us by. 

So in the United States of America, where there truly is a lot to be angry about, it would be easy to just scatter our forces.  In my assessment as to where to begin the reconstruction of our society, I believe that it does lie with the middle class.   Without marginalizing  our other problems,  firstly, American people need to rebuild the middle class.   We need a leader who makes decisions on this premise.   While we have many small and large coalitions (from Moveon.org to  smaller grassroots action groups that are committed to doing something),  we can keep all the wheels turning in these organizations to ensure that we don’t let that fire go out, making sure not to stray beyond the central issue of middle class.

 This is why I believe that President Obama does see the world, our country,  and our government the same way as the rest of the awakened Americans see it.  That is to say, Pres. Obama does acknowledge the issues before him on all sides, but the distinction being  how he tackles administrative structural problems.  Rather than mole-whacking every broken piece of government, is we start the fix at the middle class, the nucleus of our society; and, once they are strong again, these are the  voices that stand up, this is the middle of American people, who make the efforts to regain the government, and strengthen our democracy. This is our wake-up call. 

Contrarily, were we to eject Obama and insert anyone else, that President will be up against the same set of broken systems that Obama had to work under.  That President would only have 4 years to look around, use up a learning curve, make mistakes, find a center to work from, and by that time, those four years are up.  It's the Middle Class, stupid.

<a href="http://www.hypersmash.com">www.HyperSmash.com</a>

Edited by John H. Browne, Vashon

2012 Campaign: The Change We Believe In

By Shannon Browne Bertuch


When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008 on the slogan, Change we can believe in, I wonder if even he had any clue what would ensue, but whoever gets a preview of the contents in Pandora’s box without having to first open it?  


Wall Street legislation gave the financial industry room to fail.    The reckless behavior of Wall Street, which ‘trickled down’ to the rest of Europe throughout the following three years just as it did in the Great Depression, took Americans to the brink of a full blown Great Depression; a sudden downturn of our economy that, upon his election in 1932, took Franklin Delano Roosevelt three Presidential terms to turn around.   

As quickly as Barack Obama was sworn in, our American world of politics took a most drastic and historical turn, just as promised in President Obama’s ‘Change’ slogan.   

While newly elected (and then optimistic) President Obama was in the throes of keeping his campaign promises, he quickly moved between repairing foreign relations, debating and discussing with Congress, the stimulus package that Pres. Bush signed on his way out the door, touring U.S. plant facilities and otherwise apprising himself on the state of our union, as well as simultaneously initiating his first order to Congress in the name of Ted Kennedy,  Healthcare reform.   


In backdrop fashion, the voodoo divinations of Wall Street and the  double dipping housing phenomenon that took the United States to its darkest hour since the first Wall Stock crash, began to take a physical form.   Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the private secondary mortgage security companies chartered by Congress/turned powerful lobbyists, started spilling their secrets.  In a short 10 years, this mortgage securities guarantee implicitly backed by government funds and supposedly regulated by Federal Housing Finance Agency (F.H.F.A.) revealed that they owned at least ½ of the existing mortgages in the U.S. and further, that they had insufficient funds to cover the extent of leveraging that caused the housing bubble to burst.  


DIGRESSION:  (Noteworthy to say there have been so many indictments against this sub-prime lender/invester/lobbyist firm, but above the fray of that controversy and finger-pointing of who reaped the most and their political affiliations, the fact as to policy making is in Republican jurisdiction.   Fannie Mae began selling mortgage-backed securities in 1981 and in 1984 the 30% foreign investment withholding tax was abolished, both of these ‘free market’ incentives were made possible under the Reagan administration).   During Bush’s administration, in respite of Clinton’s 1994 passage of the Homeowners Equity Protection Act (HOEPA), which directed the Federal Reserve to establish rules to prevent mortgages from being given to people who could not afford them.  Bush believed that HOEPA prevented homeownership and wanted to jumpstart the housing market.  These ‘greeenlight’ maneuvers of our political leaders had a direct impact on the housing bubble inflation.  Missing another opportunity, was Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who refused to use the power given to him under this law to restrict predatory lending, arguing that free markets would naturally lead to the best results.  

Greed breeds greed.   By the mid-1990s, when Fannie Mae’s profits hit the trillion mark they got the attention of Wall Street financiers and policymakers.  This created a  revolving door giving executives from companies such as Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae and then to lobbyist/consulting groups for this ‘privatized’ mortgage investment company all provided  a constant chain of conflict of interest, but so much as already been written about the discredited GSE that Bush enacted in 2000 and Bush’s rescinding the HOEPA and everyone’s failed memory of what may have really happened . . .).  But what is significant in this murky housing bubble bursting affair is that the Republican policies of ‘free markets that bring the best results’ was brought to near fatal collision with reality for the second time.   And despite the truth of these policies slapping down the free market theories, Republicans insist today that there is no marginal consequence overall to the predatory and vulture opportunities that unregulated free markets bring to our individual citizens.


As if on cue, the world was suddenly teleported into some Woody Allen, post apocalyptical scenario, where we were introduced to a cast of moss and stick figures waking to life in Santerian fashion.   The real money and power behind the Republican party.    Grover Norquist, the head of Americans (d/b/a Tea Party) for Tax Reform, (ATR) whose acclaim originally stems from his intrepid pledge that 276 out of the 289 Republican public servants signed pledging  never to raise taxes; (one out of the  two Congressional duties of Congress).   Norquist also has history in Fannie Mae, terrorist associations and well, just about everything that the Republican party has thrown at Obama has been pre-emptively lifted from Norquists’ background).  But more significantly for this article, is how the Republicans responded to the general knowledge that there is a guy named Grover Norquist and he isn’t an elected official but he is in charge of the Republican party, because Norquist has the ability to ruin political careers.  That information didn’t seem to make one legislative puppet whince at the sound of it.  So, once Norquist came out of hiding, he began conducting interviews and most recently spoke at the Defending the American Dream Summit” in Washington*,  where he outlined Romney’s job in getting elected:


“All we have to do is replace Obama. …  We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go…. We just need a president to sign this stuff….Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States…. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

*The summit was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a front group started by oil billionaire David Koch of Koch Industries.   The AFP funds the “Tea Party” and special interest groups that work against Democratic initiatives, opposing protections for workers, the environment, labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation.


Back to the historical unfolding:  


By President Obama’s 2nd year in office, the Republican dissention was getting much media attention and taking its toll.   Between filibusters, ‘the party of ‘no’ votes, and very public media coups to Obama and his staff, Obama’s optimism about bi-partisan progress was eroding.  


 In that 2010 election, Democrats lost 26 legislative seats.  This gave the obnoxious do nothing Congress the green light to continue to do nothing.  It was now officially endorsed by the American people.  


Over the course of the year following those elections, the general public became aware of another secretive policy making branch of Republican party.  An insider lobbyist – ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council.   After much investigating as to who they are, who they are made up of, and what they do, the results of the 2010 election was attributed to their nexis in the Republican silent partner pyramid.  ALEC  is the ghost writer of many bills and had up until this point been the undisclosed Republican  goalsetter.    The voter suppression laws were written by ALEC; the anti-work agendas also an ALEC product.   Most Republican lawmakers in Washington used ALEC’s  written legislation, disguised it a bit and presented these bills as their own ideas.   


Next, we met the Koch Brothers who were simply suspects, until they were amusingly outted due to a fake phone call successfully made and recorded by a blogger, to one of the Koch Brother whores, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker, the then newly elected Republican Governor (and long time ALEC member).  In the 20 minutes of this fake phone call that ultimately caused the historical recall election, Walker reveals that he thought about inserting trouble making protestors into the protests going on in Wisconsin as a result of Walker stripping public employee unions of their rights in Wisconsin; the conversation covers a lot of political territory and Republican agenda items.  Walker discusses with the blogger who he believes is his real boss, strategy for taking down the Democrats in the state Senate by casting votes without their presence or knowledge of issues, etc.    So, now America witnesses  a fairly sinister virus in the Governor’s office eroding democracy – ‘soon to be cemented,  as Walker assures the caller he believes is David Koch.    We also get some more ALEC input as Walker’s house majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald starts to talk openly about his ALEC associations and the New World Order of Republican extreme right:  

Scott Fitzgerald, House Majority Leader in Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the 2010 Elections:  "Listen we have new majorities, if you talk to the members of the House of the Representatives and the way they view the world right now, the more feathers you ruffle right now the stronger you are going to be politically. I don't ever remember an environment where that existed before. It was always go along, get along. A little on the edges, yeah we would take a few shots here and there at some political enemies, but in the end we all just want to be on the same page. That just doesn't exist right now. I've never seen that before, it gives us a lot of leeway and a lot of chain to make some significant changes."

As to the ‘shots’ -  Fitzgerald refers to, he then announced that his first "shot" would be a "Voter ID" bill that would disenfranchise traditional Democratic constituencies, like the poor, black and elderly, who are less likely to have official photo identification. Model Voter ID legislation was produced by ALEC in the summer of 2009, after Barack Obama became President of the United States.


More Skeletons in the closet.  About this time, Americans get their first hazing  with a new branch of Republican: the Tea Party, via  a ‘turfroots’ movement.  This was labeled in contrast to the organic ‘grassroots’ movement, that, for instance, elected President Obama.  By contrast, this is a movement paid for by interest groups, bussing in hand picked volunteers for their cause by the busloads.  This movement began as hand picked  TEA (Taxed Enough Already) party – giving of course,  the rise of the  Tea Party, the extreme radical branch of the Republican Party, arrived in Washington, D.C. with masks off.  We met Joe the Plumber, a spokesperson for the Tea Party, who it turned out, was neither named Joe nor a plumber.  This kind of representative of the Tea Party became a typical strategy (much like Reagan’s famed “Queenie” the non-existent welfare cheater who drove a Cadillac) of  dealing with Tea Party politics.  Mostly smoke and mirrors, usually fact-free when investigated,   but with a new twist:  the world got to see the real players:  Sheldon Adelson, Koch Brothers,  Grover Norquist , Fox News, ALEC, and least we forget, Rush Limbaugh in the Harry Carry role here.  


The Republican Art of War.   Yes, to have transparency as to the real powers that be over our Country, was all worth voting Obama into office.  As to that once hypothetical question, “What would the white ruling class do if . . . “   I believe was answered by the loudest spokesperson in the beltway, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), an elected public servant who openly admits to obstructing  the duties of the office to which he was elected declaring that he will instead spend his paid time undermining the success of America on any front where legislation could credit President Obama, McConnell brands the Right Wing with the one fist held high shouting their new anthem of making Obama a ‘one term’ President.  Again, no one cringes on the right.  No one seems to acknowledge the indecency of this kind of expectation for our Washington leaders. What used to be considered wrong, cruel to the American people who are in the meantime, suffering,  —-  or even treasonous at best is now an acceptable strategy to win back control of the Congress, and the American people be damned.  


Even the United States Supreme Court Justices weighed in as well.  In a mind-blowing decision about an issue that was never legally  before these Justices in the first place,  the Supreme Court created a rule that gives, grants, even encourages, corporations unlimited corporate say in our government affairs.  They further ruled that Corporations are people too. Perhaps completely blinded apparently by the unpiercable ‘veil’ the act of incorporating creates to hide the ‘people, who act in their human capacity behind the scenes.   Perhaps their voodoo logic goes that as long as everyone else was coming out from behind the curtain, no better time to make it appear normal if we're going to let  corporations come out and play too. 


And presently, Republicans offer Americans another virulent pick.  The Romney phenomenon.  Openly disliked and mistrusted by his own party because he is untrustworthy, suspected as not as right as the new Republican stance would like, otherwise, Romny is the poster child of exactly what went wrong with America.  He is a vulture capitalist,  an offshore investor, an outsourcing jobs provider to China and India, a tax dodger, an anti-work billionaire who has nothing in common with most Americans.   He is as secretive as Cheney, and has the money backing to get him just about anything that he wants.  Currently, he wants to represent the Republican Party as the new President of the United States and appears to be willing to make a deal with Sheldon Adelson, who only wants a war with Iran in return for the financial backing.  


Romney’s recent ‘epiphany’ while on the campaign trail might serve as the best illustration of his intentions.  An unemployed worker stopped him and asked him to please fix the economy, and he gushed to the press that it occurred to him how actual people are relying on him to do something for them.   He said he realized it was a real big responsibility.   


The derelict Romney/Ryan ticket is another example of anti-American policies  railing against the American people, who did in fact legitimately elect Barack Obama to the Presidency.  The unveiled swipes at President Obama by Bill O’Reilly, or Senator Joe Wilson’s famous “you lie” outburst during a presidential speech is all based on the Republican strategy to take down the President.  Waging war.    With apparent permission from his own party to denigrate the sitting President, the most hated, untrusted, unwanted  Republican Presidential candidate is stumping against the President, with baseless accusations,  waging hate and disrespect.  


It gets more difficult to deny any other theory than simply a matter of race.  With Republicans constantly misconstruing and taunting Obama’s record on every front they themselves have failed to support, the economy, the jobs, the infrastructure, boosting business. Our President to date, has adeptly covered the scope of his governing office, with quick handed point-guard precision, from either end of the Court – and with restraint.   For those with a bent fascination for adroit politics, call this Presidential term what you will, it’s a one on  278, from the rebounds, the steals and dodging the dirty elbows – well, most of the time.   Obama has proved to be quite an able adversary against those who want to sell off America; who prefer corporate governance to democracy.    This is not to say he hasn’t taken a few hits, fouled, fumbled and even thrown a couple of points into the Republican’s hoop.    But he is our elected President and in the midst of  containing a civil war, he has also managed to take down Osama Bin Laden, save the auto industry and concentrate on other important and real issues.  Imagine what could be done with a cooperating Congress.   

By now all Americans should be able to read Republican vernacular.  Romney’s pick of Senator Paul Ryan as his VP endorses the idea that no matter what comes out of their campaigning mouths, i.e., saving Medicare, saving American jobs, etc. the right wing brand will go in and do what they are told to do by all of these powerful money machines.  

Yes, this is all change we most certainly can believe in.  The upside is that we have the experience to see and identify those who are sabotaging the American way of life.   Yes We Can.   


What is the American Social Contract Today?

By Shannon Browne Bertuch.  

 





Wouldn’t it be great to just turn on the water faucet and get a drink from it in your own home, without worrying about what else, other than water you may be ingesting; or, take your children, or grandchildren to the local beach and let them enjoy the natural resources of the earth, ...

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THE GOP: Smells like Mean Spirits

By Shannon Browne Bertuch.  


Ad hominem fallacy.   This is the new foundational principle by which the Republican party  unites with their extremist counterpart, the Tea Party.  Examples of their daily sound bites in unison,   "Kicking the can down the road. . . The belief that they can overtake our democratic processes by propaganda backed by a Foxnews network and big money.   It is just offensive.  It is offensive to be managed by stupid people.   

Majority Leader Eric Cantor refers to the Occupy Wall Street movement as a 'mob' and he wants mainstream America to be 'concerned'.  Apparently, Mr. Cantor doesn't recognize democracy in action, or perhaps he is hoping to find us middle class Americans willing to accommodate his propaganda.  Either way, the Republican rhetoric is increasingly offensive in general.   Speaker John Boehner's message to America, "Auto industry revival is nothing to celebrate.", offensive; Wall Street's Disdain for the Middle Class, offensive; Joe Walsh's sophist personal life while standing sanctimoniously against Obama, denying an economic crisis exists, offensive; Citizens united v. FEC, Offensive; Rick Perry suggesting the out of control fires in California is a message that God is unhappy about gay tolerance, offensive (x10),  GOP holding Congressional House hostage over partisan petty wedge issues, offensive; Pro-life Rand Paul 'let them die'  if they don't have insurance (then how about let us be born with it), offensive; GOP social injustice agenda, offensive; Republican Senator Scott Brown’s public stance on the Ryan Medicare Dismemberment Plan “HELL YES!  I’ll vote for eliminating Medicare!” , offensive; Introduction of the HR1 bill that eliminates NPR, arts endowments, offensive. 

 

 And now after a series of GOP debates, we watch them even use ad hominem fallacy on each other.  "Mr. Romney is a decent man, he's just not a Christian man. . . ."  What has this got to do with anything Mr. Romney may be proposing as a contender for the White House, afterall, we live in a country with religious tolerances, correct?


We the People, are being incredulously subjected to the Republican rhetoric whether in defense to FoxNews or simply by someone's defined journalistic notion of a worthwhile discussion —   let's weigh the possible ‘vulnerabilities’ of Rick Perry?  I am sent to the other room.   Vulnerabilities?  The moment Governor Perry touted his jobs record in a state as rich in legal oil mining as his (with no consideration to the collective pollution limit violations they constantly violate), or that he was unabashedly neutral about an innocent man who was very possibly illegally executed in his state, and exhibits other similar characteristics of rich entitled people, I think the man has been noted and impugned; he is a corporate whore.   Rick Perry was for sale back when he was a Democrat, and he is for sale to the highest bidder now, which in this day and age, happens to be our corporate lobbyist friends who dare to endear us with the cutsie term “Tea Party” (I like to picture one of the Koch brothers  coming up with that term during a desperate brainstorming session, while he was really thinking ‘outside the box’).  Have we not established through the centuries that whores are charismatic?   Of course they are, that’s how they dodge our social laws (if we have any left, that is)  and get inside.   As convivial as it may feel, charisma is no basis for voting in a President to the White House.  

  

Our major network news, what we have come to term as our mainstream media,   are forced to actually debate whether or not there is any merit to Social Security’s indictment of being a ponzi scheme?   I would love to debate the real ponzi schemes that are perpetrated on American people,  and  see those laws legislated away – but why do the corporate lobbyists  always place  the people’s entitlements on the chopping block?  They can site all the negative factors as to the state of affairs in our lopsided educational  system, yet our legal geniuses can’t nail one individual to prosecute for taking down our economy on Wall Street.   We the people should smell a rat and act accordingly.   Even Republican President Dwight Eisenhower measured these politicians a long time ago.  I believe he said that anyone who tries to tear down Social Security is stupid.  

  

We have up for the American people, a Jobs Act proposed by our President in past weeks, but predictably,  the GOP uses their Ad hominem fallacy strategy to dismiss its merits and get away canning it without a House vote.   Eric Cantor in particularly is constantly confusing his responsibilities with power, and advocates for corporations using street hustler styled arguments, because he doesn't believe its worth the energy  to formulate a formidable argument.  Cantor is so blatantly glib with his sound bites, it is obvious that he believes that being backed by corporate money insulates him from the public who put him into office.  McConnell openly declaring that  rather than give Obama a political boost by allowing our economic footing  to stand on more than quicksand, we can all pay for having voted Obama into office.  Perhaps that will teach us the lesson he would like us all to learn. 

 

The Jobs Act will be resisted by Republicans on whatever basis they want to conjur up, because they could really care less if the American public believes them.   They are afterall, backed by corporate dollars.   And it isn’t even a question of their credibility, because they’ve gotten this far without any.   The new game in town is switch up, pillage, look us in the eye and say, ‘hey, what are you going to do about it, huh?’  

 

And where is the blowback on this?  Applauding audiences while Tea Party Rep. Rand Paul sides with the insurance industry over human life?    

Americans.  Yes us.  Those of us Americans who are still able to abnegate the specious idea of prudence and privacy can save our nation from becoming conditioned to expect nothing.  Every time we give the GOP a seat at our government, it  affirms the Matrix  over reality.   When the Wall Street real Ponzi Scheme prevailed over punishment for crimes,  the Republicans moved their whole culture to flatline Congress as a lawmaking government body for the American people.  And, I probably need to point out the record on GOP 'work' in the house of Congress - the fact that the Republicans  have not actually come through on any of their own talking points.  They rode in on our talking points and then headed straight to their corporate governed agenda,  feeling no connection to American life as we all know it.   The newly seated Republican Governors have uniformly  used their position to shore up Republican futures by any method at their disposal.  Redistricting - (talk about a ponzi scheme: Hey, if you have to cheat to win - it isn't a democratic process), taking down unions, dismantling social entitlements we earned as a nation,  and attempting to remove any consumer and environmental protections left for the people.  When President Obama realized that he was not going to successfully get Elizabeth Warren confirmed as head of our Consumer Protection Agency (that she formed), he announced the appointment of Richard Cordray from Ohio as its new head, however, the Senate has yet to confirm him since July.   So, at this point, we still don't have a functioning Consumer Financial Protection Agency.   I'm sure if any of us undermined our Employer to this extent, we would be unemployed by now.   These are some of the 'reasons' people have taken to Wall Street to occupy our seat in government, because that's where it has moved.   

 

Many Americans have turned off  FoxNews, but those have haven't are hearing a different set of facts.    FoxNews, Koch Brothers and corporate lobbyists, in partnership with our GOP  elected officials are feeding Americans one thing on Fox News (the economy is fine . . . Obama is ruining America, etc.), while the officials are busy pillaging their elected offices.     While is has become obvious to many the damage going on while  the  'Globe' styled news format at FoxNews  has caused our more credible news sources such as CNN, CBS,  MSNBC, ABC to embroil themselves in these false arguments against Fox spins, outright lies, damning 'analysis' and ad hominem innuendo, the bigger picture is the two-step that is being used to effectively bring down our governing bodies.        

There has been ongoing argument that the SEC couldn't find the illegal action to hang anyone for the economic disaster of 2007.   Economic analysts say that is because it was a 'string' of actions that need to be looked at to find the illegal acts.  It was a complicit formation of real estate brokers, bankers, investors, and these crooks together made up the calamity.  


This systematic take down is also used in the foreclosure industry to short-sale or simply take our homes.   The typical corporate structure of a 'loan servicing' company as it is called although we know it is really a short-sale company, staffs the company in separated layers of employees,  each layer only knowing what it is told almost as a separate entity, with its own employee training manual of talking points with the public.  So, the process goes like this:  the first layer - that is the first person that you, the customer will contact, when you call, and you will be appeased by Layer #1.    Hello, may I help you? says the Loan Servicing Representative.    The homeowner states, 'yes, I am calling becauseI received a package from your company giving me 3 choices as to how I want to turn my home over to you.  My preference as to whether or not I want to go via short-sale or go through foreclosure, or simply move out and give you my home.  I'm not late on my mortgage even, so why did I get this package?"   - TheLayer #1 customer service Representative gets on her computer, goes into the homeowner's account and states that 'everything is fine'.  It must be a mistake, sir/madam.  You can go ahead and ignore it, I can see here that you are right, you are not in arrears.   Now, a reasonable person will believe that they have taken care of matters at this point and hang up.   A suspicious homeowner will insist on speaking to a supervisor or someone in the 'foreclosure' department.   After much wrangling, the reluctant customer service employee will most likely  forward the call, but if they do, it is with much reluctance, because that representative now believes she did not do her job properly because she has been trained that she should never have to forward a call.  (and he/she may NOT forward that call, which means, you will have to call back and try to get someone else, be more belligerent, insistent, intimidating, etc. to get to the next layer of this company). Now,  the next in line,  the 'supervisor', has a different manuscript and is completely insulated from the previous customer service clerk.   This person will tell you that you are indeed in trouble, and will list off a bunch of documents that they don't have that you are required to furnish to make your loan legitimate.   They will run you in circles until they can manage to get a foreclosure in place, and then you begin the downward flush until you are out of your home.   There are remedies, and don't believe you will find those remedies at  any 'agency' the government has put in place to help you, because they are helpless too.   The solution is to pound the loan servicing company right back.  Go to the company, the bank, the escrow,  where you originally signed your papers, and demand to see someone, and demand to get a copy of everything that they sent off to the 'loan servicing' people, and then you will have to overnight mail everything,  or fax it, or email in .pdf format, or even hand deliver, if you can,  directly into the hands of whoever this accusing supervisor claims to be.   Chances are you will have to do it several times, because they didn't get it, or you will be lulled into a false sense of accomplishment,  having the Supervisor tell you that she/he did get it and it will take awhile for the documents to get into the system - so you can relax while the documents make their way into the 'system' - but of course, that won't happen unless you threaten to sue.   


These measures are the formation, the structure, and the crafted steps of  all the arrant policies in place to take over American government.   

With 9.1% unemployment, there are still at least 75% working middle class Americans with enough money  to  financially maneuver through the high inflation, bank trepidations, and other economic demands, perhaps while even maintaining health insurance.   That means, that with three wars raging, the Middle East having a meltdown in general, the infrastructure of America teetering on revenge due to neglect, there are many Americans who have enough on their plate surviving the phantom economic thicket.    

Just as the layered companies on Wall Street, the foreclosure companies, Foxnews, as the first layer in the corporate takeover, offers none of the bad news to its viewers.  In fact, Foxnews relieves people of  any of these worries.  At Foxnews, lefties are crazy, the President is bad, and there is no economic crisis and everything is just fine - for "us" —    I learned this by having a series of civil discussions with those people who share Fox views.  I will confess that I have no enduring discipline to watch FoxNews (Hannity has me at Hello . . .) mostly because my mind drifts off to what to do about their lies, and then I am lost in my own thoughts barely aware of the white noise.  

So, in the case of the well funded Tea Party’s civil war against the diminishing middle class, it is necessary that enough human capital  be recruited to run a revolution by the corporate dollar against the American people and it just seems, I don’t know, sort of counter-productive, if you happen to be a human being.  I felt this was important to bring up for those of us who desire to keep democracy alive, clean up our government, get banks back in line as business who are there to serve the people, put fiduciary duties back into those businesses who handle other peoples'  finances, etc. etc. who may be  struggling with ideologies like the Tea Party.   

We need to understand that conservatives, the Tea Party, right wing radicals and Foxnews viewers are making their political decisions on a different set of facts, for one thing, and for another, since we all now have the luxury of 'choosing' the facts that suit us best, we can shrink our world to what goes on in our own little universe on a daily basis, take to our computers, gossip, what pleases us, and allow a corporate takeover in the process.  We might not even be aware of it, hopefully. 

 

But these are the times and places we were given to spend our lives,  and we have all been taught that it is not an easy task to hold on to our freedom.   Some people have figured this out and have taken to the streets of new York's financial district to take a stand for Americans.   While it would be great to have the ripple effects of the 60's revolution last longer than it did, the reality is, we need to make some adjustments again, and we need to be ready to do this for posterity - it is our American duty.   Yes, it is scary, but if we want something to be scared about, let’s examine our democracy, our freedom being legislated away by the Republican/Tea Party corporate interests – look at who is holding our jobs hostage until they get what they want, which is more power and control over the masses, what we still call the middle class, as frail and somewhat unrecognizable as it currently appears.   

There isn't a segment of business that respects American life and it is our burden  now to revivify a balanced relationship.   For those Americans among us who have the shoulders to take on this burden, we also need to keep in mind that when we prevail, we share the victory with all of our fellow Americans because we are just as vulnerable to the mean spirited traps that success carries.   

 

If you have any questions or comments for the author, please email at shannon@theraleightavern.com.   

 

 

 

 

 

The Harvesting of Americans:

Written March 12, 2011


Well,  Americans have finally come out to rally.   Our constitutional rights and civil liberties have been openly and nationally couped.  To be publicly coerced into submission by the Republican sponsored corporate lobbyists in front of the world, and each other on national television took us over the line.  


Gov. Walker's nuclear legislative actions are tantamount to suppression tactics, usually reserved for our foreign enemies.  Our two-party system is unquestionably torn asunder and parasites have reached the essential organs, taking up residence at our government from the inside. 


The most welcomed scenes all over America, with people in the streets protesting, indicates that at this point, most Americans have hit their threshold of tolerance when it comes to the invasions and abuses of American life as we know it.  The normal rabble rousing of the radical right, coupled with the clout of the corporate money, our Supreme Court's dilapidation, and fitting together the strategic moves in other states going on simultaneously,  will lead even the most moderate citizen to understand that things are not okay.  


Albeit this phenomenon has been gathering momentum since 2001, as Americans we brushed it off, or ignored it,  largely  in part of the give and take of our political party system.   And of course, some of it happened while we were reeling from shock of the 911 attack.  But, this latest frenzy by Republicans is not new.  We have all  seen the conservative propaganda machine, whipping up hysteria against the big government, with everyone yelling breathlessly on the news to set afire the urgency of doing something about [currently, Obama], NOW! about the evil liberals…about big government; about our budget (Boehner - we're broke!);  


The chaotic schism between Tea Party/ Real Republican has frayed the rest of the nation. Both sides speak loudly and urgently.  The tone is accusatory and malicious.  Whilst, as in this latest Republican huddle,  Huckabee, Gingrich and Bachman pacify the hatreds of the radical extreme right toward our President and government, giving room to the more bonified moderate (RR- Real Republicans) to stand by with clean hands. The general American readership tolerates the free speech allowed by our Country, without distinction.  We think we can do nothing about the growing moronic rumors doubting Obama's legitimate birth certificate, until almost half of Americans aren't sure whether President Obama is a Christian or was really born in the United States, or where he grew up (Hawaii on both counts)  At this point, no Republican need be held accountable for anything that is said in government or against our President. (http://politifact.com/subjects/obama-birth-certificate/  .    

When Republicans were one party, and the shoe was on the other foot, dissenting Americans stood alone.  George W. Bush was in office.  There were those Americans who expected and/or demanded more accountability from our decider, George W. Bush, who returned an unfazed blank stare.  Bush was above any media or citizen reprobate.  If we take stock of what happened since 2001; since we sent our youth over to Iraq to fight a war even Rumsfeld recently revealed that he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, but no one asked him before starting the war in Iraq; since we allowed Cheney to rummage through our government as the real Officer in Chief, using its central headquarters for his clandestine operations in domestic and foreign policy and for profit to Halliburton, which then grew into the creation of a powerful central government immune from any public inspection.  The hysteria propaganda machine got louder when Obama stepped in and reversed the furtive culture in the White House as an intimidation tactic, and as they had hoped, Obama condoned the histrionics and so graciously moved on, without incriminating Bush or Cheney or Rice for that matter.   

During the George W. Bush's administration, unauthorized admittance by such corporate interests were allowed unlimited access to the inner circle of our government and the cabinets and the CIA and the FBI.  The corporate interests were like an infestation at the White House, taking up housing and partying with our public servants  and  then allowed to controvert our resources to capitalistic enterprise without ever giving a second thought to the dissenting Americans.  But, he is George W. Bush, a family of pedigreed entitlements, the  American family whose resumes are bred for the sole purpose of ru[i]nning America.   Scott Walker is not in this league.    

At this point, Americans have been subjected to such a varied and forceful range of abuses, from clandestine government activity, moral ambiguities such as the invasion of Iraq and the water boarding scandals, and more secularly,  even the betrayal of Wall Street, banks and lending institutions, and of course, from the Republicans and all of their fringe factions in dissent of our government and  President. But, the watershed of our decaying system came from our the Supreme Court's unholy communion with Citizens United.   The American people's last word; our financial support to our candidates, we as citizens could control.  This has signaled a strong blow to American people, that no one is on our side, and these actions against the American people will go on without consequence - to the perpetrators.   Our allies in Washington are thin to none.  

As to the high levels of vitreol, innuendo and wrongful accusations that have become an everyday affair in the world of politics, well, this is not the kitchen table conversation that we have grown up believing in.  Politics is not for the fainthearted, and (tasteless subject matter and gross commercials during the dinner hour aside) —- the tolerance of all these things that go on against our country, our policies our relationship to the rest of the world, it is no wonder we are so easily had by Republican momentum.  


The Republicans manipulate their constituency with the tight media controls over Foxnewscorp, Beck and Limbaugh, and until the crash causing the Wall Street bloodbath abruptly threatened collapse of our financial system and world economies due to toxic investments, lack of oversight or legislation of capitalist activity on wall street and in our  U.S. Treasury, Americans tolerated predatory loan and 401(k) scam abuses that went on without consequence.  As an example, before the Washington Mutual demise, my bank where I had my mortgage was one of the hundreds that were swallowed up by WAMU, and my loan incrementally increased from one month to the next, and I had no recourse to stop it.  My phone calls were fielded to customer service people who advised me that I had a bad loan and should refinance; however, WAMU wasn't reporting my payment to the big 3 credit bureaus, among other things that i will not go into here, because that is too far a  digression from the point here.  But, the point here is, that I ended up having to sell my house to get out from under the loan, and no one had better advice for me, because apparently it was tolerated.  These are the types of abuses we Americans have come to expect.    And we have no Clarence Darrows out there, to come to our rescue.   

It would normally  be all the more preposterous that the Republicans were so quickly able to regain control of even Congress, yet they own media outlets,  obfuscate their intentions, and have unlimited corporate budget at their disposal.    Yet, with the last 10 years of conditioning, Americans are confused enough to believe someone will come into office with the intention of being an actual public servant.  A hero.   It is not that we have short memories, as the press likes to point out; let's just call it what it is: symptoms of abuse coupled with a hope that we still had a shred of good faith left in us.   

Which brings us to the Campaign 2012.   What to expect for Centrist Americans, goaded down the sluice into toleration of  the Milo Mindbenders —  Glenn Beck, Huckabee, Gingrich, Bachman, Fox Newscorp (Sierra Leone's broadcasting is less hampered), and Rush Limbaugh, posing as either political leaders or authorities, or credible news sources directed to their almost cult-like constituents and inundating the airwaves and internet in high pitched tones of fabricated facts and statistics, lies, misdirection and infusing in Americans a sense of shame of our own government, which they manage to do all the while accusing our President of not loving his country.  

Personally, I had hoped to wait on this article simply because despite the harbinger of dark times, I am not prepared to stop what I do with my time and life to take up a new cause; like most people, I am immersed in my own pursuits, and it doesn't include going out in the cold and showing my American spirit.  

However, events are unraveling against the very things I do love about our country, our Constitution and its people, who are ready to do something about this smoldering mess.  

Now that the Republicans have uncloaked  their intentions, coupled with Rachel Maddow’s lucid and comprehensive exposé on the  overview of the Republican/corporate movements of late, from New Hampshire voting laws to ban Democrats from voting, to Pennsylvania’s laws to override democratic government, to Texas writing laws that make it harder for Democrats to vote, and to Michigan’s new Republican Governor giving the government’s coffers to the rich and then taxing the poor and elderly to make up for it, while news covers the Wisconsin debaucle, where its citizens are now trying reel in their own state government. Unfortunately,  — it is time to take stock as to what is at stake here,  to make decisions and perhaps even to fast forward to glimpse a time in the future if we decide to do nothing and go with the flow.  

As Rachel Maddow  has already so copiously laid out the chess pieces and their movements in the Republican strategy for corporate takeover of our government, in her expose “Connecting the Dots” (which can be seen at   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/  I will not reiterate in depth all of the Republican positioning of  the newly acquired Republican Governor states, but point out that Pennsylvania, New Hampshire (“too many students voting liberal in our state, and it’s a real pain in the butt!”),  Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio,  are right now creating laws to inhibit the democratic vote, limit personal liberties, create moral issues to distract us while they hand over our wealth to the corporations, and citing scare tactics to maintain control of the masses while they finish up legislating away our America, turning it into a welfare state for the rich on the backs of the working class Americans.  

 . . . And as to our big government, be assured our corporate lobbyists are salivating for a chance to privatize.   The Republicans have wasted no time since they were elected back into our government, to resume the takeover of America.  They are just less subtle about it now. 

Put together the individual state legislating and add the national scene with Republican lawmaking at the House of Representatives gutting the futures out of Americans’ lives with their proposed budget cuts.  They had no intentions of getting American jobs.  This is now apparent.  They don't even blink when they name off education as the “irrelevant fat” of our national deficit. It is not on their agenda to make any decisions for the good of American people.  I highly suspect they are tacking legislation in fine print snuggled within these 140 page documents that give Wall street and their other buddies rights that were reigned in on reform bills when President Obama came into office.  The Republican machine does not want its citizens to have any consumer or environmental protections at all.

So far, the Republicans have named education, entitlements, government protection of its citizens  and land; improvement of our country infrastructure,  and for that matter,  any other program that would serve as an enhancement to the American way of life that has been provided by our government, or in other words, any service that would prolong  the  collapse of the USA into the third world dilapidation, if this is the bidding that will please their clients.  And, of course, now they threaten to shut down government (if we dont' get our way, we quit!). 

As unsettling a projection as this may feel to any inner peace of mind we may be able to still cling to, the chess pieces are moving in to checkmate Americans.  I don't see another course or motivation except corporate takeover of our American soil, assets including its people. 

Normally, and this is at the core of politics —  Politicians need the people to keep their political careers alive.  That is a basic essential of getting into and remaining in office.  So, when a handful of Senators and the Governor of a state (who is not a Bush), coup the people and assets of that state against their own constituents as we witnessed in front of the world, on national television in the case of  Wisconsin, these politicians must be relying on some alternate safety net.  Which brings me  back to applying the principals of Machiavellian’s Art of War references. 

However,  Governor Scott Walker made no excuses or comments about the fake David Koch conversation, and subsequently hit hard and fast in the night with his emergency vote against the people -– this is art of war rule #1.  So, there will always be at least a #2 -  there will be a hard and fast strike or a series of strikes that will go fast.  Their goal will be to strike with #2, #3, and #4, before anyone has a chance to get their equilibrium from hit #1.    For a look at what is all in the emergency Senate Bill 11 of Wisconsin: 

 

AN ACT relating to: state finances, collective bargaining for public employees, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees, the state civil service system, the Medical Assistance program, sale of certain facilities, granting bonding authority, and making an appropriation.  (for full text of Bill  see, legis.wisconsin.gov/JR1SB-11.pdf )

 


We are being leveraged.  There is no doubt of this.   The Republicans  have stoked the political contagion on the radical right to the point they believe it will spread to the mainstream and with their financial backing, they can afford to plant expensive television propaganda in the major networks to entice our big government away from us.  Their own outlets of Fox Newscorp, Beck, Limbaugh, Bachman and any other politician who doesn't mind putting their credibility aside for the cause, to shame Americans continues to pound away at Obama's credibility with fabrications of Kenyan upbringing in the mau mau tribal revolts against the White People, and heightening the fear anyone may have about what the Muslim or Islamics really want from us, and let's not forget, lumping Obama in with the Muslim religious organization, because that makes him more suspect.  

We, meaning Americans, of course, built this government.  It is older than most corporations, so I sure hope it is big by now.  We should have income, assets,  and untold riches and value. I should only hope we haven't bargained them all away.  However, the fact is, that someone must want it, because they are baiting it out of American's hands with their propaganda.   They even shamed the Democrats until they felt they had to make excuses for the services it provides our own people.  

When republicans start yelling ‘big government is bad!”  we need to be suspicious.   Well, think children playing unsupervised, and both wanting the same toy –  at the same time.   How would the child without try to get  that toy away from the child who has.   They accuse the other of having something that is morally awful,  horrible, repugnant and disgusting - so when the other kid loses value for it,  puts it down, predictably the first thing the accuser will  do is grab it and run.  These fundamentals are still at play as adults – as corporations, as entities  – the grab just got bigger.   Corporations are business people. They want us, but they want us cheap.   They want our power plants – but they want them at a bargain.  

The Koch brothers, I am quite certain, hope to get ownership of  Wisconsin’s state owned power plants, not that this is by any means the end of their to do list.    Big business are also eyeing the U.S. for the harvesting of its people.  (that’s us).   


A rhetorical question of Republican nonchalance when the eventual side affects of this delivery of all that their client desires,  concerns me.   I wonder how would they be immune if our government collapses  – how could their children withstand those affects and so ultimately how is it in their best interest?  I personally don’t know. I don’t know if they arent’ thinking it through, if they are being seduced by the same conversational strategies which they perpetrate on Americans, by perverse moneyed polarizations.   Or, perhaps they have been guaranteed a high place in the new Mecca after America has been dismantled.

Either way,  Republican alliances to business only assures they are rooting for business to profit, not the people. After the assets of our great country have been sold off to corporate interests, our power plants, our ports and gulfs, our people, and after the money is gone, and the roads are bad, and the US is no longer a global leader and  Americans will be broke, with no government for the people, undereducated and in need of starting over again.   

Or more common is the reasoning that if white elitists aren’t heading up the highest office to hold in America, let the people go to the pigs.  There exists a global community of rich, a global society of uber rich that don’t need a geographic community in the form that we have in America.  Our Carnegies and Rockefellers are gone.  We have some noblesse Oblige howver, not by those who live amongst us, excepting Bill Gates, perhaps, so our treasured small towns and what we consider community, are not felt by the top 3% of American rich.  I happen live in a small town.  I enjoy walking the dog, seeing my neighbors and knowing who they are; and shopping at our village,  and getting to know our local merchants.  They are visible, and accountable.  I support them.  I even support the larger corporations, such as The Gap, that have taken up space in our village.  I enjoy the commerce, the commercial exchange.  They have become a  part of OUR community, not the other way around.    

Our leaders prefer to serve corporations.  They are richer than us, they are more powerful than us, and they can afford a Senator or Congressman with way more enticements than we can.  And now that the Republicans are addicted to corporate power, they need them more than they need us.  That is my explanation. They simply don’t care  right now.  

Since cable crime shows saturate our TV time, think of a serial killer that we see on crime and law stories .  Criminal Minds.  We analyze the serial killer’s instinctive “high” that he gets after a kill.   This ‘high’ comes from the same place that say, Walker is living off from his ‘kill’ of the union – and this ‘kill’ is a big high.  Power. Power.  The Koch brothers are lending it to Walker,  just like the devil in The Inferno – as he gives a taste of what it is like.  It is this seduction, not so much the money.  

 

I believe that is what corporate governance will cost Americans. Historically, every time we are seduced into privatization, every time corporations usurp or take over one of our country’s resources – they move it away from the peoples' reach. Because that is the profitable thing to do.  It is no longer a service for the people; it becomes a service for the people who can afford it.  Private industry can take over a government function for the purpose of doing it more efficiently.  It is never going to be cheaper for the people it was meant to serve in the first place.   


Washington state privatized some portions of their employment Security Dept.'s services over to private industry in the 1990s. Even though the administration of the program went to private industry, that industry received funding from the state and federal government for doing government work.  Which in turn, makes them subject to all federal and state policies, laws and regulatory agency's rules.   Sounds reasonable.  But, they are less accountable than our government, and they are a private company, which means they need to make a profit.  And, when the profit needs to be made by unemployed people, it can have some disastrous results  - for the people.   Now that the corporations are really not American corporations at all, it would seem to be even less relevant to entertain giving private companies our government functions.   

In order not to deliver to the corporations our American dreams, our assets as a country, our jobs keeping up our infrastructure, and even our power plants, or what may be left of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and down to our consumer protections,  we need to get free of the upcoming barrage of national ad campaigns by the Republicans.  We need to remember that even if they make a valid point in criticizing an imperfection of our union, does not mean they will deliver to the people the correct solution.    The Republican party can do little as of this writing to ease America's mind.  It is as useless as reasoning with a serial killer and then letting him back loose in the community.  The scope of urgency for American's way of life broadens in the face of the Wisconsin incident.  


The Governor of Wisconsin and his fellow Republican senators are at this moment off to celebrate now in Washington, D.C., the beltway of  our government, or what is left of it, to raise their glasses, congratulate themselves and get drunk on their victory, and of course, fundraise with the help of their corporate clients, BGR.     

 

Those of us who were of age in the 90s and up until Obama's election, have first hand knowledge of the high protein diet our lawmakers fed Wall street.   While the banks and bankers lobbied for and won de-regulation of their fiduciary responsibility to its clients, at the same time enticing Americans with a lifestyle of credit, handing out credit cards with high balances, encouraging Americans to load them up, transfer balances, have three or four cards to juggle them with, and then made  unaffordable housing accessible to middle class Americans through their predatory loan practices and toxic bundling of investments, sliding in a bad loan or two with the mutual funds, selling the American dream — our lawmakers were setting the systems in motion, to safety net their clients, the banks.

In other words, our lawmakers turned on us, and offered us up for lunch.  When people were toppling over with debt, the Bankruptcy laws tightened, and the courts offered relief only to their clients, big business and banks.  There were scenes at the bankruptcy court where Sears and Macys and VISA card would send a rep to court and put the Bankrupt American on the stand and go through their bills - "you got Johnny a GI-JOE for Christmas.  Why should we have to pay for that?  The scenes at the Bankruptcy Court were near ridiculous.  But the Judges were buying it.   The issuers of our student loans know that they will never be repaid. The interest will continue, and the issuers of the student loans will get your tax return each year and it will never be applied against the principal.  Its gravy.  And your principal will never diminish.   The student loan will never be repaid and can never be written off.   That goes double for the kids graduating out of our universities these days, with an $80,000 plus bill in hand, facing a forsaken job market.


Up until the Obama administration, lawmakers had deregulated the banks and lenders responsibility to the people to the point where they had  zero fiduciary duties to its customer base or credit card holders; legally wrote us predatory home loans, needed no accountability for rising interest rates, and had carte blanche to all remedial measures at their disposal.  By the end of the 1900s, the 3 big credit scoring companies had the American people tied five ways to Sunday.  

Worried, rightfully, as even our ability to get hired was (and still is, to a large degree) dependent on the credit scores of the big 3, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  

Meanwhile, the Republican chess game continues into the political campaigns for 2012. Republicans are holding open the doors for their clients, letting corporate interest into our capital.  They are the mouth pieces crying “NO MORE BIG GOVERNMENT” so that we can dismantle every protection that we the people enjoy.  Because once it gets into corporate grasp, it changes into something else, something unattainable.  And that is what corporations want.   Because then they will be leveraged.   We should be yelling back, 'nonsense' and let them quit, if they want to.  Or maybe we should do what Walker did to Wisconsin - and if Boehner wants to shut down Congress, well, pink slip him and keep on going.  

 

We don’t need to revisit Nuremburg, or  the historical atrocities that have occurred when high handed ideologies, power and money or . . . Sharia Law –(hey, be suspicious of the corporations because THEY brought it up!)  get control of the people  –    We have the power stop this.  Right now, the corporations don’t own us.  They own one of our political parties, though   They own half of our political system. 

 

Personally, I say let’s have big government.  Because big government means that we the people are our own bosses.  If our government is big, then we have some skin in the game, and we are growing and healthy.   Which means we are secure.   We own our government, the power plants, we have the nuclear problem in OUR hands; we have assets, we have bargaining chips, we have leverage, we have a reason for our leaders to listen to us when we say something.  Once that has been bargained away, or worse, romanced away from us under the guise of “big, bad government!”, we change the status quo.  

 

And now, for the small, Orwelian glimpse of what could be if we go with the flow: and say that Americans are unable to discern the difference between truth and Fox News, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Palin,  et al -  and follow the corporate liaisons into this eighth circle of Hell.   What will life look like, you may wonder.  I can tell you.   It will look like obedience. 


Which brings us to the Harvesting of Americans.   Limited legal access; voting for politicans based on criteria set by Republican leadership, which will equate to a one-party system of corporate ownership; limited tolerance for freedom of the press, speech, or even movie scripts.  No environmental protection agency; no clean air act; no social services or entitlements; no voting unless you are going to vote corporation;  and it would probably be hard to try to live under the radar, as many American people have made an art of a lifestyle. When we turn our lives over to corporate greed, we see the decay of humanity.  

Much like the Nazi movement, or  in the movie, (this wouldn't be my blog if it didn't reference at least one movie) -The Constant Gardener, people who have no otherwise value to the corporate owners of America would be put to profitable use for them, if they couldn’t think up anything themselves – assuming that we would continue to get that choice. Obedience or punishment.   As Chomsky once defined Capitalism,:

 

Now, under capitalism we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level — there's a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I'm opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy. 

 

...capitalism is basically a system where everything is for sale, and the more money you have, the more you can get. And, in particular, that's true of freedom. Freedom is one of the commodities that is for sale, and if you are affluent, you can have a lot of it. It shows up in all sorts of ways. It shows up if you get in trouble with the law, let's say, or in any aspect of life it shows up. And for that reason it makes a lot of sense, if you accept capitalist system, to try to accumulate property, not just because you want material welfare, but because that guarantees your freedom, it makes it possible for you to amass that commodity. [...] what you're going to find is that the defense of free institutions will largely be in the hands of those who benefit from them, namely the wealthy, and the powerful. They can purchase that commodity and, therefore, they want those institutions to exist, like free press, and all that.

 Article written by Shannon Browne Bertuch.  If you would like to contact shannon, you may write shannon@theraleightavern.com.  

 


 



HOW TO CONSUME A CORPORATION

Article by Shannon Browne Bertuch



I reside in a moderately conservative, white-collar neighborhood.  I went online the other day and ordered a sign for my front lawn that says:  Return the Favor: Consume a Corporation.   What does that even mean?  Truthfully, I’m not fully sure, but was hoping that by planting a seed in some geniuses’ mind, we the People will come up with the right approach.   But until then, to me it means that any business today in America, is in constant research mode, not to make their business more relevant to the services and products needed by Americans like us, but for new methods of turning a dollar without incurring any more costs than necessary.  Between their researching for cost cutting measures and lobbying for more entitlements for corporations, businesses and government seem to be in tandem doing about the same thing; slash and burn for corporate profit.    

 

As our quality of life diminishes over the years, we can certainly intuitively feel  the corporate trend to evaporate customer services to the point that these banks and other companies don't even meet our needs, yet they maintain a strong presence.   So, since they seem to be in the business of how to consume people, I believe that we need a quick answer to, How to consume a corporation.

 

To illustrate my point, take a look at the latest “convenience” for you the customer, from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, and probably a few others who will follow.  For Free! The bank will supply you with a gadget to attach to your cell phone so that you can make your bank deposits without having to do into their bank!  That’s their marketing phrase.  Interpretation?  Do it yourself.  A page out of the airline industry – book it, pay it and print it, on your paper, on your time, and do it yourself!   

 

One of my adult children just got hired in a part-time, underachiever, inconsequential job that he was required to get in order to participate in an athletic training program.  His job is scooping out ice cream for people in our little town, which required that he get a bank account, because direct deposit is the only method of getting employees paid.  I wonder why.  Could it be that this company’s bank will charge more if they are required to actually process a check?  The answer of course, is yes.  

 

Let’s take this system down the road a bit, and of course, in my most paranoid of worlds.  If I actually am one of the most paranoid, conspiracy theory minded people they know, why do these corporate trends always confirm those suspicions with such consistency. . . anyway,  scenario:  You go out and get a job, and your new employer tells you to  furnish them with your bank account information so you can get on their payroll.  Immediately you run down with a minimum amount of money that you got from probably your parents if you are just getting a job, and then the bank opens your account (for now that’s how it works . . .).  You turn in your bank information, you get the job, your money goes into the bank, who has handed you a debit card.   A do it yourself system.  

 

After a couple of years, you notice that the branch of the bank where you went in to open your account is no longer there, however, you can open an account on line, so who needs them.  But, the only thing between you and your money is this debit card.  You haven't had to think about that, yet.  There are no more bank employees in your neighborhood because the actual bank no longer exists.   Then, something goes wrong – your money isn’t there on payday, or there are deductions that you don’t recognize, (probably because while you were busy working, the corporate governed legislative body of our government passed laws to let the banks do whatever they want ).  So, you find the 800-number for this bank on the back of your debit card, and work through a 17-menu driven greeting and then are told by a robotic voice that you are in the queue and to please stay on hold until someone can manage to ‘get to you’.  And then, at  some point, the music stops, and  the voice of a foreign speaking person doing their best with the English language says something audible but not understandable.  You can’t really hear them very well but you believe after a couple of minutes that they basically are trying to tell you that they have no authority to do anything to help you anyway, they are just there to answer the phone, probably because the laws do actually require that at a minimum, a business maintain  some  sort of telephonic line of communication open, without any  requirement that it meet a level of performance  or accountability.   And, that’s how its done!

 

This article is a breed offshoot  my  ‘Mean Spirits’ article regarding the irrelevance of people to businesses.  If a bank, or any other business can make you disappear, it is so much more profitable for the top tiered few, and it is also so much easier to extort you without having to ever even look at you.  You are irrelevant, you are a by-product of money.  To clarify :  yes, a bank will take your money through electronic means, which you have the burden of accomplishing,  and then ‘handle’ your money – for you, if they don’t have to look at you, AND it will Cost you!  And, so while the companys’ profit margins increase with each incremental step toward eliminating the hard cost of doing business; that is, personnel, processing checks, having branch locations, processing deposits, and anything else that software or technology can’t yet handle, it will cost us, the ‘customer/victim’ more to use their nonservices.   And, like I have said in many previous blogs – once a practice is put into motion for a few years, no one remembers it being any other way.  It becomes the new standard in the industry and it doesn’t take long.  

 

Not too far off.   So, next time you see a ‘family values’ TV commercial with the All-American family enjoying a clean, beautiful beach, which, unless you are over the age of 35 you have probably never even seen anyway, or having a family meal together at a decent time of evening, or any other atomic ‘family values’ moment, you can be sure that you are being lulled into believing that some bigshot organization in America is on the watch for you and is out there promoting a middle class.    Not so fast.   That’s just the rhetoric, the ‘virtual’ scene,  not the actual scene on the streets. 

 

There are 99% of us who are not bringing home the 5-star  global lifestyle, so there is really no gain to the 99% to go along with mainstream media’s use of paid airtime such as getting  advice from Grover Norquist .  We have no interest in what he thinks, wants, peddles or lobbies because We the People didn’t vote  him into any capacity of service to America. He isn’t a public servant; He is a corporate mouthpiece.   In another time, anyone who signed such a petition would be under scrutiny for recall, as this is behavior that undermines the will of the people - just as an example of how little that means today.  

 

And this is where We the People need to direct our legislative change.  This is also why of course, we hear the demonic cries from Republicans and corporations about the evils of BIG government, over-regulations, and citing these as the reasons for loss of jobs.  Don’t need to see the mechanics of  Glenn Beck's ‘meltdown nation” to catch on to the rhetoric vs. action.   We have already witnessed why the loss of jobs; and personally, I don’t appreciate being told through suggestive opinions how I should interpret life in politics from these news analysts.   

 

The Glass Steagall Act, a regulating piece of law, (that was subsequently dissolved through Congressional legislation) that upheld banking industries’ duties as well as our remedies, holding banks in fiduciary trust with a  duty to the people who held them in trust,  and accountability from any business that wants to open its doors to us, the public.   When was the last time any corporation was actually audited?  Is it even legal for our government to do so, I wonder.  

 

It is precisely the preponderant Republican political agenda relegating the general populace to deliberate its founding principals for its own welfare.   The emerging  hegemonic institutioning of  the extreme right is particularly disturbing to the past axiomatic two party system.  Our Tea Party resembles a  Putinistic  styled mentality by Republicans,  evidenced by the denial of real its citizen rights and in fact,  fueling the factional infighting by polarizing their audience against Obama and America, telling their own 'facts' as they call them,  much like the National Observer, or The Globe gone national, utilitizing tight media outlets and compromising  journalistic honesty.   While the actual believing public may be in the minority, it is enough to feign a baiss for "What Americans want", while  legislating to limit their state’s electoral outcomes to Republican victory such as is seen in Michigan, Texas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida and others of the 29 states headed by Republican Governors.   

 

The appearance of Grover Norquist is yet another  symptom of the Republican movement to create internal conflict, while touting American values.    Norquist’s emergence as some kind of unauthorized leader strains the relationship between Republicans and the general populace.   Promises for anything other than our government for its people, is a direct and decisive conflict of interest for any of our elected or appointed public servants to be allowed to even listen to tell us anything less.   At the very edge of decency, few should know about Grover Norquist who would be in the closet, quietly urging our legislators to give business a little more room, —  maybe!  But to have just blatantly let him off his leash, and giving our news service interviews to openly tell Americans what he wants for the Jabba the Hut  Republican corporate-lobbyist driven minions is nothing short of outrageous. 

 

Michigan is one such state that is full of Republic driven woes due to the Mid 2010 election, where our governor rode in on his campaign as “One Tough Nerd”.  And the disappointment is,  again – the marketing of legislation that has nothing to do with the candidates actual intentions -  hand  the people a good campaign slogan.  Trusting people heard  the ‘voice of reason’ in this ‘nerd’ from Gateway Corp., during his campaign, and have since tried against this force to stop the machine.    The Democrats of  Ann Arbor created a coalition and pooled in to support Governor Rick Snyder; needless to add that  they have been predictably sorry ever since. 

 

In March of this year, Michigan’s newly elected Republican Governor signed into law Michigan’s HB42414 which passed as Act No. 4, Public Acts of 2011, MCL §§ 141.1501 et. seq..   Its unconstitutionality lies in the overreaching power of one person over a municipality as well as the fact that it changes the way a government is run.   It has been called “Financial Martial Law” , because of the unruly award of power to one person, who is appointed through a cronyist process with an executively high salary to match, (a salary range of $150,000 to $350,000 annually),  which is paid for by the citizens of the overtaken municipality.   Nowhere in the U.S. is one person granted unlimited powers to cancel or renegotiate union contracts, sell off assets of a city and privatize public services.   Someone in Michigan’s government isn’t educated with regard to the  democracy.  This of course, challenged in a Court of Law, would be dissolved, rescinded and these new “managers” could be liable for any damage done without indemnity of our government, because it is in direct violation of the Constitution.  Of course, in presenting the ‘dilemna’ of our abandoned cities that created the emergency necessitating the takeover, to the citizens of Michigan failed to disclose many aspects of the collective action that became Public Acts of 2011 #4. 

 


In domino fashion, following passage of this unconstitutional law, our city of Detroit’s school district’s emergency manager, Robert Bobb, effectively dissolved the School District of Detroit, laid everyone off and bid the City’s education out to private charter operators, yes, in a cronyist style of award.  


 Also in what became a short-lived famous media sensation over the violation of a City's constitutional rights was the incident that Rachel Maddow reported on with regard to the State's appointment of an Emergency Manager who took over Benton Harbor, MI  CityCouncil and subsequently leased a donated  people's public park (Save the Jeankockpark website / ) to  Jack Nicklaus Golf Course developers  for the purpose of a Lake Michigan waterfront gated golf community. 


The state of Michigan is one of the many states that were taken in by the American values styled Republican campaigns.  Michigan mistakenly elected Rick Snyder, “One Tough Nerd” along with his 10 points to Reinvent Michigan.  What we almost immediately discovered upon Snyder’s victory and to our dissatisfaction was that Snyder’s self-financed campaign turned out like all of the other self-financed campaigns.   He bought himself into government by hiring the same PR firm George W. Bush hired to get elected into the White House. 

 

Our government elected offices serve the people, however, when we elect self-financing millionaires we can be assured that they only want the job in order to provide the Republican agenda access to a state, and restricted democracy, and slavery of its middle class.  Halting the machine is harder than it sounds because most of the citizens of Michigan have no idea what is going on – yet.   Michigan was  already beset with many problems facing American middle class, with a higher  poverty line than most other states. 

 

Michigan has rich resources, such as a portion of Lake Superior, which is the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume and is currently under threat at the hands of Nestle Corp. bottling up the water with no restrictions or regulations.  Traditionally, Lake Superior has been revered for its fresh waters and remoteness to traffic, leaving it some of the cleanest waters in the world.   Lake Superior belongs to more than just Americans; or North Americans, it is a world resource and should have some restrictions with regard to who or how much water can be removed – all for profit.  Another example of  a corporation stealing our rich resources and selling them back to us.  

questions or comments to the author, please write apollo@blogitiks.com.  

Pissing Match with Wall Street or All Out War over Corporate Takeover

by Shannon Browne Bertuch

MICHELLE BACHMANN: The Ergot in the Rye

Article written by: Shannon Browne Bertuch


Had Ted Kennedy allowed the media to  decide his political career after the Chappaquiddick scandal, we wouldn’t recognize the political landscape of our government today.      

 

Because Congressional democrats heavy handedly ‘encouraged’ Anthony Weiner to resign, it just adds to the pile against American interests, red-districting, removing collective bargaining, and even running up our deficit and slamming the tab on the table for the American people to pick up, which, in a nutshell represents the Republican party interests.   Americans are tired of hearing their plight, but they, apparently find it refreshing.  But even the least politically bent person can soon figure out that  financial instability is the Republican party’s favorite talking point, because it gives them the opportunity to make their point, which is to get rid of federal government and take down the entitlements of the American people.  It's hard to make that point when our budget is balanced and there is actually a surplus.   But, BUsh did his job while in office and gave the Republican party the exact place on the board they were seeking.   And, in comes the rest of the Republican agenda.    

 

 

A languishing Republican agenda viewed from the perspective of Republican political leaders’  can make sense given the shift of power in our nation’s Capitol.    American people are the annoyances because corporations don’t want balance.   They want it all now, and American people obstruct the path to the whole kaboodle.   

 

Right now the corporations are unquestionably  in control.    There is no party gumption to be found in our two houses, but we need to rally behind one of them to start a new conversation and right now, for Americans, the Democrats are the least ill, the most healthy.   

 

And, in the animal world, the pecking order of life is to kow-tow to the power, for survival. Much like the mother cat who removes the sickly newborn so she can foster the healthy, this movement that started in Washington, D.C. the nucleus of our political power is spreading out to the states, and so far successfully.   

 

For those of us who may hold jobs at corporations, we see this phenomenon on the job all the time.   A merger brings a new boss who comes in and throws down all the old power, and people adapt; they rally to the center of the new company, to survive.    It happens in families – it happens in neighborhoods (which is how gangsters grow in numbers.   Its not a conscious choice that a young man believes they are the ‘best’ choice for a quality of life existence – they are a ‘best choice’ for survival in their environment. ) – in other words, - well, say, in the words of  Will Hunting, because this seems to be the appropriate place to insert my movie reference.    As Will searches for an answer to the Recruiter’s question, “Why shouldn’t you work for NSA?  Will replies: 

Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people that I never met and that I never had no problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Send in the marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number was called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's walking to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the schrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorroids. And meanwhile he's starvin' 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure, fuck it, while I'm at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.

 

 

Going back to the Bush Administration, of course in hindsight we understand it was no accident that Bush and Cheney ran the federal Bank account down into a debilitating deficit while  Wall Street orchestrated a teetering brink at the stock market.

 

Despite Republicans’ outspoken agenda to take us back a couple of centuries, curb human and civil rights;  remove environmental protections,  money for education, medicare,  and anything of value to the American people, except for  maybe a few of the details that corporations don’t care to control; the incidentals, the ancillaries, and even after all of the events and all of the debates going on in the Senate and Congress,  pulling on some threads on the conservative blogs such as Red State gives every indication that conservative Americans are in denial about the need to switch their political party loyalties.    Denial costs us our freedom.    


Americans aren’t panicked enough.   Yes, we are taking to the streets in some numbers, but not enough to invoke a change in the direction our country is going.  Apparently, while Americans were getting nauseous on its own hubris, and too absorbed to push back on environmental spoil, viral disease,  medicine overrun by prescription drug industry, and otherwise sidetracked by  modern technology and MTV, or just too much prozac in the water, the money has been circulating to fewer and fewer people and places.   

 

 

The Bush/Wall Street culmination of the financial siege both on Wall Street of course, and our shocking deficit was the chosen ‘reveal’ for all the world to see.   It was the neon message from the new seat of power.   

 

Many of us knew that Bush and Cheney were changing the game – we just didn’t know where it was going to come from when it arrived, how it would play itself out.   Well, we all see it now.   The question is:  Is it too late to change the conversation.   Can we still aspire to a higher  ideal, or do we follow the road  as it is laid before us  by the new power.    

 

This writer questions how we could have stopped Bush during the transfer of power.    But, when I think back on the secrecy, the refusal of that administration to engage the American people, the changes in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the refusal of our own Congress to respond on behalf of the American people, I can’t think of another chess piece we put in place to protect our government  from just such a fate, that wasn’t already taken.   So, short of  starting a revolution at that time, I am without other avenues to investigate.

 

 

Did we actually have a choice?  The answer I believe is, like all diseases, until it was in some state of recognition, that is, by the time the collapse converged, no.    Our window of opportunity came and went.    An emphatic, lesson learned too late, and an auspicious turning point in American history.   Of course we didn’t.   But this was the point of these events;  to wake us up to the facts.    


How many of us are still grappling with the fact that American people are no longer in the driver’s seat.   Not in Washington,  not in our states, not in our cities.    We are at the hands of the power holding the purse.    Look around.  Right now it is the corporations who make the choices for Americans.   

 

 And Bachmann comes from the new seat of power.  They may look like they are floundering for Republican leadership, but much like the dark times of the Salem trials, we are looking at prescription choices.   The choices are market worn candidates, sterile candidates, or Christian zealots.  And in Iowa, Bachmann is  perhaps even the only Republican handing out any version of good news: hope for a Christian ideal in Washington.    And why not.   Bachmann's spirit shines when she is in front of a crowd, and she has made her life work even with foster kids.  Unlike Palin,  she is actually educated; she is a doer, and the wake she has left down her political path is well, proven.   Plus, she is an appealing, female version of Mitt Romney, but without the market worn, carefully manicured rhetoric.   That Bachmann is able to unabashedly bring her Christian agenda right to the people and completely ignore the diversity of the American landscape leads me to leap back into another time.  is it possible?  Do we want to?  Of course, not, but , well, she is sort of entertaining, and just enigmatic enough for me to encourage her to speak longer.   I realize this pulpit should be held under a big tent, and definitely there is no place for a discussion of government business.  But,  I've never been part of a divinely guided plan and she doesn't seem to mind leaping over these realities at all.   

 

Most people figure that she has locked in Iowa.   And if there for America goes Iowa, we have just managed to take our whole country back in time.  

Bachmann is a study in Politics, that is for certain.   Perhaps her rise to the pulpit is more analogous to the circumstances in Salem at the time of their famous trials back in 1692.   Much like today the emerging mercantile elite was in the later stages of development and so people of substance were less willing to take on the burden of leading the towns people.   Sea trade was much more interesting and profitable than minding the people.   And that of course, left the towns people to the lesser minds and the lesser abled and these circumstances are what many believe led Salem to the witch trials.    In this vein, Bachman’s turn at running our government is very salient.  

 

Bachmann plays Good cop/Bad cop very well.  I could never get a good night's rest on her watch, I fear.   However, she  is showing us the Republican story but in new pictures, and Bachmann I believe would be willing to hold our hand all the way to hell.      

This is an acid trip I'm not comfortable musing any longer than it takes Bachmann to deliver one of her speeches. Reality sets in when her speech ends.  We know that we would all be washed away if we allowed our government to hold a religious cleansing any further than say the Congressional houses.    I have a theory that she may well have been weaned  on old bottles of that Iowan Templeton Rye Whiskey from prohibition – made with rye ruined by ergot.   . . .  

 

 

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Middle Class and Wealthy: Alien v. Predator? Not

Article by Shannon Browne Bertuch

Wall Street replaces industry.  But, as Wall Street trades or sells in a derivative market, there isn't necessarily anything even intangible being consumed, purchased or  traded, unless we are counting a virtual gain or loss.  There should be a law against it, as it so closely resembles insider trading, or simple consumer fraud — except for the redefined packaging it comes in.   Its kind of like the monosexual trends of the 1980s.  You don't need a company, employees, or anyone else to participate to make it work - voila! money!

Our founding industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, the father of Philanthropy,  found work in Pennsylvania as a messenger boy for  U.S. Telegraph.  He invested a his money until he founded Carnegie Steel Company, merged it into U.S. Steel (hence the Pittsburgh Steelers), and then, after producing more steel and iron than all of U.S. and Britain combined, ultimately sold off his share, cashing in $492 million in 1901.

      Carnegie left behind a more important legacy: one of his many books,Triumphant Democracy, touting the American life he had found, and stressing the key to America’s political stability and industrial accomplishments was all as a result of access to education. The key. 

      Carnegie owned the first billion dollar company in the world, which is pretty impressive for back then – well, even now. Carnegie took most of that $492 million and donated his wealth to invest in mankind, building 3,000 libraries around the English speaking world, set up a teacher’s pension fund, and other funds for charities, scientific and cultural interests, leaving his personal cash value at around $30 million for his heir. In his writing about "Wealth," he emphasized his conviction that rich men had a duty to use their money to improve the welfare of the community.  He also felt that the reason he was blessed with financial freedom was because God knew he would do the right things with it. Carnegies’ legacies to the United States are almost countless.   

      The Rockefellers are another founding industrialist  American family that has influenced and shaped our ability to enjoy art, science, opportunity and even a standard of living among industry (funding a Health Commission) due to their philanthropic pursuits. The Rockefellers can be traced back to Standard Oil and banking right up to the current  Chase Manhattan/JP Morgan bank. The Rockefeller brothers have pursed the family wealth exclusively for the whole family and remained united as a conglomerate interest.  Their structure has a very interesting formula for maintaining and managing their family wealth while giving generously to many universities, scholarships, and most historically notable was their encouraging gesture of hope to Americans at the time of the great depression by building the Rockefeller Center solely from their own personal finances. 

          Today, the shape of our American upper class and wealthy has changed the landscape for the everyday working American, who by all accounts appear to have seen its better days. These offspring of the Reagan/Bush years has borne a new wealth mentality.  In contrast to our early industrialists, this new generation of wealth matured with the coming of  new terms entering American colloquialisms such as ‘self-absorbed’ . . . a reminder of the excesses of the 1980s.   Wall Street and the banking industry have evolved into what we know today as our mutant greed merchants, replacing our previously mentioned more stalwart Americans.  These Apostles of Michael Milken have expressed no intention of taking on social responsibility in the United States as they iterate to the American worker,  stated in their letter below. Moreover, they even appear to even have a vendetta against the American middle class, actually. They appear not in the least contrite about the Wall Street debacle of 2007. As it turns out, neither are they charmed by our American working class, from where most of these merchants grew.  In place of the noblesse oblige of American affluence of the 1960s, these wallbangers convey a more seething, malevolent tone in their message to their fellow Americans:

 We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat asses land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?”

                   The first time I read this letter from Wall Street, I was reminded of a scene years back, watching a  parent  trounce her own child at Candyland (a Milton Bradley boardgame).   Not exactly Alien vs. Predator,  I thought.  

         Today’s wealthy feel no collegial gratitude to their fellow Americans for their opportunities, or for their ability to get a good education and move up in the world, and have no problem trouncing the blue collar American worker while irresponsibly toying with the fate of the U.S. economy in their hands.  Out of their own mouths they express their disregard for ethics, fair play, American democracy and good faith. They appear to not understand that 80% of the American 'Joe' as they reference, have never played the stock market, and many of the other workers will never see a 401k from their employer.   

    However, they go on to boast, if they have to sell a fake piece of paper, so be it – if it makes a profit, they don’t question the commodity or value a transaction. Who are we, they say, to apply any discretionary judgment about what we do.   Apparently they don't need to.  Being on Wall Street means being immune to our transactional laws - or perhaps this is a statement that they make the laws and that does not include consumer protections or any other remedy for prosecution of consumer fraud violations.    Of course,  this bold declaration would not be possible in other arenas of business, but Wall Street would not make it without the backing of a crippled federal government, thanks to the banking lobbyists for smaller federal government, keeping their jurisdictional realm out of state problems, even if the state problems go interstate, which  impairs any federal lawmaking ability to apply working legislation to try any bad faith claims.

                         Over the last twenty years the United States has produced countless billionaires. In 1982 the wealthiest 400 individuals in the "Forbes 400" owned $92 billion.   By the year 2000  their wealth increased to over $1.2 trillion. In the 22 years between 1976 and 1998, the share of the nation's private wealth held by the top 1% nearly doubled, going from 22% to 38%. During those two decades, the size of the overall "wealth pie" grew, but the ownership of that wealth is now more concentrated than at any time since the 1920s. The top 10% own 71% of all private wealth. The top 1% now own more than the bottom 90% collectively. And while community enhancements such as The Boys and Girls Club is hanging on, it can't offer those enriched program that our generation grew up with; the local metropolitan Ballet and Opera companies struggle every year, wondering if they are going to bite the dust at any given time; the renaissance in America appears to have seen its day. 

                    

The Philanthropy Chronicles reported total giving by the top 50 philanthropists in the U.S. “plunged almost 75%, to $4.1 billion from $15.5 billion.”   The median gift fell to $41.4 million from $69.3 million in 2008. Stanley F. and Fiona B. Druckenmiller, No. 1 on The Chronicle’s list of America’s most-generous donors, gave $705-million to their foundation.  So compared to their trillion, unlike their predecessors, the largest balance of money stays inside the family circle and the donated money to projects gets much less than it did in 1920.  So basically, given the changed variables:  concentrated wealth means that the donations need to cover not 45% of a population of 9 million, social services, but 90% of the population of a total of 309 million by 2010 census reports,  plus the cost of living index which has the $705 million dollars of today going out into America on social problems could equate to Carnegie sending out about $500,000 in his lifetime.   

 

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have decidedly calculated these factors and created trusts and funds for American arts and sciences and social services based on something more realistic. While this is not to denigrate the giving of other Americans and American corporations, the index of wealth to CPI is drastically down. 

 

And while the distribution of wealth ratio to the giving ratio is in deep disparity, there are other problems associated with philanthropic decisions by the wealthy. The rich today appear less empowered  to influence or manage the avenues of their giving than say the Rockefellers and Carnegies. The newly rich such as Facebook entrepreneur Mark Zukerberg has entered the list of philanthropists, and he is concentrating his projects on his home state in New Jersey, giving to the schools. This follows a template built by Bill Gates, in the beginning.

 

Raymond Ray, an American millionaire and philanthropist who got his start with general Electric, expressed his disdain for the ethics problems among corporations, mainly Wall Street, and wanted to influence the ideologies of corporate compensation based on getting there fairly as opposed to elevating those evil geniuses such as Michael Milken, who went to jail but then his economic formulas are studied at ivy league universities. 

 Which brings us to the quality of life we see in America today, for the 97% of us Americans.  With education as our key, we  have the resources to enfranchise ourselves from the proposed enslavement of Wall Street, but we need to do it in numbers. Look around at our assets in the internet.  Most of the top colleges have enough website to offer us an opportunity to self-educate. While Wall Street points out the fact that they own the money; the do need us in numbers, to fully engage their prerogatives.  Workers and consumers.  

         Elephants in captivity are trained with a ball and chain while they are young, to stay where they stand.  The heavy weight of the ball chained to a baby elephant will keep him where he stands. The constant ball and chain on the baby elephant’s leg eventually teaches that elephant to bend to will of their master.  By the time an elephant reaches adulthood of course, they could hurl that ball and chain at their master by raising their leg high enough. It would be nothing for a grown elephant to move, but they don’t know that because of their experience as a baby.  We need to re-teach ourselves how to move through  today's society successfully.  We need to breath the new air. Our American know-how, creativity,  and strong spirit can change the game for ourselves.  Adapt, and we will do more than just survive.Just as the emergence of the junk bond on Wallstreet with Michael Milken changing the rules and creating a new cycle of wealth creation through bad faith trading and greed, we can utilize the free access of self-education on the internet, and will change the rules for ourselves and our children, creating a new society based on proven values.     

 

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Chasing Dinosaurs: Irrelevance of the Republican Policy Making

 

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Congressional Oversights: The American People

I’m not an economist, nor a lawmaker.   So, perhaps my  rudimentary understanding of economic lawmaking amounts to simple Rookie Logic.     But I have lived in America my whole life.    I have watched Washington’s growing interests in corporate lobbying diminish American culture into a footnote; and have witnessed what happens to the people when they are viewed by our ...

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The Rise and Fall of the Pinocchio Cabal

The rising presence of Calif. Rep. Darrell Issa onto our Washington Capitol wakes the mind to a parlous point in a not so long ago time in American history.   Our political leaders go to Washington perhaps with good intentions, but then not too long after,  begin to exercise an immunity to our laws simply because they are lawmakers.   This particular wind coming through Washington today, brings to mind an ominous time so dark it is referred to as The Cold War.  It is aptly named.   It ruined many lives.  It infringed on the Constitution, caused mayhem and was useless to the security of America. Ultimately, it is a tarnish on our American history.    I would like to run a parallel historical scenario between former Senator Joseph McCarthy and the emergence of  our latest misanthrope, Darrell Issa, onto the Washington scene.  History could caution Mr. Issa on the limitations of his amnesty as The Chosen One, changing the status quo, or perhaps  the public’s question is more aptly posed, is he the puppet or the puppet master?  

I fear the former.   Before going into California's 49th District Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) background, for those readers who missed the Cold War, (or the term McCarthyism period, for that matter),  I would like to retrace a legacy to Washington, the rise and fall of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

When powerful corporations go shopping for a political puppet, they look for certain characteristics in a candidate.  Pinocchio-infected politicans are usually exceptionally driven by money, fame, power, the usuals, but also without any moral imperatives, making them easy to do business with.   In the cases of Issa and McCarthy, they both carry a vagrant grudge toward society and the law in general, while being driven to make their loyalties with complicit opportunity.   Unlike  corporate lobbyists, the American people prefer our public servants to be armed with some moral character, because we all know that the Washington beltway can be a  dangerous playground,  much akin to the DEA sending under cover agents to bust heroin rings.  They need agents with the daring do, but realize they are susceptible to the likelihood of getting hooked on the drug and hence become useless.   The Beltway is a smarmy place, there is no doubt about it. 

Again, from the start, both Darrell Issa and Joseph McCarthy came from large families; in McCarthy’s case, a second generation Irish Catholic immigrant family, not illiterate, but not educated either.  Sen. McCarthy was born November 14, 1908, the sixth of nine children(some say fifth); Issa was born November 1, 1953, the second of six children from a second generation Lebanese Eastern Orthodox family.   It took McCarthy until he was 14 to get through elementary school and then wasn’t able to get back to high school until he was in his twenties. Issa dropped out of high school and went into the military.   McCarthy ultimately received his law degree at Marquette University in Michigan and then passed the bar, but had to supplement his income by gambling.   Issa obtained his GED in his twenties, and then went on to Kent State University in Ohio, his home state.   McCarthy also served in the military and received honors and medals (and also massaged his military record to look even more impressive). It is said that Darrell Issa made a claim that his unit had provided security for President Richard Nixon, sweeping stadiums for bombs prior to games in the 1971 World Series, and that he had always received the highest approval ratings during his service.  A 1998 investigation by the San Francisco Examiner found that these claims were not true as Nixon never attended that year's World Series games, and at one point Issa was transferred to a supply depot after receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation. Issa then retracted the account and blamed the Examiner reporter for misunderstanding an anecdote he had related. 

There are also key similarities in the manner in which McCarthy and Issa ran and subsequently failed their first  political campaigns.   McCarthy went out as a Democrat, lied about his age, lied about his opponent’s age, and even though he lost, he gained a reputation as a cunning and clever opponent and also proved that he was quite morally compromised.   McCarthy went after politics like he gambled.   He appeared to have no discretionary compass when it came to understanding right from wrong.  He had no inner editorial parameters and just attacked his opponents with whatever means he saw available.   After the failed campaign, McCarthy saw more opportunity as a Republican and changed his party status to be later elected as a Circuit Court Judge at the age of 29.   McCarthy served in the war in between his stint as a judge, however, upon returning to his seat, there was enough suspicion surrounding his tactics and in particular at least one case, to cause him to move on.  McCarthy went out for a Senate seat in Wisconsin.  While Issa didn’t change parties,  Issa did study the Congressional map and decided on the 49th District in California because he saw Barbara Boxer as a vulnerable opponent.  Issa backed his first campaign with $10 million of his personal wealth (another mystery – Issa’s wealth cannot be traced back to origin – hmm, D.B. Cooper?); only $400,000 of his funds were in contributions.  He lost the primary election to California State Treasurer Matt Fong in spite of his heavy investment. Fong's campaign raised $3 million from contributions and complained that Issa's wealth made for an uneven playing field.

 

And again, very much like Issa’s  pernicious pursuit of Obama and secondarily, the other 150 government agencies, in the 1950 elections McCarthy took down a number of Democratic senators whom he personally felt insulted him by opposing him.   After what had happened to McCarthy's opponents in the 1950 election, most politicians were unwilling to criticize him in the Senate. As The Boston Post pointed out: "Attacking him in this state is regarded as a certain method of committing suicide." With the exception of William Benton, a senator from Connecticut and the owner of Encyclopaedia Britannica, who took on McCarthy, and he and his supporters immediately began smearing Benton. It was claimed that while Benton had been Assistant Secretary of State he had protected known communists and that he had been responsible for the purchase and display of "lewd art works". Benton, who was also accused of being disloyal by McCarthy for having much of his company's work printed in England, was defeated in the 1952 elections.  He also spread a certain terror among his own peers, and his Republican seniors, while enjoying the benefits of his cut throat strategies, and his willingness to attack President Truman, calling him  a 'dangerous liberal' as well as his memorable ‘pompous diplomat in striped pants’ remark directed to Secretary of State Dean Acheson, they were fearful of what harm to them he may be capable of doing.  

Issa was the one responsible for initiating Governor Gray Davis' ousting out of office.  Issa put up $1.6 million of his own money to go after Governor Davis.   The idea was of course to go after the Governor’s seat, but then Schwarzenegger appeared and Issa backed down (in tears – I’m sure it can be seen on Youtube somewhere).  However, the significance of this move was that it established Issa as a power-hungry, amoral candidate willing to take a fellow servant out of office, and that move gained Issa a reputation as a purebred Doberman.  As an aside, this ongoing reference to meat eating carnivore, kind of reminds me of Lucca Brasi’s relationship to Vito Corleone in the Godfather.  To take the Godfather analogy a little further, there might be some poetic justice if Issa should morph into a mutated Michael Corleone (Is my credit good enough to buy you out?).  

In the case of Joseph McCarthy’s mission in Washington to take down the Commies (with the assistance of his loyal side kick Roy Cohn), Republican Rep. Darrell Issa has now been appointed to head the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which ironically means that he is the moral and ethics watchdog over the politics of Washington for the American people, of course! (duh) -and somehow manages to also be the protector of the JP Morgan Chase former Chief Executive officer, and 108 other business lobbyists — or perhaps Issa’s the general?  

The United States is infamous for its world beating prison system.   In the U.S., normally, when a person proves unable to impose restrictions on him or herself, the law will usually impose those restrictions for that person.  That is the system we have in place.  Not in the case of Issa.  He is not exactly Mr. Smith goes to Washington.   Many investigative reports are accessible all over the web, however, to be thorough, I will offer a brief highlight of what I interpret as morally and legally questionable mayhem that follow Mr. Issa's character.  

         1)      Issa was arrested twice on illegal weapons charges and was convicted of a gun possession misdemeanor in the 1970s. (the Adrian, Michigan police pulled him over because he was driving the wrong way down a one-way street and upon stopping him, discovered  a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol with seven bullets in its ammunition clip, as well as 44 bullets and a tear-gas gun with two rounds for the tear gas.  Ultimately he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of possession of an unregistered firearm.) 

         2)      Issa was accused of stealing a car in 1971 and indicted for stealing another one in 1972.  

3)      Issa took over a security company in the 90s and fired the manager by sending him a box with a gun in it.  

         3)      Issa was prosecuted in 1980 for auto theft of his own Mercedes, which he sold to a car dealer.  A misunderstanding as it turns out, as charges were dropped when Issa bought the car back from the Mercedes dealer for $17,000.

         4)      An Arson charge, but later dropped for lack of evidence, when Issa’s business burnt to the ground. State authorities called it 'suspicious in nature' and arson investigators determined that it was not an accidental fire.  Apparently, flammable liquid was found in the one area that had no sprinkler system in place.   Issa quadrupled the fire insurance coverage just weeks before the fire and also took an Apple computer with all of his business records home just days before the fire.   There are rumors that Issa committed the arson because he basically stole the company Steal Stopper from the previous owner.   Apparently, to say it was a hostile takeover, is to be kind.  

         5)      January, 1981, at an intersection in Cleveland, Issa had further car troubles. He crashed a truck into a 1959 Thunderbird Classic driven by a forty-year-old woman named Juanita Martin. According to court documents, Issa told her that he did not have time to wait for the police and left the scene. Martin ended up in the emergency room the next day with neck and back pain that she said caused “permanent damage.” A month later, she sued Issa for twenty thousand dollars; they settled for an undisclosed amount.

So, yes, given Issa’s unlikely rise to Washington with this brand of baggage, which would be an obstacle for most anyone else,  is fair to speculate that our Republican leaders, Boehner and McConnell justifiably should take caution about the possible boomerang affect of allowing Issa to run loose in our Capitol.  Even with the backing of the powerful corporations to assure that Issa doesn’t ‘get out of hand,’  whatever that could possibly mean, makes him a liability.  (Images of the 5 families of New York come to mind here.)  The most disturbing thing about Issa’s position in Washington aside from the slapdash vetting of our politicians, is that Issa is able to feature this rapsheet of his as some kind of bright lights on a resume, conquests, hurdles through a gauntlet that he successfully maneuvered.   I suppose that I relate to the Five Crime families of New York at this thought, because when I was reading about the massive arrests recently, the family members bore nicknames, like “Jack the whack” as if it were complimentary, and in all fairness, in those circles, perhaps it is.  

It should be presumed that we the people have an obligation to babysit Washington.  I believe it is a reality.   Over the years I have been jostled back time and again into watching our politicians, because of what will go on when we aren’t watching and talking about it.  Complacency about what goes on in Washington will cost us dearly, but keeping our government functional comes with the privilege of living in a free country.  The alternative is to sit passively and watch Issa and other politicians on C-SPAN, with soporific interest, like in The Truman Show.

It is obvious that Issa is becoming a Republican rising star.  He has certainly made his bones with the Corporate lobbyists.  He sent a letter asking his real clients   — the corporations, what they would like to see happen in Washington to help grow their businesses.  This letter went out to some 100 plus trade associations, companies and think tanks, seeking advice on which regulations to investigate. An excerpt of Issa’s letter, which was posted by NBC News, in which Issa pleads with this clients as follows:

          “I ask for your assistance in identifying existing and proposed regulations that have negatively impacted job growth in your members’ industry. Additionally, suggestions on reforming identified regulations and the rulemaking process would be appreciated.”

 

Issa has so far received 30 or so responses from businesses who submitted wish lists ranging from a request to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, to getting rid of lead paint restrictions or ending coal and tar hydraulic fracking regulations (oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracing, i.e., fracking – the oil and gas folks would like to be able to drop poisons into the ground causing methane and gas to bubble up in our drinking water which would enable us to catch our water on fire, among other things . . .).  This conflict of interest would present a real conundrum for anyone else except Issa, who has proved he can side step whole mine fields and come up smelling like a rose.   Issa is uncompromising in his unwillingness to be transparent with the public when it comes to his dealings with corporations, while simultaneously demanding openness and transparency from 150 plus government agencies.    A more thorough briefing on this subject can be found by author and radio host Thom Hartmann, who has done a Glenn Beck styled seminar (or maybe Glenn Beck does a Thom Hartmann styled seminar, who knows. . . . ) on this subject and can be seen at  http://www.thomhartmann.com/bigpicture/lobbyists-hit-list

 

The Republicans have sicked Issa on Obama.   That eliminates workings in the underpinnings of  Republican pedestrian intrigues, sex scandals, (fear mongering sort of ran its course with not enough damage) where Obama is concerned, fair enough.   But whether searching for evidence of stains on a dress, entangling the U.S. in a needless war, or making deals with banks and Wall Street, leaving American people as collateral damage, we seem to be able to count with consistency on the Republicans to miss the point of their mission in Washington. 

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have now introduced legislation in Congress to end the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).  Mr. Issa and his colleagues, are saying that the Treasury Department’s program to help troubled borrowers avoid foreclosure has been a bust.   Well, YES, Issa – only because the way HAMP program was written, your clients, the mortgage lending servicers,  found so many loopholes in the program and opted to run their business in and out of the gray areas, which in turn have resulted in these mortgage lending servicing companies such as Chase, IBM’s LBPS, and Bank of America creating a conflict of interest and illegally foreclosing on Americans’ homes.  Rather than just fix the problem by enforcing regulatory mandates on these loan servicing companies, who get money from HAMP for using the program,  Issa now wants to kill the whole HAMP program.   From a speculative standpoint, the loan servicing companies have by now all ready taken most of the cream, the easy pickings off  the housing market, on top of holding on to their original toxic notes, making the foreclosures more gravy,  and if these servicing companies actually have to do work to make money – like actually servicing these loans, they just want out.   Another note:  we the people need to get our money back if they do decide to just abandon the program. 

If  Issa is to truly do his job and go after agencies, he should put a chokehold on our Treasury Department for its hesitancy on cracking down on the loan servicing companies for their lackadaisical compliance with the terms of HAMP as well as the conflict of interests that the loan servicing companies (such as LBP and Chase) have with enacting the HAMP program, or simply foreclosing on the property which they are in a leveraged position to short sell simply by virtue of holding the loan note.   With the lack of oversight, laws, legislation or interest in reigning in corporations down in Washington, the breeding ground for leaving more homeless Americans in our streets is prevailing.   

Between beating down HAMP and being in charge of being in charge, Issa  needed to create an issue big enough to last through until 2012, so Republicans don’t have to accomplish anything substantive while simultaneously imprecating the credibility and accomplishments of the Obama Administration and the Democrats.   For this objective, he chose to confound the government for information on who is making FOIA requests.  So, Mr. Issa, you want to tag our government for who is watching who?   I still lament  that it really would just be so much easier if Obama wasn’t so decent, we could have a Ken Starr redux, discovering  stained clothing, harassing low paid aids and other government employees and spending our China borrowed government money and the rest of  lame duck time in Washington sensationalizing adultery.  But, unfortunately for the Republicans, decency is simply not on the menu this term (which could turn out to be a lucky break for Boehner).   

 

So, lastly, a parallel that cannot be drawn until Issa has come to his end, however, in Senator McCarthy's case, the powers turned on their pet in the end.  In August, 1954, a Senate Committee was formed to investigate censuring McCarthy.  On September 27, the committee released a unanimous report calling McCarthy’s behavior as a committee chairman "inexcusable," "reprehensible," "vulgar and insulting."  On December 2, 1954, the full Senate, by a vote of 67-22, passed a resolution condemning McCarthy for abusing his power as a senator.  McCarthy died on my birthday in 1953 I believe, of hepatatic liver problems associated with alcoholism.  

 

article written by Shannon Browne Bertuch.  Shannon can be reached via email at shannon@theraleightavern.com

 

A Budget Cut that Would not be Missed by Anyone

The feckless Federal Elections Commission has been under scrutiny and the subject of  dismantle for years by many PACs, although historically,  The New York Times has been their biggest critic, calling them out on several occasions.   The FEC is probably far and above the most publicly spit upon agency as it may be the most worthless oversight of campaign funds and laws.   The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is more than aware that they are not in public favor, due to the apathetic manner in which they discharge their duties.   


The Federal Elections Commission, who are a group of six people charged with administering and enforcing the Federal Elections Campaign Act, admittedly, a tedious piece of legislation at best.  Nonetheless, it is one of the jobs that should get done in order to maintain a true democracy in our Country.  We Americans have been without this service probably since the inception of the FEC.  

Here are the rules:  Six Commissioners are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.   Even though there cannot be more than 3 Commissioners sharing the same party platform, there are times when even 3 of the Commissioners just can’t see eye to eye.   Further, the Commission is not allowed to act on anything without at least 4 Commissioners in agreement.  

 

However, they are a study for certain behaviors we all display when we don’t want to move forward on something.   Not getting the point is a fortuitous stance to do nothing, because perhaps you will be accused of being a “knot head”, but there just will be no getting around it.   It is easier to get someone just exasperated trying to use reason and logic, than to simply admit that, ‘yes, I know, but I don’t want to get involved.’   Politicians in general do it all the time.   


Anyone who either has been to law school, or watched enough law based movies to know that, in the Court room, no matter what a witness says, no matter what you hear, you are supposed to behave as if that is exactly what you knew you were going to hear.   (A Few Good Men, with Demi Moore and Tom Cruise go over trial strategy at some length in a scene and then, have to use it).  

 

Since the Republicans have joined themselves at the hip with the Insurance industry and Wall Street, they, by necessity, must do it all the time.  If you ever watch a news interview on TV, you can see one of our Congressmen/women being interviewed by a newsperson who basically calls  them out on an issue, or a bluff, and they never flinch, and they go on to act as if they are being complimented.  It’s becoming so usual,   we the audience have evolved past caring whether or not our candidates or politicans will acknowledge – actually, we expect that they never will.

 

But sometimes, it is just too much to finesse a knot head move and get away with it, even where  the Federal Elections Commission is concerned — as is our case in point -  In the matter of Kirby Hollinsworth, wherein the Federal Elections Commission, as part of their job, had to look into a charge of  illegal mailer ads. 

 

By  way of background, candidate Kirby Hollinsworth sent out a mailer that said, “northeast Texas is firmly behind John McCain and Sarah Palin – and so am I,”.  It  was the Commissioners’ job to determine that this statement did indeed support a federal candidates in a state run race, which would be a violation of election funding rules.  

 

Unfortunately only two of the Commissioners, Bauerly and Weintraub could sign the decision to do nothing, because the rest of the Commissioners just didn’t want to acknowledge the obvious.   This is a laugh outloud, frustrated piece of work by Bauerly and Weintraub, who have to say this about their fellow Commissioners.  

 

This is what  Bauerly and Weintraub write for the record.   (The whole Report of the Matter Under review may be read at http://eqs.nictusa.com/eqsdocsMUR/29044254684.pdf )

 

In the Matter of                                               )

                                                                        )          MUR6113

Kirby Hollingsworth                                        )

Kirby Hollingsworth for State Representative  )

 

STATEMENT OF REASONS

COMMISSIONER CYNTHIA L. BAUERLY

COMMISSIONER ELLEN L. WEINTRAUB

 

Our colleagues, however, declined this proposal and refused to agree, for example, that the statement, "Northeast Texas is firmly behind John McCain and Sarah Palin - and so am I," is a statement of support for McCain and Palin. Apparently our colleagues believe that until a word is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, it has no discernible meaning to those of ordinary intelligence. Thus, unfortunately, the Commission as a whole could not even agree to dismiss this case on prosecutorial discretion and issue a Factual and Legal Analysis that stated the mailer and ad included PASO, but that the Commission declined to take further action  based upon the circumstances. Instead, our colleagues proposed drafting a Factual and Legal Analysis that would have indicated that a majority of commissioners could not determine whether the statements at issue supported McCain and Palin. We declined to follow this path, fearing that such an analysis (or lack thereof, really) would not only sow confusion, but utterly mystify the regulated community. 

 

While ambiguity about the outer reaches of the PASO standard could inform the Commission's analysis in marginal cases, it should not prevent us from applying this legal standard, adopted by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court, to statements that plainly fall within its core, by any definition. If the phrase "I endorse the McCain-Palin team" is not a statement of support, it is hard to imagine what is.

 

As Commissioners, we are required to enforce the law as written by by Congress unless a Court of law strikes it down. We do not wear black robes, and we are required by the doctrine of separation of powers to leave the judging to those who do. We should not devise our own Constitutional challenges to provisions of the Act, or let our enforcement of the law be guided by conjecture as to how a Court might decide such challenges.   This is most certainly so where, as here, the provision in question has been upheld by the Supreme Court. In declining to apply trie PASO standard in this matter "to avoid unnecessarily getting mired in constitutional thickets, our colleagues are substituting their judgment for that of the Court.

 

Instead, we should continue to apply the PASO standard as written. See MUR 5714 (Montana State Democratic Party).   Statement of Reasons of Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioners Caroline Hunter and Donald McGahn, at 6-7, places heavy emphasis on Senator Feingold's statement that "it is not our intent to prohibit State  candidates from spending non-Federal money to run advertisements that mention that they have been endorsed by a  Federal candidate or say that they identify with a position of a named Federal candidate, so long as those advertisements do not support, attack, promote or oppose the Federal candidate ..." 148 Cong. Rec. S2143 (Mar. 20,2002). This emphasis is misplaced for two reasons. First, Senator Feingold's statement addressed endorsements by Federal candidates, not o/Federal candidates. Second, Senator Feingold's statement was limited to situations where the communications "do not support, attack, promote or oppose the Federal candidate." Senator Feingold plainly did not intend to create an exception to the PASO standard, much less one so broad that it would risk swallowing the entire rule. See also Advisory Opinion 2003-25 (Weinzapfel).

 

 

 

Republican House Heroes - or

Who’s Pickin a Banjo Here?

 

Buyer Beware   Although this may sound like a rather cavalier nod to some notion that our Congressmen have a vested prerogative to behave in any way they want and it is our fault for not being savvy enough to keep them in line or out of the government jobs, it is unfortunately a by-product of our electoral system.  Not in any other job could someone tell you in the hiring interview they are hard workers and subsequently manage to continue their employe working against their employer for  four to six years after getting hired on a wrong decision.  Well, Speaker  Boehner (R-OH), and Majority Whip Rep. Cantor (R-VA), along with the rest of the Lower House Republicans have just pulled off this magic act.   Campaign trail – the buzzwords were jobs, jobs jobs.  Now, they are taking over our Congress like Lord of the Flies.


    However,  when you are reading the palaver authored by our heroes themselves – as the case is with Mr. Cantor —  this new breed Republican, (in his own words, along with his other young gun cohorts), you would believe that America’s self-appointed heroes, the Protagonists in  their own story would be America’s answer.   Buyer beware – we are reading this from the writer’s own viewpoint of himself. 

    

     Deft scratchings at the surface of Cantor’s actions to date spill a few clues as to his moral ambiguity.  Yes, but that’s only one of the problems.  Mr. Cantor, if you are going to be the Protagonist – you need to give your audience a reason, a motivation, to invest in your well-being, in your success.    It's hard to get as excited about you as you are until we can understand all the whys.   There is much vacancy here, and that’s my problem I’m having with Cantor. 

  

  Aside from the almost slapstick remark to Democrats yesterday,  venting his frustration at his fellow Democrats in the Senate for not even entertaining his Repeal Bill – (a Bill, which by the way according to Wendell Potter, ex insurance executive smear campaignor, even the Insurance companies have instructed the Republicans not to repeal) - Cantor is not taking his duties seriously. Cantor was the first to sound reasonably sure as to the purpose of the Republicans winning back the house majority after the mid-term elections.  He did not come off cocky then, as did Boehner and McConnell.  He was contrite, reasonable, stating – ‘we have been given a second chance by the American people.”


    But for all of Cantor’s grooming and purported extensive PR staff, Mr. Cantor himself has admitted to being moved to meritless disquisitions such as his infatuation with Newt Gingrich’s more successful contrivances – particularly Gingrich’s attempted coup against Clinton’s 1993 tax reform. 

  

  And of course, then there is the incident of the  phantom bullet to his office window, back in March of 2010.   Remember  when anchor Steve Doocy opened a segment of his Fox and Friends by asserting that someone had “pumped a bullet” through Cantor’s district office window in response to the health bill passage? (and suggesting further that it was a 'lefty') — While it was quietly retracted – later – Cantor and his people saw opportunity and spun it against the Democrats.   Opportunistic as it was then, and more reprehensible as it now appears in the shadow of the Tucson tragedy, Cantor shows no limits in his ambitions, spawning a factitious  persona of an American Hero – ‘for the American people’, of course.  

   

 The supposition that because its  “just Theatre’ as our media, who have more of a duty to be politically unbiased than me calls out – does not diminish the impact that it has on middle class Americans, and the American taxpayers are paying for this show, unfortunately the ratings are dropping faster than a speeding hard drive.  

    My point is that we need to use our high alert judgment here.   Cantor is selling more than just himself and his fellow young guns.  He comes with the weighty baggage of The Insurance Industry and Wall Street – the two biggest factional obstructions to the peoples’ government in the beltway.  

    In that vein, I think the only responsible thing to do is check his art of war, vet him ourselves.  (Maya Angelou’s famous quote, ‘when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” applies here)   

    So, here are a  few of  Cantor’s self-serving siege on truth for personal promotion:

1)  Tim Dickinson, from  Rollingstone Magazine, wrote the article, The Myth of Cantor's Vetting and reported the truth about Cantor’s vetting for VP in the 2008 campaign as follows:

 A source close to the McCain campaign is telling me that the story that Eric Cantor — the "rising star" of the GOP — came anywhere near to being John McCain's running mate in 2008 is bunk:

"The notion that Eric Cantor was somehow a high profile candidate for vice president is a complete and total joke," a source close the top former leadership of the McCain campaign told me. " He was never on the short list. Never vetted. But if you read the press today you would believe that Eric Cantor ever so close to being vice president. This was created by Cantor's PR people. He's got a ton of them."

Cantor's shameless self promotion is the source of bitter jokes among McCain veterans. "They just laugh about it," says the source, who has long been a close observer of Cantor's career. "When Cantor's asked about it, he won't comment directly about the vetting. He just hints and struts. It's very revealing. Its' the old politics: You get ahead by courting the spotlight without doing anything necessarily different or interesting. There's nothing there."

    2) More recently, Steve Benen wrote about Congressman Cantor on November 13, 2010, in the article WHEN THE 'WATER'S EDGE' STANDARD DISAPPEARS.... (source:  http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_11/026624.php) 

If our political system made more sense, this would be an astounding scandal that would dominate the discourse.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday during a meeting in New York that the new GOP majority in the House will "serve as a check" on the Obama administration, a statement unusual for its blunt disagreement with U.S. policy delivered directly to a foreign leader.

"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," read a statement from Cantor's office on the one-on-one meeting. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."

This just isn't normal. Laura Rozen called the meeting itself "unusual, if not unheard of." But it's what Cantor said that's astounding.

We're talking about a powerful member of Congress engaged in foreign policy, vowing to a foreign government to oppose the administration's policies regarding that government. Ron Kampeas from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news agency said he can't remember any U.S. official ever doing this. "[T]o have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House — that sounds to me extraordinary," Kampeas said this week.

It is that and more. Cantor not only met in private with a foreign leader to undercut the foreign policy of the elected American president, he proceeded to brag about it.

Also keep in mind, a few years ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria and met with Bashar al-Assad. At the time, none other than Eric Cantor personally accused Pelosi of possibly violating the Logan Act, "which makes it a felony for any American 'without authority of the United States' to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government's behavior on any disputes with the United States."

As Adam Serwer noted yesterday, "Based on Cantor's own standard, he's just committed a felony."

    3)  Lastly, let’s look at his fan club.  

Cantor’s Top 20 Contributors: (Source:  http://www.Opensecrets.org)

 

 

CONTRIBUTOR

Total

Individuals

PACs

1

Comcast Corp

$33,950

$23,950

$10,000

2

McGuireWoods LLP

$28,050

$23,050

$5,000

3

Dominion Resources

$27,900

$17,900

$10,000

4

Goldman Sachs

$27,650

$17,650

$10,000

5

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

$22,500

$0

$22,500

6

KKR & Co

$21,600

$21,600

$0

7

New York Life Insurance

$20,750

$10,750

$10,000

8

Guardian Life Insurance

$20,550

$20,550

$0

9

Gumenick Properties

$18,800

$18,800

$0

10

Capital One Financial

$16,650

$6,650

$10,000

11

Genworth Financial

$16,100

$8,600

$7,500

12

Altria Group

$15,800

$5,800

$10,000

13

J Goldman & Co

$15,000

$15,000

$0

14

Silver Companies

$14,900

$14,900

$0

15

Bank of America

$14,500

$4,500

$10,000

16

Interface Group

$14,400

$14,400

$0

16

Travelers Companies

$14,400

$4,400

$10,000

18

Assn for Advanced Life Underwriting

$14,300

$4,300

$10,000

18

CCA Industries

$14,300

$14,300

$0

20

Citigroup Inc

$14,000

$4,000

$10,000

 

 More on Citigroup to come. ...

  The Senate ought not to be a place where legislation goes into a dead end."  What Cantor has to say about what happens when a bill he sponsors goes dead in the water . . .

 Written by Shannon Browne Bertuch.  Questions, email shannon@theraleightavern.com

 

 

 

Americans Lament Arizona Shooting Victims

The Arizona shooting marks a tragic point in history.   It is hard to hear.  It is unbearable to think this is how we taught our children to take action.   I am still working through the loss of Elizabeth Edwards from this world and the consequences of our planet without such people who do impact our lives with their outreach of humanism. 

While this may not be about politics, the shooting took place at a political gathering.   The shooter aimed at one of our public servants.  We want to say that the shooter is unstable, but nowhere in history do we find a political assassination perpetrated by someone we charge as a sane or reasonable shooter.  

But, somehow in our tenuous state of national affairs, the stakes just got higher.  Everything is more crucial on all fronts.  And, it’s not just the economy.  There's a hole in the bucket.  American families are losing in their own backyard. Government is not too big, it is too removed from the people.  Americans are up against business intimidation, inundated by irrelevant marketers on too many TV channels, and chained to abusive business practices while our narcissistic government looks on.  The press isn’t really free at all.  No jobs and nothing to do adds up to a stagnant society.  To many, it is the dawning of the end of the American dream.  The old baby boomer generation appears to be the last generation who knows  how to make legislative change happen, but  are simply too old to go out and get tasered.     

After the Reagan years, the message was out.  Work harder or live on the streets.  (digression - in point of reference to Reagan generation raised and later, American streets were not peppered with homeless people until after the 80s, when for other reasons, state mental hospitals were closed down, budgets were cut for many public services and the mentally ill were for the most part, let out on the streets to live, ultimately creating a sub-society and evolving until what we see today).  Shocking.  And harder America worked.   We worked so hard that it became a time management decision to just pay the $1.43 unexplained VISA costs than to call and fight with the credit card company.    This practice got out of control to the point where the Obama Administration had to put reforms in place.  Yes, yes, harmless as it is to take fifty cents from 64 million Americans, it is illegal.  If any of us did it, we would be in jail.      

We anachronistically allowed the prior cabinets’ decisions, because we were too busy, and after all, you can’t ruin a country such as ours in 8 years, right?  We stood by while the U.S. government machinated a war, sold off America, and served up the middle class to wall street and the insurance industry, while creating a new kind of profit margin never seen before.  The rationale they offered was that we were seeing life on a global scale.  By selling off bits of American dream, we gave our own Federal Reserve the rope it needed to hang us.  In silence we witnessed Bush, Rove and Cheney broker the last of America off to the ‘global’ cause, and then many of us woke up.   The computers and i-pods and smart phones were no longer enough to divert our attention away from the fact that our out-of-shape America is now in very deep trouble on every front.  

Adding to that, we also live amongst two generations to come of age having never experienced how the government should work for the people. If they are told that public healthcare is socialism, they will believe it.  If  the media as our voice of authority tells Americans to be afraid, they will, only because there are enough warning signs all around them in their daily lives that perhaps they are unable to articulate.   

As a result, to some Americans, this is looking a lot like a Civil War.  Listening to the hateful propaganda for the masses, it dictates that we turn on one another.   Certainly, if anyone ever pointedly spoke to us using this language and tone as individuals, we would be take it personally and respond in kind. This is not to say it would escalate to the stage at Tucson last week.  However, when we have the big money turning all the knobs, and it certainly doesn’t want us turning on them,  and they fund right wing talk radio and right wing TV.  When in any other time in history could such a person as Glenn Beck, for instance,  seriously pull in enough audience to run a radio show.   Balanced people can separate the wheat from the chaff; unbalanced people get ideas.  As Bill Maher points out, Beck’s dialogue is nutty, extremist, while being authoritative in tone, and it bears credence to his nutty ideas because there has to be an explanation as to why he rates his own show.   That is just one example of a broken system.   

But even if the older generation is too old to get tasered, the younger generation can certainly follow a recipe. The right wing extremists have provided a recipe -and it is not tasteful; but mainstream America needs to provide one that will produce an accountable government and make businesses work for a living again.   They will not find it on right wing radio, or in our government, so it is up to us Americans to provide it.   Which brings us back to the hole in the bucket.  

The vitriolic dialogue between the left and right is not the direct cause, but another symptom of what is not right in America;  of all that we have allowed to happen to our government and American people.  We have broken promises to fix.      

Americans are losing their homes to big business while our government claims to be unempowered to help, and looks on – This has a direct, negative impact on American life.  The long standing predatory nature of business that has now been going on so long that business would like to declare that it  become an accepted business practice.  We Americans can only hope not.  

Whenever I am confronted by predatory visages in my daily life,  I make myself find it shocking because I refuse to let it become all right.   The latest absurdity in our lives is the foreclosure scene.   One of our great American Corporations,  IBM, along with their 586 person in-house counsel, have, in response to an ‘emerging market’  opened a subsidiary of IBM,  called LBPS and summarily usurps American homes as legitimate, when their real business is to illegally foreclose on American homes and become short sale superstars! There’s actually a website out on the Internet called shortsalesuperstars.com and LBPS, the IBM subsidiary, is one of their biggest superstars.  However, the business they short sell under, as a loan servicing company is truly illegal.  

Now you young folks, pay attention – this used to be called a conflict of interest.  It used to be illegal.  Why, you ask with your wide eyes?   The loan servicing company that sees profits  from failing to service a loan, creates a conspiracy, so by selling off short sale homes from loans they were supposed to service, means that they clearly are more interested in foreclosure.  Couple this with the means by which most homes today are foreclosed, by its very foundation is odious to the principals of servicing loans.  Therefore, it becomes a predatory by nature.  It would be nice to add that they breach fiduciary duties, however, the SEC relieved derivative markets of any fiduciary duty because it conflicted with their ability to play on the global scene.  They just need to offer you some risk warnings.   

But we didn’t always allow an irresponsible business such as LBPS, to exist, let alone handle such important matters as our mortgage servicing, when they didn’t have any accountable means of doing business.   

Even though these legal challenges rarely make it to court, as we should do,  Americans detest being helpless against an invisible enemy  – especially when the stakes are so high as our homes.   Our model LBPS, is such a company.  It is structured to steal homes from Americans and never have to look anyone in the eye while they do it.  The whole front line of LBPS are nice customer service $9.00 an hour employees who have absolutely no authority to manage, change, alter, fix, or even take down your information and give it to someone who can help.  Nor do they possess the knowledge of the business to even spot a problem.   They can give you to the next level supervisor, who can listen, and discern if they should send your call up to the next Supervisory level.  This is as far as it gets.  Beyond that, threatening letters in the mail with choices to X (Give us your home by Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure; X to simply let us foreclose, or X to make us foreclose) —-  or an 800 number to call, which will throw you back into the vicious cycle.   

In another time, this would be a blatantly fraudulent company and closed down immediately.   So, somewhere hidden within the unanswerable corporate structure, somewhere insulated from the people from whom homes are being stolen by the thousands, are the real managers of LBPS.   They never have to see anyone and they never have to hear the consequences of their actions.  They are after all, superstars.   If this is the kind of life we legate our children - a puppet regime and animal heirarchy, we will have to declare Martial Law at some point.   

I have been following the foreclosure phenomen and watching the feeding frenzy of the banks; and while it may be the end of the frenzy,  we need a class action lawsuit anyway, to restore order to those weaker who were unable to save their homes due to their individual inability to go up against the banks.  However, I have noticed some good websites going up, sharing information and making it harder for the banks to just come in and serve themselves.   It is improving.   

Speaking of Puppet Regimes, our young Americans are hearing that the Tea Party is here and armed with all the working knowledge of the Constitution.  Well,  just knowing what the  T.E.A. (Taxed enough Already) in the Tea Party  blows this theory to fundamental bits.   Obviously, the TEA party knows nothing of tax histrionics or use of a relevant bar to gauge what is too much tax, and maybe even the purpose of federal taxes.  Of course, while the Tea Party does not throw financial support to Republicans - the Republicans support them because they are seen as conservatives; although not by me.  Personally, they have displayed some of the most bizarre and radical behavior I have ever been challenged to tolerate.  And speaking of tolerance and our broken society, this brings me to another schism that has been spoonfed to us Americans.   Being politically correct.   This is a concept poured into our coffee as we sort out our diversity issues.   But in the end, when the curtain goes up, it really is another piece of propaganda designed to force us to choke down the consequences of large corporations sending our jobs off to foreign countries.   We are expected to be polite while a VISA representative from India, Chile, Bangladesh or some other foreign country tries to explain in a language we don’t understand what has happened to our VISA charges, or some other finance company who has elected to hire their customer service folks from a non English speaking country.  ad infinitum ad nauseum.

So much of the eye opening shock of fast forwarding to America today, it is like waking up to discover that you forget to  teach your children right from wrong and you see them mired so deeply in fundamental error that finding the beginning is much like teaching a drowning person to swim.    We need other tools.  We need to hold back the enemy.   First, we need to universally as a Country, identify the enemy.   

The enemy is any of the conditions that allow Americans to be preyed on, to be served up to corporations  or any other entity or idea, for any purpose.    This means, as an example, we the people, do not give special tax cuts to corporations just because they say they are American corporations.  We rescind laws which allow pharmaceutical companies to market directly to people.  Yes, it worked for McDonalds and that proved to be not so harmless.  Let’s do something about it.   Advertisers need to fall within certain parameters that are set by us. 

Our government is broken.  There are many people in government positions who really don’t care about that.   This is a point of frustration and mistrust.  So, when a young, unbalanced man tries to put into action his point of view, perhaps it is not too far a distance between Glenn Beck’s rabid descriptions of ‘isolate and destroy’, 'freakout nation', and meltdowns and Scarface’s ‘say hello to my little friend,’ and you get the results we saw in Arizona last weekend.    

   
Article written by Shannon Browne Bertuch

Be Careful What you Wish for, Christine O'Donnell

O'Donnell's  Campaign Strategy not New 


but  Times are.

In the past, there have been candidates with like minded strategies as Republican nominee, Christine O’Donnell — such as Maryland hopeful Alan Keyes, who was the first to outright pay himself for his campaign in 1992, a sum of $100,000 a year, ($8500 monthly) out of his campaign funds, as remuneration for the hard work of campaigning 10 to 12 hours a day.  This occasion caused the Republican party to disassociate themselves from Keyes' campaign altogether.   While the campaign for Senate race failed; he didn’t. 

Keyes, a former talk show host, a former diplomat and an Ambassador under Reagan, Keyes has managed to succeed in a career of failed campaigns, running for Maryland, Illinois, President in 2004 and 2008and then running under a third party, and then creating his own party to run under.   He has set an example to all failed campaign hopefuls, that there is more life after a failed campaign than any other pursuit doing nothing.   

There are other similarities between the two campaigns, such as those closest to both candidates Keyes and O’Donnell tell the press that the more you learn about them, the less you like.  

Such were the conservative ethos of 1992.   Today though,O’Donnell stands a chance at winning a Senate Seat.   Clearly the Republican party is not clamoring for any political reform by putting their weight behind their candidate nominee Christine O’Donnell’s with her historic serial flaws.  There is no hint that vetting her will unveil anything other than one failure after another.  

Unless this brand of Republican is the new welfare to work program sponsored by the Republican party, the Republicans have nothing to gain by Ms.O’Donnell’s successful election this November.   Much like Michael Steele’s appointment, the Republicans will find themselves  mostly running damage control over  Ms. O’Donnell’s actions. 

In today’s climate however, a new element exists which threatens to actually send Ms. O’Donnell into the Senate – The Tea Party.  The Tea Party, which gained notoriety through media hype such as Fox News and then trailed by other news stations  joining  the band wagon which created a bonified movement,  O’Donnell is a threat to win a Senate seat for Delaware.    If she’s lucky – she can get herself discredited to the point where she stands no chance at all.

Which comes to my theory that O’Donnell hopes to be perceived as a flake and ultimately written off as unelectable.   O’Donnell historically has sought soap box forums to expound in public settings.   Finally making her public debut as a self-appointed President of SALT (Saviors Alliance for Lifting theTruth),  she was able to get some air time on MTV and Bill Maher,  jump starting her careening commentaries on such heavy subjects as masturbation and purity, satanic experiences - all  on the television, which, actually, I don't mind that she shared her experiences as they came along, but here's where this breed of candidate is different: they are talkers, not doers.  When it comes to actually doing something, O’Donnell has no more training taking action than Alan Keyes, and a handful of other high profile people who realize that they can acquire more wealth by feeding their public image via opportunities such as running failed campaigns and doing nothing. 

With the exception of the old school candidates like  Pat Buchanan, who happens to be another ex-candidate who maintained a high profile running a failed campaign on a third party ticket, is of a different genre;  differing from the new breed of careers in failed campaigns because he actually acquired legitimate credentials as a White House aide to Nixon,  Ford and Reagan.

written by Shannon Browne Bertuch, Editor

Who are We Opposing?

Finding a Worthy Opponent

By Shannon Bertuch

What’s so civil about Civil War?  Our technological savvy has replaced free thinking parlay with formulaic  rote strategies for obtaining objectives, means to ends.  Political, business and even the every day, politically correct conversations that we have with each other contain specific and necessary formulas for getting ideas across.   These formulae are largely Americanistic  - mostly though, they have evolved for  the purpose of mind-bending propaganda, from press room analyses to the Art of War.  We can see the consistent formula at play in the politics of  today.    A cursory look into  the How to Create a Civil Warplaybook reveals the  extremist strategies similar to the cultist cultures:

·      Throw Suspicion on intelligence. Equate it with Elitism.

·      Denigrate the ideas of themiddle class but repeat that you are a proponent of the middleclass.  

Particularly, in this present, historical case whereby the American People elected a  bi-racial President, voting him in  by the largest majority of American people in any single election.  By no surprise, we have what is now the extremist  Republican opponent formula for derailing the opponent ideology:

·     Suspicion:  rumor our bi-racial president Muslim.  Repeat. 

·      Suggest his allegiance isn’t American.  

·      Question his credentials:  i.e., birth certificate and birth announcement.

·      Exploit working Americans.Redefine the vision without an alternative offering. 

·      Equate social responsibility in government to Marxism, Maoist views, Nazism,

·      Use scary words when talking about Democratic policies; Nazi, Mao, Socialist,

·      Equate government services with Socialism.

The improvident  and The prescience.  

Anyone who has been late making a payment to their creditor can hear the exasperation in the voice of the Corporate Minion.  A Servile Worker,(hereinafter SW) who doesn’t recognize the difference between serving the money and following the money.  Their speak (if you can understand what they are saying, as they are usually calling from India, the Philippines, or Bangladesh,of course), coming out against the Middle Class American (hereinafter theMCA).  

SW:  “You are eleven days late on your payment.  Why are you late?” 

MCA.  “Well, I am out of work, and I have to refigure my finances.However, I will be paying you in eight days.” 

SW:  “Can't you borrow the $150.00 from a family member?   Because this is just unacceptable.”    

Next, its on to Humiliation 101 tactics from the Collection Practices playbook: 

SW:  “I need to verify the information we have on you.  What is your phone number.“  

MCA:  “Uh, you just called me,sir/ma’am.   I believe that indicates verification of my phone number?”  

SW:   “I am going to write down in my notes your refusal to voluntarily give me information.  This will put your car/home/cellphone/VISA in jeopardy!  I hope you are aware of the long-range impact  this answer is going to have on your life.”  

So, we can only assume the Servile Worker gets paid below what the top 2% of our American rich hauls in.    Someone who would take a job calling up delinquent Americans to dun them from India, (to say nothing about corporate decision makers’ adversarial  impact on our  foreign policy and loss of leverage).  Let’s say $9.50 per hour if they were in the states, so probably seventy-five cents an hour in India, since 86% of the population lives under $2 per day; 44% lives under $1 per day.  

What's in the corporate formula to abuse American workers that sends the middle class to turn on each other and why doesn’t it occur to the average working American that it is not in their best interest to give off  tax breaks  to the  top  2%?  Obviously, that doesn’t include working America, because we are the  98%.  So, why would any percentage of the 98% of working Americans bring in a Republican who lied to us, dismantled a working government and replaced it with predatory practices, enslaved our middle class and sent the jobs overseas?

 Possibly for the same reasons that you find people willing to side with corporations. They are hoping that in the obliteration of the middle class, maybe their chances of survival  are better if they side with the power.   This is much like cooperating with the thug holding the AK 47 at your head, hoping he will have mercy on you at the end of the crime and leave you in one piece.   Nice thought, not much.    He  may thank you but he will surely kill you.  

          “News Service Corporation,” the clever  name FOX News gives to their parent company.  This does not guarantee that the company brings legitimate news any more than naming your child Jesus guarantees a child of God (oh yea – go read the jail rosters).   

Brother Maynard!   Bring up the Holy Hand grenade.”

          The new mantra from the Extreme Right calls social responsibility Marxism and the media pleads with the decent Americans to surface and get fired up,  because we are under threat of an extreme right wing.

The effort to bring the Obama’s into theWhite House, while costing considerable human capital in energy, did not of itself bring with it the necessary heft to take down the deep roots of corruption and money-power centered Capitol Hill.   Unfortunately for us short-winded, out of shape Americans, we need to walk with Obama every step of the way if we want the results that Obama talked about during his campaign.   No fair yelling, “blue dog Democrat” from your armchair.  We are asking someone to gut the largest world power of corruption at its nucleus.   We all want it and we all want Obama to do it.   (Well then, the press inquires, is Obama just  a Patsy?)  I think it is up to the American people to make sure that the Republicans don’t redefine our choice and sell it to us.

The Republicans, in their ‘secret strategy brainstorming sessions', have unanimously mandated a preface statement to every responsive interview statement with the phrase, “The American people want” or “The American people don’t want”.….   And then go on to deliver whatever belittles the Democratic stance.   This strategic phrase always points out the fact, to me anyway, that the majority of The American People voted against Republican ideologies, so how much really, can these Republicans know what The American People want, anyway? 

While obvious to most decent Americans that the Republicans had wronged the American people at the time of the general elections, by mid-term election, now, that is, by using the formula of repeating their mantras, some Americans, and perhaps enough of them will nod their head in hypnotic fashion, especially when watching FOX news, (wow, that’s suspicious.  Ever hear of subliminal messaging?).   

Well, the Republicans who want to hold their breath until they get their way should not hold The American People hostage.   At this writing, the Republicans have no party, no platform, no ideas and no credibility.   We don’t need the media to tell us why we are in this financial doom.   This is the improvident.        

It was not long ago that we had two formidable parties not divided by the decent and the indecent.  We simply had the Democrats and the Republicans.   The assumption that the party leaders had the American people in their best interest, whether conservative or liberal held mostly true.  We the people demanded basic services from both parties. 

At the last great fall of the Republican party,  its revival came from an intelligent, well-read renaissance man, William F. Buckley, a Republican party conservative, and also a former CIA agent, a yachtsman, and the founder of the National Review, the Republican conservative newspaper.  Buckley’s vision to renew the Republican party and re-energize it with credibility meant that Mr. Buckley’s first order of business was to get rid of the extreme right wing nuts, which in 1964, was The John Birch Society.  He accomplished this to prove to the American people that there could be a credible conservative Republican ideology.  William F. Buckley understood conservative government.  He was an educated man as well as a man of character.   He was well read and well spoken.   William F. Buckley also admonished the Republican party regarding Karl Rove and George W. Bush.He did not believe Bush was worthy of taking the office of President and said so on many occasions.  

This is not the case today.  The Republican leaders appear to be  all too content to allow the extreme right to carry on under the Republican banner with the most irresponsible and indecent mantras, and inciting their base to hold up offensive, anti-American signs at their gatherings. Talking to their crowds and using civil war language against an unnamed enemy, about  “getting America back.”  Back from who?   The majority of Americans voted Obama in, if you don’t mind.    If the American people  can demand the kind of behavior from Republicans that we know we should expect, we would have jobs; we would have healthcare that we could be proud of and we could recover our two party political system.  

When Obama was first elected, the Republican sound bites all lamented that the Democrats were going to undo thirty years of work and take us back light years from their goal.  As one of  The AmericanPeople who likes the Constitution as written, that seemed contradictory to our American goals.   I always wondered to myself, “where were they taking us? “  I can only guess they meant to obliterate the middle class and just have the rich, and those who serve the rich.  

But if its one thing we have all learned in our rote formulae world:  it only takes a few years of enacting a public policy to teach a whole generation that it’s normal.   (the act of compounding interest was highly illegal in the 60s; everyone knew it.   Now  this generation just wants to ask that the corporations disclose the factthat they are doing it).

If the Republicans could have managed to keep the status quo for just  a few more years without the American people getting a taste of Democratic governmental services, the American people would expect nothing from our federal government.  Falling bridges and natural disasters would be on the states to fix.   The empty shell of federal government would be there to manage the military and collect taxes for less services.   The Republican speak of “socialist” services has taken ona whole new definition from this extreme right wing, but if we have a generation raised on Bush era policies, they could believe the speak.  

This is all the more reason to fight against the extreme.  Even though in a different world, we could expect the decent, moderate Republicans to weed out the extremists, today, that is not the case.  It is up to the decent.  There are no worthy opponents for the decent; except the threat of  allowing corporations and government to prey on its own. 

Letter from Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla, AK


ABOUT SARAH PALIN

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later—to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal—loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects — which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance — but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

CLAIM vs. FACT:

  •  
  • Hockey mom: True for a few years.
  • PTA mom: True years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since.
  • NRA supporter: Absolutely true.
  • Social conservative: Mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).
  • Pro-creationism: Mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
  • Pro-life: Mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation.
  • Experienced: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000
  • Political maverick: Not at all.
  • Gutsy: Absolutely!
  • Open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
  • Has a developed philosophy of public policy: No.
  • A "Greenie": No. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
  • Fiscal conservative: Not by my definition!
  • Pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
  • Pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents.
  • Pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.
  • Pro-labor/pro-union: No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

 

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

 

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

 

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

 

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

 

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

 

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

 

CAVEATS:

 

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall—they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

 

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.

 

Anne Kilkenny

annekilkenny@hotmail.com

August 31, 2008

 

 

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  1. How Does Reason Fit into a Free Market Society
    Sunday, November 10, 2013
  2. GOV SNYDER - R-E-S-P-E-C-T
    Friday, December 28, 2012
  3. Hey Newt, What Did you Just Say?
    Tuesday, November 13, 2012
  4. THE MARCH HARE IN NOVEMBER - Just take some more tea
    Saturday, September 29, 2012
  5. The Republican Scampaign of 2012
    Saturday, September 15, 2012
  6. 2012 Campaign: The Change We Believe In
    Monday, August 20, 2012
  7. What is the American Social Contract Today?
    Friday, August 10, 2012
  8. THE GOP: Smells like Mean Spirits
    Thursday, April 26, 2012
  9. The Harvesting of Americans:
    Monday, January 02, 2012
  10. HOW TO CONSUME A CORPORATION
    Friday, October 14, 2011

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