Leaning Up Against the Cracker Barrel

LEANING UP AGAINST THE CRACKER BARREL


To Denote: I’d been working on and wanted to post a science article on water, but the times are pressing me to do otherwise and go back to politics. Unfortunately, due to the climate of current Republican agendas and actions, I’m compelled to counter while shaking my head. So here goes…

Unprecedented Inequality:
Listen, I gotta tell ya, we are becoming more and more of a nation with a caste system, containing a few in the upper wealthy class, the mass in the lower class and with virtually no middle class for buffer due to the fact it is continually being eroded and whittled down. I cannot elaborate enough…America is America due strictly to the fact of having a strong middle class.

During the Bush years, America witnessed the biggest fall of middle class income families dropping below the poverty level. Looking at compiled US Census Bureau data, in the year 2000, the Clinton years had experienced the lowest percentage of poverty levels dropping to 11.5% from 15.1% under Bush Sr. in 1993. The second Bush, in taking over the helm from Clinton promptly started raising the poverty level sequentially each year to 13.2% in 2008. To be fair here, between 2004 and 2005, the poverty level slightly dropped from 12.7% to 12.6%, but economists consider this as statistically insignificant.

In considering median incomes, from 2000 to 2008 America experienced a decline of 4.2%. Now that percentage may seem low, but it leaves Bush with the flim-flam award of being the only two-term president in recent history to have an actual decline in median household income.

38.4 million Americans were uninsured at the end of Clinton’s term, while the uninsured swelled by 17.06% at the end of Bush’s presidency in 2008 at 46.3 million.

In 2000, not quite 11.6 million children were living in poverty and statistics were trending downward with large drops in minority child poverty. But as soon as Bush took office the downward trend not only halted, it reversed, climbing back up with 14.1 million American children suffering in poverty’s clutches after Bush called it quits. Though there were median income gains at the end of Reagan’s two terms, child poverty actually rose at the end of his term, putting ‘a whoa Nellie’ to Carter’s downward trend at 11.5 million when he left office to 12.5 million by the time Reagan stepped down.

There is no other president since Franklin Roosevelt during WWII that has increased spending as a percentage of GDP more than FDR did except for one exception…George W. Bush. He took it from 18.4% of GDP to 22.8 %. Yet, Bush’s GDP growth rate was dismal to say the least at less than 1%, making it the slowest growth rate since the WWII years. At 48%, Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy were the main contributor to the reemergence of large scale budget deficits. In comparing other areas, entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid were only 10%, while domestic programs were a mere 7% of Bush’s expenditures adding to the budget deficit.   

Working families were better off in 2000 just before Bush gained office than they were at the end of Bush’s tenure. What is all so strange about this is that the wealthiest Americans got wealthier during the turbulent middle class Bush years. A mere 1% of America’s wealthiest citizens saw 42.7% of the country’s entire income go into their pockets…that’s nearing half of all the income made in America going to only 1% of the population.  Now that’s a bit staggering.

The Bush years indeed were disastrous for working middle income families with shared prosperity shrinking in the number of palms it greased. So why open up with the drab Bush years? Well it’s apparent, rank and file Republicans haven’t learned yet and want to continue the tactics of Bush’s economic policies; just listen to their sermons. Of course, it’s a win-win for the corporate and elite, but is a dropped bomb that’s about to explode onto the rest of this country’s citizens that might well obliterate the remaining middle class and thusly…America.

I find it strikingly funny, but with Republican whining in preaching that if tax rates for the wealthy are allowed to go back to the Clinton era rates, it would be devastating to the economy. I seem to recall that overall business was booming during the Clinton years. Also, in constantly stating we have a deficit problem and not a revenue one, is grossly imbecilic to say. Any average hard-working American knows that a second job or another revenue source, if available, is pertinent during times of economic indebtedness.      

A Course Worth Not Treaded:
In Congressman and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal, the opening statement was, “Where the president has failed, House Republicans will lead.” Okay fair enough, but when Obama counters later with his new budget proposal, Republicans recoil in announcing how mean spirited and partisan Obama’s speech was. The GOP claimed that Obama’s speech “was so partisan that we’ll never reach a budget agreement.” Imagine that, a Republican getting his feelings hurt due to Obama being a bit stern. The president said nothing personally, except if ya want to stretch it, he did state Ryan’s plan was not courageous in defunding programs for the less fortunate, while at the same time adding benefits to the fortunate.

Ryan characterized Obama’s speech as “a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief.” “I missed lunch for this,” whined Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), head of the House GOP conference.

We might add here as well what apparently Republicans ignored, and that is the White House statement had a whiff of praise in it for Ryan in saying although the president strongly disagreed with Ryan’s budget proposal, Obama gives him credit for laying out a proposal to aid in combating the nation’s debt and deficit.   

Republicans bellyaching about Obama being partisan; boy-howdy, I tell ya what. I suppose one should yield and feel sorry for ‘em; give them a sucker to pacify their hurt feelings. But after all the partisan accusations and attacks on him personally such as…not an American, not a Christian, is a terrorist, he’s creating death panels, the president has failed and on and on ad infinitum…from these very same Republicans, how ironic they would decry Obama was mean and partisan. If ya constantly dish it out, ya’d better be able to digest what ya slopped on the plate.

First let’s compare the two budget proposals of Obama’s and Ryan’s with numbers. Now before reading on remember— it’s one thing to reach your endpoint, but it’s another all together on how you got there. The following budget forecasts are based on public figures which don’t include Social Security and Medicare, but the total national debt of over $14 trillion does include the two trust funds.

The Obama budget proposal over the next decade: Spend $46 trillion. Receive $38.8 trillion in revenue.

The Ryan budget proposal over the next decade: Spend $40 trillion. Receive $34.9 trillion in revenue.

Under Obama’s proposal, debt held by the public in 2016: $15 trillion; in 2021: $19 trillion.

Under Ryan’s proposal, debt held by the public in 2016: $14 trillion; in 2021: $16 trillion.

Comparing the two, the results appear similar, with each case showing Ryan’s proposal of debt and revenue figures as lower. Though the two proposals are analogous over ten years with a net debt of the president’s of $7.2 trillion and Ryan’s at $5.1 trillion; how they intend to achieve that needs to be considered.

First off, let this duly be noted, Ryan plans to repeal the healthcare act in its entirety. Ryan claims this would cut $1.4 trillion out of deficit spending and he utilizes this for his final numbers. In reality, therefore in effect, this savings would not add to deficit reduction because in repealing the healthcare act, he would also be repealing the reform elements included in it that are targeted in reducing costs with aims at raises in revenue totaling $836.5 billion dollars. And this figure does not include the additional $40 billion dollars in savings to small businesses over the next ten years and the averaged $200.00 in savings per year for each American.    

In Ryan’s proposal, costs to cover the plan will primarily shift to cutting funding or eliminating altogether domestic programs across the board while, in addition to the already in-place Bush tax cuts,  adding even further cuts in taxes to the wealthiest and corporations. Ryan’s defunding of $389 billion from Medicare, plans to gut nearly a third of funding out of the elderly entitlement program and replace it with vouchers of $12,000.00 (but specifying $15,000.00 on the speech stumps) for the elderly to go out there, shop around and buy private insurance. Ryan wants to drop the top income individuals and corporate taxes by a third down from 35% to 25%. He claims that this will create jobs, although he offers no analysis for this except for the general statement that if you protect the wealthy, this will stimulate jobs with the trickledown effect.

In fact, again in supplying no statistics, Ryan touts that his budget proposal will drop unemployment from 8.8% this year to 6.4% next year, 4% in 2015 and down to the fantastic percentage point of 2.8 by the year 2021. Actually, Ryan is only reciting unemployment numbers supplied by the conservative Heritage Foundation, who have virtually no analysis to back up their unemployment projection claims. A 4% unemployment rate in America would require runaway economic growth where the Fed would rapidly respond to that employment growth rate by countering in hiking interests rates to avoid super inflation. Saturated employment here in the U.S. is reference pointed at 5%, so a 2.8% unemployment rate is only in fairy tales.

Ryan defends his tax cuts, as all other Republicans do as well if House Majority Leader (R-VA) Eric Cantor’s statement rings true in rebuttal to Obama wanting to raise the wealthiest taxes, “Raising taxes is not what we need right now two days before tax day.” They always portray tax increases as if it would be imposed on all Americans all the while eluding from the fact it will only be implemented towards the wealthiest Americans and definitely the ones who could well afford it. Even though the Bush tax cuts put America’s revenue on a trending downward path, dropped median household incomes and stagnated wages, Ryan still insists, as Bush once did that his tax cuts will pay for themselves and reduce the deficit. But as Bush did not, neither does Ryan in stipulating how this will occur.

Tax Dodger:
When a Republican, or any politician for that matter, opens up a debate by saying, ‘let’s have an adult conversation’…beware! Republicans always argue in their so-called adult fashion that America has the harshest corporate tax rates of 35% on the world map and that is why Ryan is hell-bent on lowering that down to 25%. But, do corporations really pay that amount?

With built-in loopholes, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), throughout the Bush years 57% of U.S. corporations doing business in America did not pay one nickel in federal taxes, while most of the others only paid a percent of that. 72% of the foreign companies did not. British Petroleum (BP) last year, even though they partially paid the responsibility in the Gulf oil spill, is ranked as the fourth largest in oil company net profits and is off to making lobbyists richer in paying out $2 million for the first quarter of this year. Yet, they received a $13 billion tax break and it looks like they will pay no taxes for 2010.

I would think by now, due to all the news exposure, most realize General Electric (GE) reported $5.1 billion in profits during 2010, but yet didn’t pay out any tax dollars and actually received a $3.2 billion IRS refund.  

Following is a list of corporations that got by scot-free in paying their fair share of federal taxes:
1.      Exxon/Mobil made $19 billion in profits, received a $156 million rebate and paid zero federal taxes for 2010.
2.      Chevron made $10 billion in profits for 2009 and received a $19 million refund from the IRS.
3.      Conoco/Phillips from 2007-2009 reported profits of $16 billion and was awarded $451 million in tax subsidies.
4.      Bank of America after receiving $1 trillion in bailout money, for 2010 made $4.4 billion in profits and received a $1.9 billion IRS refund.
5.      Citigroup after receiving $2.5 trillion in bailout money, reported profits of $4 billion last year, but paid zero federal tax dollars.
6.      Carnival Cruise from 2005-2010 reported profits of $11 billion but paid only 1.1% in federal taxes.
7.      Dow Chemical had net profits of $87 million in 2008, but paid only 3.45% in federal taxes.
8.      Goldman Sachs in 2008 reported profits of $2.3 billion, but paid only 1.1% of that in federal taxes. It received $800 billion in bailout money.
9.      Ford Motor Co. for 2010 reported net profits of $3 billion and paid 2.3% of federal taxes in the amount of $69 million.
10.  Wealthy hedge fund managers across the board pay only 15% total in federal taxes.

The sad thing is, corporations wanted and got (blessed by the Supreme Court conservative judges) individual constitutional and voting rights. In the court’s January 2010 five-four decision in the case of United Citizens vs. Federal Election Committee, corporations may now enjoy individual rights as provided by the first and fourteenth amendments, thus, they now have rights to be treated as a person. Even sadder, they want to be looked upon as a person to secretly influence political spheres, but they certainly don’t want to be the average person with no loopholes in paying their fair share of taxes.

If just Verizon ($8.4 billion), Citigroup ($6.6 billion) GE ($5.1billion) and Bank of America ($1.6 billion) alone would have paid their fair share, then Ryan would not have had the excuse to cut funding for job training ($4.1 billion), teacher training and after school programs ($4.6 billion) and above all, for our kids in early childhood training programs ($11.2 billion).

It just doesn’t make sense now, when gas is above $4.00 a gallon and while Exxon/Mobil just reported first quarter profits of $10.6 billion, Shell $6.3 billion, Conoco/Phillips $3 billion and our Gulf Coast pal BP recording $7.1 billion to continue giving out tax breaks and paying multi-billion dollar subsidies to the oil and gas companies as Republicans blindly defend and fight for. Lest we not forget, when Exxon/Mobil made a net profit of $42.5 billion in 2008, when only 38 countries in the world have budgets larger than $40 billion, Exxon/Mobil still received subsidies paid out by the American tax dollar.

Subsidies for the oil and gas industry are actually a relic and were enacted in an era when oil was only $17.00 a barrel to encourage oil companies in exploration and as incentives to drill. What’s a barrel of oil now? It is currently as I write at $113/barrel. Subsidies were originally passed by congress as measures to keep prices for producers above market levels, but also to keep prices for consumers below market levels. Essentially, they were intended to reduce costs for both producers and consumers. So my question is obviously this: why do they remain in-place when only aiding the producer while actually draining the consumer?

Supporting the oil and gas industry by holding the U.S. taxpayer hostage to spending more than 192 nations do on budgetary expenses simply to give freebies to the world’s most profitable industry just plainly makes no sense. Especially during a time of hardship and as the Republican professes and justifies in cutting programs to benefit average American citizens, at a time when “the federal government is broke.” This isn’t trickledown economics, it is trickle-on…we’re being pissed on.

According to the Tax Policy Center’s (TPC) current data, in the mid 1950s 6.6% of federal government revenue was brought in from corporate taxes. Since 2009, it was at or below 1%. The mid 1950s is where corporate taxation peaked, but has been sliding downwards ever since.

The last Republican president to have a balanced budget was Dwight D. Eisenhower and the reason was is that he believed in a fair sharing of taxation. Corporations and the wealthiest paid their honest amount of taxes under his watch and the country didn’t go under back then…no, it thrived during the mid to late fifties during his two terms.

A process known as ‘fractional reserve’ is where for doing nothing big banks get money from the Fed by simply printing dead presidents (dollars) out to be stashed into banks’ coffers. Banks were bailed out with taxpayer dollars, receive free dollars and sit on both piles, while instituting little effort to give stimulus back into the streets via employment, credit, loans and investment.     

Back to Budget:
So, Ryan’s budget is to privatize Medicare, defund Medicaid by $735 billion, cut deep into veteran healthcare benefits to save $6 billion and another $43 billion is scraped from non-security discretionary spending (NSD). That’s a 12% cut to the relatively small NSD budget that has already experienced cuts via appropriations not keeping up with inflation and population growth. Well at least, Ryan did not fully include Michelle Bachmann’s (R-MN) attempted $4 billion cut in veteran disability compensation that would effectively have gutted the program.

Both Ryan’s and Obama’s budget proposals do not touch Social Security and Defense, at least not yet. That’s a shame on one end, for congressional studies have shown over $400 billion dollars of waste in defense spending. Robert Gates, our current Secretary of Defense and a Republican, found under his own study that $178 billion dollars worth in initial savings is there if wasteful Pentagon spending was cut. So, Obama is open and currently has defense spending under review to see if the $400 billion cut in waste is safe and feasible. As far as Social Security goes though, watch out.

Though Obama will never tap into Social Security, the Republicans just might and add it onto Ryan’s plan if passed. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) represents the 175 most conservative right-wing Republicans in the House and as head of the Republican Study Committee, plans to add deeper cuts to Ryan’s proposal including cuts to Social Security to suit their wants.

Let this be known: Social Security has built up a surplus since the 1980s of $2.75 trillion. It is solvent and according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is solvent for another fifty years as it stands. Furthermore, the program as expressed by the CBO would be fine for the next 75 years if we simply removed the cap on income subjected to payroll taxes. That's all that's necessary. If a tiny portion of wealthy Americans would, like the rest of the country does, pay Social Security taxes on all their income rather than just a percentage of it, then no benefit cuts. Also, there would be no need to extend retirement age. Solution found, problem solved…next!  

Remember the fanatical 2.8% unemployment rate Ryan said his plan would produce by stimulating job growth? Well, according to the Economic Policy Institute (TPI), which has economists conducting regulatory policy research, it would not reduce unemployment, it would only substantially add to it. Based on final analysis of economic models that measures the impact of Ryan’s proposals on the economy, 2.2 million jobs would be lost in just the next two years.

Apologies here, but no matter what your party does or stands for with die-hard Republicans, your party’s budget agenda sucks. Shifting costs to seniors, the infirm, underprivileged, unemployed, veterans and hard working families during a time of epidemic foreclosures, unemployment and high inflation in energy, food and healthcare, while protecting the wealthiest and corporate, is simply incorrigible.

These are a few Ryan Budget comments from some Republican heavy hitters. Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernake states that Ryan’s plan would immediately cause the loss of 200,000 jobs if enacted. Marc Zandi, McCain’s campaign economic adviser says it would cause the loss of 700,000 jobs by the end of 2012. Greg Mankiw, Chair of Bush’s council of Economic Advisors, stated that based on available evidence, “tax cuts will not raise tax revenue. I do not find such a claim credible. I never have and I never will.” The conservative financial institute, Goldman Sachs estimates that implementation of the Ryan plan would cause a 1.5-2.0% drop in the country’s GDP. 

Obama’s budget indeed has flaws, whether you’re looking at it through the lens of the left or right, but where Ryan’s plan simply cuts and has no strategies in combating the ills of the common American in areas of employment, economic growth, infrastructure, healthcare, global competiveness, and the gods forbid…aid the middle class, at least Obama has arranged some sensible approaches to these areas.

Obama’s budget plan by no means is charging to immediately pay off the national debt, but is a sensible paying-off approach. Obama’s plan cuts across the board without rolling back programs that add stimulus to the present but still fragile economic recovery. He’s bolstering education (the key to any country’s prosperity), infrastructure, employment avenues and innovative research and technology.

Obama plans to make down payments on all short and long term debts. Any average common sense household that is living under a very tight budget knows that when there are multiple debt concerns with limited income, you don’t pay off one to ignore the rest. As long as some form of income is coming in, you make sincere arrangements to pay the debts off in increments as you go along that won’t exhaust your total account. After all, family living expenses are always essential to be considered first.

Instead of lowering corporate taxation as Ryan proposes, Obama would raise it from its current 35% to 38% and would close the loopholes and cut the subsidy funding. Once upon a time Walter Mondale did say during the ’79 presidential campaign that, “No matter who is president they have to raise taxes.” Where Ronald Reagan said he would not, Mondale was right in stating so. Reagan raised taxes in 82, 83 ’84, ’85, ’86 and for the sixth time in ’87. Reagan may have won the election, but Mondale certainly won that debate.

Perhaps there is a need to control the cost of Medicare, but Ryan’s plan does not come close to addressing this; he simply is shifting costs of healthcare onto the backs of seniors.

As far as replacing Medicare as we know it with a private voucher system, we have already tried that and it has failed miserably. The Affordable Health Care Act will be phasing it out. When Medicare Advantage was instituted under the Bush years, it was operated very similar to Ryan’s voucher proposal. Medicare Advantage is marginal at best in controlling healthcare costs and is left up to the private insurers to pay final care costs, in which they have denied or refused on innumerable occasions. This is even after they have received the patient’s government payment or voucher. As it stands, Medicare is the most efficient government program the U.S. has had.

Pay attention, when Republicans are out there trying to sell their new budget plan. They immediately spin that private Medicare vouchers won’t kick in until ten years later. Why do they ensure their constituents hear this; because they know it is a bad plan to sell. But, if it is a bad plan now it is a bad plan ten years from now.

How will profit motives make Medicare more efficient? It won’t. A public administered program taken over by for profit private corporations will be a disaster for our seniors, in particular the ones with existing conditions like diabetes or heart ailments.

Every since I was thirteen bussing tables for a restaurant in Arlington, Texas making 75 cents an hour, I’ve been paying into Medicare and now Republicans insist on funneling that money to private insurers to feed their profit mounds?

Every Democrat in the House, but too, four Republicans voted nay on Ryan’s budget. They were Ron Paul (TX), Denny Rehberg (MT), Walter Jones (NC) and David McKinley (WV). These four should not only be recognized, but also commended.

Many Republicans ran this past election on a campaign to not touch Medicare. Some of them are, Scott Tipton (CO), Steve Southerland (FL), Dan Benishek (MI), Joe Heck (NV), Renee Ellmers (NC) and Pat Meehan (PA). These six won in each of their respective districts arguing for the benefits of Medicare and specified made promises or pledges to their constituents they would not touch Medicare. Guess what, every one of them voted yea on the Bryan proposal to defund Medicare and institute private vouchers. Meehan is defending his vote by basically saying he did not vote against Medicare per say, he voted for a plan that happens to be against Medicare. So much for what one stands for…   

In Closing Out the Budget:
I am not against corporations or the wealthy. I admire anyone who strives to make an honest buck and better his or her lifestyle. What I am against is not the amount of income they’ve generated, but how that income was generated. Making money off the backs of others or at the sacrifice of others is pure greed and is not a sign of suaveness, but an indicator of deviance. These people or corporations who operate in this manner, will never earn my respect, no matter how much they make. They are not in this together; they are in this for themselves.

I’m quite sure that the vast majority of the wealthy are good folk and are willing to do their part during these hard times. Wal-Mart actually paid 34.5% of their net profits in corporate taxes last year. I applaud them. But stick up. Stick up and start insisting well-off folks and corporations on contributing their fair share, at least during these hurting economic stresses. Public pensions, public education, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are all under attack. The very tools and safety net that most Americans need for opportunity or staying afloat are now being eroded.

Look, no matter who you are, there has been a time in your life you needed a helping hand from someone or somewhere. Everyone has received benefit from which they did not earn by their own means. For the generational well-off, I’m glad for you, not envious, but you should feel fortunate that there was an inside hand to get your feet back on solid ground during your time of duress. For the less fortunate, if there is not an outside entity such as a caring government, there is no one else to reach out to and pull them up by the boot straps from hardship.

Quit insisting on cutting back on social programs. A democracy that utilizes social programs for the welfare of its people does not in any fashion make it a socialist country. I’ve said this before many times and I’m saying it but once again…The greatness of any country is measured on how well it takes care of ALL citizens.

Now following, I’m going to make my appeal to any conservative with any vestige of principle and reason. Are there any principled conservatives out there? I for one do believe there are.

Is it too liberal to not want to put more hardships on our elders? Our seniors, not only are they entitled to receive quality healthcare and an income stipend, they’ve earned it. So is it truly in our best interests to sharply reduce or totally take away these entitlements of medical care, medicine and modest monetary security, simply to ensure that a mogul corporation like Exxon/Mobil has a couple billion more subsidy dollars to add to their record breaking profits? A bit unfair don’t ya think?

Is it not too unreasonable to ensure a homeless mother has some semblance of a safety net to put her infant in a secure shelter while she searches for work? Do you oppose taking those tax dollars away from her, insisting on giving those same tax dollars to BP instead, simply because they want to continue to drill in the Gulf Coast, even after they have not lived up to their full responsibility in cleaning up and paying for the lost livelihoods over a year later? Give a reason during these crucial times for someone to smile with hope.

What has happened to America’s ideology? We have solidly been known as an exemplary nation in uplifting the poor and underprivileged. After all, the Statue of Liberty’s most famous phrase still opens up with “Give me your tired, your poor…” Has our core principle shifted so much to the right, that essentials for corporate welfare are now our full concern? No matter if it’s through religion, social status, political affiliation or ethnicity, are American ethics being redefined from center to right? Is the evangelical right solely the proprietor of American patriotism? Let’s truly ponder awhile on that…

Hodge-Podge:
For this episode of times, budgetary outrage is truly misplaced. To exhibit dire concern and express deep worry about a few 100 million dollars going to funding NPR, or actually consider defunding Obama’s teleprompter when financial institutions made trillions as the likes of Citi Bank on emerging rollovers with bailout taxpayer dollars is misplaced concerns. Where is the outrage here?

In fact, how did the budget issue hijack the floor right out from under job creation concerns? If one may recall, all Republican campaign platforms were centered on how they will create jobs during this past fall campaigning cycle. Well, Republicans won the majority in the House of Representatives and picked up a few more seats in the senate races, but where is the effort cast for job creation? Republicans have not only done nothing, they have said nothing about creating jobs and opportunities for income. They have only implemented their mandates and agendas, such as the repealing of the new healthcare bill, attacking public and private unions, appealing to the American public that they are the true American patriots by mandating the recital of the constitution on the House floor and of course the national debt.

In just one single piece of legislation, there pert near has never been such a vicious swipe hurled at vital tried and proven environmental protections that ensures the well-being of our health and the environment than was voted on and against this past April 8th by the Republican controlled House. Our right to pure water, clean air, pollutant free land and the EPAs authority to enforce was gutted by this Republican congress.   

What’s sad about the Democrats is that they allowed this hijacking to occur by remaining mute and not stand up to what protocol should be on the table for today’s main issues. Sure the deficit is important, but what is truly the more pressing concern at the moment…the national debt, or an environment conducive enough with opportunity to allow the average American to support himself or herself and the family?

Tackling unemployment is a non issue for Republicans for the urgent moment in replacing it with the deficit, while Democrats remain voiceless. It takes stimulus to combat joblessness and Republicans have given spending towards it a nasty smell in the political air. Of course Republicans won’t mention how in the long run Ryan’s budget proposal will actually lead to longer unemployment lines.

The point is no president who followed Bush’s debacle of the economy could repair it with his hands tied behind his back and not spend a penny in confronting it.

When it comes to the debt ceiling Republicans are only smugly giving a show in announcing they won’t vote to raise it for this fiscal year budget. Contained in their own House proposed budget, it entitles the ceiling to be raised for years to come. Even though the likes of Sarah Palin, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) have stated to let the government shut down, Republicans won’t deny raising the debt ceiling. Through the cracked closet door, they’re hearing from the corporate moneymen who are expressing to them, this would be suicide.

The debt ceiling has never been outright denied. It either has passed clearly or was attached later to a moving bill. If denied long enough, there would be no money for Medicare, veterans and would cause the U.S. to default on its treasury bonds causing a chain reaction of sky rocketing interest rates, inflation, then finally a probable depression. But in applying a crisis situation by threatening a denial in raising the debt ceiling simply to get what you want done on ideological mandates is not only contrite, it’s dangerous to the country. Apparently Standard & Poors had had enough, so downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to a negative.

Newly elected Republicans along with their ideologies are changing the face of Americana by chipping away at the average American’s livelihood. Take for instance Governor John Kasich of Ohio. After stripping public employees of all bargaining rights and a video surfacing of him stating, “Have you ever been stopped by a police officer that’s an idiot…I had this idiot pull me over on 315 for passing an emergency vehicle,” his approval rating as conducted by Quinnipiac University has dropped down to 30%. The video further reveals Kasich stammering then stills himself bellowing, “He’s an idiot.”

In response, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police Jay McDonald stated, Police officers in Ohio already do difficult and dangerous work, so it doesn't help when the governor calls an officer doing his job and protecting the public an idiot. 

During the campaigning days for governorship, Kasich questioned the ethics of Ted Strickland’s usage of traveling on state owned planes. See, ya just gotta kind of snicker here, for just in his first eighty-one days in office, Kasich has already flown more often on state owned planes than Strickland did his entire four years as governor.

Besides working hard in wanting ill-begotten gains, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, claiming that in order to balance the state’s budget he had to broadside public employees’ bargaining rights is on another quest. First off, Walker’s reality is much different from the rest, for to truly do cuts that aid in balancing a budget is through austerity measures such as setting up temporary measures. Furloughs, cutting services, postponing contracts are examples of temporary measures; denying workers their bargaining rights is not, saving practically zilch for the state.

Anyway, Walker is now planning to cut tax credits for low income Wisconsinites in two years totaling $49.2 million. Mind you, this is still fresh off the heels of Walker giving his most income privileged 1% of Wisconsinites a $287 million tax cut.

In Kansas, a bill was proposed by Republican Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, voted on and for by the Republican controlled state legislator and signed into law by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Now, Kansas will require people, who want to register to vote for the first time, to bring proof of citizenship with either a birth certificate or passport and present it to election officials for verification.

This is strictly political ploy. Effectively, what it does is eliminate grocery store, library hall or street corner voting registration, where normally low income or minorities register for the first time. Also, most first time voters, no matter gender, age or race normally vote Democrat. Is there no shame when in loyalty affiliations, it’s the party that counts and not the fairness in voting rights? This will kill grassroots voter registration.

Of all things urgent, Democrat governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon hastily signed a new bill into law overturning a vast majority voter initiative passed this last November to limit the state’s rampant problem with puppy mills. This new law was devised by the Republican controlled legislature and enacted as an emergency bill. Therefore, it became effective immediately and will then be awful hard to overturn in another public vote. Of course animal rights groups are livid with the new ruling, but in defense, Republican proponents contend it will require enlarging the size of permanent cages. Nixon contends that his signing of the bill was through efforts of compromise. Go figure…    

Sincerely, I hardly agree in anything he believes in, but Ron Paul is about the only Republican I trust. Though I can’t concur with most of his convictions, he does make sense because he is an honest guy, mostly. Let’s just put it this way, as a Refib, he burns m’potatoes the least.                

Born in the USA:
What more could Obama have done. Certificates of his live birth were produced in 2007, were posted on the internet in 2008 and the two Honolulu papers still had the original yellowed copies of his birth announcements. All along, the state of Hawaii kept insisting these were legitimate documents that indeed verify he was born in the state of Hawaii. Still, this would not quell the inept.    

These birthers, Tea Party people still clinging to Obama being a Moslem, imbeciles with crude accusations of Obama being a socialist and all the others who spread false rumors about our president don’t do it because they think his ears are too big, no, they do it because Obama’s half black. They’re bigots. It irks them to no end that he is now president of the country and attempt to do their best in presenting falsities.

I get these illiterate circulating e-mails all the time, with one claiming Obama just approved a Muslim stamp with an Islamic prayer written on it. Included, there is I must admit, an elaborate drawing of the postage stamp. Thing is right off, presidents don’t approve postage stamps. But the bigoted receivers of these e-mails either get more fearful or more bigoted by latching onto it as if it was the spoken word of God.

Another titled, “Obama’s Roommate” claims that Wayne Allyn Root, a neo-conservative was roommates with Obama at Columbia University and that Obama is indeed a devout Moslem and anti-capitalist. In asinine fashion it claims: this is “urgent news” and “alarming” information and how the country is finished if Obama wins in 2012. Despair, despair, despair…

Actually, Root was not roommates with Obama, they weren’t even classmates. They happened to attend Columbia around the same period and did not know or know of each other. Anyone ignorant enough to believe this kind of fabricated anus exiting material makes me wonder a little bit about their mental capacity. Just check it out and verify contents instead of simply believing in rubbish e-mails. Fools!

Of course we have another out there spreading rumors, none other than Donald Trump. He latched onto the birther theory lie, not because he’s particularly bigoted, but because he knows the conservative base is. He knows that is what they want to hear so that is what he based his campaign run on. Trump is red-meating the Republicans. A bit simpleton in manner, but it worked. As of April 29, 2011, Trump is now leading in the Republican primary candidate polls. Good for him and nut-wing Republicans—Despair for principled Republicans—Great for Obama.

Trump claimed he sent an investigative team out to Honolulu to investigate Obama’s birth certificate. He never did, but now he won’t have to. Well, the official long-form birth certificate is now out concerning Obama’s birth. The thing is most states, Hawaii included, will not issue the permanent record long-form birth certificate due to safe record keeping. Not even to a sitting president; only the live birth certificates are issued. But in this case, apparently with all the confused people out there it had to be done. If Trump had indeed sent an investigative team, they could have viewed the document as long as it remained in the records building. No copies are allowed to be made, for they could be forged. 

If I recall correctly, the Tea Party people literally were livid with the financial bailout. Trump supported the bailout and now the Tea Party people support him. Ouch, the irony of it all. A cracked teapot is looming…

The birther issue, with all its disguises, is merely racism in code; Trump, with his icon status, simply put a face on it. Other issues to replace it are already popping up…we don’t know the books he reads, what about his college grades and to make a point, I’ll add a Jimmy Fallon Trump skit spoof, where he states, “Do we know he has a driver’s license; we know he drives.”

Trump is attempting to trump all others in his bragging of having bigger bank accounts, a more lavish house, more expensive yachts and books far more Caribbean cruises than most. Trump will trump himself. Do the math. End of story.

Still, at 45%, nearly half of all Republicans polled think Obama was born elsewhere. There has been activity in 14 Republican controlled state congresses considering legislation that in order to prove eligibility to run for president, one must produce a long-form birth certificate.

The most celebrated state birther legislation was in Arizona. There, the Republican state congress had passed new legislation stating a long-form birth certificate must be produced to run for president in Arizona. If not, then proof of circumcision, or for females proof of baptism. The circumcision thing got to the Republican governor, Jane Brewer, stating it went too far, so she vetoed the legislation.

As far as Hawaii goes in only issuing live birth certificate copies, most other states and the U.S. State Department recognize the live birth certificate as a legal and binding certificate. The thing is, along with a lot of other states, Arizona itself has not offered long-form birth certificates in years. I guess if this legislation had passed we’d never see a native of Arizona run for the office of the presidency due to his state’s own backward laws. States must recognize other state’s documentation, or this federal republic of ours will go down in anarchy as a whole country.

David Frum, a conservative who was a speech writer for W. Bush once said that Republicans fear their base. That can work both ways. Ethnicity, race and religion all play a part in the birther theory, because it plays on gullible fears, an area most Republican politicians excel in.

Idiocracy:
I’m not quite, but probably sure there are some dumb acts or dumber statements made in the past couple of years out there performed by a Democrat, but I just haven’t come across them yet. As for Republicans well, here’s a few…

Michelle Bachmann leads the list, so I’ll give five instances. Now remember, she’s on the congressional intelligence committee. Ya know, when it comes to intelligence, I’m just grateful for her that her bodily functions work on their own accord. 

“Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” April 22, 2009—enough said here.

“I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat, President Jimmy Carter. And I’m not blaming this on President Obama I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” April 28, 2009—in taking a cue from Rush Limbaugh, Bachmann got it wrong twice here. In her false attempt to infer Obama for the swine flu outbreak, she also blamed the last outbreak in the ‘70s on Carter. The swine flu outbreak then was in 1976 under Gerald Ford’s watch.

“If we took away the minimum wage; if conceivably it was gone; we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.” July 23, 2009—this was her gibberish argument against raising the minimum wage that was passed.

“But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents (Declaration of Independence & Constitution) worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” January 21, 2011—it appears she’s forgotten about ol’ Abe and the Emancipation Proclamation.

“You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” March 12, 2011—Bachmann was speaking to a group of Conservative Republicans not in Massachusetts, but in Manchester, New Hampshire. To cover her gaffe on American history, she suggested it wasn’t from a lack of her knowledge in history or geography, but rather from the usage of a teleprompter. She seriously clarified on Fox News Sunday, “After that, I promised I would never again use President Obama’s teleprompter. And I intend to keep that promise.”

What the…that dad gummed teleprompt and black president…son of a…

I really didn’t want to put in a Limbaugh squeal, for they are always vile, deviant, deceitful or flat out a lie pretty much. But this one contains all those elements. Concerning the NY Times Square failed bomb attempt, on 04/10/2010, Limbaugh intentionally lied to his radio listeners when he sarcastically bloated, “Guess what? Faisal Shahzad is a registered Democrat. I wonder if this SUV had an Obama sticker on it.” Limbaugh again repeats the falsity he wants burned into the collective memory of his mindless listeners, “Faisal Shahzad is a registered Democrat. Fine, so he’s a Democrat. I want to see the Obama sticker in his car. Notice how quickly they got it out of Times Square, before anybody could hop and maybe see Obama 2012 bumper sticker on the damn car.”

Shahzad only became a U.S. citizen on October 20, 2008, never was affiliated with any political party and never registered to vote, much less cast his ballot in a voting booth. It would hardly appear that he was an Obama supporter, when he was attempting to hurt Americans on Obama’s watch. Rush’s futile attempts to connect dots with Obama, Islam and terrorism are up-chucking. Forget facts. Just a typical bag of Limbaugh lies coerced from his dire hatred of Obama.

David Barton, the darling of right-wing conservatism and Glenn Beck’s quote, “favorite history professor,” is an historian to American history about as much as creationists are to science. He has no advanced education and clings to the concept that Jesus loves Americans more than anyone else.  Barton heads up Wallbuilders, a religious organization dedicated to finding God’s will in American history. Concerning Thomas Jefferson, who, in reference to his letters to John Adams, most likely was one of the least interested in religion of those who signed the Declaration of Independence, but Barton contends, “Jefferson signed a treaty which provided federal funds to evangelize the Kaskaskia Indians.”

Fact is there never were funds authorized by Jefferson to convert the Indian tribe…none. However, there was an 1803 treaty signed by Jefferson and contained in it was for the U.S. to donate a stipend in providing aid for a priest to finish building a church on tribal lands for a settled congregation. That’s all; no mention of converting Indians to evangelic causes. In fact, notice it was a priest that the money was sent to. Priests lead and officiate in Catholic churches. Evangelicals, as Barton is and devoutly practices, do not even consider Catholics as Christian.

If Jefferson intended this money solely for converting Indians, it would have been all for naught anyway. The French Catholic priest, Father Marquette had already done that over 150 years ago in the mid 1600s. By 1803, there were only 200 Kaskaskia Indians left and all were Catholic.  

There ya go and there ya have it. For ya see, take a little kernel of abstract truth, funnel it into your own story and voila, chew it up into a final morsel as factual scripture, spit it out to the hungry masses and they will digest it.

As of late, Texas lawmakers are considering passing State Representative Leo Berman’s (R-Tyler) totally unnecessary law that would prohibit foreign customs, religious practices or cultural laws to be practiced and be banned in state courts. Berman stated, “We all know what Sharia law does to women. Women must wear burqas, women are subject to humiliation and into controlled marriages under Sharia law. We want to prevent it from ever happening in Texas.” Like that would ever happen in the Lonestar, with or without a law banning it.

In other Republican controlled state Houses of Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee, there is also pending legislature on banning foreign laws. It’s funny how all of a sudden, how interested these state legislatures are in Islam since Obama became president. Even after Obama’s just released long-form birth certificate and statement that there will likely be “a segment of people” for which the evidence of his long-form will still not be enough, Berman, as sure as fire melts ice, a bit later came out and said he’s still not persuaded. Cited in the Texas Tribune, Berman still insists, “Neither hospital (the two Honolulu hospitals) recognized the fact that he was born there and not only that, you would think that the hospital that gave birth to the president of the United States would have a commemorative plaque or something. In fact, all hospitals in Honolulu have denied the president was born there…including Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, where Obama says he was born have denied it.”

After forgetting the other hospital name, Berman was pressed where and when these hospitals made those claims and his reply was, “In several places over the past year and a half,” and provided no more specifics.

Although he won’t say from whom, Berman also claims and promotes that he’s heard Obama has 25 Social Security numbers. Please Berman, I beg of thee, go and get a life, but do not feel we all need exposure to it undeserving as we are and keep yore antics as far from us as ya possibly can.

Marilyn Davenport, an Orange County, California GOP official is the dress-up doll for the Tea Party. Recently this past month, as most have heard by now, she sent e-mails to a host of other GOP’ers depicting Obama as an ape. It consisted of Obama’s face placed over a baby chimpanzee’s while seated next to two adult chimpanzees. The caption below it read, “Now ya know why—No birth certificate.” She apparently thought that this was very cute in a demeaning way. But after its exposure, she knew beforehand it was meant to be offensive to the president, but had no idea how the reaction to it would explode in the African-American communities. She apparently had forgotten that whites have a history of depicting blacks as monkeys.

As if the e-mail wasn’t insulting enough for a government official to circulate, her initial apology was, “I’m sorry if it offended. I didn’t take into fact that he’s half black.” There ya have it. After repeated calls by both political aisles for her resignation, she is ostensibly refusing.

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), on April 08, 2011 in arguing to defund Planned Parenthood, crowed on the senate floor that over 90% of Planned Parenthood activity is abortions. His actual statement was, “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood and that’s well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does.”
  
When CNN learned of his statement and called his office to specify that Planned Parenthood services only include 3% in abortions and that it is not paid with federal dollars, the office promptly hung up. Later they replied that the senator’s statement “was not intended to be a factual statement.” I guess the senator can never be wrong if he never intended to be right. Is this the Republican way? Apparently not, for Kyl later had his statement retracted from the senate floor minutes. Too embarrassing once caught in a fib.

The epitome of it all in Republican hypocrisy might well be summed up in freshman Congressman Andy Harris’ (R-MD) self-concerns. After winning his district in the November elections, Harris was in a benefits session, where staffers were explaining benefits, including the fact incoming-freshmen would not be receiving their government healthcare until it kicked-in in February, twenty-eight days after the January third swearing in.

A congressional staffer who witnessed the session explained Harris’ forlorn reaction just after hearing this, “He (Harris) stood up and asked the two ladies, who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without twenty-eight days of healthcare?”

The deal is, Harris was a Tea Party candidate and won in speaking out against the new healthcare bill. His platform was not only to repeal “Obamacare,” he denounced it “as a gateway to socialized medicine.”

So, let’s get this straight now. Here we have a guy denouncing government healthcare as socialist; that it should not be provided to folks who perhaps have not had healthcare in twenty-eight years. But, he’s also the one lone guy to stand up, nervous enough in wondering what he will do because he’ll have to wait a mere twenty-eight days before receiving his guaranteed government healthcare? Honestly, the total twists in moronic irony. Now don’t that just beat all?           

Too tempting, one Sarah Palin quote to end with. “The perversion over these last years of what the media has done to conservatives, I think it’s appalling and it violates our freedom of the press. May 21, 2010.

Outvoting Voters:
The new Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder and his Republican controlled state congress just passed into law giving Snyder the right to strip local citizen voting rights by imposing martial law, dissolving elected local officials and replacing them with a personally hand-picked state appointee to serve as an emergency financial manager (EFM). The EFM would then solely report directly to the governor with no local voice.

Snyder, a former corporate executive and venture capitalist, is allowing private consultants to go into a community and restructure it for corporate gain. Essentially it gives the consultants the opportunity to do to distressed communities at what they conducted in distressed companies. That is to take it over, restructure it, find a buyer, sell it cheap and too bad for the employees, or in this case, the citizens of the communities. Financial martial law has now reached our shores as Snyder has already enacted his martial law twice.

The first was in Benton Harbor, Michigan simply for the desire of a golf club. Benton Harbor is a town of 12,000, primarily black and with an average annual income of $10,000.00 is poor and run down. But there is one little treasure they have and are proud of. It is Jean Klock Park full of sandy dunes set as a beach to Lake Michigan. Bequeathed to the town by the Klock family for posterity in 1917, it is named after a three-year-old daughter that had passed away. The family had intended the park to live on in her memory.

Developers have been wanting the park grounds to make it part of a golf resort and with a $5,000.00 membership fee, not one local resident could hardly afford becoming a member. The elected town officials representing the citizens have been fighting the developer’s attempts in acquiring the land through court litigation, for the park is about all the town folk have to be proud of. Now, all of that is about to change in favor of the developers.

On April 14th of this year, Snyder appointed Joseph Harris, a former chief financial officer as an EFM to Benton Harbor and immediately he went to work in stripping the elected officials of their authority and effectively by taking away the democratic rights of those pesky poor folk, granted the right for the developers to build their golf course with the park included in the plan.

It appears that now, Benton Harbor residents live under a dictatorship imposed by a Republican governor essentially stipulating that under a democracy the poor can be punished to gain more rewards for the rich. But one thing he is not putting into account is that the poor still carry a sense of dignity. Surely, someone will give voice to this and halt it in its tracks.

About the only outside argument for Snyder’s onslaught is from the Kalamazoo Gazette columnist, Julie Mack and it’s bordering on atrocious. She wrote, “What’s worse for Benton Harbor, a financial manager with dictatorial powers or an utterly dysfunctional city government?” According to her I suppose, the choice is over between democracy or dictatorship, for the dictator has won.

Also Snyder has imposed his martial law in the Detroit public schools. Catherine Ferguson Academy is a high school for pregnant girls and young mothers. Catherine Ferguson, the person the school’s named after, was born a slave and had her mother sold and taken away from her when she was only eight-years-old. When she was sixteen, her freedom was bought for $200.00 where she then devoted the rest of her life to mothering children.
 
Regardless of choices in life, young students deserve a right to a good education and where they could not obtain it anywhere else, Catherine Ferguson Academy elicited this right to the girls. It also, in downtown Detroit no less, taught them what it means to work in the earth with a first rate gardening program, farming and animal husbandry. These growing and raising techniques they learned and experienced, not only help feed the students, it generated income for the school. Recognized as a break-through high school by the National Association Secondary School Principals, the school is a godsend to these girls.
      
Apparently some do not think so though. Bob C. Bobb, who had been appointed by former Democrat governor, Jennifer Granholm to oversee Detroit’s broken school system was, as Rachel Maddow so eloquently put it, “licking at the chops” for Snyder to enact his martial law upon Detroit’s school system. Maddow wasn’t kidding, for Bobb stated in the Detroit News, “I drool when I think of the pace of change we could achieve under the new law.” Picked as the EMF by Snyder, Bobb went to work in closing down the high school and firing the teachers. He even had some of the students arrested who protested by remaining in the school’s building. Police turned on the vehicle sirens to drown out the girl’s screams.

He also promptly fired the city’s school board and all of the Detroit public teachers, simply because he thought they had been a bother to his intentions. The reason he shut down the school was to merely downsize the public schools. He claims, if a private company in the future decides to take it over, he said he will reopen it. For this school, for those girls, there is no other option in opportunity to turn to.

Essentially, these two cases are yelling…Democracy is not the solution, Democracy is the problem and the governor through martial law knows best. So why is no one hearing the yelling? Why are there no Tea Party uprisings, outraged at this insult to democracy and election freedoms…to allow big martial law government to take over democratically elected smaller government? Is America’s democracy tipping over the ledge of the abyss?

Special Note News Flash:
Well, as I write this Sunday night of May 01, 2011, an end to an era has just occurred. 9/11 now has closure. It’s being reported Osama bin-Laden has just been killed and U.S. officials have his body. Obama’s robust drone attacks and pressures finally put this saga to rest. A psychological impact for sure, not solely for the U.S., but for the world. Obama got Osama. It will reopen a ten-year-old wound, but with a sense of justice, perhaps that wound can now finally heal. Thank goodness to an end. Of all the events that have unfolded since, at last, America can regain some of its lost respect back.


B.J. Anderson
In Correspondence to Ignoble Events
(05/02/2011)