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Tax Day Musings And The “Tea Party”

Now that tax day has come and gone, some interesting stories and facts have emerged. First is the report that multi-national U.S. corporations such as ExxonMobil and General Electric paid no U.S. income taxes again but paid them in other countries according to a Think Progress report titled, “ExxonMobil paid no federal income tax in 2009” which said,

Last week, Forbes magazine published what the top U.S. corporations paid in taxes last year. “Most egregious,” Forbes notes, is General Electric, which “generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion.” Big Oil giant Exxon Mobil, which last year reported a record $45.2 billion profit, paid the most taxes of any corporation, but none of it went to the IRS.

Think Progress is citing the Forbes story by Christopher Helman titled, “What The Top U.S. Companies Pay in Taxes” which goes on to say,

Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. Exxon has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas. Likewise, GE has $84 billion in overseas income parked indefinitely outside the U.S.

You see, they are the East India Tea Company of our time. The real tea party was about the East India Tea Company through the Tea Act of 1773 being allowed to monopolize the tea market to the colonies by exempting it from paying taxes on tea shipped into the colonies and from paying taxes on any excess inventory. The smaller tea merchants of the colonies did not have such an advantage and thus they orchestrated the Boston Tea Party where East India Tea Company tea was dumped in Boston harbor and was born the expression “no taxation without representation”. Somehow, I don’t think the clowns showing up at the “tea party” rallies have these facts and concepts in their minds. They unwittingly support the East India Tea Companies of today because the corporate money and allied politicians that are funding their “grassroots” movement have put an alternative reality in their heads, that being, instead of the influence and control these corporations have acquired over the American political process (culminating in the current Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC), they believe the exact opposite has occured and “big government” has taken over the private sector. The Think Progress report went on to note the 2008 Government Accountability Office report that 2/3rds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005. Given the current debt of this nation through these continual tax cuts at the top coupled with the “free trade agreements” that have led to lower household incomes, fixed higher unemployment rates and deregulation such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which led the way to the financial collapse (sorry lunatics, it wasn’t ACORN, Carter, or poor minorities and immigrants) and watered down regulation enforcement which led to the mining deaths from Massey Energy run by Tea Party member Don Blankenship, this recent tax news is particularly disgusting.

Second is the piece authored by Dave Lindorf titled, “Your Tax Dollars at War: More Than 53% of Your Tax Payment Goes to the Military” which states the folowing,

The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America’s imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion. …

US military spending isn’t just half of the US budget. It is also half of the entire global spending on war and weaponry. In 2009, according to the venerable War Resisters League, US military spending accounted for 47% of all money spent globally on war, weapons and military preparedness. What makes that staggering figure particularly ridiculous is that America’s allies–countries like France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan–account for another 21% of the world’s military spending. Fully 12 of the top-spenders among big military-spending nations are either allies of the US, or are friendly countries like Brazil and India. That is to say, America and its friends and allies account for more than two-thirds of all military spending worldwide.

China, in contrast, probably the closest thing to a real “threat” to American interests because of America’s treaty commitments to the island nation of Taiwan, and China’s claim that it is a part of the PRC, spends only some $130 billion on its military, much of which is actually devoted to maintaining military control of the country’s own 1.3 billion people, some of whom might prefer to be independent, or to be freer….

Meanwhile Iran, which the White House and Congress are portraying as America’s arch enemy despite its not having invaded another country in hundreds of years, isn’t even on the list of the top 17 military big-spenders. Iran’s current military budget is a teensy $4.8 billion, about the same as the estimated $5 billion spent on the military by North Korea–America’s other “major enemy.” Each of those country’s military budgets is about one-quarter of the military budget of Australia, or a third of the military budget of the Netherlands.

Given that some estimates have put us having over 1000 military bases in 135 counties, this is all massive overkill that threatens the US with implosion not unlike what happened to the Soviet Union. This is the military industrial congressional complex that President Dwight Eisenhower once warned Americans about. When you throw in the no bid contracts that took place in Iraq, the information Judicial Watch gathered on the Cheney Energy Task Force had concerning Iraqi oil reserves and multi-national corporate interests interested in them in March, 2001, long before the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, it all draws quite an unspoken picture. And there isn’t much talk of the TAPI pipeline in Afghanistan or US installed Afghan leader Hamid Karzai once being a pipeline negotiator for the Unocal bid either.

And the last news item or story is that income taxes according to William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center and director of the Retirement Security Project at the Brookings Institution in a CBS News Hotsheet report titled, “What’s Obama Doing to Your Taxes

are at their lowest level in 60 years. …

“The relation between what is said in the tax debate and what is true about tax policy is often quite tenuous,” Gale told Hotsheet. “The rise of the Tea Party at a time when taxes are literally at their lowest in decades is really hard to understand.”

Despite the facts, polling data in another CBS Hotsheet report titled, “Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are And What They Believe” the following results are noted,

Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama administration. Thirty-four percent of the general public says the president has raised taxes on most Americans.

While the 34% of the general public believe the opposite of reality (which is in itself an indictment of mainstream corporate media), the numbers for the “Tea Party” are quite staggering. The cause is explainable though, as noted,

Sixty-three percent say they get the majority of their political and current events news on television from the Fox News Channel, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall. Forty-seven percent say television is their main source of Tea Party information, the top source; another 24 percent say they get Tea Party information from the internet.

Lately, there has been some effort in the mainstream media to legitimize the “tea party”. But let’s be honest for a moment. These people are nothing but low information voters driven to irrational anger by charlatans at the Fox News network and right wing radio as well as monied interests and right wing organizations to shut down dialogue and accountability for political gain instead of legitimate concerns. The fact many of them believe President Obama is not legitimately the president of the United States and doesn’t have a legitimate birth certificate is not rational or sane dialogue. The fact they call him a Communist, Marxist, Nazi, and Fascist likewise given that some of these things are quite opposite of each other. The fact they are calling the new Health Care Bill socialism while is it basically a copy of Republican Mitt Romney’s Health Care in Massachusetts, was patterned after a rendition of a bill written by AHIP and authored by a former health insurance executive, and is pretty close to the Nixon effort at reform should be enough to reveal these people do not live in a reality based thought process. If anyone should be mad at the bill, it should be liberals and progressives who were shut out of the process. And what’s worse, much needed regulatory financial reform is being sold to these gullible people in the “tea party” movement by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) as a “permanent bailout” instead of reregulation of the financial industry to make sure what happened never happens again. These liars and hate speakers on the right and complicit Republicans are playing dangerous games with the future of our republic. The fact that a basically conservative approach at reforming our health delivery system was met with madness and violent overtones and the recent arrest of Hutaree Militia members planning to carry out murder should be tampered down immediately and this movement discredited before more tragic results occur. On April 13th while eating at a local Burger King, I saw a man that was agitated and mumbling but with some discernable words concerning Chris Matthews of MSNBC and that he had enough of him and the lying liberals. He proceeded to get louder and louder and he began saying that all the liberals in this country needed to be killed (repeatedly) which started making others a little uncomfortable. I have a message for this man. Turn off Fox News, your radio, and seek professional help before you bring harm to yourself and others. And for those of you spreading the lies, hate speech, paranoia that is dividing my country, from the charlatans at Fox News, the hate speakers on right wing radio, to the Republican members of Congress encouraging this garbage, please stop and start helping fix this country’s problems you have helped create.

The Weekend Orgy Of Ignorance And Hate That Was The Tea Party Convention.

The convention of unhinged right wing radicals called the “Tea Party” concluded its facts be damned idiocy with it’s heroine, Sarah Palin, the one who gave us a “he pals around with terrorists” description of President Obama and “death panels” to scare the intellectually incurious concerning any reform of a failed health care delivery system, reading cheat notes written on her palm. One would think a speech to a movement built on repetition of words until someone believes you wouldn’t be difficult enough to require any cheat notes. But dignity may not have been required for a convention that had the feel of a rally for John Birchers, “Know Nothings“, white supremacists, and corporate manipulated Jethro Bodine types. Matt Taibbi had it correct when he said,

These are people who’ve been gouged for years by the deregulated banking, mortgage lending, and commodities trading business, and when Obama sends down very weak, watered-down regulations to deal with those problems, they howl that he’s against “private enterprise” because that’s what they’ve been told to think by the Glenn Becks of the world.

The convention had everything an ignorant frightened bigot could dream for such as thinly veiled racism and the “birther” movement, homophobia, McCarthyism, theocratic ramblings and a total misunderstanding of both Constitution and the flawed economics behind the recession. On its opening night, it had former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) CA., suggesting that Jim Crow type laws should be brought back such as a

a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country

probably not realizing the irony most in the convention hall probably couldn’t pass it. Of course all this was directed towards the group’s xenophobia of Latin American immigrants while calling tolerance of the cultural differences between people

the cult of multiculturalism

.
Tancredo went on to to express a McCarthy like favorite among rightwing types that the overly corporate friendly Obama administration was

a committed socialist ideologue in the White House … Barack Hussein Obama

which is a popular unreality in the minds of the convention attendees who’s minds have lost the ability to process information in a logic based manner due to rightwing media. He continued his ramblings by saying that this country was founded on a culture based on Judeo Christian principles whether people like it or they don’t and if you don’t like it, don’t come here and if you are here, go home. Would Thomas Jefferson have to “go home”? Afterall, Jefferson’s words would make him “unAmerican” by opinion of this convention with quotes such as,

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

And there is this from the treaty with Tripoli of 1796 which was written under the Presidency of George Washington and signed into law by President John Adams,

the government of the United States is “in no sense founded on the Christian religion

In fact, the Constitution of the United States does not mention “Christianity”, “Judeo Christian”, “Jesus”, “the Bible”, etc. which would be strange if the country was indeed founded on its principles. It is not mentioned just as corporations are not mentioned despite the hard right Roberts Supreme Court recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations are persons entitled to the Bill of Rights and that their money is “free speech”. The Ten Commandments Judge, Judge Roy Moore was also at the Tea Party Convention and said,

“[Obama] has ignored our history and our heritage, arrogantly declaring to the world that we are no longer a Christian nation. He has elevated immorality to a new level, setting aside the entire month of June to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride. He now threatens to change our law to allow homosexuality in our military … He’s apologized to the Arab world for our past, subjugated our national sovereignty by bowing down to the king of Saudi Arabia. He has pursued a socialist agenda by taking control of private companies and pushing a national health care plan with a public option. …

They must read from a different Constitution such as the one the Bush Administration and it’s Dept. of Justice made up when they were breaking our laws and treaties.

Noam Chomsky said in a November, 2009 interview with Diane Krauthamer, the following,

So take right now, for example, there is a right-wing populist uprising. It’s very common, even on the left, to just ridicule them, but that’s not the right reaction. If you look at those people and listen to them on talk radio, these are people with real grievances. I listen to talk radio a lot and it’s kind of interesting. If you can sort of suspend your knowledge of the world and just enter into the world of the people who are calling in, you can understand them. I’ve never seen a study, but my sense is that these are people who feel really aggrieved. These people think, “I’ve done everything right all my life, I’m a god-fearing Christian, I’m white, I’m male, I’ve worked hard, and I carry a gun. I do everything I’m supposed to do. And I’m getting shafted.” And in fact they are getting shafted. For 30 years their wages have stagnated or declined, the social conditions have worsened, the children are going crazy, there are no schools, there’s nothing, so somebody must be doing something to them, and they want to know who it is. Well Rush Limbaugh has answered – it’s the rich liberals who own the banks and run the government, and of course run the media, and they don’t care about you—they just want to give everything away to illegal immigrants and gays and communists and so on.

Well, you know, the reaction we should be having to them is not ridicule, but rather self-criticism. Why aren’t we organizing them? I mean, we are the ones that ought to be organizing them, not Rush Limbaugh. There are historical analogs, which are not exact, of course, but are close enough to be worrisome. This is a whiff of early Nazi Germany. Hitler was appealing to groups with similar grievances, and giving them crazy answers, but at least they were answers; these groups weren’t getting them anywhere else. It was the Jews and the Bolsheviks [that were the problem].

While I agree with Chomsky of the dangers we currently live in, especially since the U.S. enacted its own version of the Enabling Act called the “Patriot Act” and suspended habeas corpus during the Bush administration, I’m not sure these people can still be reached without first somehow exposing the fraudulent rants of Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox “News” and the like as the crazy train seems to have already left the station. I’m reminded of the reaction to Galileo’s revelations in his time and his subsequent jail sentence. But I guess people who are educated and know reality must still try or lose all which is dear to us.

Disgrace in Massachusetts. The Legacy of The People’s Champion Is Replaced By a Republican Backed By The Tea Bagger Movement.

The results of a presidential campaign built on PR branding called change  but after a year of governance has only delivered small change on the major issues of our time is producing worrisome results for Congressional Democrats swept into office to change the direction of this country.  This is reflected by the special election for the Senate seat of one of history’s most ardent defender of the rights and welfare of the average American, the “Liberal Lion” Ted Kennedy, whereby it was filled by a Republican backed by the far right tea bagger movement.  So what are the people that voted for change and a chance to stop the bankrupt policies of rolled backed tax rates on the richest Americans, tax breaks and crony capitalism for American corporations, the gutting of America’s meagar safety net, falling wages and destroyed pensions in the race to the bottom, shipping our manufacturing base overseas looking for modern day slave labor,  and massive militarism with 1000+ military bases in 135 countries, and deregulated predatory capitalism that has led to the American collapse starting in earnest in 2007?  How much darker is our future going to be with no real change in direction?  While Brown is not quite as radical as the tea bagger extremists that backed him in the election (along with some frustrated Democrats), he will not help correct the awful path of the ship of state.

Who to blame? 

In many respects, the Coakley campaign and intra-party squabbles are to blame.  The Coakley campaign ran an anemic campaign with limited campaign stumps.  It took corporate money from the health insurance interests which was another mistake probably seen as betrayal by many Democrats.  It even mispelled Massachusetts.  And then there is the party squabble indicated in the diary of “catlover72” at the Daily Kos which could have been a part of it.  Some of it says that during the primary,

According to my mom, the Western Mass Democrats got a lot more momentum in the primary because no one in Boston believed that Capuano could lose. Western Mass turned out, Boston and vicinity did not.

It went on to say,

Coakley, on the other hand, not only dropped the ball as everyone knows, but no politicians in Boston wanted their names associated with her after she won the primary. My mom isn’t high enough up the chain to know why this is (or maybe she is holding out on me because she doesn’t want anyone to read this and recognize her dishing the inside scoop – she is old school and thinks she shouldn’t be talking publicly about this).

However, one who is educated, not in the propaganda of these times, but political realities, knows there is a growing apathy among Democratic party voters and activists that were looking for definitive policy changes from the last couple of decades into something traditionally progressive such as reregulation of the financial industry, buttressing of the social safety net in hard times, and some creativity on the job front in the tradition of FDR and the New Deal, and not Jack Kemp’s “Reaganomics”. They see broken promises on the issue of healthcare. All this lies squarely on the shoulders of the “DLC”, a self appointed leadership group brought in under Clinton that is corporate in nature and seeks to shift the multinational largess of corporate donations away from the Republican Party. In this shift, the Democratic Party since the election of Bill Clinton has moved toward “free trade” policies, deregulation of business and the financial sector, privatization of government functions, chipping away at our social safety net such as social security and medicare/medicaid, ramped up spending on the military industrial complex and foreign interventionism, as good an any Republican of today. In doing so, the party on occasion has abandoned its traditional coalition of organized labor, civil libertarians and civil rights groups, women’s rights group and many others. Their influence is also probably responsible for tabling Kucinich’s impeachment resolutions of Bush and Cheney to die in committee. They have even adopted much of the language of Republicans calling fellow Democrats “the left” and “too liberal”. All of this is leading to growing apathy of Democratic voters who saw a candidate in Barack Obama speak like a New Deal Democrat but filled his cabinet and advisors, particularly concerning the economy, with Clintonite “New Democrats”. And they have seen the result in the way the financial bailout and stimulus package has been handled (except with the cash for clunkers program) as well a give away bill to the insurance industry instead of a public national healthcare program.

In the meantime, a Tea Bag movement financed by the rightwing infrastructure and radicalized by hate radio talk, political dishonesty, and a tinge of racism from the howling hyenas of rightwing media, has what Stephen Colbert humorously calls the American “backwash” coming too close for comfort in determining future governance. Even the mainstream press on occasion legitimizes some of this movement’s darker aspects.

Will historians writing about this era in the future call it “post modern America, the latest failed state”?

Haiti And The American Right. You Knew It Was Coming.

The use of racism in American politics is nothing new, especially since this country had slavery of African Americans from its colonial beginnings. But through a Civil War and determined struggle by brave people in our past, racism as an institutional blight on the United States began to wane despite resistance from its white population and horrendous Supreme Court decisions. Later, social acceptance of racism was relegated to rightwing hate groups. That is, until Richard Nixon and the Republican Party decided to push racial division with its “Southern Strategy” to tap into racial resistance to Great Society policies for social and economic justice. With the rise of the mythic Ronald Reagan and his voo doo political economics came the use of the term “welfare queen“, and the rise of rightwing talk radio with their idea of equivalence of race with poverty and injustice and the responsibility of government to provide programs that are designed to alleviate it to promote the general welfare of the people is somehow in their eyes unnecessary and represents “big government”. You can see it clearly in the latest words of hate speaker and propagandist Rush Limbaugh and with the latest from the Christian Right’s Pat Robertson.

Someone needs to inform Limbaugh and Robertson that the condition of Haiti is not due to its racial makeup, liberalism or tax policy, communism, or pacts with the devil, but was mainly made in the USA with the added CIA Narco-colonialism.

The multinational corporate interests that back the infrastructure of the American rightwing benefit from racial politics. It divides up the have nots in our society to dilute any political success they might garnish if they pulled together into a political movement. Racial politics is involved in the demonization of ACORN and union busting, privatizing government services and the appointment of conservative radicals on our judiciary. It is used in our foreign policy and free trade exploitation of third world countries for cheap labor, and especially ethnic fear that has led to abuse of immigrants, acceptance of torture and pre-emptive war with covert operations and propaganda to cover up our true designs of multinational corporate control of oil reserves and the natural gas trade. This needs to change if we want a better sustainable future for our children.