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Posts Tagged ‘Health Care Bill’

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.

Bricks, Bullets, Condoms, Threats, And Spit.

March 27, 2010 1 comment

Republican Response Weak Concerning America’s Unhinged Right Wing.  Cantor Even Plays Victim. Former Bush Speechwriter And The Neoconservative American Enterprise Institute Part Ways After His Candor.

The vandalism and threats over the Health Insurance Bill by stirred up extremists are starting to add up.  Let’s take a cursory look.  Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) must have thought he had passed through a time warp back to the days when he marched along side of Dr. King through the racist neoconfederate South of the 60’s for Civil Rights as he walked to Capitol Hill on Saturday, March 20th enduring the “N” word being shouted at him and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) was spat upon.  In an account at The Hill Rep. Lewis was quoted

Asked if racial epithets were yelled at him, Lewis responded, “Yes, but it’s OK. I’ve heard this before in the ’60s. A lot of this is just downright hate.”

Cleaver’s office issued the following quoted at The Hill,

“This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the ‘n’ word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans,” the statement said. “That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting.”

Homophobic slurs were hurled at Rep. Barney Frank by the Tea Party protestors. Bart Stupak the anti-abortion congressman from Michigan received death threats on his answering machine such as these reported by the National Post ,

The anti-abortion congressman who voted for the health-care bill, was called a “bastard and a baby-killer,” a “baby-murdering scumbag” and warned he would die “either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”

. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn) was sent a condum with a typed letter saying

“Betty McCollum you’ve been dry f***** by the liberal party.”

and her office also received part of an American flag doused in gasoline and a letter addressed to her and fellow Minnesota Democrats Rep. Keith Ellison, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken which said,

“Each of you receives part of a shredded American flag,” the letter read. “It represents Obama and your liberal filth. Open the bag, it’s covered in the stench you’ve brought to our government … Because of you, we are now a country of dirt, shame, corruption and slime.”

as reported by CNN political ticker. CNN Politics also reports

Early Monday morning, a glass panel at the Tucson office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, was shattered, spokesman C.J. Karamargin said. It wasn’t clear how the window was shattered, but visitors have to go through a gated courtyard to enter the office, and staffers suspect someone may have shot a pellet gun at the glass, he said.

and

In upstate New York, two similar incidents were reported before Sunday night’s vote, according to CNN affiliate WHEC. A brick was thrown through the window of the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in Rochester, and another was tossed through a window of Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter’s office in Niagara Falls early Friday.

There is the case of Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va) brother as reported by The Cavalier Daily ,

The FBI and local authorities are investigating a severed propane gas line at the home of Bo Perriello, the older brother of Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Charlottesville. Officials have deemed the incident as a “deliberate act of vandalism,” which may have resulted as possible retribution for the representative’s vote in favor of health care reform, mistakenly targeted at his brother. ….

The attacks are believed to have originated with an Internet post by a member of the conservative Tea Party group, a nationwide political organization. Tea Party member Nigel Coleman posted Bo Perriello’s address on his Facebook page after the passage of the health care initiative, stating that he was not “holding back anymore!!”

There is also the case of road rage as reported by WKRN.com over an Obama bumper sticker, and cases of twittering threats and calls to violence as reported by WIRED.com and news.com.au .

Congressional Democrats have condemned the acts of vandalism and violent inciteful rhetoric and called on Republicans requesting an appeal to their voters to tone it down. Republicans have only tepidly responded. First they have pretended that there is some sort equivalence of the Tea Party from liberals or “the left”. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn) was at the Tea Party protest in DC. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va) went as far as to blame the victims of America’s far right thugs by saying that Democrats were (in a quote reported by the Washington Post),

“dangerously fanning the flames”

and then claiming he was a victim of malicous vandalism by saying his window at his campaign offices in Richmond was shot out. It turns out the window in question was not his, but the window of a political consultancy firm called Marcus & Allen. The report from the Sheriff’s office included the following:

that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds.

But one Republican decided to come clean and it isn’t any Republican in Congress. That Republican was none other than former G.W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, from the administration that gave America illegal preventive war, torture (against US and international law), wire tapping, secret government, an end to Constitutional guaranteed civil liberties, and an unpaid trillion dollar war which of course, makes the Republican and Tea Party movement rhetoric hypocrisy of the greatest order. In a written piece he did for CNN, he gave a view that the Health Care Bill was the Republican Party’s Waterloo, not Obama’s. In it, he said

I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes, it mobilizes supporters — but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead.

Now the overheated talk is about to get worse. Over the past 48 hours, I’ve heard conservatives compare the House bill to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 — a decisive step on the path to the Civil War. Conservatives have whipped themselves into spasms of outrage and despair that block all strategic thinking.

Or almost all. The vitriolic talking heads on conservative talk radio and shock TV have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination.

When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say — but what is equally true — is that he also wants Republicans to fail.

He also, has rightly pointed that the current Health Care Reform has had a Heritage Foundation connection. Also, in an interview with Terry Moran from Nightline , he said

Moran: “It sounds like you’re saying that the Glenn Becks, the Rush Limbaughs, hijacked the Republican party and drove it to a defeat?”

Frum: “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.”

The neoconservative American Enterprise Institute of which Frum was a fellow decided it had enough of Frum’s candor and received a resignation letter from him after a meeting.

A former religious right leader turned Democratic voter, Frank Schaeffer, writing at firedoglake in a piece titled, “Republicans: Violent Losers” has summmed up the current situation with comparing today’s Tea Party movement and hate inspired media with that of the “patriotic” fascist movements of the 30’s and 40’s. In it he says and warns,

That day’s xenophobic and utterly ignorant Firster “patriots” lapped up the Lindbergh moonshine alternative reality. They also (like the Tea Party today) accused their President (Roosevelt) of “communism” because he opposed far right Germany. They too had their hate fed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh; in their day radio personality and fascist sympathizer Father Charles Coughlin…

The Republican leadership have literally gotten into bed with hate. And like all such bargains with the devil it was easier to begin their relationship with rube America than to end it.

Like Lindberg who lived out the rest of his life in ignominy — once we went to war with Japan and Germany — the Republicans will find little room to maneuver as the reality of the good that the health care reform bill will do sinks in with ordinary Americans. And if one of the Tea Party-type loons flies another plane into some federal building again – as recently happened in Texas to the IRS – and there is a huge tragedy, the Republican/Tea Party game will be over.

Either way: be it the next right wing act of domestic terror or the realization by the American public that the Republicans are just plain wrong on the facts; the Republicans are on their way down.

Ole Ole Olson at News Junkie has rightly called all this an “American Kristallnaght“. Another post by Cyrano at Democratic Underground sums up the thoughts and comment about this of a 90 year old holocaust survivor Cyrano visited while delivering supplies to elderly shut ins who said,

“The monsters never go away.”

To that, I say “Aye, ma’am. There be monsters out there. History recycles them and we have to live through their eras of darkness until we realize what is going on and decide they will not win.”