Posts Tagged ‘Elections’

h1

Just How Stupid Can We Be?

September 30, 2010

It really turns my stomach to listen to the Tea Party Bund and far-right Republicans rant about taxes.  Don’t get me wrong, taxing people is at best a necessary evil, but what people like Dick Armey, Sara Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the rest, are doing is lying to the public.  They simply hope to scare people in an attempt to keep them from understanding just how close Republicans and big business came to destroying the country.  By scaring you, they hope to have another bite at the apple and finish running the country into the ground.

It’s like the nation threw a big party for eight years and ran up a huge bill.  Now that we’ve started to clean up the mess, they want to complain about the cost of the cleaning supplies.  Where were Tea Party Bundists and Republican stalwarts when we spent the nearly ten-trillion[i] in long-term public debt during the Bush years?  No, they want to ignore that and complain about the less that one and a half-trillion President Obama financed the same way to fund programs to stabilize the economy.  While I can admire the gall of these people, I do recognize what it really is, an attempt to shift blame.

Recent news is full of comments about raising taxes.  Representative Boehner, Sara Palin, and the rest of the clan, make comments akin to “you don’t create jobs by taxing job creators.”  I happen to agree with that thought but their lie is President Obama is not talking about taxing job creators; he is talking about taxing the top 2% of income earners at the pre-Bush tax cut levels.  Republicans are fond of pointing out that small business drives our economy and small business is where job growth occurs.  Small business owners do not make the sort of money that would put them in the top 2%.  While small businesses may generate large amounts of money, profits are slim and it’s profit that gets taxed, not gross receipts.

You want to talk about wasteful spending, I’m there.  You want to express the need to control cost – I’ll carry a sign for you.  Now, if you believe the crap these liars promote to give a billionaire a tax break, forget it!  These idiots ran our economy into the ditch.  Even if I don’t agree with President Obama, I am not stupid enough to give the morons that created the problem another shot.  Again, it is small business that drives our economy and that is where tax breaks need to be, not with the super rich and big business.  They, along with their political cronies, are the ones that put us into this mess in the first place, regardless of what Tea Party darlings want us to believe.

I’ve refereed to the Tea Party as a bund; it is one.  Just as the German-American Bund’s goal was to promote Nazi ideals in pre-World War II American[ii], the Tea Party’s goal is to promote its ultra right-wing ideological views with the same propaganda styled tactics.  Grass-roots members buy into the idea of returning to an America that never existed in the first place.  Just as the German-American Bund tried to usurp American history by placing images of George Washington next to a Nazi flag[iii], Tea Party-ists (and Glenn Beck specifically) try to usurp our history by laying claim to our history and tying American ideals to their perverted ideology.

The Tea Party is simply the cutting edge for extreme right-wing ideologues like Dick Armey[iv].  Grassroots members may wish for it to be an organization to return government to the citizens, in reality it is an organization whose sole goal is to return government to the people that nearly destroyed the American dream.  If you buy into the Tea Party Bunt’s rhetoric, you are as misguided as the loyal Americans that believed the Nazi propaganda prevalent before World War II.  Just because you don’t agree with the direction President Obama is pushing policy, you don’t have to buy into this tripe.


[i]“U.S. National Debt Graph: What They Won’t Tell You.” ZFacts on Controversial Topics. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. .

[ii] “German American Bund.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_American_Bund&gt;.

[iii] Color Guard at American Nazi Rally. 1939. Photograph. Bettmann, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA. Corbis Images. Comp. Bettmann/CORBIS. Corbis Corporation. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. .

[iv] “Dick Armey’s Tea-Party Coup.” The Daily Bell. 18 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. .

h1

The Danger of Unknowns

August 19, 2010

We live in a time when the best choices a particular politician made in years past are used as a club against him or her today, when times and situations call for different choices.  It really does not matter if a politician is liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, or any other flavor of alignment, votes and positions of yesterday haunt them today.

Imagine if such attacks happened around our Founding Fathers.  George Washington would never have been elected as president, he lost more battles than he won and seemed to always be retreating.  John Adams, president # 2, forget it, he represented the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, resulting in the acquittal of most and only two soldiers guilty of manslaughter and not murder.  As for Thomas Jefferson, he was a deist who was critical of organized religion, a death knell for a politician today.

Politics has never been a business for the thin-skinned, but what takes place today goes beyond simply pointing out ideological differences and extends to character assassination.  Every vote or position becomes a vulnerability for any politician with a few years of experience.  Moreover, it encourages the creation of proposed bills and legislation designed to force opponents in voting for or against something solely for use later as ammunition against them.

The ultimate result is electing individuals without a record or history.  While this in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, it does open the door to placing people in positions they are not fully ready to hold.  For example, after the corruption surrounding the Nixon administration, the country turned to a little known governor from Georgia, Jimmy Carter.  The country wanted an honest man, and President Carter is that.  His inexperience in dealing with national politics made his time in office difficult and prevented him from achieving much he tried.  America’s experiment with national political newcomers ended with the election of Ronald Reagan.

Following eight years with President Reagan, again voters elected the better-known candidate in then Vice-President Bush.  During his term, the national economic situation turned and a modest tax increase was deemed necessary for the good of the nation.  The Republican right-wing threw a fit, as Bush campaigned on no new taxes.  Not even the good of the nation is enough to overcome past statements and political parties will throw their own candidate under a bus to make that point.

After that, the nation elected another relatively unknown southern governor, Bill Clinton.  Unlike Carter, President Clinton understood the nature of national politics.  More importantly, he understood the nature of Washington politics.  Through his political savvy, his lapses in judgment regarding his personal affairs did not derail his presidency; in fact, the nation ended up in a stronger position than when he took the helm.  Clinton is an example showing an unknown can get the job done, but leaves the question of should we take the risk.

The conservatives picked up the mantra of electing an unknown in George W. Bush; you know “dub-ya.”  Unlike President Carter, this Bush played to his base.  In fact, in playing to his base, he did little else.  After 9/11, instead of finding the bastard that attacked us, he started two wars he was not willing to finish.  After eight years under his control, he left the United States with a wrecked economy, homeowners loosing homes in record numbers, the military stretched to its breaking point, fewer American’s with the ability to afford healthcare, and our returning veterans left to suffer all sorts of physical and mental problems overwhelming the Veteran’s Administration.

The nation blamed the conservatives.  While President Bush certainly is conservative, that was not the problem, he was simply the wrong man to run the country.  We elected, twice, a guy not fit to run a lemonade stand and left the competent conservative leaders marginalized.  The tide-swell of voter frustration was not to be turned; rather than accepting blame for electing an unknown moron, voters looked to liberals and picked another unknown, President Obama.

While certainly competent and far from being a moron, President Obama’s inexperience in national politics is proving to be an Achilles’ heel.  Much like President Carter, Obama seems incapable of controlling the political party he sits atop.  They are fractured, disorganized, and impotent when it comes to passing meaningful legislation.  Of course, they blame the Republicans but in doing so simply show they’ve been out foxed, or as some might say out “FOXed,” à la Rupert Murdock.

Back in my military days, I went through some very interesting training.  In one course on intelligence matters, the instructor made a statement like “In geopolitical affairs, always side with the despot you know and understand rather than the despot you know nothing about.”  That is good advice for our national politics too.  While we may not like the good-ol’ boys of either political party, we at least have a sense of who they are.  We, voters of both political parties, need to stop electing people we know nothing about.

Does that mean only elect career politicians, no, it means we must elect people with a record of action that points to how they will lead.  For instance, if you never worked in politics and your only experience with financial matters is balancing a checkbook, you might not have the qualifications to lead the nation in a financial crisis.  Warren Buffett, on the other hand, has the same political experience, but carries a financial pedigree that proves his ability.

As the mid-term elections approach, we need to stop firing the despot we know for the one that we know nothing about.  We can really make matters worse.  Politics in the United States has devolved to the point truly smart people avoid it like the plague.  The partisan bickering and backstabbing must end.  We need people who are willing to engage each other to solve problems rather than stand on ideology.  Firing an individual because he or she is not conservative or liberal enough and replacing them with some ideological robot without properly understanding who they are is a dangerous way to run a country.

h1

George Warned Us About This

January 16, 2010

A friend of mine reminded me the other day about George Washington’s opinion of political parties.  In his Presidential farewell address, he states, “it [the spirit of party] serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration.  It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”  Holding this strong opinion, poor George’s bones must rattle in his grave at the state of affairs today.

While there are many political parties in the Untied State, two hold power – the Democrats and Republicans.  The United States is an example of a two-party system.  While nothing in the Constitution demands this, the nature of the popular vote and Electoral College tends to align the people along liberal or conservative ideologies and the two-party concept, the result being a concentration of political power within the parties.  The two-party system is the single greatest danger to liberty in the United States.

Over the course of U.S. history, other parties held power, the first two being the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist Parties.  While parties may come and go over time, and particular issues change, the underlying alignment of liberal vs. conservative remains.  If you ask members of any U.S. political party why they exists, the most likely answer is they feel their party best represents American values and ideals.  This is false.  No political party looks at America’s needs beyond the needs of the party.  Of course, members of a party feel their beliefs are best for America.

This “we know best” mentality speaks to the danger President Washington pointed out when he bid public service good-bye.  It creates an atmosphere of perpetual conflict in Congress and ill serves the American people.  It leads to deal making and the combining of legislation into huge bills that shutdown government if not passed.  It does not matter which party is the majority, they both act in this way.  Both parties stifle debate this way.

By concentrating power in two parties, we open the door for corruption.  Big money panders to the majority party but gives enough support to the minority party to maintain favor should they take power. In the end, political parties are more interested in maintaining power than doing the business of the American people.  Special interests groups take advantage of that desire and corrupt the process. In the end, it is America as a nation that looses, we all loose.

Details, Details, Details

The devil is in the details,
at least that’s what they say.
For in the details live the snares
that catch us on our way.

With surgeon skill they craft the tone
within the plan they seek,
but shades of gray is what they weave
and havoc they will wreak.

In fog-veiled words and turn of phrase
pirates steal this land,
proclaiming all gave approval,
using their slight of hand.

Slick deception is the standard
that got us to this place
Be it party over nation
or simply lack of grace.

No, we cannot trust to others
to do what things are best
so we need to keep our guard up
and put them to the test.

When intent lacks understanding
before the task is done
the result will cause true damage
to freedoms we have won.

Influence is bought and traded
like some stock on the floor
but congress owes us better –
let’s kick them out the door!

Then open up the processes
on all they say and do
and force them to leave the lobby
that hides and turns their screw.

To hell with will all the details!
let’s simplify the day.
And to hell with both the parties
they stand in freedom’s way!

Copyright © 2008 MH Benton
h1

Leadership – In Washington It Means More than You Think

January 13, 2010

Ever heard of a Leadership PAC?  They don’t receive a lot of media attention and as far as Political Action Committees (PAC) go, they deal with relatively small amounts of money.  Nonetheless, the have great influence, not only with who each fund gives to, but with who controls the fund by those that give to it.

Each election cycle we hear the term “PAC” in news reports.  While most of us have an idea of what they are, few understand the power a PAC can hold.  Federal law limits the amount of money an individual or group gives to a candidate.  A Political Action Committee raises funds from individuals, cooperation, or other PACs.  In turn, the PAC gives to candidates and other PACs, to the limit allowed by law.

For example, Representative X is from your district and you like her work so far because she brought the widget factory there.  You can give her up to $2,400 for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election.  A local PAC is formed called “Keep Widgets Local” and they plan to support any candidate that supported the widget industry.  You can give them up to $5,000 per year.  The PAC in turn contributes up to $5,000 to your representative.  There are limits for earmarks but that is basically how they work.  The details of PACs in general are for another article.  This means you can give to a candidate and a PAC that supports that candidate too.

This is where Leadership PACs come in.  Each member of congress can have a one.  In the 2008 election cycle, members controlled 361 Leadership PACs.  Just what is a Leadership PAC?  They are PACs where the member directly controls the funds.  They can contribute to other member’s campaigns up to $5,000 per member, per year.  They contribute to each other more than voters can.  Then the member they gave to can turn around and give $5,000 back.  In effect, they can take $50,000 (or more) from their PAC; give it to ten other members’ campaign fund with each of them doing the same for the group.  The result being their fund gains the $50,000.  If businesses engage in this type of activity, we call it money laundering.  By giving to other members, they gain influence and committee appointments have instant support.

This money may be used for almost any purpose other than supporting the members own campaign, everything from fancy meals to paying a spouse for a “do-nothing” job.  In 2008, over $36,000,000 in Leadership PAC funds found their way into congressional election coffers.  Laws requiring reporting on Leadership PACs are vague and obtuse, allowing for little oversight.

In the end, Leadership PACs are dressed up slush funds at the candidate’s disposal.  The funds come from  individuals and industries the member has some sort of controlling interest in, such as being on a transportation committee and the fund supported by an airline.  What they really are is a legalized form of bribery.  In other words – Washington “leadership” at is best!

h1

Oxymoron – Democrats Show True Leadership

January 10, 2010

After eight year of the Republican Party promoting war, striping federal oversight in every aspect of government, and giving billions to pet companies (Halliburton for instance), the American people rose up and threw them out of office.  It’s not that Democrats were the best thing possible, far from it – they simply were not Republicans.  Democrats everywhere need to keep that fact in mind.

Now, with a year under total Democratic control, little has changed.  Wall Street is winding down the biggest rip-off of the American people in history, the wars continue and to get “something” passed, Democrats compromise on every point the minority party brings up dealing with healthcare.  I guess we should be thankful Republicans have not asked to outlaw free thinking all together, I’m sure the current leadership would give that away too.  Democrats have dropped almost every point they ran on.  So much so that the final form of healthcare is a Republican dream come true.  The net result being Americans, forced by law, supporting an unresponsive healthcare industry that will still do whatever it wants.

Two years ago, it cost $7,439 per person on average for a policy.  Giving the plan credit for reducing cost by 25 % (which really will not happen) that works out to be over $250 billion the currently uninsured will have to pay.  That is $250 billion, each year, going to line the pockets of an industry that already pays out some of the highest dividends to its shareholders.  Way to go Democrats!  That’s looking out for the little guy.  Even worse, most of the people without coverage cannot afford to pay for it, meaning tax dollars will.

Look at the difference between how the Republicans, lead by Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay, handled the leadership switch and current swap with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  The republicans hit the ground running with their “Contract for America.”  It was a plan to get things done quickly.  While the contract did little good in the way of changing Congress in the long run, it did show a willingness to make changes.  That fact alone bought the Republican Party a tremendous amount of good will with the American public.  It seems a lesson Democrats will never learn.  Democrats continue to allow the conservative right, along with the conservative media talking heads, to define them as well as the important issues of the day.  The party has no leadership, none at all.

We elected the Democratic Party to change the heading of our government.  All that changed is the fluff around the edges.  My advice to Congress and the President is simple, do what we hired you to do or we will fire you just as we did the last batch of idiots.

h1

What You Don’t Know… It Can Hurt Everyone

January 7, 2010

We all run across that person that seems to know everything, not the one that brags about it, but the one that’s just plain smart.  Truth is, they don’t know everything but have a well-rounded general knowledge on most subjects.  They can answer questions like who was the sixteenth President of the United States.  If you were wondering – Abraham Lincoln.

That general knowledge of our history is a rare thing these days.  Knowledge of civics, even current events in civics, is rarer still.  I think most Americans can name the current President, only if you were on Mars for the last year and bit could you not.  The more important question is who represents you in U.S. House of Representatives or who are the Senators from your state?  The knowledge of state a local elected officials is even less.

We really have no right to complain about our poor state of affairs if we cannot be bothered to participate in the process.  For example, I live in Beaufort County, South Carolina.  According to the South Carolina Election Commission, the county has approximately 112,000 residents of voting age.  In the last election, only 90894 residents registered to vote.  Of that number, only 69380 actually voted.  That works out to be 81% registered and 62% voted.  Amazingly, over 21,000 people took the time to register but did not vote.  The election had record high turnouts to boot.  The numbers are even worse for mid-term elections.

Of course, the justification for not voting boils down to apathy, what difference can one vote make after all?  Accepting, for the sake of argument that is true, it is only true at the national level.  One vote for a school board member or county commissioner has a greater effect.  Think about the 21,000 that registered but did not vote.  That is about seven times the highest number of votes any school board member received in the last election.  For two seats fewer than thirty votes made the difference.  That makes every vote of great importance.

American requires “Advanced Citizenship” to work properly at the local level.  We cannot simply leave it to others.  We elect the sheriff, probate judge, treasurer, county council and school board members to name a few.  These people have influence over our lives as well as the lives of our children each and every day.  Yet, few of us even know who they are, much less what they believe in politically, or their vision of the future, or how they spend tax dollars.

Do you know who your local representatives are?  You should because, in this case, what you don’t know can harm you, your family, and the community.  It is up to each of us to create the community we want to live in.  That will never happen if you sit on the sidelines and watch.

%d bloggers like this: