Rick Perry Reveals The Right Wing Agenda.

It would seem that 2012’s “Ooops” candidate has had another “Ooops” moment. In launching his 2016 presidential bid, he finally remembered the 3 federal departments he would eliminate: the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and the Department of Energy. And that’s not all. He would also eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and, of course, Obamacare.

He’s also not very keen on the Department of the Interior and the legal system, saying “It’s [America] in jeopardy because of taxes; it’s in jeopardy because of regulation; it’s in jeopardy because of a legal system that’s run amok. And I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, “God, You’re going to have to fix this.”

That’s the ticket.

Perry believes that we don’t have to worry about the state of our crumbling infrastructure, our militarized police departments, our over-stressed environment, our large corporate polluters, global warming, growing inequality, rampant racism, debilitating poverty, political polarization, and our for-hire Congress.

All we have to do is let God run the country. Oh, wait. How, exactly, can he do that? Since He doesn’t talk to all (many) of us, who will be his interpreter? Who will carry out His orders? Why Teapublicans, of course! According to the right, only they are the true patriots; only they have a close relationship with God; only they know what God wants.

Is that what you believe? That Teapublicans are the only moral, God-fearing politicians? If so, then how do you explain the pedophilia of Dennis Hastert? How do you explain the adultery of Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston and so many other Teapublicans? How do you explain the war-mongering of John McCain and Lindsey Graham? How do you explain the GOP’s uncaring attitude toward the poor? How do you explain the GOP’s embrace of the rich and powerful? How do you explain the GOP’s lack of interest in preserving the environment and all of God’s creatures?

You can’t…because it simply defies explanation.

The real problem for the GOP is that Perry was, in a manner of speaking, speaking out of school. You see, his beliefs are the same as those of most – if not all – of the declared GOP candidates. And the GOP would rather not have you know about them. They don’t want seniors to know that they want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare as “socialism.” They don’t want you to know that they consider public education “socialism.” They don’t want you to know that they are against worker’s rights and any form of collective bargaining. They don’t want you to know that they are deep in the pockets of the oil companies and are paid to do their bidding. They don’t want you to know that they simply don’t care about the poor.

Don’t believe it?

Then take a close look at what’s happening in Teapublican-controlled states like Arizona, Kansas and Wisconsin. In those and other red states, the GOP has cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy and balanced the budgets on the backs of the poor, as well as the teachers and students. The results have been disastrous, yet they don’t seem to care.

Instead of admitting their mistake and addressing the problems, the GOP is doubling down. They want to expand the misery to the entire country.

Democracy Lost.

In recent years, much has been written about growing inequality. It is, indeed, one of the most important issues of our time. And the effects of big money on our democracy have been devastating.

Sure, you may still be able to vote to elect those who are supposed to represent you. But that, alone, does not constitute democracy. Not only are the choices of candidates limited to two individuals – the only two who were able to climb their way up the political ladder in order to receive their parties’ blessings and, more important, their campaign funds. All too often, those who are elected are promised large campaign donations by corporations and industries in exchange for political favors. It is not necessarily quid pro quo, but the expectation for a return on the investment is there. So, too is the pressure.

In reality, such high stakes lobbying has long been a part of politics. But, over the past 35 years, things have gotten even worse.

In the late seventies, large US corporations began to see their hold on the world economy slip. New, lower-priced, high-quality imports – many of them made with robotics – from Japan and Germany began to push aside American-made products. US corporations responded by relocating manufacturing – first to the South, then off-shore – in search of lower-priced labor.

Perhaps, the most destructive response was the move to tie CEO compensation to the value of the companies’ share prices. This ushered in an era of ever-increasing CEO salaries and even more lucrative stock options for CEOs – a legalized form of insider trading. The result was for US corporations to seek ever lower-priced labor in countries where there is no regulation and no employee benefits. At the same time corporate profits have soared, employee salaries and corporate investments in the future have diminished – almost guaranteeing that the future will belong to foreign-based corporations. But why would our CEOs care? They and their money will be long gone before it matters.

Our corporations have used the threat of off-shoring jobs to extort our state and city governments. In exchange for their extortion, those governments have assumed many of the risks of corporate relocation or expansion by paying for needed infrastructure, cutting regulations, and delaying or eliminating corporate taxes.

Now these corporations are attempting to extort the federal government.

Unwilling to pay US income taxes on profits made off-shore, these corporations are stashing cash in foreign banks until the federal government agrees to “repatriate” the money at a greatly reduced tax rate. Of course, they’re justifying the extortion by saying that “repatriation” will lead to greater investments and more jobs in the US – the great “trickle down” fraud.

In reality, the money is more likely to be doled out to CEOs and other executives in the form of bonuses (as a reward for robbing ordinary taxpayers) and stock options.

In the meantime, corporations and billionaires have been working to rig the system. Realizing that buying Congress and our state legislatures is cheaper than paying lobbyists, people like the Koch brothers have stuffed the pockets of candidates willing to do their bidding. To pave the way, they pushed conservatives to stack the Supreme Court with ideologues such as Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas. That inevitably led to favorable court rulings giving corporations the rights of people and all but eliminating limitations on political donations. They got the IRS to change its rules allowing “non-profits” to fund political campaigns. When they won control of legislatures, they gerrymandered congressional districts making it all but impossible for anyone but “their people” to win office. And they introduced Voter ID laws to suppress the votes of minorities and the poor.

In 2014, their efforts finally came to fruition. Having already bought the House in 2010, they now own the Senate. It’s no coincidence that the first bills to reach the House and Senate floors were to repeal “Obamacare” and to build the Koch…er…Keystone XL Pipeline. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also made it clear that issues such as raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, unemployment insurance and student loan costs will be pushed aside in favor of gutting regulations on health care and financial services and eviscerating the EPA.

If you’re still worried about the effects of so-called “dark money” on our democracy, don’t. Last year, our democracy officially became an oligarchy.

State Of The World.

On the day following President Obama’s inspiring State of the Union address, I think it appropriate to wonder, if a world leader were to make a State of the World address, what would it be? What would be the calls to action? What accomplishments would it tout? What dire warnings would it contain?

If I was that world leader, my address would include the following:

Accomplishments? There are very few. Charities and non-governmental organizations have nibbled at the edges of some problems, such as access to clean water, housing and food. But most of these are mere symptoms of larger issues. For example, many nations have contributed to refugee camps while ignoring, or even exacerbating the conflicts that created the refugees in the first place. We have killed terrorists while creating others as a result of those very same killings, all the while ignoring the causes that led to much of that terrorism in the first place. And though we have discussed environmental problems, we have solved few. Sometimes, these two larger issues overlap. For example, at the current rate of killings (an elephant is killed every 15 minutes), African elephants could disappear from the wild in just 11 years. The reason for the slaughter? Ivory is expensive and highly sought after for jewelry, so terrorists are killing the elephants to claim the ivory in order to fund their terrorist activities.

According to a new scientific study, the world’s oceans are on the precipice of mass extinctions. The oceans are being overfished and horribly polluted. Coral reefs are being destroyed by cruise ships and, most especially, container ships in order for large corporations to increase manufacturing profits by exploiting low labor costs in underdeveloped countries. There are large “islands” of trash and plastics floating in our oceans. BP and other oil companies have polluted our waters with oil spills consisting of millions of barrels of crude oil. Fracking is pumping benzenes and other toxic chemicals into our aquifers and polluting our drinking water, even causing earthquakes. Chemical companies and large corporate farms are responsible for toxic runoff from farmlands that have created “dead zones” in our oceans at the mouths of rivers. Those same chemical companies have contributed to the near catastrophic collapse of bee colonies needed to pollinate our food plants. As a result of the tsunami at Fukishima, radioactive water is pouring into the ocean unabated. And the effects of that mess are, as yet, unknown.

Back on land, white rhinos are now extinct in the wild and virtually non-existent in zoos. Black rhinos are greatly endangered. Amur Tigers are virtually extinct and all large cats are endangered. Pandas, which have long been on the edge of extinction, are now even more threatened by climate change. Mountain and Lowland Gorillas are endangered, in addition to Orangutans – both as the result of wars and habitat loss. Rain forests are being denuded in order to exploit them for exotic hardwoods and palm oil. Some forests are being cleared under the mistaken belief that the land can be used for agriculture.

Polar ice sheets and glaciers are melting at phenomenal rates inevitably leading to rising seas that will displace millions and millions of people. And the cost of relocating many of the world’s largest cities will run into the hundreds of billions, likely trillions, of dollars. The loss of ice pack in the Arctic is also threatening the existence of Polar Bears and other species. Of course, it has been well-established that ice melt is the result of our love affair with fossil fuels, but only a few nations are taking the problem seriously. As a result, 2014 was the warmest year on record. Global warming is leading to larger, more violent and more numerous storms. To make matters worse, the Koch-bought US Congress is intent on passing laws that will defund the Environmental Protection Agency, cut environmental regulations for large corporations and maintain tax breaks for the world’s largest polluters, all the while denying their impact on climate change.

Economic inequality and religious extremism have led to an explosion of wars and terrorism worldwide, resulting in the deaths of millions and the displacement of millions more. The immigration of those fleeing violence and economic oppression has led to the rise of hate, racism and right wing extremism in the refugees’ host nations. Meanwhile, economic inequality continues to get worse. It is estimated that, by 2016, 1 percent of the world’s population will own more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth! Yet conservative politicians in the US, Europe and elsewhere continue to vote to cut taxes for large corporations and the wealthy. The beneficiaries then contribute to political campaigns to help elect those who will do their bidding, and the cycle repeats. (Actually, it’s less of a cycle than a death spiral.)

Such is the sad state of the world today. And, thanks to conservative politics, things are only getting worse.

Proof That Racism Is As Rampant And Repugnant As Ever.

In writing the majority decision that struck down key portions of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts stated, “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” That’s the same uniformed and misguided mindset that the Court has used to strike out against affirmative action, to endorse religious discrimination, and to rule that corporations have the same rights as individuals.

To educate himself, Justice Roberts need only read the recent article by Braden Goyette and Alissa Scheller published by Huffington Post. It’s so concise, so clear that even Roberts and his conservative co-conspirators should be able to understand it. In the article, the authors present 15 charts that clearly demonstrate that the US is far from a post-racial society. In fact, racial discrimination may be more prevalent, if less obvious and less violent, than it was on the day LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act.

To wit, Blacks held just 2.7 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2010 while comprising 13 percent of the population. The racial wealth gap has ballooned from $85,070 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009. Blacks are three times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than whites, despite the fact that white Americans use drugs more than blacks. Black men receive prison sentences that are 19.5 percent longer than those of white men who commit similar crimes. Blacks seeking jobs are more likely to be turned away based on the sound of their names and the belief that they use drugs.

The discrimination even extends to pre-school where black students are punished more frequently and more harshly for their behavior.

Of course, if you ask people if they are racist, most will vehmently deny that they hold racist views. In fact, they just use different names for their racism. Today’s racists are more passive-aggressive than in the past. They claim not to discriminate against skin color. It’s just that they dislike those who have “values,” religions and cultural traits that are different than their own. They assume that the problems faced by people of color are of their own making; that they just don’t work hard enough (if they work at all), study hard enough or pray hard enough (at least not to the right god or in the right church).

They dwell on anecdotal evidence of the tiny percentage of people of color who abuse welfare, food stamps and other safety net programs while ignoring the vast majority who work long hours and multiple jobs. At the same time, they ignore the disability fraud, welfare fraud and Medicare fraud committed by white people. They call for harsher sentences for drug crimes and petty crimes while applauding the white collar criminals who take advantage of the lax oversight of our regulatory commissions and loopholes in our tax codes. They fume about the dark-skinned illegal immigrants who walk hundreds of miles across deserts in search of a better life while dismissing the 40 percent of largely white illegal immigrants who simply drive or fly across our borders and overstay their visas.

Despite all of this, America is changing. It is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. And here’s the really bad news for racists. Our electorate is changing. In a few decades, voters of color will outnumber white voters. If whites don’t change their racist views and embrace diversity (I’m looking at you, Teapublicans), payback could be a bitch.

All Men Are Created Equal?

That’s what our Declaration of Independence stated. But it wasn’t true. In fact, African-Americans were considered three-fifths of a person and held in slavery for nearly a hundred years longer. Native Americans were slaughtered and herded onto reservations in order to steal their land. Chinese-Americans were virtually enslaved to build our railroads. And women were denied the right to vote for nearly 150 years.

Even today equality still does not exist.

People of color are many times more likely to live in poverty and to be imprisoned. Gay and lesbians are only now beginning to win equal rights to marry those they love. Women are paid less for doing the same work as men. And, according to some, the plight of the wealthy is even worse. They claim to be victims of their own success and good fortune – that they are victims of class warfare. Some have even likened their plight to the Jews prior to the Holocaust.


The wealthiest one percent of our population owns an overwhelming percentage of the wealth in the US yet, thanks to loopholes, they pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes. They invest large portions of their wealth in offshore tax havens. They use their wealth to buy influence and access to government. They are even treated differently by our courts. The Supreme Court ruled that money equals free speech, so they can speak more loudly than anyone else. (In fact, the Koch brothers are now using their money to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.) And if they break the law, they are seldom punished.

You may remember the case of the Texas teen found to be suffering from “Affluenza.” Despite the fact that he killed four people as the result of drunk driving, he was “sentenced” to an exclusive, and expensive, rehab facility.

Now there is the case of a duPont heir who was given probation for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge decided that he “wouldn’t do well in prison.” Wouldn’t do well? Who does? When have you ever heard of a case in which a court was concerned that a poor person might not do well in prison? Some celebrate Sheriff Joe’s “Tent City” which imprisons ordinary citizens in tents without heat or air conditioning; with no toilets or running water; with punishments of bread and water; with two vegetarian meals a day (Sheriff Joe recently decided that even his notorious green baloney sandwiches are too expensive and cutting into the profit margins of his wife’s food service business). Has any court ever voiced concern that a convicted felon might not do well there? No…more like HELL NO!

Prisoners in Tent City have died from the heat without repercussions to Sheriff Joe or the facility. Yet no court has worried that other prisoners in the facility “wouldn’t do well.” Such concern is only voiced for the very wealthy on the rare occasions their highly-paid attorneys fail to get them acquitted.

All men created equal? It was a nice sentiment by Jefferson and the Founding Fathers. But it’s still only a dream.

The Politics Of Division And Deception.

For many years, the GOP has used so-called “social” issues, such as proposed anti-abortion legislation and “sanctity of marriage” laws to divide the voting populace and fire up their base. The Democratic Party has focused on issues like social safety nets, minimum wages and availability of health care. And the debate has left our government largely paralyzed.

In some ways, arguing about the issues that divide the rank and file of the two political parties is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s not that the issues aren’t important. But compared to other issues, they are mere distractions…the political equivalent of a con artist bumping your shoulder while picking your pocket.

The con artists are working for large, multinational corporations and the very wealthy. In order to grow and thrive, these companies need two things: A plentiful supply of natural resources and cheap labor. Over the course of history, those needs have led the wealthy to finance exploration, nations to build wide-ranging empires, and corporations to destroy collective bargaining movements.

Following World War II, the desire for access to oil, rubber, timber, tin and other resources led the British, the US and the Soviet Union to attempt to divide much of the world culminating in the Cold War. The desire to acquire resources led us into conflicts in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It was the cause of the Spanish-American War, the war with Japan, the war in Vietnam, and the war in Iraq. It led our CIA to orchestrate the overthrow of elected leaders in Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua and elsewhere.

Similarly, the need for cheap labor led mining companies to create company stores and to build entire towns designed to trap workers into becoming hopelessly obligated to the owners. It caused companies to hire thugs to brutally beat striking workers. It led to shooting wars between corporate interests and labor unions. More recently, it led corporations to move factories to Southern “right-to-work” states then on to Mexico to China to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The executives behind these actions aren’t evil. They’re just doing business. They claim that it’s not their responsibility to worry about social or environmental problems. They believe that their only responsibility is to increase the return on investment for shareholders by decreasing costs and increasing productivity. To them, picturesque mountains merely cover the precious minerals they covet. Pristine forests are merely the lumber needed for construction. Impoverished people in distant lands are simply motivated laborers.

And so it goes.

While we argue over the debt ceiling, corporations and billionaires quietly park their profits in off-shore tax havens then lobby for a tax “holiday” that will allow them to bring the money home at greatly reduced tax rates. While we argue over extending unemployment benefits, corporations lobby for more subsidies and government giveaways. While we argue over food stamps, corporate agribusinesses pocket billions in taxpayer funds. While we argue over Social Security retirement benefits, too-big-to-fail financial institutions steal trillions from 401ks, IRAs, pension funds and foreclosed homes. At the same time, all of these corporations continue to lobby for reduced government regulation and oversight.

It is because of our inattention that a mere 85 individuals now own as much wealth as half of the world’s population…the equivalent of the populations of China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil combined. It’s why unemployment has grown and why most salaries have not. It’s why a few corporations now control most of our food supply. It’s why those same corporations are able to poison the food supply in search of ever larger profits. It’s why the incidence of chronic disease has skyrocketed despite government-funded technology and research that give us the ability to end it. It’s why our climate is rapidly changing while we continue to subsidize the companies responsible for changing it.

As long as we focus on the distractions instead of the actions, things will only get worse.