The Real Elitists.

One of the many things Republican teabaggers like to call liberals and progressives is “elitist.” In fact, the term is so common, if you watch Fox News Channel (I’m not sure why you’d want to) it seems the two terms are permanently wed – Liberal Elitist.

Now, I may be slow, but I can’t for the life of me think why the two terms should ever be used in the same sentence, let alone as a description of progressives. It would seem that the nitwits on Fox and Republican teabaggers have never consulted a dictionary. To wit:

Elitism is defined as: 1 – Belief in the concept of superiority. The belief that some people or things are inherently superior to others and deserve preeminence, preferential treatment, or higher rewards because of their superiority.

2 – Belief in control by a small group. The belief that government or control should be in the hands of a small group of privileged, wealthy, or intelligent people, or the active promotion of such a system.

Now let’s examine the policies of the two parties. Democrats believe in fighting for the middle and lower economic classes. They support small business, organized labor, civil rights and fair wages for working people. That doesn’t quite meet the definition of elitism, does it?

Republicans, on the other hand, believe in fighting for the wealthy and large corporations. For more than 40 years, they’ve been trying to break labor unions. They have also succeeded in transferring much of the nation’s wealth upward to the uber rich. In other words, Republicans believe in the inherent superiority of the privileged and the wealthy.

So how do Republicans get away with perpetuating this falsehood? They restate their goals in populist terms to make people think they will benefit, too. They bundle their ideas in ways that create fear and anger. And they simply repeat their lies until enough people think they’re true.

The Other Offshore Disaster.

For more than two months, the nation’s attention has been focused on the gusher in the Gulf. But there’s another offshore disaster that has been going on for at least 50 years. I refer to the large U.S. corporations that have created subsidiaries and “headquarters” off-shore to avoid U.S. taxes.

But I found it difficult to obtain a list of the companies that have taken advantage of the loophole. Now, thanks to Ariana Huffington’s recent article on the Huffington Post, I have a better idea. In her article, she cited a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report from 2008 that showed 83 of the 100 largest publicly–traded companies in the country had operations in tax havens.

The report cited AIG, AT&T, American Express, Boeing, Chevron, and Dow to name a few. Many set up P.O. boxes in the Caymans and Bermuda. And Halliburton chose to move its “headquarters” to Dubai. That’s disturbing enough. Yet, according to the GAO, 74 of those 83 corporations received government contracts. And, of course, taxpayers were asked to rescue two of those companies (AIG and American Express) through billions in government loans.

So these companies are not only avoiding paying their fair share of American taxes. They are filling their coffers with money from taxpayers like you and me!

At a time when our national economy is struggling and when we’re engaged in two protracted wars, closing this gaping loophole would seem one of the top priorities for Congress. But that would mean that our Representatives and Senators would have to vote against some of their largest campaign contributors. Indeed, according to Ariana Huffington’s article, Washington has been trying to address the issue for nearly 50 years. But each time the issue comes before Congress, the corporate lobbyists prevail.

So while Congress debates the impact on the national debt by extending unemployment benefits for working people, they continue to permit corporations to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes through loopholes. In fact, the latest figures available show that these corporations pay roughly $16 billion in taxes on $700 billion in foreign active earnings – a tax rate of approximately 2.3 percent!

Of course, politicians (especially Republicans) excuse such welfare by saying that corporations create jobs, and that jobs have never been more needed than now. That may be true. But where are those jobs being created? For nearly 40 years, many of these corporations have been creating more jobs offshore than in the U.S.

That being the case, what do we have to lose by forcing them to pay up?

Mis-Informed, Armed and Dangerous.

I spent part of the day searching through right-wing Web sites – the on-line homes of the American Patriot Party, the teabaggers, even the Republican National Party – and I feel like I need to bathe myself in soap and turpentine to get rid of the slime and stench.

These are people who hate.

They hate President Obama. They hated President Clinton. They hate the government. They hate Democrats. They hate the Left. They hate the Centrists. They hate immigrants. They hate gays.

They hate damn near everyone and everything.

They call themselves patriots, but true patriots don’t hate our government. After all, the government was democratically elected by the majority of voters. (And if you don’t vote, you have willingly conceded your say in the matter.) True patriots don’t hate the court system, the FBI, the ATF, Census takers and even the US Postal Service.

True patriots don’t try to make their point at the end of a gun. They don’t threaten elected officials. They don’t encourage the murder of doctors performing legal abortions. They don’t refuse to pay taxes. They don’t threaten to “take back our country, with force if necessary.” They don’t use hate speech. They don’t talk about “reloading.” They don’t talk about “2nd Amendment remedies.” They don’t talk about “taking out” their political opponents. They don’t hate minorities. And they don’t blame our problems on immigrants.

Uh-oh.  Now I’ve done it.

© LaMaster Propaganda – All rights reserved.

What’s wrong with politics?

Depending on your political affiliation (or should I say affliction?) you might quickly answer with Fox News Channel or But if we ignore partisanship for a moment, I think we can all agree that the real answer is Congressional representatives who spend more time trying to be re-elected than actually representing.

We have now reached a point in American politics where the election cycle lasts all year, every year. As a result, those who are elected are generally afraid to take a position or a stance for fear of alienating part of the electorate. They also must find and kowtow to donors – usually large corporations, corporate officers, political action groups and the wealthy. As a result, the powerful and wealthy are over-represented.

And the rest of us are under-represented.

Unfortunately, running for state or national office has become so expensive that few can raise enough money to run an effective campaign. And, perhaps due to that fact, politicians who are successful in getting elected don’t want to risk losing their offices in the next election. So they don’t always vote their conscience. Instead, they vote according to the polls. Or according to the party bosses. There can be no better examples (and warnings) than Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida and Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. They are viewed as too moderate by activists in their respective parties, so they faced difficult primaries. So difficult, in fact, that Crist was forced to bow out of the Republican primary and run unaffiliated.

This backlash from the parties has a chilling effect on our political debate. For example, many Democrats wanted universal (single-payer) health care, but they voted for a watered-down, protect-the-insurance-companies health care reform bill, instead. Why? Because their political opponents and the media would have labeled them Socialists, Communists or worse.

During the George W. Bush administration, the White House introduced a plan for immigration reform. The bill attempted to address the complexity of the problem. But Congress refused to pass it because many Republicans and the conservative media were angered by what they considered “amnesty” for undocumented workers. And representatives of both parties were afraid to alienate potential Latino voters. So, instead of trying to fix the problem, they collectively kicked it down the road.

Of course, there are exceptions. If you visit you’ll discover that President Obama has lived up to the vast majority of his campaign promises. Indeed, he has repeatedly stated that he’d rather be “a good one-term President, than a bad two-term President.” I hope he’s rewarded for that stance. And I think he will be. You see, I sincerely believe the majority of voters on both sides of the political spectrum are sick and tired of politics as usual. Unfortunately, the political parties are more concerned with winning elections than principle.

It’s up to all of us to make the two parties care more about the well-being of the nation than their scorecards of political wins and losses. We can do that by pushing for campaign finance reform – especially now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spill their coffers into any candidate’s pocket or purse.

Obama’s Inheritance.

Republican teabaggers are having a great deal of fun pointing fingers at President Obama for our current situation. They fumed over President Obama’s contribution to the national debt while ignoring Bush’s contributions. They proclaimed health care reform “Obama’s Waterloo.” And they have now labeled BP’s oil gusher as “Obama’s Katrina.”

Never in my lifetime have I seen people so anxious to see a President fail.

But before everyone joins in by jumping on the nincompoop wagon, let’s consider the situation President Obama inherited:

The worst economic meltdown in nearly 80 years. The collapse of the housing industry that has long fueled our economy, the collapse of our financial industry due to deregulation, and the worst job losses in nearly 80 years. Historic levels of national debt created by the banks and Bush’s unfunded wars, Bush’s unfunded Medicare expansion, and Bush’s unfunded tax cuts. The collapse of the auto industry due to imports, high oil prices and the financial meltdown. Two on-going wars (one which went neglected for 7-1/2 years) and an over-stretched military. The worst environmental disaster in history. Growing tensions in Israel and Gaza, Korea and oil-rich Iran complicated by nuclear weapons. A national infrastructure that has been decaying for decades. States and industries crippled by the sky-rocketing cost of health care and pharmaceuticals. A middle class that has been stressed by years of dwindling jobs and salaries. Millions of Americans who were (until the passage of health care reform) unable to afford access to health care. An illegal immigration problem that has been kicked down the road for decades. Social Security and Medicare trust funds that have long been raided by Congress, putting them on the edge of bankruptcy. And the most toxic political environment of my lifetime, fueled by right-wing political hacks posing as talk radio hosts and news commentators.

That’s an overwhelming array of crises, and I’ve probably even forgotten to list a few.

Never in our history has a new President been handed such a mess. Sure, Abraham Lincoln was handed a growing state’s rights crisis that led to the Civil War. And FDR was handed the Great Depression along with a growing conflict that became WWII.

But this?!!!

President Obama must feel like a Marine surrounded by ticking IEDs and wondering which one to disarm first. And these crises are made to seem all the worse by an impatient populace and media that have amazingly short attention spans.

© LaMaster Propaganda – All rights reserved.

Connecting the oil dots…er…globs.

I’ve written before about Bush and Cheney’s influence on our energy policy. The Bush family has deep ties to the Saudis and Kuwaitis. After WWII, the Bush family jumped at the opportunity to rebuild the Balkans oil fields. And Bush worked in the oil industry before running for public office.

In addition, Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton prior to gaining the office of Vice-President. Cheney received a $34 million bonus from Halliburton when he left for Washington. And Cheney held secret meetings on energy policy in the very first month of the Bush administration.

All of that raises some very troubling questions. For example, what role did Cheney’s relationship to Halliburton play in the company receiving billions of no-bid government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan? What role did Bush’s desire to build a pipeline across Afghanistan play in the events of 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan? What role did oil play in the unprecedented pre-emptive invasion of Iraq?

While those issues are in question, there are many Bush/Cheney impacts on U.S. energy policy that are not. It was the deregulation of commodities that led to speculation, skyrocketing oil prices and record oil company profits during the Bush/Cheney administration. It was the Bush/Cheney administration that increased subsidies to oil companies, in spite of their obscene profits, and cut subsidies for alternative energy sources.

It was the Bush/Cheney appointees at the Minerals Management Service who were literally in bed with oil company executives. The Bush/Cheney administration gave oil companies the right to drill in national parks and other wildernesses. Despite evidence to the contrary, Bush/Cheney decided it was safe to expand off-shore drilling and to drill in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). And it was the Bush/Cheney administration that allowed BP and other oil companies to drill a mile under the Gulf’s surface without a serious back-up safety plan. (Indeed, the BP safety plan for the Gulf addressed the impact on walruses!)

It’s time for an in-depth Congressional investigation of the oil industry and all those who have helped oil companies keep a grip on our energy policy while, at the same time, making them the most profitable corporations in the history of the planet.

© LaMaster Propaganda – All rights reserved.

Teabaggers Aren’t As Crazy As You May Think.

They’re worse!

Rand Paul, the teabagging Republican candidate to replace Kentucky Senator and Major League doofus, Jim Bunning, has famously stated that he wouldn’t have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Bill in its current form. He believes that individuals and privately-owned businesses should be free to discriminate in whatever way they want against whomever they want.

Sharron Angle, the Nevada teabagger who hopes to unseat Senator Harry Reid, is running on a platform to abolish Social Security, Federal income taxes and the Department of Education. And her former primary opponent, Sue Lowden, suggested that health care access could be solved by returning to a barter system in which patients paid their doctors with chickens.

In Arizona, ex-Maverick, noted mud-slinger and teabagger wannabe, John McCain, is searching for ways to seem even crazier than his primary challenger, J.D. Hayworth. Despite the fact that illegal immigration and crime have dropped dramatically in Arizona, he now proposes that the border be turned into a heavily fortified militarized zone. Indeed, McCain almost makes his former running mate, Sarah Palin, look like a liberal.

Locally, a teabagger candidate for the AZ lege told me, “Those damn Mexicans who come across the border are only here to steal our jobs and live off our taxpayers. They don’t pay taxes or contribute in any way. They aren’t interested in our culture, our language or in becoming citizens. They only want to take advantage of us.” When I replied that his statement was one of the most racist things I’d ever heard, he came completely unglued and began screaming “I am not a racist!” as I left the room.

Wherever you look across the political landscape you’ll see candidates crawling out from under the woodwork with hopes of rewinding the way-back clock a century or more. You know, back to the good ol’ days when rich people could own their workers and when poor people had no rights and no security net in addition to having no money.

But the teabaggers do offer one positive.  They actually make the incumbents (even mainstream Republicans) seem more attractive.

Corporations Fueling Immigration Problem

With all the controversy created by Arizona’s new immigration bill, I think we should consider the role corporations have played in creating this problem. For the past 30+ years, our large corporations have been “outsourcing” manufacturing jobs to places like China, India, Indonesia and Mexico. Our TVs are now made in China, Korea and Japan. Our DVDs are made in China. Our clothes and toys are made in China. Our shoes are made in China, Indonesia and Mexico. Our computer software is created in India. Our appliances are made in China and Korea. Many of our cars are made in Japan and Korea. The list goes on and on.

We’re told the reason our corporations have exported our jobs is that American consumers demand lower and lower prices. Really? Of course, consumers want to pay as little for products as possible. But at what cost? High unemployment? Lower wages? Fewer benefits? No health care? No pensions?

Face it, the real reason corporations export jobs is to maximize profits by avoiding reasonable wages and benefits. Most of all, they want to avoid organized labor, which has forced corporations to treat employees fairly.

Now, let’s look at the industries which hire most of the undocumented workers – fast food outlets, meat-packing plants, roofing companies, landscaping businesses, corporate farms and other labor-intensive businesses. Why do they hire illegals? Because these are industries which, for a variety of reasons, are unable to export jobs to other countries. So, the only way for these industries to cut salaries and benefits is to hire illegals. After all, illegals have no voice. They are so desperate to find a job that they are willing to endure long, dangerous treks arcross the desert or to deal with human traffickers in the hopes of being hired. They can’t organize unions. They can’t pressure the government for higher minimum wages. They can’t sue the corporations. All they can do is work for the salaries and benefits the corporations are willing to offer them.

As long as we allow corporations to continue to hire illegal workers without serious consequences, this problem is unlikely to change. They know that the federal, state and local governments will continue to cut corporate taxes and reduce regulations in an attempt to replace jobs that our corporations have exported. They know that investors won’t care as long as their stock values continue to rise. They know that the majority of consumers will never boycott products made by illegals as long as prices are low. They know governments will provide education, health care and other benefits for their employees and their families at no cost to the corporations. And if their illegal workers are deported, these corporations know that there will be plenty of other illegal immigrants to take their place.

So my question is this: Why are we punishing illegal workers when we should be punishing unethical corporations?

Time For Bush And Cheney To Do The “Perp Walk”

Not long ago, Richard The Dick Cheney extolled the benefits of waterboarding U.S. prisoners. And during a speech in Grand Rapids last week, George W. Bush publicly admitted to the same crime. Bush said, “Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I’d do it again to save lives.”

The problem for these unrepentent inquisitors (and for the United States) is that the U.S. signed the Geneva Convention against torture. Labeled the “Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment,” the document states that the parties to this Convention, have agreed as follows:

…torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession…

The document further states, “Each (signator) shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. Each (signator) shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law…each (signator) shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.”

That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for our smug former president and former vice-president, does it?

Just to be clear, The U.S. tried and hanged some Japanese soldiers for torturing American prisoners during World War II with techniques that included waterboarding. As a result, our nation should not take Bush’s and Cheney’s confessions lightly. Otherwise the world community will forever label the U.S. as the renegade hypocrites we probably are.

Just In Case You Think Arizona Isn’t Completely Racist!

The new immigration law in Arizona is bad enough. If implemented, it actually requires racial profiling in search of illegal Latinos. And that’s not the worst of it. It’s so simple-minded that it ignores the fact that illegal immigration has taken place since before the territory became a state. It treats a recent immigrant the same as someone who has lived and worked in the state for decades. And it treats a family member who is a legal citizen the same as a coyote (human smuggler).

If that weren’t bad enough, the simpletons in the legislature have passed a law banning ethnic studies classes in public schools. And they intend to pass a law that directly conflicts with the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states that anyone born in the U.S. is a U.S citizen. Of course, the teabaggers behind these new laws deny that race plays any part in their decision-making. However, they never mention the thousands of illegals who cross the border who come from Asia and Eastern Europe.

Now these very same numbskulls have taken their anger out on an elementary school mural in Prescott. The recently-revealed mural features kids using green forms of transportation.

Of course, in the teabaggers’ tiny minds, that’s bad enough, because only pointy-headed liberals would encourage real Americans to give up their gas-guzzling and polluting vehicles. But what really has the teabaggers in a tizzy is the fact that the mural depicts children of Latino and African-American heritage. In other words, their faces are too dark.

Yet these are faces of kids who actually attend the Prescott school!

Nevertheless, teabaggers have made a habit of screaming racist slurs at the mural as they drive by. They have also hurled eggs and other objects at the dark faces. In addition, a city councilman who hosts a radio talk show has orchestrated a campaign to remove the dark faces from the mural. And the school’s response to that campaign?

In a classless move rivaled only by the Texas school book board, the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students to be changed to appear Caucasian.

What kind of lesson is that for our children?

Seriously, folks, it’s time to give Arizona back to Mexico. That would be the only fitting punishment for these so-called Tea Party “patriots”.

UPDATE: The Prescott school has bowed to pressure from media and sensible citizens (not to mention a refusal by the artists to alter their work).  The faces on the mural will not be changed.