Thursday, March 26, 2009

HATE IS WRONG! (WAIT, EVEN AGAINST CONGRESS?)


Charles Grassley suggested that AIG execs commit suicide, and then Rep. Barney Frank wanted to publicize their names and addresses. It's time for a revolution in this nation, and I'm not scared to say it! Hating people isn't the same as opposing their ideas, or philosophy. I posted this radical image to show the base hatred in our politics today. Why did I want to put Barney and Chris' heads on spikes? They're not Osama and Sadam (who they replaced, from my original drawing). I'm mad as hell at these guys, and I have no other way to communicate it.
I wonder if this is what drove the Bush and Clinton-haters, and how common it must be among us to hate this way. Luckily, I'm just examining it, with an eye towards avoiding the "hate" trap. It is almost funny, if it weren't such a serious subject.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Tax Cut That Wasn't

President Obama lied to the American people when he said "95% of working Americans are going to get a tax cut." What he's done is lower the amount that the government witholds from working people's paychecks. In my case, this has resulted in $10.00 more per week in my take-home pay. What he hasn't done is cut the actual tax rate, which means that my "rebate" will be that much less, when I file my 2009 taxes. Now, I should be glad about this, because I always thought that it wasn't fair that I got no interest on the excess taxes that were witheld from my paychecks. However, I got used to getting my little $600.00 check (or direct deposit, for the last few years) every February or March.


While I agree that it's a good idea in principle, it is not, and never will be a tax cut. For the President to call it that is the most insulting type of fabrication. He assumes that by the time people realize that they didn't really get a tax cut next year, they'll have forgotten his promise, or he'll be able to argue that he couldn't do it "because of the crisis I inherited" in the first months of his term. Slimy doesn't begin to describe this tactic, and I've had to struggle to find any reporting on it. The media have focused exclusively on when the president will "end the Bush tax cuts" on the rich.


Let's look at that one, too. "End the tax cuts." The "cuts" are actually the rates that have been in effect for the last several years. With the possible exception of the "death tax," they weren't scheduled to get any lower before expiring in 2010, so why are the Dems and the media calling them "cuts?" Because they are both complicit in this slimy deception, and they think the American public is dumb enough to fall for it.


People are waking up to this BS, however. I've previously written about his "instant" tax-increase on smokers (link), which disproportionately hurts poor and middle class people. Now, he thinks that leaving the Bush tax rates in place qualifies as a "tax cut" for the lower 95% of "working Americans?" Not in the real world, Mr. President. Not in the real world. The media and the Congress may be playing along, but the people are speaking out against this outrage.


The nationwide tax protests haven't gotten much media coverage, either, but don't think that will stop us. While I'm not affiliated in any way officially with them, my heart is at every "Tea Party" protest (link). I know what they stand for, and stand with them. This is a middle class movement, because it's the middle class who are taking the brunt of Obama's actions, so far. Make no mistake: If Obama accomplishes the rest of his "agenda," there won't be a middle class anymore.


His proposed "cap and tax (er, trade)" energy plan will double, or triple electricity costs. He wants to expand health care coverage to "everyone," before fixing the massive waste and corruption in the current health care system. His trade policies are already poised to cost thousands of Americans their jobs, as nations retaliate against his "unilateral" abrogation of treaty obligations. These policies will hurt the middle class, not just the rich. Americans will not stand for it, and some of the politicians in Congress may be starting to get it.


I don't think they can get by with "dog and pony" shows like the AIG hearings for the next year and a half, until the mid-term elections. It's becoming more apparent every day that the questioners are the ones who need to start giving the American people some answers. They can start by admitting that they aren't "cutting" anyone's taxes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Passing Thoughts on AIG Bonuses, Pelosi, and Deregulation

One thing about the AIG bonuses. They're only .01% of the money that AIG got from the government. I would take the feigned outrage about the bonuses in congress more seriously if they all hadn't used a similar excuse to support the "earmarks" in the budget they passed two weeks ago.


Speaker Pelosi was caught on tape calling illegal immigrants "patriotic," and stating that raids to enforce immigration law were "un-American." Maybe she's really the Speaker of the Mexican legislature?


The "deregulation" canard must end. US businesses are heavily regulated, at the federal and state level. Don't believe it? Try starting a business without filing any papers with the government. You can't.

"YOU'RE DOING A HECK OF A JOB, TIMMY!"

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is a shining example of the dirty relationship between the regulators and the regulated. When the president came out and defended him publicly, I heard the bell tolling in the distance. He could be the first Obama appointee to be hypovehiculated (thrown under the bus) after Senate confirmation. As the previous "bailouts" and other deals are examined, it seems that Sec. Geithner was deeply involved, as head of the NY Federal Reserve during the Bush administration.


An excerpt from Newt Gingrich's latest dispatch explains it best: (link)


As Americans' level of outraged has risen, so has the level of finger pointing by Geithner and others for the mess we're in.

But Treasury Secretary Geithner is disingenuous at best and untruthful at worst when he says that he "inherited the worst fiscal situation in American history."

The truth is that Secretary Geithner didn't inherit the policy of throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at failing companies - he helped create it.

Even before he was Treasury Secretary - when he was still head of the New York Federal Reserve - Geithner was so deeply involved in the government's bail out of Bear Stearns, its take over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and its bailout of AIG that this was the Washington Post's
headline from September 19, 2008:

"
In the Crucible of Crisis, Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner Forge a Committee of Three".

The first meeting of the first bailout - of Bear Stearns - was held in Geithner's office. And the first meeting of what has become a $170 billion bailout of AIG was held - where else? In Geithner's New York Fed office.


Besides being parodied on SNL, he is rapidly becoming an embarassment for the Obama administration. This AIG "bonus" scandal is erupting all around him. He supposedly found out about these bonuses in the last few weeks, but they were disclosed in public filings late last year. Did he, or his staff review all of the public information about the company they were bailing out? Apparently not, if he didn't know about the bonuses until last week.


As for the aforementioned "dirty relationship," read this article from Conde Nast's Portfolio.com, dated June '08. "The Man Who Saved (or Got Suckered by) Wall Street," by Gary Weiss. I won't excerpt it here because of the length, but it shows the incestuous relationship between government and the financial institutions it regulates, specifically involving Mr. Geithner. (link)


When President Bush said "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" after Katrina, he was lambasted by everyone. Has President Obama already put himself in a similar position with Sec. Geithner? Only time will tell, but I'd save any new dollars with his signature on them. They'll be collector's items someday.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

AG: WE'LL ONLY "TORTURE" TROOPS, NOT TERRORISTS

It's official: Attorney General Eric Holder has "ruled out the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique for terrorism suspects yesterday, calling it a form of torture that the Obama administration could never condone," according to this Reuters story in the NY Post (link). He is quoted: "Waterboarding is torture. My Justice Department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it."


That sounds fine and upstanding, but why doesn't he take exception to waterboarding being practiced on our own troops, for training purposes? As I watched a Fox News report on this story, they had video of one of their reporters being waterboarded. Why is that not a crime, but waterboarding terrorists is? I get it; "voluntary" submission to "torture" is legal, and doing it to someone against their will is a crime. Still, isn't that "justifying" torture, something the AG said his Justice Department would never do?


There's also a slight "conflict of interest" for AG Holder, according to Gordon Cucullu, writing in the NY Post OP-ED section (link):


Holder's previous job, after all, was as a senior partner with Covington and Burling - a white-shoe DC law firm that devotes considerable pro bono time to defending the Gitmo detainees. The job paid $2 million a year, and he expects to collect a like amount this year as part of his separation package.


As a senior partner, he undoubtedly had significant input on what kind of charity cases his firm picked up. He surely knew that dozens of lawyers from from his firm were among the 500-plus civilian lawyers representing the 244 or so remaining detainees (on top of military-court-appointed defenders).


Even now, his Covington colleagues continue to allege rampant torture at Gitmo. They're fighting hard to have detainees tried through the US court system - essentially given the same rights as US citizens.


Basically, Holder is in a position to help his former employer by declaring waterboarding to be "torture," under official DoJ guidelines. The bigger question is why do we train our troops to endure this, if we really think our enemies will follow our "guidelines" for interrogation? The fact is that our enemies, and many of our allies use worse methods than "waterboarding" in interrogation.


There is no defense of the argument that this will keep our captured troops from being tortured. It won't. Some will argue that "we're better than that," and we are, by outlawing these methods of interrogation on regular POW's. Terrorists are not protected by the Geneva Conventions. If we practice this act on our own people regularly (though voluntarily), why should it be banned for enemies who have no regard for "human rights" at all?


A final thought: Ask the next person who says "America is better than that" to define how, and why. Ask them what it is that makes us superior to our enemies, or whether we are "superior" to any nation at all, whether friend or foe. You may find that people like Eric Holder don't actually believe we are "better" than any other nation, regarding human rights, or by any other measure. Their attempts to "correct" our perceived flaws are little more than posturing for their fellow "social justice" advocates. Will the Obama administration end the "torturing" of our troops, in the name of "social justice?" Somehow, I don't think so.