Rant #8: Tea Party Dine and Dash

Don’t know if any of you have heard this before, but it would appear that the Tea Party really has a problem with taxes. In fact they base their whole existence on what they believed was the reason for the Boston Tea Party and the Patriotic Demonstration against English taxation by throwing barrels of tea into Boston Harbor. Problem is that according to someone who was there and wrote about it, the issue was against a corporate tax cut for the East India Company that harmed local business as Thom Hartmann brilliantly educates us on. Here is the link:


But that’s okay, it doesn’t matter because it is a common misconception of most Americans what the original Tea Party was about, but there’s no harm in knowing the truth, unless your very existence depends on a lie. But no matter, the Tea Party vehemently demand that all taxes be reduced, if not eliminated because they are too high. In fact, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has gone so far recently as to say his fear of an Obama re-election is that he would have to pay his taxes. Forget that under the current president, current Federal and FICA taxes are at their lowest rates in over 60 years. The only taxes that have gone up have been some state and local taxes to continue to fund services once subsidized by the Federal government by funds now cut off by a Tea Party Republican House in Congress.

So the Tea Party doesn’t want to pay taxes, they are opposed to them, they are too high, yet all of the Tea Party membership enjoy government services provided by Federal, State, County and Municipal taxation. Services like:

Clean water standards, monitoring of pharmaceuticals, safe food supply, clean air standards, interstate highway system, roads, sidewalks, public transportation, police, fire fighters, emts, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, United States Military, Veteran services, functioning court system, jails, prisons, public schools, community colleges, state universities, power grid, public airwaves, parks, etc, etc.

Now many in the Tea Party would say, in fact do say, that most of these services can and should be privatized. Well what would be the unintended consequences of that? Government operation of these service do not incorporate a profit margin that private industries demand for their shareholders.

A good example is Medicare which only has 3% of its budget geared towards administering of services, compared to private insurance which prior to a 20% limit imposed by the Affordable Care Act, had 35% to 40% administration costs, i.e. Bonuses to the CEOs, Board and profits to the shareholders. Another example has been a recent phenomena where Fire Stations have privatized and fires breaking out at homes that haven’t paid the dues have been left to burn.

So, government with the taxes imposed still provide many services that Tea Party folks would sorely miss if they were gone, or could find themselves unable to afford if they were privatized. By working to not pay their fair share of taxes for government to provide these services, Tea Party folks are quite simply dining and dashing.

To get back to the Thom Hartmann link at the top of this rant, one reason I included it was to point out the irony involving the Tea Party and their fight against unfair taxation memorialized by the myth of the Boston Tea Party. The irony is that the Tea Party may have begun as a grassroots movement begun under Bush, to complain about his spending, but has been with the infusion of Corporate Dollars from David and George Koch and other billionaires, melded into a political force. The rank and file Tea Party folks have little idea they are actually working for the very type of Corporation that the true Boston Tea Party folks were actually protesting about.

Exercise true personal responsibility, pay your bills for services rendered, pay your taxes.

Rant #7: Fast and Furious-How I blame the NRA for Bryan Terry’s death

The subject of this rant has been well covered and documented by Fortune’s Katherine Eban. She’s done an outstanding job explaining this political farce in clear, unbiased and restrained tones. Now for an angrier snarkier attack from my point of view. Brace yourself, this involves some reading, thinking, reflection and patience so the Right Wing may want to stay away as this is beyond them.

First the groundwork, please review Katherine’s story as published in Fortune magazine:


And one followup:


and finally an interesting letter from Voth’s attorney to Rep Darrell Issa that somehow gets very little play on both Mainstream Media and even the “interwebs”:


Okay, done your reading and research. Now my take on the matter:

Darrell Issa from day one has wanted to embarrass and ruin the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s no secret. From the day the GOP took control of the House he advised that the President’s administration was the most corrupt in history and as Chairman of the Oversight Committee, he was going to hold weekly investigations to prove the corruption, like Ken Starr on steroids, he would find something. The only thing he’s been able to get any kind of nibble was the Fast and Furious debacle. But it was compelling because it could be used to illicit the support of what I think is the most dangerous domestic terrorist organization in this country, The National Rifle Association. Issa himself went on air to say that the whole “gun walking” plan came from Obama and Holder themselves to create a call to outlaw and repeal second amendment rights. Forget the fact that what rogue agents of the ATF were doing was outside the knowledge of Attorney General Holder and President Obama (or that Obama has actually expanded gun rights in this nation) and that no arrests of the straw purchasers could be made because Arizona and Federal law permitted these purchases. In fact, these purchases were legal because the NRA fights tooth and nail to make sure everyone has the right to buy a gun from the gun manufacturers they represent. It’s not about gun rights, it’s about profits.

I’ve often tweeted that it’s interesting that whenever anyone calls for stricter gun laws to keep the guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and the insane the loudest voice in opposition to these laws is the NRA. Is is because they are made up of criminals and insane? Well, that is entirely possible. I work law enforcement and I’ve arrested prohibited possessors (convicted felons for whom it is illegal to possess firearms) and I’ve found it interesting that many of them are card-carrying members of the NRA. But honestly, it’s a matter of profits. The NRA over the years have become a lobbying group for the gun manufacturers. To make a profit, you have to sell more guns and who has the greatest need for guns besides hunters and Law Enforcement? Well those who want to use them for other purposes and have to use them right away.

In fact, NRA membership is a small fraction of lawful, responsible gun owners. Their call to stop all gun laws because then “only the criminals will have guns” is laughable. By not having such laws, you make it easier for criminals and the insane to have guns. So you end up with more guns in the hands of those predisposed to use them in not such a nice or defensive way.

So, as Katherine Eban points out, ATF agents observed the sale of guns to straw purchasers, but because prosecutors could not allow them to arrest these purchasers due to the lax gun laws, the guns ended up being walked over to the drug lords in Mexico. Border Agent Terry was killed in a gun battle where one of these guns were found. Honestly, he would most likely still would have been killed whether one of these guns were there or not, that is a fact. Fast and Furious had little to do with that death, but it make great politics for gun nuts in the nation to blame it on.

An lets not forget that the investigation is continuing. Issa was demanding of Holder grand jury and wiretap transcripts of this ongoing investigation. Forget that it is illegal for Holder to release these documents, but it makes for great politics on Issa’s part. Hell, he was able to get Holder one way or the other. Since he didn’t release them, he held him in contempt of Congress. Had he released them, he would have broken the law and the prosecution of those responsible would have been compromised. Dirty politics clear and simple from a man convicted of being in possession of a concealed weapon and placed on six months probation, Darrell Issa. Who writes this stuff?

The NRA is just as responsible for Agent Terry’s death as the whole Fast and Furious operation was because were it not for NRA sponsored lax gun laws and lax gun law enforcement, the guns would have never made it across the border. That being said, other guns would have most likely been used and Agent Terry would still be dead. But I’m using right-wing partisan logic in this matter. They want to blame Holder, then they have to also blame the NRA.

I’m all for responsible gun ownership. I believe honest, caring and responsible people can wait a period of time before getting a gun. I believe these guns should be licensed and monitored just like automobiles. There is no harm in that. Nobody is out to take them away from you. If you feel that way, then I suggest you are paranoid and as such, you shouldn’t be anywhere near a gun. Let’s be more reasonable in keeping guns away from unlawful and unstable people in the country, it can be done with little inconvenience to others, the only people who would suffer would be those who sell the instruments of death and destruction. So they’ll have to reduce CEO bonuses a bit, who the fuck cares if it saves lives.

Rant #6: Corporations v Unions and Citizen’s United

Keep in mind these rants are merely my observations and attempts to apply logic to issues that I’m concerned with. I welcome any researched, peer review studies that shows my opinions to be off base at any time for due consideration. That being said:

The essential outcome of the Citizen’s United Ruling as most people on both sides of the aisle agree with is that Corporations share the same rights as sentient born human beings and that use of money equals speech in the political process. The Supreme Court has ruled it to be constitutional. Forget that the case they were ruling on had little or nothing to do with this question of corporate rights, Justice Roberts himself changed the nature of the case in order to make this ruling. So the ruling was made and it is now the law of the land. Unlike those on the right who complain that the 5-4 decision on the Affordable Care Act isn’t Constitutional and the 5 of the 9 got it wrong, we on the left accept the ruling of Citizen’s United and are working to amend the Constitution to resolve the issue. The right would appear to want to change the law and/or impeach Justice Roberts. Interesting take on how the two sides interpret things they don’t like. To continue.

Those on the right who support the ruling say that not only does this give power to the corporations, it gives power to the unions, citing that they can use their financial backing of its membership to sway elections just as much as corporations. Well, there is a problem with that analysis. It assumes that Corporations are equal to unions in terms of financial backing and the voices each institution represents from their membership (for unions the workers and for corporations the CEO and board of directors) for having a voice in the political process.

I was raised with the belief, emphasised in civics classes (which sadly most schools don’t appear to have anymore) that the basis of this nation was that the political process boiled down to one man, one vote. No matter the financial class, racial background (14th amendment and 24th amendment) sex (19th amendment) of the individual, as long as they were 18 or older (26th amendment) their votes were equal. So with Citizen’s United, even corporations enjoy the same equality as people in the public, but like Orwell points out in Animal Farm, all animals are created equal, just some animals are more equal than others.”

The facts between corporation and unions is one, their representation and how that representation affects the decision to contribute to a campaign. Corporations do not represent the workers of the companies (with a few noted exceptions) they represent the CEO and board of directors who represent the stockholders. Their sole purpose is to ensure the profitability of the corporation to pay back the investments of the stockholders. Not truly an altruistic point of view, but acceptable in a capitalist society. The wealth of these corporations are immense. It’s been estimated that thanks to the Bush tax cuts, corporations in the United States are sitting on nearly $3 trillion dollars. Now compare that to unions.

Unions represent the workers within their ranks. Leadership of the union hinges on elections of the rank and file as you would expect in a democracy. If rank and file are not happy that their leadership is providing for them what they need to live thrive and survive, they are replaced. In terms of financial assets, considering unions now only represent 11.8% of the workforce. These workers don’t always make the huge “union wages” those on the right like to cite (urban myth). Combined, a small fraction of the $3 trillion corporations have to deal with. No equality here.

And let’s get beyond the whole concept of Corporations/Unions are equal to individual voters who are not part of the union or have any say to the board of directors of corporations about how that money should be spent. I have only one vote and a small amount of money to contribute to campaigns of my choosing. How do I compare to untold millions, possibly billions that a handful of people can put up using money as “free speech” to sway public opinion in to the self interests of the corporations and not the self interests of the people who live and work, going paycheck to paycheck to provide housing, food, healthcare, education for their children, etc, etc, etc.

Citizen’s United is constitutional, The Supreme Court has ruled it that way and as shown with the Montana Case won’t even reconsider. Amending the Constitution is the only remedy to say that only sentient, flesh and blood human beings are people and that money cannot be used to give some people more rights than others. In a true democracy, all people are created equal and under no circumstances are some people more equal than others.

Hope you enjoyed this.