Category Archives: Taxes

When Is the First Debate?

Tonight is supposed to be the third debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A debate between 2 people who want to take on the job of most powerful and influential human being on the face of the Earth for the next 4 years.

I am still waiting for the first debate.

So far, all we have heard about is sex , lies and emails. Insults.  Smirking. Sniffling. Name calling. Promises of prison. Just a bad reality TV show. Not a debate. A spectacle encouraged by an unprepared press. Seeking ratings, not truth.

When is the first debate? Where is the moderator who will ignore sex. Ignore emails. Ignore polls. And just ask substantive questions. And then DEMAND substantive answers.

There was some of that in the first two shows, but hardly enough to learn anything about what the candidates actually would do. This is especially true for Donald Trump. A man who specializes  in used-car-salesman assurances and generalities rather than hard facts.

So, let’s have a moderator who asks , then demands straight answers. And one who factchecks and calls out the candidates when they are simply wrong about the facts.

Try these on for size:

What would you do to  try to bring jobs back to the US? What kinds of jobs would you try to help create? What is the proper role of the federal government is helping create those jobs?

What is your overall  tax policy. What should the rates be for various income levels? Do those rates generate the needed revenues to pay for the increases in spending you are calling for?

What are some areas in which you would hope to increase spending and decrease spending? By how much? Why are you focusing on those areas?

In terms of foreign affairs, what should the US role be in the Middle East? In regards to Russia? In regards to nuclear proliferation? In regards to the Palestinian – Israeli problem? In regards to the refugee situation in Syria?

What is your approach to illegal immigration? What, specifically do you see as the problem and what, specifically do you see as a solution?

As you know the President can do nothing without a Congress that is willing to compromise. What makes you think you can get Congress to work with you? To what extent are you willing to compromise to reach agreements?

What is the proper role of the Supreme Court? What kind of justices would you appoint? To what extent would you depend on the American Bar Association and other legal groups for vetting? Is there a litmus test for your judges? What is it?

So, will the moderator ask questions and hold the candidates to answers? Will he push them for specifics on policy?

Chris Wallace of Fox News. Fair and Balanced? Will he direct the candidates to policy and substance or focus on trivialities?

I am still waiting for the first debate.

 

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Filed under Conservatives, debates, Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, Hillary, Immigration, liberals, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, Supreme Court, Taxes, Trump, United States, US

Boy Am I Stupid

Of course, anyone reading this blog knew that a long time ago. Nevertheless, I just discovered how stupid I really am during the Trump-Clinton Debate on Monday night.

You see. I pay taxes.  I have been paying taxes for 50 years. I don’t like it. But I consider it part of my civic duty. An essential part of being a citizen. The price I pay for living in a free, wealthy society.

I know we need to pay for the military. For roads. For infrastructure. For food for kids who otherwise would not eat. For housing for poor people who have not had the good fortune I have had. For national parks. For the privilege of living in the “Greatest Country on Earth”.

Paying taxes , I thought , was a civic responsibility. I pay mine. You pay yours. We are in this together.

I was wrong.

From the debate:

“CLINTON: Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

“TRUMP: That makes me smart.

“CLINTON: So if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably he’s not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are, because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he’s trying to hide.”

(To contrast, Clinton had an income of $10.6 million in 2015 and paid 34% in federal income taxes…$ 3,624,445)

Not paying your fair share is “smart”. Yes it is. If you have no concept of society, ethics and fairness. It is “smart” to let the counter worker at Wendy’s shoulder your load. To let the cleaning lady who scrubs out the toilet in Donald’s  penthouse pay your share. To let the cop and teacher and sewer worker and bus driver and airline pilot pay, but not you…well, you get the point.

Somebody has to pay taxes. And every penny that the “smart” guys like Donald Trump refuses to pay must be made up by people like me and you.

The Stupid Ones.

 

 

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Filed under debates, Elections, government, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, Society, Taxes, Trump, United States, workers

The Reagan Babies

When I was a tyke going to school in a medieval Catholic dungeon I learned about the Pagan Babies.

We would bring in our pennies on Friday and Sister Attila of the Holy Order of Terror would collect the coin. Our little coppers were going to be sent to some missionary in Africa to help convert the “pagan babies”. These little babies evidently had not gotten the word about the all-merciful god. Our job, as little Catholic babies, was to save them.

Whether the money actually went to Africa or to the Vatican I don’t know. Our second grade class did not hire a CPA to check the books. Maybe the load of coppers  went to fund  Sister Attila’s  “Bloody Mary” stash. Perhaps the pennies fed the local liquor economy. Either way, a good cause.

The thing about these Pagan Babies living in Africa was this.

They were ignorant. They were hapless and hopeless. They did not know the truth. They were condemned to a life of squalor and prejudice and stupidity. We pitied them. We felt sorry for them. They knew only what they had been taught. Narrow minded . Ignorant. In the dark. What would  happen when they reached adulthood? How would this ignorance manifest itself?

Which brings me to their American counterparts. The Reagan Babies.

The Reagan Babies were brought up in the 1980s. They were brought up on the mantra that “government is evil” and “greed is good”.  They were told that poor people are poor because they are lazy. And the rich are wealthy because they deserve to be wealthy. They were told that labor should be cheap. Black people are criminals. Most of all, that working people should not have rights.

They were brought up to worship a god that demands obedience and fear. An intolerant, political god who builds hells here on earth for the “fallen” called prisons. And builds “wealth” by buying out real businessmen who actually build real businesses. Then stripping them and selling off the parts. A god that tells us that society is bad. People should not care for each other. The god of the Old Testament.

These Reagan babies have now become politicians. Roughly in their forties . They have achieved power. They want to destroy Social Security. They want to destroy the Civil Rights Act. They want to destroy unions. They want to destroy the concept of a public education for all. Most of all, they want to destroy the very idea of a “social contract”. And they have had some degree of success. The Rubios. The Cruzes. The Ryans. The Brownbacks. The Scott Walkers. The “young studs” of the Republican Party. The Reagan Babies.

We donated out pennies to save the Pagan Babies from ignorance . The Reagan Babies cannot be saved. They have been been taught a narrow view of life. They have been taught to embrace authoritarianism of “supply side” economics and an intolerance for the non-believer. They have been taught that the very concept of “society” is bad. No one is his brother’s keeper. They have come of age and now we are reaping the rewards of Reaganism.

The irony, of course, is that the Reagan Babies are supported by many of the very people they hold in contempt. Working Americans. Older Americans. True believers who  keep sending their hard earned pennies  (and votes) to the Reagan Babies.

Even as 2nd graders we would not have fallen for that scam.

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Filed under blacks, Budget, Christianity, Churches, Congress, crime, Cruz, Debt, economics, Economy, Education, GOP, government, governor, jeb bush, Judaism, liberals, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics, prayer, Religion, Rubio, Social Security, socialism, Society, Taxes, unions, workers

Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Any More

(In 2012 GOP Governor Brownback of Kansas pushed through the “Great Conservative Experiment”. Bringing the architect of the “supply-side” economics theory, Laffer, he proposed and got massive tax cuts for business and the wealthy, coupled with reduced public  support for the poor along with cuts to education. A conservative’s dream state. It was the experiment that would prove, once and for all, that “supply side ” policies were destined to be a great success…. They have been a massive fiscal disaster)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-kansas-gov-brownbacks-reelection-race-is-case-study-in-republican-party-shift/2014/07/30/3192d86c-1420-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html

http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article62557137.html

Aunt Em: I think she is finally waking up ! Dorothy, get up,  dear. Time to go to work.

Dorothy: Oh, Aunt Em. I had the strangest dream.

Aunt Em: Well, dear, time to get up and go to work in  the poultry plant. Those chicken wings don’t detach themselves.

Dorothy: Work? Chicken wings? Aunt Em, I don’t remember. I had the strangest dream that I visited a new land,  the land of Oz.

Aunt Em: Now, Dorothy.  You simply overslept. Now get your butt out of bed. We need the extra income.

Dorothy: But, Aunt Em. My dream. I dreamed I found myself surrounded by little men with little minds  and squeeky voices.  They were singing about “following the supply-side road” to wealth and fortune. But I kept going in circles. The road lead to nowhere.

Aunt Em: Oh,  that was no dream. That was the Knsas State Legislature, dear. Don’t you recall? They had to close all the roads except the ones leading directly to the chicken processing plant.

Dorothy: Then I dreamed I met a man who had straw in his head instead of a brain. He was silly and stupid. He flopped around and made no sense at all.

Aunt Em: Oh, Dorothy. That was the head of the Department of Education. Don’t you remember? The schools all had to close early because the state ran out of money for silly things like books and teachers. It is all part of the “great experiment”. It will be fine.

Dorothy: But Aunt Em, he didn’t even know what evolution was! And then I met a man who looked like a lion but was scared of everything. He cowered at the mention of the Wizard of Oz. Pathetic.

Aunt Em: You must mean the old Democratic Party. Oh dear, they certainly lost their courage.

Dorothy: Well, what about the man I met without a heart. It mean, he must have been part of a dream. A heartless man. No man can live without a heart, can he?

Aunt Em: Well, Governor Brownback came to town last week to proclaim “Cowboy Day” in honor of the ranchers who avoid paying federal grazing fees. There is no evidence that he has a heart.

Dorothy.: Then, in my dream,  we  walked all the way to the capital and saw this massive building. Covered with emeralds. And I went inside and saw the Wizard of Supply Side. He told me everything would be OK. Just keep working and don’t worry about the budget deficit. Don’t worry about school. Don’t worry about health care. It was final. He had spoken.

Aunt Em: Don’t you remember, Dorothy? We were going to take you on an ocean cruise across Kansas but the Lollipop Guild had taken away our lavish food stamp allowance. So, we went to see the Wizard for help. We DID go see the wonderful Wizard.

Dorothy: Well, what did the Wizard do?

Aunt Em: He told us to drop you out of 9th grade and get you a job. He told us that if you get sick you should “suck it up”. He said never ever use dirty words like”unions” or “climate change”. The great and powerful Koch had spoken.

Dorothy: Aunt Em, I am sick. My brain hurts. I need to see a doctor.

Aunt Em: Sorry, dear. We lost our health care when your uncle got fired for supporting abortion rights. You’ll just have to hope for the best. I am sure the Great Experiment will work itself out. Now, get on your bike and head for work. Those chicken parts are waiting to be sorted.

Dorothy: Look, Aunt Em !! A twister is coming right at us. A big one!

Aunt Em: Quick, Dorothy, into the storm cellar. … Dorothy! Where are you going?!

Dorothy hops on her bike with Toto in her basket and starts peddling frantically. Directly TOWARD the massive tornado.

Dorothy: Good bye , Aunt Em. I have my future to think about. Between living a decent life in Kansas and the twister, I like my chances with the tornado.

 

 

 

 

 

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Contestant #2: Dr. Rand Paul’s Prescription: Take A Vague and See Me in the Morning

(This is the second in a series of biased reports about the potential candidates for the presidency. As these giants among men proclaim their desires to be the most powerful human being on the planet I will attempt to file a short report on each).

Rand Paul, son of former Texas congressman Ron Paul, announced today that he was willing to serve as president of the US. A major surprise to all Buddhist monks still alive in Tibet. To anyone else, not so much.

As with all candidates the best thing to do is to start with their own websites. On his website Dr. Paul stresses the fact that he is a doctor. A doctor of ophthalmology and that he does good works. That is very noble. And humbling. But for some reason in his bio he fails to mention his board certification. Dr Paul was certified once to practice his “doctoring” by the ABO (American Board of Ophthalmology). But something happened. And he let that certification lapse. So, he was then certified by the NBO (National Board of Ophthalmology), a group NOT recognized by the (ABMS) American Board of Medical Specialties, the national group that certifies the legitimacy of boards. Why not? It was just a board made up by some doctors. UH. Actually, Rand Paul was the president of the group that certified Rand Paul, with Kelly Ashby Paul (Rand’s wife) as vice-president of the group and Rand Paul’s father-in-law as secretary. But, he WAS certified to practice, at least by his kinfolk. (For some reason that NBO was dissolved in 2011).

So, what would a Rand Paul Presidency look like?

Rand Paul’s’ website (www.randpaul.com) has about 16 issues. I will focus on only 4. You can read the rest. Good luck.

Sanctity of Life. Rand believes in the sanctity of life. Well. That is good news! He defines “life” as existing at conception. He says that American women have murdered over 50,000,000 CHILDREN since Roe v Wade. (Did I forget to mention that he is doctor, yet he thinks an embryo is a child?). He opposes all abortions. Period. He thinks states should be able to make any laws they want in this regard . So, I guess you might say that Rand is not a real fan of the US Constitution. A Dr. Rand Paul presidency would not enforce Roe v Wade. I think. He is vague on that point.

Health Care. Dr. Paul wants to repeal Obamcare. And replace it with…. what we had before Obamacare…only better. A market driven system. He knows that a market driven system works because…uh…it left 40,000,000 Americans (real people this time, not embryos) without health insurance. He is rather vague on details. But a Dr. Rand Paul presidency would put the patient first, by eliminating the ACA.

Taxes. President Dr Paul hates taxes. He will institute a 17% tax rate for all businesses and people. His plan is called the EZ Plan. It is EZ to understand because he has no other details. It is EZ Vague. Would current tax breaks for corporations remain? Would breaks for agribusiness remain? Personal deductions? Long on vague, short on details. But, the plan does call for the elimination of Social Security taxes for the middle and lower classes (Not sure where the income levels fall on middle class. That part is…uh…vague). So, no more payments would be going into Social Security from younger workers. So, depending on his exemption plan, a Dr Rand Paul presidency would see a significant decrease in taxes for the super rich. Not so much for the poor.

Which leads us to….
Social Security.
Dr President Leader Rand Paul has a plan for Social Security.

He wants to fix Social Security by increasing the retirement age and means testing. OK. I’ll bite the means testing. I agree that millionaires like John McCain should not be dipping into the pot. Postponing retirement? Doesn’t that just prevent younger workers from getting started? This would apply only to younger workers, so us old fogeys would still get our benefits. …But…wait…In Dr President Excellency Paul’s TAXES plan (see above) he called for eliminating billions of dollars in payments to Social Security. How does that work? Billions less coming in but more going out? Does Mr Dr His Holiness Paul know how Social Security even works? Does he know that payments made today go to today’s retirees? By what magic will SS take in billions less and pay out more? THIS is how he “fixes” Social Security? With magic?

Dr Paul’s lack of real solutions comes through loud and clear. He attacks the “Washington Insiders”, of which he is a part, but offers no real alternatives. Lots of “plans” and ideas and slogans.

All in all, Dr Mr Rand seems to have the same “prescription” for America as other GOPers. Not all that different. Gives homage to the religious right. Wants freedom from paying taxes but not freedom for women to control their own bodies. Has magical thinking when it comes to Social Security financing. A man who will keep it vague in hopes of not exposing the shallowness of his thought processes. Or, who has a real agenda he refuses to share.

Once, in order to be “certified” to practice medicine Rand Paul simply created his own certification board. I suspect the only way the doctor will ever be POTUS is if he “creates” his own country. Then his wife could be vice president again.

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I’m Entitled…A Deal’s A Deal

Some states, New Jersey and Michigan come to mind, have decided that pensions for teachers and other public employees are too costly. So, they have cut back. Changed the rules. Old people have become too expensive. People retired, thinking they had a deal. Then the rules were changed. After the game was over.

First, a true story. A guy who delivers my firewood also takes down trees. I’ll call him Luke. I asked Luke to look at a massive cherry tree in my yard and he said he could take it down for 50 bucks. That was a good deal. A 30 minute job. Luke came back in his coveralls with his chain saw and well, it wasn’t as easy as we thought. The tree got caught up. He had to take down another maple next to it. Then he cut up the trunk into usable pieces for me. Took about 2 hours.

Now, it comes time to pay Luke. I give him the $50 and try to give him more. No. He won’t take it. I said, look, you took down two trees, cut them up, the job was much bigger than we thought. Take some more money. No. Luke would have none of it. His exact words. “A deal’s a deal”. End of discussion.

I taught in NY schools for over 30 years. Put money into the retirement system. Every check. My wages were so low that, as a professional teacher there were years when my family was eligible for welfare. WIC. A college degree, graduate school, a teaching certificate all lead to welfare subsidy. Which is okay. I knew what I wanted. Worked every summer to make ends meet. But I paid into the retirement system. Every check. Social security. Every check. Medicare. Every check. Just like public employees in Michigan and New Jersey and Wisconsin and Kansas and every other state in the union.

Am I ENTITLED to my retirement check? You bethcha. I paid in and took lower wages for a reason. A deal’s a deal.

I started working at 16. Paid Social Security. Paid Medicare. Paid federal taxes. Paid state taxes.
Now I am retired and I get free money from Uncle Sam. Social security every month. Now I am on Medicare. Am I one of Mitt Romney’s 47% ? ENTITLED? You betcha. I deserve it. A deal’s a deal.

I get more than a little irritated at the “young gun” GOP governors who are trying to balance their budgets by stripping pensions and retirement plans. Cutting taxes on the better off citizens and taking dollars out of the pockets of retirees. They have no clue. They have no understanding of what people in the past gave up to get those guaranteed pensions. They have no shame. They have no integrity.

They are deaf to the basic contract. They do not believe that “A deal’s a deal”.

Maybe I should order them some firewood. And have Luke deliver it. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Luke would rub off . But I doubt it.

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Time To Repeal Obamacare

Really. It’s time.
The GOP won the House and the Senate. Let them have their way.
Take away health insurance from millions of Americans.
No coverage for preventative services.
If you are over 21 and under 26. Sorry. Find your own policy . Can’t stay on Mom’s or Dad’s. Get a job, loser. Walmart is always hiring.
End Medicaid payments to states. Get those poor people off the dole. Why do you think they are called “Emergency rooms”? Use them.
Allow health insurance companies to throw anyone off the policy at any time. Free enterprise, baby.
And stop prescription drug coverage with MY TAX DOLLARS!. (Except for essentials like Viagra and Cialis).
If rates go up…live with it. Or don’t.

Time for the Dems in Congress to call their bluff. Capitulate. Time for Obama to give in. End Obamacare.

Let’s go back and start over. The ACA was a series of compromises with the health insurance industry and the old GOP/Heritage Foundation plan for the 1990s.
Obama did the wrong thing. He should have demanded a national single payer system instead of trying to save the health insurance industry. An industry, by the way, that adds NO VALUE to your health care. He compromised with the GOP . Look where it got him.

The fastest way to a national system is to end the ACA. Let the GOP come up with an alternative. Call their bluff. Of course, their only plan is to just say no. Sometimes a system has to collapse completely before it can be replaced. In this case, replaced with a Medicare for all system.

Just one more thing. Like my Tea Party friends say. Get rid of Obamacare. But keep the government out of my Medicare and Social Security !

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The Job Creators Strike Again

The 114th Congress, controlled by the GOP , has now voted to approve the XL Pipeline. The Senate will probably follow suit. It is not clear if this vote actually means anything, since the State Department has not yet completed it’s required study of the pipeline. And the POTUS cannot act to approve it until the State Department makes it’s recommendations. And it is quite possible that President Obama would approve the pipeline anyway, if the State Department so recommends.

But facts and the law will not stand in the way of the Job Creators. The GOP Job Creators. Their dedication to creating jobs has no bounds. The policies of Reagan’s Supply-Side Economics (called “VooDoo Economic”s by former POTUS GHW Bush) have created millions of jobs since the 1980s. That is the good news.

The bad news is that those jobs were created overseas. China. Vietnam. Mexico. Or in states well below poverty level wages. Alabama. Georgia. Tennessee. Good for CEOs and the upper 1 %. Not such a great deal for the middle class or workers. Not such a great deal for taxpayers since so many full-time employees are also on Food Stamps. We may pause at this point to recall that these Job Creators fought very hard to prevent the US from helping the auto industry keep the jobs already created. Tens of thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs with no one on Food Stamps. Saved by the bail outs and TARP. Job Creators hated them. Predicted the end of freedom in America if we saved these jobs. (That catastrophe was somehow averted.)

So the XL Pipeline is not a new triumph for the Job Creators. They have created short term low wage jobs before. For the honor of piping the filthiest oil on the planet across the water tables of the plains states the US will be rewarded with thousands of jobs. Over 1,000 miles of 36 inch pipe. Carrying unprocessed, unrefined thick crude oil . Across water resources. Across farmland and grazing land. What could go wrong?

The pipeline will create 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. Good jobs. Unless they are given to non-unionized, low wage immigrant labor. And these jobs will last a long time. Well. Two years. Then they end. Then the housing built for the temporary workers lies vacant. The boom in the small towns goes bust. But there are more jobs. Permanent ones. Jobs that are here to stay.

The best estimate of the long term permanent jobs servicing the pipeline is 35. And 15 more part time jobs, as well. 50 jobs. The economic impact of these 50 jobs is hard to gauge. The GOP Job Creators have been beating their chests and thumping their …well…their whatevers, for 50 permanent jobs. For 6 years they have battled to get these 50 jobs.

While infrastructure rots and schools crumble, the Job Creators are narrowly focused on 50 jobs for their oil company donors. Not thousands of police officers to make cities safer. Not thousands of teachers to help our students. Not firefighters. Not computer technicians or scientists. Not increased training for new doctors and nurses. Nope.

The Job Creators have spent 6 years whining about 50 jobs. That’s about 9 jobs per year. Fewer than one per month.

A great start. At this rate the Job Creators will have the US economy booming along with full employment by the time the sun burns the Earth to a crisp in 1.1 billion years. But, hey. You gotta start somewhere.

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Tom Reed…Pants on Fire !

Politicians are well known to lie, er, prevaricate, er, exaggerate about their accomplishments.This is nothing new and no surprise. So,  when Congressman Tom Reed of the NY-23 sends out campaign materials touting his support for Medicare or Social Security I am not impressed. Or bewildered. While Mr. Reed has voted to privatize Medicare he can, with a politician’s straight face, claim he supports it. Even has pictures taken with old people. What further proof do we need. But I give him a pass. After all, misinforming the voters about your real values, beliefs and income sources is how the game is played. Borderline dishonest? Yep. But we are big boys. We can see through it.

And when a politician stretches the truth about an opponent that is also part of the game. Like when Tom Reed’s people put up a website that claimed his opponent supports child molesters (Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary fame). Yarrow did do a fundraiser for Robertson. Now, stretching that to suggest she supports child molesters might remind you of the famous “Willie Horton” ad by George H. W. Bush. The one with the picture of the scary black guy who was furloughed from prison when Mike Dukakis was Governor. Absolute proof that Dukakis supports rapists, at least scary black rapists. In the nasty world of American politics all of this is now considered acceptable, while being slimy. Yet, acceptable.

So, lying about your own record. Acceptable. Insinuating that your opponent loves child molesters and rapists. Slimy, but acceptable. (Only an idiot would believe that stuff, after all).

But intentionally lying about your opponents positions on issues. That is a no-no. Or should be.

But this is what Tom Reed’s supporters have done. My proof? I am looking at a flyer from the GOP State Committee of NY.

First, It says that Reed’s opponent, Martha Roberston, does not support the 2nd Amendment ! What ! She does not support our right to own a gun? I need to hear more.

On the backside of the flyer it gives 4 big Xes followed by the following statements:

Supports Andrew Cuomo’s Safe Act
Failed to Sign a Pledge to Repeal Safe Act
LED the only county legislature in Upstate NY that REFUSED to call on Governor Cuomo to Repeal the Safe Act.
Voted to BAN RIFLE HUNTING as County Legislative Chair.
SAY NO to Martha Robertson’s plan to strip away our 2nd Amendment rights.

That’s it. The GOP has stated Martha Robertson has a PLAN to strip away gun rights. A PLAN. That is pretty insidious. So, let’s look at their facts, one at a time.

Martha SUPPORTS the Safe Act and lead the only county legislature that refused to call for a repeal of the Safe Act. Both of those statements are based on the Thomkins County legislature Meeting Minutes of April 2, 2013. BUT, when you read the summary of that meeting you realize that Martha Robertson did not LEAD the legislature to refuse to call for the repeal. In fact, you find that she VOTED in the MINORITY (5-10) against the resolution supporting the Safe Act.  So, the two statements in this flyer, that she LED the legislature in voting to support the Safe Act and that she SUPPORTS the Safe Act are just plain FALSE. No two ways about it. FALSE.

The “rifle ban” for Thomkins County. Is accurate. Misleading but somewhat accurate. The county was asked to consider allowing rifles and after PUBLIC HEARINGS and listening  to their constituents they voted no. Along with a few other upstate counties. Does this mean that there is a PLAN to take away your 2nd Amendment rights ? If so, it is a weird plan. Why? Because Thomkins County continues to ALLOW hunting with bow, muzzleloader, handgun and shotgun. Just like many other counties. If you want to hunt with a rifle you can drive to the next county and do so. The idea that a ban on a specific weapon, desired by a county, is somehow a PLAN to take away gun rights..well…FALSE.

The flyer says Robertson FAILED to sign a pledge to repeal the Safe Act. That seems to be the ONLY true statement in the entire flyer. TRUE (I hope). I say I hope because only an IDIOT would sign a pledge given to them by private citizens to support a private group. When you are an elected official you serve ALL the people. Taking a pledge to serve the interests of one group should be illegal. It is certainly unethical. And downright STUPID. Times change. New situations arise. A politician needs to be flexible. And a leader, not a follower. Pledges are for school children and politicians who don’t want to consider options.

Which brings me to Tom Reed. Tom HAS taken a pledge. A pledge to Grover Norquist. A private citizen. Not a resident of NY-29. A pledge not to raise taxes on Grover or any of the wealthy no matter what the consequences. Even if it means shutting down the government. No matter how situations and conditions change. I thought he also took a pledge to serve the people.  A man cannot serve two masters (I just made that up).

So, Mr .Reed. Based on the flyer about your opponent, Martha Robertson, I have to say what we used to say on the playground when Cindy Lou was caught prevaricating once again: “LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE .”

(On a personal note. Please comment if you like or don’t like this post so I know if anyone other than the cat is reading these. Yes, Klyde reads these diligently)

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Santa and the Elves Restructured

Scene: North Pole, or thereabouts.

Relf the Elf strolls into Santa’s Workshop.

Relf: Hi guys, where’s Santa? I haven’t seen him in days. I need to order some more yo-yos.

Delf the Elf: Haven’t you heard? Big meeting today. Santa has an announcement. Here he comes now.

Santa approaches and walks to the podium. He is wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and alligator shoes.

Santa: Good morning elves. After 346 years Mrs. Claus and I have decided to retire. We will be leaving tomorrow for Santa Lucia. I have sold Santa’s workshop to Bayne enterprises. They have assured me that they will continue the high quality of service that has become a hallmark of this organization. While I will miss you all I am confident you will continue to enjoy prosperity and serve the children of the world. In short, they made me an offer I could not refuse. Thank you for your service and stop by if you are ever vacationing in the Caribbean. All questions will be handled by your new employer, Bayne Enterprises.

With that, Santa left the podium and a thick-haired, square-jawed  Dudley Do-Right look alike took the microphone.

Mr Mitt: Good morning. I am Mr Mitt, your new boss. As Santa said, Bayne has acquired Santa’s Workshop and we remain committed to providing he finest quality to our customers at the lowest price. Any question?

Velf the Elf: I heard from a few retired elves that their pension payments have stopped. What is going on?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. As you know, Santa was quite generous in his pension plan, which has lead to a less than maximum profit for the company. We have found it necessary to restructure the pension system. In fact, no pensions will be paid to the retired elves. And the pension plan has been eliminated for the curent employees. This has been necessary under the current economic conditions.

Velf: But we paid into those plans. I have been working here for over 134 years, making monthly contributions. You can’t just eliminate my pension.

Mr Mitt: Since you have been working without a union contract we are well within our rights to do so. At times like this we all need to make sacrifices for the good of the company. Next question?

Kelf the Elf: This morning I saw a number of trucks loading equipment out of the toy shop. What is going on?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. I am so glad you asked that. As part of our restructuring to make Santa’s Workshop more efficient we are in the process of outsourcing many of our operations. Actually, all of our operations. To stay competitive we will be making toys in China and the Philippines from now on. We will maintain a North Pole address, of course, but our actual manufacturing operations will take place in Asia. These reduced labor costs will allow us to stay competitive while creating a positive work environment for child workers. Our new slogan is “Santa’s Workshop: Made for children by children.”

Yelf the Elf: What about our jobs?  You can’t just fire us.

Mr Mitt: I am glad you asked that question. Excellent question. We at Bayne Enterprises believe that the elf workers are the future of our company. We seek to maintain the high standards that the elves have achieved over the last 300 plus years. The quality and dedication of the elf labor force is second to none. Rest assured, not a single elf will lose his job. All elves will be relocated to China to train and instruct the new work force. Of course, to stay competitive, all pay will be halved and there will be no benefits packages available. All costs of transporting you , and if you desire your families, to China will be deducted from your new half-salary. And, of course, there will be regular work reviews which may lead to immediate termination if your work is found to be sub-par. Any other questions?

Pelf the Elf:   Sounds like a total screw job to me. We train new employees.  Half pay.  No benefits.  You can fire us at any time.  No pension. What’s in it for us?

Mr Mitt: Excellent question. I am glad you asked that question.  Bayne Enterprises takes great pride in providing investors with the best opportunities for growth and financial security. I would hope you would take great satisfaction is being part of a corporation that seeks to maximize investor profit while providing the best possible service.  Which reminds me. No more free toys to poor kids. That was an awful business model. All Christmas toy deliveries will be by subscription or prepayment only in the future.  Any other questions?

The Elves looked at each other and slowly trudged out of the workshop.

In the distance a semi pulled up to the fenced in reindeer yard. Donder and Blitzen glanced over and read the lettering on the side of the truck (yes, reindeer, unlike Fox news watchers, CAN read).  On it’s side was this lettering: Sideshow Sarah’s Reindeer Meat Company and Travelling Circus.

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I’m Sick of It

Every once in awhile I just get sick of American politics and “culture”.  Which is why I haven’t posted recently. This is a very negative post. If you are in a good mood, don’t read it.  If you have a firearm, unload it immediately and lock it away. For your own safety.

Mitch McConnell running for senator in Kentucky. A state that has embraced the ACA but calls it Kynect. Very successful. People LOVE it. Poor people finally get health care. So McConnell is running against Obamacare. He is running for one reason, according to him. To make sure that the president of the United States will not be able to govern for the next two years. McConnell has no positive programs. No desire to make life better for people. In fact, he wants to eliminate the very program that has been successful in Kentucky. Take away health care from his own constituents. His ONLY goal? Make Obama fail. And you know what ? The idiots will probably vote him back into office. Makes me sick.

Iraq is a total mess. The “Mission Accomplished”  has succeeded if the mission was to destabilize an entire region. If the”mission” was to unleash the most backward, radical, 13th century-minded fundamentalist force. If the “mission” was to enslave women under the guise of religion. If the “mission” was the genocide of Yazidis.  Now, the same folks who created this mess by supporting the occupation have no answers.  Except war.  What William Fulbright (in the Vietnam Era) called the “arrogance of power”. If only we stay longer. If only we use more weapons. If only…if only…if only. Already over half a million innocent civilians dead. They are now “free”from the tyranny of breathing. And the biggest hawks, of course, are those who would never leave the safety of their gated communities or  allow their children to ever be at risk. Remember, Dick Cheney had better things to do during the Vietnam War era. Makes me sick.

Many GOP-lead state governments are still trying to stop gay marriage. Why ? What is the point? Why does it matter to anyone else if two consenting adults want the economic benefits of marriage? Are there no real problems in these states? Is there full employment ? Does everyone have access to quality health care and quality education? Are these governments just controlled by folks who are inherently nasty and vindictive and narrow minded? These same state “leaders” are the ones who constantly moan about waste and government interference. Hello? Wasting tax dollars on court cases so your government can interfere with the lives of married folks. Makes me sick.

The Ferguson protests or the Ferguson riots. Take your pick. Happens all the time. People have legitimate complaints. Have legitimate reasons to protest. And then a few idiots , usually thuggish young men, turn to violence. Take it as an opportunity to loot and vandalize. So, the legitimate protest gets swept away by coverage of the violent few. Plays right into the hands of the racists. Of course, without the violence the protesters receive no news coverage at all. Protesting isn’t news. But violence works every time. Makes me sick.

Kim Kardashian.  I don’t know who she is. I could not pick her out of a line up. But every time I open my computer she seems to be there. Stories about her. What she eats. What she wears. What she doesn’t wear. Her baby. Who is she? Has she cured cancer ? Has she won a Nobel prize in literature? Is she involved in settling the Palestine-Israel conflict? Has she been working with orphans in Zambia? I suspect she is a media creation whose main claim to fame is being a media creation. I could be wrong. Nevertheless. The coverage of non-important people makes me sick.

OK . I’m done. Next time I promise a more uplifting post. Like….the REAL  truth about Santa Claus and his “elves.”

 

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Obama Captures Devil…The GOP Responds

Over the past few years the Obama Administration has successfully brought to justice the man responsible for 9/11.  Al-Qaeda members and leaders have been killed in drone strikes or captured. And recently one of the “masterminds” of the attack on the Benghazi ambassador was captured and is incarcerated.

But yesterday, the CIA announced it finally has gotten the big one. Under authorization given them by Executive Order 666 the US has taken into custody the Devil himself.

Known throughout the ages as various names,  this evil monster is finally behind bars in an US federal prison.

At his press conference President Obama spoke these words:” The international nightmare is over. Mission Accomplished. After centuries of war, hatred, greed, oppression and violence the world has now been freed from this most evil entity. Known throughout the ages as The Devil, Lucifer,  Beelzebub, The Evil One and various other names, it is now in US custody. The nightmare is over. Evil is gone from the world.

I want to thank the brave members of the NSA, FBI, CIA and Google maps . Their fine work and steadfast determination has  lead to the incarceration of this epitome of evil. Never more will he sow his seeds of hate throughout the world. Mankind is safe forever.”

Around the world the response was one of joy.  The Pope thanked the USA for ridding the world of evil. AIDS disappeared in Africa. All terrorists throughout the Middle East destroyed their weapons and vowed never to hurt anyone again. The Koch Brothers went into hiding. North Korea opened its borders. Putin went to church.

The response from the leadership of the GOP was fast and furious.

Ted Cruz: “How much did this cost the taxpayer? How many millions were wasted on tracking down Beelzebub while hard-working billionaires picked up the tab? Just another example of Obama’s irresponsibility. No taxes for me. Time to shut down the government again.”

John McCain: “As I said years ago, we need to go to war with anyone or anything. At anytime. For any reason. This is another example of Obama’s inability to go  to war over anything. A weak president . What time is it? Where are my pills? And another thing. We need to go to war to show our enemies that we are strong? What time is it ? Where are my glasses?”

Mitt Romney:” As I said all along, the Devil is bad. That is why we need a president who wears magic underwear. Only I can stop the Devil. Obama is clueless. Clinton is clueless…what…they captured the Devil ? That’s not what I saw in the polls…Is it election night yet.”

Sarah Palin: (shrieking)” Of course the Kenyan captured the devil. They were friends. Squawk. Squawk. I knew it. I said it all along. Proof that Obama is a communist. Who else can see Russia ? Can you see Russia? I can see Russia. Squawk. Squawk…Look at ME. At ME. Now.  I am fading fast…”

Mitch McConnell: “A total failure. A total disaster. Another example of how Obamacare has led us to ruin.  What now? Under Obamacare the Devil will get FREE health care for life. And a nice cushy prison cell all to himself. Just another example of Obama’s failure. We will make him fail.”

George W Bush: “No shit ? Gol darn it. Sonnova monkey’s uncle. Whooda thought ?  Mission accomplished. Wanna see my pictures ?
Gotta good one here of me painting a picture of me while I am painting a picture of me. Purty clever. Heh. Heh.”

Rob Rubio: “It’s about time. Should have been done years ago. This president is a failure. His policy is a failure. Anyone can catch the Devil. I could catch the Devil . I could catch TWO devils. I could catch two Devils, one Beelzebub and three illegals. Vote for Me. ”

Rick Santorum:” Thank almighty God . Only God can catch the Devil. If Obama spent less time aborting babies and more time catching the Devil we would be the Land of the Free. Send money.  Now. Please. Hurry.”

Newt Gingrich: “Thank God almighty. We are a nation , under God. The greatest nation on earth. Under the sun. Obama is killing our nation. Send money now to stop Obamacare.”

Cliven Bundy: “Just another communist government overreach.  Taking a man out of his own home. Satan has rights. Unconstitutional. Only the county sheriff has the right to do that. I do not recognize the federal government. I do not recognize the USA or it’s authority. Get off my federal land. God bless the flag. God bless the USA.”

John Boehner: “This could be grounds for impeachment. Congress was not told in advance that the Evil One would be arrested.  We should have been notified that the purveyor of all of mankind’s pain for the last 6000 years was about to be taken into custody. At least 30 days notice. I am ordering articles of impeachment to be written as we speak. We will be organizing a special committee under the direction of Congressman Issa. Anyone see a bottle of Quick Tan around here?”

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Satan has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Evil One’s arrest on the grounds that the NSA illegally collected information about his cell phone use. The lawyer also demanded that the arrest warrant be ruled illegal on the grounds of patient-doctor confidentiality. It seems as though the NSA and CIA received a tip  from a surgeon who was doing a heart transplant on Beelzebub. He realized that old Satan had no  heart to begin with, just an empty cavity. Justice Scalia has agreed to hear the case. Justice Thomas woke up briefly, concurred, then resumed his siesta.

Finally, Satan’s daughter has made her first public statement on the issue. She claims her father has diplomatic immunity as a life long member of the delegation from Hell that was legally elected a few years ago.  Her written statement follows.

“My father is a good man. He got me a good job. While he may have made a few teensy-weensy mistakes, when this is over he will be greeted in the streets of Montana as a liberator. Give the Devil his due.”(signed) Liz Cheney.

 

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The Worst Communist Ever

Karl Marx had been caught in a time warp. You know, the ones we see on old Star Trek episodes. He was “beamed” into the 21st century.  I heard he was recuperating at a local hospital . I managed to get in and find his room. As I walked in I noticed he was grinning with delight and nodding his head in agreement to some TV show.

Me: Hello,  Karl. What do you think of the 21st century?

Marx: Excellent (laughing). Finally. Finally the worker’s paradise has arrived ! The capitalist behemoth of the USA has a real communist leader. At last.

Me: Karl, why do you say that ?

Marx: Look. Look. At this Fox News . I have been watching for two days. This President Barack Obama is a communist. Thank god…oops..there is no god…thank the proletariat for electing this communist ! Workers of the world unite!

Me: Well,  Karl, I wouldn’t get too excited.

Marx: Capitalist stooge! Look at this Obama and what he has done for communism. No  more wars of imperial domination ! He is afraid to use military force. No more using the proletariat for capitalist wars!

Me: Well. He did bring most of the troops back  from Iraq. But,  he also sent even more to Afghanistan. And the US does have military bases in about 100 countries around the world.

Marx: Oh…well..but now all the “means of the production” are in the hands of the people. The workers control the banks. The bankers no longer gouge the proletariat.

Me: Uh…well,  Karl. Not exactly. There was a depression caused by the financial  sector. True.  So, Obama and Congress did give billions of tax dollars to save the economy.

Marx: Yes.  A classic “redistribution of wealth ” from the bankers to the workers! Communism triumphs. As I predicted.

Me:  Actually,  Karl. It was a “redistribution of wealth”, but it went the other way. The tax dollars from the workers went to bail out the bankers who then took that money and loaned it back to the workers at a profit. Banking profits at an all time high. Wages very low.

Marx:  OK.  But now the people  own the factories,  not the bourgeoisie. I saw on Fox News that the government bought the auto industry. For the people !

Me: Yeah…about that one Karl. The US taxpayers DID bail out the auto industry. But then Obama gave it back to the private sector. Another “redistribution of wealth” thing. From the proletariat to the capitalists.

Marx (getting a little glum): At least in the area of health care the people are now in power. Since this communist Obamacare, like they call it on Fox News,  is now the law. Everyone gets free health care. And the proletariat  government controls hospitals, doctors and all medical facilities. All are equal at least in that regard. All paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy.

Me:  Sorry, Karl. But while  the ACA did bring more of the …uh…proletariat into  the health care system, millions are still not covered. And the government does not control health care. Another “redistribution of wealth”…from the working taxpayer to the health  insurance companies.

Marx: …So…there has been no people’s revolution? No equality ? This Obama has not taken money from the wealthy and given it to the worker? “To each according to his needs” ? But Fox News says that Obama is taxing the rich out of existence. Power to the people !

Me:  Actually Karl,  the income disparity between the workers and the elites is greater than ever.  About one-third of the major corporations pay no tax at all. But the workers still have taxes deducted automatically from their checks. And the part about “according to their needs” ?  Well,  you know, maybe the Koch Brothers just NEED more than a single mother working at Wendy’s ? Maybe?

Marx: So, this Fox News tells me Obama is a communist. Yet he redistributes wealth the wrong way. Are there other TV channels I can watch to get a more accurate picture?

Me: If you want a more accurate picture of politics than offered on Fox News,  I suggest you start with the Cartoon Channel.

Marx:  Hmmm…The wealthy are wealthier than ever. Obama bails out bankers. Gives the car factories to the capitalists. Sends billions of tax dollars to health insurance companies.  Continue wars of imperialistic aggression ….One last thing. Can you get me back into the time warp.  I want out of here.  This President Obama…The Worst Communist Ever !

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Women and Children First

What has happened to our cowboys?

News item summary: A “rancher” named Bundy has been grazing his cattle for free on federal land for 20 years. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken him to court a number of times trying to collect. The fees,  by the way are incredibly cheap. The BLM charges $1.35 per animal per month. Try to feed a cow for that. (Private businesses charge $10-28 per month for the same grazing rights) But this cheat refuses to pay. And when, after 20 years and court cases the BLM finally did come to take his cattle, he called on his cowboy friends relatives to take up arms. And the BLM backed down. For now.

I am not even going to bother with whether or not this guy is legally entitled to use land that does not belong to him. The courts are clear. He doesn’t. And his claim that he does not recognize the “authority of the US government” may give him a leg to stand on in an insanity plea. But not good for much else. I prefer to focus on another aspect of the case. Cowboys and how they have changed.

Those who support Bundy with their guns and philosophy present themselves as heroes. Tough talking hombres. A couple cowpokes I saw on camera said they were ready to “give their lives”. Give their lives so a guy who Romney would describe as “wanting something for nothing” could continue to mooch off the government. OK.  I guess that is worth dying for.

Or, well, maybe not give MY life, exactly, but somebody’s.

As the story unfolded a former Arizona sheriff, Richard Mack , talked to Fox News (sic) about the strategy he intended to use. I am NOT making this up. Mack said that if things heated up the Bundy faction intended to put women in front of the men. Unarmed women. To be used as shields. To take fire from the federal “rogue agents”. To be casualties. This would prove just how evil the federal government was.  Can’t argue with that “reasoning”.  The cowboys would hide behind a human shield. What has happened to our cowboys?

Maybe it is time to remake some of those old westerns I watched as a kid. Try this:  “Shootout at the Nevada Chicken Ranch”, starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

John Wayne: Well,pardner, I see the evil Land Management Goons are coming to try to take away our grazin rights. Gonna meet em at 12 noon at the Nutcase Corral for the big shootout.”

Clint Eastwood: (spits) There’s 10 of them and only 2 of us. But I’m a willin’ to die so Uncle Buck can continue to graze his 7 herd of longhorns for free.  How about you?

JW:Hmmmm…. I know a better way out of this mess. How many womenfolk do you have?

CE: Well, there’s my wife, Lilly Sue and daughter, Rosey Sue and the baby. Aunt Gertrude and my niece Mandy Sue.  That’s it.

JW: Well, lemmee see. I have my sister Honey Sue and she has 4 little uns, Sue Sue, Gunna Sue, Wanna Sue and Lets Sue. There is my Aunt Nelly and Aunt Kate. Oh…don’t forget Granny Grumplin. If we can git her started in her walker she’ll be fine. Hardly ever falls over. We can prop her up if needs be.

CE: Well,what’s yer plan?

JW: Here it is,  pardner. We’ll git all those womenfolk down there and stand them up between us and the feds. Then, when the shootin starts we’ll have good cover. Reminds me, how about the Pork Belly twins? Seen them around?

CE: I…I…don’t know, pardner. That jest don’t seem right. To use the womenfolk like that. It ain’t manly. It ain’t the cowboy way. It’s kind of cowardly, ain’t it?

JW: Aw, go on pardner.Times are changin.  This is a deadly situation. And you know what they always say. If there’s trouble it’s always “women and children first”.

Cowboys just ain’t what they used to be.

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I LOVE the IRS

It is April 16. Tax day has come and gone. I can finally admit it. I am a Revenuephiliac. I love the IRS.

I fear this admission will rain down anger upon my being. I will be hated more than Gandhi at an NRA meeting. Vilified more than Al Sharpton at a gathering of the White Aryan Nation. Be more harshly treated than Sarah Palin at a MENSA Convention.

But I confess. I love the IRS. Very Un-American, I know. But that’s the way I am. And here’s why.

The IRS is under attack. And has been for many years. The money budgeted for enforcement has been declining. Since 2002 the IRS budget has actually declined by 17%. Fewer agents means that the chances of getting audited are less than 1% for most folks, about 20% for millionaires and less than 1% for businesses. Some politicians, like Ted Cruz, have publicly stated they want to do away with the IRS completely. So, as a champion of the underdog, I take up the banner of our tax police. Seriously. They have a banner.

As the financial support for the IRS has waned on the one hand, fraud and corruption have skyrocketed on the other. Who could of guessed ? Fewer cops, fewer arrests. The Center For Tax Justice estimates that for every dollar spent on funding the IRS the US brings in $10 dollars in revenue that would otherwise be lost. WHAT ? A federal agency that makes money ? Others estimate that with long term modernization the actual investment return is closer to $200 for each dollar spent today.  There are BILLIONS of tax dollars going uncollected each year. Over $280,000,000,000 in overdue taxes will never be collected according to an IRS study from just a few years ago. And it is getting worse.

It has been a longstanding tradition to hate taxes. It is as American as racism or homophobia, to be sure. The nation was founded by tax dodgers. The Boston Tea Party was not a protest against free speech…it was a tax protest. And probably justified. Why pay taxes to those guys across the ocean? The Whiskey Rebellion? Same thing. Except this time it was why pay taxes at all. So, we have a solid history of being tax avoiders and tax cheats. All the more reason for the IRS.

After all, the IRS is nothing more than the domestic equivalent of our military or police force. And who can hate the troops? Or the police? They uphold the law, go after lawbreakers and make sure everyone plays by the same rules.  They support the democratic process and the rule of law.  They help collect the funds necessary to keep the nation moving ahead. They are the cop on the beat. The Marine standing guard over the flag.

Of course some taxes are pre-collected. The tax on the McDonald’s counter worker and the non-unionized VW assembly line worker. The cop. The teacher. The engineer. Anyone who works for a living. These shmucks can’t cheat on their taxes, and probably wouldn’t anyway.

Who could be against the IRS ? Tax cheats? Crooks? Organized crime? Money launderers for drug cartels?

Who benefits from a weak police force ? The honest citizen or the criminal?

So, join me in this IRS lovefest. Write your congressman. Ask for more money and better enforcement of our tax laws. What better investment is there? A $10-200 return for every dollar spent. In the end, if ALL taxes are collected, won’t you and I pay less? Won’t the honest citizen get a break?

Revenuephiliacs Unite! You have nothing to lose but your friends! And you might save a few bucks as well.

 

 

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Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is legal.

But other times the courts have ruled that certain practices of religious groups are not above the law. Polygamy, for example, was considered essential for the leaders of the Church of Latter Day saints. But the government ruled otherwise. Even though it was, at the time, a central doctrine of the faith. The Mormons believed in it. The US government said “No”.

And no one would argue that child marriage, slavery, human sacrifice  or actions which obviously harm individuals should be protected, no matter how sincere the beliefs of the religious group that holds them. So, the courts have ruled that religious freedom has  limits, as does  any right.

Individuals who may object to joining the military can apply for conscientious objector status, which precludes them from taking part in combat. But even in this case, it does  not exempt them from military service. They are given other jobs to do. So,  in that sense, they are not exempt.

What about Hobby Lobby? It is not a religion. It is not a church. It is a junk store. It does business in the United States as a multi-million (perhaps billion dollar) corporate entity. Not a mom and pop operation. Not your local Jewish deli. It is a corporate chain, like a MacDonalds or a Dollar Store. What is it’s claim to a religious exemption?

The family that owns Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs. As do the owners of thousands of businesses. And the CEO  of Exxon  or GE or Boeing.  But Hobby Lobby is claiming that the beliefs of a few people, because they are owners of a business enterprise,  somehow allow them to impose their terms on a secular labor contract. While the law says that any business must provide certain things…overtime pay, safe working conditions, minimum wages and now minimum health care benefits, Hobby Lobby is claiming that it does  not have to  abide by those laws. While it uses a religious argument, the actual substance of the case is about money. After all, no one is forcing the Green family to pay for anything out of their own pockets. They have the legal protections of a corporation, but do not want to fulfill the responsibilities of a corporation under the ACA.

The workers earn benefits. Can a corporation limit or reduce or deny benefits based on some new and radical idea of “corporate religion”? If so,  any reasonable person can follow the thread and see where it leads. Any corporate lawyer worth his salary will be codifying “religious beliefs” for Wendy’s and GM before the ink dries on a favorable court decision.

Of course a corporation cannot claim religious freedom to avoid labor laws. A corporation is an artificial , man-made legal construct.  Can anyone claim with a straight face that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to shield business entities from the powers given Congress in Article 1 ?

Perhaps. After all, some members of this court have already turned the Constitution and themselves  into a logical pretzel with the Bush v Gore decision and the Citizens United decision. While both were obviously politically motivated the majority managed to mangle the interpretation to mean “whatever I say it means”.

So, while an honest interpretation of the law (which already exempts religious groups) and the Constitution would seem to indicate a 9-0 decision against Hobby Lobby, there is no telling how far some members will go in their homage to corporate power. We shall see. Just as Citizens United has turned our elections into a livestock auction,  (“twenty dollar, eighty dollar, five thousand dollar, two million dollar…SOLD, to the two brothers in the back of the room slinking in the corner”) this court decision could eviscerate any worker protection and undercut Article 1 of the Constitution. Believe it.

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