“Hypocrisy: Prejudice with a Halo” (Ambrose Bierce)

Now what could possess me to write about hypocrisy in a political blog? (That was a joke.)

And who would be the biggest hypocrite in politics right now? I think the blue ribbon goes to Jim Boehner. This would be the same Jim Boehner who is Speaker of the House since the bloated-budget slashing Republicans now have a majority there. Jim (We Must Cut The Deficit) Boehner is against all forms of waste in the government. He is also death on earmarks—or pork as it used to be called. This is the guy who used to be a little bit moderate in his conservative beliefs until all the the new, ultra-conservative representatives took their place in the House—and since he is their leader, he must get out in front and lead them to ever new heights (or depths) of budget cutting.

And just how does this qualify him for the biggest hypocrite award? Boehner is from the State of Ohio. Ohio is where General Electric and Rolls Royce are building an engine for the new Joint Strike Fighter that is in development. Now, it is true that every jet fighter needs a good jet engine. Without one, it absolutely will not fly. So there’s nothing to fault him for here. But is this engine “the” engine for the JSF? No, it is not! You see, the real engine for the JSF is being built by Pratt and Whitney in Connecticut. So why is a second one being designed and built in Ohio?

“Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue.”

No one seems to know. This engine is the most unwanted orphan of any military project. The president does not want it. (That would be neither President Bush nor President Obama.) The military does not want it. Both have tried multiple times to get funding for it cancelled. Yet it has lived on, seemingly disconnected from anything that would give it life.

Jim Boehner, Republican from Ohio, anti-waste, anti-pork, and budget cutting leader, has kept it in the budget just so he can bring home the bacon to the voters who continue to send him to Washington. And that, my friends, is hypocrisy of the highest order.

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”
                                                                                        – Andre Gide

Now, just to be fair, I have to say that the house finally—finally—is voting this year to take it out of the budget. That is over the objections of Speaker Boehner. So here’s to you, Speaker Boehner, the coveted Batman Two-Face Award.

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Freddy Krueger Goes to Washington

The Freddy Krueger Approach to Budgeting

An editorial in the New York Times said yesterday, “Are there any adults in charge of the House? Watching this week’s frenzied slash-and-burn budget contest, we had to conclude the answer to that is no.” I thought that seemed a little condescending until I read the entire editorial. Among the Republicans this week, there seems to be a contest to see who can propose the most ridiculous budget for the balance of 2011. No one is paying any attention to the results of their proposals, even if they have any idea what those results would be. A perfect example of that is Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican of South Dakota, who told the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, “A lot of us freshmen don’t have a whole lot of knowledge about how Washington, D.C., is operated,” last week. “And, frankly, we don’t really care.” (Emphasis Mine)

Yeah, that’s the attitude we want in those who presume to govern us. Who elected her, anyway? Oh, right, the radical right-wing Republicans. People like her obviously do not care about the country, do not care about the people in this country, and do not really care if we survive as a nation or not. Jim Boehner could help—might even be expected to help—from his position as Speaker of the House. However, his response when asked, was that President Obama added 200,000 federal employees in the past two years and that if some of those jobs were lost, he didn’t care. First as to the facts, the federal government did add approximately 141,000 non-postal jobs, but reduced the postal work force by 83,000 for a net gain of 58,000 jobs. That is a long way from the 200,000 figure Boehner used.

None of them is talking about what those cuts would mean to the employment picture in the US, either. The loss of 700,000 jobs is predicted, given what various Republicans are asking for. With our current unemployment rate of near 10%, do you really want that many more people competing for scarce jobs? With one slash of his pinky finger knife, the Freddy Krueger of the House would raise our unemployment rate another 1%, making it the highest since the Great Depression.

On top of that, what would some of the grim results be? For one, at least one of the proposed cuts would actually cost the nation money, not save—that is the proposed cuts to community health centers. I heard someone say on the radio today that CHCs waste a lot of government money, (Note: I did not hear who made this claim and cannot verify it. If you have information that proves me wrong, please send it to me.) and that that is the justification for reducing funding for them. CHCs are wasting money. If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny.

Let me tell you just a little about our local CHC in Tacoma/Pierce County, Community Health Care. Our annual budget is approximately $30 million. For that, we served more than 34,000 patients last year—an average annual care cost of only $882/patient. Can you get your health care paid for $882/year. How much does your insurance cost on an annual basis? And what does the community get for that investment? First of all, national studies have shown that our care saves the emergency rooms in Tacoma approximately $20 million in unnecessary visits. Most of those would not be paid for. So our services keep an extra $20 million in the community.

The supplies and services we purchase locally would add a few more million into the local economy. And just keeping those 34,000 patients healthy—if it just keeps them at work one or two additional days per year—we add another $5 to $10 million dollars to the local economy. So for investing $30 million in our CHC—actually less than that because of the insured patients we have—we are putting an additional $50 to $60 million back into the local economy. What other employer brings that kind of benefits? CHCs are the best investment in health care in the country. Cutting funding for them will not only mean a lot of people go without health care, it means the emergency rooms will get greater utilization without pay—taking money out of the economy plus driving up the cost of your health care.

That’s just one effect if the childish Republicans get their way. What about fewer inspections of the chickens you buy with the increased risk of e. coli? Is that what you want your kids eating? How about gutting the Environmental Protection Agency? Do you want to go back to having your children breathing particulates in the air? How about going back to the “Tacoma Aroma?” You want to lay off state and local police officers? You think they’ve so thoroughly dismantled the Crips in Tacoma that we can afford to stop policing them?

The Republicans say we cannot afford our government any more. I agree. The Democrats agree. President Obama agrees. That’s why he has proposed a more reasonable budget plus stated his willingness to sit down with the Republicans and negotiate. But all the Republicans seem willing to do is slash and burn at random pet peeves. There is no logic, sense or restraint in either their proposals or their speech.

And one more thing: The Republicans know there is no chance of getting those cuts enacted. No chance. If they pass them in the House, and manage to get them through the Senate, President Obama would veto them because no reasonable person would want to put the nation through the suffering they would cause. No reasonable person! All this amounts to is children screaming about what they want so they can get through to the people who elected them. Then they can go home and say, “We tried…really. Go ahead an re-elect us so we can go do it again.” They didn’t! If they really want to do their job—the one they were elected for, to govern—they would be putting forth reasonable requests and sitting down at the negotiating table to work out something that works for the entire nation.

Let’s send Freddy Krueger home. Let’s put some adults in charge of Congress.

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Ron Paul for President? What the Ultra-Conservatives Want

Perhaps you saw in your paper that the American Conservative Union just closed their annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Every year, they take a straw poll to gauge the thinking of the attendees. I read that only about one third of the attendees actually bothered to register their opinions, but I found them interesting nonetheless.

Who do you think is the favorite conservative contender for president this year? Sarah Palin? Nope! None other than the infamous Ron Paul. That’s right! The Ron Paul who is so conservative that most Republicans are ashamed to be caught in the same room with him. The same Ron Paul who thinks the Civil Rights Act (The one that keeps bigots from refusing to rent to someone who is black or Latino or Jewish or unmarried, etc.) is “…a massive violation of the rights of private property…” The same Ron Paul who acknowledges that in this country, “…many people cannot afford even basic health insurance…” yet wants to do away with the Patient Protection and Health Care Act, the one who while insincerely professing concern over those who cannot get adequate health care but wants to do away with the only thing that has been done for them in the history of this country. That Ron Paul.

Or how about Ron Paul the racist and white supremacist? Is this the man you want leading your country? Do you want the Ron Paul who says the only—the only—reason for the 9/11 attack was because of our actions in the Middle East. It’s not because they hate our freedom of religion. It’s not because they hate our freedom of the press. It’s none of those things. So Mr. Paul does not see radical Islamism as a threat. He does not, for example, think Iran is a possible threat to Israel. This flies in the face of all of the Muslim hatred and protests in nearly every Western Europe country. Do you want a blind Ron Paul as president?

Maybe you’d like to have the Ron Paul who doesn’t want us to be part of any international legal, trade or military alliance like the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Law of the Sea Treaty, the WTO, NATO, and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. He also voted against at least four other free trade agreements. Do you think we can survive as an isolationist nation in a global society? In the same vein, maybe we all want the Ron Paul who claims to be a supporter of free trade, opposed to protectionism, yet oddly opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement. I’m not sure how he reconciles those two opposing views in his mind, yet he does manage to hold on to some other, even crazier ideas.

He also seems to be bipolar in other areas. For example, he has long been against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet he voted FOR original Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in Afghanistan.

There is more—much more. I will say on his behalf that he does have solid positions on many subjects. But his continual straying into bizarre beliefs makes him totally unsuited to hold high office in this country, especially the presidency.

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Musings on Friday, 2/11/2011

Did you know Abraham Lincoln was a Republican? It’s true! The Republican party was formed in 1854 as an anti-slavery party, and they came into power with the election of Lincoln in 1860, along with a majority in Congress. As a matter of fact, the Republicans used to call themselves “The Party of Lincoln.” I haven’t heard that for a while. I wonder why…

Well, let’s see, Lincoln was a friend of minorities, resulting in the abolishment of slavery. Today? It doesn’t seem the Republicans are friends of any of the minorities, including African Americans (Their policy of building their power base among the southerners who were angry about the abolition of slavery pretty much assured they were dropping any association with the blacks.), Latinos (Seen any reasonable policy regarding immigration come from the Republican side of the aisle recently?), native Americans (Sure, they got to open the 2008 Republican Convention, but after that? Almost nothing except one native American delegate.), and… Need I go on?

Lincoln instituted the first income tax in this country. So there is no way the Republicans could claim to be his heirs because they are violently opposed to ANY tax and want to slash all taxes to the point it will bankrupt the republic. Lincoln saved the republic then, and the Republicans claim now to be trying to “reclaim the country from those selling it down the river to socialism.” But even with that connection, and even though Lincoln is consistently rated as one of the greatest of American presidents, the Republicans seem to have abandoned him.

Did anyone notice the Republicans put the fox in charge of the henhouse? I’m referring to installing Ron Paul as chairman of the Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee. That gives him oversight over the Federal Reserve Bank. The problem? For many years, he has been calling for The Fed to be abolished. So how can he oversee it if all he wants to do is do away with it?

Oh, and how is he doing in his new job? Well, he called some hearings. That’s good, right? Except some of the people he called to testify are—ready for this?—people, like him, who hate The Fed. Now remember, this committee is supposed to be setting monetary policy. One of the witness, Thomas DiLorenzo, is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the most radically conservative institutions in the US. You should also know that even though Mr. DiLorenzo is a professor of economics at Loyola University, he has written nearly nothing about monetary policy. So what qualified him to be a witness before this committee? He refers to The Fed as “legalized counterfeiting operations.” Can we see ahead to where Ron Paul is trying to go with his new job?

Republicans, meet the TEA Party. TEA Party, please meet the Republicans. I know this is a belated introduction, but they seem not to know each other. The TEA Party looks on the established Republican Party as RINOs—Republicans In Name Only. The TEA Party is the only true defender of conservatism and the American Way of Life. On the other hand, I’m sure the Republicans thought they knew the TEA Party. And yet here we are barely a month into the new Congress and already the mainline Republicans are running scared of TEA. Did anyone notice that they knuckled under to the TEA Party and are calling for increased cuts in the budget below that which even they know is too much to cut.

I find it oddly amusing. The Republicans tolerated the TEA Party, and even encouraged them in some races, so they could knock off more Democrats and “liberal” Republicans. Then, like someone who bought a pitbull and suddenly discovered it is chewing the legs off their kids (Oops, sorry kids.), they find the radicals are destroying their party from within. But I’m happy to see it in a way. I think they are going to go so radically right that the country is going to reject them for the radicals they are. That will most likely result in Obama retaking the Oval Office in 2012 and probably a majority in the House again for the Democrats. (See my most recent post on Reagan and how the Democrats are closer to his conservative ideals than the Republicans are.)

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Ronald Reagan–RINO? Apparently so…

I have said before that I am a life-long Republican. I have also said that over the past few years, I have moved toward the left a little. I came to that conclusion because I saw the “right wing” way out there somewhere on my right, and I saw the “left wing” coming closer and closer to me. Some of you have probably found yourself in the same boat.

Now, I was not particularly alarmed by this discovery. During that time, I had become involved with health care—not just for the rich and those with company-paid insurance—but health care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. I have also been through the “health care reform wringer.” It was not a pleasant experience. I started out as a mugwump, firmly astraddle the fence. I debated with people from both sides of the issue, and eventually came to the realization that President Obama and the Democrats were right on this issue. I strongly support the Patient Protection and Health Care Act, and because of that, I have taken a lot of flak from conservatives. I’ve even been called a RINO—me, a Republican who had never voted for a Democrat from 1965 until 2010.

The headline said this is about Reagan, so let’s move on to him. Ronald Reagan is a conservative icon—a Republican’s Republican. In recognition of that, in 1999, the American Conservative Union honored him as The Conservative of the Century. (The American Conservative Union is one of the oldest and most influential of conservative groups, and has had major effect on the Republican Party platform many times over the years.) At the time of his election to the presidency, the Republicans—and conservatism in general—were at what was probably their lowest point in history, following the horrible defeat of Barry Goldwater. He rescued conservatism. He set the standard for conservatism. He is still the touchstone of modern conservatism.

So why would I suggest he might be a RINO—you know, Republican In Name Only? Reagan looks more like the current definition of a big-government, tax-and-spend liberal. What was defined as the heart and soul of conservative Republicanism just a few years ago is now derided as “too liberal,” “creeping socialism,” and “selling us down the river to socialism.” Current conservative thought has moved so far to the right that they would no longer recognize Reagan conservatism. Proof?

  • When Reagan became governor of California, he instituted the largest tax increase in state history, a hike of approximately 17%.
  • During Reagan’s terms as governor, the top income tax rate increased from 7% to 11%—a nearly 60% increase.
  • He did cut taxes by about $284 billion in 1981. What the conservatives don’t want to mention—or have conveniently forgotten—is that over the next few years, he raised taxes eleven times, equal to about half of the tax reduction. (You mean that even with conservative Republicans the right hand gives and the left hand takes away?)
  • Though a strong proponent of smaller government, during Reagan’s watch, federal employment actually increased, not decreased, and he added an entirely new cabinet post with the bureaucracy that entails.

Why would this staunch pillar of conservatism do these “liberal” things? Because, unlike the Republicans of today, Reagan was a realist. He did not indulge in fantasy like the conservatives of today. He knew that government is necessary. Sometimes more government than we like is necessary. And he knew that it takes money to run this government.

So the insane desire of the Republicans now to drastically slash taxes across the board would have been rejected by their idol. Even the hated Democrats this year would not—would not, not could not—stop a tax cut for the very wealthy. They are acting more like Reagan than his supposed heirs.

Conclusion? I have not moved to the left. I am still the same Republican I was ten years ago, twenty years ago and thirty years ago when I supported Ronald Reagan with my vote. So how did I get to where I am on the political spectrum? It moved! The most profound result of the Reagan presidency is it moved the country’s though process to a more centralized place. Modern liberals have realized that we do not want extreme liberalism and that Reagan was right. Modern conservatives, however, have taken this shift as an open invitation to move right until they hit the ozone layer—lala land. I’m not going!

I’ll take my stand with Reagan, the father of the conservative America, and stay where I am.

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Retired General Does it Again—Regarding Egypt This Time

I posted an article a few days ago titled Deconstructing an Ultraconservative Rant. In it, I clearly showed the lies and misconceptions from this retired general. (I refuse to name him this time, because I will not contribute to the publicity surrounding his rants.) Even though I gave accurate information and links to proofs for every point I made showing him to be wrong, there are willfully blind people who will not see the truth, and keep spreading his lies.

He just did it again—this time about the uprising in Egypt. I find it hard to believe how much the conservatives will twist and bend the truth to make their points. As much as I detest having to listen to him, I’m going to do it just to show he cannot be trusted. This time I will list every point and give the time stamp in the video so you can see and listen for yourself.

1) (00:14) He does not “believe” that the media is covering this uprising in a very accurate way. They have reported it as a “pro-democracy” uprising. If he is not there, and members of the media are there, which do you suppose is more accurate in their view of what is happening?

2) (01:07) Mubarak’s predecessor was “executed” by “the Muslim Brotherhood.” First of all, Nasser was “assassinated,” not executed.1  Words do have meaning. Saying he was executed when he was actually assassinated implies his death was at the hands of the government, not an illegal act by terrorists. His assassination was by Islamic radicals, however, there is no known link to the Muslim Brotherhood. Saying that Sadat was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood is a misrepresentation of the truth, and seems to be an attempt to inflame passions—apparently successfully.

3) (03:27) One thing Hosni Mubarak has done, is he has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Muslim Brother is an illegal organization, this was done in 1954 by Nasser after it made an attempt on Nasser’s life. The Muslim Brotherhood has been illegal, although tolerated to varying degrees, ever since.2 While this may seem to be an insignificant fact, it is illustrative of the general’s loose association with facts. He simply changes them to fit his message.

4) (05:45) While the media and even some of his Christian friends are touting this as a pro-democracy movement, he doesn’t “believe” that is the case. He claims to base his “beliefs” on the statements of the newest leader of the Muslim Brotherhood calling for jihad against the rulers of Arab nations to force them to install sharia (or Islamic law) in their nations. However, regardless of his beliefs, people on the ground in Egypt say the opposite of what he is saying. How he can give so little credence to the people actually involved in this movement is unbelievable. It would be like someone in Europe claiming that the American Revolution was actually a plot by the French to gain the upper hand over England—Without talking to the people actually involved in the revolution.

If you would like to read what the people there are saying, check out some of these links.

As an example of people actually involved in and working for the overthrow of Mubarak and the installation of a democratic government, I would suggest you watch this video. (There is also a transcript if you would rather read it.

5) (08:00) “My belief is, in spite of what the media has said, I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood was right at the base of this.” This, I believe, is the very core of the general’s message. Why would conservatives in America be afraid of a popular uprising in Egypt to establish a democracy? What do the conservatives gain by painting this as an Islamic conspiracy to gain power?  Please note this is my opinion. It is one logical explanation for what the conservatives are doing. There may be other logical explanations, but I cannot think of any.

Please remember that to the conservatives, the government, especially President Obama and his administration are “the enemy.” (You can read these beliefs in some of my earlier articles.) Also, the most radical of them believe that the president is NOT a US citizen. Further, many of them believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim, regardless of any evidence. There has been much discussion about Obama’s “agenda.” Many have accused him of selling us down the river to socialism. Others have accused him of trying to turn this into a Muslim nation. Now, given all of that hatred toward the president and “his agenda,” this angle and level of attack makes sense. If you are so illogical as to believe those lies about President Obama, it would make sense to you that this entire chain of events is part of a conspiracy to create another radical Islamic nation. It would be just one more in the chain of nations that must fall before President Obama in his drive to turn us all into Muslims. (It just occurred to me that the word that most often follows “conspiracy” is the word “nuts)—as in conspiracy nuts. This is one of the nuttiest and one without any facts to support it.

6) (08:20) He attempts to buttress his claim that it has been the Muslim Brotherhood that began and continues this uprising by stating that 60% of the police stations have been burned. And he adds that there have been atrocious things done “…all attributable to the Muslim Brotherhood.” This is a claim without any foundation in fact. If it is true that 60% of the police stations have been burned (I cannot verify this. If anyone has facts on this, please send to me.), please consider this: The police have been the instrument of Mubarak’s oppression throughout his entire rule. The police are hated by the entire population. Blaming the burning of police stations on the Muslim Brotherhood is an exercise in imagination. As for the atrocities, please remember that Mubarak armed his supporters and sent them into the conflict  so they could battle with the demonstrators and show that the people “support him.” It is much more likely they are the source of the atrocities, given that the demonstrations had been consistently non-violent until that additional factor was introduced.

7) (09:10) The general also believes there are many “hard core Marxists” involved in this uprising. If you look and listen, please note that he give absolutely no facts to support this allegation. This is a figment of his imagination. Please compare this with his rant about “Marxist insurgencies” that I wrote about a few days ago. Are there Marxists involved? Most likely. Are there anarchists? Probably. But are the core of the uprising? Absolutely not!

8) (10:10) “Islam and Marxism run parallel.” Please note there is nothing given to support this statement other than him saying it. He makes this claim, although most people who study political systems link Islamism more closely with fascism or Nazism.3

Notes & References

1 – According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, execute means “to inflict capital punishment on; put to death according to law.” Assassinate means “to injure or destroy unexpectedly and treacherously,” or “to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons.”

2 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muslim_Brotherhood

3 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamofascism


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Was the Financial Meltdown Avoidable and Who is to Blame?

The right and the left are at it again.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission released their report recently. It was passed out on a vote divided along party lines. (What’s new?) The finger pointing began immediately. (This goes back to some of my early posts about the opposition being the “enemy.” If you’re for it, since you’re the enemy, I have to be against it.)

Rather than rehash the arguments here—which would be a lot of writing—I’m going to connect you to some of the information I have researched. Obviously, the more of it you read, the better informed you will be on the subject. The facts are: This financial crisis was avoidable. There were many systemic flaws and abuses that led to it. If we don’t do something, it could happen again in the future. So this is not about partisan finger pointing; it is not about assigning blame and doling out punishment (although there are many who deserve punishment and should be punished); it is about fixing the problem to assure this will not happen again in the future. After the Great Depression, many measures were put into place to avoid another one. Some of them have been removed. Others have been ignored. But primarily, the never-satisfied thirst for ever increasing profits drove people to look for new ways to get around the old fences. We need an on-going system that will be looking for those straying and writing new regulations to keep them on the reservation.

Here are the broad categories of conclusions from the report. You can read the expanded explanations by going to the commission’s web site.

We conclude this financial crisis was avoidable.

We conclude widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision
proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets.

We conclude dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management
at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis.

We conclude a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack
of transparency put the financial system on a collision course with crisis.

We conclude the government was ill prepared for the crisis, and its inconsistent
response added to the uncertainty and panic in the financial markets.

We conclude there was a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics.

We conclude collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline lit and spread the flame of contagion and crisis.

We conclude over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this

We conclude the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the
wheel of financial destruction.

Here are some of the debaters on this issue. I think you will find them informative and thought-provoking.
Foreseeable and Preventable by Jeffry A Frieden, a professor of government at Harvard

A Non-Partisan Conclusion by Nicole Gelinas, a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal

Follow the Money by Yves Smith, author of the blog Naked Capitalism

More Than Just Greed by Jeffrey A. Miron, a director of undergraduate studies in economics at Harvard University
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