Sep 21 2012

Employers Allowed to Pocket your State Income Tax

Most people assume that states use their state income taxes to fund school systems, pave roads, fund state parks, pay for prisons or even provide low income housing. After all, when you pay taxes you expect the state to you expect them to provide a public service. However the truth is a little more insidious.

Per The Christian Science Monitor, “an ever increasing amount of those tax dollars aren’t funding services; they aren’t even getting to the state capital. Sixteen states now allow corporations to withhold state income taxes from employees and keep the money as an incentive to locate to or remain in a state. That means that, in effect, employees pay personal income tax to their company rather than their state government. (The 16 states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Utah.)

Pile of Money “A recent report from Good Jobs First entitled, “Paying Taxes to the Boss,” sheds light on how widespread this practice has grown. An estimated 2,700 companies now take advantage of this welfare system, fueling an economic war between states that costs employees an estimated $700 million a year in diverted tax income, the report concludes. Those who profit include corporate giants like Sears, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric.

“Illinois offers a special tax incentive that can divert up to 100 percent of withheld taxes into subsidies to encourage companies to locate or expand operations in Illinois when the companies are actively considering a competing location in another state.

“New Jersey’s Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) is among the most costly of these programs, with new grants totaling more than $73 million. Ohio and Kentucky top the list of states for the number of companies they subsidize through employee personal income tax withholding.

“The practice has been around for more than a decade, and it’s continuing steadily – with six of the 22 programs identified nationwide enacted since 2009 – according to Good Jobs First, a policy resource center that focuses on economic development and “smart growth.”

“Most corporate tax incentives are simply bad policy, representing an attempt at social engineering our already patchwork tax code. For one thing, businesses don’t make investment decisions based solely on state tax burdens. For another, tax loopholes enable the savviest companies to live tax-free.

“Since money is fungible, some claim it doesn’t matter whether this corporate welfare comes from corporate taxes or personal income taxes. The states are out $700 million in either case. But it does and should matter.

“The personal income tax is a covenant between the citizen and the state. For the executives and shareholders to retain those tax dollars violates that covenant. Employee-funded corporate tax incentives reduce the amount of tax dollars available for vital social services like schools and law enforcement.”

This type of action amounts to fraud, and unfair highly destructive business practices, employees assume that they are paying for a state service, but instead watch as state budgets get smaller and they get less service, then TV tell them it’s because of Welfare, however they fail to mention that they companies they buy their goods at everyday are the ones on Welfare robbing the state blind.

Secondly it gives these large companies who already have huge advantage an unbeatable one. They can use the money given to them by the state to drop their prices below any local small business and drive them out of business. Then once the competition is gone they can raise their prices and reap in huge profits, which go right into the hands of the CEO and stock holders.

These states are damaging their own economies and will bring about their own ruin if this practice is not ceased.

 




Feb 27 2012

Payday Monsanto “Your Slumber” Music Video & Lyrics

Payday Monsanto “Your Slumber”

Payday Monsanto’s “Your Slumber” is about mass media controlling public opinion to the point of causing the population to do things that are not in it’s best interest.

The video highlights how the people in the West and in Muslim countries have been divided by false stereotypes created by the media in both cultures.

It’s time we all woke up and worked together toward peace and understanding.

Payday Monsanto “Your Slumber” Music Video

Payday Monsanto “Your Slumber” Lyrics

Payday Monsanto Itanimulli- Call Me When You'Re Free

Buy Payday Monsanto's "Your Slumber"

“Very soon we will give you an implantable
Chip to insert in your neck like an animal.
Let me slow it down so you can comprehend it.
I’ve got the undebunkable truth.
Elementary puzzle, not a complicated riddle.
They’ve got you talkin about guns, diamonds, and bitches.
Elementary puzzle, not a complicated riddle.
I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation.

Atomic bomb blasts brought to you by Comcast.
Recorded on DVR so you can press rewind fast.
Virtual combat prepping you for missions soon.
Practicing on civilians while you’re chilling in your living room.
Identical to real life, except for the menu.
Kill for real when you get sent to kill in real life.
Animation done so realistically, when you see the true battlefield
You think the shit was done by Disney.
They pixilated the perception of a generation.
Mesmerized the multitudes with handy little innovations.
Gave them convenient means to love their own incarceration.
Non-invasive ways that they can track and trace and database them.
And if you aint prepared to get your VeriChip,
There’s a list for you in which you’ll be labeled a terrorist.
200,000 heartless mercenary forces,
Are back from Iraq to take orders from their bosses.

(Chorus)

WAKE UP
Wake the fuck up from your slumber.
This is not a joke nor is it a test.
Wake the fuck up from your slumber.
I’ve got the undebunkable truth.
It’s all written down in black and white,
The plans, the plans, the plans, to control you.
Wake the fuck up from your slumber!

Verse II
The human language was fabricated by cannibals,
To better make the human animal understand the rules.
The alphabet got you under a spell that is magical.
You’ve been possessed ever since your first day of grammar school.
Easily programmable by your controllers,
Education developed by devils, the mind molders.
It don’t take long to get you under the spell,
And square off your head, another brick into the well.
Child protection services ruled by child molesters,
Cheaters, wife beaters, and leaders of wild fiestas.
The heads of University used to favor men, openly
And walk around naked in the gymnasium.
Today you send your children off alone to be with them
Good ole boy clubs like the Bohemian is where you’ll see them in.
You better learn about your enemy with urgency
Instead of wasting all your energy on absurdity.

(Chorus)

It’s all written down in black and white:
The plans, the plans, the plans to control YOU….


Follow Payday Monsanto on Facebook.



Feb 14 2012

Payday Monsanto “The Complex” Music Video & Lyrics

Payday Monsanto “The Complex”

The Complex is about the military industrial complex controlling our government wanting to keep it in a perpetual war so they can get rich.

It’s time we ended control of the U.S. government by special interests. Make lobbying illegal, and prosecute politicians for bribery. Additionally campaign donations should only come from individual people who actually vote in the election of that official. Most elected officials get over 80% of their funding from other sates, so how can they represent their district when the people of their district are not funding them?

Payday Monsanto “The Complex” Music Video

Payday Monsanto “The Complex” Lyrics

(I hate your fucking games,
But I love you all so much
Sometimes you got overcome with greed.
It’s your arrogants I need.)

I got higher education for you
Vaccinations for you,
and all kinds of experimental medications for ya.
I got professors and doctors and indoctrinated kids
And media outlets to tell you how great it is.
We concentrated it, now you must depend upon,
Banking institutions integrated with the Pentagon.
It’s been said we spread malice and greed
But the benefits are limitless: We’ve got everything you need!
 

(Chorus)

While you were sleeping
We came and took it all away
You can bet the farm on that
You never saw us creeping
And that’s how it’s going to stay
That’s why they say, that’s why they say, that’s why they say.
I hate your fucking guts
But I love you all so much
You make me overcome with greed
But you’re everything I need.

You’re the only one that can make me leave my home.
It’s like you’ve got a gun pointed at my dome.
 
Who are you going to believe?
Kooky conspiracy theorists whose shits been discredited
Just because we said it is?
I know we’ve been noted to see
But we’ve improved upon our record
Just take our word for it in your sedative.
You’re inevitably headed towards a filthy dirty state
Your name is THX 1138
Whether you like it or not,
I’m George Orwell’s ghost,
Hosting a party and exposing the plot.
And talking about heat; giving you one in the dark.
Ask McDaddy Cain Bang will tell you I warm it up.
Please find this as infamous for givin niggers stitches
Ask I’m on a roll towards delicious riches
My philosophies coincide with Chris”
In so many ways stop the violence and kill the dissers.
He’s been saying that shit for 30 years
Still he got more mothers than ever him crying mercy tears.

(Chorus)

Knowledge is dangerous potentially used in the wrong fashion
The wisdom is safety: Distinguish between knowledge and wisdom.
Please….
Distinguish


Follow Payday Monsanto on Facebook.



Feb 11 2012

The City Calls “Meet In The Middle” Music Video & Lyrics

The City Calls “Meet In The Middle”

The City Calls are an exciting, fresh and energetic Pop-Punk band from the UK’s South Coast, armed with a host of impressive catchy songs. The band is: Lucas Hardy on vocals, guitarists Scotty Perry and Darren Ledwich, bassist Chris Aldridge and drummer John Plummer.

2012 will see the band release a new single in January,
The band will also be

This year is the bands biggest yet, with the upcoming release of their mini-album ‘A Spark To Ignite’, it displays the bands exciting energy and massive chorus sing-alongs that are sure to make an huge impact on speakers and an impact just as massive in their live shows. The band released the song ‘Truth or Dare’ before Christmas 2010 and the video for the song featured on music channels Lava and Scuzz and has received thousands of views on YouTube.

The City Calls “Meet In The Middle” Music Video

The City Calls “Meet In The Middle” Lyrics

We all have hearts but once I felt like such a robot. An iron case concealed a feeling that I had lost. A dead look, a hollow stare can be the point when we turn our backs and see the trail loved and left there.
And the truth is I really needed needed you. And the times that I waited around for a spark to ignite the sky to find where you are. I hope that one day… One day I’ll meet in the middle with you.
I’ll tear this place down and build a home inside my heart. Where everything I love is welcome and what we have wont fall apart. I’ll wear a part of you on my sleeve. I’ll wait for weeks for you to believe that I’ve been hanging on for days and I wont fall. No, I wont fall. A lesson learned, you went away. I’m choking words, I guess I feel something, this time just stay.


The band is also heading out on tour in February with Forever August and Malokai I’ve included the dates and details below.

15.02 London – The Good Ship
16.02 Nottingham – The Maze
17.02 Yeovil – Tabernacle Junction
19.02 Winchester – The Railway Inn



Feb 7 2012

“We’re In A Lot Of Trouble!” The Network Transcript

“Edward George Ruddy died today. Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the Board of the Union Broadcast System and he died this morning at eleven o’clock of a heart condition, woe is us- we’re in a lot of trouble!

“So; a rich little man with white hair died – what has that got to do with the price of rice – right! And why is that ‘Woe to us.’ Because you people and sixty-two million other Americans are listening to me right now: Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube!

“This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes or Prime Ministers; this tube is the most awesome god-damned force in the whole godless world! Woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that’s why ‘Woe is us’ when Edward George Ruddy died: Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America. There’s a new Chairman of the Board called Frank Hacket sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office on the twentieth floor and when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome god-damned propaganda force in the whole godless world: Who knows what shit will be peddled for ‘truth’ on this network!

“So you listen to me! Listen to me: television is not the truth- television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, side-show freaks, lion-tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom killing business!

“So if you want the truth go to God, go to your guru’s-go to yourselves-because that’s the only place you’re going to find any real truth! Ha-ha ­ because man – you know you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear. We’ll lie like hell: we’ll tell you that Kojack always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in don’t worry just look at your watch at the end of the hour he’s going to win ­ we’ll give you any shit you want to hear! We deal in Illusions man, none of it is true! But you people sit there day after day and night after night; all ages, colors, creeds: We’re all you know! You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here! You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality- and that your own lives are unreal! You DO whatever the tube tells you, you dress like the tube you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube!

“This is mass madness you maniacs! In God’s name you people are the real thing-We are the illusion! So turn off you television sets, turn it off now, turn them off right now: turn them off and leave them off-turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking now ­ Turn them OFF!”



Jan 13 2012

Lowkey (ft. Adnan Al-Radhi) “Soundtrack To The Struggle”

Lowkey (ft. Adnan Al-Radhi) “Soundtrack To The Struggle”

Soundtrack to the Struggle is the second studio album by rapper Lowkey, which was released on 16 October 2011. It is the follow-up to his 2009 album Dear Listener. Four singles have been released in preparation of the album from 2009 to 2010. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number 57 on 23 October 2011 – becoming Lowkey’s first national chart entry, while being released independently on Mesopotamia Music. Production for the album took place during 2009 to 2011 and was handled by Red Skull, Big G, Nutty P and K-Salaam, among others. The album garnered favourable reviews from critics and fans.

Lowkey (ft. Adnan Al-Radhi) “Soundtrack To The Struggle” Music Video

Lowkey (ft. Adnan Al-Radhi) “Soundtrack To The Struggle” Lyrics

Lowkey Hand On Your Gun

Buy Lowkey's Soundtrack To The Struggle

[Intro: Lowkey]
It’s been a long time coming
Too long
Too long
It’s been in the making a quarter century
But it’s here now
It’s here now
If by the time you hear this album
I’m not here
You know why

[Hook: Mavado]
Tell ya, so mi say
Too many suffering too many tears
To see a youth die I’m a know him for years
When me look around nobody care
The people dem a live inna fear

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Woo ooh! oi!)

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Yeah yeah!)

[Verse 1:]
My music is my natural resource, now I want it back
Til I sever every single chain I will not relax
Just constant attack, til my world looks like Monserrat
Contact my comrades, for combat, what’s conscious rap
When you say the truth, they attack like a Saber-tooth
Thinkin’ clear they make you disappear like you hate the fruit
We don’t need more Boens, we don’t need more Rebors, weed or Lyor Cohens
They tell us about terrorism and tell us about terrorists
Look up the definition and tell us what terror is
Only know the definition if the television tells us it,
Public Enemy #1 they treat me like Professor Griff
This album has been in the making a quarter century
Born to bless the beat and rap over recorded melody
I knew the truth since I was a small little boy
I am a product of the system I was born to destroy

[Hook: Mavado]
Me can’t believe I saw dem cheat people
And they fi protect and dem a leave people
I me no si no system fi di street people
Can’t believe di money lead people

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Woo ooh! oi!)

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Yeah yeah!)

[Verse 2:]
On the news, they glorify their own henchmen
Support the troops, but won’t mention Joe Glenton
It’s funny cause the rappers are posing as the gangsters
While the government taking money as bonuses for bankers
In life you learn, to close your eyes and hold your tongue
But together we will overcome, there’s never been a chosen one
Still tryna understand, the land I stand on
I’ll probably die from cancer or [?]
I will never give up, I will never just quit
I will never give in, I will never submit
The reason that I came, is bleeding from the veins
Of the people cause we equal, only freedom is the aim
This album has been in the making a quarter century
Born to bless the beat and rap over recorded melody
I knew the truth since I was a small little boy
I am a product of the system I was born to destroy

[Hook: Mavado]
Me can’t believe I saw dem cheat people
And they fi protect and dem a leave people
I me no si no system fi di street people
Can’t believe di money lead people

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Woo ooh! oi!)

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Yeah yeah!)

[Verse 3:]
If you’re subordinate to corporate guys supplyin’ you orders
You’re fighting fire with fire, I’m fighting fire with water
When they kill me, I know I’ll die with a focused mind
Plus there’ll be millions of me, ready to multiply
Don’t just mention, acknowledge me, remember to honor me
My pen and this honesty, defendin’ equality
Declared a republic, and ended your monarchy
Your corporate dictatorship, pretends it’s democracy
I hold your bloodline, accountable for every crime
Adam Smith to Rothschild, it’s all been a clever lie
Two choices now, revolution or genocide,
But thanks to Rupert Murdoch neither one will be televised
This album has been in the making a quarter century
Born to bless the beat and rap over recorded melody
I knew the truth since I was a small little boy
I am a product of the system I was born to destroy

[Hook: Mavado]
Me can’t believe I saw dem cheat people
And they fi protect and dem a leave people
I me no si no system fi di street people
Can’t believe di money lead people

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Woo ooh! oi!)

The system need to change right now
To much you do could a inna grieve right now
I know si the bigger is a give right now
After ghetto people a no steep right now (Yeah yeah!)


Follow Lowkey on Facebook.



Dec 21 2011

Chill E. B. “Prove It” Lyrics and Music Video

Chill E. B. “Prove It”

Chill E. B.’s Song “Prove It” is about one of the biggest scams being conducted in the U.S.: the pharmaceutical industry making billions selling drugs for common conditions of existence which are not diseases at all, but are labeled as such. The biggest victims are kids who are being given narcotics like Ritalin (which is an amphetamine) just because teachers and parents want to keep them controlled and quite. We are creating a nation of drug addicts just so a few can line their pockets with the profits.

Chill E. B. “Prove It” Music Video.

Chill E. B. “Prove It” Lyrics

Buy Chill E. B.'s "Prove it"

Buy Chill E. B.'s "Prove it"

INTRO:

When you look at me
You don’t ever see
All my dreams, you just take them away
My voice may be small, but my words stand for all
You can run you can hide, but the truth don’t lie

VERSE 1:

You see me twitchin’ – what if I’m dancing?
My sight strays – yo, what if I’m just romancin’?
My leg’s bouncin’ –what if I’m groovin’?
I’m always on the go – what if I just like movin’?
I’m careless – what if I just don’t give a ffffff…?
for your information, you have no information – on me, ffast-forward to the real scene, you’ll see what I mean
I’m right here and I’m stuck in between…

VERSE 1 TRANSITION:

…sabotaged education, dumbed down prescription nation
Hollywood sold out getting your agenda out
Got the world on a string as you label all you please
Wanna label all you see in me as mental disease

VERSE 2:

I’m just tryin’ to set free the dreams within my mind
Be all that I can be, so the world can see the real me
a visionary, luminary, free-spirit, revolutionary
Take my place in the ranks of the legendary

But to you that’s all a mental disease,
An obsessive, manic delusion
Of a dream I’ll never seize
See the mirror’s double-sided,
My true reflection, you hidin’
And what’s up is down,
What’s black is white,
I say you’re wrong,
But you insist that you’re right
VERSE 2 TRANSITION:

But now there’s nowhere to hide
Just kiss it goodbye
‘Cause I’m your worst nightmare, got millions on my side
Try and label me you know just what you’re gonna hear
The two words you most avoid and most fear
And that’s:

CHORUS 1:

PROVE IT!
I got no mental disease
I got one demand to put you all on your knees
And that’s PROVE IT!
I know you never will
I’m just one out of billions that you’ll never kill
You can’t PROVE IT!
Fulfill my demand
No, your check book science will never withstand the words
PROVE IT!
You’re about to be seized
The Grimm Reaper at your door, so get down on your knees:
Prove it… (stated in a cool, detached way)

RE-INTRO BEAT:

Prove it
I bet you can’t prove it
Come on and prove it

VERSE 3:

So what’s it gonna take?
How many more lethal “mistakes”?
Screw your billions, and your trillions, man we got lives at stake
You try and pen me in your box
Well I’m bustin’ out
What you call oppositional defiance
I call freedom from your violence
I’ve asked once, I’ve asked twice now let me ask you again
Just how do you know what’s really happening deep down within?
Huh? What’s that? I can’t hear you, your heart flutters, you stutter,
As you anticipate the two words that secure your fatal fate
CHORUS 2:

PROVE IT!
I got no mental disease
I got one demand to put you all on your knees
And that’s PROVE IT!
I know you never will
I’m just one out of billions that you’ll never kill
You can’t PROVE IT!
Fulfill my demand
No, your check book science will never withstand the words
PROVE IT!
You’re about to be seized
The Grimm Reaper at your door, so get down on your knees:
Prove it… (stated in a cool, detached way)

BRIDGE:

You think you got me now, you think I don’t see through your show?
I think you’re going down and I think you already know.

You say you know what’s best, you say you’ll bring me happiness
I say show me the test and prove that this ain’t all a guess

You try and label me, enslave my creativity
Just take your ADD and shove it cuz it’s fallacy

It’s your vested interest tryin’ to tell me who I am
Try all you want, I just don’t give a damn

VERSE 3 TRANSITION:

But now there’s nowhere to hide
Just kiss it goodbye
‘Cause I’m your worst nightmare, got millions on my side
Try and label me you know just what you’re gonna hear
The two words you most avoid and most fear
And that’s:

CHORUS 3:

PROVE IT!
I got no mental disease
I got one demand to put you all on your knees
And that’s PROVE IT!
I know you never will
I’m just one out of billions that you’ll never kill
You can’t PROVE IT!
Fulfill my demand
No, your check book science will never withstand the words
PROVE IT!
You’re about to be seized
The Grimm Reaper at your door, so get down on your knees:
Prove it… (stated in a cool, detached way)

CHORUS 4 AD LIBS:

Come on and prove it
Just prove it
Just prove it, hey
I wanna see it
I don’t believe it
You better
You better
You better show me, show me, show me,
You know you better show me
PROVE IT!



Nov 15 2011

UBS whistleblower, on the biggest tax-evasion scheme in U.S. history, Bradley Birkenfeld, goes to Jail while those that committed the crime pay fines

ubs clients jail get out of jailBarack Obama, who came into the presidency offering all this “change”, really should be hailing Bradley Birkenfeld as a modern-day hero.

Bradley Birkenfeld, former banker for Swiss giant UBS, blew the whistle on the largest tax-evasion scheme in American’s long U.S. history of people think others should pay for their government programs.

Rather than praising Birkenfeld, the Justice Department gave him a 40-month prison sentence.

However his former colleagues at UBS and thousands of rich American clients that hid away billions of dollars for decades in the Swiss Bank UBS seem to have gotten the opposite treatment.

In fact, the Justice Department let them buy their way out of jail.

UBS pled guilty and paid a $780 million fine, while thousands of U.S. citizens with undisclosed offshore accounts where permitted to belatedly disclose them and pay civil fees and penalties.

Only Birkenfeld, the 44-year-old whistleblower, landed in jail, this is another examples of injustice and hypocrisy in the Obama administration, and if Obama having upwards of 30 former employees of Goldman Sachs and its subsidiaries in his cabinet did not prove our government is controlled by bankers this does.

obama_golf_UBS_president

Wolf Enjoying a Game of Golf with HIs Get Out of Jail Free Card

Additionally, how can one forget about that priceless photograph with the President golfing on Aug. 24 during his Martha’s Vineyard summer holiday with Robert Wolf, president of UBS Americas?

Of all the people in America why would Obama choose Wolf for a golf partner?

Wolf along with his employees contributed $540,000 towards Obama’s presidential campaign. Which made UBS the twelfth greatest campaign financing source.

The golf game was just 3 days following Birkenfeld’s severe sentencing and less than 7 days following UBS consenting to turn over the names of 4,450 of its American clients to the Justice Department. Which is a fraction of the 19,000 U.S. accounts the bank has confessed keeping secret from U.S. tax officials.

Why is Birkenfeld, who provided hundreds of these names to prosecutors, going to prison?

“Without Mr. Birkenfeld … I doubt … this massive fraud scheme would have been discovered,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Downing conceded at the Aug. 21 sentencing hearing.

Additionally prosecutors claimed in that hearing and in a “60 Minutes” interview that Birkenfeld withheld information on how he had helped his biggest U.S. client, California billionaire Igor Olenicoff, hide hundreds of millions in assets. So when Birkenfeld flew here from Switzerland in early 2008, they arrested and charged him.

Birkenfeld’s lawyer Stephen Kohn denies those allegations. He says the Justice Department is sending a terrible message to future whistleblowers.

Kohn filed a formal complaint yesterday with the U.S. attorney general’s office of professional responsibility, claiming the “main allegations used to secure [Birkenfeld's] indictment and imprisonment were not based on accurate or truthful information.”

Birkenfeld offered to provide every name he knew of secret account holders at UBS, Kohn said, but he first wanted a formal subpoena because he was then a resident of Switzerland. Under Swiss law it is illegal to disclose client information.

The Justice Department refused to issue the subpoena, so Birkenfeld then went to the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Senate during the summer of 2007 offering the information to them.

The Senate’s permanent investigations subcommittee agreed to subpoena him. He gave the committee a detailed deposition on Oct. 11, 2007 about UBS fraud scheme with lots of names, including that of Olenicoff. E-mails Kohn provided back up that claim.

Birkenfeld gave the same information to the IRS and the SEC.

Several weeks later, Olenicoff was indicted. He pleaded guilty and paid a $53 million fine.

Kohn has asked Attorney General Eric Holder for a formal investigation of the actions of Justice Department prosecutors.

Holder has his own UBS headache. Last year, the attorney general recused himself from the case because he once served as a lawyer for the Swiss bank.

The Birkenfeld case has exposed a lot more than hidden bank accounts.



Oct 18 2011

Speaking Truth Immortal Technique Interview At Occupy Wall Street

Immortal Technique, hip-hop artist and political activist, came to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. RT’s Marina Portnaya caught up with Immortal Technique to talk about the message behind the movement, the police brutality and media backlash it has caused, US politics, democracy, his new project “Martyr” and his upcoming tour.” – RT America



Sep 9 2011

Farewell to All That: Reflections of a Republican Operative Who Left the Club

By: MIKE LOFGREN

Barbara Stanwyck: “We’re both rotten!”

Fred MacMurray: “Yeah – only you’re a little more rotten.” -”Double Indemnity” (1944)

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

Buy the Related Book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the condition of both political parties in modern America. Both parties are rotten – how could they not be, considering the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise well over a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate funds. The main reason the Democrats’ health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats’ rank capitulation to corporate interests – no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern Gop.

To the millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling expansion, it might have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

Republican moneyIt was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.

The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism. Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel – how prudent is that? – in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization.

Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might – the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was “bring it on!”

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

In his “Manual of Parliamentary Practice,” Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases.

The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a “high functioning” institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:


“Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.”

 

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that “they are all crooks,” and that “government is no good,” further leading them to think, “a plague on both your houses” and “the parties are like two kids in a school yard.” This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s – a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn (“Government is the problem,” declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable “hard news” segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the “respectable” media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the “centrist cop-out.” “I joked long ago,” he says, “that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read ‘Views Differ on Shape of Planet.’”

Inside-the-Beltway wise guy Chris Cillizza merely proves Krugman right in his Washington Post analysis of “winners and losers” in the debt ceiling impasse. He wrote that the institution of Congress was a big loser in the fracas, which is, of course, correct, but then he opined: “Lawmakers – bless their hearts – seem entirely unaware of just how bad they looked during this fight and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks (or months) congratulating themselves on their tremendous magnanimity.” Note how the pundit’s ironic deprecation falls like the rain on the just and unjust alike, on those who precipitated the needless crisis and those who despaired of it. He seems oblivious that one side – or a sizable faction of one side – has deliberately attempted to damage the reputation of Congress to achieve its political objectives.

This constant drizzle of “there the two parties go again!” stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions – if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.

This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document. This is not to say that there is not some theoretical limit to the size or intrusiveness of government; I would be the first to say there are such limits, both fiscal and Constitutional. But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. If anything, they would probably opt for more incarcerated persons, as imprisonment is a profit center for the prison privatization industry, which is itself a growth center for political contributions to these same politicians.[1] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious.

Undermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy. But if this technique falls short of producing Karl Rove’s dream of 30 years of unchallengeable one-party rule (as all such techniques always fall short of achieving the angry and embittered true believer’s New Jerusalem), there are other even less savory techniques upon which to fall back. Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students.

This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don’t want those people voting.

You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn’t look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama’s policy of being black.[2] Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some “other,” who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.

It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. During the disgraceful circus of the “birther” issue, Republican politicians subtly stoked the fires of paranoia by being suggestively equivocal – “I take the president at his word” – while never unambiguously slapping down the myth. John Huntsman was the first major GOP figure forthrightly to refute the birther calumny – albeit after release of the birth certificate.

I do not mean to place too much emphasis on racial animus in the GOP. While it surely exists, it is also a fact that Republicans think that no Democratic president could conceivably be legitimate. Republicans also regarded Bill Clinton as somehow, in some manner, twice fraudulently elected (well do I remember the elaborate conspiracy theories that Republicans traded among themselves). Had it been Hillary Clinton, rather than Barack Obama, who had been elected in 2008, I am certain we would now be hearing, in lieu of the birther myths, conspiracy theories about Vince Foster’s alleged murder.

The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class – without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.

What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style “centrist” Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.[3]

While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. To be sure, the business wing of the Republican Party consists of the most energetic outsourcers, wage cutters and hirers of sub-minimum wage immigrant labor to be found anywhere on the globe. But the faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations’ bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let’s build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it’s evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists.

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.” Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.

It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors’ looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At “Washington spending” – which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade’s corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

Thus far, I have concentrated on Republican tactics, rather than Republican beliefs, but the tactics themselves are important indicators of an absolutist, authoritarian mindset that is increasingly hostile to the democratic values of reason, compromise and conciliation. Rather, this mindset seeks polarizing division (Karl Rove has been very explicit that this is his principal campaign strategy), conflict and the crushing of opposition.

As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing:

1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America’s plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction – and even less spending reduction! – than Obama’s offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society’s overclass.

Republicans have attempted to camouflage their amorous solicitude for billionaires with a fog of misleading rhetoric. John Boehner is fond of saying, “we won’t raise anyone’s taxes,” as if the take-home pay of an Olive Garden waitress were inextricably bound up with whether Warren Buffett pays his capital gains as ordinary income or at a lower rate. Another chestnut is that millionaires and billionaires are “job creators.” US corporations have just had their most profitable quarters in history; Apple, for one, is sitting on $76 billion in cash, more than the GDP of most countries. So, where are the jobs?

Another smokescreen is the “small business” meme, since standing up for Mom’s and Pop’s corner store is politically more attractive than to be seen shilling for a megacorporation. Raising taxes on the wealthy will kill small business’ ability to hire; that is the GOP dirge every time Bernie Sanders or some Democrat offers an amendment to increase taxes on incomes above $1 million. But the number of small businesses that have a net annual income over a million dollars is de minimis, if not by definition impossible (as they would no longer be small businesses). And as data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research have shown, small businesses account for only 7.2 percent of total US employment, a significantly smaller share of total employment than in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Likewise, Republicans have assiduously spread the myth that Americans are conspicuously overtaxed. But compared to other OECD countries, the effective rates of US taxation are among the lowest. In particular, they point to the top corporate income rate of 35 percent as being confiscatory Bolshevism. But again, the effective rate is much lower. Did GE pay 35 percent on 2010 profits of $14 billion? No, it paid zero.

When pressed, Republicans make up misleading statistics to “prove” that the America’s fiscal burden is being borne by the rich and the rest of us are just freeloaders who don’t appreciate that fact. “Half of Americans don’t pay taxes” is a perennial meme. But what they leave out is that that statement refers to federal income taxes. There are millions of people who don’t pay income taxes, but do contribute payroll taxes – among the most regressive forms of taxation. But according to GOP fiscal theology, payroll taxes don’t count. Somehow, they have convinced themselves that since payroll taxes go into trust funds, they’re not real taxes. Likewise, state and local sales taxes apparently don’t count, although their effect on a poor person buying necessities like foodstuffs is far more regressive than on a millionaire.

All of these half truths and outright lies have seeped into popular culture via the corporate-owned business press. Just listen to CNBC for a few hours and you will hear most of them in one form or another. More important politically, Republicans’ myths about taxation have been internalized by millions of economically downscale “values voters,” who may have been attracted to the GOP for other reasons (which I will explain later), but who now accept this misinformation as dogma.

And when misinformation isn’t enough to sustain popular support for the GOP’s agenda, concealment is needed. One fairly innocuous provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill requires public companies to make a more transparent disclosure of CEO compensation, including bonuses. Note that it would not limit the compensation, only require full disclosure. Republicans are hell-bent on repealing this provision. Of course; it would not serve Wall Street interests if the public took an unhealthy interest in the disparity of their own incomes as against that of a bank CEO. As Spencer Bachus, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says, “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”

2. They worship at the altar of Mars. While the me-too Democrats have set a horrible example of keeping up with the Joneses with respect to waging wars, they can never match GOP stalwarts such as John McCain or Lindsey Graham in their sheer, libidinous enthusiasm for invading other countries. McCain wanted to mix it up with Russia – a nuclear-armed state – during the latter’s conflict with Georgia in 2008 (remember? – “we are all Georgians now,” a slogan that did not, fortunately, catch on), while Graham has been persistently agitating for attacks on Iran and intervention in Syria. And these are not fringe elements of the party; they are the leading “defense experts,” who always get tapped for the Sunday talk shows. About a month before Republicans began holding a gun to the head of the credit markets to get trillions of dollars of cuts, these same Republicans passed a defense appropriations bill that increased spending by $17 billion over the prior year’s defense appropriation. To borrow Chris Hedges’ formulation, war is the force that gives meaning to their lives.

A cynic might conclude that this militaristic enthusiasm is no more complicated than the fact that Pentagon contractors spread a lot of bribery money around Capitol Hill. That is true, but there is more to it than that. It is not necessarily even the fact that members of Congress feel they are protecting constituents’ jobs. The wildly uneven concentration of defense contracts and military bases nationally means that some areas, like Washington, DC, and San Diego, are heavily dependent on Department of Defense (DOD) spending. But there are many more areas of the country whose net balance is negative: the citizenry pays more in taxes to support the Pentagon than it receives back in local contracts.

And the economic justification for Pentagon spending is even more fallacious when one considers that the $700 billion annual DOD budget creates comparatively few jobs. The days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone; most weapons projects now require very little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned off into high-cost research and development (from which the civilian economy benefits little); exorbitant management expenditures, overhead and out-and-out padding; and, of course, the money that flows back into the coffers of political campaigns. A million dollars appropriated for highway construction would create two to three times as many jobs as a million dollars appropriated for Pentagon weapons procurement, so the jobs argument is ultimately specious.

Take away the cash nexus and there still remains a psychological predisposition toward war and militarism on the part of the GOP. This undoubtedly arises from a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness and dovetails perfectly with the belligerent tough-guy pose one constantly hears on right-wing talk radio. Militarism springs from the same psychological deficit that requires an endless series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.

The results of the last decade of unbridled militarism and the Democrats’ cowardly refusal to reverse it[4], have been disastrous both strategically and fiscally. It has made the United States less prosperous, less secure and less free. Unfortunately, the militarism and the promiscuous intervention it gives rise to are only likely to abate when the Treasury is exhausted, just as it happened to the Dutch Republic and the British Empire.

3. Give me that old time religion. Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines “low-information voter” – or, perhaps, “misinformation voter.”

The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to “share their feelings” about their “faith” in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs – economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism – come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism?

It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes – at least in the minds of followers – all three of the GOP’s main tenets.

Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad! But don’t forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires.

The GOP’s fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter – God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass – and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War.

It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? – we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord.

Some liberal writers have opined that the different socio-economic perspectives separating the “business” wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no fundamental disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far in that direction they want to take it. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age, the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. In any case, those consummate plutocrats, the Koch brothers, are pumping large sums of money into Michele Bachman’s presidential campaign, so one ought not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.

Thus, the modern GOP; it hardly seems conceivable that a Republican could have written the following:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)

It is this broad and ever-widening gulf between the traditional Republicanism of an Eisenhower and the quasi-totalitarian cult of a Michele Bachmann that impelled my departure from Capitol Hill. It is not in my pragmatic nature to make a heroic gesture of self-immolation, or to make lurid revelations of personal martyrdom in the manner of David Brock. And I will leave a more detailed dissection of failed Republican economic policies to my fellow apostate Bruce Bartlett.

I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and “shareholder value,” the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP’s decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.

If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren’t after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” – and that doesn’t mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP’s disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans’ own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency – a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America’s status as the world’s leading power.

Footnotes:

[1] I am not exaggerating for effect. A law passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature mandating arrest and incarceration of suspected illegal aliens was actually drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business front group that drafts “model” legislation on behalf of its corporate sponsors. The draft legislation in question was written for the private prison lobby, which sensed a growth opportunity in imprisoning more people.

[2] I am not a supporter of Obama and object to a number of his foreign and domestic policies. But when he took office amid the greatest financial collapse in 80 years, I wanted him to succeed, so that the country I served did not fail. But already in 2009, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, declared that his greatest legislative priority was – jobs for Americans? Rescuing the financial system? Solving the housing collapse? – no, none of those things. His top priority was to ensure that Obama should be a one-term president. Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country. Note that the mainstream media have lately been hailing McConnell as “the adult in the room,” presumably because he is less visibly unstable than the Tea Party freshmen

[3] This is not a venue for immigrant bashing. It remains a fact that outsourcing jobs overseas, while insourcing sub-minimum wage immigrant labor, will exert downward pressure on US wages. The consequence will be popular anger, and failure to address that anger will result in a downward wage spiral and a breech of the social compact, not to mention a rise in nativism and other reactionary impulses. It does no good to claim that these economic consequences are an inevitable result of globalization; Germany has somehow managed to maintain a high-wage economy and a vigorous industrial base.

[4] The cowardice is not merely political. During the past ten years, I have observed that Democrats are actually growing afraid of Republicans. In a quirky and flawed, but insightful, little book, “Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred,” John Lukacs concludes that the left fears, the right hates.

[5] The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand’s tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist “values voters” means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring “Marx” than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid “Rand.”

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Mike Lofgren retired on June 17 after 28 years as a Congressional staffer. He served 16 years as a professional staff member on the Republican side of both the House and Senate Budget Committees.