bureaucracybusters

Posts Tagged ‘2012 PRESIDENTIAL RACE’

NO SENSE OF DECENCY

In Bureaucracy, Politics, Social commentary on April 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

“Senator, may we not drop this?….You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

The speaker was Joseph N. Welch, chief counsel for the United States Army–then under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Submittee on Investigations for alleged Communist activities.

It was June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the Army-McCarthy hearings.

And it was the pivotal moment that finally destroyed the career of the Wisconsin Senator whose repeated slanders of Communist subversion had bullied and frightened Americans for four years.

Joseph R. McCarthy

When the Senate gallery erupted in applause, McCarthy–totally surprised at his sudden reverse of fortune–was finished.

Today, however, other Americans could stand to remember the question asked by Welch: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Americans like Herman Cain.

Herman Cain

On January 28, 2012, he threw whatever support he might still among the radical right to GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich

Appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser, Cain said: “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.

“I don’t care about where he stands in the polls.  And whether my endorsement helps him or not, that’s not the point.

“It’s to let my supporters know that he is the closest to what I represented when I was still a candidate.”

“The closest to what I represented when I was still a candidate”?  That’s hardly a compliment.

Cain withdrew from the race in December, 2011–after four women charged him with sexual harassment during his tenure as CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Gingrich, a notorious serial adulterer, twice began affairs and issued marriage proposals while he was still married to his first and second wives.

Then there’s Donald Trump.

Donald Trump

On April 17, 2011, toying with the idea of entering the Presidential race himself, he said this about Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and GOP candidate:

“He’d buy companies. He’d close companies. He’d get rid of jobs.  I’ve built a great company.  I’m a much bigger businessman and have a much, much bigger net worth.

“I mean my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney.

“Mitt Romney is a basically small-business guy, if you really think about  it. He was a hedge fund. He was a funds guy.

“He walked away with some money from a very good company that he didn’t create. He worked there. He didn’t create  it.”

Trump added that Bain Capital, the hedge fund where Romney made millions of dollars before running for governor, didn’t create any jobs.

Whereas Trump claimed that he–Trump–had created “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

So at least some observers must have been puzzled when Trump announced, on February 2, 2012: “It’s my honor, real honor, and privilege to endorse Mitt Romney” for President.

“Mitt is tough, he’s smart, he’s sharp, he’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love. So, Governor Romney, go out and get ‘em. You can do it,” said Trump.

Mitt Romney

And Romney, in turn, had his own swooning-girl moment: “I’m so honored to have his endorsement….There are some things that you just can’t imagine in your life. This is one of them.”

Clearly, the word “hypocrisy” means nothing to men like Cain, Gingrich, Trump and Romney.  But it should mean something to the rest of us.

In samurai Japan, officials who publicly disgraced themselves knew what to do.  The samurai code of seppeku told them when they had crossed the line into eternal disgrace.

And it gave them a way to redeem their lost honor: With a small “belly-cutting” knife and the help of trusted assistant who sliced off their head to spare them the agonizing pain of disembowelment.

In the armies of America and Europe, the method was slightly different: A pistol in a private room.

Considering the ready availability of firearms among right-wing Republicans, redeeming lost honor shouldn’t be a problem for any of these men.

But of course it will be.  It takes more than a trigger-pull to “do the right thing.”  It takes insight to recognize that you’ve “done the wrong thing.”   And it takes courage to act on that insight.

In men who live only for their own egos and wallets, such insight and courage will be forever missing.   They are beyond redemption.  Their lives give proof to the warning offered in Matthew 7: 17-20:

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

CRIMINALS WILL ALWAYS BE CRIMINALS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on February 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm

State and local governments are trying to deny their part-time employees healthcare benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

These workers include prison guards, police dispatchers and substitute teachers.

President Barack Obama’s health-care reform law requires employers to provide insurance for part-time employees who work more than 30 hours per week.

Yet many government employers claim they can’t afford it–and plan to limit worker hours to 29 per week instead.  Among those states affected:

  • “Our choice was to cut the hours or give them health care, and we could not afford the latter,” Dennis Hanwell, the Republican mayor of Medina, Ohio, said in an interview with the New York Times.
  • Lawrence County, in western Pennsylvania, reduced the limit for part-time employees to 28 hours a week, from 32.
  • In Virginia, part-time state employees are generally not allowed to work more than 29 hours a week on average over a 12-month period.

President Obama and those who helped craft the Affordable Care Act may be surprised at what has happened.  But they shouldn’t be.

It was, in fact, entirely predictable.  Consider the following:

When William J. Casey wa a young attorney during the Great Depression, he learned an important lesson.

Jobs were hard to come by, so Casey thought himself lucky to land one at the Tax Research Institute of America in New York.

His task was to closely read New Deal legislation and write reports explaining it to corporate chieftains.

He quickly learned that businessmen neither understood nor welcomed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to reform American capitalism.

Businessmen didn’t want legal commentary.  Instead, they wanted to know: “What must we do to achieve minimum compliance with the law?”

In short: How do we get by FDR’s new programs?

Fifty years later, Casey would bring a similar mindset to his duties as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for President Ronald Reagan.

He was presiding over the CIA when it deliberately violated Congress’ ban on funding the “Contras,” the right-wing death squads of Nicaragua.

But the “Casey Doctrine” of minimum compliance didn’t die with Casey (who expired of a brain tumor in 1987).

It’s very much alive among the American business and political communities as President Obama seeks to give medical coverage to all Americans, and not simply the ultra-wealthy.

For part-time employees, who work fewer than 30 hours, a company isn’t penalized for failing to provide health insurance coverage.

Obama prides himself on being a tough-minded practitioner of “Chicago politics.”  So it’s easy to assume that he took the “Casey Doctrine” into account when he shepherded the ACA through Congress.

But he didn’t.

The result was predictable.  And its consequences are daily becoming more clear.

Employers feel motivated to move fulltime workers into part-time positions–and thus avoid

  • providing their employees with medical insurance and 
  • a fine for non-compliance with the law.

Some employers have openly shown their contempt for President Obama–and the idea that employers actually have an obligation to those who make their profits a reality.

One of these is John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, who has been quoted as saying:

  1. The prices of his pizzas will go up–by eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order; and
  2. He will pass along these costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

Had Obama been the serious student of Realpolitick that he claims to be, he would have predicted that most businesses would seek to avoid compliance with his law.

To counter that, he need only have required all employers to provide insurance coverage for all of their employees—regardless of their fulltime or part-time status.

This, in turn, would have provided two substantial benefits:

  1. All employees would have been able to obtain medical coverage; and
  2. Employers would have been encouraged to provide fulltime positions rather than part-time ones, since they would feel: “Since I’m paying for fulltime insurance coverage, I should be getting fulltime work in return.”

The “Casey Doctrine” needs to be kept constantly in mind when reformers try to protect Americans from predatory employers.

CHRISTIE COULD HAVE BEEN A VICTIM…OF ROMNEY

In Bureaucracy, Law, Politics on January 15, 2014 at 1:49 am

“Bully!” is the charge now being hurled at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The reason: On September 9, 2012, two months before Christie’s re-election, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed two of the three lanes that lead to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, across the Hudson from Manhattan.

The result?  Days of massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, where Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich had refused to endorse Christie.

Christie has fired his former aide, Bridget Kelly, “because she lied to me” about her role in causing the shutdown.

Chris Christie

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Trenton is investigating whether any federal laws were broken. Both the Port Authority’s inspector-general and state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie’s opponent in November, have asked federal authorities to step in.

And State lawmakers on the General Assembly’s Transportation Committeeare still holding hearings into the bridge scandal.

Many politicians–both Democratic and Republican–believe the scandal has endangered Christie’s hopes for winning the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.

Democrats, of course, are thrilled by this possibility.  But even many Republicans–who feel Christie isn’t Right-wing enough–have refused to defend him.

So far, no evidence has surfaced to prove that Christie ordered or knew about the shutdown.  But if it does, Christie could face civil lawsuits and even criminal prosecution.

Ironically, Christie himself almost certainly would have become a target for political revenge in 2013.

His nemesis?

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and Presidential candidate.

True, Christie gave a major address on behalf of Romney at the August Republican Convention.

And, true, Christie said he planned to vote for Romney on November 6.

But that might not have been enough to save him if Romney made it to the White House.

The reason: Romney and his handlers were angry that Christie had dared to praise President Barack Obama for his help after Hurricane Sandy ravished much of New Jersey on October 30, 2012.

Mitt Romney

During a briefing with emergency personnel, residents and press, Christie thanked Obama for holding a conference call with him and governors of other states expected to be impacted by the storm.

“I appreciated the president’s outreach today in making sure that we know he’s watching this and is concerned about the health and welfare and safety of the people of the state of New Jersey,” said Christie.

And–to the rising anger of Romney and his campaign staff–there had been more such praise.

Christie said that he and Obama had a private phone conversation to discuss how the federal government could help New Jersey. Obama told Christie that he could call him directly over the next 48 hours if the state government had issues with federal response to the hurricane in New Jersey.

“I appreciate that type of leadership,” Christie said of Obama.

For Romney and Right-wing Republicans, any praise of Obama was tantamount to treason.

With news reports saying that Romney’s campaign “bounce” had ended and that Obama was actually leading in several swing states, Romney’s handlers decided it was time to strike.

At Christie.

A November 3 article in Politico outlined the following:

  • Romney insiders said that Christie had been Romney’s first choice for the vice president.
  • But then Romney decided that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would be a safer choice due to some problems with Christie.
  • Some Romney friends and donors were irked by Christie’s embrace of Obama, which one referred to as “over the top.”
  • “If Romney wins, it won’t be forgotten,” a Romney adviser warned. “If Romney loses,  it doesn’t matter.”

Throughout the 2012 Presidential race, Romney displayed an arrogant sense of entitlement to the Oval Office.

Asked during an ABC News interview if he had anything to say to President Barack Obama, Romney said: “Start packing.”  As if the most powerful leader of the Western world should snap to attention at Mitt’s command.

And his wife, Anne, chinned in: “I believe it’s Mitt’s time. I believe the country needs the kind of leadership he’s going to offer… So I think it’s our turn now.”

John McCain, during the 2008 Presidential race, refused to stoop to race-baiting and slanderous attacks on Obama (such as claiming him to be from Kenya when Hawaii has a birth record with his name on it).

But Romney employed surrogates–like Donald Trump–to do his slander-mongering for him.

When Trump charged that Obama was not an American citizen or was “selling out” the United States to radical Islamics, Romney let the slanders stand.

So if Romney had been elected, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone if a fellow Republican–Chris Christie–became one of his primary targets for “revenge.”

The most likely form this could have taken would have been to deny Federal assistance or projects (such as highway construction) to New Jersey.

During his January 9 press conference where he announced the firing of his former aide, Christie repeatedly referred to himself as a “victm.”

Ironically, had Romney gained the White house, Christie might well have deserved that status.

JFK’S LEGACY 50 YEARS LATER: PART TEN (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 22, 2013 at 12:30 am

Fifty years ago this November 22, two bullets slammed into the neck and head of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

It has been said that he left his country with three great legacies:

  • The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
  • The Apollo moon landing; and
  • The Vietnam war.

Of these, the following can be said with certainty:

  • The Test Ban Treaty has prevented atmosphereic testing–and poisoning–by almost all the world’s nuclear powers.
  • After reaching the moon–in 1969–Americans quickly lost interest in space and have today largely abandoned plans for manned exploration.
  • Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam; 153,303 were wounded; and billions of dollars were squandered in a hopeless effort to intervene in what was essentially a Vietnamese civil war.  From 1965 to 1972, the war angrily divided Americas as had no event since the Civil War.

But there was a fourth legacy–and perhaps the most important of all: The belief that mankind could overcome its greatest challenges through rationality and perseverence.

White House painting of JFK

At American University on June 10, 1963, Kennedy called upon his fellow Americans to re-examine the events and attitudes that had led to the Cold War.

And he declared that the search for peace was by no means absurd:

“Our problems are man-made; therefore, they can be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.

“Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.”

Today, politicians from both parties cannot agree on solutions to even the most vital national problems.

On November 21, 2011,  the 12 members of the “Super-Committee” of Congress, tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in cuts in government spending, threw up their hands in defeat.

President Kennedy speed-read several newspapers every morning. He nourished personal relationships with the press-–and not for entirely altruistic reasons.

These journalistic relationships gave Kennedy additional sources of information and perspectives on national and international issues.

In 2012, Republican Presidential candidates celebrated their ignorance of both.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain famously said, “We need a leader, not a reader.”  Thus he excused his ignorance of the reasons for President Barack Obama’s intervention in Libya.

Texas Governor Rick Perry showed similar pride in not knowing there are nine judges on the United States Supreme Court:

“Well, obviously, I know there are nine Supreme Court judges. I don’t know how eight came out my mouth. But the, uh, the fact is, I can tell you–I don’t have memorized all of those Supreme Ccourt judges. And, uh, ah–

“Here’s what I do know. That when I put an individual on the Supreme Court, just like I done in Texas, ah, we got nine Supreme Court justices in Texas, ah, they will be strict constructionists….”

In short, it’s the media’s fault if they ask you a question and your answer reveals your own ignorance, stupidity or criminality.

During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy spoke with aides about a book he had just finished: Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, on the events leading to World War 1.

He said that the book’s most important revelation was how European leaders had blindly rushed into war, without thought to the possible consequences.

Kennedy told his aides he did not intend to make the same mistake-–that, having read his history, he was determined to learn from it.

Contrast that with today’s woeful historical ignorance among Republican Presidential candidates-–and those who aspire to be.

Consider Sarah Palin’s rewriting of history via “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”:

“He warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and, um, making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that, uh, we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

In fact, Revere wasn’t warning the British about anything.  Instead, he was warning his fellow Americans about an impending British attack–as his celebrated catchphrase “The British are coming!” made clear.

Republicans have attacked President Obama for his Harvard education and articulate use of language. Among their taunts: “Hitler also gave good speeches.”

And they resent his having earned most of his income as a writer of two books: Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.  As if being a writer is somehow subversive.

When knowledge and literacy are attacked as “highfalutin’” arrogance, and ignorance and incoherence are embraced as sincerity, national decline lies just around the corner.

In retrospect, the funeral for President Kennedy marked the death of more than a rational and optimistic human being.  It marked the death of Americans’ pride in choosing reasoning and educated citizens for their leaders.

The Eternal Flame at the grave of President John F. Kennedy

ENTITLEMENTS OF THE RICH

In History, Politics on November 8, 2013 at 12:09 am

On September 20, 2012, Ann Romney appeared on Radio Iowa to help her husband, Mitt, carry the state.

Many Republicans feared that Romney had forfeited his chance for victory in November.  His videotaped comments to wealthy donors–in which he dismissed “47%” of Americans as non-tax-paying government dependents–had drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

So when the interviewer asked Ann to respond to Mitt’s Republican critics, she was ready.

“Stop it. This is hard,” she said, in a tone that sounded like an angry mother defending her son’s slipping grades at a PTA meeting.

Mitt and Ann Romney

“You want to try it?  Get in the ring. This is hard and, you know, it’s an important thing that we’re doing right now, and it’s an important election.”

Then she aimed her ire at those Americans who hadn’t yet accepted her husband as the Coming Messiah.

“And it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country.”

Click here: Ann Romney defends Mitt – Anderson Cooper 360 – CNN.com Blogs

Maybe Ann simply felt her husband deserved uncritical loyalty from his fellow Republicans.  Or maybe she felt mounting dismay at seeing her chances of becoming First Lady going down the toilet.

After all, on April 16, she and Mitt had given a joint interview to ABC News that pulsed with hubris.

Asked if he had anything to say to President Barack Obama, Mitt said: “Start packing.”  As if the most powerful leader of the Western world should snap to attention at Mitt’s command.

And Ann gushed: “I believe it’s Mitt’s time. I believe the country needs the kind of leadership he’s going to offer… So I think it’s our turn now.”

Click here: Mitt Romney Tells President Obama to ‘Start Packing’ | Video – ABC News

So now, after a series of potentially fatal gaffes by her husband, it may be that Ann feared it wasn’t their turn after all.

During a May 17 private fund-raising event, Mitt Romney addressed a roomful of wealthy donors.  Toward the end of his remarks he scorned “entitlements” for those Americans who didn’t belong to the privileged class:

“Well, there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what….

“Who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they’re entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

But the Romneys aren’t the only members of the pampered set to feel entitled to holding the most powerful office in the world.

Earlier in 2012, Anita Perry, the wife of Rick Perry–Texas Governor and Presidential candidate–had indulged in her own moment of self-pity.

Rick and Anita Perry

She said she knew what it was like to be unemployed–because her son had resigned from his job at Deutsche Bank to campaign for his father.

“He resigned from his job two weeks ago because he can’t go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations,” she said in a Pendleton, S.C. diner on October 14, 2011.

“My son lost his job because of this administration,” she added.

But only a day earlier, Anita Perry had said that her son had eagerly resigned to help his father run for President.

“So, our son Griffin Perry is 28.  He loves politics, and he just couldn’t wait.  He said ‘Dad, I’m in!  I’m in!  I’ll do whatever you need me to do.  I’ll resign my job.  I’ll do what you need me to do,‘” recalled Anita Perry.

There is a difference between voluntarily resigning from a job and being involuntarily terminated from it.

Nor was the voluntary resignation of her son Anita Perry’s only complaint.

“We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party,” she had told a South Carolina audience on October 13, 2011.  “So much of that is, I think they look at [Rick] because of his faith.

“He is the only true conservative–well, there are some true conservatives.  And they’re there for good reasons.  And they may feel like God called them, too.  But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”

Perhaps the final word on the revealed character of these entitled would-be rulers belongs to Plutarch (c. 46 – 120 AD), a Greek historian and biographer.   In the foreward to his biography of Alexander the Great, he wrote:

And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.

It is well to remember such truths when assessing the characters of our own would-be Alexanders–and those who would be their queens.

JFK: FIFTY YEARS AFTER DALLAS: PART TEN (OF TEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on August 28, 2013 at 12:00 am

Fifty years ago this November 22, two bullets slammed into the neck and head of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

It has been said that he left his country with three great legacies:

  • The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
  • The Apollo moon landing; and
  • The Vietnam war.

Of these, the following can be said with certainty:

  • The Test Ban Treaty has prevented atmosphereic testing–and poisoning–by almost all the world’s nuclear powers.
  • After reaching the moon–in 1969–Americans quickly lost interest in space and have today largely abandoned plans for manned exploration.
  • Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam; 153,303 were wounded; and billions of dollars were squandered in a hopeless effort to intervene in what was essentially a Vietnamese civil war.  From 1965 to 1972, the war angrily divided Americas as had no event since the Civil War.

But there was a fourth legacy–and perhaps the most important of all: The belief that mankind could overcome its greatest challenges through rationality and perseverence.

White House painting of JFK

At American University on June 10, 1963, Kennedy called upon his fellow Americans to re-examine the events and attitudes that had led to the Cold War.

And he declared that the search for peace was by no means absurd:

“Our problems are man-made; therefore, they can be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.

“Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.”

Today, politicians from both parties cannot agree on solutions to even the most vital national problems.

On November 21, 2011,  the 12 members of the “Super-Committee” of Congress, tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in cuts in government spending, threw up their hands in defeat.

President Kennedy speed-read several newspapers every morning. He nourished personal relationships with the press-–and not for entirely altruistic reasons.

These journalistic relationships gave Kennedy additional sources of information-–and perspectives-–on national and international issues.

In 2012, Republican Presidential candidates celebrated their ignorance of both.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain famously said, “We need a leader, not a reader.”  Thus he excused his ignorance of the reasons for President Barack Obama’s intervention in Libya.

Texas Governor Rick Perry showed similar pride in not knowing there are nine judges on the United States Supreme Court:

“Well, obviously, I know there are nine Supreme Court judges. I don’t know how eight came out my mouth. But the, uh, the fact is, I can tell you–I don’t have memorized all of those Supreme Ccourt judges. And, uh, ah–

“Here’s what I do know. That when I put an individual on the Supreme Court, just like I done in Texas, ah, we got nine Supreme Court justices in Texas, ah, they will be strict constructionists….

“That’s what Americans care about. Uh, they’re not looking for a robot that can, uh, spit out, uh, the name of every Supreme Court justice, or, ah, the the someone that’s gonna be perfect in, in, in every way.”

In short, it’s the media’s fault if they ask you a question and your answer reveals your own ignorance, stupidity or criminality.

During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy spoke with aides about a book he had just finished: Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, on the events leading to World War 1.

He said that the book’s most important revelation was how European leaders had blindly rushed into war, without thought to the possible consequences.

Kennedy told his aides he did not intend to make the same mistake-–that, having read his history, he was determined to learn from it.

What a complete contrast that is from today’s woeful historical ignorance among Republican Presidential candidates-–and those who aspire to be.

Consider Sarah Palin’s rewriting of history via “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”:

“He warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and, um, making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that, uh, we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

In fact, Revere wasn’t warning the British about anything.  Instead, he was warning his fellow Americans about an impending British attack–as his celebrated catchphrase “The British are coming!” made clear.

Republicans have attacked President Obama for his Harvard education and articulate use of language. Among their taunts: “Hitler also gave good speeches.”

And they resent his having earned most of his income as a writer of two books: Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.  As if being a writer is somehow subversive.

When knowledge and literacy are attacked as “highfalutin’” arrogance, and ignorance and incoherence are embraced as sincerity, national decline lies just around the corner.

In retrospect, the funeral for President Kennedy marked the death of more than a rational and optimistic human being.  It marked the death of Americans’ pride in choosing reasoning and educated citizens for their leaders.

The Eternal Flame at the grave of President John F. Kennedy

THE CASEY DOCTRINE

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law on August 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm

When William J. Casey was a young attorney during the Great Depression, he learned an important lesson.

Jobs were hard to come by, so Casey thought himself lucky to land one at the Tax Research Institute of America in New York.

His task was to closely read New Deal legislation and write reports explaining it to corporate chieftains.

He quickly learned that businessmen neither understood nor welcomed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to reform American capitalism.

Businessmen didn’t want legal commentary.  Instead, they wanted to know: “What must we do to achieve minimum compliance with the law?”

In short: How do we get by FDR’s new programs?

Fifty years later, Casey would bring a similar mindset to his duties as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for President Ronald Reagan.

He was presiding over the CIA when it deliberately violated Congress’ ban on funding the “Contras,” the right-wing death squads of Nicaragua.

But the “Casey Doctrine” of minimum compliance didn’t die with Casey (who expired of a brain tumor in 1987).

It’s very much alive among the American business community as President Barack Obama seeks to give medical coverage to all Americans, and not simply the ultra-wealthy.

The single most important provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–better known as Obamacare–requires large businesses to provide insurance to full-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week.

For part-time employees, who work fewer than 30 hours, a company isn’t penalized for failing to provide health insurance coverage.

Obama prides himself on being a tough-minded practitioner of “Chicago politics.”  So it’s easy to assume that he took the “Casey Doctrine” into account when he shepherded the ACA through Congress.

But he didn’t.

The result was predictable.  And its consequences are daily becoming more clear.

Employers feel motivated to move fulltime workers into part-time positions–and thus avoid

  • providing their employees with medical insurance and 
  • a fine for non-compliance with the law.

 

 

 

 

 

Some employers have openly shown their contempt for President Obama–and the idea that employers actually have an obligation to those who make their profits a reality.

The White Castle hamburger chain is considering hiring only part-time workers in the future to escape its obligations under Obamacare.

No less than Jamie Richardson, its vice president, has admitted this in an interview.

“If we were to keep our health insurance program exactly like it is with no changes, every forecast we’ve looked at has indicated our costs will go up 24%.”

Richardson claimed the profit per employee in restaurants is only $750 per year.  So, as he sees it, giving health insurance to all employees over 30 hours isn’t feasible.

Nor is Richardson the only corporate executive determined to shirk his responsibility to his employees.

John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, has been quoted as saying:

  1. The prices of his pizzas will go up–by eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order; and
  2. He will pass along these costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

In May, 2012, Schnatter hosted a fundraising event for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at his own Louisville, Kentucky mansion.

“What a home this is,” gushed Romney.  “What grounds these are, the pool, the golf course.

“You know, if a Democrat were here he’d look around and say no one should live like this. Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this.”

Of course, Romney conveniently ignored a brutally ugly fact:

For the vast majority of Papa John’s minimum-wage-earning employees-–many of them working only part-time-–the odds of their owning a comparable estate are non-existent.

Had Obama been the serious student of Realpolitick that he claims to be, he would have predicted that most businesses would seek to avoid compliance with his law.

To counter that, he need only have required all employers to provide insurance coverage for all of their employees—regardless of their fulltime or part-time status.

This, in turn, would have provided two substantial benefits:

  1. All employees would have been able to obtain medical coverage; and
  2. Employers would have been encouraged to provide fulltime positions rather than part-time ones, since they would feel: “Since I’m paying for fulltime insurance coverage, I should be getting fulltime work in return.”

The “Casey Doctrine” needs to be kept constantly in mind when reformers try to protect Americans from predatory employers.

A CEO’S TEARS

In Business, Law, Politics, Social commentary on July 1, 2013 at 12:01 am

Break out the handkerchiefs.  A CEO is about to cry.

When the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, Papa John’s Pizza will change in two ways.

First, it will be forced to do something it hasn’t done since its founding in 1984: Offer healthcare coverage to its 16,5000 employees or pay a penalty to the government.

Second, according to the company’s CEO, John Schnatter, the prices of his pizzas will go up.

 John Schnatter

How far up?

By as much as eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order.

But Schnatter isn’t going to take this lying down.  He’s determined to pass along those costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

Click here: Papa John’s turns in strong domestic and international Q2 | PizzaMarketPlace.com

Nor should anyone expect Schnatter to take a pay cut, just so his employees can obtain medical care when they need it.

Schnatter’s total calculated compensation for 2011 came to $2,745,219.

Click here: John Schnatter: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek

“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry,” Schnatter–a supporter of Mitt Romney–admitted in an interview with Politico.

To demonstrate his opposition to providing medical insurance for all Americans, Schnatter hosted a fundraising event for Mitt Romney at his own Louisville, Kentucky mansion in May.

The luxurious setting for the fundraiser gave Romney a rush of pure, plutocratic ecstasy.

“What a home this is,” gushed Romney.  “What grounds these are, the pool, the golf course.

“You know, if a Democrat were here he’d look around and say no one should live like this. Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this.”

John Schnatter’s estate

Of course, Romney conveniently ignored a brutally ugly fact:

For the vast majority of Papa John’s minimum-wage-earning employees–many of them working only part-time–the odds of their owning a comparable estate are non-existent.

John Schnatter is not the first pizza magnate to attack proposed changes to federal health care.

In 1993, Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain charged that President Bill Clinton’s proposed health care reform law would cost his company Godfather’s Pizza money and jobs.

“For many many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan is simply a cost that will cause us to eliminate jobs,” Cain told Clinton in a famous exchange.

In a typical demonstration of corporate thinking, Judy Nichols, a Papa John’s franchise owner in Beaumont, Texas, said:

“I have two options, I can stop offering coverage and pay the $2,000 fine, or I could keep my number of staff under 50 so the mandate doesn’t apply,” she told Legal Newsline.

In short: Defy the law, and employee healthcare needs be damned.

Nichols added that the the law might cost her $20,000 to $30,000 in taxes: “Obamacare is making me think about cutting jobs instead,” she said.

Translation: If you force me to behave responsibly, I’ll just have to take it out on willing-to-work Americans.

So how can America cope with behavior that destroys not only lives but the economy as well?

By passing–and vigorously enforcing–a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act.

Among its provisions:

Employers would be required to provide full medical and pension benefits for all employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.

Increasingly, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time ones—solely to avoid paying medical and pension benefits.  Requiring employers to act humanely and responsibly toward all their employees would encourage them to provide full-time positions—and hasten the death of this greed-based practice.

The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbidden.

Such “economic incentives” usually:

  1. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
  2. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
  3. allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
  4. allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:

  1. Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
  2. Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

This would

  • protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions;
  • protect the environment in which these employees live; and
  • protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.

WINNERS AND LOSERS: PART THREE (END)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on January 31, 2013 at 12:00 am

On January 25–four days after President Barack Obama was inaugurated President for the second time–political columnist Mark Shields assessed the electoral dangers facing the Republican party.

“The Republicans want to blame Mitt Romney. That’s fine. But Mitt Romney is more popular than the Republican Party. I mean, he got 47%. The Republicans are dead in the water right now.

“So you know they’re going through a difficult period. And they have got to try and figure out.

“They can’t talk to Latinos, the fastest growing group in the country. They’re basically not conversational with younger voters. They are–Asians have left them in droves.

“You know, they have just–they’re an aging white party, and in a country that is not–is less white each year.”

After Ronald Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and defeated the Democrats’ nominee, Walter Mondale, in 1984, Democrats went through a similar time of torment.

“And Democrats said, geez, Ronald Reagan is good on television,” said Shields.  “If we can get somebody as good on TV as he is–instead of that moment of introspection and saying people found the other side…our opponents, to be more relevant, more real and more plausible to our lives and their lives than they found us.

“And that’s–it’s a terrible thing to live with rejection, but a losing party has to say, what is it? And what you can’t do is blame the voters. And I have heard echoes of that on the other side. The voters, that’s the 47% of takers, you know.  No wonder we can’t win if they are all just parasites and worse.”

Mitt Romney–and other Republican candidates–lost bigtime on November 6 for a wide range of reasons:

1.  He was not simply an opportunist; he was widely recognized as one.   He was despised by those on the Right as well as those on the Left, and for the same reason: He would take any position on any issue–even if this meant contradicting his previous position on it.

2.  He was not only rich, he made it clear that this was the only group he truly cared about. His public comments shouted this:

  • “I have friends who are owners of NASCAR Teams.”
  • “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs.”
  • “Corporations are people, my friend.”
  • “Forty-seven percent are dependent upon government.”

Yet it is possible to be wealthy and trusted by those who aren’t–like Robert F. Kennedy, who identified with the poor and oppressed.

3.  Republicans enraged and alienated Latinos by their constant anti-immigrant rhetoric.

4.  Republicans enraged and alienated blacks by their constant hateful, racist attacks on President Obama. Clint Eastwood’s  empty chair ”comedy” act  at the Republican convention pleased his fascistic audience.  But it outraged many non-fascists–especially blacks.

5.  Republicans angered and alienated women–by constantly talking about

  • gutting Planned Parenthood
  • outlawing abortion
  • “legitimate rape”
  • “pregnancy-in-rape-is-God’s-plan-for-you”
  • banning birth control.

6.  Republicans enraged and alienated voters generally and minorities in particular by their blatant efforts to suppress the voting rights of their fellow citizens.

Republicans falsely claimed widespread voter fraud in areas where there was absolutely no evidence for it–such as Pennsylvania. And when voter fraud was discovered, the culprit was a get-out-the-vote consulting firm hired by Republicans.

7.  Republicans allowed their party to be represented by slimeballs like Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh.

When Trump claimed he could prove that Obama wasn’t an American citizen, Romney refused to distance himself from him, let alone say, “I don’t want support from a hateful idiot.”

And he similarly refused to condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” The reason: She had testified before Congress on the need to have insurance companies cover contraceptives.

Romney didn’t dare condemn Limbaugh. He was too scared of losing Limbaugh’s endorsement–and thus the support of his aptly-named “dittohead” audience.

8.  Republicans ultimately depended for their success on a voting group that’s constantly shrinking–aging white males. Having alienated blacks, gays, women, Latinos and youths, the Republicans found themselves with no other sources of support.

9.  Republicans–and especially Romney–put out so many blatant lies that they came home to hurt them:

  • Romney initially opposed the President’s bailout of General Motors.  But when that resurrected the American auto industry, Romney changed his tune and said he had always been for the bailout.
  • During his second campaign debate with the President, Romney charged that he had not called the September 11, 2012 assault on the American consulate in Libya a “terrorist attack.”  But Candy Crowley, the moderator, immediately pointed out that Obama had called it an “act of terror” just two days later.
  • Summing up Romney’s attitude toward the truth:  ”We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” said Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster.

In the end, Americans came to know the truth, and the truth made them free–of Romney and the Republican agenda.

Only when Republicans accept that millions of Americans permanently reject much of their agenda will they be able to hope for a return to power.

WINNERS AND LOSERS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on January 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

Abortion has clearly become a deadly election issue for Republicans.

If you doubt it, look at the results of the November 6 elections.

So I was surprised to read, on January 24, a news story about Republicans’ continuing effort to deny women the right to control their reproductive organs.

This centered on a New Mexico anti-abortion bill that would force rape victims to carry to term the fetus of their rapist, on the “legal” grounds that this was “evidence” of a crime.

Click here: New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As ‘Tampering With Evidence’

I decided to send my longtime friend Dave–who’s not exactly President Obama’s biggest supporter–a link to that news story.

I didn’t offer any commentary, other than in the subject-line of the email: “AND YOU WONDER WHY OBAMA GOT RE-ELECTED?”

It didn’t take Dave long to reply.

“No, we don’t wonder why Obama got re-elected.  It’s because of the free-loading, lazy entitlement crazed society that worships their moronic scuz-bag messiah who brings and offers them FREE ‘shit’ if they vote for him ‘again.’

“Most of which are ALL the welfare reciprients, low income minorities in crime ridden ghettos and the great Mexican migration that he’s pardoned with the multiple offers of selling out the American people by awarding FREE visas, FREE education, FREE Social Security benefits (even though they’ve never worked a day in their lives) and FREEDOM from being asked, stopped or questioned by authorities.

“The democraps sold this country out long ago for nothing more than their greed to stay in office.”

As much as I love Dave as a friend, his reply leaves out–for Republicans–some highly unpalatable truths.

  • The Republican party talks a great game of “getting government off the backs of the people.”  But many of its members lust to ban abortion and even birth control.
  • Women voters were outraged by Republican candidates’ stupid comments about “legitimate rape” and how even a rape-caused pregnancy was “something that God intended to happen.”
  • After a party takes a bath at election time, it’s commonplace for its members to put the blame elsewhere than on themselves.
  • As a result, Republicans are now blaming their nominee, Mitt Romney.  Or (as always) Barack Obama.  Or “the stupid voters.”
  • Some Republicans (like Rick Santorum) argue that the party wasn’t “conservative enough” in its choice of nominees and thus deserved to lose.
  • Other Republicans (a minority) argue that the party was too right-wing and alienated all those who were not.
  • Echoing the Romney line that Obama “bought” the election with “free stuff” for voters ignores an ugly truth about the Romney Presidential campaign: The people who supported him expected to get rewards of their own.  Rewards such as lower corporate taxes, weakened environmental protections and the legal right to discriminate in the salaries they paid to female employees.
  • But by right-wing standards, “corporate welfare” is OK;  only when welfare goes to needy individuals is it evil.  The “Prescription Drug Benefit” of the Bush administration was a classic gift of corporate welfare to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • And, actually, it’s normal for voters to expect something in return for their votes.  The only question is: Is that politician going to do something for those who already hold great wealth and poweror those who have very little?

Consider the following from Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince:

.…One attains [the position of a prince] by help of popular favor or by the favor of the aristocracy [i.e., wealthy interests]. 

For in every city these two opposite parties…[arise] from the desire of the populace to avoid the oppression of the great, and the desire of the great to command and oppress the people….

Besides which, it is impossible to satisfy the nobility by fair dealing and without inflicting injury upon others, whereas it is very easy to satisfy the mass of the people in this way.

For the aim of the people is more honest than that of the nobility, the latter desiring to oppress, and the former merely to avoid oppression….

One, however, who becomes prince by favor of the populace must maintain its friendship, which he will find easy, the people asking nothing but not to be oppressed.

Of course, it’s natural for the losing party to look for scapegoats.  As political columnist Mark Shields said on the PBS Newshour on January 25:

“As far as the Republicans are concerned, they are simply going through the terrible stages that every defeated party does.

“And one side says we lost because we didn’t stick enough to our principles. And the other side we lost because we were too dogmatic and didn’t reach out to the undecided.

“And so the first inclination is always to blame your own candidate. You blame Al Gore if you are a Democrat in 2000, or John Kerry in 2004. You blame John McCain.

“The Republicans want to blame Mitt Romney. That’s fine. But Mitt Romney is more popular than the Republican Party. I mean, he got 47 percent. The Republicans are dead in the water right now.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 823 other followers

%d bloggers like this: