Saturday, November 30, 2013

Corporate Profits And Taxes

Is Chris Christie The GOP's Savior ?

The new CNN/Opinion Research Poll shows New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has jumped into the lead among possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates, scoring 11 points better than his nearest competitor (Rand Paul). This is the biggest lead that any possible GOP candidate has shown in any poll so far -- and is undoubtably due to his huge re-election win in New Jersey a few weeks ago.

This has to buoy the hopes of GOP moderates, who see Christie as the candidate who can lead the party back to a more reasonable conservative philosophy, and maybe even win the White House for that party. But is that true? Could he win the White House, and could he lead the party back to a more moderate stance?

I'm not at all sure of either. Christie's biggest support comes from his own part of the country -- the Northeast. That is least likely part of the country to be carried by any Republican in a presidential election, especially if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton. Several other polls have shown that Clinton would easily beat Christie in the Northeast (and probably even in his own home state of New Jersey). And he might not even be able to carry Southern and Western Republican states.

That's because those states are ruled by the teabagger element of the party -- and that element doesn't like Christie at all. They consider him to be a liberal sell-out -- someone willing to compromise with Democrats at the expense of their ultra-right-wing ideology. These states are not going to vote for him in the primaries (and recent Public Policy Polling surveys have shown that). For instance, he trails Ted Cruz in Mississippi, Texas, and Montana. Even if he could win the nomination without those states, there is a good chance that the teabaggers will desert the party for a third party effort in the general election (and that could hurt Republicans not only in the presidential election, but also down ballot).

There's no doubt that the Republican Party needs to move back toward the center. Party leaders admitted as much after the 2012 elections. But as long as the teabaggers control as many states as they currently do, that's not going to happen just by nominating someone like Christie. In fact, that might just split the party further (although they may have to happen before the party can heal and start to attract more moderate Independents in the future).

Is Christie the GOP's savior? I doubt it.


That same poll also queried Democrats as to their preference for a 2016 party nominee. As expected, Hillary Clinton still has a huge lead among Democrats, and unless something really weird and unexpected happens, it looks like that nomination is hers for the asking.

The CNN / Opinion Research Poll was taken between November 18th and 20th of 843 nationwide adults. Although the whole survey had a 3.5 point margin of error, that climbed to 5 points when only Republicans or Democrats were questioned.


Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A Bad Solution To Discrimination By The Texas National Guard

It was learned recently that the Texas National Guard has been discriminating against same-sex married couples. The Department of Defense recently stopped their discrimination, and ordered all married couples to receive the same federal benefits (regardless of whether they were same-sex or opposite-sex couples). That should have settled things since the benefits received by these couples, whether in the regular military services or the National Guard, are federal benefits -- not state benefits.

But Texas decided to continue its discrimination anyway, once again flouting federal rules and regulations. With encouragement from Republican state leaders, Major General John Nichols (commander of all Texas Military Forces, including the National Guard) instructed Texas National Guard installations to refuse to sign same-sex married couples up for the benefits available to all members of the National Guard (access to commissary, housing allowances, medical care, etc.). He ruled that opposite-sex couples could register for the benefits at state facilities, but same-sex couples would have to travel to a federal facility (like Fort Hood) to register. He claimed that state law prevented this registration.

That a load of crap though. While Texas law prevents same-sex couples from being married in the state, it does not prevent them from registering for federal benefits -- even at state facilities. This illegal discrimination was nothing more that state Republican leaders trying to please their teabagger base, and had nothing to do with the law.

The Department of Defense has come up with a solution to the discrimination now. Instead of forcing Texas to abide by national regulations for the disbursement of federal benefits, they just decided to require all National Guard members (even those opposite-sex married couples) to sign up with a federal official. For their part, Texas National Guard officials say they will not deny the benefits to anyone registered for them by the federal government officials -- which is not much, since Texas couldn't deny federal benefits if it wanted to.

This sounds like a poor solution to me, and Stephen Peters of the American Military Partner Association agrees. He said:

"The personnel, funding and systems being used previously to process these enrollments were already federally funded. Requiring everyone, both gay and straight couples, to travel potentially far distances away from their home units to enroll for benefits at a facility on federal property sounds more like they are making it worse for all, rather than simply complying with federal directives."
This whole thing is ridiculous. Refusing to register anyone just to continue discriminating against same-sex couples is just mean-spirited and stupid, but that's how Texas Republicans are. Mean and stupid are among their primary values.

Old (White) Men's Club

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

Obamacare Will Reduce Bankruptcies

This is often overlooked when the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is discussed. By providing adequate insurance to many more people, insurance with a cap on how much the insured person will have to pay, many (if not most) of these bankruptcies will now be prevented. This will help both debtors and creditors, and the entire economy.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Work And Poverty Should Not Coexist

Even The Reddest States Are Changing

The charts above represent the thinking of the citizens of Mississippi. If there is a redder state (a more conservative state) than my own state of Texas, it would be Mississippi. But even the reddest states are starting to change these days -- and embrace some ideas normally thought of as being "liberal".

One of those ideas is raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour. One might think that southern states like Mississippi would be opposed to that, since the many Republicans they have sent to the Senate and House are dead set against raising the minimum wage by any amount (and some would even abolish it) -- but that would be wrong. The people of Mississippi actually favor raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour by a 17 margin (54% to 37%).

That probably shouldn't surprise us, since the state has as many low-wage workers (making at or slightly above minimum wage) percentage-wise as Texas does (which leads the nation in minimum wage workers). The real surprise comes in the second and third charts -- which concern granting equal rights to those in the LGBT community.

A whopping 66% (including a slight majority of Republicans) say employers should not have the right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (38 points higher than those who would support such discrimination). And a plurality of 49% think gays/lesbians should have legal rights equal to those of married heterosexual couples, either through marriage or civil unions (with 21% supporting legal marriages and 28% supporting legal civil unions). About 45% oppose those equal rights.

Social change is happening, even in the Deep South. The ideas that workers deserve a livable wage for full-time work and that the LGBT community deserves the same rights that other Americans enjoy are sweeping this nation -- and even the reddest states are starting join in the fight for social justice.

The charts above were made from a recent Public Policy Polling survey (taken between November 15th and 17th of 502 Mississippi voters, with a 4.4 point margin of error).

American Idol

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Bill To Be Introduced In Arizona To Legalize Marijuana For Recreational Use

(The above image of marijuana is from

Two states, Colorado and Washington, have now legalized small quantities of marijuana for recreational use by adults (and other states and cities have decriminalized the possession of marijuana, meaning it will only result in a civil fine and not jail time). The people in the United States are starting to see through the lies about marijuana that their government has been spreading for decades now. The only real questions now are which state will be the next one to legalize the gentle herb, and how long will it be before the federal government follows suit.

Ruben Gallego (Democratic State House Minority Leader) wants that next state to be Arizona. He has announced that he will be introducing a bill that would legalize the possession of one ounce of marijuana by an adult (or the growing of 5 plants). Gallego is trying to take advantage of a Behavior Research Center Poll released last May that showed 56% of the citizens of Arizona favor legalization, while only 37% oppose it (see the chart below).

The problem is that the Republicans control the state government in Arizona, and they will probably kill the bill. They don't really care what the citizens want, and will probably try to pass off their opposition as being religiously-based (although that is ridiculous). But pass or fail, this just shows that the attitudes in this country are changing -- and while it might still take a while, marijuana will eventually be legalized throughout the United States.

War Heads

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Stingiest Nation

The chart above is by Kevin Drum, in a short article he wrote for Mother Jones magazine. It shows the most unequal nations in terms of income (among the developed nations). One of the most unequal is the United States, which has a larger income (and wealth) gap between the rich and the rest of its citizens than it has had since before the Great Depression -- and the gap is still growing, and if a change in economic policy is made soon, that gap will soon even eclipse that of third world nations (already being worse than a few of them).

The chart shows how much the government of those nations does to decrease that gap in equality. Note that the country that is doing the least to reduce the gap in income is the United States -- and some politicians in the U.S. would like to do even less. As citizens of the richest nation in the world, we should all be ashamed of how little our government is doing. Here is how Mr. Drum puts it:

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, with a top 1 percent that's seen its income triple or more in the past three decades. And yet, we also do the least to fight the rising tide of income inequality. Government programs in America reduce the level of inequality by only 26 percent. Nobody else is so stingy.

Black Friday

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

The Scam

Trickle-down economics has always been a scam -- perpetrated on the masses, to take from them and give that money taken to the rich. Nothing was ever meant to "trickle-down", and those who imposed that failed policy (the Republicans) knew that nothing ever would. In a free enterprise (capitalist) economy money flows upward, not down.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth", painted by Jennie A. Brownscombe in 1914.

Today is the traditional day to be thankful. I am thankful for my wonderful readers -- and I hope each and every one of you has a safe and happy holiday filled with family, friends, food, and fun (and football, for the sports fans among you). 

Most Won't Be Shopping Today/Tomorrow

Let me preface my remarks by saying I have worked on many holidays. That's because most of my working life was spent in various aspects of law enforcement, and some of those jobs (like when I was a corrections officer in a juvenile institution, or a patrol officer at a university) simply require that someone must be on duty 24/7. I knew that when I took those jobs, and never resented working the holiday. In fact, I volunteered to work some so others could be off.

But that's not the same as making a minimum wage worker work on a holiday when it is not needed -- when it is only to pad the bank account of some rich owner (who is off on that holiday). While necessity can make some work on a holiday, greed should never do that (especially on a family-oriented holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas).

That's why I will not be doing any shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I do not want to be the reason why some low-wage worker had to give up being with his family on this holiday -- and I hope you will not be shopping today either. It's not that hard to make sure you have everything you need in the days leading up to the holiday -- even if you have to make more than one trip to get things you forgot (as it seems I have to do every year).

And it looks like most Americans agree with me. The charts below are from a recent YouGov Poll (done on November 19th and 20th of 1,000 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 4.6 points). Note that 74% (three out of every four Americans) think stores should be closed on Thanksgiving day -- while only 13% think they should be open (and another 13% don't know what to think). And to their credit, about 80% (four out of every five Americans) say they will not be doing any shopping on the holiday.

As for Black Friday, about 63% of Americans say they will not be doing any shopping on that day either. I am among that 63%. I don't see anything wrong with shopping on Black Friday, but I am not about to fight the crowds just to save a few dollars. It just violates my idea of both fun and common sense. I am oddly reassured by the fact that a significant majority of my fellow citizens agree.

Cherished Tradition

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Americans Don't Want A War With Iran

Republicans are upset with the Obama administration because they have reached an interim agreement with Iran, which if implemented could lead to a permanent agreement. The neo-cons are upset because it means they probably won't get the war with Iran that they so badly want, and the rest are just upset because they hate any accomplishments by President Obama. They would have us think that President Obama making peace is worse than their own hero (Ronald Reagan) selling arms illegally to that same government (and doing it while that government was holding American hostages).

It just goes to show how ridiculous and hypocritical the GOP position on Iran is. Fortunately, the American people are not falling for their silly lies this time -- and a new Reuters/Ipsos Poll (taken between November 24th and 26th of 591 nationwide respondents, with a margin of error of 4.9 points) shows that the GOP once again finds itself at odds with public opinion.

It seems that twice as many Americans support the agreement reached with Iran as oppose it. A plurality of 44% support it, while only 22% are against it. And it gets even worse for the Republicans. Even if the agreement fails, the American public doesn't want any military action against Iran -- with only 20% saying military action should be taken, while 80% (four out of five Americans) say it should not be taken. About 49% say more sanctions would be appropriate, while 31% say more diplomacy should be tried.

And it's not just Iran. As the third chart below shows, the general public doesn't want another war anywhere in the Middle East, with 65% saying no to military action unless there's a direct threat to the United States (which wasn't true for Iraq or Afghanistan, and wouldn't be true for Iran). The American people are sick of war, and no longer believe the Republican lies condoning military intervention.


And while I was at the Reuters/Ipsos site I ran across their 5-day rolling average survey on the 2016 presidential preference among Republican voters, and I thought ya'll might be interested in how it stands right now. It seems that the current leaders are Paul Ryan and Christie (who are tied with 24%). Jeb Bush is in third with a bit more than 14%. Both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have faded a bit, and are now down into single digits.


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

More Guns Just Means More Gun Deaths

I like this graphic, because it exposes one of the most ridiculous myths of the anti-gun regulation crowd -- that more guns means a safer country. If that was true, then the United States would be the safest country in the world. It's not. We have one of the highest murder rates in the civilized world, especially those committed with firearms (and that doesn't even consider all the suicides and accidents with guns that take additional lives). The truth is that the more guns a country has in circulation, the more gun deaths it will have.

The Second Amendment to our Constitution does give individual Americans the right to own a firearm, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that this is not an unlimited right. Government has the constitutional ability to restrict dangerous individuals from owning a firearm, and can restrict the type of firearms an individual can own. For example, those with a criminal record and those deemed dangerously mentally-ill can (and should) be denied the right to purchase or own a gun -- and individuals cannot purchase or own machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, or similar weapons.

Currently, we have a country where anyone can buy a weapon (including criminals and the dangerously mentally-ill). At the very least, we should plug the holes in our background check laws to prevent this. It just makes sense, and it is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.


Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Republican Tells The Truth

Pope Says An Unregulated Capitalism Is Tyranny -- And He's Right

The chart above shows the rather shocking poverty situation in the United States. About 16% of the population (or 49.7 million Americans) live in poverty. And that's really an undercount, since millions are put just above the poverty line by partaking in government social programs like food stamps. If you take away the help from government, the percentage jumps up to at least 17.6% of the population.

And the Republicans would like to increase the ranks of the poor. They want to significantly reduce the social programs (food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies, unemployment insurance, etc.) while refusing to raise the minimum wage (or abolishing it) and reducing benefits for Social Security and Medicare -- all of which would just make the poverty situation even worse. Remember, about half of the population are in families that make less than 150% of the poverty line (putting most of them just a paycheck or two away from dropping into poverty).

And that is just the United States -- the richest country in the world (making these figures indefensible). There are many countries who are as bad or worse off than the United States. Poverty is an international problem, and it is a growing problem in most countries (including the United States). And one reason it continues to grow is the deregulation of capitalism.

In the United States, we still follow the failed Republican-initiated economic policy called "trickle-down". This policy removes regulations from corporations & financial institutions and lowers taxes for the rich while giving huge subsidies to large corporations -- and it does this while imposing a severe austerity on everyone else. The obvious (and documented) result is that the rich get richer and the ranks of the suffering poor grow larger. And the United States is not the only country that follows this pattern of deregulating capitalism and increasing poverty.

Liberals have long decried this hard-hearted and greedy policy, and now it looks like they have an ally. Churches (especially the Catholic and evangelical churches), while mouthing a concern for the poor, have supported government policies that actually work against the poor, and swell their ranks. That may be partially changing, because there's a new Pope in the Vatican and he seems to want to strike at the roots of modern poverty -- unregulated capitalism. In his latest apostolic exhortation (an 84 page document outlining his vision for the church) Pope Francis goes right to the point, and calls unfettered capitalism a tyranny. Here are a few more of his remarks on poverty and capitalism:

"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills."

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?"

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security."

"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."

 "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."

I am not a religious person (as regular readers of this blog will know), but I have to say that I am liking this Pope more all the time. He seems to have actually read, and wants to follow, Jesus' command that we should help the poor (and that greed is not a christian value). The only disagreement I would have is who must initiate the solution to the travesty of poverty. He calls on god. I think it is the people who must make this happen.


GOP Turkey

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at

Afghan Agreement May Be Falling Apart

Last week, it looked like the agreement to keep American troops in Afghanistan for many more years (perhaps even past 2024) was nearly a done deal. President Karzai said he just wanted the approval of the Loya Jirga (a meeting of more than 2500 Afghan elders) before he signed. That group gave its approval, and said Karzai should sign the agreement within a month.

But now Karzai is balking at signing the agreement. President Obama has said the agreement must be signed by the end of this year, or American troops will start preparing to leave at the end of 2014 -- all American troops. However, Karzai now says he will sign, but not until the end of the Afghan elections next April. That makes it sound like he's afraid he could't be re-elected if he signs the agreement now.

In addition, Karzai has come up with a couple of new demands. He wants all of the Afghans being held at Guantanamo to be released, he wants Afghans to be able to observe trials in American military courts, and he wants no more American troops to enter Afghan homes (w/o prior approval from the Afghan government). The Obama administration had thought they had settled that last issue last week when they assured Karzai they would show "restraint" in home entries, and only enter when absolutely necessary. But evidently it's still a sticking point with the Afghan government.

Frankly, it's starting to look like President Karzai either doesn't want the American troops to stay, or he wants it only on his own terms. I doubt the American government will let Karzai publicly dictate the terms of the occupation -- and that's a good thing, because it could force a withdrawal of ALL U.S. troops by the end of next year.

And that's exactly what should happen (unless it could happen even sooner). We have accomplished nothing except to cost a lot of lives on both sides -- and to replace one bad corrupt government with another bad corrupt government. Staying longer will not change that, no matter how much the president and the Pentagon wish it would.

Add to that the fact that a majority of Americans do not want troops left in Afghanistan after the end of 2014. A new Rasmussen Poll (taken on November 21st and 22nd of 1,000 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 3 points) shows that 51% of Americans say all troops should be withdrawn by the end of 2014. Only about 38% say some troops should be left there (to train the Afghans and fight terrorists).


Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at

Green Party Says Military Budget Should Be Slashed by 25% To 50%

The Republicans whine a lot about cutting the budget. They say our government spends too much money -- and they are right about that. But they are wrong about what needs to be cut. They would cut programs that help  the poor, children, seniors, the unemployed, and clean our environment. Unfortunately, cutting those areas would just hurt this country. But there is an area that could be cut, and cut substantially -- the military budget.

This country spends between 40% and 50% of the entire world's military spending -- more than the next 16 biggest spending nations combined. There is no need for the United States to spend this much just to defend itself -- and there is no need for this nation to assume the position of being the world's policeman (a job that should be shouldered by the United Nations, and shared among all countries). The truth is that far too much of this money is spent to enrich corporate moguls -- not to take care of our troops or to defend the nation.

The Green Party thinks this is wrong (and I agree). They propose cutting our military spending by between 25% and 50%, and they have laid out a plan to do that -- a plan that would cut the deficit and the national debt without hurting our ability to defend ourselves. Here is that proposal (written by the Green Party Shadow Cabinet on November 20th):

10 Ways to Cut the Military Budget by 25 to 50%
US military spending is somewhere from $700 billion annually (a 100% increase in the last decade) to over a trillion dollars when you add in interest payments from past wars, nuclear power weapons, intelligence gathering, Veteran benefits, Homeland Security and more. It represents more than half of the discretionary spending in the federal budget and half of the world military spending.
The first step in making cuts in the 25 to 50% range it to refocus our military spending from being the world's policemen to the traditional approach of nonintervention and defending against  invasion. The US present strategic doctrine is "full spectrum dominance - air, land, sea, space, cyberspace. " This neocon strategy advanced by the Bush administration and  continued under Obama is to protect "our" corporate and strategic interests abroad. This doctrine  is inherently opposed to cooperative security doctrines that rely on building mutual trust, joint security for sea lanes, etc., and progressive disarmament.
1. Audit the Pentagon – Up to 33% unjustified = $100s of billions per year potential savings.
The military budget is so out of control and government oversight is so lax that the federal government has given up trying to audit it. There was an effort late in the Clinton administration to start reconciling transactions with documentation in the Department of Defense. They audited $7 trillion in transactions and found that they could not justify $2.3 trillion of it.   In 2011, the General Accounting Office reported "serious financial-management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements unauditable". See Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013, Cong. Lee (HR 559).
2.  Focus on defending U.S. rather than policing the world – up to $100 billion per year.
National security means defending our nation from invasion or true military aggression. With oceans being two of our borders, and two allies (Canada and Mexico) being the other borders, US is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of external military threats. We do not need to militarize our borders against nonexistent military threats or in violation of the human right to seek refuge from economic or political oppression. The annual cost of our 1,100 overseas bases in over 130 countries is over $100 billion. Stop using our military to protect oil companies and multinational corporations.
3. Use government employees rather than outside contractors – up to $100 billion per year.
Outside military contractors cost on average nearly twice as much as the federal workers who do the same job. The Defense Department employs 900,000 civilians - more than twice as many as the next-largest agency (Veterans Affairs) and equal to the remaining federal agencies combined. There are also 560,000 active-duty military personnel who "never deploy," and an estimated 700,000 "ghost" civil servants—contractors doing government jobs. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) has called for staffing a quarter of these jobs -- handling supply chain, transportation, human resources, communications —with cheaper civilian employees, saving $5 billion annually. Four think tanks have recommended reducing the Pentagon’s civilian workforce by between 10 and 27 percent. Add to that outright contractor fraud, which some critics contend runs as high as $100 billion a year.
There were numerous examples of war profiteering involving billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghani station by firms such as Halliburton and Blackwater/XE/KBR.
Reducing reliance on service contractors in the DoD was a priority of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The annual cost of DoD service contracts has nearly tripled since 2000; many service contractors are performing inherently governmental functionsCutting these contracts by 15% would save $37 billion annually.
A 15 percent reduction in non-DoD national security agency spending on all service contracts would save $33 billion over the year, while leaving service contract spending at these agencies at a higher level than it was in 2007. 
4. Bring all our troops and military contractors home from Iraq and Afghanistan - $96 billion per year.
Every hour, US taxpayers paid $11.26 million for Total Cost of Wars Since 2001.
5. Reduce the size and cost of military's back office bureaucracy - $80 billion per year.
Cutting Pentagon overhead for its back-office bureaucracy from the private industry average of 25%  would save roughly $80 billion a year. A RAND study of overhead and administration costs among defense contractors found them to be “tremendous drivers” of weapon costs at 35 percent. The largest government domestic programs—Social Security and Medicare—get by with overhead costs in the single-digits.
6. Reduce our nuclear weapons arsenal - $35 billion per year.
We spend $60 a year on nuclear weapons. We could save $35 billion by reducing our nuclear weapons arsenal - which Russia says it would match. The Project on Government Oversight has recommend nearly $40 billion in savings in 10 years through redesigning or ending various nuclear weapons facilities. Sen. Markey when in the House introduced the SANE bill (HR 1506) to cut $100 billion over 10 years in nuclear weapon costs. 
7. Stop spending 10s of billions of dollars on weapon systems that don’t work - $13 billion per year
A Government Accountability Office study found that the effectiveness of spending oversight was limited by not being able to require that weapon be proven to work before going to production or use in the field. A 2008 report noted recent examples that didn’t, such as the Hellfire missiles on the MH-60S Armed Helicopter Weapons System.  The missiles were designed to hang from external launchers on the chopper’s side, but when fired during a training incident the force of the launch caused the launchers to break loose and pierce the copter’s fuselage.
Taxpayers for Common Sense have proposed eliminating various weapon systems that would save more than $130 billion over ten years. For instance, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system consists of 30 interceptors designed to destroy ballistic missiles in mid-flight; This Missile Defense Agency program has been plagued by cost increases, test failures, and delays. Freezing its development would save $6 billion
8. The military should stop duplicating existing government and private programs like health care, recreation centers and grocery stores - $9 billion per year
Ten percent of the Pentagon’s non-war budget—$53 billion—goes to health care. It would be much cheaper to cover all Americans with Medicare. The cost of TRICARE, DoD’s health care system, has more than doubled in the last decade. Many military retirees who are fully employed and have health insurance available still opt for TRICARE, which amounts to a government subsidy for employers. Congress has prevented attempts to halt this spending trajectory in the past.
9.  Stop spending American tax dollars to defend Japan, Europe and S. Korea – over $3 billion per year.
There are more than 80,000 U.S. troops stationed in Europe. The U.S. has built the capacity to deploy rapidly from offshore bases as needed.  Removing just half of our troops in Europe—40,000 troops— would save at least $32 billion over the next ten years. Japan has 50,000 American soldiers on 90 US military facilities, particularly in Okinawa. Their presence is a constant source of tension with local populations due to crimes (e.g., sexual attacks) committed by the servicemen, military flights and land use. While Japan does pay for much of the costs, the US will spend $3 billion to transfer troops to Guam. The United States has 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, which pays about 40% of their costs.
10. Stop spending 10s of billions of dollars on weapon systems that are not needed a form of corporate welfare. Many immediately mothballed upon completion.
The U.S. has so many tanks – which they don’t use – that they mothball thousands in the deserts across the U.S., as the government continues to build new ones, despite objections from the leaders of the Armed Forces.  Tanks were needed to fight a land war in Europe in the 1950s. A classic example of spending money to fight the last wa rather than prepare for current military needs.
The NY Post recently  that $567 million was wasted by the Air Force for a dozen new cargo planes (C-27J) that were delivered directly to a storage unit in the Arizona desert since there is no use for the planes. The desert complex is home to an estimated $35 billion in planes which there is no use for. The Pentagon could save billions by canceling the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which breaks down on average after eight hours of use and is ten years behind schedule. Marines haven't stormed a beach in nearly half a century.
Another unwanted system is the next-generation” Long-Range Strike Bombers to augment the Air Force’s fleet of B-52, B-1B, and B-2 planes, which drop both nuclear and conventional bombs. The Pentagon says there no need for the 100 planes being built. Savings would be $6 billion.
Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Reagan, notes that the US "fields 11 aircraft carriers, while no other country has even one of comparable size and power." New carrier construction costs $15 billion. And while aircraft carriers were important in WWII, they are just sitting expensive ducks in the age of missiles. Korb details myriad examples of how the various armed services waste tens of billions arming themselves with competing and duplicative copies of the same weapons (e.g., Joint Striker Fighter jets). The Pentagon gets rid of tens of billions of "surplus equipment", often in new condition, for pennies on the dollar, while spending enormous amount to replace the equipment. They were selling chemical protective suits for $3 while other units were buying the same exact one for $200. (R. Nader, The 17  Solutions)
If you support cutting military spending 25-50%, go here to sign the petition for a Budget for People, Peace and the Planet.

The Pardon

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.

Social Security Is Not A Deficit/Debt Problem

This can't be repeated enough. The Republicans want people to believe Social Security has caused the deficit and national debt. It is a lie. Social Security is completely funded by payroll taxes that go into the Social Security Trust Fund. Not a penny of Social Security benefits comes out of the federal discretionary budget. They have borrowed heavily from the Social Security Trust Fund, and don't want to have to pay back their debt, so they tell lies about the program so they can cut the benefits. Don't believe them. And don't let them get away with stealing the money they have borrowed from your hard work.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Freedom Of Speech

Majority Of Public Wants Immigration Reform

Once again the Republican Party finds itself at odds with the desires of the general public in this country. It's almost like the GOP is trying to oppose whatever the American public wants done. This time it's immigration reform.

The House GOP killed the reform bill passed by the Senate. They say they want to do the reform in a piecemeal fashion, but that's just their excuse to deny the most important part of immigration reform -- providing a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants. They just want to strengthen border security, and ignore any real reform. And the silly part is, more border security is the least needed part of reform. The Homeland Security Department has given our current border security its highest rating -- and there are actually less immigrants coming into the country right now than are leaving (meaning we currently have a negative illegal immigration).

But the American people are smarter than the congressional GOP. About 83% of them consider immigration reform to be a priority -- with 41% wanting that reform immediately, and 42% saying it needs to be done within the next two years. Only 14% say it's not a priority (and support the GOP's delaying tactics).

And the public also opposes the GOP stand on citizenship. About 63% say the reform must contain a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants. Only 14% say the immigrants should be allowed to stay without a path to citizenship, and 18% want undocumented immigrants to be located and deported -- even though finding and deporting 11 million immigrants would not only be a physical impossibility, but would seriously damage our economy (because these workers contribute far more than they take from our economy).

Actually, the public would be supportive of a bill far more lenient than the bill passed in the Senate. That bill provided for an onerous 13 year path to citizenship and around $4000 in fines and fees. But 68% of Americans say 13 years is too long a time to earn citizenship, and would rather see a shorter time frame. And a plurality of 43% think the requirement that applicants for citizenship pay $4000 is too much to ask. I agree, since most of them have already been paying taxes (both income and other taxes) -- and they haven't qualified to get any of those taxes back like many citizens do (which means they have actually been overpaying their taxes).

It's time for immigration reform to happen. The president has called for it, and the public wants it to happen -- and happen fairly quickly. The GOP's obstruction simply makes no sense -- and that's just one more reason why they need to be voted out of power in 2014.

The charts above were made from information contained in a new survey by the non-profit and bipartisan Public Religion Research Institute. The survey was done between November 6th and 10th of 1,005 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Myth ?

Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

Lubbock Democrats Get New Website

Lubbock County Democratic Chair Kenny Ketner asked me to help spread the word about the new website for that county's Democratic Party -- and I am more than happy to do so. We have a very important election coming up next year, and I urge all West Texas Democrats (and Independents leaning toward the Democrats) to drop by and check out the new website. Say hi to Kenny, and if you can, volunteer to do your part to turn West Texas a nice shade of blue. Here is the website address:


Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.