I recently posted a photo of Clint Eastwood on my Facebook page that says “I believe in limited government. I believe in fiscal responsibility and all those things that maybe Republicans used to believe in, but don’t anymore”.
It’s a sentiment that I deeply believe in.
What was interesting was that a friend of mine, who is a Democrat, commented that “Republicans will get their party back when they pry it from the cold, dead hands of the Tea Party and the oligarchs”.
Ah, yes. The two favorite boogeymen of the Democrat Party.
Honestly, they sound like a broken record.
The latest round of America bashing revolves around our “democracy” actually being an “oligarchy”, specifically, the GOP being an oligarchy, funded single handedly by the Koch brothers. Or is that double handedly?
Before I go any further, let’s define what an oligarchy is.
According to dictionary.com, oligarchy means:
It surprises me that journalists have just realized that our form of government, our “democracy”, is in reality, an oligarchy, but not that it has been one all along. We change the clowns every now and again, but the agenda and the results stay the same. The same small group of people stay in charge.
If the American system were based on “democracy”, then we, the American people, would have a say in every single decision the government makes; but we don’t.
We elect representatives and give them the power to make laws to send to the president for approval.
Is that not an oligarchy by definition?
Honestly, I think my friend meant plutocrats, but oligarch has such a, well, Republican ring to it!
Plutocrat: A member of a plutocracy.
One of the disparaging claims made against Mitt Romney was that he was a plutocrat, with a net worth a paltry sum of $250 million dollars.
Compare this to “philanthropist” Bill Gates who is worth a mere $82 billion.
Or how about major Democrat donor Tom Steyer?
The Koch brothers? $40 billion combined. That’s about $20 billion each.
Democrat Warren Buffet? $44 billion
Populist Democrat Elizabeth Warren: $14.5 million (2011)
President Barack Obama: $12.2 million. (As an aside, this figure came from celebritynetworth.com, which describes Obama as a “POLITICIAN, LAWYER, WRITER, AUTHOR, LAW PROFESSOR, ACTOR” . That last one certainly explains a lot.)
Secretary of State John Kerry: $750 million.
Average net worth of the House of Representatives: $1 million (7 out of the 10 richest representatives are Democrats)
Average net worth of the US Senate: $13 million.
Finally, George Soros: $23 billion.
This nation has a long history of not just oligarchs, but plutocrats as well, only they were called aristocrats back in the day.
Let’s jump back to the Founding Fathers.
The men who founded this nation were landowners, and some were slaveholders. Two such examples:
George Washington was worth $525 million (about $13 billion by today’s standards).
James Madison: $101 million ($2.5 billion).
Thomas Jefferson (3rd President): $212 million ($5.3 billion).
According to Forbes Magazine, John Hancock was worth $19.3 billion, and Benjamin Franklin was worth $10.3 billion (today’s dollars).
Are you starting to sense a pattern?
John Adams: $19 million ($475 million)
James Monroe: $27 million.
In order to vote in the late 1700’s, one had to be a white, male landowner at least 21. This did not begin to change until around 1828, when the states began to change their voting laws.
Andrew Jackson: $119 million
Andrew Jackson (the 5th president) was among the first to start taking donations for his political campaign. He was also one of the first to organize a staff to facilitate the collection of donations, and to get his message out to the people.
Abraham Lincoln largely financed his own campaign, but he did take donations. Even with these donations, the campaign nearly bankrupted him.
Campaign donations began to grow and become more commonplace after the American Civil War. wealthy donors realized that they could get politicians to owe them favors (if they were elected) if the candidate were elected. Having a politician in office who owed you favors would definitely grease the skids for any projects the donor may have coming up.
However, the first campaign finance law also appeared after the Civil War: The Navy Appropriations bill of 1867 prohibited government workers from soliciting donations from Navy dock workers.
At the turn of the 20th Century, corporations began to make donations as well.
But here is where very staunch Republicans tend to get upset and say that people like me are trying to rewrite history.
The Progressive Movement of the 20th Century came about because of concerns that there was too much money in politics, that lawmakers were beholden to the rich and the corporations. And the Progressives were largely Republicans. The abolition of slavery was a Progressive cause (but they did not call themselves Progressives). Abraham Lincoln, much to the chagrin and denials of Republicans, was a Progressive.
In 1905, Republican Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican Progressive, proposed a law that would outlaw all corporate contributions. This was, of course, met with stiff resistance from Congress, and never passed.
There have been various attempts to curtail campaign financing, the most recent being the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002. However, any law passed by Congress always has unintended consequences. McCain-Feingold has effectively cut the legs out from under the two major parties, but it has hamstrung the smaller parties. Was that the intention?
Funding has been diverted from the parties, who had to disclose this information, to outside SuperPACs, who don’t have to disclose anything. Transparency? McCain-Feingold has made that a thing of the past.
Now the rich and super-rich can do their thing without the spotlight on them.
Because we have amended the Constitution to move from Senators assigned by the State legislatures to direct election by the people, members of the Senate are now in the hooks of the wealthy, depending on them for campaign funds. I think worries about corruption, which was supposedly the driving force behind the XVIIth Amendment, is less of an issue than the wealthy owning the Senate.
Is there anything that can be done? Not without resistance from the wealthy.
Both parties owe their souls to the rich. Both try to hide it, but the Democrats are far more successful at it than the Republicans. The Dems are very skilled at the shell game, convincing people how the Republicans are owned by the wealthy while being able to obfuscate their own culpability.
No law will ever be able to stop the wealthy or corporations from attempting to buy politicians. If you outlaw SuperPACs, then you are assaulting free speech. Even though the likes of Elizabeth Warren say that corporations are not people, corporations are, in fact, comprised of people trying to make money. They have a life cycle, just like humans, and they will still find a way to contribute money to politicians who they believe can help further their businesses..
One has to ask which is worse, corporate contributions that are disclosed by the political parties, or contributions that are hidden away from the prying eyes of the public.
Before I close this out, let’s take a look at a few more presidents.
Very few presidents had a net worth of less than a million:
- James Buchanan
- Abraham Lincoln
- Andrew Johnson
- Ulysses S. Grant
- James A. Garfield
- Chester A. Arthur
- Woodrow Wilson
- Calvin Coolidge
- Harry S. Truman
Almost one quarter of US Grant’s funding came from a single donor.
John F. Kennedy was the first billionaire president.
Every president, other than the 9 listed, were worth $1 million or more.
Politics is a game for the wealthy. A Game of Thrones if you will.
Your children can grow up to become President of the United States.
As long as they belong to a family of means.
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The CBS news magazine, 60 Minutes, ran a piece this last weekend that should have every American outraged. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Communists, and Socialists alike should be seething over the fact that Congress, as a whole, is bilking and fleecing taxpayers and campaign contributors alike for their own personal gain.
The government has become the playground of the rich, and those people often leave richer than they were when they started.
It’s not because of the paycheck. It isn’t because of books they’ve written, or the high profile committees they sit on.
It’s because of a thing called Leadership PACs.
Leadership PACs are political action committees that are established by both current and former members of Congress. With these PACs, they can accept money from businesses, individuals, and other PACs. They use this money to pay for travel expenses, re-election campaigns (their own, or other candidates), consultants and polling.
Everything seems to be on the up and up, right?
According to CBS, Congressional members also use that money to entertain, maybe some corporate bigwig, or a potential contributor, all paid for with this money.
These PACs came about after the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, and, according to CBS, Congressional leadership quietly created loopholes in the law to allow the establishment of Leadership PACs, because, again according to CBS, they are not “technically” campaign funds.
Nearly every Congressperson has one, and most of the money comes from lobbyists and special interest groups.
Back in the day, John Edwards used his PAC to pay his mistress over $100,000 to make a campaign video.
Republican Congressman Ander Crenshaw of Florida used his to fly bigwig contributors from the defense industry to California’s wine country for a tour.
Democrat Congressman Robert Andrews of New Jersey used his to fly his family to Scotland for the wedding of a friend he claimed he was thinking about hiring as a consultant. He is now under investigation. He claims the rules should be clearer as to what they can and can’t be used for, but CBS found that while almost every member of Congress pays lip service to that idea, no one lifts a finger to change it.
In fact, the CBS story goes on to say that members of Congress will hang on to these PACs, even after they have left office, for personal use, as long as they can make it look like a political expense, and just in case they decide to become lobbyists.
That’s right, about half of all Congresspeople who leave become lobbyists.
Even further, anti-nepotism laws prevent the hiring of family members on the official staff, but they can be hired on to the campaign staff, and be overpaid. This moves money from the PAC to the personal accounts.
Even Tea Party darling Ron Paul has taken advantage of this, hiring 6 members on his campaign payroll.
Senator David Vitter of Louisiana tried to introduce legislation to make it illegal to hire family members on campaign staffs and paying them with PAC money. He has yet to find a co-sponsor.
Democrat Congresswoman Grace Napolitano has made personal loans from her PAC to her campaign.
And charged the campaign 18% interest for the loan. She claims she has not benefitted from it personally, because she still drives a small car and has the same house. According to the LA Times, she made about $132,000 in interest over the 13 years of that loan ($228,000 over 12 years, according to CBS). When asked why she took so long to retire the debt, Napolitano said, “I didn’t need the money.” But she didn’t profit personally from it. She is one of the poorer members of Congress, being worth a maximum of just over $400k in 2011.
But she’s not the only one. CBS said that there have been at least 15 cases of Congresspersons making loans such as this.I agree with Steve Kroft. It isn’t the loan that’s disturbing, it is the exorbitant amount of interest charged.
So, if you are thinking about contributing to a candidate, think twice, because they may be using your contribution to go golfing so they can court a much bigger fish than you.
None of this is illegal, though. They use their power to make law to create loopholes for themselves. If you or I were to do something like this, it would be called fraud. Think about that.
You can see the whole piece here.
But it isn’t just the Leadership PACs. It is that they want the taxpayers to subsidize the healthcare for not just them, but their staffers as well. While members of Congress are our employees, their staffers are not. It should be up to the members of Congress, as their employers, to pay for their staffers health care.
And it doesn’t end there.
On April 4, 2012, Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act), and President Obama signed it into law.
The law was supposed to stop members of Congress from making stock and bond trades based on knowledge that they had that the general public did not. It was a form of legal insider trading. The STOCK Act abolished that.
That is, up until this last April, when Congress undid most of the law, restoring their ability (and the ability of the President) to act on nonpublic information. There was little announcement and no fanfare over the new (old) law. Once again, Congress has helped themselves, while leaving us poor slobs working in the mines.It was Republican Eric Cantor who pushed the bill through, using a procedure called Unanimous Consent, sometimes referred to as “deem & pass”. As long as no one present in the chamber objects, the bill is considered to be passed.
If you or I were to make stock trades based on information not available to the general public, we would be thrown in jail for securities fraud. But not so, Congress.
Just because something is legal does not make it right.
People complain that Republicans and Democrats are too often at odds with each other, and nothing gets done in Washington.
Plenty gets done when it impacts them. When the two sides start acting in a bipartisan manner, that’s when we should start to worry.
It is well past time for a 28th Amendment: Congress shall pas no law that applies to them and not the Citizenry, and Congress shall pass no law that applies to the Citizenry and not themselves.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Whenever Congress writes a bill, and that bill is passed into law, it applies equally to everyone, right?
Isn’t that how it is supposed to work?
It seems that Congress now has approval from the White House to exempt themselves from certain provisions of Obamacare, like having to use the exchanges to get coverage for their employees. They’ve been whining about it for awhile, about how they can’t, on their $174,000 a year salaries, afford the premiums.
What’s interesting is the lead sentence from the original Politico report:
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to soar next year.
We have been told repeatedly that premiums would come down under the law, despite evidence to the contrary. Anyone who shows evidence that this is not true is branded a lair.
So, if premiums were about to soar on Congress, what’s to stop them for soaring for the individual?
Premiums were going to go up because Congress was going to have to foot the bill instead of the taxpayers. Instead, the taxpayer is once again stuck with the bill.
There is only one thing government is good at, and that’s taking care of the government.
Why are we being forced into a program that the government doesn’t even want to participate in? Why do we have to continue to pay while these assholes, both Republican and Democrat, continue to line their own pockets at our expense?
Many corporations have been exempted from the law, including many unions that supported Obama. The White House has unilaterally, and illegally, delayed the business provision of the law. Congress is now exempting itself from the law, and the taxpayer is once again left holding the bag.
There is no doubt about how corrupt the government is today.
I keep saying it over and over. This is not about the citizenry. This is not about providing healthcare for the citizens. This is about providing subsidized healthcare for the illegal aliens that are taking over this country. If the Mexicans want to get all bent out of shape over being called illegals, all I have to say is, if the shoe fits. If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to get defensive about.
It’s not just the Obamacare thing. Earlier this year, Congress quietly repealed the provision of the STOCK Act (the Stop Trading on Congressional Information Act) that made it illegal for them to make investment decisions based on non-public information that they were privy to. You know, the kind of investing and trading that would have sent us common folk, like Martha Stewart, to prison. It was enacted in 2012.
A year later, almost to the day, Congress repealed parts of the law, most notably, the transparency language that would allow the public to watch them, citing security concerns for their staffers.
Hmm, we have to gut the STOCK Act because we have to look out for our staffers.
We can’t afford to pay the premiums for insurance coverage for our staffers, so we need to be exempt from Obamacare.
Anyone else see a pattern here?
Congress is putting themselves above the law, and being a bunch of gutless cowards in the process, throwing their own staffers under the bus, and their staffers don’t care, as long as they continue to get away with murder.
What I want to know is this. Can we repeal Congress?
Congress is no longer about us, no longer about the people. To run, you have to have money. It has become the National Aristocracy, the rule of the rich over the rest of us, and we should feel special that they deign to pass laws that affect us, and not them.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Having been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Democrats are backpedaling from seeking exemptions just as fast as they can.
There are some Democrats who are saying that they were never seeking exemptions, despite reports to the contrary. A spokesman for Harry Reid told reporters that: “There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or Congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care,” [Adam] Jentleson said.
Reid comes out and holds press conferences all the time. Why the sudden change to a spokesman? I mean, we all know what a worthless scumbag Harry Reid is. He truly makes the Mormon religion look bad. Sending a spokesman doesn’t make him any less a scumbag.
Seeking to reassure the little people, both Reid and Queen Nancy Pelosi have declared that they believe the mandate should not be lifted.
Getting an exemption to the mandate is not the same as lifting the mandate. These are little word games out politicians play.
Of course, Republicans took the opportunity to point fingers at the Democrats and charging that they were trying to get out of their law.
That would work if the Speaker of the House wasn’t named in the charge. You know, the orange chimney known as John Boehner.
The cockroaches have been scrambling for cover now that they have been exposed to the light.
This is what happens when the press behaves and actually reports, rather than sticking their heads up the government’s backside. This is what freedom of the press is all about, holding government accountable.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Washington Post/ABC released a new poll showing that 56% of Americans view our system of government unfavorably. What comes as the biggest shock is that 65% of Republicans surveyed have an unfavorable view of it.
I understand that people are getting fed up and frustrated with Washington. However, the fact of the matter is that it isn’t the system, it’s the people and the parties. It shows me that most people in this country do not have even the slightest inkling how things are supposed to work. Instead, they take the sound bites and photo-ops that are spoon fed to them and swallow them whole.
I recently concluded a series of articles about the Constitution, trying to put into simple terms, what it says, and what it is supposed to mean. I’ve poured over all of the different articles, amendments and did some research on some of those things that were a little more difficult to grasp to make sure I have the correct information. I looked at some Supreme Court cases to determine how the Constitution was interpreted by those in the past, in many cases, closer to the adoption and ratification.
People are frustrated with the economic recovery. People are frustrated with the continual government spending and debt. People are getting frustrated with continued governmental attempts to take away our rights. People are frustrated with the constant logjam of the two parties. They believe, incorrectly, that the Constitution is the source of these problems. It isn’t. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress will be divided into two parties.
From the time of the Revolution, this country has been divided about everything. Approximately 1 out of every 5 whites remained loyal to the crown, about 15 to 20% of the colonists. The patriots, on the other hand, were a group of rabble rousers who numbered at most, 45% of the population. The other third wanted to stay out of it.
There you have it. The patriots who initiated war with George III to gain independence weren’t even the majority.
After the Revolution, a group of men gathered in Philadelphia and hammered out the Constitution, the framework for a form of government. These men were divided into two groups; the Federalists, and the anti-Federalists. The Federalists wanted a strong central authority, but not too strong, while the anti-Federalists feared a strong centralized government. Many of the anti-Federalists left without signing the Constitution, but most would later serve in that government.
As you can see, there were splits from the very beginning.
However, as time moves on, the government has moved to gather more power for itself, not just through Constitutional amendments, but through unchallenged laws. The Tenth Amendment specifically states that any powers not given to the Federal government, or prohibited to the states, are reserved to the States, or to the People. The Constitution outlines, very clearly the powers of the government. Over time this has been warped by lawyers and judges, and Federal power has grown.
How has Federal power grown?
One of the powers granted to the Congress is to Raise and support armies, but appropriation of money for that use can’t be longer than a term of two years. Large land forces were not meant to be a permanent thing. Now we have a huge standing army, and Air Force, reserves and National Guard, the Federalized militia.
The only branch of the military that was meant to be large and permanent was the Navy: [Congressional power to] Provide and maintain a navy. The Founders had a strong mistrust of permanent, standing armies. A standing army was what touched off the Revolution when they moved to confiscate Colonial arms.
The start of the Civil War still saw few Federal troops. Most were members of the Navy and Marines. Some were members of the army, but Lincoln had to call for volunteers and used the volunteer militias as well as State militias to protect Federal property. The militias kept Delaware, Maryland and Missouri in the Union.
The experience of this, as well as the need to keep troops on the frontier began the expansion of the Army. Logistical problems in Florida for the volunteer and state militias during the Spanish American War pushed the Federal government to expand and essentially Federalize the militias into the National Guard, while growing the Army.
It was the first time that the American army had to fight overseas, and that is where the Constitutional grey line starts.
The Constitution clearly states that Congress is to Provide for the common defense of the United States.
Cuba was not a state nor a territory, and neither were the Philippines at the time.
The Spanish-American War marked the first time that the US military was used overseas (the Barbary Wars notwithstanding, which was a war on piracy), and it eventually led to our involvement in both World Wars and the overseas wars after it. It led to the upsizing of our military on a drastic scale, so we could send a force anywhere in the world if we needed to.
Congress is to provide for the common defense, that is, the defense of any state or territory. South Korea is not a state or territory. Vietnam is not a state or territory. Western Europe is not a state or territory.
The early 1900’s was a time of power grabbing by the Federal government. The 16th Amendment gave them the power to tax incomes. The 17th Amendment took representation away from the States themselves by passing the election of Senators directly to the people. The 18th Amendment ushered in the Prohibition era, and was ushered back out 14 years later with the 21st.
These two amendments may seem like little things, but they have turned into big things. Why is the election of Senators by the people instead of by the States a big deal?
Several Senators in recent years have lamented that the Senate was once the greatest deliberative body in the world. It isn’t, anymore. It’s degraded into partisan bickering.
The idea in the Constitution was that if Senators didn’t have to worry about being re-elected, they could take a more neutral view on legislation, and not worry about the pressures of party or their constituents. Instead, Oregon led the way to screwing things up by being the first to pass legislation that elected Senators through the popular vote, despite this being prohibited in the Constitution at the time.
The Seventeenth Amendment needs to be repealed, in my opinion, so we can maybe start getting away from all the partisan bickering and start to restore sanity back to Washington.
The Sixteenth Amendment, which allowed Congress to collect taxes on anything they wanted to is a serious power grab on the part of the Federal government. Sure, it started off benignly enough, at 1% for all income taxes (corporate and personal), but look where were are at now. The government can take more and more from corporations and people to fund military adventures around the world, give to those they feel are in need, and pay off not only our allies, but our enemies as well. They use the money to fund state projects, but bully and intimidate those same states into going along with the wishes of the government, or needed funds will be withheld. More and more Federal programs are being rolled out daily, costing us more and more money, enslaving, again in my opinion, the American citizenry to the government.
The government has even gone so far as to use taxes to influence the behavior of the citizenry. Buy a hybrid or electric car, we’ll give you a tax break. We’ll raise tobacco and alcohol taxes to make it so fewer people smoke and drink. We’ll raise gas taxes as an incentive to drive less. Want money back from the government? Have kids. Lots of kids.
Unless you are a millionaire or billionaire, then you get to foot the bill.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress has the power subsidize any business.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that any office of profit and trust can make rules governing the American people or their business.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress has the power to fund the arts. The useful arts are not the same thing, and it does not call for them to be funded.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress has the power to fund research.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress has the power to fund any foreign military.
Nowhere in the Constitution does Congress have the power to subsidize other nations.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress has the power to require the citizens to purchase an unwanted product, despite what Chief Justice John Roberts thinks.
We are now seeing non-stop attacks on our rights, from the Second Amendment laws in New York, and the proposed legislation from Dianne Feinstein, the State of Washington, and the States of Missouri and Minnesota, where they have introduced legislation to confiscate weapons from law abiding citizens.
A whole new agency has been added following the attacks of 9/11. Now we and our children are degraded as we are groped, poked, prodded and herded like cattle through security to board an airplane. Homeland Security has turned it attention to the American Citizenry, wanting databases on who has guns and who doesn’t, who could potentially be an “anti-Federalist”, who could be an “extreme right winger” or “militia” member. Being a survivalist is just as evil. Anything that could threaten the government, that’s why the agency has purchased 1700 AR-15 style “assault” weapons, and millions of hollow point bullets. Sure, hollow points don’t do a lot to someone in body armor, but they do a lot of damage to those who don’t have body armor. But the sheer number of bullets they have purchased allows them to fight a war for years. Who, exactly, are they planning to fight?
John Adams once subverted the First Amendment through the Alien and Sedition Acts, and it ultimately cost him the Presidency to Thomas Jefferson, an anti-Federalist. The Federal Elections Commission tried to subvert the First Amendment by restricting independent expenditures from corporations and unions. While corporations and unions are not people, they are made up of people, and they have as much right as anyone else to look out for their best interests and make political statements.
We see attacks on our Fourth Amendment rights under attack with warrantless wiretaps and now the advent of drones.The FAA “promises” that they won’t allow armed drones into our airspace. Then they announce that they are kicking off a competition between states to have drone test areas. Feeling uncomfortable yet?
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments are being attacked by a President who kills American citizens overseas that he, or some other “well informed high level government official” deems to be an “imminent threat” without Due Process. Like I’ve said many times before, even the Rosenberg’s were tried for treason before they were killed. So was Timothy McVeigh.
The government is trying to overwhelm us by attacking all of our rights at once.
I’m not trying to pin this on Democrats or Republicans. I will get to them eventually, but both are responsible, both are doing the same thing. Remember, it was Bush who created Homeland Security. It was Republicans who pushed for the 16th Amendment and the Federal governments ability to tax the people. It was the Democrats who spent it. Congress cares about one thing and one thing only, and that is their own personal power and how to get more of it.
Folks, it isn’t the system. We have been blessed to live in a country with the best system in the world, but we’ve grown complacent. We let the government convince us that they know what’s best. We are now starting to wake up to this fallacy, and it is up to us to change it. Our forefathers are watching us.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )