Archive for January, 2009

Fox News: The Unmitigated American Fascist Propaganda Machine

Friday, January 30th, 2009

     FASCIST: “A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race and stands for a centralized autocratic often militaristic government.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

      Last night I turned on Fox News and listened to Hannity for about 3 minutes, 22 seconds before I had to switch channels to keep my sanity.  He and one of his guests, a female idiot chauvinistic fascist, were condemning Obama for extending the peace branch to 1.4 billion Arabs and Muslims in the world and ‘apologizing’ (they said) for America’s behavior under George Bush.  Paraphrased by me, Obama said in essence, “Today, America does not hate Arabs or Muslims; with the change of power in America, there is now a new attitude toward the Mid East and Islam. You no longer have a reason to hate us and if you will ‘unclench your fist’ we will take your hand in friendship and cooperation.”

      It happens that I agree with Obama and desire peace in the World, including Palestine and Israel, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab and Muslim people.  I regret the hatred for Americans generated by the policy of Bush Administration.

      Hannity and his guest were claiming Obama was appeasing Arabs and Muslims and Obama was wrongly implying that George W. Bush was responsible for them hating America or that Bush brought Americans to hate Arabs and Muslims in return.  Hannity then falsely claimed that Arabs and Muslims had no reason to hate America;evdently, Hannity is either ignorant of the fact or deliberately hiding the fact that Bin Laden’s motive for 9/11, right or wrong, was America’s invasive establishment of a Military base in their Saudi Arabian religious Holy Land and desecrating Islam by doing so (this is the official conclusion of America’s 9/11 Commission Report).  Bin Laden’s attack, in his own words, was retaliation for America‘s 1991 illicit invasion of Muslim Holy Land.  Certainly, this is no excuse for Bin Laden’s Heinous Terrorist Attack on 9/11, but I do wonder what Hannity’s reaction would be to having an Arab-Muslim nation building a military base in America next to his church and his home?  And by the way, the military base built in Saudi Arabia was built by George Bush’s father and was built with the approval of King Saud BUT over the objections of his advisors and the people of Saudi Arabia, including bin Laden (read about it in Richard Clarke’s book, “Against all Enemies”).

     When a nation wants to end a war, the warring nations need to negotiate a peace and that usually means that the nations resolve the ’cause’ of the war; this does not mean appeasement, but it does mean arriving at an understanding and resolution of differences.  If America is to ever have peace with the 1.4 billion Arabs and Muslims in the world, they will have to deal with the aggressive invasion of Muslim sovereign nations in the undeclared oil wars of both Bush Presidents (an undeclared war is a violation of International Law agreed to by the USA).

     One objection to Hannity is that he refuses to acknowledge the actual motivation for bin Laden’s heinous attack.  President George W. Bush also refuses to accept bin Laden’s motivation for his attack.  Further, Hannity does not recognize that the entire world, not just Arabs and Muslims, disapprove of George Bush and his sadistic policies of aggression and torture directed at Islamic and Arab people.

      Fox News and Hannity exists for only one purpose; it is a propaganda device for instilling a hatred for anyone who opposes the arrogant sadistic and aggressive greed and power of the George Bush Administration policy of war and  criminal violations of Law and human dignity.  They have consistently hid the obvious crimes of Bush America (they are the only network who refused to show picrtures of Abu Ghrihab atrocities and their viewers still deny it).

     Bin Laden is a despicable sadistic terrorist, and George Bush’s lies and bungling have made a hero and martyr out of bin Laden to many people who would otherwise have nothing but admiration for what previously was considered a compassionate, peaceful, and responsible American democratic Republic.

California Financial Crisis Perpetrated By Last Generation’s Proposition 13

Monday, January 26th, 2009

    California used to be a great State because it was a wealthy.  It had the best schools in America and excellent law enforcement , fire protection, and other municipal and State services.  Today, California is still wealthy; however, the State treasury is bankrupt, the public schools have deteriorated, and California almost burned itself up recently because of inadequate municipal fire protection.  It is obvious that the current California tax base is now inadequate to provide for resources that citizens need and want.

     Tax revenue in California comes from three primary sources: income tax; sales tax; and property tax.  However, the only truly viable source of tax revenue is one derived from the State’s wealth, the land.

     State Income tax is self adjusting; the more citizens earn, the more taxes they pay and the more revenue the State has.  However, revenue decreases as family income decreases.

     Sales Tax is a regressive tax; it is a tax on the least able to pay.  The less fortunate working stiff pays the same rate of Sales Tax on the overalls he needs to wear to work, as the wealthy citizen pays when he buys his yacht.  In reality, the wealthy avoid sales tax by buying on the internet or making purchases outside California borders.  In hard times, poor laborers can’t buy new overalls and Sales Tax revenue decrease.

     Real Estate Tax is the best source of revenue in California, because the wealth of the State is in land (real estate).  However 31 years ago, Californians voted for Proposition 13 and voted not to not to fully tax the land. 

     Historically, real estate tax was the primary if not the sole source of revenue for municipalities (cities and schools).  Prior to 1978, real estate tax paid virtually all the costs of schools and municipalities (including police and fire protection).  Cities and schools determined their needs and then city councils and school boards determined the property tax rate needed to provide for those needs and the revenue paid for the services.

     Then, in 1978 along came Proposition 13, proposed and promoted by a carpetbagger from Utah, Howard Jarvis, who convinced wealthy property owners that if California was taxed more like Utah, they would pay a lot less property tax..  Prop 13 set a mandatory tax rate so low and property assessments so inequitable that it virtually eliminated property tax revenue as a source of revenue for funding schools and municipal fire and police protection.  Californians voted for Prop 13, without realizing that it eliminated the revenue that provided schools, fire protection, police protection, and other city services, like street repair and street lighting.

     After proposition 13 was enacted, resources for municipalities and schools had to come from the California General Fund (from income tax and sales tax).  Consequently, California increased the rates of the State Sales Tax (the regressive tax on least able to pay) to make up the loss of revenue from real estate tax; however, sales tax is just not capable of providing adequate resources and schools and municipalities had to minimize their servicess.  California wealth is in land, not the purchasing power of the people.

     Another provision of Proposition 13 provided that real estate would be reassessed only when it sold.  Before Proposition 13, all property was reassessed every 3 years; as property increased in value, property tax revenues increased proportionately.

     After Prop 13, real estate assessments quickly became exceedingly inequitable and real estate of businesses and industry, owned before 1978, were never reassessed and they continue to pay low taxes based on 1978 assessments while young families buying residences had to pay much higher taxes because their tax was based on the market value of their homes.  Consequently, business and industrial property owners, of long standing, are paying a pittance for police protection, fire protection, and an educated work force and a young working man with a family, in a recently purchased home, is paying an exorbitant property tax; in today’s real estate market, those high taxes contribute to foreclosure of recently purchased homes whose values have now fallen far below the purchase price.

     Note that in 1978, California ranked first among all the States in revenue spent per public school student; today, California ranks last among the States in revenue spent per public school student.  It is time that Californians realize that nothing in this world is free, including things like public schools, municipal police and fire protection, good streets and street lighting..

     And that dear reader is why California is broke, public school’s are ‘last in the nation’, home foreclosures are epidemic, and Californians might yet incinerate themselves.

POSTSCRIPT: letter to a reader who responded positively

Hi Dear Friend:

       Thanks for your response.  I don’t know how familiar you are with Prop 13, but I am exceedingly knowledgeable about it; I lived it and survived it.  As a school administrator when it passed, I must tell you that it devastated our educational program (the budget which basically is the program) the very first year it became a part of California Constitution and the situation became worse, each year thereafter.  Today’s crisis is what some of us predicted more than 30 years ago and it has finally come about.  Of course, most Californians were not even born 30 years ago and are not knowledgeable at all.

     As a student of history and government, I find it insane that people consider Prop 13 sacred, when in fact those voters in 1978 actually voted against public schools, police and fire protection, and the undisputed most reasonable and logic source of tax revenue; especially, since the beneficiaries of Prop 13, were the wealthiest in society and the losers were the less fortunate tax payers and California’s innocent children who were screwed out of public school education.  Prop 13 was without a doubt an orchestrated coup d’etat of plutocracy.

      Today’s California population does not remember the election as I do; they are unaware that Republican and Democrat elected officials, educators, and police and firemen opposed Prop 13 but Jarvis and his wealthy benefactors had a huge publicity war chest that made them look like they were giving voters a reduction in taxes for the poor and aged), with no consequence and teachers, firemen, and policemen were the greedy ones, not the wealthy land owners (basically, business and industry).  Jarvis then used his wealthy backing to make Prop 13 sacred, like it was a gift from God.  My biggest disappointment in California citizens was that they never expressed any concern for their own fire and police first responders or the education of the State’s children.  I distinctly remember Jarvis quoted saying, “This will have absolutely no affect on public schools.” which was a bald face lie.

      The second worse thing about Prop 13 was that Jarvis made teachers, firemen, and policemen greedy ogres for opposing Prop 13, as though teachers, firemen, and police had no concern for the welfare of society.  This was unforgivable and I remember various people holding me in disdain for opposing that disastrous initiative 13.

     Personally, I came from Illinois to California in 1956 and the thing that most impressed me in California was the equitable property tax at that time.  Property taxes in every other State of the United States were a corrupted tax.  In Illinois, wealthy downtown business property landowners were found to be paying tax on vacant property, for example, when actually one of the biggest buildings in town had been sitting on it for years.  As a political scientist, I marveled and greatly admired that California equitable property tax.  When I moved from the Midwest to California I owned new residential properties in both places that happened to be of equal value and I was surprised that the tax burden in both places was about the same; California property tax was not exorbitant.

     But Californians were concerned because the equity in their homes increased each year and the reassessments reflected that in their total tax bill; what they were not aware of was that the Santa Fe Railroad, Horton Plaza Owners, and General Dynamics experienced the same increase due to reassessment.  It was all proportionate.

     The question then and now, of course, is who benefits more from the police protection, fire protection, and public education?  When you think about it, you must conclude that business and industry benefit the most; they complain the most about the quality of education of their employees.

     California used to attract a lot of manufacturing company employers because California had ‘free’ community-college education and there was an abundance of trained technical workers available here.  The attraction of tax paying manufacturing companies more than paid of the community colleges.  Now Manufacturers avoid California because they cannot afford the property tax on potential factories, they would be required to pay ten times the property tax of factories that have existed, before 1978.

     Since Prop 13 was enacted, I have been labeled crazy, mean, unpatriotic, a crank, and a communist because of my relentless opposition to Proposition 13, for the last 31 years.  Actually, I mourn for the people and the State of California.  As a teacher, I mourn for the lack of understanding by the people and I detest the lies and greed of those who prevent public enlightenment regarding Prop 13 and their own welfare.

      However, the politicians and news media have found it beneficial to play to the ignorance of voters about taxation, tax base, and equity of taxation and use it to their own advantage, getting elected and selling newspapers.  No one listens to public school teachers, whose calling in life is enlightenment; instead, those who would shut public school teachers up, portray them as lazy, greedy louts eating at the public trough.  Perhaps they are not entirely wrong, because there are some teachers like that and they are usually the ones who will accept the lowest pay and get hired by a distressed, bankrupt public school system.

      I am personally aware of some old teachers who voted for Prop 13 and then complained about not receiving raises and a decent salary.  I distinctly remember some teachers who were laid off because of Prop 13, who complained because Jarvis told them that Prop 13 would not affect the public schools; they voted for 13.  Certainly, I have problems reconciling my feelings for these colleagues of mine; it appears to me that one responsibility of a public school teacher is to be aware of how the salary is funded and where it comes from.

     Sorry to bore you with my tirade but you have been such a good listener that I couldn’t resist.  I appreciate our friendship.

     Thank you again for your response.

Goldgoose

Prosecute The Bush Administration; Not For Vengeance, Rather For Justice and Honor

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

       Though America is not a Christian nation, most Americans profess to be a ‘Christian’ affiliated with one of the many very different Christian sects in the USA.  As a consequence, the moral standards of Americans are diverse as well.  However, the Christian concepts of, “Love (show compassion for) your enemies”, and, “Avenge ye not; vengeance is Mine saith the Lord”, is at the heart of ‘Christian morality’, whether actually practiced by Christians or not, and those philosophical concepts are at the base of other religious groups as well. 

      From a purely moral point-of-view, compassion for the enemy and behavior void of vengeance has much merit with psychological, political, and humanistic benefits; it serves the image of American justice and honor.

     With this in mind, consider the state of affairs in the United States and the deterioration of America’s reputation in the World Community that occurred from 2001 until 2009.  It is obvious and evident to all Americans, except those in denial, that from 2003 to 2009, the United States of America, under the Presidency of George W. Bush, has used America’s superior military might for waging unnecessary and unwarranted ‘preemptive’ aggression against the weaker Third-World sovereign nation of Iraq for selfish purposes, basically oil.  In the process of waging this war, the United States and the Bush Administration have violated International Law, previously agreed to by treaty, which the US Constitution says is the “Law of the Land”.

     These violations include  waging preemptive, undeclared war; engaging in subtle genocide by the “carpet bombing of Afghanistan”, where there were no viable military targets, and “shock and awe” bombing of civilian targets in Iraq.  President Bush also subscribed to and approved as American policy, torture and abuse of prisoners-of-war, denying them justice and human rights.

     Further, the Bush Administration violated the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, by depriving American citizens of their freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures and habeas corpus.

     These are not just crimes against the American people and humanity but this behavior is considered ‘sadistic’ by American standards, if it had been perpetrated by anyone other than America and the George W. Bush Administration.

     Many Americans simply refuse to believe that their American government would actually engage is this kind of criminal activity.  It has never happed before and Americans tend to believe that ‘it could never happen in the American democratic Republic’

     Truthfully, the American news media has distorted the news to the point that polls indicate Americans are not aware of the truth; polls indicate that sixty percent of all Americans believe that Iraq was responsible for the Terrorist Attack of 9/11, despite empirical evidence that proves that it is not true.  American news sources during these last eight years, have engaged in ‘self-censorship’ to avoid the wrath of the power of the Bush Administration and the loss of profits from their corporate advertisers, who enjoy benefits provided them by the Bush Administration and the war.

     Basically, all the rest of the entire world, with few exceptions, perceives America under the leadership of President George W. Bush, to be a powerful and sadistic aggressor, guilty of crimes against humanity.  They consider President Bush and his Administration to be ‘war criminals’ that they would prosecute if given the opportunity.

     The response of Americans, during these dark hours of American history from 2001 to 2009, has ranged from approval to refusal to accept the facts to indifference to anguish, embarrassment, indignation, anger and despair.  The American people and their Representatives in Government failed to investigate and to legally prosecute the criminal policies of President Bush and his Administration; the extraordinary power of President Bush and the elected Neocon Republican Congress prevented it.

     In the 2006 Midterm Elections, American voters did voice their disapproval Bush policy and in the Presidential Elections of 2008.  President-Elect Obama and the new Democratic dominated Congress now have a mandate from the voters to see that President Bush and his Administration are brought to justice for their crimes against humanity and violations of the U.S. Constitution and International Law.

     It is imperative that the United States of America accept the responsibility for the nation’s moral lapse by the Bush Regime, and prosecute those responsible for their depraved behavior.  It is a matter of serving justice and a reaffirmation of Constitutional American law and order and moral responsibility.  There is absolutely no cause for celebration when a nation must prosecute its own political leaders; there is no joy in the conviction of the Bush Administration for these crimes.

     The prosecution of President Bush’s Administration will not avenge the unwarranted death and mutilation of thousands of America soldiers or the hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghans and Iraqis, referred to as collateral damage; it will not take away the pain of tortured and abused prisoners-of-war; nor will it satisfy Americans who had their Constitutional rights violated.  Prosecution of the criminal Bush Administration will reestablish the reputation of America as a compassionate and honorable people who recognize right from wrong, morality from immorality, and take responsibility for the criminal human failure of their own elected leaders.

     America from 2001 to 2009 was a dark age of American history that saw a repudiation of the Constitution and those moral values representative of the American democratic Republic.  The New Age of the American politics of 2009 must realize the necessity of prosecuting the wrongdoing of President Bush’s Administration, for the purpose of upholding the law and American values of people’s Constitutional Forefathers.

     America’s transgressions committed by elected officials in the voters’ name was wrong, immoral, and a violation of trust to the World Community; it would not be patriotic to ignore wrongdoing.

     The heinous crime of bin Laden on September 11, 2001, does not justify America’s violations of International Law, violation of the United States Constitution, and torturing prisoners.   Prosecution of the perpetrators has nothing to do with vengeance or hatred.  It is a matter of Justice, Law, and the reputation of the American democratic Republic; America cannot even consider reestablishing a meaningful relationship with 1.4 billion people of the Arab and Muslim world, until we convince those people that President Bush’s torture and aggression policy is not ‘American Values’.  It is now the responsibility of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress to put this nightmare behind us..

Notes From My Desk (No. 6)

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The most efficient and economical way to reform and improve the benefits of Medicare, would be for America to enact a program of Universal Health Care operated by the Federal Government.

 

A monument should be erected on the Capital Mall to commemorate the American Invasion and Occupation of Iraq in 2003; the monument should feature a statue of Muntadar al-Zeidi.

 

Will America ever again be loved by the world, like it was when I used to be able to board an airplane without being searched?

 

There is a point to be made about African-American politics in America; the Democrats gave America Barack Obama while the Republicans gave America, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

 

The basic difference between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush is that Saddam was honest; Saddam told the world that he had no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

President-Elect Obama’s Train Tour; Symbolic of Lincoln And America’s Renewal!

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

      Readers are referred to an Associated Press article, “Obama’s Whistle Stop Train Tour”, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/17/obamas-whistle-stop-tour-_n_158717.html  that is moving and reassuring.  It appears to be a good read for all, because of its assurance to America that ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’.  The ‘Train Tour’ does have memorable ‘Lincoln’ historic significance, and to most Americans, Obama’s train tour is equal in importance to Lincoln’s, of so many years ago.

     In anyway that it is perceived, America has been living in fear since 9/11.  It is notable that since 9/11, our President of the United States has not appear in any open public forums for the last eight years, out of fear for his safety; it is a fear that transferred to all of us ordinary Americans and, in fact, been the main theme for the last two elections.

     Now, President-Elect Obama has chosen to appear in open assembly, at one time in front of more than 100,000 people in a park setting at night and frankly it scared the bejeebers out of me, because I have put all my trust in America’s future to this man.  However, I realize that America must return to this kind of an ‘open society’ if we want to enjoy the freedom that this democratic Republic provided us before 911.  There is more to life than ‘feeling safe’.

     Personally, this President-Elect’s behavior has proven heroic to me.  But when I turn the TV to Fox News, President-Elect Obama is described as a terrible ‘Communist ogre out to destroy America’ and I am reminded of the same hate and fear that I lived in here in America, since the year 2000.  I can and do turn off Fox News but I cannot turn off the creepy feeling that I have about the devoted audience of Fox News that buys their sensational version of history.

     America has gone through a dark age, these past eight years, an era never before experienced in this nation and one hopefully that our children will never have to experience again.

     When traveling by airplane now, every time I board a plane, I am subjected to search and a ‘pat down’ by security personnel (I have artificial metal knees that set off all electronic security alarms).  Each time, which is often, I am reminded of another time when passengers just walked aboard an airplane, confident that the world they lived in had no one that hated them enough to attempt to try to kill them and I ask myself, ‘why’?  Why does someone I don’t even know, hate me today and the same people did not hate me before? 

     My conclusion is that most of the world loved and admired America and Americans then and the same people hate America now.  Why the world’s people hate America now would appear to be answered by determining the motivation for Terrorists to attack on 9/11.

     Regardless, it is easy for me to see that I felt safer having people love me and America than I am now that America has a hated reputation and requires passengers to be searched before they take a trip by airplane.

     In those ‘good ole days’, the news media did not spew hatred for other foreign leaders and their own President-Elect with which they disagreed; the media then, simply reported atrocities and Americans felt compassion for the victims.  Of course, there have always been Americans who felt hatred for their own and foreign leaders, but previously, it was not a way of life and the news media did not exploit it for profit as they do today.

     Even during World War II, the American President appeared openly in public, reassuring Americans that they still lived in an open society and have nothing to fear except fear.  The people of America hated the Nazis and Hitler, but their emphasis during the war was their love of liberty and the defense of it.  Hatred for the enemy was not America’s primary motivation; preserving the democratic Republic was America’s motivation.

     The tenor of American society these last eight years has been one that is foreign to America and uncomfortable; it has been a society that Americans have never experienced before, motivation by fear.

     If America is ever to return to a ‘sweet land of liberty’ and a compassionate defender of democracy, this nation will have to have a President that will be willing to take a train tour, assuring the people that they ‘have nothing to fear but fear its self’; I personally respect and admire President-Elect Obama for his efforts and look forward to the reestablishment of a compassionate America that is loved everywhere in the world..