Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

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THE TRAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR

June 7, 2011

I must first apologize to Peter Max, the cover artist for the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” album, for distorting his very famous artwork. I just couldn’t resist. 🙂

As “Pundit World” goes wild with speculation about the line-up of possible Republican candidates competing for the presidential nomination, it is obvious that many good Republicans / Conservatives are not running until 2016, when the field will be wide open in both parties. There are two possible exceptions to the “wide open” theory on the Democratic side: (1) Joe Biden: though I seriously doubt he’ll want to start a campaign when he’s almost 74 yerars old. (2) Hillary Clinton: who has said she is done with public service after she retires as Secretary of State. But, she will only be 69 at that time and she could be convinced by Bill and the party to run, since she did so well in the 2008 primary. I’m sure she would have President Obama’s support.

Real Republicans can’t be happy about the current field of candidates. I know – I used to be a Republican. The tragedy of the “tour” that will be roaming the countryside in this election season is the ridiculous lack of substance in the rhetoric and actions of its members.

“She wasn’t invited. We heard yesterday she came out with a press release she was coming to Rolling Thunder,” Ted Shpak (national legislative director of Rolling Thunder), told Andrea Mitchell (MSNBC). He had no idea Palin was coming until it was posted on her website.  Her intrusion into Mitt Romney’s announcement was another distasteful and disrespectful ploy for attention. Already, her “vacation” is annoying people. Yet, media covers every step and syllable. (I will never understand the fascination it has with this woman.)

So who are the members of this tour – so far?

SARAH PALIN is not running for president, like many of the pundits now seem to be reporting. How do I know? She has a multi-year deal with FOX. While she continues to receive a paycheck from them, she can’t run. It’s against federal regulations. When she stops cashing in, I’ll reconsider my words. (She earns a reported  $1 million a year with this deal. The presidency only pays $450,000.) Her recent home purchase in Arizona may well be to establish residence for a gubernatorial run. 

 

 

RON PAUL is not running for president. Yes, he announced, but he knows he can’t win and doesn’t want to win. His goal is to be a “king-maker” in the election, which is also what Palin is doing. Both will give their opinions of the other candidates to garner media attention and fatten their political coffers. Bottom line: neither will say anything that will shift Republicans’ thinking in the voting booth.

 

 

MICHELE BACHMANN, who hasn’t announced as of this post, will not get the nomination if she does announce, because she has no chance of beating President Obama in the general election. There’s so much video of her saying stupid, nonsensical and nonfactual statements that political ads against her will write themselves.

 

 

 

As this tour continues, we will see HERMAN CAIN, who is slowly going off a cliff. In an interview with Scott Keyes (Think Progress), he was asked if he would ever hire a person of the Muslim faith. He said “no” and went on to say, There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.” He also added, “And I get upset when the Muslims in this country, some of them, try to force their Sharia law onto the rest of us.” His Muslim-based fear may garner some attention from the far right, but most Republicans know he is not qualified to be President. He has never been elected to any office and has no experience running a campaign. If you think he has a chance because he’s black, I have two words for you: Michael Steele.

 

RICK SANTORUM? Google “Santorum.” (I hope you haven’t just eaten.) Once you’ve digested that little-known fact, know that Rick Santorum puts homosexuality in the same category as child molestation, incest, sodomy and bestiality. In his words (taken from an Associated Press interview), “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” He also believes the right to privacy does not exist in our Constitution. Statements like these might help him with the far right of the Evangelical movement, but not in a general election.

 

FRED KARGER has no chance of winning the Republican nomination – he’s openly gay.

 

 

 

 

DONALD TRUMP teased the media again by saying he might still consider running, but that’s all it was. He’s locked into a contract with NBC for “The Apprentice.” Game over, Donald. You’ve been trumped.

 

 

 

 

NEWT GINGRICH is self-destructing. Three examples: (1) He called President Obama the most successful food-stamp president this country has ever seen. (Goodbye unemployed, under-employed and minorities). While there has been a significant rise in the use of food stamps due to the recession, it began in 2007, long before Obama became president. (2) He called the Paul Ryan Budget Plan “social engineering” on a Meet the Press interview and then quickly back-tracked the next day, telling media to not quote him. Six weeks prior to that interview, he praised the plan. (3) He flipped on the issue of helping  Libya. When first asked, he stated we should go into Libya, criticising Obama for not doing so and suggesting he was weak on foreign policy. Then, when the president did go in to help the rebels, he said that was a mistake – that we should never have done so.  Newt is yesterday’s news. He brings nothing new or substantive to the 2012 race.

This leaves the inevitable two:

MITT ROMNEY will have to separate his Massachusetts Healthcare Law from that of the President Obama’s, since many features are shared by both. But this will probably not be the biggest issue. His challenge with true Conservatives is his flip from Pro-Choice to Pro-Life, his Mormon faith, and lack of favor from the Tea Party, whose grip on the GOP is baffling, to say the least.

 

 

 

TIM PAWLENTY left the state of Minnesota in a fiscal mess, although he touts a very different story on the stump. Otherwise, he probably fits the mold of what Republicans / Conservatives are looking for – more so than Romney. He does not want to cut the Pentagon budget, he wants to cut jobs in the public sector (the same sector that employed him for eight years), especially union jobs, and has used some “creative” accounting in a failed attempt to reduce the state’s budget deficit which included a $58 million dollar reduction in education. In case you’re wondering, the I-35 West bridge collapse in Minneapolis on August 1, 2008, that killed 13 people, was the result of a design flaw, not a lack of infrastructure funding, like some on the left have reported.

 

There may be one potential candidate that could surprise everyone and is currently not a member of this tour. JON HUNTSMAN was President Obama’s Ambassador to China. He does move away from the Republican Party on global-warming and other issues, which may be a problem in the primaries. But he’s smart, moderate and knowledgeable.

 

 

 

Q: Knowing all this, why aren’t more qualified candidates running?

A: They don’t want to run against a president that has accomplished as much as President Obama. Their records would pale by comparison.

The current Republicans in the House and Senate can only boast about what they have blocked – which is quite a list. They ran on a platform of creating jobs in 2010, criticizing the president for the slow economy (which had been tanking rapidly for nearly two years before he took office)  but they’ve passed nothing that helps the dwindling middle class.  In the House of Representatives, where they have the majority, they have passed no legislation to help the economy recover. We keep hearing words like “job creating” and “job creators” which mean nothing without defining what and who these words refer to. Instead, they’ve focused on legislation they know will never become law: repealing the Healthcare bill, defunding Planned Parenthood, the attempt to defund National Public Radio, defunding public funding for presidential campaigns, and passing a bill that says the government cannot fund abortions, which is already law. It’s called “The Hyde Amendment” and it was passed over 30 years ago.

President Obama, on the other hand, has quite a list of accomplishments. Once you read the list on the first page, skim through the rest. You’ll see that this president is working hard to resurrect and protect the middle class, which is the only way to put our economy on solid ground. Remember the 1990’s? A tax increase of only 3.5% on the wealthiest Americans, the Pay-Go Bill and a $160 billion stimulous (part of the 1994 budget) resulted in 22 million new private-sector jobs, a balanced budget, debt reduction and a $200 billion budget surplus all in just eight years from 1993 to 2001. Republicans and Democrats were split 50-50 in the Senate on the budget bill and the vice president had to come in and cast the tie-breaking vote – a vote that Republicans said would ruin our economy because taxes were being raised on their wealthy constituents. But don’t expect to hear any of these truths from tour members.

To be sure, the “Tragical Mystery Tour” is coming to take you away… from common sense and facts. You’ll hear falsehoods and misrepresentations by its members stating they know better than our president, how to heal the economy. But they will mysteriously exclude details. They will offer a “new elixir,” knowing it is exactly the same recipe that has been swallowed many times over the last thirty years – without success. This “concoction” only exacerbates our country’s condition. It does nothing to heal it.

Hopefully, one of these Republicans will actually offer a new idea, a fresh thought, a constructive, forward-thinking plan with merit – one that doesn’t punish the middle class, the elderly and the poor.

Right now, I don’t see it.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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CONTENDER

November 19, 2009

As we approach the mid-term elections in 2010, it seems all of the focus is on the inevitable: the Democrats will lose seats in the House and Senate. The erosion of a president’s approval rating is also part of the political cycle. We Americans like diversity in our government. When one party controls both houses of congress and the White House, we get a little nervous.

Although the Republican Party is leaderless, the hardcore Conservative Movement has many leaders (*see the partial list below) and is pushing hard to cleanse the party of moderates. This is a HUGE mistake. Moderates attract independent voters. Without them, you’re left with the extremists in your party. By the time we get to the next Presidential Election, the number of people who call themselves independents will probably grow to about 40% of the voting population – not a good sign for the hard right or the hard left.

There’s been much discussion about who will be the Republican Nominee in 2012. Naturally, people go back to the names they know: Palin, Huckabee, Romney, etc. But there is a Republican you may not have heard about.

He’s fiscally conservative, voting “nay” on virtually every appropriations bill that comes up, including T.A.R.P. Obviously, he is already holding an elected office in congress. He is Pro-Life and pro-guns, including advocating for conceal carry laws. He seems to be moderate on climate and energy issues. He’s also seems to be down-the-middle on education issues, but does think “No Child Left Behind” is a good model for improving our schools. He’s very pro-military, possibly bordering on neo-conservatism.

According to Real Clear Politics, he’s considered a “dark horse” for a presidential bid in 2012, but I disagree. He knows how to raise money. (He’s sitting on $5.5M for his re-election bid next year.) He’s younger than most of the potential candidates, camera-ready, and could easily appeal to conservative independents.

Could he beat Obama in 2012? I doubt it – unless our President completely falls apart in his first term – an extremely unlikely scenario. But he could use the exposure in 2012 to make a very strong bid for the White House in 2016. Typically, second terms for Presidents are not as strong as first terms. Because of this, vice-presidents running for their boss’s position are not usually successful, historically speaking. Considering Biden will be 74 years old on November 20, 2016, there is a very good chance he won’t run for President. This would certainly create a scenario that could give a well-known, seemingly moderate Republican, a 50-50 shot at winning the White House. If Obama’s second term goes well, a Republican’s chance of winning decreases substantially against a formidable Democratic candidate.

The Republican I speak of is John Thune of South Dakota. 

Among the other “dark horses” mentioned in the Real Clear Politics article are Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn.

There was one other “dark horse” mentioned: Dick Cheney.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

* Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, among others.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

October 13, 2009

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It’s around noon. My phone sounds the familiar jingle, letting me know I’ve received a text.

“How many times do you think Rahm said ‘f–k!’ this morning?”

“HAHAHAHA! He’s probably still slammin’ doors. 🙂

My son’s sense of humor, once again, made me laugh out loud in my otherwise quiet work environment.

Our President’s situation, however, is not a laughing matter. There is no doubt the Obama Administration knew what was coming after the President received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.  

Whether he’s “earned” it or not, it was obvious the Nobel Committee decided he had done enough to transform minds around the globe about our country. It could be argued that part of the reason for this award is a rebuke of our previous President and how he isolated America from the rest of the world. But let’s not diminish how much this President is loved and admired by so many nations.

Here’s just one example: Remember the 200,000 people in Germany waving AMERICAN Flags?

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While his political opposition was calling him a “celebrity,” world leaders were paying attention to the positive feelings of hope and peace he was attracting toward our country. His message was always about negotiation, and using military force as a protective – not punitive – measure. His stance against invading Iraq is certainly a good illustration. At every turn, then-candidate Obama made it clear that he would end that ill-conceived conflict and try to bring to justice those who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. He was presenting a major shift in foreign policy thinking and the positive response from the rest of the world cannot be overstated.

Now as President, he is faced with what I would consider a “lose-lose” situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the choices are definitive. None will result in a “win.” If he escalates troop levels, he appears to go against one of the reasons the Nobel Committee awarded him. If he maintains troop levels, it still looks like a never-ending conflict, and if he withdraws, there may be the risk of a future attack. All of this is against the backdrop of an Afghan government that appears corrupt and unable (or unwilling) to lead its people away from the Taliban and Al-Qaida and a Pakistan with nuclear arms.

This is not a political issue, but rest-assured, no matter what our President decides, the opposition will attack him – hard. Republicans seem to be in favor of troop escalation, which is a double-edged sword for him. If he escalates, his image as a peace-maker will be attacked. If he withdraws or leaves the situation status quo, he’ll be labeled as weak and unable to defend our national interests abroad. Neither is true.

Our President will not make this critical foreign policy decision based on polls or politics. He will take his time, utilizing the same pragmatism he has displayed so many times before.  

When the announcement came to the President at 6:00am on October 9th, Republicans and conservatives had a field day, showing their immaturity, instead of realizing that anytime a US President is recognized for peaceful leadership on the world’s stage, it is good for our country. 

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Contrary to what some think, I don’t believe the Nobel Committee had political motives for awarding our President the Peace Prize. Rather, they believe him to be a transformative figure on the world stage – a chance to be the leader in peaceful, non-military solutions for some of the world’s “hot spots.”

Michael Moore’s response summed it up well: “Congratulations President Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize – now please earn it!”

As President, and now Nobel Lariat, Barack Obama has certainly garnered great expectations.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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HAD ENOUGH?

October 9, 2009

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Are true conservatives finally starting to realize the damage being done to their movement and the Republican Party by extremist TV and radio talking heads that call themselves conservatives? Has enough fear, hatred and anger been spewed that rational minds are starting to rebuke these clowns?

For months, I’ve wondered why Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage and others have been allowed to lead the Conservative Movement and by association, the GOP. It now appears there are signs of a push-back.

Could it be that Republicans and conservatives have had enough?

Lindsey Graham seems to be a little irritated.

Steven Hayward wrote this about today’s Conservatism.

David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York TImes,  wrote a stinging article on Glenn Beck and his ilk recently.

On “Meet the Press”, Sunday, October 4, 2009, in a discussion about who will be the Republican nominee in 2012, Mike Murphy (Republican Strategist and Campaign Manager for John McCain in 2000) said, “These radio guys can’t deliver a pizza, much less the nomination.” He also agreed with Steve Schmidt (Campaign Manager for McCain 2008) that Sarah Palin (Rush Limbaugh’s idea of a true conservative) will not be the nominee in 2012, and if by chance she did become the nominee, it would be catastrophic for the Republican Party. Where have you heard that before?

Joe Scarborough (former Congressman R-FL, and co-host of Morning Joe, MSNBC) pushed back against those who were rooting for our President to lose the bid for the Olympics in Chicago in 2016. “The fact President Obama failed makes me respect him more for taking the chance, and the fact many right-wing figures opposed the President’s mission shows just how narrow-minded partisanship makes us all. For the better part of 20 years, a bitterness has infected our politics that has weakened our country.”

That started the “pissing contest” with Rush Limbaugh.

Scarborough should have let it go, but his ego couldn’t keep him out of the “contest.”

Paul Krugman  (Nobel Prize Winning Economist, New York Times Writer) in his recent article, “The Politics of Spite” wrote, “ ‘Cheers erupted’ at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline ‘Obama loses! Obama loses!’ Rush Limbaugh declared himself ‘gleeful.’ ‘World Rejects Obama,’ gloated the Drudge Report.” illustrating the anti-Americanism toward our country because these people wanted our President to fail in his bid for the 2016 Olympics. He said that the Conservative Movement “…has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.”

Here’s just one more reason conservatives and Republicans need to speak out.

The mid-term elections will be fun to watch.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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FROM BILL TO LAW

October 1, 2009

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I’m starting to understand the frustration that our President must feel when he hears some of the uneducated, and even stupid comments coming from congressional members on healthcare. And if you believe some of the punditry, you would think the healthcare bill will be law next week. It’s understandable how lay-persons can be swayed to believe some of this gibberish.

As I watch all of the back and forth, it occurs to me that very few understand how a bill becomes law. Before anyone can discuss the very complicated issue of healthcare and the needed changes, one must first know the process. It’s exhaustive, especially when there is so much political opposition to changing the way we currently distribute healthcare in this country.

As of today, October 1st, we are far away from a healthcare bill. When you hear people say the bill includes this and doesn’t include that, they’re wrong. There is no single bill – only drafts of committee bills.

Here’s how a final healthcare bill (or any bill) moves through congress, step by step. First: all the steps.

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There are five committees looking at healthcare reform. Three in the House and two in the Senate. This is where we are right now. (Please note: I found these charts early in September. The deadline set by Sen. Baucus came and went, and the current draft did not include the co-ops seen on the chart.)

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The 23-member Baucus Committee ran a couple of what I’ll call “trial” votes earlier this week to “take a pulse” on the public option within his committee. The first vote resulted in an 8-15 vote against the draft. Five Democrats voted against it. An amendment was added, “softening” the public option, and another vote was taken. This time, it was 10-13 against. The draft gained two more Democrats. No Republicans voted for either draft.

None of these preliminary votes mean anything. We are still four big steps away from a bill reaching the President’s desk.

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So take a deep breath, fans of the public option. As I said in Strategy Over Blather, we will prevail.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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TO BE BLUNT

September 25, 2009

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They just don’t get it.

They’ve lived in their Lilly-white, gated community world for so long, they have no handle on the pulse of this country. They only associate with the very small minority of those who look and live like them. They are some of the “two-percenters” (the highest income-earners), the “white elite,” and often, without realizing it, the very ones perpetuating the vitriol that offends the vast majority of us – black, brown and white.

I know I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt saying they may be unaware of their part in continuing this rhetoric. I’m probably too optimistic.

The 2009 Value Voters Summit featured many Republican Presidential hopefuls. Below are some of the following breakout sessions on their agenda:

Agenda 

Did you notice the “fear” element? These titles use words like “Thugocracy,” “Conspiracy,” “Silencing the Christians,” “Losing …Basic Freedoms,” “Hysteria,” “Pro-Death Agenda,” “…Threatens Religious Liberty” and “Rationing Your life Away.” So what’s the take-away? Be afraid? Of what?

We decided last year to no longer live and govern in fear when we voted for a change. Why do conservatives and the Republican Party continue to support these non-productive, regressive ideas? Can’t they bring some new ideas to the table instead of relying on the age-old cultural issues that only serve to divide us?

Apparently not.

In case you’re wondering who sponsors such “enlightenment,” below is the sponsorship page from the website: www.valuesvotersummit.org

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Recognize any of these supporters? Here they are individually, along with links to their websites.

The Legislative Arm of the Family Research CouncilFRC-Perkins

The American Family Association  AFA-Wildmon

Focus on the Family ActionFFA-Daly

American ValuesAmericanValues-Bauer

The Family Research CouncilFRC-Perkins2

The Heritage FoundationHeritage-Feulner

Many common themes are woven throughout these organizations, making one think they espouse “American Values.” (A term that eludes definition.) But close, and not-so-close scrutiny reveals very conservative agendas. They are all Pro-life, Anti-Gay, Anti-Government and Anti-Liberal. They have a low, if non-existent tolerance for anyone who believes differently.

None of this makes them bad organizations. But tolerating racist rhetoric does make their motives questionable. Case in point: Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who spoke at the Summit.

The insensitivity illustrated by Blunt is completely trumped by the fact that NONE of the sponsors denounced his words.

Is this a lack of understanding about racism? Or acceptance? When will the Conservative Movement and the Republican Party realize as long as they tolerate this dialogue, their popularity will not grow.

Making Michael Steele the RNC Chair is “tokenism” – not racial understanding. Not denouncing rallies where bigotry is displayed (in signs and speeches), for fear of backlash from the Rush Limbaughs of the media, will not attract rational, level-headed new members to the Republican Party, especially independents – the essential voting block for any political party’s election success.

And allowing Blunt’s comments to go unchecked is just one more shot across the bow of an already suicidal Republican Party.

How pathetic it must be to be Blunt.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR

May 4, 2009

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When most of us hear economists and pundits talk about off-shore tax havens, we have a general understanding of what that means: large corporations hiding profits in bank accounts in other countries so as not to pay taxes on those profits.

I did a little research on one of the ways that tax havens are used. My illustration is based on an imaginary company because I obviously do not have access to the records of real companies.

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So the company that should pay 35% on the net profit of their printer only pays about 6.4%. Our corporate tax rate might be one of the highest in the industrialized world, but it’s NOT what our corporations are actually paying.

Thanks to the Obama administration, we now have plenty of information on tax havens and the greed being displayed by these corporations and their officers.

The report just released by the US Senate is alarming. It appears that there is in the neighborhood of 12 TRILLION dollars in off-shore tax havens. It also appears that there are nearly 13,000 companies using the same address in the Cayman Islands as their “headquarters.”

It has come to our attention that virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are against closing the tax loopholes that allow these tax havens as President Obama has asked congress to do. What we also know is the reason: many of these corporations have spent millions funding the campaigns of these politicians.

Notice that President Obama is not the least bit concerned about these corporations, which means (for me) that he is not indebted to them.

The GOP is doing everything it can to block this legislation. The Democrats that are also opposed are being less vocal. Warren Buffet had this to say about the super rich tax “burden.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I take advantage of every tax deduction that is allotted me. I am employed full-time by another company and I also have a very small recording studio business whose only employee is me. My taxes are prepared by a CPA who keeps up on all the latest changes in the tax code and uses up-to-date software to insure that my tax return is accurate. My complaint is with the corporations buying access to legislators, thereby influencing tax policy in their favor, which depletes revenues to our government and greatly reduces its ability to provide critical services to our citizens.

These corporate CEOs drive the same highways I drive. They are protected by police, firefighters, and emergency paramedics – same as me. They use the same side streets I use. They are guided by the same street signs and traffic lights. They are provided access to the public airwaves for TV, radio and emergencies, just like me. They have access to clean water, electricity and natural gas and pay the same rates I pay. They use the airports and the services of air traffic controllers, just as I do. Their children have access to public education, just like my children.

And for those CEOs that call themselves Christians, here’s what Jesus had to say in Matthew 22: 20-22:

(20)  “And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?”

(21) “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

(22) “When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

If you live in America and enjoy this democratic society that affords us the freedoms and liberties we all cherish, then pay your taxes, damn it!

Rant over.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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REMOVE ALL DOUBT

April 20, 2009

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Some of us are old enough to remember when the Lipton Tea Company introduced the “FLO-THRU” tea bag. It was unique because it had four sides instead of two and you could see through it.

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Much like that tea bag, it was easy to see through these “Tea Parties” on April 15th.

These events were neither spontaneous nor created at the grassroots as was reported on FOX News. They were sponsored by very wealthy people like Former House Speaker Dick Army (R-MS) and his organization, www.FreedomWorks.com

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and by Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and his organization, www.AmericanSolutions.com.

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In Dick Army’s case, he was serving his corporate clients.

They were also sponsored by FOX News – regardless of what they said – under the guise of “news coverage” with extensive interviewing of Gingrich, Army and many others who were scheduled to speak on April 15th. It was wall-to-wall coverage on all of their shows.

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They used advertising time to promote these events. Some of their commentators spoke at these “Tea Parties.” In other words, they were funded, in part, by FOX News. THAT is sponsorship.

People at the gatherings looked foolish trying to tell reporters what the “Tea Parties” were about. “It’s about our taxes going higher!” “It’s about the bailouts!” “It’s about big government!” “It’s about our country becoming a fascist country!” “It’s about the government spending our money!” “It’s about maybe seceding from the union because we don’t like the government telling us what to do!” “It’s about what he just said!”

If any of these statements were true, these events would have taken place when George Bush handed out what he clearly stated was “…700 billion dollars in taxpayer money…” in September, 2008.

There were others that thought it was about abortion,

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immigration,

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Christianity,

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ACORN,

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and even the American Revolution of the late 1700s.

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Apparently, many did not get the memo.

This was not about big government, higher taxes or bailouts. Taxes under Ronald Reagan were higher than they are now – for everyone. Obama’s tax plan reduces taxes on those earning $250,000 or less. My guess – and I’m being generous – is that 99% of the attendees have annual incomes that are far less than $250,000.

It was not about socialism, communism or fascism. It’s doubtful that anyone in the crowd could give you a clear definition of any of these terms. I hesitate to think how much more foolish they would have appeared had they tried.

Nor was it about a growing debt or deficit spending. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who attended, that understands the complexities of our government’s financial system.

No, this was about something very different and no one told the truth.

Instead, they hid behind their statements of “coded” rhetoric like the ones above and those that I wrote about in The Ostrich Syndrome and in my pre-R&O entry, Faith Trumps Fear.

Take a look at some pictures that you probably didn’t see in the mainstream media:

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The man in the above video does not know the definition of fascism.

Let’s be honest: he and everyone else using this rhetoric didn’t have the courage to say what they really meant: “I’m here because I hate the fact that a BLACK man and his BLACK family are living in the WHITE House!”

Here’s a Glen Beck Tea Party organizer in a bar, talking about the communist infiltration that’s been going on for years in our country and telling people to take their kids out of college. This is exactly what we don’t need in this country: more uneducated people. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts he barely finished high school.

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Take a close look at the signs in the pictures. Listen to the rhetoric in the videos. The truth always reveals itself, no matter how hard people try to hide it. Do you see any people of color? No. Not even the head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, was invited to speak. Plenty of other elected Republicans and Republican commentators spoke. Why not Steele?

Those who attended these events were duped into believing that these demonstrations were about “…the high taxes under the Obama Administration.” The truth is the only taxes that are going up – and not until 2011 – are the taxes on very wealthy people, some of whom help to orchestrate these events. This “hoax” was propagated through fear, to manipulate the Low Information Voter into doing the dirty work so that the “organizers” could maintain their distance from the hate-filled signage and foolish statements.

This was vintage FOX News. It scared people into thinking that they are going to lose their “freedoms” or their “money.” They baited the very same people they misinform everyday into gathering with insulting signs and incendiary words about the President of the United States and then exploited them on their network. These folks couldn’t articulate – with any semblance of cognition – a cohesive reason for their presence. They couldn’t discuss policy – they don’t know enough about it. They don’t even know the meaning of some of the terms they used. They were just regurgitating what they heard on FOX News. It’s sad to know that in the 21st century, there is still 1/10 of 1% of the population that can be drawn in to this idiocy like moths to a flame.

Mark Twain once said, “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Too late.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

 

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THE OSTRICH SYNDROME

April 11, 2009

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As we embrace the ninth year of the new millennium, we are experiencing inevitable and necessary shifts in our social, economic and cultural infrastructures. Many of us are thinking “out of the box” while others are trying to keep us in it. We are seeking new ideas that go beyond ideology and what’s been the norm in the past. We are questioning, and rightly so, our business and elected leaders and their collective authority. More importantly, we are not influenced nearly as much by the blather coming from some portions of the media. In other words: we’re waking up.

Some of us have been here before. As a musician and a teenager of the 1960s, I grew up during a time of significant societal changes. There were big changes in music: Elvis Presley’s restricted “moves” in his performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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The “British Invasion” spearheaded by The Beatles.

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The anti-war protest songs of Buffalo Springfield and Sgt. Barry McGuire.

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The American auto manufacturers made big changes with a new generation of automobiles that revolutionzied the industry. Up until then, the family sedan dominated sales.

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Then, by simply changing the body styles of their mid-sized coupes, they introduced a never-before-seen style of American automobiles that took the country by storm.

Ford took their Falcon and turned it into the Mustang in 1964-65.

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A year later, Chevy followed suit with the Nova and created the Camaro.
Sales skyrocketed for both companies.

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Also, for the first time in my life, we as citizens started to really question our leaders, especially after the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The complacent living of the 1950s was quickly ending. We became more aware and less gullible. We began understanding how federal policies affected all of our lives – in this country and around the world. It was, to say the least, a monumental shift in this nation’s history.

There were those who said that because we were questioning “authority” our country was (to quote one of my relatives) “…going to hell in a hand basket!” They were happy with the status quo. I remember hearing “What’s wrong with the way things were when I was growing up?” They wanted America to be as it was portrayed on TV shows like Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.

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But the reality of America was far different. Once many of us became aware that there were aspects of American life that were not so pleasant for many of our citizens, we started re-thinking much of what we had been raised to believe. Leadership that opposed this new-found awareness stuck their “heads in the sand” when it came to addressing the large issues around our changing social environment. As far as they were concerned, the way things “used to be” is the way things should be – there’s no reason to change. Call it the The Ostrich Syndrome.

Since then, many of this country’s leaders have intentionally divided us along social, economic and cultural lines. Much of this division has been perpetuated by politicians, using variations of this “used to be” theme to get elected. It’s also been used by religious leaders to draw the line between “right and wrong.” This is why we often hear statements like “We’re losing the moral foundation this country was built on!” and “We need to get back to what made this country great!”

I’ve yet to hear anyone give a clear explanation for what is meant by these statements. For me, they have the sound of “coded” rhetoric. (Note to self: Make this a future rant.)

When I hear these and similar statements, it’s obvious that those who would lead us back are actually fearful of moving forward – a symptom of The Ostrich Syndrome. Their fears become religious mantras and campaign slogans, tapping into a narrow segment of our population. This segment doesn’t care about what is occurring beyond their personal lives. They don’t want to be bothered. If someone or something threatens to “disrupt” their tiny part of the world with the introduction of new social concepts, they become fearful, angry and defensive. Politicians, religious leaders and portions of the media have tapped into this fear with great success.

Yet, as I write this R&O, I see positive signs that we are finally starting to move away from The Ostrich Syndrome.

There is an interesting phenomenon occurring among those who want us “back in the box.” They are starting to say and do the most ridiculous and outrageous things imaginable to garner attention. In the past I’ve talked about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, so we won’t go there.

But how about a new concoction of “crazies?”

Allow me to introduce you to the insanity that is Glen Beck.

Throw in a layer of Dick Cheney.

Add another one of Newt Gingrich.

And top off with Michelle Bachman.

Add sprinkles of your other radical “favorites” as desired. Allow FOX News to serve it and violá – a new “crazies” masterpiece that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most extreme elements in the Republican Party.

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Why all this angry, fear-mongering, attention-seeking behavior? They’re losing ground! Most Americans have moved beyond this lunacy. The “crazies” are pulling out all of the stops in a last-ditch effort to remain relevant. It’s the fourth quarter, only a few seconds left on the clock, they’re on their own 5 yard line and they’re down by 8. What’s left? The “Hail Mary” pass. That’s it! Rather than get their heads out of the sand and do the hard work of re-educating themselves to new plays, they keep saying and doing variations of the same things over and over again – only louder, in more venues, more often, and with bigger props.

Much like a child throwing a temper tantrum, these acts of desperation seldom affect the rational observer. They do, however, have the possibility of inciting the non-rational, fringe elements of our society into a fear-based anger – which could result in violent behavior – all under the banner of Patriotism. For now though, they’re just making some noise. As far as I’m concerned, they are as worrisome as a cloudy day.

America, we’re starting to “get it.” Those that have been here before know there is pain in the process. We also know that we’ll be stronger and wiser as the pain subsides.

Change is inevitable, often difficult, and always for the better.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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BITCHING IS NOT AN OPTION

April 3, 2009

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The opposition continues to whine about the President’s 2010 Budget: “This will bankrupt our country!”  and “We can’t sustain this type of deficit spending!”  And still more: “Why do we have to do all of this now?”  And the knee-slapping: “Let’s just work on one thing at a time.”

They think they’re helping. They’re not.

How can they discuss projected spending for the next 5 years and not discuss projected income?

To be fair: They can’t.

To be truthful: They don’t want to.

They are under the illusion that temper tantrums are constructive.

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They’re not.

Why not offer solutions? Because they can’t. Nearly all of them are not qualified. Those that might be, don’t have all the information and resources that are at our President’s disposal.

All they offer is ideology. Apparently, that’s all they have. We’ve been there – done that. It doesn’t work. The previous administration had its chance to lead. It failed and our house crumbled. There’s no need to look back, other than to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes.

We have now elected someone new to lead. That leaves two choices for the rest of the politicians in Washington. They can follow or get out of the way. If they have creative, constructive, progressive, NEW ideas, by all means, they should follow our President’s lead by joining in the conversation. If they don’t, then they need to get out of the way.

I have been involved in my share of negotiations, board meetings, brainstorming sessions, co-authorships, team building and the like. The #1 understood message? Bitching is not an option.

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I look at this crisis as if we’re building a new house on an existing foundation. The footer (Constitution) is good. The blueprint (Obama Recovery Plan) is fine. We just need to rebuild the structure (country and government).

We have a new general contractor. He’s put together groups of “builders” who will take on the monumental tasks necessary to complete the construction. So what should the rest of us do? We should understand that this construction will take time, lots of money and sacrifice. The top wage earners will have to pay more in federal income taxes. Those who drink alcohol or smoke, may have to pay more for these products as a result of increased taxation to help fund projects that benefit all of our citizens. The estate tax may have to go up a 3 or 4 points.

As I wrote in 2007, “I believe we don’t mind paying taxes for those things that make our lives a little easier and safer.”

So far, we Americans are patient. The President’s popularity is as high or higher at this point in his presidency than Bush I or II, Clinton and even Reagan. You have to go back to Kennedy to find anyone with a higher popularity in the first 60 days and he didn’t have to deal with two wars, an economy in crisis and loss of credibility around the world.

It’s time to grab a hammer.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com