Old wine in new bottles

The Star Exponent’s July 27th editorial sums up what this election is all about:  voters want new ideas and solutions, not more of the rehashed rhetoric that we have all seen before. Mr. Nick Freitas, who is Chairman of the Culpeper County Republican Committee, suggests in his August 21st Op-Ed, that for the Republican side, nothing has changed except for who is running.

The House of Representatives, led by the Republican Party, currently has the lowest ratings in its history.  It has passed the least amount of legislation, addressed fewer of the country’s economic and business problems,  installed the draconian Sequestration that is eroding the country’s military infrastructure and creating great holes in the Virginia budget, and continues to grandstand against the Affordable Care Act with more than 50 futile votes to repeal it.

Mr. Freitas rolls out the same old tired platitudes that we have heard for the last four years and fails to show us that the Republican candidate has any solutions to offer to this partisan deadlock.  All Dave Brat offers is an endless repetition of conservative “greatest hits” and a promise of more partisanship.  Partisanship is not the answer.

On health care issues, Mr. Freitas suggests the Republican candidate will vote to scrap ACA so that the public can return to being sold junk health insurance policies with lifetime limits, small coverages, and great profits for the industry.  Meanwhile, $5 million dollars a day in taxes and fees that Virginians pay go to support health care in other states.  We should appreciate the good health care Kentuckians and Californians are getting with Virginia money.

Mr. Freitas’ discussion of the most recent media coverage of immigration issues is misleading at best, if not downright false in its description of current efforts to solve our immigration problems.  The Bush Administration’s “Trafficking in Victims Protection Act” of 2008, passed almost unanimously in the House, requires the Border Patrol to take child immigrants who aren’t from Mexico into custody, screen them, and transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.  Mr. Freitas suggests the Republican candidate will gut protections for trafficking in children or certainly not pay for the requirements of the Bush Administration legislation.  Does the candidate really agree with Mr. Freitas that the problem comes not from the Bush Administration law but has been manufactured by President Obama?  No wait, he says these children are under the control of narco-cartels.  Seriously?

And then there is the bow to limited constitutional government.  Like the regulations the Republican Party wants to place between a woman and her health professional.  With the support of the Supreme Court, limited constitutional government now allows a business to stand between a woman and her doctor.  Both the Democratic and Libertarian candidates support the right of any woman to make her own health decisions with her doctor without interference by our elected politicians.

In contrast, Jack Trammell has dedicated his professional and personal life to solving problems.   His ability to work well with others has resulted in the implementation of service learning programs.  He has published several books and numerous professional works.  In Orange, Louisa, and other counties, Jack has spoken about wanting to improve the economy by “… addressing not just employment rates, but the type of jobs and the type of life for people in the 7th District.” He also wants to see a “more commonsense transportation policy and initiative … in the 7th District to help with economic growth.

Jack says that education of our children is a perennial issue, and that legislators need to address issues ranging from student loan reform to special education.  In the case of loan reform, he supports improving disclosure and other “low-hanging fruit” that could be accomplished easily if it weren’t for an obstructionist Congress

Summarizing that … “what people in the district are most concerned about right now, it’s jobs, transportation and education … they want to see people in Congress who will look out for their interests and won’t obstruct the wheels of progress.”

Jack Trammell offers the people of the 7th District new ideas and approaches to solve our many problems and that is why he deserves your vote this November.

Mike McClary

Culpeper County Democratic Committee

Wealth and economic inequality

Oftentimes to discuss the present, you often need to look at how the past has shaped it. George Santayana, the American philosopher, said “Those who do not remember the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them.” His observation is particularly relevant to our time, because it’s difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that we have indeed forgotten those lessons.

It’s not just the past that we’ve failed to learn from, but apparently anything which falls outside the most recent news cycle. Meanwhile, much of the country, like the readers of our local paper, the Central Virginian, continue to cling to the ideology of modern conservatism, a cult of irresponsible and reckless infantilism predicated on a massive sense of straight white male entitlement.  Despite the fact that there has been clear and overwhelming evidence of a substantial decline in their standard of living in the past few years.

Several years ago, I’ve wrote extensively to the CV about the upward transfer of the middle class wealth to the richest 1%, the greatest economic theft in the history of mankind, and how their wealth is being used to buy our political system lock stock and barrel, allowing their pillaging to continue unchecked in more ways than the Kama Sutra has positions.

The public response to those letters was revealing; starting with a wholesale denial using “factoids” of questionable validity, along with numerous thinly veiled personal attacks. So, if you’re going to be the bearer of bad new, you should be prepared to “welcome their hatred,” much as FDR did.

Hatred combined with racism has long been one of the bedrock values of this country — the beating heart of white privilege which continues to define our political landscape. A reality that wave after wave of immigrants quickly adopted to better fit in.

Several years after my letters, we now know far more about the details of economic segregation, about income inequality, our crumbling education system, the militarization of our police, and the unequal application of justice.

Yet we do nothing about them because the economic benefits we receive from these differences keep us committed to the perpetuation of an unwritten caste system one which is excruciatingly difficult to maintain, so psychically exhausting that it turns many into a neurotic, fearful, angry, and mean spirited people.

Just take a look at the differences between the left and the right, as well as between black’s and whites to the recent events in Ferguson Missouri were perceived.

Approved

Meanwhile, we continue to wrap this privilege in the comforting cloak of fake civility and superficial reasoning; such as “why can’t we all just get along.” It is one of the reasons why we fail to demand anything of our politicians, especially Democrats.

It should be clear by now that Eric Cantor’s historic upset was largely because of voter frustration with the status quo. Such discontent and anger can be a good thing, if it leads to social change, and if the people remain focused on the true problem, and do not become distracted by fake populists

The loud silence of Democratic leaders in this and many other issues continues to leave a wide open vacuum for others to occupy, a void that charlatans like Rand Paul seek to fill. He is trying to build populist narrative which if it gains traction will become the latest Republican narrative.  Democratic inaction these issues are just as bad if not worse than his actions cloaked in a false populism.

It’s often been said that the reason Democrats are afraid to stand up to their principles, is because they don’t want to endanger their ability to collect donations from rich donors who are often considerably further to right of the issues they claim to support. Apparently something that Republicans don’t have a problem with.

So they’ve developed a bad habit of “getting along to go along” enabling them to avoid any controversy. An attitude that extends to tossing their supporters the scraps of decades old platitudes, along with a lazy dependence on “demographic shifts” to win elections, without doing anything to earn those votes. Increasingly, their actions aren’t fooling anyone, nor are they a recipe for continued success. What they are doing is opening the door for populist pretenders.

This perpetuation of economic privilege is the sickness at the heart of our body politic which floods our social and personal relations with anxious bile.  Keep in mind that people need to be heard, one way or another, and that there is only so much give left in our tattered social fabric. Today the fire is small, some day it might burn larger and brighter — a hundred Fergusons, or a thousand. It is long past time for us to unplug from the Matrix of privilege.

Jon Taylor

Next: http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/08/29/economic-consolidation-and-social-inequality-2/

Economic consolidation and social inequality

Observations about the nature of the human condition remain as true now as when they were first conceived, from the days of the ancient Babylon to modern times.  In the late 1800’s the British historian, Lord Acton said that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And several decades later, the American philosopher, George Santayana said “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aims.

These comments are relevant because it’s becoming clear that the human race has forgotten the lessons of history and we are redoubling our efforts in a futile quest for power which corrupts us even further.

Political corruption, greed and economic inequality have reached epidemic proportions throughout the world.  Since the 1980’s, much of the world’s wealth has transferred upwards to the ultra wealthy, the .01% and corporations, significantly accelerating since the Great Recession of 2007-08. With many in the United States and around the world increasingly sentenced to an impoverished existence, unable to make enough to keep up with the cost of living.

The American philosopher and liberal reformer, John Dewy said, “There is no such thing as liberty or effective power of an individual, group or class, except in relation to the liberties and effective powers, of other individuals, groups, or classes.”  He also asserted that the promise of freedom offered by democracy can not be obtained simply by extending voting rights but also ensuring that there was a robust and fully informed public, something that could only happen if there was effective communication between citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being held accountable.

Regardless of ones political or ideological leanings, I seriously doubt if anyone today could honestly say that this is even remotely true. To find out why this is happening “follow the money

distribution

According to the latest Federal Reserve Flow of Funds report, US households reached an all-time high of $82 trillion in wealth.  Were this wealth evenly spread out, every family would have $712K.  Yet, at the end of 2013, the median household had just $56K. Starting with the Great Recession in 2007 to the end of 2013, the nations overall wealth increased by 26%, while the median family lost a shocking 43%. At this rate, over 50% of US households will be bankrupt within the next decade.

The fact that a majority have lost so much in a time of record breaking wealth demonstrates how fundamentally broken our economy and our government have become. Currently, the top 1% now own 39.8% of the countries wealth an all-time high, for a mind-blowing total of $32.6 trillion in wealth.

Meanwhile, at least 40% of the 1%’s trillions in wealth lie unused, while a record numbers of people toil in poverty and debt, a crime against humanity, when it would take just 0.5% of that wealth to eliminate poverty nationwide. Once you begin to realize that just a fraction of that wealth could dramatically change our society (and the world) for the benefit of all, the argument for systemic economic and political change becomes obvious.

In the meantime, the 1% continues to amass unprecedented wealth and power, and their relentless accumulation of wealth is pushing a majority of the county (and the worlds) population into extreme economic insecurity and mounting debt.

If you find yourself struggling to get by and running up debt just to make ends meet, it is not necessarily your fault, 70% of the working age population doesn’t make enough income to afford basic necessities without taking on growing levels of debt, which most will never be able to pay back because there simply are not enough good paying jobs out there that allow them to keep up with the cost of living.

Currently, only one out of every 3.4 workers makes enough to cover the cost of living without taking on debt, and deepening poverty and declining living standards are becoming more prevalent than either the government or corporate controlled media are reporting. Jeremy Rifkin makes the follow observation “We are entering a new phase in human history, one in which fewer and fewer workers will be needed to produce goods and services for the global population.”

Jon Taylor

Next: http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/08/29/numbers-hiding-systematic-impoverishment/

 

Numbers hiding systematic impoverishment

It’s been said that there are “lies, damn lies and then there are statistics” For decades, our government has been engaged in statistical fraud, allowing them to hide the effects of their policies in plain sight. The Census Bureau cites a poverty rate of ~15%, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ claims the nation’s unemployment rate is hovering around 6%.

Statistical propaganda that masks the suffering of million of US citizens, and misrepresents the severity of the present crisis. For example, our government uses a flawed Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate to determine the poverty rate, a figure which has been “revised” over 20 times since 1970 to give a better impression of countries overall economic health.

Currently, the CPI indicates that inflation is rising at a 2% annual rate, if inflation was calculated the way it was in 1980 the current rate would be closer to 10%. Unfortunately many our government’s vital economic statistics are based on this fraudulent data.

Meanwhile, as most people living in the real world know, the actual cost of living has skyrocketed.  Here are just a few examples; our government claims that total inflation rose by just 28% from 2002 to 2012, a number that flies in the face of dramatic rise in the cost of basic food staples alone.  Not to mention that it completely fails to take into account the differences in cost of living based on geographic locations.

The Census Bureau calculations use the CPI inflation rate which don’t factor in any geographic cost of living differentials accounting claims that the poverty threshold for a family of four is $23,600. While the Economic Policy Institute estimates that a family of four needs $63,364 a year to cover basic necessities. To put these figures in better context if household income kept pace with the economy since 1970, the current annual median income would be $95k, almost double what it presently is.

Such dramatic rise in the basic costs of living, and the amount of money that people need to survive remains all but ignored, another indication of how corrupt our economic system have become. The National Center for Children in Poverty says this about the government’s poverty threshold, “Research shows that, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses.”

Their figures double what the government’s considers to be the threshold for people living in poverty, and if used the countries poverty rate would explode from 15% to 47% of the population. Just one of the reasons why the government has been falsifying  the inflation rate for decades, because that would mean they have to admit that hundreds of millions of people are living in poverty and cannot afford the cost of basic necessities.

Unemployment is far worse than the 6% that the government reports, because it does not include part-time workers who need full-time work, long-term unemployed people unable to find work, and “discouraged workers” who do not consistently look for work. If you account for those groups, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) used to do until 1994, the real unemployment rate is 23.2%.

Since 2007, good paying jobs have become increasingly rare and low-paying full-time, part-time and temporary jobs have replaced them, 50% of low-paying jobs created over the past three years are in retail, food service or temporary help. According to the BLS, of the 213 million people who are of working age there are only 118 million full-time jobs and 28 million part-time jobs, and there are only 106.6 million full-time workers.  Currently, it is impossible for half of the working age population to get a full-time job. Of the existing 118 million full-time jobs, 47% of them pay below $35k per year.

The mainstream media not only repeats these bogus statistics, they have been drastically under reporting the growing epidemic of poverty. The real story according to Noam Chomsky is this, “The war against working people should be understood to be a real war. The highly class-conscious business class, has long seen themselves as fighting a bitter class war, except they don’t want anybody else to know about it

Jon Taylor

Next: http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/08/29/an-eternity-of-debt/

 

An eternity of debt

Corruption, greed and economic inequality in our economic system are rapidly reaching a tipping point, because it is unsustainable and it will eventually collapse under the weight of its own fraudulence. In many respects our financial system, the Federal Reserve, along with the US government have become little more than a front for the nations ultra-rich.

To get a better understanding of just how corrupt the economic system has become, we should look a phenomena known as hidden wealth, a figure whose true magnitude is difficult to accurately gauge. In no small part because of secretive methods which have evolved far beyond tax havens in Switzerland and the Bahamas.  

A study of hidden wealth was done in 2012 by economist John Henry in partnership with the Tax Justice Network (TJN), and estimated that there was roughly $32 trillion in hidden wealth. Qualifying their estimate with this statement, “We consider these numbers to be conservative. This is only financial wealth and excludes a welter of real estate, yachts and other nonfinancial assets owned via offshore structures.

By comparison Gabriel Zucman a professor at the London School of Economics recently estimated that “around 8% of the financial wealth of households is held in tax havens,” a figure which indicates that a minimum that the richest 1%  has roughly $39 trillion in overall wealth. A full disclosure of hidden assets is likely show that the 1% has closer to $50 trillion in wealth, with over $18 trillion being held by the top .01%.

For most countries, global financial inequality is not only much greater than we suspected, but it has been growing much faster…. it turns out that this offshore sector – specializing in tax dodging is essentially designed and operated, by the world’s largest private banks, law firms, and accounting firms.

An analysis of these banks shows that their leaders have figured prominently in government bailouts and other financial sleight of hands.  Institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, and the Bank for International Settlements, as well as leading central banks, have much of the data needed to monitor these banks and measure just how much hidden wealth there really is, but find they have little time to do so.

By strange coincidence, those extra trillions in hidden wealth of our 1% is close to the trillions in total US household debt, and why this upward flow of money continues to be the greatest theft of wealth in human history. How could it not be?  With Wall Street treating our economy like their own personal Monopoly game, greedy players managing both the deeds and the money, engaging in trillions of dollars of fraudulent activity every time they pass GO.

They were aided in this racket by the Federal Reserve, who in secrecy created trillions of dollars out of thin air that allowed them to continue covering up the consequences of their actions and keep on looting the countries wealth. When I said three years ago that our government has become a finely tuned protection racket for maintaining the financial class, I may have understated the magnitude of the problem. Because now we are really are operating a casino based economy, sticking our heads in the sand praying we will hit the jackpot.

Any hope that things will get better is long past, because the worst is yet to come. The British paper, the Guardian reported on, The Coming Debt Tsunami, “During the first quarter this year 3.7 million credit cards were issued to subprime borrowers, up 39% from the previous year. In that same quarter, the average interest rate was 21.1% also up from the previous year.  Prime borrowers paid an average of 12.9% on their credit cards, while banks that are lending them money paid nearly 0%.” The spark which set off the first global financial crisis is heating up once again, as usurious interest rates continue to rise.

Saying that The debt held by American households is rising ominously, and unless economic policies change, that debt balloon powered by radical income inequality will burst … we can look forward to rapid increases in debt for both households and corporations from at least 2015 to 2017 in a tsunami of debt.” If trends continue, and government policy doesn’t change most of the US population is heading for insolvency.

And you wonder why US corporations have been leaving the country like rats fleeing a sinking ship?

The de-leveraging of the rich and the indebtedness of almost everyone else follows the same trend line, with the rich getting richer, and the poor –– going deeper into debt. With …90% of the population becoming insolvent…” The first wave of the coming tsunami is already here, for the first time since the depth of the recession, credit card debt is now rising faster than wage growth.

The second wave will bring even more foreclosures, on a par with the 5.5 million who have already lost their homes since 2007.  Currently, six million families are underwater on their mortgages, and as Ellen Brown recently summed it up, “40% of mortgages nationally are either underwater or nearly so… seventy percent of homes that are underwater wind up in default. Worse, many second mortgages will be coming due for a reset, resulting in another disastrous wave of foreclosures.”

To make matters even worse, the Federal Reserve has been fraudulently inflating housing prices, as part of another wealth extraction operation they currently own $1.7 trillion in Mortgage-backed securities and $2.4 trillion in Treasury securities.

Behind all of these economic statistics the shortsighted greed of the .01% is causing unnecessary suffering for an unprecedented number of people, inflicting immense physical and psychological trauma which compounds existing health problems and dramatically increased costs.  Economic insecurity also drives people drug use and crime. Beyond the moral and humanitarian imperative, recent studies show that the cost of poverty to society is far higher than the cost of eliminating poverty.

The consolidation of wealth by the .01% has created a system of economic slavery.  It is a crime against humanity for a majority of the population to be toiling in extreme debt, poverty, and unemployment and low-wage jobs in a wealthy and technologically advanced society.

Jon Taylor

Next: http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/08/29/economic-tyranny-is-the-new-normal/

Economic tyranny is the new normal

Beyond the staggering levels of personal debt that American families have been forced into to maintain the illusion of prosperity, is our countries national debt of $17 Trillion and counting. On the political level, it continues to corrupt any discussion of how our government should be run.   The dangers are not just financial, FDR said that” The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence, is fascism- ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other private controlling power

Throughout history, extreme wealth inequality has always threatened freedom and democracy, from the days of the “monied aristocracy” to our “Gilded Age” and the “Roaring 20s. Roosevelt proposed an Economic Bill of Rights that would guard against unhealthy levels of inequality and guarantee economic security for every citizen, equating the concentration of wealth to “fascism” and “gangster rule.”  Upon accepting his second nomination as President, before World War II started, Roosevelt declared a war for economic freedom against the .01%, comparing he wealthiest members of society to the British monarchy:

“… the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man…. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age – other people’s money – these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in…. For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality.

A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor – other people’s lives…. Against economic tyranny such as this…. the collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was…. The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody’s business….

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike….

America we are waging a great and successful war. It is not alone a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy…. I accept the commission you have tendered me. I join with you. I am enlisted for the duration of the war.”

Even during the height of WWII, Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union address kept the focus on the .01% and said that they were “the greatest problem” facing the nation.  He called out “a noisy minority” which “maintains an uproar of demands for special favors for special groups.”  Described them as, “pests who swarm through the lobbies of the Congress and the cocktail bars of Washington, representing these special groups as opposed to the basic interests of the Nation as a whole….”

Roosevelt saw World War II as an extension of the deeper battle against “economic slavery,” wealth inequality and the .01% who prevailed in the 1920s and led the nation into the Great Depression.  In his 1944 State of the Union address he said:

We are united in determination that this war shall not be followed by another interim which leads to new disaster… that we shall not repeat the excesses of the wild twenties… if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920′s — then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home….”

The “gangster rule” that Roosevelt warned against has become a reality.  The .01% acts with impunity, totally above the law, engaging in trillions of dollars in fraudulent activity without ever being held accountable. Their ceaseless accumulation of wealth allows them to control Congress and many state legislatures, buying them up like so many commodities, so they may better serve their interests — not yours.

Our “economic royalists” hand down their dictates through hand picked government legislation using front groups like ALEC, and centrally managed economic policy designed to keep the population economically insecure, subservient and enslaved in debt.  Through ownership of mainstream media companies they keep the masses in ignorance, wholly unaware of the shift in technology and wealth creation that should have provided economic security and made life much more enjoyable for everyone a generation ago.

The evidence is undeniable that we now live in a neo-feudal society; the continued accumulation and hoarding of wealth by the .01% doesn’t create opportunity or jobs, it sucks the life out of them. The indentured servant of yesterday is now the indebted wage slave. A recent scientific study showed that the United States government is no longer responsive to its citizens; it has been captured by the .01%. Political office has become a stepping-stone and initiation process that politicians go through to be accepted into the aristocracy.

Rebellion against a permanent aristocracy was what our American Revolution was all about. Thomas Jefferson’s understood that their ability to consolidate wealth and subvert government was a perennial threat to democracy, and believed that every generation would need its own revolution.  Saying “I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

When discussing “the spirit of the people” and the need to “nourish and perpetuate that spirit,” Jefferson said, “I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.”

Today, the aristocratic “spirit of fascism” has conquered the “spirit of the people,” with wealth and power consolidation in unprecedented fashion, the overwhelming majority of Americans toil in “servitude” and perpetual debt,” while economic tyranny becomes the new normal.

Jon Taylor

Next: http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/08/29/tipping-points-and-change/

Tipping points and change?

One indication that we are reaching the “end game” of the .01%’s agenda is the fact that in recent weeks they are no longer even bothering to hide their intentions. Like how Senator Mitch McConnell recently said at a conference hosted by the Koch brothers that if when the Republicans took back the Senate as Senate Majority leader, he would work to block those “gosh darn” Democratic policies . Starting with abolishing the EPA and the ACA, blocking any attempt to raise the minimum wage hike, restoring extended unemployment insurance, or easing student loan burdens.

Either he’s gone senile in his old age, or doesn’t think there will be any electoral consequences for publicly endorsing the Koch brothers’ entire agenda, revealing that he and his party are dedicated to protecting the interests of billionaires. Something that none of the other Republicans have dared to do … yet.

Several years ago, when I first wrote in the CV about ALEC, the American Exchange Council, most fellow Democrats had no idea what I was talking about.   In a nutshell, they are one of many  allied and intertwined organizations founded by the Koch brothers.  ALEC claims to be a “non-profit” educational organization dedicated to promoting more effective legislation, a pretense that allows them to operate behind the scenes at the heart of a well-developed process which quietly provides “model legislature” designed by their committees of “business partners” to state legislators across the country.

A process made considerably easier after the 2010 Citizens United decision allowed hundreds of corporations & business associations “sponsoring” them to invest unlimited amounts of money into the state legislative PAC’s of their choice, along with an alphabet soup of dark money groups and other Koch brothers controlled organizations, like Americans for Prosperity.

Organizations who would do their dirty work, buying Republican state legislatures, and in 2010, Republican’s gained complete control of 25 state legislatures, along with partial control of another 8 states.

In the years that followed, the dividends from these “investments” paid off handsomely, giving them the “freedom” to turn large parts of the country staunchly pro business and conservative on virtually every issue, legally and apparently permanently. Spreading their fascist agenda throughout  the country. Starting  with states that were the last bastions of Democratic strength like;  Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and New Jersey. Along with conservative ones like; Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri.

Most of these states now have considerably diminished environmental protections, workplace rights and worker representation, access to economic justice, voting, and women’s rights.  Several of the states ; Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey and Kansas became testing grounds for free market experiments and are now experiencing severe financial difficulties because of their reliance on these faith based economic policies.

During the 2011 election, many of ALEC’s supporters were publicly exposed and like cockroaches suddenly exposed to the light, they scurried for the shadows. With many dropping their public and  financial backing of ALEC. Since then, some of the bolder ones have returned, but most continue to hide in the woodwork … for now.

That used to be true of the Koch brothers, who for decades have been quietly developing a network of allied organizations, working behind the scenes promoting their interests.  A network that has come to be known among its detractors as the Koch-a-pus.

Kochs

During the 2012 election, this network spent hundreds of millions in a effort to  keep politicians’ in their pocket, and was instrumental in helping Republican’s gain complete control of another 2 state legislatures, and reducing the Democrats majority in the Senate down to just 3.

However in the process of winning the battle of the states, they got their asses handed to them in the Presidential election. Now if there’s anything the Koch’s hate more than progressive ideas, it’s spending money in a loosing cause.

Almost as soon as that election was over they set out to make sure this wouldn’t happen again. First, they bought themselves a database company, and spent the next 2 years developing their own private database of conservative voters.

This year they plan on spending even more than the $ 400 million they did during the 2012 presidential election. The Koch’s are running an all out war to take back control of the Senate, which if they succeed would allow them to take their ALEC based  “model legislature” from the state level to the national level.

Recently the Koch-roaches came completely out of the shadows when their database company i360 (aka Themis)  announced it would be “joining forces” with the Republican National Committee outsourced database management company called GOP Data Trust.

The secretive data and technology firm, Themis is reportedly backed by the Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners and serving as repository for the data amassed by their political empire.  This merger allows the Republican Party full access to voter data collected by the Koch’s Freedom Partners entities and clients — and entrenches the Kochs’ even deeper within the Republican party.

The two companies claimed in a press release, that the “historic data sharing partnership” will “allow Republican and conservative campaign resources to be spent more efficiently than ever before,” saying that “voter contact information gathered by clients of either The Data Trust or i360″ will be now used to “improve the data shared with all clients,”and “conservative groups and campaigns will have more information about voters at their disposal for their own activities than ever before.”

In a time when the lines between the Republican Party and the Koch’s were already blurred, this deal strongly indicates that the Koch’s are leading the party, giving the more radical “tea party” wing even greater influence.

Something that shouldn’t be lost on the voters here in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, for it was the Koch brother’s  pay to play scheme involving several conservative talk radio hosts that brought Dave Brat most of his radio exposure in the months leading up to his historic upset of Eric Cantor.   http://www.esquire.com/ blogs/politi/The_Friends_Of_Dave_Brat

A favor that’s about to be returned in an upcoming fundraiser in nearby Beaverdam. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/virginia-politics/ingraham-sessions-to-stump-for-brat-on-sept/article_22e8be5a-c74e-5e71-8eff-11d97f22fc58.html

When you stop to examine all of this, it becomes a mathematical certainty that there is a need for significant systemic economic and political change in this country. As more and more people become aware of the deliberate manner in which they have been exploited and oppressed, and the unnecessary suffering they have been put through, they will have to face some hard choices.

Either they continue to listen to and follow a delusional political class and mainstream media determined to uphold the one sided economic status quo, rolling over and continuing to take it  while going “yes, sir…thank you sir.” Or they will become a critical mass of voters who insist on nothing less than absolute revolution.

Given the .01%’s overwhelming advantages, I personally think that the window of opportunity for voters to do something about this is over these next two election cycles. Should nothing appreciably change during that brief time frame, I fear their advantage may become insurmountable and permanent.

Jon Taylor

Why the Tea Party was established

Jerry Reynolds felt compelled to respond to my letter published on Aug. 14. I am compelled to rebut his comments.

First of all, I’d like to give Mr. Reynolds a little history about the original Tea Party. Via the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, the British taxed several items sent to the colonists. Meanwhile, colonist John Hancock, Samuel Adams and others established extremely lucrative businesses by smuggling tea to the colonists at a lower cost. In 1770, the Act was repealed and nothing was taxed except tea–at a lower rate .

When the Act was repealed, colonists could get their tea from the British for less than they could from the smugglers. This cut into Hancock and Adams’ profit. Adams than started to incite the colonists against the British under the pretext of Britain’s abolishment of human rights by “taxation without representation.” Colonists had been invited to attend meetings but refused.

So, contrary to Mr. Reynolds comments, the protests weren’t about the overreach of government, stifling taxes and regulations. It was about businesses, namely the tea smuggling business, being crushed. Now, just as then, the tea party incites with lies, half-truths and innuendos to promote their purpose; overthrow of our government.

Mr. Reynolds stated that my most blatant allegation was that the Tea Party is destroying America. I said the Tea Party is dividing America. It is also dividing the Republican Party. Why else would Dave Brat have run against Eric Cantor? Mr. Cantor was in position to become the next Speaker of the House—a highly regarded position with almost as much clout as the president. Even if Cantor was more interested in his career than his constituents, a unified Republican party would not have had an opponent for Mr. Cantor.

Mr. Reynolds stated that Democrats have been in charge for the past five and one-half years. He later concedes that they were only in charge for the first two years. During the first two years, things were accomplished. During the last three and one-half years there has been nothing but gridlock in Congress because of the Tea Party members. Hence, the title, “the most do nothing Congress in history.”

An example of the Tea Party’s gridlock is Ted Cruz’s filibuster during budget negotiations in an effort to repeal Obamacare. His antics closed the government and cost more than $20 billion, which only increased our national debt.

President Obama has had more on his plate than any president before him, to include worldwide financial and humane crises, wars all over the world, natural disasters, etc. Tea Party representatives in the House have done everything in their power to undermine him.

Mr. Reynolds snide remark that Obama is neglecting his duties in order to play golf and vacation is appalling. The president is on call 24/7. Even during vacations he gets daily briefings and takes action on numerous issues. The human body and mind need some rest sometime, especially someone with the pressure of being the president of the US.

Deanna Nicosia

 

Jack Trammell has solutions, not more rhetoric

An editorial in the Culpepper Star Exponent (7/27) summarized what this election is all aboutvoters want new ideas and solutions, not more rehashed rhetoric, because we’ve heard it all before. http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/opinion/editorials/our-view-brat-promising-but-needs-to-avoid-the-greatest/article_2854838e-1580-11e4-9f1e-001a4bcf6878.html

Meanwhile, Mr. Freitas suggests we do exactly that in his long winded op-ed from August 21st , managing to ignore the elephant in the room, the fact that nothing has changed on his side except who is running for the 7th Congressional District seat. http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/opinion/columnists/brat-looks-to-bring-government-back-under-control/article_0c925732-2865-11e4-b149-001a4bcf6878.html

Dave Brat offers no solutions because an endless repetition of lies in the form of rehashed “greatest hits” talking points are all he has to offer. Fred Gruber, the chair of Republican’s 7th Congressional District  makes similar claims in the Central Virginian; that we are “tired of the status quo in Washington”, and that he “…is a noted economist … who has free market solutions to make things better for all of us”.

Jack Trammell has dedicated his professional life to solving problems.  His ability to work with others has resulted in numerous collaborative professional publications and service based educational programs. While Brat has been cited three times by other economists during his academic career. Leading Dr. Tideman, a professor at Virginia Tech to conclude, “One could say this lack of citations reflects a career that is not impressive.” www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/dave-brat-academic-credentials-randolph-macon

His ceaseless repetition of the six principles of Republicanism, gives us no compelling reasons to vote for him. When asked if the Tea Party has divided his party, he replied “It’s drawn a divide in the whole country.http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/david-brats-victory-is-part-of-broader-rise-of-religion-in-economics/2014/06/13/76491e06-f26c-11e3-bf76-447a5df6411f_story.html

Divisive tactics which are copied by many of his supporters, talking with them is like playing checkers with a pigeon, in the end they just shit on the board, while strutting around like they just won a great victory.  Brat’s free market solutions are at best superficial and at worst deliberate misinterpretations of the facts. Small wonder he doesn’t want to talk about his “religious based economic” theories.

In a July 21st letter to the Richmond Times Dispatch, his fellow Randolph Macon University colleague said “His social, political and moral order is narrowly self-interested … a formula for continuing inequality and injustice. The so-called Christian capitalism that he espouses denies … the basis of any Christian — or, for that matter, of any civilized — social order worthy of the name.” http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/malvasi-on-dave-brat-and-calvinist-capitalism/article_d6e048bd-1970-5320-a725-66def696da28.html

His faith based economics are just some of the fake solutions that Republican policies have in store for us and our children.

Future agenda_Republicans

Jack Trammell wants to improve the economy by “… addressing not just employment rates, but the type of jobs and the type of life for people in the 7th District.” He also wants to see a “more commonsense transportation policy and initiative … in the 7th District to help with economic growth.

He says educating our children is something that needs to be addressed, from student loan reform to special education, supporting disclosure of loans, and creating additional opportunities to lower interest rates and channels for forgiveness. Calling it “low-hanging fruit,” that could be easily accomplished if it weren’t for Congressional obstructionism.

Summing up, “What people in the district are most concerned about right now, its jobs, transportation and education … they want to see people in Congress who will look out for their interests and won’t obstruct the wheels of progress…”

Jack also says “….of course some people don’t like the ACA, but … at this point they’re in a minority”, they have choosen to ignore that it addresses a huge economic and social problem in this country, “making sure that everybody has equitable access to some basic care.”  He believes that legislators need to continue tweaking it moving forward to identify flaws, saying “I think there’s widespread agreement that not everything works perfectly with it … and we need to keep making sure we fix the moving parts of it.

Republicans want to repeal it with no alternative plan, just like with immigration reform. While Jack favors comprehensive immigration reform that addresses all of the “moving parts,” including border security, targeted amnesty and naturalization, and pathway to citizenship.  http://www.herald-progress.com/?p=17169

Jack Trammell offers new ideas and solutions to our many problems in stark contrast to the man who only knows how to repeat his six principles. This is why Jack Trammell deserves your vote this November.

Jon Taylor

Vote against tea party in 7th District

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2014/082014/08242014/852594

It was with great interest that I read Marc Munroe Dion’s August 11 editorial titled, “You say you want a revolution?” I agree with Mr. Dion’s fear that America is headed for a revolution. That fear is fueled every time I pass by one of the tea party’s homemade billboards which are being erected everywhere. These billboards are meant to incite anger and hate toward our government. In my opinion, they come as close as they can get to advocating a revolution and suggesting the overthrow of our government without directly saying so.

Congress has become a non=functioning entity since tea party members started getting elected. There are just enough of them in Congress to stop passage of laws and budgets. If they don’t get their way, nothing gets done. The word “compromise” is not in their vocabulary. Prior to the recent congressional recess, several major issues were being considered for a vote. Tea party members rallied together to keep the bills from getting to the floor. Nothing got passed except funding for the VA. Not even tea partyers had the nerve to vote against that.

The tea party rails against big government and its budget. Our government has grown by necessity. We now have over 317 million people. In one way or another our government helps everyone. Since 9/11, our defense budget alone has almost broken the bank. Other agencies such as Homeland Security and TSA have grown dramatically. FEMA is constantly called upon to provide relief for natural and man-made disasters. When the Gulf oil spill happened, people blamed the government for not doing more, even though they didn’t have the expertise to do so. People want safe drugs, food, transportation, schools, banks, homes, etc. To do so requires regulations and money. When the government closed (thanks to tea partyer Ted Cruz) people were upset that parks and monuments were closed. No matter what is cut from the government, it will hurt someone. As for the growing budget, all we have to do is look at how much more we as individuals have to pay every time we go shopping or pay for utilities to know that budgets have to go up, not down.

In the upcoming 7th District election voters have the choice of a Democrat (Jack Trammell) or a tea party member (Dave Brat). I want my representative to be willing to work across the aisle. I want him to know that some compromise is often necessary. I want him put what is beneficial for the good of the majority above his own personal agenda. That’s why I cannot and will not vote for Dave Brat. My vote is going to Jack Trammell.

Deanna Nicosia