Enjoy! Go slowly and enjoy the scenery!
Enjoy! Go slowly and enjoy the scenery!
As we watch our CONgress drive the country off the fiscal cliff, all we hear over and over again, is the reality that so many of these politicians have signed “The Pledge” of Grover Norquist for no new taxes. Norquist is best known for founding Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in 1985, which he says was done at the request of then-President Ronald Reagan. Referring to Norquist’s activities as head of ATR, Steve Kroft, in a 60 Minutes episode that aired on November 20, 2011, claimed that “Norquist has been responsible, more than anyone else, for rewriting the dogma of the Republican Party.”
The primary policy goal of Americans for Tax Reform is to reduce government revenues as a percentage of the GDP. ATR states that it “opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle.” Americans for Tax Reform has supported Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) legislation and transparency initiatives, while opposing cap-and-trade legislation and efforts to regulate health care.
In 1993, Norquist launched his Wednesday Meetings series at ATR headquarters, initially to help fight President Clinton’s healthcare plan and eventually becoming one of the most significant institutions in American conservative political organizing. The meetings have been called “a must-attend event for Republican operatives fortunate enough to get an invitation”, and “the Grand Central station of the conservative movement.”
Prior to the November 2012 election, 238 of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans had signed ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”, in which the congressmen and women promise to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
The November 6, 2012 elections resulted in a decline in the number of Taxpayer Protection Pledge signatories in both the upper and lower houses of the 113th Congress: from 41 to 39 in the Senate, and from 238 to “fewer than … 218” in the House of Representatives. According to journalist Alex Seitz-Wald, losses in the election by Norquist supporters and the “fiscal cliff” have emboldened and made more vocal critics of Norquist.
In November 2011, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blamed Norquist’s influence for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction‘s lack of progress, claiming that Congressional Republicans “are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist. They’re giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit, but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader.” Since Norquist’s pledge binds signatories to opposing deficit reduction agreements that include any element of increased tax revenue, some Republican deficit hawks now retired from office have stated that Norquist has become an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has been particularly critical, describing Norquist’s position as “no taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell.” Norquist’s efforts were believed to cause the first downgrade of The US credit rating in history. He infamously stated, “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
What is the fear of Norquist and how does he extort these pledges? Money, Money, Money. Norquist sits on a number of boards and is heavily funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers, NRA, American Conservative Union, and the Family Research Council, just to name a few. Most importantly he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
But it would be easy to blame Grover for all the woes of CONgress, however the facts would indicate that many liberal members of CONgress fear the same threat of withdrawal of campaign monies if they “don’t play along”, even if they have not signed the pledge.
I think it is high time we, as the electorate, take a cue from Norquist and demand that our political candidates all sign a pledge as a part of receiving their nomination for office from either party. Failure to do so would be public and we, as an electorate, would insure that no matter how well a particular candidate was funded they would not receive the requisite votes to be elected. We will call it the PLEDGE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC LIFE. Here is that pledge:
I, the undersigned candidate do solemnly swear and pledge under oath, that I will at all times during my public service adhere without comprise to the seven principles of public life during my tenure as a public servant.
The Seven Principles of Public Life
Selflessness: Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
[Extracted from the “First Report of the Committee on Standards of Public Life”, UK May 1995]
Whatya think? Do you think there is a way we as citizens can make this happen in a way that is as powerful as the monied interests ridiculous Taxpayer Protection Pledge?
As we watch the entire developed world slowly slip back into the dark ages, it amazes me how accepting we are in the face of the real facts in front of us. To me, the historical point will be the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case. The main element of that winning argument was that corporations ARE people.
While I certainly do not buy that premise, the court has ruled it so. OK, if corporations are people then somebody please explain this. New Treasury monthly budget came out yesterday. Here’s the latest data off Table 3 that states …
Individual Incomes Taxes paid Current fiscal year to date: $177.066 billion
Corporate Incomes Taxes paid Current fiscal year to date: $ 4.838 billion
Sooooo..how come those corporate PEOPLE get to pay only 1/40 of the taxes that HUMAN people pay? As we watch these CONgress clowns discuss the “fiscal cliff”, how come we have such support for one class of “PEOPLE” over another class of PEOPLE. We all know the answer to that question as well.
What is missing that we don’t understand these obvious facts and are united in our demand for equal treatment under the law? I believe the real answer to that question is related to another interesting fact. In 1960, 50 corporations owned 90% of the media outlets in our country (newspapers, radio stations, and television stations). Today, only 6 corporations own 90% of those same media outlets, and they are working with the FCC to try and control all of the media outlets in each market. That means a FOX or Disney conglomerate would own all of the newspapers, radio stations, and TV in say Seattle where I live. It means that there would be only one source of news and more importantly, if you watched KOMO4 or read the Seattle Times, or listened to 106.9 FM there would only be one editorial opinion, or for that matter angle on politics. WE THE HUMAN PEOPLE own the air waves, NOT a CORPORATE HUMAN entity. Everyone should write the FCC and say NFW are you going to allow this happen.
This was tried under the Bush administration and was soundly voted down after public hearings by the FCC, so NOW under the Obama Administration they are at it again, only this time WITHOUT public hearings. No media outlets are reporting this, as it is not in their best interest. This is especially true of newspaper outlets because they especially benefit from being swallowed up by the 6 major corporations which would underwrite their losing financial operations.
When the Bush administration tried this, over 3 million people wrote to the Director of the FCC demanding public hearings. After the Citizens United Ruling, we need to make sure the FCC Director hears from 10 million of us demanding public hearings. We failed to get SCOTUS’ attention before the Citizens United Ruling, and we have seen the result of that ruling in our last “free” elections. Therefore, we cannot afford to allow this media hi-jack as well.
Finally, this last election revealed that in most states, more people voted for Democrats than Republicans for CONgress, but because of redistricting in 2010, by a margin of almost 2-to 1 more Republicans were elected to Congress in most states.
So, if you want the role of servant/slave, do nothing. However, if that is not your desire or the desire for your children to be slaves or paupers, you have to get off couch and start demanding from the courts, the CONgress, and our local state legislatures to do the following things:
1). Overturn Citizens United or demand these CORPORATE people pay their fair share as a MATTER of LAW.
2). Demand the FCC cease and desist from allowing the mega-media corporations from developing monopolies in our media.
3). Demand that our legislatures end this partisan, every 4 year re-districting (gerimandering) and appoint Independent boards to look at adjusting districts considering only changing populations and insure that EACH DISTRICT is balanced as to Republicans and Democrats so that we the people by REAL majority elect who we want to represent us in fair and free elections.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to condemn my children or grandchildren to slave labor. Really that is not an exaggeration.
British banking giant HSBC will pay $1.9billion to settle a money-laundering probe by federal and state authorities in the United States, a law enforcement official said on Monday. The probe of the bank – Europe’s largest by market value – has focused on the transfer of billions of dollars on behalf of nations like Iran and North Korea, which are under international sanctions, and the transfer of money through the U.S. financial system from Mexican drug cartels. According to the official, HSBC will pay $1.25billion in forfeiture and pay $655million in civil penalties.
Under what is known as a deferred prosecution agreement, the financial institution will be accused of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and the Trading With The Enemy Act. The London-based bank said it is cooperating with investigations but that those discussions are confidential.
US regulators also order Standard Chartered to pay more than $250m in fines for money laundering. The deal could be announced as early as today, the Wall Street Journal reports. It follows the announcement of a similar but much smaller settlement with UK-based Standard Chartered bank, which will pay $300million in fines for violating US sanction rules. The HSBC settlement had been widely expected following a report by the U.S. Senate, published earlier this year, which was heavily critical of HSBC’s money laundering controls. In regard to HSBC and Mexico, a U.S. Senate investigative committee reported that in 2007 and 2008 HSBC Mexico sent to the United States about $7 billion in cash.
Senator Carl Levin, committee chairman, said HSBC had promised to fix deficiencies but failed to do so. The committee report said that amount of cash indicated illegal drug proceeds. The deferred prosecution agreement means the bank will not be prosecuted further if it meets certain conditions, such as strengthening its internal controls to prevent money laundering.
The U.S. Justice Department has used such arrangements often in cases involving large corporations, notably in settlements of foreign bribery charges. Money laundering by banks has become a priority target for U.S. law enforcement. Since 2009, Credit Suisse, Barclays and Lloyds have all paid settlements related to allegations that they moved money for people or companies on the U.S. sanctions list.
So here are my questions.
1). As near as I can figure, the US has collected nearly $3 billion in fines over the last two years for various banksters for fraud, money laundering, and providing false testimony to authorities and the CONgress. So where does all of this money go? Given our current economic situation and that very same CONgress looking at whacking away at Medicare and Social Security, I believe there should be some accountability for where this large amount of money is going to be applied. Am I wrong in my thinking here?
2). Given the enormity of these crimes, and yes these are felonies without question, why still is NO ONE going to jail? Are you kidding me? What do you think would happen to you or I if we got caught laundering $100 for the drug lords or terrorists?
3). Why are these banksters still allowed to do business in the US, or any where else for that matter?
4). Do you think these banksters are afraid of fines or are they just the cost of doing business with terrorists and drug gangs? Yeah we know the answer to that question. Further, does anyone believe these fines will result in these very same banksters refraining from doing the same thing in the future? I think they will be “more careful”, but that is about it.
C’mon folks, these guys need to do some serious time and it is time we start to demand just that. The CEOS of these institutions should be immediately indicted and arrested without bail. THAT is the only thing that will really stop this craziness being conducted right in front of us. Isn’t justice supposed to be blind. Where is our outrage?
As we approach this mythical date of December 21st, 2012, we are all at least giving a few moments of thought to the key question. “What is going to happen?” There is a lot of both positive and negative information and disinformation floating in the media and on the internet. We are collectively all aware of the Mayan Calendar, and we have been overexposed to doomsday and end of the world scenarios recently in movies and television programming. We have preppers getting ready, preachers warning, psychics predicting, channelers channeling, and governments denying there is anything related to a seminal event on December 21st, 2012. However, every major ancient culture pointed to this time.
All around us we are witnessing events that are real that give us great concern and more than a little apprehension. More frequent and larger earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, and civil unrest, so instinctively we are aware that changes are occurring. So is it the end approaching or nothing at all?
I will play a little Abe Lincoln here. I will tell a personal story and maybe you will understand the point of it. My grandfather was a very spiritual guy, he was a minister by trade, but to me he was a mystical wise old man. When he was in his 80s, he contracted cancer and back in those days, before chemo and radiation, surgical removal was the standard practice, “hoping to get all the cancer out of the body”. As a consequence of his type of bone cancer, he had both arms amputated. I remember seeing my grandfather after his right arm and shoulder was removed. He didn’t seem bothered or upset with his circumstance. He would say it was all for him to experience.
When he had his left arm and shoulder removed, I was devastated and my visit with him (I was about 12 at the time) I broke down sobbing when I saw him. He, however, just gave me that same peaceful smile and motioned with his head for me to come and sit by him. He said that he wanted me to be at peace and he would tell me the most important story of my life. He would tell me the story of One. This is his story.
“In the beginning there was nothing but the void, and for whatever reason Grandfather perceived himself and he was. He was all that there was and there was nothing else but him. The void wanted to return to the harmony of the uninterrupted void, but Grandfather resisted and began to expand by creating more of himself. And so it was, so it is, so it will ever be. At some point Grandfather realized that he was all that there was and while he could know himself, he could not experience himself. So Grandfather created us. And so it was and so it is, and so it shall ever be. However, never ever forget there really is only one of us.”
That little story has been an infinite onion for me, peeling layer by endless layers of meaning from it all of my life.
So what will happen on December 22nd, 2012? I suspect we will wake to a day that appears like any other day. However it will also be the beginning of us remembering who we really are. We are beginning to reclaim our personal sovereignty. So as we approach this mythical date, I suggest we take a breath, begin to act in every situation without fear and with confidence, love and bliss. Our future is really just a simple choice collectively to live in love or live in fear. More and more of us are simply not “buying” the fear peddlers any longer.
So I simply ask you, “who are you really?” Ask yourself that important question on December 21st, 2012. You might get a very surprising answer. See you on the other side.
Let this holiday season be a most uplifting occasion, and may you be filled with a heightened sense of deep peace and calm. May you feel a new mood to be happy and joyful. May the stresses of life diminish and be replaced by a more relaxed feeling. Be attuned to the energies around you and sense the changes that are “in the air”. Use them to reduce the trouble and strife in your life.
As we watch events unfold in this world, we are collectively beginning to understand that love is the key to everything. We intuitively know this as it extends from ourselves, to our families, to our neighbors and friends, to our towns and cities, to our states and nations. We can all say we have a love of each one of those things. Now is the time to extend this knowledge one step further so we can all say we also love our planet and ALL of the people on it. However, remember to love yourself first as it is in no way egotistical to acknowledge your godself.
Imagine not having to question a person’s intentions towards you, and being able to trust everyone. Imagine a world where we really do look out for one other. It really isn’t that hard to imagine it.
So that is my holiday wish to my few loyal readers, and well as to everyone else. That we all can imagine such a world into being. This holiday season isn’t the end of the world as some believe, it is the end of one time and the beginning of another. So let’s make it right this time. We really can do this ya know.
Listening to the politicians and pundits talking after this election clearly demonstrates their self-importance is monumental and unrelenting. It’s not just their default mode of awareness, it’s their only mode. Thus they have an impenetrable barrier between them and the source of all inspiration and creativity. No inner silence for these clowns, and no original ideas, except for the ones they can buy or steal. Hence the same reheated tired old agendas, world domination, techno-feudalism, mass thought control, resource monopolies, slavery disguised as “free markets”, mass human sacrifice disguised as war, epidemics, starvation, and “natural” disasters, etcetera blah. They live in fear of getting discovered and overthrown. They are utterly blind to their connection with the web of life, and the intrinsic generosity and benevolence of nature. The mass awakening of humanity is leaving them behind, and they are oblivious to the many bandwidths of perception the rest of us are learning to access. They are so obsessed with domination and avoiding punishment, it’s never occurred to them that most of the rest of us will be too busy evolving to waste time punishing anyone. And anyway it’s hard to imagine a worse punishment than being what they already are.
Let’s distinguish the human activities which are in our long-term best interests from those that demonstrate inability to cooperate with Nature or each other. Behaviors in the second category invariably start with self-absorption, or self-significance might be a more precise term. If this is not immediately self-evident, choose some examples and trace the misbehaviors back to the mental state required to induce them. In all cases self-significance will be the initial condition for self-destructive or other-destructive actions. Bear in mind that self-significance can manifest as self-pity, self righteousness, attention-seeking compulsions, sheer bloody-mindedness, the indifferent obliteration of habitats, and assorted sociopathies. Note that all of these conditions involve a reduction of awareness.
Their central premise, at some deep level, is to prevent us (The 99.5%) from ever getting a handle on what’s really going on. So we can pretty well bet that if anyone actually has identified the underlying thing that blocks humanity from reaching its full potential, and described detailed countermeasures, their work would be widely dismissed as fiction by minions of those who want to prolong the prevailing imbalance of power and wealth.
How else can you explain some otherwise inexplicable human behaviors, like the tendency to act against our own best interests? Notice how this baffling phenomenon finally starts to make sense when examined in this context. Consider the contradiction between the accomplishments of human ingenuity and the absurdities of human belief systems. How can people be so clever and so stupid at the same time? What makes someone who can be brilliant at solving problems turn around and cause idiotic problems in their interactions with others? The “ruling class” is probably as unaware of being controlled as most people, although some apparently believe they’re serving the devil or something.
While we’re working on throwing off this influence, it will be easier for us to be more patient with each other if we can recognize that our flares of uncontrolled self-importance are being provoked to nourish the invisible energetic equivalent of some giant fleas. So instead of condemning them, it makes more sense to just give them a wide margin and plan on working around their disability. That is certainly a challenge if such cabalists have seized command and control of much of humanity’s basic operating systems. Thom Hartmann called it “Goldman Sachs’ global coup’de’tat”.
However, that challenge can be overcome simply by self-awareness and a mass awakening. To offset the trend toward mass awakening and peaceful coexistence, these elitists are making sure the threat levels keep getting ramped up, to the point where it takes the prospect of mass extinction to keep humans sufficiently self-absorbed, and now more and more of us are even seeing through that. The recent vote at the UN recognizing the Palestinian State as a non-member state was a very good example of this awakening to basic human rights. A time to move on and resolve issues.
Starting with The Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement, and extending to the latest Wal Mart and fast food worker demonstrations, people globally are becoming aware and awakened. Frankly, we’re just not as dumb as we used to be. Despite all the efforts to lower human awareness, more and more people are seeing the light or at least less dark. The sheer over-reaching of the would-be controllers has pushed many people past their disinformation-tolerance threshold. And certain key principles about information are finally catching on. These facts are now more widely recognized than ever, and humans are experiencing an unprecedented collective impulse toward bringing out the truth. From this reality, we have more and more people stepping forward to help “illuminate” the dark corners of our world and bring into the light, those that wish to remain hidden and unseen.
This is what we should be talking about over a beer and with our friends and co-workers. We are awake now, so how do we take back humanity’s basic operating systems and retune them to function in a manner that creates a global peaceful co-existence where abundance is the reality, not scarcity? Well, it really does start with us simply exerting our will. Once we state our will out loud, the ways that will be manifested will simple “pop” into reality. Ask any quantum physicist.
SPECIAL THANKS to HOW TO SHAKE OFF THE AWARENIVORES by Waves Forest, [January 2012] for stimulating our thought process and help framing this article.
The election is over, and the people have said what they want. Get this economy back on its feet! It really is that simple. A lot of pundits want to say the last election was a result of Obama “Gifts” to his constituency and a failure of the Republicans to reach blacks, latinos, and women. Duh? You think?
Well maybe it wasn’t a failure to reach those target groups or the lack of interest in reaching the 47% that caused the Republicans their lose, but instead a real clear understanding of the American people of what the problems really are and what must be down to resolve our current economic dilemma. They fundamentally understand the economic recovery debate.
For example, if the Republicans were as good as they say they were pre-election at polling, they would’ve done some exit polling of blacks and latinos and they would have understood that 65-70% of that group stated in exit polls that the economy was the number one reason they cast their votes, NOT all of the other crap that was floating around “in the pool” with the candidates on the campaign trail.
However, both Democrats and Republicans better improve their hearing. This vote was really a “shot across the bow”, a warning. That warning is simple. GET THE PEOPLE’S WORK DONE! This electorate was the most informed in the history of the republic. They were more informed and without question the most determined to vote. Just think of how many people stayed in lines for up to 8-9 hours just to cast their vote. This should scare the crap out of ANY politician.
When Harry Truman ran for re-election in 1947, he railed against the “do-nothing” Congress, even calling them back to Washington where they STILL failed to get anything done. This proved key to his re-election. Quite frankly the parallels of Truman’s re-election to Obama’s re-election in relationship to each President’s working relationship with their perspective congress is quite remarkable.
However, when you look at “just the facts, ma’am”, Truman’s Do Nothing 80th Congress makes them look like busy bees when compared to the REAL DO NOTHING 112th Congress. Take a look:
It was not like we weren’t told by Mitch McConnell right after Obama’s first election that the Republicans would do everything in their capacity to insure Obama was NOT a success as President. They invoked filibusters 386 times during the session.
Here is a small hit list of their efforts to BLOCK any legislation that would benefit the people or the economy, including to vote for TAX CUTS!
June 24th, 2010: GOP Blocks Unemployment Insurance Bill Once Again, Dems Giving Up (Open Congress)
July 29th, 2010: Republicans block small business plan in Senate (Reuters)
September 28th, 2010: GOP Blocks Bill to Punish Companies that Move Jobs Abroad (CBS News)
November 18th, 2010: House GOP blocks bill to extend jobless benefits (USA TODAY)
November 18th, 2010: Republicans vote unanimously against equal pay for women bill (Raw Story)
December 9th, 2010: Senate Republicans block 9/11 health bill (Reuters)
October 11th, 2011: Senate Republicans block Obama’s jobs package (CBS News)
October 20th, 2011: Senate blocks money for teachers, firefighters (WaPost)
November 3rd, 2011: Republicans block $60bn infrastructure bill (Financial Times)
December 11th, 2011: Senate blocks payroll tax-cut extension (MSNBC)
March 29th, 2012: Republicans Block Repeal of Oil-Company Tax Breaks Obama Sought (Business Week)
April 17th, 2012: Senate GOP blocks Obama’s ‘Buffett rule’ for minimum tax rate on millionaires (Fox News)
May 8th, 2012: GOP blocks Senate debate on Dem student loan bill (Associated Press)
I think it is time, given the recent babble between the parties about letting us go over the fiscal cliff, to let these yahoos know we aren’t kidding, GET TO WORK! Look, I really don’t care what side of the issues you come down on for the will of the people is the will of the people. The real disagreements of approach between “honest” conservatives and “real” liberals have been the gist for the mill that created the most powerful economy the world had ever seen. However we watch as that economy is now being diluted by a lack of action, and not as result of compromised policies resulting for actions of the Congress. This is both a breach of our franchise with congress and a crime of negligence against the order and well being of the republic.
It was great we all got out there and voted, but I think it is more important NOW to keep corresponding with your elected officials. Let them know we expect them to do their jobs and get the business done. Let them know we will be watching how they perform and how they vote. When they come “Home” to smooze us, let them know WE ARE WATCHING. That being an incumbent is no longer an advantage.