Posts Tagged congress

Cruel and Unusual: Trump’s Budget Proposal

By Dan Rather

“Cruel and unusual,” the phrase rings in my head as I read the press reports of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

But to even talk about it as a budget is to miss the point. It is not a budget. It is a philosophy, and one that may come as a surprise to many of the people who voted for Mr. Trump. They will hurt in real ways. Meanwhile it confirms the worst existential fears of those who see his presidency as a threat to the very being of the United States they know and love.

This is a man who made a lot of promises on the campaign about helping those struggling in society, about leading the United States to greatness in such things as fighting disease. If anyone had any doubt about the hollowness of his words, this philosophy is all the evidence one would need.

This is a philosophy that doesn’t believe in helping the poor, rural or urban, or the power of diplomacy or the importance of science. It is a philosophy that doesn’t want to protect the environment. It doesn’t believe in the arts. This is about putting a noose around much of the United States federal government and hanging it until it shakes with life no more. In the name of reining in waste, it rains pain and suffering amongst the Americans who already are the most vulnerable. It must be remarked that many of these programs are really small budget items in the greater scheme of things, rounding errors in the federal budget. The purpose is to send a message, not to save money.

Rather than investing in what truly will make America great, this philosophy pounds its chest with false bravado. People will die because of this budget. People will suffer. Diseases will spread, and cures will not be found (really? slash science research?) Our nation will be darker and more dangerous. You know it’s a philosophy because the budget has few details really in it. And here is where I see its saving grace.

This philosophy is not the United States I think a majority of Americans would recognize. I believe that we are not so cruel, so shortsighted, so dark. It’s easy to rail against the federal government on the campaign stump, but cutting programs that people rely on, that is the kind of thing that can break through the fake news into reality very soon. We have already seen the mess that has become of the health care efforts.

This philosophy is no longer theoretical and it will be a rallying cry for a reverse philosophy. Those who champion an empathetic America, an America prepared for the challenges of the modern world, will have plenty of evidence to point to. Mr. Trump has already put many Republicans in Congress on a defensive footing, on Russia and on healthcare. Wait until the constituents start calling about how they won’t be able to heat their homes in the winter or the agricultural programs that were slashed.

“The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget,” Senator Marco Rubio told the Washington Post. “We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.” You can expect to hear a lot more of that kind of rhetoric.

Mr. Trump’s philosophy is an opening salvo in a battle for the soul of America that is only beginning. This will be a battle fought trench by trench. But I think it is winnable and America will reconfirm a governing philosophy that is hopeful, compassionate, and wise about the role of government in making our world a safer, fairer, and more just place to live.”

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I Will Miss Bernie Sanders

bernie-sanders-having-birdiesandersI will miss Bernie Sanders and the air of hope and optimism he brought with him during this Primary season.

After all the capitulations of the Obama Administration to Republican demagoguery in general and to the GOP in particular; after all the nay-saying and “no we can’t do it after all” crap and over-compromising to the point of actually compromising one’s core principle and thereby essentially allowing Republicans to set the tone and direction of national policy and debate, it was great to see someone who inspired real change;  who wasn’t just another god-damn politician looking out for himself and his bottom line, perpetuating the same failed policies that further no one but the greed and avarice of the one percent.

Republicans have set the bar so low that it really does not take much to exceed it. This country has moved so far to the Right, that both Obama and Clinton would have fit well into the Reagan administration instead of FDR’s. The Republicans are so awful, that they make people like Clinton and Obama look good and liberal, rather than showing them as the moderate Republicans they really are. Republicans who have turned  not being a fascist into a standard which politicians like Clinton aspire to (“Hey vote for me, at least I was not THAT  horrible.”),

Seeing people come together, being fired up, having hope for a better future for all Americans, was inspiring. I think a lot of even cynical people felt that there was finally a political leader who wasn’t telling us what we wanted to hear becasue it was politically expedient,  but who, behind closed doors, just went on with business as usual. Someone who finally got it and who strived to make it happen, even if he knew it was hard. It was great to see someone who isn’t running a capitulation campaign,  where you aim really low so you can at least get that done (which is sort of the message I got from Hillary Clinton, in a nutshell). 

A lot of Clinton’s supporter believe that Sanders’ supporters live in a fantasy world where everything is free and they don’t have to work for it.  We were and continue to be dismissed as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, detached from reality, who don’t know any better, versus Clinton who repeatedly prides herself in her pragmatism and no-nonsense attitude.

But we are not blind. We understand the political process perfectly well.  We understand that the President isn’t an elected king and that he has to work with Congress and lawmakers to make things happen. We understood the value of compromise. We know that this is going to be an upward battle requiring effort, a thick skin and hard work. And we knew that Bernie Sanders was not going to waltz into the White House, swing a magic wand and make it all happen.

But winning is only half the battle. The appeal of the Sanders movement is about achievability as much as it is about inspiration and believing that one must and can work toward a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal  healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system. That in and of itself is half the battle.  And if you can’t even envision that, just like Clinton cannot and won’t envision it, then why do you even fucking want this job? Why do you bother?

Goldman-Sach-Hillary-900-e1455056003700

In fact, I have often wondered why given her defeatist pragmatic attitude Clinton even wants this job. She is rich enough so it is not like she has to work. And how much more money can one person need and want?

Is it for power? Prestige? To be the first woman President? Bragging rights?

I look at her track record and I look at her during this Primary season and I don’t see a public servant, I don’t see someone who wants to bring about change and reform. On the contrary, what I see is a neoliberal, Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire  militarist.

It is a shame. We had the chance to elect an utterly honest man who has not spent  the last 40 years enriching himself at the expense of the American people. Unlike Sanders’ positive and hope filled message, this so-called victory by Clinton brings with itself an air of hopelessness and despondency that weighs down my heart.

The masses of people being gullible sheep who vote against their own self interest is nothing new, but it never ceases to amaze and appall me when I do witness it.  Sanders is a man who, going by his tax returns alone, is  broke compared to his multi millionaire colleagues in Congress. He and his wife made less in one year ($204k) than  Clinton makes in one speech to Goldman Sachs. He didn’t vote for every war he could vote for,  he was not being sponsored by banks and corporations while also receiving endorsements by the likes of the Koch Brothers and war criminals like Henry Kissinger. Unlike Clinton he has not spent the bigger part of his career aligning himself with the powerful and wealthy against the powerless and poor.

Yet who do people vote for? Hillary Clinton. A woman who  wore a $12,000  Armani  suit while giving a speech on income inequality.

Hillary-Clinton-Banks-Wall-Street

As a woman and feminist I am supposed to feel really elated and happy here. It is a historic moment for the United States to finally have a woman Presidential nominee and probably also President. However, I feel nothing but disappointment and despair. I look at the next six months with a heavy heart and know that she will win the General Election, too, given that the person she is running against is not really a viable candidate, or even a opponent, but more like a troll. So in a way Clinton will be running unopposed come this November.

Of course, Hillary Clinton is qualified and experienced for the job. Nk doubt in my mind she is brilliant. However, it is not her qualifications that are in question here, it is her priorities. She is bad for America and this historic moment of finally having a woman on the command chair is overshadowed by the fact that Clinton is not the Progressive she claims to be.

Clinton is not running (at this time or any other) to help the American people, who have been nothing short of brutalized by corporations and the politicians that do their bidding – including Clinton – or to make America a better place. She’s running because the Presidency is the biggest prize in the world, and she wants that prize. Trump is running for the same reason–bragging rights.

If she wins, and she will win, her presidency will then be focused–again–not on the people, but on doing just enough to secure a personal legacy and a place in the history books as The First Woman President.

Someone who accepts nearly a million dollars in speaker fees from Goldman Sachs to congratulate them on a job well done and who goes to fundraisers were people spend nearly $400,000 on a plate, and someone who has a track record of voting for all the fraudulent wars this country has been engaged in for the past five decades and Wall Street bailouts and policies aimed at furthering the 1% at the expense of everyone else, someone who has already said that there will never, ever be universal health care and free – or at least affordable -education and meaningful student loan reforms for all, not just special interest groups – is not someone who should be running on the Progressive ticket.

For the record, Goldman Sachs does not pay HRC $250,000 per speaking engagement for nothing. Those rich people in the aforementioned dinner organized by George Clooney don’t spend nearly $400,000 a seat to help poor people. This is an investment and those people will  want a return on their investment; a return which doesn’t include you or I.

Clinton is a moderate Republican, paid and endorsed by big banks to convince the middle class to be happy with the old deal. And this past Tuesday, middle and working class America agreed by making her their nominee.

 

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Ethics Lower Than That of Child Molester

While most folks cannot wait to retire from the mostly wretched, soul quashing, often underpaid and stressful positions they have been trapped in for the past several decades, officials in the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staff members seem to be getting their second wind once their jobs in the public sector end.

Apparently you can never be too old to retire from exploiting America and our corrupt politicians certainly have never met a constituent they were not willing to sell out to corporations and big business vultures for good money.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, for example, who oversaw the Obama administration’s response to the 2008 financial crisis (thanks Obama for yet another completely competent decision)  will take his spin through the revolving door this year by joining private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Geithner followed the lead of former Treasury heads Robert Rubin and John Snow in making the move from Pennsylvania Ave. to Wall Street, where financial firms pay top dollar for former top government officials’ experience and connections.

Interesting to note is that Geithner managed the government bailouts of Citigroup, Bank of America and General Motors Corp., among others. While he was also in charge of lobbying Congress to pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which brought tighter regulation of financial institutions with the aim of preventing another crisis (not really), I think it is pretty safe to assume that he made sure to sweeten the deal for Wall Street as much as possible resulting in a watered-down policy aimed more at keeping critics quiet while giving them a sense that something was done rather than actually changing the way Wall Street does things. I mean have you heard of anyone in Wall Street getting in serious trouble or even face criminal charges since the 2008 crash? Yeah I didn’t think so.

The graph below shows Geithner’s employment timeline and the extent to which he has been going back and forth between private sector and public sector positions – ethical concerns that one may influence the other or pose a conflict of interest be damned.

Geithner employment timeline

The website http://www.opensecrets.org has compiled an entire list of politicians who have been profiting heavily from this revolving door by selling out hard working Americans and the poor, elderly and disabled of this country whose votes they secured to the vultures of the financial, defense, energy and pharmaceutical industries without compunction.

The graph illustrating Geithner’s employment timeline is pretty much the same for most politicians.

Well, it’s good to know that India is such a corrupt country and we here in the US aren’t.

Geithner employment timeline 2

Another bunion on the face of not only humanity but especially this country, Joe Lieberman, has announced today that he has joined the private equity firm Victory Park Capital, where he will serve as chairman of the firm’s Executive Board. Of course he will.

Lieberman retired from the U.S. Senate in 2012 after serving for 24 years. In 2006, he was reelected to the U.S. Senate as an Independent after being defeated in the Democratic primary election.

While in the U.S. Senate, I fought for policies that would allow small businesses to thrive,” Lieberman said in a statement. “I look forward to a long-term partnership with Victory Park Capital that will position the firm for continued growth.”

Note that Lieberman is almost 72 years old, but apparently greed knows no age limit and this sorry excuse for a human being just cannot help spending his last few years on this earth to fuck everything up for generations to come.

Also note that private equity firms are not “small businesses” nor do they work for the interests of small businesses. They are vultures and run the type of schemes that got this country into the fiscal mess it is in today. Not that the crisis hurt them, of course, because us 35%-tax-rate-paying peons ended up bailing out their 0%-tax-rate asses.

Also interesting to note that almost all of these people call themselves pious, god fearing Christians out there to do god’s work blah blah wet fart.

Well at least our policy-makers are being consistent; obvious and greedy yes, but consistent.

I must say, however, that given that many, if not all, of our lawmakers seem to have been taking public sector jobs not to serve their communities or this country but to manipulate and mold the government to serve the narrow interests of corporations  and the wealthy – with the added bonus of securing themselves lucrative positions guaranteed to influence government and corporate policies – it’s truly a wonder that anything gets passed that doesn’t exclusively benefit the wealthy and powerful.

While Edward Snowden has to rot away his life in exile for having exposed government crimes, these treasonous assholes get to sit nice and pretty on cushy salaries and health care that the tax dollars of the 99% pay for while they are working to make things happen for the 1% who don’t pay a dime in taxes. That these opportunistic parasites get to continue making the law of the land and called patriots is nauseating.

Woody Allen once remarked that politicians have the ethics of a child molester – or actually a notch underneath that of a child molester. Given the above and the general state of this country for the past twenty to thirty years, coupled with the completely ineffective, almost parasitic Congress of last year and the general state of affairs, I am coming to realize just how true those words are.

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Quote of the Day

twitter4

Yes, because trying to give people access to affordable health care is definitely the same thing, if not worse, than committing genocide by burning and gassing people alive or blowing them up into little pieces to be scraped off the ground and walls. In fact, it is worse than all those things combined. You hear that, fools? As far as Senator Rucho is concerned, genocide would be better than Obamacare.

The idea that this willfully ignorant asshole with his violence instigating rhetoric is in charge of making the law of the land is not only distasteful but at this point right out scary.

Martin Bashir had to issue apologies and resign his position at MSNBC for having called Sarah Palin out on her vitriol and suggest she eat the same kind of excrement she spews, but this Senator – who is a lawmaker – gets to say that attempts at giving people access to affordable health care are worse than genocide, and he is sitting pretty and no one can touch him.

Priorities (and apparently competent leaders). We got them.

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Our Corrupt Congress

congress is corrupt

 

The American Dream hard at work

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An Observation in Light of the Bradley Manning Verdict Tomorrow

Bradley Manning

Twenty Five year old Bradley Manning, who was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for nine months after his arrest on May 29, 2010 and forced to sleep naked without pillows and sheets on his bed, and restricted from physical recreation or access to television or newspapers even during his one daily hour of freedom from his cell, all under the pretense that the private was a suicide risk, is awaiting his verdict tomorrow.

Manning was arrested in 2010 in Iraq and accused of providing WikiLeaks with 700,000 intelligence documents and videos, many of them classified and he was subsequently court-martialed.  He  faces life in prison if he is convicted of aiding the enemy, along with 21 other charges related to what has been deemed the largest leak of classified information in American history.

A few things:

Do people really believe it would be “just” or that “justice” would be served if this kid, who isn’t a violent offender, were put into jail for however many years where he will be violated and abused and psychologically damaged simply because, for whatever reason – naivety, idealism, youthful hopefulness, stupidity, patriotism, humanity  – he revealed our government’s dirty little deeds and lies and war mongering and a host of other undemocratic and dishonest practices that take place clandestinely in our names and which have serious consequences for us as well as others? Do people really believe that locking him up, as if he was the enemy,  would be the solution?

As if it wan’t bad and unconscionable enough that he had to endure the inhumane treatment in prison and as if it weren’t bad enough that he has already been robbed off three years of his life and youth, now we believe sending him to jail with a bunch of violent offenders and locking him up would be just?

Bradley Manning, in that case, would then be effectively nothing but a political prisoner.

Look, we all know what the verdict will be, and it won’t be just. And all those people who cite government and allegiance to government need to remember that a government is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned. See: the United States government and its spying and our Congress members half of whom are millionaires and in bed with big industry that line their pockets and who are not accountable to anyone. Congress holds the purse, they can give themselves raises, they borrow money from social security and postal service retirement and never pay it back and then count it as part of the budget – as if they weren’t paid into systems – they set the laws, they chose when not to regard and obey certain laws as they see fit –  such as in the case of torture and the NSA spying and other civil rights violations – they approve secret courts that issue secret warrants and they are, in essence not accountable to anyone and thus notably ungoverned. And unless one these Congress members is caught doing it with someone who isn’t his wife, they are virtually untouchable too and stay in office forever so that they can continue to enrich themselves at our expense.

So let me ask again, who is the criminal here?

Transparency doesn’t always mean we need to know every little detail but we do need to know the motives of our leaders and the documents released by Manning and then WikiLeaks show us that the true face of government is very different from what we are shown. A third of your pay, if you are not part of the 1%, goes to that government, which uses it for reasons you don’t understand nor are likely to benefit from.

Finally, if we allow those that would give up their freedom to try to inform and bring understanding to the people of this nation regarding crimes being committed by the Government and the Military Industrial Complex to be found guilty of a crime then we, the citizens of this nation, deserve neither safety nor freedom.

Bradley Manning has attempted to enlighten the citizens of this nation…better put, he has enlightened the citizens of this nation and the citizens of the world as to how horribly wrong war and some acts committed during war can be and are. I mean the atrocities committed were not being committed against paper dolls, those are real human beings whose lives are just as important as the lives of the people in this nation.

Manning should be found not guilty and should be given an honorable discharge from the military instead of sentenced to jail for one year or 20 or 15 or 100.

Wouldn’t we be sending a better message to the world- both as a nation and as a peoples  – if we lived in a world where the judge gave Manning immunity because “the American people are not the enemy“? Instead, we live in a world in which someone like George Zimmerman murders an unarmed black teenager and gets away with it while Bradley Manning who exposes crimes committed by our government gets locked up. This is your America.

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The United States Congress is a Millionaire’s Club at the Expense of the American Tax Payer

According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics, 238 of the 535 “public servants” (Congressmen), are millionaires. That is 44% of all members of Congress are rich beyond the wildest dreams, and possibilities, of most Americans they govern. In fact, your chances of running into a millionaire in the state’s capital are four times higher than in the rest of the nation.

And this is just the reported wealth. No one knows how many undisclosed assets members of Congress possess. The numbers would likely be even higher if personal residences, government salaries, and pensions were included. Yes, you read right.  They are millionaires without even counting their already bloated salaries and perks and that awesome health insurance that you and I pay for.

Half of Congress is basically part of the 1% and we are expecting that they enact legislation that would in any shape hurt their position in society? Increase their taxes? Is this a joke? 

One reason for why half the people running this country are millionaires  is that members of Congress are not subject to any of the ethics and conflict-of-interest laws that most public servants are. Congressmen can own stocks and investments unhindered and in any company while at the same time being often in charge of drafting legislation that might affect said company.

This leads to a fundamental conflict of interest because these Congressman are not likely to enact legislation that might hurt the cash value of any of the companies they and their spouses have personal investments in.

Joe Lieberman, for example, who has been opposing any and all health care reform has close ties to the insurance industry as his wife worked for a health care lobbying firm whose clients benefited from the senator’s legislation.

Oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, banks and the likes of Koch Brothers own Congress and they have spread the golden parachute so wide that these Congressmen and women don’t see anything else but dollar signs and thus rarely, if ever, enact legislation to benefit the majority of this society that isn’t part of the millionaires’ club.; the average citizen. All they care about is pandering to the causes of the wealthy to ultimately line their own pockets.

To make matters worse, not only are Congress members not subject to any kind of ethics standards while in office (except for those of the sexual kind because we all know how bad sex is. See Anthony Weiner), but most Congressmen go working for some of the companies they “failed” (read: refused) to properly regulate while in office.

In secret, pre-arranged deals they are promised millions of dollars or more in pay if they come to work for them after they leave office. Once a public official makes a deal to go to work for a lobbying firm or corporation after leaving office, he or she becomes loyal to the future employer. And since those deals are done in secret, legislators are largely free to pass laws, special tax cuts, or earmarks that benefit their future employer with little or no accountability to the public. While campaign contributions and super PACS are a big problem, the everyday bribery of the revolving door may be the most pernicious form of corruption today.

Unlike some other forms of money in politics, politicians never have to disclose job negotiations while in office, and never have to disclose how much they’re paid after leaving office. In many cases, these types of revolving door arrangements drastically shape the laws we all live under. For example, former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) spent his last year in office fighting reforms to bring greater transparency to the derivatives marketplace. Almost as soon as he left office, he joined the board of a derivatives trading company and became an “advisor” to Goldman Sachs. Risky derivative trading exacerbated the financial crisis of 2008, yet we’re stuck under the laws written in part by Gregg. How much has he made from the deal? Were his actions in office influenced by relationships with his future employers? Does anyone care? Do most of the middle class, or poor chest thumping idiots who fight for the causes of the rich, even know this?

Former Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) made $19,359,927 as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies between 2006 and 2010. Tauzin retired from Congress in 2005, shortly after leading the passage of President Bush’s prescription drug expansion. He was recruited to lead PhRMA, a lobbying association for Pfizer, Bayer, and other top drug companies. During the health reform debate, the former congressman helped his association block a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate for drug prices, a major concession that extended the policies enacted in Tauzin’s original Medicare drug-purchasing scheme. Tauzin left PhRMA in late 2010. He was paid over $11 million in his last year at the trade group. Comparing Tauzin’s salary during his last year as congressman and his last year as head of PhRMA, his salary went up 7110 percent.

An important thing to note is that political affiliation doesn’t appear to matter when it comes to wealth as both Democrats and Republicans seem to be rolling in money. Even Nancy Pelosi owns vineyards in Napa Valley and Barack Obama’s wealth as of 2010 is estimated at $ 11.8 million. And these are the good guys. Although frankly I doubt that Obama or Pelosi amassed the wealth by selling out to big money.  Most of Obama’s money comes from book sales and he has spent most of his life being a community organizer. Pelosi seems to have married rich.

It is certainly no coincidence that Congress has been repeatedly favoring the wealthy and the corporations that keep them wealthy at the expense of the middle class and middle class causes and thus the overwhelming majority of the people who elect them into office and on whose behalf they are to act. The reason we are this money-loving, greed-is-good society that doesn’t give a damn about the greater good, is because of legislation that has been favoring the wealthy and corporations that, in turn, keep members of Congress wealthy and cushioned so they continue creating the kind of legislation and with it society conducive to their paradigm of greed and exploitation in the name of Jesus and capitalism and the Founding Fathers.

Rich politicians without accountability to anyone is a serious problem. And nothing gets done with respect to the occupy Wall street movement because the 1% are in charge. 

That is the theme in America and these corrupt congress members have convinced millions of minions, which make up the base of the Republican party, that it is in their very interest to vote for people like them, making referneces to Jesus, god and love for one’s motherland because those tactics always work.

I am not advocating for our leaders to be poor but based on the aforementioned and the non-existence of laws restricting Congress from behaving in such a manner and pretty much next to zero accountability on their part, I do have to question the extent to which those laws truly benefit the public that elected those officials.

When looking at a piece of legislation or law we take for granted and accept in this society as a given through the social contract, we often forget that those laws were drafted by a Congress member who, most likely than not,  is primarily looking out for his own interest. Yet we often don’t question those laws – from tax law to anything that is regulated by Congress really. W just obey them, no questions asked.

Remember laws aren’t written in a vacuum or by divine, infallible beings. Behind every law that you see, on the local, state or federal level,  sits a human being who has an interest and altruism and the greater good usually aren’t  part of those interests

A congress member’s primary irresponsibility  is to its constituents. Instead, it seems like Congress members are using their position as elected officials to line their own pockets.

I also have to wonder about the extent to which someone whose earnings and assets are orders of magnitude higher than those of the masses, can actually relate to the people governed. When you are that far removed from the people you make decisions for, like some sort of a royal in his ivory tower, how effective of a leader can you be? How much of their causes are you going to fight for ? How much of their struggles do you truly comprehend?

Rich people also tend to suffer from amnesia. Just because someone grew up poor, doesn’t mean that once they do make it they will relate or be charitable. Look at John Boehner. The man grew up poor, apparently twelve people in his house sharing one bathroom, and he is worse than Mitt Romney – repeatedly blocking legislation that would benefit the middle class in favor of legislation that only furthers rich people – and thus indirectly his pockets.

The Culture of Greed is the New American Dream

But isn’t that whole pandering to rich people and that wanna-be millionaire mentality exactly the problem in the US?  What everyone is encouraged to do? Not being rich has become a liability. And the get-rich-or-die-trying mentality has become the American Dream unbeknownst to most of those who dream it.

We don’t like non-rich people. Forget about the poor. They are a non-issue. We definitely can’t stand those. Just look at the streets in the US where the poor, who are often mentally ill, have been abandoned and discarded by society, roaming the streets like stray dogs, eating out of garbage and sleeping under bridges. We treat stray dogs better than these human beings.

But even middle class folks are not favored upon. Middle class seems to have become a mere transition stage for most people on their way to this elusive millionaire thing. John Steinbeck’s quote about why socialism never took root in American comes to mind, because “the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” 

Most people, even middle-class folks, don’t like middle-class. And being filthy rich, not just rich, is what has become the new American Dream.

In fact, the entire platform Romney is running on is that he is rich ipso facto he is entitled to the presidency.

Romney doesn’t actually like the United States and he certainly is not a patriot. Because a patriot pays his taxes, a patriot does not spend most of his life working against the United States by betting against the American dollar or siphoning his wealth off to offshore accounts to evade paying his fair share of taxes to the government that has provided him with the groundwork and infrastructure  necessary to be the man he is today.  In fact, he has worked so hard against America, that he doesn’t dare to release his tax records because they show a man who spent his entire life ruining the American dream for everyone – which was the creation of the middle class after WWII, not the creation of vacuous vulchers like him.

Yet Romney and that god awful callously ignorant wife of his feel entitled to this country as leaders  because he has money. He treats running for president like a hostile corporate takeover or a promotion – from CEO of a company to CEO of the United States. He doesn’t have any concrete policy proposals other than undo everything Obama did and that “being successful” ought not to be punished. As if capitalism was about stealing, which is how he got rich.

The Love of Money – A pillar Next to Jesus and Jingoism

There is a theme to be found here folks and that theme is called the unconditional love of money. This country is a lot about the love of money and every policy out there, or not out there, is because of this love for money and this wanna-be millionaire mentality.

As Marina Keegan – the late Yale student who tragically died in a car accident this past May wrote in her essay on the sad lives of Ivy League graduates that blindly chase corporate jobs even though they really have many other wonderful things in mind  when they first enter college as hopeful freshmen: “When I arrived at Yale as an eager 18-year-old, I had never even heard of consulting or I-banking. And to be honest, I still didn’t totally understand the function of a hedge fund. But what I do understand is that students here have passion. Passion for public service and education policy and painting and engineering and entrepreneurialism. Standing outside a freshman dorm, I couldn’t find a single student aspiring to be a banker – but at commencement this May, there’s a 50 percent chance I’ll be sitting next to one. This strikes me as incredibly sad .” 

It is indeed very sad. But the reason those kids feel the need to do exactly that is because we have created a culture of greed and money-above-all. Charity is not rewarded. Working for a non-profit to better society for everyone is not rewarded. Being an engineers to build bridges is not rewarded or lucrative. What is rewarded is greed and selling out: Kim Kuntrashian does it, and so does the US Congress. There is no difference. So of course those kids, after four year, end up with shattered dreams and then resign to it and follow the money.

When you live in a society in which every action is measured by the financial bottom line, from medical research to environmental protection, you create a culture of greed filled with narcissists thinking they have to get rich or die trying and that in fact doing so is a virtue. A  lot of people think that the American dream is about getting rich.

That is why in Mitt Romney’s universe people who aren’t millionaires are nothing but losers to spit on. That is also why his wife condescendingly referred to the voter base as “you people.” Ann Romney is too well-bred to call African-Americans “you people” in public, of course, especially after what happened to Ross Perot. But she obviously has no problem referring to other folks she holds in contempt that way. And she holds them in contempt because they aren’t rich – which is her criteria for success in and worthiness to life.

So with millionaires in charge of our country and the ongoing, all-encompassing corruption of elected officials – corruption that has become so widespread it is invisible at this point – is it any surprise that the United States is going down fast? Is it any surprise that the world looks at us in astonishment when they see our people show up to public hearings with assault rifles to oppose access to health care? Is it any surprise that unemployment is high? And the economy a mess? Or that some elitist, Mormon nut-job who nets a quarter of a billion dollars but who has never done a hard day’s work in his life, is running as the leader of this country?

Corporate raiding, mass-layoffs and tax evasion are not hallmarks of either a patriot, a person of integirty or a successful man who earned his riches. The operative word here being earned. And they most certainly are not the hallmarks of a man who wants to represent us.

We are no longer the subjects of our leaders as was the case hundreds of years ago – at least not in the way we used to be. We are slaves to money in a very high tech fashion – but we are still  enslaved. Nearly every politician is a multimillionaire while the overwhelming majority of those they represent lead very modest, wage earning, middle-class lives, about two paychecks away from destitution and definitely several lifetimes and dreams away from being millionaires.

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