Posts Tagged ‘John F. Kennedy’

Everything Under the Sun by Justin Bass

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

* I highly recommend the book. I wrote it.

Everything Under the Sun


The Democrats and their Accomplishments

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

The Democratic playbook defined:

– Fight for the Working Class

– Pro-Labor, but also support Corporate America

– Strong on Education, from kindergarten through college

– Use our military when we need to defend ourselves; support our troops and military families

– Stand up for Civil Rights and Individual Rights

It was the Democrats who increased spending for Veterans’ health care, after the Republicans and the Bush administration unbelievably cut funds for wounded veterans returning home from the trumped-up war in Iraq. This was before the Financial Crisis, due in large part to the Republican ideology of little-to-no-regulation. The George W. Bush Securities and Exchange Commission allowed self-regulation by the Wall Street banks concerning the buying and selling of Subprime-Mortgage-backed Securities.

Right now, more Democratic politicians than Republican politicians advocate for renewable energy to increase jobs, build up manufacturing in the USA, and reduce carbon emissions. It was the Democratic-led Congress of 2008 that changed the solar energy tax credit so that homeowners could enjoy the same 30% tax credit that commercial entities could write down. The Republican-led Congress in 2005 limited homeowners to a maximum tax credit of only $2,000. Example of the dollar difference: under Republicans a $40,000 solar energy system would get a $2,000 tax credit, but with the Democrats in charge of Congress that same $40,000 solar system got a $12,000 tax credit. This increased tax credit made solar energy more affordable to homeowners and helped spur the adoption of solar electricity across the nation. So there’s a win-win-win-win for Democrats, homeowners, the country and the world. By the way, there are also state rebates that help lower the cost of solar electricity.

The 2007 Democratic-majority Congress “passed the first minimum wage increase in 10 years….Raises the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, from the current level of $5.15, over the course of three years. Includes $4.8 billion in tax breaks for small businesses. Republicans opposed an increase passed by the House in January without the tax breaks.”


More excerpts from The New York Times as proof of additional Democratic Congressional successes:

“Student loans

PASSED JAN. 17 (356-71)
Cuts the interest rate on federally subsidized loans to college students in half, to 3.4 percent from 6.8 percent, over the next five years…..

Stem cell research

PASSED JAN. 11 (253-174)
PASSED APRIL 11 (63-34)
Broadens federal support for embryonic stem cell research to include stem cell colonies created after Aug. 9, 2001, and stem cells derived from embryos at fertility clinics.”


“UTILITIES GIRD for renewable-energy fight.

Pelosi-backed House proposal aims to wean electricity producers off coal by requiring greater use of wind and solar power. The proposed mandate, sponsored by Democratic Reps. DeGette of Colorado and Udall of New Mexico, would require utilities to produce 20% of their power from renewable sources.

U.S. Chamber lobbyist William Kovacs calls that standard ‘virtually impossible to implement.’ Adds Edison Electric Chief Tom Kuhn: ‘There’s a temptation to vote green here, but this is definitely not the way’….

Opposing Senate fuel-efficiency plan, Republican Rep. Barton aims to reduce pressure on auto makers for higher truck and sport-utility-vehicle mileage standards.”

Unfortunately, during this time period Democrats did not have a veto-proof majority. Of course, there were two more years with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House, leading up to the BIG FINISH, when Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG, WaMu, General Motors–along with many other banks, financial institutions, companies and individuals–went bankrupt. The Republican false ideology of little-to-no regulation left us in an economic hole so big that we had to call it something special: The Great Recession (2007-????).

Oh yeah, and the Democratic Congress stopped George W. (“Wrong-way”) Bush from turning our Social Security checks into poker chips for the stock market tables. Remember, Bush wanted to “privatize” Social Security. If we took Bush’s advice and turned Social Security over to Wall Street (mutual funds, 401ks, etc.) then our greatest safety-net program would be bankrupt too. Democrats saved Social Security from falling with the Dow, which had a high of over 14,000 in October 2007 and is now hovering around 11,000.


Democrats created Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment benefits during the Democratic presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt–the only president to be elected 4 times. This was after 3 consecutive Republican presidents led to the Great Depression. In 1963, Democratic president, John F. Kennedy, ordered the National Guard to escort black students to classes on the newly desegregated campus of the University of Alabama. JFK also introduced legislation a few months before his assassination that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

IMPORTANT: The 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court case changed the money/marketing game for political campaigns and election TV commercials, tilting the advantage toward the current Republican Party.


“Of the five biggest non-party organizational contributors to political campaigns in 2008, the top two were unions, both of them pro-Democratic and both composed partly or wholly of public-sector workers. The other three were pro-Republican business groups or PACs. In 2010, after the Supreme Court threw open the cash sluices in the Citizens United case, only one union made it into the top five, and it came in fifth. And from now on, thanks to five Justices, corporate campaign spending will be literally limitless.

Yes, unions will have the same freedom. But unions are already maxed out—and their resources, stretched to the breaking point, are diminishing. If, as Anatole France observed, the law in its majesty forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, the Supreme Court, in its majesty, permits both to spend as much as they can lay their hands on. If a Republican Party that has lately become rigidly, fanatically ‘conservative’ can succeed in reducing public-sector unions to the parlous condition of their private-sector brethren, then organized labor—which, for all its failings, all its shortsightedness, all its ‘special interest’ selfishness, remains the only truly formidable counterweight to the ever-growing political power of that top one-thousandth—will no longer be anything close to a match for organized money. And that will be the news, brought to you by a few very rich, very powerful Americans—and many, many billions of dollars.”



“Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues….


The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. As our downside alternate

fiscal scenario illustrates, a higher public debt trajectory than we currently

assume could lead us to lower the long-term rating again. On the other hand,

as our upside scenario highlights, if the recommendations of the Congressional

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction–independently or coupled with

other initiatives, such as the lapsing of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for

high earners–lead to fiscal consolidation measures beyond the minimum

mandated, and we believe they are likely to slow the deterioration of the

government’s debt dynamics, the long-term rating could stabilize at ‘AA+’.”

Both Warren Buffett and Robert Reich argue for increased taxes on the Super-Rich, in order to increase revenue for the federal government.


“The great irony is if America’s super rich financed the U.S. government the way they used to – by paying taxes rather than lending the government money – that long-term budget deficit would be far lower.

This is why a tax increase on the super rich must be part of any budget agreement. Otherwise the great switch by the super rich will make the income and wealth gap far wider.

Worse yet, average working Americans who can least afford it will either lose the services they depend on, or end up with a tax burden they cannot bear.”


“To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes….

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

There is no direct correlation between taxes and job creation. That is the Republican false claim, called “Trickle-down” economics. The idea is that lower taxes and lower regulation allow investment and growth in companies, which, as the the theory goes, benefits investors, pensions and employees. But in reality “trickle-down” did not work: the rich got richer and the rest of us got stagnant wages and multiple recessions. Ronald Reagan tried “trickle-down” in the 1980s and, even though it did not benefit the majority of Americans the first time, George W. Bush tried “trickle-down” economics again in the 2000s–Bush Tax Cuts for the Superwealthy in 2001 and 2003.

Read the original Op-Ed from Warren Buffett…


“Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.”

Buffett is stating that there is no direct correlation between taxes and job creation. He presents the evidence that we had lower taxes on the Superwealthy for 10 years but had “far lower job creation” during that same time period. He also points out that during a 20-year period (1980-2000) when we had higher taxes on the Superwealthy we also had 40 million new jobs. However, Buffett is not making the claim that higher taxes necessarily lead to more jobs. I do not believe Democrats believe higher taxes equal more jobs. I do, however, believe that the Democrats in Congress and in the White House believe correctly that higher taxes on the Superwealthy will create more revenue, which will enable us to pay for services that the majority of Americans depend upon and at the same time help us to lower our national deficit.

About Universal Health Care…what do you want? A perfect world? Ain’t gonna happen. The Democratic leadership passed a practical solution during a time of Republican demagogues screaming about “death panels” and “pulling the plug on grandma.” The ideological followers in the Tea Party staged a mass prayer session in front of the Capitol building to protest against the passage of the health care bill. The Democrats are doing a great job considering that they are up against a well-financed propaganda-prone Republican Party and their credulous followers, who pose as the obdurate opposition to anything that Obama and the Democrats try to do. I don’t want the Democrats to turn into a mirror image of the propaganda/marketing/P.R./branding machine that the Republicans represent. I want Americans to read more, to educate themselves with fact & evidence, and to discuss what’s going on in their country with the aim to benefit the majority of U.S. We, the People, elect our representatives. V-O-T-E.

Now all we have to do is readjust tax levels to the Clinton years–when everybody was flush with cash–so that we can generate enough revenue to pay for services, like Public Schools and Universal Health Care.

Wrong-way George>>>Breaking up the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan: good. Letting Osama bin Laden escape: bad. Starting a false war in Iraq for the majority benefit of military contractors, like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: priceless.

Remember, it took the Democratic president, Barack Obama, in order to get Osama bin Laden.


John F. Kennedy – A Transformative Figure in Human History

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment


“Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

–President John F. Kennedy

* 50 years ago, he gave his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” President Kennedy introduced the bill that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a few months after his assassination.



“Responding to ever more urgent demands, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.

He wished America to resume its old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. But the hard reality of the Communist challenge remained.

Shortly after his inauguration, Kennedy permitted a band of Cuban exiles, already armed and trained, to invade their homeland. The attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro was a failure. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed its campaign against West Berlin. Kennedy replied by reinforcing the Berlin garrison and increasing the Nation’s military strength, including new efforts in outer space. Confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed its pressure in central Europe.

Instead, the Russians now sought to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. When this was discovered by air reconnaissance in October 1962, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. While the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Russians backed down and agreed to take the missiles away. The American response to the Cuban crisis evidently persuaded Moscow of the futility of nuclear blackmail.

Kennedy now contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race–a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963. The months after the Cuban crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of ‘a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion.’ His administration thus saw the beginning of new hope for both the equal rights of Americans and the peace of the world.”

Crazy & Sane

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

First, a little history.


Y2K was a big deal…Google arrived, although it was not a publicly traded company yet…many dot-com stocks deflated in value on the Nasdaq stock exchange…Millions of people downloaded songs from the internet for free.

(Oh, yeah, and George W. Bush beat Al Gore, thanks to the 3rd-party candidate, Ralph Nader, peeling away voters from Gore’s base, West Virginia turning on the Democrats, Florida hanging its chads and possibly partaking in voter tampering, Fox News announcing a Presidential Victory for George W. Bush before any other TV channel, as well as the Supreme Court deciding in favor of W. during Bush v. Gore.)


George W. Bush took the oath of office to be our 43rd President….Jonathan Franzen published The Corrections…Enron, Tyco and WorldCom all declared bankruptcy…the Republican-majority Congress passed the Bush Tax Cuts that mainly benefited the Superwealthy by using “reconciliation” tactics to circumvent opposition from Congressional Democrats…George Harrison died.

(Oh, yeah, and 9-11 happened. So we invaded Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda terrorists lived and trained. The same Republican-led Congress passed the Patriot Act, which allowed Bush carte blanche control of law enforcement channels, in order to collect personal information about US citizens who posed a terrorist threat to the country.)


The New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl…Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize…The Osbournes premiered on MTV…Martha Stewart faced insider-trading charges, which led to eventual jail time…Pat Tillman, professional football player for the Arizona Cardinals, volunteered for the US Army in Afghanistan.

(Oh yeah, and WMD were for sure in Iraq. “He’s got ’em,” Bush told us. “He harbors terrorists! Including members of al Qaeda”; Mohamed Atta, one of the 9-11 terrorists, met with “senior Iraqi officials”; “Before 9-11, we thought Saddam could be contained.”)


The iPod arrived…Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won the Oscar for “Best Picture”…The White Stripes dropped Elephant, which included the song, “Seven Nation Army”…Outkast dropped Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which won the Grammy for “Best Album” the following year…US Ambassador Joe Wilson published an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled, “What I Didn’t Find In Africa”…The Republican-majority Congress passed more Bush Tax Cuts that mainly benefited the Superwealthy…Paul O’Neill, Secretary of the Treasury, resigned…Richard Clarke, anti-terrorism advisor to Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2, resigned…Queer Eye for the Straight Guy broadcast the idea of “metro-sexuality.”

(Oh, yeah, and we invaded Iraq…Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and other politically connected military contractors got the “No-Bid Contracts.”)


Abu Ghraib pictures surfaced for all to see…Green Day released American Idiot, which won the Grammy for “Best Rock Album” the next year and then was made into a Broadway musical a few years later…America re-elected George W. Bush…Colin Powell, Secretary of State, resigned…CIA Director, George Tenet, resigned…FBI Director, Robert Mueller, threatened to resign over the legality of Bush’s wiretapping programs…Attorney General, John Ashcroft, resigned; Bush appointed his friend, Alberto Gonzales, as the new United States Attorney General (Gonzales would resign in 2007, amid an investigation of the firing of US Attorneys for political reasons)…Bush’s Securities and Exchange Commission allowed “self-regulation” (read: no regulation) by the Wall Street banks, concerning the buying and selling of Subprime-Mortgage-backed securities…Bush also tried to add an amendment to the US Constitution banning gay marriage…Time magazine honored George W. Bush as its “Person of the Year” with a picture of him on the cover…Jon Stewart appeared on CNN’s show “Crossfire” to promote his newly published book, America: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction; soon afterward CNN canceled the show due in large part to the on-air exchange between Tucker Carlson, one of the show’s hosts, and Mr. Stewart, our generation’s most trusted source of news despite the fact that he is primarily a comedian hosting The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the TV channel, Comedy Central…A Tsunami hit the coast of the Indian Ocean and washed away thousands of lives…Ronald Reagan died.

(Oh, yeah, and the New England Patriots won their second Super Bowl, on their way to establishing a dynasty…Oh, and Pat Tillman, the professional football player who volunteered for the US Army, died from a bullet in Afghanistan due to “friendly fire,” which the military seemingly tried to cover up…we also used “Extraordinary Rendition,” waterboarding, and prolonged detention of sometimes innocent people at the US Military Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba during our “War on Terror.”)


A United States Grand Jury found that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice concerning the leaked identity of CIA agent, Valerie Plame aka Valerie Wilson…American Idol was the most popular show on television….Boston Red Sox fans celebrated all year long after their baseball team finally won the World Series in October of the previous year; it was the first championship the “cursed” team had since 1918, when Babe Ruth left Boston for New York…Mark McGwire testified in front of Congress about the use of steroids in Baseball and received questions about his personal use of performance-enhancing drugs during his career…Congressional Republicans Tom Delay and Bob Ney were linked to criminal lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, who bilked millions of dollars from Native Americans’ casino operations…Obesity among US kids continued to cause consternation among health professionals, but the multi-billion dollar video game industry didn’t mind…Hunter S. Thompson died from a bullet…George W. Bush admitted that at least 30,000 innocent Iraqi Civilians had died since the US-led invasion in 2003…Pope John Paul II died…the movie, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (based on the book) arrived in theatres.

(Oh, yeah, and Hurricane Katrina happened.)


Youtube arrived…Rajiv Chandrasekaran published Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and was made into the 2010-released movie, The Green Zone…Global Warming became a political issue of great importance, thanks to a consensus of the top climate scientists on planet Earth and Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth…but George W. Bush was President, so we did not have many meaningful policies regarding a switch to renewable energy; we just kept on using more fossil fuels, like oil, which Iraq has a lot of…although, absurdly and disingenuously, George W. Bush announced in his State of the Union address to the country, “America is addicted to oil”…John Snow, Bush’s 2nd Secretary of the Treasury, resigned; Bush appointed Goldman Sachs’ CEO, Hank Paulson, as the new United States Secretary of the Treasury…Sacha Baron Cohen starred in the movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan…President Bush cut spending for Veterans’ Health Care benefits; remember the dilapidated state of Walter Reed, the military hospital in D.C…Gerald Ford died…Tesla Motors introduced its all-electric sports car that accelerated from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 1-2-3-4 seconds…the movie, Who Killed the Electric Car?, arrived in theatres.

(Oh, yeah, and we elected a Democratic-majority Congress because we didn’t like the Iraq War anymore…also because the Republicans in Congress had a couple of sex scandals, like those concerning Mark Foley and Larry Craig. And Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s Secretary of Defense, resigned.)

* The Democratic-majority Congress created a 30 percent tax credit for all solar-electric installations, residential and commercial.


The Dixie Chicks won five Grammy awards, including “Album of the Year” for Taking the Long Way (produced by Rick Rubin), as well as “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year” for “Not Ready To Make Nice” – which revived the group’s career and vindicated Natalie Maines’ criticism of George W. Bush at the Chicks’ London concert in 2003: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas”…We “surged” after publication of The Iraq Study Group Report, and because it was clear we were losing too many soldiers’ lives in Iraq, a country that did not have a standing army because we defeated it and disbanded it: unemployed Iraqi officers went looking for work at insurgents’ training camps to organize IED attacks against us…Blackwater, a private mercenary company used for the Iraq War, succumbed to an investigation about its employees’ involvement in a public shooting and killing of possibly as many as 17 civilians on an Iraqi street…Karl Rove, the chief political advisor to President Bush, resigned his position at the White House….An Interstate bridge in Minnesota collapsed, which resulted in the death of several people…Barry Bonds broke Baseball’s Most Prestigious Record with his all-time home run #756 by using steroids…Al Gore, along with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the Nobel Peace Prize…Benazir Bhutto died from a bullet.

(Oh, yeah, and the US Stock Market, or Dow Jones Industrial Average, started slipping from its high of 14,000.)


Subprime, Subprime, Subprime…Wall Street banks collapsed…Bailout, Bailout, Bailout…Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, Bear Stearns went bankrupt, Merrill Lynch went bankrupt, Washington Mutual went bankrupt, AIG went bankrupt, and on and on…Bernie Madoff revealed his $50 billion Ponzi scheme to bilk his friends, and so he went to jail…Roger Clemens testified in front of Congress about the use of steroids in Baseball and denied using illegal performance-enhancing drugs during his career…California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state.

(Oh, yeah, and we elected our first black President, Barack Obama, as our 44th President.)


George W. Bush’s approval rating dropped to 22 percent (from a high of above 90 percent just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001)…Barack Obama had a lot of sh*t to clean up…the Economy suuuckkked despite the nearly $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which invested money in renewable energy programs, among many other industries…Glenn Beck joined fellow propagandists, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, on the Fox TV Channel (owned by Rupert Murdoch) that falsely claimed itself as an unbiased news network…the number of US Soldiers killed in Iraq reached 4,000…Michael Jackson died…John Hughes died.

(Oh, yeah, and we no longer had a true Free Market during the Great Recession: the banks borrowed from the Federal Reserve, and so did every other financial institution, apparently…$9 Trillion in loans, after more than $1 Trillion in bailouts for Wall Street banks and our car companies.)

*Goldman Sachs and the rest of Wall Street got bigger bonuses, except for Lloyd Blankfein, because he does “God’s work.” Yes, Wall Street bankers got bigger bonuses than the year before, with the assistance of Taxpayer $Money$ and despite the fact that, in large part, it was the mismanagement of Wall Street that caused the Financial Meltdown/Credit Crisis/ Great Recession. Also, Wall Street was supposed to L-E-N-D the bailout money into the larger economy, but the banksters double-crossed us again.

** President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize because he campaigned on a promise to end the United States’ military involvement in Iraq.

*** Avatar became the highest grossing movie of all time.


A 7.0 Earthquake (as measured on the Richter Scale) shook Haiti, and killed hundreds of thousands of people…The New Orleans Saints, as proxy hero of the battered and beleaguered city, won their first Super Bowl…Facebook arrived (as the movie, Social Network)…the Supreme Court ruled in favor of undisclosed and unlimited corporate spending in political campaigns, as a result of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission court case…Fox News continued its reign of outright, blatant and egregious propagandizing by hiring candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012, like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, as on-air contributors…An 8.8 Earthquake (as measured on the Richter Scale) shook Chili, and killed hundreds of people…President Obama signed the Democratic-led Universal Health Care bill into law…Jonathan Franzen published Freedom…Secret donations from Karl Rove’s group, and other undisclosed money funnels, helped Republican candidates attack Democratic candidates via a barrage of negative TV commercials leading up to the mid-term election…America elected Republicans to take a majority in the House of Representatives, but the Democratic-majority still ruled in the Senate…George W. Bush published Decision Points and he broke ground on his Presidential Center (with library) at Southern Methodist University in Texas…WikiLeaks continued to publish private US government documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as concerning US diplomacy around the world…Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, fulfilled his final request by posthumously publishing his Autobiography of Mark Twain 100 years after his death…Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, and other billionaires pledged to give the majority of their fortunes to charitable causes…Corporate America sat on a record $2 Trillion cash-on-hand, but decided against increased hiring of workers, so that real unemployment remained above 10 percent.

(Oh, yeah, and Obama didn’t look so bad when compared to Bush, since Bush made all the mess that Obama is now cleaning up.)

* We still have football, TV, beer aplenty, and lots of shopping choices. In other words, we all have some kind of fun on the weekends, especially compared to many other people living in distant places on this planet.


Yeah, it’s been a crazy time to be sane in America.

This country started when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Then we had a Revolution and constructed the Constitution of the United States as the laws of our land, but we still had Slavery. We moved Native Americans onto Reservations. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Transcendentalism and published Self-Reliance. Henry David Thoreau published Civil Disobedience. Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto. We found a lot of gold in California. We, and the Chinese immigrant workers, built Railroads across the country. Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. The Southern States rationalized their economy of forced labor with the saying “Cotton is King.” Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin kept it that way, until over 500,000 men lost their lives in the Civil War and the fighting stopped at Appomattox. Abraham Lincoln died from a bullet, and then the Republicans in Congress enacted harsh penalties on the Southern States during Reconstruction, which resulted in a solid voting block in the South for the Democrats. The Ku Klux Klan began…Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and Direct Current Electricity; France gave us the Statue of Liberty; Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Nikola Tesla invented Alternating Current Electricity and the AC Polyphase Motor; Nikola Tesla also invented radio technology and wireless-electricity capability, but did not receive credit until after his death; Thomas Edison invented early versions of the moving-picture camera;  Sigmund Freud invented Psychology and introduced cocaine as a recreational drug; the Wright Brothers flew an airplane for the first time; Henry Ford introduced the Model-T and the mass-production assembly line; Teddy Roosevelt broke up the monopolies, like John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil; Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and other black & white film stars entertained the masses for less than a $1 per movie ticket; World War I happened; Polio and Influenza epidemics broke out; America amended the Constitution so that Women had the right to vote; America amended the Constitution to prohibit the sale of Alcohol (Beer, Wine, Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, et al. became illegal); British soldiers opened fire on a crowd of unarmed civilians in India (a British colony at the time); as a result of the killing of hundreds of his people, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi practiced Civil Disobedience and led non-violent protests to eventually end the British Imperial rule of India; the Latex Condom arrived; the Roaring 20s brought us the Jazz Age with the likes of Louis Armstrong; sale of alcohol became a profitable illegal business for members of the Mob, like Lucky Luciano and Al Capone; F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby; Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf; Ernest Hemingway published A Farewell To Arms; the Stock Market Crashed in 1929; Prohibition ended; the Great Depression dragged down the multitudes because of Wall Street greed; Franklin Delano Roosevelt told us “The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself”; FDR then created Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance Benefits; John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath; Charlie Chaplin released Modern Times and The Great Dictator; World War II happened to fight off Hitler in Europe and Hirohito in Asia; We interned Japanese-American citizens; FDR won the Presidency for a fourth term in office; Millions of European people of Jewish descent died in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust; Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in office and Harry Truman moved up from VP to President; the United States created the nuclear bomb and became the only country ever to use it on human beings; the Marshall Plan helped to rebuild Germany and Japan; the Television appeared in our living rooms for the first time; Mahatma Gandhi died from a bullet; the Cold War froze relations with the Soviet Union; Professor of Zoology at Indiana University, Alfred Kinsey, published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female; the average Catholic family had a handful of children; JD Salinger published Catcher in the Rye; the Korean War occurred to Contain Communism; Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel, The Old Man and the Sea; the Mississippi Blues visited Chicago to bring the world Rock ‘n’ Roll wafting from radio; Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry came first, and then came Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis; lynchings/cross burnings/church bombings/race riots stained the nation’s morality; Civil Rights marches resulted to confront Racist, Un-Constitutional Laws; Martin Luther King, Jr. employed Civil Disobedience and non-violent protest; Frank Sinatra hung out with Sammy Davis, Jr. and the rest of the Rat Pack; Bell Labs in New Jersey made the first working solar-electric module, which the company successfully used at a telephone repeater station in rural Georgia; Jonas Salk discovered the cure for Polio through the cooperation of the Unites States University system and grant money from the federal government (Mr. Salk did not patent the cure to make money, but instead gave the life-saving vaccine to the world free of charge); Joe McCarthy warned about communists in our country; the Soviet Union sent the first satellite (Sputnik) into outer space; Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the “Military-Industrial Complex”; Miles Davis – with Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly – released the legendary and timeless jazz album, Kind of Blue; Mattel introduced the toy doll, “Barbie”; the Birth-Control Pill arrived; President John F. Kennedy told us “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”; JFK also announced that America would go to the Moon by the end of the decade; Ernest Hemingway died from a bullet; Sean Connery appeared as James Bond 007 for the first time in Dr. No; John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his life work (he had published The Winter of Our Discontent the year before); Marilyn Monroe was “It”; Martin Luther King, Jr. published Letter from a Birmingham Jail; Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech in front of a national television audience and in front of a mass audience at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; Cassius Clay, Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, changed his name to Muhammad Ali; John F. Kennedy died from a bullet; Bob Dylan blended political messages into folk song as he sang about Times Changing and Answers Blowing in the Wind; The Beatles came along and changed Rock ‘n’ Roll the way Picasso changed painting; Motown Records built the foundation of America’s good-time groove; Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize; Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (originally introduced by JFK months before his death); the Southern States became a voting block for Republican candidates; Lyndon B. Johnson also lied about the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident, which escalated the Vietnam military exercise into a full-blown war; the Vietnam War morphed from a police action about Containment of Communism into a military commitment of more than 15 years and a deathtrap for over 50,000 young American men, most of whom were drafted; Malcolm X died from a bullet; The Ford Motor Company introduced the Mustang; The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and won the Grammy for “Album of the Year”; Flower Children promoted the Peace Movement; the Anti-Vietnam War movement happened with the help of affluent, white college kids; “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” meant LSD/Marijuana/pills for ups & downs/psychedelic songs/casual expression of physical love; “Make Love, Not War” contrasted the two choices of humanity in a succinct message [There is a difference between “making love” and “sex”: “making love” is better]; The Beatles traveled to India to study meditation; The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and the 1960s counter-culture presented a brash alternative to crew cuts, Sunday dresses and Puritanical upbringings; Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali, was drafted for the Vietnam War, but he rejected the war as a “Conscientious Objector” (he lost his title and had to fight in court to stay out of jail); Martin Luther King, Jr. died from a bullet; Bobby Kennedy died from a bullet; John Lennon released his song, “Give Peace A Chance”;  Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”; Woodstock promoted Peace with three days of music in upstate New York, where Jimi Hendrix played the “Star-Spangled Banner” as the finale; UCLA invented the internet in 1969 when it sent a message host-computer-to-host-computer up the California coast to Stanford University; Nixon won the Presidency twice, visited China once to re-open US relations, and lost the Presidency as a result of the Watergate burglary scandal in which members of Nixon’s White House staff broke into the National Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. and stole private documents (all of this was known to Nixon who covered up by lying, providing Congress recorded audio tapes of candid Oval Office conversations with parts of the tapes erased; and he denied it all until his partial show of remorse years after his impeachment, depicted in the movie Frost/Nixon); Pelé and Brazil won the World Cup for the 3rd time; Lew Alcindor, the greatest college basketball player of all time, changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Hunter S. Thompson published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; John Lennon released Imagine, which included the title song, “Imagine”; the Middle East oil embargo happened; George Lucas released his movie, American Graffiti, which then brought back the TV show, The Happy Days; Transcendental meditation became popular; Disco music lasted about as long as Punk music as a genre of Popular Music (until it all came back around again via the 1990s music-file-sharing capabilities of digital sound and the internet); Star Wars became the highest grossing movie of all time, and introduced the idea of “The Force” to millions of people:

“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

-Excerpt from The Empire Strikes Back


And Cocaine re-introduced itself to America as a popular recreational drug in the 1970s thanks to Colombian cartels like those of Pablo Escobar. We lost John Belushi, of Saturday Night Live and The Blues Brothers fame, because of a cocaine overdose, just a couple of years after John Lennon died from a bullet in New York City. The Los Angeles Lakers, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won their first NBA Championship of an era known as “Showtime” thanks to rookie Earvin “Magic” Johnson playing center when Mr. Abdul-Jabbar became injured in the Finals.

Nixon handed off to Gerald Ford, who pardoned Nixon. The American Military became an All-Volunteer Military. Ford punted to Jimmy Carter,who negotiated the release of American hostages from Iran, installed a solar-thermal system on the roof to heat the water at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and then lost to Ronald Reagan, who gave us a huge deficit at the end of his eight years of increased defense spending. But he spoke so well and looked so nice, who could blame him about the stagnating economy, the Savings & Loan scandal or the Iran-Contra affair? After all, the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. A.I.D.S was as scary as Communism in the 1980s. Michael Jackson released the best-selling album of all time – Thriller – and invented/ perfected a new dance, called the “Moonwalk.” Mr. Jackson’s album, produced by Quincy Jones, won eight Grammy Awards, including “Album of the Year”; For those who could afford one, the personal computer became another standard home electronic device, just like the TV. Aerobic exercise at gyms (or at home with the VCR tape) became very popular. So did jacuzzis. The country as a whole remained largely ignorant of the fact that the US government under Reagan funded both Iran and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War of that decade (Coke versus Pepsi was more on the public’s mind). John Hughes released Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – the movie he wrote and directed – which also served to introduce The Beatles to a whole new generation. Cellphones in public actually annoyed people who did not have cellphones. Only people with cellphones and the exotic eaters tasted sushi. Oliver Stone released Wall Street – the movie he wrote and directed – which ironically stated “Greed is good” to mean that “Greed is not good,” because the main character goes to jail in the end of the movie; but most people missed the moral of the story. Many Catholic families still had a handful of children, as did many Mormon families. Guns ‘n’ Roses released the epic rock album, Appetite For Destruction. Spike Lee released his movie, Do the Right Thing. The Chinese Military massacred hundreds of its citizens during a pro-Democracy protest in Tiananmen Square.

In the 1990s, we had somebody to blame who told us directly to “Read My Lips: No New Taxes”…and then he raised taxes anyway, because it was the responsible thing to do. George H.W. Bush lost his second term to Bill Clinton. This despite winning the first Gulf War, with Dick Cheney as Secretary of Defense. They decided not to go into Baghdad after they blew up the city’s infrastructure first. Thereby limiting US Soldiers’ casualties. It’s all military strategy, you see. The economy sucked, though. And that’s why Clinton won (that, and Ross Perot). “It’s the Economy, Stupid” was the successful campaign slogan in 1992. Maya Angelou wrote a poem that she delivered at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, in front of a national television audience: the poem’s first line is “A Rock, A River, A Tree.” Nirvana had recently released Nevermind. “Magic” Johnson announced that he had contracted HIV, which is related to A.I.D.S. Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature. California voters approved the sale of Medical Marijuana in the state. Sapphire published her novel, Push (which was later made into the 2009 movie, Precious). We had a nice little pop in the late 1990s. Hot Damn! it was a good time to be an American. You could go all over the world and be welcomed. Seriously. Kids around the world were listening to Gangsta Rap-turned-Hip-Hop, like Doggystyle, by Snoop Dogg and produced by Dr. Dre. Levi’s, Nikes, surfer wear, Banana Republic, the Gap, J. Crew, and every other store at the mall, kept us looking stylish. Kurt Cobain died from a bullet. The dot-com era gave us “business casual” corporate settings that meant we could wear comfortable clothes to work and still make a comfortable living. We had CDs, DVDs and MP3s. The United States had the #1 economy and we were the sole Superpower in the world. Oh, yeah, and by 1998, everybody had a cellphone, sushi was very popular, and more people had gym-membership cards than they did library cards. Tupac died from a bullet. Biggie died from a bullet. Conspicuous Consumption swept the nation; everybody was wearing “Bling”!

Clinton played around in his office and the Republican-majority Congress almost impeached him for it, although his popularity among the People never wavered from about 70 percent or so…because the economy when Clinton was President was an economy that spread the wealth to all income brackets. Maybe not for the poorest of the poor so much, but the Middle Class prospered with Clinton as President. General Motors released a new line of Suburbans, the Hummer, and the electric car, the EV1. Titanic became the highest grossing movie of all time. Leonardo DiCaprio was at the height of his popularity, and so was America. Lauryn Hill released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which won the Grammy for “Album of the Year.” Clinton balanced the budget for the first time in a long time and left office with a roughly $300 billion surplus, which was projected to be a $5.7 Trillion surplus over the next 10 years. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were getting warmed up with terrorist attacks on US Embassies in Africa, but it was not anything particularly worrisome at the time. Now, Y2K, that was a BIG PROBLEM at the end of the last millennium. It turned out there was nothing to worry about, though, in regards to computer software taking over our bank accounts.

On October 12, 2000, al Qaeda killed 17 US sailors by bombing the hull of the USS Cole, stationed off the coast of Yemen. Exactly two months later, Bush won his court case and the Presidency, no matter how slippery and twisted the road was to get there in the first place. And then we had a series of BIG PROBLEMS. Bush blew through all the surplus, giving Tax Cuts to the Superwealthy mostly. Yeah, everybody else got a check for $800. But the millionaires got millions of dollars back. Trillions of Dollars…that’s the astronomical spending spree that George W. Bush enjoyed on America’s credit card.

– $1 Trillion for the Bush Tax Cuts to the Superwealthy

-$1 Trillion for the false war in Iraq (paid for with “off the books” accounting or “supplementals” that were not officially part of our national budget)

-$700 billion for the Wall Street bailout of 2008

George W. Bush’s Price Tag = $2.7 Trillion

Eight months after President Bush took the oath of office, two planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; and the Pentagon got hit, too. The 9-11 terrorist attacks led inexplicably to Iraq. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we can now see the unnecessary and false war in Iraq for the colossal boondoggle – waste of lives, money, time, emotion and resources – that it still is ’til this very day, more than seven years after we invaded in March of 2003. We had a $500 billion deficit by 2004. America re-elected Bush, Subprime on Wall Street went Ka-Blooey from 2004-2007, we started the bailouts in 2008, and here we are.


And now President Obama wants to extend the Bush Tax Cuts, 25 percent of which go to the top 1 percent richest people in this country. One quarter of the pie goes to 3 million people. F*ck that!

Anybody with me? Anybody give a sh*t that money for Medicare, Social Security, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and on and on will be less and less through the years?…so that all the buildings and infrastructure around us will be crappier and crappier due to lack of funds? Payments for programs and services will be less and less, so that we have to pay more out of pocket over time. Hello! America, I’m knocking on your computer-screen mind.

If this world is sane, it’s time to get crazy. There are 300 million people in America, not 3 million. No more tax cuts for the rich. They got their pie in the sky, ice-cream-cake fantasy of ripping off the American workers for 10 years – eight years under George W. Bush and two years under Barack Obama. No more. Seriously. No more.

I recommend that we, as a country, decide not to extend the Bush Tax Cuts for individuals earning over $250,000 per year. It’s a simple matter of readjusting tax levels for top-income earners back to where they were when Clinton was the President…when being in America was still a crazy time to be sane, but we were all flush with $cash$.

I see why you want your tax cuts, rich people. I honestly do. But isn’t it more responsible to get our country’s fiscal house in order and put unemployed Americans back to work, while we continue to chart a path of slow growth during this post-Great Recession rebuilding period? I think I’m talking sense here, or writing it, rather.

This is America. There are 300 million people, not 3 million. How about we get a little less crazy and a little more sane? Or whichever version allows us to “Pay As We Go” while taking care of the majority of Americans. That sounds good to me.

(Oh, yeah, and on May 1, 2011 President Barack Obama reported to the American people by television that he had ordered Navy Seals to capture or kill Osama bin Laden at his high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan – approximately 60 miles away from the capital city of Islamabad. The Navy Seals successfully completed their mission and Osama bin Laden was buried at sea, President Obama said.)


United States Tax Rates from 1918-2008:

Above the Clouds

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

“Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”–President John F. Kennedy