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Romney - The Businessman?

Posted by MacZad
Oct 15 2012

Mitt Romney touts his experience as a businessman and his rescue of the 2002 winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake. There's no question that Romney is a smart cookie. He has worked the system to the maximum to enrich himself and/or enhance his reputation, but in contrast to men like Henry Ford, HP's Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, Intel's Andy Grove, Microsoft's Bill Gates or Apple's Steve Jobs all who built companies that provided employment to thousands and contributed to America's success, Mitt's business success was heavily dependent on financial manipulation which ended up driving companies into bankruptcy and destroying the jobs of thousands.

Let's take the Olympic Games rescue first via this quote from Rolling Stone:

--- Romney has[n't] done just fine at milking the government when it suits his purposes, the most obvious instance being the incredible $1.5 billion in aid he siphoned out of the U.S. Treasury as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake – a sum greater than all federal spending for the previous seven U.S. Olympic games combined. Romney, the supposed fiscal conservative, blew through an average of $625,000 in taxpayer money per athlete – an astounding increase of 5,582 percent over the $11,000 average at the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

Remember the KB Toys an 86 year-old company with over 400 stores when it went into bankruptcy in 2008? Why the bankruptcy?

--- in 2000, right before Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted KB Toys. --- Bain put up a mere $18 million to acquire KB Toys and got big banks to finance the remaining $302 million it needed. Less than a year and a half after the purchase, Bain decided to give itself a gift known as a "dividend recapitalization." The firm induced KB Toys to redeem $121 million in stock and take out more than $66 million in bank loans – $83 million of which went directly into the pockets of Bain's owners and investors, including Romney. "The dividend recap is like borrowing someone else's credit card to take out a cash advance, and then leaving them to pay it off," says Heather Slavkin Corzo, who monitors private equity takeovers as the senior legal policy adviser for the AFL-CIO. --- Bain ended up earning a return of at least 370 percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. KB's former parent company, Big Lots, alleged in bankruptcy court that Bain's "unjustified" return on the dividend recap was actually "900 percent in a mere 16 months."

Read the full of story of Mitt's business dealings in this Rolling Stone article, and another Rolling Stone article about how Romney got the government (us taxpayers) to foot the bill for the 1990 rescue of the then ailing Bain & Co., the original parent firm of Bain Capital.

You know, despite his shortcomings, I believe that voting for a former "community organizer" makes more sense for the future of our country than voting for a guy with Mitt's background and mindset.

Categories: Embracing Diversity and Tolerance, Illuminating Dark Places, Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance

Creating Realities?

Posted by MacZad
Sep 08 2012

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

How our politics have changed since the Moynihan era. During the past few years it's become apparent from the utterances of Republican leaders that they see manipulation of truth as a powerful tool in helping them to gain power and pursue their objectives.

Here's a quote from an extensive article on the Bush presidency by Ron Suskind in the October 2004 New York Times Magazine.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

The aide (Karl Rove?) appeared more than willing to invent or distort facts to "create our own reality." The arrogance displayed is almost unbelievable. One of those created realities was the "weapons of mass destruction" reality that led to the Iraq war. That ignoring/distorting of the truth didn't lead to a smashing success, did it? My last posting about Republican wisdom had this example (from the time of the 2012 RNC) of this continuing willingness to manipulate the truth. All but admitting that the Romney campaign would be lying pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

What a disservice this use of deceit is to political discourse. Presenting the electorate with distortions or downright lies blunt the truth, and the country suffers as decisions based on anything other than the best understanding of the truth are bound to turn out badly. As the old saying goes, "Garbage in garbage out."

However, this behavior by Republican leaders is not surprising considering Christian fundamentalists influence in the party. Creating alternative realities is old stuff to Christian fundamentalists. They do it in their theme parks where they show people and dinosaurs coexisting.

So, are the Democrats guilty as well? Yes but to a lesser degree, and a willingness, even an eagerness, to ignore hard facts and "create our own reality" does not seem to be present when they are governing.

All this means that voters now have to be much more skeptical about the information presented during campaigns. Fortunately the media has become quite alert to this decrease in truthfulness, and the lies and distortions are increasingly being called out. Also there are now political fact checkers so voters can check truthfulness themselves. The fact checkers sure called out Ryan on his RNC speech. The most respected fact checkers: FactCheck.org - PolitiFact.com - The Fact Checker

Categories: Illuminating Dark Places, Seeking Better Governance

Father Charles Coughlin, et al

Posted by MacZad
Aug 19 2012

The chances are that you have never heard of Catholic priest, Father Charles Coughlin. During the late 1920s and into the early 1940s he was a popular radio personality with a huge audience for his weekly broadcasts. He was a democrat, a populist and an isolationist but also in his later broadcasts revealed himself to be a bigot who dispensed angry, irrational charges and assertions. As do all demagogues he had to have scapegoats. His were mainly the Jews, and he even concocted a non-existant Jewish-Communist connection to heap his vitriol upon.

In the late 1930s he praised the fascist leaders Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler and his horrific anti-Semitic policies. Coughlin’s isolationism ultimately doomed him; after Pearl Harbor, and after Hitler declared war on America, there was no longer a mass audience for his message. Now Coughlin, though mostly forgotten, is thought of as one of the major demagogues of the 20th century.

Here are links to sources of the content in the above paragraph and to one of his 1938 broadcasts:

Pioneering Hate Radio        Father Coughlin        History Matters


Today we have several modern-day equivalents of Father Coughlin - demagogues all, spewing angry hate filled talk on radio and Fox News. The techniques used to inflame the audience are the same as those used by Coughlin more than a half century ago. Their scapegoats are different: welfare mothers, NAACP, the homeless, the unemployed, SNAP, liberal media, gays etc., and they shift their audience's attention away from the real problems and inequities of the times by their constant scapegoat harangues. It's a classic diversion technique which has much of their audience looking in the wrong direction for the source of many of the nation's problems. Surely the homeless, those on welfare or food stamps (SNAP) have an insignificant voice in Washington compared to the wealthy and the corporations with all their K Street lobbyists, but these guys portray their scapegoats as powerful and a principal source of the nation's problems - what rot!

Though their audiences are far smaller that Coughlin's , Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, et al, are far more powerful than he ever was as they function as an extension of the Republican Party. They echo what the party says and the party leadership often echoes what they say. However, my guess is that the country is slowly waking up their demagoguery, their influence has peaked, and in another 50 years they will be remembered like Coughlin is today - mostly forgotten and known only as major demagogues of the 21st century; what a personal legacy to have!

Here are some other takes on the similarity between Coughlin and his modern-day equivalents:

Rush Limbaugh        Father Coughlin's Heirs        Coughlin/Limbaugh

Want to try the opposite of these guys? I suggest Up with Chris Hayes Saturday and Sunday mornings 8 to 10 eastern, on MSNBC.,

Categories: Illuminating Dark Places, Seeking Better Governance

The Grand Con

Posted by MacZad
Jul 30 2012

This may be the biggest con ever, and it is worked over and over because it is so slick that many of the conned millions are happy about it, not realizing the economic losses that they and millions of others suffer because of it. Also important is the danger that the con poses to our religious freedom. Here’s how it works followed by comments on the economic damage that it is doing:

  • Some of the wealthy and powerful (Koch brothers, Coors heirs, James Leininger et al) generously fund ultra-conservative groups.

  • Many of these groups encourage the Christian fundamentalist churches to inflame their members on “hot-button” social issues (gay marriage is a current favorites) to get votes for conservative GOP candidates.

  • The elected conservative legislators strongly support the interests of the big corporations and the rich and powerful by introducing and enacting legislation that is economically favorable to them but frequently unfavorable to the very folks who voted for them.

  • To appease the religious fundamentalists on their social issues, some legislation favorable to their views is proposed and often enacted.

  • Elated because of the legislators’ support for the very-visible social issues, most of the Christian faithful don’t notice the less-visible economic losses that they and others are suffering.

It’s wonderful for those who benefit. The big corporations and the wealthy get favorable government policy and tax treatment so the money keeps flowing to them with some of it continuing on to the ultra-conservative groups. The GOP legislators get the fundamentalists’ votes and reelection support from the rich and their ultra-conservative groups. The wealthy conservatives also know that those with the lowest incomes are more likely to belong to the fundamentalist churches that support GOP candidates, and their economic losses from the con helps to keep the big fundamentalist Christian voter base somewhat impoverished.

And even most of the conned faithful are happy; so what’s wrong here?

The con is a Robin Hood in reverse scheme fostering government policies (Rent-Seeking) that are biased in favor of big corporations and the wealthy. These government policies which shift costs from them to the public (the mass of taxpayers) and which unfairly divert even a few dollars per year from each of several hundred million Americans into the holdings of a wealthy few are morally wrong.

It really is a world-class con. For years it has siphoned dollars from working Americans, easily aggregating into the billions, and vastly enriched the wealthy. Additionally, as covered in an earlier posting, it is a strong contributor to the rise of Christian fundamentalism.

Categories: Illuminating Dark Places, Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance

Do You Get Your "News" From Fox News?

Posted by MacZad
Jul 21 2012

Billionaire Rupert Murdoch is splitting his News Corp., the parent of Fox News channel, into two companies. The publishing company will include the newspapers: the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, the New York Post and the Australian. Curiously the Fox News channel will not be pared with the print newspapers but instead will be part of the entertainment company. While one may be entertained by the Fox News channel, using it as a source of political and social news results in one getting some very slanted views. Here's the Fox News reporting on two things relating to the federal budget:

On the April 8 edition of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor O'Reilly portrays federal funds for NPR and Planned Parenthood as un-affordable given the nation's debt. Some perspective: According to the Associated Press, NPR received about $5 million in federal funds in fiscal year 2010 and the Planned Parenthood annual report states that it received $487 Million In Government Funding in 2010. ----- Watch the short O'Reilly Factor clip

Now in contrast: When Fox News channel Happening Now anchor Jon Scott interviewed Wall Street Journal columnist Simon Constable on July 9, Scott dismissed the president's tax proposal because the money it raises would run the government for a mere "eight and a half days" just "a drop in the bucket." Some perspective: According to The New York Times, economists estimate that letting the Bush tax cuts expire for people above $250,000 as Obama proposes would generate $85 billion yearly. ----- Watch the short Happening Now clip

So, according to Fox News $492 million for two social/health programs is unfordable, but a $85 billion per year tax break for the wealthy is only "a drop in the bucket" in the federal budget picture. I'm concerned about reducing the nation's debt, but it needs to be done intelligently not just on the backs of working Americans. The Fox News "protect the wealthy" bias shown by these clips is blatant. They constitute only one example of many that could be cited to showcase the skill of Fox News in presenting the "news" to favor the Plutocrats. It's not the "big lie" but it leans toward it by skilfully using distortion, exaggeration, diversion and repetition. Repeated diversion of the viewer from issues which would negatively impact the wealthy to issues like "welfare abuse" seem to be particularly effective. However, there's hope; more of the public is catching on to these tactics, and Fox News viewership is falling.

BTW: At the end of the second clip Constable mentions getting back to the higher growth rates of the 1990s. Those were the Clinton years which didn't need those vaunted Bush era tax cuts to achieve better growth and which ended with a budget surplus.

Thanks to Media Matters for the clips from their excellent article - the inspiration for this post.

Here's more thanks to AlterNet: Greetings from Crazyland! 10 Instances of Fox Nation's Departure from Reality (Updated 11/28/2012)

The image below was just too good to pass up. (Updated 11/20/2012)

Image Credit: http://www.realamericanliberal.blogspot.com/

Categories: Illuminating Dark Places, Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma

Slouching Toward Theocracy By Our Votes

Posted by MacZad
Jul 15 2012

Sinclair Lewis was prescient back in 1935 when he wrote, "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag & carrying a cross." After 75+ years the growing power of fundamentalist Christians in politics is moving us ever closer to his vision.

Here in the US we deplore the intolerances of many Islamic countries. Well, be alerted, we are well on our way to our own version of an intolerant and theocratic nation with a state supported religion. Ours will be fundamentalist Christian rather than fundamentalist Islamic, but there’s really not much difference between them for: both hate certain (though different) groups, both subjugate women and both have repressive belief systems.

It’s obvious that the leaders of many fundamentalist Christian sects don’t like the religious and other freedoms that we, and they, enjoy in this country. They have clearly stated their goal of remaking America into a "Christian Nation" (or the more extreme Dominionism based one) which would, of necessity, embrace intolerances and repressions as noted above. Over the past several decades their successes within the Republican Party, including many legislative, policy and judicial victories, both small and big (Sympathizers on the Supreme Court - Gay discriminations), have brought them much too close to that goal. They are united now in trying to achieve it, but if they triumph we can expect big battles over which sect’s version of god and religion shall the government impose on us. (Joke)

You may not like the liberals, but you will probably like rule by the scriptures even less. Unless they meet strong resistance the fundamentalist Christians, who seem to dominant (40+%) the current Republican Party, will eventually transform the 235+ year old “Grand Experiment” that is our Untied States of America into a theocratic-fascist country. Our enlightenment, envied by billions the world over, will die, and we will experience serious losses of personal freedom, even more discrimination against minorities and totalitarian persecutions of those who don’t kowtow to the fundamentalists’ beliefs and morality.

So, resist we must. At a minimum we, and the media (like Chris Mathews on this 6 minute YouTube video), need to be asking candidates at all levels of government questions that expose the ignorance of fundamentalist beliefs or even toleration of them. Questions like: “How old do you believe the world to be?” Any answer other than an unqualified, “billions of years,” indicates a candidate with such a warped sense of reality that he/she is unfit to govern and one undeserving of our vote. To preserve our “Grand Experiment” such candidates and the other politicians who support them must be defeated.

Categories: Defending Religious Freedom, Embracing Diversity and Tolerance, Illuminating Dark Places

The Foundation - The Fellowship - The Family - C Street

Posted by MacZad
Jun 20 2012

You may have heard of the National Prayer Breakfast an annual Washington, DC event. It sounds innocent enough - many of the nations political leaders getting together for breakfast and prayer.

The event is hardly innocent; it's part of the war on America's religious freedoms. It's a screening tool used by a secretive organization to help recruit new members from Washington's elite and powerful. It is heavily bankrolled by people of wealth (mostly men) who actually believe that it's god's will that has made certain people (them) rich and/or powerful and that god wants many others to be today's equivalent of the serfs of the middle-ages. The national ethics organization, CREW, has suggested that the breakfast be boycotted.

The sponsoring group The Foundation - The Fellowship - The Family (a New Yorker article) cultivates a very low public profile; as well it should for it has many far-out ideas that would be viewed negatively by most Americans. In addition to the one in the paragraph above there's this little glimpse of the twisted thinking of the group's leader, Douglas Coe, courtesy of author, Jeff Sharlet, who recounts one conversation he overheard between Coe and another man. Coe asked the man, "Suppose I hear you rape three little girls. What would I think?" The man said he thought Coe would consider him awful and a monster. Coe said, "No. No I wouldn't because you're chosen. As a member of The Family, you're chosen and, when you're chosen, the normal rules don't apply. Morality is for the little people."

Douglas Coe and son David guide this organization that has a radically different but very patient approach to achieving its goals - little nibbles here and there - a new senator recruited, additional Federal funds flowing to a cause of their liking, etc. I'll leave it to the links below to better acquaint you with the organization and its goals, but it's chilling that such an organization has so much - even any - influence in Washington.

Jeff Sharlet has written several articles and two books (reviewed on these WorldCat pages): "The Family" and "C Street." They shed much light on this dark organization. He is prominently featured in these links:

A High-Five to Jeff for all of his work bringing this to light, but let's hope that the main-stream media will soon be giving this story much more attention; for the workings of this organization, its kooky leadership and theocratic goals, need a thorough airing.

Categories: Defending Religious Freedom, Illuminating Dark Places


Posted by MacZad
May 31 2012

About MacZad’s Musings

Guiding quotes:

  • "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton
  • "Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation." Oscar Wilde
  • "Nothing dies so hard, or rallies so often, as intolerance" Henry Ward Breecher
  • “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” C. E. Stowe
  • "The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it's that they know so many things that just aren't so." Mark Twain
  • “Dark places need strong lighting.” MacZad (Not that I’m on par with the guys above, but I just couldn't find the right quote for the thought.)

Welcome to my blog:

The rise of the plutocrats which has been greatly aided by the increasing power of the religious zealots, plus the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate money to flow into politics, have compelled me to start this blog. My voice is small, but the situation demands that many small voices be heard.

I hope to be posting occasionally, expanding on the thoughts expressed in the quotes above and, sometimes, ranging a bit wider. I will be expressing my thoughts (and biases) but also often directing the reader to more authoritative sources.

Our country has been negatively altered over the past several decades, and the negative drift continues, often stealthfully, and resistance is badly needed. I expect that some of the views that I champion will be disparaged by many - perhaps even by some friends. However, please view my posts as you do newspaper editorials, and don't "cancel your subscription" because there are some posts that you don't agree with.

What to expect here:

  • Support for efforts to give the voters (rather than the corporations and the very wealthy) the strongest voice in government policy making
  • A voice for tolerance and diversity
  • A vigorous defense of religious freedom at all levels of US governance
  • The illuminating of some of the dark places
  • Efforts to debunk dogmas, some quite dangerous
  • Comments on the goofy ideas of both the far left and the far right
  • And, now and then, some humor and a few extras of one sort or another

Personal info:

MacZad is the nom de plume of Tom McKee. I’m a retired electrical engineer living in suburban Raleigh, NC. I have been happily married to the same great lady for 50+ years, and we have one son and 3 grandchildren. I am not affiliated with any political party or religion. I'm not a journalist and there will be errors (not factual, I hope) in my postings. Please overlook or excuse these.

My beliefs and biases:

  • I’m a great believer in moderation, in what’s possible versus what’s ideal, in keeping an open mind, in facts vs. dogma and in common sense.
  • I believe in living life to the fullest, enjoying the good, bearing the bad and in trying to leave at least a part of the world a little better than I found it.
  • I lean toward the socially liberal and the fiscally conservative. We need government but one that is smaller, less powerful and much more strongly attuned to the mass of its workers and their families - the real strength of America.
  • Our capitalistic system, with its many opportunities, is the best; but has been, and is being, gamed to benefit a few - a real loss for the country. Poor governance during the last 30-40 years has put us in the high-debt "banana-republic" category – a very-rich few and masses of "serfs."
  • “Government knows best” is false, but sufficient common-sense regulation of capitalism is required for a healthy society.
  • A strong believer in the power of science and engineering to continually improve mankind’s condition I also recognize that there are areas of science where conclusions are questionable as the knowledge is still formative.
  • A society embracing tolerance and diversity allows every citizen to achieve his/her maximum potential to the substantial benefit of all citizens.
  • More of us should be speaking out against the religious zealots who by their attempts to impose a state religion (i.e. “A Christian Nation”) are methodically chipping away at our religious and other freedoms.
  • I believe that one can live a good moral life without believing in any, of the many, gods.
  • Change is inevitable, and our minds must be open to new ideas appropriate for the times. I've changed some beliefs recently - this list isn't "set in stone."

Contact: This blogging software does not have any provision for Comments and that's OK because I don't have time to respond to them. However, if you feel that you must contact me, I can be reached at: archivist-1[at]imradioha[dot]org . Please make it into a valid address.

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The name MacZad's Musings is Copyright 2012-Current by Thomas A. McKee. All rights reserved. No copyright is claimed for any of the content authored by me, and thus it is placed in the Public Domain. However, if the site's content is used elsewhere, a link to MacZad's Musings would be courteous and appreciated.

Categories: Defending Religious Freedom, Embracing Diversity and Tolerance, Illuminating Dark Places, Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma