Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Dissent is Patriotic"

So we were told for much of the previous eight years. Dissent for the sake of dissent is not "patriotic." Dissent based on reasons and rationale is a responsibility. Our Government is out of control, but we have elected it.

No, the people of the 6th District did not vote for Obama, nor Pelosi, nor Murtha, nor Reid, but we did vote for Bart Gordon who is supporting their every whim, like a whipped dog. When I first considered running for his seat, I expected there would be little to differentiate my positions, our positions from his.

I had hope that the Blue Dog Democrats would provide the rational resistance to many of the things promised on the campaign trail last year. Instead, I have found nothing but disappointment in his voting record. I'm sure if I searched thoroughly enough, I could find something, and I should. I'm told he's a nice guy and he certainly seems to be.

I've been quiet lately, mainly because there is little positive to say. I'm truly concerned for the direction this government is headed. Our Congress, at the behest of the President has quadrupled the deficit, with the full support of Our Elected Congressman.

They are cutting the Defense Budget at the same time that we're paying $328,000 for an Air Force photo op that struck fear in the people of New York. And the President laughed about it.

While more is being asked of Our Troops, their numbers and pay raises and bonuses are being cut with the backing of Our Elected Politician, at the behest of Obama, Pelosi, Frank, and Murtha. In the upcoming year, more of our Troops will be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan than at any time in the last 8 years. Troops are being deployed straight to Afghanistan from Baghdad.

Within hours of North Korean Missile tests, Weapon Systems were cut from the Army, Air Force and Navy, including the Marines. North Korea even now threatens war if even the weak measures suggested are taken against them. 28,500 US Troops in South Korea are now potentially in harm's way against a Million Man Nuclear armed Army of North Korea.

General McKiernan's career has been ended with an excuse of "we needed a new face." It appears to be a purely political decision.

Partisan slogans are resulting in stubbornly shutting down a piece of ground that has done nothing wrong. The Terrorists detained at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst. No torture ever occurred there. It is and has been run in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The terrorists are not Americans. They have no Constitutional Rights.

The terrorists at Gitmo are combatants, not just common criminals. They are war criminals, but the Geneva Conventions allows them to be held until the end of hostilities, without trial. They may be tried for war crimes and if found guilty held beyond the end of hostilities. But if found "not guilty," they can be returned to Gitmo, as per the Geneva Conventions.

Moreover, in this time of economic hardship, in these times of record deficits, it is fiscally irresponsible to close Gitmo and build a new one somewhere else, costing billions of dollars more, when it done for nothing more than political sloganeering.

Tennessee Taylor©2009, TNT, all rights reserved

Racist Shame

We were told we were "racist" for opposing Obama. Now we are being told we are "racist" for opposing his nominee for the Supreme Court. NO, we are NOT. No person should be hired or fired or promoted or elected or selected based on their skin color or sex.

Justice Sotomayor is the wrong person for the job, period. She is on the record as saying the Judicial Branch "Makes policy" in complete contradiction to the US Constitution. In the same video, she recognizes that she should not admit that publically.

In the same week, that the Supreme Court of California decided that the Constitution of California is Constitutional (Proposition 8), the President of the United States has nominated for Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States a person that believes that feelings rather than law should be the basis of rulings and evidently has no concept of the very Constitution she is supposed to be basing her rulings on.

Every candidate should be judged based on their merits. Every candidate should be selected based on their merits and record. Every candidate should be elected based on their positions.

There should be no special rules based on skin color nor sex. It should not be easier or harder because one has darker or lighter skin. An applicant should not be denied for someone less qualified because of such standards. And yet, that was precisely how she decided the case of St.Louis Firefighter promotions.

I would urge the Senate to be colorblind in voting against this nominee. I would urge them to have the intestinal fortitude to clearly state that they will not be shamed into blindly accepting every candidate based on the argument that it's "racist" to oppose a minority.

It is a disservice and racist to continually tell whole segments of our population that they can't learn, that they can't compete, that they need special rules and laws to attain the same standings as their neighbors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Way Forward

Some have asked what they can do to help. Some have expressed a wish that I was running in their district. Some have pointed out that a successful campaign needs a campaign warchest, a large one considering the opponent.

Until an expert on Campaign Finance steps up, I will not be asking for, nor accepting donations to the campaign. That is why there is no method of donating to the campaign. But dollars are only a means to presenting the message. The biggest political campaign warchest does not ensure Victory at the ballot box.

But as Bart Gordon so aptly demonstrates, that money comes with strings. His loyalty is to those that have contributed to his continued presence in Washington, not to the people of the 6th District, not to the people of Tennessee, and not to the Nation.

What can you do? Spread the word. Send this page to your neighbor. Follow me on Twitter: TnNTaylor. RT my tweets when you find them interesting. Email the articles of this page to your fellow Tennesseans, with the link. Comment on what you find interesting. Ask questions about concepts if my words are unclear.

Elections are won by who receives the most votes, not who has the most money. If it were about money, I'd not stand a chance. Money is simply the tool to get the message out. The internet allows you to have more power than do the Corporations that have bought Gordon.

It doesn't matter if the people you know agree with your positions, with my positions, with our positions or not, send them a link. Allow them a voice and a place to make their case. There is no harm in hearing the words of those that oppose me. On the contrary, I have actively fought to preserve them that right.

Hypothetically, a campaign could be victorious without any money spent. I'm not sure I'd wish to try that, but I do know I will not be able to outspend Bart Gordon. As we move forward, we'll identify more ways to help put a Common Sense Citizen in Congress, but first and foremost, spread the word.

Tennessee Taylor©2009, TNT, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 11, 2009

US Navy And Taxed Out of Shipping

Sometimes, it's the unnoted things in a news story that provide the most insight. Sometimes timing of an event provides the greatest irony. Four solitary pirates have tested the world's superpower and the new leader. Twenty great Americans demonstrated resolve and valor. One ship's captain has gone above and beyond.

And Vice President Biden's prophecy is on the verge of being proven, again. When tested, President Obama has consistently fallen short. But he cannot continue on a course of economic and military destruction without the willing approval of Congress.

And Congress cannot rubber stamp the wrong headed policies of the executive without the Whipped Blue Dogs, including our very own Representative Gordon, who only seems to represent earmarks and Washington insiders.

The US Navy has already been cut in half, primarily in the 90's. The New Administration aims to cut it even more. Reprehensible Barney Frank called for the cuts in October. Reprehensible Murtha called for the cuts this year. The 2010 DoD budget proposal from the Administration hides the cuts by adding the costs of Our Current Conflicts to the regular budget without increasing the actual budget. It is an $87+ Billion cut in defense spending from its own 2009 proposal.
Instead of spending money Constitutionally on the Common Defense of the States, the Administration is funding ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and buying US Corporations. The Whipped Blue Dogs are following the whims of Pelosi, Reid, Frank, and Obama.
But this is only part of the story. They are calling for higher taxes on investors, smokers, corporations, and employers. And this too has a tie to the piracy of the Maersk Alabama. With the first case of piracy against a US Flagged vessel in two centuries, we also see the results of increased tax and regulations on one of our traditionally strongest industries:
"There are fewer than 200 U.S.-flagged vessels in international waters, said Larry Howard, chair of the Global Business and Transportation Department at UNY Maritime College in New York. " AP, APR 08, 2009 US Aid Ship Fights off Pirates
The only US Flagged vessels on the high seas today are US Navy Vessels and those required by US Government contract to be US Flagged. Taxes and Regulations have made it simply too expensive for shipping companies to hoist our Flag. Instead, shipping companies flag their ships in places like Kuwait and Liberia, which collect the fees and regulate more sensibly or not at all while providing no protection of their own.
When the US Government continues to increase taxes on our employers, they will continue to move overseas, continue to lay off Our Workers, and more of our great industries will be lost to foreign nations. We must send a Common Sense Citizen to represent Tennesseans in 2010.
While David Evans has correctly called on Representative Gordon to return the money the US Government paid for Gordon's personal European Vacation (or demonstrate it was official business), I am focused on the Billions and Trillions of dollars the Whipped Blue Dogs are wasting of Our money.
While General Evans is concerned with the personal largesse of our opponent, I am concerned with Representative Gordons willingness to undercut Our National Defense in a time of Two Wars and even greater threat than we have seen since 1990.

Tennessee Taylor©2009, TNT, all rights reserved

Friday, March 27, 2009

Behavior Control Through Taxation

I've spoken out against the immorality, illegality, and unconstitutional retroactive taxation blackmail of the AIG (now AIU) executives. I've clarified that it is not illegal but immoral that they accept those bonuses. Senator Dodd and Timothy Geitner were directly responsible for the legislation that allowed the bonuses, in the CEO Bailout Bill sold to us by then Senator Obama and rammed down our throats by Representative Gordon, Frank, & Pelosi.

But the 90% tax Representative Gordon voted to exact on the political embarrassment is only one such attempt to legislate behavior through taxation. It's perhaps the most obvious, but its far from the oldest.

It has long been the practice of Congress and State Legislators to put special taxes on cigarettes. Regardless of how you feel about smoking, it is legal and it is a personal decision. In the early days of this special tax, it was designed to alter behavior. When politicians realized that smokers are addicts, they began to see it as a cash cow. Recently, they increased the cigarette tax by, not to, $8.00 a carton. The government now makes more money off the tobacco industry than do the manufacturers.

Adding to this, the State of Tennessee is imposing "minimum" prices on cigarettes as of April 1st.

The 111th Congress is considering the implementation of the Chicago Politician's special tax on energy. What is the result of such programs, including the desired result of decreased energy usage? Increased energy costs and higher energy bills.

Not convinced? Pull out your most recent water bill and electric bill and compare both the price per unit and the base service charge to a 2007 bill. Compare your usage of these services as well. Many of you will find that you pay more for less service now. Utilities must achieve a certain amount of gross profit to cover the costs and they are monopolies, necessary monopolies, but monopolies nonetheless.

Many Representatives were even calling for a tax hike of 50 cents/gallon on gasoline during the $4/gallon days of last summer. With our gas tax dollars already being swindled from the upkeep of our roads, this tax was not designed to provide better roads, but make it economically unfeasible for you to drive as much as you currently do.

And despite all of this taxation, the government continues to be in centuries old debt and racking up record deficits. The 111th Congress, including our Representative Gordon plans to increase the federal debt in their short two years than did the previous 5 Congresses.

The Whipped Blue Dogs are voting exactly as Speaker Pelosi of California Idealism tells them to vote. It appears as if they are trying to bankrupt Our Nation.

The entire tax code is designed to alter behaviors, with credits for what politicians deem good behavior and penalties for what they deem bad behavior. And yet in the midst of this, Congress is considering increasing the taxes paid on charitable donations. This is mind-boggling and the conclusions that can be drawn from it are not very flattering.

It is indeed time for a new tea party. Taxes, penalty by taxation, and behavior control by taxation are out of control. We pay more now in taxes, in real dollars, in inflation adjusted dollars, in percentage of income, than did our Founding Fathers when they threw off the chains of Britain.

It may be time for Nationwide Recall Petitions of Congress. This Congress is out of control, under the whip of Pelosi. The Blue Dogs, our last hope for rational legislation, have been whipped into submission by fringe elements of a once great party that abandoned the people.

Tennessee Taylor©2009, TNT, all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Toxic Assets"

The media, markets, and Congress are abuzz with "Toxic Assets." They're also attempting to rename this "legacy loans." It simply sounds better when you're talking about using taxpayer money to "buy it."

But what exactly are we talking about with "toxic assets?" Those are the predatory loans made by the greedy to the greedy based on unrealistic rises in real estate values. These are the loans that should never have been made. These are the risks that corporations took in a belief that they would make astounding profits, that failed.

Simply, they are bad loans, foreclosed loans on real estate not worth the borrowed amount.

Your "representatives" think that you, the taxpayer, should pay 2005 inflated prices in order to get the banks out of the trouble they got themselves in. It will have the marketed effect, the banks will be better off. Their stock prices will go up. It will benefit the corporate constituencies of our elected officials.

This comes at a cost to you, the taxpayer. It is wrong. Capitalism is a system of personal and professional responsibility. It allows individual choice and freedom. It rewards good decisions and holds each responsible for bad decisions.

An underlying but unstated right of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Capitalism is the right to be wrong and to let the world know that you are wrong. If you decide to pay $100,000 for a 2010 Ford Mustang believing you can sell it to your neighbor for $150,000, your friends may tell you you're out of your mind. But that is your money and your decision to make.

If the neighbor pays the $150,000 for it, we'll shake our heads in disbelief, but if you end up selling it to him for $50,000, it is not our responsibility to make up the difference. And that is what Congress is doing. They're making us pay the difference in the losses of banks.

To be a bit more accurate, it would be like a single person bidding and purchasing an entire estate at auction regardless of bid price, selling everything that could make a profit and then coming to their neighbor and expecting them to pay the price bid for the items not worth the price he paid at bid. Now imagine that it was the richest man in town that did that and exacted the losses on every worker in town.

It is not right. It is not Constitutional. It is not moral. It is not capitalism. It is not the American way.

These corporations took the risks. They got greedy. And they got burned. It is NOT the responsibility of the taxpayer, i.e waiters, factory workers, and Soldiers to pay for the bad risks that the corporations made.

Tennessee Taylor©2009, TNT, all rights reserved

The Blackmail Worked

The government, led by the US House of Representatives, has learned the tactics of the Mafia: Blackmail. Even as activists and capitalists are setting up tours of the homes of AIG executives for angry mobs, Government Lawyers are offering to keep the names quiet of those that return the money, with a clear implication that those that retain the money will be made public.

The Government has made the executives "a deal they can't refuse." When Chris Dodd (Senator-CT) & Timothy Geitner (Treasury Secretary) finally admitted that they had personally had a hand in the language of the CEO Bailout Bill allowing the bonuses, the House of Representatives had their back. The House, believing themselves to be riding a tide of populism, voted for a 90% tax on Specific Individuals.

While such a targeted tax on money earned prior to the legislation would not likely pass the Constitutionality test in the court system, the cost of legal representation (lawyers) would have cost more than the new government employees had earned.

It is now being reported (CNBC) that most if not all of the US executives that received a bonus have "voluntarily" returned it. Most of the remaining executives keeping the bonuses are foreign residents, i.e. not subject to the targeted tax of the US House of Representatives.

Was all of this hoopla, was this blackmail by the government worth the $50 Million returned or even the $165 Million paid in bonuses? Or was this simply something to divert our attention from the fact that Congress paid out $700 Billion to their CEO Constituencies from the pockets of the common worker? Even if all of it is returned, that's still $699.8 Billion paid out of OUR pockets.

At what cost did these executives return the money? The check came with their resignation. In the midst of turmoil at the now Government owned AIG, now AIU (they changed the name), the top managers have decided to walk out. For some, we might say "good riddance." For others, their knowledge, expertise, and experience with the problem itself may mean, we need them. We simply don't know anything about who was there, who was paid a bonus for what, and hence who left.

Those that left were targeted because of their earnings, not their performance, which may or may not be tied to their performance (should be). If the bonuses worked the way they should have, they would have been paid to those that did the most to keep the corporation in the black. But we don't know, do we?

There is a bit of good news in this: Corporations have learned that Government is not a good business partner. The entire affair has been more akin to an Organized Crime operation than what I expect of government. Several Corporations were forced into the "deal they could not refuse." Once in, they found themselves bullied by politicians that have a record of losing money.

But there is a winner in all of this: Warren Buffett, a major contributor to the Obama campaign. Buffett, through his corporation, Berkshire-Hathaway, is known for his market prowess. Even as Congress first began considering the CEO Bailout Bill, Buffett expressed a wish that he could get in on just 10% of it. Meanwhile, he had $50,000,000,000 sitting on the sidelines, waiting for just the right moment to jump in.

And as the financials market plummetted with the acts and talk of Congress, he found his mark. It wasn't the "toxic assets" and failing banks that Representative Frank and Representative Gordon were forcing the American taxpayer to buy. It was the best of breed, Goldman-Sachs, that had to be co-erced into the bailout that he bought into.

We don't know when exactly he bought in, but on November 3, 2008, GS was selling at $89.09/share and on November 20th at $52.00/share. As of March 23, 2009, it is selling at $111.93/share. That's a gain of 25% to 115% gain in less than 6 months on a stock still considered undervalued by the very system that Obama supporter, Warren Buffett uses.

Warren Buffett is an astute investor and one of the richest men in the world. Many people shook their heads when he so forcefully backed both Hillary and Obama last year in the campaign. Who would have thought then that the tens of thousands he personally donated would earn him literally billions of dollars? Should there be a targeted tax on his earnings? Will there be politicians riding a tide of populism to call for it? NO.

As immoral as it is to back a political candidate for personal profit, it is not illegal. Though it may be satisfying to "tax the rich," to "stick it to the man," to forcefully recover those profits through targeted taxation, it is not Constitutional. It is not legal, nor should it be.

But there is more to this story. Goldman-Sachs, which was bullied into accepting taxpayer money it didn't want, has realized that Tony Soprano would be a better business partner than the US Congress. They didn't want the money. They didn't need the money. And they are working on ways to get rid of the dirty money as quickly as they can.

Goldman-Sachs is looking around at the strings and demands being made on others. Perhaps, they will also pick up the best and brightest from AIG executives, even as they rid themselves of the strings tied to government money.

And a final note on AIG, which is now 80% owned by the US Taxpayer. It is no longer named AIG. It is paying large amounts of (taxpayer) money to change its name to AIU, though many are preferring a more appropriate name IOU, for the failing US Government owned company.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Treasury, parent of the IRS, has grown to a prominence and to power, previously unknown in this Nation.

And I cannot help but find poetic justice in Code Pink having turned on Barney Frank and other of their allies that used them in the anti-Iraq campaign.

Tennessee Taylor©2009, TNT, all rights reserved