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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Bruce Gray was in the perfect position at the perfect time. With the secrets he learned by pointing his Truth Ray at people behind the scenes, he never had a problem working his way into virtually any event, and newsrooms were no different. This time he was off to the right, in the dark, with a clipboard in his left hand hiding the ray guy underneath it in the right.

The last couple of seconds were counted down silently, with gestures from a man with a headset on.

“I am MT Heded and this is Erin B. Tweenthyiers,” the tall dark man said as the blond beside him smiled broadly on demand. “You’re watching Pox News. This hour we’re looking into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which marries the business interests of 11 nations – Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei – with those of the United States.”

“I smell jobs, plenty of jobs,” said Erin buoyantly. “Isn’t it exciting when the world comes together for everyone’s benefit?”

Then she took a quick in-breath. Ray had fired up a medium dose, good for 90 seconds of truth with absolutely no recollection. The instantaneous effect was immediately evident.

“I know that they don’t usually want us to read up on things we talk about, but on this I did. The TPP should be called the Trans-Pacific Plundering agreement. Because that’s what partner countries are allowing corporations to do, calling out regulatory forces as barriers to maximum profits. Then the TPP itself holds member nations to the verdicts of their corporate tribunals and demands that governments make up the lost profits that ‘excessive’ regulation cuts into.”

“That’s very interesting, Erin. Now here’s a word from Pampers, the Golden Years Edition,” MT said looking straight ahead until they were clear. “What the hell was that?”

“Golden Years? Seriously? Can’t they see what’s ‘golden’ here?” Erin said, oblivious.

“Erin, that was damn close to tipping our hand,” MT said sternly. “Luckily the eyeballs of our principle viewers gloss over when they hear ‘regulatory.’ And confessing that we’re not supposed to learn about what we’re talking about?”

“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is. And it’s a secret.”

“Erin. A moment please,” said a voice in Erin’s hidden earpiece.

“Oh hi Bill,” she said, examining some of her hair. “What’s up?”

“You imbecile! You can’t discredit the TPP because the billionaires behind our sponsors will make tens of billions more if this goes through.”

“So. How many billions does anybody need? Even half of one would be fine with me.”

“Well, you’re not going to get there doing stunts like this. We hired you because you’re cute, articulate, and good at reading a teleprompter. That’s all we need from you. No thinking necessary, got it? Now stick with the script.”

“Okay.”

The fingers went down in front of her.

“And we’re back. With the TPP, all the barriers to free trade will be a thing of the past. America will finally experience the free market at its finest,” Erin read. But then she turned her head. “Doesn’t Obama want this? I thought we were supposed to detest anything Obama supports. How do we get around that? Nobody’s given me the proper phrases yet.”

Then something popped in her head again, and she swiveled around to the teleprompter. “Today at the US Capitol, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell spoke on behalf of Fast Track, the mechanism where, in the interest in expediency, the TPP agreement could be confirmed in the Senate on a simple up or down vote with no filibusters or amendments.”

Then they cut to the McConnell, as droll as ever. While Erin waited for her next cue, Bruce adjusted his Truth Ray to the lightest setting, good for 30 seconds of truth. But in this instance, the “victim” does have recall over what he or she has just said.

“Senate majority leader Harry Reid has promised to fight Fast Track, but we fully expect him to cave,” Erin said ending with a slight cock of her head from the incoming jolt. “I see what you mean, MT, McConnell really does look like a turtle. But he sure lies real well, I’ll give him that. He’s a stud when it comes to hogwash. Does anybody really buy-” and she snapped back and finished her sentence as best she could, putting her years of damage control to the test. Usually it was in reaction to a guest or live report, not from her own mouth. “Buy that Mitch McConnell is soft on free trade? I think he’s leading the pack.”

“Up next, was Michelle Obama’s hashtag sign really a pre-plug for Steve Spielberg, whom some say already has the rights to the life stories of the abducted girls in Nigeria?” MT teased as they went to a hard break.

When the little red light went off and the lights dimmed slightly, Bill was right there in front of Erin. She didn’t have a clue why she said what she did, but still needed an explanation fast.

“Worst PMS ever,” she said with her best nauseous face, walking to her off-camera chair for a quick makeup brush-up.

“Bring some Midol to the set, STAT!” someone shouted.

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On my Facebook timeline, I found a post from a friend being circulated around originating from Fox News. The headline is, “Obama wants Marines to wear ‘girly’ hats.” Predictably, the comments from his post are aghast as folks take this characterization as absolute fact.

This is a classic example of Fox News, the New York Post, and likely the right-wing spin masters like Karl Rove and Frank Luntz, taking a minor story reframed by a humorous right-wing military blog and reporting it as fact.

Let’s start with the kernel of truth. The manufacturer of women’s dress Marine hats is going out of business. A replacement may require a redesign.

From there, the blog said that: “Thanks to a plan by President Obama to create a ‘unisex’ look for the Corps, officials are swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps – known as covers – with a new version that some have derided as so ‘girly’ that they would make the French blush.”

This section was reprinted virtually word for word in both Fox and Post coverage. With wording like that it was a dog-whistle grand slam in riling up the gullible, flag-waving masses. First, it pins Obama to emasculating the Marines, something manly men couldn’t stand for and were more than willing to believe because that fit the narrative that has been crafted for them over the last few years.

Second, notice that the word “plan” is used. This causes those looking for a commie plot to jump on whatever sliver of conspiracy theory could be imagined.

Then we have “girly” and “French blush.” Why not just say gay? I guess that generates very uncomfortable images in some men’s heads…

With the scope of the circulation fueled through Facebook, the Marines had to address it, deny that the president would have any part in the decision making process of hat design, and state flatly that: “The Marine Corps has zero intention of changing the male cover.”

Here was yet another chance for conservatives to encounter a thought process which could lead to seeing just how and why they’ve been played by Fox and the billionaires who pull the strings. They joined the outrage, pumped up by homophobia and subtle racism. Then they found out it wasn’t true but didn’t question anything about it. Do they think that all these disproven lies are just mistakes in reporting? How can they not see the pattern seems to be driven by specific motivation, targeting a particular reaction? And if they were to see that part of the underbelly of the beast, why can’t they connect the dots and see how their patriotism, conservatism, and even faith has been used against them to pad the agenda of billionaires?

Clueless and happily taken in yet again, these Nero Cons hear that whistle and jump through every conceptual hoop presented. Why? Because pride keeps them in line. Religion keeps them superior. And Rush keeps them in outrage, imprinting phrases designed to prevent actual thought, like “death tax.”

Last week’s ploy was ultimately another dog whistle moment for Fox that died quickly when truth spoiled the party, but the lie did its duty. It was destined to be discredited but not tainted, yet another shooting star in the murky sky of Fox’s fact-free universe.

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The industrial revolution brought us our current model for capitalism, and it has served us relatively well for over a century. Yes, the system has had its flaws, yet somehow we have always managed to recover.

But the parameters have changed for the 21st century. From Reagonomics through the Bush era we’ve received a near lethal dose of the worst aspects of capitalism. The current level of corporate power would make even robber barons jealous. And finally America has woken up to this. Between the Occupy movement and the recent elections, the rumblings towards fixing a broken model have grown louder and gone more mainstream.

The problem with capitalism as it now stands is that large multinationals have a disproportionate influence on politics, media, the economy, the environment, and the middle class. Through their lobbyists and other tools of influence, they have slanted the tax, anti-trust, and environmental laws further in their favor, creating a class of super-wealthy where the top 1% in America hold 65% of all wealth.

Throughout time, massive income disparity between the haves and have-nots has been at the core of how civilizations collapse. Our current corporatist tendencies push us towards that brink; it’s a downward spiral that is hard to break.

This is how runaway capitalism can be our downfall, and its a hard rut to crawl out of. Since a corporation’s key goal is to maximize profits, CEOs and board members have a fiduciary responsibility to game the system through lobbyists who carve out exemptions and deductions in the tax codes.

But what if we find a way to use the forces of each CEO’s own greed to help benefit society rather than leech from it? What if tax rates vary dramatically dependent on how well a corporation treats its employees, its physical neighbors, the environment, and society as a whole through the quality of its products or services?

Sounds good, you may be thinking. But how do we get there?

The idea I’m putting out there is my model for socio-capitalism where we remake the tax code so that companies that have the most benevolent “social footprint” can get their tax rates down to 14%, while those that retain business as usual have their taxes max out at 38%. What determines which end of the spectrum they fall on is the SPI, the  Social Partner Index, which attempts to quantify and balance out the factors that lead to a corporation being a force for good not a force for greed.  The parameters that lead to a high score are:

  • fair wages for workers, middle management
  • good working conditions in US and in overseas manufacturing plants
  • worker retention, percentage of employees with benefits
  • declining percentage of jobs overseas
  • business practices in regards to fair competition
  • ecological footprint
  • footprint of their physical home office on their community
  • track record of the quality of their product or services
  • integrity and honesty in advertising

These parameters will be weighted in importance as well as over time.

Bonus points are given for:

  • high quality day care
  • job sharing without reductions in benefits for either party
  • moving manufacturing jobs back to the US
  • charitable aid in their home office community
  • paying some or all taxes that were avoided through offshore tax havens

Points are taken away for:

  • lobbying history if they have achieved a tax or monopoly advantage through corruption
  • superPAC contribution history with greater weight given the more deceptive the messaging used
  • dodging taxes through offshore tax havens
  • records of discrimination and/or sexual abuse
  • buying off and burying competing technologies

Bear in mind that all these parameters are not only judged in current time for a corporation, but also in their business practices throughout the decades. But a corporation’s dark past has a half-life. If the CEO and all board members get the boot, part of a company’s legacy can be excluded from the SPI right away. Over time less and less of its malevolent past will drag down the numbers as new evidence of change is realized. In this format the slate can be wiped clean in a linear fashion over four years – but no sooner. The ticking clock will provide additional incentive.

Still, a CEO may just decide that it’s not worth the effort to make America a better place. His company will make less money, but he’ll keep on doing just fine. This is where his greed comes into play, though:  corporate charters will be rewritten so the company’s SPI and the maximum CEO pay are directly proportional.

Those are the tools. Here are the parameters on how we can apply these policies in a transition towards socio-capitalism:

  • No businesses with an annual gross of less than $400 million are subject to these rules
  • The Society Partner Index (SPI) is created to rate how detrimental a mega-corporation’s influence is. The parameters are judged by impartial panels both inside and outside the industry, as well as by consumers doing direct business with them.
  • The tax rates of a corporation are tied directly to their SPI, AS ARE THE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF THEIR CEOs and BOARD MEMBERS.
  • Use this tax and compensation index. If a corporation has an SPI among the bottom 40% within their industry, the corporation pays a 38% tax rate and the CEO’s salary is capped at $8 million. From that level to the top 30%, a corporation’s tax rate is 32% and CEO salary is capped at $14 million. From the top 30 to the top 10%, the tax rate is 27% and the CEO maxes out at $20 million. If their SPI is within that top ten percent, their tax rate is 22% and CEO pay can reach a max of $28 million. And if they have the best SPI within their industry, their tax rate is 14%, and the CEO salary can max out at $40 million. It’s harnessing greed for good.

Do you see how greed will drive a race to the top instead of a race to the bottom? Wages, benefits, and the middle class will be strengthened. Politicians that embrace this new path will take control, and the largest American corporations will strive to become the best they can be. And being that their competitive practices will be under scrutiny with financial ramifications, small and mid-range businesses will be able to thrive, eroding inherent monopolies. Families will see a more secure future, and overseas America will again embody a model society to be admired.

Now there’s a lot that will need to be fleshed out, and opposition to overcome, in realizing this vision. And it will take a Democratically controlled House to start the wheels in motion. But let’s start the dialog and the planning now, because this end game might be what today’s college kids eventually see as the path to maximizing the implementation of their dreams.

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