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October 18, 2010

Is The Tea Party Good For America?

Is the “Tea Party” good for America?

Last year after the first “tea parties” were held on Tax Day, 51% of Americans had a favorable view of the Tea Party (“TP”). According to Rasmussen, this year, that number went down by 10 points. Now 41% of polled voters have a favorable opinion of the TP, while 35% view it unfavorably — 23% are undecided. The Rasmussen also informed us that male voters are more likely to have a favorable opinion of the TP than female voters but there are many, many female Tea Partiers (“TPiers”) and we know that 70% of Republicans view the TP favorably.

Voters also said that if the Tea Party was organized as a political party, 34% would prefer a Democrat in a three-way congressional race; 27% would vote Republican and 21% say they would vote for the TP.

After doing a tremendous amount of research I came to the conclusion that the TP doesn’t have any real set of guidelines, long-term goals or realistic solutions that defines it as a group. On the other hand they have a few beliefs in common that make them unite when it’s opportune.

TP members say that they want to “take back” America! They say that America is heading in the wrong direction and we need to take control and fix it before it is too late. Bu they don’t say specifically what they want to fix. The rhetoric sounds damn persuasive and even more terrifying. It has many Americans frightened, anxious, enraged and ready to wage war!

TPiers believe that the federal government is a special interest group and that government and big business work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors. Of course there was no TP before President Barack Obama. This contradicts their insistence that it’s really all about big government since big government didn’t bother them when George W or any other person was president.

The TPiers won’t commit to what part(s) of big government they would get rid of to create a small government. Do the TPiers want to get rid of Student Loans, Federal Education Funding, Job Corp, Public Transportation, Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare or any of the many government programs that build our roads, highways and bridges or the programs that protect our food supply, etc.? These are the things that ‘big government’ does. If our government isn’t responsible for these big issues that the majority of all Americans benefit from, who is going to create, fund and manage these programs? The TP doesn’t have an answer. They seem to be only interested in throwing random thoughts into the wind where they leave the thoughts…floating aimlessly…with no solutions.

TPiers are only interested in the economic state of our nation, not any of America’s social issues, unless, it’s something they don’t like such as: welfare, abortion, or gay and lesbian (GLBT) rights. The Republican Party candidate for Senate in Nevada, Sharron Angle, said, “And these programs that you mentioned — that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward — are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country, is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.”  TPiers wants us to believe that if we lose our jobs because of the Republican-caused economic crisis, or if we lose our house because of the Republican-backed bank fraud, or if we can’t afford health care insurance because Republicans blocked the public option, don’t worry; the government won’t have to help you because God will provide.

TPiers also allege that they are being painted as extremists, which they say they are not when they are in their smaller social club group. But they agree that when they come together and have joint meetings of different sects from different cities and states they are extreme in their vocalizations and outrage.

What is puzzling is that even politicians that owe their nominations to the TP tend to shy away from admitting to being a part of it. For example, here in the great State of Florida, Marco Rubio the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate said, “I think there is a real misunderstanding about what the Tea Party movement is. The Tea Party movement is a sentiment in America that government is broken – both parties are to blame – and if we don’t do something soon, this exceptional country will be lost and it will become just like everybody else.”

It seems that politicians use the TP to gain campaign funds and the nomination and then discard or distance them self from the TP in order to reconnect with mainstream voters. This is a very shrewd strategy! This strategy allows politicians like Rubio to tap into the ranting and raving of the TP without them self having to look or sound angry or extreme – they can blame the rage and disorderliness on their TP audiences. How incredibly conniving of mainstream Republicans!

How is this even possible? How can an ideological group that is only 18 month old allow mainstream politicians that do not support their beliefs to manipulate them and dispose of them so blatantly?! It seems that greed may be the answer.

Some TP leaders are thinking about their personal futures and are trying to find a way into mainstream politics. Yes, they want to be a part of the same big government that they loathe and preach against daily. TP leaders are involving themselves in the more traditional American political scene. From before the primaries and now as the mid-term elections draws closer, some tea party groups seem to have aligned themselves with one candidate or another and these alignments are changing the nature and character of the TP. Many TP sects are seeing a shift in their focus. They are moving from being ideologically linked groups of people who want to advance an ideal, to being candidate focused groups that are participating in the infighting between generally like-minded candidates. The thing is the TP leadership doesn’t want their activists or supporters to know that there is bickering and infighting in their ranks.

So back to my original question, “Is the “Tea Party” good for America?”

In a civic sense I believe that answer is yes because the TP has engaged and encouraged citizens to involve themselves in maintaining the good order of our fair republic – just as the country’s Founders envisioned it.

From a constructive, helping America to be all she can be point-of-view – my answer is a resounding no. Their candidates are erratic and are on the fringe of one extreme or another. They are not unifiers. They are dividing America with hostilities. The TP has not brought anything new to the table. They have no solutions and their political naiveté is worrisome. Simply put, they are obstructionists.

Initially I thought the Tea Party was a noble movement of independent free thinking spiritual people from all walks of life. What I have discovered during my research is that the TP could just as well become a neo-Nazi type party if they are not contained.

We cannot sit idly by and watch a few ‘non-thinkers’ without solutions take over the American political system. It seems to me that those who know do not speak and those who speak do not know. If ‘thinkers’ do not unite and make our voices heard we will all have to live with the decisions that the ‘non-thinkers’ made and it will be our own fault.

Keep your eyes on the prize — vote on Tuesday, November 2 and Early Vote if it’s an option in your State!!!

Peace, Love and Understanding!

 

May 7, 2009

The Middle East Goes To Cuba: Qatar To Build Luxury Hotel In Cuba

cuba 

Well, if America wants to be a major player in the redevelopment of Cuba then we better start talking with Cuba in a meaningful way real soon before the rest of the industrial world beats us to it.  Do American businesses want to do business with Cuba?  Of course they do, they don’t want to miss out on all the opportunities to bring Cuba into the 21st century and all the money to be made doing so.

Here in America we have been conditioned to believe that Castro’s Cuba is all bad and that Cuba is automatically our enemy without knowing why Castro’s Cuba look at America as a fiend – it’s not just about communism.

Before the Cuban Revolution that led to the overthrow of U.S. backed Dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Havana was the original Sin City.  Havana was Las Vegas, before there was a Las Vegas.

Because gambling, liquor, prostitution, etc were all illegal in the United States, rich and famous Americans were looking for a place where they could revel and paint the town red without going to jail. They discovered Havana and since it is a tropical paradise and only 90 miles from Florida it became wealthy Americans’ winter destination and airlines and cruise lines offered grand tour packages to Havana.

American mob bosses benefited from Cuba’s President Fulgencio Batista’s corrupt regime and bribed them and created a glamorous playground for the rich. They created a prohibition haven, a place of safety from prosecution overflowing with dazzling nightclubs and mojitos flowing all day, outrageous cabarets, dancing girls, all-night bars, backstreet brothels, fancy hotels and resorts, gambling, music, drugs, sex and scandal.  Affluent Americans and movie stars did not disappoint the mob investors; they went to Havana in droves to whoop it up!

Many Cubans were outraged by the reveling and debauchery and Castro who was a young revolutionist became popular and his philosophy became widely accepted. When Castro overthrew Batista he had a new vision for Cuba and Americans were banned from travel to his tropical paradise.

Relations between the U.S. and Cuba quickly deteriorated when Castro nationalized many of the U.S. owned industries in Cuba. Each time the Cuban government nationalized American properties, the American government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960.

In March 1960 President Eisenhower had quietly authorized the CIA to organize, train, and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro. Consequently, Cuba began to consolidate trade relations with the communist Soviet Union which lead to the United States breaking off all remaining official diplomatic relations.

On January 3, 1961 the US withdrew diplomatic recognition of the Cuban government and closed our embassy in Havana.

So here we are 48 years later and Cuba and Qatar have signed an agreement to build a $75 million, 450-room resort on a cay south of the island.

Cuba and Qatar will spend 14 months negotiating financing details for the five-star “Gran Paraiso” or “Great Paradise,” said Ghanim Bin Saad al-Saad, president of state-owned Qatar Diar Real Estate Investment Company, construction will take another year and a half with a goal to open in 2015.

The resort is planned for Cayo Largo Sur, a strip of white sand, coral reefs and warm, calm waters 105 miles south of Havana that is already home to a cluster of high-rise hotels. The Gran Paraiso will also include 60 retreat villas that could be expanded in the future.

Tourism is Cuba’s second-largest moneymaker behind nickel exports.

A record 2.35 million foreigners visited last year, mostly from Canada and Europe. That was a 9.3 percent increase over 2007.  Foreign arrivals are up another 2 percent so far this year despite the global economic slowdown.

America should not continue to snub Cuba.  Even though we’ve not been friendly neighbors, Cuba really hasn’t done anything harmful to America. Cuba is very close to us geographically and we should have a respectable relationship with them. Sending the CIA to Cuba to overthrow Castro was not an endearing thing to do. 

If we continue our relationship with Cuba as is, out of necessity Cuba might befriend nations that are adversarial towards America.  We don’t have to be their BFF but we should be cordial and reopen trade with them.  Why not?

Will America come out and play with Cuba?

March 27, 2009

Blue-Eyed Whites to Blame for Bank Crisis

president-lula-brazil-and-gordon-brown-pm1  Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva in the past has argued that poor and developing nations have been victims of mistakes made in richer countries, caused by irresponsibility or a lack of regulation in the world’s banking systems.

Appearing at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown just days ahead of the crucial G20 summit in London, he branded those he thought should be blamed for the world’s economic crisis in a less than articulate manner by saying, “It is a crisis caused and encouraged by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything, but are now showing that they know nothing.”

Later questioned by a reporter, President Lula expanded and further explained his theory by saying that it wasn’t native Indians, nor black, nor poor people that had created and spread the crisis throughout the world and that the world’s poor people should not be forced to pay for the global financial crisis. Quote, “As I do not know any black or indigenous bankers I can only say it is not possible for this part of mankind, which is victimized more than any other, to pay for the crisis.” 

President Lula is also calling for increased regulation of banks and is against protectionism saying, “I compare protectionism to a drug, why do people use drugs? Because they are in crisis and they think the drug will help them. But its effects pass quickly.”

Prime Minister Brown managed not to look uncomfortable but said that he preferred not to attribute blame to individuals.

I can agree that ‘those in charge’ acted like they knew everything and we now know that they knew nothing.  They were pretty much gambling on the highest level with money that wasn’t theirs to gamble with.  I believe that the powers that be demonstrated that they were narcissistic, connoisseurs of greed and financially gluttonous beyond belief but the whole white devil thing is inappropriate especially from a world leader.

Brazil which has historically been a struggling country has been a model of success in Latin America as of late. According to a recent article in Time, Brazil may well be one of 34 major economies that may come out of the global recession undamaged. Brazil’s state-run energy company, Petrobras, is set to expand operations, although at the moment its workers are striking over changes in their profit-sharing plan.

When unregulated capitalism was out of control in Brazil the government imposed financial regulations, while at the same time assisting corporations to promote job growth and distributed some of the wealth to help Brazil’s legions of poor rise from poverty to take their place amongst the middle class.

March 23, 2009

President Obama: Our Trillion Dollar Man

Obama  President Obama and his administration doesn’t want to nationalize our banks so they have unveiled a plan to remove toxic assets from banks’ books in hopes that the plan will breathe life into our financial system so that the government doesn’t have to take them over.

The plan is to finance up to $1 trillion in purchases of illiquid real-estate assets, using $75 billion to $100 billion of the Treasury’s remaining bank-rescue funds. The Public-Private Investment Program will also rely on Federal Reserve financing and FDIC debt guarantees. Doing this will allow banks to clean up their balance sheets and free up the money they were loaned under the TARP so that money can start flowing again and help resurrect our economy.

The government is taking a risk but we cannot solve a financial crisis of this magnitude without the government assuming some risk. It may take months for us to see if this is a successful approach since the government, private sector and banks have to collaborate to make this plan work.  Private asset managers have to be selected (in May), private investors have to participate and banks have to commit to sell their downgraded investments. The point of the program is to save the taxpayers’ money by attracting private capital. The private sector will invest alongside the American taxpayer on an equal basis, so both parties share the downside risk and upside potential. There is a great risk/reward potential here.

The second thing needed for this plan to work is strict oversight by Secretary Geithner. The Secretary has to keenly oversee what the banks are doing to ensure that bank executives continuously do the right things to get our economy back on track.  We have already seen that bank executives are confused, oblivious and disconnected from the reality of what they have done to our economy.  Geithner needs to keep them focused.

Fifty percent of the Treasury’s funds will go to a “Legacy Loans Program” that will be overseen by the FDIC. The Treasury will provide half of the capital going to purchase a pool of loans from banks, with private fund managers putting up the rest. The FDIC will then guarantee financing for the investors — up to a maximum of six times the capital or equity provided.

The FDIC — which has extensive experience disposing of devalued loans from taking over failed banks — will hold auctions for the pools of loans, which will be controlled and managed by the private investors with oversight by the FDIC.

Geithner is expecting a wide range of investors to participate in the Legacy Loans Program, including insurance companies, pension funds and even individual investors.

The other fifty percent of the Treasury’s contribution will go to the “Legacy Securities Program.” The objective of this initiative is to generate prices for securities backed by mortgages that are no longer traded because investors have little confidence in the principal value of the home loans.

Under this program, the Fed will expand an existing feature that provides financing for investor purchases of asset-backed securities. The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Program will be broadened to take on assets such as residential mortgage-backed securities that were originally rated AAA and sold by private banks.

The Treasury will also approve as many as five asset managers “with a demonstrated track record of purchasing legacy assets” that will buy the securities.

The managers will be given time to raise private capital and receive matching funds from the Treasury.  Geithner is hoping that the private sector will compete to be partners with the government.

There is some fear by investors that if they do well by participating in this program the government will tax them at 90 percent or busloads of people might turn up at their doors. 

I don’t think that will happen, if this works and the market is on an upswing and everyone is making money  populist views will change and these private investors will be hailed as heroes.

A few weeks ago we were all in fear that banks would fail en masse.  If banks had failed en masse, then massive business failures would have followed and massive unemployment would have been the result and that would have led to more foreclosures, and more bank failures and more business failures and more foreclosures and this vicious cycle would not have ended until there was a complete collapse of our economic system.

President Obama stopped the economic free-fall and we have to recognize that and give him credit for it. 

There is more than one way to skin a cat so all of us will not agree 100 percent on this plan, but we have a plan and we must now give this trillion dollar plan the chance to work. 

As Warren Buffet said, we’re in an economic war and we have to start acting like it.  Democrats and Republicans alike have to put aside ideological differences and realize that our economy is under attack by our competitors and we have to band together since we are all in this together

If you are an American and you don’t want to see President Obama succeed then it’s time for you to give up your citizenship and move to another country — seriously.

We’re all Americans.

United we stand, divided we fall. 

Let’s pray for success!

March 17, 2009

Commentary: Obama A Leader Who Actually Leads

What a welcome change to feel like someone is running the country instead of running it into the ground.

President Obama has done more in eight weeks than George W. Bush did in eight years — unless you include starting a couple of wars.

While the armchair quarterbacks second guess the new president, he gets up every day and does things, lots of things.

Whether it’s creating commissions for women and girls, ordering the investigation of President Bush’s use of signing statements, or jamming a huge stimulus package through Congress, the man is working his tail off. And he seems to be loving every minute of it. It’s almost as though our president was born to do exactly what he’s doing. He’s leading, and boy, is that refreshing.

I remember many times when Bush was in office wondering who the hell was running the country. Then he would appear somewhere in front of a handpicked audience to utter some banalities or say something utterly stupid and I would be reminded. I don’t miss him.

That’s not to say President Obama hasn’t stubbed his toe here and there. Signing that omnibus spending bill with all those earmarks in it after campaigning so hard against pork was probably a mistake. The opportunity was right there to send that bill back to Congress with a note that read, “I told you I am against earmarks and I meant it. Now do it over and send me something clean.” Nancy Pelosi‘s head would have probably exploded, but the American people would have been ready to crown him king.

There are serious questions about whether Tim Geithner has what it takes to solve the banking crisis. Either nationalize the big ones in trouble or let them fail. It doesn’t seem that just continuing to hand them money is working.

Better background checks on some of his appointees would have saved him some embarrassment. There’s no excuse for asking someone like Tom Daschle with his problems to do anything.

But the point, I guess, is this: President Obama is attacking our country’s problems on several fronts. He’s got ambitious ideas on how to solve them, and he communicates a sense of calm and confidence to the rest of us as he goes about his business. Will all his ideas work? Of course not. But if you throw enough stuff at the wall, some of it will stick.

And at least I don’t go to bed at night worried that I’ll wake up in the morning to find out we’re about to invade someone.

Commentary by Jack Cafferty:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/17/cafferty.obama/index.html

March 15, 2009

Russia’s Richest Oligarchs Losing Billions and Billions

Moscow has lost the title of billionaire capital of the world.  New York is now the billionaire capital with London coming in second.  Russian billionaires lost more than $250B and approximately two thirds of its billionaires due to the world financial crisis.

In 2008 there were 87 Russians billionaires with a total estimated wealth of $471.4B.  Today there are 32 Russian billionaires with an estimated wealth of $102.1B.

In 2008 there were 1,125 billionaires worldwide; today there are only 793.

Russia’s descent into its economic predicament began when the heavily oil-dependent economy was hit by falling crude prices. Russia’s stock market is down by 67% over the past year and their currency, the ruble, has depreciated 29% against the dollar.

Russia’s government has already spent $250 billion to prop up its currency so that it can avoid a sharp devaluation of the ruble. Russia has even helped private businesses refinance their foreign debt so that foreigners don’t take over several Russian businesses. Even with help from the government dozens of Russians fell from billionaire ranks, including the very wealthy investment banker Ruben Vardanian who owns Troika Dialog.  He allegedly got a substantial cash injection from the state owned Sberbank.

Even Russia’s richest woman Yelena Baturina has financial problems.  Baturina had a vision of building one of the most outrageous buildings in Moscow called ‘Project Orange’an avant garde complex shaped like slices of fruit, with a tinted facade that would cast an orange glow over the Moscow River.  Last week Ms. Baturina applied for about $1.4 billion in government loan guarantees for her construction company. In 2008 Ms. Baturina’s wealth was estimated at $4.2 billion.

The credit crunch has brought Russian real estate to a halt. Russian’s Donald Trump — Kirill Pisarev — and his partner, Yuri Zhukov each lost 90% of their wealth as shares of their real estate firm lost nearly all of its value. Russian analysts say that real estate is expected to remain the worst part of the Russian market, impacted by the dramatic slowdown in property sales and construction.

March 1, 2009

President Obama’s Budget – Can You Handle The Truth?

president-obama-marines-no-carolina Last Thursday President Obama laid all his economic cards on the table when he revealed his first budget. He decided to do what has never been done in Washington before and treated taxpayers like grown-ups. He was open, honest and straightforward about what Washington has spent in the past and what he proposes to spend to get our economy out from it’s deep abyss.

The President’s budget includes $3.6 trillion to be spent in 2010 – with almost $1.2 trillion of it to be borrowed. His spending plan signals a sharp, maybe even historic, change of direction on taxes and the role of government. By boldly laying his cards on the table President Obama is betting that the public can handle the truth. Can you handle the truth?

Our economy is in a nose dive. Our American economy shrunk at a 6.2 percent pace in the last three months of 2008 the Commerce Department reported on Friday. That same day the White House announced that it will take a 36-percent share in Citigroup. These two facts by themselves are gloomy reminders that critical decisions have to be made in order to turn our economy around. President Obama’s truth about the budget will help him to make well-informed and educated decisions.

President Bush never included the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in his budgets; Bush treated both wars as ‘emergencies’ and therefore kept them off the books and gave us fake budgets all the years he was in office. Bush never included anything in his budgets for federal disaster response even though we have several disasters each year. For example Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Virginia massacre, fires in California as well as tornados in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Alabama and Illinois.

President Obama included the wars and natural disasters in his 10-year budget so that we will have realistic numbers – no deceptions, no facades and no shams.

Obama made it clear that laying the groundwork for a strong economy down the road won’t be free. Do you want to get rid of our oil addiction and simultaneously save our environment and create a green future? Do you want to reform health care and insure most Americans? Do you want to keep Medicare around? Do you want to repair our infrastructure and maintain our roads, bridges, airports and mass transit? Do you want to build a modern energy grid? All these items are necessary to ensure that America keeps our super power status — it will all cost money and Obama didn’t sugarcoat it.

Obama budgeted funds as a down payment for those priorities and he proposed taxes and identified savings to help cover the expenses.

President Obama’s message to us and to those on Capitol Hill was loud and clear — stop the hallucinating and confused thinking.  Stop living on Fantasy Island. Stop being Alice in Wonderland. None of these things we desire will pay for themselves and we can’t continue to borrow and spend and pass the bill to our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Yes we can argue about the larger role for government that Obama envisions for the nation. And we can argue about whether high earners should pay higher taxes. But by putting his ideas into budgetary black-and-white President Obama has challenged taxpayers to make realistic choices about what they want from their government and then to pay for it.  That’s what responsible, mature grown-ups do.

Can you handle the truth?

 

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