Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gingrich Injures Romney and Hurts Republicans' Defense of the Rich

Newt Gingrich, who apparently doesn't want anyone to be president if he can't be, has damaged Romney for the general election and destroyed a Republican argument.

You see the Republicans always say taxes are too high and can't be raised, in combination with budget cuts, to fix our astounding deficit problems.

If Romney has earned $200,000,000  from taking over companies and firing people and only pays 15 percent in taxes, how is our system of government fair. How should those born again, anti abortion people feel about someone who makes a fortune, yet pays less taxes than they do?

There should be taxes on oil companies. General Electric should pay taxes as they help China build an aircraft  to compete with Boeing, the American company that helps so much in decreasing our deficit with China in balance of payments.

Romney doesn't pay any more than 15% in taxes because there's a special law for buyout fund managers that lets them count their work as capital gains so that limits their tax rate to 15%. In other words because he didn't create anything, or build anything, or work at a real job, he gets lower raxes than other people who go to work every day and try to make enough to feed their families.

Newt Gingrich didn't just injure Romney, he injured the Wall Street fat cats who used Republican concepts to avoid paying their fair share.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why the farm reminds you of a real America

Robert Frost once wrote a poem about being versed in country things. I still don't know if an aspen and a poplar are the same thing. But there are some things I do know.

Until my father died when I was seven, we had Herefords, Horses, and game chickens my father would never loan to those who wanted to fight them. Since the cows were for beef, I never learned how to milk a cow, but I do know if you push on the side of a well trained horse it will move sideways.

You remember the times you ate the corn you pulled off the stalk and got "corn belly". Your father told you what to say if they asked if you had a TV? "No, but we got a new manure spreader."

You try to stay in touch with it. You put in 18 fruit trees or buy a horse that's a thoroughbred/warmblood, so your dad, the former ringmaster, will look down from Heaven and see you can stay on when she does a 360.

But hanging on is what it is. The longer you live in West LA, the more you think it's normal for high school  kids to have new BMWs  that miss you by a foot when you're in the crosswalk. You make friends with people from some other part of the country because you've learned Southern Californians really will never "do lunch" with you.

But the farm is always there in the background to remind you there are livable parts of
America that someday you can return to. There are some days that's enough.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Romney and Economic Rape

If you want to understand how Mitt Romney made his money and how he fits among many of the rapacious buyout fund operators you'll need a little lesson in how such funds take over companies.

A standard approach to taking over a business by a hedge or buyout fund is to borrow money that is combined with investor money to pay for the purchase. This immediately adds debt to the company's balance sheet. The operators of these funds make sure that they borrow enough that they can pay themselves back almost immediately, replacing what they invested. Frequently a 20% return to investors for these funds is not unusual. So the actual investment by people who put money into these funds (and the businesses they bought)  becomes much smaller.

When you add to the company's debt burden you have to do something to make the balance sheet look more attractive. That's done by getting rid of workers and thinning the company's labor costs. In other words the investors get money out of the company, while many employees lose their jobs.

Is this good for companies? Does acquiring a company using debt that injures the company's balance sheet  provide a way of building a better America? Four out of ten companies Romney invested in went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Romney built a fortune for himself.

Wall Street has played with America since the Clinton administration, making deals that did not add value to the American economy, but made Financial Ubermensch rich.

To those of you reading this who are unemployed, I'm telling you it has nothing to do with your ability to work hard and contribute to our country. You are just a victim of 20 years of economic rape.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Search for the Darkness

It seems that many people around the world are searching for the darkness. Once you've seen "Oldboy," part of a trilogy from Korea, you start to wonder why there's an obsession for the dark side across the globe.

Therapists say is  has had quite an impact on the 18 to 30 generation. You wonder if it isn't part of a global desensitization.

I don't want to sum up the plot of "Oldboy," because you can always stream it on Netflix. Suffice to say, I saw enough as a reporter not to need a trip into hell. People I'm close to in the aforementioned demographic group don't have the same reaction to violence that I have.

Vampire stories have been around since "Vlad the Impaler" surfaced in Transylvania in the last century. (Transylvania was once part of Austria Hungary, and is now in Romania) Movies about Dracula were made in the 1930s and people used to joke about them. Now the movies and TV shows about vampires are omnipresent.

Hollywood producers for the last 30 years have hidden behind the First Amendment to produce gorier and gorier movies. (But Alexander Meikeljohn said people need free speech because they vote) The stretching of the First Amendment to cover carnage got sold to the America people by a ubiquitous media that wanted to make more money.

But the damage is done. I wonder how different generations view a hideous auto accident, or a terrorist incident? Is it all just theater? Does it touch people's souls? How many youth actually believe vampires are real?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Music for a Nation that needs it more than ever

The music and video for the barn raising scene in "Witness" may be the most beautiful exemplification of Americans working together to create something better.

The movies do this quite well. As far back as the 30s you had the end scene from the  movie "San Francisco" that inspired hopefor a city destroyed by an earthquake. Jeanette McDonald walked among the rubble as she and other San Franciscans sang "Nearer my God to Thee."

The first time I ever had a positive feeling for Mitt Romney came a few days ago. Among a group of followers he said the last and frequently unheard verse of America the Beautiful.

It goes like this: "oh beautiful for patriots dreams that see beyond the years.

Thy alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eternal Father, Strong to Save: a reckoning

I once had the opportunity to go on a picnic with a friend, and Will and Ariel Durant, those historians whose books were given to people who subscribed to the Book-of-the-Month club. I asked them what message they could take away from studying all these different civilizations. They said they found when a society lost its religious underpinnings it began to disintegrate.

My mother is close to death and I've been singing the favorite hymns she loved to create a connection to a body that suffered from Alzheimer's for over 10 years. They say there's no atheists in a foxhole and yesterday I was praying and singing some of the gospel songs I have on iTunes.

The experience is very painful, but I had a way to let my feelings out thanks to Steve Jobs and Jesus.

The need for religious underpinnings is becoming quite clear in China. Before Deng Xiaoping, the people could believe in communism, despite what Mao had done to them through the great leap forward and the cultural revolution.

Now money is the new God in China. I was surprised to see the image of Kong Fu Zi (Confucius) in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics. Perhaps the nine men who run China thought the people needed a old/new glue to hold them together. You can see how the tea party manipulates that need for common values in order to take us back to 1951, where African Americans and Asians knew their place, and white people could feel comfortable.

They say there are people who don't have the gene for religiosity. I however, have a need for a belief system that can sustain me. As I said in my article about Nirvana, I don't claim to have the only path to a Higher Power or union with the cosmos. But it seems all societies need it and some of us, individually, need it even more.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What people think Nirvana represents

In the West, people use the word "Nirvana" in a
way that makes it sound wonderful. I wonder what many of the people who use it
think it is? Because Buddhists believe that life is suffering, after many
reincarnations it is possible for a person to stop the reincarnation process,
and the pain that accompanies it, by leaving this world and ceasing to exist.
If you understand the world as envisioned in sixth century B.C.E. India, this
is an appealing concept. If today, you believe that life is suffering, it is
still as appealing.
Both Christianity and Buddhism require courage and an
attempt to do the right thing as a cornerstone of their religions. Although I am a
Christian, the actions of Buddhist monks almost always receive my admiration.
The word "cheng" in Mandarin means "to
become." In the Christian religion, you can become worthy of entering
heaven during one lifetime. Achieving Nirvana could consist of reincarnations
over millions of years.
Although I believe in the resurrection and am a Christian,
I've never assumed that I have the only way of reaching a higher power. So
therefore, when I hear the word Nirvana used, I realize that to many in the
West, it's a term they probably can't fathom.