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The Annual War On Christmas

27 November 2012

Now that you’ve finally escaped those incessant political ads and gobbled that turkey, it’s time to settle in for the annual War On Christmas brought to you by Fox News Channel.

Starting just before Thanksgiving, Fox kicked off the 2012 season.  Here’s a  compilation from TPM showcasing a period of just one week.

Here’s another video, this time from an online show, in which the “expert” equates 178 million people to 80% of the US’s population: WOC on FNC

On Fox & Friends we’ve seen kids posing with AK-47’s, unwarranted attacks on elementary schools, and on The Five we’ve seen derisive attacks on the President over the name of a tree that he had no involvement with.

I keeping with the War On Christmas tradition, Jon Stewart follows up with his own take on the WOC. In 2010, he exposed The Gretch Who Saved The War On Christmas.   In 2011, he engaged in some historical fact checking. He was also responded to by Fox.

Any predicitions for 2012?


Bane of Bain

26 August 2012

Last week, hundreds of Bain Capital documents were released and legal and financial experts were finally able to catch a glimpse of what Mitt Romney may not be disclosing by withholding his tax records.

Gawker was the first to publish these documents in a series of posts that provide insight as to Romney’s involvement with Bain both before and after his retroactive retirement. They depict a Mitt Romney who has made a profit on everything from death-squads and abortion to steel mills and pizza. They reveal details of Romney’s holdings in the Cayman Islands.  More importantly, they show that Bain was involved in some rather shady tax evasion.

Victor Fleischer‘s, from the University of Colorado, determined Bain used a loophole called Management Fee Conversion to evade paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. He summarized the tactic succinctly:

There are many variations on the theme, but here’s how many deals worked: each year, before the annual management fee comes due, the fund manager waives the management fee in exchange for a priority allocation of future profits. There is minimal economic risk involved; as long as the fund, at some point, has a profitable quarter, the managers get paid. (If the managers don’t foresee any future profits, they won’t waive the fees, and they will take cash instead.) In exchange for a minimal amount of economic risk, the tax benefit is enormous: the compensation is transformed from ordinary income (taxed at 35%) into capital gain (taxed at 15%). Because the management fees for a large private equity fund can be ten or twenty million per year, the tax dodge can literally save millions in taxes every year.

The problem is that it is not legal.


Bain Capital Fund VII LP, one of the funds set up under Romney’s tenure at Bain, the total management fee conversion came to about $7 million in one year alone. Bear in mind, this is just one of many funds which the Romney’s hold. Worse, this was not the most outrageous example. Bain Capital Fund X LP, using this tactic, was able to skip out on paying $67 million in taxes in 2009 alone.

This is just a small piece of a much larger puzzle; a puzzle Mitt Romney could complete by releasing his tax documents.


More Faux News

14 July 2012

Watch as Fox News convinces millions that not only is making 5x the average annual American income not “rich” BUT ALSO that the President is the one who won’t compromise. Yes. This from the same party that has voted no on every meaningful bill to pass through the house and senate since 2009 – even the bills that they originally penned.

You know who makes $250,000/yr+? The very Congresspersons who will vote against saving the economy. The very same people who fly on private jets to campaign stops. The same people who voted against giving you healthcare options while enjoying tax payer subsidized healthcare.

It’s disturbing to think that, undoubtedly, millions of people (who make less than $30,000/yr) will see this and fall in line.

Yes, these “experts” are middle class. They’re just like you. Trust them, they have your best interests at heart.

Zombie Outbreak In Miami

29 May 2012

Last Saturday (May 26th), just about a mile away from my home, a naked man attacked another man and began chewing his face off. When police arrived, the attacker was unresponsive and the officer was forced to discharge his weapon. The attacker continued to eat his victim’s face despite being shot.

Warning, the image below is graphic and not suitable for all audiences.

By Monday morning the attack was national news, often likened to a Zombie attack. For three days I’ve been reading status updates and articles about the cannibal attack and it got me thinking about the recent school closings by HAZMAT teams. Then I saw a list of unusual events recently in South Florida.  I’ve pasted that list below.


5/16: McArthur High School HazMat Situation Students, Teachers Decontaminated After Breaking Out In Rash

5/19: No confirmation on chemical at Fort Lauderdale International Airport

5/21: Police: Man bites woman in Westchester

5/23: I-285 reopens after hazmat incident

5/23: Man Bites Cousin’s Nose Off

5/24: Second Broward school reports mystery rash

5/25: Hazmat Called After Kids Exposed To Pesticide On Bus: Hazmat, EMS Respond To Lake County, FL School

5/25: ‘Disoriented’ passenger subdued on flight in Miami

5/26: Naked Man Allegedly Eating Victim’s Face Shot And Killed By Miami Police

Zombie Aftermath

The aftermath of the “zombie attack” on MacArthur Causeway in Miami.

5/26: Florida Doctor Spits Blood at Highway Patrolmen After DUI Arrest


Perhaps the substance of the stories don’t read like a zombie apocalypse but the headlines sure do.

Debt Becomes Him

23 May 2012

Do you remember the day the federal debt ceiling was reached?  May 16th, 2011.

It was a tumultuous time in Washington. Democrats were demanding the wealthy pay the same tax rate as the middle class and the Republicans were demanding huge cuts to social services like Social Security and Medicare. Democrats refused the social services cuts. Republicans refused to increase revenue from their wealthy brethren.

In the end, the debt ceiling was raised with the provision that a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, colloquially referred to as the Supercommittee, would seek innovative ways of reducing the national deficit. The committee was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 on August 2, 2011, and is comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats.

Built in to the Budget Control Act of 2011 was a solution for a possible worst case scenario: If the super committee was unable to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion then both parties would lose funding for programs they care deeply for. Republicans agreed that the default loss in the event of reduction failure would be from defense spending. Democrats agreed social services would lose funding if the super committee failed.

Fast forward to today; May 23rd, 2012. One year and one week later. The national debt is $15.7 trillion dollars and the super committee has failed to meet its goal. Cue the default spending cuts for both parties.

— but wait! Speaker Boehner and his fellow Republicans are now refusing to make the cuts Congress agreed to last year. He says spending cuts for the defense budget are now off the table and they should be replaced with additional cuts to social services. In effect, refusing to honor his agreement while expecting democrats to give up more than was agreed to.

The United States defense budget is arguably the most bloated budget in the world. Operating at about $740 billion per year, the United States spends nearly nine times more on its defense budget than the nation with the second largest military budget in the world; China. We literally spend more on defense than the next ten highest defense budgets combined.

2011 Defense Spending numbers from around the world.

Then there is the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, willard Romney, who has stated, if elected, he intends to increase defense spending by $2 trillion dollars despite the current inability to pay for the existing budget.

Romney Defense Spending Plan

Despite an inability to pay the current DoD defense budget, Romney wants to see that budget expanded.

Add to that the fact that an argument over the fast approaching debt ceiling has already begun and another debt ceiling showdown could be the start of a new recession… and I can’t help but wonder how the Republicans will be able to use this situation to their advantage in an election year.

Parading a would-be President who wants to dramatically increase spending while the possibility of a new recession looms as a result of a party-line refusal to cut spending from bloated budgets doesn’t seem like a winning ticket to me.

The Neins

16 October 2011

When Cain hears people chanting “Nine, nine, nine,” he welcomes it as a show of support for his, now famous, 9-9-9 tax code. He’s been making many appearances in the media lately, insisting that his tax code has garnered a grassroots movement of support.  Though, if you ask me, he’s obviously confused.

I’m convinced it is far more likely that, on the day Cain heard the crowd chanting “9, 9, 9!” his crowd was primarily made up of recent German immigrants who were actually chanting “Nein, nein, nein!” or “No, no, no!”

Occupy Wall Street from above.

I have, however, seen a grassroots movement gaining a lot of momentum across the world; the 99% or the Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) movement.  A group of people who are speaking out against injustices in taxation, income disparity, corporate greed, and abuse of power.

I doesn’t make sense that anyone who would even mildly suggest an innuendo meant to possibly indicate support for #OWS would also support Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan.

9-9-9, as Cain puts it, is a “replacement tax code.”  It’s intended to replace taxes such taxes as the federal sales tax, capital gains tax, death tax, corporate income tax, payroll tax, and personal income tax.

Ready for some rhetorical questions? I hope so.

Did you catch that?  The federal sales tax? There is no such thing!  Cain is going to add on another 9% sales tax to everything you are already paying a state sales tax on. Want to buy a $10,000 vehicle?  If your state has a 7% sales tax, you’ll pay $10,700 for that vehicle. When Cain adds another 9% on top of that? You pay $11,600 for the same vehicle.

Cain wants the capital gains tax (CGT) reduced to 9%? I say reduced because, after the Bush/Obama tax cuts expire in 2012, CGT will be 15%.

Cain wants to reduce the inheritance tax- oh, i’m sorry, the death tax- to just 9%?  As of January 1st, 2011, estates valued at $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a couple are taxed at a rate of 35%.  Cain expects people railing against greed to support a tax that nearly eliminates taxes on millionaires? I don’t think so.

Corporate Taxes: Then & Now

Cain wants corporate income tax to be reduced to 9% too!? Has he even seen an #OWS protest?  Is he aware that they’re acting out in order to raise corporate taxes?  Since the year 2000, corporate income tax has become less and less a part of our government revenue stream and, simultaneously, personal income tax and payroll taxes have been equally on the rise.  While the US swims in 15 Trillion dollars of debt, it’s would-be-GOP-leader wants to provide another hefty tax cut to the most able-bodied source of revenue in the country.

Okay, so now that we know Cain wants to effectively gut taxes for those individuals and companies with the most resources – what would 9-9-9 do for you (presumably) and me?

Under a Cain administration, a new federal payroll tax would impose an additional 9% tax on everything you earn. In addition to you state taxes, your social security tax, etc – here’s a brand new tax for the american worker.

Personal income taxes would be set to a flat 9% tax which, for the 49% of Americans who currently pay less in payroll taxes, would mean an increase in taxation. That translates to less money on pay day.

To recap: Cain wants you to pay more to buy goods and have less in your pay check but he wants to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.  Maybe I’m experiencing a little deja vu but – isn’t this just the same old Republican plan dressed up in made to look pretty?

But the person to tell you about Cain’s plan is Herman Cain himself.  The transcript below can be found, within the video that follows at, the 5 minute mark.

CAIN: There is a huge amount of public support for 999. Just talk to anybody. This is what’s going to help us get it passed. The public support.

GREGORY: I just want to break that down. So you’re acknowledging this morning, which I haven’t heard you do before, that there are individuals who are going to pay more in taxes.

CAIN: There are some, yes.

GREGORY: And you think those people are going to rally around tax reform where the wealthy pay less and middle-class and lower-income folks pay more.

CAIN: Yes.

It’s also worth noting that Herman Cain has ties to the infamous Koch brothers; recently a key component in the firing of public service workers, reduced wage, the illegal revocation of union bargaining rights, and the loss of worker pension and benefits in Wisconsin.

After taking all of this into consideration, is anyone surprised?

If there is on thing Herman Cain and I can agree on when it comes to his tax code, it’s that you should do the math.  Go ahead.

Poor people have too much. Let’s take their urine.

15 September 2011

On July 1st, 2011, the state of Florida began to enforce new legislation requiring that all applicants to welfare programs are tested for illegal drug use before being granted benefits.

When a person applies for welfare benefits they must first pay for laboratory testing of a urine sample out of pocket and then, if the test results are negative, the state reimburses the individual upon the approval of their application.

Governor Rick Scott

This legislation came on the heels of numerous public remarks by Scott stating that “people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than those in the general population.”

There has been a lot of backlash to this law for a number of reasons. One of the most contentious being the blatant unconstitutionality of it.  The fourth amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.  This law is a clear violation of one’s right to privacy and is based entirely upon the premise that all people who find themselves in a temporary and unfortunate financial situation are drug addicts.

Another argument against this law was the ethical conflict created by Rick Scott when he invested $62 million in his own money into the very same drug company he co-founded and contracted to perform all of the state’s drug testing – Solantic.  When people began speaking out against this unethical behavior, Rick Scott transferred those investments to his wife’s name in an effort to distance himself from the controversy.

…but I digress from the moral and ethical arguments.  Let’s talk numbers. After all, the entire purpose of this legislation is to save the tax payers money.  Right?

It turns out, 96% of welfare applicants tested since July 1st are drug-free.  2% are testing positive and 2% are not completing the test and/or application for unspecified reasons.

If only 2% are testing positive, is the program cost effective?

Rick Scott's Company, Solantic

The Tampa Tribune’s assessment of how much the state will pay went a little something like this:

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants.

Net savings to the state: $3,400 to $5,000 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800 to $60,000 for a program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year.

One hundred and seventy eight million dollars per year more than the state was spending when it wasn’t in the business of illegally searching private citizens.

In an odd way, maybe we should thank Rick Scott for finally putting the welfare stereotype, drug-addicted single mothers of six, to rest…  96% of welfare recipients are drug free.

…but really, this was never about saving Florida tax payers money – was it?  It’s pretty clear it was always about making the Scott family another hundred million dollars at our expense.

What can you do?
Contact Governor Scott‘s office and demand that your tax dollars on not wasted on failed programs.  Insist that, in a time of extreme unemployment and diminishing state revenue, our focus must be on saving – not spending recklessly.