Borderless News And Views


Love Him or Leave Him

I saw a poll among voters who consider President Obama to be the worst president in post-FDR history. They ranked President Reagan as the greatest.  It isn’t hard to dismiss this sort of faux-information as shallow, given the fact that Duck Dynasty and the Bachelorette continue to get high ratings, but I must admit that a wave of dark energy coursed through my veins.

It made me want to hold a nationwide Webinar where I show America how unemployment is below where it was when the recession started (in spite of the obstruction of a jobs bill), how the stock market has grown, how corporate reserves are at all-time highs, and deficit spending is down.

I want to remind people that more Americans can live without the fear of losing everything due to illness, and that we haven’t entered new wars.  I then want to show them stock market graphs, deficit gaps and unemployment figures from 2001 through 2009 and ask them again:  “Who was the worst president?”

But, I’d be wasting my time. Fox News reaches them, too.

As troubling to me as the Obama-fail in the poll was the Reagan-canonization.

I can admire President Reagan for a brilliant presence that still inspires people around the globe (his televised indignation toward communist repression resonates to this day), but his legacy is not as much about his foreign policy as it is about his economic policies and this is where I’d like to shed light onto his perceived “greatness.”

I contend that it is a myth; a fable; a story woven from selective memory in order to put a noble face on failed policy.

In 1980 inflation averaged a very high, 12.5% and America was heading into a recession. President Carter’s failed economic policy was the perfect platform for the Reagan myth to begin. Reagan immediately implemented supply-side economics which meant tax cuts across the board and expanding the tax base to offset revenue loss.

Economic indicators began to improve quickly. During Reagan’s administration, the unemployment rate averaged 7.5% over his eight years after reaching a high from an inherited recession in 1982 of 10.5.

Production went up and unemployment went down.  But, there was a virus deep within Reagan’s great plan.  There wasn’t enough revenue to pay for his defense initiatives and for the government programs that he supported, so along came…the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982; the largest peacetime tax increase in history.

Love it or Leave itAnd here’s what made him the Greatest Showman on Earth- while tax burden increased on the Middle and Lower classes by eliminating their breaks, he sold the need for “fiscal responsibility” with a brilliant aw-shucks grin that furthered his legend as the Patron Saint of Tax Relief.

Then he sold the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which “simplified” the tax code while raising the bottom tax rate 4% and lowering the top another 22%!  He could say that they were tax cuts since the total percentage was lower, but tax burden fell to everyone but the wealthy.

My interest is in truth and it must be said that the widening gap between the rich and poor had already begun during the 1970s, and Democrats were complicit, however, it must also be stated that Reagan’s policies exacerbated that trend. When Reagan left office there were 7 million more Americans living in poverty than when he started.

Republicans today can cite the facts of an economic recovery in the 80′s because of Reagan’s economic policies, but they step over huge canyons of shame such as fiscal disaster, increased burden on the Middle Class and the poor, and ultimately a recession after his second term.  They were a short term fix with long term, negative, consequences.

So, revere Reagan or hate him…or be like me and respect his talents and accomplishments while disliking many of his policies.  The proof of his successes and failures are in our real history, and they will not be revealed by polls, party rhetoric or platitudes; they are there for serious minded people to view and decide for themselves.

Greatest president since FDR?  Depends on your income.
Gary KroegerAuthor: Gary Kroeger is a creative director for a Midwestern advertising agency. He’s a former actor (in the cast of Saturday Night Live in the mid ‘80s) and producer.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Gambling as a Backup to States’ Budget

It seems in the aftermath of the recent economic crash a lot of states having begun reversing their policies on gambling in order to combat their budget constraints and expand the amount of money they pull in from taxation.

Online gambling and slot machines in lottery halls are common sight across the UK and other European countries, in fact you can visit a website like Paypal Casinos and within minutes you’ll be playing a slot game.

But unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) in America it’s still considered illegal in certain states if it takes place in a non-tribal casino.

Since the majority of casinos are controlled by the Native American tribal councils, it was deemed illegal for any ‘non-tribal’ business operators to start setting up shop without the proper clearance and authorisation.

gamblingTribal casinos have to spend their revenue on helping people with gambling problems, the fees associated with running the business and regular community based charity contributions.

But these casinos don’t have to share their revenue with the state, which is why the legalisation of gambling is the only way for the government to earn money to plug the budget gaps.

With many states across the country having to do some serious budget slashing to close the gaping gaps in their rapidly growing deficits.

To further iterate how serious their problem is, if there was a list of states that had the worst debt California, the ‘sunshine state’, would top it with its $21.3 billion per year target.

However it seems that attitudes are starting to change as after a recent study it was found that there is millions of dollars’ worth of uncollected revenue available from allowing the usage of online gambling websites and slot machines in non-tribal casinos.

At last check there is roughly an estimated $250 million just waiting to be used.

In fact this proposal has been so popular amongst officials that even the Republicans, a party that opposed any ideas that would alter the amount of tax a state would pull in, have joined the legalise gambling bandwagon.

According to Republican Gary Alexander, leader of the House Ways and Means Committee, this idea seemed like: “Pretty lucrative option.”

Continuing: “Besides generating significant amounts of money, it also hits the other issues we’re addressing, and that’s putting people back into work.”

The Republican party have already started steam rolling this proposition ahead with the plan that it would allow smaller venues like local lottery halls and small casino buildings to compete with the big leagues that cluster around the iconic Vegas Strip.

A lot of states already benefit from increase gambling revenue; New York for example has 15% of its state education funded by the proceeds from lottery games alone.

However, only two out of the 13 states that legalized gambling have managed to meet the projected levels of revenue they originally gave when they put forward their propositions to legalize gambling.

With increasing pressure from competition from the tribal casinos and a difficulty in being able to match the payouts customers win, it’s becoming quite an uphill struggle for state sponsored gambling.

A lot of states have also been worrying about the possibly disruption to ordinary commerce this might cause.

With many smaller states like Minnesota for example attempting to stop this proposed plan as they fear it will bring a ‘bad element’ to their towns or increase the apparent ‘criminal element’ according to residents of these small hamlets.

According to the Executive Director of the National Council of Problem Gambling, Keith Whyte who criticised the portrayal of gambling legalisation as a ‘Fix-all solution’ by saying: “As long as you don’t look too close at the social cost, you can paint it to seem like it’s money from nowhere.”

He continued by saying that it isn’t a stable source of state revenue and that: “At some point, there’s got to be saturation.”

Currently the legalisation of gambling in the United States is still a touchy subject, with many arguing for and against the proposed plan.

Depending on what side of the fence you come down on it’s really difficult to not see the benefits that state sponsored gambling will bring.

Not only will it allow for more money to go into local communities but the government will also have more money to use in their budget for helping communities and various other state problems that just simply don’t have the finance.

Some believe that all America needs to do is take a long look at the gambling control that Europe has and the benefits can be seen; it’s not a tool of social destruction or something that will bring more criminals to an area.

It’s a method local businesses or, in the case of America, a struggling state to solve its financial problems.

The #SCOTUS and dirty politics:

The #SCOTUS and dirty politics:

Dangerous Thinking Towards the LGBT Community

Former and possibly future presidential candidate Rick Perry touched off a firestorm of criticism last week when he compared homosexuality to alcoholism. Even though it does seem a little click-baity to suggest Perry meant homosexuality is exactly like a debilitating, family destroying disease, what he actually said after he was asked if he believed homosexuality was a disorder or not isn’t much better than what the headlines suggest.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not,” he said, “you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that. And I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” So he didn’t exactly say gays are just as much of a societally destructive force as alcoholics, but his choice of analogy still reveals a total indifference to logic and a fundamental misunderstanding about what it means to be gay.

Comments With a Catch

There is some evidence that genetics can influence the likelihood of a person becoming an alcoholic, but it’s simply flat out stupid to suggest that a person with those genes would be more tempted than anyone else to start drinking in the first place. I mean, of course an alcoholic’s desire for a drink is on another level than a car lover’s desire for mustang parts, but sexual attraction is an entirely different ball game.  A homosexual is a person with an inborn attraction to members of the same sex. An alcoholic is not a person with an innate attraction to beer.

This is still beside the main point: The governor of one of the nation’s biggest states is still under the impression that homosexuality is a vice that needs to be and can be controlled, instead of a natural, morally neutral way of being that cannot and does not need to be suppressed.

Perry has since expressed some mild regret about the incident, but has done so in a W-esque, “aw shucks” kind of way that suggests he is sorry he didn’t choose his words more carefully rather than being sorry for holding a backwards viewpoint.

“I readily admit, I stepped right in it,” he said after basically saying he should have deflected the question and said something about jobs. You’ll notice that he doesn’t say he was misinformed, doesn’t even hint that he was wrong, or even that he misspoke.

That’s because in his mind, the only mistake he made was speaking a little too plainly about his beliefs. Have no doubt Perry and other conservatives really do believe being gay is a morally questionable behavior you need to curtail, like gambling. He made these comments after the Texas Republican Convention permitted their platform to state that gay Texans can get counseling to “cure” their homosexuality.

A Dangerous Mindset

curing homosexualityThis is what gets to the crux of what was so wrong with Perry’s comments. He didn’t just have a slip of the tongue and say something demeaning; he revealed the ignorance that makes up the rotten foundation of many conservatives’ views on homosexuality. They think gays are just people with “sinful” inclinations and poor impulse control.

Plus, by framing the issue as if he can relate to being gay, but is able to resist his similarly evil genetic makeup, Perry creates a place for him and other like-minded bigots to make criticisms from a supposedly safe place. It’s no longer politically safe to say you don’t like homosexuals, so Perry says he has no problem with the people, just their inability to ignore the desires they were born with.

This way of thinking is not just wrong, it’s dangerous. It encourages people to think anyone who isn’t heterosexual is just making a bad choice and therefore does not deserve equal protection under the law. It can cause otherwise healthy people to think there is something wrong with a harmless feature of their identity and cause serious self-esteem issues that can lead to depression and suicide. Hopefully, it’s also such a blatantly moronic line of thinking that it ends Perry’s presidential campaign before it even starts.

School for Political Scandals

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the scandals under the Obama administration and I’ve been hearing right wing columnists and pundits saying that “things have never been this bad before.”


Let me see what I can remember, just off the top of my head, from previous administrations.

president-bush-conspiracyWith George W. Bush we had the Valerie Plame spy scandal, a Medicare scam,  Abu Ghraib prison torture, manufactured evidence and false intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq, Enron, Ashcroft’s violations of campaign finance laws, Halliburton no-bid contracts and Cheney’s secretive Energy Task Force.

Clinton had his pre-presidency scandals (Paula Jones, etc), Travel-gate and Monica-gate, which consumed more ink than Watergate.  And where the junk press (The National Enquirer, The Globe, Fox News) made its bones on every birth-marked inch of Clinton’s public and pubic life.

reaganPresident Reagan trumps them all with Iran/Contra, but we can’t forget the Savings and Loan scandal or the Department of Housing and Urban Development grant rigging.  By the end of his second term 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct or criminal violations.

What we really can’t forget, as the Benghazi controversy continues, is Beirut in 1983. President Reagan, over objections from his secretary of defense, ordered that American servicemen be sent into a war zone, as part of an international peacekeeping force, but, under strict presidential orders not to load their weapons. Reagan was attempting to make it clear that we came in peace, but, terrorists killed 299 essentially defenseless American and French servicemen.

And today Republicans are in a bunch over what was known, or not known, concerning Benghazi and an alleged bias within the IRS.

Benghazi was a horrible tragedy, and I am all for accountability, but, in that light, it’s important to remember that in 2012 Republicans voted to remove $331 million from security budgets at international consulates and embassies.  Should the glaring spotlight of accountability be aimed there, as well?

As for the IRS….we all hate the IRS so they become a pretty easy target, but there are some important things to consider.

First of all, the commissioner at the time of the “targeting” was a Bush appointee, so that should be a head scratcher, but most interesting is the genesis of the targeting.  Five years ago the IRS was facing an explosion of newly formed 501(c) 4 groups claiming tax exempt status.  That classification is only for groups that promote education or social welfare, and not electioneering, but a wealth of applications came from Tea Party related groups.  Red flags started flying toward any group applying for this status with names containing “Tea Party.”

Although the majority of Tea Party organizations complied with tax guidelines, the scrutiny had begun.  Not exactly the Scandal to End All Scandals that the right-wing is making it.

And now I am hearing some Democrats start to question President Obama’s ability to get things done and question his integrity.  That does not come from an awakening, but rather it is the inevitable result of the constant beating of a right-wing drum that has questioned the President’s faith, his citizenship, and even his patriotism, in a never ending maelstrom of misinformation, fanned by the REAL bias:  Hatred.

With a Republican agenda of 100% obstructionism and billions of lobbying dollars, how were new gun control measures to pass?  Or a job’s bill.  Or financial reform.  Yet, under President Obama we have seen the stock market reach a new high, health care reform that was talked about since Eisenhower has become a reality, and unemployment is below where it was at the beginning of the worst recession in 80 years.

So, Democrats—buck up!  This man has been nothing short of remarkable.

Republicans—shut up!  Your Herculean efforts to bring down our President may turn against you as you spend your time creating scandals to define him, while failing to do what you should be doing:  cooperating in Washington to further the best interests of the American people.
Gary KroegerAuthor: Gary Kroeger is a creative director for a Midwestern advertising agency. He’s a former actor (in the cast of Saturday Night Live in the mid ‘80s) and producer.