Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tiahrt takes credit for bill he opposed

In today's Wichita Eagle's Letter to the Editor section Rep. Tiahrt (R-oil companies) had a letter published praising himself for co-sponsoring a bill that increased education benefits for veterans.

As a co-sponsor of H.R. 5740, a bipartisan bill that provided the base concepts for the expanded educational coverage, I am very pleased these benefits were included in the GI Bill expansion. And unlike previous versions of the provision, these much-deserved GI benefits are not linked to a tax increase on small businesses.

Helping veterans more quickly integrate into the private sector following a tour of duty is something we should all support.

One problem, Tiahrt originally voted against the bill.

The bill, the creation of Democratic Senator Jim Webb expanding GI Bill benefits to help veterans deal with the rising costs of a college education. The bill would retroactively benefit those veterans who served at the beginning of the illegal Iraqi occupation. Tiahrt opposed the bill because it would require a 1/2% tax on those earning more than $50,000. Tiahrt figured the veterans weren't worth it and that people shouldn't be taxed to pay for a war. The revised version which Tiahrt support just takes the funding out of the general war fund, for which we are still taxed for but it will simply mean more deficit spending so we get to pay for the education benefits plus the interest on the money we borrow from the Chinese.

Back when the bill was called H.R. 2702 Tiahrt voted against it. If Tiahrt believes what he says, that we should support veterans with educational benefits, then why did he vote against such benefits and later support them? It's obvious. The bill was so overwhelmingly popular and would have passed whether or not he voted against it he might as well jump on the backwagon and take credit for something he opposed. Tiahrt doesn't want to look like someone who hates veterans right before an election. Trust that Tiahrt will vote against veterans the day following a successful re-election.

Tiahrt takes the 4th District voters for suckers. Then again, McCain is pulling out the same tricks claiming he supported the bill he opposed all along.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kansas Dems sell us out

To my dismay the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the FISA bill which gave immunity to the telecom companies that illegally spied on us, thereby giving the Bush regime immunity for asking them to break the law. The bill allows the government to disregard the 4th Amendment to the Constitution and wiretap us without a court order.

The Bush regime and his talking heads argued that they didn't have the time to bother with a warrant because they were fighting terrorism. Never mind that the current law allows the government agency to get a warrant after the wiretap has begun, but the NSA got the telecoms to spy before 9/11, the very act we'd think they were trying to prevent. The only reason not to get a court order is because they had no legal justification to spy on people, like Nixon having his staff break into the Democratic offices in the Watergate Hotel.

Well it appears Boyda and Moore decided to stand with the Republicans to excuse Bush's illegal behavior and grant him executive powers not permitted by the Constitution. They claimed giving Bush everything he wants is a "compromise". The only thing compromised are Democratic values and the Constitution.

There can be no defense that such broad powers are needed for national security. Since Bush has been appointed to office vegans, peace groups, anarchist bookstores, environmental groups, Quakers and Democrats have been spied on merely for political reasons. Are we to trust the Bush regime with these new powers and to believe they used them for honorable purposes in the past? Boyda and Moore seem to think so.

It's sad that in an election year some Democrats want to run as if they are a Republican. If a voter has a choice between a Republican and a Republican they tend to vote Republican. If a Democrat thinks voting like a Republican is necessary to keep their seat in Congress then I'd prefer they lose it for doing what's right rather than keep it and mock the letter 'D' that comes after their name.

For his part Democratic candidate for President Barak Obama is hinting that he'll sell out the Constitution as well. He says he'll work to strip the telecom immunity from the bill but if he's not successful I'd like to see a filibuster like Senator Dodd did last time FISA came up for a vote. I was planning on making a donation to his campaign, but if Obama votes for immunity then I'll just forward it to the ACLU if he decides to vote in Bush's favor.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

City Council approves of corporate welfare

For background on this story see the previous post.

Sadly the City of Wichita has approved of the idea of giving a corporate welfare handout to multi-millionaire Bill Warren. A $6 million interest free loan to reward Bill for poorly running his business. In an article in the Wichita Eagle John Rayburn repeated what I mentioned in the previous post which should be common sense to anyone on the City Council,

"The move shocked John Rayburn, a security company owner who attended today's meeting to talk on a different issue.

Rayburn said that if the city will loan the theater $6 million, they should also loan him $6 million. He said he'd put the money in a CD, pocket the interest and repay the loan within 10 years.

He said the theater's owners are obviously wealthy and should go to a bank if their plan can turn the ailing theater around.

"I just don't understand why you're discussing this," he told council members."

It makes you wonder how much money is flowing into the pockets of the City Council to approve of the fleecing of the Wichita taxpayer. This decision follows on the heels of previous decisions to hand out taxpayer money to corporations including:

1) Corporate welfare to Gander Mountain which has a history of losing money without taxpayer support

2) Corporate weflare to Airtran despite a history of airline companies losing money

3) Corporate weflare to construction companies, etc to build an unnecessary arena in the middle of the city exactly where a new arena would be a bad idea and drive business away from other businesses in the area.

4) Corporate welfare for Lowe's and other companies by destroying the wetlands in Western Wichita and putting Wichita at higher risk for flooding, then using taxpayer dollars to create an artificial, and therefore worthless, wetlands elsewhere.

Remember this the next time the city complains about budget shortfalls and a need to increase taxes. I'm sure they'll create some claim for needing to raise taxes for the common good when the end result is sending the money into the hands of the wealthy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Warren Scam

Republican Bill Warren wants a government handout. Warren, the multi-millionaire theater chain owner (which bears his name) ran for mayor and was granted a sizeable defeat against the victor Carlos Mayans and also received only have the votes of write-in candidates. Warren, who didn't even have the decency to reside in Wichita ran on the platform that he was going to stimulate the economy and provide more jobs. How has he done in his private life?

He's done pretty well. Recently he opened up a new theater in Oklahoma. The guy is pretty wealthy having dominated their theater market in Wichita with his gaudy theaters and underpaid employees. However his theater in downtown Wichita, located in the Old Town area isn't doing to well so he's asking for a handout.

Taxpayers paid $4 million to upgrade the Old Town district to create an attractive venue for locals. I believe the old Coleman factory was located in the place that was torn down and redeveloped into a small park surrounded by restaurants and small shops. A new parking garage was built and Bill Warren was granted this premo spot.

But Bill is whining that he's not making enough to pay off his debts so he wants a $6 million dollar loan, interest free for the first five years then granted the ultra low interest rate of 1.25% after. He also wants parking fees to be reduced which will cost the city $7,500 in lost revenue.

So why is this a bad deal? Simple. With that sort of interest rate Bill never needs to pay back the loan. He can simply put the money into an offshore account with a higher interest rate and pocket the earnings from the interest. After the first five years he can keep on making money even when he is paying off the interest to the city. He won't have to drop a single dime into his theaters for upgrades as the interest will more than make up for the loss of revenue at the theater.

Bill gets richer at taxpayer expense. That's how the rich get richer and you get poorer. If Bill can't run the theater then let the city foreclose on it and turn it into a casino. That'll bring in the cash and casino jobs pay a lot better than crappy minimum wage theater jobs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Roberts and Brownback shortchange Kansas

The Senate voted on renewing the Renewable Energy and Jobs Creation Act of 2008 for another year. The legislation had been successful in generating billions of dollars in investment in renewable energy and provided thousands of jobs. Brownback and Roberts voted against extending this bill for another year.

Kansas Republicans are still pushing for two heavily polluting coal plants and the coal lobbyists are spending like mad to bribe Republicans to remain loyal. Down in Texas one man invested two billion dollars in a huge windfarm that will generate hundreds of new jobs and fill Texas coffers with revenue from clean energy. Kansas could follow by investing heavily in wind and exporting that clean energy while not reaping any negative effects from pollution. However we are infected with men who lack vision.

Roberts is up for re-election and is being challenged by Jim Slattery who supports clean energy and investing in Kansas.

I just received a lovely form letter from Roberts explaining his justification for voting against Kansas' interests:
My record shows that I support incentives for renewable energy production. However, late last year the tax package accompanying the Energy Independence and Security Act used tax increases on other energy industries to pay for the wind and solar energy incentives. I disagreed with that particular offset. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over tax policy, I will continue to work to support tax credits for renewable energy production with appropriate offsets.

Well that's lovely, he supported the extension before voting against it. That's like telling your wife for her anniversary that he fully supported getting her flowers until he found out that he'd have to pay for them. But rest assured dear that in the future I will seriously consider your desire for flowers.

Can we blame Roberts for selling out Kansas? After all, the investments would have been paid for by taxing the top five oil companies. Exxon-Mobil made $41 billion in profits therefore they desperately needed the tax breaks. Sounds like Roberts had no problem giving Exxon flowers.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The aging of Tiahrt

Tiahrt uses one photo on his website:

However he looks a lot different in person:

Is it that he doesn't want the public to know what a person looks like after their soul has been sucked out by serving corporate interests over the interests of the people?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rebuttal to Craig Harms

In today's Wichita Eagle a letter to the editor by Craig Harms took issue with a previous post stating that Tiahrt had voted for outsourcing. Without providing any quotes in the bill to the contrary he claimed that what was said on the blog (and referenced in the original letter to which Harms is replying to) is fabricated and Tiahrt voted against outsourcing (although public record shows he voted for the bill.

Here is the section I was referring to:

"Part III: Other Domestic Source Requirements - (Sec. 826)Exempts from Buy American requirements procurements: (1) outside the United States in support of contingency operations; (2) for which other than competitive procedures have been approved which relate to unusual and compelling urgency of need; and (3) of waste and byproducts of cotton and wool fiber for use in the production of propellants and explosives.

(Sec. 828) Provides a Buy American requirement exception with respect to ball and roller bearings prepared for use in foreign products."

The definition of a contingency operation from the free dictionary:

A military operation that is either designated by the Secretary of Defense as a contingency operation or becomes a contingency operation as a matter of law (10 United States code (USC) 101[a][13]). It is a military operation that: a. is designated by the Secretary of Defense as an operation in which members of the Armed Forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing force; or b. is created by definition of law. Under 10 USC 101 (a)(13)(B), a contingency operation exists if a military operation results in the (1) callup to (or retention on) active duty of members of the uniformed Services under certain enumerated statutes (10 USC Sections 688, 12301(a), 12302, 12304, 12305, 12406, or 331-335); and (2) the callup to (or retention on) active duty of members of the uniformed Services under other (non-enumerated) statutes during war or national emergency declared by the President or Congress.

Therefore what Harms is ignoring is the stated exemption that the military can buy materials from outside the United States if those materials may be used in military operations. The only exception is ball bearings. Boeing doesn't just provide ball bearings, but if that's what Harms intended then yes, Tiahrt did vote to protect that huge ball bearing industry in Wichita.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008