Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Obama’s America ‘Most Corrupt Republic Ever

Welcome to the age of vanity politics and campaigns-for-hire. What would our founders make of this nightmare?
(TIME) – Four qualities have distinguished republican government from ancient Athens forward: the sovereignty of the people; a sense of the common good; government dedicated to the commonwealth; and resistance to corruption. Measured against the standards established for republics from ancient times, the American Republic is massively corrupt.
From Plato and Aristotle forward, corruption was meant to describe actions and decisions that put a narrow, special, or personal interest ahead of the interest of the public or commonwealth. Corruption did not have to stoop to money under the table, vote buying, or even renting out the Lincoln bedroom. In the governing of a republic, corruption was self-interest placed above the interest of all—the public interest.
By that standard, can anyone seriously doubt that our republic, our government, is corrupt? There have been Teapot Domes and financial scandals of one kind or another throughout our nation’s history. There has never been a time, however, when the government of the United States was so perversely and systematically dedicated to special interests, earmarks, side deals, log-rolling, vote-trading, and sweetheart deals of one kind or another.
What brought us to this? A sinister system combining staggering campaign costs, political contributions, political action committees, special interest payments for access, and, most of all, the rise of the lobbying class.
Worst of all, the army of lobbyists that started relatively small in the mid-twentieth century has now grown to big battalions of law firms and lobbying firms of the right, left, and an amalgam of both. And that gargantuan, if not reptilian, industry now takes on board former members of the House and the Senate and their personal and committee staffs. And they are all getting fabulously rich.
This development in recent years has been so insidious that it now goes without notice. The key word is not quid-pro-quo bribery, the key word is access. In exchange for a few moments of the senator’s time and many more moments of her committee staff’s time, fund-raising events with the promise of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars are delivered.
Corruption in a federated republic such as ours operates vertically as well as horizontally. Seeing how business is conducted in Washington, it did not take long for governors of both parties across the country to subscribe to the special-interest state. Both the Republican and Democratic governors’ associations formed “social welfare” organizations composed of wealthy interests and corporate executives to raise money for their respective parties in exchange for close, personal access to individual governors, governors who almost surely could render executive decisions favorable to those corporate interests. A series of judicial decisions enabled these “social welfare” groups, supposedly barred from political activity, to channel virtually unlimited amounts of money to governors in exchange for access, the political coin of the realm in the corrupted republic, and to do so out of sight of the American people. Editorially, the New York Times commented that “the stealthy form of political corruption known as ‘dark money’ now fully permeates governor’s offices around the country, allowing corporations to push past legal barriers and gather enormous influence.”
Frustrated, irate discussions of this legalized corruption are met in the Washington media with a shrug. So what? Didn’t we just have dinner with that lobbyist for the banking industry, or the teachers’ union, or the airline industry at that well-known journalist’s house only two nights ago? Fine lady, and she used to be the chairman of one of those powerful committees. I gather she is using her Rolodex rather skillfully on behalf of her new clients. Illegal? Not at all. Just smart . . . and so charming.
There is little wonder that Americans of the right and many in the middle are apoplectic at their government and absolutely, and rightly, convinced that the game of government is rigged in favor of the elite and the powerful. Occupiers see even more wealth rising to the top at the expense of the poor and the middle class. And Tea Partiers believe their tax dollars are going to well-organized welfare parasites and government bureaucrats.
Recent months have seen, in effect, the legalization of Watergate. Who would have thought, forty years after the greatest political scandal and presidential abuse of power in U.S. history, that the Supreme Court of the United States would rule the practices that financed that scandal were now legal?
That is essentially the effect of the Citizens United decision. Bets may be taken as to the length of time that will expire before this tsunami of political money ends up in the pockets of break-in burglars, wiretap experts, surveillance magicians, and cyberpunks. Given the power and money at stake in presidential and congressional elections, it is inevitable that candidates or their operatives with larceny in their hearts will tap into the hundreds of millions of dollars that their campaigns are awash in to game the system in highly illegal ways.
And, of course, the ultimate victims of the corruption of the democratic process are not defeated candidates and parties but America’s citizens. Perhaps Supreme Court justices should have to experience a corrupted election process firsthand to recognize a hollowed-out democracy. As one who experienced Watergate in its multi-tentacled form, I know it is not pleasant to be placed under surveillance, to have your taxes audited, and to experience dirty tricks. All this happened to me, among a number of others, simply because we worked for an honest presidential candidate who dared challenge the authority and power of a president who had long since forgotten the integrity the democratic process requires.
The advent of legalized corruption launched by the Supreme Court empowers the superrich to fund their own presidential and congressional campaigns as pet projects, to foster pet policies, and to represent pet political enclaves. You have a billion, or even several hundred million, then purchase a candidate from the endless reserve bench of minor politicians and make him or her a star, a mouthpiece for any cause or purpose however questionable, and that candidate will mouth your script in endless political debates and through as many television spots as you are willing to pay for. All legal now.
To compound the political felony, much, if not most, campaign financing is now carried out in secret, so that everyday citizens have a decreasing ability to determine to whom their elected officials are beholden and to whom they must now give special access. As recently as the 2014 election, the facts documented this government of influence by secrecy: “More than half of the general election advertising aired by outside groups in the battle for control of Congress,” according to the New York Times, “has come from organizations that disclose little or nothing about their donors, a flood of secret money that is now at the center of a debate over the line between free speech and corruption.”
The five prevailing Supreme Court justices, holding that a legal entity called a corporation has First Amendment rights of free speech, might at least have required the bought-and-paid-for candidates to wear sponsor labels on their suits as stock-car drivers do. Though, for the time being, sponsored candidates will not be openly promoted by Exxon-Mobil or the Stardust Resort and Casino but by phony “committees for good government” smokescreens.
To add to the profound misdirection of American politics by the Supreme Court, we now have what might be called convergence in the garden of government influence.
Back in the 1960s Flannery O’Connor wrote the short story “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” It had to do with generational insensitivity between a mother and son, and between generations on the issue of race in society. In reading a piece by Thomas B. Edsall (“The Lobbyist in the Gray Flannel Suit,” New York Times, May 14, 2012), this title came to mind in a totally different context. The context is the lobbying maze in Washington and the convergence of dozens of noxious weeds in the garden of government into a handful of giant predator thorn bushes now devouring that garden.
Of this handful, the largest by far is WPP (originally called Wire and Plastic Products; is there a metaphor here?), which has its headquarters in London and more than 150,000 employees in 2,500 offices spread around 107 countries. It, together with one or two conglomerating competitors, represents a fourth branch of government, vacuuming up former senators and House members and their spouses and families, key committee staff, former senior administration officials of both parties and several administrations, and ambassadors, diplomats, and retired senior military officers.
WPP has swallowed giant public relations, advertising, and lobbying outfits such as Hill & Knowlton and Burson Marsteller, along with dozens of smaller members of the highly lucrative special interest and influence-manipulation world. Close behind WPP is the Orwellian-named Omnicom Group and another converger vaguely called the Interpublic Group of Companies. According to Mr. Edsall, WPP had billings last year of $72.3 billion, larger than the budgets of quite a number of countries.
With a budget so astronomical, think how much good WPP can do in the campaign finance arena, especially since the Citizens United decision. The possibilities are almost limitless. Why pay for a senator or congresswoman here or there when you can buy an entire committee? Think of the banks that can be bailed out, the range of elaborate weapons systems that can be sold to the government, the protection from congressional scrutiny that can be paid for, the economic policies that can be manipulated.
The lobbying business is no longer about votes up or down on particular measures that may emerge in Congress or policies made in the White House. It is about setting agendas, deciding what should and should not be brought up for hearings and legislation. We have gone way beyond mere vote buying now. The converging Influence World represents nothing less than an unofficial but enormously powerful fourth branch of government.
To whom is this branch of government accountable? Who sets the agenda for its rising army of influence marketers? How easy will it be to not only go from office to a lucrative lobbying job but, more important, from lucrative lobbying job to holding office? Where are its loyalties if it is manipulating and influencing governments around the world? Other than as a trough of money of gigantic proportions, how does it view the government of the United States?
America’s founders knew one thing: The republics of history all died when narrow interests overwhelmed the common good and the interests of the commonwealth.
O’Connor took her story title from a belief of the French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard de Chardin believed that all good would rise and that all that rose would eventually converge. We pray that he was right for, at the present moment, we have only prayer and no evidence. In the realm of twenty-first-century American politics, the opposite is surely coming true.
Welcome to the Age of Vanity politics and campaigns-for-hire featuring candidates who repeat their sponsored messages like ice-cream-truck vendors passing through the neighborhood. If the current Supreme Court had been sitting during Watergate in 1974, it would not have voted 9–0 to require the president to turn over legally incriminating tapes but instead would have voted to support the use of illegal campaign contributions to finance criminal cover-ups as an exercise in “free speech.”
What would our founders make of this nightmare of corruption? We only know, in Thomas Jefferson’s case, for example, that his distrust of central government had to do with the well-founded and prescient suspicion that its largesse would go to powerful and influential interests, especially financiers, who knew how to manipulate both the government and the financial markets. In particular, Jefferson envisioned sophisticated bankers speculating in public-debt issues with some if not all the interest incurred going into their pockets.
He was way ahead of his time. The limits of his imagination would not have encompassed the early twenty-first-century financial world where vast sums of money are manipulated like the world’s greatest three-card-monte game and nothing tangible is being produced—except fees and more money. Even the titans ruling over this game confessed, after the 2008 financial collapse, that they did not know what collateralized debt obligations, bundled derivatives, and other tricky instruments devised by clever twenty-eight-year-olds were about. All they knew was how to respond to their industry lobbyists’ requests for very large contributions to compliant members of congressional finance committees and to do so quickly and often. And they did get their money’s worth.
The scope and scale of this genuine scandal (as distinguished from vastly more mundane behavior that passes for scandal in the media) is the single greatest threat to our form of government. It is absolutely incompatible with the principles and ideals upon which America was founded. At the very least, we Americans cannot hold ourselves up to the world as the beacon of democracy so long as we permit, as long as we acquiesce in, corruption so far beyond the standards of the true republic that our government cannot be proclaimed an ideal for other aspiring nations.
On a more personal level, how can public service be promoted as an ideal to young people when this sewer corrupts our Republic? At this point in early twenty-first-century America, the greatest service our nation’s young people could provide is to lead an army of outraged young Americans armed with brooms on a crusade to sweep out the rascals and rid our capital of the money changers, rent seekers, revolving door dancers, and special interest deal makers and power brokers and send them back home to make an honest living, that is, if they still remember how to do so.
What angers truly patriotic Americans is that this entire Augean stable is legal. Even worse, recent Supreme Court decisions placing corporations under the First Amendment protection of free speech for political purposes compounds the tragedy of American democracy. For all practical political purposes, the government of the United States is for sale to the highest bidder.
A harsh judgment? Indeed. But it is impossible to claim to love one’s country and not be outraged at how corrupt it has become. For former senators and representatives to trade a title given them by the voters of their respective states and districts for cash is beyond shameful. It is outrageous.
“I tremble for my country when I contemplate that God is just.” Those words of Thomas Jefferson, enshrined on the walls of his memorial, referred to the institution of slavery. Today he might readily render the same judgment about corruption in and of the American Republic.
Imagine if you will the response of George Washington, James Madison, Jefferson, John Adams, and even the financial pragmatist Alexander Hamilton were they to observe today’s lobbyists at work, especially former government officials, organizing fund-raising events and delivering bundles of checks. They would be appalled. Even more, they would be ashamed.
Can this bazaar of special interest stalls in the halls of Congress, the money changers in the temple of democracy, be justified by the realities of modern times? If so, it is not readily apparent how. America can be a mass democracy of 330 million people. It is engaged commercially, diplomatically, and militarily all over the world. We live in an age of instant communication and international travel. The amounts of money involved in administering our government are staggering, with appreciably more zeros than even in the 1970s and ’80s. But none of these facts lift the burden of ethics in public life, what the founders called virtue, from the shoulders of public servants.
It is an error of serious proportion to dismiss corruption in twenty-first-century American democracy on the grounds that this has all been going on from the beginning, that boys will be boys, that politicians are always on the take. Past incidents of the violation of public ethics provide no argument for accepting the systemic and cancerous commercialization of modern American politics.
For that is what it is. Political office, public service, and engagement in governance must not be monetized. Even if no laws are broken, even if a public servant can walk out the door one day and cash in his or her experience and title for cash the next, that does not make it right. Everything strictly legal is not therefore ethical. When the founders discussed virtue, they were harking back to ancient Athens and the ideal of the republic. And, as scholars of ancient Greek and Roman political texts, they knew in their minds and in their hearts that a republic with leaders who lacked virtue would not long survive.
That is the issue. With the dubious endorsement by the Supreme Court of the United States, which will have its own history to answer to, using First Amendment protection of free speech to legitimize the most egregious violations of the principles of the republic is to invite the eventual erosion of the ideal of the American Republic, to reduce this great nation and its heritage to the worst kind of mundane governance, to prostitute a noble experiment on the altar of expediency and greed, and to leave coming generations to ponder what went wrong.
“Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right” should be carved above every congressional doorway, every cabinet department, and even the White House itself. Contrast the fact that upon returning to Independence, Missouri, in 1953, Harry Truman refused to take even a pencil from the White House (“It didn’t belong to me,” he said, by way of explanation) with modern presidents whose political networks have graciously waited until they departed the White House to make them rich.
Though quaintly used in recent times to denote proper behavior for ladies, virtue as applied to public service is a powerful standard. It genuinely does require having no personal interest in the public’s business, not only at the time one is involved in decision making but also thereafter. The fact that many former presidents and prime ministers of European democracies have enriched themselves in questionable ways after leaving office does not justify similar behavior on the part of American politicians. We hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Our ancestors did not depart Europe and elsewhere to seek freedom and self-government alone. They came to these shores to escape social and political systems that were corrosive and corrupt. Two and a quarter centuries later, we are returning to those European practices. We are in danger of becoming a different kind of nation, one our founders would not recognize and would deplore.
Even as politicians and pundits alike pummel the fiscal deficit, we are developing an integrity deficit of mounting proportions. And one is not disconnected from the other. Because of the erosion of the integrity of our governing system, and the principles and ideals underlying it, the fiscal deficit increases. The government spending so many conservatives claim to abhor includes not only the social safety net of Roosevelt and Johnson, but also the war-making excursions of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is all government spending. And it includes favorite pork-barrel projects of every member of both houses of Congress of both political parties, and every one of those most loudly condemning “wasteful government spending.” Those projects are produced by the lobbying interests that raise money for those members of Congress in direct proportion to their effectiveness at bringing government-financed projects to their states and districts. By definition, if it is a project in my state or district, it is not wasteful.
Restoration of the Republic of Conscience requires reduction and eventual elimination of the integrity deficit. Virtue, the disinterestedness of our elected officials, must replace political careerism and special interests. The national interest, what is best for our country and coming generations, must replace struggles for power, bitter partisanship, and ideological rigidity. This is not dreamy idealism; it is an idealism rooted in the original purpose of this nation.
We were not created to be like other nations. We were created as an alternative to monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, and corrupt political systems. The more we follow the easy path, the one paved for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful, the more we stray from our originally intended purpose and the more we lose our unique purpose for existence.
Will America continue to offer a comfortable life for many? I hope so. Will we continue to have a strong army? If we are willing to pay for it, yes. Will we continue to provide the world’s entertainment? I presume so. But these are not the real questions.
The question is: By adhering to its highest principles and ideals, will America continue to have the moral authority to lead all people of goodwill? The answer remains to be seen. And that answer will have much to do with whether we have the courage to drive the money changers from the temple of democracy and recapture government of the people, for the people, and by the people.
In addition to the rise of the national security state, and the concentration of wealth and power in America, no development in modern times sets us apart more from the nation originally bequeathed to us than the rise of the special interest state. There is a Gresham’s law related to the republican ideal. Bad politics drives out good politics. Legalized corruption drives men and women of stature, honor, and dignity out of the halls of government. Self-respecting individuals cannot long tolerate a system of election and reelection so dependent on cultivating the favor of those known to expect access in return. Such a system is corrosive to the soul.
Some years back a prominent senator was fond of saying with regard to the relatively modest lobbying influence of the day: “If I can’t take their money and drink their whiskey, and then vote against them, I shouldn’t be here.” That was then. And then campaigns cost much less than they do today. Few if any can now claim to take their money and drink their whiskey and vote against them. Anyone who does will soon find closed wallets and fleeing contributors.
Campaign funds now go to feed an army of consultants (or “strategists” in the coinage of the day), media advisors, media producers, television-time buyers, speechwriters, schedulers, advance specialists, crowd raisers, and more specialized campaign bells and whistles than everyday citizens can imagine. Campaigning is a major industry now that consumes hundreds of millions of dollars and, in national campaigns, billions of dollars. Almost all of it goes to the media, the same media whose commentators regularly deplore the costs of campaigns.
The headquarters of the permanent campaign industry in Washington are but a stone’s throw, if that, from the offices of the lobbying firms. The treasurers of most campaigns have only to funnel the checks from lobbyist-bundlers (those who collect bundles of checks) into the accounts of the campaign management companies. It is a great hydra-headed monster, one that is rapidly devouring American democracy.
The significant issue is the effect of this relatively recent conversion of a democratic process to a major industry that devours money. That industry and all it represents is a departure from the American ideal that is different not only in scale but also in kind.
We are not the same country we started out to be. We cannot conduct our political process the way we are doing in the twenty-first century and claim to adhere to our earliest principles. We must decide who we are. And if that decision is to restore our highest ideals, then major changes must be made in the way we elect our presidents and our members of Congress.
States can pass campaign finance laws and should begin to do so, by putting voters back in charge.
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Polygamy for Muslims

Rush Limbaugh: Here's what's next for marriages 'There's no legal basis to stop it now'
Get ready: Polygamy is the new “gay” movement – and talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh warns the June 26 legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court makes spouse collecting in America “inevitable.”
“Look, folks, you can think all you want, but there’s no legal basis to stop it now,” Limbaugh told his listeners on Monday’s show. “There is no intellectually honest way to distinguish the reasoning on gay marriage from applying the same reasoning to supporting polygamy.”
Limbaugh explained the case for same-sex marriage was “all rooted in self-esteem and dignity and not being denied things that make you happy.”
The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, he said, doesn’t assume marriage is a union of only two people. In fact, it didn’t set any boundaries at all.
“That limit is not specifically there,” Limbaugh explained. “They’ve rewritten what marriage is now, is the point here, folks. Marriage was what it was as ordained from the ancient biblical texts.”
He then read passages from Genesis 2:23-24 and Matthew 16:4-6, which reaffirm the biblical definition of marriage.
“But it’s been rewritten now, and it’s been written not under any sort of constitutional purview but rather some people out there that were denied something and it’s not right,” he said. “A lot of people had something and those people didn’t and then those people want it, so we think they should have it. Their self-esteem and their dignity is tied up into it.”
And if a man comes along and declares, “I want two wives”? “The ruling in this case does not give anybody the right to tell ‘em ‘no,’ Limbaugh explained. “Marriage had a specific definition. Words mean things. And now it’s become something entirely different by virtue of the Supreme Court. You wait. There will be attempts to expand on this in ways that you can’t even conjure.”
Polygamy in America
Don’t think a move to legalize polygamy could happen in America?
WND has reported that, while spouse collecting is still illegal in the United States, polygamy is apparently thriving – and not where most Americans might expect.
Polygamy made national headlines in two high-profile cases in recent years: In 2007, FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of sex crimes charges. (Jeffs is estimated to have more than 50 wives and is reportedly issuing edicts from his prison cell.) And in 2008, authorities raided a Texas FLDS compound called the YFZ Ranch, and found six men guilty of child sexual assault.
But Muslim men in America are marrying multiple wives as well. A 2008 NPR report estimated between 50,000 and 100,000 Muslims in the U.S. live in polygamous families.
WND’s 2012 search of a popular Muslim “singles” dating site revealed more than 1,000 results for married Muslim men – located in the United States – who were openly seeking additional wives.
For the parameters of WND’s search, only married Muslim men who lived in the U.S. and were interested in taking another wife were selected.
The search returned more than 1,000 results – so many, the site recommending refining criteria because there were too many matches.
WND found active profiles for married Muslim men seeking additional wives in every U.S. state (and Washington, D.C.) – except Alaska.
Most of the men were in New York, New Jersey, California, Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The trend can be seen in other countries as well. Canada’s decision to legalize homosexual marriage in 2005 became the basis for polygamists’ arguments for having multiple spouses.
In 2009, the Associated Press reported, “Canada’s decision to legalize gay marriage has paved the way for polygamy to be legal as well, a defense lawyer … as the two leaders of rival polygamous communities made their first court appearance.”
“If (homosexuals) can marry, what is the reason that public policy says one person can’t marry more than one person?” argued Blair Suffredine, a lawyer representing a man who was charged with marrying 20 women.
In the U.S., with the expansion of the legal definition of marriage to include homosexuals, now other groups are advocating for polygamy. After New York legalized homosexual marriage in 2011, Moein Khawaja, executive director of the Philadelphia branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, tweeted: “Easy to support gay marriage today bc it’s mainstream. Lets see same people go to bat for polygamy, its the same argument. *crickets*”
In a 2011 survey conducted by The Muslim Link, 42 percent of the Muslims surveyed said “they were either in or knew others in, polygamous marriages within the local Muslim community,”
According to the report, “Thirty nine percent said they would engage in a polygamous marriage if it were legal in the United States. … Nearly 70 percent said they believe that the U.S. should legalize polygamy now that it is beginning to legalize gay marriage.”
In March 2012, a WND/Wenzel Poll, conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies, indicated there is a surprisingly high level of support for polygamous marriage developing across the U.S. A full 22 percent of the respondents said there is no legal justification for denying polygamy, based on the fact that legislation and judicial decisions have affirmed the validity of same-sex “marriage” for homosexuals. Another 18.7 percent were uncertain. Further, 18 percent of the respondents said there was no moral justification for denying polygamy, and 14.5 percent were uncertain. The scientific telephone survey had a margin of error of 3.72 percentage points. While only 6.1 percent said polygamy is a “preferred” lifestyle, another 15.9 percent said it is an “equally valid lifestyle.” Across America, that would mean tens of millions accept the idea.
What else is next?
Limbaugh noted that “a lot of liberalism” is “rooted in the misery and unhappiness of being in a minority.”
“Along with that unhappiness is a resentment of the majority, a resentment or an envy of the majority,” he said. “So the motivating mechanism here is to be what the majority is, to have what the majority has, simply because it’s not fair that some people have it and some people don’t.”
The homosexual movement reduced marriage to it “to a thing or a benefit that some people get and some people don’t.”
“And that isn’t fair, and it’s not democratic,” Limbaugh said. “They … think that getting what the majority has is gonna make ‘em happy, and they’re gonna find out that it doesn’t.”
All of their efforts and triumphs will never be enough, he explained, because there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of why there’s misery in the first place.
 “The unhappiness born of envy and resentment is never, ever mollified,” he explained. “That’s why all of the great philosophers have warned people, ‘Do not act on vengeance, do not act on envy, ’cause you’re not gonna like what you get. It’s not gonna give you the happiness you thought.’”
In fact, as Limbaugh noted, Chief Justice John Roberts mentioned the “inevitability” of polygamy in his dissent:
“Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one. It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”
And, as WND reported in April, Justice Samuel Alito asked during oral arguments why four lawyers wouldn’t be allowed to marry if people of the same sex may do so.
Limbaugh also noted that in the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Antonin Scalia correctly predicted that the Supreme Court would soon hear a case on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Just as Scalia warned same-sex marriage was coming as a result of overturning Texas’ anti-sodomy law, Limbaugh said, Roberts is now warning that polygamy is right around the corner.
“Folks, you’ve gotta understand here: Supreme Court decisions create a lot of things. Precedents, new rules,” he said. “Now, animals? The one thing about animals is that even though a woman in the U.K. did marry her dog, animals cannot give consent, so that’s not a legitimate thing. An animal can’t consent to a marriage to its master. … I’m thinking that the line would be drawn there.”
But then Limbaugh questioned even that assumption: “Actually, who the hell knows anymore?”

Greece Chooses the Path to Default!

Now Brace for the Impacts ...by Mike Larson, Monday, June 29, 2015
Greece has chosen the path to default! Specifically, Greek officials called for a nationwide referendum on July 5 over the European bailout program rather than reach a direct agreement with creditors over the weekend.
Next, Greece itself said it will skip a 1.7 billion euro debt payment due tomorrow to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That, in turn, is a default in everything but technical name only. It also means Greece’s current bailout program will expire with nothing to replace it.
The European Central Bank (ECB) responded to the referendum news by refusing to hike its emergency aid to the Greek banking system, currently around 89 billion euros after several recent increases. Since those funds were the only thing keeping Greek banks alive, the Greek government was forced to shut down all the nation’s banks through at least July 6.
Will Europe be seeing the return of the drachma? Greek citizens can still take money out of an ATM, but only 60 euros per day. The Greek stock market was also shut.
Those moves temporarily halt the worst of the financial bleeding in Greece. But they also open up a whole host of other questions.
The most pressing one for depositors: What the heck will they get back the next time a teller window is open to them? Euros? New drachmas? IOUs? And the bigger question for investors around the world is: “Does this mean Greece is going to get kicked out of the euro currency union?
If Greek citizens vote “No” to Europe’s last and best offer on the table this coming Sunday, I believe Greece will get kicked out. If they vote “Yes,” there’s always a possibility the country hangs on by its fingernails for a while.
But without permanent debt relief that acknowledges it can never pay back all its bonds at face value, Greece might be forced to abandon the euro and introduce its own currency anyway. It sure seems like Germany, France, and other European nations – which hold all the financial cards here — are fed up and ready to cut the country loose.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to put a brave face on the situation. He tried to rally his political base behind a “No” vote, couching it in terms like this: “The dignity of the Greek people in the face of blackmail and injustice will send a message of hope and pride to all of Europe.”
But the initial reaction in global markets was swift and severe. Asian markets tanked, while stock markets around Europe plunged as much as 5%.
Bonds issued by peripheral European countries fell in value, while the euro currency dropped below 1.10 against the dollar, before bouncing a bit. Anyone unlucky or unwise enough to own the handful of direct Greek investments that trade here in the U.S., such as the Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (GREK) or National Bank of Greece (NBG), lost even more of their money. NBG plunged 24%, while GREK lost 20%.
Now, we’ll see where the rubber meets the road. I laid out my three possible scenarios for what would happen in Greece, and how that would impact investors like you, two weeks ago.
We clearly did not get Scenario #2 (a last-minute can kick deal). That leaves Scenario #1 (a quick and painful, but ultimately healthy move) and Scenario #3 (a long, drawn-out disaster scenario).
I suggested #1 was the most likely all along. But the truth is, the markets are going to determine the ultimate answer. My three “tells” to see which is getting the upper hand? The euro currency, the European bond market, and U.S. financial stocks.
“There’s pressure on all of them … but none of the out-of-control panic of 2007-09.”
If the euro tanks and other peripheral European bond markets start following Greece’s into the abyss, that would be a huge red flag. And if U.S. financial stocks start plunging, that would be a sign that contagion fears were spreading beyond Greece’s (and Europe’s) borders.
So far, there’s pressure on all of them — with the Dow dropping by around 350 points today … but none of the out-of-control panic we saw during the credit crisis days back in 2007-09. That could easily change, though, and you can bet I’m watching closely. So stay tuned for more recommendations and commentaries about what to do next – right here at Money and Markets and in your other subscription services.
What about you? Do you think Greece was wise or foolish to launch a referendum? Will the result matter, or is Greece doomed to get kicked out of the euro regardless? What immediate and/or lasting effects do you foresee for U.S. stocks and bonds?
Are you making any moves in your personal portfolio in light of the latest news? Here’s the link to the website where you can share your thoughts. I definitely want to hear from you in these turbulent times.
Other Developments of the Day
While Greece is grabbing all the headlines, China is experiencing more turmoil of its own. The benchmark stock markets there have now plunged more than 20% from recent highs, putting them “officially” in bear market territory.
The Chinese central bank responded by cutting interest rates a quarter point, and by easing bank reserve requirements. But it didn’t do much to stem the selling over there, nor to ease analyst concerns about China’s economy.
While we’re at it, Puerto Rico is in lousy financial shape too. The government admitted there is no way it can pay back its $70 billion in debt, and that it will need to default on and restructure its bonds and loans. Billions of those bonds are sprinkled throughout municipal bond funds and the accounts of individual investors attracted by the U.S. commonwealth’s high muni yields. So losses tied to the restructurings will ripple through the debt markets in coming days and weeks.
General Electric (GE) continued its international garage sale of assets, selling fleet financing and management businesses to Element Financial for $6.9 billion. The deal covers fleet financing operations in the U.S., Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand, and it’s part of a plan to jettison $100 billion in businesses this year alone.
Until next time, Mike Larson
Mike Larson graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a B.A. degree in English in 1998, and went to work for Bankrate.com. There, he learned the mortgage and interest rates markets inside and out. Mike then joined Weiss Research in 2001.
Source:Money and Markets
Market RoundupDow-350.33 to 17,596.35S&P-43.84 to 2,057.65NASDAQ-122.04 to 4,958.4710-YR Yield-0.145 to 2.331%Gold+$5.50 to $1,178.70Oil-$1.47 to $58.17

Marriage is a State Issue

Rand Paul: Marriage not a defining Republican issue; GOP can ‘agree to disagree’ by Kirsten Andersen
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Senator Rand Paul told ABC News on Wednesday that he agreed with the Supreme Court decision striking down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the grounds that he believes marriage should be regulated by states, not the federal government. He praised the author of the decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy, for trying to “keep up with opinion” on the issue and said that members of the Republican Party would have to “agree to disagree” on the definition of marriage.
The Court's 5-4 ruling granted homosexual couples federal benefits, including tax breaks and entitlements, formerly reserved to heterosexual married couples, as long as the same-sex partners live in a state where same-sex “marriage” is legal.
Paul, who is widely expected to be a top contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said that he felt Justice Kennedy's majority opinion “tried to strike a balance” and praised Kennedy as “someone who doesn’t just want to be in front of opinion but wants government to keep up with opinion.”
“As a country, we can agree to disagree,” said Paul. Sen. Paul’s spokesman, Doug Stafford told LifeSiteNews.com on Thursday that, while Paul personally believes in “traditional marriage between one man and one woman,” he also “believes the issue is a state issue and not a federal one.”
He also waded into an intraparty dispute on whether to cling to marriage or abandon it – and its supporters. The 2012 Republican Party platform states that “marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard.”
Stafford said Paul does not believe the GOP should change its platform to accommodate social liberals. He does, however, feel it should be more open to accepting them into its ranks.
Senator Paul “believes we have to be a party that tolerates dissent, or rather, agree to disagree with some in our own party,” Stafford told LifeSiteNews. “He does not believe our party will or should change itself on these issues. We shouldn't suddenly try to be a pro-choice or pro-gay marriage party.”
However, Stafford said the senator believes the Republican Party “can be more tolerant and inclusive on [social] issues.”
Stafford added that those who would prefer that marriage be preserved at the national level “should think long and hard if that is a good idea and whether or not you can win there.”
Stafford told LifeSiteNews that Sen. Paul's comments on Kennedy's decision were meant to offer “a silver lining” and not a full endorsement.
“Public opinion has no role in constitutional interpretation,” Stafford said of the senator’s beliefs. “He was saying that often the judiciary jumps ahead of public opinion, [and] that this really didn’t do that. Also, that the ruling left open for states to have traditional marriage as their standard.”
Senator Paul said that Justice Kennedy did not start a “culture war” by forcing gay nuptials on the 37 states that have enacted bans.
However, most pro-family leaders, representing a vital component of 2016 primary voters, felt the decision represented a particularly stinging loss in the culture war.
Defining Marriage is not one of the enumerated powers granted to the federal by the States in the US Constitution (as written).  If the States were smart, they would defer this to the People by assigning this determination to the churches. There are 11 million gays in the US that has a total population of 325 million.
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

ObamaCare mandates in 2016

With the recent Supreme Court ruling affirming ObamaCare, most people remain unprepared for the new law.
Did you know that, beginning in 2016, some of the worst aspects of ObamaCare will go into effect – including new taxes and penalties for so-called “Cadillac” healthcare plans (yours may be one!).
Next year, the so-called “Employer Mandate” also takes effect. That stringent new rule will impact every business in the nation, and their employees.
After that, even more new rules are coming that will change your Medicare procedures and services in a big way! New employer mandates kicking in next year also will affect you in almost every way.
The ObamaCare Survival Guide is truly the “best guide” to help you navigate the new law. This book is already a #1 New York Times and Amazon best-seller.
Source: Newsmax.com
ObamaCare Individual Mandate Will Bite Dems In 2016
04/07/2015 05:01 PM ET
Democrats are sometimes accused of backing policies that essentially buy off modest-income voters with government handouts. But a policy that does the opposite — ObamaCare's individual mandate — is ramping up just in time for 2016. Individual mandate penalties are set to roughly triple from a minimum of $95 per person owed this tax season to a bill of at least $325 that will come due.
Source:http://news.investors.com/politics-obamacare/0407 15-746760-obamacare-individual-mandate-hurt-democrats-in-2016.htm