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funny things going on in wisconsin in the name of democracy

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kunjuppu

Well-known member
for neophytes, wisconsin is one of the usa states, in the midwest of the continent, and one of the richer, reformist minded states.

the usa now is going through a phase where the voters want to cut government spending to the minimum. from what i understand, most the u.s. states cannot run deficit budgets. so in order to balance the budget, the government is forced to cut the services.

since the rich have the clout, all their entitlements usually gets unaffected. it is the poor who get shafted due to cuts in their medical aid, subsidies to school, mid day meals and what not.

wisconsin is a bi camerally run state, and the upper house members belonging to the democratic party are hiding themselves to delay a bill that would sent the employee unions home without bargaining power. (back to 1800s)

to me, seeing this from canada, it appears funny. for those in india, used to our politicans' shenanigans, these might not look so funny, but atleast consoling that politics is indeed the last resort of the scoundrel!!

Wisconsin's 'anti-union' hysteria - Yahoo! News



Wis. troopers sent to find Democrats, no one home - Yahoo! News
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri Kunjuppu Ji,

You have said ""a bill that would sent the employee unions home without bargaining power. (back to 1800s)"

Not exactly true. The bill proposes voting for the employees to join the Union (unlike now they are automatically enrolled and the dues deducted from their paychecks) and the Union gets certified by the government every year.

Average government employee pay as well as the retirement/medical benefits now exceeds their private companies counterparts.

Regards,
KRS
 
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K

kunjuppu

Well-known member
krs,

i agree with you. from canada, we find it funny, that while the usa sprouts the benefits of free enterprise, its government unions are strong only next to the erstwhile UAW.

i have read that in certain towns in california, the entire budget is spent on pensions. also double dipping takes places frequently ie the employee retires,and then immediately hired back as consultants with consultant blown up wages.

also some towns in alabama declaring bankruptcy to get rid themselves of pension obligations.

i could never understand the concept of 'filly buster'. on the whole it seems silly.

comparing on many fronts, i find the westminster type of democracy adopted by india, much better an alternative than either the usa presidential or the proportionate representations of european states.
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri Kunjuppu Ji,

Unions have become powerful because of the unholy nexus between them and the democratic party. Unions help elect democrats in states where they are prominent and in turn the state administration would readily accept the collective bargaining asking terms.

Fundamentally, I don't understand the cocept of government employees forming unions - by definition the government is for the welfare of people, right? Anyways, I think that the Republicans are using the fiscal issues in various states to try to break the backs of these unions.

On the type of government, I really think that the American system is very well thought out. The people of Wisconsin will be going to the state assembly polls next time, knowing that the democrats ran away. That's how the system works.

Regards,
KRS
 

Nara

Well-known member
....i could never understand the concept of 'filly buster'. on the whole it seems silly..
K, we all have strong POV on matters such as these. So, I am sure we will never be able to see eye to eye with KRS. So, I am not going to even attempt, at least for now as I am getting bogged down by too many things.

However, let me address just your comment about fillibuster and the American democracy.

Fillibuster, while more complex than this, it is in theory is about a senate rule that requires 60 votes out of 100 to end debate and go to an up or down vote. This is not in the constitution. The constitution gives the power for each newly constituted senate to make up their own rules on how to conduct their business. In the beginning there was no limit set on how long one can talk, everyone got a chance to make speeches, and after every senator had a chance to voice their opinion, they proceeded to a vote.

After a while, some smart senator figured out that he can keep on talking and avoid going to a vote. Then, to avoid this nonsense, the senate agreed that if 75% of the senate wanted to end debate, then that is it, no more talking. This went along for a while. It was during this time that if a person wanted to keep talking, he had to stand in the well and literally talk, like the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Then came another reform, the vote to end debate was scaled back to 60 votes, but in exchange for this reform, the senators agreed that they really don't have to literally talk, just the expression of intent is sufficient, the legislation will not be moved to a vote, unless 60 votes are found.

This time, in the 2011 congress, with democrats still in the majority in the senate, a few new senators wanted to further reform this system. New rules are normally voted in at the start of a new congress every two years and this requires only a simple majority. So, if the democrats are united, they could have changed the rules. But they are terrified of what will happen if they are in the minority and they no longer have the fillbuster to stop the Republicans. So, once again, there was no reform.

In this context, you must consider the difference between progressives and conservatives. The Republican conservatives are more interested in not doing anything, stop any changes that may be proposed. For this all they need is 40 votes. The progressives, on the other hand, are interested in making changes. For this they need 60 votes. In other words, for the progressives to succeed they need 60 votes. For the conservatives to succeed they need 40 votes. Thus, this system gives an undue advantage to the conservatives.

In any case, what we have here in the U.S. is neither democracy, nor representative government. The state legislations have the power to draw district boundaries in any way they want, and they draw it in all crazy ways to gain partisan advantage, thus circumventing true democracy. The Republicans have benefited from this.

Next is the 2 senators per state rule. So, a state like Wyoming with hardly half a million population gets two senators and a state like California with population exceeding 33 million gets 2 senators as well. This for the senate chamber with the fillibuster rule. A senator from a very small state can easily obstruct the will of senators representing 50 times the population. So much for representative government. Further, these smaller states tend to be more conservative than large states. This further inflates the power of the conservatives.

So, what we have is a miss mash, and we call it democracy, go figure.

Cheers!
 

Nara

Well-known member
.....wisconsin is a bi camerally run state, and the upper house members belonging to the democratic party are hiding themselves to delay a bill that would sent the employee unions home without bargaining power. (back to 1800s)
K, you may have read about it, Wisconsin Governer Scott Walker was punk'd by a prank caller posing as one of the billionaire Koch brothers. There are several things interesting/sad about this incidence, not the least of which is the ease with which the call went through to the Gov -- ironic that he was so eager to take the call of an outsider to discuss his state issue when at the same time raising the canard the protest is fueled by out of state interests.

But, what is most disturbing was the answer the Gov gave when "Koch" made the suggestion to send in trouble-makers into the ranks of the protesters and create a situation. Amazingly, the Gov answers back that he already thought about it, but thought any trouble would put more pressure on him to settle.

The very least he could have said was that he thought of it but did not want a law-and-order situation to develop. Of course, the right answer is that he didn't think of it, and, that would be a wrong thing to do. But, the duly elected governor of WI admits that he thought of sending goons in the midst of the peaceful protesters to create chaos, but decided against it only because any violence will force him to settle!

I wonder how widespread this sort of thing is, even among the highest levels of Republican political leadership and their billionaire paymasters.

Another funny thing is, Republicans are now saying elections have consequences and Scott Walker ran on this agenda and now he is implementing it. These same people were up in arms two years ago against Obama and the health care bill that was so watered down that it turned out to be a huge give away to the corporate paymasters of both Obama, and, their fully own subsidiary, US Congress. Where was the elections-have-consequences then? Obama won the election fair and square. He did run on a promise of heath-care legislation. So he had the mandate to do what he started to do, but ended up doing too little to for the ordinary folks and too much for the already rich.

Scott Walker on the other hand, ran on making huge budget cuts. He never said a word about curtailing union bargaining rights during the campaign. So, elections-have-consequences rhetoric holds only for making budget cuts, which the unions are ready to make, but not to bust the unions, he does not have a mandate for that.

This is an important moment in US politics. Like Tunisia inspiring Egypt and the domino starting to fall, what started in WI is now spreading. This has the potential to energize the left and that will only benefit Obama. We will know in 2 years time.

Cheers!
 
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K

kunjuppu

Well-known member
nara,

on the face of it, the behaviour of u.s. politicians is no better than their indian counterparts, whichever political spectrum they may belong. not that we can take any consolation from it, as indians.

obama, i liked, for the changes that he symbolized. from a northern viewpoint, at this time, we would prefer a republican to obama. bush may be corrupt or imbecile, but we knew how he would operate. obama appears to be vaccilating by the day and not sure how he will govern tomorrow.

also some of his petty talk about indians taking away american jobs sounds mean to me, and an anti indian bias. the u.s deliberately lost its industrial base, because they honestly believed that as a brain based innovator they could guarantee a great standard of living for their people.

but what they failed to take into account was that even for intellectual base, they need a steady cannon fodder of brains, which the u.s.a. stopped producing. they could have covered this deficit by an enlightened immigration policy.

instead, the u.s.a. continues to prefer to have relatives join their families, than encourage smart young people to seek out their fortunes. with the likes of obama, another dot.com revolution is not possible. companies of the likes of microsoft are hiring folks allover the world and assigning them to vancouver as it is impossble to get u.s. visas.

unfortunately the semi educated hill billy or black or chicano cannot fulfil the need of intel, google or microsoft. these are developing labs abroad, and once again giving away billion dollars worth of intellectual property for free, by training these foreigners, who will start companies competing with intel, google. the chinese know how to do it. hopefully the indians will learn too.

young folks ambitious and smart, in canada, do not have the avenue of usa anymore. of it is very difficult. so we all hope and wish for a republican victory. :)
 

KRS

Well-known member
As Professor Nara Ji has said, yes, we all have our POVs.

However three items I would like to comment on:

1. Knowing that different cultures existed in different States, the framers of the Constitution very wisely 'balanced' the population dependent representation in the lower house (Congress) with equal representation regardless of population in each State in the upper house (Senate). This goes along with the balancing the growth and its immediate demands with Congress with the long term outlook in the Senate. This is why the term in Congress is every 2 years, the President's term is every 4 years and the Senate's term is 6 years. We can quibble with some details like term limits etc., but overall this system is shown to work.

2. Republican majority Congress/Senate have enacted laws - may be not as prolific as the democratic Congress. This is probably because the former is for less government while the latter is for more government control.

3. The 'election has consequences' has both sides with both parties. It had a consequence when they passed the stimulus(?) package on strictly partisan lines, as well as one of the most major legislations in recent history with an unprecedented partisan votes again, while amending the Senate rules. Now that the republicans are using the same tactics, the other side is crying. Just an observation.

Regards,
KRS
 
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Nara

Well-known member
....1. Knowing that different cultures existed in different States, the framers of the Constitution very wisely 'balanced' the population dependent representation in the lower house (Congress) with equal representation regardless of population in each State in the upper house (Senate).
Dear Shri KRS, we have different POV about how wise this equal representation in senate is, and that is alright I think. But, I have to say, this provision of equal representation for the senate was most certainly not some wise decision sagely crafted by the founding fathers.

This was a very contentious issue. No lesser individuals than Jefferson and Madison were vehemently opposed to the equal representation plan, while the smaller states wanted equal representation for both houses. The disagreement almost derailed the constitutional convention.

Finally, a compromise was crafted, proportional representation for the lower house and equal representation for the senate. This compromise was favored by Franklin and opposed by Madison. Finally it passed narrowly.

If you think the provision is a wise one, I don't, it was not seen as wise by quite a big minority of the framers of the constitution.

Cheers!
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Professor Nara Ji,

Yes, I understand the history of this. But over time, in my opinion, this has proved to be a wise move (or may be providential?).

Otherwise the majority culture as represented by NY, California, Texas, Florida and the industrialized Mid-west would have ruled the roost at the expense of others (may be). At least now some States feel that sparse population or preserving their own unique culture would not come in the way of them in exerting political influence in Washington.

Also the likes of McGovern and Goldwater would not have emerged (for good or bad - take your pick). I can mention others, but won't.

Regards,
KRS
 

Nara

Well-known member
...2. Republican majority Congress/Senate have enacted laws - may be not as prolific as the democratic Congress. This is probably because the former is for less government while the latter is for more government control.
Shr KRS, Republicans have indeed passed some great laws. It was the much maligned, rightly so, Nixon go got EPA established. It was George H.W. Bush who got ADA (Americans with Disability Act) enacted. Our own favorite W also passed a great piece of progressive legislation, the Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, though (a) he just added it to the deficit, and, (b) he made sure it was a big tax-payer give away to pharmaceutical companies by disallowing Federal government from price negotiations.

The funny thing is, none of these Republican programs will pass today in Republican controlled house!

Cheers!
 

KRS

Well-known member
Yes, Professor Nara Ji,

This is politics. A person who does not know the history would be surprised in general to learn that the conservative republican party was the party of Lincoln, fighting for civil liberties, while the progressive democratic party of today was fighting for then conservative principles!

These things change over time, in my opinion based on each party's base. Things evolve as people evolve.

Regards,
KRS
 
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K

kunjuppu

Well-known member
to tell the truth, the u.s. is at cross roads, both externally and internally.

i think there are enough seers battling around with the ideas of how the u.s. self destruction would occur. would it be street fighting incited by the poor of all hues against a seemingly indifferent kafkaesque government that the feds have now come to be.

in any other country, with such large deficits, and such high sense of entitlement from the government, the currency would have been devalued long ago and that too several times. the only reason the u.s. dollar has not gone down in value is that along with it, it will drag down the savings of almost all the countries of this world, starting with china, japan, singapore, uae, india etc.

even if the obama budget is cut, the usa will have trillions in deficit. who is going to pay those in high value dollars?

west asia is unravelling into its historic animosities ie tribal - arab, kurd, turks & religion - shia, sunni. the 400 years of eurocentric world is enjoying its last breaths in the form of a usa, duelling in iraq, afghanistan and winning in none. it is only a matter of time, whether that be 2 years or 20 years, the usa will too depart, the same way it did in vietnam. because no single arab community likes the u.s.

what is happening in wisconsin today, is but a harbinger of what will happen in the rest of usa tomorrow?

north of the 49th parallel, we wait and watch.
 

Nara

Well-known member
Dear K, here we are on opposite sides, hope this will be rare and therefore, let us savor the moment of disagreement :).

The point on which I disagree most, I think, is this:
....such high sense of entitlement from the government..
I really don't understand what you mean by entitlement from the government. I am taking this to mean entitlements such as social security and medicare. If this is what you mean, then I have to tell you the facts are far from what you imply. These programs do have long term problems, some 30 years from the present. For the present, social security is racking up huge surpluses, year after year. The projected problems some 30 years from now can be easily solved, for both social security and medicare, by simply eliminating the regressive salary cap up to which these taxes are collected.

The rising national debt is a problem no doubt, but the sky is not going to fall, at least not yet. The national debt as a % of GDP is roughly 100% now in the U.S. Compare this with 204% estimated for 2011 for Japan, 130% for Italy, and, 99% and 94% for France and U.K., respectively.

Further, as a % of GDP, the U.S. debt was higher during 1940s than right now.

I am not saying everything is just dandy, all I am saying is, your fear of eminent collapse of U.S. with street by street fighting like Libya, is, to put it mildly, overblown.

I do agree that what is happening in Wisconsin represents a watershed moment. I am sure, well at least I hope, this will spread and will result in a backlash during the next election.

As a Canadian you might view this differently, but as an American, I think Obama's first priority is to his constituency. Any law abiding and hard working citizen of any country deserves a chance at middle-class life, and so it is in the U.S. as well. If this requires a little protectionism, then I support that.

One more problem that is uniquely U.S. is, it has done the heavy lifting for the rest of the western world in terms of security. The U.S. spends close to 700 billion dollars on defense per year. If it pulls back from being the world police and let Canada and other western nations to shoulder their fair share of this cost, the U.S. will be able to chip away its national debt in no time. I just don't understand why U.S. must continue to shoulder the security needs of western Europe and Israel. There is an unusual alliance between liberal progressives and tea-party conservatives developing that is keen on cutting the defense budget, and I think that is a good thing.

Anyway, I submit to you, the U.S. has been in worse shape in the past and somehow managed to come back strong. I think U.S. will do it again.

Cheers!
 
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K

kunjuppu

Well-known member
Dear K, here we are on opposite sides, hope this will be rare and therefore, let us savor the moment of disagreement :).

The point on which I disagree most, I think, is this:
I really don't understand what you mean by entitlement from the government. I am taking this to mean entitlements such as social security and medicare. If this is what you mean, then I have to tell you the facts are far from what you imply. These programs do have long term problems, some 30 years from the present. For the present, social security is racking up huge surpluses, year after year. The projected problems some 30 years from now can be easily solved, for both social security and medicare, by simply eliminating the regressive salary cap up to which these taxes are collected.

The rising national debt is a problem no doubt, but the sky is not going to fall, at least not yet. The national debt as a % of GDP is roughly 100% now in the U.S. Compare this with 204% estimated for 2011 for Japan, 130% for Italy, and, 99% and 94% for France and U.K., respectively.

Further, as a % of GDP, the U.S. debt was higher during 1940s than right now.

I am not saying everything is just dandy, all I am saying is, your fear of eminent collapse of U.S. with street by street fighting like Libya, is, to put it mildly, overblown.

I do agree that what is happening in Wisconsin represents a watershed moment. I am sure, well at least I hope, this will spread and will result in a backlash during the next election.

As a Canadian you might view this differently, but as an American, I think Obama's first priority is to his constituency. Any law abiding and hard working citizen of any country deserves a chance at middle-class life, and so it is in the U.S. as well. If this requires a little protectionism, then I support that.

One more problem that is uniquely U.S. is, it has done the heavy lifting for the rest of the western world in terms of security. The U.S. spends close to 700 billion dollars on defense per year. If it pulls back from being the world police and let Canada and other western nations to shoulder their fair share of this cost, the U.S. will be able to chip away its national debt in no time. I just don't understand why U.S. must continue to shoulder the security needs of western Europe and Israel. There is an unusual alliance between liberal progressives and tea-party conservatives developing that is keen on cutting the defense budget, and I think that is a good thing.

Anyway, I submit to you, the U.S. has been in worse shape in the past and somehow managed to come back strong. I think U.S. will do it again.

Cheers!

ooooooooooooooo, i rub my hands with glee to answer this.

first of all, i disagree. we are NOT on opposite sides. just different spectrums of the same side, and will ensure that we do not do a same side goal. ok?

entitlement. let me qualify it by first agreeing that every citizen in modern western world, has a right to expect the basics - food, clothing, shelter and health care - to bridge the gap so that minimum acceptance level is achieved.

how it is managed is a different thing. i find fault with u.s.a. for botching the entire management of these entitlements. in this context, as even obama has pointed out several times, the usa cannot afford the medicare, medicaid and what not.

we, from north of the border, are amazed at not only the ignorance but also the antagonism of the americans, towards a well managed social health care. it is good in europe. in japan. in singapore. oz and kiwi. all are not of the same flavour, but they all ensure that their citizens are well taken care of for good health. i am talking of management and not the concept.

the debt. it is common sense, to live within your means. why would a country so rich, borrow so much? does not make sense. all that has resulted, is more of a throw away society - nobody fixes fridge, microwaves, TVs, PCs, ipads, ipods and any other home gadget. just go buy another one, because you have closed all your factories and buy cheap from the chinese.

security: dear friend, i could understand KRS spouting this reason. what did the USA gain by throwing its weight all over the world. has it not learned from the last great empire, ie the british, that maintaining a huge armed force presence, is but a drain on the exchequer? the british built the empire, but it was the germans and the japanese who built the industries in the late 19th and early 20th century. if the GIs had gone home after WW 2, do you think the world would have been much different? maybe the soviets would have expanded a few more countries, but would have imploded far sooner. i think so.

borders: i cannot believe the usa did not deliberate let the borders open. the vast majority of americans needed the cheap latino labour. i cannot believe that the usa cannot think of ways to close and protect their citizenry from unwanted invasion. except this was not unwanted. everyone wanted cheap house cleaning, gardening and construction labour. all this happened only after WW2 when inflow of cheap european labour declined. till then the usa southern border was as tight as that of a nun in a church. :)

greetings.

ps.. i do not recall a situation where the usa has been in worse state than this. please clarify. thanku.
 

Nara

Well-known member
....as even obama has pointed out several times, the usa cannot afford the medicare, medicaid and what not.
K, if what you mean by this is that we need a single-payer system that takes the totally inefficient and totally dedicated to private profit and nothing else insurance companies, then I agree. What we need is a single payer system that guarantees an acceptable level of heath-care for all, irrespective of how fat his/her bank account is.

the debt. it is common sense, to live within your means. why would a country so rich, borrow so much?
Well, if we are to lift the load of the entire western world, with a significant political force that is intent on transferring wealth to the already rich from the all the rest, then, the inevitable result is going to be ballooning debt. But, the assets of U.S. account for several multiples of the debt owed. So, however insane the present insanity may be, U.S. is not, as of yet, in the brink of economic implosion. The entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and kicking and will come through. After all, the source of the entirety of the present day engine of economic progress is USA. This is more true for India than any other country.

security: dear friend, i could understand KRS spouting this reason. what did the USA gain by throwing its weight all over the world. has it not learned from the last great empire,
Yes, this is a kind of trap into which USA willingly walked into. The U.S. so drunk with the power of power, that it has not cared to look at the cost it has extracted from the ordinary people of the U.S. This is where the unusual alliance between the likes of conservatives like Ron Paul and liberal progressives like Kucinich, if successful, can extricate US from throwing its weight, and billions over billions of dollars around. This, by itself, will pay down all the debt U.S. owes the Chinese. Why must the U.S. be the policeman of the world. Let the Canadians and the British and Germans, not to mention French, pay for their own security.


borders: i cannot believe the usa did not deliberate let the borders open. the vast majority of americans needed the cheap latino labour.
Yes, I think the immigration policy of the U.S. is a disgrace. At one time, the Americans were illegal aliens in Texas. Now, the same Americans want to label the Johnny come lately as illegal. But, having said that, I think at the present time, the primary cause belli of the political class is to look after the welfare of its own citizens. This means, a person with high school education, and the required training, perhaps offered through technical institutes, and is ready to work hard, must be able to enjoy a middle-class life. Obama's economic policy must put this imperative paramount. As a proud union member I expect nothing less, very likely naively, from Obama.

ps.. i do not recall a situation where the usa has been in worse state than this. please clarify.
During the 1940s the US debt soared much above the present day as a percentage of GDP.

Cheers!
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri Kunjuppu Ji,

If healthcare is so fantastic in the countries you describe, including yours, why people who can afford it from these countries always come here as a final resort?

The answer to your question why Americans do not like a health care system patterned after any other country - rationing.

By the way, the poor in this country, even without health insurance, if they are not covered by Medicare, can go to any hospital, and these hospitals are, by law have to provide them with care.

There are only two issues here: 1)Pre existing conditions not covered and 2) No safeguard to cover catastrophic illness. These are easy to solve without a great inefficient govt. controlled health care.

Just my 2 cents.

Regards,
KRS
 

tbs

Well-known member
hi kunjuppu sir,
we never follow westminster....we r separate from others....may be funny for others.....we never play cricket,,,,we play NFL with hands,,

we call it football...but we play with hands......we test every thing in a new way.....but our system still works....

just 2 cents....

regards
tbs
 
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kunjuppu

Well-known member
ha ha, KRS's reply re health care was expected. both differ to agree. i cannot convince him, and neither he me.

nara, your last para re your us' debt in the 1940s. that was to pay for the WW2. it was a war economy, which the u.s. was winning, and poised to take over the world after 1945. how the u.s. took over europe in the 50s can be best described by 'the american challenge' by jean jacques servan schreiber. the u.s. bought europe with european money. great book.

now the situation is different. barring civil aviation and agriculture, the u.s. has no supremacy in any area. even in genetics, south korea and singapore are surging ahead, thanks to dubya. the only option that i can think of for the u.s. is to print more dollar bills. the u.s. did it once before, during lyndon johnson time. if not obama, it will be his successor. mark my words. kunjuppu said it here. first. :)
 

Nara

Well-known member
....nara, your last para re your us' debt in the 1940s. that was to pay for the WW2. it was a war economy, which the u.s. was winning, and poised to take over the world after 1945.
K, the ballooning US debt is not good, no doubt. But it is not an insurmountable problem, at least not yet. Pulling back from running the world, cutting back on military spending, making the super rich pay their fair share of taxes -- say the same share as they were paying during Reagan time -- and this country will bounce back. It is not going to happen now, things will have to get lot worse, before the politicians will allow any real solutions to problems. This is why I have no illusions about Obama, he is nothing but a Wall Street lacky and boss of national security state.

Cheers!
 
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