5 Bills Before Congress You Should Know About

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As citizens, we should be aware of all bills in the “House Bill Hopper.”  It’s really not that difficult; in fact, it takes but a few minutes to do so in order to form our own views.

Well, it shouldn’t be difficult, but many people still rely on cable news outlets — colloquially known as the mainstream media — to stay informed of current events. Unfortunately, these news sources rarely report on important pieces of legislation unless there is controversy.

Here are 5 bills currently being considered by the House that you probably have never heard of:

Regardless of whether one feels the government needs to reduce spending or increase revenue, the federal government is bleeding from the jugular and steps need to be taken to stop that bleeding.

One of the least visible, least publicized, and least addressed problems in the revenue-collecting half of this equation is corporate welfare. This includes government subsidies, wage policies keeping individuals below poverty levels thereby forcing employees to seek government subsidies, prejudicial government contracting, etc.

Another very lucrative form of corporate welfare is Corporate Inversion, a method employed by many corporations which conduct international business. This tactic is perfectly “legal” as long as those corporations don’t misrepresent their tax information — or do so illegally.

The process is relatively simple. A U.S. corporation either sells to a foreign corporation, often shell corporations, or simply reincorporates in countries with less stringent corporate laws and lower tax burdens, such as Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Panama, etc.

This bill will change the rules for corporations and subsequent tax requirements as they relate to percentage of ownership, changing the foreign/US ownership ratio from 80/20 percent to 60/40 percent. It will deem any corporation as inverted if its initial incorporation was domestic, thereby increasing revenue for the federal government and reducing the burden on individuals.

 

While federal law prohibits possession of firearms by those who have been adjudicated as mentally unstable or by any person involuntarily institutionalized, there are currently no federal laws and few state laws requiring states to report any person deemed by a medical or mental health practitioner as unstable, thereby preventing them from owning firearms.

In light of the epidemic of deaths resulting from firearms that continues to plague the U.S., this bill will incentivize states to develop a seriously needed system in which mental health professionals will be prompted to file reports with state governments that potentially could have a very positive impact on this tenacious epidemic.

While certainly no panacea, such a measure may reduce firearm-related deaths, particularly now that the Affordable Health Care Act provides more access to mental health facilities and/or practitioners.

 

In 2002, an open letter to the The Guardian denouncing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the subsequently proposed boycott of Israel’s academia rapidly ignited tensions and a heated debate among universities and scholars on both sides of the issue. The debate heated to stellar intensity when Stephen Hawking joined the boycott and remains very contentious.

The bill, introduced in February 2014, seeks to eliminate financial funding for educational institutions that back the movement. The boycott, ensuing debates, and now the federal government’s involvement raises some very serious questions with very deep implications.

Does the bill violate the First Amendment right to free speech? Do educational institutions harbor hypocritical values in siding against Israel, while other regimes are even more openly hostile to education? And at what point does the federal government determine what institution does not qualify for funding?

This is a bill that deserves, indeed requires, profound debate. On the surface, it seems easy to pick-a-side. However, given its implications, I am willing to wager that this issue will find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, regardless of its passage or defeat.

 

Fuel cell technology is no longer some futuristic dream; it is here now, and with dwindling supplies of oil and growing concerns over pollution, the technology and associated industry is here to stay.

A promising source of alternative energy with emissions producing nothing but water, fuel cell cars are rolling out to the public in California this month. H.R. 4733 is certainly behind the curve with cars already on the streets, but it is pushing to develop what is now a badly needed infrastructure to support the growing industry.

 

Another welfare reform measure. As with all others, H.R. 4731 calls for substantial changes in provisions of the $534 billion social program, including work requirements, means-tested spending and what seems to be an overabundance of verbiage related to abortion.

The bill has twelve cosponsors representing ten states and while welfare programs in the U.S. certainly could use some “tweeking,” one may question the wisdom of relying so heavily on abortion language rather than a more practical application of its language related to work requirements.

Even in the heavily GOP states represented in the bill, perhaps antagonizing pro-choice representatives and their constituents seems a bit presumptuous and may be asking for defeat.

Photo Credit: AP

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  1. QuintonDouglassCrawford #3 and #5 are a bunch of Bull-sh-t act proposals. For one, if a Universities student body has some student organized program that happens to oppose something about a foreign nation like Israel, that should not be punishable. Especially in the United States of America.  As for #5, that issue should be left to the states and regions in general. The financial stability and other factors that lead to welfare needs are different everywhere. Whether people are disabled, in a hostel, live in a trailer park, a ghetto, a farm, barrio, or without there own shelter, they get there for different reasons and a majority are trying to get out of the situation. Many times the only problem is a lack of viable opportunities for self-sustenance or family stability. They few that are a problem are all some seem to focus on. Probably because they were never on a situation of relying on help for any amount of time to understand.
  2. Clara All this subject need to bring up to debate as we the American people want to know more
  3. authorsue HR4679 Stop Corporate Inversion. Possibly. It sounds good in brief summary, but that's not always the case. Depends on the amount of 'pork' that's been added. Unlike Congress, I want to 'read' the entire bill before I make a decision. HR4784 Mental Health Evaluations Before Buying A Gun. No. This is just another attempt at gun control. Only the 'good' guys would follow the rules, like with gun registration. The 'bad' guys would simply do what they've always done--steal the guns. All this bill does is cost the taxpayer more money for unnecessary BS. Stop trying to control our 2nd Amendment Rights. And there is no 'tenacious epidemic' of death by firearms. The media has just been publishing more stories about them. Check the real statistics. HR4776 Prohibit Boycotts. No. Stifling our speech (in any manner) is a violation of our 1st Amendment Rights. Leave our Constitutional Rights alone. HR4733 Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Infrastructure. Not Convinced. Another one that sounds good, but it doesn't ring entirely true. 'Dwindling supplies of oil”? The last I heard we had a major pipeline that was being held up by Obama, and a new abundant oil supply that was just located. Sounds like someone is pushing for this new industry. Someone who owns most of it? Then there's pollution. Our government has crammed expensive anti-pollution devices down our throats for the last thirty years. Now they're telling us they're not working? Sounds almost too convenient to me. HR4731 Welfare Reform No. Work for pay is a great idea for welfare. Even if it means welfare mothers babysit other welfare mothers while they work. Once they realize there's no longer a free ride, they'll go to work at a job they like. But, when the 'bill writers' added an overabundance of questionable language about abortion, they blew it out of the water. They should have stayed focused on work for welfare.
  4. Roger Ford I would like to see tax laws improved so that corporations do not have the chance to void supporting the country that provides them the base or their operations -- The USA.  Also, it seems only sensible that individuals unable to perceive reality should be unable to buy firearms.  In my state, one must pass a driver's test with a state trooper sitting in the car beside one before one can buy a car; it sounds like a good model for gun ownership.
  5. jbennettatty I half agree. The best way to stop corporate inversions is to replace our outdated tax code that is complex, inefficient, a killer of economic growth, and unfair. Our tax code punishes thrift, effort and productivity. There is a replacement: the FairTax(R), HR25, S122. With the FairTax(R) inversions will be replaced by "ex-versions" of foreign corporations into the United States to the tune of over $1 Trillion. For more information, go to http://www.fairtax.org/. ~Jim Bennett Summit, NJ
  6. jbennettatty The best way to stop corporate inversions is to replace our outdated tax code that is complex, inefficient, a killer of economic growth, and unfair. Our tax code punishes thrift, effort and productivity. There is a replacement: the FairTax(R), HR25, S122. With the FairTax(R) inversions will be replaced by "ex-versions" of foreign corporations into the United States to the tune of over $1 Trillion. For more information, go to http://www.fairtax.org. ~Jim Bennett Summit, NJ
  7. guestx4x bobconner  Oh yeah, I forgot about the sticking around thing. To test things in the real world, I am looking for critiques of my opinions, perceptions of reality and/or logic.  IVN is an good place for that so I will probably hang here for a while at least.  I have been doing my comment thing at a few conservative blogs for a few months and will continue for while with the right. I still need to find a liberal blog or two where I can do some mud wrestling with the left. Once my take on politics has been blasted in the heat of retail politics long enough to be properly cooked, maybe a book will come out of it - unless of course it doesn't get scorched to death. Starting a book assumes that what I am considering isn't too full of holes and/or the whole idea of non-ideological pragmatism is just plain silly. I don't think so, but that's my ideology (bias) and we all know what a nasty beast that little stinker is. Guess politics blogs are my focus groups and this one is as good as any and better than most. Who knows, maybe what I am contemplating has already been done. Better do some research on that. Off to the interwebs for some searching.
  8. guestx4x bobconner  Thanks for your comments.  As time goes on, applying the Razor, if that's what doing non-ideological pragmatism amounts to, gets easier. Like everything most else in politics, it is learned and it takes time. Since I am so far outside the two-party box, i.e., hard core anti-two-party system, I use the links to at least partially support at least some of the perceptions of reality and logic I rely on. Otherwise, the content could easily sound like hate (emotion)-filled rant and/or wing nut conspiracy theory with little or no substance. It also helps to keep facts straight.  I have biases (ideology) just like everyone else and looking at info sources helps keep the corrosive effects in check. Biases are powerful. Biases can and do make facts change over time, i.e., perceptions of facts change while the facts do not change. Unfortunately, that power works mostly subconsciously.
  9. bobconner guestx4x bobconner Love the links x4x, thanks - a little application of Occam's Razor can be a difficult thing to do at times; can't it? :-) BTW - I see your here as "guestx4x."  I sincerely hope that doesn't imply a temporary status in your visits here.  Your comments are excellent reads and offer much to contemplate.  Stick around.
  10. guestx4x bobconner  I think that much or most of the answer to your question lies in the perceptions of reality and interests that Mr. Specht expresses in other comments on your post here.  People may think I am redundant to the point of lunacy, but there is a reason I rarely stray from harping on (1) the corrosive influence of ideology, political self-interest and special interest money and (2) how policy choices affect the public interest. I see a combination of all three of those Horsemen of the political Apocalypse in essentially every contested issues in politics. Our policy toward Israel is no exception. Our energy policy, military policy, and essentially everything else is the same - some combination of those three toxic factors constitute the dominant influence behind the policy, while consideration of impacts on the public interest is an afterthought, if it is considered at all (usually it isn't). If you look at politics through that lens, much of what is inexplicable becomes somewhat understandable, even if the details remain unknown, which is the usual case. At the same time, detached, unbiased logic usually says the whole thing is nuts. Scientific evidence of the power of ideology to distort both reality and logic is overwhelming ( http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7959.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow ). I cannot emphasize that point enough. I see it in the conservative blogs where ideology simply crushes reality and logic time and again ( http://dailysignal.com/2014/06/06/surprise-government-now-cant-even-guess-much-obamacare-ultimately-will-ultimately-cost/  - see the article and the comments). Against that corrosive backdrop, people with political self-interested and/or special interest agendas have a far easier time getting what they want because the public's focus tends to say on the ideological conflicts, not the underlying reality about what is happening or why. See why I keep pushing non-ideological pragmatism focused on service to the public interest? It won't be perfect or make differences of opinion go away, but I bet it would make politics a whole lot more rational and more economically efficient than what we have now. IMHO, that would serve the public interest far better than the morass of nonsense and blither we suffer with under the two-party system we have now.
56 comments
QuintonDouglassCrawford
QuintonDouglassCrawford

#3 and #5 are a bunch of Bull-sh-t act proposals. For one, if a Universities student body has some student organized program that happens to oppose something about a foreign nation like Israel, that should not be punishable. Especially in the United States of America.  As for #5, that issue should be left to the states and regions in general. The financial stability and other factors that lead to welfare needs are different everywhere. Whether people are disabled, in a hostel, live in a trailer park, a ghetto, a farm, barrio, or without there own shelter, they get there for different reasons and a majority are trying to get out of the situation. Many times the only problem is a lack of viable opportunities for self-sustenance or family stability. They few that are a problem are all some seem to focus on. Probably because they were never on a situation of relying on help for any amount of time to understand.

Clara
Clara

All this subject need to bring up to debate as we the American people want to know more

authorsue
authorsue

HR4679 Stop Corporate Inversion. Possibly. It sounds good in brief summary, but that's not always the case. Depends on the amount of 'pork' that's been added. Unlike Congress, I want to 'read' the entire bill before I make a decision.


HR4784 Mental Health Evaluations Before Buying A Gun. No. This is just another attempt at gun control. Only the 'good' guys would follow the rules, like with gun registration. The 'bad' guys would simply do what they've always done--steal the guns. All this bill does is cost the taxpayer more money for unnecessary BS. Stop trying to control our 2nd Amendment Rights. And there is no 'tenacious epidemic' of death by firearms. The media has just been publishing more stories about them. Check the real statistics.


HR4776 Prohibit Boycotts. No. Stifling our speech (in any manner) is a violation of our 1st Amendment Rights. Leave our Constitutional Rights alone.


HR4733 Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Infrastructure. Not Convinced. Another one that sounds good, but it doesn't ring entirely true. 'Dwindling supplies of oil”? The last I heard we had a major pipeline that was being held up by Obama, and a new abundant oil supply that was just located. Sounds like someone is pushing for this new industry. Someone who owns most of it? Then there's pollution. Our government has crammed expensive anti-pollution devices down our throats for the last thirty years. Now they're telling us they're not working? Sounds almost too convenient to me.


HR4731 Welfare Reform No. Work for pay is a great idea for welfare. Even if it means welfare mothers babysit other welfare mothers while they work. Once they realize there's no longer a free ride, they'll go to work at a job they like. But, when the 'bill writers' added an overabundance of questionable language about abortion, they blew it out of the water. They should have stayed focused on work for welfare.


Roger Ford
Roger Ford

I would like to see tax laws improved so that corporations do not have the chance to void supporting the country that provides them the base or their operations -- The USA.  Also, it seems only sensible that individuals unable to perceive reality should be unable to buy firearms.  In my state, one must pass a driver's test with a state trooper sitting in the car beside one before one can buy a car; it sounds like a good model for gun ownership.


jbennettatty
jbennettatty

The best way to stop corporate inversions is to replace our outdated tax code that is complex, inefficient, a killer of economic growth, and unfair. Our tax code punishes thrift, effort and productivity.

There is a replacement: the FairTax(R), HR25, S122. With the FairTax(R) inversions will be replaced by "ex-versions" of foreign corporations into the United States to the tune of over $1 Trillion.

For more information, go to www.fairtax.org.

~Jim Bennett

Summit, NJ

Allen Storey
Allen Storey

Electric gas phone cable you know all the usual for us common folk.

Gary Olson
Gary Olson

Read and Learn to know what will affect your life. 1. H.R.4679: Stop the Corporate Inversions Act of 2014. This is about corporate welfare. 2. H.R.4784: To incentivize State reporting systems that allow mental health professionals to submit information on certain individuals deemed dangerous for purposes of prohibiting firearm possession... This is about tightening gun access by those mentally dangerous. 3. H.R.4776: To prohibit an institution of higher education that participates in a boycott of the Israeli government, economy, or academia from receiving funds from the U.S. federal government. 4. H.R.4733: Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Infrastructure Act of 2014. 5. H.R.4731: Welfare Reform Act of 2014.

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

Bob,

Thanks for highlighting  these bills. #3 does not surprise me. It confirms the erosion of the first amendment or the preferred interpretation "...only if you agree with me." I know of no veteran who disagrees with the saying "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it." This bill is an insult to all who have served and says a lot about those who sponsor and support it.

guestx4x
guestx4x

No doubt about it, the mainstream press does a lousy job. Its work deserves a D or F. That's because its job is, for the most part, spin and infotainment not unbiased news. 

The situation with Israel has always baffled me and the pending bill in congress raises the issue yet again. Israel never made sense to me. It still doesn't make sense. Over the years, when raising the question of what, exactly (no spin, no smoke, no mirrors), are our critical national security and/or economic interests in Israel, only three answers have ever come back: (1) usually, no answer at all, (2) Israel is a democracy and an ally or (3) occasionally, you are an anti-Semite or something worse.

Considering how very little consensus there is on all issues of national importance, and our policy toward Israel is very important, there is almost no differences between the two parties in their rock-solid support for Israel. Israel is the only issue I can think of where there is this kind of broad, deep, decades-long bipartisan support.

To put the question into context, (i) Israel is small (same size as New Jersey) and about half of that is uninhabitable desert, (ii) Israel has a small population (about 8 million), (iii) is not among the top 15 U.S. trade partners (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_trading_partners_of_the_United_States), (iv) has not been and still is not in a position to provide large amounts energy or other critical goods or raw materials to the U.S., the EU or any other U.S. ally and (v) is by far the largest recipient of U.S. aid of any country with aid amounting to about $120 billion since 1949 ( http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/U.S._Assistance_to_Israel1.html ; http://www.wrmea.org/digital-issue/494-congress-a-us-aid-to-israel/9748-u-s-financial-aid-to-israel-figures-facts-and-impact.html ).

In return for whatever we did or do get from Israel, the U.S. has paid dearly: 

(1) U.S. support for Israel was a key reason for Bin Ladn's 9/11 attacks on the U.S. ( http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/nov/24/theobserver [e.g., see1(a) and 3(a), (b), (c) and (e) in Bin Ladn's letter] ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motives_for_the_September_11_attacks ; http://mepc.org/articles-commentary/speeches/us-arab-relations-forks-way-forward?print ) and we continue to bleed tens billions per year in repercussions that resonate to this day, e.g., direct Iraq and Afghan war costs and veteran health care costs ( http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-wars-in-afghanistan-iraq-to-cost-6-trillion/5350789 ; http://costsofwar.org/article/caring-us-veterans ),  and

(2) our support for Israel has been a factor in generating hate and/or distrust toward the U.S. among millions of Muslims worldwide and that represents a national security threat (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/muslims/themes/west.html - search the word "Israel" ; http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/06/27/pakistani-public-opinion-ever-more-critical-of-u-s/ ). 

Given the high cost to the U.S. for its support, it is fair and reasonable to ask what our critical national security or economic interest is or is there one at all? What, exactly do we get in return? Why would congress even think of a bill like HR 4776 when far bigger issues go unresolved year after year after year? There is so much about Israel that is simply inexplicable - it isn't just money flowing into the two-party system and corrupting it. There's more to this than just money and lobbyists ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_lobby_in_the_United_States ). 

The answers here are far too elusive and there is at least some evidence that honest, neutral discourse about Israel is discouraged in the U.S. (http://mepc.org/articles-commentary/speeches/us-arab-relations-forks-way-forward?print - search the phrase "Any public reference"). If there was an obvious critical interest for the U.S. here, that would probably go a long way toward explaining the inexplicable.

Sean Porbin
Sean Porbin

1. H.R.4679: Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014: Since when is "welfare" allowing us to keep what we EARNED? I thought welfare is what they give us. Now Welfare is when they take away less? Really? Meanwhile the OECD is clobbering corporations with GLOBAL Taxation. Bottom line... Corporations don't pay Corporate Taxes. YOU DO at the cash register. Fail.

Kerry Deaton
Kerry Deaton

I'm just waiting on more bills that will repeal more asinine, unconstitutional laws.

Bill Crotty
Bill Crotty

Great idea for an article (10/10), but poorly executed due to poor citations (6/10) and bias comments (5/10) in already highly polarized topics.

Timothy Francis
Timothy Francis

HR 4776 will hurt many Left Wing institutions that hate Israel.

Matt Metsack
Matt Metsack

The ones I gotta pay ( bills) and the ones that go away( my cash)

Pete Walsh
Pete Walsh

Phone, cable, electricity and gas

RayHammond
RayHammond

That mental health bill sounds a little too Nazi like to me. What gives any one, professional or not the right to stand in judgment of others and control their lives on word alone? Nazi Germany encouraged Professionals as well as neighbors to turn one another in and this is scary to me.

David Cohen
David Cohen

I find it funny how often these anti-semetic whackos are afraid to post a picture on their Facebook page. These idiots gravitate to long disproven conspiracy propaganda straight from Mein Kampf. Pitiful trolls.

Bubby Bass
Bubby Bass

Martin Mcdowell, obviously not much point in describing the color red to the willfully blind. A man I read often once said; "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Bubby Bass
Bubby Bass

Cell bills are absurd; aren't they?

Bubby Bass
Bubby Bass

Especially good idea. Imagine what we could do for our economy and environment just by cultivating hemp alone. Considering the fact the THC level in hemp is utterly useless, the laws governing cultivation of the plant are purely corporate protectionist laws.

Martin Mcdowell
Martin Mcdowell

Bubbly Bass ,, You sir, should do your research , Who owns the Federal Reserve ?? ( google ) is a great tool , Ignorance is a choice in this age of information , sir

Johnny Ritchie
Johnny Ritchie

The article would not let me open it. Hope 2 of the 5 is a Jobs Blll and a Bill for raising the minimum wage, to limit the working welfare.

Valerie Dowden
Valerie Dowden

Immigration, the 1rst and 2nd amendments, and the EPA regulations. I thought Congress was supposed to make the laws.

bobconner
bobconner

@davidfordhere What you're pointing out is an interesting paradox in the world of gun rights activism.

Activists cry foul when those who want more stringent firearms laws; "the nation should pursue legislation to deal with mental health issues rather than erroneously restricting firearms to reduce firearms deaths."  

As people focus on legislation to deal with mental health issues to reduce firearms deaths, foul is called again; "this is disarmament by using health care to deny access to firearms."

The curious thing about "rights" is; they were never intended to be and can never be, unrestricted, all inclusive.  It's literally impossible to do so; for one person's "rights" may and often do, tread upon another person's "rights."  We see it taking place almost daily in the news.

Some will say my rights to own firearms trump your rights to live free from fear and vice-versa

jbennettatty
jbennettatty

I half agree.

The best way to stop corporate inversions is to replace our outdated tax code that is complex, inefficient, a killer of economic growth, and unfair. Our tax code punishes thrift, effort and productivity.

There is a replacement: the FairTax(R), HR25, S122. With the FairTax(R) inversions will be replaced by "ex-versions" of foreign corporations into the United States to the tune of over $1 Trillion.

For more information, go to www.fairtax.org.

~Jim Bennett

Summit, NJ

guestx4x
guestx4x

@DougGoodman 

You raise a very good point. Although a democrat introduced the bill, H.R. 4776 originates in the pro-free speech republican-controlled House (http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4776). Republicans are the ones siding with supreme court decisions that enshrine the "spending money is free speech" concept in cases such as Citizens United, Bennett (http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/arizona-free-enterprise-clubs-freedom-club-pac-v-bennett/) and McCutcheon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCutcheon_v._Federal_Election_Commission ; http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mccutcheon-v-fec-expanding-the-concept-of-free-speech/2014/04/08/61d50720-be80-11e3-9ee7-02c1e10a03f0_story.html). In essence, republicans hate most or all restraints on free speech.

If passed into law, H.R. 4776 would restrain free speech if one believes that a boycott of Israeli government, economy, or academia is an expression of free speech. There is at least some popular sentiment that a boycott is an expression of free speech ( http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/08/02/chick_fil_a_and_free_speech_boycotts_are_not_a_threat_to_the_first_amendment.html). 

And, there is even some legal precedent that a boycott, of Israeli foods of all things, is a protected expression of free speech (http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/judge-tosses-lawsuit-against-food-co-op-over-boycott).

The question is simple: Will the bill pass the House or not? If it does, that is evidence of the power of pro-Israel influence in American politics because its passage would impair free speech. If that bill is ever signed into law, it would be completely inexplicable.

bobconner
bobconner

@guestx4x  Some very salient points here x4x.  Oh how I have pondered them in the same manner.

Is it some strange family dynamic in which brothers and sisters detest one another, yet defend one another against outside influence?

An endless barrage of questions enter my mind when I begin pondering the subject, beginning with the very creation of the State of Israel; why? Why so much effort in singling out one particular religious faction for undying support over all others?  Why so much unyielding support for this ally when we have "familial tiffs" with virtually all others?

Conspiracy theories on a massive scale are nothing more than pure paranoia (or perhaps hysteria), but; did the US government begin this unbridled support out of guilt resulting from the initial inattention to the Holocaust?  Was the US government somehow involved in it indirectly?  Nothing in history prior to WWII seems to support any similar behavior. Is it somehow connected to the fact that England has historical ties to Germany?

I don't know and entertaining the questions for too long makes me feel that I've been reading far too many conspiracy theorist rants.

Make no mistake, I love reading about and meeting the Israeli people.  But I also love reading about and meeting Palestinians, Iranians, Australians, Chileans, Mexicans, Canadians, etc...

I can think of no time, in the over six decades of my life, in which I encountered an individual from another country that I didn't find the encounter utterly charming, intriguing, enlightening.

But, just as in the US, the government of Israel does not seem to reflect the majority of the voices of the people of Israel.

And, we also know that the politics of our respective countries rarely represent humanity on a personal level, rather some grotesquely distorted sense of national self-interest which views humanity as a byproduct of government rather than the reality of the reverse.

I would dare say that, even the very act of submitting such a bill limiting what anyone can say about the policies of, or behavior of, ANY state government in no way reflects the majority of the voices of Americans.

And, in fact, I’d say most view such an effort as an affront to the very notion of freedom of speech.

Peter Specht
Peter Specht

@guestx4x I think what we get in return is telling the world that no, you aren't going to eradicate them because they aren't like you. Someone is going to stand up against that and it happens to be us. Sometimes its worth paying a little for what is right. Funny thing is, i'm not for us being the world police. But when everyone teams up on  that country, we should step in front.....because we can.



bobconner
bobconner

@RayHammond I can see the point Ray, but they are professionals who are trained to do precisely that after all. 

We have no problem with an MD telling us we need to go to the hospital to be treated for pneumonia, so I'm not quite sure allowing mental health professionals to do their work would result in anything less than a professional result too; most are PhD's making them as qualified in their field as an MD is in theirs.

Certainly the ideology Nazi Germany was caught up in during the early 20th Century was/is an issue to be concerned about, but we are free to choose our mental health professionals just as we are the MD's and until that isn't the case, we're a ways from the fascist regime of the Nazis.

bobconner
bobconner

@guestx4x @DougGoodman indeed Doug; it's an insult to anyone with half a brain and I find myself wondering; why are these "leaders" even attempting to attack a fundamental aspect of any free nation, when there are some truly serious issues in need of resolution?


bobconner
bobconner

@Peter Specht @guestx4x Stepping up to the task may indeed be important in the world neighborhood and I would have no problem in doing so if the world contributed equally.

But, I wonder; if we're going to take this task on, should we not dispense the "justice" equally in all scenarios?

We didn't do too well in that role for a very, very long list of others, including Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Darfur, Sudan, and many right here in our own backyard such as Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc..

There seems more to it than simply policing the world, for far too many other policing "opportunities" seem to be pretty much ignored.

guestx4x
guestx4x

@Peter Specht 

Peter, 

Thank you. Your response is, so far, the best I have heard in terms of real substance. No one else articulates your response, particularly no one in U.S. government that I am aware of. Obviously, I am not aware of everything. Also, I am not a Middle East expert/historian, so that is another shortcoming. My question comes from common sense, nothing else.

I have raised this same inquiry 40-50 times over the years at 40-50 different places, including Israeli politics blogs. I have never before heard this take on the rationale that you express. As I said, the overwhelming response to the inquiry is no response and occasionally the marginally relevant comment that Israel is a democracy and/or ally. 

Maybe you are right. Maybe your conception constitutes the core of U.S. foreign policy rationale. It would be nice if the federal government would express that to the American public since they are the ones paying the bills and bleeding for our cause. IMHO, the public deserves at least that courtesy.

Anyway, if you are right then what are the ramifications if one thinks it through? 

One question is whether we pay a little, as you see it, or a whole lot more, as I see it. Everyone needs to answer that on their own terms. My guess is that (1) most Israel supporters will see U.S. sacrifices and exposure to danger as "a little" or something similar, e.g., modest, and (2) most other Americans have not considered the question because it is not routinely raised in mainstream political discourse (as far as I know).

The full ramifications of the 9/11 attacks have not been raised in the mainstream media. Those ramifications are huge and not usually obvious. Here is one take on the costs. After the 9/11 attacks a huge shift in resources redirected federal financial regulatory resources from regulating garden variety thieves and tax cheats, which at the time were stealing "only" about $290 billion/year from the U.S. treasury (http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Releases-New-Tax-Gap-Estimates;-Compliance-Rates-Remain-Statistically-Unchanged-From-Previous-Study), to stopping flow of funds to terrorists. 

I have heard in hours of personal discussions with one long-term federal employee at a key financial regulatory agency argue that the result of that resource reorientation was a non-trivial factor in the 2008-2009 financial crises. My source argues that the fed was focused on terrorists and right wing anti-regulatory ideology, not domestic sleaze balls, including moral risk takers on Wall Street. Anti-government ideology, partisan politics and generic sleaze balls were a major factor in (1) down regulation, especially deep personnel cuts and (2) the economic blow-ups of 2008-2009. My source argues that that is why about 1800 crooks went to jail in the aftermath of the S&L crisis of the 1980s through the mid-1990s while (total taxpayer cost about $125 billion - http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDcQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fdic.gov%2Fbank%2Fanalytical%2Fbanking%2F2000dec%2Fbrv13n2_2.pdf&ei=XJSTU6eKJ8-zyAS164F4&usg=AFQjCNFpJW6SvrTRXJmsNwE7L7T0RWlPZA&sig2=qy2q0S8ncShhyg-mpEZEAQ ), as of 2012, zero people were even indicted, much less convicted, for any criminal activity resulting from the much larger and widespread blow-up of 2008-2009. I believe that that is part of the cost for our support of Israel. Obviously, my opinion is open to criticism.

With that context (assuming you accord it credibility), was our support of Israel worth it? That is only one aspect of how I see this issue. There are other non-trivial factors that the mainstream media ignores or is unaware of. My opinions are based on a much broader data set than what the usually useless standard mainstream media delivers to the public.

Can you see why I am having problems understanding our support of Israel? It remains a mystery. Your comments add some weight to the side of the scale in support of U.S. policy. 

Support of Israel and any other country that makes sense to support is perfectly fine. It is better to have allies than enemies, but the costs cannot be ignored in the definition of what is an ally and what is an enemy. Given the massive costs, I am confused about the rationale for American policy on Israel. Despite your helpful take on this, U.S. policy still doesn't make sense. Sure we should protect the weak in authoritarian places, but doesn't that apply to North Korea, China and some other countries/areas. Some or most of the people in those places are as good as eradicated, right?

Thanks again. Your take is unique and reasonable and therefore it is very helpful. Yours is the first solid answer I ever received to the question.

guestx4x
guestx4x

@bobconner 

I think that much or most of the answer to your question lies in the perceptions of reality and interests that Mr. Specht expresses in other comments on your post here. 

People may think I am redundant to the point of lunacy, but there is a reason I rarely stray from harping on (1) the corrosive influence of ideology, political self-interest and special interest money and (2) how policy choices affect the public interest. I see a combination of all three of those Horsemen of the political Apocalypse in essentially every contested issues in politics. Our policy toward Israel is no exception. Our energy policy, military policy, and essentially everything else is the same - some combination of those three toxic factors constitute the dominant influence behind the policy, while consideration of impacts on the public interest is an afterthought, if it is considered at all (usually it isn't).

If you look at politics through that lens, much of what is inexplicable becomes somewhat understandable, even if the details remain unknown, which is the usual case. At the same time, detached, unbiased logic usually says the whole thing is nuts.

Scientific evidence of the power of ideology (human biases) to distort both reality and logic is overwhelming ( http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7959.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow ). I cannot emphasize that point enough. I see it in the conservative blogs where ideology simply crushes reality and logic time and again ( http://dailysignal.com/2014/06/06/surprise-government-now-cant-even-guess-much-obamacare-ultimately-will-ultimately-cost/  - see the article and the comments). Against that corrosive backdrop, people with political self-interested and/or special interest agendas have a far easier time getting what they want because the public's focus tends to say on the ideological conflicts, not the underlying reality about what is happening or why.

See why I keep pushing non-ideological pragmatism focused on service to the public interest? It won't be perfect or make differences of opinion go away, but I bet it would make politics a whole lot more rational and more economically efficient than what we have now. IMHO, that would serve the public interest far better than the morass of nonsense and blither we suffer with under the two-party system we have now.

bobconner
bobconner

@guestx4x @bobconner WOW! If this wasn't so frightening, it would be hilarious.

A statement caught my attention; “Conspiracy theories go across the ideological spectrum."

Ideology is a very insidious problem, often the very cause so man apparently think are "pointed out" by their particular ideology.  The age old problem of simply listening to and subscribing to the ideology of those they consider "authorities" on the matters instead of using a bit of critical analysis and pragmatism to examine the issue.

Peter Specht
Peter Specht

@guestx4x @Peter Specht I spoke briefly before about, in my opinion, doing what is right. You seem to be seeking the "why them?"  that part is easy.  Influence.  Hopefully without coming off as a bigot, I will say that the Jewish people have, since their beginnings in America, strived to gain influence and wealth. Is it cultural? Is it survival for a culture that has seemingly been the pin cushion of the world for generations? I don't know. I do know that as a culture, they are bright, hard working and politically astute. For their small numbers they have many of the "right" ears that listen. Add to this the history, even fairly recent history, ie, the holocost, the olympics, and you have the right recipe for gaining the sympathy of the people of the United States. We culturally  

have a need to help the victim up, to save someone from the bullies. Israel knows this. The attempt to understand us. Their neighbors don't really attempt to understand, imo, anything outside their "box."  You know, we often stumble around trying to to good in the world. We need to spend much more time looking inward. Not in the "leave out the world" sense, but in the get together and look to the future sense. I hate being the world's policeman and think our president doesn't like it either. But I do wonder if a vaccume really does happen when we attempt to "quit" that job. I like Americans and I think Churchill got it right with one of my favorite quotes of his.....  "you can always count on the Americans doing the right thing .....after they try everything else." I think it shows our nature and immaturity, but hell, we are only a couple hundred years old (or so) and the rest of the peoples, if not countrys are near ancient.

bobconner
bobconner

@guestx4x @bobconner Love the links x4x, thanks - a little application of Occam's Razor can be a difficult thing to do at times; can't it? :-)

BTW - I see your here as "guestx4x."  I sincerely hope that doesn't imply a temporary status in your visits here.  Your comments are excellent reads and offer much to contemplate.  Stick around.

guestx4x
guestx4x

@Peter Specht 

Part of my confusion is why them on this sustained level, part is at what cost, part is what is our return on the investment and part is what effect this has on the public interest, good, bad or neutral. My confusion is at many levels. It would be great to help the lives of average North Koreans, Palestinians, Chinese, Russians, Nigerians and everyone else that really could use some help, i.e., most people on Earth. That is obviously not possible - half the time (or more) we don't know how to help and the other half (or more) there are other barriers.

I am aware of the amazing influence of the small segment of the U.S. population (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/02/how-many-jews-are-there-in-the-united-states/) that you refer to. The evidence is everywhere, e.g., http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/jewcong113.html . Political influence beyond numbers is nothing new in U.S. politics (http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2014/04/24/gilens_and_page_find_that_rich_americans_rule_politics_but_despair_the_fact.html), or probably any other country's politics. On balance, is that good, bad or indifferent, or does it vary for each issue or situation?

I have looked at the tactics that each side in the Israel-Palestine debate uses and see everything there that I see in debates here on other issues, e.g., big government vs. small, closed minds, open minds, ideology, flawed logic, pragmatism, altruism and self-interest. There is 'in the box' thinking on both sides, e.g., ultra orthodox Jews and their counterparts on the other side.

guestx4x
guestx4x

@bobconner 

Oh yeah, I forgot about the sticking around thing. To test things in the real world, I am looking for critiques of my opinions, perceptions of reality and/or logic. 

IVN is an good place for that so I will probably hang here for a while at least. 

I have been doing my comment thing at a few conservative blogs for a few months and will continue for while with the right. I still need to find a liberal blog or two where I can do some mud wrestling with the left. Once my take on politics has been blasted in the heat of retail politics long enough to be properly cooked, maybe a book will come out of it - unless of course it doesn't get scorched to death. Starting a book assumes that what I am considering isn't too full of holes and/or the whole idea of non-ideological pragmatism is just plain silly. I don't think so, but that's my ideology (bias) and we all know what a nasty beast that little stinker is.

Guess politics blogs are my focus groups and this one is as good as any and better than most. Who knows, maybe what I am contemplating has already been done. Better do some research on that. Off to the interwebs for some searching.

guestx4x
guestx4x

@bobconner 

Thanks for your comments. 

As time goes on, applying the Razor, if that's what doing non-ideological pragmatism amounts to, gets easier. Like everything most else in politics, it is learned and it takes time.

Since I am so far outside the two-party box, i.e., hard core anti-two-party system, I use the links to at least partially support at least some of the perceptions of reality and logic I rely on. Otherwise, the content could easily sound like hate (emotion)-filled rant and/or wing nut conspiracy theory with little or no substance. It also helps to keep facts straight. 

I have biases (ideology) just like everyone else and looking at info sources helps keep the corrosive effects in check. Biases are powerful. Biases can and do make facts change over time, i.e., perceptions of facts change while the facts do not change. Unfortunately, that power works mostly subconsciously.