Friday, December 31, 2010
The Republican ideology of health care is clear evidence of the GOP's lurch even harder to the right. They no longer support universal health care. That just encourages people who really can't afford it to get sick!
The clearest evidence for this is that Obamacare was born in the 1990s as a proposal from the Heritage Foundation, once upon a time just about the most ultraconservative bullshit factory that big media would quote. Less than two decades later - like Mitt Romney, who proposed and signed an individual mandate here in Massachusetts - Heritage is running far far away from its disowned child. Far to the right, to the Confederate theory of the Constitution.
The whole vast right-wing cabal that fantasizes a return to feudalism - though without the noblesse oblige - wants to kill any program that buys something the rich have and that would otherwise be hard or impossible for the rest of us to get. If we die in the process, too bad.
Observing Republicans gear up to try to undo "Obamacare," I suspect the only thing that will satisfy some is to make medical care in the United States work like veterinary care. You get what you can pay for. Otherwise, tough luck.If it costs too much, conservatives will let Granny die like Gene Lyons' horse Lucky. But Lucky will still be aptly named. At least he got the mercy of being put down.
Since religious fanatics dominate the GOP and they have perverted the gospel message of mercy into, "Tough luck. Suffer," you won't even be able to offer Granny enough morphine to ease her going when you can't afford to replace and rehab her broken hip.
They accuse us of enacting death panels! They would let the profit motive determine who lives and who dies.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Mediamatters tries mockery to tarnish Princess Sarah, and that's good as far as it goes. But mocking her as a misinformer is weak tea. The teabaggers and indeed most Americans have already shown that they decide their votes based on infotainment, rather than information.
And the Princess excels at vain displays of a neck-snapping blend of self-entitlement and victimhood.
It's puzzling that so many self-described real American men can't tell that yet another pretty, self-centered high school cheerleader is using them. Even at the huge distance between their loungers and the set of Fox News, they're thinking with their dicks. About which she'd say to herself, "You are never getting near me with that wrinkled piece of past-dated vienna sausage."
What do you think, video-pheromones?
When I say Republicans don't care about the deficit, this is what I mean:
This is just one key feature of the GOP's playbook: CUT/GO. Under CUT/GO, all new spending has to be paid for, but tax cuts do not. Additionally any new spending must be paid for with parallel spending cuts elsewhere in the budget -- not with tax hikes. So unemployment benefits couldn't be paid for by closing a corporate tax loophole. But a corporate tax loophole could be widened without requiring any offsets.You think the teabaggers will scream about this? Of course they won't. They are just as insincere as the Republicans, for whom they are the extremist wingnut base.
Update: Krugman (and dozens more, probably) beat me to this.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Pat Robertson (R-another planet) slipped off his usual Calvinist orthodoxy - and his spokesman had to correct him:
Chris Roslan, a CBN spokesman, insisted Thursday that Robertson "did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana. ... Dr. Robertson unequivocally stated that he is against the use of illegal drugs."But he should not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned. It's the mandatory minimum!
... much more than Democrats do.
Now, of course, the GOP will have to accuse the fact-checking sites of liberal bias. Even though the fact-checkers are much harder on Democrats than they are on Republicans. If they were evenhanded, the tilt to conservative bullshit would be even more obvious.
Everyone knows Republicans have to lie. They couldn't get elected with the truth. Even Republicans know this.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Obama's Socialist Christmas Ornament Program|
Friday, December 24, 2010
You know Krugman wanted to use the word bullshit:
[T]he production of humbug — which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote — has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.Conservatism in America is built almost entirely on lies. Consciously and intentionally. It's deeply un-Christian and wholly uncharitable.
At Christmastime, Tiny Tim said, "God bless us, every one."
Conservatives to the contrary say with their actions, Devil take the hindmost.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Fox, like its Republican Party fellows, is actually radical in conservative clothing.
Even compared to the manifest swindles and perversions of the past 20 years or thereabouts, the United States has never seen anything like Fox News. The closest comparison to what Fox does daily would be the party-line propaganda sheets of the far left and extreme right that made Orwell worry "that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world."Fox doesn't care what's true, only what it wants to be true.
Orwell describes the corrosive effect of politicized mass media. In Spain, he wrote, "I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed ... I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various 'party lines.' "
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
It's called the Daily Show. Is there a reason that good sense can't prevail every day?
Oh, right, Republicans...
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Reading up on the material in the Fox ignoramus effect, I found some really fun facts from 2008 about Fox's bullying of the rest of the big media (poor widdle babies!).
I had thought that reporters shied from taking on Fox because it might hire them some desperate day when the News Corporation owns all the big media. Turns out, like Elisabeth Bumiller whose heart went pitty-pat when confronted by the hugeness and brilliance of Duhbya, reporters are mostly scared off.
Even those who will stand up have been bullied enough to hesitate:
Like most working journalists, whenever I type seven letters — Fox News — a series of alarms begins to whoop in my head: Danger. Warning. Much mayhem ahead.Fox is like a middle school punk on the street corner when the elementary school lets out. (h/t mistermix at Balloon Juice) This is their offense in defense of the ignoramus effect:
In a statement, Michael Clemente, who is the senior vice president of news editorial for [Fox News], said: “The latest Princeton Review ranked the University of Maryland among the top schools for having ‘Students Who Study The Least’ and being the ‘Best Party School’ – given these fine academic distinctions, we’ll regard the study with the same level of veracity it was ‘researched’ with.’”But back to 2008...
For the record, the Princeton Review says the University of Maryland ranks among the “Best Northeastern Colleges.” It was No. 19 on the Review’s list of “Best Party Schools.”
Can you imagine any other network than Fox digitally altering the appearance of journalists, Steven Reddicliffe and Jacques Steinberg, whom they're attacking?
The Fox attack dogs making this attack are Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Yes, those two who show the value of competition by competing with each other to be the stupidest man on TV news. They have the unmitigated gall to call Reddicliffe and Steinberg "attack dogs."
Fox is dangerous to American democracy.
If the global temperature trend were headed downward instead of upward, what would we do to forestall another ice age?
We'd burn every bit of slash and plant scrap we could lay our hands on to pump up the greenhouse effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Turning that into policy would be as easy as falling off a (burning) log, except that perhaps the oil industry would lobby for a cut of the burning program. Hey, something for Republicans to do to gum up the works in favor of their corporate sponsors! Even ethanol producers would start to ballyhoo the carbon footprint of their fertilizers, cultivation, and product transport in hope of having it both ways. Bipartisan subsidy too!
No doubt someone - maybe me - would whinge about the disproportionate Chinese contribution to solving global cooling. Why do they get to have all the campfires!? I remember when America led the world accidentally sparking forest fires!
When I first saw a graph like this in the late 1970s, it wasn't even called the Keeling Curve, but it was already cause for worry. In the meantime, propaganda, not science, is the only force diminishing that concern. CO2 keeps right on trucking.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
John Boehner (R-consistent hypocrite) decides that ethics might be useful in the House. Finally.
His plan, I'm sure: Take credit for the investigations that Democrats started of other Democrats.
Nothing else to call it...
Haley Barbour (R-nostalgia for the white experience of Jim Crow) climbs down from his nostalgia:
When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.But by no means far enough. The White Citizens Council was actually coercing other people, uppity black people:
"Look," said Nick Roberts of the Yazoo City Citizens Council, explaining why 51 of 53 Negroes who had signed an integration petition withdrew their names, "if a man works for you, and you believe in something, and that man is working against it and undermining it, why you don’t want him working for you — of course you don’t."Bless ol' Haley's heart. At least his esteemed bigots didn't lynch anyone. They had such high standards!
In Yazoo City, in August 1955, the Council members fired signers of the integration petition, or prevailed upon other white employers to get them fired. But the WCC continues to deny that it uses economic force: all the Council did in Yazoo City was to provide information (a full-page ad in the local weekly listing the “offenders”); spontaneous public feeling did the rest.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Secession was treason and should have been treated as such.
One of America’s worst traitors, a man who had committed or condoned far worse acts against his country than Benedict Arnold, was allowed to go home after his brief detainment in Virginia. But even that lenient punishment was enough to elevate [Jefferson] Davis to Southern martyrdom. Rumors were spread throughout the South about his mistreatment at Fortress Monroe, although Davis himself said the stories were untrue. Until his death in 1889, he found a stronger voice in passionately defending the right of secession and extolling the nobility of the Lost Cause. He became, like so many of his fellow Confederates, an unreconstructed rebel. As one might expect, he never believed that he had committed a single traitorous act; in fact, he boldly, even arrogantly, affirmed that every one of his actions was legal and constitutional. Unlike Lee, he never sought a pardon, which is just as well because he probably would not have gotten it (although President Johnson, who was courting the Democratic Party at the time, could have easily caved in on this issue). But he also never uttered a single word of regret or remorse for the bloody revolutionary war he had willfully led against his country.It was and is unpatriotic to adhere to the Confederacy.
What went wrong in 2010?
The good news is that Americans realize that the media is bathing them in bullshit bubble-bath.
The bad news is that most of us apparently have no freaking idea how to distinguish shit from shinola.
The New York Times buries its lead (lede to the kool kidz). It wants to shout out - as it should - that Fox News makes its viewers more ignorant, not less. But it has to dither first, nicking MSNBC for the mote in its eye before proceeding to the log in Fox's.
The simple fact is Fox News infects its viewers with lies. Here's the proof Fox is a vector for bullshit:
There's an unmistakable Fox News ignoramus effect. The percentage of misinformed viewers goes up as their viewing peaks. Watching Fox daily disinforms viewers on 10 of 11 topics and disinforms them badly on 8 of the 11!
Note that Fox can get the facts right when those facts support Fox's political bias. The single topic on which Fox viewers became steadily better informed the more they watched: whether Democrats had proven the Chamber of Commerce used foreign money to finance its ad campaign against them.
Even after getting to their justified smackdown on Fox, the Times misses a much more dire story. No matter what medium an American prefers for news, there's a whole shit-load of ignorance out there. Fox is worst, CNN is pretty bad, but MSNBC is only good by exceedingly low standards. Newspapers in general are worse than MSNBC.
All of which is why we suffered in November a triumph at the polls of the refuted economic doctrines of the right wing:
Put it this way: A policy under which government employment actually fell, under which government spending on goods and services grew more slowly than during the Bush years, hardly constitutes a test of Keynesian economics.Zombie lies, kept alive by Fox and other right-wing propagandists, including the entire Republican establishment. Until we as a people become more discerning of the truth, we'll only get more politics of dogma, in which conservatives feel entitled to their own facts, no matter how contradicted by reality.
Now, maybe it wasn’t possible for President Obama to get more in the face of Congressional skepticism about government. But even if that’s true, it only demonstrates the continuing hold of a failed doctrine over our politics.
Update (12/21): Fox misleads again - successfully! - though only the second sense of lie, not the stronger first sense.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Soon the senescent secular Europe will be overrun by Muslim immigrants and the unassimilated progeny of their oppressed, veiled women. They'll move in, have as many babies as a renegade Mormon living on welfare in Moab, take the public dole, and spend every night plotting the violent downfall of the foolish system that makes their conspiratorial leisure possible.
Slightly more than 4 per cent of Europe's population is “Muslim,” as defined by demographers (though about 80 per cent of these people are not religiously observant, so they are better defined as secular citizens who have escaped religious nations).In our putrid excuse for a national conversation, every time some fearful trope turns out to be a bullshit lie, it came from the right-wing propaganda machine.
(h/t DougJ at Balloon Juice)
In all the hue and cry over Wikileaks, I haven't seen much to get too bent out of shape over. Most of it was, duh, obvious. A lot of it had already been reported.
While governments need to be able to keep their conversations confidential, even some that are merely embarrassingly frank, the main damage has been the need to blush a little.
Still, imagine this: You're a foreign service officer talking with your opposite number in another country's diplomatic corps. You know how certain you would be that he will keep your confidences, small and large! C'mon, no one is that naive.
Instead of laughing off the embarrassment, governments have pursued Julian Assange, arrested him, and locked him up on unrelated charges that look trumped up (h/t Digby). These governments have certainly responded with much greater focus than they would have had he been, say, Brett Favre or Kobe Bryant.
The biggest take-away from the whole affair so far has been how thoroughly inculcated the media is in the culture of secrecy that they are supposed to expose to light. Sure, they've reported on the leaks, but I'm starting to wonder how thoroughly.
When I heard that the Pentagon was directing its service people and contractors that they were not allowed to read classified documents even after they were published on the Internet, I thought they were typically, bureaucratically overreaching. Just like the world's most command-oriented bureaucracy to pretend that the genie right there in the room was still safely in the bottle. Even a genie not nearly as revealing as Barbara Eden.
Then, today, the New York Times carried the story of the U.S. CIA station chief in Islamabad had fled Pakistan after his name got out into the open in local media. What is his name? The Times pointedly wouldn't say:
The legal complaint that named the station chief, who was working undercover and whose name is classified, was filed on Monday over attacks that killed at least two Pakistanis. The complaint sought police help in keeping the station chief in the country until a lawsuit could be filed.The rest of the world can know, but Americans can't! The big media is in on the suppression of information.
The agent’s name had already been revealed in a news conference last month by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer who filed the complaint this week, and the name had been reported in local media.
Of course, Google is still up, so it's easy to find out. No, not the character actor by the same name.
I'm showing fear here, too, by not simply typing the name. I don't want to be charged with espionage for "revealing" something that's widely known the world just because there's a Top Secret stamp marking a piece of paper locked in a vault that I've never seen. Think about what that fear means to an open society, without which democracy is a sham.
The name I'm omitting is probably itself a cover identity. Really, would the CIA send someone to Pakistan for covert action under his own name? Of course not. Yet the Times and I won't simply type the name, and it's itself a fiction. Am I still allowed to name Winston Smith?
Funny, I don't recall the American big media being so solicitous of the classification status of non-official cover identity when the exposed agent was Valerie Plame.
The question: How long before the U.S., like China, decides it needs to block sites that expose its own citizens to this slightly uncomfortable sort of truth?
Update (1/7/2011): Related comment on Salon.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In general, I'm in favor of a center right political party to replace the now-extremist Republican Party. The remnants of sanity on the right need a place to go where they don't have to believe the consensus absurdities of the GOP - science is a hoax, economics other than feudally inspired laissez-faire is a hoax, the corporate media is liberal, anyone who needs help is a lazy bum (except for the mostly white true believers), President Obama and the Democrats are socialists if not communists, etc.
No Labels, on the other hand, has problems. It's mainly Republicans and conservative Democrats who probably still admire Joe Lieberman's sanctimony, yet No Labels poses as the center. The big media, as always the handmaiden of power and especially corporate power, laps up this center-right pose of moderation.
It would be no surprise at all if No Labels turned out to be Michael Bloomberg's stalking horse for the Presidency in 2012. The problem of course is that, post-Citizens v. FEC, we mere citizens can't tell.
No Labels has no platform other than the one it rents for its luminaries to shine from. It's a "Truman Show" of politics, all manipulation and entertainment.
In short, there is no reason whatsoever for real Democrats to allow themselves to be cannibalized into an organization that reasonably ought only to pull sane conservatives out of the irredeemable GOP.
It always bears saying: Civility is not as important as the truth - nor as important as effective policy.
Always remember that Fox News exists to unbalance any factual discussion in favor of Fox's hard-right, anti-environment, pro-corporatist, pro-wealth politics:
Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data...Who said this?
...we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.
That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.(Wasn't Godwin's Law repealed?)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Lincoln was well known to oppose slavery vehemently, yet he said his first goal was preservation of the union. He was a politician - that's always important to remember about our sainted former Presidents. They weren't actually saints, just people trying to accomplish something, often against tall odds.
I think Lincoln might have considered carefully what his nation would actually go to war far. He might have found abolition wanting as a popular cause, even if it was in fact his real cause.
Marked “Private & confidential,” the letter instructed Kellogg to “entertain no proposition for a compromise in regard to the extension of slavery. The instant you do, they have us under again; all our labor is lost, and sooner or later must be done over. … Have none of it. The tug has to come & better now than later.”I wish I were confident that President Obama were flawed enough to do political battle for his beliefs.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Media comment: Well, the Republicans may all be assholes, but they're really really good at all saying the same thing.
Monday, December 13, 2010
[I]t's not up to criminal law to stop every morally reprehensible aspect of behavior. Rather, the law should be for punishing behavior that's particularly socially damaging.This proposal limits government too much for me.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Paul Krugman, as always, gives us the gift of simple proof. High unemployment is due to a lack of demand, not a temporary dislocation that requires no intervention in the so-called free market.
There are no jobs, hence the need to extend unemployment benefits.
The Teapublican alternative: Stop benefits, tell the longterm unemployed that they're on their own, and necessarily reduce aggregate demand in the economy as a whole. This is a perfect way to continue to reduce demand in the labor market, leading to even more unemployment and exhaustion of benefits.
Who wins in a persistently deflating labor market? Not people who work for a living, that's for sure.
How much has trickled down? Hardly any of it.
What we got by electing Ronald Reagan: We confirmed and made much more extreme previous policy choices by Congress and Jimmy Carter that put investment interests ahead of national interests and certainly ahead of the interests of the middle class.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Race-blind democracy in the vanquished South after the end of the Civil War would have completely changed the last century and a half. Mississippi and South Carolina were majority black.
Can you imagine those two states leading the civil rights movement! Louisiana and Alabama weren't far behind, either.
Jim Crow - and the Ku Klux Klan for that matter - were necessary to prevent the permanent loss of political power by the landed white aristocracy that had wanted and lost the war. Enfranchised black folks would not have voted for the bullshit that white folks voted for.
Nowadays, disenfranchisement is done by dipshits attacking ACORN and by voter intimidation efforts. These are mainstream Republican activities.
The aristocrats and oligarchs never stop fighting to own everything.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
There was a class war. The rich won.
Felix Salmon says:
If you were structuring a tax code from scratch, it would look nothing like this. But the problem is that tax hikes seem to be politically impossible no matter which party is in power. And since any revamp of the tax code would involve tax hikes somewhere, I fear we’re fiscally doomed.Digby says:
If I were you, I would print out this post by Felix Salmon and pull it out whenever you confront some bozo who's railing about the deficit and insisting that we have to put old ladies on a cat food diet to fix the problem.Specific policy proposals in addition to letting Duhbya's tax cuts expire above $250,000 of income:
- Once unemployment is below 7%, make the income tax more progressive with a 50% marginal tax rate on incomes over $1 million, to be lowered to 40% when the deficit (not including any surplus from Social Security) is lowered below 2% of GDP (currently, it's about 10% of GDP).
- Make the payroll taxes less regressive immediately by removing the income cap on taxes subject to FICA, Medicare, etc.
- Reinstitute the Paris Hilton tax at 50%, closing the loopholes that have allowed the lazy children of extreme wealth to escape taxes on their parents' estates, but raise the estate size floor to $4 million and index it for inflation.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Hedge fund managers spent millions - that we know about - to protect their 15% tax rate. Yes, you read that right. They pay the same rate as someone making $35,000 a year.
And we guarantee the risks they take.
This is totally unjust.
China's no longer so concerned about separating their people from freedom of information:
The message delivered by the office, the person said, was that “in the past, a lot of officials worried that the Web could not be controlled.’’The U.S. security apparatus is working on control, too:
“But through the Google incident and other increased controls and surveillance, like real-name registration, they reached a conclusion: The Web is fundamentally controllable,’’ the person said.
The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, told NZZ am Sonntag that Switzerland "should very carefully consider whether to provide shelter to someone [Julian Assange] who is on the run from the law."Then there's Internet neutrality, which is doomed in the current environment in which corporations can buy the government they want.
The Department of Defense and the rest of the government to employees: We prefer you to be ignorant even if it means not reading something potentially embarrassing to your management that everyone else in the world has access to.
"Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority," said the notice sent on Friday afternoon by the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, to agency and department heads, urging them to distribute it to their staff.The strange thing is that doing something stupid like sending this notice is not embarrassing to the White House.
Despite their having launched us into "by far the worst post WWII employment recession," Republicans don't want to extend unemployment benefits. Those benefits have to end sometime, they say, why not now?
Do they want to condemn all the willing workers represented by the red line to life-long penury?
With so many people out of work and so few jobs available for them to fill, the Republican answer is tough shit. Penury for the unemployed? Sure, sign me up. It's the libertarian creed.
Even though there are thousands of jobs where millions are needed, the Republicans pretend that the unemployed are being justly punished for laziness. Those malingering bums would rather scrape by on a few hundred dollars a month than work for a few thousand. They'll never learn to take care of themselves until they've spent a long time in a soup line. Which the GOP will make sure won't be there anyway.
The unemployed layabouts have to do more than send hundreds of resumes for every job opening.
(h/t Atrios at Eschaton)
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Hard as it may be to believe, the South still harbors people who believe the Civil War ended with the wrong victor. These pro-treason neo-Confederates blame the Union for its unprovoked attack on their peaceful secession (cough, Ft. Sumter, cough). They blame a tariff that didn't pass until after they seceded.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans don't blame their forefathers for holding other humans in brutal bondage. Their ancestors were fighting for liberty! Well, liberty for the landed white male gentry, anyhow...
Defense of slavery is still - publicly - a bridge too far even for these historical revisionists. So they deny that it was an important cause of the war. The overwhelming historical record that proves otherwise? Their heads are too far up their asses to see that.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I surely can't be the first person to notice this. (Don't call me Shirley. RIP.)
Paul Steinhauser of CNN completely misrepresented a McClatchy-Marist poll.
The actual poll asked whether voters think Republicans ought to compromise with Democrats to get things done:
The Republicans have control of the House of Representatives. Which statement comes closer to your view about what you think should happen:Steinhauser dishonestly portrays the results as showing that the voters want Democrats and Republicans to work together.
- The Republicans should compromise with the Democrats and President Obama to get things done
- The Republicans should stand firm on their positions even if it means things don't get done
One day before a White House meeting between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders from both political parties, a new poll suggests most Americans want Democrats and Republicans to compromise.The actual poll is about what Republicans should do. Steinhauser spins it into a bullshit balance, portraying the voters as saying something they didn't say.
Some liberal media! In my newsroom, this would be a firing offense. If I only had a newsroom.
Why does it matter if the media lies about polls? Those lies can actually push people toward different positions. That's why candidates and parties pimp their biased partisan polls during election season.
Lower taxes for rich people outweigh all other issues.
The deficit? Not as important as lower taxes for the rich.
A reduced risk of nuclear proliferation or war? Not as important as lower taxes for the rich.
Citizenship for immigrant soldiers? Not as important as lower taxes for the rich.
Extension of unemployment benefits? Of course, not as important as lower taxes for the rich.
Repeal of don't ask, don't tell? Oh, right, they're against that anyway.
The core Republican view of the world holds that, if rich people are even better off, everyone else is either better off or doesn't deserve to be better off. Mostly the latter. Peons.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation)...One of the secessionists:
“We’re celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government,” [Jeff Antley, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Confederate Heritage Trust,] said. “Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause. Do I believe they were right in what they did? Absolutely,” he said, noting that he spoke for himself and not any organization. “There’s no shame or regret over the action those men took.”Self-government for white people. And this asshole can't even bring himself to regret what secession brought! He calls it a just and honorable cause! To keep other humans in bondage...
For some reason out of thin air, these words echo:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.Homage to treason is not treason, but no one should forget that the Confederate defenders of slavery committed high treason and brought incredible pain and suffering on their nation, black and white.
Update (12/2): Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes the Confederates to the neo-Confederates.
Monday, November 29, 2010
You can't trust conservatives. You can't trust their good faith. You can't trust their motives. You certainly can't trust their facts.
Rush Limbaugh tells his followers that half of Americans pay no federal taxes at all:
The bottom 50% is paying a tiny bit of the taxes, so you can't give them much of a tax cut by definition. Yet these are the people to whom the Democrats claim to want to give tax cuts. Remember this the next time you hear the "tax cuts for the rich" business. Understand that the so-called rich are about the only ones paying taxes anymore.His dittoheads repeat this lie everywhere. Anytime taxation comes up, it's poor little rich boys with their terrible burdens.
Here's the truth: Everyone pays federal payroll taxes. Total taxation - federal, state, and local - is somewhat progressive, but all income levels pay around 20% of their income in taxes.
Conservatives lie about this - intentionally ignoring all taxes besides income taxes - because they only want to cut progressive taxes. Because their goal is to help the wealthy, nothing else.
John Bolton is thinking about running for President. Not of his condo association. Not of the Anti-North Korea Association. No, of the United States!
I mean, shit, why doesn't he just announce to the world, "I'm so vain, self-centered, and totally ignorant of politics and human relations that I'm willing to say out loud my furiously egotistical fantasy."
Sotto voce: But everyone else at Fox is running. And I'm smarter than all of them.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Middlesex County Sheriff Jimmy DiPaola (D-
double dip) dead by his own hand! I've met him, and he was the image of a glad-handing old pol. I didn't trust him.
He had recently justified my mistrust by trying to double dip and collect both a pension and his salary from the same office. Although technically legal, this was clearly wrong and an intolerable raid on the public treasury.
DiPaola, when caught by the Boston Globe, found his conscience and announced his retirement. But he was also under investigation by the Ethics Commission, and his suicide, absent some mental illness nowhere yet in evidence, amounts to a guilty plea.
While killing himself is not at all exculpatory, it does say that at least he's not the sociopath that Tom DeLay is. At the very least, his vanity in the face of prospective conviction, complete disgrace, and prison made life no longer livable.
Many years ago, a cousin of mine shot himself to death after yet another screw-up. I always thought that he could not stand to make one more promise to clean up, a promise he himself perhaps could no longer still believe. Suicide as an act of both vanity and conscience seemed to be his only remaining manly choice.
It's likely that not only vanity but also DiPaola's conscience did in fact prick him in a stinging way that he could not tolerate. His death may not matter to the public, but it's important to remember that it is a tragedy for people who loved him.
Those of us left behind don't agree with their choice, no matter its motivation.
If Kate Mara would run for office, could we stop seeing so much of Caribou Barbie? Or would Mara have to be equally ditzy?
Yeah, I'm aware that this little theme of mine is pointless.
Click image for ShareAlike licensing details, which also apply to this post.
Update: Link to imdb.com for those who missed her in "We are Marshall".
The likelihood of convicted felon Tom DeLay ever spending even one night in the big house is, I fear, low. It's not that I don't fervently wish for him to lose his undeserved freedom and multi-thousand-dollar suits in favor of an orange coverall with "PRISONER" stencilled across both front and back.
DeLay is one of those comic book villains I'd most like to see imprisoned. He's a political good fella who mistakes his self-righteousness for actual righteousness.
DeLay will appeal. He claims to have spent $8 million on his defense, but you can be sure that not a cent of it came out of his own pocket. He will take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. And the conservative majority is primed to declare Texas's century-old prohibition on corporate contributions unconstitutional. After all, corporations are people too! What about their feelings!
At that point, the money laundering conviction is moot, and mooting it makes the conspiracy conviction moot, too.
On the steps of the Supreme Court, in front of the door that's no longer open to the public, DeLay will smugly announce his exoneration. He'll forever attack his prosecution as a political persecution, and the media will dutifully print his bullshit.
So, in anticipation of disappointment, let's review what DeLay did that brought upon him the force of the legal system:
- After the 2000 federal census, Texas redistricted its Congressional seats in a way that didn't provide for as many Republican-friendly seats as DeLay wanted.
- DeLay planned to take over the Texas lege (homage to Molly Ivins!) and re-redistrict purely for partisan Republican advantage - even though this had never been done before.
- To do this, he raised $190,000 dollars from corporate sources.
- But he had a problem: Texas law forbade spending this money on legislative races.
- No problemo! Wash the money through the RNC.
- He also had to overcome Texas Democrats' procedural attempts to prevent another bite at the redistricting apple.
- To do this, DeLay involved federal national security agencies to track down the Democrats.
- GOP win! A six-vote swing to the Republicans in Congress...
On Fox, Karl Rove - no doubt trying to make peace between the Bushists and the teabaggers - says something kinda, sorta complimentary about Sarah Palin. She's supposedly smart to take her book tour into Iowa. Smart? It's completely basic Presidential politics, nothing wrong with it, but nothing newsworthy either.
Yet CNN reports this non-story, this piece of internal Republican politics on their sole-purpose propaganda channel. Because they looove Sarah Palin, at least her picture.
The more she whines about the attention, the more they put her every dingbat tweet out to the public. But! She's wearing leather with lots of zippers!
Psst, is there a bondage angle? CNN could merely ask the question and keep Palin in the ticker for three or four more days with the back and forth. (Palin: "I took a fashion tip from Danica Patrick, but the eastern egghead elite lamestream vegan media doesn't get NASCAR or the natural beauty of animal products.") Ooh, what a schweet dream!
This is the news coverage we deserve. Unfortunately.
Don't you remember the incredible boom in GDP and entrepreneurship that Duhbya's tax cuts brought about?
Neither do I.
The tax cuts didn't create a huge surge of jobs either. And they didn't increase tax revenue.
More Bushist bullshit promises made and forgotten.
Yet the Republican Party continues to make exactly the same promises and the media thinks they're plausible.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The quarter completed at the end of September was the best quarter ever for American corporations.
American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.Record profits are partly due to productivity gains and barely perceptible employment growth. In fact, the lack of new hiring is one reason for the profits. Employees are doing more with less, and the benefits are flowing upward to executives and the wealthy.
As I argued in "Investment doesn't create jobs", the reason there's hardly any hiring is that there's not enough demand for goods and services that would require and reward hiring.
If there were demand, then profits could be invested and thus help unemployment. Until there is demand, not so much.
Only the government is in a position to close the demand gap. But Republicans will not permit it. Their prescription: Suffer while your betters enjoy the fruits of your labor - if you're lucky enough to still have a job.
"Most people are unaware about the fact that there is significant radiation exposure associated with air travel because they are well above the Earth's atmosphere," said Robert J. Barish, a radiological and health physicist in New York City. "You'd get as much radiation in a whole-body scanner as you'd get in two minutes at 30,000 feet."Of course, if you'd never wear a bathing suit in public, you may have concerns not related to the health impact of being scanned. But then you'd probably be Amish, so that would be moot.
The steady erosion of any privacy at all - and what if anything to do about it - is another question altogether.
Republicans promise they'll hold hostages in April. They're fighting total war, while Democrats still think everything is negotiable.
The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.The Senate Democrats need to find unexpired statutes of limitations and hold hearings on the Bushist abuses that compete with the House Republican kangaroo courts.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Republican House Labor Committee chair John Kline (R-oligarchy)...
Kline also supports extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. So in his world, $830 billion to finance tax cuts for the wealthy is fine, but $12.5 billion to extend unemployment benefits for three months is too expensive.You could extend unemployment benefits forever at the same cost as making the plutocrats' tax cut permanent. Forever.
But that's not what liberals are asking. We want to extend benefits only so long as there's a large imbalance between available jobs and the unemployed. Now? There's record long-term unemployment not seen since before unemployment insurance existed - the Great Depression:
Republicans, conservatives, the national media, and every business sycophant in the world is telling us we need to abate taxes on investment to create jobs. They're either idiots or they're bullshitting us.
Investment doesn't create jobs. (Wha?!?! Socialist!)
Imagine you have a pile of money, credit, assets, couple of $100,000 cars. You're a member of the oligarchy, bless your vast unshared wallet. Schweet, huh?
Millions of people around you are unemployed. Well, they aren't exactly around you. You have gated communities to prevent that. Not just one gated community - it would be so unutterably boring to live in only one palatial mansion.
But you've read in the business press that one in ten people are unemployed (good news! no wage inflation! the stock market should go up!), and maybe you've even read a bit deeper into the report and learned that U6 shows more than one worker in six is not working and wants to, or not working full-time and wants to, or would want to work if there were any jobs available.
You as an oligarch believe that your taxes should be as close to zero as your lobbyists can get them. A fat subsidy, even, would be your due as a Galtian superman of industry. You sure as hell are not willing to extend unemployment benefits to the slackers, spongers, and freeloaders who haven't been able to find work (or rich parents, the way you did).
Instead, you're looking for an opportunity to put your assets into production, some investment that will produce goods or services that people will snap up like hotcakes at premium prices.
Now start some really difficult imagining: You start a factory to produce widgets that no one can afford. Because you want to give people good jobs to build things. Because you're the most generous guy in the world, who just wants to see the free market solve every resource allocation problem. And what's your personal interest if it's not the "free" market?
Huh!? You'd spend your money to create make-work jobs, but you wouldn't spend your money through taxation to extend benefits? How does that make sense?
Wait, who said anything about make-work jobs? Aren't those all in the public sector? Well, mostly, yes. The private sector doesn't do make-work jobs (except for a very few no doubt deserving scions of oligarchs). Which is the reason you don't build a make-work factory just because you can and it would be accounted as investment.
This is the problem with the theory of investment trickling down into jobs: There's no market filled with eager customers. No one - besides you and your fellow oligarchs - has any money to buy your hypothetical goods and services. Why the hell would you build a factory to make something that no one can buy? Until there's demand, there's no need for investment, and there's no reason for it.
Your answer is: Hell, no, I'm not parting with my money just to lose it.
So, like your bankers, you sit on your capital eating bon-bons, telling the help - who can't afford to argue and so nod their apparent approval - that all those lazy moochers who aren't your servants should just get off their asses and take a few risks the way you did (when you applied to Yale listing all the relatives who made you a double ne plus ultra legacy).
Demand for goods and services creates jobs. In a recession as deep as this one, where idle excess capacity is rife, investment follows demand to create businesses that then have to staff up. Until there's demand, though, you as an oligarch can ride out the economic stagnation. Only the public sector can fill the demand gap, and because of Republican and conservative Democratic opposition, it hasn't and now it can't.
So everyone but you and yours is left to suffer. And you don't give a shit.
You lucky oligarch bastard.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
"When I failed as Speaker of the House, my ego was only this big. Spending as much time on Fox as I've spent since then has hugely fertilized it, and I will no longer take questions from anyone who might ask a hard one." Or something close to that...
When we fly, we have to take off our shoes because of the Shoe Bomber.
When we fly, we have to show our junk or let it be felt up by the TSA because of the penis bomber.
Memo to al Qaeda: Please don't put a charger up some moron's ass, as in Man on Fire, and send him onto a plane. (As if please ever worked...)
The terrorists sometimes get more effect from not blowing up a plane.
Update (11/24): Patrick Smith of Salon has two more examples:
The scanners are also the latest turn in what is an unwinnable arms race. First came Sept. 11 and suddenly pointy objects are contraband. Then came Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," and TSA decreed that all passengers must remove their shoes. Next we had the London liquid bombers, and suddenly your shampoo and toothpaste are consigned to 3-ounce containers. Then came the Christmas Day underwear bomber, and as a result we're being body-scanned and groped.
Donald Trump claims a groundswell of pressure for him to throw his toupee into the ring for President. From his own massive ego or from a chorus of sycophants who work for him?
I don't care. Why does CNN? Is Trump a big stock-holder? Why would anyone care about his opinion?
America's banking system is a cesspool of complete corruption.
- Mortgage originators wrote not just a few but many fraudulent mortgages.
- Mortgage originators knew they'd built a house of cards and continued to add to it.
- Banks fraudulently packaged bad mortgages as securities.
- Banks took vig off investment profits and pushed losses onto their customers.
- Banks pushed mortgage originators to write even more bad mortgages.
- Banks fraudulently sold securities.
- Private rating agencies fraudulently risk-rated securities.
- Banks illegally transferred securities, sometimes more than once.
- Banks have failed to maintain clear chains of title.
- Banks have foreclosed on properties they don't own or can't prove they own.
- And on people who are current with their payments.
- Banks have broken into houses they don't own and changed the locks.
- Banks have created perjury factories to sign affidavits blindly or to attest to the authenticity of plainly fraudulent documents.
- Banks have taken multiple tries to get their fraudulent lies right.
- Banks have seen the profit potential in the foreclosure crisis they created, and they're profiting from it.
- Courts have utterly failed to seek justice, particularly in the Republican-dominated state of Florida.
- When banks have failed, bankers have raided their assets.
- When banks have failed, other banks have demanded FDIC reimbursement of their losses, even though they can't prove their claims.
In fact, they're already lobbying heavily to leave failed institutions in place so it's easy to defraud us all again immediately. The moguls in this bullshit paper economy have no shame at all. You think poor people feel entitled? Pikers!
Many victims of banker fraud accept it meekly. They haven't let themselves be driven around the bend by the outrageous stacking of the deck in favor of malevolent, immoral institutions. I would expect some to be unstable enough and armed enough and angry enough to find the home of one of the people in the whole vast chain of fraud and burn it to the fucking ground. I'm not advocating that; I'm just surprised it hasn't happened.
It's a mark of the unmerited success of the Randian Republican narrative that those who have been defrauded still think they're the deadbeats. They've absorbed the bullshit narrative of the right that our economy magically gives everyone exactly what they deserve, so the rich must deserve their bailed out fortunes and the defrauded must deserve to have next to nothing - and to pay for those bail outs from that next to nothing.
It beggars belief that Ayn Rand's superman producers are so obviously stinking crooks and the real deadbeats. They didn't produce anything but successful fraud. And we're not supposed to tax them because that would discourage their hard work and innovation!
It's pretty obvious that financial innovation has been a synonym for fraud. It's pretty obvious that lots of employees of financial institutions should go to jail for their frauds. Yet there's no groundswell of justified anger, and it would certainly be more justified than the petulant, fact-free ranting of the teabaggers.
I would have thought that someone would be talking about egalitarian revolution by now. But no, the wingnut media machine is still blaming the victims.
(h/t to many liberal blogs, especially Eschaton)
Friday, November 19, 2010
Nicholas Kristof gets it right:
I see members of Congress in my own country who argue that it would be financially reckless to extend unemployment benefits during a terrible recession, yet they insist on granting $370,000 tax breaks to the richest Americans. I don’t know if that makes us a banana republic or a hedge fund republic, but it’s not healthy in any republic.But - "members of Congress"? Sure, there must be a bipartisan consensus to stick our heads up our asses. Kristof does say that Republicans are pushing tax cuts for the wealthy, but he only says it once.
He needs to make it crystal clear: Liberal Democrats want to help you. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats want to help wealthy people who don't need help.
When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes "uncivil" to call out liars, lying becomes free.Al Franken knows this, and he knows the wrath of the wingnuts when resisted by truth, especially truth told by mocking the hero of the right-wing lie, large or small, Rush Limbaugh.
I have been telling friends for more than a decade that we Democrats must destroy the credibility of Republicans ourselves. The media is too cowed - and bought off - to do it. After twenty-five years, we should have learned that.
The only way for Democrats to win is for us to say bluntly and consistently when confronted with a lie: That's a lie and you're a liar if you repeat that.
And we need to follow up by connecting the dots:
You can't trust Republicans to tell you the true facts. You can't trust Republicans to interpret facts in good faith. You can't trust Republicans to have your interests at heart. The Republican Party exists for the purpose of fooling you into helping the wealthy take an ever-larger slice of the pie, while telling you how lucky you are to be getting the stale crumbs.Over and over and over and over again until the message sinks into members of a culture besotted by bullshit.
It used to be limited to professional wrestling and the National Enquirer segment of supermarket tabloids. But conservatives needed the stupidity industry to grow and they had proof in its small early success that spackling over the face of propaganda with entertainment would work, so they made it happen.
Now Republicans believe whatever is politically convenient, and damn the facts.
A few years ago, Republican voters, by and large, believed what the mainstream believed when it came to climate science. Then their party, its candidates, and its media outlets told these voters to stop believing the facts -- and rank-and-file Republicans did as they were told.
Does it ever seem that there are no longer any consequences for financial misbehavior?
Oh, sure, Painter must be some disgruntled liberal. But:
"On Judge Levine's first week on the job, nearly twenty years ago, he came into my office and stated that he had promised Wendy Gramm, then Chairwoman of the Commission, that we would never rule in a complainant's favor," Painter wrote. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow," Painter wrote.
Painter continued: "Judge Levine, in the cynical guise of enforcing the rules, forces pro se complainants to run a hostile procedural gauntlet until they lose hope, and either withdraw their complaint or settle for a pittance, regardless of the merits of the case."
Levine was the subject of a story 10 years ago in the Wall Street Journal, which said that except in a handful of cases in which defunct firms failed to defend themselves, Levine had never ruled in favor of an investor.The Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Listen, and understand. The GOP is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.Get it?
Do you think if the White House received a deluge of postcards and emails with this message that it might sink in that the Republicans don't give a shit about agreeing to anything?
Obama [tried] to find common ground with political adversaries who made a pretty explicit decision not to work toward good policy solutions in the first years of the Obama presidency but to do anything and everything to oppose his policy initiatives so as to make him look weak. Hence the bizarre spectacle of Republican congressmen and senators opposing policies they had previously supported: decrying policies intended to stabilize the financial system that many of them had signed on to when they were initiated by Republican president George Bush; opposing even incremental parts of the healthcare reform package that they had previously advocated; trying to stop Democrats from extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed (yes, the hard-hurting people Rush supposedly wants to liberate from Big Government intervention), opposing even minimal cap-and-trade policies designed to rein in greenhouse gas emissions; and so on.Gird up for the fight, Barack. It's all they've left you.
Monday, November 15, 2010
More than three years ago, I hypothesized (Ivy for guessed) that one reason we Americans find ourselves in such a perverse and unbalanced political culture is the fact that, post-Watergate, Democrats have had to raise money from lots of rich people with special interests, not just from a small number of ideological liberals (such as George Soros).
[I]t was campaign finance reform that led Democrats to discard social class as a weapon and unifying principle.Hypothesizing is easy. Any blogger in an armchair can do.
Now, according to Frank Rich, academics Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, in Winner-Take-All Politics, have confirmed at least part of this hypothesis with actual hard-won data:
America’s ever-widening income inequality was not an inevitable by-product of the modern megacorporation, or of globalization, or of the advent of the new tech-driven economy, or of a growing education gap. (Yes, the very rich often have fancy degrees, but so do those in many income levels below them.) Inequality is instead the result of specific policies, including tax policies, championed by Washington Democrats and Republicans alike as they conducted a bidding war for high-rolling donors in election after election.Of course, in the aftermath of Citizens United v. FEC, we're in the worst possible situation. Self-interested corporations (after all, that's their job) are barely restricted if at all, while individual contributors who might be able to counter the corporations are still prohibited from it.
Don't look for the Supreme Court to do anything about it. At least six of the Supremes - Stephen Breyer is the crossover - are firmly corporatist.
Duhbya is completely consistent in his obdurate refusal to accept responsibility for anything:
[Bush] said he ordered American forces to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the assumption that allied forces would help make up the difference in Afghanistan.Loosely translated: We weren't willing to fight, so it's their fault that they weren't.
"What happened in Afghanistan was that our NATO allies, some of them, turned out not to be willing to fight," Bush said.
And the wingnut blogosphere is trying to make Barack Obama out to be a narcissist. Is there even one psychological projection they have the introspection to avoid? (No, of course not.)