Monday, March 28, 2011

All those shabby middle class Goliaths

Pity the poor Koch brothers out on the field of battle in the Valley of Elah, armed only with their Galtian superiority and $20 billion between them.  They are the oppressed, not those whom they would reduce to (deserved) penury.

Some of these trends pre-date Obama, but few have been retarded during his presidency, while many have accelerated.   Whether one finds this state of affairs desirable or not, no rational person can describe them as the by-product of a Marxist, business-hating egalitarian.  Quite the opposite.  The political power of America's richest has never been greater, and the level of their responsibility and collective burden has never been less.  Meanwhile, for ordinary Americans, the remaining remnants of their financial security and middle class comforts rapidly erodes.  It's true that the U.S. Government has little regard for the free market:  they intervene constantly in the free market on behalf of the nation's wealthiest and most powerful business interests; it's crony capitalism, corporatism:  government run by corporations (or, as Dick Durbin said of the Congress in which he serves:  "the banks own the place").

For billionaires to see themselves as the True Victims, to complain that the President and the Government are waging some sort of war against them in the name of radical egalitarianism, is so removed from reality -- universes away -- that's it's hard to put into words.  And the fiscal recklessness that the Kochs and their comrades tirelessly point to was a direct by-product of the last decade's rule by the Republican Party which they fund:  from unfunded, endless wars to a never-ending expansion of the privatized National Security and Surveillance States to the financial crisis that exploded during the Bush presidency.  But whatever else is true, there are many victims of fiscal policy in America:  the wealthiest business interests and billionaires like the Koch Brothers are the few who are not among them.
These self-pitying billionaires are different from you and me.  Their underlings and loyal retainers have deferred to them as corporate aristocracy for so long that they are ready to be corporate royalty who can have your head cut off for saying something critical of them.

Give them time.  They're coming for every liberty we have.

Make a goddamn difference

Republican paradise

The world Republicans want to live in:

  • makes birth control harder to get
  • makes abortion impossible to get
  • funds ultrasound machines to convince pregnant women - by lying if necessary - to birth their babies
  • provides no medical care to those who can't afford it
  • abandons all concern for the welfare of the fetus as soon as it becomes a baby
And this is how they expect to get to their version of seventy some-odd virgins.  Though for these fundies, heaven won't involve something so base and corrupting as sex...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All the bear shit the market will bull


Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

No learning from furriners


Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Teabagger meaning of socialist

A teabagger who uses socialist or any other form of the word doesn't mean any specific, well-defined economic or political doctrine.  He simply means to express intense emotion about whatever attempt our government might make that he opposes.

In this story, socialistic acts as a meaningless intensive.  Basically, it has the same meaning as fucking, as in "that fucking policy," only you can't say "fucking" in a fundamentalist church.

Gov. Bill Haslam (R-how right-wing do I have to be?) has thoroughly pandered to Tennessee's predominantly wingnut political culture.  But for Tennessee's teabaggers, no amount of movement right is enough until every impoverishment possible is inflicted on any institution that might provide anything universal.  Next up:  Repeal compulsory education!

Bigotry, core Republican value

President Barack Obama (D-tepid centrism except in support of the imperial Presidency) has inspired incredibly frenzied outpourings of anger and hate.  Bill Clinton (D-tepid centrism except about sex) inspired what for its time was similarly frenzied.

The frenzy of delegitimizing the 1992 election worked so well for Republicans that there was no way they'd abjure it this time around.  Sure enough, given the sharp limits on the intelligence, memory, and discernment of bullshit from reality of the American electorate, it worked again in 2010 for the GOP.  Now it will take many Republican electoral failures of much greater depth than 2006 and 2008 to convince them not to be petulant 2-year-olds again every time they lose.

Any Democrat who won the Presidency in 2008 would have faced the refusal of Republicans to accept the legitimacy of the election - no matter how comfortable the margin, and remember that Obama completely kicked John McCain's butt from sea to shining sea.

Hillary Clinton, whom many would now retrospectively elect, would have been trashed again.  Doesn't anyone remember what the wingnuts said about conspiracies to murder, distribute drugs, and corruptly enrich herself?  Wingnuts right in the middle of the GOP.  How could anyone forget their politics of personal destruction?

In the alternate universe where she did get elected, people are wishing that fresh young Illinois Senator had gotten the nod instead.  He has such a sweet personality and such a message of non-partisan comity that surely no one, not even a Republican Party built from the ground up on the model of Lee Atwater's scorched earth politics (with a secret handshake in honor of the failed potential of Joe McCarthy), not even that Republican Party could have put him through the vicious attacks they've put Hillary through.  Yeah, don't call me Shirley.

There's one difference between the way Barack has been calumnied and the way Hillary would have been.  That difference is the birther movement.



Sure, Republicans would have found sex-related ways to attack her, as they did when she was the wrong kind of wife to Bill - no cookie-baking, no juicy divorce suit from the woman scorned, no willing smiling silent deference to men.  They would have attacked her for menses and hot flashes at the same time.  It would have been ugly.

But the birther movement is about Obama being the wrong color.  He's brown, and he has foreign heritage that's not European and not Christian.  How could he possibly be American?  He's not from the right tribe.

No, it's not only race that matters in the Republican platform of bigotry.  They assert religious correctness too.  Catholics (finally!) are o.k. now.  All Irish may apply.  But no Muslims.  They might bring their religious values to the public square, and that means they'll try to enact scary-a, I mean, sharia.

The framers of the Constitution had this to say in Article VI of the Constitution:

[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Republicans, even rabbit front-runner Mitt Romney, are happy to promise a religious test as long as it appeals to their bigoted party (as proven by its birtherism):
Republicans don't love religious liberty; they love religious liberty for people who think as they do.
Again, one party in American politics is tepid, easily bullied, and often won't stand up for its own views.  The other is actively evil and opposed to the founding ideas of our nation.  So of course the Republicans project their own opposition to liberal democracy, as framed 225 years ago, onto the Democrats, and the Democrats fail to call them the scurrilous, opportunistic, authoritarian liars they are.

The robber barons are back

In service of their out-sized greed, the titans of American capitalism want to consolidate their choke-hold on the government that once belonged to all of us.  Already, it's no longer ours.  They want to buy for short money all the rest.

They don't care whether there are any crumbs left for the rest of us.  We'll be more docile if we have to live hand to mouth and the only path to a secure old age is to become their loyal, silent retainer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Embarrassment of riches

Click image for full Jim Morin/Miami Herald cartoon.

Times they are a-changin'


To every hypocrisy, there is a season.

"That was totally different."

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Who killed Tiny Tim?

Not only habitual liars, Republicans are willing to use children's hunger as a weapon against unions.

Despicable bastards.

(h/t Atrios)

Hizbull-lie

There are two political parties that matter in America.  (Note to John Birchers: The Communist Party is not one of them.)  One of them gives a pale imitation of its former full-throated advocacy on behalf of the middle class and the poor.

The other - the GOP - is a party of lies.  They may fetishize the Ten Commandments, but "thou shalt not bear false witness" is not a principle they honor by observance.  The leaders of the Republican Party - not just a few but all of them - pander to their fact-averse base of ignoramuses by lying:

It really does not matter anymore what the issue is or who the spokesperson might be. From the budget to unions to world events to brackets for March Madness, it doesn’t matter what the latest word string is—time and time again it has become quite safe to assume that anything these weasels say is a lie. Yes, it is a lie boldly told, but it is still a lie nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Billions for defense, not a penny for public unions



Click image for full Richard Bartholomew/Artizans.com cartoon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cools melting fuel rods too


Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The next wingnut crush

I don't mean Michele Bachmann will be taking over for the tanking Sarah Palin, as even the undiscerning underbelly of clueless teabaggers tire of her.  No, I mean to speculate wildly.

The perfect candidate for the base Republican base is a porn star who has found Jesus - right after aging out of the biz, conveniently.  Can you imagine a 35-year-old silicone marvel distracting the mouth-breathers from the clever, behind-the-scenes ministrations of the gray eminences of the right, say Newt Gingrich?

Impossible, you say.  Even they couldn't sink so low.

Ha.  In the race to the bottom, there is no bottom.  As low as their base voters will let them go, they'll go.  The Republicans don't care what their pandering might destroy.  Look at all the institutions they're gleeful about trying openly to kill.  They believe that destruction is positive - as long as they're doing the destroying themselves.

After Scott Brown, someone attractive who shows more than he did is the natural next step in a long line of ever prettier, ever more vacuous figureheads.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You thought the company town was great

You had it wrong.  Those Appalachian mining towns?  Paradise on earth.  Only the occasional case of rickets.  Wait till you get the inestimable privilege of living in the company nation.


Hans Gruber had it wrong.  Steal $600,000,000,000 (wild guess) and not only will they not find you, you'll have open advocates in the Senate and of course the Wall Street Journal excusing your manifest and continuing racketeering.

[W]e’ll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement, asserting that it’s all about defending the rule of law. But what they’re actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.

Richard Nixon had it wrong.  It's not against the law if the Chamber of Commerce says it isn't.


Alvin Toffler had it wrong.  Corporations won't need their own armies once they've consolidated their hostile takeover of government.

Oh, yeah, I guess you're already privileged.  Though of course your four legs are merely good, not deserving of the rewards that come to your betters climbing over you on two legs.

Moron that story next


Click image for full August J. Pollak/CampusProgress.org cartoon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How America dies

Anti-democratic Republicans, this time in Michigan, vote it out of existence:

In a party line vote, and despite impassioned speeches of protest by the body’s Democratic minority, the Michigan Senate approved legislation that threatens to take over and even dissolve local governments that refuse to balance their budgets by breaking labor contracts.

According to the law, which has already been approved in the House, the governor will be able to declare “financial emergency” in towns or school districts and appoint someone to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services.

Under the law whole cities or school districts could be eliminated without any public participation or oversight, and amendments designed to provide minimal safeguards and public involvement were voted down.

An amendment to require Emergency Managers to hold monthly public meetings to let people know how they are governing was rejected by Senate Republicans, along with proposals to cap Emergency Manager compensation and require that those appointed to run school districts have some background in education.
Gov. Rick Snyder (R-lust for all the power) will sign this.  It's his bill.

If a Democrat ever did anything as radical as this, wingnuts everywhere would be talking about their Second Amendment remedies.

Trying to provoke violence?

Not content to have passed the union-busting legislation he rammed through, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-my way or the highway) has turned to party-busting.  He now arrogates to deny Democratic Senators their lawful votes in committee.  Republicans all over America look for ways to rule by fiat and to deny the vote to those they dislike.  The authoritarian Fitzgerald has combined the two.  Next he'll form an exploratory committee to run for President.

You might think that this won't change the outcome of any votes.  The committees all have Republican majorities.  But this tinpot ruling means that Fitzgerald only needs the votes of half his caucus to move legislation out of committee.  That means the most extreme 30% of Wisconsin citizens effectively run the State Senate.  The teabaggers, in other words.

This means that any moderate Republicans who might make overtures to the center have no one to make overtures to.  In the long run, this may help the recall efforts, the righteous campaign to turn these anti-democratic thugs back out into the streets.

Fitzgerald isn't even pretending that republican government matters.  You citizens who elected these Democrats, your votes are meaningless.

What is to be done?

Don't get mad.  Get even.

  • Continue the recall, and get these thugs out of office.
  • Occupy the capitol building.  Peacefully.  But expect mass arrests and manufactured or provoked riots.  Gov. Walker was contemplating it.  He'll do it.  These men have no conscience.  They only understand power.
  • File an emergency lawsuit in U.S. District Court.  If this isn't an equal protection violation, the words equal and protection are meaningless in Republican bizarro-world.
  • Call President Obama. The U.S. Constitution, supreme law of the land and superior to any pipsqueak tinpot Republican legislative capo di tutti capi, states in Article IV, section 4:
    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.
    Time to get to guaranteeing, Mr. President.
(h/t Jed Lewison at DailyKos)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Riding that train



All aboard!

Click image for full Jack Ohman/Oregonian cartoon.

Nostalgic for a past that never existed

Conservatives used to wax nostalgic for the1950s, a quiet, industrious society in which women knew their place and black people were invisible or didn't last long if they didn't say their best Jim Crow yassuh.  But at least those reactionary conservatives could remember what they wanted to return to.

At least, that fantasy golden age was real.  Not that golden in many ways, but it did exist, and the conservatives of the time following could remember it.

Today's teabaggers pine for a time and a country that never existed.  Michele Bachmann's dislocation of the birthplace of the American Revolution is the least of it.  She just shows herself to be ignorant, and isn't that part of her attraction for the teabag reactionaries?  For her idiocrat ilk to own the Revolution, she needs to move it from undeserving blue Massachusetts to (formerly) red New Hampshire. VoilĂ .

This wasn't just a slip of the Bachmann's shrill and blistering tongue.  She said it more than once.  It was part of her prepared remarks even if it never reached her teleprompter or her paper text. 

Wingnut commenters everywhere defend Bachmann by claiming equivalence with Barack Obama's 57 state slip.  Since they obviously reason poorly, it's not surprising that they would falsely equate a slip of the tongue with persistent ignorance.  They themselves are too ignorant to tell the difference.

Teapublicans pine for a world of their own devising.  They create memories out of their dreams and claim for them truth.

  • The Founders were conservatives.
  • America is a Christian nation.
  • The Constitution frames a federal government only slightly stronger than the Articles of Confederation did.  (What's the Articles of Confederation, 'twingers ask...)
  • The Founders worked to abolish slavery (another Bachmann special).
  • Most slaves lived happily in bondage.
  • The Civil War was a war of northern aggression.
  • The Robber Barons were nice men who employed millions and should have been praised, not prosecuted.
  • The League of Nations was a terrible idea.  Actually, they've never even heard of the League of Nations.
  • The Great Depression was caused by lazy, no-account spongers.  No wait, that's the Great Recession.
  • Anyway, nothing FDR did (other than getting us into WWII) helped the economy.
  • Vietnam was a righteous war.
  • The 1960s were a horrible time in which everything worsened.
  • Richard Nixon was framed.
  • Ronald Reagan never raised taxes.
  • Star Wars can work.
  • Who needs the State Department?  We've got DoD.
  • Social Security is demographically doomed (even though one of Reagan's tax increases solved the problem in advance!).
  • The Iraq war was righteous.  Is righteous.  After all, they attacked us on 9/11 and they had WMD.
  • It's o.k. to turn any Islamic country into a glass parking lot if they say something we don't like.  Collateral damage to the innocent?  Deal with it bitches.  The U.S. is exceptional.
  • Torture is good when we do it, an act of war when they do it.
  • Due process is for babies, and we don't need no stinking habeas corpus.
  • Obamacare is free (and socialist).
  • Despite consistent and incredible successes, environmental law is destroying the economy.
  • Science is a conspiracy to turn the world oppressive and socialist.
  • White people, especially men, are massively discriminated against in our society.
  • Sharia is coming.
  • No other country has anything to teach us, now or ever.
  • The free market can exist and it can solve every problem of resource allocation perfectly.
  • Rich people deserve ... everything.
The Teahadists long for a world in which they can believe all these absurdities (and more) without elitist liberals pointing out their errors.  Never mind that they've worked over the media so that their most ridiculous claims get treated equally to actual facts.  They are looking for a world in which we have to hear their bullshit but in which our counters to it infringe their free speech rights.

They're ahistorical morons.  And they're winning.

Flipping the bird


Click image for full MStreeter/Savannah Morning News cartoon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One white, one black, one non-blonde


So many funny lines...

Daddy's money too

Can anyone give me a reason why Abigail Johnson, gifted with every possible opportunity and leg up, should not pay an inheritance tax when she eventually inherits her father's multi-billion dollar fortune?  She's already richer than he is, $11.3 billion to $7.1 billion.

Other than middle class conservatives who defend this permanent aristocracy of money, is there anything more ridiculous than the structure of investing, which permits people like the Johnsons to cream off billions, when they can't even consistently beat index funds? 

If you're not an investment professional, don't try to compete with these lawful thieves.  But also don't let them take a cut of your money.  Put it in a no-load index fund and step back.  Or be a pigeon, your choice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rehab

Click image for full Jimmy Margulies/Record cartoon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another bullshit Republican crisis

We've all heard how desperately underfunded state pension funds are.  It's a scandal!  A trillion dollars those lazy, entitled, gold-plated, union leeches want out of your long-suffering, tax-paying hide!

No, actually, it's another zombie lie of the Republican Party and the Blue Dawgs (PDF), eagerly abetted by the elite media:

Most of the [$1 trillion] pension shortfall using the current methodology is attributable to the plunge in the stock market in the years 2007-2009. If pension funds had earned returns just equal to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury bonds in the three years since 2007, their assets would be more than $850 billion greater than they are today. This is by far the major cause of pension funding shortfalls. While there are certainly cases of pensions that had been underfunded even before the market plunge, prior years of under-funding is not the main reason that pensions face difficulties now. Another $80 billion of the shortfall is the result of the fact that states have cutback their contributions as a result of the downturn.
Leaving $70 billion to make up nationwide, in addition to the $80 billion in deferred contributions.

Why would conservatives get their undies in a twist about this?  It's what they do.  More to the point, though, they're opposed to all domestic expenditures with the possible exception of law enforcement.  They don't care if their public rationale to cut spending on people is a lie, only that it works.

But the most important reason is probably the plutocratic one:
[I]f pension funds stop investing in equities, as some have advocated, this would imply higher taxes and/or lower benefits for public employees. It would also mean that other investors could expect to see higher future returns on their stock holdings.
Without the pension funds chasing high rates of return in equities markets, Republican fat cats' capital will be scarcer, thus more valuable and due higher returns.  There is no better outcome for GOP politicos than to sucker a Democratic constituency at the same time it succors a Republican constituency.

(h/t the estimable Paul Krugman)

(Massachusetts, truth be told, is not very good on pension funding.  Our unfunded liability is larger than it should be.  Not a crisis, as GOP Chicken Littles would have you believe, but a debt that should be handled responsibly.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bracketopathy

Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Only my tribe is deserving

Digby nails the teabaggers:

I'm wondering when people are going to recognize that not only is the Tea Party socially conservative and uhm ... racially uncomfortable, their antipathy to taxes and government actually stems from those attitudes. It's not a coincidence or even a sympathetic constellation of various positions on the issues. They don't like government because they believe that government should not protect and support people they don't like.
Emphasis in the original.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Zuckerberg lives

I just watched "The Social Network".  (Why didn't they call it "Social Network"?  Cleaner.)

Mark Zuckerberg is still alive, despite being (portrayed as) a conscienceless user asshole.  No, I didn't believe the young associate putting a sweet Hollywood bow on him at the end.  Although it did look as though she might be trying to cheer up the poor little rich boy with a little white lie...

The apparent fact the Zuckerberg is such a creep and is still alive is actually good news.  Not for the business world, which is full of similar successful self-centered sociopaths, but for the political world.

Movies come out every year in which the entire government is run by venal conspiracies that would just as soon kill you as frame you for a crime you didn't commit.  "Enemy of the State" had both.  The Bourne abstraction movies have a shadow government immune from democratic control.  I'm sure I'll enjoy the matrix-y paranoia of "The Adjustment Bureau".

For me, the question has lately been, with trillions of dollars at stake and with humans' obvious willingness to kill over paltry amounts, is our government subject to even worse than the obvious perennial purchase by moneyed interests.  Goldman Sachs has run our economic policy, irrespective of the party in power, for decades.  They got to the top the old-fashioned way; they stole, uh, sorry, creamed off huge proceeds and bought power by contributing to both parties.

Yet if push came to shove and a less wishy-washy reformer than Barack Obama won the Presidency against all the elite cultural factors stacked against him (or her - but not Hillary, she's too DLC), how far would the interests of wealth go to retain their control?  Yeah, this sounds paranoid even to me, its thinker.  But...

Zuckerberg lives.  Maybe popular democracy remains possible, despite the current overwhelming dominance of the wealthy elite.

And I did really enjoy seeing Larry Summers portrayed as an arrogant, short-sighted, ignoramus asshole.  Too bad the filmmakers couldn't prevail upon him to play himself.

Harvard is everywhere in this movie, and it doesn't come off well.  But now Harvard has Drew Faust, and the federal government has Elizabeth Warren.  Maybe the problem all along has been Harvard men, and what we really need is Harvard women to save us.

(Shhh.  Don't tell the wealthy.  Let them get comfortable with Faust's and Warren's admission to the club.  Then bust up the club good and proper.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Suffering must end

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Your life should suck

Click image for full Jen Sorensen/C-VILLE Weekly cartoon.

A good paragraph

Some writing deserves to be blogged just because of what it does:

Twenty-five years ago was another world. The game was over and I was by myself—my parents and brother presumably asleep—alone in the late night with the incredible fact that had just come into being. Len Bias beat Carolina. There was no one to shout it to, nothing to do with the joy but wrap it up and hold it, reverberating, inside the ribcage. Len Bias beat Carolina. It was true, and if you were lucky enough to know it, you would know it forever.
Vain to ask, What if?  But also compelling, as with the Kennedys and King and Joplin and Hendrix and Challenger and Columbia and Grissom and the girl I loved but never spoke of it to.  And...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bondage and DOMAnation

DOMA is bad law.  It was bad law when Bill Clinton pandered to the Dick Morris crowd and signed it.  If marriage needs defense from gays and lesbians, it's only because it's been damaged by a long series of trailer trash.  Cheating and divorce does make a hell of a country song, however, proving again that it's an ill wind that blows nobody good.

Eric Cantor (R-coiffed to look reasonable without actually being reasonable) is "taken aback" at President Barack Obama's order to the Justice Department to stop arguing for DOMA in court.  Gee willickers!

On the other hand, there is something odd about the government of laws deciding to leave a duly, if venally, passed law to fend for itself.  It's not as though it can hire its own lawyer.  After all, the President and his Cabinet swore (Art. II, sec. 1):

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
I'm sure wingnuts everywhere are spitting at their screens to demand Obama's impeachment.  (Uh-huh.)  Even Newt Gingrich, in his continuing campaign to get out in front of the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing mob of teabaggers...

Two thoughts to consider:
  • Clearly, the Constitution comes before a law.
  • It's much more honest to step away from backing a law.  That allows those who do believe in it to defend it and those who don't to avoid the temptation to mount a vacuous fake defense.
No doubt that last would be the Republican Teapublican approach in similar circumstances.

Update (3/6):  Turns out Republican Justice Departments have abandoned appellate defense of federal laws, so I've fixed my claim that they would instead mount a fake defense.