Friday, December 30, 2011

The year in deja vu

American and European elites fucked up 2011:

The bottom line is that 2011 was a year in which our political elite obsessed over short-term deficits that aren’t actually a problem and, in the process, made the real problem — a depressed economy and mass unemployment — worse.
Of course, moronic teabaggers - members of the 99% fighting for the 1% - aren't elite. They may think of themselves as elite. After all, they're white and old, so they expect to be elite as their birthright, as their due of Confucian filial piety Ten Commandment Christian honor. And the teabaggers contributed with every vociferous shout-down and reactionary vote to the total fuck-up that was 2011, due to the completely irrational mindfuck of the 2010 midterm elections.

The elite central bankers took care of other bankers and told the rest of us that our dire straits were our own damn fault, never mind that the very same profligate bankers crashed the world economy. But they went to Harvard and the Sorbonne and Heidelberg, so we have to take care of them and their vacation homes and their taxpayer-funded bonuses, even if it means they have to sacrifice - oh, the humanity - by witnessing with their virgin eyes the homeless living in refrigerator boxes - how gauche, how outrĂ©, how lacking in fellow feeling toward their noble betters. Where's a Potemkin village when they need one for their refined sensibilities!

I am really fucking sick of the blind selfish wealthy, tired of being an upper middle class peasant with a white-knuckle death grip on my job, destined for Ayn Rand penury in old age, blamed for my own laziness, when in fact I work much harder than the shitheads who cream off an ever-larger proportion of the GDP.

Let me say this right now: If I find myself broke and hungry in old age, screwed out of Social Security and Medicare in a giant profit-making game of three-card monte, discarded by craven plutocratic feudal elites, I will not go gentle into that good night.

Is that a threat? You're goddamn right it is.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Times deigns to permit the L-word

The American Enterprise Institute, which calls its employs scholars but pays them to create propaganda, created the bullshit lie that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial meltdown.

 Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, [has] almost single-handedly created the myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis. His partner in crime is another A.E.I. scholar, Edward Pinto, who a very long time ago was Fannie’s chief credit officer. Pinto claims that as of June 2008, 27 million “risky” mortgages had been issued — “and a lion’s share was on Fannie and Freddie’s books,” as Wallison wrote recently. Never mind that his definition of “risky” is so all-encompassing that it includes mortgages with extremely low default rates as well as those with default rates nearing 30 percent. These latter mortgages were the ones created by the unholy alliance between subprime lenders and Wall Street. Pinto’s numbers are the Big Lie’s primary data point.

Allies? Start with Congressional Republicans, who have vowed to eliminate Fannie and Freddie — because, after all, they caused the crisis! Throw in The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, which, on Wednesday, published one of Wallison’s many articles repeating the Big Lie. It was followed on Thursday by an editorial in The Journal making essentially the same point. Repetition is all-important to spreading a Big Lie.
AEI and the Wall Street Journal know they're lying. They know that Fannie and Freddie were late to big profitable rape and pillage started entirely by private, market-based institutions.

But they lie repeatedly just the same. Oh, yeah, the Republicans too.

Why not call it lying?

They're coming for everything you have:

The GOP is engaged in a wholesale effort to redefine the government help that Americans take for granted as an effort to create a radically new, statist society. Consider Romney’s claim in his Bedford speech: “President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.”

Obama believes no such thing. If he did, why are so many continuing to make bundles on Wall Street? As my colleagues Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman have been insisting, Romney is saying things about the president that are flatly, grossly and shamefully untrue. But Romney’s sleight of hand is revealing: Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.
Mitt Romney is supposed to be the sane one, yet he has more than doubled down on the socialist/communist/leveller lies and slander.

(h/t Zandar at Balloon Juice)

Imagine even better



Another case where tepid Democratic insurance reforms are nonetheless vastly superior to Republican plans, which in healthcare, amount to, "Kill the weak!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Radio Rwanda, c. 1994



Fox is blatantly and explicitly dividing its viewership from anyone with the slightest taint of liberalism. They are dehumanizing us with the goal of making us conscience-free for their soldiers to kill. In a Christian way, of course.

The entire War on Christmas trope is a propaganda tool intended to divide Americans. It's working.

You think I'm exaggerating. But the Tutsi never thought their neighbors would hack them to death with machetes.

Update (12/24): Exaggerating?

Monday, December 19, 2011

No coal for you, but a nice oil sand pipeline

Click image for full Deb Milbrath cartoon.

No deal

John Boehner (R-tea-drinker) may have the title and office of Speaker, but no deal he makes is worth the air he wastes in agreeing to it:

Speaker John A. Boehner, who had urged his members on Saturday to support the bill, seemingly [sic] did an about-face on Sunday and said he and other House Republicans were opposed to the temporary extension, part of a $33 billion package of bills that the Senate passed Saturday. In addition to extending the payroll tax cut for millions of workers, the legislation extends unemployment benefits and avoid cuts in payments to doctors who accept Medicare. The measure would be effective through February.
I'm getting strong feelings that America is doomed. Even should the unlikely happen and the Democrats sweep away the teabaggers in 2012, we are sooo divided, and the wingnuts are sooo adamantly determined on a course of fascism.

Fascism? No exaggeration - the Republican option doesn't just tend toward oligarchic rule by wealthy corporate interests. It is oligarchy. They cynically and demagogically fan the nationalism, bigotry, fundamentalism, and hatred of the liberal principles that founded this country. Instead, they off the feudal tribalism in which one aristocrat's peasants fight another aristocrat's serfs, all for the greater glory of the so-called nobles.

Even if Democrats, wishy-washy and thoroughly compromised as they are, win the coming election, Republicans have made the country ungovernable. They did it on purpose because they would rather endanger the country than surrender power, even to a majority. As soon as the 2008 election was called, they set out to take America hostage. And our fellow citizens were too stupid, too easily demagogued, and too irrational to resist.

Yeah, I'm such a ray of sunshine these days.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Apologies for my cynicism

Secret Santas are sweeping the nation, paying off the layaway accounts of a few random lucky members of the 99%. Wonderful Christmas time story to warm the cockles of even Scrooge's heart, right?

“It is honestly being driven by people wanting to do a good deed at this time of the year,” said Salima Yala, Kmart’s division vice president for layaway.
Then why are they for the most part only paying off accounts at Kmart? And how does she know exactly?

Oh, sure, we'll start to hear about copycats (and good for them, unless of course they're from a competing HQ in Bentonville). But this smacks of a purely cynical guerrilla marketing campaign. It's brilliant in its way, but at bottom there's a soul-killing ugliness to the willingness to leverage small money into tremendous free media.

If you want to prove that the problem is in my heart, not in the hearts of the secret Santas, find out who called the press. Acts of generosity that happen when no one is looking don't make good copy unless a writer is tipped off.

I'd really like to be wrong about this. But I think it's not even noblesse oblige, instead fakery.

While I'm on the topic, one more thing about layaway: The need for layaway shows how far the middle class has fallen. You only need layaway if you can't get a few hundred dollars in credit. Layaway terms are one-sided - the poor consumer pays and pays and pays and still has to keep returning to the store. This is the world of widespread penury that Republicans want to return us to. So that we'll be more cowed and leave their sponsors an ever larger share of the pie.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Henceforth I claim that I am PolitiFact

This doesn't mean I am ending PolitiFact, oh no! Sure, I may be ending PolitiFact as we know it. But that's a whole 'nother beast.

It's true that I will not be staffing PolitiFact beyond my own herculean efforts. It will no longer be run by the St. Petersburg Times. Nor will I be bending over backward to cast a pox on both their houses whenever possible. I won't be neutral either - how could I with the name lovable liberal?


But this will still be the same program we've come to rely on to distinguish fact from fantasy.

Because it has the same name.

If you believe PolitiFact on Medicare, you should believe this.

(Yes, I realize this is from April. Under my new management, PolitiFact will no longer have to be timely either.)

Update: Now I remember. I was on this topic because of BlueMassGroup, so h/t.

Tell me different



What this means: Republicans want to replace Medicare with vouchers for private health insurance, vouchers whose purchasing power is planned to decrease over the years, vouchers to buy something that at some point in everyone senior's life will not be available at any price. If they succeed, bankruptcy and destitution with no possibility of ever recouping independence will be the lot of most people in their so-called golden years.

The simple objective of the Republican Party is to deny any existence to any of us in the 99% that's not as a captive market. I have a hard time seeing how that can be classified as anything short of evil.

Fly, little ones, fly away

Click image for full Garry Trudeau/Doonesbury cartoon.

Hair club for GOP

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kindred spirits

Rush and Newt go way back. Steve Kornacki speculates about why Rush is helping Newt with wingnuts and teabaggers now.

But maybe they both just recognize each other as their kind of asshole. Both these guys are hugely more hypocritical than even the typical winger.

Newt pilloried Bill Clinton while, for the second time, he was having an affair that would lead him to divorce one wife in favor of his new lover. Rush pilloried Clinton while taking Viagra on a trip to the Dominican Republic, unaccompanied by any woman, which looked an awful lot like sex tourism.

Rush and Newt are both law and order conservatives, yet both have run afoul of the law. Rush was a pain pill addict whose possession of pills and prescriptions gained under false pretenses would have meant jail time for a mere mortal. Newt repeatedly violated the lax ethical standards of Congress.

Hypocritical assholes on this scale need each other.

Friday, December 9, 2011

War on Rick Perry



They don't call us satyrists for nuthin'.

Bring it on, bitches


The worst aspect of this is... Wait, how can I pick any single feature of this colon-load of pandering, resentment-filled ugliness as worst?

Perry appeals to the common sense of grievance fundamentalists have that they are persecuted when you disagree with them, when you won't let them force feed their Christianity (subspecies estupidus estupendum) to your children. This imaginary grievance is the fundies' perverse attempt to be Christ-like martyrs. From the comfort of their armchairs.

Perry whips the gays (no buggering in foxholes on his watch!), kisses some military ass, and makes the bullshit claim that children can't pray in schools. Again, keep your stupid beliefs away from my kids. It's bad enough that you've inculcated stupidity in your own offspring. If America is going to compete globally, someone here has to know something about science. You want your children to pray (for rain, maybe?), get them into the pews every Sunday instead of trying to bring the pews into the classroom.

"...Obama's war on religion..." I'm Rick Perry, and I'm a delusional fundamentalist asswipe. He said it! Between the lines...

Don't worry, Rick, in a real war on religion, you'd be fine. You'd be far too useful for showing how dangerous religion and pandering to it can be. Why is it that you and your mouth-breathing followers think that sectarian beliefs should be a matter for majority vote?

The reality of this ad is that Perry is not the anti-Mitt, so he's angling to be the anti-Newt. He - or his political consultant - think Perry's biggest opening is with Fox-viewing fundies without two ideas to rub together. It's probably canny political positioning. Even that fact that liberals like me hate this ad is all good for Perry. The adverse attention from us will help him circle the wagons with the fundies.

But that's all good for us too. Perry may title his ad "Strong," but he's a very weak national general election candidate. The longer he survives the Republican primaries, the better for us.

So...



Rick Perry. Suck. On. This.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wingnut id


Click image for full August J. Pollak cartoon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Frank Langella theory of executive authority

Rick Perry (R-Duhbya was a genious) believes - if he could only get elected President - he could unilaterally abrogate standing law. Can we go ahead and make Texas governors ineligible to be President? By Perry's hazy, ignorant idea of the Constitution, Barack Obama could make that happen with the stroke of a pen.

This moron doesn't believe in law. He believes in power, wingnut power.

Truth on employment

The drop in official unemployment is not good news. It only looks like good news. Labor force participation is horrible.

I would guess that the picture for would-be workers between 55 and 67 (the most recent full Social Security retirement age) is even worse.

According to Republicans, all this despair is the fault of the despairing. According to Democrats, there's not much more they can do.

The Occupiers are right.

Failure of understanding - mine

Other cultures have different norms:

The problem for Gulnaz and the other women in the film is the deeply held belief that women uphold their family’s honor. Thus any attempt to expose abuse is so humiliating to the family that a woman who speaks out often becomes a pariah among her relatives, ending up isolated as well as abused.

Gulnaz’s case shows the power of cultural norms. On the one hand, the public campaign for the woman prompted the pardon, which ensures that she will be able to bring up her daughter outside prison. On the other hand, the fact that the only imaginable solution to the situation of a woman with an illegitimate child is to have her marry the father — even if he is a rapist — is testament to the rigid belief here that a woman is respectable only if she is embedded within a family.

Ms. Malpas said that Gulnaz talked to her about why she felt that she had to give in to requests that she marry the man who raped her, even though she did not want to, explaining that not only would she be an outcast if she did not, but so would her daughter, and she would bring shame on her family.
I can't even begin to understand this one. A man rapes one of another man's female relatives, maybe even a daughter, and he blames her for shaming him!?

What the fuck is wrong with these people and their misogynistic religion and society?

Testify, brother, I mean, cousin

Why is it that American big media is so thin on brutal truth-telling such as this?

The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals. The current crop of candidates have shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein. The Grand Old Party is ruining the entire country's reputation.

...

What a nice club that is. A club of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. "A starting point for a chronicle of American decline," was how David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, described the current Republican race.
Remnick, even, is late to the party. The starting point of the chronicle of our decline was the Republican scandal-mongering response to Bill Clinton's election in 1992.

Update (12/5): Is help on the way for the redoubtable Paul Krugman? Thomas Edsall joins the growing chorus of those of us sick and tired of Republican lies:
Struggling to justify a recent television spot that reached new heights of deception, a top operative in Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign put it plainly, while insisting on anonymity:
“First of all, ads are propaganda by definition. We are in the persuasion business, the propaganda business…. Ads are agitprop…. Ads are about hyperbole, they are about editing. It’s ludicrous for them to say that an ad is taking something out of context…. All ads do that. They are manipulative pieces of persuasive art.”

Looking for grace

Newt Gingrich (R-dumb idea of smart) handles a question about his health - and by implication his plutocratic girth - with humor, self-effacement, and a hint of grace:



Then, he alibis that god wants him to be fat. He held his huge vanity at bay for 30 seconds, but that was all.

Opposites attract


Mitt Romney is so two-faced that Republicans are turning in droves to Newt Gingrich, a man whom they know is also completely untrustworthy but who always takes an ultra-conservative position, even if that requires him to lie about facts. The latest not-Mitt has always played fast and loose with money in politics, always in a way that has enriched him, merely the latest being his acting as an obvious lobbyist while never abiding by the laws about lobbying for pay.

Not to mention that everyone despises Newt Gingrich personally:
[T]he overwhelming refrain from the majority of Insiders on both sides focused on Gingrich's temperament and the unpredictable risks it would create in a general election.

"Winning the presidency is all about discipline, focus, and organization," said one Republican Insider, "none of which are strong suits for Gingrich."

"With Newt, we go to bed every night thinking that tomorrow might be the day he implodes," said another Republican. ... A third Republican stated plainly, "Gingrich is not stable enough emotionally to be the nominee - let alone, the president."

"Newt can't take the scrutiny," agreed a Democrat, "and he has the personality of an angry badger."

...

"Bigfoot dressed as a circus clown would have a better chance of beating President Obama than Newt Gingrich, a similarly farcical character," quipped a Republican.

"Come on," sighed another GOP Insider, "the White House is probably giving money to Gingrich as we speak."

Run away, run away!



Not really a very large message change from Frank Luntz, but another glimpse of the propagandist's modus operandi.