Archive for the ‘Right-Wing Slime’ Category

How Low Does He Have to Go?

August 1st, 2016 4 comments

To any and all Donald Trump voters out there, I have a very serious question: What would Donald Trump have to do to lose your vote?

A while back, Trump said that he could go out and shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters. Well, this seems to be true.

He has shown that lying, being an egomaniac, and making ludicrous, salacious, degrading, and bizarre statements on a daily basis does not lose him support; he has shown that spewing hatred upon various groups—even veterans, like John McCain—does not lose him support; the fact that he went bankrupt six times, has had shady business dealings, and violated any number of business codes does not lose him support; the fact that he refuses to reveal any tax returns, even though he may be in hock to Russian oligarchs, does not lose him support; the fact that he fails to pay employees and contractors until they sue him, even to the point of destroying family businesses he hires, does not lose him support; the fact that he ran businesses like Trump University with transparent fraud does not lose him support; the fact that major figures in his own party call him unqualified or dangerous does not lose him support; the fact that he clearly does not know enough to be president and is not in any way—especially in terms of temperament—qualified to be president does not lose him support.

In 2002, Trump said of Jeffrey Epstein: “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Epstein is a sex offender and pedophile, having served time for soliciting an underage girl, but evidence was found that he committed statutory rape and probably ran an underage sex ring.

That doesn’t bother you?

The man who ghost-wrote his famous “Art of the Deal” book reveals that Trump has almost no attention span, and is literally a sociopath—and that doesn’t bother you?

And now we have the case of Trump openly and rather vilely insulting a Gold Star family, casting bigoted slurs against them.

And you still support Trump?

This is why I truly, honestly want an answer: What would Trump have to do to lose your support? Exactly how far would he have to go? Would he literally be able to shoot someone on 5th Avenue and still have your support?

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Trump and Character

July 31st, 2016 Comments off

This really kind of sums it up.

Trump is a Disgrace

How much more of a disgrace can you be? Trump is not just unfit for office, he barely qualifies as a human being.

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No End to the Depravity

January 22nd, 2016 1 comment

Just the other day, Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for president. At about the same time, her son, Track Palin, was involved in a report of domestic violence, in which an AR-15 assault rifle was involved. Some left-wing web sites have been making something of it since then.

I was of the same mind, to be honest. I remember back in 2008, one popular conservative email story was that, if Obama were elected, he would bring his disgraceful family into the White House. An image was circulated with Obama and some family members, most of them tagged with scandalous—and utterly fake—designations, like gay porn star, crack addict, etc., with a warning that if Obama were elected, “this bunch” would start “running around the White House.” Instead, Obama’s family has been far less controversial, indeed much more upstanding than perhaps any president’s has been for a long time.

Ironically, it was the McCain campaign’s choice for Vice President that got us that level of soap opera drama; the Palin family has been rife with all manner of lurid affairs, each one seemingly worse and more crass than the previous one.

As a result of this, and Palin’s recent endorsement of and possible VP spot in the Trump campaign, I was ready to blog about how the Palins have been an ongoing embarrassment, in contrast with that fake Obama family portrait from years ago, with the new Track Palin story as Exhibit A.

But then I read the details of the Track Palin story. Expecting just another stunningly deplorable Palin family imbroglio, I instead read that Track had threatened suicide with the AR-15 rifle during the incident. At that, there was no story. You do not mess with that. That’s not family intrigue, that’s a man in need of life-saving help. Not that it excuses the punch to the face and kick to the knee that he gave his girlfriend, but it does mean that this is not Palin Family Values at play, it’s something more sobering and serious. In addition, Track served in Iraq in 2008, meaning it could be related to PTSD. Double the hands-off for that. I have lost a lot of respect for the left-wing sites who use her son’s trouble to attack his mother.

You do not make political hay off of that. It would be entirely scummy to do any such thing.

So, predictably, Sarah Palin did exactly that herself.

She took her son’s misery, his apparently tragic mental health crisis… and turned it into a cheap political shot, claiming that Obama was the cause for all of Track’s problems, because he’s just a horrible president who disrespects the troops. Why? According to Palin:

“They come back wondering if there is that respect for what their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military have given so sacrificially to this country, and that starts at the top,” she continued, touting Trump as the best choice for president. “It’s a shame that our military personnel even have to question, have to wonder if they’re respected anymore. It starts from the top. The question, though, it comes from the top, the question, though, that comes from our own president where they have to look at him and wonder, ‘Do you know what we go through? Do you know what we’re trying to do to secure America and to secure the freedoms that have been bequeathed us?’”

“So when my own son is going through what he goes through coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who kind of feel these ramifications of PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with, and it makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we’ll have that commander in chief who will respect them and honor them,” she said.

Notice how she makes a special effort to drag the crisis to Obama’s doorstep. Not that she’s the most literate person ever, but her segues are rather gallingly obvious.

Not to mention, just as the disgusting 2008 family photo meme, utterly false. Obama has praised the troops and spoken respectfully of their sacrifices endless times over the years. For example, just after taking office in 2009, Obama told soldiers at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune:

“It lives on in the memories of your fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who gave their lives. It endures in the wound that is slow to heal, the disability that isn’t going away, the dream that wakes you up at night, the stiffening in your spine when a car backfires down the street,” he said.

Obama said it’s now the responsibility of a grateful nation to carry out its duty to U.S. servicemembers and their families. This obligation underlies Obama’s decision to allocate funding in his budget proposal to increase the size of the Army and Marines to lessen the burden on those serving, he said.

Or how about this, from 2012:

“I cannot begin to fully understand your loss. As a father I cannot begin to imagine what is like to hear that knock on the door and learn that your worst fears have come true, but as commander in chief I can tell you that sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make, I can promise you I will never do so unless it is absolutely necessary, and that when we do we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation.”

Or this, from last year:

“These sons and daughters, these brothers and sisters who lay down their lives for us – they belong to us all. They’re our children, too. We benefit from their light, their positive influence on the world.”

Or, indeed, from just a few weeks ago:

“As we know, when you’re deployed overseas, it’s tough,” Obama said in brief remarks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay. He said that although his administration has been bringing home troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, “there are still folks over there every single day and it’s still dangerous, as we saw this past week, where we had some outstanding, brave men and women who were killed.”

“So we never take for granted what all of you do for the American people,” Obama said. “You help keep us free. You help keep us strong. Whatever service you’re in, whatever branch, we are extraordinarily grateful for everything that you do every single day.”

Nor has Obama been mute or inactive on PTSD. He has taken it very seriously, and has taken action on multiple occasions to fight for soldier’s access to treatment and care for the condition, from additional benefits on 2010 to the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act just last year. If anything, Obama has been the most active president ever on this issue.

For Sarah Palin, the issue is a punch line. Worse, a family tragedy she can eagerly turn into a political cudgel. She lies horrifically, unjustifiably, shamelessly. Obama never respects or honors the troops? Sarah, go frack yourself.

Not that conservatives are new to this kind of gallingly inhuman hypocrisy. Back in 2011, when Obama made yet another respectful speech to honor the troops, as he has many, many times since he took office, conservatives actually used that praise and respect to bash Obama, acting as if he he never, ever said a good word about the troops ever before, and was only now changing his tune, insincerely, because election season was coming up. Ironically, Obama’s frequent actions to increase benefits for troops and their families—including help for PTSD—was perverted by these slimeballs into a sign of Obama’s supposed contempt for the troops. They begin by quoting Obama’s lavish praise, called it “scripted,” and then wrote:

The flattering message was a remarkable 180 degree turn from his earlier description of soldiers as victims dependent on social-welfare and medical services offered by the Democratic coalition.

Get that? Obama’s praise is scripted and self-serving, and all those benefits he provides the soldiers are just to get them hooked on the socialist government teat.

Now, play that message next to Sarah Palin’s twisted, demented claim that Obama is responsible for the ills suffered by soldiers because he never gave them praise and failed to address issues like PTSD.

You might be tempted to think that Sarah Palin also should not be attacked, but instead be shown concern, as she may herself suffer from mental illness.

But no. She’s just an asshole.

Clinton and the Emails

September 6th, 2015 3 comments

First, let me say that I am not a big Hillary Clinton fan. My impression is that she will continue everything Obama is doing that disappoints me, and likely will expand that to even more stuff I won’t like. I see her as another candidate bound to wealth and business, only mouthing platitudes to the middle class but likely not much more. Like Obama, she’ll very vaguely be on our side, but will never lead—she’ll only move when the fruit is over-ripe and then catch it falling and say she was behind it all along.

I would be quite happy if Clinton fell from the race and Sanders were allowed to burst forth; he’s my only actual hope for a candidate.

That said, I wanted to comment on the whole email thing. From what I read (Slate’s account seems well-informed and not apologetic), it’s dubious, at best—but like Benghazi, enough dust can be kicked up to make it look like Clinton was guilty of something, and that’s good enough for Republicans. And while it is possible that something may at some time emerge that could be legally damaging to Clinton, it seems unlikely.

However, even if something emerges showing that Clinton did something more than just fishy, and at least unethical, and possibly even something illegal—as much as I dislike Clinton, I strongly believe that she should get a pass on it. Again, I wouldn’t mind seeing her kicked out, but on principle, she shouldn’t be.

There are two fundamental reasons behind this.

First, laws should not be upheld selectively—and the laws in this case are being applied as selectively as you can imagine. During the Bush 43 administration, non-government email servers were used on a massive scale, involving far more damning investigations (including the US Attorney scandal), and as many as 22 million emails were deleted, roughly 500 times as many as Clinton is said to have deleted. And not only were Rove and several others heavily involved never charged with anything, but Republicans threatened the political equivalent of all-out nuclear war if Democrats, having regained control of Congress in 2006, even thought about investigating the matter. So, as far as I’m concerned, until Republicans first begin a thorough investigation into the Bush email scandal, they have zero foundation for investigating Hillary.

A law is meaningless—worse than meaningless—if it is only applied to politicians of one party, and not the other.

The second reason is related to the first: the investigation into Clinton and the emails is about as purely political as you could possibly get. This is not about national security, this is not about whether or not something wrong was done. This is about Hillary being a 2016 powerhouse, and Republicans hating her guts and wanting to take her down if it is the last thing they ever do. If Hillary were not running, there would be no investigation. Period. And when it comes to investigations designed solely to destroy a political candidate, again, we enter the realm of “much worse than meaningless.” It is, is no uncertain terms, a blatant abuse of power, above and beyond the baselessness and the sheer hypocrisy involved.

Not that that ever stopped Republicans.


May 22nd, 2015 1 comment

Six years ago, Jonathan Chait wrote this:

Quite possibly, four years from now we could still be mired in a worldwide depression and Obama could be facing dismal — who knows, even Bush-like — popularity ratings. The world is unpredictable. But isn’t there a pretty decent chance that the economy will have recovered, and Obama’s policies will look fairly wise in retrospect? Do Republicans want to make any political plans for this contingency?

My response:

Sure they have a contingency plan: lie. That’s how they claimed Clinton was not responsible for the booming economy he oversaw. If the economy gets better, claim it was because of actions taken by Republicans in the Bush years which came to fruition later, because of economic conditions completely divorced from Obama, and because of pressures Republicans exerted to shape policies during the Obama administration. Meanwhile, they will blame Obama for every piece of negative news during that time (there is always something bad happening), and will claim he’s the most liberal and worst president ever.

Is Chait new here or something?

I’d call my prediction six years ago as pretty much spot-on. Some claimed that Bush was the real savior (e.g., via TARP and the Fed’s reaction), some simply claimed that it was the “natural forces of the business cycle,” and yes, Republicans have blamed Obama for every last thing that went wrong in between, and yes, they have called him the most liberal and worst president ever.

If anything, I understated it. Republicans not only ignored and misattributed what recovery we did experience, they simply flat-out claimed that the stimulus was an unmitigated failure. And calling Obama “the worst president ever” is perhaps the least savaging of all the names they have called him.

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Nixon Sabotaged the End of the Vietnam War?

August 18th, 2014 2 comments

That’s the claim made in a new book by a historian working at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs:

In “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate,” [historian Ken] Hughes recounts that Nixon ally Anna Chennault was suspected of having interceded with South Vietnamese leaders to keep them from attending the late 1968 Paris peace talks, with or without Nixon’s knowledge and approval. When President Lyndon Johnson confronted Nixon with the report, Nixon flatly denied having anything to do with any such sabotage.

But Johnson had the FBI put a tap on the South Vietnamese embassy that caught Chennault telling Ambassador Bui Diem that her “boss” wanted the nation’s leaders “to hold on, we’re gonna win” — implying they would get a better deal under a victorious Nixon.

Hughes heads up the Nixon team of the center’s Presidential Recordings Project; presumably, he knows what he is talking about, and this is not some questionable headline-grabbing half-invented folly.

It’s a pretty serious charge, given how long the war lasted afterwards, and how many people were killed. And it would kind of be a violation of U.S. Law, the Logan Act to be specific. To the level of treason.

Strangely, at least a few articles going around the web now are claiming that George Will “confirmed” the claim—however, a read of Will’s article seems to be nothing more than a retelling of the claim, and not a confirmation. Will just recounts what Hughes claims, and then ends up by making it seem like Obama’s now-completely-debunked IRS “scandal” is somehow analogous.

That seems to be in line with the reaction by many right wingers—even if it did happen, it didn’t go as high as Nixon, and it was justified because Johnson was the one perpetrating the dirty trick by trying to end the war in tim for an election.

I would not at all be surprised if Hughes’ claims are real. I would be just as unsurprised to hear in 20 or 30 years that Reagan did the exact same thing with Iran and the hostages, or that Bush’s team was involved in the use of Florida felon’s list to disenfranchise Gore voters.

On the other hand, I will be more surprised to hear any evidence of Reagan doing that, and shocked if I hear evidence about Bush—not because I don’t think they did these things, but because I am pretty sure they would not have left any evidence tying any of it to anyone near the presidents involved.

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What’s a Jobs Bill? Who Cares, SUE OBAMA!

July 13th, 2014 3 comments

Boehner’s petition to sue the president included this claim:

After years of slow economic growth and high unemployment under President Obama, they are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ The House has passed more than 40 jobs bills that would help. But Washington Democrats, led by the President, just ignore them.

Wow! More than 40 jobs bills! Why haven’t we heard of this before? Must be the Liberal Media just trying to make the Republicans look bad.

So, what were the bills he’s talking about? There’s a list of 46 “pro-growth jobs bills” on this page.

One thing you notice right away is that six of the bills listed here were either signed into law or are supported by Obama. We know that because Boehner’s list itself makes this clear. So, exactly how are “Washington Democrats, led by the President” just ignoring them?

But hey, that’s still 40 jobs bills that Democrats haven’t approved! They must be anti-jobs!

Let’s look at the list, starting at the top. Right there is the Keystone pipeline bill that Democrats refuse to pass in the Senate. They’re preventing oil from being more easily delivered from Canada!

Umm, wait. That’s a jobs bill?


A piece of legislation called a “jobs” bill should be first and foremost focused on creating jobs. If it is focused on a very different task, even though it results in some jobs being created, then it’s not a “jobs” bill.

For example, let’s say I write a bill proposing that all businesses must submit 100 extra pages of forms every year for some purpose or another. Those businesses will obviously need to hire more people to collect that information, confirm it, and submit the forms. Arguably tens of thousands of new jobs must be created to accomplish this task.

Did I just write a “jobs” bill? No.

No, a “jobs” bill is one that is at the very least mostly about creating jobs, and should be directly about creating jobs. For example, in 2012, Obama was pushing strongly to pass a bill that would give tax incentives to companies which would bring jobs now outsourced overseas back to the United States. That’s clearly a “jobs” bill, as creating jobs in the United States is the primary objective. Republicans opposed it because it would make it less advantageous to hire cheap foreign labor.

Then there was the “American Jobs Act” in 2011, which Obama was also pushing, and Republicans also blocked; Obama split the bill up and got a few elements passed, but Republicans stopped most of it. The bill called for suspending some payroll taxes for employers and employees; unemployment benefits and jobs training; spending for creation of infrastructure, construction, teacher, firefighter, and police jobs; prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed; and loosening regulations on creating capital for new business projects. Again, the theme of all of this is clearly to create jobs, both directly and by economic stimulation.

So, how is the Keystone pipeline a “jobs” bill? The primary objective for the Keystone pipeline is to support the production and sale of controversial tar sands oil. It’s kind of hard to argue that approving an oil pipeline to profit oil companies—one of which is not a United States firm—is somehow primarily an American “jobs” bill. It is, however, part of a distinctly partisan pro-corporate agenda.

In fact, an estimate of the impact of the project says that the project would create only 2,000 short-term construction jobs over two years, with as many as 40,000 “indirect” jobs (providing food services for workers as one example) which are just as if not more temporary. That’s a job increase worth just 15% of last month’s job increases—and those are temporary jobs that would expire after two years, creating a jobs lurch whenever that happens.

Remember back in 2009 when Obama was really pushing the economic stimulus, and a big part of that was to create jobs on infrastructure projects? At the time, Michael Steele and the GOP claimed that these weren’t “jobs” because they were not permanent:

Steele: “You’ve got to look at what’s going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.”

Stephanopoulos: “But that’s a job.”

Steele: “No, it’s not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It’s going to be long term.”

Stephanopoulos: “So a job doesn’t count if it’s a government job?”

Steele: “Hold on. No, let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we’re talking about have an end point. As a small-business owner, I’m looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It’s a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work.”

So, if Keystone passes, how many “actual,” that is to say, permanent, jobs would be created in America? About 50. More jobs that that would be created—but in Canada. The real profit from this would not be in jobs, it would be in the source of oil. This oil must be refined, but there is no new refining going on, we’re just using a different source. Which means no more new jobs on that end, not in the United States.

But wait a minute. The pipeline delivers oil, but is not the only delivery method. Is this oil that would never be delivered without the pipeline? No. It’s not like we’re not getting the oil—we’re just transporting it by less cost-effective measure, namely rail, truck, and/or barge. Which creates jobs for people running those lines of transportation. Which are currently well-paying, permanent, full-time jobs—which will be killed by the pipeline.

Then there is the fact that the pipeline will lead to higher fuel prices in the midwest, which will have a negative impact on jobs. Oil spills kill jobs over time. The costs for the pipeline will have an opportunity cost on investment in green energy, an industry which has been a true job creator and source of economic value for the United States.

According to various reports, Canadian oil companies would be the biggest winners for this project, with a few jobs spilling over to the American side, which will probably be offset by job losses created by the pipeline. Oh, and tar sands oil is incredibly polluting. In contrast, look at clean-energy car technology initiatives—which created 150,000 long-term manufacturing jobs in the United States. But that’s the kind of industry Republicans mock and deride.

So, no, Keystone is obviously not a “jobs” bill. It’s an oil-industry bill, aimed to mostly profit oil producers and refiners, mostly in Canada, with a minimal or negative jobs impact.

But hey, maybe they just really like the Keystone project, so they topped the list with it. Maybe the 39 other bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

How about the “Offshore Energy & Jobs Act” which will “revitalize manufacturing, create jobs, and restore our nation of builders”? That’s offshore drilling with the word “jobs” attached to it. There are other bills for “onshore drilling,” and for deregulating fracking, and other general “drill anywhere” and “get rid of all environmental protection regulations.” Essentially, most of the energy-related jobs bills are “drill & pollute as much as you like” legislature—which, like the Keystone project, is about energy interests making tons of money, and oh yeah, some jobs may be created in the process. Those are not jobs bills.

In fact, nearly half of the “jobs” bills are actually let’s-give-billions-to-morbidly-profit-rich-energy-corporation giveaways, mostly bills which attack Democratic policies to keep air & water clean and not completely wreck the environment.

But hey, maybe the other two dozen or so bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

The first non-energy bill listed: kill Obamacare. Which would result in millions losing the first affordable healthcare they have seen in a long time, and in many other greatly beneficial policies getting struck down. But hey, the CBO said 2 million jobs would be lost!

No, the CBO said that the equivalent of 2 million jobs in hours worked would be reduced, mostly from people working themselves half to death to pay for pre-ACA health care, which now they don’t need and so can work less but still get the same benefits. Overall, the ACA is probably more job-neutral than anything else—primarily because it’s not a jobs bill. Killing it will not create jobs, that’s GOP fantasy politicking.

So, what’s next on the list? Oh, the next three “jobs” bills are also about killing Obamacare. Go down the list, and you’ll see that they are mostly of this stripe: partisan laws trying to get Republican political agendas signed into law and Democratic political agendas repealed. Privatization of schools, half a dozen limits or prohibitions on government regulation, importing cheaper labor in high-tech industry, more attempts to get rid of the ACA, defunding welfare, spending cuts (which ironically fund jobs), cut food stamps (which are actually job-stimulative due to increase sales business), tax cuts & credits for corporations—stuff like that.

You can read it on the list. Once you get past the hyperbolic “jobs, jobs, jobs!!” titles & language adorning the proposals, you will see that none of these bills are in fact focused on creating jobs, but depend on side effects (many of them fictional) to create the jobs. But the bills themselves are all about something other than jobs.

So, essentially, John Boehner and the Republicans are complaining that Obama is not passing their partisan legislative agenda which is not about jobs, but instead is about rewarding Republican constituents and breaking down Democratic ones.

Of course, since then, the Republican “justification” behind the alleged lawsuit has been revealed as a delay in enforcement of the ACA for some businesses—a move which Republicans not only approved of at the time, but actually pressured the president to do in a different form—until they realized they could use it as a way to attack Obama, at which point they suddenly opposed such delays.

I can imagine that a lot of Americans who are not favorably inclined towards Obama will believe that there is something to the lawsuit, but only because they do not listen, think, or study the issue seriously. They will hear Boehner and other conservatives saying something like, “Obama blah blah blah failed blah blah blah killing jobs blah blah blah shameful blah blah blah destroying America blah blah blah gerbils blah blah blah fluoridation blah blah blah therefore we must [ sue / impeach ] him.”

Apparently, in conservative politics nowadays, this is what is referred to as “Thursday.”

The Imperial Presidency

July 3rd, 2014 1 comment

Boy, that Obama is just out of control. Boehner just has to sue him!

Republican charge: Obama rules by decree. Evidence: Has issued 180 executive orders.

George W. Bush: Supposedly not ruling by decree. Evidence: Issued about 210 executive orders by the same time in his presidency.

Republican charge: Obama lied when he said you could keep your health care plan if you liked it. Evidence: Undetermined number of Americans forced to change health care plans; some got somewhat worse plans, many more got more advantageous plans. Obama made a formal apology for his statements, saying that his assurances had been wrong.

George W. Bush: Bush lied about Iraq having ties to al Qaeda and terrorism, about Iraq working on a nuclear program and having massive stockpiles of WMD, about how an invasion would be short-termed and not costly, how we would be greeted as liberators, and how sectarian concerns would not be a problem. Evidence: A decade-long was costing trillions of dollars, 4489 American soldiers killed, 32,000 wounded, Iraq destabilized and sent plunging into a sectarian civil war. Bush never admitted doing anything wrong, said he would make the same decision again if he could go back; Republicans blamed Obama for anything bad happening concerning the war, including costs and outcome.

Republican charge: Obama’s “Imperial Presidency” via executive orders and end-runs around Congress is “Unprecedented.”

George W. Bush: from an article in 2007:

As he tries to end-run a balky Congress, Bush is taking a page from Bill Clinton’s playbook by adopting a series of mini-initiatives to change policy through executive orders and administration actions that don’t require legislation.

Let’s face it, this is just a media stunt. According to Republicans, every Democratic president is “the most corrupt ever,” or “the most imperial president ever”—just like every single Democratic presidential nominee is immediately and automatically labeled as “the most liberal nominee ever.” It’s a knee-jerk political attack, similar to how every domestic mass murderer or terrorist suspect is automatically labeled as a “Registered Democrat” in Freeper forums.

This is not about Obama doing anything even remotely controversial. It’s about Republicans running out of ideas about how to attack Obama and still make it look serious somehow.

Obama Should Apologize for the New Jersey Bridge Scandal

January 11th, 2014 2 comments

CNN, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the NY Times, and USA Today all have multiple headlines, and all at least have one large and prominent story, near the top of their pages regarding Chris Christie’s New Jersey bridge scandal.

Guess how Fox News is handling it? Not hard to predict: way, way down near the bottom of the page:

Obama’s apology? The link leads to a video of a Fox talking head showing Christie apologizing and the mayor of Fort Lee accepting the apology—and therefore, the scandal is over. But Obama? He never made multiple, formal apologies for Fast & Furious, Solyndra, etc. etc.—so that’s the real scandal the media should be focusing on.

The Wall Street Journal—also owned by Murdoch—took an almost identical approach, focusing on Obama’s IRS “scandal,” and how he never showed contrition for that.

Not that closing the bridge lanes was an earth-shattering event. It was not insignificant, either; it may have had serious impact on some emergency responses to medical crises, and may even have led to a death. But why is the story deserving of such great attention on non-Murdoch media?

For the same reason why we should have paid attention to stories about drug abuse, desertion, and the drunk driving charges regarding George W. Bush back in 2000: it would have alerted us to the character and behavior patterns of a presidential candidate who could potentially be disastrous for the nation.

Conservatives have worked hard to try to make it seem like there was actual abuse by Obama or anyone near him in the IRS brouhaha; it turned out that there was no such thing.

However, Christie’s bridge scandal is an excellent example of how Christie is far more likely to abuse power in exactly that manner.

Which brings up another interesting point about the abuse of power:

“It’s not obvious what laws may have been broken,” says Stuart Green, law professor at Rutgers School of Law-Newark in New Jersey. “I mean, there was undoubtedly an abuse of power, but in the federal context, there’s no general prohibition on abuse of power.”

Maybe there should be. Unfortunately, as with a lot of other good ideas, it is one that conservatives would instantly begin to abuse, wielding it as a political weapon to spark fishing-expedition investigations, begin witch hunts, and generally harass their political opponents.

Which is what conservatives tend to do. They’re definitely Slytherins to the liberals’ Hufflepuffs, intent on the acquisition of power and completely comfortable with use any means to achieve it.

Reaching New Lows: Deranged, Perverted, AND Hypocritcal

September 21st, 2013 6 comments

a creepy conservative adConservatives have a new ad out, one which is universally being referred to as “creepy,” which attacks Obamacare. It depicts a woman at a gynecological exam having a ghoulish pervert in an Uncle Sam costume sneak up on her with a speculum.

The message, void of the warped imagery, is that Obamacare puts the government between you and your medical care, an old canard which conservatives always fall back on when it comes to anything related to health care reform, a message as fake as the asininely depraved vehicle used to deliver it.

The real irony: these same conservatives—pretty much exactly the same conservatives—are the ones who are getting laws passed around the country which force women, including rape victims, to undergo mandatory vaginal ultrasounds before they can get an abortion.

That’s right. The people who actually are getting Uncle Sam to creepily violate women in hospitals for no defensible reason are putting out ads falsely saying that Obamacare will do to women what they are doing to women. Imagine a rapist putting out a commercial saying that the district attorney sexually violates women, or an arsonist running a nationwide TV campaign about how firefighters actually start fires. That’s pretty much what we’re looking at here.

It would be creepy even if it weren’t true that these people want to force rape victims who are trying to stop the pregnancy caused by their rapist to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure equivalent to government-mandated rape. I’m trying to imagine how you could be even a little bit more perverse than these people without sounding ludicrously obscene, but these people have long since passed that landmark.


August 7th, 2013 1 comment

Something that Republicans can still do with aplomb is to play the media game. While right-wing individuals tend to say incredibly idiotic stuff, like that a woman’s body can repel a rapist’s sperm, the party mechanism itself is very finely honed.

Take one of their latest gambits: they threaten to cancel primary debates on CNN and NBC if they go forward with planned programming featuring Hillary Clinton. NBC plans to make a miniseries, while CNN will produce a documentary.

The GOP objection is expressed in this letter, to NBC:

As an American company, you have every right to air programming of your choice. But as American citizens, certainly you recognize why many are astounded at your actions. which appear to be a major networks’ thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election. …

I find this disturbing and disappointing. NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign. …

If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor.

Like both networks did in 2006, right? Oh, wait, they didn’t. Hillary was also known to be a candidate then, was also seen as the inevitable front-runner, etc. etc.—so if NBC and CNN are so “in the tank” for her, why nothing on her back then? The answer, of course, is that right now a program featuring Hillary is most likely to gain viewers. That is always the bottom line, of course.

But the GOP isn’t doing this for nothing. They get several benefits:

  • They get to paint themselves as victims; victims always get vaulted status and special breaks
  • They get to perpetuate the myth that the media is liberally biased, when the most-watched “news” network is essentially their 24-7 propaganda machine
  • They get to cry “election theft” way in advance, even as they set up the largest number of laws which amount to thinly-veiled election theft
  • They get to influence people’s reactions to the programming and smear Hillary, putting forth the assumption that any TV show about her will put her in a better light than reality
  • They get to “play the ref” with the networks, a tried-and-true technique whereupon accusation of liberal bias will shift network bias sharply to the right; in this case, either getting said networks to tone down any positive view of Hillary, and/or getting them to play up negatives so as to achieve “balance”
  • They get to hold fewer debates without looking like that’s what they intended all along
  • They get to avoid having debates on any network that won’t make them into softball beauty pageants, without looking like they are—as they indeed are—deathly afraid of any debate moderator actually acting like a real journalist and pointing out the GOP insanity oozing from their candidates.

The last two points are undoubtedly the most salient; the GOP was in part slaughtered in the previous election by their interminable primary debate streak, which brought forth almost every candidate (except the most reasonable, of course) as a front-runner at least once (and a couple at least twice), causing all the campaigns to expend great amounts of funds and energy fighting against each other, whilst providing tons of ammunition for the opposition, ammunition which was then weeded and honed into devastating attacks against the eventual party candidate.

The GOP, without much doubt, would love to limit the number of primary debates to a much smaller number and hold them in venues where they can carefully control the content and exposure—in short, making these debates, until now one of the few raw images of the process, into a scripted media event as fake and as controlled as every other.

They know that Hillary will be coming at them like a steamroller, and they know that women will vote in huge numbers for her, challenging and already very challenged Republican party. They have known this for a while, which is one reason they were so excited by Benghazi, because it meant they had a shot of “scandalizing” Hillary and shooting down her chances in 2016. The GOP is not daunted by failure, however, and continues their best to paint her as unfit. Take their brief attempt to characterize her as “too old,” for example. Expect this kind of thing to intensify.

There is another aspect to this attack which is disturbing in a different way: manipulation of media. This is hardly anything new for the GOP, but the prospect of a political party threatening the withdrawal of access on the condition of following a party’s demands on the networks’ programming is more than a bit disturbing. Of course, it has increasingly been the tone for the GOP, from the staged, part-faithful-only “town hall” meetings Bush favored to the increasing tendency of the media to accept highly conditional terms in exchange for access to a candidate. Sarah Palin’s “I’m only talking to Fox” technique is becoming the new norm for Republican candidates, who find their craziness and cluelessness harder and harder to conceal when the interviewer is not a partisan hack. And sometimes even then—remember Mitt Romney getting all flustered when a Fox interviewer was not all softballs and praise?

The difference with this level of interference, however, is the overt tone. The GOP is making a very open and plain threat: tailor your programming to our preferences, or we cut off your access. I do not think it has been done so overtly or outrageously before.

Here is the full text of the letter, with my comments in green italics:

Dear Mr. Greenblatt:
I’m writing to you to express my deep disappointment in your company’s decision to air a miniseries promoting former Secretary Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

As an American company, you have every right to air programming of your choice. (Unless we disapprove, of course.) But as American citizens, certainly you recognize why many are astounded at your actions, (and by “many,” we mean “us”) which appear to be a major networks thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election. (Only Fox is allowed that, you should know that by now.) This special treatment is unfair to the candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2016 who might compete against Secretary Clinton (including Vice President Biden (like he’ll actually have a chance!), Governors O’Malley, Cuomo, and Hickenlooper, Senator Klobuchar and others (because all of those are serious contenders who have a real chance to… HAR! COuldn’t keep a straight face here, sorry.)) and to the Republican nominee, should Clinton compete in the general election.

There’s ample cause for concern. Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company, have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton. David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1 4 million for President Obama’s reelection efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. (Funny, they had no problem when Comcast CEO Neil Smit was a big Republican donor.) Comcast Corp. employees have donated $522,996 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton’s previous campaigns. (How much went to Republicans? And if we surveyed Fox employees, what would we see?)

Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws. (Because we are really in favor of equal-time laws!) This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience. (Again, that’s Fox News’ job!) Liberals complained noisily when Citizens United sought to air a pay-per-view documentary on Hillary Clinton prior to the 2008 election, and yet they’re conspicuously silent now that NBC is launching 2 miniseries on network television. (Because that is exactly the same thing—a political smear job by a Koch-funded conservative campaign group is equal to a non-affiliated TV network making a mainstream miniseries.)

I find this disturbing and disappointing. (That’s my job.) NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign. (Remember, Fox News is fair and balanced—no hypocrisy here!)

Secretary Clinton has been in the public eye for well over two decades, so you certainly cannot claim that a series about her political career is any sort of public service or informational docudrama on an unknown individual. (Because TV networks never make dramas about people who are well-known!) Quite the opposite is true: it would be most accurately described as an in-kind donation. (Which is really different than having your own 24/7 news channel.)

Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company’s reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production. (Or, make it about how Hillary killed Vince Foster. We’d love that!)

If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor. (Which is what we plan to do anyway, unless you agree to partner in name only while we control everything.)

I love the part where they state that such programs would be unfair to Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Klobuchar. It is actually hard to tell if they are trying to make fun of Democrats or are seriously positing these candidates as serious primary threats to Clinton.

Yes, There Really Was a Partisan Political Witch Hunt

June 25th, 2013 1 comment

It has been a while since I could get a full blog post out. My apologies; work has demanded my full attention for several weeks now. It hasn’t lessened too much, but I am enjoying a little bit of a breather.

During that time, I abortively started a post on the IRS “scandal” at least a few times. Each time it seemed to be less and less likely that the scandal was a scandal at all. Each time I sat down to address the issue, there was more and more evidence that this, like Benghazi, was indeed a political witch hunt—just by conservatives against Obama, and not the other way around.

The first clue: Republicans said it was a scandal of monumental proportions. This tends to be a fairly good indicator of a non-scandal. Conservatives have been attempting to smear the administration with something since he started running for president. Any time anything comes along, it’s supposed to be The Thing That Takes Obama Down. How many “Obama’s 9/11”s have we seen? How many “Obama’s Katrina”s? How many “Obama’s Watergate”s? And yet, nothing sticks, because nothing was there in the first place. Wishing does not make it so, even though conservatives have been wishing so hard that you’d think it would make it so. When right-wingers start claiming that something is “worse than Watergate and Iran-Contra combined, times maybe 10,” you can rest assured that there’s nothing to it.

The second clue: predictably, accusations by Republicans starting turning out to be bullshit, like the story about how IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House “at least” 157 times, which of course could only mean he was constantly scheming with Obama personally to target conservatives. The “at least” was a cute touch, meaning that it was probably even more than 157 times. It turned out that this “smoking gun,” as Fox News talking heads referred to it, was baloney. Shulman did not visit the White House 157 times. The number refers to how many events Shulman was cleared to attend. In fact, Shulman signed in only 11 times over 4 years. Furthermore, 76% of the clearances were for health care-related briefings.

The third clue: it was revealed that about two-thirds of the groups applying for tax-exempt status were conservative, and about two-thirds of the groups approved… were conservative. As Kevin Drum pointed out, it’s a funny way to run a “witch hunt.” If the intent was to target conservatives and disproportionately shut them down, why did that not happen?

The fourth clue: right-wingers started using the investigation of whether there was a focus on conservative groups applying for tax-exempt “social welfare” status to claim that any IRS audit against any conservative for any reason was only more evidence of Obama’s criminality. Take Wayne Allyn Root, former Libertarian vice-presidential running mate and conservative talk show host. He was claiming to anyone who will listen that he knew all along there was a witch hunt, because he was audited!

Despite the fact that it was a personal audit—meaning that, in fact, the current IRS brouhaha has absolutely no relation to Root’s case. Nevertheless, Root claims he is “vindicated” in his accusation that Obama personally targeted him for persecution.

The fifth clue: after many hearings and enough investigation so that some clear evidence of wrongdoing should have been uncovered, Darryl Issa (whose personal reputation is hardly sterling) issued a statement which clearly insinuated that Obama, through his lackeys, was directing the IRS to attack his political enemies—but when you looked closely, it was clear that Issa had nothing:

… Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said interviews with workers in the Cincinnati IRS office show targeting of conservative groups was “a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters – and we’re getting to proving it.”

“My gut tells me that too many people knew this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient, benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election,” he said. “I’m not making any allegations as to motive, that they set out to do it, but certainly people knew it was happening.”

Now, read that carefully: “in all likelihood,” “getting to prove it,” “My gut tells me.” When you factor all of that in, you are left with, semantically, nothing. Zero. But after reading it, you get the strong impression that this is real and true. After all, “people knew it was happening,” and there can’t be “motives” for something that was not happening, right?

And the excerpts of testimony? They seemed to consist of every time that “Washington D.C.” was ever mentioned, so as to give the impression that D.C., and therefore Obama personally, was involved. But again, a close inspection shows that no one piece of testimony showed any actual evidence of direction from D.C., and that references to “requests” for information from D.C. were likely of a simple procedural nature.

The sixth clue: an IRS manager, this time making clear statements, said that the focus on “Tea Party” groups did not originate from D.C. (not that originating from D.C. in any way means that Obama was involved anyway). And this official claiming it was his idea was a conservative Republican.

That was kind of when the ongoing firestorm of conservative-media outrage ebbed quite a bit.

But today, we have one last piece of the puzzle:

The Internal Revenue Service used the terms “progressive,” “Israel” and “occupy” on internal documents that helped agency employees screen groups’ applications for tax-exempt status, according to IRS documents.

In other words, it was not a witch hunt for conservatives. They were looking for wrongdoing by pretty much anyone.

My favorite line comes next in the article:

The disclosure adds a dimension to the controversy surrounding IRS scrutiny of applications for tax exemptions.

Ya think? The “extra dimension,” by the way, is that this is not a scandal at all. The groups under scrutiny are supposed to be “promoting social welfare,” and it seems clear that many, if not most, are primarily partisan political action groups using the tax-exempt and donor-anonymous status illegitimately as a shield. Which is why any political leaning is a clue. The wrongdoing would have been if one type of group had been singled out over the others. This new information suggests that this was not the case.

Republicans like to ask, “What did Obama know and when did he know it?” the classic Watergate question. Now it becomes, “Did Darryl Issa and the Republicans know about this new information, and if so, when?”

Because there has been an egregious abuse of power culminating in a partisan political witch hunt—by Republicans, targeting Obama. That abuse of power, that string of lies, that waste of taxpayer money will never be investigated. And the media will likely allow this all to fizzle without fanfare, leaving a huge chunk of the American population to feel like there was something there, because it was not refuted as loudly or as clearly as it was accused.

The Coup D’état Is In Progress

January 26th, 2013 2 comments
As I have referenced over the past week or so, Republicans are in the process of what appears to be a political coup d’état. While it may actually follow the letter of the law, it without any doubt completely perverts the spirit of the law. Faced with a party bent on radical extremism in a country with a population growing ever more liberal, they seem to believe it is more fitting to subvert the constitution and steal elections rather than to actually come around to reason on a policy or two.

Here is how it works:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

That’s Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution. They key phrase: “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” In theory, one can suppose that electors can be chosen any way the legislature wants, even if it defies the actual votes of the people in that state. This is where the letter can be exploited to corrupt the spirit of the law as well as the spirit of the nation.

And that perversion is exactly what Republicans are beginning to carry out this day. Not plan for in the future, not consider as a possibility: they are doing this as we speak.

The exploit is as follows: change the way states assign electoral votes so that gerrymandering allows a losing candidate to win more electoral votes, just as it does with House representatives.

Most states currently have a winner-take-all approach to the electoral college; if a candidate wins a majority of a state’s votes, then all votes are counted towards that candidate.

Two states, Maine and Nebraska, buck this trend, distributing electoral votes by district, with the two senatorial votes going to the winner of the state’s popular vote. If districts in a state are fairly drawn, then this plan is not much better or worse than the winner-take-all strategy, just with opposing votes given to the other candidate in smaller chunks.

However, there’s a way this system can be abused: the gerrymander. If you stack the deck, as Republicans have been doing furiously in many states for the past decade or so, then the number of opposing votes given to the other candidate is maximized, and instead of less than half a state’s votes going to the candidate not voted for, a potentially much larger number could be subverted.

And since this plan is to only institute this system in key states where Democrats often win but Republicans control the state government, it would not balance out over the whole country.

Taking it even further, the latest GOP plan is to have the two electoral votes based on Senate seats in these states go to the candidate who wins the most districts, actually magnifying the effect of the gerrymander.

Look at the chart below. The plan at the far right is the one Republicans are trying to enact in battleground states where they control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office.

Electoral Vote Dist

If this plan had been in effect last year, in the six key states listed above, Obama would have won by 5% of the popular vote in these states, 52% to 47%, but he would have lost the electoral vote, 30% to 70%—a 40% margin!

One could argue that winner-take-all subverted 48% of the votes, an even greater amount. However, this ignores the larger picture. These are only states where Obama won. Add the states where Romney was the winner, and things balance out somewhat. For all its flaws, winner-take-all is a more random system, is more or less impervious to corruption, and has worked fairly well over time in that only twice has a president won the electoral college while losing the popular vote.

And that’s the key point: in our country, we all support the idea wherein the candidate with the most votes wins. That’s the basic assumption.

The new Republican plan topples that system. Look at Michigan; Romney wins less than 45% of the votes, but gets 69% of the electors. In Ohio, he wins 48% of the vote, but gets 78% of the electors.

With the new Republican plan in effect, Republican candidates would start winning presidential elections almost no matter how many votes they won or lost. It would take what is now considered a landslide to overcome this stacked deck. It would be a violation of our principles because it is specifically designed to overcome the popular vote in favor of one party.

Obviously, a system of assigning electoral votes designed to win one party an election no matter what is a clear corruption of Democracy. One problem: gerrymandering is a long-standing tradition of legal corruption which acts as the camel’s nose under the tent. Going back to the 18th century, gerrymandering has been limited (it cannot, for example, be used to intentionally deprive racial groups of due representation), but is generally allowed freely for purely partisan purposes.

While the Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that partisan gerrymandering was unconstitutional and could be challenged in court, it set such a high standard of proof that it made legal challenges of such districts extremely difficult. Since then, the Court has remained divided on whether there is any viable way to set a judicial standard for what makes a given district an illegal gerrymander.

While it is possible that a Supreme Court challenge could upset plans to subvert the electoral college, it is not likely, especially with so many conservatives whose judicial philosophy is centered around ignoring the spirit of the law in favor of interpreting the letter to best suit their political leanings.

Like the filibuster, gerrymandering is a system that has been tolerated because it had never been abused to the point of being a ludicrous mockery of our system of government; but like the filibuster, Republicans have seized on it as a tool to corrupt on the largest of scales.

So, why don’t we just do what is fair, and change the system so that gerrymandering is illegal, states’ districts are drawn by random assignment, and a president is chosen by the popular vote?

Because it would take a constitutional amendment to make such a change, and Republicans would easily block it. Republicans would find some sham reason to object, and since it would require 2/3rds majorities in both houses to even get an amendment started, the idea would die right there.

Another route to amendment has never been used, and would be just as hopeless: legislatures in 2/3rds of the states would have to call a Constitutional Convention, then pass a proposed amendment, and then 3/4ths of all states would have to approve. Again, Republicans would kill such a movement in its cradle, as they control too many state legislatures.

So, there is no constitutional route to stopping this and imposing fairness, and the Supreme Court is most likely going to add its stamp of approval to the virtual coup d’état.

It is happening now. Virginia is the first to move, with the plan already moving through the legislature. While there is a glimmer of hope as one Republican in the legislature is against the idea, this will not matter long; Republicans in Virginia managed to ram through a non-majority, non-census-cycle gerrymander, meaning in two years, Republicans will have a clear path anyway. The Republican governor has hinted he would not go along with it, but Republican governors opposing their party’s moves in other states have caved in and gone ahead with stridently partisan moves before (e.g., the Michigan law designed to gut unions).

Even if it does not pass in Virginia, Republicans in Pennsylvania have already started moving on their own version, and conservatives in Ohio and Wisconsin are showing signs of moving as well. RNC head Reince Priebus is behind the measures.

With Democrats being weak-kneed and ineffectual, the only thing with a hope of stopping this is the occasional Republican with the slightest shred of moral fiber challenging their political interests.

In other words, we’re screwed.

It is entirely possible that in 2016, Hillary Clinton faces someone like Marco Rubio, wins by 10 million votes—and loses the election.

Any conservative who is in favor of this clearly has no respect for Democracy, no respect for the spirit and values our nation is founded upon, and favors winning by any means possible over the voice of the people at large.

Which is pretty exactly where most conservatives these days appear to stand.

There’s a word for a system of governing where the voice of the people is ignored, and one faction grabs power and imposes their will upon the majority.

It is, ironically, the same system that conservatives have been screaming insanely against for the past several years.

And they are getting very close to implementing it.

Political Culture of War

January 19th, 2013 2 comments

Republicans are trying a new strategy: Democrats must agree to our budget plans, or else we with withhold everyone’s pay.

There are arguments about the plan’s constitutionality, but that’s not the issue for me. The issue I think is more important is that the tactic is being used in an abusive manner—literally, for extortion. Just as they have used other tactics, like shutdowns and defaulting on the debt.

Democrats agreed to a pay stoppage a few years back, but that was supported by both parties, and was a fairness issue—if no government workers got paid during a shutdown, then members of Congress would be no different.

The current plan is different, in that it is being used to extort. Nothing new for Republicans, this has been so for almost 20 years since the government shutdown under the Clinton administration.

The idea of Congress is very simple: if an idea is good enough for half the members to approve, it gets passed. In order to make such deals happen, both houses must agree. Congress was always intended to be a place where compromises took place in the name of fairness and equity, in the best interests of the people and the nation.

Conservatives have taken a flamethrower to that concept. Screw the people. Screw the nation. Give us what we want, or else we’ll burn it all down.

Republicans, unhappy at losing any battle, have defied the system, defied the very concept of Democracy itself. They have made any law they dislike have to pass a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. In order to get their way, they have started holding hostage everything they can get their hands on, constitutionally or not. If there’s something important to the nation that they can destroy, they’ll hold a gun to its head unless they get what they want. And unlike a criminal hostage-taker, they don’t get arrested and removed from the equation; instead, they get to keep taking the same hostage time and time again, and then released back out to do it all over again.

It’s the same in the states, with votes. Can’t win an election? Then win state houses enough to gerrymander the hell out of those states. Too many Democrats voting? Then limit voting hours and voting resources at times and places they vote. Still losing? Then bring back Jim Crow, bigger and better than ever—pass laws that target Democratic voters under fraudulent pretexts and throw obstacles in their way. Still not winning? Hey, we can game the electoral system, changing how key states apportion their votes in the most extremely convoluted ways so that even if we lose the popular vote by a wide margin, we can still will more electoral votes. Make it so Democrats have to win by 10 million votes to eke out a victory electorally.

For Republicans, it is not about majority rule. It’s not about what the people want. And Democracy? Fuck Democracy.

It’s about what Republicans want, and how they can get it. Bend the rules, twist the rules, break the rules, whatever works for them. Even the pretexts are falling away as Republicans openly gloat about subverting the vote.

For Republicans, governing is war, and you win by whatever means necessary.

The Republican Ideology: Do Not Give, But Take All You Can

January 6th, 2013 1 comment

Guess what? 67 Republican House members voted against federal aid for Hurricane Sandy. Appropriately called “a bunch of jackasses” by former New York Senator Al D’Amato, these pearls of human compassion come predominantly from states that have gotten far more than their share of federal assistance, and many are absolute experts at begging for disaster aid.

The states most heavily represented in the GOP anti-aid block are Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Arizona has made 8 major disaster declarations for FEMA aid over the past ten years, and has requested aid from FEMA on more than 30 other occasions over the same time period.

Georgia, which also made many major disaster and other declarations to FEMA, received $300 million in federal mortgage relief aid, and kept 95% of it, as they have similarly tucked away hundreds of millions of federal dollars which were supposed to have been spent on highway projects.

North Carolina must have forgotten that it begged for and got federal aid after Hurricane Irene hit, while South Carolina, which receives $1.35 per tax dollar paid and has begged for federal relief for droughts and other disasters, has also tucked away hundreds of millions of federal aid dollars intended for mortgage aid.

Tennessee, still the proud home of the Tennessee Valley Authority, gets $12 billion a year in federal spending, ranking 7th per capita, and 12th in federal aid received by state, and has made 12 major disaster declarations to FEMA in just the past three years alone.

Texas, meanwhile, received billions in federal aid after Hurricane Ike in 2008 and blasted the federal government for a slow response. In fact, Texas tops the national list of FEMA disaster applications, with a total of 332.

Not long ago, Republican senators tried to block a larger overall bill for Sandy relief:

…since 1989, states represented by senators who voted against the package have been among the biggest beneficiaries of a similar pot of money: the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which nationwide has provided at least $8 billion to help states recovering from disasters prepare to face future catastrophe.

Mississippi Rep. Steven Palazzo, meanwhile, who voted against aid for Sandy because it was not “paid for,” just 6 months ago cheered federal aid being granted to his own district in response to Hurricane Isaac.

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Colorado, begged the feds for extra FEMA spending following a summer fire in 2012—just two months after he tried to pass legislation limiting the aid, and six months before denying it to Sandy victims.

Many are trying to claim that Democrats loaded the bill up with “pork,” a demonstrably false claim.

Here is a list of the 67 who voted “no,” by state, with contact phone numbers:

Mo Brooks (Ala.) (202) 225-4801

Trent Franks (Ariz.) (202) 225-4576
Paul Gosar (Ariz.) (202) 225-2315
Matt Salmon (Ariz.) (202) 225-2635
David Schweikert (Ariz.) (202) 225-2190

Tom Cotton (Ark.) (202) 225-3772

Tom McClintock (Calif.) (202) 225-2511
Ed Royce (Calif.) (202) 225-4111

Doug Lamborn (Colo.) (202) 225-4422

Ron DeSantis (Fla.) (202) 225-2706
Ted Yoho (Fla.) (202) 225-5744

Doug Collins (Ga.) (202) 225-9893
Tom Graves (Ga.) (202) 225-5211
Paul Broun (Ga.) (202) 225-4101
Tom Price (Ga.) (202) 225-4501
Rob Woodall (Ga.) (202) 225-4272

Randy Hultgren (Ill.) (202) 225-2976

Marlin Stutzman (Ind.) (202) 225-4436
Todd Rokita (Ind.) (202) 225-5037

Lynn Jenkins (Kan.) (202) 225-6601
Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) (202) 225-2715
Mike Pompeo (Kan.) (202) 225-6216
Kevin Yoder (Kan.) (202) 225-2865

Garland Barr (Ky.) (202) 225-4706
Thomas Massie (Ky.) (202) 225-3465

John Fleming (La.) (202) 225-2777

Andy Harris (Md.) (202) 225-5311

Justin Amash (Mich.) (202) 225-3831
Dan Benishek (Mich.) (202) 225-4735
Kerry Bentivolio (Mich.) (202) 225-8171

Steven Palazzo (Miss.) (202) 225-5772

Sam Graves (Mo.) (202) 225-7041

Steve Daines (Mont.) (202) 225-3211

Steve Pearce (N.M.) (202) 225-2365

George Holding (N.C.) (202) 225-3032
Richard Hudson (N.C.) (202) 225-3715
Mark Meadows (N.C.) (202) 225-6401
Virginia Foxx (N.C.) (202) 225-2071

Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) (202) 225-3164
Jim Jordan (Ohio)(202) 225-2676
Steve Chabot (Ohio) (202) 225-2216

Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) (202) 225-2701
Jim Bridenstine (Okla.) (202) 225-2211

Keith Rothfus (Pa.) (202) 225-2065
Scott Perry (Pa.) (202) 225-2565

Jeff Duncan (S.C.) (202) 225-5301
Joe Wilson (S.C.) (202) 225-2452
Mick Mulvaney (S.C.) (202) 225-5501
Trey Gowdy (S.C.) (202) 225-6030

Louie Gohmert (Texas) (202) 225-3035
Michael Conaway (Texas) (202) 225-3605
Randy Neugebauer (Texas) (202) 225-4005
Mac Thornberry (Texas) (202) 225-3706
Randy Weber (Texas) (202) 225-2831
Roger Williams (Texas) (202) 225-9896
Bill Flores (Texas) (202) 225-6105
Kenny Marchant (Texas) (202) 225-6605

Phil Roe (Tenn.)(202) 225-6356
Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) (202) 225-2811
Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.) (202) 225-6831
John Duncan (Tenn.) (202) 225-5435
Stephen Fincher (Tenn.) (202) 225-4714

Bob Goodlatte (Va.) (202) 225-5431

Tom Petri (Wis.) (202) 225-2476
Paul Ryan (Wis.) (202) 225-3031
Sean Duffy (Wis.) (202) 225-3365
Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.) (202) 225-5101

Suppressing the Vote

November 5th, 2012 6 comments

In Florida and Ohio, both crucial swing states and both states with Republican governors and legislatures, the lines for early voting are horrendously long, some people waiting as much as half the day to vote (reports range up to six or even nine hours). Some are getting their cars towed while they wait. Many are just being turned away. A lot of people see the lines around the block and turn away, not being able to spare the time away from second and third jobs to vote.

But not everywhere. Primarily in poor, heavily minority areas, it seems.

Apparently, the Republican state governments somehow seemed to forget to give them enough voting machines and other resources to let everyone vote, even though it was obvious more were needed since lines were already too long before Republican slashed the number of early voting days and hours.

Gee, how about that? I’m sure it was an innocent oversight. Because otherwise there would have been intent to deprive tens of thousands of people of their right to vote based upon their political orientation, and that would constitute felony election fraud. And that’s not possible, right?

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Slime Tags:

False Compassion

October 16th, 2012 5 comments

Ryan recently showed up in a photo washing pots at a homeless charity. What a guy, right? Selflessly serving the poor.

But wait—something smells fishy. Ryan is a Rand devotee; serving others like that is an evil to someone like him.

Oh, right. He wasn’t actually helping the homeless, or serving a charity. He was faking it:

The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

Well, at least he washed a few dishes, right?

Um, no. The dishes he “washed” were already clean.

But at least his boss is actually compassionate, right? After all, he instituted that Romneycare program which provided insurance for a lot of poor people. And he’s proud of it. I think. Maybe. Or was that last week? Hard to tell, it’s like the wind direction changing. We need a RomneyVane.

But Obamacare, that’s an abomination. How dare Obama do for the nation what Romney did for Massachusetts! Nope. Obamacare has got to go, and Romney has vowed to deprive tens of millions of Americans of health care the moment he steps in to the Oval Office.

Sorry, poor people. That money is needed to pay for a fraction of the ginormous tax cut for wealthy people. You need jobs, after all, right? And we all know that a five-trillion-dollars-over-ten-years tax cut will create zillions of jobs, right? An accurate statement, as “zillions” is not a real number, just as jobs created by tax cuts are not real, either.

So, what will poor people do for health care? Not to worry, Mitt has a safety net to catch them:

Sunday on CBS’a 60 Minutes, Romney gave a hint about what he would replace Obamacae with. Scott Pelley asked him: “Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don’t have it today?”

Romney replied “Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people– we– if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

Pelley was taken aback. He told Romney “That is an expensive way to do it…. in the Emergency Room.”

Romney responded: “Different, again, different states have different ways of doing that. Some provide that care through clinics. Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn’t take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, ”You’ve got to take the Massachusetts model.“

This idea is not new; one could call it ”The Republican Option,“ as Republicans have been suggesting the ER as a health care option for some time now. Essentially, it says, ”we’re not going to provide health care, and the states may or may not leave you to die.“

Paul Krugman has a little bit of data for Romney. Not to suggest that Romney is interested in data or anything. But you might be interested:

Even the idea that everyone gets urgent care when needed from emergency rooms is false. Yes, hospitals are required by law to treat people in dire need, whether or not they can pay. But that care isn’t free — on the contrary, if you go to an emergency room you will be billed, and the size of that bill can be shockingly high. Some people can’t or won’t pay, but fear of huge bills can deter the uninsured from visiting the emergency room even when they should. And sometimes they die as a result.

More important, going to the emergency room when you’re very sick is no substitute for regular care, especially if you have chronic health problems. When such problems are left untreated — as they often are among uninsured Americans — a trip to the emergency room can all too easily come too late to save a life.

A doctor followed up on that:

It’s true that EMTALA [the 1986 law requiring that emergency rooms treat you regardless of insurance status] requires a medical screening exam and stabilization of any emergency medical conditions. It does not, however, mandate admission to the hospital for treatment of conditions that are not currently emergent (e.g. cancer, kidney disease, and other more chronic conditions except related to certain complications). For example, if someone were to present to one of our emergency departments with some mild bloating and be found to have an abdominal mass, they may very well be discharged home for outpatient follow-up and treatment. If that person doesn’t have insurance, they will likely have difficulty obtaining that care.

So, got it, poor people? You no-good, parasitic 47-percenters? You’re covered for a heart attack, so long as you’re willing to dodge the debt collectors, but if you have anything that is not currently bleeding or gushing, you’re on your own. Cancer? Too bad. Tumor? Live with it. Or not. Liver problems? What, do you think this country is made of money or something? Go to your corner and wither, you pathetic loser. If you didn’t make it in the free market system, you don’t deserve help from it—because America is nothing more than the free-market system.

You should be thankful that Paul Ryan took the time to pretend to wash a few pots for you, you ungrateful wretch.

This Is What Romney Shouldn’t Have Said

September 18th, 2012 6 comments

When Romney thinks you’re not listening—from a video taken in the spring:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them, And they will vote for this president no matter what.

And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49… he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in come cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
[emphasis Romney’s]

Hmmm. So, I’m dependent upon government checks, am I? Apparently, I don’t take personal responsibility, and I don’t care for my life. Et cetera.

What is significant about this… well, there are several ways that this is significant. The most obvious is that Romney is bashing nearly half the electorate. Way to win over people on the other side, calling 47% of the people irresponsible moochers.

Next, there’s the “47%” number. These are the non-taxpayers, he claims. He makes the remarkable claim that every single one of them is an Obama voter, while every single person in the country who pays taxes is a Republican or undecided. Every single one of them have no sense of personal responsibility; instead, they lay back, take it easy, and live the high life off of welfare checks, food stamps, and free government health care.

So, no Republican is too poor to pay income taxes? Or too rich? No Republican receives welfare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits? And people who do are irresponsible, incapable of caring for themselves?

His statement pretty damning evidence that Romney, like many right-wingers, truly has a skewed view of reality.

The 47% he speaks of includes 17 million senior citizens on social security. These are people who paid into the system all their lives, and now use tax breaks to bring their effective tax rate to zero. Does Romney think they don’t deserve those tax breaks? Does he want to get rid of those breaks for seniors? Way to win Florida.

Another huge chunk of people he mentions are not poor, but middle class families taking standard deductions and getting breaks for the care and education of their children. Does Romney want to get rid of those tax breaks? Way to win middle class families.

Besides which, of course, is the fact that the entire supposition about the 47% is flawed: nobody pays no taxes, most pay their share in social security and medicare taxes, most have property taxes, most face state & local taxes, and everyone pays sales taxes. Add those up and you may have close to the 13% that Romney himself paid.

As for “people who believe that they are victims,” that’s a label much more appropriate for right-wingers. The whole canard about the 47% who pay no taxes is in itself a badge of right-wing victimhood—those poor people are victimizing the decent, hard-working, real Americans who vote Republican! The white males who believe that they never benefit due to their race or gender and that when they fail it’s due to affirmative action, these are people who believe that they are victims. The right-wing Christians who think they are persecuted because they can’t have prayer in every last nook and cranny of public life and because a few department stores print ads saying “Happy Holidays,” these are the people who believe that they are victims.

And entitled? How many conservatives get Social Security and Medicare, and would be enraged if they lost these benefits? How many depend on unemployment checks when they lose their jobs? Remember the right-wing crowds bused in to break up Democratic town halls, screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”? These are people who want all the benefits, but only for themselves, and the people who are not as well off—most of whom paid in to these systems and are just as deserving of the benefits—should be cut off. “I’ve got mine, you go screw yourself” is their motto. That’s not a sense of “entitlement”?

There’s so much more to say about that statement, I can’t put it all down here. But above are the key points. Romney and so many conservatives really think this way, that they are the only ones who work hard and pay taxes, and are being victimized by every single Obama voter, who are lazy, irresponsible moochers who demand to suck at the government teat as if it were their god-given right.

Not just Obama, but all Democratic contenders should use this from now to election day in their campaign ads. Romney thinks that if you get Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits, then you’re a bum who can’t take care of himself, you think you’re entitled. Tell Romney that he’s not entitled to the White House,, that’s he’s not entitled to give himself yet another whopping tax cut, that he’s not entitled to raise taxes on the poor and middle class.

Try Something Different This Time

August 25th, 2012 3 comments

Upon the eve of the 2012 elections, the economy is not doing well. Why is this the case?

After Obama’s election in 2008, Republicans announce a policy of obstructing progress and reform, saying that it “works for” them. They fight against the Stimulus, eventually watering it down to the point where it is far too ineffective. They fight against health care reform, watering down that as well, costing billions and offering alternatives that would balloon the budget and cost massive numbers of jobs. Instead of focusing on how to fix the economy they broke, they instead focus on sloughing off blame on Obama for doubling unemployment and losing millions of jobs, while fighting to maintain the policies which decimated the economy in the first place. Republicans fight equal pay, fight minimum wage increases, fight unemployment benefits, fight stimulative spending. Republicans announce that their primary goal is not jobs or fixing the economy, but making Obama fail so they can retake the White House. Republicans force the extension of Bush tax cuts, proven to significantly deepen the deficit while being poison to job creation. Upon gaining control of the House, Republicans fail to act on jobs, instead focusing on things like restricting abortions. Republicans instead push for cuts, admitting that it would kill jobs. Republicans repeatedly put “nuclear options” into play, sometimes over severely ideological issues like Planned Parenthood. Republicans pass budgets that promise job losses. Republicans threaten defaulting on the debt, causing the US credit rating to be downgraded for the first time in history. Republicans kill Obama’s jobs bill, even though it offers $250 billion in tax relief. Republicans finally offer their own “jobs” bill which essentially includes deeper tax cuts for corporations and elimination of regulations governing pollution and corruption, none of which would create jobs.

So now, four years later, the economy has not yet recovered from the devastating effects of the Republican policies that led to the effective depression we suffer from today.

Republicans point at Obama and shout, “Look what he did!!

Yes, the president owns the economy, for better or for worse. All the media plays into this, acting as if Republican policy to essentially sabotage the economy somehow does not exist, and only Obama is to answer for it.

That may be a political reality. But it is not reality.

Had Obama been free to do what he wanted, the economy would look far different than it does today. Obama may own the economy, but he was far from alone in creating it.

The key point: Republicans have been far more destructive to the economy, even openly stating goals which work against economic recovery, again openly admitting their goals in this are to gain political power.

The answer to this is not to reward them with more power.

The answer is to give that power, definitively this time, to Democrats, even just for two years, so we can see what Democratic policies would reap without Republicans poisoning everything.

If, after two years, things don’t improve, we can try something else. But the idea that Democrats have tried and failed, or that Obama has tried and failed, are fiction.

But that’s just reality. My apologies.

Yes, Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Hurt Seniors Already on Medicare

August 16th, 2012 1 comment

A reader at Sullivan’s blog put it very succinctly:

The Ryan Medicare plan absolutely will effect people currently on Medicare. If you establish that in 10 years the Medicare risk pool will stop growing and start shrinking, you do damage to how the program works. First, you increase the risk in the pool and drive up cost by stopping younger healthier seniors from entering the plan. Second, as the pool shrinks Medicare looses [sic] power to dictate reimbursement rates. Doctors will begin not to accept Medicare patients because not only will the volume of patients no longer justify the low reimbursement rates, but those left in the pool will be older, sicker and more expensive to treat. The program that they say will be in place will not only become much more expensive to maintain then projected, but it will collapse on itself.

Let there be no doubt: that is their ultimate goal. Republicans have made it agonizingly clear over the years: they want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. Not reform, not preserve, not save. They want to fully eliminate these programs, preferably phasing them out by transitioning to private “programs” which will essentially be equal to people buying private-market pension and health care plans by themselves, with private industry skimming a 10 ~ 30% profit (which currently goes to benefits for the payer) right off the top, whilst being mostly unregulated and therefore much more easily able to raid the remaining investments.

The result will be that in the short run, seniors slowly notice their benefits collapsing, costing more and giving less. In the end, we’ll be back where we were 80 years ago: if you’re not wealthy, you’re going to get inferior health care–and even if you were able somehow to save money your entire life after well-paying jobs got shipped overseas and the conservatives lowered your salary to below-poverty levels by abolishing or neglecting the minimum wage, you are liable to lose whatever retirement savings you do have to financial skullduggery of one form or another by rich bankers.

Welcome to the 19th century, folks. Didn’t you know that conservatism is all about driving us backwards? It is right there on the label, after all.