January 4, 2013
Bloggers have learned some hard lessons about engaging with right-wing nutcases who leave nasty comments: "Don't feed the trolls." Starve them of the attention they seek. Ignore them and move on. This advice also applies to the right-wing nutcases threatening to bring down our economy by refusing to raise the debt-ceiling limit. They won't get any traction on this unless Democrats engage with them. So ignore them, isolate them and scorn them but do not engage with them. Their billionaire & Wall Street funders will stop them and the pubic will see them for what they are, but only if we all just leave them alone. They aren't really going to hold their breath until we all die.
And if they actually did take down the economy (they won't), the country will be better off in the long run because it means the end of the radical right as a force in our politics.
So let them hold their breath until the country turns blue.
Crisis To Crisis, Destruction As A Tactic
Our country is now governed by crisis. We go from crisis to crisis because causing a crisis and making everyone panic works. But it only works if we let it work.
Look at the obstruction and destruction of the last few years. Obstruction has kept us from hiring millions to modernize our infrastructure, making our buildings and homes more energy efficient, helping people with things like the Dream Act and Medicare-for-All, sufficiently stimulating new industries like wind and solar energy production, and SO MUCH more.
And the accelerating, destructive hostage-taking has cost us so much! Giving in to hostage-taking in the first place has only meant more and more of it, with bigger and bigger costs. We gave in when they held back from authorizing unemployment benefits for millions. We gave in when they threatened to shut down the government, including denying elderly people their Social Security checks. The fiscal cliff "crisis" was just more hostage-taking.
Now they are actually threatening again to take the entire economy hostage, if we don't give in and hurt our people even more.
Crisis to crisis. Hostage to hostage. Destruction to destruction. And always obstruction and destruction of the things We, the People to do make our lives better.
Again and again. They hold their breath and threaten to do damage, and we give in and let them hurt us a little so they don't hurt use a lot. And so they do it more.
Crisis to crisis. As long as we engage, it works for them. Each time a bigger hostage, demanding that we hurt ourselves even more before they will take the gun away from the hostage's head.
Now the biggest hostage, the debt ceiling.
What The Debt Limit Is
The process of raising the debt ceiling is basically a mistake in the law. Raising the debt ceiling authorizes Congress to pay the bills that Congress has already committed to paying. But since the Reagan tax cuts and then the 'W' Bush tax cuts the country has not had sufficient revenue to meet the needs of our people without borrowing, so the debt keeps increasing.
What the Republicans are threatening to do is refuse to honor our debts and pay the bills that the United States has already promised to pay. They would default on our bonds - most of which are held by Americans. This would ruin the credit of the country, dramatically increase all future borrowing costs, and forever end America's status as a "safe haven" place to keep money. It would end our status as the "reserve currency." It would be a vote to tell the world that the US dollar is not worth the paper it is printed on.
This would crash our economy and take the world's economy down with it.
That is what they are threatening to do. They are literally threatening to hold their breath until they die because we are afraid we will die, too.
What Is Their Real Power?
The Republican Party is threatening to take us all down with them unless we hurt ourselves even more. But they only have power on this IF we engage. If we don’t engage on this they have no power. If we don't engage they are just a bunch of crazy people threatening to kill themselves if we don't kill ourselves, and that's crazy.
They can’t be serious, so don’t take them seriously. Ignore them. Don't feed the trolls. They have no power this time if we just ignore them.
And ignore the corporate media that feeds on crisis and feeds panic, and the "Fix the Debt" corporate-funded propaganda that tries to convince us to engage.
The debt ceiling is not a crisis unless we help them make it into a crisis. If we ignore them they have to go away.
Not A Crisis Unless We Make It One
This is not a crisis unless we make it a crisis.
Are we really afraid the 2-year-old will actually hold its breath until it dies? Seriously?
And haven't we learned yet what happens later, after we give them what they want when they hold their breath?
Do we really believe the Republicans would take down the whole economy? Really? Do we really believe Wall Street and their billionaire funders will let them do this?
They only have power if we engage with them on this. Their only power is making us afraid.
What To Do This Time
Ignore them. No negotiations, not even any conversations. Don’t fall for it this time. If someone even says the words "debt ceiling" just tell them to go away, you have things that need doing, that deserve attention. Just let them spout their nonsense and don’t respond. Like the crazy guy who stands up at the city council meeting and talks about how UFOs are shooting energy waves into his brain, when he gets done say “Thank you” and just move on to the next item.
Seriously, they threaten to destroy the economy if they don't get what they want? And what they want is things that make our lives harder and less healthy? Really? Then just let them shout it, and let the voters see it, and hold them accountable.
They won't really do that. And if you think they will actually vote to do that -– and the people who fund the Republican Party won’t stop them at the last minute -– then just let them this time. And let them own the reaction. Because if they do that, our country’s minority-party obstruction/destruction/hostage-taking/extortion/intimidation problem will be over.
If debt-ceiling day comes and they are still threatening to do it, just sit back and watch their Wall Street and billionaire funders panic.
Do not engage. Let them hold their breath until the country turns blue.
April 5, 2012
Since watching HBO's Game Changer I have sympathy for Sarah Palin. She was in way over her head - not really her fault.
The "old" GOP didn't understand that today's GOP could elect someone who really "doesn't know anything." So they assumed a Governor would at least read newspapers and not just right-wing blogs, watch FOX and listen to Rush Limbaugh. The new GOP just reads right-wing blogs, watches FOX and listens to Limbaugh.
A Palin, and now the problem of a government that is destroying the country, its infrastructure, its courts, all the things that businesses rely on, this is the GOP/corporate establishment's fault. This is corporate money and careerist politician/lobbyists, just using "the base" and nurturing this culture, because they use the ignorance.
It's also the corporate short-term thinking thing. Yeah, it was great to get tax cuts and neglect the infrastructure. Great to get people believing there's no climate change. Great to pile up cash for yourself but let the country pile up debt.
And now it's "later." If you aren't one of the very few who piled up enough cash to fly your jet off to your private island, you're fucked along with the rest of us, in a country rules by Sarah Palins.
March 27, 2012
The new Republican budget (called the "Ryan Budget" by DC insiders) reflects current electoral reality: billionaires and corporations now finance candidates, and we get government of, by and for billionaires and corporations. The rest of us no longer matter, except as "the help" and, at least to the extent we haven't been entirely fleeced, a flock to harvest. This budget starts with $10 trillion in tax cuts -- mostly for the rich. After adding $10 trillion to the deficits Republicans then claim that severe cuts are necessary to "fight deficits." Right. Details below.
Keep in mind where we are starting from: The way our economy and tax system is already structured, the top 1% received 93% of income gains from recovery. As Mitt Romney's tax returns demonstrated, those at the very top -- whose income comes as checks generated by the money they already have -- already pay much lower tax rates than those of us who work for a living.
"Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes. -- Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay, 2003"
After passing tax cut after tax cut, and military spending increase after military spending increase, and starting war after war, Republican borrowing has added up. So now Republicans terrify the public, telling them that budget deficits will lead to the destruction of the country -- and soon. After a decade of screaming "9/11," "9/11," noun verb "9/11," they now scream "deficit, deficit, deficit." Then with the public suitably stirred up and terrified they offer "solutions" they say are necessary to cut the scary deficit (that they caused, for this purpose).
Behind a blizzard of fog and mirrors, the new Republican budget completes the ongoing shift of our government and our economy away from "we are in this together" democracy to a "you are on your own" system that is entirely for the benefit of a few at the top.
Cuts Taxes For The 1%
The smoke and mirrors: they claim this budget is necessary to reduce deficits, but it doesn't even pretend to. Instead it starts by cutting taxes on the rich and their corporations by another $4.6 trillion while making permanent the Bush tax cuts, costing another $5.6 trillion. It gives a $187,000 tax cut To every millionaire!
Ethan Pollack at the Economic Policy Institute describes how Ryan’s budget cuts would cost jobs -- 4.1 million of them:
Paul Ryan’s latest budget doesn’t just fail to address job creation, itaggressively slows job growth. Against a current policy baseline, the budget cuts discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, sucking demand out of the economy when it most needs it and leading to job loss. Using astandard macroeconomic model that is consistent with that used byprivate- and public-sector forecasters, the shock to aggregate demand from near-term spending cuts would result in roughly 1.3 million jobs lost in 2013 and 2.8 million jobs lost in 2014, or 4.1 million jobs through 2014.*
Cuts Everything Government Does For Regular People
This budget starts with $10 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy! After handing billionaires and their corporations trillions, increasing deficits by an additional $10 trillion, the Republican budget then cuts the things government does for the rest of us: Medicare, Medicaid, food assistance and public investments (mostly infrastructure and education), and pretends it is necessary because of deficits. (It increases funding for military contractors.)
What is cut? The following is from an analysis by the Office of Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer:
A Choice of Two Futures: A Look at How the Republican Budget Ends Medicare, Destroys Jobs, Benefits the Wealthy
Ending the Medicare guarantee and raising health care costs for seniors:
- Ends the guarantee of health security and shifts higher costs onto seniors and the disabled over time.
- Increases seniors’ health care costs just like last year’s budget – which drove up costs by over $6,000 per year, according to CBO.
- Reopens the prescription drug donut hole, increasing seniors’ drug costs by up to $44 billion through 2020, including $2.2 billion in 2012 alone, according to HHS.
- Increases seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for preventative care and annual checkups by over $110 million in 2012 alone, according to HHS.
- 54-year-olds would have to save more money just to cover health care costs – an analysis of last year’s budget showed they would have to save an additional $182,000, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working families:
- Provides millionaires an average tax cut of $150,000.
- Reduces revenue by $4.6 trillion on top of the $5.4 trillion cost of permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts and other expiring provisions, according to the Tax Policy Center.
- May force working families to pay higher effective tax rates to cover some of the cost of this $4.6 trillion tax cut for the wealthy by eliminating deductions.
Turning Medicaid into a block grant that jeopardizes access to affordable health and nursing home care for seniors and the disabled:
- Cuts a total of $1.7 trillion from Medicaid over the next decade, and according to CBO, is on track to cut the program by 75% by 2050. According to the Urban Institute, block granting the Medicaid program could result in between 14 million and 27 million people losing coverage. An additional 17 million people, who gained Medicaid and CHIP coverage through health care reform according to the CBO, would also lose that coverage as a result of repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Making it harder for Americans to receive Social Security benefits:
- Increases backlogs that delay people from getting benefits that they are due and could leave up to 90,000 people with disabilities waiting for a decision in 2013 and leave 300,000 more people with disabilities waiting for a decision each year over the next decade.
Weakening our ability to out-educate competitors and build a competitive workforce:
- Reduces Pell Grants by more than $1,000 for 9.6 million students in 2014 and could eliminate Pell Grants for over one million students over the next decade.
- Kicks 60,000 low-income children out of the Head Start program in 2013 and 200,000 low-income children out of the program each year over the next decade.
- Cuts Title I funding, which could result in nearly 11,000 teachers and aides losing their jobs in 2013 and nearly 38,000 teachers and aides losing their jobs each year over the next decade.
- Cuts funding for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which could result in 7,800 special education teachers, aides, and other staff serving children with disabilities losing their jobs in 2013, and 27,000 teachers, aides, and staff losing their jobs each year over the next decade.
- Reduces work-study funding, meaning almost 37,000 students could lose access to college work-study opportunities in 2013, and more than 166,000 students could be affected each year over the next decade.
Slashing assistance to low-income families:
- Cuts the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children), kicking 700,000 pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children off the WIC program and leaving another 100,000 without access to critical foods necessary for healthy child development in 2013. Each year over the next decade, the cuts would kick 1.8 million women, infants, and children off the WIC program and leave another 100,000 without access to critical foods.
- Converts SNAP into a block grant beginning in 2016, which could jeopardize access to food assistance for millions of Americans.
- Cuts HUD’s rental assistance programs, resulting in over 116,000 fewer low-income families housed through the Housing Choice Voucher program in 2013 and 400,000 fewer low-income families housed through the program each year over the next decade.
- Risks permanent loss of affordable units that serve 1.1 million Americans.
Repealing patient protections and putting insurance companies – not American families – in control of health care:
- Allows insurers to once again be allowed to discriminate against up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions.
- Subjects 105 million Americans once more to arbitrary lifetime caps on their health insurance.
- Increases 54 million Americans’ out-of-pocket costs for preventative care.
- Puts up to 15 million Americans who are sick or injured at risk of being dropped from their private insurance because of a simple mistake on an application.
- Eliminates tax credits for up to four million small businesses, which are already providing more affordable care to two million workers. [Figures provided by HHS and the Treasury Department]
Weakening national security:
- Cuts COPS hiring grants, which could result in 75 fewer local police hires and 6,200 fewer bullet proof vests for state and local law enforcement personnel in 2013, and 285 fewer local police hires and 23,000 fewer vests each year over the next decade.
- Cuts Department of Justice (DOJ) funding, resulting in 1,311 fewer federal agents to combat violent crime, pursue financial crimes, secure the border, and ensure national security in 2013, and 4,587 fewer agents each year over the next decade.
- Cuts DOJ funding resulting in 948 fewer prison guards to maintain safe and secure federal prisons in 2013, and 3,319 fewer prison guards each year over the next decade.
- Reduces Department of Homeland Security funding for preparedness efforts of state and local governments, which could mean 100 firefighters and 80 emergency managers not being hired or laid off in 2013, and 400 firefighters and 300 emergency managers not being hired or laid off each year over the next decade.
Undermining American competitiveness by cutting investments in science, medical research, space and technology:
- Cuts funding for biomedical research by NIH, meaning 500 fewer grants NIH could award in a cutting-edge field in 2013 and 1,600 fewer grants each year for the next decade, limiting research that could lead to new cures for diseases.
- Cuts funding for NSF, which could result in NSF making up to 1,100 fewer competitive research and education grants supporting over 13,000 researchers, students, and teachers in 2013 and 4,000 fewer grants supporting almost 48,000 researchers, students, and teachers each year over the next decade.
- Cuts NASA funding and puts jobs at risk by forcing the agency to terminate major programs and potentially close major facilities.
Threatening our clean energy future:
- Cuts investments in the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and its applied research program, known as ARPA-E, that was established specifically to conduct energy research that industry by itself cannot support but where success would provide dramatic benefits for the nation.
- Eliminates jobs by setting back efforts to put a million electric vehicles on the road, retrofit residential homes, and make commercial buildings more efficient.
- Fails to boost all energy sources by eliminating tax support for renewable energy generation and the domestic jobs created by those energy projects.
- Unless otherwise noted, all figures from OMB.
January 23, 2012
Money is certainly changing hands over this one. Digby says Gird yourself --- it looks like we're in for another standoff: She warns that the Republicans are going to hold the government hostage to try to get the Keystone pipeline approved.
Think about what this means. A national political party threatens to hold the entire government hostage, so that Canadian oil companies can more easily sell oil to China. Think about the money that is changing hands. Think about the corruption involved in something like this.
WHY all the pressure from the Republicans for building a "tar sands" pipeline across the entire country?
They say we need the oil. But we're talking about CANADA, for pete's sake! The oil is on our border and is already piped TO us.
This pipeline across the country is so they can ship the oil FROM us, to sell to China.
This is about Republicans pushing for big profits for Canadian oil companies, for shipping oil to China, in exchange for a cut of the take for themselves.
January 20, 2012
Republicans have managed to kill off a jobs recovery for more than a year now. Filibusters blocked efforts to create jobs, repair infrastructure, etc. But things are picking up. What will they do next?
The Keystone pipeline is about helping Canadian companies get rich(er) by exporting tar sands oil to China, with a stop at Koch refineries.
Republican efforts to force it through are being done in exchange for a cut of the take.
October 27, 2011
"It's difficult to escape the conclusion that Republicans have made a political calculation that requires opposition to any policy that could improve the economy in the near term."
October 26, 2011
The corporate/conservative plan for decades has been to turn people against government and democracy. Because when people stop accepting the idea of We, the People making decisions, guess who gets to make the decisions instead? Last month a retiring GOP staffer explained how it works, this month a new poll show how well it works.
NY Times today: New Poll Finds a Deep Distrust of Government,
Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike.
... A remarkable sense of pessimism and skepticism was apparent in question after question in the survey, which found that Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent.
At the beginning of September a Republican Senate staffer retired, and wrote a widely-read "confession" that laid bare the conservative gameplan: turn people against government and democracy. In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren wrote,
Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.
[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
Please read the whole piece. This Republican, writing from the inside, explains that they are doing it on purpose. They are making the government dysfunctional on purpose. They are making people hate government on purpose. They are working to turn people against democracy and put themselves and their corporate sponsors in power in its place.
#occupy Brings Signs Of Hope
There are signs of hope in the poll. Even with a dearth of media coverage (compare to the well-funded, billionaire-backed Tea Party!!!) the #occupywallstreet movement has changed the national conversation. From the NYTimes article,
Almost half of the public thinks the sentiment at the root of the Occupy movement generally reflects the views of most Americans.
With nearly all Americans remaining fearful that the economy is stagnating or deteriorating further, two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country. Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of Congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two-thirds object to tax cuts for corporations and a similar number prefer increasing income taxes on millionaires.
[. . .] With the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, income inequality remains a palpable issue for Americans. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, two-thirds of independents and just over one-third of all Republicans say that the distribution of wealth in the country should be more equitable, even as a majority of Republicans said they think it is fair.
There is hope. The public is not stupid, and can at least sense what is going on.
September 4, 2011
Why does it seem that Republicans are doing everything they can to undermine people's trust in government, in Congress and in all our other institutions? Here is the answer.
It is crucial for people to read this to understand what is happening in our politics. This is written by a retiring Republican Congressional staffer: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult:
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"
Please, please read the whole thing.
August 10, 2011
Steve Benen in Political Animal - Fox News’ lack of limits asks,
Obviously, the Republican cable news network has a lot invested in condemning the president in every possible instance, but is it too much to ask that Fox accept some limits?Go see why.
July 30, 2011
When you sell the farm, the farm's gone.
Is it already too late for America? I’m starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite -- and we're only now just starting to realize it. To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing. To satisfy their hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote. We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.
Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years - to be blamed on Obama. The "free marketers" gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover. Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing. We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan. But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.
And with the country on the very edge of defaulting on the Reagan/Bush debt, Senate Republicans are FILIBUSTERING the very debt-ceiling deal they were for just a few weeks ago...
There is much more at that old post, go read.
June 28, 2011
In the debt-ceiling debate Republicans are holding the country hostage again, demanding that the country shift to a radical pro-big-corporate/big-wealth agenda as the ransom. At the same time the Tea Partiers say don't raise the debt limit, period, and let the country default, hoping that out of the resulting chaos and desperation they can rebuild the economy in an Ayn Randian, rule-by-the-rich vision.
Either way, this is a radical, unprecedented attempt to redefine our form of government, largely privatizing for a few the wealth of We, the People while stifling our voice. If we give in to this extremist vision of cut and gut, America will lose the engine that made us prosperous.
Sabotaging Economy Short-term
In the short-term it is looking more and more like Republicans are deliberately sabotaging efforts to recover the economy and create jobs, as a strategy to turn voters against President Obama in the coming elections. The cuts that Republicans are demanding threaten jobs and the recovery. From the post Debt-Ceiling Deal's Cuts Could Crash Economy:
Withdrawing government spending literally “takes money out of the economy.” We have a crisis because of lack of demand. Republican solutions of giving the wealthy and corporations even more money and tax cuts obviously will not work because the rich don't create jobs, we do. The rich are already richer than ever, with a greater share of the income and wealth than ever, and giant corporations are already sitting on tons of cash.
So with the stimulus winding down, and state and local budget cuts causing layoffs of teachers, firefighters and other government employees, Republicans are demanding even more layoffs from federal budget cuts as a "cure." But cutting government as a prescription for creating jobs sounds a lot like their claim that cutting taxes increases revenue. The problem is a lack of demand, and budget cuts taking hundreds of billions out of the economy only makes that worse.
So are Republicans doing this on purpose, to tank the economy, improving their 2012 election chances?
Late last year, Washington Monthly's Steve Benen surfaced the question, saying that in light of Republican efforts to take capital out of the economy, stop the focus on unemployment, and take economic growth off the agenda in favor of deficit reduction,
I obviously can't read the minds of GOP policymakers, but it seems at least worth talking about whether they're prioritizing the destruction of a presidency over the needs of the nation.
Early this month Henry Blodget asked Are Republicans Intentionally Sabotaging Economy For Political Gain? Click through for the video.
More recently, in Democrats Explicitly Call Out GOP For Sabotaging The Economic Recovery, TPM reported:
In a Capitol press conference Wednesday, the Senate's top Democrats argued that Republicans don't want to pass measures like a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers because they'll improve President Obama's re-election chances.
"Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The harshest denunciation came from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the man who crafted the Dems' new "jobs first" message.
"We are also open to hiring incentives, perhaps in the form of a payroll tax cut for employers that was floated by the administration.... [T]hat might not be our first choice, that shows how willing we are to work with the Republicans to create jobs. It's pro-business, it's a tax cut, and many Republicans have been for it in the past. But now all of a sudden they're coming out against it,"
Steve Benen reacted, in The ‘sabotage’ question goes mainstream,
E.J. Dionne Jr. inched pretty close to it last week, noting that Republicans “have no interest” in working on job creation because “Republicans benefit if the economy stays sluggish.” Kevin Drum wondered whether this will ever be “a serious talking point,” adding, “No serious person in a position of real influence really wants to accuse an entire party of cynically trying to tank the economy, after all.”
Michael Tomasky takes the point a step further at The Daily Beast, in The GOP vs. Democracy, writing:
It’s about time the Democrats started saying openly what has been clear for months or even years now—that as long as economic recovery would work to the political benefit of Barack Obama, the Republicans have been, are, and will be in favor of sabotaging the economy.
[. . .] Today’s GOP is about ideological maximalism on all fronts. ... They cannot negotiate, because negotiating means accepting something you don’t like, which the noise machine will not permit. And worse, because the noise machine wants Obama to fail and is so powerful, Republican office-holders inevitably arrive at that point too. ... they hide their political motives behind rhetoric about the deficit. It’s high time the Democrats started pulling back the curtain.
Wrecking Ball Long-term
On the longer term, Republican radicals are advocating "a wrecking ball agenda" that cuts the very things that made us prosperous: infrastructure, education, scientific research as well as the things the define us as a caring people and enable all of us to pursue our dreams: retirement security, health care and a social safety net. The cuts mean lower taxes for the wealthy and less supervision of the practices of their giant corporations. Privatization of public wealth and functions means a wealthy few benefit and receive economic gain instead of We, the People.
At Netroots Nation Van Jones talked about this conservative wrecking crew, calling them "dream killers, who have a wrecking ball agenda for our country. A wrecking ball for America. But they painted that wrecking ball red, white and blue." At the launch of the Rebuild The Dream movement, Jones said,
Look at their great leader, Grover Norquist. This guy, he has proudly said on the record that he wants to shrink America’s Government down to the size that he can drown it in a bathtub, he wants to drown America’s Government in a bathtub…who talks like that?
Who, who even thinks like that? That is not a very patriotic statement sir…
But their contempt for America’s Government perfectly matches their plan for the American people. Paul Ryan’s budget would knock out more critical American infrastructure that our sworn enemies ever dreamed of knocking out. These massive cuts wouldn’t just kill Medicare, as the states and cities adjusted to all that, states and cities would wind up sitting down first responders.
First Priority Is Not The Country - It Is Getting Rid Of Obama
As Obama took office and began to try to address the economic emergency, conservative leader Rush Limbaugh voiced Republican hopes for party-over-country, saying,"I hope Obama fails."
Last year Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Limbaugh, explaining Republican priorities: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
Again just last week explained why Republicans are sabotaging jobs and economic recovery, saying,
“I think the president can be defeated if conditions in November of '12 are anything like they are today. ... The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," he told National Journal.
Now Hoping For Default
This weekend Rep. Michelle Bachmann says that under no circumstances would she vote to increase the debt limit, instead allowing the country to default and economy to be destroyed. Announcing her candidacy for President she says that warnings of consequences if the government doesn't raise the debt limit and defaults are just "scare tactics," saying the Treasury can still pay interest.
Candidate Tim Pawlenty says "pay China first"
Here is Bachmann opposing the minimum wage in 2005, explaining her opposition to the state's minimum wage as a form of job creation: "Literally, if we took away the minimum wage—if conceivably it was gone—we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level."
In 2011, Bachmann suggests an unlikely fix to the nation's long-term deficit: "I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this."
Radical Ayn Randian Cultists
Much of the Republican Party has morphed into a radical, cult-like group. Many are now followers of Ayn Rand, the novelist/philosopher who espoused a vision of a society divided into "producers"— the "job-creators"—and the rest of us, the "parasites" and "leeches" who use democracy to "loot" the wealth of the deserving business owners. As Yaron Brook and Don Watkinsof the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights explained in an op-ed last year,
It is the producers who make life possible: who keep grocery shelves stocked; who discover new lifesaving drugs; who make computers faster, buildings taller, and airplanes safer.
The looters, on the other hand, leech off the wealth created by producers.
Some say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a political party's ideology on a belief that altruism, democracy and Christianity are "evil." Others say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a country's policies on fictional novels rather than science and history. Still others say is it a bad idea for national leaders to think of most of the public as "parasites" while saying people with tons of cash are "producers" who should govern. I am talking about the Republican Party's embrace of Ayn Rand and her cruel philosophy.
Disciples of Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness now dominate the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. There is no way around it. Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan says Rand is his guide. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says Rand's Atlas Shrugged is his "foundation book." Senator Rand Paul is named after her (or not). Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead. Fox News promotes Rand. Conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck has been promoting Rand for years. So has Rush. This isn't recent, Alan Greenspan lived with the Rand cult and promoted and implemented her ideas.
Backmann often echoes the Ayn Randian vision of "job-creators":
So if we cut back the corporate tax rate, if we would zero out the capital gains, right, allow for a 100 percent expensing when a job creator buys equipment for their business, that would go a long way towards job creators recognizing that this is a pro-business environment. "
Speaker of the House John Boehner also frequently echoes this Randian perspective of "job creators."
“Everything is on the table except raising taxes on the very people we expect to create jobs and get our economy growing again.”
The rich are "job creators? Actually, "The Rich" Don't "Create Jobs," We Do.
Attacking Our Form Of Government
As I wrote the other day about the story of America: We fought a wealthy powerful few who had all the say and didn’t let us have a say. We won and made a country where We, the People made the decisions and share the benefits. So because we had a say we built up a country with good schools, good infrastructure, good courts, and we made rules that said workers had to be safe, get a minimum wage… we protect the environment, we give out social security. We take care of each other. This made us prosperous.
The current Republican Party is fighting our form of government, with China as their "business-friendly" ideal. They want to defund through tax cuts and dismantle through spending cuts the things democracy entitles us - We, the People - to, and sell off our common wealth for the private gain of a select and wealthy few.
Violating The Oath They Took
Just what does it mean to take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? Let's look to another time when the country was under attack from within.
Members of Congress today take this oath,
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
This oath was brought in following more severe changes in the oath during the 1860s Nort/South conflict, According to Senate.gov,
In April of 1861, a time of uncertain and shifting loyalties, President Abraham Lincoln ordered all federal civilian employees within the executive branch to take an expanded oath. When Congress convened for a brief emergency session in July, members echoed the president's action by enacting legislation requiring employees to take the expanded oath in support of the Union. This oath is the earliest direct predecessor of the modern oath.
Then as now the country was under attack from within. Those still loyal to the Constitution insisted that officials take an "Ironclad Test Oath" swearing they had never engaged in disloyal conduct. The difference is that then they enforced it, and those who took the oath falsely were prosecuted for perjury. Today, not so much.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Section. 4: The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Eric Hunt contributed to this post.
November 29, 2010
Are they there to govern, of just destroy? As Washington works through its "lame duck" session and prepares for next year's new Congress, there are signs that the government-haters are preparing some serious hating on government itself.
The country needs to get moving. But conservatives, rewarded in the midterms for a strategy of obstruction, are bent on stopping everything and turning back the clock. For two years they followed a strategy of blocking everything and blaming the President for not making people's lives better. The strategy succeeded and now they are determined to carry it through to the next election. They are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, calling for an end to ongoing infrastructure development like high-speed and commuter rail and alternative energy, and have made it clear that any new efforts to stimulate the economy are out of the question. Many are starting to worry about the terrible effect these positions will have on the economy, and are calling it deliberate sabotage.
Destroy the Country to Save the Country?
In Planning for the Worst, Matt Yglesias wrote that the White house should plan for "a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage."
Zach Carter writes at CAF, in Ben Bernanke And Conservative Economic Sabotage,
The Republican Party's newfound political assault on Ben Bernanke is a grim reminder of the actual conservative economic agenda for the next two years. The midterm elections taught Republicans a destructive lesson: With Democrats in power, the worse the economy gets, the better Republicans do at the voting booth. Economic sabotage is the essential Republican strategy for winning the White House in 2012. They will block every effort to actually improve the economy they can, and make a big show out of criticizing any economic aid they can't block.
Steve Benen has been writing about this at the Washington Monthly Political Animal blog. In NONE DARE CALL IT SABOTAGE, Benen wondered if Republicans are actively sabotaging the economy to help keep Obama from being reelected,
This general approach has shifted from hoping conditions don't improve to taking steps to ensure conditions don't improve. We've gone from Republicans rooting for failure to Republicans trying to guarantee failure.
[. . .] If a major, powerful political party is making a conscious decision about sabotage, the political world should probably take the time to consider whether this is acceptable, whether it meets the bare minimum standards for patriotism, and whether it's a healthy development in our system of government.
Digby's response to these, Virtuous Sabotage, is that Republicans are "blatantly proclaiming themselves to be virtuous by undermining the national interest in order to win elections." She brings up the media’s complicity in this,
I think it's just another step in the degradation of our societal norms. We are not living in a country anymore in which there is even a consensus about something as immoral as torture, so why should political sabotage be beyond the pale? And the mainstream media, which Benen points out should be charged with bringing some perspective to these issues and calling attention to the fact that the Republican Party is actively working to undermine the national interest, is so deep into their "Church of the Savvy" that they literally laugh at this phenomenon and then proceed to call balls and strikes as if it's a sport to find out who can win with the most cynical strategy.
Obstruction Morphs Into Destruction
Conservatives, watching only FOX, listening only to right-wing radio and reading only far-right blogs have gone beyond just obstruction as a campaign tactic and whipped themselves into an anti-government, anti-tax, anti-Obama frenzy. Obstruction is giving way to demands for destruction. They have raised the rhetoric to such a level that many of their “Tea Party” supporters will only be happy if the government is destroyed and corporate anarchy prevails.
The rhetoric has reached such a level of extremism that it is difficult to describe the things they are saying to people who don’t follow the news. Bloggers, activists and general followers of news will confirm that if you try to tell people what the “baggers” and their elected representatives are saying they think YOU’RE crazy! It does sound extreme when you try to describe the things they are saying.
An immediate casualty of the right’s extremism may be the START treaty. Egged on by Rush Limbaugh, who said on his show that the Russians have never honored a treaty, and conservative echo-organs like the Heritage Foundation, writing last week that claims President Reagan would have supported the treaty are a "myth" from a White House “in campaign mode,” conservative Senators are opposing the treaty. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, ranking Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee is warning that this opposition is dangerous for the country. Many other senior Republicans, including Brent Scowcroft, former Secretaries of State Colin Powell , James Baker, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, Reagan Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein, Reagan Chief of Staff Howard Baker, have joined him urging ratification of the treaty. Former Missouri Senator John Danforth even says Republicans lately "have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption." For his statesmanship the Tea Party is targeting Lugar.
The Dream: No Government At All
For many of the new breed of conservative government itself is the real target. Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show last week, was telling his listeners that we don’t need government at all, that things worked much better in the “wild west” before government showed up and ruined the party. Meanwhile many conservatives are now devotees of Ayn Rand, who denigrates democracy and government as "collectivism" and "statism," and these ideas and the cult-words that describe them echo through the Tea Party. Glenn Beck regularly feeds Randian rhetoric to his audience.
Right now people who pay attention to what conservatives are saying to each other are warning there is every indication that the conservatives are going to force the country to default when the "debt ceiling" comes due for increase early next year. The effect of such a move would extend far beyond “just” a government shutdown, a default by the U.S. threatens the entire world’s economy. But if you read their blogs, listen to their radio shows and talk to their supporters it’s apparent that they have talked themselves into a corner on this and any vote to raise the debt ceiling will be seen as total betrayal. Former Senator Alan Simpson, for one, is ecstatic. "The debt limit, when it comes in April or May, will prove who's a hero, and who's a jerk and who's a charlatan and who's a faker," he said recently.
Paul Krugman, in There Will Be Blood, writes about Simpson’s comments, and warns of the seriousness of the consequences if conservatives get their way on the debt limit,
Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.
… Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.
The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.
What Is Endgame?
Sara Robinson, in her widely-read post, None Dare Call It Sedition, warned that the right was getting out of control,
This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government's authority and capacity to run the country. And it's been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater.
This long assault has gone into overdrive since Obama's inauguration, as the rhetoric has ratcheted up from overheated to perfervid. We've reached the point where you can't go a week without hearing some prominent right wing leader calling for outright sedition -- an immediate and defiant populist uprising against some legitimate form of government authority.
After describing numerous calls to violence, the more-frequent appearance of weapons at right-wing political rallies, the growth or militias, Robinson writes,
For years now, we've dismissed all of this as crazy talk, the rantings of a loony fringe that will never get enough traction to become a material threat to our democracy. But we're well past the point where it's no longer quaint and funny, or an embarrassing breach of democratic etiquette that polite people should just ignore.
So I want to ask if just getting Obama out of office is the endgame -- or is it turning into more than that? When you throw in that many of the Tea Party right are saying they will shut down the government if they get the chance, and will vote against the debt ceiling -- forcing the government to default and causing economic chaos worldwide -- you have to ask if destruction of government and the resulting chaos is the goal? Force the country to be ungovernable, angry and unstable with lots of desperate people running around in a general chaos? Breaking society apart so they be the supermen who step in and reform it in an Ayn Randian image? A new conservative order rising out of chaos is a recurring theme in right-wing mythology and sounds too much like the Turner Diaries for me.
Or maybe they just aren't thinking things through to the point where they understand the consequences of their increasingly extremist rhetoric and positions.
What Can We Do?
But what do we do about it? The conservatives live in a bubble, hearing only Limbaugh, seeing only FOX and reading only right-wing blogs. They aren't going to let themselves be reasoned with. Any one trying to work out problems is labeled a RINO and dismembered. The media will only say "both sides do it." The public is bombarded with corporate-funded smear-ads, telling the public that Democrats voted to cut their Medicare, and the candidates elected by those ads then turn around and cut their Medicare, to give those same corporations another windfall.
The only thing that will work is public pressure. To accomplish this we will have to reach the public ourselves and that is going to take some work, and some money. More on this soon.
July 14, 2010
The American Dream is what is at stake for the Obama Administration, and they know it. This is the dirty, little secret that can longer be contained -- it is escalating, cannot remain hidden, and may have significant political ramifications for the 2010 elections. The atrocity of the past years is this broken promise with the people, and it is deeply affecting the way they think, behave, vote and live. Moreover, it could begin to explain the groundswell response to candidate Barack Obama in 2008. The power of his words helped them believe that the dream was recoverable. He exemplified what was possible through education and hard work in his meteoric rise through American politics to the Oval Office. Further and more importantly, it also explains why we are now suffering such profound political despair reflected in the dropping poll numbers.
The middle class, for its survival, needs life to return to a semblance of "normalcy" - a time when they didn't know how to spell the word "deficit" and didn't have to care. They want their retirement savings back so they don't have to work until they drop. They want a bank account that makes more then one percent interest. They want to know what their health insurance premiums will be this year and in ten. They want to know if their kids study, and if they save and sacrifice, that their lives will be better. They want their kids to get good jobs, and they want to hold onto our own jobs. And with despair and anger they realize that despite the heroic work of the Congress with this President in passing landmark legislation in all of these areas -- they still are not safe. Economic ruin may still be right around the corner, and makes it hard to sleep at night.
You know we've all been hoodwinked and sold a bill of goods about the sanctity of the middle class in this country. It is a basic tenet of our lives, and made us different from other countries. The ranks swelled over the last decades after FDR to the present. But now for the first time since the Great Depression, the middle class is at risk of tipping over once and for all. They are not coming out of the financial, housing and environmental crises intact. Interest rates have ratcheted up on the family home, maybe there's a balloon payment on the mortgage and its impossible to refinance under the "new" programs; savings have virtually no interest and are drying up; pensions have evaporated; health insurance premiums are basically unaffordable until 2014 if then; schools are overcrowded and on the decline; there are no jobs except in China and they don't speak Mandarin; and unemployment is still at 9.5% -- higher in key areas throughout the country. The new legislation is riddled with loopholes, as all legislation can be after laborious compromises and extensive details. What is different is that each of these loopholes is flagrantly being exploited by the banks, the credit card companies and the health insurance companies. For example, many of the unemployed cannot qualify for COBRA because their companies failed which is code for closed their doors. COBRA is not available when a company terminates their health insurance plan, and 2014 is a long way off when you need health insurance coverage now.
Frankly, this is not what the middle class signed up for. It was not part of the implicit promise made to them. As a result, they are angry (enter stage right the Tea Party to exploit this vulnerability), and depressed (evidenced in the lackluster June election voter turnout). This is a deadly combination that could seal the deal on the November elections for the big, bad guys. Yet somehow the middle class and its Democrats must rally again and rise above the collective depression (no pun intended). We cannot let the brilliant and effective message machine of the Republican Party lull them into universal amnesia -- forgetting all the wrongs of the past. Remember these are the same guys (Bush and Cheney) that put the nails in the coffin cementing the potential extermination of the middle class. These same guys two weeks ago even blocked the extension of unemployment benefits while they frolicked on vacation. How could they do that to working families in this country? The extension passed the House before the break, but was filibustered in the Senate. And given all that, imagine life when we essentially give away the House because we are too depressed to vote or disorganized to keep these seats.
I will take liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi any day over anti-choice, sanctimonious Republican Representative John Boehner as Speaker of the House. That would be a bad dream that just keeps on giving. This threat should be enough for the White House to saddle up and come out with a plan, a message (remember "hope and change"), and leadership to deliver - not the White House Press Secretary Gibbs message yesterday. David Gregory of Meet the Press has gotten so very good and Gibbs just walked into a fiasco announcing the potential lose of seats in the House. It was as bad as giving away candy instead of feeding the homeless, and maybe that's why White House Special Advisor, David Axelrod, was so snarky with CNN's Candy Crowley during the next hour on the Sunday morning political shows because it sure didn't make any sense.
Snarky or not, we all know Obama and his team are awful busy with the economy, the oil spill and a few dozen Russian spies, but we need them to reach out to that disenfranchised middle class again, aka big voting block. After all, Obama is the master communicator and we know that he can do it because he has done it before to win in 2008. And now the stakes may even be higher. If we allow 40 seats in the House to go asunder and a few more in the US Senate -- we can start waving bye-bye to the American Dream, the middle class, economic recovery, and maybe the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades.
Please see my Pearltree for some of the reference materials with more to come. This is a new tool to organize and share materials on the web. In full disclosure, I advise them as they build out the new features of this platform.
Note, an earlier version of this article appeared this week on the Huffington Post.
July 6, 2010
The country is in an economic emergency. Unemployment -- especially long-term unemployment -- is at extremely high levels and the recovery is faltering. Conservatives are obstructing efforts to solve this because they believe it helps them in the November election. To this end conservatives are throwing out every possible argument against helping the economy to see if any of them stick, and to provide cover for opposing taking any action that might help matters.
The latest nonsense they are spreading is that helping the unemployed keeps them from finding jobs. Good Lord! This is basically the old "if you feed them they just breed" storyline. They say "it makes them dependent" as if hard-working people laid off because of Wall Street's scams are squirrels. Or, to hear the nasty way conservatives talk about these human beings, they are like rats. "Hobos," one Congressman called the unemployed! And the DC elite listen, chuckle and repeat.
But while they say unemployment assistance keeps these lazy parasites from finding jobs, they also obstruct bills that create jobs by maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure. This tells you it's just something they say, to cover for what they do. And what they do is obstruct any effort to fix the problem because they believe they will benefit if it is not fixed.
For example, the big DC drumbeat right now is against "spending." They claim that government spending caused the crisis, ignoring and passing the buck on everything that actually caused it, especially their deregulation and their lack of oversight. They blame government for everything, so why should this be different.
Along these lines they claim that the stimulus didn't work, or even that spending made the problem worse, because there are still people out of work. But look at the following chart. The right side of the chart shows the effect of the stimulus. (Source, Jed Lewison and Karina Newton)
A conservative, anti-government myth that is everywhere now is that "Government forced banks to give loans to people who couldn't pay them back, and this caused the financial collapse" -- and its variant that it was about forcing banks to "help minorities. This is an example of the tactic of repeating a lie over and over until enough people believe it. To deflect people from understanding what really caused the crisis and from seeing that they are obstructing the effort to reform the financial system they made this one up" Unfortunately this has become what bloggers call a "zombie lie" -- no matter how many times you prove it is just a lie, it comes back from the dead.
The Zombie Lie Problem
The "zombie lie" problem shows that it is a mistake to think that just arguing facts is a way to shoot this stuff down. Spending your time arguing facts with people who are trying to mislead misses the point. The lie is not about the facts, it is cover for the obstruction. When you try to argue a fact they will make up something else to throw you off track. Facts are not what this is about, feeding a narrative of no action is what this is about, because they understand that a bad economy helps them in the Fall.
Listening to this stuff at all, and trying to argue facts just contributes to the lack of action. There comes a point when you have to stop llsteneing and getting bogged down by intentional distractions and get something done for the economy and the public.
It Is Time To Stop Listening To This Stuff And ACT
Enough with these stupid, heartless, dehumanizing right wing "if you feed them they breed" arguments that are preventing action. People are out of work and the recovery is faltering. It is time to push aside the nay-sayers, and get something done. The government simply has to step in and act. First, do the minimal, obvious things:
1) Pass the unemployment extension, because people can't find jobs.
2) Continue COBRA subsidies, because so many of the long-term unemployed are older people who cannot get or afford insurance any other way. This is simple humanity, people! And, by the way, COBRA itself is running out for many people, never mind subsidies.
3) Send aid to the states. 900,000 jobs in the states are riding on this help.
At a minimum do this. Don't get lost in the weeds of what bill to attach it to. Just do it. Bring it out by itself for an up or down vote so the public can clearly see who is helping and who is voting against jobs and help for the unemployed.
But what Congress really ought to be doing is passing the George Miller "Local Jobs for America Act." .
As economists like Paul Krugman keep saying we risk going into a serious depression. At the least we are entering a pattern of slight recovery, slight decline for a decade. Look at what happened to Ireland when they tried "austerity."
Here is an undeniable fact about government spending. Government spending on infrastructure creates the conditions that enable businesses to prosper. Tax cuts leave nothing behind, but the roads, transit systems, ports, electric grid, Internet, courts, schools, universities, research, and all the rest that government spending creates make us competitive and are needed by businesses
Do it. Ignore the obstructors who are trying to set the stage for November. Put people to work. Help the long-term unemployed. Pass jobs bills.. And spend on modernizing our infrastructure so American can be competitive again.
February 4, 2010
Lest we forget where the huge deficits and debt came from...
On August 25, 2001, just seven months after taking office, George W. Bush learned that his budgets had already erased the previous administration's huge surplus -- that was paying off our country's debt at a rapid rate -- and had instead forced the country to start borrowing again. Bush said it was "Incredibly Positive News''
President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government's fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." He said that was "incredibly positive news" because it would halt the growth of the federal government.
Bush certainly wasn't the first conservative to think deficits and debt were a good thing. Conservatives had for years advocated a strategy to "starve the beast" by intentionally plunging the country into debt, forcing cutbacks in government oversight of corporate behavior such as regulatory oversight, safety inspections and consumer protections.
In the 1980 campaign for President, Reagan explained his tax cut strategy, after candidate John Anderson called for spending cuts,
"John tells us that first we've got to reduce spending before we can reduce taxes," Ronald Reagan declared in reply to the independent candidate, John Anderson. "Well, if you've got a kid that's extravagant, you can lecture him all you want to about his extravagance. Or you can cut his allowance and achieve the same end much quicker."
In his two terms Reagan quadrupled the federal debt.
January 31, 2010
Despite White House overtures for congressional Republicans to work with Democrats, GOP leaders indicated Sunday they were unwilling to accept much of what President Barack Obama and the Democrats are proposing.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed little willingness on CNN's "State of the Union" program to seek common ground with Democrats on top legislative priorities such as health care, a jobs bill or creating a bipartisan statutory commission to come up with plans to reduce the federal deficit.
His counterpart in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, was more blunt.
Look, the Republican strategy is to block everything and then campaign saying "Democrats can't get anything done."
The question is, why do Senate Dems fall for it? There are lots of things that they could pass with 51 votes, but they claim that would be mean to the Republicans.
July 24, 2009
This post originally appeared at Open Left.
Is Obama's insistence on bipartisanship killing his presidency?
I submit that health care reform could fail and take the Obama Presidency with it, and that this may well be the result of attempting to appease Republicans who want only to destroy him.
Let's look at the record. When Obama took office the country urgently needed sufficient stimulus to make up for the slack in demand from consumers and businesses. But before even offering his plan Obama weakened it because he believed this would bring in Republican votes. And then while the plan was going through Congress more and more actual stimulus was removed. Then the stimulus didn't get a single Republican vote in the House, and only a couple in the Senate. In the name of bipartisanship Obama gave up a good plan in exchange for nothing. Now the economy is beginning to suffer the consequences.
Meanwhile the Republicans who Obama gave up so much to bring on board are working to destroy his administration with propaganda and lies about how the plan is failing, how the plan is part of a socialist conspiracy to ruin the country, etc.
With health care Obama is again repeatedly offering up compromise in the name of bipartisanship while the Republicans are again working to destroy him and health care reform. If he was giving things up in exchange for the promise of votes that is one thing, but there will be no Republican votes. This is the big game now, and the Republicans have correctly stated that a failure of health care means the failure of this presidency. So they are doing everything they can to kill health care reform. They are telling every lie they can find, using every scare tactic in the book, calling him every name, and encouraging the worst in every nutcase out there.
Bipartisan must be a two-way street. The assumption of bipartisanship on the part of the other side is a mistake when the other side has no intention of reciprocating. It misjudges the changes that have occurred in the Republican party.
This political call for bipartisanship in understandable and politically astute. The country longs for a return to the days when the parties could argue their positions with Senatorial camaraderie and reach compromises that incorporated the best ideas from both sides. Politicians are smart to recognize this longing and appeal to it. But they are not smart to extend that wish into a belief that today's Republicans are willing to play along.
We have seen this before. At the 2006 YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas a few bloggers were invited to a roundtable with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who was contemplating a run for President. With the "mainstream" press watching from the sidelines as if this was a football game, Marcy Wheeler and Natasha Chart tried to pin down Warner on his insistence that Iran was a problem while Pakistan was not. (It turned out that Warner hadn't thought that much about Pakistan.)
Then we asked about his instinct for bipartisanship. "Hunter" from DailyKos asked Warner, "You said that in Virginia you got a lot done working across the aisle. Do you think that is possible on a national level now?" Warner answered that you can't "ram through transformational change in a 51-49 way, I don't think it 's going to get done. I may be naive on this, but I think there are still enough people of goodwill in the country and even in Congress. You have to reach out and grab them."
I then pointed out that in 1993 as a party strategy the Republicans had decided to block Clinton's health care plan, even before any plan was decided on. Then I asked, "I think part of what Hunter's asking is, what if they don't? What if, just like with Clinton's plan they decide they're just going to block whatever you do?"
Warner answered, "If you don't think there are enough people of goodwill willing to step up and do the right thing regardless of party, then I'm truly worried for the country."
I replied, "So are we. That's why we're here. The question is, what if they don't? What's plan B?"
Warner didn't have a plan B. He was going to just get bipartisanship because he was a nice guy who was willing to work with the other side. This appears to be Obama's position as well.
This is recorded in Matt Bai's book, The Argument, pages 248-249. In the book, Bai faults the bloggers for their attitude against working with Republicans, saying that we are uncompromising. I love Matt, but he gets it fundamentally wrong here. I, and I think most bloggers, long for a Republican party that can be worked with again, because the extremists that have taken over are harming the country and the world.
But when the other side is trying to destroy you, you just have to take that into account. You don't give in, and then give in more, and then give in more, thinking they will change. Why should they when you just keep giving them what they want? We're certainly learning that in California. Obama needs to learn that as well, before there is nothing left to give them.
That's what they are waiting for, and that's when they will make their move.
Here is my suggestion. The next time a Republican circulates anything like the picture of Obama dressed with a bone in his nose, and claims that he is trying to make us all live under socialism, Obama should say, "That's enough" and "ram through" a health care plan that works for the people. It will save his presidency.
July 17, 2009
This post originally appeared at Open Left
How much of what we see on TV, hear on the radio and read in newspapers or online as "conservative" or "centrist" opinion is actually paid for by corporate interests? In fact, how much of what we think of as "conservatism" itself is actually just paid corporate PR?
A story about "pay for play" is surfacing today in Politico. And to reward good behavior: I say good for them.
The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.
For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”
This follows the story the other day about the Washington Post and then reports of other media outlets selling “access” to lobbyists.
I have followed this stuff for some time, and I venture to say that most -- not all but most -- of what I see coming out of the so-called "conservative movement" appears to have been little more than corporate pay-for-play for many years.
I started thinking about this back when the "conservative" position was pro-logging. Remember how they mocked the spotted owl? (The spotted owl is an "indicator species," or a shorthand way to judge the health of an entire ecosystem.) I wondered why the logging industry was a cause for conservatives, but not the fishing industry, which was greatly harmed by the logging practices advocated by conservatives. The answer turned out to be that a guy who ran a corporation that had made a ton of money looting S&Ls (how come no one remembers the S&L Crisis?) had bought a lumber company and was destroying all the old-growth redwoods was hooked into (i.e. paying) the conservative movement. (Please read the links and follow the links there!) And so the "conservative" opinion became that logging old-growth forests was a good thing. Cash payment was the reason for this core pillar of conservative ideology. (The whole thing ended up paying off even more handsomely, probably thanks to more conservative movement backscratching.)
Over the years I have seen one after another example of this use of the so-called "conservative" movement to drive the interests of particular corporations, in exchange for money. We used to see it serving tobacco interests. Now we see it serving oil and coal interests -- and right now insurance company interests.
A few years ago I said at a YearlyKos panel, Ethics, Corruption and Movement Politics,
So, like I said the conservative persuasion machine and media echo chamber quickly moved past that initial far-right funding to also take in big corporate money. But corporate money is “interested” money – it necessarily has strings or it would not be given. And the strings necessarily go back to the interests of the corporation – not the public or the country – or even the conservative movement.
The movement followed the money and started to change from pure ideology to lobbying for the interests of the corporate backers. The think tanks began making arguments in support of what were little more than paying customers.
The corporations saw an opportunity and took over the so-called "conservative movement" and big, big, big money started flowing in.
As i said at the start of this piece, "How much of what we see on TV, hear on the radio and read in newspapers or online as "conservative" opinion is actually paid for by corporate interests? In fact, how much of what we think of as "conservatism" itself is actually just paid corporate PR?" I think the answer is pretty clear at this point, and that is most of it.
April 27, 2009
Earlier I commented on the case of Rep. Harman. Anyone else caught with this appearance of a crime would be investigated by the Justice Department, and maybe prosecuted if the investigation showed reason to do so. I can understand that the Bush admin, the way they operated, may have discovered an opportunity to exchange letting her off the hook for getting her help (also known as blackmail) but is the Obama Justice Dept. investigating these allegations against Harman? (As well as the allegation that the Bush Justice Dept didn't?) If not, why not?
The other day the story in the press was that President decided not to let the Justice Dept. investigate and maybe prosecute people in the CIA. I hope this is not the case, because this would be inappropriate political interference with the Justice Dept. If a crime is committed it must be investigated and, if warranted, prosecuted - no matter who is involved and no matter whether the President likes it or not. That is how rule of law works.
It is my hope that we are returning to rule of law, and the Justice Dept is back to properly doing its job without political interference, and is investigating the allegations that the Bush admin tortured people, and is investigating whether to prosecute Rep. Harman.
If not, we have just swapped one politicized Justice Dept. for another. And we continue to have a country where some people are above the law and the rest of us are beneath it.
December 16, 2008
I'm going to give credit where credit is due. Pat Buchanan has written a column on the auto industry and American manufacturing and jobs that everyone should read. So I am linking to it, and even linking to the repugnant Human Events site where it appears.
Please read The Toyota Republicans. Excerpt:
What are Republicans thinking of, pulling the plug, at Christmas, on GM, risking swift death for the greatest manufacturing company in American history, a strategic asset and pillar of the U.S. economy.
The $14 billion loan to the Big Three that Republican senators filibustered to death is just 2 percent of the $700 billion the Senate voted to bail out Wall Street. Having gone along with bailouts of Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie, Freddie and CitiGroup, why refuse a reprieve to an industry upon which millions of the best blue-collar jobs in America depend?
. . . Is the Republican Party so fanatic in its ideology that, rather than sin against a commandment of Milton Friedman, it is willing to see America written forever out of this fantastic market, let millions of jobs vanish and write off the industrial Midwest?
October 29, 2008
This is one -- just one -- of the sleaziest Republican smear/deceit ads this year. Sen. Dole in North Carolina hires a voice impersonator to sound like her opponent, to say "There is no God" in an ad, saying her opponent "took godless money."
Wow. That's really creepy. And Sen. Dole apparently thinks North Carolina voters are really, really stupid. Is she right?
One thing that comes out of this election: I think it has become pretty obvious what the Republican Party is about. They say nasty and things to trick people who don't follow the news into voting for them, and then they hand over public money to a few wealthy corporation owners who fund all of this.
I think people are starting to become well-enough aware of this game to start doing something about it. ONE thing would be to stop allowing a few people to use corporate resources to influence our politics. It isn't corporations that are the problem, it is this abiloity of a few people to access corporate resources and use them to subvert democracy.
October 18, 2008
We're about to see the full force power and fury of the right-wing machine unleashed. I'm not so sure Obama will keep his lead through the next phase, or if there will be a country when they're done.
The RNC and the McCain campaign has been accusing Obama and Democrats of being "un-American" or "anti-American" and "dangerous" and "terrorists" and anything they can think of. Today McCain said Obama's tax policies are "Socialist." Across the country the first phase of robo-calls has started, with nasty smears, lies, fear-mongering and you-name-it being pumped into people's homes at all hours.
It is only going to get worse. And then it will get worse. And then it will get really nasty. The next two weeks will go down in history. The corporate right faces the prospect of the people bringing them back under control, and a look at where all the money went. The authoritarian right faces investigations for torture and war crimes. The party operatives face jail time for illegal politicization of the entire government. They will not go without a huge fight.
I really don't know where things will go in the next two weeks, but keep up your spirits, and fight back.
And, of course, watch your backs.
October 17, 2008
The Obama campaign today sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking that he expand the scope of the ongoing investigation into Justice Department politicization to "include a review of any involvement by the Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC)'s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud."
Briefly, the DOJ politicization scandal stems from Republican efforts to conduct partisan vote fraud investigations before the 2006 election. Prosecutors who refused were fired, prosecutors who played along were not fired (and are still there). After an outcry and the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, appointed a special prosecutor to look into the politicization. The current vote fraud accusations and accompanying Justice Department, FBI and White House involvement follow the same pattern, and are based on no credible evidence, so the Obama campaign believes that it may be related to the ongoing partisan politicization of the government's law enforcement.
Update - Ari Melber at The Washington Independent has more,
Citing an “unholy alliance” between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney scandal investigate the matter.
General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated “misconduct” by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
The letter requests that the special prosecutor’s inquiry “include a review of any involvement by Justice Dept. and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign [and RNC's] systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”
October 16, 2008
This in the news today: Officials: FBI investigates ACORN for voter fraud,
The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election. A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to The Associated Press on Thursday.First, it is ILLEGAL for anyone in the government to leak news of an FBI investigation. That by itself should be a tipoff to what is going on here.
A second senior law enforcement official says the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam.
Second, this is what the Justice Department politicization scandal was about: prosecutors fired for refusing to involve themselves in phony pre-election investigations of vote fraud, and others who were not fired because they played along. Those prosecutors are still on the job. Get it yet?
I am seeing 24.7 hysteria in the media that ACORN is engaged in a conspiracy to steal the election. But once you look into it there is not a single fact behind the charges. In fact, there were a total of 26 cases of voter fraud in the United States in a 5-year period studied.
Meanwhile the Republicans are fighting to purge millions of citizens from the voting rolls before the election. Do you not get it yet?
September 19, 2008
The Treasury Secretary wants the largest tax expenditure in history to be considered and passed IN A WEEK, just before an election. And then the BUSH ADMINISTRATION will manage how the bailout is handled.
Does this set off any alarm bells, people? The BUSH ADMINISTRATION is going to be in charge of deciding how trillions of our dollars are going to be allocated? The incompetent, "no bid contract," Halliburton, billions in cash disappearing in Iraq, Katrina, CORRUPT BUSH ADMINISTRATION allocating ALL THE REST OF THE MONEY IN THE TREASURY???
Hey, people, this is all of it. This is your retirement money, your hopes for a health care plan, your ability to buy food, all coming up in one massive spending bill IN A WEEK.
Tell me, what do you THINK is about to happen???
September 10, 2008
Reagan picked up where Nixon left off, with no apologies. Bush I picked up from there. And then George W. Bush was literally a corporate coup taking on democracy itself. But McCain? The campaign HE is running? The absolute lies? It's beyond even George W Bush!
Josh Marshall, Unfit for High Office,
It's easy to get twisted up in your head about strategy and message and optics. But what is already apparent is that John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest and race-baiting campaign of our lifetimes. So let's stopped being shocked and awed by every new example of it. It is undignified. What can we do? We've got a dangerously reckless contender for the presidency and a vice presidential candidate who distinguished her self by abuse of office even on the comparatively small political stage of Alaska. They've both embraced a level of dishonesty that disqualifies them for high office. Democrats owe it to the country to make clear who these people are. No apologies or excuses. If Democrats can say at the end of this campaign that they made clear exactly how and why these two are unfit for high office they can be satisfied they served their country.Update - Andrew Sullivan:
In the end, his [McCain's] final concern is not national security. No one who cares about national security would pick as vice-president someone who knows nothing about it as his replacement. No one who cares about this country's safety would gamble the security of the world on a total unknown because she polled well with the Christianist base. ...
McCain has demonstrated in the last two months that he does not have the character to be president of the United States.
August 30, 2008
I admit to being stunned by McCain's VP choice of Sarah Palin. She is a stunning beauty queen who has served a stunning two years as Governor of Alaska after serving a stunning two terms on the Wasilla, Alaska city council and two terms as mayor. (As of the 2000 census, Wasilla's population was 5,470.)
I'm stunned that McCain picked a politician who is currently under investigation for abusing power by firing the state's Public Safety Commissioner for refusing to fire a state trooper involved in a child custody battle with Palin's sister.
I'm stunned (and insulted as a citizen) that McCain feels he can place a heartbeat away from the Presidency a hard-core creationist with NO foreign policy experience or even positions. She is not just a creationist but has so little respect for our Constitution that she advocates teaching "Biblical principles" and creationism in our public schools -- in other words, forcing the teaching of one branch of one particular religion.
So yes, this is a stunning choice for Vice President.
*P.S. This is filed in STF's "Party Over Country" category.
August 25, 2008
On the ground in Denver, amid 4,000 delegates, roughly 15,000 media and countless bloggers, fundraisers, lobbyists and citizens (even!), two questions are highly anticipated:
- how well will Barack Obama (re-)introduce himself - along with the parallel narrative now of his running mate Joe Biden, as a leader who can transcend partisanship and move forward, at home and abroad; and
- will the Clintons - both Clintons - navigate the waters of full-throated endorsement, without a gaffe, intended or implied.
On the first, the MSM consensus seems split between hackneyed 'where's the meat?'
(a question which never seemed to trouble Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, incidentally) and can he escape the efforts of the Rove disciples of McCain to portray Barack Obama as a scary alien (the Other).
On the latter, I was fortunate to open a copy of Farhad Manjoo's fascinating book True Enough on the eve of the convention. A sort of a neo-Lakoff, proto-Westen analysis, True Enough tackles the innuendo campaigns of the Swiftboaters, etc., chronicling their decision to forgo the 'fact-based' unhappiness of some veterans with John Kerry's anti-war testimony in Congress about the Vietnam War - and take their ultimately successful tact of contriving mostly fictional challenges to his wartime record of bravery in battle.
A good read, and a factor we must all address. More on this soon.
On the latter, the Clintons' behavior, your guess is as good as [or batter than] mine. To date, the odds point in one direction, however!
A former Journalist [Reuters] and one-time boy-on-the-bus , I've been blogging, fundraising, community organizing, etc., for years, and am currently communications director for California's Silicon Valley For Obama www.sv4obama.com and a convener of ObamaScribes http://www.sv4obama.com/scribes, a loosely knit group of writers actively submitting letters to the editor to local and regional newspapers, broadcasters and bloggers in support of Barack Obama for President.
August 13, 2008
The recent big runup in gas prices, then prices starting to fall for labor day reminded me of something.
August 30, 2006: Gas Prices Dropping for Election
August 9, 2008
A new group called Accountable America is warning conservative donors about staying within election laws. The New York Times wrote about this the other day with the misleading headline, Group Plans Campaign Against G.O.P. Donors.
Of course it isn't a "campaign against GOP donors" it is a campaign warning against unlawful and unethical activity. But stopping unlawful activity just might dry up a lot of the Republican Party's -- and the right's supporting infrastructure's -- cash flow. This includes 501c3 tax-free "charity" think tanks and 501c4 "issue" organizations that are really illegally engaged in candidate activity, or otherwise acting as conduits for corporate money or for those who have "maxed out" (reached the legal limit) for political donations.
The other day I wrote about,
... companies intimidating workers to vote a certain way, churches, think tanks, front groups incorporated as c4s but doing candidate work, campaigns violating election laws, etc.So I guess great minds think alike. Heh.
... Suppose [we could create] some concern among the Wal-Marts and the Sheldon Adelsons that they had better think about following the law?
What would this do to the funding sources of the right's machine?
There is plenty of need for an effort to get conservative and corporate donors to follow the law. Just for example -- last week's news about "curious" bundled political contributions made by employees of oil companies receiving billion-dollar contracts from the government to McCain and Republicans. Some of these donations came from people clearly unable to make such a donation on their own. This makes it appear that the companies may have illegally given these people money to give to McCain and the Republican Party and groups are demanding an investigation (that will never happen).
[Public interest groups] want the Justice Department to investigate whether bundlers for John McCain's presidential campaign are using "straw" donations -- those made in the name of someone else to evade contribution limits.A story at TPM elaborates,
"An executive from a company that has a billion dollar contract to deliver oil to U.S. bases in Iraq possibly violated election law to funnel contributions to McCain. We think that warrants an investigation."Now that Accountable America is on the scene maybe corporations and big donors who are thinking about engaging in illegal activities will think twice.
And on the Hess matter ... : "An office manager for an oil company that stands to gain millions in profits from offshore drilling makes donations for the first time this cycle to McCain, and did it at the same time nine other Hess donors do. That's worth an investigation."
If you want to help this effort you can donate by clicking here.
* The new group will offer a $100,000 reward to those providing information that leads to the conviction or judgment against a conservative or business-related organization that violates the law.
* Accountable America will provide information to the public through television ads, mailings, phone calls and its Web site.
* Next week the organization plans to send a mailing warning nearly 10,000 Republican donors of the consequences of funding organizations that break or skirt the law.
August 3, 2008
The Republican Party's hiring itself out to the oil industry for this coordinated "Drill Now" campaign reminds me of an old joke. (I'll shorten it.)
Kentucky Fried Chicken comes to the Pope and says, "We'll give you $500,000 a year to change the Lord's Prayer to 'give us this day our daily fried chicken'." The Pope says, "No way." Then they offer $1 million. The Pope gives a long spiel about this is a sacred prayer, from God, etc. They give their final offer: $10 million a year.
The next day the Pope meets with his Cardinals and says, "The good news is I have brought us $10 million a year."
"The bad news is I lost the Wonder Bread account."
The other day I wrote,
This is a political party involving itself in a corporate product marketing campaign, for money. This "drill now" campaign is funded by oil companies, and is about giving them even more special government favors. It isn't a lot different from changing a stadium's name to "Enron Stadium" or Pac Bell park" etc.Your modern Republicans -- A political party reduced to hiring itself out to sell product!
This political campaign is in conjunction with an oil industry PR campaign to try to get the government to hand them even more drilling leases than the millions of acres they already have (and sit on without drilling). It came just as oil prices peaked and suggests that oil prices peaked in order to prime the public for this campaign.
July 15, 2008
In a recent story about Vets for Freedom's new campaign in support of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, the Virginia-Pilot quoted VFFs Chairman Pete Hegseth on donor disclosure.
Vets for Freedom's efforts are being fueled by donations from thousands of people nationwide, Hegseth said. He said the group will not release donors' names nor the size of their donations. The group is registered under a section of federal tax law that allows it to advertise and organize on behalf of particular policies while maintaining the confidentiality of its donors.Thousands of donations? We looked up Vets for Freedom's reporting records and found a total of five (5) donors and $2,050 total donations in the most recent period they reported. This reporting is for their "527" committee, which is legally allowed to " influence the nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates for public office" but is not allowed to coordinate with any candidate's campaign. However, their 501c4 charity arm, the part of the group that does not have to report its donors, can not legally do any of those things.
Donations to political campaigns or political action committees, by contrast, generally must be reported and are limited by law.
So what's the takeaway? On one hand, we have a 527 group with a total of $2,050 in donations, not enough to pay for Mark Penn's coffee break, and on the other we have a charity that legally can not be involved in direct political action? What's happening?
Well if you have "thousands" of mystery donors unreported but supporting John McCain's campaign and suddenly, a small fringe front group with just 5 real donors has over $1.5 million dollars to run a television campaign and there are plans for a major push this fall.
We're betting this is nothing more than a conduit for one or two very large donations intended to get around election law to the benefit of candidate McCain.
The Washington Post's blog The Trail tried to pin Hegseth down on why this "non-election" group is advertising with McCain's message in swing states important to McCain, and only just before an election with McCain as a candidate.
From the story,
Hegseth said his group is not operating on behalf of McCain and notes that federal law prohibits the organization from coordinating the ad with the campaign. The states were chosen, he said, not because they are crucial swing states for McCain, but because the heightened interest in the election in those states will give it a larger audience.
What Hegseth didn't mention is that VFF's ads were bought immediately after the McCain Campaign stopped advertising.
What Hegseth didn't mention is that VFF is supporting candidates across the country, but surprise, none of the Iraq War or Vietnam veterans who are running like Jon Powers or Charlie Brown.
The only thing Hegseth could do was concede that the message in the ad is almost identical to McCain's on the stump -- the surge worked; let's continue the war until we win. He said McCain has been the "strongest advocate" for the veterans of the two wars.
Which is about as believable as McCain's claim that real veterans groups support him.
July 8, 2008
John Templeton Sr. died today. He had moved away and renounced his US citizenship because he hated our country.
But he was extremely wealthy, which makes him a hero to some. The Washington Post, for example: Billionaire Investor John Marks Templeton Dies at 95. Others called him a "philanthropist"
Even though he had renounced his citizenship and our country Templeton was a "conservative sugar daddy" who funded many U.S.-based anti-government organizations (as well as proponents of creationism and "intelligent design.") He funded many far-right-wing causes and includingpoliticians.
His son carries on.
June 15, 2008
I'm surprised no one is making the connection between this: Global smuggling ring obtained blueprint for warhead, and this: Officials Fear Bomb Design Went to Others, and this: Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe, and this: What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA.
May 17, 2008
If you want a good laugh and have a strong stomach go read the 2004 Republican Party Platform (NOTE - PDF document).
It really was just a collection of lies and misdirections. Really, read it with the hindsight of today to learn how this crowd uses propaganda to manipulate people.
See if you can count how many times it links Iraq with 9/11. It also says we invaded Iraq because they "refused to disarm."
April 29, 2008
Note that "Pentagon" means the Republican Party appointees in the administration who run the Department of Defense, which resides in the Pentagon.
The Pentagon was conducting "information operations" targeting the American public. This program was blatantly illegal.
Note that almost NO news outlets involved are reporting on this story at all. What does that tell you?
April 25, 2008
I was thinking about the "flag pin" question, and went and looked at the video. Sure enough, the woman accusing Obama of being unpatriotic for not wearing a flag pin ... wait for it ... isn't wearing a flag pin. The smarmy anchorman implying Obama isn't patriotic for not wearing a flag pin ... guess what ... isn't wearing a flag pin.
And, of course, if you go to Google Images and look for pics of John McCain, none of them show him wearing a flag pin. Of course, that means that Google in unpatriotic.
February 22, 2008
The Bush Justice Department politicization case is about the corruption of our government to work in support of one political party.
They used our government to reward their friends, including financially, and to punish their enemies. And their enemies were Americans like you and me. In one case they were able to put a Governor in jail for being a Democrat. If you don't believe me, 52 former states’ attorneys general from both political parties are making the same case.
Kagro X writes about this over at Daily Kos. Every American should read his post: Daily Kos: If it can happen to a Governor...,
Nobody indicted by the Bush-Cheney DOJ can possibly help but wonder whether they're being targeted by the White House political machine. Not Don Siegelman. Not Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio. Nobody.If it could happen to a Governor it could happen to anybody -- including you.
And once America realizes this really can happen (it's previously been unimaginable, and therefore all too easy to dismiss as "conspiracy theory"), you can bet your last dollar that any Republican indicted by a Democratic administration will be making that claim, too.
We've already watched in horror and amazement as Bush-Cheney, flouting the law left and right, painted the Congress into the "impeachment is off the table" corner for fear (among other things) of being tarred with the "revenge for Clinton" and "tit for tat" brushes. One hardly need stretch the imagination to foresee precisely this hurdle being thrown up in the path of a Democratic administration elected with a mandate to clean out the Republican Culture of Corruption.
Watch your backs.
January 20, 2008
Invoking executive privilege, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to provide lawmakers Friday with a full explanation of why it rejected California's greenhouse gas regulations.But we know why they did it. They did it because the oil companies are paying the Republican Party. DUH!
. . . The refusal to provide a full explanation is the latest twist in a congressional investigation into why the EPA denied California permission to impose what would have been the country's toughest greenhouse gas standards on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.
In denying the waiver last month, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that the federal government is implementing a national fuel efficiency standard.
Johnson's decision spurred congressional investigations and a legal challenge this month by California and 15 other states.
January 15, 2008
A few years ago I used to put up occasional posts, shocked and outraged that the Republicans were getting away with using our government to promote party interests in the way that the Soviet Union used to work. In fact I have a whole category dedicated to the subject.
But lately I have tapered off with my posts. I mean, it's an old story at this point. The Republican government is corrupt, and has been hijacked to be used as a vehicle for enforcing Party discipline. These blatantly illegal operations are ignored by the Congress, and people sort of get used to it. Most of the Democrats in the Congress has even stopped issuing strongly-worded statements.
So that said, here is today's petty, blatant illegal Party-Over-Country story. Talking Points Memo | Banned at The DoJ. The Department of Justice has stopped sending press releases to Talking Points Memo because they uncovered criminality in the department. Go read it. This is what OUR government has been up to.
When are the Democrats in the Congress going to call them to account? I am sick and tired of strongly-worded memos, witnesses who are allowed to ignore subpoenas, government departments allowed to act as an arm of the Republican Party, government funds that are sent to cronies and redirected to the party or just stolen and all the insults to democracy.
November 23, 2007
A list of all the way s the Republicans are keeping the public from knowing what their own government is doing:
Last year, we launched the insanely ambitious project of recording every significant instance of this administration stifling government information. As we said then, "they've discontinued annual reports, classified normally public data, de-funded studies, quieted underlings, and generally done whatever was necessary to keep bad information under wraps." To be sure, the list will continue to grow through January, 2008.
My wife likes to say, whenever I point out the things the Republicans are doing - So what? Who is going to do anything about it?
November 20, 2007
Chris Dodd today released the following statement in response to the claims of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan that he "unknowingly passed along false information" to the American public and that "the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in [his] doing so," including the Vice-President and the President:
"Today's revelations by Mr. McClellan are very disturbing and raise several important questions that need to be answered. If in fact the President of the United of States knowingly instructed his chief spokesman to mislead the American people, there can be no more fundamental betrayal of the public trust.
"During his confirmation process, Attorney General Mukasey said he would act independently. Accordingly, today, I call on the Attorney General to live up to his word and launch an immediate investigation to determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover up and determine what the President knew and when he knew it."
November 1, 2007
President Bush today called for gas rationing, a draft and tax increases to fight the greatest threat the country has ever faced.
President Bush compared Congress' Democratic leaders Thursday with people who ignored the rise of Lenin and Hitler early in the last century, saying "the world paid a terrible price" then and risks similar consequences for inaction today.What? I'm sorry? You're saying he was asking for the right to wiretap without warrants, and nothing else?
... "Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war," Bush said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.
... Bush said denial that "we are at war" is dangerous. "History teaches us that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake," Bush said. "Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is, will we listen?"
Oh ... never mind.
October 14, 2007
Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks.
The implications of this need some time to sink in. Bush started the wiretapping before 9/11. Bush took office on January 20, 2001, and by February 27 the NSA was putting the screws on the phone companies to let them listen in on our calls and e-mails. That means the plan was developed during the transition and immediately upon taking office they started implementing it. It was one of the first things they did - setting up a system to collect information about our calls and e-mails. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
Like I said, the implications of this need some time to sink in.
October 2, 2007
LIMBAUGH is the victim of the Democrats! Wow. There is a brilliance to this.
I bow to them. I am shocked AND awed.
And then there is the difference between Republicans and Democrats on this:
More than 40 Democratic senators signed a letter sent Tuesday to the company that syndicates the radio show, asking that Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks be repudiated.There is a time to know when you are just outmatched.
But no Republican senators signed the letter, highlighting a significant difference between the responses to the MoveOn advertisement and the Limbaugh comments. The Republican-backed plan to condemn the Petraeus advertisement drew substantial Democratic backing in the House and Senate, while Democrats have been unable to splinter Republicans on Mr. Limbaugh.
In fact, Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, has prepared a resolution praising Mr. Limbaugh should Democrats proceed with what he said was an unwarranted attack on a private citizen. “He is a talk show host,” Mr. Kingston said. “He has a right to speak out and say what he thinks.”
September 9, 2007
Featured today at the Drudge Report this morning:
Following their testimony to Congress, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will appear exclusively on FOX News Channel on Monday at 9pm EDT for a one hour live interview with Brit Hume... Developing...That's really all you need to know about Petraeus and his report, don't you think? Drudge Report and Fox. Yup.
Will they also give an exclusive interview to Rush Limbaugh this week?
Update - Now the right is trying to change the narrative, claiming that MoveOn.org is calling Petraeus a traitor.
August 31, 2007
There is an important story out today, Lawmakers Describe 'Being Slimed in the Green Zone', about how troops in Iraq are provided with propaganda denouncing Democratic lawmakers who visit Iraq.
Talking Points Memo Disgusted but really only gets part of what it means
.It's all par for the course for this administration, how they've politicized every branch of the government and every agency, eroding democratic institutions in American while they pretended to build them in Iraq. In fact, from the start the White House tried to stock the Green Zone and the US occupation authority with GOP operatives.Here is why this is important. Combine this propaganda effort with past practices like Armed Forces Radio pushing Rush Limbaugh while refusing to offer other points of view (this has changed due to pressure from Democratic lawmakers) and the history of government-paid propaganda promoting the Republican Party viewpoint, and this represents a danger to democracy. It is a very bad idea to have a propagandized military supporting one party.
Demonstrating The Party's politicization-of-troops efforts, Bushist Don Surber writes,
Moran and Tauscher are part of a clique of Democratic politicians who want us to lose in Iraq so they can gain on Republicans.Is this what the troops are being told? Bushist-blog Wizbang shows what the propaganda is intended to make the troops think,
Do these antiwar Congressmen think the troops don't know who supports them and who does not?To really get the feel of what the right is advocating, read the comments at these sites.
Update - Think Progress is now censored - troops can not visit their website since they allowed Ret. Maj. Gen. John Batiste to guest-blog in opposition to Bush's policies.
August 26, 2007
Shorter Daily Kos: Californication: Yachts safe, homeless not so much.: The new California budget removes $45 million from spending to help the homeless mentally ill, in order to add a $45 million tax break for yacht owners.
California came out of the "conservative revolution" with a requirement that 2/3 of the legislators approve any budget. So a few Republican Senators were able to block passage of the most recent budget until they got everything they wanted. Among other Republican priorities this included a rule preventing California Attorney General Jerry Brown from enforcing global warming rules, and big cuts in health care spending.
How long will the public continue to let this radical minority treat us this way?
August 24, 2007
Wanna get angry? I mean really, really angry? I just finished reading The Great Iraq Swindle: : Rolling Stone and I am really, REALLY angry now.
Iraq was the big test of the Republican vision of a privatized, outsourced government. But what it really was, was billions and billions of taxpayer dollars just handed to Republican-crony contractors - to do nothing or worse.
George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.Read this story. It talks about the environment in which everyone understood that the gates to the US Treasury were open, and the party was on, and the best part was the government expected you to steal, wanted you to steal, encouraged you to steal - because that was what the war was for.
... What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureaucracy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profiteering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
The Bush administration's lack of interest in recovering stolen funds is one of the great scandals of the war. The White House has failed to litigate a single case against a contractor under the False Claims Act and has not sued anybody for breach of contract. It even declined to join in a lawsuit filed by whistle-blowers who are accusing KBR of improper invoicing in Fallujah.
And then anyone who tries to do anything about it is fired and blacklisted - or worse. Worse, as in forced out of the protected, guarded areas and on your own among the insurgents.
Go read it.
What's more, when anyone in the government tried to question what contractors were up to with taxpayer money, they were immediately blackballed and treated like an enemy.
[. . .] And how did her superiors in the Pentagon respond to the wrongdoing highlighted by their own chief procurement officer? First they gave KBR a waiver for the overbilling, blaming the problem on an Iraqi subcontractor. Then they dealt with Greenhouse by demoting her and cutting her salary, citing a negative performance review. The retaliation sent a clear message to any would-be whistle-blowers. "It puts a chill on you," Greenhouse says. "People are scared stiff."
They were scared stiff in Iraq, too, and for good reason. When civilian employees complained about looting or other improprieties, contractors sometimes threatened to throw them outside the gates of their bases -- a life-threatening situation for any American.
August 21, 2007
Another example of what Republican crony government means to your life.
The Bush administration and China have both undermined efforts to tighten rules designed to ensure that lead paint isn't used in toys, bibs, jewelry and other children’s products.
Both have fought efforts to better police imported toys from China.
... Lead paint is toxic when ingested by children and can cause brain damage or death. It’s been mostly banned in the United States since the late 1970s, but is permitted in the coating of toys, providing it amounts to less than six parts per million.
The Bush administration has hindered regulation on two fronts, consumer advocates say. It stalled efforts to press for greater inspections of imported children’s products, and it altered the focus of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), moving it from aggressive protection of consumers to a more manufacturer-friendly approach.
“The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it,” said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. “That’s been the philosophy of the Bush administration.”
The public wants health care. Democrats are trying to bring health care coverage to more people. Republicans understand this will cause more people to appreciate the value of government, so they are trying to block efforts to bring health care coverage to more children. Also, government health care is much more efficient than corporate insurance programs. Which means cronies don't make big profits.
This is what Republicans in government means to your lives.
The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children's Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for California, New York and other states to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.
... After learning of the new policy, some state officials said Monday that it could cripple their efforts to cover more children and would impose standards that could not be met.
August 20, 2007
Remember the Iran/Contra affair? Gross violations of the Constitution and the law, but everyone involved got off easy - many ended up with lucrative think tank positions and several of the law-violators now have great jobs in the Bush administration...
Remember what happened to Clinton? Groundless accusation after accusation and investigation after investigation. All finding nothing wrong. People bankrupted by legal bills. No evidence of any wrongdoing ever presented was seen as proof of a massive coverup. People sent to jail because they couldn't come up with anything bad to say about the Clintons...
And then there is the Bush administration... WAY beyond gross violations of law and Constitution, but they just refuse to testify... No accountability. Nothing happens to anyone and they all get really rich.
Why the big difference? Simple answer: It's OK If You Are Republican
(Through Avedon at Eschaton.)
August 13, 2007
Karl "Party over Country" Rove is resigning "to spend more time with his family."
Karl Rove did more to divide America than anyone since Newt Gingrich. (See Language: A Key Mechanism of Control)
Just one example, after 9/11 Rove engineered the creation of the Homeland Security Department, which was entirely a "wedge" device for use in the 2002 elections. The core of the concept was to get rid of government employee unions. The idea was to force the Democrats to either vote against unions or pound them as "unpatriotic." And then, to pound them as unpatriotic anyway.
Simon Rosenberg, How Rove will be remembered,
Karl Rove was the "architect" of one of the worst governments in American history, and the one who engineered the end of modern conservatism, one of the most successful ideological movements of recent times.Shakesville,
Brilliant yes. Bold, without a doubt. A compete and utter failure who left his country and his movement weaker than the found it? Yep.
Eventually, perhaps, disgraced.
How typical of him to slink off out of the bunker and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.FDL,
All Karl ever wanted was to be left alone to work in secret to destroy America’s political landscape, and not be held accountable.
August 10, 2007
Located from a headline at The Drudge Report: To save America, we need another 9/11
Is there any doubt they are planning to hit us again?
If it is to be, then let it be. It will take another attack on the homeland to quell the chattering of chipmunks and to restore America's righteous rage and singular purpose to prevail.
July 31, 2007
You may have heard that the FBI searched Republican Senator Stevens' house yesterday.Senator Stevens. But you may not have heard that the Republican Justice Department gave him a warning and time to clear out any evidence.
Stevens said in a statement that his attorneys were advised of the impending search yesterday morning.I spent nearly 9 years as a federal prosecutor. I'm not aware of a single instance when any prosecutor or agent told anyone outside the Justice Department that a search warrant was going to be executed later in the day.
July 24, 2007
Do you remember that Al Gore was accused of improperly making a fundraising call from a government office, and of improper fundraising when he visited a Buddhist temple? The right's machine was able to turn these insignificant events into major, major scandal stories that are still repeated to this day. A Google search yields more than half a million websites that mention these. They even tried to get another special prosecutor just for this, claiming that the Clinton Justice Department would cover up Gore's crimes. (Remember, lack of evidence of ANY Clinton or Gore wrongdoing was proof of a massive coverup conspiracy.)
The Republicans even made an accusation that Clinton used his Christmas card list for political purposes into a major story, with a Congressional investigation and days of hearings. They even made a huge scandal out of an accusation that the Clinton White Hose "tracked donors."
As a result much of the public to this day thinks that the Clinton White House improperly used the government to help them raise funds.
Compare and contrast - does thie public "know" about the Bush corruption of the entire government for political purposes? Is is getting the same coverage in the media? Political Briefings At Agencies Disclosed,
White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.This is not about fundraising, this is about use of the power of the government itself to promote the interests of a political party.
The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.
And today, not just the Bush Justice Department and the General Services Administration, also the State Department,
Karl Rove ... instructed his White House deputies to repeatedly brief State Department officials and U.S. ambassadors in key foreign missions about GOP electoral priorities.
[. . .] raises the question of how U.S. foreign policy, and specific binational relationships, is unfolding right now to serve a partisan agenda rather than the national interest.
July 2, 2007
It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals.
Firedoglake has a statement from Patrick Fitzgerald, Scooter Libby's prosecutor:
We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.
* We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as “excessive.” The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
* Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process. [emphasis added]
Bush says Scooter Libby doesn't have to serve a day in prison. And his rich friends will pay his fine.
How will the public react to this one? Even Paris Hilton served SOME of her time, before her connections got her out!
The Democrats in Congress have been trying to avoid having to face what we are dealing with in this country at this time.
We have a President asserting that he is above the law. He is backed by an authoritarian political movement that feels that laws should not apply to them, either. They have been and are working to destroy the agencies of government and fracture each and every one of the institutions of civil society. They have politicized the system of justice in the country to the point where we don't just wonder, we know that people are prosecuted or left alone based on their political affiliations.
They have launched aggressive war.
The pendulum is not swinging back. This is not a normal time. This is not business as usual. We can't think that impeachment will get in the way of "getting things done."
This is about principles and the Constitution. This is about Rule of Law and democracy. This can no longer be avoided.
Watch your backs.
May 27, 2007
As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away. These are men who glorify murder and suicide. Their cruelty is not rebuked by human suffering, only fed by it. They have given themselves to an ideology that rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of society. The terrorists are defined entirely by their hatreds, and they hate nothing more than the country you have volunteered to defend.But no taxes to pay for the war to save civilization, no draft, no cuts in oil use, no sacrifice of any kind. Go shopping, etc. Right.
The terrorists know what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it. By force and intimidation, they seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to their ideology. Their ultimate goal is to establish a totalitarian empire, a caliphate, with Baghdad as its capital. They view the world as a battlefield and they yearn to hit us again. And now they have chosen to make Iraq the central front in their war against civilization.
May 20, 2007
Mary at The Left Coaster points out that,
while starving the Hurricane Center of needed funds used for tracking hurricanes, the top administrators find millions to hold a party to rebrand the division and agency.Bush has put in place people who think the treasury is their privat party fund. We're going to be paying for these kinds of things for the rest of our - and our children's - lives.
April 20, 2007
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can resign or not - so what? The PROBLEM will remain. The PROBLEM is that we have 93 US Attorneys who have already proven - by not being fired - that they will indict innocent Democrats and ignore Republican corruption and criminality. THAT is the problem we have to do something about!
The Republicans learned in the 2006 election that lots of headlines about corruption influences votes. So the plan is to start investigating and indicting lots of Democrats - guilty or not - to provide plenty of 2008 election-time headlines. And the plan is to block as many investigations and indictments of corrupt Republicans as they can. (That brings other benefits to them as well...)
So Gonzales can resign or not - don't be distracted from thinking about how to stop what is coming.
Watch your backs!
April 14, 2007
This looks like it might be yet another political prosecution. This time it isn't a US Attorney engaging in a political prosecution in order to keep the job -- instead it involves one of those NEW, Rove-approved US Attorneys who replaced those US Attorneys fired for failing to engage in political prosecutions. This prosecution shows us what to expect from now on. This one is prosecuting a guy entirely for political and not legal reasons, AFTER the courts threw out the case AND after the judge said they should drop the charges.
This case is about medical marijuana. California voters passed an initiative allowing the use of marijuana for AIDS, cancer and other patients because it helps them to eat and reduces symptoms. The Christian Right doesn't like that so the Bush administration has been prosecuting people for Federal crimes - even though they are legally operating according to state law.
From the article, Prosecutors will retry Ed Rosenthal, known as the `guru of ganja',
Federal prosecutors said today they would retry marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal on cultivation charges, even after a federal judge urged them to drop the case and chastised the government for lodging charges solely to punish the self-proclaimed "guru of ganja."So here we go, another political prosecution from a Rove-connected prosecutor?
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer demanded to know who in the Department of Justice made the decision to continue pursuing Rosenthal, who had his original conviction overturned last year.
... Newly appointed U.S. Attorney Scott Schools made the decision, said Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, but he was not sure if Department of Justice officials in Washington were involved. [all emphasis added]
April 9, 2007
OK, because of Bush's "surge" the country has run flat out of troops to fight in Iraq and is dipping way into the National Guard. Again.
This is serious shit. There are times when you need a ready armed force. Responsible leaders do not use up the military like this without calling up a draft to cover emergencies. If Bush gave a hoot about defending the country he would start an emergency draft, and increases taxes to pay for this mess.
April 7, 2007
Is it just me, or does it seem to you like the media is much more in the tank for Bush and the right since the election?
On another subject, does it seem to you that the US Attorney scandal has faded from the news with nothing being done, leaving in place US Attorneys who let Republicans and corporate criminals off the hook, while investigating or indicting Democrats? My prediction - if these US Attorneys stay in place, the lead-up to the 2008 election will include LOTS of news stories about Democrats being investigated and indicted, and no stories about Republicans being investigated at all.
April 4, 2007
There is a law that says all communications by White House employees must be preserved. Trying to dodge around that law, many White House employees used alternate e-mail addresses for official correspondence. Many of these e-mails were handled by the Republican Party's e-mail servers.
Now that this has come out, the Congress is requesting to see those e-mails - which are the property of the public. I've included the entire letter below, and you can also read the request at Speaker Pelosi's blog, The Gavel: Waxman Requests Emails:
April 4, 2007
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Mr. Duncan:
I am writing to request e-mail communications stored on Republican National Committee servers that relate to the use of federal agencies and federal resources for partisan political purposes.
Last week, the Committee held a hearing into allegations of misconduct at the General Services Administration. One of the issues examined at the hearing involved a partisan political presentation that White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs, J. Scott Jennings, made to the GSA Administrator, Lurita A. Doan, and approximately 40 GSA appointees in the GSA headquarters building on January 26, 2007. At this event, Mr. Jennings presented a 28-page PowerPoint briefing that reviewed the 2006 election results and identified the Republican party’s top electoral targets in upcoming federal and state elections. Following the presentation, Ms. Doan asked her staff to consider how GSA resources could be used to help “our candidates” in the next election.
Serious questions were raised at the hearing about the legality and propriety of Mr. Jennings’s presentation and the discussion that followed it. In addition, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service issued a report finding that the presentation itself and Ms. Doan’s comments could be violations of the federal Hatch Act. According to a White House spokesperson, however: “This is regular communication from the White House to political appointees throughout the administration.”
In communicating with GSA about the presentation, Mr. Jennings and his assistant used “gwb43.com” e-mail accounts maintained by the RNC rather than their official White House e-mail accounts. In their e-mails, they described the presentation as a “close hold” and said that “we’re not supposed to be emailing it around.”
To assist the Committee in its investigation of these issues, I request that you provide any electronic messages sent or received by Karl Rove, J. Scott Jennings, or any other White House officials using accounts maintained by the RNC that relate to (1) the January 26, 2007, PowerPoint presentation at GSA, (2) the presentation of any similar political briefings at other federal agencies or to other federal employees, or (3) the use of federal agencies or resources to help Republican candidates.
The Committee requests that you produce these documents on or before April 18, 2007.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to this letter provides additional information about how to respond to the Committee’s request.
If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact David Rapallo or Anna Laitin with the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.
Henry A. Waxman
cc: Tom Davis
Ranking Minority Member
 Memorandum from Congressional Research Service to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Meetings, Conferences as “Political Activities” in a Federal Office, and “Hatch Act” Considerations (Mar. 26, 2007) (online at www.oversight.house.gov/ Documents/20070328154603-20874.pdf).
 Panel Asks Rove for Information on ’08 Election Presentation, Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2007).
 Email from Jocelyn Webster to Tessa Truesdale (Jan. 19, 2007) (W-02-0310).
March 30, 2007
Broadcasting pictures of the captured British sailors and marines is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Unlike the United States, England has not withdrawn from that treaty.
We face here another example of the consequences of Bush's violation of the compact between a democracy and its leaders. When the leader of your country says he has information that we face imminent attack, you must believe him. Bush did this to lead us into an attack on Iraq, and was lying. So now Bush tells us that Iran is a threat to peace - and it probably is, as this recent action demonstrates. But we can not believe Bush and we can not trust that there is no hidden agenda involved.
As I have said before, if Bush and the Right's claims about Iran come out of true concern for the country, then Bush must step aside. We must have leadership that the people can trust to tell us this is so.
March 21, 2007
The latest Republican line is that Congress can't require White House aides to testify, that it would "violate precedent," etc. So see Think Progress - FACT CHECK: There Is No Precedent Barring White House Aides From Testifying To Congress,
...under President Clinton, 31 of his top aides testified on 47 different occasions. The aides who testified included some of Clinton’s closest advisors:Hat tip to Digby who asks,Harold Ickes, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff - 7/28/94In contrast, between 2000 and 2004, Bush allowed only one of his closest advisers, then-Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to appear in front of Congress. He has also refused three invitations from Congress for his aides to testify, a first since President Richard Nixon in 1972. Clinton did not refuse any.
George Stephanopoulos, Senior Adviser to the President for Policy and Strategy - 8/4/94
John Podesta, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary - 8/5/94
Bruce R. Lindsey, Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President - 1/16/96
Samuel Berger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs - 9/11/97
Beth Nolan, Counsel to the President - 5/4/00
Meanwhile, virtually all the reporters on NBC seem to not know that numerous very close white house advisors were hauled before congress during the Clinton administration. Can't somebody get them an intern?
March 9, 2007
Talking Points Memo is asking the right questions about the Republicans firing US Attorneys who wouldn't "play ball" by dropping investigations of Republican corruption, and by launching trumped-up investigations of Democrats.
1) We know about the ones who were fired. What about the ones who were not -- WHY not? The REAL stink is on the ones who WEREN'T fired! What did they do to keep their jobs. Did they improperly drop investigations of Republicans and/or launch improper investigations of Demcorats?
2) Why isn't the Justice Department management? Why aren't we hearing statements from the Justice Department,
about how DOJ will not tolerate elected officials attempting to influence its prosecutors, how DOJ has its prosecutors' backs, how DOJ would remind prosecutors to report any such contacts, and would urge anyone who has not previously reported such contacts to come forward now.The silence is a statement. It is a threat to employees of the Department that if they come forward there will be retaliation.
And, of course, what does this say about the use of OTHER departments of the federal government?
We have been watching as Government and Party merge. Under these authoritarian Republicans the government has morphed into an enforcement arm of The Party. A better question might be whether there is any agency of the government that has not been corrupted?
One day we will all be shocked - even me - at how close we came to totalitarianism. That is, IF we make it through this. We haven't yet. And we won't until people go to jail for this kind of thing.
Watch your backs.
January 18, 2007
They're making out too well from the corruption - it is what funds the Republican Party. So new Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is blocking attempts to reform ethics and lobbying.
Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists' influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.So here we are.
Everyone who thought the fight was over because the Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate now, raise your hands.
Update - From Sen. McConnell's office,
Republicans didn’t derail the ethics reform bill. They’re enthusiastic about voting for it. Republicans just want earmark reform, as well. (and Democrats have already accepted an earmark reform amendment in the ethics bill, so it’s not really unrelated)Update II - Evening - Senate passes ethics reform bill
After a spirited debate over the year's first order of business, the Senate reached a bipartisan agreement on ethics reform Thursday and approved a package designed to burnish its image in the wake of recent corruption scandals.
The Senate voted 96-2 for a measure that would prohibit lobbyists from paying for gifts for lawmakers and their staffs, including travel. It also would require full disclosure on which lawmakers have requested funding earmarks for specific projects in lawmakers' home states or districts.
January 11, 2007
Surge is a focus-group word, designed to sell an escalation of the war. The strategy is to deflect the incoming Democrats' argument for winding down the war by offering the opposite. And look what we are all discussing. This places "stay the course" as the reasonable middle ground.
It is ALWAYS about appearances and political strategies not reality or the good of the country with this crowd.
EVERYone said from the start that 250-500,000 troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. Bush didn't do this because sending that many troops would undermine political support for the Republican Party. With enough troops there could have been a peaceful Iraq following our illegal invasion. The Iraqi people have paid the real price for this - not us. Yes, we have lost over 3,000 troops dead and how many injured and how many "contractors" and how much money? But the Iraqi people have suffered the loss of hundreds of thousands and of the possibility of going on with their lives in peace - and are instead entering into a horrible civil war because of Bush's choices.
Bush has not asked for tax increases to pay for the war, either. Because it would undermine political support for the party. Instead he offered candy - tax cuts.
Party over country.
Bush and his surrogates say we are fighting "Islamofascism" and it is the worst threat America has ever faced - and then says "go shopping." Fight the worst threat the nation has ever faced by going shopping? Because any kind of sacrifice would undermine support for the Republican Party. Meanwhile fear changes the way people think, and leads much of the population to more easily accept the authoritarian agenda of the right.
Party over country.
In the face of the worst threat the nation has ever faced, and declining readiness of our military - "stretched too thin" - Bush does not ask for a draft to protect the country. Because that would be politically unpopular and undermine support for the Republican Party.
No draft to protect the country. No taxes to pay for the war. No lowering of oil use to cut finding to terrorists states. Nothing that might undermine support for the Republican Party.
Party over country at every turn.
December 27, 2006
Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, which prevented a full criminal investigation and trial. He felt it would help to heal the country, which had been through assassinations, riots and the divisive Vietnam war. But the pardon had the unintended consequence of creating an impression that those in the highest office really aren't accountable to the public if their actions violate the law.
Four years later the Reagan administration picked up right where Nixon's had left off, and got caught. Other select insiders made the decision not to pursue Reagan.
As chair of the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, Hamilton chose not to investigate President Ronald Reagan or President George H. W. Bush, stating that he did not think it would be "good for the country" to put the public through another impeachment trial.At a time when thousands were being sent away for years for smoking a joint or doing a line, the country was learning that things really are different for those at the very top.
Bush1 then pardoned everyone involved, especially those being pressured by Lawrence Walsh to testify against him for his own possibly criminal part in it. The public got the message clearly that time.
So by the time Clinton took office the public was ready to believe that all of the country's leaders are corrupt and pay no price for it. The conservatives had an opening to demand that a President finally be held to account. It's the old Seeing the Forest Rule: Republicans accuse others of what they are in fact doing themselves. They accused Clinton of everything, but the investigations found nothing. They impeached him anyway. Now the public understood just who the rules were for and not for. After what Nixon, Reagan and Bush1 had gotten away with, Clinton didn't even have to break any rules, yet he was impeached.
And so here we are. Bush2 can do anything with impunity - and says so with a smirk. His cronies loot, lie and steal. The public and especially the Washington insider class are conditioned to accept that this is the way things are done. All partly tracable back to Ford's subversion of accountability. A mistake. A big one.
Let's learn from Ford's mistake. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE! Demand that the actions of those in power in the last six years are investigated and any crimes discovered are punished to the fullest extent of the law. Let's set the country and democracy back on course.
December 3, 2006
In a continuing series, STF asks if it is legal for the Secretary of the navy to decide contracts based on the politics of the locality?
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter vetoed plans to commission the Makin Island, the Navy's newest and most powerful warship, in San Francisco in 2008 because of a perception that the city is anti-military.So San Francisco is not Republican enough to get military contracts? Didn't we just have an election in which the public voted AGAINST corruption?
November 13, 2006
I co-authored a post at Huffington Post with Michelle Kraus: The Blog | Michelle Kraus: Plan B: On Taking Down the Quarter... Democrats Take Notice, looking at the possibility that the Bush administration will start dumping all the saved-up bad news into the next two year, hoping Democrats get the blame. Corporations, knowing they're going to have a bad quarter anyway, often dump all the bad news they can find into that quarter...
Democrats Take Notice
Think long and hard about Bush and the announcements made the day of the Democratic victory Wednesday of last week. Rumsfeld's firing had the "take no prisoners" demeanor of a Titan of industry cutting the fat from his earnings loss. Could this action presage a continued corporate approach to handling the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate?
CEOs, knowing they are going to report a bad quarter, often throw all the "bad news" they can into that quarter. They write down all the losses they can dig up, and instead of reporting a bad quarter they report a really bad quarter and take it all in the shorts at the same time. This clears the books, and they can start fresh the next quarter to the applause of Wall Street.
Is this an analogy for what Bush is planning to do to the Democrats? There is a lot of "bad news" that has been saving up for the last six years ... massive deficits, a huge trade deficit year-after-year with its resulting highest-in-history current accounts imbalance, the housing bubble, the deteriorating Iraq war -- all individually damaging, but grouped together enough to drag the whole country down. And now the administration has the Democrats in both Houses to blame for the consequences of the (lack of) policies of this lame duck President and his band of buffoons.
Earlier this year Bush suspended oil purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which brought down the price of a barrel of oil for the elections. Now the price will begin to escalate again and the price of gas will top $3.00 again soon. The Chinese and other central banks are diversifying away from the dollar and the dollar is falling. The nation's savings rate has been negative for five quarters and the GDP last quarter was an anemic 1.6%. The stage is set.
Rumsfeld's firing and the Baker commission only address Iraq and "the market's" perception of that business unit. Undoubtedly, Iraq was the straw that broke this election and in business terms -- the market's rejection of the company's stock price. It is when one pulls back the curtain and the economic framework of the country is revealed in all its global fragility that the dirty little secrets of this administration will spin out of control. As we said, there is a LOT of bad news saved up for Bush to dump on the Democrats - and the country. The Democrats will need to have a coherent long term plan and powerful leadership to withstand these assaults.
November 7, 2006
The modern GOP -- or, more specifically, the Axis of '70s Campus Republicans running it -- really is just a criminal enterprise disguised as a political party.
Dirty tricks, large and small, are a sorry fact of life in American politics, but what the Republicans have done over the past few weeks -- the surrealist attack ads, the forged endorsements, the midnight robo calls, the arrest threats, the voter misinformation (did you know your polling station has been moved?) -- is sui generis, at least at the national level.
Even Dick Nixon never tried anything like this on such a grand scale -- although, of course, he also didn't have the technology. The only thing we haven't seen yet is a break in at DNC headquarters. And if the Rovians thought they could get anything out of it that would be useful in this election (nobody else has) we'd probably be reading about that, too.
It's always possible to point to Democratic/liberal offenses, but at this point the comparisons look pretty silly: some downed yard signs here, a few crooked and/or stoned ACORN canvassers there. Not even in the same universe, much less the same ball park.
Couple the GOP's rat-fucking campaign with all the other stuff we already know about -- the collectivized bribery of the K Street Project, the Abramoff casino extortion ring, the Defense and CIA appropriation scams, the Iraq War contracting scams, the Pacific Island sex trade protection racket, the church pulpits doubling as ward halls, the illegal wiretapping, the lies, perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame case (I really could go on like this all day) -- and it's clear that what we need most isn't a new Congress but a new RICO prosecution, with lots of defendents and unindicted co-conspirators.
October 3, 2006
Remember the story that Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying on commercial airliners a couple of months before 9/11?
Now we learn that there was a CIA warning in July - a meeting at the White House where the head of the CIA tried to get the Bush administration TO DO SOMETHING. And they did nothing. Except Ashcroft -- he stopped flying on commercial airlines.
The Mahablog ｻ Moment of Truth? lays it all out for you. Go read.
September 25, 2006
Arianna Huffington, in Bill Clinton's Bipartisan Love-In Blows Up in His Face writes,
Hooray! Good for Bill Clinton. He finally called Fox News and the right-wing on their BS, right? Well, sort of.There is a fundamental point here. I, and many others, think that the Democratic leadership has profoundly misjudged the nature and intentions of the conservative movement. John Dean, in his book Conservatives Without Conscience, warns that we are witnessing the rise of an authoritarian government, and Kevin Phillips, in American Theocracy, warns that the current Republican leadership is intent on bringing about a theocracy. This is not politics-as-usual. THIS is what the bloggers are so shrill about.
... I'm glad the Chris Wallace interview is flying all over the internet, but I really hope that one person who will watch it over and over again is Bill Clinton. And that on the fifth or sixth viewing it might occur to him that the more cover he gives Bush and his cronies, the more they're able to increase and entrench their power. Power they use to destroy everything that Clinton purports to stand for.
In March I wrote,
Maybe, just maybe, they mean the things they are saying. And I think this warning about the extreme things the Right is saying is a big part of what political blogging is about.
... So political bloggers are more likely than others to be visiting websites and forums where right-wingers more openly discuss their ideas, or are more likely to be listening to Limbaugh and others on the radio. And what we are reading and hearing is frightening. The things they are saying to each other are DIFFERENT from what they are saying to the public. The things they are writing and saying are extreme and violent and subversive. It is not like what we as Americans are used to reading and hearing.The signs are all around us -- take it seriously.
The things the Republicans are saying and doing are so extreme that regular people refuse to believe it when you try to warn them about what is happening.
... Bloggers are trying to warn the public that what is going on in America is DIFFERENT from politics-as-usual. The bloggers have been trying to get the Democratic leadership and the media to understand this. We are seeing something new to America forming, something dangerous to democracy. The "pendulum" is not swinging back.
... When will the Democratic leadership begin to realize that the extreme things the Republicans are saying might be what they mean to do?
Watch your backs.
September 17, 2006
If the Bush administration truly believes that “Islamofascism” and Iran are threats to the very survival of the United States, then for the good of the country there are steps they can take to get the public to rally behind the effort.
First, they need to recognize that they have lost credibility because of their “mistake” about Iraq’s WMD. They said the United States needed to invade Iraq because we faced an imminent threat, an they were wrong - with the severest of consequences for the United States and the Middle East. So it is hard for the public to trust that they are right now. If we really do face such a serious threat then for the good of the country Bush and Cheney should declare that Iran is a serious enough emergency to warrant that they leave office and ask the Congress to put in place leadership that the American public and the world can trust.
Second, they should immediately implement the draft, so that there will be sufficient forces available to prevail in what they are saying will be a decades-long “clash of civilizations.”
Third, they should immediately repeal their tax cuts and impose an additional 50% surtax on incomes above $250,000. This is necessary to immediately balance the budget and begin paying down the massive debt they have accumulated. The country will need to be strong financially to purchase the necessary weaponry.
This fourth suggestion is really important. The Republican election strategies are tearing the country apart. If they really do believe that we are in a war for the country’s survival they should stop this stuff right now. Calling people traitors does not motivate them to join arms with you against a common enemy. A divided country is a weakened country. President Bush (before resigning and requesting that the Congress bring in credible leadership) should DEMAND that the Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs and John Bohners and his other surogates stop attacking other Americans as unpatriotic, and begin working to bring the country together.
They would do these thing if they really do mean what they say, and all this talk isn’t just another cynical, divisive election tactic.
Former Reagan Administration official Paul Craig Roberts, America Has Fallen to a Jacobin Coup,
The most important casualties of September 11 are respect for truth and American liberty. Propaganda has replaced deliberation based on objective assessment of fact. The resurrection of the Star Chamber has made moot the legal protections of liberty.
The US invasion of Iraq was based on the deliberate suppression of fact. The invasion was not the result of mistaken intelligence. It was based on deliberately concocted "intelligence" designed to deceive the US Congress, the American public, and the United Nations.
[. . .] There is an even greater cost of the war – the legal system that protects liberty, a human achievement for which countless numbers of people gave their lives over the centuries. The Bush administration used September 11 to whip up fear and hysteria and to employ these weapons against American liberty. The Orwellian-named Patriot Act has destroyed habeas corpus. The executive branch has gained the unaccountable power to detain American citizens on mere suspicion or accusation, without evidence, and to hold Americans indefinitely without a trial.This is just excerpts. Go read it.
Foolishly, many Americans believe this power can only be used against terrorists. Americans don’t realize that the government can declare anyone to be a terrorist suspect. As no evidence is required, it is entirely up to the government to decide who is a terrorist. Thus, the power is unaccountable. Unaccountable power is the source of tyranny.
[. . .] The collapse of the institutions that confine government to law and bind it with the Constitution was sudden. The president previous to Bush was impeached by the House for lying about a sexual affair. If we go back to the 1970s, President Richard Nixon had the decency to resign when it came to light that he had lied about when he first learned of a minor burglary. Bush’s failures are far more serious and numerous; yet, Bush has escaped accountability.
September 11, 2006
Bush seems intent on splitting this nation in two. He laid a wreath at "ground zero" last night - accompanied only by Republicans.
My mother lives a few blocks away from the WTC site, and we're heading outside to see the twin lights.
September 10, 2006
OK, we're wrapping up the first week of election campaign season, which traditionally begins on Labor Day. How is my July Election Prediction holding up so far? Here is what I wrote then,
Here is my election prediction.So far we're right on schedule. And remember, Path to 9/11, in which a major TV network tells the public that Clinton was responsible for terrorism, and Bush was a hero trying to prevent the attacks, is only the very beginning. Watch the first PFA ad that will be saturating the airwaves, and read this article, In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal; Millions to Go to Digging Up Dirt on Democrats, for just a glimpse at next week.
In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.
August 16, 2006
On July 6 the Indian American Republican Council issued a strong press release rightly denouncing Joe Biden for saying, "You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." Shame on him.
In response to Republican Senator George Allen's racist slur against Indian Americans they, they issued a press release insisting the term is not offensive. Shame on them.
August 14, 2006
...this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," ...Cheney, in March,
“They seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to a narrow, hateful ideology. The terrorists have targeted people of every nationality and every religious faith, including Muslims who disagree with them,” said Cheney, adding, “The war on terror is a fight against evil; victory in this war will be a victory for peaceful men and women of every religious faith.”Sounds pretty serious, no?
I've often said that in The Propaganda Age we need to learn to look only at what they DO, not what they SAY. So, in order to determine just HOW serious a threat the Republicans actually think terrorism is, let's look at what they actually DO about the threat.
So just how serious a threat does the United States face from terrorism? Let's look at the ways they could be asking the citizens to involve themselves.
Taxes to pay for the war? Nope.
Instituting a draft to fight the war? Nope.
Fuel economy standards to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East? Nope.
Federal energy conservation requirements like a 55mph speed limit or lowering the thermostats on air conditioners? Nope.
Increasing port security and searching all cargo containers? Nope.
How about the recent news that the Bush administration had CUT the budget for R&D into detecting explosives on airplanes?
Please - add in the comments more things they could be doing that are real, not just propaganda.
If you do believe that terrorism is a serious threat to our safety and security, perhaps you should consider whether the Republicans really are the right people to be handling things. They SAY a lot, but what are they actually DOING that's real? Maybe their attitude of saying instead of doing is sending the wrong signal to the public.
August 12, 2006
Remember how Bush received an August, 2001 CIA warning that bin Laden was going to use airplanes to attack America -- and went on vacation instead of acting on the warning? Here we go again: AMERICAblog: With America under "imminent attack," Bush stays on vacation and holds a BBQ at his ranch for rich Republican donors
August 11, 2006
While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.By the way, are they still also blocking funding for checking cargo containers at ports?
Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of steps by the Homeland Security Department that has left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.
[ . .] The administration also was slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.
The British plot to blow up as many as 10 American airlines on trans-Atlantic flights was to involve liquid explosives.
August 10, 2006
Just go read it. You won't believe it. Actually I'm wrong about that -- after everything we've seen this crowd do, you will believe it. Party over country, tearing the country apart. Anything to bring them more power...
July 23, 2006
Congress won't completely kill the "Estate Tax" -- taxes on income from money that is inherited. So what do the Republicans do? They get rid of the tax auditors, giving a green light to just skip paying the tax.
The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.Are these auditors necessary?
The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency’s 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.
Over the last five years, officials at both the I.R.S. and the Treasury have told Congress that cheating among the highest-income Americans is a major and growing problem.Taxes - and laws - are for the "little people".
The six I.R.S. tax lawyers, some of whom were willing to be named, all said that clear evidence of fraud was pursued vigorously by the agency, but that when audits showed the use of complicated schemes to understate the value of assets, the I.R.S. had become increasingly reluctant to pursue cases.
July 22, 2006
Would you hire a babysitter who hates children and thinks they should be eliminated? Or who declares for years in your hearing that children are irritants who should be starved to be small, unseen and mute?Oh, go read the whole thing.
Would you hire cops who think laws are stupid and useless and should be abolished?
Would you hire a conductor for your orchestra who believes music itself an abomination?
Then why would you hire - and you did hire them, America; they are your employees, after all, not your rulers, despite their grandiose pretensions - members of a political party who think government is useless, ineffective, bloated and untrustworthy?
[. . .] In electing Republicans, America, you put people in charge of institutions they overtly, caustically loathe and proudly proclaim should not exist.
[. . .] Kee-rist on a pogo stick.
If you put people in charge of running a project they are ideologically committed to proving a failure, it will fail.
July 21, 2006
Here is my election prediction.
In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.
July 15, 2006
The best stuff comes out of the government late on Fridays. This is because they are trying to bury it. Release it too late to make it onto the evening news, and release on a Friday because fewer people pay attention to the Saturday news - and by Monday it is forgotten.
For example, Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study,
The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools.And how about the Christian private schools that the Republicans try to push on us?
And how does the reality affect Bush ideological government?
A spokesman for the Education Department, Chad Colby, offered no praise for public schools and said he did not expect the findings to influence policy.Reality doesn't matter. They are going to push their ideology on all of us, no matter what.
From the story,
Its release, on a summer Friday, was made with without a news conference or comment from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.This is not a government of all the people.
July 5, 2006
You may have read the the Defense Department is monitoring blogs, because, "Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism." Sounds to me a lot like domestic political activity by the military. And someone who understands these things agrees with me.
Valdis Krebs is an expert on "Social Network Analysis. He writes about this Defense Department blog project at Network Weaving:
But, do terrorists blog??? Real terrorists with real plans? I doubt it -- especially after the Air Force press release above! However, people with political views and affiliations do blog.Read the rest, and read his blog.
[. . .] In a political war[the upcoming elections of 2006 and 2008?], the battling parties would like to know their opponent's structures -- how are they organized, who are the key nodes in their network, and where are their points of failure. With the no-holds-barred political strategies of today the following questions are being asked: Who do we discredit today? Where do we split the network so that it declines into ineffective fragmentation? Whose switchboard do we tie up? Who do we start rumors about? Who do we turn against each other? In other words, how do we disrupt the others from waging an effective campaign? These are all questions that can be answered beginning with link analysis of public information on the WWW. Link analysis tools and public data are available to all who desire them. Which leads to an interesting possibility... if the government is mapping the blogosphere, will the bloggers map the government?
June 27, 2006
Government and Party continue to merge...
A US Senate Committee - Environment and Public Works - press release with a ".gov" address smears Al Gore, claims global warming is "debunked" and sends citizens to a website named "junk science."
June 26, 2006
United States Attorney General Gonzales is on the Rush Limbaugh Show as I write this. Coming up soon, Ann Coulter.
I know it's too much to expect of this crowd that they would denounce Coulter for saying Representative Murtha should be murdered for disagreeing with Bush's Iraq policy, or for saying that widows of the 9/11 attack enjoyed their husbands' deaths. But appearing on the Limbaugh show with Coulter is an endorsement.
Previously, the Vice President appeared on a platform with Coulter. This was before these latest remarks, but after she called for the murder of New York Times employees.
June 22, 2006
One more thing Bush will be remembered for: getting rid of pensions.
And by the way, where do you think the money went? When Reagan started the process, tricking people into thinking that a 401K - you put your money in - was somehow better than a corporate pension - they put money in FOR you - corporate profits started the big rise. That was the beginning of a huge transfer from future retirements to the very rich. But that wasn't enough, so the corporations also started underfunding their pension plans. Knowing they had a coming obligation they did not put the necessary money into the pension funds, instead sending the money to the top. And now, under Bush - who is still working to get rid of Social Security - corporations like United Airlines are cancelling pensions.
This is about OUR retirement savings, gone into the pockets of the Bush cronies. And what do the people who stole the pensions get? Tax cuts.
But wait, there's more.
It's not JUST our retirement savings that Bush is handing over to his cronies. You know that there is a huge budget deficit, but what do you think the budget deficit IS, anyway? Is it magic money from nowhere to pay for tax cuts for the rich, and the Iraq war? Of course not! Bush is borrowing trillions of dollars, handing it out to cronies (sometimes literally in duffel bags), and borrowed money has to be paid back with interest. Who do you think will have to pay that money back?
But wait, there's more.
Our tax dollars built America's infrastructure. Infrastructure is roads and bridges and water lines and schools and bank account insurance and regulations and all the things that support our economy. Every time a truck makes a delivery (sending profits upward) that truck drove on roads WE built. But are you and I - the public - sharing in the profits that come from the infrastructure we built? Who is our economy FOR, anyway? The corporations and rich are now largely excluded from paying taxes to maintain those roads, and America's infrastructure is crumbling. By not investing in infrastructure, Bush and his cronies are "eating our seed corn." So when we want to start rebuilding the infrastructure, who do you think will be paying?
We've all got a LOT to thank Bush and the Republicans for. And you're going to have some long, impoverished years to think about it.
June 18, 2006
Read this. Read the whole thing. Understand one segment of how the conservative machine works. This is just one piece of the pie.
... admitted to participating in money-laundering schemes by personally smuggling cash from South Korea into the United States. She also said she witnessed other cases in which bags of cash were carried into the United States and delivered ... returned from a trip ... “with $600,000 in cash which he had received from his father. ... Myself along with three or four other members that worked at Manhattan Center saw the cash in bags, shopping bags.” ... made sure that his steady flow of cash found its way into the pockets of key conservative operatives, especially when they were most in need, when they were facing financial crises.Read the whole thing.
Call and ask YOUR member of Congress why this is not investigated. Call and ask your newspaper, too. Of course, you risk sounding like a crazy person, trying to tell people what's going on with the Repubicans
May 16, 2006
Wingnuttery (also filed under Party over Country): Violence Against Women Act abuses the rights of men. Bush should not have supported the Violence Against Women act because,
The act, which costs nearly $1 billion per year, is one of the major ways former President Bill Clinton bought the support of radical feminists. ... It's unlikely that the feminists who will spend all that money will ever vote Republican.Right, our government is only for Repubicans. (Works even better if you give them money.)
Here's my favorite part:
This criminalizing of ordinary private behavior and incarceration without due process follows classic police-state practices. Evidence is irrelevant, hearsay is admissible, defendants have no right to confront their accusers, and forced confessions are a common feature.And here we enter the yee-ha zone:
Violence Against Women Act money is used by anti-male feminists to train judges, prosecutors and police in the feminist myths that domestic violence is a contagious epidemic, and that men are naturally batterers and women are naturally victims. Feminists lobby state legislators to pass must-arrest and must-prosecute laws even when police don't observe any crime and can't produce a witness to testify about an alleged crime.These far-right "conservatives" are the people in charge of every branch of our government.
May 14, 2006
Everybody please read The Left Coaster: Secrecy Run Amok and recommend it to others.
Watergate was about the Republicans sending a team in to bug the headquarters of the Democratic Party. Back then they still had to send a team in. The NSA scandal is about installing the equipment that enables those in charge to listen in on any phone conversation or read any e-mail at the push of a button. And we know this is happening without warrants or other checks and balances because the Republicans proudly say they don't need no stinkin' warrants -- "we're at war." We're supposed to trust the people that already got caught bugging the Democratic Headquarters not to ... well ... listen in on the Democrats, among other things.
As Mary points out, Senator Church's investigation of previous intelligence agency abuses warned that this technological capability could be abused to secure and maintain absolute political power. And now word is leaking out that they are purging the intelligence agencies of Democrats, and taking steps to stop whistleblowers from warning the public what they are doing. On top of this we have seen that the Republicans are systematically dismantling all of the checks and balances and oversight of our system of government.
But, hey, give them a break. Perhaps they just think it's really important to do all these things to catch the 19 Saudis who attacked us on September 11. Fine. But what if other people, bad people get their hands on the controls? What do we do then?
Watch your backs.
May 10, 2006
A couple of days ago, this story, about a Republican Cabinet Secretary declaring that contracts are awarded according to who gives money to The Party.
Today, this story, in which Republicans kill oversight over Iraqi reconstruction spending, A stunning tolerance for corruption in Iraqi reconstruction aid,
"Republican Appropriations Committee aides say legislators shifted the Iraq money to the foreign operations accounts at the request of the White House," the WSJ reported. The White House says it simply did this for budgetary purposes and to help "streamline accounting." The fact that the move cuts off the most effective auditor in Iraq at the knees, the Bush gang says, is a coincidence.Now read this. (Through Political Animal)
Previous Seeing the Forest stories about tax dollars used to promote the Republican Party: (Posts with the same title report on different abuses)
These are only SOME of the posts I have written on this subject, and only since I moved the blog from Blogger a year ago. And these are only the tip of the iceberg that I learned about and wrote about. Do you begin to detect a pattern here?
Corruption - turning a government department into an arm of The Party
Josh Marshall points out that the likely way the subject would have come up is if Jackson was soliciting contractors for campaign donations
May 4, 2006
The so-called "conservatives" have been cutting taxes in an effort to, as they call it, "starve the beast." Ronald Reagan explained the "starve the beast" argument as "cutting the government's allowance." The idea is that by bankrupting the government (us, you and me), we're forced to stop spending money on ... well, on negroes is the historical root of their underlying argument. They call it "welfare" and "entitlements" (even though entitlements means Social Security...) and affirmative action. That's what "big government" means to conservatives. (Never mind that most government spending goes to military and interest on the massive Republican debt...)
But what about this idea that bankrupting the government (us, you and me) through tax cuts forces spending cuts? Political Animal links today to a very interesting counter-argument, Stoking the Beast. Basically, that by cutting the cost what they have actually done is increased demand. The public is not feeling the effects of the massive Republican borrowing, so the public perception is that government just costs less. They're getting government services and not paying as much in taxes as it really all costs, so why not get them some more of that?
One more thing these assclowns turned out to be incompetent at.
April 4, 2006
Rick Cohen of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy blogs ar Drum Major Institute about Congressional use of charities to bypass lobbying reform,
Nearly every day there has been a revelation about a new purported charity or foundation established by or controlled by a member of Congress, in addition to DeLay's own eponymous foundation, ostensibly established by the former House Majority Leader and his wife to create a home for foster children, but known for its lavish "Fantasy Island" golf fundraisers involving members of Congress, lobbyists, and special interests operating without public disclosure. Among the leading foundations and charities linked to members of Congress are:Go there to read more and follow links. It's about Republican members of "Culture of Corruption" Congress, setting up phony charities to take big money from bad sources and do things like hire their relatives.
February 28, 2006
I left a comment to a Thomas' post about the Greens, and decided it is worth promoting to the front page. I believe in the "open-source think tank" concept of blogs -- a place where ideas can be introduced, discussed and refined. Here is my take on the Greens.
Anything that divides the opposition is good news for the Republicans.
If you care about what is happening to the people in Iraq, or the environment, or so many things we all care about you would understand the need to band together to fight against the Right.
This is a crucial period, with the Right consolidating power. Every single one of us must stand TOGETHER to fight them. They mean to foment war across the Middle East. They mean to end our democracy and begin an era of corporate control over our lives. And they clearly mean to do this under the auspices of a theocracy.
If you care about what is happening you will recognize the need to hold together and present a unified front. The labor movement learned this the hard way - union and solidarity are not just words, they have meaning. They LEARNED that standing together is the only power we have against the moneyed interests.
In the 2000 election, the stakes were just as high, but many people either did not realize it or did not care, and voted for Nader. Since then we have seen hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq, the looting of our natural and financial resources, and the beginnings of domestic repression. There is no "ignorance" excuse this time.
February 6, 2006
I'm watching the NSA spying hearings. Senator Feinstein just asked Attorney General Gonzales if the President has authorized the use of covert domestic propaganda intended to influence domestic politics. Gonzales refused to answer. Said he is not comfortable answering that. Then he went on to say that the President has inherent constitutional authority...
"Can the President suspend in secret or otherwise the application of section 503 of the national security act which states that no covert action may be conducted with is intended to influence United State political processes, public opinion, policies or media. In other words can he engage in otherwise illegal propaganda."
January 17, 2006
"If Al Gore is going to be the voice of the Democrats on national security matters, we welcome it,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a swipe at the Democrat, who lost the 2000 election to Bush only after the Supreme Court intervened.I'm not bringing this to your attention to comment on the substance of the White House statement. (Steve Soto does that better than I could.) I note this because it is the official White House spokesperson, a paid government employee, whose job is to inform the public of Administration policy and activities, not to promote a political party. It is grossly inappropriate for the White House to say that "we" anything when referring to a political party. Democrats are Americans, too.
[. . .] "I think his hypocrisy knows no bounds,” McClellan said of Gore.
This is an example of how this President sees himself as The President of the Repubican Party, rather than of the United States.