March 18, 2011

WWRPD? (What Would Ron Paul Do?)

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted this week to de-fund NPR (National Public Radio). Conservatives will surely revel in this turn of events as NPR has been a favorite target of theirs for decades. They hate NPR's reporting for its breadth and accuracy, its programming for its diversity, and they hate the idea that the taxpayers support it in any way, shape, or form, as they hate virtually everything else in the public sector.

While de-funding NPR might save as much as $90 million (or, not, according to the Congressional Budget Office), that savings would pale in comparison to any real savings to be had by taking a bite out of America's truly costly endeavors, such as the never-ending war in Afghanistan.

So, What would Ron Paul Do?


March 14, 2011

So This is Limited Government?

Rick Snyder, Michigan's new Republican governor, seems to be taking the concept of limited government to a whole new level. Apparently, there is the possibility that citizens in Michigan's communities elect the wrong individuals to positions in local government. Fortunately for Snyder, as the good people at Forbes reported, a new law is in the works that would allow him to simply fire those elected officials at his personal discretion. What's more is that if this law passes, he will have the ability to single-handedly dissolve entire local governmental bodies; he would be able to declare towns and cities non-existent. Thus, he will be able to uphold the modern conservative dream and limit the people's abilities to govern themselves. Limited government, indeed.

The new law would apparently allow a governor, upon declaring a financial emergency (whatever that might mean...), to replace elected officials, such as mayors, with Emergency Managers of his own choosing. Of course, it would be interesting to see such a law challenged in the courts, but if the courts are properly stacked, then I suppose the sky's the limit.

March 12, 2011

Oh, How the Times Have Changed

I haven't written much lately. The stupid just hurts too much. So, for now, I'll leave you with this communist rant:

January 12, 2011

Quote of the Day: Clyburn on Palin

"You know, Sarah Palin just can't seem to get it, on any front. I think she's an attractive person, she is articulate," Clyburn said on the Bill Press radio show, according to The Hill. "But I think intellectually, she seems not to be able to understand what's going on here."

Via Talking Points Memo

January 9, 2011

Was the Gabrielle Giffords Assassination Attempt a Product of Right-Wing Manufactured Outrage?

So, was it? One thing is certain; Jared Lee Laughner has a few screws loose. Perhaps the sort of thing like the assassination attempt (and murder of a number of other people) on Arizona Congesswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D) is an unfortunate inevitability in a free nation; that the freedoms we afford ourselves also inadvertently apply to those who lack either the capability or the will to accept the responsibilities that accompany freedom. Is the hole in Gifford's head the product of lax gun laws in Arizona? That argument might be easily made.

Or is something else going on? With the constant drumbeat of anti-government (which is to say anti-democratically elected American government) rhetoric spewing forth from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Michael Savage, et al, maybe it was simply a matter of time before some unhinged individual such as Laughner took a cue from the Right-Wing talking heads and busted off a few rounds. On that note, here's Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik:

Of course, it really helps people like Laughner if such luminaries as Sarah Palin identify which Democrats need to be shot by putting them in crosshairs in her website.

So, was this just some lone deranged gunman? Or was this a not-so-random attack spurred on by manufactured Right-Wing rage in a sort of murder-by-proxy?

January 7, 2011

Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight

This headline is just begging for a Google bomb: Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight

Indeed, from February 2001, Bush's first full month in office, through January 2009, his last, the economy added just 1 million jobs. By contrast, in 2010 alone, the economy added at least 1.1 million jobs.

I mean, isn't this a meme that should be shouted from the rooftops and pundit desks from coast to coast? You have to admit it's fascinating that Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight.

Is Obamacare Working? Quick! Kill It!

Republicans are still gloating over their re-taking of the House of Representatives, and high on their priorities is making President Obama miserable. Make no mistake, the newly minted House Majority Leader John Boehner said during his campaign that, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President."

In particular, they will soon attempt to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known to many as "Obamacare." It's a horrible law, they argue, because it's like socialism, or something. (No word from the Republicans as to how purchasing insurance from private providers is socialism, but...)

And they're just in time. While it is too early to declare PPACA a smashing success or failure, some interesting anecdotal information is coming in. According to this piece by Rick Ungar in that ultra-liberal rag Forbes, there's been a significant uptick in the number of small businesses providing healthcare to their employees. Ungar attributes this to the tax cut created in the law which provides an incentive for employers to offer health insurance.

The gist of the article is that at least the tax incentives part of PPACA appears to be working. So, why would the Republicans want to kill it? Well, maybe that goes back to their number one priority - simply opposing Obama. After all, the worst thing in the world for Republicans would be if a Democratic idea actually worked.

January 6, 2011

Polly Want a Job Killing Health Care Law Repeal?

Someone has new talking points...

January 4, 2011

Most Americans oppose Republican approach to taxes and spending

According to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released Monday, 61 percent of Americans want to increase taxes on the wealthy to balance the budget. The next highest percentage - 20 percent - want to cut defense spending to get there. Only four percent of Americans - the lunatic fringe - want to cut Medicare spending, and three percent want to cut Social Security.

So the Republican party and their tea bagging buddies appear to be outside the mainstream on this. Then how did the Republicans take over the house in November 2010? Because they're the loudest and angriest, and have no problem lying to the American people and engaging in fear mongering to get elected. Douchebags.

January 2, 2011

With his show on the 9/11 healthcare bill, Jon Stewart makes a difference

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show have always been great at exposing Republican hypocrisy (and Democratic - there's just a lot more Republican hypocrisy). With his show on the Republican opposition to funding healthcare for first responders, he apparently had a profound effect on the bill's passage:

"I don't even know if there was a deal, to be honest with you, before his show," said Kenny Specht, the founder of the New York City Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation, who was interviewed by Mr. Stewart on Dec. 16.

That show was devoted to the bill and the comedian's effort to right what he called "an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11."

Mr. Specht said in an interview, "I'll forever be indebted to Jon because of what he did."

The New York Times article goes on to quote people in the business comparing Stewart to Cronkite and Murrow. He's a bit funnier than either of those guys were, though.

January 1, 2011

Paul Krugman makes me angry

Paul Krugman makes me angry. Why? Because basically every column he writes for The New York Times does a great job of cutting through the chaff and highlighting the hypocrisy of Republican (and sometimes Democratic) politicians and what a disaster they are for the future of the United States. Yesterday's column, The New Voodoo, is a good example. An excerpt:

How did Republican leaders reconcile their purported deep concern about budget deficits with their advocacy of large tax cuts? Was it that old voodoo economics — the belief, refuted by study after study, that tax cuts pay for themselves — making a comeback? No, it was something new and worse ... 2010 marked the emergence of a new, even more profound level of magical thinking: the belief that deficits created by tax cuts just don't matter. For example, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona — who had denounced President Obama for running deficits — declared that "you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans."

Magical thinking is a great description of how Republicans approach governing. None of their thinking is based in reality. They just make stuff up to justify protecting their super rich supporters and handlers. Like tax cuts for the rich will magically improve the economy. Which they won't, never have, and never will.

Damn you, Paul Krugman, for engaging in reality-based thinking! That's so 1940s! It went out of style a loooong time ago.

December 31, 2010

Bring all the troops home, now

Since we pre-emptively invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, and Iraq on March 20, 2003, volunteer soldiers and their families have born the bulk of the burden of war. A New York Times piece paints a bleak picture of the impact on them. An excerpt:

The work of war is very much a family affair. Nearly 6 in 10 of the troops deployed today are married, and nearly half have children. Those families — more than a million of them since 2001 — have borne the brunt of the psychological and emotional strain of deployments.

And we just extended tax cuts that were unnecessary in the first place, and are borrowing every single dollar we spend to send these men and women into harm's way. So no one besides the troops are sacrificing blood or treasure. Fuck these wars. And fuck the politicians who started them - Republicans and Democrats.

Happy new year, America. Hopefully you can pull your collective heads out of your collective asses in 2011.

December 30, 2010

Merle Haggard bitch slaps the Obama haters

In this Rolling Stone interview with Merle Haggard, he talks about receiving Kennedy Center Honors and meeting President Obama:

It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It's really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not. It's just a big old political game that I don't want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I'm sure some of it's true and some of it's not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.

It's too bad the media doesn't have the nuts to take Republicans to task for their lunatic fringe stories about the president. Luckily for us, though, Merle does.

December 29, 2010

Majority of Americans Still Don't Accept the Theory of Evolution

As polling has continued to suggest over the years, most Americans still don't accept the scientific theory of evolution. Despite the fact that there is more evidence supporting the theory of evolution than, say, the theory of gravity. According to the latest Gallup poll on the subject (Dec 17, 2010), 40 percent of Americans still believe humanity was made by some space god in the last 10,000 years. And there's more:

38 percent of Americans, the poll estimates, believe God guided the process that brought humans from "cavemen" to today's incarnation over millions of years, while 16 percent think humans evolved over millions of years, without any divine intervention.

So only 16 percent of Americans have embraced reality on this subject. The rest continue to embrace ignorance. The good news, though, is that this is a 9 percent increase from 1982, when only 7 percent of Americans accepted the reality of evolution. 7 percent! Saying you don't believe in evolution is like saying you don't believe in photosynthesis or the existence of the central nervous system. You don't get that choice. It's science, not opinion, kids.

December 28, 2010

As goes Portugal, so goes... the United States?

Ten years ago, Portugal passed a law decriminalizing possession of illegal drugs, and turned their focus to treatment instead of imprisonment. Since then, drug use has not gone up, and they've managed to reduce the harm caused by drugs to individuals and society. The U.S. War on Drugs? Not so much. It's pretty much been a disaster, anyway you look at. So according to this Associated Press article, the U.S. is taking a closer look at Portugal:

[T]he United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal in September to learn about its drug reforms, and other countries — including Norway, Denmark, Australia and Peru — have taken interest, too.

I'm having trouble envisioning legislators and politicians in the United States doing something so pragmatic, though. Who will take care of the private prison industry if we stop imprisoning Americans (primarily black) who have been busted with drugs?

December 27, 2010

Barney Frank bitch slaps conservative provocateur

At a ceremony celebrating the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a representative of tried to ambush Representative Barney Frank. Frank took it in stride, and turned it back on the guy. Nevertheless, has made the full clip available. They don't come out well:

Now that DADT has been repealed, it looks like the Americans desperately afraid of gay people will try and make an issue out of straight soldiers showering with gay soldiers. I wish them luck. Too bad they aren't focusing on what is a real issue in the American military - the raping of female soldiers by male soldiers. From a Time piece in March 2010:

The Pentagon's latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9% from the year before; among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25%. When you look at the entire universe of female veterans, close to a third say they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving — twice the rate in the civilian population.

But the right doesn't like to tackle real problems. Instead, they like to manufacture problems that fit their reality-averse worldview.

December 26, 2010

NYT: The D.E.A. now has 87 offices in 63 countries

A New York Times article paints a picture of an expanding Drug Enforcement Agency that's increasingly in ethically questionable situations abroad:

Like many of the cables made public in recent weeks, those describing the drug war do not offer large disclosures. Rather, it is the details that add up to a clearer picture of the corrupting influence of big traffickers, the tricky game of figuring out which foreign officials are actually controlled by drug lords, and the story of how an entrepreneurial agency operating in the shadows of the F.B.I. has become something more than a drug agency. The D.E.A. now has 87 offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that keep the Central Intelligence Agency at arm's length.

If you're looking for places to cut federal spending, why not start with the D.E.A. and the War on Drugs in general? That's an easy $50 billion right there.

December 24, 2010

Pat Robertson says something that isn't crazy

From The Washington Post's coverage of Robertson's recent pro-legalization comments:

"We're locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana, and the next thing you know they've got 10 years," the controversial pastor said on "The 700 Club" on Dec. 16, in a clip unearthed by bloggers this week. "I'm not exactly for the use of drugs - don't get me wrong - but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing, I mean, it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people."

It's a festivus miracle! Merry, merry, people.

December 19, 2010

If At First You Don't Secede...

The Tea Party, emboldened by recent electoral victories, has a nifty new idea that would virtually abolish the effectiveness of the federal government. They're floating the idea of a so-called "Repeal Amendment" to the Constitution that would allow any federal law or regulation to be overturned if two thirds of the states vote to overturn it. (Golly, if only there was some sort of body in the federal government consisting of people who serve as representatives of the citizenry...) It would be the next best thing to outright secession of individual states from The Union.

It gets better. Since two thirds of the states would need to join forces to buck the federal government, smaller less-populated and generally more conservative states could band together to override the representation of the states with the majority of the nation's population. Voila! Minority Rule!

Teabaggers see this measure as a necessary defense against what they perceive as ever-increasing overreach of the federal government. They don't ever want to see the federal government bail out an American corporation ever again as doing so interferes with the magical invisible hand of the free market. Never mind that, for example, while allowing General Motors and Chrysler to simultaneously go bankrupt and fold during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression might have been the ideologically pure thing for the Tea Party to do, it would also have wrought tremendous economic havoc as millions more would have joined the unemployment lines. Since we're talking about automobile manufacturers, I wonder if the Teabaggers have ever thought about whether or not such companies would even exist without a taxpayer-funded nationwide network of roadways; very few people would buy cars without roads to drive them on.

Of course, this all raises the question: Does the Tea Party even want to have a federal government at all? Why not just splinter into 50 different independent nations? Once that's done, I suppose individual counties might want to assert their rugged individualism and secede from each of the new 50 nations. Then individual cities and towns could further declare their independence and shed the outlying county areas. - And on and on until there is no government at all, just a lawless bunch of people running around with assault rifles solving problems the way they did in the Old West (a.k.a. "Real AMerica" - you know, the American West before it was actually part of America), or perhaps the way they do in the modern-day analogue - Somalia. Yes, some libertarian idealists actually think Somalia is a valid model. Think I'm joking?

December 17, 2010

Republicans to 9/11 First Responders: Drop Dead!

Republicans have used the tragedy of 9/11 as a political football for nearly a decade. They've been telling us that they're more American than anybody else because they Will Never Forget. Never forget, of course, unless the actual individuals who personally responded to the attacks actually need the country to step up for them the way they stepped up for us. This week, Congressional Republicans turned their back on 9/11 first responders by not supporting a bill that would have given them assistance in fighting the many residual health problems that the responders now suffer from as a result of exposure to all manner of toxins they met with as they sifted through rubble searching for victims.

Jon Stewart invited a few of those first responders to share their thoughts on Congressional Republicans' inaction in what I can only describe as one of the most poignant segments that I have ever seen on the Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Senator John Kyl (R - AZ) doesn't want to disrespect Christmas by working the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. I bet America's firefighters and police officers will be working on Christmas day itself, as will the cancers eating at the 9/11 first responders sitting at the table on Stwart's set.

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