Looks like that dastardly Kenyan Marxist socialist has struck again, as a segue to The Donald (here - joke)...
Twenty five million people are unemployed, underemployed or out of the workforce altogether, but that's not on anyone's agenda. Millions of homeowners are underwater in their mortgage and facing the loss of their homes, that's also not on anyone's agenda. Tens of millions of baby boomers are at the edge of retirement and have just lost their life savings. This also is not on anyone's agenda.
Deficit cutting fever is the current craze in the nation's capital. But even here there is little tie to reality. House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan put out a budget that proposes that in 2050 we will be spending less on defense, domestic discretionary and various non-medical entitlements together than we spend on defense today. And most of the punditry praise its seriousness. Meanwhile, the Progressive Caucus, the largest single bloc in Congress, proposes a way to get to a balanced budget by 2021, and it is virtually ignored. ...
The Progressive Caucus has done the country an enormous service in producing its budget. They have helped to show as clearly as possible that the deficit hawks do not give a damn about reducing deficits and balancing the budget. They want to cut the programs that the poor and middle class depend upon?programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?so that the rich can have more money in their pockets.
Deficit reduction as it is usually discussed is a give to the rich agenda. The fact that the Progressive Caucus budget was so universally ignored drives this point home very well.
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At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
Ordinarily, it's the "majesty of the office" that prevents us from seeing such criminal conspiracies for exactly what they are. We are instead told by apologists for the guilty that we're "criminalizing politics." But with Bush sitting at an historic low of just 28% approval, is there any "majesty" left? And with nearly the entirety of the executive branch now infected, is there any politics left in between the criminalization?
Twenty briefings?directed from inside the White House?to violate the Hatch Act and use official government resources to illegally influence the elections. When are we going to start calling this what it is?
Title: Lightning StrikesArtist: Lou Christie
We've been getting some intense weather systems here in Tennessee and this hit from 1965 keeps playing in my head. Happy Tuesday!
Glenn Beck comments on the new passport form, which may go into effect for people who don't have birth certificates:"Why don't you just put nipple clamps on Americans over this?"Actually, the proposed "biographical form" is intended for those people who[...]
Read The Full Article:
Brother, that was a great blog. I really wanted to show support and leave you a real comment, but I can't do it in five sentences, and this site is being very restrictive. I'll throw the response on my page, and if you want to throw it in the mix later, please feel free to copy and paste it. Aye, I don't mind getting cussed out. It's what I'm here for.
Sen. Joe Manchin (John Gress/Reuters)West Virginia Sen. Joe Machin is the latest to sign on to what Ezra Klein calls the "second worst idea in Washington", one that's "completely insane." That would be the arbitrary spending cap that Sens. Bob Corker and Claire McCaskill have come up with to address the budget.
Spending caps in general are not great policy, but this one is particularly bad, capping total federal spending to 20.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the average from 1970 to 2008. Yeah, 40 years ago, when the poputlation was smaller, the population of older Americans was much smaller, and before healthcare costs exploded.
It's unrealistic, and it's just not smart. On the "not smart" part, here's Steve Benen.
The CBPP published a detailed report on the proposed cap a couple of weeks ago, explaining that if it were to become law, policymakers would have no choice but to enforce devastating cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as every other domestic priority.
Ironically, Machin, whose depth of understanding on these issues appears to be less than an inch deep, said he supports the CAP Act but opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare. In other words, Machin doesn't understand the effects of the very policy he's endorsing.
To a very real extent, the cap would be a straightjacket intended to prevent the government from responding to any challenges, foreign or domestic, for the foreseeable future. The "solution" doesn't even match the problem -- any credible evaluation of the fiscal issue shows the same truths: we lack the necessary resources to deal with a growing elderly population and escalating health care costs. How would a spending cap help this? It wouldn't.
It's an idea so dumb and so bad as to be laughable. So expect every damned ConservaDem who is thinking of running for reelection in the near future sign on.
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Well, Haley Barbour might have bowed out of the GOP presidential primary, but we've still got wingnut Herman Cain in the running, who went on the air with Fox's Shannon Bream and recommended we privatize Social Security like they did in Chile under Pinochet, but don't dare call it privatization.
BREAM: Alright, will part of the tough solutions and will the strong medicine include entitlement reform? And how do you sell that to the American public?
CAIN: We have to go from an entitlement society, to an empowerment society. And what I mean by that, all programs need to be restructured. You can't just continue to raise taxes on these programs and decrease the benefits. And Representative Ryan's proposed budget is a great start in that direction. We can't just continue to do the same things we've done before.
For example, relative to Social Security. I think that we put the idea of personal retirement accounts back on the table and do what Chile did thirty years ago. They don't have the problem we have today. Now it got demagogued last time as privatization. That absolutely is not the case. We need to take that route, restructure Social Security so we can achieve solvency, or the problems we're encountering, the crisis that we now have, they're only going to get worse.
Someone needs to tell this clown that Social Security is solvent. And if he thinks the GOP ought to run on privatizing it, whether he wants to call it that or not, more power to him. That didn't work out so well for George Bush, but apparently he's got a short memory. We can fix any shortfalls with our system by simply raising the cap on payroll taxes, or better yet, lift the cap and make it less regressive while we're at it.
And if he wants us to follow Chile's model, maybe someone could direct him to this article -- Chile's Retirees Find Shortfall in Private Plan.
This guy Cain may not be a serious candidate for president, but he's got every one of the GOP talking points down pat. He sounds like a broken record like the rest of them. Lower taxes on the rich. China is going to eat our lunch, but no mention of our trade inbalances being a problem with them. We need to slash and burn the budget, but don't dare say we're going to do it at the expense of the elderly and the poor. And repeat endlessly that President Obama is not leading and say the words "the American people" as often as humanly possible during an interview.
And of course Megyn Kelly's fill-in Shannon Bream had to get in there that somehow a person who understands how to run a business can take that experience and be capable of governing. I've found that to be generally untrue because for the most part, and if you're a Republican or a Blue Dog Democrat, your idea of governing "like you'd run a business" means seeing how many of our tax dollars you can turn over to one of your campaign donors' profit driven enterprises that has no regard to what those taxpayers are getting in return for their money.
I was listening to Thom Hartmann this week and he was talking to a caller about how the Republicans just love privatizing everything and what that really means for workers in the United States far too often. I don't remember if it was just a friend of Thom's or someone in his family, but he was discussing how they were working for the government and they decided to contract out the work they were doing to a private company and they lost their job. And once that company took over the work the government was doing, his friend got hired by the private contractor that picked up the work to do the exact same job, and for a whole lot less money and with no benefits. The kicker is they weren't saving the government or the taxpayers any money with the cost of their contract. Basically they were just taking the money that used to go to that person's salary and benefits that used to work as a government employee, and funneling it to that company and their stock holders instead.
That's the America these guys have in store for us that want to "run government like a business." That's nothing but code for a race to the bottom on wages, scrap benefits and the social safety nets, kill every union contract you have in place and you workers left to deal with it, pull yourself up by your non-existent boot straps after we ask you to compete with slave wages in China. And in the mean time, oh don't dare to suggest raising taxes on the rich, or that's "class warfare."
Heaven forbid we point out that they really just want nothing but the rich and the poor in America so they don't have to outsource that cheap labor. They'll have it here at home and sadly, we're well on our way there now. I'm not sure what it's going to take to change that, but I hope the public being fed up finally starts getting some response from Washington if enough of us get out there and make our voices heard.
We've got a lot to make up for when wingnuts like this Cain are given national air time and treated as credible by a channel with millions of viewers.
Sen. Kent Conrad
Echoing Sen. Dick Durbin, who casts the Obama budget proposal as the left side of the spectrum from the Republican plan, renowned deficit peacock Sen. Kent Conrad says the budget he'll come up with will find a middle ground.
Conrad, considered a fiscal conservative among Democrats, suggests he will stake out the middle ground in between the visions of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and President Barack Obama. Conrad hopes his budget, which he might unveil in May, will ultimately emerge as the most viable bipartisan vehicle to start whittling down the national debt. But it will take deft political maneuvering to get that plan through the narrowly divided Senate ? and would be a momentous task to reconcile his version with the Ryan plan that not a single House Democrat supported.
For the record, again, the Obama plan should not be considered the left pole in the budget debate. It's a very conservative plan. It's been correctly called "center right" by Paul Krugman, and "a rather conservative one, significantly to the right of the Rivlin-Domenici plan" by the Center on Budget and Policy Priority's Bob Greenstein.
The left pole in this debate truly is the the People's Budget, introduced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus which has been praised by the likes of The Economist and Paul Krugman alike. It has some very smart solutions that could quite easily be incorporated into a larger plan, and should be.
Postscript: Keith Olbermann's announcement
Ronald Reagan laid the groundwork for the Right's officialsevering of the country from the reality standard.
"In researching [the '80s], I've been surprised to discover the extent to which Ronald Reagan explicitly built his appeal around the notion that it was time to stop challenging the powerful. A new sort of lie took over: that the villains were not those deceiving the nation, but those exposing the deceit -- those, as Reagan put it in his 1980 acceptance speech, who 'say that the United States has had its day in the sun, that our nation has passed its zenith.' They were just so, so negative. According to the argument Reagan consistently made, Watergate revealed nothing essential about American politicians and institutions -- the conspirators 'were not criminals at heart.'"
-- Rick Perlstein, in "Inside the GOP's Fact-Free
Nation," in Mother Jones
For the benefit of new readers, since the 2008 presidential election campaign, I've been reduced to periodic rants about Republicans and the Right generally having officially gone off the standard, no longer feeling any obligation or indeed connection to reality, so there should be no surprise at my responsiveness to our friend (and favorite working historian) Rick Perlstein's new Mother Jones piece, which tackles this very subject.
Rick, you may recall, after his landmark books Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus and Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, has been immersed in the next turning point in the conservatizing of America, the Reagan era. And it's hard to look at that period without grappling with the loosening of the bonds of reality.
Reagan himself had a decidedly shaky relation to reality, quite independent of the descent into Alzheimer's. Indeed, while there's a political career's worth of evildoing that the sainted Ronnie has to answer for, I've always thought his most toxic legacy was preaching to an all-too-eager American public the happy-making doctrine that reality is whatever you think it is, whatever you want it to be, whatever makes you feel best. But it wasn't till that 2008 election that I perceived that an entire side of the American political spectrum had abandoned any feeling of responsibility to truth.
It's been hard to think how there could fail to be consequences.
Of course long before 2008 the Bush regime had been hard at work permanently sundering all links between its pronouncements and truth. This is what I found myself pondering as I read -- with Rick's piece already resounding in my head -- today's ThinkProgress Progress Report, "The Neverending Story," which looks into the documentation about the abuses in Guantanamo provided by the latest WikiLeaks cache of more than 700 documents (with a link is to The Guardian's coverage).
THE DETAILS: The Times editorializes today that the documents serve as "a chilling reminder of the legal and moral disaster that President George W. Bush created" at Gitmo and "describe the chaos, lawlessness and incompetence in his administration's system for deciding detainees' guilt or innocence and assessing whether they would be a threat if released." "Innocent men were picked up on the basis of scant or nonexistent evidence and subjected to lengthy detention and often to abuse and torture," the Times editorial notes, adding that suicides there "were regarded only as a public relations p roblem.& quot; The documents show that there were 158 detainees "who did not receive a formal hearing under a system instituted in 2004. Many were assessed to be 'of little intelligence value' with no ties to or significant knowledge about Al Qaeda or the Taliban." The Guardian notes that 212 Afghans at Gitmo were either "entirely innocent," "mere Taliban conscripts" or "had been transferred to Guantanamo with no reason for doing so." Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. The so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Qahtani, "was leashed like a dog, sexually humiliated and forced to urinate on himself." And U.S. forces held Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese cameraman for Al-Jazeera, for 6 years before finally letting him go. Hajj had insisted he was just a journalist and he went back to work for Al-Jazeera after his release.
"Some of our boys are floating around in the water," Lyndon Johnson told congressmen to goad them into passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing war in 1964, after a supposed attack on an American PT boat. "Hell, those dumb stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish," LBJ observed later, after the deed was done. That resolution inaugurated a decade of official American military activities in Southeast Asia (unofficially, we had been carrying out secret acts of war for years). A full-scale air war began the following February, after the enemy shelled the barracks of 23,000 American "advisers" in a South Vietnamese town called Pleiku. But that was just a pretext. "Pleikus are like streetcars," LBJ's national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, said?if you miss one, you can always just hop on another. The bombing targets had been in the can for months, even as LBJ was telling voters on the campaign trail, "We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."
It would have been possible all along for some intrepid soul to drop the dime on the whole thing. There were many who knew or suspected the truth, but with a villain as universally feared as communism was during the Cold War years, denying the facts felt like the only patriotic thing to do.
Agnew's remarks reinforced a mood that had been building since at least the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when many viewers complained about the media images of police beating protesters. By the 1980s the trend was fully apparent: News became fluffier, hosts became airier?less assured of their own moral authority. (Around this same time, TV news lost its exceptional status within the networks?once accepted as a "loss leader" intended to burnish their prestige, it was increasingly subject to bottom-line pressures.)
There evolved a new media definition of civility that privileged "balance" over truth-telling?even when one side was lying. It's a real and profound change?one stunningly obvious when you review a 1973 PBS news panel hosted by Bill Moyers and featuring National Review editor George Will, both excoriating the administration's "Watergate morality." Such a panel today on, say, global warming would not be complete without a complement of conservatives, one of them probably George Will, lambasting the "liberal" contention that scientific facts are facts?and anyone daring to call them out for lying would be instantly censured. It's happened to me more than once?on public radio, no less.
In the same vein, when the Obama administration accused Fox News of not being a legitimate news source, the DC journalism elite rushed to admonish the White House. Granted, they were partly defending Major Garrett, the network's since-departed White House correspondent and a solid journalist?but in the process, few acknowledged that under Roger Ailes, another Nixon veteran, management has enforced an ideological line top to bottom.
The protective bubble of the "civility" mandate also seems to extend to the propagandists whose absurdly doctored stories and videos continue to fool the mainstream media. From blogger Pamela Geller, originator of the "Ground Zero mosque" falsehood, to Andrew Breitbart's video attack on Shirley Sherrod -- who lost her job after her anti-discrimination speech was deceptively edited to make her sound like a racist -- to James O'Keefe's fraudulent stingagainst National Public Radio, right-wing ideologues "lie without consequence," as a desperate Vincent Foster put it in his suicide note nearly two decades ago. But they only succeed because they are amplified by "balanced" outlets that frame each smear as just another he-said-she-said "controversy."
And here, in the end, is the difference between the untruths told by William Randolph Hearst and Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the ones inundating us now: Today, it's not just the most powerful men who can lie and get away with it. It's just about anyone -- a congressional back-bencher, an ideology-driven hack, a guy with a video camera -- who can inject deception into the news cycle and the political discourse on a grand scale.
Sure, there will always be liars in positions of influence -- that's stipulated, as the lawyers say. And the media, God knows, have never been ideal watchdogs -- the battleships that crossed the seas to avenge the sinking of the Maine attest to that. What's new is the way the liars and their enablers now work hand in glove. That I call a mendocracy, and it is the regime that governs us now.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT
These are not the glory days that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was envisioning as he assumed his Napoleonic reign.
Walker, for instance, is openly complaining that the apparently successful effort to initiate recall elections for at least five (now six) Republican state senators who have sided with him, well, that such exercises of democracy are making it difficult for him to govern in a "republic."
That may explain why the Wisconsin legislature - otherwise known, perhaps, as the rubber-stamp body of the autocratic ruler of the state of "Walkerstan" - is going to try to make it extremely difficult for university students to vote. Shrink the pro-union and progressive vote and win elections by making sure that older white Republicans get the privilege of casting a ballot.
Walker is also hoping to rely on the Koch brothers and other wealthy sources, such as the Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee, to keep the public misinformed. As BuzzFlash first reported, the Kochs are putting quite a bankroll into a Facebook campaign to recruit right-wing advocates for "conservative think tanks" around the nation.
And as evidence of the rather suspicious, unsavory and unethical relationships among Walker, David Prosser and Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus continue to mount, Walker has been reduced to taking claim for creating jobs that were already announced by his Democratic predecessor.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on April 24:
Little did anyone know that Gov. Scott Walker was such a huge fan of recycling.
Just look at his latest jobs announcement.
Walker recently took credit in a widely reported press conference for creating 125 jobs at a state manufacturing plant, even though then-Gov. Jim Doyle announced the same new jobs back in December.
About now, Walker may be remembering that he personally can be recalled after a year in office.
You probably won't hear the governor of "Walkerstan" playing Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" any time soon.