Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pray Away The ... Significant Holes In The Credibility of the Bachmanns

Can you imagine the dinner table conversations at the home of "counselor" Marcus and "presidential candidate" Michele Bachmann? "So, did you pray away the gay today, dear?" "No, I'm still ... I mean we're working on a couple of young men right now. Did you do anything interesting?" "Well, I voted against a bill to raise the debt ceiling." "You didn't touch Medicaid did you dear? We, I mean, I get a lot of money from Medicaid."
[First, a disclaimer, to all those suddenly women's libbers out there who see any attack on the lack of credibility of the Congresswoman from Minnesota as an attack on her because of her gender: It's not because she has boobs, it's because she is one. (Thanks again, Bill Maher!)
Marcus Bachmann is not licensed in the state of Minnesota - or any other - as a therapist. He in fact does practice "pray away the gay" and purchased his PhD from a "college" in Ohio. But his wife is crazy and he hasn't been able to stabilize her, so how good of a "therapist" is he?
In a January 2011 article on minnesota.publicradio.org, Tom Scheck quoted the Pulitzer Prize-winning

feature of the St. Petersburg Times PolitiFact: "We have checked her 13 times, and seven of her claims have been found to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false," PolitiFact editor Bill Adair said. He added that no other politician has been checked as often as Bachmann without saying anything truthful: "I don't know anyone else that we have checked, more than a couple times, that has never earned anything above a false. She is unusual in that regard in that she has never gotten a rating higher than false."And that she has a penchant for repeating claims initially made on blogs or in chain mails. Wonder how much money she's lost helping African princes bring their money to America?

Among the many issues she either doesn't understand or flat-out lies about (and there's not a third kind), there's Medicaid, the means-tested, joint federal and state funded medical coverage program. When Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill enrolling his state early in the federal extension of the program, Bachmann went ballistic. Despite the fact that for 7 1/2 years, she and her "counselor" husband took in 23 foster kids - who automatically qualify for Medicaid - she opposed expansion of the program. Probably because her license had expired. Oh, and her statements about "raising" foster kids? 
"Their family was facing a challenge and they weren't going to be able to be at home with their parents and so we took them in as teenagers," Bachmann said. "And our job was to see that they graduated from high school and were successfully launched into the world." Their license allowed for the care of three children at a time, typically, normally for a few months only.
Her misstatements reflect her lack of intelligence. Maybe all that snow in Minnesota has given her "cabin fever" and it went to her brain. Here's a few more:
1) "We know that within just a day or so that the President of the United States is taking a trip to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day." (2010)
2) "Iran is the troublemaker, trying to tip over apple carts all over Baghdad right now because they want America to pull out and you know why? It's because they've already decided that they're going to partition Iraq," (2007)
3) "Under President Obama, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which light bulbs to buy."(2011) Bachmann was a member of Congress when fellow Republican Fred Upton created the bill and Shrub signed it into law.
4) This is my favorite: ''Does that mean that someone's 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus? That night, mom and dad are never the wiser.''
See how easy this is? You can't swing a dead cat without hitting an incorrect, false, untrue or flat-out lying statement. It's humorous when these statements are followed by "said the Minnesota Congresswoman," or "Bachmann said" or even "the Tea Party darling stated." The thought that someday "I'm being held captive in a ladies room" would be followed by, "said the President?" I don't think anybody REALLY wants that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is There Anyone Out There 1-2-3

Just when I was beginning to feel a twinge of pity for Sir John of Orange, he goes and says this: "If the President signs it, the 'crisis' atmosphere he has created will simply disappear." Pity? No. Screw him.
Here's why I had what I now can't even bring myself to call a twinge of pity. John Boehner believes he is representing the "other" party. In fact, he just represents the Republicans. The old Party of Lincoln. The Tea Party, as far as the debt limit ceiling is concerned, is an actual third party. Boehner, poor Boehner. Nah, screw him.
If Michele Bachmann is the de facto head of the teabaggers, and she has promised not to vote for an increase in the debt limit, we are on course for a train wreck on August 2. So many pledges, so little time.
More and more I'm beginning to agree with what President Clinton said, about invoking the 14th Amendment "without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me."
I think that's the only way to go. Boehner has Eric "I should have been a" Kantor yipping at his heels, checking his pulse, waiting for the tanning booth to get stuck on bronze. Boehner's omnipotence has all but gone away. But, Boehner has been having things his own way for too long. When the GOP was regaining the House last year, his battle cry was "Jobs, jobs, jobs." Since the teabaggers were sworn in, the "GOP" has not proposed a single works program. And now he's truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Invoking the 14th would actually take a little pressure off Boehner.
The 14th Amendment was signed into law on June 13, 1866, and signed into law by President Andrew Johnson, as part of Reconstruction. The Section that President Clinton is referring to is #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.
President Clinton said, "I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy.” Increasing the ceiling “is necessary to pay for appropriations already made, so you can’t say, ‘Well, we won the last election and we didn’t vote for some of that stuff, so we’re going to throw the whole country’s credit into arrears."
Congress was given the sole power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. Alexander Hamilton, as the first Secretary of the Treasury, believed that the best way to build credit was to go in debt. Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution gave Congress the sole power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. Until 1917, when the Second Liberty Bond Act was signed into law to fund World War I, Congress had to vote yay or nay on every spending bill. The Act set established an aggregate limit, or "ceiling," on the total amount of bonds that could be issued. Initially, the limit was $17 million.
Writing in The Christian Science Monitor in 2010, Gail Russell Chaddock explained this complicated economic info: With the passage of Public Debt Acts in 1939 and 1941, Treasury was authorized by Congress to issue such debt as was needed to fund government operations (as authorized by each federal budget) as long as the total debt (excepting some small special classes) does not exceed a stated ceiling. Since 1979 the House of Representatives by rule has automatically raised the debt ceiling when passing a budget, except when the House votes to waive or repeal this rule.
Or, if they want to get into a pissing contest with the president, or a staredown with the rest of the freaking world. What the teabaggers are incapable of understanding is one simple fact: If America defaults, the ripples will spread around the world thisquick. You think things were bad when Shrub was so distracted by fighting two wars that he let us slip to the brink of financial disaster? Try multiplying that by the approximately 192 countries in the world. The teabaggers have no world view, no clue about how to govern. All they know is

jingoistic stuff they can put on a placard.
And, here's the cool thing about the 14th:
Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Yep. This is the same amendment that the right has tried to use to push immigration reform. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's The Pirate's Life For, Well, Not Me

I must admit I am reveling in the still-unfolding sinking of Cap'n Murdoch's News Corruption. It's just one thing after another. One of the first things I was taught in the political science department at Ball State University was this axiom: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That theory is playing out in London and the storm clouds are brewing over New York. News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch's connections to and influence over pols in England and in New York are in the midst of being blown to bits, with collateral damage so far taking down Scotland Yard administrators, a British government spokesman, the CEO of Dow Jones and News International's chief executive. Who's next? Argh.
Here's what's at stake:
  • Just in case, News Corp. board members have identified Chase Carey, current COO, to replace Murdoch as CEO.
  • U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller, Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg (huh, not a Republican in the bunch) have written to Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro asking their agencies to examine whether News Corp. violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act following allegations that employees of the News of the World had bribed U.K. police.
  • Lots and lots and lots of money. News Corp. donated $1 million to both the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governor's Association in 2010. The Chamber vigorously supported the GOP effort to take over Congress that year. What will the GOP do if they lose their "news" channel? (The thought of Bill O'Reilly doing a perp walk? Priceless.) News Corp. has lost $7 billion in 4 days. Shareholders are suing. Murdoch recently took a bath on Myspace, selling it for $35 million, 6 years after buying it for $580 million. Wonder what Fox News would be worth if this thing, as I hope, goes all the way up to include Roger Ailes and his minions.
And, for yucks, I've included a link to the defensive/offensive editorial in today's Wall Street Journal.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303661904576453902453961040.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Just Live In The Wrong Part Of The Country

I've been in Oklahoma for nearly 6 years. Since I've been here, Tom Coburn and James Inhofe have been re-elected to the U.S. Senate and Mary Fallin is now governor. I'm thoroughly embarrassed by all three.

  • Governor Fallin, taking a cue from her neighboring secessionist Governor Rick Perry, and his upcoming Prayerpalooza at Reliant Stadium in Houston, is asking Oklahomans to set aside time Sunday to pray for rain. Yes, the leader of the state government issued this statement: "The power of prayer is a wonderful thing, and I would ask every Oklahoman to look to a greater power this weekend and ask for rain." Evidently, Gov. Fallin has never heard of this statement, a/k/a The First Amendment to the Constitution:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...." Freedom of and from religion.
  • Senator Coburn, a/k/a "Dr. No" for his penchant of holding up voting on bills he believes are unconstitutional, has thus far evaded investigation for his role in the paying of the least successful hush money in the history of American crime. His fellow The Family resident of the C Street Center in Washington, D.C., and former Senator John Ensign had an affair with the wife of a staffer. When it became public knowledge, Coburn assisted in negotiating a payoff to ... the cuckold's parents. I still don't get that one but the case was turned over to the Department of Justice two months ago.
  • Senator Inhofe, in his former position of chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, has distinguished himself as the leading "global warming is a myth" idiot in the country. The science is settled. It's hotter now than it's ever been. Why do you think the governors are praying for rain? Inhofe also has distinguished himself by landing his plane on a clearly marked as closed for repairs runway in Texas, scattering workers and barely missing vehicles. So, of course, he is sponsoring legislation reducing the power of the FFA to punish pilots who do stupid shit like he did. He also has compared the EPA to the Gestapo, saying that global warming is "the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state." Wait, what? He's also been on the stupid end of conflicts with the Army Corps of Engineers, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and low-income energy assistance.

Good News: Emmy nomination. Bad News: Cancellation.

I know that I haven't fit in the coveted 18-49 age bracket for awhile now. But, I still watch television and buy the products advertised. So what's the big deal about 18-49 year-olds?
This is bugging me today because one day after Andre Braugher earned his second consecutive Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a drama series, that said series, recipient of the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award has been canceled by TNT.
"Men Of A Certain Age" didn't feature amateur singers ripe for poking fun at, wasn't flashy, didn't involve cops or doctors or crime labs and had three male leads, of a certain age. My God, now I see it. It was doomed. What were they thinking?
For Braugher, this is a cruel irony. He established himself as an actor of great emotional depth on the great, lamented, underrated Barry Levinson creation, "Homicide: Life On The Street." Based on David Simon's inside look at the Balto murder police "Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets," the TV adaptation won the Peabody Award 3 times. So, is he a good luck charm or star-crossed? Screwed is more like it.
The programming on TNT is getting pretty confusing. Last year, it canceled "Saving Grace," which yielded star Holly Hunter two Emmy and one Golden Globe nomination. But, TNT pulled the plug because of weak foreign and DVD sales. Then, it revived the derivative cop drama "Southland" after NBC canceled it. I say it should go the other way. Let's have "Men Of A Certain Age" revived by a major network. The language would have to be cleaned up a little, but there has to continue to be a place in the "vast wasteland" for "Men Of A Certain Age" for viewers ... of a certain age.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Justified x4

Today, the FX TV series "Justified" was proven to be an incredibly aptly titled. Although it was denied the top spot, a nod for best drama series, four of its actors were nominated for Emmy Awards today.
Timothy Olyphant, Margo Martindale, Walter Goggins and Jeremy Davies were all nominated for their terrific body of work. If you haven't caught it yet, you can be forgiven. Based on some Elmore Leonard short stories, the series has been stashed away in 13-week bursts in late Winter to early Spring for the last two years.
"Justified" has been described as a modern western set in the coal country of Harlan, Kentucky. I know those people. I'm the first generation removed from the people of that part of the country who essentially had two options: the mines or the military. Thankfully, my dad and his many brothers opted for the military, then Indiana and factory work.
Those that stayed behind have become fodder for, so far, 26 brilliantly told, acted and shot stories. Each season has ended with the opening lines of Darrell Scott's "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive," as interpreted by the great Brad Paisley. If you want to learn what the show's about, read these lyrics:

In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
You will never leave Harlan alive

Oh, my granddad's dad walked down
Katahrins Mountain
And he asked Tillie Helton to be his bride
Said, won't you walk with me out of the mouth
Of this holler
Or we'll never leave Harlan alive

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away

No one ever knew there was coal in them mountains
'Til a man from the Northeast arrived
Waving hundred dollar bills he said I'll pay ya for your minerals
But he never left Harlan alive

Granny sold out cheap and they moved out west
Of Pineville
To a farm where big Richland River winds
I bet they danced them a jig, laughed and sang a new song
Who said we'd never leave Harlan alive

But the times got hard and tobacco wasn't selling
And ole granddad knew what he'd do to survive
He went and dug for Harlan coal
And sent the money back to granny
But he never left Harlan alive

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life just thinkin' of how to get away

Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
And the sun goes down about three in the day
And you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you're drinking
And you spend your life digging coal from the bottom of your grave

In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone
You will never leave Harlan alive

© EMI Music Publishing

Chutzpah Indeed

If a dumbass mispronounces a Yiddish word; co-owns a "counseling" center that practices "pray away the gay;" signs a pledge that asserts that a child born into slavery has a better chance of being born into a two-parent family than African-American children born since January 20, 2009, proposes banning pornography and criminalizing abortion-service providers, does she deserve to make a sound?
Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann is scamming the Sharron Angle playbook, saying she couldn't discuss whether or not her "counseling" center practices "pray away the gay" due to HIPPA laws, then she gets in her bus (ala Shecky Palin) and flees the curious press.
She's making a lot of noise, but none of it seems to make sense. Okay, granted, smart people mispronounce words all the time. George W. Bush mispronounced "nuclear" for 8 years. Oh, wait, bad example. What smart person mispronounces words when a microphone is in their face? Dang. Can't think of one.
More to the point, how has the Republican party sunk so low that she is considered to be a legitimate candidate? I'm not complaining. I mean, if the GOP truly wants a good old-fashioned 1980s style ass-whipping like they inflicted on Jimmy Carter, Fritz Mondale and Michael Dukakis, bring the moron on. But if they're serious about taking back the White House, it sure as hell isn't going to be Batshit Bachmann, Tim "Neither Good Nor" Pawlenty, cultists Mitt Romney and John Huntzman, the pizza guy, Sir "I Do" of Newt, Chrispy Cream Christie, Rudy "a noun, a verb and 9/11" Giuliani or the second craziest male member of the Paul family in Congress.
The Republicans are practicing suicidal brinksmanship with their resistance to raising the debt ceiling, and if the world economy goes belly up they'll deserve the blame. Alexander Hamilton, in establishing the American economic system, believed having debt would be good for the Republic, so his Treasury Dept. took on debts incurred during the Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation, totaling $75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791. The debt rose with the War of 1812, followed by 18 surpluses in 20 years during which the U.S. paid off 99.97% of its debt. With the Civil War, the debt rose from $65 million in 1860 to to $2.7 billion following the war. With World War I, it reached $25.5 billion (in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson set the debt ceiling for the first time at $11.5 billion).
When Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, it was $19 billion, 20% of the GNP. By 1950, the debt was $260 billion, 20% of GNP. Through 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the gross public debt went from $909 billion in 1980 to $3 trillion in 1992. Under President Clinton, the debt rose and fell and rose to $3.4 trillion in 2000. And then came Shrub. By the time he was through wreaking havoc with the Constitution, invading one country looking for one guy and another to avenge a hit that had been put out on his daddy, all the while using supplemental appropriations that weren't even included in the official debt limit. Shrub and his budget director, the failed Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, ran the clock up to $14.2 trillion. And the debt ceiling was raised almost as a courtesy 7 times.
But, now, those wanting to "take America back" from the black man are trying to do all they can to see he accomplishes nothing. Smart people know better. Smart people can count. Smart people can handle the pronunciation of words from another language, know that homosexuality is not a choice or of Satan, that family planning for the poor and the young is a good idea and that the tax cuts given to his cronies, his buddies, his fellow rich, his fellow oil bidnessmen, have crippled this country's ability to be truly great.
If the debt ceiling is not raised, and taxes on the rich along with it, Mom and Dad won't get their Social Security checks in August. My wife's unemployment will go away. Credit card and mortgage rates will go up and America's volunteer military will truly become a volunteer military.
The Republicans love to accuse us on the left of being un-American. Well, this whistling past the graveyard of impending economic doom makes me question the patriotism of Bachmann & Co., the GOP's TV network Fixed News (and the accompanying probe of Rupert Murdoch) and the truly clueless Rep. Eric Cantor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Balls No Balls

Balls: Prime Minister David Cameron said those who sanctioned wrongdoing should have no further role in running a media company in the UK.
No Balls: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Tuesday that he was not going to answer hypotheticals about News Corp. TV station license renewals in the wake of the growing phone hacking scandal involving its British tabloid, but indicated he did not see the FCC becoming involved in that issue.

Balls: Making the switch to fluorescent light bulbs.
No Balls: Texas passing a law allowing its residents (apparently regardless of whether or not Rick Perry secedes) to purchase incandescent light bulbs made in Texas. Even though, wait for it ... there are no incandescent light bulbs made in Texas.

Balls: "I've reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this," President Barack Obama.
No Balls: GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann, Steve King and Louie Gohmert have proposed the Payment Reliability for our Obligation to Military and Investors to Secure Essential Stability Act. It's known as the PROMISES Act. It actually prioritizes who will get paid in case the debt ceiling is not raised. Even though Bachmann lacks the intelligence to believe that it will be an economic disaster should that happen.

Balls: My colleagues and myself, who work with lesbian and gay clients all the time and treat them the way we treat all clients - with empathy, compassion and genuine care.
No Balls: Bachmann & Associates, the Christian counseling agency owned by Marcus & Michele Bachmann, which has been captured on tape performing "reparative therapy," a/k/a pray away the gay.

Balls: Politicians who don't sign The Marriage Vow, join the Susan B. Anthony List or take any other vow or pledge.
No Balls: Michele Bachmann (again already?) and Rick Santorum, who apparently will sign anything put before them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Losing On A Jet Plane

Okay, poor people, listen up: the Grand Old Party does not care about you. They want to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and are toying with extending the retirement age for Social Security. President Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich and do away with some tax loopholes - on the rich. The change in the depreciation of corporate jets vs. healthcare. Hmm. 
  1. In 1987, Congress included a provision in the tax code that would allow corporate jets to be depreciated over a  five-year period rather than the seven-year period required for commercial aviation. This is one of the revenue increases that President Obama is pulling for while Sir John of Orange defends it, as part of his whole "don't raise taxes on job creators."
  2. On October 21, 2010, Oklahoma's own climate change denier Sen. James "Big Oil" Inhofe landed his twin-engine plane on a clearly marked, closed runway at the Cameron County (Texas) Airport.When confronted by the supervisor of construction that was going on at the time, Inhofe said, "'What the hell is this? I was supposed to have unlimited airspace.'” After completing a required 4-hour remedial training course, no legal action was taken against him. Even though airport manager Marshall Reece said this: “I’ve got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam,” Reece said, “and I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life in my life.” He then added, “Something needs to be done. This guy is famous for these violations.” Rather than show contrition, "Today I am pleased to introduce the Pilot’s Bill of Rights. Over the course of my years in Congress, I have helped an untold number of pilots facing the pressure of dealing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This bill remedies many of the most serious deficiencies in the relationship between general aviation and the FAA, and ensures that pilots are treated in a fair and equitable manner. One of the reasons I got into politics was to fight for the everyday citizen facing an uphill battle with bureaucracy, and that’s why I’m so pleased to introduce this legislation—it’s a mixture of my love of flying and pilots and my job of legislating for the people.” 
  3. Ending special deductions for the depreciation of corporate jets would raise an estimated $3 billion in tax revenues — or, as the jet manufacturers point out, a fraction of one percent of the deficit the country is facing. So, it's more a symbol than a real cut. But, jet industry officials have begun an email campaign, suggesting dropping the deduction would lead to job loss and reduction in jet production.
  4. On nytimes.com last week, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof identified a loophole Boehner et. al. refuse to close. "This carried interest loophole benefits managers of financial partnerships such as hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital funds and real estate funds — who are among the highest-paid people in the world. John Paulson, a hedge fund manager in New York City, made $4.9 billion last year, top of the chart for hedge fund managers, according to AR Magazine, which follows hedge funds. That’s equivalent to the average per capita income of 184,000 Americans, according to my back-of-envelope calculations based on Census Bureau figures. Mr. Paulson declined to comment on this tax break, but here’s how it works. These fund managers are compensated mostly with a performance bonus of 20 percent or more of the profits they make. Under this carried interest loophole, that 20 percent is eligible to be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate (if the fund’s underlying assets are held long enough) of just 15 percent rather than the regular personal income rate of 35 percent.
     

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boner Boehner

“The American people are still asking the question: where are the jobs? Today’s report is more evidence that the misguided ‘stimulus’ spending binge, excessive regulations, and an overwhelming national debt continue to hold back private-sector job creation in our country. Legislation that raises taxes on small business job creators, fails to cut spending by a larger amount than a debt limit hike, or fails to restrain future spending will only make things worse – and won’t pass the House. Republicans are focused on jobs, and are ready to stop Washington from spending money it doesn’t have and make serious changes to the way we spend taxpayer dollars. We hope our Democratic counterparts will join us and seize this opportunity to do something big for our economy and our future, and help get Americans back to work.” 
Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio
July 8, 2011

Wait. What? Remember last fall, last November, a mere 9 months ago, when, after taking over as House Majority Leader, Sir John of Orange promised his focus would be on "Jobs, jobs, jobs?" There has yet to be a jobs bill from Boehner or any other Republican. Instead, they focus on resisting tax increases, for the rich, because if rich people have money, they create jobs. No, they don't. They keep it. And pass it on to their children. George, Mitt, "The" Donald.
The Republicans love pledges. There's the "Pledge to America." It was written by a staffer for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Brian Wild, a former lobbyist at AIG. Ironically, one of the tenets of the Pledge is a hold on all unspent funds authorized as part of 2009's stimulus bill or the 2008 TARP legislation, the latter of which of course was signed by Shrub and bailed out, among others, AIG. Hmm. It also includes repealing health care reform and starting all over. They don't want it, but they have a plan, even though when it mattered they didn't believe in a plan. But, oy, do they love a good pledge.
Have you ever heard of The Family Leader? Me neither. Headed by Mike Huckabee's 2008 Iowa campaign chairman Bob Vander Plaats, this conservative group has made signing their pledge, a.k.a. "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration Of Dependence Upon Marriage And Family," a requirement for getting their endorsement in the upcoming. Michele "Batshit" Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed it. She insists now that she didn't read the preamble, and he feigns outrage at it:   
  • Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American president.
  • LBJ's 1965 War on Poverty was triggered in part by the famous “Moynihan Report” finding that the black out-of-wedlock birthrate had hit 26%; today, the white rate exceeds that, the overall rate is 41%, and over 70% of African-American babies are born to single parents - a prime sociological indicator for poverty,pathology and prison regardless of race or ethnicity. 
Asserting that the African-American family was stronger in slavery than it is now has been stricken.
There's also Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge and the Susan B. Anthony List. Now, it's odd that when the GOP has the White House, they don't promise anything. And, lately, they sure as hell haven't delivered anything. That is, not unless you work for Halliburton (a.k.a. War Inc.), are a lobbyist, work for the Pirate King at Fixed News, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's A Bad Day For The Pirate King

Black Rupert Murdoch did the right thing today. I hate saying that. I know he hates doing that. But, it's the truth. Now, the only logical step would be to close down Fox News. Right?
Here's an ironic quote from Peter Chernin, former President and COO of News Corp. Speaking in the June 27 episode of Bloomberg TV's Game Changers said this: "One of the great things about Rupert, which is in a crisis, he is the coolest, calmest and if he supports you and he believes in you, he'll back you all the way to the wall. He's not a guy who sort of starts worrying about it or starts  wringing his hands. If he believes in you and you're being straight with him, and you convince of the appropriateness of your decision, he's the best guy you could ever want in the foxhole with you."
Here's a list of reasons shuttering Fox News is the logical next step for Murdoch on his road to redemption.
  1.  Glenn Beck, appearing on Cluster Fox (thanks, Keith!), said that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. No repercussions. But, what Murdoch refused to do was done instead by a successful sponsor boycott led by ColorOfChange.org 
  2. In the May 25 Rolling Stone, it's reported that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes "has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim -- which is consistent with the ideology of his network" and that Ailes "lived in fear that gay activists would try to attack him in retaliation over his hostility to gay rights."
  3. Bill O'Reilly, for saying shit like this, re: the Casey Anthony verdict: "In America today is the burden of proof too high? Have we become a nation that does not make judgments any more about behavior? Is there always an excuse for everything? Reasonable doubt was not raised by Ms. Anthony's lawyers. They ran around concocting a lot of bull they couldn't prove."
  4. They pay Sarah Palin. For talking. On camera.
  5. The steady stream of Fixed News commentators leaving to run for president.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

So is Michele Bachmann running for president as a Republican or as a Christian?

On Sunday, Michele Bachmann spoke during worship services at the Point Of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa. She mentioned the church had the same painting of George Washington praying at Valley Forge that she has hanging in her office. The historical fact that this didn't happen is, I think, emblematic of the disconnect between the Congresswoman and the concept of the separation of church and state. The painting was done by Arnold Friberg in 1975, as part of the run-up to our America's bicentennial. The myth was an old one: in 1918 the Valley Forge Park Commission denied a request by a patriotic organization to put a marker on the spot where General Washington supposedly was seen in prayer. After extensively investigating diaries, papers, reports and letters, the Commission found "in none of these were found a single paragraph that will substantiate the tradition of the 'Prayer at Valley Forge.'"
Now, should she have known that? Maybe not. Should it matter to her? I think so. Especially when she said this, during the worship service: "We too are at a crucial time today. And I think it is for us to remember, that if we do as Chronicles tells us, if we humble ourselves, and pray and confess our sins, and turn away from our wicked ways, and ask an almighty God to come and protect us and fight the battle for us, we know from his word, his promise is sure. He will come. He will heal our land. And we will have a new day. What he will do for one, he will do for all. And it is the same with nations as well. And as we seek him, he's there for us. I have seen it. I have lived that in my own life since I came to him, out of his grace, in his mercy, back on November first of 1972. He is not partial. ... He will do for you, and he will do for our nation."
Can I get an "Amen?" How about a, "Hey, woman, church or state. Pick one. It should be an easy choice. It's not a hard question. Roger Williams, pastor of the first Baptist congregation in the British New World, first used the phrase "separation of church and state" in 1644. Williams wrote, ""The church of the Jews under the Old Testament in the type and the church of the Christians under the New Testament in the antitype were both separate from the world; and when they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the candlestick, and made his garden a wilderness."
Writing on The Atlantic website June 15, 2011, Garrett Epps (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/06/constitutional-myth-4-the-constitution-doesnt-separate-church-and-state/240481/) speaks at length about the right's inability to see a clear line.
If Bachmann truly believes she is the "chosen one," then get thee to a nunnery and devote your life to God. Otherwise,  brush up on your Constitution.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meditations on the meaning of the Fourth of July

It is one of the amazing facts of American history that while the 50th anniversary of the country was being observed, two of its main architects were taking their last breath. It is as if President Thomas Jefferson and President John Adams had come to the same conclusion (as they came to their own conclusions): that what Jefferson referred to as "the great experiment" had taken root and it was time for a new generation to assume guardianship.
It is a day to reflect on 235 years of history. As America shook off the tyranny of King George, the blueprint for what we consider to be the greatest country in the world was being sketched out. As the industrial north and the agrarian south slid to an inevitable collision that would cost $6 million and 620,000 lives, the work of Jefferson and Adams, et al., stood up to the challenge.
We've accomplished so much. We are a better people, and a better country, when, as President Clinton so eloquently said, "we use the power of our example rather than the example of our power." Today, Governor Rick Perry of Texas and half-term moron Sarah Palin have broached the topic of secession, Perry directly and Palin by telling the pro-secessionist Alaska Independence Party Convention audience, "keep up the good work!"
We survived Nixon's dirty tricks and inevitable resignation, Reagan's bullying and Shrub's absolute ignorance of, and disdain for, the Constitution. And we're still standing. The economy is still incapable of being fixed in the short term, the Republicans still lie to the poor and uneducated while secretly giving assurances to the rich that "we got your back." And we'll survive this. We always do, as long as we keep our eye on the ball, hold people in power accountable and remind our elected officials that they're working for us and not Wall Street or Big Oil or Big Pharma.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hitting The Roof Over Raising The Debt Ceiling

When it comes to raising the debt ceiling, Republicans are reacting to the idea as if it's plutonium and they're not wearing their haz-mat suits. This is pure bullshit. The debt ceiling is routinely raised, by pro forma vote. Not this time. Kentucky "optometrist" and Senator Rand Paul said this: "We will actually vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling next week if we can, but it will be contingent on passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution." Hmm. How can we get a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states BEFORE THE SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS STOP GOING OUT?
Clearly, the GOP wants to hold the entire budget process hostage. They forget that the prior administration engaged in two wars, that are still going on, AND lowered taxes on the rich. If A=income and B=expenditures, and B-A=$12 trillion, you have two immediate choices: end both wars or raise taxes on the rich. Instead, the GOP wants to distract with attacking such useless institutions as Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Am I the only one confused by this tactic? Threaten to do away with the EPA, while fire threatens Los Alamos, and flood waters threaten Fort Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska. Now, I know, the U.S. Nuclear Commission has jurisdiction, but I think you get the point.
I've already addressed the faux anti-abortion attacks on Planned Parenthood. It boils down to this: if only 3% of their services involve providing abortions, and no federal funds may be used for the provision of abortions, why eliminate family planning and cancer testing for poor people?
The website defeatthedebt.com points out that Congress has raised the debt ceiling 6 times in the past 3 years. "It took the United States 200 years to accumulate the first $1 trillion of debt. The most recent trillion took us less than a year, and we are on track for another $5 trillion in the next five years."



As of a few seconds ago, America's two wars, two distinct, separate, unneeded wars, have cost us $1,216,617,335,784. The estimated cost of caring for the wounded, maimed and families of the dead has been placed at as least that much again.
Bush's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 was predicted by the Heritage Foundation to eliminate the national debt in by fiscal year 2010. Uh, it didn't. His other tax cut, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, didn't grow jobs and only gave tax relief to the rich.
Federal debt has existed since Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton plan for strengthening the financial credit of the country by assuming the debt incurred during the Revolutionary War and the period under the Articles of Confederation. It goes up in war-time and down during peacetime. During endless war for endless peace, all bets are off.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Michele Bachmann: The Complete Package. Wait - What?

"Michele Bachmann's a complete package. She's got charisma, she's got an authentic faith testimony, she's a proven fighter for conservative values, and she's well known."
                                                                                                                                            - Ralph Reed

  1. Completely clueless. You know, John Wayne, John Wayne Gacey. Easy mistake. Lexington and Concord. New Hampshire. Yeah, sounds right. Except of course they're in Massachusetts.
  2. Charisma. Hmm. There's too distinct senses of the word. Personality charisma is defined as "filled with attractiveness or charm." Then there's divinely conferred charisma, defined as a divinely conferred power or talent. Guess which one Ralph had in mind?
  3. Authentic faith testimony. "Church, meet State. State, meet Church." Saying a person is qualified to be president because of her "authentic faith testimony" is like saying Derek Jeter is qualified to be a marine biologist because he's a baseball player.
  4. Proven fighter for conservative values. Okay, he's right there. Those good old conservative values: cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, because 3% of their services are abortions; eliminating the minimum wage because, well, she's stupid; wanting poor, uneducated people to support her, because she's a Republican (they don't keep track of the help they're not getting).
  5. Well-known. That's a qualification for being president? Steven Tyler and Michael Vick are trending right now on Yahoo!