Posts from — June 2011
Comments from folks like Michele Bachmann and Jim Demint illuminate the real motives behind the Republican crusade to freeze American debt and plunge the global economy into chaos. It’s a sickening revelation.
Bachmann and Demint – she leads the Tea Party in the House and he is among the group’s Senate leaders - suggest that America should pay its debts with the money it has on hand and let people like me go without our Social Security checks. And they also want to stiff the troops they profess so vehemently to “support.”
As I understand it, America borrows 38 cents of every dollar the government spends. And without congressional permission to borrow more money, a lot of government obligations cannot be met.
I don’t know about Demint, but Bachmann and her kin have done quite well at the public trough. Her family farm raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies and her husband’s clinic has cashed a pile of checks from Medicaid.
Now that they have filled their bellies, they want the rest of us to starve.
To me, that attitude is typical of the Tea Party. They’ve got theirs, so to hell with everybody else.
They make no secret of their selfishness. And they make no apology for it, either.
And for reasons I don’t understand they have a stranglehold on the Republican leadership.
I am also at a loss to explain why President Obama plays nice with them. They won’t ever accept him because of the color of his skin- which no amount of smiling can change.
I say it’s time to call their bluff. Keep my Social Security check. Don’t pay the troops. And cut off the rest of the government spending that keeps so many of us alive from month to month.
If that doesn’t precipitate rioting in the streets, I can’t imagine what would.
And I don’t see a whole lot of people voting for Republicans in the future.
June 30, 2011 1 Comment
Give some puffed up tom turkey a little power and he is sure to cause trouble. And trouble is what Americans face today as a result of the disastrous 2010 elections. Suddenly, people that no one ever paid attention to find themselves in the spotlight, and they make asses of themselves.
Take a guy named Ron Johnson, for instance.
The former plastics manufacturer calls himself a “citizen legislator,” which is one way of admitting he has zero experience in public office. This total nonentity from the Wisconsin boondocks brought the Senate to a standstill because debt ceiling negotiations are being held “behind closed doors.”
He says he will stage one-man filibusters until negotiations on a debt ceiling deal are held in public.
If this turkey is serious, America (and the world) can hunker down for an economic tsunami.
Unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement before August 2, America will face the prospect of defaulting on its debts and cutting off money for the troops, Social Security and other vital government obligations.
Economists say this would mean an unprecedented global depression.
But that doesn’t seem to faze Senator Johnson. He’s the man. It’s his way or the highway.
It’s a weird world we live in when someone like this can defeat a distinguished legislator like Russ Feingold. But that’s the way it is when the lunatics take over the asylum – as they did in 2010.
June 29, 2011 1 Comment
As the United States approaches fiscal collapse, with Republicans in Congress refusing to avert it, the “news” is not dominated by the debt ceiling crisis but by Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, who was convicted of corruption. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pursues a pattern of accepting gifts from people with cases before him without so much as a slap on the wrist.
Blagojevich is a Democrat. Thomas is a Republican.
How relentless are the mills of “justice” when Democrats (like Anthony Weiner) are involved, and how ineffective they are when Republicans (like David Vitter) are at fault.
I sit before the TV stunned by the impunity with which Republicans lie and cheat.
And I am bewildered by the kind of people carrying the Republican banner. Why do media representatives take them seriously?
It doesn’t seem to matter that their associates are no better than common criminals, that Rick Santorum, for example, was on the board of a scandal-plagued health facility in Virginia, or that Rick Scott’s health care company paid a $1.7-billion fine for Medicare fraud before his election as Florida’s governor.
It seems the more blatant the disregard for honesty or decency the more popular they are with the Republican “base.”
Have you listened to Michele Bachmann (featured on the magazine cover above)? Have you watched her look reporters in the eye and deny that she has “ever gotten a penny” from a family farm subsidized by the government?
Today an Associated Press report reveals she is lying. AP reports that Bachmann’s financial disclosure statements show tens of thousands in personal income from the farm.
This woman is not the “flake” that Chris Wallace of Fox News unintentionally suggested (to his instant regret). She is a university trained tax lawyer who knows exactly what she is doing. And what she is doing is telling lies.
I don’t just mean her nonsense about the Founding Fathers ending slavery and so on. I don’t much care that she mistakes Concord, New Hampshire, for Concord, Massachusetts, or mixes up the birth places of John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy. Sure, they show how little concern she has for historical accuracy, but that’s not what keeps me up at night.
It’s when she lies deliberately and with malice aforethought – and gets away with it – that I get scared.
BACHMANN: “It’s ironic and sad that the president released all of the oil from the strategic oil reserve. … There’s only a limited amount of oil that we have in the strategic oil reserve. It’s there for emergencies.” — On CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
THE FACTS: Obama did not empty all the oil from the strategic reserve, as Bachmann said. He approved the release of 30 million barrels, about 4 percent of the 727 million barrels stored in salt caverns along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. It’s true that the U.S. normally taps the reserve for more dire emergencies than exist today, and that exposes Obama to criticism that he acted for political gain. But the reserve has never been fuller; it held 707 million barrels when last tapped, after 2008 hurricanes.
BACHMANN: “One. That’s the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office.” — Comment to a conservative conference in Iowa in March.
THE FACTS: The Obama administration issued more than 200 new drilling permits before the Gulf oil spill alone. Over the past year, since new safety standards were imposed, the administration has issued more than 60 shallow-water drilling permits. Since the deep water moratorium was lifted in October, nine new wells have been approved.
Politifact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking service of the St. Petersburg Times, found 17 of 24 recent Bachmann allegations to be false . For the AP report, including the examples above, click here.
This is no flake. This is a dangerous psychopath with utter contempt for the truth.
But her lies seem to make her even more popular with the Republican “base.” I would not be surprised if she sweeps the Iowa primary and goes on to win the nomination.
June 28, 2011 3 Comments
The Republican strategy for next year’s presidential election is so evil that it’s hard to believe. They plan to get President Obama out of the White House by sabotaging the economy.
I know, who would do a thing like that?
Who would deliberately inflict misery on millions of Americans and undermine the health of their own country’s economy?
Republicans, that’s who.
They know that a high unemployment rate and a struggling economy spelled defeat for past presidents. And they are doing everything they can to plunge America into a deep depression in preparation for November 2012. That’s why they’re blocking ever conceivable stimulus measure and threatening to deny congressional permission to raise the national debt ceiling.
They might not actually crash the economy – not just America’s but the world’s – by voting against a debt ceiling increase, but they will bluff as long as they can, knowing that the mere threat of such a catastrophe is enough to do a lot of damage. And I wouldn’t even put it past them to carry out their threat; there’s a movement afoot to destroy the global economy so that a totally “free” market can be built on the ruins.
The only thing that might keep Republicans in Congress from actually blocking a debt ceiling increase is the danger it presents to their Wall Street and Big Business supporters. I don’t think the majority of those tycoons would welcome a short-term disaster as a prelude to future gains, however tempting that might be.
Still, the Republicans’ Big Business allies are not averse to the creation of a double-dip recession. The economic decline has not hurt them; the rich are getting richer even as the middle class suffers. I think that explains why so many companies are hoarding cash, delaying any expansion as long as a black Democrat occupies the White House. They don’t mind waiting until after they defeat him to resume hiring.
You might think voters would be sure to punish the Republicans at the polls for this despicable strategy, but with the kind of cash the Republicans have at their disposal (thanks in part to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to let companies spend as much as they like on election campaigns), they will inundate the airwaves and other media with expertly crafted propaganda designed to make it all Obama’s fault.
I expect an unprecedented assault on the truth in the coming campaign.
This will be an acid test for democracy. If the majority of voters are hoodwinked this time, America’s democratic system will be a thing of the past. Evil people will be able to do whatever they like, knowing they can always buy their way to power.
June 24, 2011 5 Comments
Yes, I am thankful for small mercies. I am pleased that President Obama has finally decided to start bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. But I am still puzzled.
Why only 10,000 this year?
Why only 33,000 by the end of next year?
Why wait till 2014 to rescue the others?
What do the pundits mean when they talk about the troops coming home “as soon as possible”?
I should think it would be possible to bring those poor kids home in a few weeks. I’m sure the U.S. military has enough planes and ships and whatever else they need to do that. God knows they get enough of our tax money.
To paraphrase Paul Simon, there must be fifty ways to leave the wretched country. (Slip out the back, Jack. Hop on the bus, Gus.)
What possible goals can be achieved by leaving those kids to slog through the dust and blood for another year, another two years, another three years, or whatever?
In case you haven’t heard, Osama bin Laden is dead.
Does anyone believe Hamid Karzai is going to be more interested in nation building next year – or in 2014 – than he is this year? All the U.S. is doing is giving him more time to rake in more dough.
Look, there is no “nation” to build in Afghanistan.
There are scattered tribes bossed by ferocious warlords. All they do is fight. All they’ve ever done is fight. Why would they stop in 2014 if they won’t stop now?
And now that the president has announced that U.S. troops are leaving, the population will be even more inclined to side with the warlords. They’re not going to risk retribution when the Americans finally go home.
So you can say goodbye to any hope of winning their “hearts and minds.”
While we’re on the subject of troops, what’s keeping the 46,000 U.S. personnel in Iraq?
Why can’t they come home?
The U.S. has done all the nation building it can do over there (with highly questionable results).
It’s time to stop pouring American tax dollars into faraway conflicts and futile “nation building” abroad.
Charity begins at home.
June 23, 2011 2 Comments
I have to say this about conservatives: They put their support where their hearts are.
And they have a lot of money. Big Business, Big Oil, the Koch brothers and other crusading multimillionaires, all shower cash on politicians and media outlets that support their interests.
With liberals, it’s a different story.
I suppose no wealthy special interests stand to gain by supporting “progressives.” The people who benefit most from liberal policies tend to be poor and powerless.
Of course the common good benefits too. But nobody much gives a damn about that any more.
That’s why there’s so much right-wing propaganda in America. If you spout the conservative party line, you can count on financial support.
Fox News, for example, rakes in advertising dollars by the bushel.
No liberal media outlet comes close.
Certainly not Current TV.
You might not even have heard of Current TV, even though the cable channel can be seen in more than 75 million households worldwide (and it’s been getting a lot of publicity lately because of Keith Olbermann’s new show).
“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” (remember when it was on MSNBC?) made its debut last night (click here to watch the video). The show airs nightly at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time).
It should be worth watching.
I hope the show will be around for a long time. But I have to admit I have my fingers crossed.
Former vice president Al Gore and his partners have deep pockets. But they’re not in the same league as Rupert Murdoch and the other filthy rich (and I do mean filthy) moguls who fund the right-wing propaganda machine.
And you know the conservative piranha will be circling, savaging Olbermann and Current any way they can.
So let’s give the new show all the support we can. If enough of us tune in, perhaps the new Current all-news format will be a roaring success, and America will have a desperately needed antidote to the poisonous influence of Fox News.
June 21, 2011 2 Comments
I’ve been puzzled by the persistence with which the Obama Administration pursues war. I had thought of the president as an anti-war politician. After all, wasn’t he one of the few who opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq from the first? Wasn’t that one of the main reasons for his primary victory over Hillary Clinton? Wasn’t that a big plus in his presidential election campaign?
So what happened?
It’s as if the military-industrial complex has some hold over him; as if they are keeping a loved one hostage. But his wife and children are all present and accounted for.
And I don’t see anyone holding a gun to his head.
So why does the U.S. still have 46,000 troops in Iraq? Why are Americans still being killed and maimed in Afghanistan?
Why are drones raining death on civilians in Yemen and Pakistan?
What’s the story behind the Libya offensive?
Why is Guantanamo still open?
Some insight into the mystery was provided in a UK Guardian article on Friday (click here to read it).
Here’s an excerpt that I found especially interesting:
It is not democracy that keeps western nations at war, but armies and the interests now massed behind them. The greatest speech about modern defense was made in 1961 by the US president Eisenhower. He was no leftwinger, but a former general and conservative Republican. Looking back over his time in office, his farewell message to America was a simple warning against the “disastrous rise of misplaced power” of a military-industrial complex with “unwarranted influence on government.” A burgeoning defence establishment, backed by large corporate interests, would one day employ so many people as to corrupt the political system. (His original draft even referred to a “military-industrial-congressional complex.”) This lobby, said Eisenhower, could become so huge as to “endanger our liberties and democratic processes.”
I wonder what Eisenhower would make of today’s US, with a military grown from 3.5 million people to 5 million. The western nations face less of a threat to their integrity and security than ever in history, yet their defence industries cry for ever more money and ever more things to do. The cold war strategist, George Kennan, wrote prophetically: “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial complex would have to remain, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented.”
As long as “big defense” exists it will entice glory-hungry politicians to use it. It is a return to the hundred years war, when militaristic barons and knights had a stranglehold on the monarch, and no other purpose in life than to fight. To deliver victory they demanded ever more taxes for weapons, and when they had ever more weapons they promised ever grander victories. This is exactly how Britain’s defence ministry ran out of budgetary control under Labour.
Is it really glory they’re after? Or money?
I suspect it’s both. A lot of people make a lot of money from war. And they have a lot of political power. And patriotic grandstanding is a proven vote getter.
Whatever the reason(s), I find it discouraging that my vote has had so little effect on America’s foreign policy.
And there seems to be no alternative to Obama’s hawkish policies. The Republicans are even more wedded to the defense industry than the president. They have refused point blank to cut defense spending even when they concede desperate measures are necessary to curb the nation’s mounting debt spiral.
When a nation puts war above all else and sacrifices its people to do so, the consequences are inevitable. Perhaps the president, his allies and his opponents should revisit their history books for guidance.
Especially the chapters that deal with the decline and fall of empires.
June 19, 2011 4 Comments
I know, I know, Tiger has been a bad boy and he deserves to have a bum knee, and so on…
But I must admit I miss the guy.
The U.S. Open is just not the same without him. Golf is just not the same without him. TV is just not the same without him.
Yes, Rory McIlroy (above, right) gave a spectacular performance yesterday, and I hope he can keep it up. And, yes, Phil the Thrill’s round was worthy of Seve Ballesteros – or even Houdini.
But think how much more dramatic it would be if Tiger (above, left) were there in the weeds, lurking, ready to pounce on Sunday!
I mean no disrespect to Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Martin Kymer, and the rest of the pack. They’re all very talented. But there’s no Tiger in that bunch.
They just don’t have the magic.
So hurry and get well, Tiger.
We miss you.
June 17, 2011 3 Comments
I hope we haven’t heard the last of Congressman Anthony Weiner. The country needs him. It doesn’t deserve him, of course. The American public – goaded by the media and led by stampeding politicians – has turned out to be more prudish, more shallow, more uncharitable and more unChristian than I imagined possible. But if they get what they deserve, they will not be the only ones to reap the bitter harvest; the future is at stake for the rest of the civilized world, too.
I am going to have to hold my nose to vote for the Democrats next year. I know I must do what tiny bit I can to thwart the vicious agenda of oppressive corporate rule that Republicans would implement. But the Democrats have not just disappointed me, they have disillusioned me.
How sad it is to witness the president’s concessions to the worst in America, his prosecution of pointless wars, his willingness to put social and environmental programs on the bargaining table, his apparent acceptance of the blatant fallacy that cutting taxes for the rich will create jobs in this economy when it is so obvious that any jobs that do result would go abroad.
How sickening it is to observe the behavior of so many Democrats, who disloyally stood up and cheered Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu when he impertinently defied the president of America, who voted against single-payer health care, who joined the misguided Republicans in demanding deep budget cuts at the worst possible time for the economy.
And how disgusting it is to watch them all scurry for cover, sacrificing Anthony Weiner to save their own pitiful hides.
Ted Kennedy must be turning over in his grave.
I have come to the conclusion that I – and people like me – are unrepresented in Congress today (with such rare exceptions as Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders). We cannot afford to lose Congressman Weiner.
His Brooklyn constituents know how valuable he is. I am sure they would re-elect him in a heartbeat.
And I hope Weiner knows this, too.
I hope he runs again – if not as a Democrat then as an Independent.
If sleazeballs like Joe Lieberman can run successfully as an Independent after being rejected by the Democrats, I don’t see why Weiner can’t.
So, hold on to this thought, Congressman Weiner. It’s from an ancient Greek play, and it was a favorite of Canada’s late, great Tommy Douglas, who knew what it was like to fight and lose – and keep fighting:
I shall lay me down to bleed awhile then rise to fight again.
June 16, 2011 2 Comments
First of all, the CNN “debate” was not a debate. Oh sure, Ron Paul kept repeating his Libertarian set piece and there were shades of difference in the Republican party line spewing from the various mouths on stage. But what I saw was seven hand puppets conveying the message that Big Business wants America to hear.
There wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference among the opinions expressed.
You might be old enough to remember Lil Abner. In that comic strip, the baddy kept repeating that what was good for General Bullmoose was good for America. Al Capp adapted the expression from a statement made by Charles E. Wilson, the former head of General Motors, when it was America’s largest corporation. In 1952 Wilson told a Senate subcommittee, “What is good for the country is good for General Motors, and what’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”
I know, the debaters did not suggest that what was good for General Motors was good for America. Quite the contrary. They all insisted that President Obama was misguided to bail out the American auto industry and save a million or so jobs.
Yet that was what the would-be presidential candidates all promised to provide – jobs.
And they would do that by completely unleashing corporations and financiers. No more taxes. No more regulations. No more consumer protections. No more trade unions. No more “red tape” designed to shield the public from the ravages of scam artists or the environment from the depredation of greedy despoilers.
And they (with Ron Paul dissenting) would continue to spend billions on endless wars and redundant military bases around the world.
To pay for all this “good stuff,” they would unravel the social safety net, “privatizing” Social Security and Medicare, abandoning the destitute, and cancelling such “frills” as providing school lunches for poor children and protecting them from abuse.
Obviously, that’s a prescription written by the global corporations that fund the Republican Party. It’s the kind of thing you would expect from the infamous Koch brothers.
But it played to the Tea Party, too.
I am at a loss to explain why Tea Party activists, most of whom appear to be run-of-the-mill Americans with Walmart budgets and polyester taste, would so fiercely align themselves with the interests of global corporations.
Everyone must know by now that these policies would only make matters worse in America. Corporate moguls invest globally, not locally. Any jobs that might be created would go abroad where wages are lower.
Perhaps the populist support they receive has something to do with the devil’s bargain the Republicans have struck with the Religious Right. One of the debaters even pledged to jail any doctor who performs an abortion if he becomes president.
The tragedy of the “debate” was not its cynical disregard for logic, compassion or just plain decency but its smarmy veneer of “civilized” discussion. Even seasoned observers seem to have been sucked in. Matt Latimer of the Daily Beast conceded that:
For the first time this year I looked at the candidates on stage and thought that they actually were not that bad. Each looked like people who could plausibly stand next to President Obama on the national stage (well, except for Ron Paul.) I don’t know what happened.
Latimer was deputy director of speech writing for George W. Bush and chief speech writer for Donald Rumsfeld. So, I can understand why he was favorably impressed. But still, you would think he would recognize a carefully crafted stage play when he saw it. And he was not alone. Several other reviewers took the “debate” seriously, grading the participants and picking the winners (Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann seem to be the unanimous top picks).
I can only hope and pray that American voters are not so easily deceived.
June 14, 2011 1 Comment