The Watering Hole; Friday March 27 2015; The Great American Con Game

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus recently released their proposed “People’s Budget” for official consideration. It’s a Federal budget proposal designed to serve “. . . the values, needs, and hopes of all our people, not just the powerful and the privileged.” In brief synopsis, the People’s Budget enables investment in:

  • Infrastructure and Transportation:  …
  • Education:
  • Social Security:
  • Hunger:
  • Environment:

The investments will be paid for by raising revenues in several areas, including:

  • Taxing the Wealthy Fairly
  • Stopping Subsidies for CEOs
  • Keeping Jobs and Corporate Profits at Home
  • Taxing Wall Street
  • Rationalizing Defense Spending
[…]

In re the Taxing the Wealthy Fairly proviso, the tax rates would be adjusted according to income, as follows:

$1-10 million: 45 percent
$10-20 million: 46 percent
$20-100 million: 47 percent
$100 million-1 billion: 48 percent
$1 billion and over: 49 percent

It should be noted that the highest of the new tax rates is still lower than the top bracket in place during most of the Reagan administration.

The (limited overview) bottom line is that if said budget is approved and carried out, it

Creates more than 8 million good jobs by 2018.
Increases functionality of Worker Protection Agencies.
Includes a four percent raise for federal workers.
Provides Paid Leave Initiative and Child Care.
Supports a minimum wage increase and Collective Bargaining.
Repeals sequester and all Budget Control Act spending caps.
Increases discretionary funding to invest in working families.
Reverses harmful cuts and enhances social safety net.
Invests in veterans, women, communities of color and their families.
Allows states to transition to single-payer health care systems.
Invests in clean and renewable energy and green manufacturing.
Implements comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship.

And last but by no means least, it also mandates that public financing of campaigns to curb special interest influence in politics becomes a replacement of the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court travesty.

How in the world could anyone, Republican and Democrat alike, not be in favor of such an egalitarian budget, itself a clear and obvious effort to broadly support the well-being of common folk — PAID FOR simply by raising the wealthy/corporate tax rate stream to a level not as high as was in effect during most of St. Reagan’s presidency?

I decided to find out. Earlier this week, I signed a petition of support for the People’s Budget, a petition that was forwarded to Cory Gardner, my new Tea Party Senator (that’s the “Elections Have Consequences” Cory Gardner). Gardner’s boilerplate response proved to be quite revealing in that it essentially spelled out the reasons the country continues to suffer its economic malaise. Gardner says:

Our nation’s debt stands at a staggering $18 trillion and continues to grow with Washington’s out-of-control deficit spending. Without changes in our budget, the Congressional Budget Office projects that amount could rise to $27 trillion in ten years.

The President’s budget is a disappointment, full of new spending and fewer opportunities to come to the table with the new Congress and work towards a responsible budget for our nation. It tries to justify its massive spending increases with more taxes, fees, and budgetary tricks. We need real spending cuts that will slow and reverse the growth of our national debt and reforms that aim to eliminate waste and abuse at all levels of the federal government.

During my time in Congress, I have continued to vote for spending cuts, deficit reduction, and greater fiscal responsibility. We need a responsible plan that leads to a balanced budget while keeping our nation’s promises which is why I have remained committed to passage of a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. Achieving a balanced budget and restoring economic stability continue to be my priorities moving forward. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address our nation’s spending problems and find responsible solutions that reduce our nation’s debt. As legislation concerning the federal budget comes to the Senate floor for a vote, please rest assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind.

The red and underlined highlights are my own, of course, added to help summarize The Great American Con Game which, according to Gardner, demands responsible solutions, a balanced budget, economic stability, and keeping our nation’s promises — all without more taxes, fees, and budgetary tricks. I can’t help but note that the People’s Budget takes care of all of his legitimate concerns (and many more) with the exception of the ones that are greed-based, the ones best solved by Taxing the Wealthy Fairly and via those budgetary tricks such as Stopping Subsidies for CEOs, and Keeping Jobs and Corporate Profits at Home, and Taxing Wall Street. Unfortunately for the common man, each and all of those revenue-raising propositions are,  to Teabaggers, as evil and irrational as is — heaven forbid! — Rationalizing Defense Spending.

In the final analysis, Gardner is simply parroting the central points of what can reasonably be called The Great American Con(servative) Game and in the process is conclusively demonstrating to the world that he’s no more committed to finding responsible solutions concerning the federal budget or to restoring economic stability and keeping our nation’s promises than are any other of his fascist Teabagger compatriots. Their sole interest has nothing to do with honorable governance, with defending and supporting the Constitution. Their goal is to gratuitously arrange the transfer of ALL wealth and power to the banking and corporate elites, to the 1%, by any means possible — even as they completely disregard the long term damage their greed-based policies have already inflicted and will continue to inflict on “We the people” and on the nation itself. The defining words of such policies and attitudes are as simple as they are familiar: Fascism; Oligarchy. Not exactly Constitutionally-based descriptors of what the country is on the verge of becoming, and most certainly WILL become if and when an unchallengeable Tea Party majority should ever assume full control of the government.

All that having been said, I’ve decided to assign my ‘attitude summation’ concerning today’s Great American Con Game, aka the Republican Party, to Albert Einstein who once pointed out that

“This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once.

To which I can only add Amen, Amen.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 26 2015; Ted et al., et Al

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“Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
~Albert Einstein

Last Monday (March 23 2015) Ted Cruz (R-Tx) became the first announced candidate for 2016’s presidential election. He won’t be the last, of course, as the potential field is extremely broad and contains familiar names such as Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and  who knows, maybe even Paul Ryan, maybe even Mitt Romney. I’m not sure it makes any difference who prevails, however, given that their collective ideology contains at the very least a list of those 14 familiar right wing enthusiasms, including a strong sense of nationalism, a standard enemies list, an all-powerful military, national security fervor, religious fervor, little or no concern for human rights, sexism, a controlled mass media, corporate protection, labor suppression, cronyism, phooey on arts and intellectualism, obsession with crime and punishment, and of course the control of electoral outcome by any means available. Their disdain of practicality is, of course, uniform and embraces virtually everything that might help lower and middle class individuals, including a viable living wage, universal health care, education, immigration reform, racial and ethnic justice, etc. In short, anything considered liberal or progressive that might benefit all the people is, to Republicans and in a word, verboten.

Stated another way, the Republican Party’s sole “solution” to any sort of progressive-liberal populist thought or program that favors the well being of we the people over the upward assignation of money, wealth, and power is to elect any one of their above-mentioned potential candidates — one of those “Demagogues and Stooges” of the day — one of many ubiquitous ‘mediocre minds’ that are perfectly willing to offer whichever level of ‘violent opposition’ it will take to rid America once and for all of her “Great ideas.”

I do admit that over the years I have remained fascinated by the vast intellectual gulf that separates thinkers from Republicans, the same gulf that separates rational discussion  from the robotic recitations of Republicans everywhere. Here are some tidbits that celebrate those differences — a handful of quotes I’ve collected over the years, words by one of the foremost thinkers emergent within the entire span of human existence: Albert Einstein.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

“Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.”

“Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind.”

“The pioneers of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service.”

“War seems to me to be a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press.”

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe'; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

“The flag is proof that man is still a herd animal.”

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the true source of all art and science.”

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

“This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism on command, senseless violence and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism.”

Einstein on Religion

“If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings. April 24, 1921

“My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.” (in a letter to M. Berkowitz, October 25, 1950)

“It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems.” (1947)

“The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naïve.” (in a letter to Beatrice Frohlich, December 17, 1952)

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own ― a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.” (Albert Einstein, quoted in The New York Times obituary, April 19, 1955)

“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

“Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion of the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogma and theology; it covers both the natural and spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”

From those words, one conclusion is clear, concise, and obvious: Albert Einstein was NOT, in his day, a fascist, and were he alive today he would NOT be (assuming there’s a difference) a Republican.

Q.E.D.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

OPEN THREAD

Wednesday, March 25, 2015: And they’re off and running….

Ted Cruz, the Cuban-Canadian socialist-Marxist libertarian from Texas has thrown his hat into the presidential race. With his hair, he should put it back on. Same goes for Trump.

But in bigger news, Hobby Lobby, the for-profit conservative Christian corporation, will be announcing its bid on Palm Sunday. “Like the Savior, riding in on a donkey, Hobby Lobby will lead the way to peace, salvation and craft goods from China” reads one draft of their impending announcement. Hobby Lobby won the corporate right to discriminate based on religion, and intends to expand that right to all government services.

Exxon-Mobile is said to be mulling over the idea of running, as is Monsanto, who, for the last decade has been secretly trying to clone Ronald Reagan.

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The Watering Hole, Monday, March 23, 2015: It’s Clearly Not A Budget

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It’s supposed to be a budget, but clearly it’s not. Sure, it’s got some numbers in it, but it also has places where there are no numbers, just huge assumptions about money that even a high school student would find obviously wrong. For example, they want to repeal Obamacare (because, what, 57th time’s a charm?) but they make no provision for where the tax revenue the ACA generated will be raised. The other major problem with that thing with numbers is that it calls for cutting a trillion dollars in spending without specifying the programs being cut. The likely candidates are “food stamps, disability payments for veterans, the earned income tax credit, and Pell grants for college students,” but even cuts there won’t make up for the money Republicans claim they won’t be spending. In short, there is no way this Republican budget can have any connection to Reality.

That’s putting it more kindly than Paul Krugman. He called Republicans the “Trillion Dollar Fraudsters.”

One answer you sometimes hear is that what Republicans really believe is that tax cuts for the rich would generate a huge boom and a surge in revenue, but they’re afraid that the public won’t find such claims credible. So magic asterisks are really stand-ins for their belief in the magic of supply-side economics, a belief that remains intact even though proponents in that doctrine have been wrong about everything for decades.

And therein lies the problem: Republicans are governing this country based on a philosophy that has historically been proven wrong. Tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs. Consumer demand creates jobs, and so do public works programs. If you give more money to the super wealthy by cutting their taxes, they are not going to spend all that money, which is what is needed for the economy to function. The economy only works when money moves around. You buy something from your local merchant. He takes your money, and money from other customers, and he replenishes his stock of the things you all bought. He does this by going to his vendors and buying those products you bought from them. Those vendors, in turn, do the same thing and replenish their own inventory of goods. If a business owner is buying a service from another company, she gives that company her money for their services, and they use it to pay their employees, who go out to their local stores and buy the things they need. If everything is working the way it’s supposed to, the consumers have the money to buy the things they need, the vendors sell enough goods and services to pay their employees and vendors, the businesses involved make a little profit, and the shareholders of those companies get a little more money for themselves. The poor and many of the middle class often live paycheck to paycheck. They spend most, if not all, of what they bring in. Rich people don’t do that. If you give a worker an extra fifty dollars in his paycheck, there’s a good chance he’s going to spend most of that $50, thus stimulating the economy as described. You give that super rich person an extra $50 and he’s not even going to notice it (so he won’t notice when it’s not there), because it’s probably going to end up in some offshore bank account, free of taxation. Public works programs also stimulate the economy because in addition to providing jobs (so people have money to spend), they reduce traffic delays which result in lost productivity. The beneficial ripple effects of an infrastructure spending program are too numerous to detail, but they are one of the best ways to stimulate the economy, along with continuing to pay out unemployment insurance benefits. You can bet that money isn’t going out to offshore bank accounts.

But it starts with someone spending the money in the first place, otherwise there’s nothing to “prime the pump.” If people don’t have money to spend, or have billions of dollars but are not spending it, the economy doesn’t work. Goods and services aren’t sold and businesses are forced to layoff workers. (If they’re not bringing in money, they have no money to pay employees.) Unemployment rises, and so does government spending on benefits (which were earned, by the way, not just handed out to anyone who asks.) Assuming there’s money in the government budget to pay unemployment insurance benefits. Republicans love to cut UI benefits because their rich overlords equate social worth with financial worth. They believe that if you’re poor, it’s because you made bad choices in life, such as not being born into a wealthy family. They believe (with all their cold, black hearts) that because they’re rich and you’re not, that they are better than you. They falsely believe that they made it on their own (including the ones who inherited wealth), and that they never needed any help from the government. How wrong they were. Setting aside their own education (since the super wealthy often have private tutors and attend private schools where they make their private connections in life), there are many ways the super wealthy depend on government. For example, they require roads to earn their wealth. Even if they fly themselves to work in their own helicopters, the people who work for them, the people who deliver the supplies their businesses need, all depend on roads paid for by the public. Their places of work (and homes) are protected by police officers paid for by the public. They use water and electricity often supplied by a delivery system paid for by the public. And this doesn’t even go into the all the ways the government helps the people who help the super wealthy make more money. And if it’s paid for by the public, it’s done through the government. (Because We the People are the Government.) So it is simply not true that any super rich person made it “all on his own.” Their wealth was made possible by the liberal framework around which our society is built. You can’t have a nation of people who look out only for themselves. It just can’t work. Where’s the sense of Community if nobody helps each other out? That’s what our government is – people helping each other out, even if the people being helped out don’t understand that. Actor Craig T. Nelson once said to Fox News Channel (where ignorant, frightened people turn to find out what to fear), “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No.” Actually, Craig, Yes, somebody did help you out. Your fellow citizens. By having your government give you food stamps and welfare. You’re welcome.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Republican inhumanity, or anything else that interests you.

Sunday Roast: Did I say that out loud?

via Raw Story

The current Bob Jones, who, unfortunately for the rest of us, seem to run in perpetuity, has regrets.  He now allows that gay people should not be stoned, although they are still sinners.

“I take personal ownership of this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago,” Jones said in a statement. “Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger—were my name not attached.”

“I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners,” he added.

In other words, “I can’t believe I said that out loud.”

But, looking on the bright side, since it seems that we’re ALL sinners in the eyes of the mythical sky fairy, then that puts homosekshuls on equal footing with the rest of us — hence equal rights for everyone!!  Yay, Bob Jones III!

I’m sure he’s right onboard with the idea…right?

This is our daily open thread — Sorry so late!!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 21st, 2015: More of Teh Stupid

You may want to have a barf bag ready, or an alcoholic beverage, or a Xanax, or your favorite recreational drug. You’ll need to prepare yourself for the putrid pile of prevarications puked up by Son of Satan Saint Ronald of Amurka, Michael Reagan. Although I’m providing the link to his opinion piece, titled “The GOP’s Stupid Letter”, published in the Farmington, CT, Daily-Times, I’m putting the entire mess up here so that you can more readily count how many things are wrong with it. Michael obligingly makes that easier by ‘formatting’ his piece in ‘single-sentence-double-space mode:

There we go again, Republicans.

We keep shooting ourselves in the feet — and at the worst possible times.

Things were going pretty well for the GOP. 

President Obama was getting major grief from Republicans (and even some Democrats) for preparing to sign America on to a horrible nuclear arms deal with the Iranians. 

Hillary Clinton was ensnared in an email-deleting scandal of her own making that was so obviously unlawful and politically devious that even the liberal media were attacking her. 

So what did 47 Republican senators do? 

They attracted the full attention of the mainstream media by sending a letter to the Iranian ayatollahs reminding them that any agreement the president signs without approval of the Senate can be undone by the next president faster than you can spell Bibi Netanyahu. 

Nice job, Republicans. 

Yes, what you told the Iranians in the letter was right. Any B-plus middle-school civics student knows that the Senate gets to ratify or reject treaties made by the president.

But sending an open letter to Iran was dead wrong — and politically stupid.

It merely gave Democrats — and their media buddies — a chance to change the subject and accuse Republicans of irresponsibly trying to sabotage the president’s foreign policy.

What rookie Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and his co-signers did with their letter was nothing new.

Ted Kennedy did it in the late 1970s when he tried to get the Soviets to do something to embarrass Jimmy Carter so he could take the nomination from Carter in 1980.

In 1987 Democrat House Speaker Jim Wright stuck his congressional nose into the negotiations between the Reagan administration and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

More recently, who can forget Nancy Pelosi’s jaunt to Syria in 2007, when she and a gang of House Democrats made nice with Bashar al-Assad at the same time the Bush administration was trying to put pressure on Syria to work with it on Mideast peace talks?

Those 47 Republican senators didn’t need to send a public letter to Teheran to remind the Iranians how America’s separation of powers works.

What was wrong with Sen. Cotton and a few others writing an op-ed piece about the Senate’s treaty-ratifying powers for the Wall Street Journal?

I bet the Iranians would have gotten the message just as well.

Instead Republicans only brought attention — bad attention — on themselves for doing exactly what many of them had rightly criticized Pelosi for doing.

Republicans in the Senate should have shut up and let Obama negotiate and sign the treaty with Iran, bad as it is bound to be.

Then they could have pointed out to the Iranians and everyone else that the deal needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate — and that 47 Republicans were strongly against it.

The letter was a blunder. Until the senators sent it, Iran was exclusively Obama’s problem.

All the media attention was on the president’s defense of his treaty and Netanyahu’s concerns about how dangerous and naive it was.

But now the Iran nuke deal is not just Obama’s issue. It’s the Republicans’ too.

And if anything goes wrong, which it probably will, you can bet that Republicans will — as usual — get most of the blame.”

After the column it says “Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant”, in case readers didn’t recognize the author.

I’ll just sit back and let you all rip this into teeny-tiny little shreds.

Next:

Just as delusional, but in a totally different vein: I ran across this piece authored by Bethany Blankley, a former aide to Senator Susan Collins, and currently “…a conservative political analyst and columnist who regularly appears on Fox News Radio.” Ms. Blankley contends that the majority of Congress (both houses) and President Obama are guilty of treason. She asserts that an omnibus bill passed in December and signed by the President “authorized the State Department to transfer $11.9 billion in cash payments to Iran by June 2015.” Ms. Blankley goes on to say that “[t]ransferring any form of aid/comfort to Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, is a treasonous act.”

The first link within the article led me to this January article by Adam Kredo at The Washington Free Beacon. While still written with a right-wing slant, i.e., the title being “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion”, this piece finally provided the kernel of truth: these “cash payments” are actually releases, at intervals, of Iranian assets that were previously frozen as part of the sanctions against Iran. The State Department isn’t sending $11.9 billion in U.S.-taxpayers’ money to Iran, it’s letting Iran access some of its own money:

“When final negotiations between the United States and Iran failed in November, negotiators decided once more to extend the talks through June of this year. The terms of that extension granted Iran the 10 payments of $490 million, a State Department official said.

“With respect to sanctions relief, the United States will enable the repatriation of $4.9 billion of Iranian revenue held abroad during the extension,” the official said.

The first two payments were made in December, followed by Wednesday’s payment. The next release is scheduled for Feb. 11, with two more scheduled for March. The rest of the frozen cash assets will be given back to Iran on April 15, May 6, May 27, and June 22, respectively.”

The same author, Adam Kredo, also penned this March 20th article of interest, which says in part:

“Congressional leaders have begun pressuring their colleagues to cut off all U.S. funding for the ongoing talks with Iran over its contested nuclear program as the Obama administration rushes to hash out the details of a deal in the coming months, according to multiple sources and a letter that will be sent next week to appropriators in the House of Representatives.

With the deadline approaching, congressional Republicans have been exasperated by the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent them from having any oversight over the deal.

Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) are now petitioning their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to prohibit all taxpayer funding for the talks, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

This would purge all U.S. funds available to Obama administration officials for travel abroad, hotel stays, and any other activities related to the P5+1 talks with Iran.”

So, I guess that Republicans feel that, if they couldn’t derail the Iranian nuclear negotiations by inviting Iran’s worst enemy to speak before a joint session of Congress, and if they couldn’t derail the talks by pulling an end-around on the President and the P5 + 1 negotiators, well, they can just defund the logistical side of the talks. Jeez, there is simply no end to their despicable efforts to thwart anything and everything that President Obama is trying to do.

Interesting note: on the first site that carried the Blankley article, there were no links within it at all. So I tried a search for information on this alleged $11.9 billion in “cash payments”, but the only links I found were mostly obscure right-wing websites, which just repeated the same article. I say “mostly obscure” because I found that “The Unofficial Megyn Kelly” website also featured the article. Take a look – warning, it may temporarily blind you – at this Newsmax-like mess of a website. Who on earth designed this tasteless crap? But also take a look at the mash-up of what I would consider to be real RWNJ story links, including – in the “You might also enjoy” section, one titled “What a Bargain! Only $80,000 for Mooch’s Rental Cars in Japan” Disgustingly, “Mooch” refers to First Lady Michelle Obama. After recent death threats to our Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, does it not occur to these “people” that a special armored vehicle to protect the First Lady and the Ambassador is obviously necessary and actually costs money? On the sidebar, another link to this story is titled “NO JOKE: Michelle O’s Rental Car Fleet For Her Jaunt To Shrine Of Rice God Is Costing…WHAT?” Un-fucking-believable.

Going back to the $11.9 Billion story, I noticed something odd: none of the more popular right-wing websites, i.e., Breitbart or Redstate, came up when I googled the story. Not Fox News, either. I’m guessing that none of them want to broadcast the idea that their darling Republicans who ‘voted for’ the releasing of Iranian assets – oh, sorry, the ‘authorization for the State Department to transfer money to Iran’ – were committing what they call “treason” right along with President Obama. No, they’re not gonna touch THAT one.

Finally, I just HAVE to post this one last excerpt from Bethany Blankley’s ‘opinion’ piece, simply because it’s so jaw-droppingly insane:

“Under President Barack Hussein Obama, many believe the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House, multiple layers of government, and is largely directing American domestic and foreign policy. (A powerful and growing Islamic influence also extends throughout the Republican Party.)”

This is our Daily Open Thread – go on, have at it!

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 19 2015; “The Most Dangerous Woman in America”

Earlier this week a link to “The Most Dangerous Woman in America” popped up in my email inbox. I immediately assumed ‘she’ had to be either Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, and was surprised to see, when I got to the link, that she was instead a woman I’d never before heard of, a woman by the name of Kshama Sawant, a Socialist who first sat on the Seattle Washington city council in January 2014 and is up for reelection this year. The article describes her as one who has, during her just over one year on the council,

“. . . helped push through a gradual raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle. She has expanded funding for social services and blocked, along with housing advocates, an attempt by the Seattle Housing Authority to allow a rent increase of up to 400 percent. She has successfully lobbied for city money to support tent encampments and is fighting for an excise tax on millionaires. And for this she has become the bête noire of the Establishment, especially the Democratic Party.

With a resumé filled with such populist accomplishments, she’s “become the bête noire of the . . . the Democratic Party”??? WTF?? The article continues:

The corporate powers, from Seattle’s mayor to the Chamber of Commerce and the area’s Democratic Party, are determined she be defeated, and these local corporate elites have the national elites behind them. This will be one of the most important elections in the country this year. It will pit a socialist, who refuses all corporate donations—not that she would get many—and who has fearlessly championed the rights of workingmen and workingwomen, rights that are being eviscerated by the corporate machine. The elites cannot let the Sawants of the world proliferate. Corporate power is throwing everything at its disposal—including sponsorship of a rival woman candidate of color—into this election in the city’s 3rd District.

So apparently it’s not only Republicans that are underneath the corporate thumb, but Democrats as well? How disgusting is THAT??

I followed the link to her website and found this, her own synopsis of her accomplishments:

Dear friends and neighbors,

We have officially completed a year in office and what a year it’s been!

• Thanks to our hard-fought 15 Now campaign, we passed the historic $15 minimum wage in Seattle.

• To crack down on rampant wage theft in our city, we won additional funding for the new Office of Labor Standards.

• Together with indigenous activists, we established Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

These and many other victories have shown what is possible when we build movements—we can overcome resistance from the political establishment and its corporate backers to improve ordinary people’s lives. We should celebrate our successes, and then build on them to win even bigger victories.

I hope you will join with me. Let’s take our city forward and make Seattle affordable—for all.

Solidarity!

Kshama Sawant

OK, NOW I get it! NOW I understand why even the Democrats want her out of there. It’s because her accomplishments and agenda are UN-AMERICAN (!) because they favor the worthless bums in the lower and middle classes and NOT the filthy rich of the upper crust! Wow, suddenly it all makes perfect sense. IT’S THE MONEY! :shock:

Back to the original article; its author (Chris Hedges) describes Sawant as one who “is as intense as she is articulate.” He continues,

Sawant, born in India, is a leader of the Socialist Alternative Party. She holds a doctorate in economics from North Carolina State University and before her election to the City Council was a professor at a community college. She knows that there will be no genuine reforms, let alone systemic change, without the building of radical mass movements and a viable third party.

“A viable third party” is undoubtedly Hedges’ key phrase. But is it possible? Speaking for myself, I had huge hopes that when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 together with a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, the chances were very good that we as a nation could finally overcome the middle class disaster wrought by decade after decade of “elite” control. I was wrong. There are far too many “elite” buggers on both sides of the aisle, and too, with a Supreme Court already over-packed with justices owned by those same “elites,” the consequences were predictable. The once loud and proud voice of ‘We the people’ is now under the firm control of the monied “elites,” and there it shall remain until the bums are tossed. It’s also clear that the only way we’ll ever accomplish same is through a mass movement that makes no claim to either the Republican or Democratic Party philosophy of money-based power. A third party? Maybe, but not really necessary. The real task is to elect people like Sawant to public office at all levels, including Congressional and Executive. In Sawant’s words,

“The idea that things have to get a lot worse to have some sort of awakening and bring about an alternative to this corrupt and defunct corporate political system is inaccurate. What we need is a big surge for an independent working-class political alternative while people are experiencing a sense of confidence, after decades of bitter defeat. . . .

“We have to provide a place for people looking for something different, especially the younger generation. Any presidential campaign cannot be run as an end in itself. That will dishearten people. People know what is going to happen in 2016. It is going to be Hillary Clinton or some Republican. Our campaign needs to be a launching pad for something bigger. It needs to be about building a mass movement, a viable radical alternative. This is what is happening in Greece and Spain.”

The concept of returning this nation’s government to “We the people” — to retrieve it from the oligarchic and fascist entities which have worked diligently since Roosevelt’s death in 1945 to further enrich and empower themselves at the nation’s expense — is a most intriguing concept. The possibility that a vibrant surge of the working class embedded in a Socialist movement could actually serve to revitalize the Constitution and a functional Democracy beggars the imagination.

Count me in. Anyone else?

OPEN THREAD