The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 31: Speaker of the Tea House

If anything unfortunate (as in “fatal”) were to happen to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the man who would become the 45th President of the United States is a man beholden to some of the most extreme conservative radicals in recent American history. This past Thursday, Republicans in the United States House of Representatives chose as its 54th Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 2012 elections. The American people rejected both him and his running mate, Willard “The Mitt” Romney, a venture capitalist who made millions by buying corporations, restructuring or selling off their parts, then extorting the banks who lent them money into refinancing their debts under threat of taking all the company’s cash and paying it out as bonuses to his investment partners. You know, the rags-to-riches American dream. (Actually, his father was already a millionaire, and Romney never wanted for anything growing up.) Speaker Ryan should best be remembered (if he’s to be remembered at all) as a hard-line devotee of Ayn Rand, a hypocritical selfish woman who championed an unworkable philosophy of “Objectivism” which wrongly divided the world into “takers and makers” and which proposed the incredibly simplistic and fantastical idea that all government programs are evil, that altruism was a terrible concept, and that rich people should be left alone by the government because they are the true job creators without whom civilization would perish. Thanks to our altruism, she was able to collect Social Security from an evil government, apparently because, like Paul Ryan, his mother, and millions of other Americans, she didn’t make enough money to not need it to survive. But I digress.

Paul Ryan is provably a humongous hypocrite. He rails against “big government” (a phrase that only has meaning to people who can’t explain what it really means), yet his family has been dependent on government for his entire life. Their construction business has relied on government contracts. He has spent his entire career as a government employee of one kind or another. He favors cutting or eliminating programs that help the poor, but he married a woman who inherited millions. He thinks his mother was solely responsible for her own success after his father died (Paul was able to go to college only because of the Social Security benefits his family received upon his death), yet she had to take a government-run bus, driving on government-built roads, to attend a government-run institution of higher learning. This is the aspect of our partly-Socialist society that Conservative Libertarians (such as Ryan and Senator Rand Paul) refuse to see when they talk about getting government out of our lives. People who talk about our government not following the Constitution should remember that it specifically tasks Congress with maintaining postal roads (which are just about all of them), so they should be 100% behind spending on infrastructure. But they aren’t.

Remember how we all thought Ryan was too conservative to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency? What makes Ryan a dangerous choice to be Speaker is that despite his extreme conservatism, the people responsible for his being Speaker think he’s too liberal. The House Freedom Caucus (as they call themselves) believe that this country can only be saved from the horrible rightward direction it has been turning by becoming even more conservative. That’s right. They actually think the United States is not conservative enough. And who are these people in the House Freedom Caucus? There’s about 40 of them, but no one is absolutely sure because some Members of Congress refuse to admit their own membership in the caucus. They’re dangerous because they aren’t just the type who say if they can’t get their way, they’ll take their ball and go home. They’re the type who say if they don’t get their own way, they’ll buy the stadium, bulldoze it to the ground, and replace it with a nuclear waste dump site. And they want Speaker Ryan to stake out a conservative position on every issue and then unflinchingly stick to it. But they won’t compromise.

And that is why they are such a danger to the American People. They refuse to compromise, and governing is all about compromise. Neither ideological side is going to get everything they want, but these people refuse to accept that fact. Personally, I feel the worst thing a country could do to its citizens would be to govern from a Conservative perspective, and I know that’s not just me and the vast majority of people reading these words. They seem to think that Conservatism is all about “freedom”. It’s nothing of the sort. Conservatism, at its root, is about Selfishness. If Conservatism were truly about freedom, then why aren’t Conservatives in the vanguard fighting for the right of women to make their own reproductive choices? Why aren’t Conservatives standing up for black citizens who routinely get harassed and sometimes killed by the police for no other reason than the color of their skin? Why aren’t conservatives fighting to expand government assistance programs that help people enjoy more of what this great country has to offer? Because they don’t believe in “freedom” for everyone at all. They only believe in freedom for people who think like they do. But I state the obvious.

Finally, on an unrelated topic, watch the student in the red and yellow hat visible just over Bernie Sanders’ left shoulder. He seems totally disinterested in what Bernie is saying right up until he hears Bernie mention ending the federal ban on weed.

“Oh, shit” indeed. I had the same reaction when I heard we now have Speaker Paul Ryan. 🙂

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Speaker Ryan’s future disastrous turn as Speaker, Bernie’s great plan to end the federal ban on weed (or his not-so-great idea that the states should decide the issue), funny hats or anything else you wish to discuss. I won’t bother you. And Happy Halloween.

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The Watering Hole, May 4th, 2015: How The Right is Getting Baltimore Wrong

I don’t expect American Conservatives to have any empathy toward the people of Baltimore who have been victims of a system hell-bent and determined to keep them oppressed. That would require the ability to put themselves in the place of the people of Baltimore and imagine what it would be like to experience the things they experience all the time. And they are simply incapable of doing that. But that hasn’t stopped them from offering their own views on why things are the way they are in Baltimore. And to further distract you from the underlying causes of the civil unrest (the police killing unarmed black people), they want to talk about how attractive the Baltimore State Attorney is.

Conservatives seem to have no problem being openly sexist. Recall Rich Lowry’s sexual fantasies about Sarah Palin and her winking. And now Tucker Carlson’s virtual toilet paper, The Daily Caller, has continued the tradition of conservative sexism with a post praising State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s physique calling her, among other things, a “smokeshow.” (They have a link to the original. I’d rather not give him a click from here.) Really, Tucker? This is your idea of serious journalism? Given your publicly known policy about news stories which contradict Fox News Channel, can we presume that this is how they feel about Mrs. Mosby? After all, we know you won’t let the story run if it contradicts your real employer. So if they don’t also think she’s a “smokeshow,” you wouldn’t be running a “story” saying she is.

Once you blow through that smokescreen (I see what I did there), there’s the Republicans to tell you why the people of Baltimore are rioting. Suffice to say it has nothing to do with why the people of Baltimore are rioting. First there was Speaker John Boehner telling NBC’s Chuck Todd that Liberal policies were to blame, and Chuck Todd accepting it as fact. Boehner then went on to tell Chuckles that Obamacare was really, really bad, and he proved it by telling some lies, which Chucky swallowed faster than a Wisconsin Republican on Koch. When NBC is ready to repeat its excellence in true political journalism, Chuck Todd will be starting a new job at Fox News Channel.

Speaking of Wisconsin Republicans who “fill up” on Koch, Rep Paul Ryan was on Face The CBS-Viewing Nation to put forth the ridiculous idea that the problems in Baltimore are because money hasn’t been spent wisely, so it should be cut even more. Ryan can’t seem to understand that Ayn Rand was, to put it kindly, a very disturbed woman. Her theories on Objectivism were only suitable for academic thought experiment, not for application on a national scale. It’s already failing in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker is watching his presidential aspirations go down Grover Norquist’s bathtub drain. Libertarianism does not work for governing a nation of more than one person. There is no benefit to society for cutting the taxes on rich people, no matter how many times 1980 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee David Koch tells his Republican stooges to say it. It’s very simple to understand. The economy only works when money flows through it. The dollar you give your deli owner for your coffee goes to paying his vendors for the deli supplies he needs to operate. Those people use that money, in part, to pay their employees who spend that money at other businesses, and so on and so on. The money works best when it is moving, not standing still (or doing little moving) in some rich person’s bank account or trust fund for their grandchildren. When you reduce a middle class person’s taxes a little bit, they’ll spend that extra twenty bucks a week. When you cut a rich person’s taxes twenty thousand dollars per week, they’re not going to spend it all over the place at his local businesses. That money is not going to circulate nearly as much, so it is not going to help the economy as much as it would if the tax cut was for the middle class person. But you also need for the government to have money, especially during a recession. The government-spent money is injected into a local economy and boosts it, just as your deli owner got when you bought your coffee. Only now there are a bunch of construction workers stopping in for their sandwiches and coffees, and now the deli owner has to hire someone to keep up with the extra business. But that doesn’t happen on a Conservative Libertarian budget.

Republican Conservatives do not want to face the fact that cops in Baltimore are abusing their authority and unjustifiably killing people, and so they’ll do anything they can to stop you from making them see it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 18th, 2013: Ezra, Budgets, and Photographic Wonders

I’m hoping to hear that Ezra Klein will be taking over the “UP with Chris Hayes” weekend show. Ezra has his own wonky way of explaining things so that a topic which would normally make one glaze over becomes understandable and interesting. His ‘I can explain blank in 20 seconds or less (sic)’ bit is something that I now look forward to when he subs for one of the other MSNBC regulars. Ezra’s writing is just as eloquent as his speaking: here’s an excerpt from one of his recent WP posts regarding the Paul Ryan budget proposal (once again called “The Path to Prosperity”):

“Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That, and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s real point throughout his career”.

Speaking of budgets, both Bill Maher and Chris Hayes recently brought up the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Budget Proposal, which previously hadn’t had much mention anywhere. That fact is surprising to me, as the CPC’s budget is one that every liberal would support. Matthew Yglesias has a good article about it in Slate; here’s the pdf of what the CPC calls the “Back to Work Budget.” For the rest of the budget options: you can check out the official White House budget page here; the Senate Democrats’ budget, prepared by Patty Murray, can be reviewed here.

In the meantime, on a local level, the Brewster School District (which all of Wayne’s family attended), despite a budget increase (to be paid for by a school tax increase), is cutting staff, programs, etc., partly due to the loss of stimulus funding, the effect of sequestration, and unfunded State mandates. Too bad that the only budget proposal from Congress which really invests in education is the CPC’s.

Enough about budgets…time to look at some spectacular photos, brought to you by The Weather Channel: first, a slideshow of unusual landscapes by photographer Marsel Van Oosten; then photographer Martin Rietz captures volcanic lightning in this group of photos.

This is our Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, 3/13/13: Daylight Savings Time, Inc.

Buried in the fine print in Paul Ryan’s proposed budget is a heretofore unnoticed provision to privatize Daylight Savings Time. When asked about it, a spokesperson for the Senator, who asked to remain anonymous, said,

“Daylight Savings Time is another wasteful government program and an unconstitutional infringement of our freedoms. The government has no business regulating our clocks. People have the right to get up early or sleep in.”

“Job creators shouldn’t be hampered with unnecessary regulations governing what time people show up for work, and what time they leave. This governmental intrusion into the workplace makes international commerce all the less competitive for American Businesses.”

“Besides, this program is inherently wasteful. I can’t imagine a more useless government function than trying to save daylight, only to pay it back in full the next fall. The government doesn’t even get interest on all the daylight it saves. And don’t even get me started about solar energy.”

The budget provision would defund all government expenditures aimed at implementing or enforcing Daylight Savings Time. It would then set up a bidding process whereby private industry can bid for Daylight Savings Time, with naming rights going to the highest bidder.

Daylight Savings Time is just the government’s way of letting the common man experience
jet-lag twice a year.

OPEN THREAD TIME
SPRING FORWARD!