Archive for: December, 2012

Republicans End 2012 by Showing Their Contempt for Everyone Who is Not Rich

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News

It is an accepted practice to take a retrospective of the previous calendar year as a summation of important events affecting society, and they can be enlightening if taken over an entire year and not just one specific event. Looking back on 2012, one could cite the general election as an important event for the country, and there can be no doubt the nation dodged a plutocratic bullet with Willard Romney’s defeat by President Obama. However, the results of the election did inform that America may be shifting away from its lurch toward a theocratic plutocracy so deeply ingrained in Republican policies, and as promising as that prospect is, the reason why voters rejected GOP extremism is the story of 2012.

Pundits and political observers on the left have long complained that Republicans will take any steps to protect the wealthy and their corporations, and it is certainly a valid point being reinforced in the fiscal cliff fiasco, but the past year revealed another important aspect of conservative’s agenda and it is that they hate and will punish nearly all Americans to achieve their goals. Conservatives will rail against that simplistic analysis of the Republican Party and their neo-conservative think tanks, but from the earliest stages of the Republican presidential debates right up to the end of 2012, one can claim with confidence that any demographic outside of the wealthiest 2% of income earners is held in contempt by the Republican Party, conservative pundits, and their libertarian think tanks.

It is tempting to cite the secretly taped admission by Willard Romney that 47% of Americans are moochers and will never take responsibility for their lot in life as proof that Republicans consider Veterans, Social Security recipients, and the poor worthless and a drag on the nation, but the GOPs disregard for 98% of the population is much more comprehensive than just retirees, Veterans, and children in school lunch programs. Although the general election exposed Republicans’ hatred of any government spending that does not go straight into corporate or wealthy people’s coffers, the behavior of Republicans in Congress, coupled with the Republican Party’s platform reveals their intense abhorrence of the population in general, and by extension the United States of America.

President Obama came close to admitting Republicans hold most of the population in contempt during an interview on Meet the Press, but he couched his remarks and insinuated just as much when he stated that Republicans “only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme.” The President was spot-on in his analysis of the Republican Party, except he omitted an important point that in their drive to protect the wealthiest Americans, they will impose devastating spending cuts affecting the health, safety, and well-being of all Americans to continue giving entitlements and preferential treatment to a small segment of the population; the wealthy elite.

Republicans have complained that America is broke throughout the past year to justify cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Veterans benefits, and any program not focused on enriching the wealthy and corporations, and yet their persistent calls for greater tax cuts for the rich and their corporations are proven to increase the nation’s deficit. Whether it was Paul Ryan’s Heritage Foundation budget, Willard Romney’s tax scheme, or John Boehner’s obscene Plan B on offer, they all increased the deficit by unsustainable amounts in spite of Draconian spending cuts to social safety nets and near-elimination of environment regulations, education spending, and their “entitlement” canards. In fact, in any, and every, proposal issuing from the GOP or their libertarian think tanks lacks even one benefit for the population in general, because they claim America is broke. However, they have no issue calling for greater defense spending, corporate tax breaks, and reductions in tax rates for the wealthiest Americans with no apparent funding in sight.

2012 was a treasure trove of evidence Republicans cannot tolerate the American people, and one just needs to reflect on their assault on women, the poor, minorities, immigrants, gays, the middle class, working poor, children, Veterans, public sector workers, and particularly the elderly, to amass enough evidence that the GOP hates the American people as much as they hate the government and President Obama. Shortly after their crushing defeat in the general election, the GOP insinuated they would show the people they really did not hate them, but their behavior during fiscal cliff negotiations prove otherwise and not just refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy. House Speaker John Boehner’s hateful Plan B proposal epitomized the GOP’s disregard for the American people by keeping all the sequester domestic spending cuts and adding in a multitude of additional cuts to social safety nets, Medicare, and Medicaid. Still, as Draconian as Boehner’s plan was, he could not get enough support to call for a vote because it did not cut deeply enough for many Republicans in the House.

It is an incredibly sad commentary on American politics to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a political party’s view of the population they were elected to serve is one of contempt. There are those who may tend to blame their allegiance to protecting the wealthy as why Republicans appear to be so hateful towards the population, but their disregard transcends tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The GOP’s assault on women’s and gay rights has nothing whatsoever to do with spending or deficits, and everything to do with sheer detestation for any group outside Christian extremism permeating the Republican Party. Republicans attempting to cut Social Security as a deficit reduction ploy when it adds nothing to the deficit is about punishing the elderly, and not about controlling spending any more than redefining rape does, but the GOP spends no small amount of time and energy pursuing ways to impose the religious right’s agenda on every American with no monetary reward.

Republicans spent the entirety of 2012 singling out every demographic in America for some deleterious policy irrespective of controlling spending or deficit reduction. For over three years pundits and political observers attempted to warn the American people that Republicans truly hate this country and its people, and as depressing as 2012 was for those whose job it is to render opinions on the state of the nation, their task was made much easier after twelve months of irrefutable evidence that the GOP exists to serve the rich and punish 98% of the people regardless the cost to taxpayers or effect on the nation’s deficit. Their behavior, attitude, and agenda belie their oath of office, patriotism, and concern for the population, and is more befitting enemies of the people than public servants. As satisfying as 2012 may have been for myriad reasons, it will go down in history as the year the Republican Party revealed in deed and speech that their only priority and only overriding, unifying theme is using any means to express contempt for the American people, and if they can empower Christian extremists and enrich the wealthy in the process, they will have fulfilled their ideological goal.

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In an Act of Political Cowardice House Republicans Shove America Off the Fiscal Cliff

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News

Cowardly House Republicans will shove America off the fiscal cliff because they are afraid of voting for tax increase on the wealthy.

House Republicans are saying that they can’t vote tonight on any agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff because the bill will take time to get through the Senate. However, CNN is reporting the suspected real reason for the non-vote, “GOP sources admitted there is an added benefit to the Senate’s delay: taxes would already be up, so lawmakers could argue that they are voting for tax cuts, as opposed to tax increases.One GOP source also said that may help get more House Republicans to vote for the deal.”

In plain English, Speaker Boehner does not have the votes to pass any agreement tonight. Rank and file House Republicans are such cowards that they would rather shove America off the fiscal cliff, so that they can claim that they are voting for tax cuts instead of tax increases.

All of this drama is because House Republicans want to pretend like they aren’t raising taxes.

The flaw in this “logic” is that no matter when the vote occurs, House Republicans will still be voting to keep in place a tax increase for someone. I suspect that this is fact is the main reason why the likelihood of the House passing any agreement is questionable.

Remember, this is the same legislative body who would not vote on Boehner’s Plan B which would have raised taxes only on millionaires. Enough House Republicans will be lured in by the idea of being able to say that they “cut” taxes for the 98% to probably pass any agreement, but how many Americans do they really think they can fool with this claim?

Once again House Republicans have manufactured a fiscal crisis, only to see it blow up in their faces.

After taxes go up on those earning $250,000 or more, one has to wonder what incentive President Obama will have to pursue a deal? I suspect that if House Republicans don’t act quickly a.k.a. tomorrow, President Obama will force them to sweeten the pot. The House had best pass any agreement as soon as it is offered to them, or there may not be a deal left on the table.

House Republicans caused this mess, and because they refuse to take responsibility for their actions, they are set to push the country off the fiscal cliff in a desperate attempt to give themselves the slightest political cover.

The events of today demonstrate that it isn’t our government that is broken and dysfunctional. The Senate and the White House have been trying to do their jobs. The reason why Washington can’t get anything done begins and ends with the Republican control of the House of Representatives.

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A Live Blow By Blow Update of the Republican Fiscal Cliff Meltdown

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News

Sarah Jones live tweeting the Senate fiscal cliff “debate”; aka, the GOP clown car heading straight for cliff of talking point re taxing the rich. Picked up after the Rand/Thune hysteria. Warning: Republicans are very angry; behaving so badly that media are calling them whiners.

Last to first:

So, yet another GOP fit. Yet another debacle. They are vewy, vewy mad at President Obama for being a winner. Country will pay.

@shivabeach I must! After Susan Rice, I realized McCain may not know what he’s saying so best I not repeat it.

strict policy never to repeat anything McCain says if I can help it. BUT: He’s pounding desk. Must be looking for defense handouts.

Over the cliff we go. House will try to claim they are lowering taxes tomorrow. COWARDS.

No deal tonight. House won’t vote. Won’t tell us why. They never read legislation so that can’t be it.

GOP clown car close to edge, much hysteria as they cover their tracks for the upcoming cave.

Right when you think it can’t get any worse… Roy Blunt. Must stop tweeting now.

If it’s not a joke, why do I laugh when I hear GOP lecturing on “spending”? Oh, 2 unfunded wars on credit, unfunded Medicare Part D… Right

Coats lecturing Obama “this is not a joke”. And here we thought it was the GOP who said they would obstruct anything Obama did. Huh.

Stay strong, Coats! Keep voting NO on jobs for veterans while you stand up for the rich. FREEDOM.

The President was “dismissive” and Coats wants revenge but that’s not where we need to be. He won’t “stoop” to that level.

while lecturing about republican math, Coats confused about how much time he had left to speak.

Coats lecturing about math. Hysterical. Thanks for the LOLs Senator.

another republican nattering on about spending being the problem (never bothered them when they were charging 2 wars). Coats (R-IN)

Quorum call. Who wandered off? Stalling.

Thanks for the nap Sen Lieberman. Sleepy cliffs, hard to pull off, but you did.

save your breath boys. House Republicans say they won’t rush to vote on anything. The GOP House: Where legislation goes to die.

Lieberman: fiscal snooze cliff snore bad very bad avoid proud of this country … where are we?

So, yes, Lieberman (“I”) = GOP. Very concerned over “entitlement” spending, but “discretionary” spending not a prob. .. Is he asleep?

Lieberman says we can’t do all of the cutting from “discretionary” spending which is not causing the debt (translation: no cuts to defense!)

Lieberman says we shouldn’t be surprised by cliff. We created it, he says. Yes, Senator. After you were sorta a Republican.

Speaking of alleged “Independents”, Lieberman is speaking. We’re back.

Just heard someone refer to self as “Independent”, which often translates to embarrassed Republican.

Republicans on break for math lesson.

Corker very upset about what’s a comin’ his way. BUT now he claims to support taxes on the rich. Blames Democrats for spending. LOL.

@kscolburn21 this is hysterical. just wait until the House implodes. This is the warm up.

The southern accent boys have “never seen” the President’s budget reductions. The one on the Internets. I’ve read it. Why haven’t they?

Dear Corker, the spending reductions you say you have never seen have been on White House blog for over a year. GOOGLE IT.

Corker veering near hysteria screaming “hostage!” on repeat

Corker again. Says President doesn’t want to reduce deficit. But hint: he would support tax changes. Hot rhetoric hiding a cave?

Mitch walking fine line, not getting on knees for “job creators” yet. Et tu, McConnell? Elephants demand Grover Norquist pledge…

Mitch needs a “dance partner”. oh dear. wrong forum, sir.

Corker is informing us what the President said, in case we might have missed the Real President. Cut off, thankfully. We await Bernie.

The Southern accent boys are very, very upset. BIG BUSINESS is being hurt, you fools! NO trickle down for you! (zero awareness empty threat)

Isakson feels President “poking us in the eye”. Unlike “YOU LIE”, eh? Yes, we are all impressed.

@RichMc461 Ah, poor McCain. Irrelevant.

Isakson (R-GA) very “offended” by Obama’s speech. We know it hurts boys. It’s called losing.

McCain lecturing us about “serious business” – time to stop celebrating Obama and get to work. Okay then. What’s stopping u boys?

Lecturing the President in a southern drawl is so endearing. For realz.

SOB STORY: Sen Graham’s family owned liquor store. therefore, social security suddenly has something to do with deficit.

Sen Graham doesn’t want people clapping for the President. That is not the image he wants – FYI. This is news? WE KNOW THIS, SIR.

Sen Graham misinforming the public on the senate floor. playing his shell game re SS. a drawl does not charm make, sir.

NO LINDSAY. Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Also, you are welcome to reject your SS payment. No one is stopping u, Sen.

Obama spoke and market goes up. OH MY GOD. Give him everything he wants, Republicans, or YOU HATE BUSINESS. (must I really put the /s?)

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Things to Like About 2012

The year 2012 of the Common Era was not all doom and gloom, despite some very significant negatives politically and religiously. There are some very good reasons to look back fondly at 2012.

We re-elected 2012’s most admired man, Time Magazine’s two-time person of the year, Barack Obama, after all. We maintained a majority of the sane in the Senate, and added people like Elizabeth Warren to the Senate and Tammy Duckworth to the House. As the House gets more white and male, the Senate embraces new levels of diversity.

Fanatically opposed to Elizabeth Warren, Republicans have watched her not only join the 113th Congress but receive an appointment to the banking committee, showing again that even in troubled times, the right person can indeed be in the right place at the right time.

I’m not saying Elizabeth Warren is Frodo. I am also not saying she is not.

The pretensions of the so-called Religious Right were slapped down. Marriage Equality referendums were passed for the first time in the state of Washington, as well as in Maine and Maryland and Minnesotans voted down a “traditional marriage” amendment.

The momentous aside and turning to what many would see as the trivial, there are other reasons to like 2012. It was, for example, a good year for language.

After all, in what other year could I have crawled into my MAN CAVE, popped open my favorite ENERGY DRINK, listened to the latest MASH-UP by my favorite band, all the while enjoying the SEXTING of the woman in my life and enjoying the latest AHA moment as a Republican SUPER-PAC creates a GAME-CHANGER for a Democratic candidate; the above-events triggering a much anticipated trip to a nearby GASTROPUB to celebrate with an F-BOMB – all without violating the sanctity of the English language as enshrined in the dictionary?

I mean, is life great, or what?

You have to love language – living, breathing language – the language of the hoi polloi. The dictionary is handy, but it’s not how people talk, unless you’re the nerds on Big Bang Theory.

Then, every few years, the dictionary catches up – a bit – with the language we actually speak.  We can argue about the details (Politico reports that “The Associated Press Stylebook earlier this year determining that ‘super PAC’ should be written with a lowercase ‘s’  in ‘super,'” while many spell it with a capital ‘S’) but what does it matter? Language in general has never been more fluid.

The Global Language Monitor offers some big words for 2012, like the Cloud and Frankenstorm. Can you imagine a future without Frankenstorms? How did we ever get by without them before? And UPI reports that “London-based has released its top words of 2012, including ‘Superstorm,’ ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Fiscal Cliff.’ Merriam-Webster says the most looked-up words of 2012 are ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism.’ Is it any surprise?

  1. socialism and capitalism
  2. touché
  3. bigot
  4. marriage
  5. democracy
  6. professionalism
  7. globalization
  8. malarkey
  9. schadenfreude
  10. meme

Schadenfreude is probably the most appropriate word of 2012: “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.”

Yes, Schadenfreude defines not only the Tea Party but the Religious Right and most importantly and sadistically of all, the U.S. House of Representatives.

I’ve got a couple of words for you: sick puppies. And no, I’m not talking about animals unless they’re human animals.

Merriam-Webster even allows you to look at the year in words, a fascinating exercise in itself. I highly recommend a linguistic journey back through 2012.

I love language. How can anyone who writes not delight in it?

I’m not a beer drinker, but apparently 2012 was a good year for beer, as opposed to beer commercials, which left me wanting to drink – something else.

And movies? We finally got the Hobbit, the first of three films that serve as a  prequel to the Lord of the Rings. Entertainment-wise, that alone makes the year for me. Best song? The Lonely Mountain Song. Forget Gangnam Style. Please. A soon as you can.

And then there is texting, which turned 20 on December 3, 2012.  CNN tells us that ” Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year, according to Portio Research.”

I know I’m personally way below quota.

Six billion sent. It’s like McDonalds, but every day, not decades. In the year 2012, technology went insane. And it’s only going to get better – or worse – depending on your perspective. Possibly both together.

The year 2012 has been a curious and bewildering dance of steps both forward and back and you will have to decide for yourself if it has been a net gain. I suppose as in most years we made progress in some areas and regressed in others, but overall I see an incremental improvement over 2011. When all is said and done, the results of Election Day 2012 show that we, as a people, have, by and large, affirmed what is good and rejected what is bad, and I find that a very hopeful thought indeed.

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Obama Warns the Rich that the Fiscal Cliff is Just a Down Payment on Paying Their Fair Share

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News

President Obama said today even if a fiscal cliff deal is agreed to, the rich and the Republicans are not off the hook. He will ask them to pay even more in any future deficit deal.

Video from NBC News:

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Obama said preventing the tax hike on the middle class is his strongest priority. The president said that an agreement is, “within sight, but it’s not done.” The president emphasized to members of both parties that this is a pressing concern. Obama said tax credits for tuition, clean energy would be extended along with unemployment benefits, and avoiding the middle class tax hike.

The president said that he would have rather have a balanced approach, but with this Congress it was a little too much to hope for at this time. Obama said the agreement would ask the top two percent to pay a higher level of taxes. The president rubbed a little salt in the House Republican wound by reminding them of how they said they would never raise taxes on the wealthy, but with this deal the rates on rich would be permanently raised.

Obama also discussed how the sequester cuts would impact everything from defense to Head Start. He stressed that revenues will part of the equation in turning off the sequester. The president said that he is willing do more, but it has to be balanced. He wants to reduce Medicare spending by finding ways to lower healthcare spending, but that has to be balanced with more revenue by closing loopholes for the wealthy.

The president said that if Republicans think that he will only reduce the deficit with spending cuts after today, “they’ve got another thing coming.” Obama said as long as he is president the deficit will be reduced through shared sacrifice. (Obama sent the message that the rich and corporations aren’t off the hook after today.)

The president closed by telling people to keep the pressure on, and wished everyone a Happy New Year.

It looks like the president is set to get exactly what he wanted if this deal goes through. Actually, he would be getting more than many expected. If the president gets the extension of the tuition tax credit, the clean energy tax credit, an extension of unemployment benefits, and a tax hike on the top two percent, this will be a huge win for him.

If he had to bump the income threshold up to $400,000 to get all of this, it will be well worth it.

Remember that Republicans have sworn for years that they would never raise taxes on the wealthy. They based their entire run for the presidency in 2012 on a vow to not raise taxes on anyone. All of this will have gone up in smoke, plus they will have given the president a laundry of things that he wants.

I still have doubts about whether or not any deal that is crafted by the Senate and the White House will pass the House, but we’ll probably have our answer to that later tonight.

It is beginning to look like this could turn out to be one very Happy New Year for President Barack Obama.

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Senate Republican Compares Raising Taxes to Drowning the Rich

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

How’s that fiscal cliff coming along? Not so well, if you’re listening to the Republicans on the Senate floor.

Rand Paul (R-KY) brought the shrillness to new heights today on the Senate floor, screeching about how y’all want to punish the rich “producers” and how you’d pay for it when you ruin the economy just because you wanted to get some rich people. Paul likened raising taxes on rich people to “drowning” them (a more specific version of “death by taxes”). Yes, you are killing rich people out of pure spite.

Really, you should be thanking a rich person, he lectured. He bordered on hysteria, seeing the ever more likely scenario that yes, rich people might have to pay a smidge of a bit more in taxes next year. He is very disappointed in your lack of sympathy for the rich. Mean American citizens.

Rand Paul wants y’all to get serious, and by serious he means Obama phones, which he referenced as he lectured Democrats on their lack of seriousness (free stuff! moochers). The Senator finds great gravity in right wing conspiracies, but no gravitas in discussions about the fiscal cliff if they involve raising taxes on the much maligned, put-upon rich people. (Cutting children off of food stamps? Now that’s our serious House Republicans at work for American taxpayers.)

Anyone who isn’t rich is not “productive”: You just want to take money from the “productive” people and give it to yourselves, Rand condemned. You will pay for this because the economy will plummet. Do you feel better now, you spiteful 98%?!

John Thune (R-South Dakota) revved the hysteria before Rand, opining with increasing volume about how this is all the Senate’s fault and they haven’t passed a budget in three years (translation: he’s blaming Democrats for the House’s failure). Thune is pretending he isn’t aware of Article 1 in the Constitution. The budget is technically the House’s job, though the Senate and President submit a budget proposal indicating what they will support. No one ever asks a Republican why they keep shoving the doomed Ryan budget down our throats.

Both Paul and Thune demonstrated their “seriousness” about the economy when they voted No on creating jobs for our veterans. How can we spend money on our veterans when there are rich people suffering?

Listening to Republicans on C-Span is like going to a tent revival where they’re selling snake oil for your salvation. With each strained screech, they remind us of the dangers of blind ideology. Drowning rich people? Really, Senator?

Oh, the fever! Be serious, nation. Obama phones!

NOTE: Live blogged: Quotes, transcript and video will be added as/if they become available.

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Unlike most of your public utterances Republicans, Hillary was telling the truth

Nobody is calling John Bolton stupid. A d**khead maybe, but not stupid. It’s just that he’s an arrogant a-hole who thinks everybody else lies as much as he does. You remember Bolton. He served briefly as our Ambassador to the UN. That’s like a Grand Dragon assuming the Presidency of the NAACP. Bolton is on record as basically hating the United Nations with all his heart.

Only a dunderhead like George W. Bush would even remotely consider appointing the likes of Bolton to the UN. Bush handed the Ambassadorship to Bolton by a recess appointmen. That’s because he realized that the DC Senate crowd, mostly familiar with Bolton’s far right background and contentious personality would probably never OK an official Bolton blessing for the post. So, after a mini-series of filibusters, Republican praise and enthusiasm followed by Republican defections including then Senator Chuck Hagel’s initial distaste for Bolton that may have led to his current party woes as a possible Defense Secretary choice.

Bolton made the rounds of both Bush administrations and before that service, he populated the Reagan White House. Clarence Thomas is a pal, not surprising insofar as Bolton is a American Enterprise Institute and neocon guy. He also helped foist Justice Scalia on an unsuspecting America and lied his way through the insistence that the Iraqi war was a geopolitical imperative, damned brown-skinned immigrants participated in assorted other distasteful and misleading undertakings that makes him pretty much Persona non Grata amongst decent Democrat AND Republican office-holders.

That brings us to Hillary Clinton, a former Yale Law classmate of Bolton and currently the hardworking and most would agree, effective lame duck Secretary of State. Hillary has fallen (quite literally) on hard times of late. Even before recently acquiring a nasty stomach virus, she’s looked just plain exhausted from her endless globe-hopping.

As a result of the virus, she became dehydrated. As a consequence she fainted in her home December 13th. In the fall she struck her head and suffered a concussion. Her doctors recommended bed rest and cancellation of her near-term schedule that included a trip to Morocco (it would have been her 113th overseas trip) and testimony before Congressional committees relentlessly pumping up Obama administration blame for the tragedy at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Here’s where the respective Clinton and Bolton worlds collided. John Bolton took it upon himself, on Fox News of course, to call Hillary a liar. He essentially stated that the fainting and concussion episode was little more than an excuse to get out of testifying about Benghazi. He told the breathless Fox News people that Clinton’s “claim” of hitting her head and sustaining a concussion was what foreign service officers call a diplomatic illness. “This is diplomatic illness to beat the band” he chortled. While he included the mild disclaimer that he hoped it was nothing serious, it was clear that he was telling the viewing audience that Hillary was a cowardly bullshitter.

Fast forward to Sunday, December 30, 2012. Secretary of State Clinton is in New York Presbyterian Hospital with a blood clot, the direct consequence of the concussion. It might be nothing; it might be something. As of this submission, there’s no word on the clots location. Blood clots in the leg are rarely considered serious, though they can be.They’re generally treated with a months-long regimen of a blood thinner. On the other hand a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) or the brain, can be a very serious matter indeed. Such lung and brain clots can be fatal. Years ago, I remember a popular and fairly young broadcaster who died from a blood clot in the brain. Strokes are a common aftermath. Doctors are going to keep Madame Secretary in the hospital at least 48 hours and check for other symptoms that may show up. Even non-fatal concussions are a veritable cacophony of nasty outcomes including headaches, loss of balance, ongoing nausea, loss of hearing and ugh, blood coming out of the ears.

The moral of this story is that just because you’ve spent the better part of your adult life molding your every word, true or otherwise, to fit some kind of radical agenda, other people might actually be honest when they say they can’t attend a politicized inquisition.

One positive to come out of this whole sad and scary event – all you Senators who wanted to keep Bolton far away from the relative civility of the United Nations did the world a great favor.

Get well, Hillary!

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There Has to Be Room for Dissent Among Obama Supporters

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News

There’s a true story in my husband’s family passed along to teach everyone a valuable lesson. His grandfather was an eccentric man who loved to gamble, his game of choice being poker. One day, he placed an outlandish bet. He put up his house.  As it happens, his bluff was called, and he lost his house. But it didn’t really matter if he had won. He put something on the table that didn’t belong in the game. It’s not like a partial cut to Social Security proposed by the President is the equivalent to giving up your entire home. However, the moral of the story is that like the house, even if you’re holding an excellent hand, some things don’t belong in the game, because the stakes are too high. Everyone has their sacred cows, and for many who have watched Republicans throughout their entire lives try to find some foothold into dismantling Social Security, creating a precedent where this program could be cut was one of them.

We have yet to see what will happen in the fiscal negotiations, but in the meantime, there are strained relationships among liberals outside the beltway. Some have seen fit to name call, label, and denigrate anyone who disagrees with the President. In a strong democracy, reasonable criticisms of the President or other elected officials have to be considered healthy and necessary, without stigma and condemnation raining down on those who make them.

There are at least two ways to criticize a President. One way I will call bagging based on the language that’s already been popularized. Bagging can be defined as relentless criticism of elected officials with a simultaneous inability to recognize any of their positive contributions. Teabaggers, right wing radicals, do it when they endlessly rag on the President for things he’s never done and will never do, like institute socialism or take away everyone’s guns. Firebaggers, left wing extremists, do it when they fail to give the President credit for any of his accomplishments while criticizing his every move. Neither of these groups has to use any critical thinking when they consider the President’s positions or his track record. There’s nothing he can do to please them.

But there is another way to critique the President, and yes, even hold him accountable, and that is to selectively call him out on particular issues of concern and disagreement. Many liberals agree, by and large, with the bulk of the President’s agenda, or at least support his stance on many issues. They approve of his excellent leadership on gay rights. They like who he has selected for the Supreme Court. They see the Affordable Care Act as the first monumental step toward one day having true universal healthcare, and appreciate dozens of the provisions within it. They are thrilled he saved the auto industry. They are eager to see his new fuel efficiency standards go into effect. The list goes on and on.

These people are quite capable of holding a positive, supportive opinion of their President, while also recognizing that they do not agree with him on several other issues. For example, the President’s decision to go after medical marijuana dispensaries more aggressively than even George Bush did. His decision to appoint Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, when Mr. Duncan is a known supporter of dubiously successful, union-busting charter schools. And yes, his decision to put Social Security on the table in the fiscal talks. This doesn’t make these (numerous) individuals into baggers and it doesn’t mean they are just bagging. They are a necessary part of the American Left, defending social programs that are already meager in comparison to all other Western democracies.

However, supporters of the President’s proposal to cut Social Security by $150 billion over the next 10 years became relentless in their attacks on people who disagree with him on this issue. There were snide and condescending remarks about a failure to really understand the President or his genius. You had to support the idea of chained-CPI or you were betraying the President. There was never even any consideration given that maybe the President wanted the public to cry out over the prospect of cuts to Social Security so he could go back to the Republicans and say, “See, 62%, a wide majority, of the People don’t want this.”

Like some kind of club which had retracted its membership, critics of the proposal were no longer considered supporters of the President if they disagreed with him on this issue, but instead became mentally challenged EmoProgs, the Professional Left, or Firebaggers. Humorously, this group apparently included a coalition so diverse even the Veterans of Foreign Wars became EmoProgs. The disparaging names flew across the Internet from Twitter to Facebook to liberal blogs. Inevitably, it drew equally reproachful responses.

What is interesting is that this behavior of creating an out-group and attacking it is actually associated most often with some of the characteristics of authoritarian followers. Many people believe that authoritarian tendencies can only be seen in the right wing, but numerous scholars have demonstrated that authoritarianism in the left wing occurs. Altemeyer has studied and written about authoritarian followers and found that they have several characteristics which can be seen displayed in the efforts to squelch the dissenters on Social Security cuts (.pdf). First, they follow their leader or authority without question. What became clear over the last few weeks was that absolutely no criticisms whatsoever of this President were allowed. You simply couldn’t be a supporter and disagree with him on anything, or you risked the out-group labeling and ostracizing. Second, they are highly self-righteous. They are the only true supporters, and everyone else is a fair weather fan. Finally, they exercise double standards. At one point in time, you are told that bipartisanship and moderation is ideal, necessary, and anti-dogmatic. So, if you point out that the supporters of their viewpoint are actually well-known, dogmatic conservatives such as Erskine Bowles or Ed Rendell of the corporate-laden Fix the Debt ilk, who are anything but moderate, they attack. If you then point to critiques of the Social Security plan by a well-known moderate, Robert Reich, who has by turns supported the President most of the time, and been critical only occasionally, he is a Third Way Democrat. We can’t listen to Third Way Democrats because they’re too moderate? Too conservative? Too bipartisan? Huh?

It is never pleasant to disagree with a leader from your side of the political aisle. You want to feel like they represent you, and definitely as though they are keeping promises. It is equally unpleasant to do battle with other liberals who believe the only democracy is a partisan democracy. Because as much as they are lecturing, chiding, and belittling the nonconformists about how they should be compromising and bipartisan, what they are actually saying is that there should be no dissent, you should follow the party line, and nothing but 100% agreement with the party’s leader is tolerated. There are even times when less vocal dissent of the President is appropriate like leading up to an election, but when there isn’t one in sight?  How about next time something divisive comes up, liberals accept that there are differences of opinions among Obama supporters, and not resort to infantilizing, dismissive and ostracizing tactics?

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A Defeated Boehner Forges Blindly Ahead with Plan C: Blame Obama

Dec 31 2012 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

Speaker Boehner made little sense Sunday as did a run around reality after Obama held him responsible for the fiscal cliff negotiation failures.

Boehner pulled out his Republican Get Out Jail Free card, “Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame.” But he sensed that it was no longer enough just to cast general aspersions on the President, though certainly Boehner has given that a good go. What’s a humiliated-by-his-own-caucus Plan B failure to do? Plan C!

Plan C is to blame Obama for being unable to stand up to his own party. Yes, in Boehner’s imagination, it was Obama who was unable to stand up to his party. Not the Speaker, whose own party left him impotent in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Some call this projection, and it happens more often when a person can’t face reality because it’s too painful. Thus, denial becomes projection.

As if to prove this point, the Speaker (figuratively) pointed his finger as far away from himself as possible, “The president’s comments today are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party. We’ve been reasonable and responsible. The president is the one who has never been able to get to ‘yes.'”

Ah, so the president didn’t put changes to Social Security on the table. He didn’t raise the number from $250,000 to $400,000. And in Boehner world, refusing to do anything that raises taxes on the top 2% (which was the hold up for his tea caucus) is “reasonable and responsible.” Yes, it’s reasonable to hold the entire country hostage so the Republicans can service the top 2% at a rate that would have made Reagan blush.

Boehner might wish America didn’t know about the Republican failure, but they do. With the failure of Plan B, any political cover Republicans might have manufactured died.

Furthermore, Boehner made a rather big deal of walking away (for the second time) from negotiations with the President. He was sure Plan B would save the country. But that was before Plan B collapsed on the GOP, leaving the very teeny, tiny tent of tea suffocated under its own failed ideology.

If the Speaker is still confused about which party is the extreme one, he might wish to remind himself that his crazy house of tea voted to throw 300,000 kids off of food stamps in order to cut taxes for millionaires.

Yes, after Boehner’s failure to get his own Republican House to vote on his Plan B, the power shifted to Obama and the Democrats. Such is the cost of ineptitude.

Speaker Boehner must think this is 2009.

Back in 2009, Republicans were terrified of Obama’s popularity and their loss of power, so they got together to plot their comeback. They eventually planned to bring down Obama. They would do this by acting like they were the majority, not the minority. They would “challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

In other words, they would obstruct until they destroyed Obama, because they knew that as they did this, they would be on camera blaming Obama for the obstructions they were creating.

The problem for John Boehner is that while the plan worked in 2010 and they did make some huge gains in the House, it did not work in 2012. Were it not for gerrymandering, Republicans might not have the House now. They lost seats in the Senate and they also failed to make Obama a “one term President.” They were spanked by the public. The public rejected the extremism of the Republican Party.

There’s only so long you can be the Party of Crazy No until the country catches on. The country knows who can’t get their own party to agree to make any concessions. It’s the party that signed Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge, in case Boehner is still confused.

John Boehner says the President was elected to lead. What would he say he was elected to do? Fail and blame? If so, well done sir.

Boehner is just tripping over himself now, and it’s getting embarrassing.

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Sheriff Arpaio's Armed Volunteer Posse Coming Soon to Maricopa Schools

Dec 30 2012 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

You might have missed this. The infamous pink handcuff aficionado from Arizona is solving the nation’s problems again. This time, he’s gonna send out his armed posse of volunteers to stalk Maricopa County schools for “protection”, post Sandy Hook massacre.

Oh, no worries, Sheriff Arpaio assured Arizona 12 News that only 300-400 of the 3,000 will be armed, and they undergo “about” 100 hours of training. He also does a background check on them (why can’t we do both of these things nationally, good sir?). Of course, we have no proof of that they are trained, other than Arpaio’s word.

Watch here via Azcentral:

12 News reported, “… hundreds of people like the idea on our Facebook Page and hundreds more commented on it.” Well, if they like it on their Facebook Page, it must be a great idea. I mean, armed volunteers patrolling to protect from “violent predators” — it’s like a really cool video game only finally, the Tough Guys get to do something IRL.

These volunteers wear the uniform of a sheriff’s deputy, drive the county sheriff’s deputy vehicles, but they aren’t on the county payroll (which also means no accountability; if you’re shot by one of these guys by accident, you won’t have anyone to complain to). It’s like big boy dress-up.

Arpaio explained, “I have the authority to mobilize private citizens and fight crime in this county. (Politicians) are going to be talking about the guns now for years. But I have certain resources at my disposal and I’m not going to talk about it. I’m going to do it.”

Sure, it sounds great in theory — volunteers! But: Who pays for a county car they damage? If they went through all of the training, why aren’t they deputies? Who paid for their weapons and ammo? Are the taxpayers funding this, and if so, for how long has this been going on? If not, what entity is responsible to the public for the behavior of the posse? What is to stop this armed posse from abusing their power?

As of yet, no one among the paranoid “the government is coming to attack us” group has figured out that allowing a sheriff to hand pick his own armed posse with no accountability to the people might not be such a great idea. These are the same people who say we must have guns to protect ourselves from the government, letting a government official arm his own hand picked posse to patrol at government funded schools.

Ironic or so dumb it makes you embarrassed to be an American?

This is a “preliminary plan” but Arpaio wants it in place within a week. “I don’t need a new law to send out my posse.” Right. Anyone seeing the problem yet?

Wait till Arpaio sends out his armed posse after law abiding citizens. Oh, too late. Arpaio just started an “immigration posse” as well. He hasn’t said “when they will be deployed.” For realz, boys?

So, these same folks will be a-okay when Obama hand picks a posse of armed liberals to patrol under his control, to search out any (insert right wing stereotype profile here)? RIIIIGHT.

How many parents want their kids going to one of the armed posse schools? Just wondering, ‘cuz then it seems to follow that it’s time to arm the kids so that they can fight the hypothetical, “possible tyranny” of the armed non-government but empowered-by-government citizens “deployed” on their schools.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. If government is the “problem”, then how is this okay? It’s both a power grab and a very, very bad idea.

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