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In Other Words: Deficits Defund Liberalism

February 17, 2011

This is a short post that serves as sequel to a post that I wrote in December discussing Thomas Frank’s theory in The Wrecking Crew that Conservatives purposefully drive up the deficit to make it impossible for Democratic administrations and congresses to ever enact any of their domestic agenda or priorities.

It was striking to read what was essentially a confirmation of this theory spelled out in a pillar of the Beltway’s echo chamber/painfully “centrist,” conservatively cautious, chronically wrong ‘conventional wisdom’ machine.  It appears in a column by, that rarest of species–a decent journalist, E.J. Dionne.  Dionne writes:

“By the end of the Clinton years, we had a handsome surplus. In came the second President Bush who, with Republicans in Congress, declared the surplus too big. It was one problem they worked very hard to solve. Two tax cuts and two wars later, we were plunged into deficits – again. And the economic downturn that started on Bush 43’s watch made everything worse, cutting revenue and requiring more deficit spending to get the economy moving.

Where were the moderate deficit hawks in all this? They have a very bad habit. When conservatives blow up our fiscal position with their tax cuts, the deficit hawks are silent – or, at best, mumble a few words of mild reproach to have something on the record – and let the budget wreckage happen. Quite a few in their ranks (yes, including some Democrats) actually supported the Bush tax cuts.

But when it’s the progressives’ turn in power, the deficit hawks become ferocious. They denounce liberals if they do not move immediately to address the shortfall left by conservatives. Thus, conservatives get to govern as they wish. Liberals are labeled as irresponsible unless they abandon their own agenda and devote their every moment in power to cutting the deficit.

It’s a game for chumps. The conservatives play it brilliantly.”

Read the whole thing.  But that lengthy excerpt from Dionne’s column is mainstream acknowledgment of an evil truth-about-conservatism-that-for-some-reason-dare-not-speak-its name in this age of false equivalence ably demonstrated by Frank in his book.    All non-culpable congressional Democrats should be shouting from the rooftops about this cynical, hypocritical “game for chumps” being played by all mod cons.

More lengthy, substantial stuff coming soon on Wisconsin and the dime-a-dozen new breed of brazen, militant, corporate conservative governors (Walker, Christie, Kasich and Scott) that are trying to destroy the remaining power of American workers for good.

Update: I’m not kidding when I say that language is one of my focuses here.  I took a walk earlier to get some sun and have a beer, when I happened to catch today’s Washington Post headline on the protests and strikes in Wisconsin, which read: Boldness Grows in Midwest.

Notice how one of our nation’s ‘leading’ newspapers framed these events.  It’s now “bold” to peacefully protest for your rights.  It’s “bold” to exercise your rights to peacefully assemble at the state’s capitol, no less, for a redress of grievances.  Notice the subliminal tone used by our corporate overlords and masters as they tell us not to get too “bold” as we thrash around for the crumbs of our Democracy.  Don’t get too “bold.”  Or what?  Will that make us terrorists?  Will the tanks come out like in all the dictatorships we support around the world?   It’s nauseating because we just spent a whole fucking year listening to all forms of mainstream media talking about the TEA PARTY “PATRIOTS,” even though it was proven time and again that most, if not all, of their events were fomented by huge corporate backed entities like Fox and Freedomworks.  But here is an authentic protest against real, not imagined, affronts to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all of a sudden protesting is “bold” and vaguely dangerous and menacing according to the Washington Post.  What has changed?  I wonder…

More soon.

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The Chamber of Cowards.Com(merce) Hates of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press (aka Cowards.Com)

February 11, 2011

One of the things I’ve been trying to emphasize and drive home in my writing is that despite their incessant talk of freedom and shrill insistence that they alone are the the true guardians of freedom in the United States and beyond, Conservatives actually prove by their actions time and time again that they are very much against the core precepts of freedom when it speaks and acts in ways they do not like.

The latest, and perhaps scariest, example of these pathetic, hypocritical anti-democratic tendencies can be seen in the Chamber of Commerce’s hiring of “private security” companies to sabotage and discredit their political opponents.  I thought this was America, gentlemen.  Don’t we engage in a battle of ideas wherein the strongest most civic-minded, persuasive and beneficial ideas prevail?  That’s what I thought this country was about.  That’s what you as conservatives SWEAR all day and night this country and this Democracy is about.  It turns out that that really is a naive, old-fashioned fantasy if you perform real journalism in the manner that ThinkProgress does.  ThinkProgress is the organization that broke the important (sadly downplayed in the Beltway) revelations that the Chamber of Commerce was indeed using money from foreign companies and foreign interests to fund political attack ads in the 2010 election cycle, almost exclusively against progressives and Democrats, in the wake of the odious, CONservative Supreme Court fix known as Citizens United (its very name an insulting linguistic perversion).   To give you an idea, ThinkProgress’s reporting included information like this:

“In recent years, the Chamber has become very aggressive with its fundraising, opening offices abroad and helping to found foreign chapters (known as Business Councils or “AmChams”). While many of these foreign operations include American businesses with interests overseas, the Chamber has also spearheaded an effort to raise money from foreign corporations, including ones controlled by foreign governments. These foreign members of the Chamber send money either directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the foreign members fund their local Chamber, which in turn, transfers dues payments back to the Chamber’s H Street office in Washington DC. These funds are commingled to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account which is the vehicle for the attack ads”

That particular article goes on to detail specific Chamber associations and dealings with Bahrain and India to provide an example of how the foreign money is raised and then funneled into the Chamber’s domestic political operation.  This is old-fashioned journalism forged by research and filled with facts and citations, but this meticulous exposure of their deeds and actions made the Chamber furious.  Apparently the founders and framers of this nation meant for freedom of the press to extend only as far it could without endangering the divinely mandated graft accumulated by worthless, hypocritical con-men like Tom Donohue and his ilk.

ThinkProgress is now reporting that:

“a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.

According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, solicited a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.”

Isn’t purposely sabotaging and destroying your opponents the type of thing that happens in dictatorships and Third-World countries?  Certainly not in America, beacon to the world.

The True Empire is striking back as these same “private companies” are being hired by fraudulent corporations like Bank of America to destroy Wikileaks.  ThinkProgress notes the similarities here:

“It is widely believed that Wikileaks has sensitive information about Bank of America, and plans to expose it later this year. This revelation prompted Bank of America to hire the law/lobbying firm Hunton and Williams, which in turn, according to the e-mails posted online by Anonymous, hired HB Gary Federal and other firms to go after Anonymous and supporters of Wikileaks. For instance, one proposal from HB Gary Federal and its associates proposed targeting Salon reporter and Wikileaks-supporter Glenn Greenwald with “actions to sabotage or discredit” him.”

Almost like clockwork, one of these “private security” firms, Palantir, doesn’t like the exposure and heat their reprehensible attempts to attack journalists and whistleblowers is generating:

“Dr. Alex Karp, the Co-Founder and CEO of Palantir Technologies, one of three data intelligence firms who worked to develop a systematic plan of attack against WikiLeaks and their supporters, has severed all ties with HBGary Federal and issued an apology to reporter Glenn Greenwald.”

Perhaps the most frightening and ridiculous aspect of this story from the Tech Herald is contained in the following sentence:

“Hunton and Williams were recommended to Bank of America’s general counsel by the Department of Justice, according to the email chain viewed by The Tech Herald”

It’s incredibly sad that a government organization called “The Department of Justice” is now in the business of recommending preferred methods of sabotage to protect businesses from the consequences of their malfeasance and misdeeds.  The roles have switched.  The government is now constituted to protect the “Justice” inherent in any imperious, damaging and self-serving thing big-business chooses to do to or impose on the actual citizens and subjects of the United States.

Is this Democracy?    The people at ThinkProgress and Wikileaks are trying to do what the mainstream media gave up on doing/got co-opted out of doing a long time ago, which is protecting the rights and interests of the people from plunder, war, war-profiteering and greedy, dangerous, rampant corporate negligence.  At this juncture in history, if you cannot see what is disappearing and/or being outright stolen from you then you are beyond help and beneath contempt.

I’m going to be recalibrating what I write on this blog.  The focus is going to shift to more in-depth examinations of history and the first installment should be up soon.

update:

Here is a must-read column by Glenn Greenwald detailing his take on this whole disgraceful matter.

Would-be President Clampett

January 12, 2011

At some point during the election season when revelations about Sarah Palin crony/Senate candidate Joe Miller’s participation in some bungled redneck political intrigue, wherein he tried to influence the election, and or, business of the state Republican party by illegally using a colleague’s computer started to surface, a diarist on Daily Kos brilliantly compared the whole sorry Palin/Miller gang to the Clampett family; an imbecilic lot from the hills with outsize delusions of grandeur, dreaming up petty minor league (compared to the Atwaters and Roves of the world) scams and political dirty tricks, yet too dumb, hamfisted and devoid of ability to even bring those off without leaving buckets full of clues and evidence at the scene of the crime.  So now after spending an entire year: putting crosshairs and bullseyes on real-live politicians in tough-gal Internet graphics (her name proudly and prominently affixed at the top), playacting with guns and shooting real-live animals on TV and CONSTANTLY getting in front of cameras and loudly telling people to “RELOAD” time and again, she, as Representative Clyburn so eloquently said, seems “intellectually incapable” of understanding the legitimate causal connection her dangerously idiotic and overblown, yet purposefully chosen, rhetoric may have on the most unstable members of our society.  You know, people like Jared Loughner, the man who shot Congresswoman Giffords, one of the 20 politicians with the big ‘ole SarahPAC target stamped on her, and murdered 6 other innocent people.  It just seems to be another in the neverending line of damaging coincidences, misunderstandings, lies, bad decisions, inflammatory remarks, the infinite supply of pettiness and sorry, simpering, somehow inexhaustible sense of “victimhood” that surrounds Sarah Palin like a fog.

After being silent for days when her typically inept attempts to spin away the unfortunate fact that someone actually did go and shoot one of the people she’d placed a target on failed, the thinking among many pundits and citizens alike was that nothing could be worse than her silence—that is until this morning when her “response” video surfaced.  Even as someone with the bar set so low, with expectations of their behavior, class and comportment fixed at a subterranean level that kindergarten students would scoff at, she still managed to fail; to confound; to fold; to be somehow less than zero; to somehow make things worse.  We can sarcastically thank Bush/Cheney for the many disasters and plagues they inflicted on our nation, but one of the most damaging and underrated is this idea that you NEVER, EVER apologize for anything, or admit OBVIOUSLY catastrophic mistakes and misjudgments you made during the course of your public life.  It was obvious by her initial silence that Would-be President Clampett was going to follow this ethos down to the letter and not admit that the target graphic was, at bare minimum, in poor taste.  No. That would be “weakness” in her underdeveloped wingnut mind.  So instead we get this cheap, tone deaf approximation of gravitas in a video with a mock-up mockery of Oval Office staging that simultaneously belittled and caricatured everything about the office of the Presidency to a level of morbid abjectness and absurdity beyond the reaches of our greatest satirical minds.  The banality of it all was unbearable enough, but then came the inexplicably out of context use of the historically loaded phrase “blood libel” (no doubt ghostwritten).  Whoever inserted that phrase into the speech must have mistakenly assumed that Would-be President Clampett in all her supposed Israel loving splendor would have some grasp on its historical meanings and connotations, but, sadly, what she seems to have grasped is only the literal Nouveau riche redneck translation of the phrase: ie, she ain’t liable for any blood spilled no matter how many mentally ill people she may have agitated and/or inspired last year with her cute political bullseyes and strident calls to RELOAD.  It’s almost like the Clampett braintrust deliberately tried to make the situation worse by injecting more anger and more vitriol, all while comfortably placing Would-be President Clampett in the only role she can play, but never, ever quite fits: victim.

This was a grotesque, distortion of the very concept and idea of national leadership.  I try to remain somewhat civil and serious on this blog, but this woman is absolutely nothing but a petty, bumbling, white trash opportunist, who’s every action simultaneously mocks and disproves the very concept of the “American Exceptionalism” she constantly espouses.

Glimpses of the Truth

December 15, 2010

Every now and then the mask slips and the people who ostensibly run America on behalf of the citizenry, whether by mistake or by virtue of being momentarily overcome by blusterous candor, tell you who they really work for and whose interests they really represent.  Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama has become the latest to state the obvious, telling the Birmingham News (quoted here via Salon):

“in Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks”

These comments may indeed represent the single-most honest and useful act of public service in Bachus’s career.  According to The Center for Public Integrity, Bachus’s “largest donors are political action committees for banks, insurers, and auditors, which contributed more than half of the $2.7 million in PAC money he received during the past two election cycles.”   Large donors to Bachus’s Political Action Committees include (again via the Center for Public Integrity):

  • Bank of America Corp., the nation’s largest bank holding company — at least $45,000
  • Wells Fargo, another big financial services company — at least $35,000
  • Aflac Inc., a supplemental insurance company covering more than 50 million people worldwide — at least $32,500

Valiantly answering the call from his true employers/constituents, Bachus is already fighting tirelessly against the Volcker Rule and the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.   So at least he is honest in word and deed in this particular instance.

Another, only slightly less sad, example of this phenomenon occurred in an interview that Think Progress conducted with the leader of the American Action Fund “Think Tank,” an ex-Eric Cantor lackey named Rob Collins.    Think Progress wanted Collins to explain an extremely sorry, pathetic ad that the group ran against Senator Patty Murray, wherein a charicature of Senator Murray is seen literally stepping on the backs of a man and two children.  In the twisted, nonsensical, pathological conservative worldview these images are supposed to represent a protest against Murray’s vote for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  The exchange went as follows:

“COLLINS: Um, can you summarize your question? You kind of had a long line there.

TP: The summary is, your ad had Patty Murray stepping on a child, and the back up claim for that ad in the citation was that she voted for SCHIP. Can you explain how stepping on a child, or voting for SCHIP is akin to stepping on a child?

COLLINS: Well you’re clearly trying to make a point and I appreciate that point and we have a different point of view.

TP: As the leader of a policy think tank, could you explain that to me?

COLLINS: Our point of view is government decreases the ability for this company, for this country to have um, economic freedom. This ad was about small business and as you increase the size of government, you decrease opportunity. When you’re — I mean you’ll have to forgive me, you’re talking about an ad. We did 53 individual ads.”

The Freudian slip wherein he intuitively substitutes the word “company” for the word “country” is instructive and speaks volumes about the conservative worldview.  They serve business first and foremost.  A country is but a vessel to contain the vast machinery of business; just a place where the Masters of the Universe can build their gated communities.  It could be America or anywhere else they can buy or, otherwise, game the political system.  The rest of his answers is standard issue “up is really down, day is really night” conservative gibberish.

Two instructive views into which side the conservative movement is really on… in their own words.

“Deficits defund Liberalism”

December 14, 2010

Those words were written by the historian and cultural critic Thomas Frank on page 264 of his stunning book The Wrecking Crew.   The power, concision and truth inherent in them made me gasp audibly when I read them on a train speeding away from the capitol, the Washington Monument slowly receding into the background.  Writing of the Reagan Administration, the Holy Grail of Modern Conservative Thought and Action, Frank notes that:

“once in office they proceed, with a combination of tax cuts and spending increases, to balloon the federal deficit to levels far beyond those reached by their supposedly openhanded liberal rivals.  So mechanically and so predictably do they embark on this course that it has basically become part of their identity, their brand.  Vote Republican and watch the deficit grow”                                                                                                                             The Wrecking Crew (WC) p.261

It is a testament to the many failures of the painfully “centrist” and excruciatingly equivocal Beltway media, and the always corrosive influence of Fox News, that this fundamental fact of Conservative rule is not more widely understood; and even worse, thanks to these same failures, when it is perceived and understood it’s falsely attributed to liberal presidents and liberalism in general. Frank continues by outlining the ruinous folly wrought by steadfast Conservative reliance on the absurd, discredited “supply-side” economic theory, before writing the passage that really took away my breath:

“With their beloved government brought to the brink of fiscal collapse by repeated doses of supply side, the liberals would either have to acquiesce in the reconfiguration of the state or else see the country destroyed”                                                                                                                                         WC  p.262

Frank wrote those words in a book that was published in August of 2008, a month before the economy collapsed in the waning days of the Bush Kleptocracy, yet they describe with startling clarity the predicament that President Obama found himself dealing with from the outset of Presidency in regards to economic policy.    Tell me this doesn’t sound eerily familiar:

“Glimpsing the vast heap of debt rising up in Washington over the course of the eighties, the political class screamed louder and louder for spending cuts, pay freezes for Federal workers, and swift action on ‘entitlements.'”                                                                                                                                  WC pp. 262-3

Again, these words are a frighteningly accurate and prescient glimpse ahead to the headlines of 2010.  Indeed, President Obama just enacted a “pay freeze for Federal workers” and the Obama sanctioned Catfood Commission, though ignominiously defeated and dissolved, dutifully demanded “swift action on entitlements” and “spending cuts.”  Frank uses the Clinton presidency to outline how this purposeful, deliberate use of towering deficits, accumulated by Conservative administrations, as a weapon intended to sabotage and undermine Liberal administrations, forcing them to adopt and implement conservatives ideas and methods (ie. deregulation, privatization) to preserve the existing economic order, worked so brilliantly in the early 90’s.  Note again the frightening similarities:

“The deficit rattled bond market had to be appeased, Clinton’s aides told him; Wall Street had to be convinced that Democrats were trustworthy.  Greenspan himself spoke of “financial catastrophe” unless steps were taken immediately to control Reagan’s deficit.”                                                                                                                         WC p.263

The major financial players (Greenspan et.al) were the same, as was the language (“financial catastrophe”).  Just substitute Obama for Clinton and Bush for Reagan and…Presto!   The Conservative plan to use deficits to destroy Liberal methods of governance, irrespective of electoral outcomes and mandates, is revealed.  It works magnificently! Unless you belong to that 90-95% of the country that is inevitably, irreparably harmed.  What outwardly appeared to be carelessness, incompetence and blatant hypocrisy on the part of the Bush II economic team can and should be viewed in actuality as a fairly shrewd and well executed repeat of the effective maneuvers pioneered and employed so deftly by Conservative ideologues in the Reagan and Bush I. administrations.

Reading this and seeing it play out again in real time as it destroys real families is sickening, and it makes President Obama and his weak, pathetic advisers look that much more sorry when they come out with this out of tune, yet Beltway approved, song and dance about “bipartisanship” and “compromise.”   There is no compromise with adherents to a movement that seeks only to vanquish and destroy.  I guess the President will finally realize that when he is unemployed like everyone else in a few years.

The Neverending Con

November 5, 2010

The only positive thing I can say about what happened on Tuesday is that at least Sharron Angle, John Raese, Carly Fiorina and Ken Buck all lost and the abominable Blue Dog Caucus was decimated and halved overnight.

Well, the rank and file people on the street have spoken and once again have voted in the very same culprits responsible for the tattered, devastated and defiled economic predicament our nation finds itself in.  They have yet again voted entirely and unequivocally against their own economic interests.  An example of what I mean: Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich, sterling Fixed Noise style man of the people, immediately killed a statewide passenger rail project saying, in his best John Wayne/Gordon Gekko voice, “that train is dead,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Besides the absurd, piss-ant bluster with which he uttered these words and everything else positive this project could bring the struggling state, it will cost Ohio an estimated 8,000 jobs.  But according to Kasich, his number one priority is “creating  jobs.”  Hmmm…saying with a straight face that you mean to earnestly create jobs while gleefully wiping out a project that the Department of Labor estimates would actually have created 8,000 jobs is blatant hypocrisy couched in Orwellian linguistic black magic so daring and bold that I almost admire it.  But this is what you voted for Mr. and Mrs. No-More Manufacturing Jobs in Your Neighborhood and One Illness Away From Bankruptcy and Foreclosure, Ohio, U.S.A.   I try to refrain from calling people ‘dumb,’ even though I have let my frustration get the best of me on this blog, because that lets you fall into the dreaded “elitist” trap but when are these people EVER going to get it.  Sometimes there seems to be no other answer.  I know the Fox/Limbaugh echo chamber misinforms millions of people all day/every day, but sooner or later you have to get wise to the con.  Kasich worked at Lehman Brothers for Chrissakes.  He even bragged about it at first.  Yet I’m sure many poor, blue-collar Ohioans voted for Kasich to teach those pesky Democrats “Never Again!” regarding those damn bailouts.  There’s nothing like showing how fed-up you are with these snooty, worthless bankers by electing one of them to the Governor’s mansion.  People like Kasich don’t even try hard to conceal what they are and what they’re about (deregulation, privatization, tax-cuts for millionaires like themselves, union-busting, outsourcing) anymore and voters still, time and again, willingly give them the power to cut their throats.

I’m reading Thomas Frank’s extraordinary What’s the Matter with Kansas and it describes this self-defeating phenomenon, which he terms the “Backlash,” in the most devastating and articulate manner I’ve yet encountered.  One of the core tenets to Frank’s argument is that by constantly stoking the various passions and fervors of the culture wars to get rank and file voters to the polls, big business conservatives are continually able to win elections and further their agenda of deregulation, consolidation etc.  Karl Rove and George W. Bush made this into an art form in 2004, fomenting outrage over gay marriage to get fundamentalists to turn out and in actuality cast a vote for social security privatization.  We see this happen again and again.  But as Frank notes, and there were similar grumblings from parts of the Christian Right near the end of Bush’s second term, the Republicans never deliver any solid, appreciable legislation or leeway on the core issues “culture warriors” care about and elect Republicans to take care of.  Yet the True Believers keep on sending them to DC every few years anyway, a textbook example of Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Thomas Frank:

“For decades Americans have experienced a populist uprising that only benefits the people it is supposed to be targeting…The angry workers, mighty in their numbers, are marching irresistibly against the arrogant.  They are shaking their fists at the sons of privilege…They are massing at the gates…hoisting the black flag, and while the millionaires tremble in their mansions, they are bellowing out their terrifying demands.  “We are here,” they scream, “to cut your taxes.”                                                                                                           p.109  What’s the Matter with Kansas

Some critics have suggested that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “the Jazz Age” into existence.  Frank wrote these words in 2004, 5 years before the onset of the Tea Party, and even though the machinations of the inverted populist backlash he so eloquently and caustically describes here had been in motion for years, it’s hard to read those words and not think of how perfectly they describe the pathetic deluded, Reverse Robin-Hoods of the Tea Party.

Will you marks ever wise-up?

Electioneering

November 2, 2010

I’ve been traveling and otherwise in flux so this will be short post with some predictions of all things electoral.

House-

I think that the Democrats, unfortunately, will lose the House, but not by the margins endlessly and gleefully predicted by Beltway pundits and the Faux-News Noise machine.  I think the Dems will lose between 35-48 seats, but I really hope that I’m wrong.  I do not see or believe that these ridiculous glazed eye pundit predictions of a 60-70 seat Republican tidal wave will come to fruition. Longshot prediction: Tom Perriello will hold on to keep VA-5.  It is one of my election day sorrows that I no longer live in this district so that I can help ensure his victory.

Senate-

I think the Democrats do way better than expected here.  Big Money/Big Business shills John Raese, Carly Fiorina and Linda McMahon will lose (to the chagrin of Chris Matthews and his never-ending “I was in the peace corps” hard-on regarding Dick Blumenthal).  I’d love to add Ron Johnson’s name to the “will lose” list, but I’m not sure that I can.  People are predicting a last-minute upset for Senator Feingold and I hope to god it happens, but I’m not ready to predict it here.  I think that Rand Paul will win win, unfortunately.  Look, I’m not happy with Senator Reid and the work he’s done as Senate Majority leader, but Sharron Angle is a scary, delusional embarrassment that has absolutely NO business being anywhere near the United States Senate.  It will be a blow to our nation’s standing and reputation (what’s left of it after the Bush years) if this women is elected to serve in the Federal Government.  I think Senator Reid pulls it out by one percentage point on the strength of the Latino vote.  Joe Sestak is one of the best candidates of the entire cycle and I’m predicting that he pulls out an upset in Pennsylvania.  Pat Toomey has done a good job of disguising his true self, but I’m hoping that enough Pennsylvanians will realize that he is the worst possible fit for our state.   Predictions-I think the hideous Ken Buck will win in Colorado and that Scott McAdams will win the three-way race in Alaska.

Governor-

I think the Democrats will do better here than people think as well.  I think John Hickenlooper will hold off Tancredo in Colorado.  I predict that Chris “I’m black because I was in the NBA” Dudley will lose in Oregon.  Jerry Brown will cruise in California.   Paladino finally fades into oblivion.  Prediction-Alex Sink will defeat Republican fraud-king Rick Scott.  Super-longshot prediction-Ted Strickland pulls out an upset for the ages.

Bullshit narratives already written that will be unveiled tomorrow regardless of what happens:

1. President Obama and the Democrats “overreached” and were “too liberal” for this “center-right nation.”  No part of this sentence/narrative is true, but that won’t stop its appearance early and often.  Case-in-point: a significant number of people polled who express displeasure with the Healthcare reform bill do so because they feel the President and Congressional leadership didn’t reach far enough.  Not that this information is ever used as a disclaimer when pundits are taking about people who don’t like this bill.  They like giving the impression that large percentages of the country doesn’t like this bill because it is “socialism” because it fits this easily concocted ready-made narrative they will trot out tomorrow; same thing with the Financial Regulation legislation.  Many, many people are disappointed with this legislation because they feel that President Obama ceded too much ground and trust to Wall Street and didn’t allow this bill to go as far as it should have in closing loopholes, restoring robust regulatory oversight and curbing reckless behavior.  CEOs, lobbyists and brainwashed Fixed Noise viewers are the only people crying crocodile tears over the “obstacles” placed in front of the bankers and traders as they come up with ever more confusing, clinical and cynical ways to rob people’s pensions and confiscate their homes.

Tea Party, Tea Party, Tea Party: Never has a group gotten so much publicity while accomplishing so little.  The majority of these people consist of racists too dumb to be ashamed of their hatred of the President exclusively due to his skin tone, Rush Limbaugh listeners and plain ole Republicans by another name, yet the media must insist that they are some diverse and spontaneous uprising and not just bitter, old white people voting expressly against their own interests and survival.   The Tea Partiers were actually able to derail truly big gains by Republicans when they nominated laughing stock, extremists like Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller whose appearances on ballots in Delaware and Alaska immolated the GOP’s hopes to regain the Senate.  Incidentally both of those people were endorsed by Sarah Palin and she’ll be hailed as some sort of political power broker that must be paid heed to even though these disastrous candidacies snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and cost the GOP at least one crucial Senate seat.  Palin will inexplicably be labeled a political force by the mainstream media even though more than 50% of Americans think negatively of her.  But hey-she has a million Facebook followers and a slight majority of the minority of white christian conservatives think she’s just swell…so her every word must be reported and elevated as important for some reason, got that.

Lack of Bipartisanship: David Broder and others will trot this one out like clockwork.  This one is truly only dishonest and convenient enough to be brought when Democratic Presidents and Democratic controlled congresses are involved.  When Bush was in the Oval Office, Bipartisanship was a naive and unnecessary thing sought after by clueless, effete liberal pussies.  But when Democrats run DC it is the lifeblood of all that’s good, holy and American–and how dare voters be deprived of it.  President Obama, to his out and out detriment, tried again and again to involve Republicans in governing  and crafting important pieces of legislation only to have them openly admit they were just interested in creating a “waterloo” for him that would destroy his presidency.  This was admitted in broad daylight.  Republicans don’t care about the majority of Americans and their lives and concerns.  They care only about short-term power and petty self-perpetuation of career and party.

Conservative Pathologies

October 27, 2010

"I may have met him...I can't recall"

The Rand Paul supporter and campaign official that stomped on a woman’s head outside of a campaign rally thinks that the victim owes him an apology.  Yep.  Tim Profitt said to the following to WKYT (via TPM):

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.  I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you.”

It’s hard to even find adequate words to describe this other than to say it confirms the fact that some of these people pathologically cling to, and reside in, an alternate reality.

This ‘man’ also said:

“I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing.”

That was after he blamed his actions on the police, his “back problems” and said that he feared for “Rand’s safety” and that the “incident appeared worse than it was.”  It is just so brazen, callous and stunning.  It must be noted that the conservative echo chamber was still too busy crying over, and pretending to care about, the firing of Juan Williams to condemn and denounce this ridiculous, scary assault.  It is also just the latest example of the upside-down, persecution fueled parallel universe that conservatives promote as “reality.”  One of the other rednecks involved in this assault was actually wearing a “Don’t Tread On Me” button while actually holding a woman on the ground so his buddy and fellow PATRIOT could literally, actually tread on her skull.  This also serves as a prime example of the conservative tendency to strip all tangible, literal meaning from words, slogans and sentences like “Don’t Tread On Me.”  I’m sure if you asked the guy why he was wearing the button he’d give you the whole run-down on how the Federal gub’ment was out to steal all of his freedumbs and precious bodily fluids–so the first thing he does in response to these imaginary affronts is violently restrict another person’s freedom of speech in a literal (not to mention brutal and hypocritical beyond words) translation of his own “Don’t Tread On Me” button; the essence and meaning of which he obviously does NOT understand because his actions are the complete and utter inversion of what it means and how it came to be.  Just like all of the toothless people walking around Appalachia talking about “socialism” because millionaires and corporations are being asked to pay their fair share of taxes.  These people continue to obliterate the boundaries of irony and satire daily.

Almost as brazen, callous and stunning as the Rand Paul headstomping, is Supreme Court Justice and ‘alleged’ porn enthusiast Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni actually having the guts to call Anita Hill and say this:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” she said, according to ABC. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.”
You see, even though her husband has lifetime tenure on one of the most powerful institutional bodies in our nation and has helped decide pivotal presidential elections, helped open the floodgates of corporate money into our elections  etc. etc–all despite considerable evidence that he was an under-qualified appointee laden with chronic and credible accusations of sexual harassment at damn near every place he worked–he is somehow still angry and, more importantly, still a victim, both in his own mind, his wife’s and in the larger conservative collective consciousness.  This move has backfired because it has prompted other women from Justice Thomas’s past, like Lillian McEwan, to come forward and corroborate Anita Hill’s testimony and truthful allegations from back when.  McEwan spoke to the Washington Post in a devastating article which includes her assertions, eerily similar to Hill’s, that Thomas was “obsessed with porn.”   The Post article goes on to recount the following:
“However bizarre they may seem, McEwen’s recollections resemble accounts shared by other women that swirled around the Thomas confirmation.  Angela Wright, who in 1984 worked as public affairs director at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — which polices sexual harassment claims — during Thomas’s long tenure as chairman, shared similar accounts with Senate investigators.Once, when walking into an EEOC seminar with Thomas, he asked her, “What size are your breasts?” according to the transcript of her Senate interview.Her story was corroborated by a former EEOC speechwriter, who told investigators that Wright had become increasingly uneasy around Thomas because of his comments about her appearance.” 

All of these woman tell strikingly similar tales.  Yet obviously they are all part of a well-coordinated liberal trap to victimize poor defenseless ole’ Justice Thomas.   In 1992 a conservative cottage industry dedicated to bashing Anita Hill sprung up overnight and wasted no time and spared no expense to damage and destroy this woman’s reputation.  They largely succeeded.  The American Spectator (as an aside-I’d like to say that even if the people that read this blog consist of  just my father and a few assorted friends, it’ll still be superior in integrity and quality to the American Spectator) and other fonts of conservative rubbish devoted months worth of ink and entire issues to Hill.  David Brock wrote one of the many books defaming Anita Hill, but when the dust settled, and he learned more about Thomas’s true nature from fellow travelers in the conservative movement, Brock realized that much of what she’d testified to regarding Thomas was true.  But by then the damage was done and Thomas was on the Court so he could deliver the man who appointed him’s son to the Presidency eight short years later.  This painful realization, recounted by Brock in his excellent book, Blinded by the Right, was one of the catalysts leading to his eventual renunciation of conservatism and his subsequent co-founding of Media Matters for America.   But in what passes for conservative reality, Mrs. Thomas is the aggrieved party holding her hand out scrounging for an apology.  It astonishing that the accumulated weight of the grudges, crocodile tears and self-pity carried around by the Thomas family hasn’t plunged DC to the bottom of the Potomac, yet.

So to recap-

Brave freedom loving patriots wearing “Don’t Tread On Me” buttons tread on a woman’s head for having the gall to exercise her own freedom of speech and they are the victims who’d greatly appreciate an apology.

According to his wife, one of the most powerful men in the United States is owed an apology for being victimized by a relatively powerless woman, who was mercilessly marginalized and largely destroyed by his brain-dead conservative minions and shock troops, even though mounting evidence corroborates that what she said about him was true.

2 textbook examples of conservative pathology: No matter how wrong you are, no matter how much power and control you accumulate-you are always the one being persecuted.  No matter how many women you batter, or how many female heads you step on (literally in Kentucky/figuratively in Thomas’s world)-the cameras lie, liberals are the true villains and you are the victim.

Target Rich Environment Vol. 4

October 21, 2010

Section 1. The increasingly poor decisions of Ron Johnson

I’ve been writing about this guy for the last month.  The fact that he is poised to retire Senator Feingold, literally, makes me want to weep.   Here, via TPM, who’ve consistently done excellent work exposing Tea Party candidates lack of substance and compassion, is a sterling example of Ron Johnson’s unfitness to govern; when pressed on his lack of specificity and substance in an answer he’d given regarding the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ responsibilities to homeless veterans, Johnson said the following:

“Specifically I can’t really — I haven’t been there, I don’t have all the details. One thing I will point out: I don’t believe this election really is about details. It just isn’t. I mean as I’ve gone through the state of Wisconsin I’ve viewed this pretty much as a job interview…. I’ll have to get there. I’ll have to start performing the job.”

That is a frightening, unadulterated glimpse into the Tea Party mindset.  A mindset that swears the entirety of governing just boils down to the repetition of generalities about tax cuts and deregulation, meaningless references to socialism and something called “Obamacare” and a steadfast adherence to, and belief in, the abstractions and fantasies peddled by Ayn Rand–the rest (ie. actual governing) is just “details” that would-be Senator Johnson can’t be bothered to learn or care about.  You see, once your in-laws hand you a plastics company and you are just smart enough to not run it into the ground, you start to look around and feel entitled and superior enough to ask the people of Wisconsin to send you to the U.S. Senate, even though you don’t believe in government, where you’ll openly and clumsily dismiss the care and well-being of homeless veterans as a trivial “detail.”  This debacle followed on the heels of Johnson’s inability to articulate any sort of jobs plan/outlook for middle class workers when pressed during an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette, even though every indicator in the nation says that’s what voters are most concerned about.  Johnson was asked to explain his jobs plan and he brought up the stock answers of cutting spending and deregulation, but the interviewers weren’t satisfied and asked for specifics which prompted the following exchange (with video, again via TPM):

There’s no real jobs plan?’ one interviewer asked.

“I would say bring fiscal discipline to the federal government,” Johnson replied. “We’ve got to curb spending.”

That didn’t satisfy his interviewers.

“So your jobs plan is to control spending. But what about the middle class?” the editor responded. “I mean, I hear you talking a lot about business, businesses. But I mean, what is your plan for the middle class?”

“We have to get the economy moving,” Johnson said, frozen.

‘Isn’t that pretty simple though what you’re saying is just, you know, elect me, to go there and cut spending and everything will take care of itself.'”

Thank god there are still journalists that will push back against this empty nonsense.  All they did was ask Johnson to elaborate past slogan and platitude level and he flat out couldn’t.  This inability lead the Green Bay Press Gazette to endorse Senator Feingold for the first time ever, according to TPM.  The majority of Johnson’s constituents will be middle class or lower and he has no plans, cares, ideas or ambitions to help make their lives better, which, in non-Ayn Rand infected corridors of reality, is what public service in the United States Senate entails.  Policy and governing is all about details.  Conservatives cried oceans of tears about the dangers inherent in President Obama’s inexperience and here is Johnson actually “comparing himself to a promising job candidate who has the potential to learn on the job” at a candidate forum at UM-Milwaukee.   It would funny if it weren’t so sad and dangerous.

Voters of Wisconsin–Please do not elect this man.

Section 2. The continuing destruction and dissolution of meaning in language

There was an excellent front-page diary by Meteor Blades on Daily Kos this morning detailing the sad verdict handed down by a district court judge in Helena, Montana.  The verdict, ala Citizens United, overturned Montana’s 98 year-old voter-initiated Corrupt Practices act, which banned corporate political spending.  According to the Helena Independent Record, the court ruled that the state’s ban on direct corporate political spending “insofar as it prevents corporations from making independent expenditures to support or oppose political candidates or political parties, is declared unconstitutional.”  Another sterling example of Citizens United’s enabling of anti-democratic corporate interests who want to buy our elections.  One of the plaintiffs in the Montana case is a group called the Western Tradition Partnership, a shadowy corporate front group whose executive director said of the decision:

“The court has restored fairness and balance to elections by allowing employers to speak freely about the radical environmentalist candidates and issues that threaten your right to earn a living”  (emphasis mine).

Let’s parse that language for a moment–I love how these groups are always (anonymously) out to righteously inform you about, and protect you from, “candidates and issues that threaten your right to earn a living.”  Yet they also tout the fact that they represent employers.  So if you read between the lines they are essentially saying: let us do, say and buy whatever we want (anonymously) or we’ll send the rest of your jobs to China or Mexico all while blaming any and everyone else, such as, in this case, “radical environmentalist candidates.”

According to the Billings Gazette, the Western Tradition Partnership bills itself as “a grass-roots organization dedicated to ‘Rediscovering America’s National Treasure’ by promoting responsible natural resource development, private property rights and multiple use of and access to public lands.”  But the Gazette also reported that a Montana state investigator found that the Partnership was soliciting donations from “officers of several foreign corporations or their affiliations, including some based in Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.”  They are so devoted to caring for “America’s National Treasure” that they need money from corporations in South Africa and Great Britain.  They are sternly for “private property rights,” but public lands must be accessible and open to multiple uses, like mountaintop removal, strip malls and/or strip mining.   The Western Tradition Partnership proclaims itself to be “the leading organization fighting the anti-jobs, anti-taxpayer policy agenda of extreme environmentalist front groups.”  Again, I challenge anyone affiliated with these groups to show me anyone in American public life (outside of the Chamber of Commerce and their obsession with protecting corporations so-called “right” to outsource, but that’s another post) who is “anti-job.”  Then they really pour it on with their courageous fight against the powerful and prominent “anti-tax payer policy agenda” put forth by imaginary” extreme environmentalist front groups.”  What is an “anti-tax payer policy agenda?”  I’m willing to bet it’s anything that conflicts with the profit margins held by the corporations (some of whom are foreign as the Billings Gazette reported) who actually fund this group.  But seriously, the phrase “anti-tax policy agenda” has no literal meaning or connection to any tangible, corresponding symbol, concept or object signified by the English language.  It is devoid of meaning in the purest sense.  This empty, nonsensical “pseudo” language is a virus employed by corporations and conservatives to erode the foundations of reality and bend history to their whims.  Refuse/Resist.

Section 3. Maureen Dowd sums it  up

I’m always fond of pointing out in my posts the delicious irony inherent in how conservatives like Sarah Palin yell all day about the notion and concept of “American exceptionalism,” yet their every single incompetent thought and action continually negates and disproves the concept.  In practice, though, the often demonstrated conservative fondness for scams, tilted scales, ponzi schemes, censorship, dishonesty, hypocrisy and nepotism suggests a fondness for the “exceptionalism” of banana republics and tin-pot dictatorships.   Another recurring strand of my posts  has been writing about this damaging insistence of voters to reward candidates “like themselves.”  Maureen Dowd wrote a column in the New York Times today, entitled “Making Ignorance Chic,” which summed both of these strands up beautifully.  Speaking of Sarah Palin, Dowd wrote the following:

“She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.”

Exactly.  When will people reject this idiocy?

Joe Miller, Liar

October 19, 2010

Update regarding the creepy, chilling idiocy of Senate candidate Joe Miller’s use of private security to harass and then “arrest” a reporter for trespassing at a public event on Sunday.

Lie #1.

Miller said told Fox the following:

I might also note that the middle school itself required us by a contract for a campaign, required us to have a security team.” 

Miller also was quoted on CNN as saying:

“There was a — a private security team that was required. We had to hire them because the school required that as a term in their lease.”
“‘We do not require users to hire security,'” she said. Renters must only have a security plan to protect users and the school itself, she said, and can resolve the issues with ‘monitors.'”
According to the Daily News, the “monitors” required for such events consist of “hall and parking lot monitors” tasked with advising attendees “of school district courtesy and food rules.”  No mention is made of private security details.  So Miller told a blatant, easily disprovable lie regarding his use of a private militia.
Lie #2
Miller told Fox that the “blogger” (who is a reporter, not a blogger at all) followed him into the bathroom and was generally acting in an overtly threatening manner that forced his security force into action etc. etc.
You have to love this trend of Tea Bag candidates always making subtle, subliminal allusions regarding the masculinity, or lack thereof, exhibited by their opponents.  Christine O’Donnell has also used this tactic, going to so far as to imply that her primary opponent was gay.   Miller’s statement is a lie in this instance, of course, because witnesses have come forth to dispute the Miller campaign’s made-up version of what transpired at the townhall.  A former Miller supporter named Lolly Symbol told the Alaska Dispatch that reporter Tony Hopfinger “didn’t do anything wrong” and that “he wasn’t posing a threat to Miller.”  Ms. Symbol went on to say this regarding Miller’s behavior, though:
Miller tried to get away from the reporter and in doing so put his hand on her arm and pushed her aside. Her 8-year-old son, Vincent Mahoney, was standing right behind her, and Miller bowled him over in his attempt to get away. “I don’t know if [Miller] didn’t see him or didn’t care, but he didn’t say ‘excuse me’ or ‘I’m sorry’. He didn’t even turn his head,” Symbol said. “He simply did not care at all.
What a classy guy!  It sounds like his “anger overcame him.”   I’ll give Ms. Symbol, via the Dispatch, the last word regarding the lies, deceptions and despicable events instigated by Miller and his private security detail:
“The whole thing just made me sick,” she said.”I was a big supporter of Joe Miller, I really was. But not anymore.”
Now about that private security detail…allegations have surfaced that the company who provided it, Drop Zone, was de-certified in 2008 and thus illegal.  I’m trying to confirm that with a reputable source.  The Anchorage Daily News is also reporting that the Army has verified that “two of the guards who assisted in the arrest of the journalist and who tried to prevent two other reporters from filming the detention were active-duty soldiers.”   The soldiers are assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Richardson.  The Daily News spoke to the public affairs officer for the Army in Alaska, Maj. Bill Coppernoll, who said:

 

the two soldiers did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for the Drop Zone, but the Army was still researching whether previous company or brigade commanders authorized their employment.”
William Fulton, owner of Drop Zone Security, and all around stand-up guy, admitted that the soldiers told him they may be in trouble, before dismissively adding “they’re adults–They are responsible for themselves.”    Fulton was quoted as saying he arrested Hopfinger “for tresspassing and assault,” according to the Anchorage Daily News. But as we have noted, witnesses like Lolly Symbol have come forth and told media outlets, on the record, that there was no plausible way to construe Hopfinger’s actions as constituting “assault.”  Fulton reasoned that he could arrest Hopfinger for “tresspassing” because the Miller campaign “had rented the space from the school district and had the right to exclude anyone.”  That logic is contradicted by the fact that the district confirmed to the Daily News that it only “rented the cafeteria, stage and parking lot, not the hall where the arrest took place.
The information that is coming out about Drop Zone and William Fulton is frightening.  At least Erik Prince is an intelligent man, Fulton seems like a heavily armed bumpkin, bumbling around a sparsely populated state with his chest puffed out like some imaginary John Wayne.  What does it say about Miller’s ego and mental state that he thinks he needs private security to go to a campaign event at a school, in the first place, let alone a security detail led by Fulton and filled out with off-duty U.S. soldiers, in what may constitute a breach in the conditions of their much more important service to our nation??  If you’re going to be ridiculous enough to hire a private militia at least make sure that said personnel doesn’t consist of active duty soldiers who don’t have permission from their commanding officers to waste their time making your silly ass feel menacing and important enough to ‘arrest’ reporters for asking you questions about the legitimately shady stuff on your resume.  Who does this guy think he is?
Well, we know he’s a liar because his version of what transpired at this event has dissolved into a shameful morass of lies and fantasy.