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The Crude, The Sad, And The Crazy

May 7, 2013

Crude Sad and Crazy

In the “bad old days” before the promethean rise of the internet, the NRA could maintain a facade of respectability in public while privately courting insurrectionist lunatics to power their infernal clout machine. Just as the GOP has been overrun by their own mob, the NRA has been forced to publicly embrace their hoard of diluted, rage-drunk cowards they’ve had stewing in fear and loathing for the past couple decades.

Most of this is not new for the NRA. This is the same kind of paranoid, “Us vs. Them”, evil gubmint bullshit they were spewing back in the 90’s. That is until rescuers were recovering dead children from the ruins of a federal building in Oklahoma City that was cut in half by a Freedom Blast. That’s the unfortunate downside to the insurrection fantasies they’re  cultivating in their terrified members. Every once in a while one of them actually put’s their gun (or bomb) where their mouth is and kills people.

ALFRED MURRAH FEDERAL BUILDING

Running around a room full of powder kegs firing a blow torch will occasionally set one off.

At this point I’m just waiting to see where the next big one will happen. The threats coming  from the anti-government gun fetishists are starting to hit a fevered pitch, and it’s really only a matter of time until another one blows.

People who stockpile weapons to someday kill U.S. soldiers and cops are not “sportsmen”. They’re not “enthusiasts”. And they’re sure as shit not “patriots”. They’re cowards and fools, and the majority of them, when presented with the opportunity, will not stand their ground against tyranny to defend their arsenal. They’ll hand over their guns and lawyer up. Just like that “tactical shooting” instructor on YouTube. When they came to take his guns, he chose court over death. Because he’s a loudmouthed fraud. But some of them aren’t, and when they pop, people die.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, as gun sales soar, the number of “gun owning” households is dropping. Which means more and more guns are being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. And many of those fewer and fewer hands belong to unhinged nutbags.

These people are a public menace. Even those who don’t act on their tough guy rhetoric are inciting others to do so. Wayne LaPierre, Glenn Beck, Ted Nugent, and every other venom spewing, conspiracy peddling, fear mongering scumbag on the right has blood on their hands. And when the next building is bombed, or the next cop is shot, they’ll be complicit in that as well.

All we can hope for now is to not be in the wrong place when it happens.

I finished up this photoshop yesterday, and then saw this on the Daily Show.

Daily Show NRA-conventionIt was a great piece, but I still like mine better.

If We Let The Greedheads Win, We All Lose

March 25, 2013

Mankind has progressed enormously over the last century. Vaccines eradicated some of the worst diseases of the old world. Ingenuity and mass-production made the world smaller with automobiles, aircraft, computers, and eventually the internet. From a purely technological standpoint we’ve never been better. We have mastered the planet in ways our great-grandparents couldn’t conceive, and moved to the stars for our next conquest. It really is incredible how quickly it all happened.

In just 100 years we moved from steam-powered trains and horse-drawn buggies, to landing nuclear powered robots on Mars.

But in so many other ways we’ve completely failed.

Unprecedented wealth disparity, and all of the social ills that come with it, is suffocating us. Most of our biggest problems (sickness, starvation, violence, drug addiction, crime, terrorism, etc) are merely symptoms of a social breakdown caused by a select few hoarding the wealth and power of humanity to nourish their own monstrous greed.

Not to mention climate change, the poster boy for everything that is wrong with our broken political and economic system. An existential threat of our own creation that we are incapable of facing because our leaders are too money-drunk to care.

Banks fraudulently foreclose on millions of homes, lie about risky investment losses to regulators, illegally bet against their own investors, and launder billions of dollars for drug cartels. Yet not a single soul has been arrested or charged with any crime. The Attorney General admitted in sworn testimony to Congress that prosecuting bankers won’t happen because they would threaten the world economy. We are being mugged on a massive scale by incredibly powerful people who will pay zero consequences for it, but if you or I walked into a gas station with a squirt gun and took $25 out of the till, we’d get 5 to 10 for armed robbery.

This is how bloody revolutions start, and they usually end with a long walk to the guillotine for those at the top.

I’m bringing this up because today is the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, of which I wrote about two years ago on the centennial anniversary.

One hundred years later we’re still fighting the same fight.  Multinational corporations have sent millions of factory jobs overseas to avoid even the most basic safety and wage requirements.  In order to “compete” they undercut our middle class workers by depressing wages down to near poverty level, gutting pension plans, and providing only high-deductible junk insurance to their already struggling families.  It’s a criminal enterprise bankrolled by the blood of average workers who feel they have nowhere else to go.  And now they want to destroy the right to Unionize all together.

The Triangle Fire would have changed nothing without the actions of “radical” union members and leaders demanding justice and reform.  That is why the Republican party has been working so hard to destroy the power of unions, because they are the last source of true political power that average people have.

This is what the Republican Party stands for.  They are the champions of despicably rich sociopaths who would trade the lives of a thousand workers for a bigger swimming pool or a new limo, and now they’re on the verge of winning the class war they’ve been waging for well over a hundred years.

I wish I could say we had progressed just a little bit, but we haven’t. Just this morning there was news of another factory fire in India.

BangaloreSix people were burnt to death early on Monday in a massive fire that gutted a seat-making and furniture factory in the Magadi industrial area on the city’s outskirts, police said.

“The victims were said to be asleep when the fire occurred in the factory, which had inflammable material such as foam, thermocol, wooden panels and ready-made chairs,” Ramangara’s Superintendent of Police Anupam Agarwal said in Mumbai.

Though police registered a complaint of criminal negligence against the officials of the factory – SK Seating Systems Ltd – which makes foam seats for auditoriums and cinema theatres, no arrest has been made so far.

And a whole rash of fires over the last couple years.

Another garment factory has burned in Bangladesh and killed seven more workers sewing clothes for Western customers, according to groups that monitor working conditions there.

It is the latest in a rash of deadly fires in the high-rise factories that have made Bangladesh the second largest exporter of clothing to the United States behind China. More than 700 workers have died in factory fires in the past five years. Two months ago, a ferocious blaze at a factory making clothes for major U.S. retailers killed an estimated 112 workers there.

This latest deadly fire occurred in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka at a factory called Smart Export Garments Ltd., which was believed to be manufacturing clothes for the Spanish parent company of the American retailer Zara, as well as several European brands, worker rights groups told ABC News overnight.

“After more than two decades of the apparel industry knowing about the risks to these workers, nothing substantial has changed,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum, one of several groups advocating for a fire safety overhaul in the country.

“Brands still keep their audit results secret; they still walk away when it suits them; and trade unions are still marginalized, weakening workers’ ability to speak up when they are at risk,” Gearhart said.

But what really got me thinking about this again was this Washington Post piece regarding US manufacturing jobs.

One of the hottest trend stories in recent years has been the idea that U.S. manufacturing is on the verge of a large, permanent comeback. Labor costs in China are rising, while U.S. energy costs are dropping. So, the logic goes, companies will return home. Charles Fishman dubbed it “The Insourcing Boom.”

The only problem? This boom hasn’t really shown up in the data — at least not yet. Yes, U.S. manufacturing has expanded and added jobs since 2009 as the sector recovers from the recession. But that appears to be a cyclical bounce-back and not any sort of long-term shift.

At least, that’s Jan Hatzius’s conclusion in a new research note for Goldman Sachs. “Evidence for a structural renaissance is scant so far,” he writes.

Sam Ro digs out a bunch of charts from Hatzius’s note over at Business Insider. This first one shows that U.S. exports — a good proxy for manufacturing strength — have risen modestly in response to a falling U.S. dollar since 2009, as expected, but that’s about it. There’s nothing to suggest a sustained structural improvement beyond that:

Meanwhile, Hatzius isn’t very impressed by the oft-repeated notion that America’s newfound glut of cheap natural gas will give U.S. manufacturers an edge.

“Exhibit 7 shows that we have not yet seen a material pickup in output in the parts of the manufacturing sector that should benefit most from low natural gas prices, such as aluminum, steel, plastics, basic chemicals, and fertilizer and other agricultural products,” he writes. “At least so far, the benefits from the increase in U.S. energy production seem to have been confined to the direct effects on output and income.”

Of course manufacturing companies aren’t returning to the US. Why would they? Americans won’t accept nickles a day for tedious, often dangerous jobs, in death trap sweat shops with zero benefits or job security. Not yet anyway.

The few manufacturing jobs that are coming back tend to be low wage, non-union jobs, which are driving salaries down even further.

U.S. manufacturers have added a half-million new workers since the end of 2009, making the sector one of the few bright spots in an otherwise weak recovery. And yet there were 4 percent fewer union factory workers in 2012 than there were in 2010, according to federal survey data. On balance, all of the job gains in manufacturing have been non-union.

The trend underscores a central conundrum in the “manufacturing renaissance” that President Obama loves to tout as an economic accomplishment: The new manufacturing jobs are different from the ones that delivered millions of American workers a ticket to the middle class over the past half-century.

It used to be that factory jobs paid substantially better than other jobs in the private sector, particularly for workers who didn’t go to college. That’s less true today, especially for non-union workers in the industry, who earn salaries that are about 7 percent lower than similar workers who are represented by a union.

By one measure — average hourly earnings — a typical manufacturing worker now earns less than a typical private-sector worker of any industry. Throughout the 30 years before the recession, the reverse was the case.

Our captains of industry have forgotten Henry Ford’s one rule for the Industrialist: “Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” Or in other words; pay your workers enough to buy your products.

Ford understood that without a strong customer base, it didn’t matter how good his cars were, he wouldn’t sell any.

The ongoing Corporate war on unions and decent wages is effectively cannibalizing their own consumer base. It’s only a matter of time until they won’t be able to sell even the shittiest products made in the worst foreign sweat shops, because there won’t be a middle class left in America to pay for them. It’s self-destructive insanity brought on by unchecked greed.

They have reduced every human aspect of their businesses down to numbers on a spreadsheet. Their worker’s lives and safety are an expensive line-item to be cut in the name of bigger profits, and executive bonuses. Environmental concerns are obstacles to be side-stepped, and taxes are easily dodged with teams of accountants and lawyers.

The Greedheads running this world are killing us. Quite literally. Regardless of our technological progress over the last century, if we don’t catch up socially and economically, humanity is in for a very rough century to come. And we may not survive it.

Mola Rand, High Priest Of Galt: The “Takers” Must Be Purged!

March 12, 2013

Mola Rand

I know I’ve said this over and over and over and over and over again….

Paul Ryan is an Ayn Rand Cult Leader and a goddamned fraud.

His “new” budget proposal is yet another retread of the same worn out radials he’s merrily rolled around on since he halfheartedly swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. The fact that anyone in D.C. gives this buffoon the time of day, let alone a place in the fiscal debate is one of the most damning indictments of the Village press.

This gibbering fool spent his entire 2012 Vice-Presidential campaign accusing the President of gutting Medicare, and now puts out a budget that maintains those very cuts while doing away with every benefit the law provided in order to pay for tax cuts for billionaires. Yet he will still be invited to the Sunday talkies to play the “Serious Person” making “Hard Choices”.

It’s a fucking scam.

Just like last time, and the time before.

Once again he’s peddling Ayn Rand Cultist, “Makers vs. Takers” class warfare.

Let’s hope that just a few more journalists, outside of MSNBC, will realize they’re being played. Again.

I’m not gonna hold my breath.

 

The Technicians Are Hard At Work

February 20, 2013

Reassembling the Mitt Romney Bot…

Synthetic Romney

I can’t think of a better metaphor for Romney than a soulless android that’s programmed to protect his corporate masters interests over the safety and well-being of actual humans.

No wonder the rage-drunk mouth breathers at CPAC are so excited to hear from him.

“This is an opportunity for him to express his appreciation to supporters and friends,” a senior Romney aide said.

“The thousands gathered at CPAC this year are eager to hear from the former 2012 GOP presidential candidate at his first public appearance since the elections,” said American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas in a statement. “We look forward to hearing Governor Romney’s comments on the current state of affairs in America and the world, and his perspective on the future of the conservative movement.”

That GOP re-branding effort is really going well.

If You Can’t Beat Em…

January 28, 2013

GOP Democracy Poster

Fuck em.

This seems to be the new GOP mantra. They simply will not concede that the American people disagree with them on nearly every important issue of our time. They have so fully closed the door on any dissenting voice, or inconvenient facts, that they’ve lost all touch with reality. Which is why we see their party leadership saying things like this.

“It’s not the platform of the party that’s the issue,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday after being easily reelected to a second, two-year term. “In many cases, it’s how we communicate about it. It is a couple dumb things that people have said.”

A slide presented during a closed-press strategy session said that Mitt Romney might be president if he had won fewer than 400,000 more votes in key swing states.

We don’t need a new pair of shoes; we just need to shine our shoes,” said West Virginia national committeewoman Melody Potter.

It’s always bumper-stickers with those folks.

So what was it in their AWESOME platform that was such a hard sell? Was it the part about forcing women and girls to bear children conceived through rape and incest? Or was it the part about turning Medicare into a worthless voucher system? What about the section dedicated to repealing the Affordable Care Act and throwing sick people to the wolves of the “free market”?

Most of the policy positions in that document are grossly unpopular, completely unworkable, or full of vague nonsense like “free-market solutions”. It’s hard to market a low-grade turd heap as a truck load of tulips.

Which is why they’ve now decided that since American voters won’t open the gates to their looting hordes disguised as “Patriots”, then they’ll just dig under walls and burn the place to the ground.

Basically, Republicans who have control of states that went for President Obama in the 2012 election are pushing for their states to change how they award electoral votes. While almost every state awards electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, Republicans want these states to instead award one vote to the winner of each congressional district.

The other two electoral votes that each state has likely would be given to the statewide winner, as they are in the two states that currently employ this method: Maine and Nebraska.

The new system would allow Republicans to consistently win electoral votes (and quite possibly a majority of electoral votes) from states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Virginia, regardless of whether they win the statewide vote.

All five of these states went for Obama in 2012. Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have consistently gone blue at the presidential level, and Virginia is tilting in that direction, which would make winning any electoral votes in these states a victory for the GOP.

The Republican party has decided that our elections are a game of Dumb and Dumber tag.

All jokes aside, this is a naked power grab designed to circumvent the will of the electorate. It’s nullification by gerrymandering.

The GOP, and conservatives in general, have openly called for nullification of federal laws they don’t like. They have abused the filibuster in the Senate to nullify the power of progressives on the federal courts, and the functionality of regulatory agencies, most notably the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the ATF. GOP Governors and Legislatures across the nation are refusing to implement whole portions of the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives in State and local governments have passed cruelly oppressive laws against abortion providers making it nearly impossible for women to find Constitutionally protected abortion services, with some States having only one such provider left.

This is a huge problem. It’s one thing to attack laws and agencies they don’t agree with, but it’s quite another to nullify the will of  American voters. If conservatives in rural Virginia don’t like being out-voted by the cities, then they need to convince people to vote differently. If they can’t sell forced-birth theocracy and climate change denial to the more liberal leaning city folk,  then tough shit. Just because you think you’re right doesn’t mean you get to win every time. Lord knows liberals don’t win every time, hell we don’t win even a quarter of the time. But we don’t try to rig the rules to win regardless of the vote count.

Fascists do that.

Fascists and the Republican Party.

Or is that being redundant?

 

Renewed Vision

January 22, 2013

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

Like most liberals, I’m still basking in the glow of yesterday’s Inaugural Address. It was the finest speech of President Obama’s career, and one the best inaugural speeches of the last century, on par with Roosevelt and Kennedy. It was historic in its inclusion of Gay Rights as the civil rights issue of our generation, and in its strong call to action on climate change. It was a clear and forceful defense of progressive values and government. It was exactly what the President needed to say.

And it is exactly what we all hope his actions will reflect, because we’ve been waiting a long time.

Seventy years ago there was a progressive vision of America that foresaw a nation of true opportunity and equality. Where the common man would hold economic and political power. A nation of innovators that would focus technology for the good of society. Where trade and commerce would build wealth for all.

That vision lived in FDR’s Vice President, Henry A. Wallace.

Henry A. Wallace

“We all want jobs, health, security, freedom, business opportunity, good education and peace. We can sum this all up in one word and say that what America wants is pursuit of happiness. Each individual American before he dies wants to express all that is in him. He wants to work hard. He wants to play hard. He wants the pleasures of a good home with education for his children. He wants to travel and on occasion to rest and enjoy the finer things of life. The common man thinks he is entitled to the opportunity of earning these things. He wants all the physical resources of the nation transformed by human energy and human knowledge into the good things of life, the sum total of which spells peace and happiness. He knows he cannot have such peace and happiness if the means of earning peace and happiness are denied to any man on the basis of race or creed.

We have the materials to work with. We have the science and technical skills to direct our work. We have innumerable desires for goods and services that we are able to supply. All we need is good management and harmony, less grabbing for ourselves, and more cooperation for the general welfare. Legitimate self-interest can be realized in no other way. By working together for victory in war we have made a resounding success. By working together for the common good in peace we can get results beyond what most Americans have dared to hope.”

Vice President Henry A. Wallace

And that vision withered in 1944 when anti-union party bosses replaced Henry Wallace on the ballot with a hack from Missouri named Harry Truman.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Wallace was a fierce defender of the common man. Though eccentric and idealistic, he was a powerful liberal voice working tirelessly to implement social programs and demanding more equality and access to democracy for all citizens. Had he become President, our nation would be a very different place today.

Wallace’s vision did not die, nor did liberals stop fighting for it. We had some huge successes here at home, though our foreign policy was a disaster. It wasn’t until 1980 that the lights went out, and we’ve been struggling in the dark for the last thirty years.

Now after all this time, seeing a Democratic President stand and defend that vision, as clouded as it is, is like a warm fire on a frigid dawn.

For any of you who haven’t had the opportunity to watch any of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, you should really watch it. It’s fascinating, and well worth your time.

Fire Up The Mint

January 10, 2013

And hand out the smelling salts. It’s time to mint The Coin.

So why not?

It’s easy to make sententious remarks to the effect that we shouldn’t look for gimmicks, we should sit down like serious people and deal with our problems realistically. That may sound reasonable — if you’ve been living in a cave for the past four years.Given the realities of our political situation, and in particular the mixture of ruthlessness and craziness that now characterizes House Republicans, it’s just ridiculous — far more ridiculous than the notion of the coin.

So if the 14th amendment solution — simply declaring that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional — isn’t workable, go with the coin.

This still leaves the question of whose face goes on the coin — but that’s easy: John Boehner. Because without him and his colleagues, this wouldn’t be necessary.

Here’s my own rough design for our very first Trillion Dollar coin.

platinum coin

Now mint the damn thing.

And if you’re tempted to deny this diagnosis, I have to ask, what would it take to convince you? The other side of this debate has been predicting runaway inflation for more than four years, as the monetary base has tripled. The same people predicted soaring interest rates from government borrowing. Meanwhile, the liquidity-trap people like me predicted what would actually happen: low inflation and low rates. This has to be the most decisive real-world test of opposing theories ever.

So minting the coin would be undignified, but so what? At the same time, it would be economically harmless — and would both avoid catastrophic economic developments and help head off government by blackmail.

What we all hope, of course, is that the prospect of the coin or some equivalent strategy will simply take the debt ceiling off the table. But if not, mint the darn coin.

This seems pretty simple to me. If the GOP is willing to destroy our nation to maintain power, then the President should do whatever is within his legal authority to thwart them. The coin is a quick fix that is harmless and legal. Mint it and then go to court over the 14th amendment to end the debt ceiling charade once and for all.

And in the interest of public service, this is how coins are made:

Any More Such Victories

January 2, 2013

will be our undoing.

From Bold Progressives

TOM COLE: Again, I would prefer not to raise taxes on anybody. But we protected almost every American. We did it at a higher income level than the President campaigned on. And again, frankly, we’ve denied him I think his most important piece of leverage in any negotiation going forward. So I particularly like that part. I understand unemployment extension. I prefer, you know, a more focused effort in that regard. But we do have parts of the country where that’s necessary and it’s a fair compromise. The entitlement issue, just too much to deal with I think in one piece of legislation. But again, still sequester is in front of us. The continuing resolution runs out the end of march and obviously the debt ceiling. All of those things honestly are Republican leverage not Democratic so I think there will be opportunities to deal with the spending issue next year. Honestly I expect that will be the dominant issue along with trying to overhaul the tax code going forward. So that’s usually pretty good ground for Republicans.

When you fight a battle on your opponent’s terms, any victory achieved will be Pyrrhic at best.

The negotiations on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” were always argued on Republican terms, and we ended up with Democrats passing a bill that will raise taxes on the working class, by failing to extend or replace the payroll tax reduction, and make permanent 98% of the Bush tax cuts. They’ve also pissed away most of their leverage in the upcoming debt ceiling fight by failing to address the sequestered spending cuts and timing the extension to coincide exactly with the debt ceiling deadline. Convenient!!

This, I’m told is what we are now supposed to celebrate as a victory.

Ain’t bipartisanship grand?

We’ve been fighting this war for 80 years. It isn’t about deficits. It isn’t about debts. It really isn’t even about taxes. It’s about dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and every other social program and regulation put in place since the Gilded Age.

It’s about repealing the twentieth century, and it always has been.

Republicans understand that they can’t win elections with an honest portrayal of their platform, so they hide it behind “entitlement reform” and “small government”. They intend to strangle our safety-net programs and regulatory agencies right out of existence through tax cuts and austerity, and Democrats are preparing to hand them the garrote.

That rumbling sound you hear is coming from FDR’s grave.

“Let me warn you, and let me warn the nation, against the smooth evasion that says ‘Of course we believe these things. We believe in social security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die.

‘We believe in all these things. But we do not like the way that the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them, we will do more of them, we will do them better and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything'”

FDR, 1936

Social Security and Medicare are our birthright. They were designed and implemented by courageous Democrats who believed in the power of government to help people. They may not be perfect, but they’re all we have. You don’t get to call yourself a Democrat and then serve these precious programs to the wolves in the GOP to be devoured by privatization and benefit cuts.

The next fight isn’t going to be over some arbitrary, self-inflicted non-crisis. It’s going to be the debt ceiling, which has enormous economic and political consequences. The President already offered Social Security cuts over the stupid fiscal curb, what do you think he’s prepared to give away over the debt ceiling? Retirement age? Means testing? Unless he plans on turning a complete 180 from his well established negotiating style, we’ll be passing the George W. Bush Social Security Privatization bill before March 1st.

But it’ll be a great victory for bipartisanship, so I guess we can’t complain.

When Negotiating With Republicans

December 19, 2012

Remember:

They’re just spoiled children playing dress-up.

GOP Dress Up

And you’re really only negotiating with yourself.

But sure enough, it looks as if Republicans have taken the offer as a sign of weakness, as a starting point from which they can bargain Obama down. Oh, and they’re not giving up at all on the idea of using the debt ceiling for further blackmail.

In other words, all of a sudden it’s feeling a lot like 2011 again, with the president negotiating with himself while the other side enjoys the process.

So Obama needs to draw a line right now: no further concessions. None. He’s already given too much.

Yes, this probably means going over the cliff. So be it: it’s less bad than the alternative.

This is what happens when a party of brick tossing, tantrum throwing, deluded children get to dress up like “statesmen” and take the country hostage without ever paying any consequences in the “Both Sides Are Equally Bad” media. They only get worse.

On Monday, they [the White House] delivered an offer to House Speaker John Boehner that included genuine concessions. They brought their revenue request down from $1.6 trillion to $1.3 trillion. They dropped their demand that the Bush tax rates expire for all income over $250,000 a year, offering a new threshold of $400,000 a year. They brought their debt-ceiling demand down from no more debt ceiling crises ever to no debt ceiling crises for two years. They agreed to some form of chained CPI as a way to cut Social Security benefits.

On Monday night, Boehner rejected their offer, and on Tuesday, Boehner unveiled “Plan B” — a proposal to walk away from the talks, vote on a plan to make the Bush tax rates permanent for all households with income under $1 million, and then go home for the holidays.

With every concession that is made they will demand more until they get everything they want. This isn’t some big mystery or surprise. It’s the same obstinate bullshit we’ve had to  put up with for the last four years.

The President needs to walk away from his “Grand Bargain” fantasy. Now.

There is no negotiating with spoiled children.  All you can do is make them to eat their peas or put them to bed.

There’s Always Another Scapegoat

December 17, 2012

For the Party of Personal Responsibility.

In the aftermath of yet another heinous mass shooting, fueled by our nations barbaric health care system and outrageous gun culture, the key proponents of both are out in force to push the blame away to someone else.

Oh wait, that was a decade ago following the Columbine shooting.

My bad.

This time around it looks like video games are getting the brunt of the blame.

(Lt. Col. Dave Grossman on Fox News)

“We have got to enforce the ratings systems… This is just the beginning guys. Please! Don’t look at this in isolation… Look at (these mass shootings) as a growing, moving trend and it’s gonna get worse. …The video games are providing the training, the desensitization, and the conditioned responses… It doesn’t take a lot of skill to walk up to a child, shove a gun in their face and blow their brains out. What it takes is desensitization and conditioning to do it again and again and again and again.

…We have raised a generation of children who have learned to kill and learned to like it. When we get a sick kid in past years, they were chewing gum and talking out in class. Now we create a sick kid and they’re gonna come kill you. If you’re the parents who let your kids play these sick games, the blood is on your hands and, by the way, you might be the first one to die.”

Never mind that this is all over-simplified bullshit. The relationship between video games and actual violence, if any, is very complex.

In my research on middle schoolers, the most popular game series among boys was Grand Theft Auto, which allows players to commit cartoon violence with chain saws as well as do perfectly benign things like deliver pizza on a scooter.

Teenage boys may be more interested in the chain saws, but there’s no evidence that this leads to violent behavior in real life. F.B.I. data shows that youth violence continues to decline; it is now at its lowest rate in years, while bullying appears to be stable or decreasing.

This certainly does not prove that video games are harmless. The violent games most often played by young teens, like most of the Grand Theft Auto series, are rated M, for players 17 and older, for a reason and do merit parental supervision.

But despite parents’ worst fears, violence in video games may be less harmful than violence in movies or on the evening news. It does seem reasonable that virtually acting out a murder is worse than watching one. But there is no research supporting this, and one could just as easily argue that interactivity makes games less harmful: the player controls the action, and can stop playing if he feels overwhelmed or upset. And there is much better evidence to support psychological harm from exposure to violence on TV news.

In fact, such games (in moderation) may actually have some positive effects on developing minds.

Once again, correlation does not imply causation. Millions of teenagers play violent video games everyday, but they don’t go out and shoot up theaters and schools afterward. I’d be willing to bet that every single mass murderer from the last three decades drank soda on a regular basis, should we blame that as well?

These same violent video games are sold in England, France, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc etc. They don’t have an epidemic of gun violence. But what they do have are universal healthcare systems that care for the mentally ill, and laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. None of these counties have been overrun by “tyranny” or “communism” either.

What’s really sickening about this new round of scapegoating is that it’s coming from the same people who spent an entire decade cheer-leading illegal wars and torture under the Bush administration. None of them have any moral authority to speak about the violence in our society or where it’s coming from.

Take a look in the mirror assholes.

Update:

Aaaaand just in time to prove my point, here’s today’s Washington Post.

It’s true that Americans spend billions of dollars on video games every year and that the United States has the highest firearm murder rate in the developed world. But other countries where video games are popular have much lower firearm-related murder rates. In fact, countries where video game consumption is highest tend to be some of the safest countries in the world, likely a product of the fact that developed or rich countries, where consumers can afford expensive games, have on average much less violent crime.

Go read it. Numbers don’t lie.

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