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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.

Scalia ad Absurdum

December 11, 2012

Scalia The Clown

In his never-ending quest to be the absolute worst Supreme Court Justice in a generation, insufferable prick and national embarrassment Antonin Scalia had this to say regarding his comparison of homosexuality to murder

5:49AM EST December 11. 2012 – PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday found himself defending his legal writings that some find offensive and anti-gay.

Speaking at Princeton University, Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.

“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral.

Scalia has been giving speeches around the country to promote his new book, “Reading Law,” and his lecture at Princeton comes just days after the court agreed to take on two cases that challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Some in the audience who had come to hear Scalia speak about his book applauded but more of those who attended the lecture clapped at freshman Duncan Hosie’s question.

It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,'” Scalia told Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.

Then he deadpanned: “I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”

That would be the form of argument known as “Reductio ad absurdum“, or Reduced to the absurd.  Of course that isn’t the argument he’s making at all.

This is what he said in his book according to the above USA Today article.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?”

That is a classic “Straw Man” argument, which is a logical fallacy. It’s premised on the notion that homosexuality and murder are related along some spectrum of morality. They are not. In no version of reality does copulation between two persons of the same sex relate in any way to one human being killing another in cold blood. Period.

Justice Scalia my be a top shelf extremist and a condescending asshole, but he’s not stupid. As a lawyer, who argues for a living, he should know a logical fallacy when he hears one. This is rank bigotry put to paper by a sitting Supreme Court Justice. Which, in a just world, would be met with national outrage. Of course we don’t live in a just world, so this type of bullshit has become de rigueur for right-wing clowns like Scalia to spout in public.

Antonin Scalia’s tenure on our highest court has been a shameful clown show of injustice and cruelty. His so-called “textualism” is simply an excuse to protect the white, rich, heterosexual, male domination of our nation’s power structure. Every word he’s written from the bench seems to exude his disgust toward those without power. His insistence that the Constitution cannot be interpreted to protect any rights not specifically named in the text is beyond ridiculous, and only serves those that would enshrine discrimination into law at the state level. Which is what the entire conservative “State’s Rights” view of government is really all about, and has been since 1860.

With any luck, this particular clown will retire soon and President Obama can nominate a real justice to our Supreme Court. We can only hope.

Another Symptom Of America’s Ongoing Illness

December 5, 2012
Senator Mike Lee is clearly in need of a nap.

Senator Mike Lee is clearly in need of a nap.

So yesterday, in the Greatest Deliberative Body In The World, this happened.

President-unelect Rick Santorum made his triumphant return to the Capitol on Monday afternoon and took up a brave new cause: He is opposing disabled people.

Specifically, Santorum, joined by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, declared his wish that the Senate reject the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities — a human rights treaty negotiated during George W. Bush’s administration and ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference.

Lee, a tea party favorite, said he, too, has “grave concerns” about the document’s threat to American sovereignty. “I will do everything I can to block its ratification, and I have secured the signatures of 36 Republican senators, all of whom have joined with me saying that we will oppose any ratification of any treaty during this lame-duck session.”

Our Senate, and our nation, were once again shamed by a group of right-wing lunatics tilting at U.N. conspiracy theory windmills.

Mike Lee is an unqualified buffoon who should never have been allowed near public office, and yet the good people of Utah saw fit to send him to Washington and inflict his unqualified buffoonery on the rest of us.

Thanks a lot, fuckers.

But that’s the real problem, isn’t it? We can scream and yell at the knuckle dragging clowns in Congress, but it was the knuckle dragging clowns at home that sent them there in the first place. Mike Lee is just the petulant, screaming man-child face of his petulant, screaming man-child constituents.

The shameful display on the Senate floor yesterday is yet another symptom of our nations ongoing illness. Namely, the careening decent into madness of one of the two major political parties of our two party political system.

It’s Arkham Asylum over there, and all the lunatics and psychopaths are running the place.

Black helicopter U.N. conspiracy theories have been around a long time. They used to be relegated to the Bircher crazies and the separatist gun nuts. But not any more. Now we get the distinct pleasure of hearing them discussed on the Senate floor as though they merit discussion and rational response.

They do not.

Staggeringly idiotic theories built on off-their-meds levels of delusion and paranoia cannot and should not be met with anything but revulsion and dismissal. Yet we now allow this garbage to scuttle years of work on an international treaty, and to make our entire nation a fucking laughing-stock.

This is deadly serious. We have allowed right-wing insanity to dictate our domestic and foreign policy for far too long. The consequences have been tragic, and the entire world has paid the price with economic turmoil and violence. This must stop.

As the world gets smaller through technology and population growth, America has a vital role to play in shaping our future as a species. We have huge problems that need our attention and leadership right now if we are to avert catastrophic climate change and food shortages. If we can’t start behaving rationally, and get our political house in order by putting the screaming children in the corner, we might as well kiss this rock we call a planet goodby.

That Sinking Feeling

November 10, 2012

Mitt and the rest of the GOP had decided to ignore despite all evidence…

was real.

Just as we all warned them it was.

These clowns had drunk so much of their own cool-aid that they honestly believed their own bullshit.

“We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” said one senior adviser. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”

As a result, they believed the public/media polls were skewed – they thought those polls oversampled Democrats and didn’t reflect Republican enthusiasm. They based their own internal polls on turnout levels more favorable to Romney. That was a grave miscalculation, as they would see on election night.

Those assumptions drove their campaign strategy: their internal polling showed them leading in key states, so they decided to make a play for a broad victory: go to places like Pennsylvania while also playing it safe in the last two weeks.

Those assessments were wrong.

And just like climate change, evolution, sex education, tax policy, and a myriad of other issues, conservatives refused to believe their lying eyes.

MADDOW: Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he
really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is
legitimately president of the United States, again.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment
rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no
evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the
polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not
making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel
bad. Nate Silver was doing math.

And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy
sometimes. And evolution is a thing.

And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And
nobody is taking away anyone`s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the
deficit is dropping, actually.

And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the
moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And
U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of
the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services
industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.

Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for
very obvious reasons, but it was also, possibly, a good night for this
country as a whole, because in this country, we have a two-party system in
government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides, both come
up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country.
They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate
between those possible solutions.

And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition
between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country
should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if
only one side is really working on the hard stuff.

And the if the Republican Party and the conservative movement and the
conservative media is snuck a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of
telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived
truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the
constructive debate about competing feasible ideas about real problems.

Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was
coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not
believe it, even as it was happening to them.

And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop
the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not
want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them,
but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. You
guys, we`re counting on you. Wake up.

There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts
in the world. Let`s accept those and talk about how we might approach our
problems differently. Let`s move on from there.

If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative
media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night,
we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit,
congratulations, everybody. Big night.

Now, days later, while they’re picking through the rubble of their house of cards, they still cannot accept responsibility for any of it. It was voter suppression, the country is just full of moochers that want “stuff” (which seems to be the right’s new euphemism for welfare), Romney was a liberal, we were lied to, on and on and on.

They simply can’t admit that the nation has changed. That it’s much harder to win national election through race-bating and lies. That their brand of thinly veiled racism and economic nihilism doesn’t sell like it used to. That living in a fantasy world of conspiracy theories, mysticism, and goose-stepping adherence to Fox Nooze talking-points is a recipe for electoral disaster.

What happened Tuesday night broadcast the delusional psychosis of the GOP in 1080p Hi-Def.

The question now is: Will they come to grips with reality and eject the worst elements of their party to save themselves?

Of course not.

Republicans are their worst elements. They are the Tea Party. They are racists, theocrats, and fascists. They have refined themselves down to their base and have nowhere else to go.

Did this election change anything? Yes.

The nation has overwhelmingly backed a progressive vision for our future. Our Supreme Court will be more liberal for at least another generation. Young people and people of color are turning out to vote for liberals, and will for the foreseeable future. Conservative politicians have been painted into a corner and will either negotiate or perish at the polls.

Will it change the GOP? No.

We can expect more of the same. A lot of screaming and yelling, and a lot of electoral drubbings.

In other words we can expect more of this.

Romney/Mola Rand 2012

August 11, 2012

Who didn’t see this coming? Of course Romney picked The High Priest of Galt as his running mate.

What other choices did he have?

A guy who somehow manages to be even more pasty, dull, and tasteless than Mitt.

An insane Congresswoman who’d have to be stuffed in a closet at Fox Nooze until the election was over to avoid an unmitigated disaster every time she spoke.

A morbidly obese ignoramus and bully from New Jersey.

A Bush administration hack who has zero name recognition and a long and easily exposed history of lies and idiocy.

A pathetic man-child who believes in demonic possession and sounds like Kenneth the Page.

A lying hypocrite from Florida who happens to be Latino, but doesn’t support the DREAM Act, and publicly stated he didn’t want to be VP.

The fact is, Romney’s campaign is a train wreck.  The only reason the race is close at all right now is that the media has been acting like stenographers instead of journalists for years, and the hatred of Obama from the right outweighs their distaste for Mitt. The only reasonable course of action for him at this point was to pick the one guy that the right really liked and was deemed a Very Serious Person by the beltway media Villagers. The fact that he is an unapologetic Ayn Rand cult leader is just icing on the cake.

Mitt Romney, as we all know, is a lying prick and Paul Ryan is a damned fraud. But what better living, breathing illustration of the modern GOP than a presidential ticket featuring a pathological liar and an ignorant fool. These two rich, smooth talking, white sociopaths ARE the modern GOP.

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