Tracking the Growth of American Authoritarianism

“Can There Really Be Fascist People In A Democracy?”
Libertarians are stealthily taking over America.

Since the 1971 Powell Memo, America has moved closer and closer to Fascism.

 

Our Two Major Political Parties – The Illusion and Realities of Their Essences

Over the years, some have said that there is little difference between our two major political parties. This is certainly a favorite characterization made by third-party members like Libertarians, who actually represent the extremes of both major parties. However, if they are so much alike, why haven’t we had record numbers of bills passed by Congress in recent years?

One of the reasons for the acceptance of this characterization is the similar language used by both sides. Republicans have a well-founded message machine developed and refined over several decades. Democrats don’t. Democrats just use the Republican talking points preceded by a negative. Thus Republicans make statements and Democrats repeat them.

Another fact that makes them appear the same is the disproportionate pressure released against them by the unrestrained “freedoms” of the ONE%. The CEOs, major stockholders, Koch Brothers, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, and other billionaires – through coalitions like The Gang of Six – not only fund election campaigns but spend lots of face time in the offices of their Congressional representatives.

However, as documented throughout this blog, there is one key difference between the two parties of today. The Republican party has become extremely authoritarian in nature. They are an army and march in lockstep farther and farther to the right. (It’s these same Republican who enabled the Citizens United Decision.)

Democrats, on the other hand, remain fractured and have forgotten how to express their progressive values as they repeat the conservative dogma which automatically suppresses their progressive ideals. They become unwitting accomplices to the Republican message machine. They should, instead, speak out on how each of us is responsible for each other, and for a necessary government that protects and empowers all its citizens equally.

Frankly, I wish the two parties were more alike, and less partisan – as they were before Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and Ronald Reagan. Before 1980, and the further back you look, there was a mix of political views in both parties. Our post WWII and pre-Reagan history shows the two parties were more alike than now, and, most importantly, got stuff done.

Case in point: Here is a quote from retired Senator Evan Bayh, son of Senator Birch Bayh, from Who Stole the American Dream by Hedrick Smith. Both Senators are Democrats. Senator Evan Bayh describes his father’s situation in 1968, when his father was seeking re-election for his second of three terms:

[Senator] Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, approached him [Senator Birch Bayh] on the Senate floor, put his arm around my father’s shoulder, and asked what he could do to help. This is unimaginable today.

Hedrick Smith also summarized the change of the Republican party with the following juxtapositions:

In the latest Congress, Republican Senate moderates have dwindled from the twenty-two recruited by Dirksen on civil rights to just three …. In the House, the sixty-five [Republican] moderates who voted for Medicare with [President] Johnson have shrunk to fewer than a dozen.

The swing to the Republican [authoritarian] Right has been especially strong in the South. … shot up from just 4 Senate seats to 20, and from 14 House seats to 102.

We need two parties more alike, centrist, but with Democrats who can talk their progressive values. We also need to overturn Citizens United and regain control of our Congress.

 

Measuring gridlock
Posted in Authoritarianism   |   1 Comment   |   Email This Post Email This Post

The Price of Our Freedoms – Our Children’s Lives?, Our Representative Government?

Based on the recent writings of Professor George Lakoff and the Newtown statements from our President, I posted the following to FB to contrast the conservative without conscience (CWC) and progressive moral values on the recent shootings in Newtown, CT.

Which moral value would you pick? The individual freedom to own weapons for mass killing or the social responsibility to prevent violence against all our children?

A similar moral value contrast could work for Citizens United. But, what are the CWC/progressive moral choices?

The basic progressive moral value is to both protect and empower while being responsible for both oneself and others. For the family, both parents equally protect and empower each child. For the government, our elected representatives should enable the equal protection and empowerment of all citizens. The opposing CWC value is individual freedom to provide one’s own protection and empowerment. As ‘rugged individualists,’ CWCs don’t need government.

Also, we’ve had decades of CWC dogma about limiting government and absolutely no discussion about limiting corporate governance, which has grown/evolved for decades and now protects and empowers only CEOs and major stockholders at the expense of everything else impacted by corporate governance.

With that in mind, here are some moral value options on governance – as citizens in a representative democracy or as consumers in a corporatocracy. Which would you pick, CWC or P?

CWC: Limiting representative government and privatizing all that is public, or
P: Limiting corporate governance and thus protecting citizen’s well-being, prosperity and safety?

CWC: Maximizing corporate freedom by eliminating governmental checks and balances, or
P: Maximizing citizen freedom by having government check and balance abusers of power?

CWC: Living under corporate governance which is accountable only to the CEO and a few major stockholders, or
P: Living under representative government that is accountable to voters?

CWC: Having corporate governance concerned only about profit at the expense of other stakeholders including customers, or
P: Having representative government concerned exclusively about protecting and empowering all citizens equally?

CWC: Having corporate governance that has bought our representative government, or
P: Having representative governance that is independent of international corporations which are as financially as large as small countries?

What are we willing to pay for the unlimited freedom to own weapons of mass killing – the lives of our own children?

What are we willing to pay for unlimited free enterprise – the loss of our representative government?

Our freedom of speech has reasonable limitations, like talking about “bombs” in a crowded public airport, and we haven’t suffered the “slippery slop.” Our freedom to travel is reasonably limited by traffic control and it hasn’t kept us home bound. Why can’t we accept reasonable limitations on gun ownership and corporate personhood?

“Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” — Barack Obama, Newtown Address, December 16, 2012

 

Posted in Nurturant State, Strict-father State   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on The Price of Our Freedoms – Our Children’s Lives?, Our Representative Government?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Neoliberalism Threatens Our Democracy By Replacing Our Social State with a Punishing State

In an interview of Henry Giroux about the War on youth in America, Canada and Great Britain, there is a great summary of neoliberalism, its destructive power, and its reliance on an unfettered free market.

Your works speak about an attack on public institutions. Could you elaborate on what you mean by this attack? Why are public institutions being attacked?

Public institutions are being attacked because they are public, offer spaces for producing critical thought, emphasize human needs over economic needs, and because they are one of the few vital institutions left that can function as democratic public spheres.

You have described the phenomena of neo-liberalism as a “terror.” Could you briefly explain what neo-liberalism is and why you called it a terror?

Neoliberalism is a philosophy which construes profit making as the essence of democracy and consuming as the only operable form of citizenship. It also provides a rationale for a handful of private interests to control as much as possible of social, economic, and political life in order to maximize their personal profit. Neoliberalism is marked by a shift from the manufacturing to the service sector, the rise of temporary and part-time work, growth of the financial sphere and speculative activity, the spread of mass consumerism, the commodification of practically everything.

Neoliberalism combines free market ideology with the privatization of public wealth, the elimination of the social state and social protections, and the deregulation of economic activity. Core narratives of neoliberalism are: privatization, deregulation, commodification, and the selling off of state functions. Neoliberalism advocates lifting the government oversight of free enterprise/trade thereby not providing checks and balances to prevent or mitigate social damage that might occur as a result of the policy of “no governmental interference”; eliminating public funding of social services; deregulating governmental involvement in anything that could cut into the profits of private enterprise; privatizing such enterprises as schools, hospitals, community-based organizations, and other entities traditionally held in the public trust; and eradicating the concept of “the public good” or “community” in favor of “individual responsibility.”

It is a form of terrorism because it abstracts economics from ethics and social costs, makes a mockery of democracy, works to dismantle the welfare state, thrives on militarization, undermines any public sphere not governed by market values, and transforms people into commodities. Neoliberalism’s rigid emphasis on unfettered individualism, competitiveness and flexibility displaces compassion, sharing and a concern for the welfare of others. In doing so, it dissolves crucial social bonds and undermines the profound nature of social responsibility and its ensuing concern for others. In removing individuals from broader social obligations, it not only tears up social solidarities, it also promotes a kind of individualism that is almost pathological in its disdain for public goods, community, social provisions, and public values. Given its tendency to instrumentalize knowledge, it exhibits mistrust for thoughtfulness, complexity, and critical dialogue and in doing so contributes to a culture of stupidity and cruelty in which the dominant ethic is organized around the discourse of war and a survival of the fittest mentality. Neoliberalism is the antithesis of democracy.

Do you believe that neo-liberalism is compatible with some of the more traditional civic and social ethos expounded by more traditional liberal advocates of higher education? If so how, if not, why not?

No, neoliberalism represents a break with older forms of liberalism because it completely abrogates the social contract and leaves no room for meaningful social relationships. Its project has nothing to do with education and everything to do with training.

You have described some strategies to resist neo-liberalism. Your main strategies include new more radical types of pedagogy. Could you explain some of your methods?

My strategies are organized around the need to make pedagogy central to politics itself and to help create the conditions necessary for the development of a formative culture that provides the foundation for developing critical citizens and a meaningful and substantive democracy.

The neoliberal punishing state is at war with our youth:

 

Neoliberalism is replacing our democracy with a corporatocracy, replacing critical thinking citizens with citizens who are more inclined to shop than vote, replacing care for others with excessive greed, replacing equal opportunity with opportunity only for the wealthy, rewriting laws to favor corporations and the extremely wealthy, converting the middle class to the new poor, and presenting youth, especially minority youth, as an internal security threat rather than a key ingredient in the infrastructure of our democracy.

Posted in Corporate Intrusion   |   Comments Off on Neoliberalism Threatens Our Democracy By Replacing Our Social State with a Punishing State   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Dirk Van Dongen – Strengthening The Military-Corporate Complex and Enriching the ONE%

In an address to the nation on January 17, 1961, in the middle of nurturing the greatest middle class this world has ever seen, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned,

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

You may have never heard of Dirk Van Dongen. Well, he is the top corporate lobbyist in this military-corporate complex who President Eisenhower warned us about. Here is a statement from TIMELINE: WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM about this ONE%er:

May 2003 — At a White House ceremony, President Bush thanks “my friend Dirk Van Dongen” for helping to move the Bush tax cuts through Congress. Unknown to most Americans, Van Dongen is a Washington insider, field marshal of the “Gang of Six” — the six major business organizations that anchor the Tax Relief Coalition that lobbied for tax cuts.

He was not only crucial to getting the initial Bush tax cuts signed into law but he, and his Gang of Six, worked hard in 2010 to force the extension of those tax cuts.

In a September 2005 Bloomberg article, the authors summarized the relationship between Bush and corporate lobbyists:

Since George W. Bush became president in January 2001, it hasn’t been unusual for top-ranking U.S. lawmakers and 59-year-old Bush himself to turn to trade group lobbyists for advice in making legislative decisions. The industry associations have staged successful battles ranging from new laws cutting individual income taxes to reducing tariffs in international trade agreements.

This article described Van Dongen’s Gang of Six in this way:

The groups represent companies that employ more than 22 million people and generate at least $5.2 trillion in goods and services, or almost half of U.S. gross domestic product. If the Gang of Six were a country, it would constitute the world’s second biggest economy, eclipsing Japan’s $4.7 trillion GDP.

The Gang of Six is also referred to as the Tax Relief Coalition. In another Bloomberg article from 2010, the authors quantified the money being invested by these corporate lobbyists to keep the Bush tax cuts in place:

The Tax Relief Coalition brings money to the fight. The management committee groups have spent $3.8 million since Jan. 1, 2009, on candidates and advertising. The Chamber alone plans to spend $75 million on the Nov. 2 elections.

No doubt, Dongen and his team of 1.8 million over paid CEOs are out there right now pushing to keep these cuts in place and promote legislation to further increase their power and wealth. And re-electing President Obama, adding two more Democrat Senators, and dumping a few Tea Party wackos from Congress is not enough to stop this powerful lobbying.

We the people need to lobby hard. There are more of us and we need to speak up.

“I can only do it with the help of the American people,” President Obama said. “Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency. We don’t have a lot of time here. We’ve got a few weeks to get this thing done. … Tweet #my2k”

Posted in Corporate Intrusion   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Dirk Van Dongen – Strengthening The Military-Corporate Complex and Enriching the ONE%   |   Email This Post Email This Post

The Dakota Indians Lost to the ONE% in the 1860s – Can Today’s 99% Check and Balance Today’s ONE%?

A recent episode of This American Life was about the Dakota War of 1862. This war resulted in the final expulsion of the Dakota Indians from their ancestral home in Minnesota. It took years of lies, trickery, swindles, war, and finally, the hanging of 38 Dakotas.

Hedrick Smith’s new book Who Stole the American Dream is about the economic war against the 99% by the ONE%. It is a very detailed description of the step by step destruction of the American dream by the plutocrats. The book also provides recommendations for what America and its citizens must do to reverse the large losses they have suffered during recent decades, recommendations that should prove more successful than the failed efforts of the Minnesota Dakota Indian’s stand against those in power in the mid 1800s.

The analogies between the downfall of the Dakota Indians at the hands of the powerful sounds remarkably familiar when heard in the context of the war between the two Americas described by Hedrick Smith. In both cases, the powerful dehumanize, imprison, kill, or let die those who threaten their power.

Then, as now, the ONE% see those without power as expendable. According to Hedrick Smith’s book, a 2005 Citicorp glossy investment brochure called Welcome to the Plutonomy stated, “There is no ‘average consumer’ in a plutonomy …. Economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few.” The Dakotas were part of the expendable indigenous people of the Americas. The poor and middle class are now seen as the expendable “indigenous workers” of the world.

The difference between the Dakota’s abhorrent fate and the unknown fate of today’s 99% comes down to strength in numbers. The Dakotas were slowly outnumbered by the non-indians. They lost all they considered important to their way of life. The losses suffered by today’s 99% are similar and broader in scale. However, the 99% far outnumber the ONE%. The question is, will the 99% stand up and tell the ONE% that their freedom to abuse must end?

According to a 2009 Daily Kos article, the biggest fear of the ONE% is ‘one person – one vote‘ and this fear has escalated after the re-election of President Obama and the election of more women and progressives to our national congress. Voting is critical, but only the beginning to reclaiming the American Dream for the 99%. Mr. Smith and others suggest a “domestic Marshall Plan.”

Below are the 10 steps for this domestic Marshall Plan, which the 99% must require from our elected representatives. The first eight are economic. The last two regain the political center of post WWII America.

  • Creating Infrastructure Jobs to Regain Our Ability to Compete in a Global Economy
  • Pushing, Led by the Federal Government, for Innovation, Science, and High-tech Research
  • Generating a Manufacturing Renaissance for good paying jobs
  • Making the Nation’s Personal Tax Code Fairer – reducing the power of the ONE%.
  • Making the Corporate Tax Code Favor Job Creation IN America
  • Getting China to Live by a Fair Trade Policy
  • Reducing Spending on Wars and Weapons
  • Supporting Home Owners and Funding Our Citizenship Benefits (SS, Medicare, and Affordable Care Act)
  • Rebuilding the Political Center and Ending Partisan Gridlock – The elections of 2006, 2008, and 2012 were a good start.
  • Mobilizing the Middle Class to Do More than Vote

It will take time but implementing this plan will protect and empower the middle class and keep the ONE% in check – just as the Greatest Generation did in post WWII America.

Posted in Enemy/Scapegoat, Human Rights Abuse   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on The Dakota Indians Lost to the ONE% in the 1860s – Can Today’s 99% Check and Balance Today’s ONE%?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Corporate Governance of Social Security & Medicare – An Abominable Idea for Senior Welfare

I’ve sent the following to President Obama via the White House contact web site:

You might consider doing something similar to counter all the fiscal cliff fear mongering we will hear for the next several weeks.

—————————————————————————————-
RE: Fiscal Cliff Fear Mongering and Sacrificing the Public Good

Mr. President,

Between now and the end of the year there will be a lot of fanciful fear mongering over the fiscal cliff. Please stay cool and don’t agree to replace representative governance of citizen benefits with corporate governance where accountability shifts from our elected officials to major stock holders.

Just like the family’s moral purpose is to protect and empower their children, our government’s moral purpose is to protect and empower its citizens. Transferring this moral function to local daycare centers or multinational corporations, who must put profit before protecting or empowering their customers, harms both our children and our citizens. As George Lakoff puts it, ” ‘Smaller government’ means making the public good secondary and abandoning the sacred moral mission of the government.”

More specifically, it is the moral obligation of our government to provide and manage the Social Security and Medicare programs for the citizens. These programs are especially critical for protecting and empowering senior citizens. Without representative governance, the freedom of seniors will be severely restricted as they unnecessarily suffer from shrinking incomes while trying to pay for increasing medical costs during their retirement years.

Privatization of SS only benefits Wall Street while it robs Main Street. Wages, which haven’t grown for decades and have become insufficient, are then subjected to the vagaries of the irrational and inherently selfish free market. This exacerbates the decades long transfer of wealth from most Americans to the ONE%.

Privatization of Medicare only benefits the insurance industry while robbing elderly citizens of their right to healthcare – a moral responsibility of our government. Insurance companies cannot compete with Medicare with their higher administrative costs and profit requirements, and elderly citizens can’t afford the insurance premiums of totally privatized health care that has no moral concern for the health of its customers.

What we need, instead of privatization, is additional revenue to properly fund these citizenship benefits. All citizens need to pay, as most currently do, citizenship dues for these future benefits. This includes paying dues on all pre-retirement income, not just income from employment wages.

Posted in Protect & Empower   |   Comments Off on Corporate Governance of Social Security & Medicare – An Abominable Idea for Senior Welfare   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Disaster Relief Is Immoral and Requires Privatization – Who Believes This and Why?

Here is a portion of the transcript from the June 13, 2011, Republican presidential primary debate where Romney is asked about transferring disaster relief to the states – a conservative, anti-federal government idea.

KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut—we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all. [emphasis added]

Video of the above exchange:

 

What is it about authoritarian conservatives without conscience (CWC), like Romney and Ryan, that lead them to make statements like the ones above, and others?

These statements do make sense to those whose moral values result in the following conservative principles:

  • Direct causation – each reaction is the result of only direct action,
  • Rugged individualism – believing that self-discipline and moral correctness leads to individual success, and
  • Privatization – a self-correcting tool for problem solving that also replaces representative governance with corporate governance.

The strict father, authoritarian, family model teaches direct causation starting from a very early age. The strict father dictates what is morally correct and reinforces that correctness with direct and strong physical punishment. What is right is a direct result of what the strict father mandates. Indirect influences are, by definition, irrelevant. With a brain programmed for direct causation, some beliefs come down to ‘gut feel’ or ‘common sense.’ Critical thinking about causation not required and never taught.

Direct causation provides the foundation for the principle of rugged individualism. The authoritarian strict father defines reality which includes being responsible only for oneself. Others are responsible for themselves in a direct causation world. Rugged individuals are also taught both moral correctness and self-discipline and that the lack of self-discipline is immoral. Effective self-discipline produces a rugged and moral individual who is the master of his own fate. Such individuals can handle any situation or national disaster. If they aren’t prepared, then they have no one to blame, or to count on for help, but themselves – “you’re on your own” and “you deserve what you get.” If they lack moral correctness and self-discipline, they especially don’t deserve help when the federal government ‘steals’ from truly rugged individuals, like ‘small business job creators,’ to ‘give’ the help to the undisciplined and immoral. Such large-scale federal help, like disaster relief or saving the auto industry, is immoral for the CWC.

In the worldview of the authoritarian CWC, their cherished moral value of self-discipline is key to their love of free enterprise – the free market will take care of itself and self-correct. CWC’s believe self-discipline is an innate part of capitalism. This is why they believe privatization is necessary for all government functions, except national defense, which provides a powerful punishment tool they need for bringing the world under their control. Thus, privatizing FEMA is morally the right thing to do. If it’s privatized you can buy the services you need to survive – if you can afford it.

Can you afford to pay for disaster recovery on your own?

 

Posted in Authoritarianism, Obsession with Punishment   |   Tagged ,   |   Comments Off on Disaster Relief Is Immoral and Requires Privatization – Who Believes This and Why?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Why Are Some Americans More Concerned About Consuming Than Preserving Their Democracy?

The excerpts below are from a recent article by Henry Giroux, titled “Why Don’t Americans Care About Democracy at Home?”

The basic answer is “economic Darwinism,” which “promotes a politics of cruelty,” “undermines all forms of solidarity capable of challenging market-driven values and social relations,” while it also “promotes the virtues of an unbridled individualism that is almost pathological in its disdain for community, social responsibility, public values and the public good.” In other words, it’s all about me and to hell with those who are not like me.

Social Darwinism, as promoted by conservatives without conscience like authoritarians Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, has had harsh effects on America’s social conscience:

… social problems are increasingly criminalized, while social protections are either eliminated or fatally weakened. … it thrives on a kind of social amnesia that erases critical thought, historical analyses and any understanding of broader systemic relations. … [it] unleashes a mode of thinking in which social problems are reduced to individual flaws and political considerations collapse into the injurious and self-indicting discourse of character. … the anti-public philosophy of economic Darwinism makes a parody of democracy by defining freedom as “the liberty to seek one’s own interests and well-being, without being responsible for the interests or well-being of anyone else. It’s a morality of personal, but not social, responsibility. The only freedom you should have is what you can provide for yourself, not what the Public provides for you to start out.”

… Economic Darwinism has produced a legitimating ideology in which the conditions for critical inquiry, moral responsibility and social and economic justice disappear.

Economic Darwinism leaves no room for compassion or ethical considerations, which makes it[s] use of power much worse than more liberal models of a market-based society.

The not-so-hidden order of politics underlying the second Gilded Age and its heartless version of economic Darwinism is that some populations, primarily the elderly, young people, the unemployed, immigrants and poor whites and minorities of color, now constitute a form of human waste or excess. … Left unchecked, economic Darwinism will not only destroy the social fabric and undermine democracy; it will also ensure the marginalization and eventual elimination of those intellectuals willing to fight for public values, rights, spaces and institutions not wedded to the logic of privatization, commodification, deregulation, militarization, hyper-masculinity and a ruthless “competitive struggle in which only the fittest could survive.”[39] Clearly, this new politics of disposability and culture of cruelty will wreak destruction in ways not yet imaginable, despite the horrific outcomes of the economic and financial crisis brought on by economic Darwinism.

And so, the ONE%, Romney/Ryan, promote social Darwinism at the expense of everyone else.

How is it that economic Darwinism has become so significant in America?

Part of the answer is the tools of the far right (hate radio and Fox News), and the lack of confrontation from mainstream media. Henry Giroux points out the authoritarianism that is behind the use of these tools.

Unfortunately, the American public has remained largely silent, if not also complicitous with the rise of a neoliberal version of authoritarianism. …

… Critical learning is now reduced to mastering test-taking, memorizing facts, and learning how not to question knowledge and authority. …

… the financialization of the economy and culture has resulted in the poisonous growth of monopoly power, predatory lending, abusive credit card practices and misuses of CEO pay. The false but central neoliberal tenet that markets can solve all of society’s problems has no way of limiting the power of money and has given rise to “a politics in which policies that favor the rich … have allowed the financial sector to amass vast economic and political power.”[24] As Joseph Stiglitz points out, there is more at work in this form of [corporate] governance than a pandering to the wealthy and powerful: There is also the specter of an authoritarian society “where people live in gated communities,” large segments of the population are impoverished or locked up in prison and Americans live in a state of constant fear as they face growing “economic insecurity, health care insecurity [and] a sense of physical insecurity.”[25] In other words, the authoritarian nature of neoliberal political governance and economic power is also visible in the rise of a national security state in which civil liberties are being drastically abridged and violated.

The anti-democratic practices at work … also include the US government’s use of state secrecy to provide a cover or prevent being embarrassed by practices that range from the illegal use of torture to the abduction of innocent foreign nationals. Under the rubric of national security, a shadow state has emerged that eschews transparency and commits unlawful acts. Given the power of the government to engage in a range of illegalities and to make them disappear through an appeal to state secrecy, it should come as no surprise that warrantless wiretapping, justified in the name of national security, is on the rise at both the federal and state levels. For instance, the New York City Police Department “implemented surveillance programs that violate the civil liberties of that city’s Muslim-American citizens [by infiltrating] mosques and universities [and] collecting information on individuals suspected of no crimes.”[29] And the American public barely acknowledged this shocking abuse of power. Such anti-democratic policies and practices have become the new norm in American society and reveal a frightening and dangerous move toward a 21st century version of authoritarianism.

… What is particularly disturbing is how little opposition … there is among the American public to this view of particular social groups as disposable – this, perhaps more than anything else, signals the presence of a rising authoritarianism in the United States. …

… Hannah Arendt’s warning that “it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think” at the heart of authoritarian regimes is now embraced as a fundamental tenet of Republican Party politics.

Right-wing, strict father, authoritarian, promoters-of-punishment-as-a-teaching-tool, or conservatives without conscience, have been pushing social Darwinism for decades and are succeeding in converting critical thinking citizens into obedient consumers, who care more about their consumption and less about those who weren’t as lucky.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion, Media-Info Control, Obsession with Punishment   |   Comments Off on Why Are Some Americans More Concerned About Consuming Than Preserving Their Democracy?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Randy Weber Exposed – You Are Known by the Company You Keep

Randy Weber is a member of ALEC and the Koch brothers are supporting ALEC. This says a lot about Randy Weber.

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, with the help of many corporations, has written hundreds of model legislative bills and many have become state laws in the last two years thanks to the Tea Party and other conservatives without conscience. Some of those laws, like the Texas Voter ID law, have recently been blocked by the courts, but many are still law.

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding. — The Nation, Aug, 2011

Randy Weber, ALEC, and the Koch brothers want a right-wing, authoritarian, plutocracy. Here is a summary of the model bills they are creating to make that happen:

Reducing Democracy, Voter Rights, and Federal Power:

“ALEC bills or resolutions would disenfranchise Americans and give corporations even more power to use their vast financial resources to influence elections in our democracy. These ‘model bills’ include the infamous Voter ID bills pushed through this year by new governors, many of whom have ties to ALEC.”

Limiting Health care for women and children:

“ALEC’s model legislation harms women and families in numerous ways, including proposals that would roll back no fault divorce laws, limit the regulation of day care centers, make it more difficult for impoverished children to receive the benefits of welfare, limit regulation of toxic and hazardous substances that adversely affect children’s health even more so than adults, bar lawsuits for injuries due to recalled drugs despite the spate of recalls of medicine used by children and young adults, and, among other things, outsource to for-profit companies the collection of child support.”

Promoting ‘Stand Your Ground’, Filling Privatized Prisons, and Selling Guns:

” … bills pushed by ALEC corporations result in taxpayers subsidizing the profits of the private prison industry by putting more people in for-profit prisons and keeping them in jail for longer. The bills also would put more guns on streets and interfere with local law enforcement decisions about how best to interact with immigrant communities.”

Killing Unions and Sending Jobs Overseas:

“Bills {to} limit workers rights and drain labor unions of resources for protecting employees, undermine consumer protections, favor the Wall Street financial agenda, limit the ability to cap exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and big bank fees. {These} bills and resolutions … also attempt to funnel tax dollars to for-profit corporations through privatization schemes and push the “free trade” agenda that has shipped good-paying American jobs overseas.”

Limiting Corporate Liability and the Rights of Injured Americans:

“These [bills] erode the rights of an injured person, or that person’s family, who files a complaint alleging that a corporation caused injury or death and should be held responsible for all the damages its actions caused.”

Privatizing Public Education, Undermining Teachers, and Promoting “Conservatives” on Campus, More:

“Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds.”

Limiting Patient Rights and Undermining Safety Net Programs for Older Americans and Others:

“These anti-patient ‘model bills’ advance the interests of global drug companies and the health insurance industry, while eroding the rights and health of Americans.”

Promoting Dirty Energy and Corporate Agriculture over the Environment:

“These ‘model bills’ and resolutions thwart efforts to address climate change, streamline siting of nuclear power plants, and oppose efforts to address hazardous coal waste.”

Reshaping the Tax Code to Benefit Big Business and the ONE%:

“These ‘model bills’ and resolutions also push for extending the Bush tax cuts and attempt to use temporary legislative majorities to tie the hands of future majorities to raise taxes to meet citizens’ needs.”

===============================

A vote for Randy Weber is a vote for replacing our Public with Private – replacing representative governance that is accountable to We the People with corporate governance that is accountable only to major stock holders.

A vote for Randy Weber will increase national gridlock and further protect and empower the ONE%.

Posted in Corporate Intrusion   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Randy Weber Exposed – You Are Known by the Company You Keep   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds: Too Easy Edition

I had stopped publishing the Bad Deeds during election season because I need to spend all my time knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters, and you don’t need to be distracted from the task at hand either.

But tonight, I saw all six of the following stories on the front page of RawStory.com, and it was just too easy. So read, enjoy, then go knock on doors and make phone calls to voters.

Arkansas Republican endorses death penalty for disobedient children – A man running as a Republican for State Representative in Arkansas published a book in which he endorses the death penalty for rebellious children and much, much more.

In his book “God’s Law: The Only Political Solution,” published in April, former Arkansas Department of Human Services attorney Charlie Fuqua explains that he supports killing wayward kids because that’s what a Bronze Age tribe did in his favorite religious text.

“The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline,” he wrote, according to an excerpt published by The Arkansas Times. “Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellioius children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21.”

Romney refuses to face kids on Nickelodeon after vow to defund Big Bird – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is now refusing to take questions from children on a Nickelodeon special, Kids Pick the President. However, President Obama has agreed to participate in the program.

Republican Rep. on science committee believes in Creationism, not science

Romney pretends Obama’s free trade agreements simply don’t exist – In a key foreign policy speech Monday morning, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed President Barack Obama “has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years,” and promised to “reverse that failure.”

However, Congress passed and Obama signed three major trade deals in 2011, giving American companies access to new markets in South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The Associated Press said the arrangements “could be worth billions to American exporters and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Pro-Romney energy company accused of extorting contributions from workers – Murray Energy has been accused of forcing its employees to make political contributions to Republican candidates.

Wisc. Republican Senate candidate forgets how many homes he owns – The Thompson campaign was forced to admit he also had a $1.3 million condo near Lake Wisconsin.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds: Too Easy Edition   |   Email This Post Email This Post

How Wealthy are the Forbes 400 – Let’s Try Some “Arithmetic” …

Robert Reich made the following statement last June, ” … the richest 400 Americans {own} as much as the bottom 150 million put together.” Let me try to put this in perspective with a little “arithmetic.”

Imagine 400 small towns across America with an average of 28,000 homes each. That’s 11,200,000 homes. If each home is worth an average $150,000, the total real estate value is the same as the total worth of the Forbes 400, $1,680,000,000,000 or $4.2 billion per billionaire.

Now imagine leveling each of those 400 towns and replacing its 28,000 homes with a single large mansion on the land left vacant by those demolished homes. If each home sheltered an average of 2.5 citizens, then 70,000 people are also displaced for each billionaire.

That’s truely excessive and unreasonable redistribution of wealth from the lowest 150,000,000 to the top 400.

Posted in Corporate Intrusion   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on How Wealthy are the Forbes 400 – Let’s Try Some “Arithmetic” …   |   Email This Post Email This Post

More Research Invalidates Extreme Right-wing Principle – Solely “Self-made”

The extreme right-wing, strict father, authoritarian family model, which is represented in many ways by the Romney/Ryan twosome, includes the principle of the self-made individual – each person is totally responsible for their success. This is what George Lakoff calls “individual responsibility and direct action.” The strict father has taught his children that their success is solely dependent on their moral and fiscal self-discipline.

What makes this principle extreme is that it excludes systemic causation – the many external factors we all have no control over. These external factors include who our parents are and their level of wealth and education, who our parents know and who those friends know, siblings and other relatives, preferential experience – the 10,000 hour rule, when you were born – The Matthew Effect, what county, state, city, and neighborhood you were born into, the early education you were given and how well that education was funded, the quality of your teachers and their choices as to where they wanted to teach, other neighborhood members, etc.

Forbes magazine recently published their 2012 list of the Forbes 400 richest Americans. In their article, Forbes initially stated that 70 percent of this individuals “made their fortunes entirely from scratch.” Now, this 70 percent is referred to as “self-made.”

This same basic observation was made by Forbes for last years 400. Since the 2011 list was published, however, researchers at United for a Fair Economy, took a closer look at it and concluded that most of the Forbes 400 benefited from a level of privilege only dreamed of by most Americans. Using some baseball analogies, here is what they found:

  • 12, or 3%, of the Forbes 400 left no paper trail for their path to wealth
  • 140, or 35%, made it to the top while starting in the batter’s box, where 95% of us live
  • 88, or 22%, were born on first base – inheritances up to $1 million
  • 44, or 11%, were born on second base – family business provided inheritance of between $1 and $50 million
  • 28, or 7%, were born on third base – over $50 million in inheritance
  • 88, or 22%, were born on home base – inheritance alone put them on the Forbes 400 list

None of these billionaires had a choice for what family they were born into, but that was obviously a major factor in the success for at least 248 of them who were already ‘on-base.’ Their family membership, and other factors these billionaires could not choose for themselves probably out weighed their innate talent, which was affected by the genes from their parents, in determining their success.

No one is self-made.

——————————————–
“I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned. If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil … I work in a market system that happens to reward what I do very well – disproportionately well. ” — Warren Buffet, #2 on the 2012 Forbes 400 Richest Americans

 

 

Notice that the ‘industry’ with the most billionaires is Financial Services and Hedge Funds. This group does not manufacture anything and creates few if any jobs for the middle class – just makes money with other people’s money. So many billions of dollars and so few employees to spread it between.

  • The blue line – total number of employees in private industry in the U.S.
  • The red line – number of employees in the “financial services” industry, which includes Wall Street
  • The green line – number of employees in the securities industry, just Wall Street.
Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on More Research Invalidates Extreme Right-wing Principle – Solely “Self-made”   |   Email This Post Email This Post

2012 Election – – Are We Going to Return to a National Legalized Gozzle-up Ponzi Scheme?

(The following is a reposting of an entry from August of 2010 with minor updates.)

This posting was inspired by an article at Rational Revolution. It takes another look at the disproportionate shift in income to the mega and ultra rich, the disproportionate tax breaks for the mega and ultra rich, and the creation of national and personal debt not seen since the Great Depression.

The similarities of the Great Depression of the last century to this century’s Great Recession on certain key measurements are critical to our future. Come the midterm elections and beyond, we can continue the destruction of the American middle class or continue the hard changes that have only just begun to rebuild the middle class.

Remember the trickle down theory of supply side economics that was supposed to result from tax breaks for the rich? Well, here’s a recent example of how trickle down works decades after it was started and has since been amplified: LeBron is promised $125,000,000.00 while 30 of the teams’ support employees are fired.

No matter how much LeBron makes or how little he pays in income taxes, those 30 former employees are screwed. This is exactly what has happened to many more Americans since the right-wing authoritarians (RWA) have been running our economy and giving disproportionate and extreme advantages to the really rich. There are now more mega and ultra rich people in this nation, but there are many, many more middle class households that have gone into debt with easy credit, lost their jobs, lost their homes, and declared bankruptcy. Middle class America is being replaced by a plutocracy. I’d call this a legalized Ponzi Scheme, which is trickle-up economics.

Didn’t the course change started in November 2008 mean stop and fix what’s wrong!

“The Voodoo That You Do”

Let’s review the situation created by the RWAs. Instead of continuing to grow the income of everyone, as was done after WWII, we are now only helping the rich become the mega and ultra rich. While most of us, the Bottom 90 Percent, have seen our income gains drop more than 50 percent, the Top 1 Percent have seen their income gains grow by more than 50 percent. Notice in the chart below how today’s share of income growth for the mega rich is just as high as it was before the Great Depression.

income-top1_btm90
(Note the slight recovery in income gains for the middle class
during the Clinton years.)

 

In terms of income growth by income group for before and after the RWAs took over, this shift is even more dramatic for the mega rich vs everyone else. Prior to Voodoo Economics, 1947 to 1979, income growth was fairly even – then the legalized trickle-up Ponzi Scheme started.

The Trickle Up Truth
Household income shifts to the rich

 

As shown in an earlier posting and to highlight the current effect of trickle-up, the average income of the top 1 percent in 2005, as reported to the the IRS, was $1,200,000.00 and the average for the bottom 99 percent was $45,000.00.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those in that top 1 percent. The chart below compares the income growth of corporate executives. These mega rich are rich, not because they produce something, but because they are mostly accountable to fund managers who, as share holders, vote for excessive salaries to get the ‘best’ CEOs money can buy who will then protect the fund’s value. Notice the only metric doing worse than the average worker is the minimum wage.

CEO income growth - Earned and Other

 

Then there are the ultra rich hedge fund managers, who, unlike the middle class, have mostly investment income which is taxed at rates far less than the marginal income tax rate for earned income. Can you imagine making billions of dollars and only paying 15 percent to the government? And they still want more tax breaks? To be clear, the top salary for 2007 was $3,700,000,000.00. That’s 177 times more income than Lebron James 6 year contract. That must correlate to thousands of more unemployed middle class Americans?

Income for the top hedge fund managers in 2007

 

Now add to these lopsided gains in income growth the increased tax breaks for major corporations and you see another reason for this shift in wealth to the rich. Their METRs have dropped by more than 30 percent while their contribution to our federal revenue has been cut in half:

Historical corporate tax rates
This chart only applies to corporations
who have stayed in America for tax purposes.

 

Tax revenue from Corps cut while individual revenues stay the same.

(And now thanks to our “activist” Supreme Court,
more corporate profits can go to PACs for controlling our government.)

 

Then, as shown below, there are the increased tax breaks on earned income. They have also been disproportionately reduced for the wealthy who are still mostly ‘earning’ their income. (Without this reduction it’s harder for the wealthy to become mega rich and move to unearned income.) The second chart below shows the marginal tax for any earned income and the growth in income for the ultra rich, the top 0.1 percent.

 

60 Years of Republican Tax Breaks for the Wealthy
Top marginal US income tax rates since 1920

 

Top 0.1 % and marginal tax rate for earned income.

 

The above earned income tax rates for the wealthy do not account for the even greater advantages that the mega and ultra rich have with even lower capital gains taxes for unearned income. For the top 400 taxpayers, less than 10 percent of their income is “earned” and subject to the marginal tax rates. Most of their income is taxed at the lower capital gains tax rate.

 

As the charts above show, the mega and ultra rich are getting disproportionately richer – their income growth is far outpacing that of the middle class – and their tax breaks are much more favorable! Most of us were fooled into believing there was trickle down – that’s what the RWA have told us. In reality, we have trickle-up and there is only the perception of income growth for the middle class from households with two incomes and going into debt up to our collective eyeballs. There is no trickle down when income growth and tax breaks have become so lopsided. Millions have lost their jobs as a few hundred have made billions without producing anything. These mega and ultra rich are sitting at the top of our legalized Ponzi Scheme and the middle class is disappearing.

Unlike the situation in WWII where everyone helped pay the nation’s bills, the RWA have reduced taxes, especially for the rich, and borrowed from other nations to pay for our wars and other expenses. The result of decades of tax breaks for the rich, the rich keeping too much of their excessive income, and enormous expenses for our military on top of our other federal expenditures, our national deficit has grown over 55 percent under the rule of RWAs and their Great Recession.

 

 

Not only has the nation’s debt escalated for decades, so has our personal debt. Citizens have borrowed like never before and we feel richer and believe that it’s trickling down from the rich that were given all those tax breaks. In addition, the government encouraged borrowing, corporations took advantage of lower rates, and the mega rich investors created innovative methods to maximize their unearned, under-taxed, income by encouraging the middle class to go into debt.

 

HOUSEHOLD DEBT AS A PERCENTAGE OF GDP

 

How unfair is all this? Under the rule of the RWAs, most citizen’s personal debt has more than doubled and is near the levels that preceded the Great Depression, while at the same time income for the mega rich is as high as it was prior to the Great Depression.

Income of top 1 percent near pre Great Depression levels

 

I say again. This has to stop!!!

But if you don’t agree and if you want more disproportionate tax breaks for the mega and ultra rich, and for the corporations that make unlimited political contributions. If you want more national and personal debt, and if you want others to pay our debt so we can continue shopping, vote for The Devil’s Budget in November.

Remember, RWA are also known as “Conservatives without Conscience” and they are mostly common to the Republican and Libertarian party. A few also exist in the Democratic party.

Vote Republican??? – Vote Gozzle-up.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on 2012 Election – – Are We Going to Return to a National Legalized Gozzle-up Ponzi Scheme?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

What’s It Gonna Be: Representative Governance or Corporate Governance?

Part of President Obama’s 2012 nomination acceptance speech made reference to the different visions and choices for our future.

“And on every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America, a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future. Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known …” — President Obama, September 6, 2012

One of the major choices we face is between representation by an efficient, properly funded, and properly manned government that is accountable to its citizens, or corporate governance, via privatization or our government, that is accountable to a small subset of citizens: major shareholders. It’s a choice between a representative government with a primary goal to protect and empower its citizens thus promoting equal opportunity for all, or corporate governance with a primary goal to make a profit with no regard for citizens rights thus promoting opportunity only for the wealthy. It’s a choice between a representative government which regulates corporations to protect citizens from the unfettered excesses of the free market, or corporate governance to protect profit from citizenship dues and the costs related to protecting citizens from harmful corporate byproducts. It’s a choice between a representative government bound to empower and maximize the freedom of its citizens through the resources of the Public, or corporate governance bound to destroy the Public and enslave the citizens.

George Lakoff writes about the governance choice as a balancing act:

” … The issue is the proper balance between the Public and the Corporate [Private]. Both need each other. Corporations should create goods and services that people need at a reasonable profit, without any harm. Government regulation exists to achieve this. Honest business has been the American way for a long time, supported by the Public, regulated by the government, and producing goods, services and well-paying jobs. All in balance. We need to get back to that.” – George Lakoff, The Little Blue Book, page 69.

Here are some of the elements of this balancing act from President Obama:

“This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we’ve been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way, that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and borrow money from your parents. ” — President Obama, September 6, 2012

Without rich parents, most citizens need representative government to protect and empower them, and ensure equal opportunity for success. With corporate governance only ONE% of America’s parents will succeed. Then, they can protect and empower just their children while most citizens are left on their own.

Care to guess which form of governance Romney and Ryan prefer or how long it will take them to complete our transition to it, if elected?

Posted in Corporate Intrusion, Protect & Empower   |   Comments Off on What’s It Gonna Be: Representative Governance or Corporate Governance?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Moral Principles – What Conservatives Know and Progressives Take for Granted

Recent political ads lie about President Obama and his suggestions to the states on the national welfare program. As stated in a recent Truthout article, the producers of these ads are targeting “white working class voters” who harbor “deep resentment towards welfare recipients.” Welfare recipients like the ones President Reagan created who never existed — a lie that worked.

These producers expect the ads to work on the targeted individuals because they are based on deep conservative moral principles. One of those moral principles taught by the “strict father family” is respect for a certain hierarchy of authority. First in the hierarchy is God – the ultimate authority, then white men – who teach God’s truths to the masses, then comes the masses with poor women and poor minorities at the bottom. (As Governor Christy said at the REP convention, “choose respect over love.” In other words, if you want my ‘love,’ respect my authority as a white male, or suffer my wrath.)

Another conservative moral principle is fiscal self-discipline. The strict father uses severe physical punishment to teach moral discipline to his children. This leads to a belief that fiscal discipline is morally right and will lead to prosperity. This self-discipline also supports the belief that individuals are solely in control of their own success.

So, if someone, solely due to luck, ranks lower in the conservative hierarchy of authority and appears to lack moral self-discipline, then they deserve their unfortunate situation and don’t deserve government aid funded by those who are successful.

A lie that activates these conservative moral principles, as does the ad mentioned earlier, will cause the targeted audience to accept that lie without question or critical thought. Also, if belief in these principles is strong, conservatives will even sacrifice their own government aid to keep public funds from those whom they believe are morally, fiscally, and hierarchically inferior.

So, what should progressives do about this? Resist denying these conservative lies by repeating them, and discuss the following democratic/progressive moral principles:

  • Democracy depends on citizens who care about and take responsibility for themselves AND others. It is immoral to allow others to suffer from circumstances beyond their control.
  • The mission of a democratic society is to protect and empower all citizens equally through the family and our representative government. This will ensure equal opportunity for success for all citizens by minimizing the luck of unfortunate circumstances beyond our control.
  • The Public enables equal opportunity and ensures our freedoms. Citizenship dues provide revenue to fund The Public and are fair when collected in proportion to a citizen’s use of public resources. The citizen financed Public includes: public education, public libraries, public roads, courts, patent protection, basic research, health care, parks, clean water and safe sewer processing, police and military, internet, safe food, clean air, air traffic control, communication satellites, etc. With out adequate citizenship dues, the Public withers and the private loses it’s foundation.
  • Without The Public, freedoms and liberties are in peril. You could lose your home or die if you have cancer and no insurance. Without knowledgeable employees, businesses can’t survive. The lack of safe food, and clean air and water threatens our freedom to live. The lack of public roads and public transportation threatens our freedom to travel or get to work, and our right to vote. The extremely wealthy want to destroy The Public so that it can’t protect the freedoms and rights of others.

Nurturant parents teach these progressive moral principles and teach us that many factors – not just individual talents – determine one’s success. We are all in this together. These principles teach us that maybe the rest of us can do something to help others succeed. We learn that proper funding of The Public is critical for all to have a chance at success. We know that lack of sufficient citizenship dues from those citizens who prosper the most from The Public diminishes the possible success of others. We know that diminishing The Public gives more power to the private and threatens our freedoms.

It’s time to start repeating loudly these progressive moral principles and how they protect our freedoms and liberties. It’s time to stop denying and talking about conservative lies by repeating them, sometimes with a negative prefix. This only reinforces their lie.

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. -― Adolf Hitler

For more on talking progressive without conservative language: The Little Blue Book by George Lakoff:

Posted in Authoritarianism, Common Wealth, Protect & Empower   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Moral Principles – What Conservatives Know and Progressives Take for Granted   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 8-30-2012 (Republican Convention Edition)

The Lies in Paul Ryan’s Speech – Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention contained several false claims and misleading statements. Delegates cheered as the vice presidential nominee:

  • Accused President Obama’s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.” In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.
  • Accused Obama of doing “exactly nothing” about recommendations of a bipartisan deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle.
  • Claimed the American people were “cut out” of stimulus spending. Actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers.
  • Faulted Obama for failing to deliver a 2008 campaign promise to keep a Wisconsin plant open. It closed less than a month before Obama took office.
  • Blamed Obama for the loss of a AAA credit rating for the U.S. Actually, Standard & Poor’s blamed the downgrade on the uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.
  • And when he wasn’t attacking Obama, Ryan was falsely puffing up the record of his running mate, Mitt Romney, on taxes and unemployment.

Lying Scott Walker Blames Obama Policies for GM Plant Closing That Occurred a Full Month Before Obama Took Office – At the Republican Convention, Governor Scott Walker blamed Obama policies for the closure of the GM plant in Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. However, the plant was closed in December 2008, a full month before Obama took office:

In June 2008, Ryan sent a letter along with his Wisconsin colleagues Senators Russ Feingold (D) and Herb Kohl (D) protesting the closure of General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. “We ask that you reconsider the decision to close the Janesville GM plant and request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss OM’s plans for the Janesville plant, including the possibility of retooling the plant for different production lines,” said the letter from the three lawmakers to GM CEO Rick Wagoner. As Talking Points Memo’s Benjy Sarlin notes, Ryan actually voted for a Bush-era effort to expand government loans to GM, a plan that failed to save the Janesville plant.

Christie’s Fact-Free Keynote – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie largely avoided factual claims in a Republican convention keynote address that was heavy on generalities, opinion and platitudes. The pugnacious former prosecutor exaggerated a bit, though, when he bragged about his accomplishments as governor, and he repeated the common but false claim that the president’s health care law interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.

Christie said he delivered “three balanced budgets with lower taxes.” Actually, he cut the state Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income residents and the popular property-tax rebate program for renters and homeowners. It’s a matter of interpretation whether those are tax hikes or spending reductions. A proposed 10 percent income tax cut hasn’t been enacted.

He said he took on public-sector unions to reform a pension system “headed to bankruptcy” and “saved retirees their pension.” But the state is not fully funding the revamped system, and the pension liabilities gap will begin to grow again.

Christie also repeated a false claim about the health care law interfering with doctor-patient relationships.

Christie: “Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.”

As we just said in our first item on the convention, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t create a government-run system, like that of Britain or Canada, nor does it regulate the work of doctors. Republicans often call the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would recommend ways to slow the growth of Medicare spending, “bureaucrats” that would ration care. But the IPAB, made up of health care professionals, economists and others, wouldn’t have the power to do that, according to the law.

More Republican Lies on Just the First Day of Their Convention – On the first day of the Republican convention — marked by a delegate vote making former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the party’s official nominee for president — we’re already hearing a lot of exaggerated, misleading or downright false claims that we’ve heard before.

The theme of the day centered on repeated misrepresentations of a quote from President Obama. From the various speakers we also heard:

  • A misleading statistic about women’s job losses that has grown so stale it is now wholly false.
  • More bogus claims about “raiding” Medicare and the doctor-patient relationship under Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
  • A completely false claim that more than half of the younger generation is unemployed. (Actually, 86 percent who want work have it.)
  • More false claims that Obama blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline. Construction has already begun on the southern leg of the project, and the company says it expects approval for the Canada-to-U.S. leg early next year.

Republican Convention Attendee Threw Nuts At Black CNN Camerawoman, Said ‘This Is How We Feed Animals’ – Two people were removed from the Republican National Convention Tuesday after they threw nuts at an African-American CNN camera operator and said, “This is how we feed animals.” Multiple witnesses observed the exchange and RNC security and police immediately removed the two people from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Paul Ryan’s Plan for America is Not Credible, Says Financial Times Magazine – This is what David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan and a true conservative, wrote in The New York Times on August 13: “Mr Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices.” This is right, with one exception: Medicare. On that, Mr Ryan does offer a hard choice. But the maths are incredible.

The Ryan plan is the latest example of a consistent line of Republican fiscal policy since movement conservatism displaced traditional balanced-budget Republicanism some three decades ago. The priorities have been clear: first, tax cuts benefiting rich “wealth-creators”; second, cuts in spending, predominantly on the poor; and, last and least, reducing deficits.

Indeed, the “starve the beast” theory explicitly aims at cutting taxes, in order to increase deficits and so justify cuts in spending. From this point of view, the financial crisis has been a boon. The crisis, which occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, is far and away the most important explanation for today’s huge deficits. But it came after unfunded tax cuts, unfunded wars and the unfunded prescription drug benefit (Medicare D). The fiscal mess the Republicans bequeathed made it difficult – indeed, given Republican opposition, impossible – for the Obama administration to implement a stimulus plan on the scale needed, as Bruce Bartlett, a former official in the Reagan administration, notes in a blog post for Economix. Not that Republicans have anything against stimulus, provided it takes the form of unfunded tax cuts.

In all, the idea that Republicans care about the deficit does not pass the laugh test.

As Heidi Przybyla notes in a report for Bloomberg, Mr Ryan was pivotal in killing the Bowles-Simpson agreement, which, for all its faults, was (and is) the only politically realistic long-term fiscal solution. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office’s meticulous analysis of the initial Ryan plan demonstrated that it is smoke and mirrors.

Romney Wants Tax Cuts For the Rich Paid By Higher Middle-Class Taxes – Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts governor showed he had no aversion to raising taxes or fees, according to a report by John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign—including raising the state fee assessed to families before cremating the dead, which the state’s media called creepy. So it is not surprising that independent analyses find Romney’s 2012 tax proposals would hit other vulnerable people.

The proposals, in an analysis cited by the Washington Post and others, would cut taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent but raise taxes on everyone else. Extreme Liberal’s blog posted a graphic that shows exactly how it would work, saying, “You may notice that everyone pays more in taxes right up until you get to the top 5 percent of the population. According to the analysis, those who make $3 million dollars a year would get a TAX CUT of $250,000.”

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 8-30-2012 (Republican Convention Edition)   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 8-28-2012

Republican Redistricting Plans Are Discriminatory and Federal Court Says So – Republican leaders violated US Voting Rights Act in Congressional, State Senate and State House maps. A three-judge Federal District Court panel in Washington, DC has ruled that the redistricting maps adopted by the Texas Legislature last year violate the US Voting Rights Act. The Court determined that Texas Republican leaders enacted maps that reduced the opportunity for minority voters in Texas to elect their candidates of choice and the Court ruled that the Legislature used a process that was intentionally discriminatory in adopting the Congressional and State Senate maps.

Republicans to Declare ‘We Built This!’ in Stadium Built with Government Funds – The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced this week that it would craft its convention theme around President Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remark — which was taken out of context — and the Republicans will unveil their message in an arena that was financed with $86 million in public money.

During a campaign event in Virginia last month, Obama had pointed out the importance of the government’s role in providing infrastructure and education as a foundation for small business success. In a series of ads and speeches, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign selectively edited those remarks by removing the reference to “roads and bridges, ” making it seem like the president was dismissing the success of small business owners. In speeches and videos, the Romney campaign has repeatedly distorted Obama’s words” PolitiFact wrote. “By plucking two sentences out of context, Romney twists the president’s remarks and ignores their real meaning. … Romney and his supporters have misled viewers and given a false impression. For that, we rate the claim False.” But just because it’s been proven false, that won’t stop the Republicans for using it as a theme at their convention.

Texas Government cut more than 6,000 employees – A state auditors report just released shows that the state has eliminated about 6,145 jobs in the past year. Most of those cuts have come in state agencies, but colleges and universities also report that they have cut 336 faculty posts and 580 staff members.

The Legislature slashed state spending last year to deal with a multi-billion shortfall. The numbers of job lost don’t reflect public school teaching jobs, where nearly 11,000 positions were cut.

Romney Campaign Is Looking Through Your Personal Information – Mitt Romney’s campaign began a secretive data-mining project this summer to sort through Americans’ personal information — including their purchasing history and church attendance — to identify new and likely wealthy donors, The Associated Press has learned.

The project employs strategies similar to those the business world uses to influence the way Americans shop and think. Now they’re being used to sway presidential elections. The same personal data consumers give away — often unwittingly when they swipe their credit cards or log into Facebook — is now being used by the people who might one day occupy the White House.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is hoarding $300 million from Texas students. – Last November Texas voters approved a Constitutional Amendment to send that $300 million to our kids’ classrooms. Jerry Patterson, the announced candidate for Lt. Governor, is the Chairman of the 3-person School Land Board that has decided to keep $300 million of taxpayer dollars in a fund his office controls instead of funding our schools.

Here is a little more background information on this issue:

  • A Constitutional Amendment, Proposition 6, was approved by Texas voters in the November 2011 Constitutional Amendment Election.
  • The $300 million was budgeted to support school operations, contingent upon the constitutional amendment’s passage in November and the approval of the School Land Board, which lawmakers thought was guaranteed.
  • Patterson has refused to release the $300 million to public education in order to fund “upcoming investment opportunities.”
  • On August 21, Jerry Patterson and the School Land Board will meet again and could vote on this very issue.

We have 4 more days to make a difference. Make your voice heard and demand Jerry Patterson listen to the will of Texas voters.

Voter Suppression in Ohio – In Ohio the Republican Party isn’t even trying to hide its intentions. One of Gov. John Kasich’s closest advisers declared that election officials like himself should not “accommodate the urban — read African American — voter-turnout machine,” essentially admitting that their strategy is to limit African Americans’ ability to vote. On Friday, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted suspended and now may fire two election board members for the offense of — imagine this — seeking to expand access to the polls.

After the 2004 election, which saw thousands of Ohioans waiting in long lines for hours after the polls closed, Ohio sensibly created early voting by mail and in person. County election officials were able to ensure access to the polls for all voters. And in 2008, hundreds of thousands of voters — particularly African Americans — were able to vote early instead of waiting in long lines on Election Day.

But now, Republicans want to change the rules and limit access to early voting to give themselves an unfair advantage. In fact, they expanded early voting opportunities for Republican counties, but gave voters in larger, Democratic counties less time to vote early — even though these counties were precisely the counties that needed early voting because of the long lines in 2004! In response to accusations of unfairness, Secretary of State Husted then limited early voting opportunities for all counties. It’s outrageous.

In the past week, two Democratic election board members in Montgomery County refused to back down to Husted and proposed keeping early voting on the weekends so working people could vote in the election. For that, Husted punished them, suspending them from their positions. Can you believe it? Election officials shouldn’t be fired for trying to expand access to the voting booth.

Tell Secretary of State Jon Husted to reinstate fair early voting rules!

Paul Ryan’s Connection to China and Gambling – Three days after being picked as Romney’s running-mate – Ryan went to Las Vegas to pay homage to Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is the poster boy for using money to become “politically connected” in Washington, and getting the “breaks” that come with it. Adelson has promised to donate up to $100 million to make sure Romney and Ryan are in the White House next year.

Much of Adelson’s fortune comes from his casino in Macau, in China, via his money-greased access to Washington. When China’s pitch for the 2008 Olympics was endangered by a House resolution opposing the bid because of China’s “abominable human rights record,” Adelson phoned Tom DeLay, then House majority whip and recipient of Adelson’s political generosity — urging him to block the resolution, which DeLay promptly did. The next day, according to the New York Times, a Chinese vice premier promised Mr. Adelson an endless line of gamblers to the Macau casino.

The money Adelson has committed to putting Romney and Ryan into the White House is a business investment. Adelson has a lot riding on the 2012 election. Last year, his Las Vegas Sands Corporation came under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — bribing Chinese officials to help expand its casino in Macau. The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, meanwhile, is investigating whether the Sands Corporation violated federal money-laundering laws by accepting more than $100 million from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement, rather than reporting the suspicious funds to the government.

House Republican Trip to Holy Land with Drinking, Nudity – The FBI probed a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee [on Aug. 18, 2011] that involved drinking, numerous GOP freshmen lawmakers, top leadership staff – and one nude member of Congress, according to more than a dozen sources, including eyewitnesses. During a fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land last summer, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took off his clothes and jumped into the sea, joining a number of members, their families and GOP staff during a night out in Israel.

The following freshmen lawmakers also went swimming that night: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the lake said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in.

Paul Ryan’s Stimulus Problem – Paul Ryan says his office mishandled constituent requests for stimulus funding, which is why he claimed to have never requested stimulus funds even as the documents told a different story.

The GOP’s new vice presidential candidate has said repeatedly that he has never asked for stimulus funds, but recent reports indicate he has written letters on behalf of local businesses seeking them.

How Todd Akin And Paul Ryan Partnered To Redefine Rape – Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that “legitimate rape” does not often lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This is not the first time the biologically challenged senate candidate tried to minimize the impact of rape. Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”

The 1 Percent Are Stingy – Middle-class Amer­i­cans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more. In the Washington metropolitan area for example, low- and middle-income communities like Suitland, Md., and Capitol Heights, Md., donate a much bigger share of discretionary income than do wealthier communities like Bethesda, Md., and McLean, Va.

Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities. When people making more than $200,000 a year account for more than 40 percent of the taxpayers in a ZIP code, the wealthy residents give an average of 2.8 percent of discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for all itemizers earning $200,000 or more.

Senate Republican Candidate to Reporter: ‘Go f–k yourself’ – Michael Baumgartner, a Republican Senate candidate from the great state of Washington, has told a reporter at Seattle Met magazine to “go f–k yourself” after asking Baumgartner to clarify his position on abortion.

Earlier this week, Baumgartner joined a wide swath of Republicans in condemning Rep. Todd Akin for his controversial remarks about “legitimate rape.” But when Met reporter Josh Feit asked him how his position was different than Akin’s, Baumgartner ducked and did not clarify.

Republican Sheriff Candidate Said He Would Use Deadly Force Against People Who Are Not Breaking the Law – Republican Sheriff candidate Frank Szabo indicated that he would not rule out the use of deadly force to prevent an abortion from taking place. That’s right – he’s so pro-life that he would kill someone.

Doctors and patients should never feel threatened –especially by a county Sheriff– when carrying out or receiving a legal procedure. A sheriff’s duty is to enforce laws, not break them in the name of personal motives.

He has since changed his statement to say, “If someone is seeking an elective abortion and certainly a late term abortion, certainly I would arrest them.” Szabo’s promise to arrest people who are not breaking the law completely contradicts the duties of a sheriff.

The Price of Austerity: Record Forest Fire Damage – Spain, stuck in a recession and with almost a quarter of its workforce unemployed, has experienced some of its worst forest fires in almost twenty years this summer with 24,710 acres of land left blackened. Cuts to rural firefighters are being blamed for a number of deaths and for the loss of forest landscapes.

As the Guardian notes, “several wet years, followed by a dry winter and hot summer” have created “perfect wildfire conditions.” But also bearing a huge part of the blame are “official negligence, rural population flight and disappearing herds of sheep and goats.”

Robert Rubio, a forester, ecologist and professional firefighter from Andilla, 12 miles from Alcublas in Valencia, tells the Guardian that only a tenth of the usual number of temporary local summer firefighters were hired this year (officials claim otherwise). Other regional governments, in northeastern Catalonia and northwestern Galicia, are spending 20 percent less than two years ago.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 8-28-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Destroying America’s Soul – The Devil’s Budget

In his latest article, George Lakoff discusses how The Devils Budget proposed by the opponents to President Obama will eventually destroy the soul of our democracy by defunding all of its Public infrastructure: public protection, public empowerment, public education, public roads, public libraries, public security and safety, etc.

The effects of The Devil’s Budget are hidden behind the Noble Lie of balancing the budget while further enriching the ONE%. As Lakoff discusses, there are other bigger lies behind this budget.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

America’s soul resides in our relation to one another, the way citizens have from the beginning joined together to form a government whose mission is to protect and empower everyone equally, and to use that government for the sake of The Public, the system that provides the basic means for our freedom to live decent lives and pursue happiness of all kinds, whether it comes from wealth or making music, or becoming a doctor, a scientist, a businessman, an athlete, a teacher, or whatever you find fulfilling. The Public is what unites us in a common enterprise, and the destruction of The Public is a destruction of the bonds that hold us together.

The Congressional Budget office estimates that Ryan’s “long-term budget, if you project forward defense spending, would cut 91 percent from these and all other non-defense programs. Ninety-one percent.” That’s 91 percent of The Public gone: Medical and scientific research. Pell grants. The EPA. The NIH. NPR. The small business administration. Unemployment insurance. Regulation of corporations. Money to help state and local governments. Highway repair. Air traffic controllers. And all government employees doing everything The Public does.

The destruction of The Public is not reversible. It would be the death of the very idea of America. Here’s what it would mean.

Even more, a lot more, of the nation’s wealth than the current 40 percent going to the top 1 percent. Poverty up. Opportunity gone. No way for the poor and middle class to get a college education, and maybe not even a decent K – 12 education, and certainly not public pre-schools. As unemployment rises, competition for jobs gets greater, and so wages get even lower and pensions and health benefits disappear. As the public control of the airwaves disappears with the FCC, the corporate control of news rises, and objectivity of reporting gets much lower. Freedom of the press becomes meaningless. When the military controls almost all of the budget, it gets immensely strong in society, threatening civilian control of the military. When the EPA and FDA disappear, say goodbye to clean air, clean water, and safe food. Wilderness in the National Parks will not exist: it will be destroyed in the race to get at our natural resources — wood, minerals, oil and gas.

The biggest lie is that there is, or should be, no Public. The biggest lie is that Democracy is about personal freedom alone, about the “liberty” to seek your own interests with no responsibility for the interests or well-being of your fellow citizens. The biggest lie is a moral lie. If believed and carried to the conclusion defined by a Devil’s Budget, it means Evil with a capital E and the loss of the American soul.

The idea of American Individualism is a moral lie. There can be no Individualism without The Public. Individualism can only begin where The Public leaves off. Individualism begins after the roads are built, after individualists have had an education, after medical research has cured their diseases, after the individualists have received from The Public land grants, grazing, water, and mineral leases, oil and agriculture subsidies, after they have received crucial patents.

Here’s what Lakoff says about the two candidates pushing this budget:

Paul Ryan is a personable individualist and extreme conservative. And he is smart — seen as an intellectual by his conservative colleagues because has mastered budget policy enough to construct a Devil’s Budget with all the right numbers. Not the right numbers to eliminate the deficit, as Paul Krugman has observed. But the right numbers to eliminate The Public, which is the real conservative goal.

Mitt Romney knows about Devil’s Budgets from Bain Capital, whose goal was to make as much money as possible for investors and major management by squeezing human values out of businesses: treating employees as resources for profit, maximizing profits by outsourcing, minimizing skill levels, eliminating unions, ending pensions, seeking tax loopholes, moving profits to tax havens, eliminating factories and firing employees, moving jobs abroad, devastating communities — whatever was necessary to maximize profits for Romney and other managers and investors. Liberty for Romney has meant applying Devil’s Budgets in corporate life. The Romney-Ryan ticket is ideal for destroying the American ideal of The Public and the freedom that it provides for all of us.

Lakoff concludes with the historical morality that gave America its soul:

In what was perhaps the first statement of the morality that lit the Soul of America, John Winthrop told his fellow passengers on the New World-bound Arbella in 1630:

…that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly affection. From hence it appears plainly that no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy etc., out of any particular and singular respect to himself…

This is the morality that informs the Declaration and the Constitution. It is the morality that led to emancipation, to universal suffrage, to the New Deal and the Great Society, and Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear — with the recognition that we are all in this democratic experiment together. It is what, from the beginning, has informed the formation of The Public. It is that sense of morality that we must maintain.

‘Taking American back’ means implementing the soulless vision of America promoted by people like Ayn Rand and her libertarian followers. Destroy all that is Public and they will destroy the nurturant democracy of America. America will no longer be able to protect and empower all citizens or provide equal opportunity. America will become a plutocracy of the rugged individualistic ONE% as Romney/Ryan take America back.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion, Human Rights Abuse   |   Tagged ,   |   Comments Off on Destroying America’s Soul – The Devil’s Budget   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 8-13-2012

Romney Got Several Years of Tax Returns From Pawlenty, But Only Wants to Give Us One or Two – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was passed over for the vice presidential slot by presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Now Pawlenty is indicating that Romney may have higher standards for his running mate than he does for himself.

On “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Pawlenty said that he gave Romney “a bunch” of tax returns as part of the vetting process for the second spot on the GOP ticket.

“I don’t remember the exact number,” Pawlenty told Stephanopoulos. “It was several years, I believe.”

Republican Congressman is OK With Bringing a Child to Dogfighting and Cockfighting – Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa last week made shocking comments opposing a federal bill that would crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting. King defended his campaign to defeat legislation that would make it a crime to attend or to bring a child to an animal fight. In a tele-town hall, King said, “there’s something wrong with passing legislation to keep children away from animal fights when it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.” He added, “there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that [sic] think like that.”

Fortunately, legislation backed by the Humane Society Legislative Fund to strengthen the federal animal fighting law, making it a crime to attend or bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight, has passed the U.S. Senate as part of the 2012 Farm Bill, and also has passed the House Agriculture Committee. But Congressman Steve King is trying to derail this legislation. He doesn’t consider it a priority to stop professional animal fighters from bringing children to dogfights, exposing them to the violence, blood-letting, and illegal gambling. And he wants no federal penalties for the spectators who finance criminal animal fights with their admission fees and gambling wagers.

Republican Congressman Submitted Forged Petitions For His Re-Election – Four staffers of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter (Republican-Livonia) were charged in connection with the false nominating petitions that led to McCotter’s departure from Congress,” the Detroit Free Press reports. “Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette described the four as ‘not simply Keystone Kops running amok … criminal acts were committed.’ He said the petition forgeries and cut-and-paste jobs on the petitions ‘would make an elementary art teacher cringe.’ Schuette said the McCotter staffers also likely did the same thing in the 2008 elections, using 2006 petition signatures.

Voter ID Could Keep Candidate From Voting – Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi – a candidate for Congress – said he may not be able to vote this November because of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law,” Path reports. Maggi’s name was released by the Department of State as having a different name on his voter registration than he does on his driver’s license. His voter registration is listed as ‘Larry Maggi’ while his driver’s license reads ‘Lawrence Owen Maggi.’ To raise awareness of how unprepared the state is to implement this law less than 90 days from today, Maggi created www.letlarryvote.com to encourage others to sign his petition and demonstrate support for an injunction to delay the law’s implementation.

Republican Lawyers Prove Republicans Wrong About Voter Fraud – Data from the National Republican Lawyers Association shows that there have been only 340 confirmed cases of all types of voter fraud in the entire United States over the past 10 years. That averages to only 0.7 cases per state per year. And those numbers include things like errors on petitions and voter registration forms, on which voter ID laws would have no affect. Voter ID laws are needed as much as leash laws for unicorns.

Fox News Guest Says Gold Medal Winner Not Patriotic Enough; Wants American Olympic Spectators to Be More Eager to Wage War – Fox News was complaining that Gabby Douglas wasn’t patriotic enough because she wore a pink leotard when she was winning a gold medal in gymnastics for the United States of America. If you’re not sure which one she is, let me save you some time: She’s the black one.

Fox asked a black conservative commentator, David Webb, to tut-tut her tutu. There was some bizarre whining that people weren’t chanting “USA! USA! USA!” loudly enough, but then things got really weird.

“We’ve lost over time that jingoistic feeling,” said Webb. The American Heritage dictionary defines jingoism as “extreme and emotional nationalism, or chauvinism, often characterized by an aggressive foreign policy, accompanied by an eagerness to wage war.”

I’m not quite sure they picked the right target in Douglas. She hasn’t seen her father in two years because Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Timothy Douglas is stationed in Afghanistan.

Republican Councilman Carries Sign Showing President’s Bloody Head on a Spike – Republican Councilman Paul Smith of Sterling Heights, Michigan, has found himself at the center of controversy after video of him holding a sign that depicted President Obama’s head on a spike surfaced after being recorded at a Tea Party rally more than three years ago in April 2009. He also had other signs that included Nancy Pelosi with bullet holes in her head, and a noose around the neck of former Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm.

The sign that depicted a decapitated President Obama with blood dripping from his neck contained the statements, “Shit on a stick”, and “One more day is too many!” and “He changed American into Uganda.” which was scrawled out in large letters.

While that sign was repugnant, Smith’s signs towards female politicians were notably harsher. Democratic Minority Leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi ,was depicted with 6 blood dripping bullet holes in her face. The ugly phrases included “Pelosi hates America. Loves bribes and wetbacks.” The sign also said “Extreme Left Bitch.” Indeed, because nothing says civility like holding a sign calling another person an extreme bitch. Right?

Romney’s Half-Truths About His Education Record – Mitt Romney’s claims about his education record while governor of Massachusetts raise the question about whether his at-times selective and less-than accurate credit-taking reflect a pattern.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.com rated as “Half True” this statement from Romney made this month: “When I was governor, not only did test scores improve – we also narrowed the achievement gap.”

According to the fact-checking service, “State education figures over two years support Romney’s claim about learning gains, although it’s worth noting that some areas declined on his watch, such as the drop-out rate. And it’s always somewhat dubious to take a snapshot of statistics from only one or two years . . .”

It goes on, “What’s more, Romney, a single-term governor, should not get all the credit for improvement in the achievement gap, which is influenced by myriad factors. His statement is partially accurate but omits a lot of important information and overstates his impact.”

What, then, are some verifiable education-related actions taken by Romney as governor?

Romney proposed eliminating early literacy programs, full-day kindergarten, and class size reduction programs. [Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, March 5, 2003]

Romney vetoed a universal pre-kindergarten bill and “questioned the benefits of early education.” [Massachusetts Telegram and Gazette, February 2, 2007]

College fees soared 63% under Romney because of his cuts to higher education budget as governor. [Boston Globe, June 29, 2007]

For more verifiable information about how Romney and President Barack Obama compare on education and issues that affect the middle class, read the Education Votes 2012 Candidate Issue Guide.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   1 Comment   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Authoritarian Plan for a Koch Brothers’ America – Update to The Powell Plan

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about The Powell Memo. This memo has been referred to by others like Henry Giroux and Richard Wolff. This memo, by Lewis F. Powell and dated August 23, 1971, was a plan Powell developed and delivered to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It outlined how “to win an ideological war against liberal intellectuals, who argued for holding government and corporate power accountable as a precondition for extending and expanding the promise of an inclusive democracy.”

Now that we have the “Koch brothers’ dream ticket,” Ryan’s economic extension of the Powell Memo, his budget plan, has serious implications for “the promise of an inclusive democracy.”

Below are three summaries of how the Romney/Ryan/Koch future would look after implementing Ryan’s extension of the Powell plan. The first is short. The second includes a video, and the third is a summary of everything that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has written about Ryan’s plans for a Koch Brothers’ America. I conclude this post with my own summary.

Twelve Things You Should Know About Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan – “Mitt Romney has picked as his running mate 42 year-old Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget, which the New York Times has described as ‘the most extreme budget plan passed by a house of Congress in modern times.'”

Romney and Ryan want to take us back to the failed, top-down economic ideas of Ronald Reagan and GW Bush – “This extreme plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program, increasing seniors’ costs by up to $6,350 per year. It would also slash education and clean energy funding, along with other middle-class investments critical to economic growth—while raising taxes on millions of middle-class families to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

Ryan Roundup: Everything You Need to Know About Chairman Ryan’s Budget – Here “is a compilation of the CBPP analyses and blog posts on the budget that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposed, and the House of Representatives passed, in March. At the bottom of the compilation, we also list the Center’s analysis of the Ryan ‘Roadmap’ budget plan.”

Here’s my summary of this possible Koch Brothers’ future if their dream team is elected: All public that remains will continue to be privatized – government accountable to voters will become corporate governance accountable only to boards of directors and institutional shareholders; expanding, delusional, rugged individualism will stamp out our ability to empathize; critical thinking will be replaced by blind beliefs; higher education will exist only for the ONE%; our democracy will migrate to a plutocracy through casino capitalism as any attempts to cancel Citizen United are squashed; our prison population will increase at rates similar to our past doubling of technology speeds; the middle class will disappear as their wages continue their 40 year stagnation, will stop using credit, and their kids won’t be able to find work and have to move back in; becoming seriously ill will once again result in bankruptcy and/or premature death; most americans will have to work until they die as they can’t afford to save for retirement and social security will be privatized and left to the rampages of unregulated casino capitalism; etc.

America’s future will be determined by our actions over the next 87 days.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Intrusion   |   Tagged ,   |   1 Comment   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 8-8-2012

Romney Avoided Over $100,000 in Property Taxes

“Mitt and Ann Romney were easily able to afford a $12-million La Jolla home. But that didn’t insulate them from the winds buffeting the real estate market in the months following their purchase in 2008. After paying cash for the Mediterranean-style house with 61 feet of beach frontage, they asked San Diego County for dramatic property tax relief,” the Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian reports. “San Diego County assessor records shed light on one sliver of the couple’s personal taxes during that time: a months-long effort to reduce their annual property tax bill. Initially, the Romneys asked that their 2009 assessment, $12.24 million, be reduced to $6.8 million, maintaining that their home had lost about 45% of its value in the first seven months they owned it. Thirteen months later, after hiring an attorney to guide them, the Romneys filed an amended appeal, contending the home had suffered a less-dramatic fall of 27.3%, to $8.9 million. They also filed an appeal for the 2010 tax year, claiming the house had dropped further, to $7.5 million, 38.7% less than the home’s assessed value. As a result, the Romneys have avoided about $109,000 in property taxes over four years.”

Romney Skirted Taxes in Italy, Also – Bloomberg says it was prudent for Romney to skip Italy on his Europe swing. “That’s because Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day,” Jesse Drucker, Elisa Martinuzzi and Lorenzo Totaro report. “Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid. Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The buyer, Italy’s biggest telephone company, now has a total market value less than what it paid Bain and other investors for the directory business. In Italy, the deals have spurred at least three books, separate legal and regulatory probes and newspaper columns alleging investors made a fortune at the expense of Italian taxpayers. Boston-based Bain wasn’t a subject of the inquiries, which didn’t result in any charges…Romney himself probably earned more than $50 million, and possibly as much as $60 million from the Italian directory sale of Seat Pagine Gialle SpA, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal turned into one of the biggest windfalls of his tenure.”

Republican Texas State Senator Vows to Use Public Money for Private Schools – State Sen. Dan Patrick, the Houston Republican who anchors the rightmost wing of his party’s caucus in the Senate, has vowed to make private-school voucher legislation a focal point of his efforts in the 2013 session of the state legislature. According to the Houston Chronicle, Patrick said, “To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session….Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view.”

Right-wing legislators like Sen. Patrick have been trying in vain to pass voucher legislation in Texas, transferring public tax dollars from public to private schools, for decades, session after session. Last year the pressure for private-school vouchers slacked off a bit, as legislators were preoccupied with funding cuts that deprived Texas public schools of more than $500 annually per pupil—an unprecedented $5.4 billion in cuts, all told, leading to the loss of more than 25,000 jobs, inflated class sizes, and the elimination of valuable educational services such as full-day pre-kindergarten.

Money for private schools – profit: the rich get richer.

Romney Invested Millions in Chinese Company That Benefited from US Outsourcing – Romney invested millions in a Chinese company that profited nicely from U.S. outsourcing. ”On April 17, 1998, Brookside Capital Partners Fund, a Bain Capital affiliate, filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission noting that it had acquired 6.13 percent of Hong Kong-based Global-Tech Appliances, which manufactured household appliances in a production facility in the industrial city of Dongguan, China. That August, according to another SEC filing, Brookside upped its interest in Global-Tech to 10.3 percent. Both SEC filings identified Romney as the person in control of this investment: “Mr. W. Mitt Romney is the sole shareholder, sole director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brookside Inc. and thus is the controlling person of Brookside Inc.” Each of these documents was signed by Domenic Ferrante, a managing director of Brookside and Bain.”

Romney Tax Plan is Mathematically Impossible According to FactCheck.org and Two Tax Policy Groups – The non-partisan FactCheck.org has analyzed the Romney tax plan and has concluded that Romney’s promises are mathematically impossible. That’s also the conclusion of the Tax Policy Center and an expert from the pro-business Tax Foundation, who states that the Tax Policy Center analysis “correctly identified the Romney plan as a tax cut, at least in static terms, that accrues mainly to high-income earners.”

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 8-8-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 8-6-2012

Republican Party’s New ‘Voter Fraud’ Expert is Ex-Lobbyist Convicted For Corruption – A former lobbyist convicted in the Jack Abramoff congressional lobbying scandal has found a new line of work while still on probation: becoming a spokesman and self-appointed expert on allegedly rampant illegal voting. A new paper claiming that voter ID laws actually protect rather than disenfranchise minority voters is getting play in conservative circles. What isn’t being mentioned so much is the background of the paper’s author.

Horace Cooper, the author of the paper, told the Daily Caller this week that voter fraud “criminals — more often than not — are Democrats violating the rights of people who tend to be black or senior.”

Cooper may not have any expertise on voter fraud, but he does know a thing or two about falsifying documents. Cooper was indicted in 2009 on five public corruption charges, charged with exchanging political favors for gifts from Jack Abramoff. Cooper allegedly accepted bribes as a staffer to former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Romney’s Economic Plan Would Kill 360,000 Jobs In 2013 Alone – A Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis has found that the Romney economic plan would actually kill 360,000 jobs next year alone.

Several of Romney’s proposals entail no change in policy, so its unclear how they would create jobs. Several others — including tax incentives for outsourcing — would actively undermine U.S. employment. Remember, Romney’s job creation record as governor was hardly stellar, as Massachusetts was 47th in job creation during his tenure.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today that 163,000 jobs were created in the U.S. last month under President Obama. And, the current unemployment rate would be a full percentage point lower were it not for the hundreds of thousands of public sector layoffs that have occurred as a result of budget cutbacks. It could be even lower than that if Republicans would stop obstructing the jobs bill.

Texas to Execute Mentally Disabled Prisoner on Tuesday – A death row prisoner who has been medically diagnosed as “mentally retarded” and therefore exempt from execution is set to die on Tuesday in Texas, a state that rejects scientific consensus and instead applies its own definition of learning difficulties based on a character in a John Steinbeck novel. Ah, those Compassionate Conservatives!

Very Rich Porn Star Endorses Romney Saying, “When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.” – Very rich (worth an estimated $30 million) porn star Jenna Jameson has put her spin on the presidential race: “I’m very looking forward to a Republican being back in office. When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.”

Jameson’s “let them eat cake” moment came Thursday in San Francisco while she was sipping champagne in a VIP room at Gold Club in the city’s South of Market neighborhood.

More Proof That Romney Was Involved With Offshoring Jobs After He Says He Left Bain – Romney has said he had no active role in Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, after February 1999. Yet Romney continued to oversee his partnership stakes even as he disengaged from the firm, personally signing or approving a series of corporate and legal documents through the spring of 2001. Andrea Saul added that ‘it took some time to transfer his ownership to the other partners, which is not surprising given the growth and success of the firm.’

Documents also showed that Romney signed several power-of-attorney statements that were used repeatedly during the transition, allowing other senior Bain partners and several lawyers for Bain to represent his interests in the investment deals the company struck between 1999 and 2001. http://yhoo.it/NTWSR5

FLASHBACK: Romney Economic Advisers Predicted Bush Tax Cuts Would Lead To Huge Job Growth – They Were Wrong – The same advisers who are working for Romney — economists Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard, both worked for former President George W. Bush. Then, they estimated that the Bush tax cuts would lead to massive job growth:

Back in 2001, as chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, Hubbard predicted that tax cuts slanted disproportionately to Americans in the topmost tier of income and wealth distribution would “quickly deliver a boost to move the economy back toward its long-run growth path,” starting with adding 300,000 more jobs and half a percentage point to the 2002 growth rate.

Then in early 2003, as President Bush proposed another round of tax cuts, Hubbard predicted these would add another 1.4 million jobs to the U.S. economy, over and above the 3.1 million jobs the economy would create on its own from natural economic growth in that time. Mankiw — who took over for Hubbard as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers later in 2003 — co-signed a letter with Hassett (then-economist at the American Enterprise Institute) to President Bush “enthusiastically” endorsing more tax cuts because “it is fiscally responsible and it will create more employment [and] economic growth.”

Unfortunately for American workers, these rosy predictions failed to pan out. In fact, total employment in the U.S. economy created less than half of what Hubbard predicted. By 2007 the economy was running nearly 8 million jobs short of what Hubbard predicted. And in 2008 there were massive job losses.

Regards,
Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 8-6-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

The Aurora, Colorado, Shootings – Fear Based Gun Ownership Fulfills an Authoritarian Need to Severely Punish Those Not Like Them

Those most likely to become authoritarians (social dominators or followers) are raised from a young age in a strict-father environment where violent punishment is used aggressively. And, according to James Dobson, the sooner it is applied, the better.

Dread of this punishment keeps the followers in line and gives the social dominators the tools they need to keep them in line.

When one provokes in a child a fear of the dark, one awakens in him a feeling of atavistic dread. Thus this child will be ruled all his life by this dread, … — Adolf Hitler, July 1941

This physical, and mental, punishment is used to teach what is morally right for the conservative worldview: that you should never question authority; that you are totally responsible for your success; that those who are not successful lack the moral strength to succeed and deserve what they get; that you’re on your own; that beliefs trump conflicting facts; that if you accept the help of others, you are a parasite; that critical thinking threatens one’s beliefs and should be banned; that repaying what is taken from the common wealth is not required; that working with anyone not like you is a moral sin; that punishing those whom you consider morally wrong is justified.

This authoritarian worldview also has a hierarchy with a male God at the top followed by white men, then women, white children, non-white men and women (especially the poor) and lastly poor children.

This need to punish is exemplified by authoritarians, mostly white men acting against those lower in this hierarchy, who go crazy with guns trying to punish those who are morally wrong in the conservative worldview.

“We have a group of people in this country who are Christian, who are fundamentalist, who have within their midst, individuals who are incredibly dangerous who are waiting to go off like bombs ready to explode with the fuse lit.” – Frank Schaeffer interview about his book Crazy for God.

“Since the arrival of the Puritans, punishment has been inextricably woven into the fabric of American life, and increasingly it targets young people who have been pushed to the margins of society. Hence, it is not surprising that in America there is a rush to punish individuals for committing crimes but no longer a passion or commitment to examine the larger issues that produce the crimes.” — Henry Giroux, Trayvon Martin and Racist Violence in Post-Racial America

We also have those who are paid to justify this violence by opposing attempts to control it.

On one of Diane Rhem’s recent shows, she had a panel discussing the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. A pro-any-gun-for-anybody guest on the show stated that there was a recent intervention of a robbery by an armed citizen and that this kind of action has happened “hundreds of thousands of times.”

If this were true, where are all the news stories to support this? A few videos on Youtube with some gun owner firing wildly is not enough and those armed-citizen actions are just as unsafe for bystanders as were the actions of the fleeing criminals. Where’s the multi-source evidence that this armed-citizen action does any real good?

Concealed weapons in the hands of armed citizens has little to do with saving lives, as we are told, and much more to do with our form of Hitler’s “atavistic dread” and gun sales. This national dread and the Aurora shootings have driven up Gun sales in Colorado and the only entities gaining from this fear/dread are gun manufacturers – not innocent bystanders. Gun and ammunition manufacturers are raking in millions as they, or their supporters, claim it’s too early to talk about regulation that would eventually slow these rampant, highly profitable, dread-based, gun sales.

Remember, fearful people think/do/believe stupid things – it just how the brain works on adrenaline.

One last point. most fearful gun owners have had little real event training and therefore have little real skill to save lives. You are more likely to be killed by an American gun owner than saved by one.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Human Rights Abuse, Obsession with Punishment   |   Tagged   |   2 Comments   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-30-2012

Limbaugh Says Don’t Tell People on Welfare When the Election Is – Rush Limbaugh is calling on his listeners to keep the election date a secret from the poorest Americans.

Limbaugh said, “We shouldn’t remind people on welfare when the election is. That may not be something we want to actually do.”

Guy Who Boasted His Family Built Their Business On Their Own in Romney TV Ad Actually Took Over $1 Million in Government Loans – The up-by-his-bootstraps businessman who stars in an ad for Republican hopeful Mitt Romney seems to have built his business through government-sponsored loans, putting a dent in the campaign’s attack on President Barack Obama’s saying to business owners, “you didn’t get there on your own.”

“My father’s hands didn’t build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son’s hands aren’t building this company?” New Hampshire businessman Jack Gilchrist, president of Gilchrist Metal asks in the ad that’s been making waves since last week.

Reporting by The New Hampshire Union Leader disputed this claim by looking into Gilchrist’s history, revealing that he took over $1 million in government loans since the 1980s, including $800,000 in tax-exempt bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority to build a new manufacturing plant and buy equipment. Gilchrist also admitted to the paper that he took a U.S. Small Business Administration loan of “somewhere south of” $500,000 in the 1980s, and said that to this day about 10 percent of his business comes from defense-related projects.

Romney Does Not Believe All People Created Equal; Judges Them By Their Income – Mitt Romney of racism after he told wealthy donors — including billionaire Sheldon Adelson — that Israelis were more economically successful because of their culture and intervention by God.

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” Romney remarked at a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser, adding that a climate of innovation and the “hand of providence” also played a part.

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” he said.

According to the CIA, Israelis had a 2011 per capital income of $31,400, while Palestinians had a per capita income of just $2,900.

Activists have long said that Israel’s restrictions on trade and strict border blockade are responsible for crippling the Palestinian economy.

Romney Insults Both Countries He Has Visited on Foreign Tour – Romney wanted to show that he is a statesman. So, first, Romney insulted the British about their readiness for the Olympics.

Then, in Israel, Romney was forced to cancel a high-price dinner fundraiser because it was scheduled for a Jewish day of fasting. The Republican presidential candidate originally had planned a $50,000-a-plate dinner in Israel for Sunday night — even though it is also Tisha B’Av, a Jewish day to mourn the victims of the Holocaust and the destruction of first and second Temple of Jerusalem. It is traditionally a day of fast when restaurants in Israel are closed by law.

Romney Lies About His “Friendship” With Netanyahu – Mitt Romney, who’s currently in Israel holding secretive fundraisers out of the view of the press, loves to brag about his close friendship with with Bibi Netanyahu.

“We can almost speak in shorthand,” Mr. Romney said in an interview. “We share common experiences and have a perspective and underpinning which is similar.” […] “Before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: ‘Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?’”

And, Romney also said, “Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend, he’s an old friend.”

Mitt and Bibi: BFFs!

Except no one told Bibi.

“I remember him for sure, but I don’t think we had any particular connections,” Netanyahu said. “I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”

Yes, Bibi Netanyahu just called Mitt Romney a liar.

Joe the Plumber Spent Campaign Donations on Personal Clothing – Joe the Plumber, running for Congress as a Republican in Ohio and certain to lose, spent $634 in campaign money at Jos. A. Bank in April and May. The Toledo Blade calls him out.

NRA Scuttles International Arms Trade Treaty and Then Brags About It – The NRA is taking credit for scuttling a UN treaty that would have limited the sale of weapons to potential human rights abusers overseas.

In a triumphant email titled “NRA Stops U.N. Arms Trade Treaty” and sent to constituents within hours of the Arms Trade Treaty’s (ATT) death on Friday, the NRA wrote:

“NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre testified before the U.N. making it clear that the NRA would fight any international treaty that included civilian arms.”

To be crystal clear, no constitutional right could possibly have been affected by this treaty: First, because it would only have dealt with international arms trade, and second because no treaty can supersede the U.S. Constitution, period.

What the treaty would have done is abrogate U.S. arms manufacturers’ time-honored right to sell guns to warlords and insurgent militias. Which if you’re the NRA, which relies on arms manufacturers’ donations and good will, is pretty much something you’d want to stop at all cost.

And, in the “It takes one to know one” department – PALIN BACKS FLAKE: “Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake in Arizona’s bitterly contested Republican Senate primary,”

And now, the good news:

Koch-Funded Climate Scientist Admits He Was Wrong, Now Says Humans Are Causing Global Warming – The founder and director of a climate change study project funded heavily by the Koch brothers, who last year reversed course and said he believed global warming was real, has gone one step further, writing in a weekend op-ed in the New York Times that he is now convinced the phenomenon is caused by humans.

In a piece titled, “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Richard A. Muller, a University of California, Berkley physicist who founded the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) wrote that his, “total turnaround, in such a short time,” was driven by a new report from the group that concluded for the first time that global warming is a man-made problem. That revelation brings Muller essentially full circle from his stance a few years ago, when he criticized other global warming studies as flawed and questioned whether the Earth was even warming abnormally, dangerously fast at all.

Muller’s conversion is particularly notable because his research had been heavily bankrolled by the Koch’s, who have a well-documented history of financing climate change denial. A Greenpeace report earlier this year found that the Koch’s had given nearly $61.5 million since 1997 to groups denying climate change.

Romney Praises Israel’s Health Care System Which Includes Individual Mandate – Mitt Romney had kind words for Israel’s health care system Monday, even though, as ThinkProgress reports, it resembles the recently passed Affordable Health Care Act, which his party has been trying to repeal.

Israel’s health-care system includes an individual mandate clause, requiring citizens to buy one of four HMOs offered by the government since 1995, with the state covering 60 percent of a person’s medical costs. The remaining 40 percent is covered by income-related tax collections.

Last month, The Jewish Daily Forward reported that Israel boasts an average life expectancy of 82 years, four years more than the U.S., with half the mortality rate due to heart disease.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-30-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-24-2012

Republican Rep Says, I Don’t Think Someone Who Is Diagnosed With A Brain Tumor Should Have Health Care Provided – On Monday evening, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) said that insurance companies should be allowed to discriminate against people with brain tumors during a House Rules Committee debate of the GOP’s bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. The law, which Republicans will vote to eliminate on Wednesday, includes a provision prohibiting insurance companies from turning away sick people.

But Dreier suggested that these individuals would be better off enrolling in state-based “high-risk insurance pools,” that could offer coverage to the individuals who are turned away from the individual health care market because they are too costly to cover:

DREIER: “And I believe my state of California has a structure in place to deal with pre-existing conditions. It’s a pooling process, which I think is one worthy of consideration, because while I don’t that think someone who is diagnosed with a massive tumor should the next day be able to have millions and millions and millions of dollars in health care provided, I do believe that there can be a structure to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions.”

Romney’s Support for Eliminating U.S. Taxes on Foreign Incomes Would Create 800,000 Jobs Overseas at the Expense of American Workers – A new report estimates that Mitt Romney’s support for eliminating U.S. taxes on American companies’ foreign incomes would create 800,000 jobs in other countries, including 73,000 jobs in China. These jobs are likely to come at the expense of American workers.

This new report, published in Tax Notes, concludes that the reforms Mitt Romney supports ‘would significantly increase incentives for U.S. firms to move economic activity abroad.’ Economist Kimberly Clausing writes that, under current economic conditions, ‘those new, low-tax-country jobs could displace jobs at home.’ Romney’s plan to create jobs in other countries comes after independent economists have said that his economic plans could slow the economy and reduce the number of jobs in the United States. See the 3-page memo.

Mitt Romney Promises to Eliminate Bureau That Protects Consumers – Mitt Romney promises to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if elected. Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the 2008 financial crisis to protect all Americans from toxic mortgages and other bank ripoffs. Just this week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau won a refund of $140 million for two million credit card customers of Capital One.

Conservative Hypocrisy Over Romney’s Tax Return – On his show, on Stewart marveled at how many Republicans have been pressuring Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, but as for the conservatives defending Romney and saying he doesn’t need to release his tax returns, he called them out for hypocrisy, considering how much scrutiny conservatives have wanted to apply to President Obama‘s past, especially at the height of Birthergate., He ripped conservatives for defending Romney keeping his tax returns secret by going down a whole list of “frivolous transparency demands” that conservatives wanted in order to completely vet Obama’s past., He showed clips of them wanting to see the president’s full college records, his time at the Harvard Law Review, everything he did in the Illinois State Senate, and even some nonsense about Michelle Obama allegedly using the word “whiteys” at some point., And there’s the doubt that was cast over Obama’s birth certificate, with people disputing its authenticity by narrowly focusing on little minutiae that might prove it to be fake or something.

Watch the video at the link above.

Romney’s Weak Bain Capital, Tax Return Defense – Jon Stewart tore apart every inch of Mitt Romney‘s arguments regarding his not releasing tax returns and the inconsistencies surrounding his time at Bain Capital. Looking at the holes in Romney’s arguments, Stewart skewered the presidential hopeful. Stewart began with Bain and outsourcing — noting Romney’s previous argument that he wasn’t running things at the firm when the outsourcing took place. Except then those SEC filings happened, showing Romney still held executive titles…but from which he “retired retroactively.” So, Stewart said, it’s basically Romney saying he held “the smoke screenish yet still legal title of CEO and Managing Director who was paid at least $100,000 a year to do what according to me, Mitt Romney, was nothing. That’s the kind of cap and spend business experience I hope to bring to the White House.”

And then there are the tax returns. Romney insists he abided by the law, but that’s not the issue Stewart said. “If you are so-called job creator in the country, even if the jobs you create are in India or China, you are legally entitled to wonderful things like offshore tax accounts” and slashed interest rates. And $77,000 in business deductions for dressage horse competition expenses. In other words, “to send your horse to the f**king prom.”, Here’s the bottom line, he said:, Nobody cares that Mitt Romney is rich. It’s Romney’s inability to understand the institutional advantage that he gains from the government’s tax code largesse, that’s a little offensive to people, especially considering Romney’s view on anyone else who looks to the government for things like, I don’t know, food and medicine.

Watch the video at the link above.

Texas Outsourcing Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts – As with redistricting, the State of Texas contracted with Chicago-based law firm Bartlit Beck to take the lead in representing Texas in the Voter ID trial. The Texas Democratic Party submitted an Open Records Request to the Office of the Attorney General inquiring how much Texas taxpayers have spent on the Voter ID trial and specifically how much has been outsourced to Bartlit Beck. You can read it here. TDP spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña released the following statement:

“Apparently General Abbott thinks no one in the Attorney General’s office or in Texas for that matter is capable of leading the Republican voter suppression trial. Just like with the redistricting trial, Abbott is outsourcing official Texas business to a Chicago law-firm. It’s shameful enough that Abbott continues to taxpayer dollars to disenfranchise Texans. The fact that he’s sending this money out of state makes it worse.

Texans deserve to know how much of their money is being wasted and outsourced by the Attorney General Abbott on these disenfranchisement efforts.”

Background
· According to the Dallas Morning News, as of January 26, 2012 Texas taxpayers had spent almost $1.4 million in legal costs for the Texas redistricting battle. Of those $1.4 million, $395,000 went to a contract with Chicago-based law firm- Bartlit Beck.
· Leading up to his 2006 reelection campaign, Abbott cost Texas taxpayers $1.4 million on a wild goose chase that turned up no cases of voter impersonation.

In Texas, the Working Poor Stand at Center of Debate Over Health Care Law’s Medicaid Expansion – BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Jose Gallegos’ company eliminated employee health insurance to save money, so when his gut started hurting and his skin took on a yellow tinge, he resisted seeing a doctor. When he finally went to the emergency room, physicians diagnosed stomach cancer.

Gallegos made too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy his own insurance, so he scraped together what he could, and his wife, Andrea, took on three jobs. Just over a year later, at 41, he died, leaving behind four children.

Police Officer Kicks Handcuffed Woman in the Head – Caught on video Krawetz’s crime is a clear case of excessive and potentially deadly force. The woman was unable to break her fall as the kick slammed her head on to the curb, and then Krawetz did nothing to check whether she was all right.

While sitting handcuffed on the curb, the woman had kicked at the cop’s leg with her bare foot as he began going through her purse, but he was clearly in no danger, and other officers stood nearby.

Crimes such as Krawetz’s should never be taken so lightly. Tell RI to get tough on police brutality

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-24-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

In Support of Mayors Against Illegal Guns – Stop Domestic Terrorism

Americans are more likely to be killed by domestic terrorists with guns than international terrorists with bombs. When will we redirect our national resources to reflect this higher threat to American lives?

Sign the petition …

Also, here’s my message to President Obama on domestic terrorism, which was provided to the White House via their on-line communications form:

Mr. President,

We are all saddened by the killings in Colorado, but it points out again that we need perspective on threats to Americans.

We have domestic terrorists in greater numbers than international terrorists – and they are already here. Frank Schaeffer, a former insider of the far-right evangelical movement, has written about them in Crazy for God. He refers to them as the extreme right of the extreme right – that puts them at about 4% of our population.

Proof of their numbers exists. I would bet that there are more threats to your life by some of these extremists than there are threats to America by foreign terrorists.

Whether domestic or international, they need to be handled in the same way – as criminals. We are spending too much on a relatively few international terrorists and too little on the domestic ones. The killings in Colorado are proof of this.

Posted in Human Rights Abuse, Terrorism   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on In Support of Mayors Against Illegal Guns – Stop Domestic Terrorism   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-13-2012

Republicans Shut Down TB Hospital Amid Worst TB Outbreak in 20 Years – Welcome to the Sunshine State: Republican-run since 1998, tea party-controlled since 2010, and fast becoming one of the lowest-service states in the nation. Which helps explain how lawmakers shut down its only tuberculosis clinic last month, just as the worst outbreak of the infectious disease in America’s recent history flared up with a vengeance in Jacksonville, Miami, and who knows where else—an outbreak that state and local officials sat on until last month, according to an investigation published by the Palm Beach Post.

Last spring, however, the Republican-dominated Legislature voted to shutter the hospital as a cost-saving measure. The state’s governor, former health care executive Rick Scott, signed the bill in April and even pressed for AG Holley’s closure to be moved up six months; the facility was permanently shuttered on July 2.

What was Scott thinking? According to the Palm Beach Post exposé, AG Holley’s closure came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had warned the governor and his state health office in a report that tuberculosis was making a big comeback in the state.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in Florida could now be carrying the TB strain, which so far has claimed 13 lives and been confirmed to have infected 99 people, including six children, according to the Post—the worst in America in 20 years.

Thanks, Republicans, for saving a few tax dollars!

Romney Invested Millions in Chinese Firm That Profited on US Outsourcing – According to government documents reviewed by Mother Jones, Romney, when he was in charge of Bain, invested heavily in a Chinese manufacturing company that depended on US outsourcing for its profits—and that explicitly stated that such outsourcing was crucial to its success.

This previously unreported deal runs counter to Romney’s tough talk on the campaign trail regarding China. But with this investment, Romney sought to make money off a foreign company that banked on American firms outsourcing manufacturing overseas.

Republican Lawmaker Horrified to Discover that Christianity is Not the Only Religion – One Louisiana Republican is learning the hard way that religious school vouchers can be used to fund education at all sorts of religious schools, even Muslim ones. And while she’s totally in favor of taxpayer money being used to pay for kids to go to Christian schools, she’s willing to put a stop to the entire program if Muslim schools are going to be involved.

Valarie Hodges admitted that when she supported Governor Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, she only did so because she assumed the religious school vouchers could only be used for Christian schools. Religious freedom means that everyone’s free to follow Valarie Hodges’ religion!

Islam is a religion protected by the constitution, too? No one told Valarie Hodges anything about religions being equal under the law! She can’t support any sort of anything that could learn to families using taxpayer money to educate their kids in Islamic schools. She added Bachmannesquely, “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

House Republicans Hold 30 Times More Votes On Repealing Health Care Than On Creating Jobs – A chart from the Nation illustrates the stark disparity between the number of votes that House Republicans have held on repealing the Affordable Care Act versus the number of votes they have held on job-creating measures like the American Jobs Act.

After the House voted to eliminate Obamacare for the 31st time this afternoon, it’s a helpful reminder about how the GOP has pushed aside economic issues despite touting the economy as a central platform issue.

Kill ACA or Help Citizens Get Jobs?

 

Limbaugh Race-Baits – Mitt Romney never had a chance of winning over the NAACP, according to Rush Limbaugh. That’s not because Romney’s a Republican, or because his policy positions aren’t shared by the organization, but because Mitt Romney is white.

“Obama’s the Preezy,” Limbaugh told his listeners Wednesday, (get it? Cuz Limbaugh thinks that’s how black people talk). “He’s confident they’ll boo Romney, simply ’cause Romney’s white. He’s confident of that.” This is, put simply, the dumbest thing Limbaugh has said since the time the 61-year old radio host revealed he didn’t know how birth control works.

When Ross Perot adressed the convention in 1992, press accounts don’t describe any boos despite Perot referring to the audience as “you people.” Then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was well received. Former Republican Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) declined to speak, saying he wanted to talk to audiences he “could relate to.” Both Al Gore and George W. Bush addressed the convention in 2000, and neither were booed.

I wonder how Limbaugh will explain why Vice President Joe Biden, who is also white, was so well received by the NAACP convention Thursday.

—————–
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. – Plato

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-13-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-7-2012

Galveston County Commissioner in More Trouble – Galveston County Commissioner, Republican Ken Clark, who already is facing a state ethics commission investigation and is the target of a special prosecutor’s inquest, now faces a new allegation.

This time the complaint comes from a fellow Republican who claims Clark’s longtime assistant alleges the commissioner instructed her to conduct political activities on county computer and Internet systems and on county time.

Former Justice of the Peace Mark Foster, who is seeking the Precinct 1 county commissioner’s seat, filed a complaint with Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady on Monday. Foster claims Clark’s former assistant Celia Mabry informed him that she had been told by Clark to conduct opposition research on Foster to benefit Ryan Dennard, Foster’s opponent in the July 31 Republican Party runoff.

Related Items

Ken Clark the target of special prosecutor
Clarks campaign spending under review by state
Commissioner claims firm not conflict of interest

Romney’s Murky World of Offshore Finance – For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Romney is into the murky world of offshore finance and loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws. A Vanity Fair article published this week revealed that Mitt Romney has heavily invested in foreign tax havens, raising questions about whether he’s ever avoided paying U.S. taxes. We already knew that he had a Swiss bank account until just last year, and that he still owns a mysterious corporation in Bermuda. The article notes that Romney’s finances are “deeply entangled” with Bain Capital, including investment funds in the Cayman Islands. We don’t know all the details because he won’t follow precedent by releasing his tax returns, raising a lot of questions about his finances that Americans deserve to know the answers to.

Where is all of the Romeny wealth and what is he hiding?

 

Some Republicans Just Won’t Listen – A worker in Florida got an earful from Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) on Wednesday when he asked the congressman to support a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

“Jesse Jackson, Jr. is passing a bill around to increase the minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour,” the man tells Young in a video obtained by FLDemocracy. “Do you support that?”

“Probably not,” Young replies.

“Ten bucks, that would give us a living wage,” the constituent points out.

“How about getting a job?” Young snaps.

“I do have one, $8.50 an hour,” the man insists.

“Why do you want that benefit?” Young grumbles. “Get a job.”

“I do have a job, but it’s not enough to get by on,” the man explains as Young turns away.

In 2010, the Florida Republican voted for a cost-of-living pay increase for himself and other members of Congress. He currently makes the default yearly Congressional salary of $174,000.

Fukushima Nuclear Accident was “Manmade” and “Preventable” Says Japanese Report – A Japanese legislative inquiry on Thursday found that last year’s disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was “manmade” and could have been prevented.

A 641-page report by the independent 10-member panel concluded that the facility might have been damaged by the first earthquake on March 11, 2011, even prior to being hit by a tsunami roughly 30 minutes later. The twin calamities led to meltdowns at three of the Daiichi facility’s six reactors.

“It was a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented,” said Kurokawa, an academic fellow at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”

“The Tepco Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco [the power company],” the document finds. “They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents.”

And just to bring this Fukushima report a little closer to home, there are 23 of G.E.’s flawed Mark I reactors right here in the good old U.S. of A. Add to that the increasing incidence of earthquakes in unexpected places (caused by the injection of fracking waste fluid into the ground), and we’ve got a “no one could have known!” just waiting to happen here.

Louisiana Republicans Concoct Scheme to Cover Their Poor Administration of School Vouchers – Emails between Louisiana Education Superintendent John White, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spokesman Kyle Plotkin and Jindal’s policy adviser Stafford Palmieri show White devising a scheme to “muddy up a narrative” and to “take some air out of the room” after a news report about the new voucher program that was published before his Senate confirmation hearing in May. In the email exchange, White proposes creating a news story about the “due diligence” process for school voucher approvals to counter the impact of a News-Star article that revealed the state Department of Education had not performed site visits or extensive review of voucher applications.

Texas Republican Leaders Value Political Ideology Over the Well Being of Citizens – Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Republican Lawmakers have shown little interest in participating to expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 2 million low-income Texans. The Supreme Court ruled that states could decide whether to participate in the Medicaid expansion without jeopardizing the money they receive for the traditional Medicaid program.

The traditional program in Texas covers 3.4 million children, pregnant women, disabled adults and poor elderly people; under the Affordable Care Act, it would be extended to everyone whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It’s ideology, ” said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s stubbornness.”

Taking the money and expanding coverage would be the smart thing to do from a policy standpoint, Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones said.

The Texas Hospital Association acknowledged political leaders’ concerns with the expansion, but association President and CEO Dr. Dan Stultz urged them to consider it.

“Without the Medicaid expansion, many will remain uninsured, shifting costs to the insured and increasing uncompensated care to health care providers,” he said.

Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show – Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when the Huffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.

But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.

Regards,
Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-7-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-6-2012

The Terrifying Texas Republican Platform – The Texas Republican Platform wants to eliminate teaching of critical thinking skills, wants to cut funding to all levels of education, and wants to enact economic policies that experts agree would make the economy worse. It reads as if it were written in another age and in ignorance of the social, economic, and scientific evidence of the past half century. Let there be no mistake about it: the Texas Republican Party Platform is terrifying. Were its recommendations implemented, the US would resemble a third-world country with a cheap, uneducated workforce and a massive gap between rich and poor. Unemployment would be rampant, growth stagnant, and answers few and far between thanks to the systematic repression of higher order and critical thinking.

Who said that? Forbes Magazine – the business and investing magazine. Not exactly a liberal publication.

Rush Limbaugh Says Giving Women the Right to Vote Screwed Up The Country – Rush Limbaugh thinks that the country was great until women got the vote.

The segment begins with a caller whipping out his pocket Constitution and arguing that “Obamacare” is really the fault of young people. In his mind, those 18 year olds are the reason we’ve elected “someone this foolish.”

Limbaugh counters with “Nah, I can do one better than that. When women got the vote is when it all went downhill.”

Romney’s Secret Wealth Assets Held Offshore – WASHINGTON — For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose.

Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.

Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney’s wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records obtained by The Associated Press. The Romneys’ ownership of the offshore firm did not appear on any state or federal financial reports during Romney’s two presidential campaigns. Only the Romneys’ 2010 tax records, released under political pressure earlier this year, confirmed their continuing control of the company.

Alabama Pastors Conference Invites Only ‘White Christians’; Will Include a Cross Burning – A group of pastors in Alabama says that they are not racist even though only “white Christians” were invited to their three-day conference, which will include a cross burning and be attended by Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members.

This Is What Happens When Public Services Go Private – Lifeguard Who Aided Swimmer Was Fired – As lifeguards are paid and trained to do, Tomas Lopez rushed down the beach to rescue a drowning man — and then got fired for it.

The problem: Lopez stepped out of the beach zone his company is paid to patrol, a supervisor said Tuesday.

“I ran out to do the job I was trained to do,” said Lopez. “I didn’t think about it at all.”
At least two other lifeguards have quit in protest.

“What was he supposed to do? Watch a man drown?” asked one.

Lifeguards in Hallandale Beach work for Orlando-based company Jeff Ellis and Associates, which has been providing lifeguard services for the city’s beaches and pools since 2003. This hero made about $8.25 per hour to make sure people don’t drown on the very public, lovely Florida beaches, and they fired him because they were worried about “liability issues.”

Republican Joe Walsh Blasts Double Amputee’s Military Service, Says She’s Not A ‘True Hero’ – Though he never joined the military himself, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) disparaged his Democratic opponent’s military service at a town hall on Sunday, saying that she’s not a “true hero.”

Walsh is running against Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq when insurgents hit her helicopter with an RPG in 2004.

The Tea Party freshman opened the Elk Grove town hall by arguing that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was reluctant to discuss his own military service in 2008, which made him a “noble hero.” By contrast, “Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about,” Walsh said.

Houston Councilwoman Brown Altered Employees’ Timecards – Houston City Councilwoman Helena Brown subtracted hours from employees’ timecards in apparent violation of federal law, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle. The first-term councilwoman shorted an employee by more than three hours in a day in several cases. At least six times, Brown deleted enough hours from employees’ reported workweeks that it cost them overtime by bringing their weekly total under 40 hours.

Texas Ranks Last Healthcare in the U.S. – Texas ranked dead last in the federal government’s latest report card on the delivery of health services, falling short in areas ranging from acute hospital care to home treatment of the chronically ill.

Texas scored 31.61 — less than half of top-ranked Minnesota’s 67.31 — out of a possible 100 points in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality annual rankings. Rated “weak” or “very weak” in nine of 12 health delivery categories, Texas dropped from 47th place in 2010 to 51st in 2011, behind all other states and Washington, D.C.

Texas Republican-Controlled Legislature Cuts to Texas College Aid Cause Students to Suffer – Lawmakers cut about $1 billion from higher education financial aid last year, part of billions in spending cuts needed to balance the two-year budget without raising taxes. Education leaders worried that as a result, tens of thousands of students would be barred from attending college because of the cost. “These institutions muddled through this last year with the dollars they had, but not a whole lot of people are holding their breath to recoup the money we lost last time or to get new money,” said Dominic Chavez, spokesman for the coordinating board. “Meanwhile, we continue to see increases in the number of needy students. We are already in catch-up mode trying to meet the need of students who qualify.”

Some students eligible for TEXAS Grants end up going to a local community college if they can’t afford a four-year university or taking on heavy work schedules to support themselves. Dr. Tom Melecki, director of UT student financial services, said his office aims to help students avoid either of those options because many who try to work full time end up dropping out. Gov. Rick Perry and legislative leaders recently instructed agencies to prepare budgets for the next two years that would freeze spending or even cut another 10 percent.

Regards,
Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-6-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-5-2012

Republican Governor Cuts All State Funding for Libraries – No libraries for you, little people of Louisiana! Bobby Jindal just signed a $25 billion dollar budget that cut all state funding for libraries, which wasn’t exactly a huge porkfest to begin with ($900,000). On the other hand, Jindal has cut taxes six times. See what that gets you!

Romney Says the Amount of Education You Get Should Depend on How Much Money You Have – In his stump speech on June 29th, Romney said:

“I want to make sure we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot, they get as much education as they can afford, with their time they’re able to get it, and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to have a shot at realizing their dreams.”

So, if you have a lot of money, you get a lot of education. And if you don’t have any money, you get zip. And you only get a fair shot at realizing your dreams if you have the “right values.” I wonder who decides that – some value panel? Or maybe the church lady?

This is a man who wants to privatize our K-12 education system, who slashed Massachusetts’ education budget by large margins, increased class sizes to unmanageable levels, attended an exclusive private school, exclusive private colleges, and has the means to send his children to any college they can afford so that they too, can make tons of money by stripping other people of their jobs and futures.

This, from the man who thinks it’s just so easy to go borrow money from Mom and Dad for that startup no one with real money will fund. This, from the man who thinks borrowing from Mom and Dad for college is just as simple as a trip home for dinner.

Texas State Comptroller’s Pants Are on Fire – State Comptroller Susan Combs has been touring the state warning of the dangers of rising Medicaid costs (the “Big Red Monster” as she calls it) and proclaming that we spend too much money on public education, even though Texas ranks near the bottom nationwide in spending per pupil, and lawmakers cut funding by $5.4 billion in the last legislative session. The comptroller was even labeled with a “Pants on Fire” ruling by PolitiFact for trying to perpetuate the myth that the legislature didn’t cut school funding.

Education and health care aren’t the problems. The real need is for leadership in state government to use the Rainy Day Fund in the short term to reverse cuts, and then to fix the ongoing $10 billion hole in the budget from the structural deficit created by lawmakers in 2006. That’s not only our take, it’s the key message of Texas Forward, a coalition of some 50 organizations–including Texas AFT–promoting a balanced approach to state budget decisions.

Texas Forward members know that Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of families with children, elderly parents in nursing homes and family members with a lifelong disability, and quality public education is the key to our state’s future prosperity, preparing our youth for higher education and good jobs.

Texas Forward has prepared a petition telling state officials: “Let’s not drag schools OR healthcare backwards!” You can sign the petition on their Web site.

Republicans Advance Their War on Minorities and the Poor With Public Transportation Cuts – Just as more people are making use of this invaluable public resource, Republicans are going out of their way to slash funding for public transportation, both in terms of new projects and maintenance of existing systems. As a result, nearly 80% of transit systems have had to either reduce services or raise fares since 2010. According to the President of the American Public Transportation Association, William Millar,

“Public transportation systems are currently experiencing decreases in their funding during a time when many are serving increased number of riders. Systems are forced to continue to freeze positions and lay off workers, which makes providing necessary transit service even more difficult.”

Like all things public, Republicans want to attack and dismantle public transportation just as badly as they do all the other services provided by government. Showing off their truly loony side, they have gone so far as to accuse public transportation of being a socialist conspiracy perpetrated by the United Nations as part of a “New World Order.” When they are not using bizarre conspiracy theories to fuel the right-wing populism behind tearing down public transportation, Republicans play on two American traditions to sour the American public on mass transit: disdain for the poor and the cultural meme of independence on the open road.

Conventionally, people associate the need for public transit with urban, poor populations, and Republicans use this stereotypical association in their favor. Like attacks on welfare, they are able to parlay negative attitudes toward helping the “undeserving poor”, tainted with their ever-present racism, into an “us-versus-them” mentality regarding mass transit. Republicans perpetuate the myth that roads pay for themselves while public transit costs the taxpayer money, despite the fact that this has been shown to be untrue. For example, the State Smart Transportation Initiative in Wisconsin calculated that non-users of roads each pay about $779 for them, while non-users of public transit pay $50. Republicans love to divide and conquer, and emphasizing that transportation dollars that go to public transit benefit “only certain populations in big cities” is an effective way to wedge large swaths of Americans from one another.

Mitch McConnell Says People Without Healthcare Are Not the Issue – Like most Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has said that he wants to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Like most Republicans, McConnell has been rather vague about what he’d replace it with. On Sunday, McConnell was specific about one thing: the Republican replacement for Obamacare won’t be concerned with providing insurance for 30 million uninsured Americans.

In an interview with Fox News, McConnell pushed the standard GOP boilerplate on health reform — he would support tort reform, allowing insurance companies to sell substandard insurance across state lines and other reforms that would benefit insurance companies without helping patients. When pressed by Chris Matthews on what he’d do to provide universal coverage, McConnell said bluntly that people without health insurance aren’t his concern.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-5-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 7-1-2012

Pennsylvania Republican: House Leader Says Voter ID Laws Are ‘Gonna Allow Governor Romney To Win’ – This weekend, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai (R-PA) finally admitted what so many have speculated: Voter identification efforts are meant to suppress Democratic votes in this year’s election.

At the Republican State Committee meeting, Turzai took the stage and let slip the truth about why Republicans are so insistent on voter identification efforts — it will win Romney the election. He said, “We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years. Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Texas Republican Party Platform Urges Repeal of Voter Rights Act – The Republican Party of Texas’ recently adopted 2012 platform contains a plank that wants the Voter Rights Act repealed. It states, “We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.”

Texas Republican Party Platform Opposes Teaching Thinking Skills – The Republican Party of Texas’ recently adopted 2012 platform contains a plank that opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” in schools.

The plank in question, on “Knowledge-Based Education,” reads as follows:
“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

(Critical thinking, of course, is what allows a person to differentiate between fact and hokum. However, Republicans apparently believe that when elders spout hokum, now that needs to be properly respected. If your parents say the Loch Ness Monster is proof that evolution never happened, you had better not start using your newfound critical thinking skills on picking that apart. – JLV)

Coal Company to Get Cheap Coal From Our Public Land and Sell It Overseas for Huge Profit – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to give Peabody Energy the rights to 721 million tons of publicly owned Wyoming coal for about $1 a ton,1 just so Peabody can sell it in Asia for $80 a ton, unleashing a massive amount of climate-change causing carbon pollution in the process. Realizing that dirty coal use in the U.S. is in a steep and permanent decline, big coal companies want to build massive coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest for shipping American coal to Asia, where environmental rules aren’t as strict.

BLM’s coal leasing decisions are supposed to be made “in the best interests of the nation,” but fueling climate change by heavily subsidizing dirty coal that will be sold to China isn’t in anyone’s interests.

Tell the Bureau of Land Management: Stop the dirty coal giveaways and stop subsidizing climate change. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Arrests a 6-year-Old Undocumented Child – Notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio recently arrested a 6-year-old undocumented child, despite President Obama’s recent revisions to immigration policy, which stops the deportation of undocumented children. The young girl, who was with 15 other immigrants, was arrested on the same day that Obama implemented these major changes to the country’s immigration policy.

Republican Senate Candidate Says He’s Sick and Tired of Hearing Sob Stories About the Poor – During the Q&A portion of a Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce event, Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde (R) expressed his support for lowering the corporate tax rate, tackling the country’s spending problems and lowering the national debt. Then, pointing to a reporter in the audience, Hovde said he would love to see the press stop covering sob stories about low-income individuals who can’t get benefits and start covering issues like the deficit more frequently.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 7-1-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Chief Justice Roberts Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision: Winning Battle – Losing the War?

Based on comments made by Thom Hartmann last week, Roberts has handed the extreme right another rallying cause. Just like Roe v Wade, this decision will be used for decades to rally the right-wing authoritarian base. It will inspire ALEC to write laws that will undermine Obamacare a little at a time as they have done with abortion.

This court has not regained my trust and confidence with this one decision. There are still four justices that want to take us back to at least 1950.

Posted in Politics   |   2 Comments   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Our Empathy and Education Deficits – Nurtured by Right-wing Authoritarians, But Beatable

The two deficits, their causes, and solutions summarized below from writings by former Senator Barack Obama and Professor Henry Giroux, author of many books including Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism, are much more critical to America’s future than the deficit the right-wing authoritarians distracted us with prior to Occupy Wall $treet – the budget deficit.

Deficit Descriptions:

In 2006, then Senator Obama talked about our “empathy deficit:”

…There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room.

As you go on in life, cultivating this quality of empathy will become harder, not easier. There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care. You’ll be free to live in neighborhoods with people who are exactly like yourself, and send your kids to the same schools, and narrow your concerns to what’s going on in your own little circle.

They will tell you that the Americans who sleep in the streets and beg for food got there because they’re all lazy or weak of spirit. That the inner-city children who are trapped in dilapidated schools can’t learn and won’t learn and so we should just give up on them entirely. That the innocent people being slaughtered and expelled from their homes … are somebody else’s problem to take care of.

When we measure our greatness as a nation by how far the stock market rises or falls instead of how many opportunities we’ve opened up for America’s children, we’re displaying a preference for the childish. When we believe that force is the only way to accomplish our ends in the world, when our leaders exaggerate or fudge the truth, we haven’t set aside childish things. When we run our budget into red ink for things that we want instead of things that we need, we’re indicating that we’re not yet full-grown.

… Republican and Democrat alike went back to procrastinating about problems that we now have to face. We sent young Americans to fight a war without asking anyone back home to sacrifice their time or their tax cut. We argue about the inconsequential, and caricature our opponents to score cheap political points. Our media returned to covering the sensational and feeding our ever-shortening attention span.

 

Henry Giroux is concerned about another deficit. He has written extensively about the failure and transformation of education in America and the authoritarian leadership that has made it happen. His most recent article on this matter is available here. Some selected quotes on this deficit and its authoritarian nature are provided:

One of the major consequences of the current education deficit and the pervasive culture of illiteracy that sustains it is what I call the ideology of the big lie – which propagates the myth that the free-market system is the only mechanism to ensure human freedom and safeguard democracy.

The education deficit, along with declining levels of civic literacy, is also part of the American public’s collective refusal to know – a focused resistance on the part of many members of society to deal with knowledge that challenges common sense, or to think reflectively about facts and truths that are unsettling in terms of how they disturb some of our most cherished beliefs, especially those that denounce the sins of big government, legitimize existing levels of economic insecurity, social inequality and reduced or minimal government intervention in the field of welfare legislation.

… The cultural apparatuses of popular education and public pedagogy play a powerful role in framing how issues are perceived, what values and social relations matter and whether any small ruptures will be allowed to unsettle the circles of certainty that now reign as common sense. …

… Most of the stories now told to the American public are about the necessity of neoliberal capitalism, permanent war and the virtues of a never-ending culture of fear. …

… America seems to have moved away from that possibility, that willingness to think through and beyond the systemic production of the given, the pull of conformity, the comforting assurance of certainty and the painless retreat into a world of common sense. …

… The education deficit, a hallmark achievement of neoliberal capitalism, has produced a version of authoritarianism with a soft edge, a kind of popular authoritarianism that spreads its values through gaming, reality TV, celebrity culture, the daily news, talk radio and a host of other media outlets now aggressively engaged in producing subjects, desires and dreams that reflect a world order dominated by corporations and “free markets.” …

Notwithstanding the appeal to formalistic election rituals, democracy as a substantive mode of public address and politics is all but dead in the United States. The forces of authoritarianism are on the march and they seem at this point only to be gaining power politically, economically and educationally.

This new mode of authoritarian governance is distinct from the fascism that emerged in Germany and Italy in the mid part of the twentieth century. As Sheldon Wolin has pointed out, big business in this new mode of authoritarianism is not subordinated to a political regime and the forces of state sovereignty, but now replaces political sovereignty with corporate rule. In addition, the new authoritarianism does not strive “to give the masses a sense of collective power and strength, [but] promotes a sense of weakness, of collective futility [through] a pervasive atmosphere of fear abetted by a corporate economy of ruthless downsizing, withdrawal or reduction of pension and health benefits; a corporate political system that relentlessly threatens to privatize Social Security and the modest health benefits available, especially to the poor.”

… If they [conservatives without conscience] win the 2012 election, they will not only extend the … legacy of militarism abroad, but likely intensify the war at home as well. Political scientist Frances Fox Piven rightly argues that, “We’ve been at war for decades now – not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, but right here at home. Domestically, it’s been a war [a]gainst the poor [and as] devastating as it has been, the war against the poor has gone largely unnoticed until now.”(17) And the war at home now includes more than attacks on the poor, as campaigns are increasingly waged against the rights of women, students, workers, people of color and immigrants, especially Latino Americans. As the social state collapses, the punishing state expands its power and targets larger portions of the population. The war in Afghanistan is now mimicked in the war waged on peaceful student protesters at home. It is evident in the environmental racism that produces massive health problems for African-Americans. The domestic war is even waged on elementary school children, who now live in fear of the police handcuffing them in their classrooms and incarcerating them as if they were adult criminals.(18) It is waged on workers by taking away their pensions, bargaining rights and dignity. The spirit of militarism is also evident in the war waged on the welfare state and any form of social protection that benefits the poor, disabled, sick, elderly, and other groups now considered disposable, including children.

… There is more at work here than carpet bombing the culture with lies, deceptions and euphemisms. Language in this case does more than obfuscate or promote propaganda. It creates framing mechanisms, cultural ecosystems and cultures of cruelty, while closing down the spaces for dialogue, critique and thoughtfulness. …

Anti-public intellectuals rail against public goods and public values; they undermine collective bonds and view social responsibility as a pathology, while touting the virtues of a survival-of-the-fittest notion of individual responsibility. …

Nothing is said in this pro-market narrative about the massive human suffering caused by a growing inequality in which society’s resources are squandered at the top, while salaries for the middle and working classes stagnate, consumption dries up, social costs are ignored, young people are locked out of jobs and any possibility of social mobility and the state reconfigures its power to punish rather than protect the vast majority of its citizens.

 

Causation of these deficits:

The growing empathy and education deficits – and for that matter the federal budget deficit – have developed over recent decades under the auspices of right-wing authoritarians and their finely tuned processes and a plan laid out years ago: in The Powell Memo.

Senator Obama’s “commencement speech in 2006 summarized the deficit causes in this way:

… a passage from scriptures that some of you may know: Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.”

I bring this up because there’s an assumption in rites of passage like this that growing up is just a function of age; that becoming an adult is an inevitable and natural progression.

But in fact, I know a whole lot of thirty year olds and forty-year olds and fifty year olds who are not yet full-grown. And if you talk to my wife, she’ll tell you that there are times when I do not put aside childish things; when I continually struggle to rise above the selfish or the petty or the small.

… we live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principal goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained. A culture where those in power too often encourage these selfish impulses.

 

As summarized by Henry Giroux, the processes destroying our democracy are: “neoliberal capitalism, permanent war and the virtues of a never-ending culture of fear.” His recent article added the following detail:

This type of turbo capitalism with its crushing cultural apparatuses of legitimation does more than destroy the public good; it empties democracy of any substance and renders authoritarian politics and culture an acceptable state of affairs. As the boundaries between markets and democratic values collapse, civil life becomes warlike and the advocates of market fundamentalism rail against state protections while offering an unbridled confirmation of the market as a template for all social relations.

a powerful new mode of capitalism that not only controls the commanding heights of the economy, but has now also replaced political sovereignty with an aggressive form of corporate governance. The state and elite market forces, perhaps inseparable before, have become today both inseparable and powerfully aligned.

As public spheres are privatized, commodified and turned over to the crushing forces of turbo capitalism, the opportunities for openness, inclusiveness and dialogue that nurture the very idea and possibility of a discourse about democracy cease to exist.

… And it is precisely this notion of civic agency and critical education that has been under aggressive assault within the new and harsh corporate order of casino capitalism.

The moral coma that appears characteristic of the elite who inhabit the new corporate ethic of casino capitalism has attracted the attention of scientists, whose studies recently reported that “members of the upper class are more likely to behave unethically, to lie during negotiations, to drive illegally and to cheat when competing for a prize.”

Democracy withers, public spheres disappear and the forces of authoritarianism grow when a family, such as the Waltons of Walmart fame, is allowed “to amass a combined wealth of some $90 billion, which is equivalent to the wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of US society.”

Antidemocratic forms of power do not stand alone as a mode of force or the force of acting on others; they are also deeply aligned with cultural apparatuses of persuasion, extending their reach through social and digital media, sophisticated technologies, the rise of corporate intellectuals and a university system that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continues spinning this spider web of lies unapologetically now produces and sanctions intellectuals aligned with private interests – all of which, as Randy Martin points out, can be identified with a form of casino capitalism that is about “permanent vigilance, activity and intervention.”

University presidents now make huge salaries sitting on corporate boards, while faculty sell their knowledge to the highest corporate bidder and, in doing so, turn universities into legitimation centers for casino capitalism. …

… The conservative re-education machine appears shameless in its production of lies …. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continues spinning this spider web of lies unapologetically ….

… But today, distraction is the primary element being used to suppress democratically purposeful education by pushing critical thought to the margins of society. … Academics who make a claim to producing knowledge and truth in the public interest are increasingly being replaced by academics for hire who move effortlessly among industry, government and academia.

 

Deficit Solutions:

These destructive processes can be stopped and the former Senator Obama and Professor Giroux have some suggestions. The then Senator Obama said:

… I hope you choose to broaden, and not contract, your ambit of concern. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all of those who helped you get to where you are, although you do have that debt.

It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. And because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential — and become full-grown.

Instinctively, they [observers of the Civil Rights Movement] knew that it was safer and smarter to stay at home; to watch the movement from afar. But they also understood that these people in Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi were their brothers and sisters; that what was happening was wrong; and that they had an obligation to make it right. When the buses pulled up for a Freedom Ride down South, they got on. They took a risk. And they changed the world.

…Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

…What America needs right now, more than ever, is a sense of purpose to guide us through the challenges that lie ahead; a maturity that we seem to have lost somewhere along the way; a willingness to engage in a sober, adult conversation about our future.

We can meet this challenge if we fix our schools, if we make college affordable, if we train our workers, if we invest more in research and technology. We know what needs to be done. What’s lacking is the political will.

Each and every one of these challenges calls for an America that is more purposeful, more grown-up than the America that we have today. An America that reflects the lessons that have helped so many of its people mature in their own lives. An America that’s about not just each of us, but all of us. An America that takes great risks in the face of greater odds. An America that, above all, perseveres.

 

Professor Giroux had the following suggestions for halting these destructive forces:

The solution in this case does not lie in promoting piecemeal reforms, such as a greater redistribution of wealth and income, but in dismantling all the institutional, ideological and social formations that make gratuitous inequality and other antidemocratic forces possible at all. …

… Nothing will change politically or economically until new and emerging social movements take seriously the need to develop a language of radical reform and create new public spheres that support the knowledge, skills and critical thought that are necessary features of a democratic formative culture.

Our education deficit is neither reducible to the failure of particular types of teaching nor the descent into madness by the spokespersons for the new authoritarianism. Rather, it is about how matters of knowledge, values and ideology can be struggled over as issues of power and politics. Surviving the current education deficit will depend on progressives using history, memory and knowledge not only to reconnect intellectuals to the everyday needs of ordinary people, but also to jumpstart social movements by making education central to organized politics and the quest for a radical democracy.

 

There is much to do and learn as we continue to mature.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Empathy   |   Tagged , ,   |   Comments Off on Our Empathy and Education Deficits – Nurtured by Right-wing Authoritarians, But Beatable   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 6-22-2012

Corporations That Make Billions Refuse to Pay Houston Janitors a Living Wage – Houston janitors of the SEIU clean the offices of some of the largest corporations in America that are reaping billions in profits, yet these hard-working men and women are paid less than $9,000 a year.

Gilberto Hinojosa, the newly elected chairman of the Texas Democratic Party said, “Honest work should receive honest pay, but Republicans want to repeal the minimum wage to make people work for $2 an hour. Then Republicans want to whine about paying for health care for children of American parents who have jobs. It is shameful.”

“Grotesquely overpaid CEOs and upper management expect the men and women who work hard and play by the rules to be forced to beg for public assistance just to support themselves, much less a family. That is a disgrace not only to the America we love, but also to God,” Hinojosa stressed. “These striking workers are seeking a living wage for their work in cleaning the offices of Texas millionaires and one percenters, who not only refuse to pay a decent wage for honest work but are also enlisting Republican support to protect them from paying their fair share of taxes.”

Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and The Texas Democratic Party call upon all Texans who support the right to a living wage to make a meaningful stand by signing the petition.

Over 10,000 High Earners Paid No US Taxes – A study from the Internal Revenue Service has found that one out of 189 high earners in the US paid no income tax in 2009. That is, 10,080 households who reported adjusted gross income of at least $200,000 annually — 0.26 percent of high earners — paid no income taxes in the US or to other countries. Overall the IRS found that there were 35,061 households that paid nothing. These are some of the same people who don’t want to pay janitors (see above). It is also further reason to support President Obama’s “Buffett rule,” which would tax high-earners at a rate of 30 percent or higher.

Middle Class Would Face Higher Taxes Under Republican Plan, Analysis Finds – The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday.

The report, prepared by Senate Democrats and reviewed by nonpartisan tax experts, marks the first attempt to quantify the trade-offs inherent in the GOP tax package, which would replace the current tax structure with two brackets — 25 percent and 10 percent — and cut the top rate from 35 percent.

Obama For America TV Ad: “Come And Go”

Obama for America TV Ad: “Mosaic”

Romney Hires Alleged Perpetrator of Voter Fraud – Here are a few highlights culled from a recent story in Republic Report and elsewhere:

*The firm Sproul and Associates was investigated for voter fraud in Nevada during their work on behalf of the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004. Sproul’s registrars allegedly canvassed voters about which candidate they were planning to support. If they were leaning Republican, the group helped them to register. If they leaned Democratic, they ignored them, or later destroyed the form.

*In Oregon as well, the state attorney general opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Sproul’s group (they have since changed their name to “Lincoln Strategies”) was involved in intentionally destroying or discarding voter registration forms signed by Democrats. Portland CBS affiliate KLAS-TV reported that a former employee of Sproul claimed that hundreds, if not thousands, of Democratic registration forms were trashed by the Sproul’s minions.

*Sproul and his operatives were also behind efforts to gather signatures on a petition to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in Arizona in an attempt to siphon votes off from Democrat, John Kerry in 2004.
*During the midterm elections in 2006 Sproul’s “registrars” were kicked out of Wal-Mart in Tennessee, and also the Oregon library system for claiming fraudulently that they were engaged in a “non-partisan voter registration drive, when they were really working for the Republican National Committee.

*In Arizona, according to Salon, Sproul’s minions employed a variety of deceptive tactics– including systematically lying about the bill– to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state’s Clean Elections Law. [Salon, 10/21/04]

Sproul’s capers include “tricking Democrats into registering as Republicans, surreptitiously re-registering Democrats and Independents as Republicans, and shredding Democratic registration forms,” according to the Baltimore Chronicle. For which services during the 2004 presidential election campaign, Sproul was paid an astounding $8.3 million by Bush and the Republicans, investigative journalists Mark Crispin Miller and Jared Irmas discovered.

That makes the $71,391 in fees that the consultant has reportedly received so far from Romney for President Inc.

Texas Wrongly Suspending Voters – Texas already has a low voter registration rate, and many of the state’s registered voters are in danger of losing that status. The Houston Chronicle reported that 1.5 million voters are in “suspended” status, which means they will be dropped from registration rolls on Nov. 30. Voters are suspended if they failed to respond to letters seeking to confirm their residence or if they did not receive a letter that was sent.

Some voters may have been dropped from the rolls without knowing it and through no fault of their own. For example, former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia told the newspaper that she was placed on suspension in 2003 for failing to respond to a letter that she never received.

The Chronicle report cited U.S. Elections Commission data showing that 21 percent of Texans who have received “purge letters” were valid voters who contacted officials and avoided being dropped.

War Contractors Using Slave Labor – U.S. contractors have made billions from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now, several – including big names like KBR, formerly part of Halliburton – are being investigated for slave labor. Let the Senate know that our tax dollars were never meant to fund slavery. Tell them to IMMEDIATELY pass the bipartisan End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act and stop taxpayer funded modern slavery.

House Republicans Killing Transportation Jobs – Both the U.S. Senate and House have passed versions of the surface transportation bill—the Senate version of the bill would create or sustain nearly 3 million jobs—and a conference committee of key House and Senate leaders is negotiating final details of the bill right now. But some Republicans in the House want to make it their way or the highway. They want to starve funding for badly needed infrastructure projects and hold hostage family-sustaining jobs.

In the past two and a half years, Congress has settled for nine short-term extensions instead of coming up with a long-term solution to fix our crumbling infrastructure and get ironworkers, crane operators, cement masons and other construction workers—14 percent of whom are currently unemployed—back on the job. For too long, we have watched while politicians pushed policies that have sent jobs overseas while kicking the can down the road on investing in infrastructure projects that would create jobs here.

Tell your elected leaders in Washington to pass the surface transportation bill before the June 30 deadline.

Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas – Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 6-22-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 6-16-2012

Republicans Pass House Bill to Allow Mass Propaganda Campaigns on American Citizens – An amendment legalizing the use of mass propaganda campaigns on American audiences has been inserted into the latest defense authorization bill — and that bill just passed the Republican-controlled House.

The NDAA amendment lifts bans on propaganda that have been around since the 1940s, neutralizing laws put in place to protect the American people from its government’s own “misinformation” campaigns.

“It removes the protection for Americans,” a Pentagon official told Buzzfeed, who broke the story. “There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

The amendment would remove all distinction between a hostile foreign audience and American one, turning the massive information operation apparatus within the federal government against its own people. Republican lawmakers like spying on you.

Please click link above to demand that the Senate oppose ending the propaganda ban — it’ll be up for a vote as soon as next week.

Republicans in Florida Pushing Mass Voter Purge – Do you remember the Florida debacle in the 2000 presidential race? At the time, news focused on the recount and the spectacle of the infamous “hanging chad.” But when the dust settled, America learned that the real affront to democracy was the flawed purge of eligible voters from the voting rolls in advance of the election.

The state that ultimately decided the election for George W. Bush by a mere 537 votes, hired a firm to purge ex-felons — who had lost their right to vote according to state law — from the voter file. But the data match was so sloppy that countless eligible voters, mostly African American, were scrubbed from the file and turned away from the polls on Election Day.

Now, under Florida’s Tea Party governor, Rick Scott, it’s happening all over again! Florida has begun a purge of “non-citizens” from the voting rolls and reports are saying that hundreds of eligible voters have already been struck from the rolls.

Florida has already put out an initial list of more than 2,600 people identified as non-U.S. citizens and has indicated it could aim to purge up to 180,000 supposed non-citizens from the rolls … but from all the inaccuracies we’ve seen so far, that could mean a staggering number of eligible voters being wrongfully purged and denied their right to vote.

This process is going forward with no oversight, and is all too reminiscent of the scrub orchestrated in 2000 by

Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris under then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

Click the link above to sign our petition right now to Gov. Rick Scott telling him to stop the purge and stop disenfranchising eligible voters.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Supporters Attack Teachers – An anonymous group of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Walker supporters has stuffed newspaper delivery chutes at the homes of Janesville residents with a flier that lists the names and salaries of more than 300 teachers in the rural town, directs readers to a website to check if their teacher signed a recall petition and has a tear-off card urging parents to contact their school superintendent and board members to request that their child be assigned to a classroom taught by a “non-radical teacher.”

North Carolina Legislators Introduce Bill Making It Illegal to Use Good Science to Predict Sea-Level Rise From Global Warming – North Carolina’s General Assembly has proposed a bill that would prevent scientists from using modern, scientific models to accurately predict what might happen to sea levels if climate change continues unabated.

Rather than use science to accurately predict what might happen to its valuable coast areas, and thereby educate its citizens about what can be done to prepare for this change, North Carolina’s political leaders would rather just make the truth illegal.

Typically, scientists use an exponential model to predict how much sea levels will rise if global temperatures continue to do the same. They have to use a non-linear model because each time the climate warms even a fraction of a degree, it has a major impact on the ocean’s current volume as well as ice cap melt rates.

Taking these variables into account, most climate experts say that sea levels will rise at least three feet by the end of the century. But this doesn’t sit well with a group of legislators from 20 coastal NC counties whose economies will be most impacted by the swelling seas. So, they’ve introduced Replacement House Bill 819, which makes it illegal for state scientists to use exponential models to predict changes in sea level.

The key language is in section 2, paragraph e, talking about rates of sea level rise: “These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly. …”

“It goes on,” writes Scott Huler for Scientific American, “but there’s the core: North Carolina legislators have decided that the way to make exponential increases in sea level rise – caused by those inconvenient feedback loops we keep hearing about from scientists – go away is to make it against the law to extrapolate exponential; we can only extrapolate along a line predicted by previous sea level rises.”

Romney’s Actions on Space Do Not Match His Words – At the CNN Republican Debate on 1/26/2012, Mitt Romney said, “I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired,'”

On 1/27/2012, Former NASA Administration Michael Griffin was named to the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group.

On 5/12/2012, Griffin said, “In order to extend human exploration, fly beyond the earth and have a presence in the solar system, the next step in doing that would be to have a permanent base on the moon.”

Question: Will Romney keep his promise by firing Michael Griffin?

Rescuer Arrested For Helping Victim of Police-Horse Trampling in Houston – On Thursday more than 450 people—representing a broad cross-section of Houston—gathered in the city’s Skyline District at a peaceful demonstration calling for the end of poverty-wage jobs in Houston.

The protestors—many of whom clean downtown buildings and make just $9000 annually as janitors—were gathered outside of JP Morgan Chase when police horses trampled multiple protestors. One of the protestors was arrested after she ran out into the street to help a janitor who had been knocked down by one of the horses.

This violent reaction by the police to a group of workers peacefully protesting is an outrage. This is not the way our city—or democracy—is supposed to work. Join us in calling on Houston’s mayor and business community to put an end to economic injustice by intervening on behalf of janitors and working together to create good jobs for Houston.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 6-16-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Why Scott Walker Won and a Book for Future Progressive Victories

In a recent article by George Lakoff, the author explains how Republicans won the message war and confirmed Scott Walker as the governor of Wisconsin.

“Where progressives argued policy — the right to collective bargaining and the importance of public education — conservatives argued morality from their perspective, and many working people who shared their moral views voted with them and against their own interests. Why? Because morality is central to identity, and hence trumps policy.”

In other wards, speaking to moral values trumps policy speak and facts …

Lakoff went on to provide the basic solution for progressives:

“What progressives need to do is clear. To people who have mixed values — partly progressive, partly conservative — talk progressive values in progressive language, thus strengthening progressive moral views in their brains. Never move to the right thinking you’ll get more cooperation that way.

“Start telling deep truths out loud all day every day: Democracy is about citizens caring about each other. The Public is necessary for The Private. Pensions are delayed earnings for work already done; eliminating them is theft. Unions protect workers from corporate exploitation — low salaries, no job security, managerial threats, and inhumane working conditions. Public schools are essential to opportunity, and not just financially: they provide the opportunity to make the most of students’ skills and interests. They are also essential to democracy, since democracy requires an educated citizenry at large, as well as trained professionals in every community. Without education of the public, there can be no freedom.”

Would you like to know how to express your progressive moral values and put issues into that higher context? Well, Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling have written a book on how to do that:

“The Little Blue Book is a guide to how to express your moral views and how to reveal hidden truths that undermine conservative claims. And it explains why this has to be done constantly, not just during election campaigns. It is the cumulative effect that matters, as conservatives well know.

“The Little Blue Book can be ordered as en e-book or paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or at your local bookstore as of June 26.”

Posted in Protect & Empower   |   Tagged   |   Comments Off on Why Scott Walker Won and a Book for Future Progressive Victories   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 6-5-2012

Only 3 Out of 27 Republican Candidates for Texas Board of Education Affirm the Importance of Public Education – At least 10 out of 27 Republicans who were seeking election to the State Board of Education (SBOE), which oversees public education across Texas, said they don’t agree that “it is the government’s responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.”

Just three Republican candidates affirmed the importance of public education in Texas. The religious-right groups that sponsored the survey (all of which are nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations) didn’t question Democratic candidates.

Here’s what Article 7 of the Texas Constitution says about government’s role in education:

“A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

Romney Thinks Young People Can’t Comprehend Economy – Last week, hundreds of peaceful protesters demonstrated outside of Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, a move presidential candidate Mitt Romney summarily dismissed as ignorant and youthful, reports the NationalJournal.

“Unfortunately, a lot of young folks haven’t had the opportunity to really understand how the economy works,” Romney said in response to the protesters.

Romney’s comments bring up some important questions: how old does someone have to be before they can confidently condemn banks for illegally foreclosing on American families? At what age can you begin to criticize an institution that makes record profits yet pays no taxes? And would a teenager be incorrect for thinking something’s wrong with a bank that needed a federal bailout almost immediately rewarding its executives with multimillion bonuses?

Besides, although Occupy has largely been credited as a movement spurred by a younger generation, attendees of this Bank of America protest represented a wide range of ages from children to the elderly. Does Maria Reyes (who Care2 reporter Aaron Krager interviewed at this protest) seem too young to know what she’s talking about? One thing is for sure: almost all of the protesters are not too young to vote, and most are bound to remember Romney’s condescending attitude come Election Day.

ALEC Posing as Charity While Pushing Bad Laws – The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) convened today one of its three annual meetings, this one in Charlotte, NC, to discuss and vote on model legislation that it will then promote in all 50 states. Common Cause has obtained thousands of pages of documents, that show for the first time what’s really going on behind closed doors. These materials, including the agenda for today’s meetings, feature the new bills that corporate lobbyists and state legislators will vote on as equals, including legislation that will roll back environmental protections and labor rights.

There has been a growing uproar around ALEC recently, as increased scrutiny shines a light on their role promoting controversial legislation, including the “Stand your Ground” legislation that became a national issue after the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. ALEC is also behind model legislation to roll back environmental protections, disenfranchise voters, challenge the Affordable Care Act and reduce corporate taxes.

On Sunday April 22, the New York Times ran a major expose about ALEC on its front page (‘ALEC, a Tax-Exempt Group, Mixes Legislators and Lobbyists’.) This story was based on thousands of pages of unreleased ALEC documents obtained by Common Cause and shared with the Times. The next day Common Cause, working with one of the US’s most renowned whistleblower law firms Philips & Cohen, filed a 4,000 page IRS Whistleblower complaint against ALEC. Since then, we have asked 29 state Attorneys General to investigate ALEC, including in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and North Carolina, with more states to follow in the coming weeks.

The documents provided to the IRS clearly show ALEC has been improperly acting as a charity for almost 40 years, providing a tax exemption on corporate contributions, while at the same time telling the IRS that it doesn’t spend a dollar on influencing legislation. We are now also asking that state Attorneys General investigate whether ALEC has broken state tax laws, lobbying disclosure rules and gift regulations.

A Major Oil Speculator Is Bankrolling The Latest Karl Rove Attack Ad Accusing Obama Of Raising Prices At The Pump – Paul Singer is a wealthy hedge fund manager. His firm, Elliott Management Corporation, speculates in a number of areas. In the past, Singer has been called a “vulture capitalist” for buying the debt of Third World countries for pennies on the dollar, then using his political and legal connections to extract massive judgments to force collection — even from nations suffering from starvation and violent conflicts. A blockbuster Wall Street Journal story in 2006 revealed that Singer’s firm was among several hedge funds that paid lobbyists to gain political intelligence on an asbestos bill working its way through Congress — with the hope of using inside information to profit off of asbestos-related companies. But what makes Singer interesting in the context of this latest attack ad is how his business interests conflict with the message about Obama causing high gas prices.

If anything, Singer should be blamed for high gas prices. He is a major oil speculator.

Safeway Executive Makes Joke About Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Being Worth Less Than Pigs – Bob Gordon, senior vice president and general counsel for Safeway Inc., kicked off a shareholder meeting earlier this week with a “joke” about former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being worth less than pigs. Tell Gordon that his remarks are unacceptable.

Greene County, Virginia GOP Group’s Newsletter Calls For ‘Armed Revolution’ If Obama Is Reelected – A monthly newsletter published by the Greene County Republican Committee in Virginia is raising eyebrows for including a column in its March edition that calls for an “armed revolution” if President Barack Obama is elected to a second term in November.

Pastor Calls for Concentration Camps for Gays – Pastor Charles Worley heads up Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina — and he has a plan to “get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

“Build a great big large fence, a hundred, fifty, hundred miles long… Feed them and you know what in a few years they’ll all die out. Do you know why — they can’t reproduce.”

This shocking level of hate is unacceptable from anybody — especially a member of the clergy. Tell Pastor Worley that you won’t stand for this kind of hate speech.

Billionaire Super PAC Funders Back Romney For Self-Interests – The biggest donors to Republican Super PACs Restore Our Future and American Crossroads have their reasons for putting out so much money.

Harold Simmons likes Romney’s pledge to rollback the EPA and environmental regulations so he can dump nuclear waste in West Texas. Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder, likes Romney’s willingness to support a cap on jury awards so he can avoid paying settlements for his shoddy home building. Sheldon Adelson likes Romney’s promise to bust unions so he can keep the workers in his Las Vegas casino from organizing. Video at the link above.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

Plato

Regards,
Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 6-5-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds: Republican Judge Has No Heart or Brain

Do Like Mitt Said. If You Don’t Have $20,000 to Start Your Business, Borrow It From Your Dad – By: Juanita Jean

I want you to meet Diane Tran. She’s 17 years old and lives with one of her employers in Montgomery, Texas, a cabal of Republicanism where they even want a proper drape on Michelangelo’s David because his wee-wee shows. Seriously.

Dianne is an honors student taking dual credit U.S. History, dual credit English Literacy, College Algebra, Spanish Language AP. She also works part time and full time jobs at a dry cleaners and a wedding venue. Her parents divorced and disappeared. She lives with her employer’s family. The money she earns goes to an older brother at Texas A&M and a younger sister living with relatives in Houston.

She spent the night in jail.

What heinous crime did she commit? She missed too much school. She often stays up until 7:00 am doing homework and falls asleep in class. This community of Super DeLux Brand Christians were apparently so distracted that a statue of David had an actual weenus showing that they did not notice a 17 year old honors student supporting her entire family while making the honor roll.

So, they put her lazy butt in jail.

The Honorable Republican Judge Lanny Moriarty wanted to make an example of Diane.

“If you let one run loose, what are you gonna’ do with the rest of ‘em?,” said Judge Lanny Moriarty. “Let them go too? A little stay in the jail for one night is not a death sentence.”

Lanny, Dude, she is not running loose. Lanny, Dude, this baby girl needs help, not punishment. Open your damn Republican wallet with a sledgehammer, Lanny, and give this child a couple bucks. Hold one of those golf tournaments you Republicans love and let this baby girl sleep in the locker room while you Christian boys drink some beer and slap each others hineys.

The wise Judge Moriarty also gave Diane a $100 fine. Lanny, Dude, that’s not helping the situation.

Republicans just don’t get it. They really don’t.

He made her an example, okay. He did. He made her an example of the cruelty and meanness the Republican Party brings to the American arena.

You can contact the good Republican Judge on Tuesday being your usual kind selves and ask if you can send a couple of bucks to him to help pay Diane’s fine. But you want some kind of proof that it went toward her fine and not his wallet with the chain and double lock around it.

Lanny better pray he can take his money with him and that Sweet Jesus takes bribes because that’s the only way he’s gonna get to heaven.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   5 Comments   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Authoritarian War on Women – Who’s Going to Stop American Authoritarianism?

The American Warfare State Is Bringing an End to American Democracy …

In my post, Authoritarian Control Requires War, a War Mentality, Enemies, and a Vivid Imagination, I listed the various, mostly real, and a few imaginary wars started by a minority of authoritarian leaders (The ONE%) and implemented by their minority base (The Tea Party) to wrest control of America from the majority of its citizens.

This right-wing warfare state was started by Richard Nixon with the war on drugs in 1971. Since then, the authoritarians have advanced the current warfare state and used the attack in 2001, under GWB, the Shrub, to accelerate the it. We now sanction torture and show little outrage over either recent war crimes by our troops or the incarceration instead of education of the children of the poor.

In Violence, USA: The Warfare State and the Brutalizing of Everyday Life, Henry Giroux wrote about these wars. Here is what he said about some of the elements of the American Warfare State:

The rhetoric of war is now used by politicians not only to appeal to a solitary warrior mentality in which responsibility is individualized, but also to attack women’s reproductive rights, limit the voting rights of minorities and justify the most ruthless cutting of social protections and benefits for public servants and the poor, unemployed and sick.

As seen around the world with other fundamentalist, authoritarian societies, the constraint of women is paramount to the strict father family model. To maintain male dominance, women are kept uneducated, covered head to toe, isolated from others, and kept pregnant or caring for the family – care especially for the dominant male. Women are viewed by authoritarians as property for their pleasure, personal use, and abuse. These constraints on women go back centuries and are fundamental to authoritarian control.

In America, many of these constraints on women were removed during the last century. This became a threat to the right-wing authoritarians and their need to control/abuse both their property and the property and lives of others. They declared war and have been passing laws to reinstate their control over women, and others, ever since.

Frank Schaeffer attributes some of these wars to religious fundamentalism.

Fundamentalist religion of all kinds fears women and gays.

It’s going to take some men, a lot of women, and years of struggle to save our American Democracy.

Joe Brewer, recently stated:

It is time to call out the bullies who shroud patriarchal domination of women under the guise of religious dogma and partisan politics. Nothing less than the heart of our democracy is at stake.

We need women to not only stop the war on women, we need them to end the American Warfare State.

Back during WWII, my mother and 1,101 other women flew 60,000,000 miles in military airplanes – 38 lost their lives in service to America, thousands of others became factory workers, and millions lost their husbands and sons. They all did their part to save the world and America from European Fascism.

Today American women must rise up and save America from American Authoritarianism. You can start by supporting Emily’s List – List of progressive female candidates. Then make sure you vote and get all your friends to vote.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Rampant Sexism   |   Comments Off on Authoritarian War on Women – Who’s Going to Stop American Authoritarianism?   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 5-9-2012

Republicans Plan to Fund Higher Military Spending With Cuts to Programs for the Poor and Working Class – House Republicans are set to advance legislation to replace automatic defense spending cuts they agreed to last year with cuts to programs for the poor and working class….The proposal — which is an outgrowth of the budget the House GOP overwhelmingly voted for late March — would cut some $261 billion from health care programs, food stamps, unemployment benefits and child tax credits, among others. It constitutes a violation of the GOP’s end of the debt-limit deal, which included painful sacrifices for both parties if the Congress failed to reach a bipartisan deficit-reduction agreement.”

If the GOP really wanted to avoid defense spending cuts, it wouldn’t be difficult to simply allow the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans to expire — as they were intended to do — in order to pay for them. But Republicans aren’t about to consider hurting the financial firepower of those who contribute the most to funding their campaigns (or voting to increase their own taxes, considering the majority of Congress are millionaires themselves). So once more, they propose that the social safety net be gutted in order to appease every one of their favorite constituents.
The bills drawn up by the House are a stark reminder of what exactly the Republican party would do if they had full control over the legislature, and no checks on their power. It is a reminder of who would benefit, and who is likely to pay the price.

Fox News Tea Party Guest Laments ‘Mistake’ of Letting Women Vote – Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist that’s appeared several times on Fox News, and founder of an organization where Sean Hannity serves as an advisory board member, said in a sermon recently published to YouTube that America’s greatest mistake was allowing women the right to vote, adding that back in “the good old days, men knew that women are crazy and they knew how to deal with them.”

In the video, published to YouTube in March, Peterson explains that he believes women simply can’t handle “anything,” and that in his experience, “You walk up to them with a issue, they freak out right away. They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset, just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love. They don’t have love.”

Despite his statements being online for more than a month, Hannity welcomed Peterson on his show last Tuesday to castigate the Obama administration over “taking credit” for the Osama bin Laden assassination.

Bill to Help Keep Student Loan Interest Rates Low Has No Republican Sponsors – Interest rates for federal student loans to help pay for college are set to double July 1 unless Congress and the White House find a way to avoid another looming political standoff.

The White House is pushing for an extension of the current interest rate of 3.4 percent. Without it, the rate will climb to 6.8 percent for more than 7 million students across the country, and the average loan recipient would be another $1,000 in debt, according to White House spokesman Matt Lehrich.

A bill to maintain the current rate, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut, has 126 Democratic co-sponsors but no Republicans.

Three Judges on Texas Supreme Court Using Campaign Funds as a Piggybank for Their Personal Travel – It’s bad enough that a majority of the Texas Supreme Court performs as a wholly owned subsidiary of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Now it’s apparent that a third of the judges — Nathan Hecht, Paul Green, and David Medina — have no compunction about flouting ethics rules by using campaign funds as a piggybank for their personal travel to and from work. Texas Watch has filed complaints against all three judges with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Republican Who Won Yesterday’s Republican Senate Primary Says Bipartisanship is Democrats Coming to the Republican Point of View – Richard Mourdock says, “They have to come our way.”

Watch the video to see how one-sided and extreme the new batch of Republicans are.

 

Galveston County Republican Constable Allegedly Sexually Harrassed Deputy – Galveston County Constable Pam Matranga made lewd and suggestive advances to Deputy James Gist, including forcing his head into her breasts on two occasions, according to his complaint.

“[Matranga] lifted her blouse and pulled it down over Plaintiff’s head. [She] pressed her breasts against the head of Plaintiff,” said the lawsuit, which was filed in District Court in Galveston County earlier this month.

Matranga denies the allegations. So, somebody is not telling the truth.

The Dictator: Admiral General Aladeen Endorses Romney 😉

 

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 5-9-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 5-5-2012

Romney and Big Oil Team Up for Shameless Lies in New Ad – A new Romney ad is so blatantly false, the Washington Post said the “erroneous” attacks were made “without any shame.” The Washington Post also said, “There is no excuse for these kinds of ads, which take facts out of context or simply invent them.”

The ad was created by Mitt Romney’s Big Oil allies, “Americans for Prosperity,” and they just launched it in some important battleground states.

Click link above for a video about the lies in Romney’s/BigOil’s ad.

Liberatarian Think Tank Equates Science to the Unabomber – The liberatarian think tank called the Heartland Institute commissioned billboards that compare good, decent Americans who believe in climate disruption to murderous psychopaths like Charles Manson and unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Heartland said has removed the billboard; but, late Friday afternoon said in a statement. “We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.”

At least 32 recognized scientific academies and societies agree that global warming is happening. Even the Pope agrees! Are they equating scientific academies /societies and the Pope with the unibomber?

It’s not funny. It’s not even controversial. It’s unacceptable. Tell the Heartland Institute to apologize for its hateful ad campaign!

Republican Ted Poe Doesn’t Want the Poor Defended in Court – In a recent appearance on PBS’s Red White and Blue, Texas Republican Congressman Ted Poe gave his take on the Public Defender system:

“The Public Defender system is just another bureaucracy set up and paid for by the taxpayers to make us feel good, but doesn’t make much difference at all. I am not so sure they are that good and I have received information from attorneys and some defendant’s families that it is not a good system. It costs too much and allows the Judges to push their responsibility for quality representation off on a government bureaucracy. I am not a big fan of the Public Defender system for Harris County.”

More about Ted Poe and the courts – (Ted Poe is the bully with the booming voice)

Texas Cuts 7,000 Workers Over Past Year – A state auditor’s report showed that state agencies have cut their employment ranks by 5 percent since this time last year. Higher education, which went through sizeable staff cuts a few years ago, also has shrunk, but at a lesser rate.

State agencies, currently at 147,100 full-time equivalent positions, were pared by 7,322, with some of the biggest downsizing coming with prison correctional and probation officers at the Department of Criminal Justice, which lost 2,000 employee positions. Also slashed were the Juvenile Justice Department, Texas Education Agency, the Department of Aging and Disability Services and Family Protective Services, whose primary responsibility is investigating the abuse of children.

(And we wonder why the economy is not doing better?)

Texas Puts Ideology Above Women’s Health – In its admitted zeal to cut off all funding to Planned Parenthood, the state of Texas is making it perfectly, chillingly clear that it is willing to wreak havoc with the lives and health of low-income Texas women to achieve that goal. On Monday, it fired its latest salvo, securing a stay of an order, granted earlier that day, that would have allowed the organization to temporarily provide family planning services to tens of thousands of Texas women.

Planned Parenthood serves almost 50 percent of the 130,000 or so low-income women served by the Medicaid Women’s Health Program in Texas. The state enforced new rules this year that would exclude funding to Planned Parenthood clinics because the organization provides abortions as well as basic women’s health services.

Texas Thinks it’s OK to Deny Healthcare Access to Tens of Thousands of Women – Here is what the state of Texas considers “irreparable harm”: Continuing to provide Planned Parenthood with federal funds for the Texas Women’s Health program, which it has done for several years. Here is what it does not find harmful: immediately denying healthcare access to tens of thousands of women who have been going to Planned Parenthood affiliates for basic health services that aren’t abortions.

Rand Paul Contradicts Himself – Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday’s MSNBC show said Paul Ryan was loves notorious author Ayn Rand. But Paul Ryan dismissed that charge as an “urban legend.” After all, Ayn Rand made clear that she was an atheist and Rand Paul is a Catholic. But O’Donnell then played a speech that Ryan had given in honor of Ayn Rand’s 100th birthday.

Then Stephen Colbert weighed in on the subject. You’ll get to hear what Paul Ryan had to say on the occasion of Ayn Rand’s 100th birthday in the first video. And then you’ll get to hear Colbert’s fascinating interview with Father Thomas Reese in the second video.

Colbert’s interview with Father Thomas Reese of Georgetown University – (If there is an urban legend about Rand Paul’s love of Ayn Rand, then Paul is the father of that legend. – JLV)

Republican Party Tells States: Stop Looking For Poor Children To Insure – In the latest budget reconciliation package is a proposal to cut $400 million in bonus money used by states to find and enroll children who are likely to qualify for and benefit from CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, told Politico, “The whole purpose of the funds is to make sure that children who are eligible based on state-determined standards have an easier time — rather than a harder time — getting enrolled.”

But Republicans want to gut the funds, claiming they lead to potential enrollment fraud. Who are these children who might be “fraudulently” added to the program when they don’t belong? Children of parents who are on public assistance. By delaying their entry into the program, Republicans are declaring that they would rather put children’s long term health in jeopardy in order to score political points and say they are allegedly “battling waste and fraud.”

Mitt Romney Tells Ohio Students: Just Borrow Money From Your Parents to Get Your Business Started – Mitt Romney continues to show that he’s not in touch with most working Americans when he says things like this. At a “lecture” for students at Otterbein University in Ohio, Mitt Romney told students, “Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.” Most students don’t have parents with $20,000 in disposable capital sitting around to give to their kids to start a business.” Most Americans are not fortunate enough to be able to sell off part of the stock portfolio given to them by their father to get by either.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 5-5-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 5-2-2012

Republican Congresswoman Says She Has Very Little Tolerance for People With Student Debt – Republican congresswoman Virginia Foxx told a radio interviewer last week that she has “very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt, because there’s no reason for that.”1

Oh really? So it’s your fault if you have student debt?

But Foxx isn’t just any member of Congress. She’s the CHAIR of the Higher Education & Workforce Training Subcommittee in the House. That’s right, she controls policy on the issue of student debt, and she thinks you’re a loser and a whiner if you have student loans.

Foxx went on to say: “I went through school, I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money.” This was in 1968 at UNC Chapel Hill, when seven years of college cost about $46,100 TOTAL (adjusted for inflation). How much would her education cost now? $141,820. An in-state student at UNC Chapel Hill now pays triple what it cost when Foxx went to school. And, by the way, the minimum wage was 38% higher in 1968 than it is now, in inflation-adjusted dollars.2

What’s even worse is that Foxx sponsored the “Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act,” a bill to strip away federal regulation of for-profit colleges — colleges that notoriously prey on lower-income students, have disturbingly low graduation rates, and leave their students with higher-than-average levels of debt.3 And no wonder: Foxx’s top campaign contributors are the for-profit colleges themselves.4

Sources:
1. Youtube: Virginia Foxx on student loans
2. National Center for Education Statistics: Average undergraduate tuition and fees, 1964-2007
3. National Bureau of Economic Research: The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector
4. OpenSecrets: Virginia Foxx’s Top 20 Campaign Contributors

Rick Perry’s Plan to Take Away Health Care Coverage From More Texans – Currently, 1-in-4 Texans lack health care coverage, the highest rate of uninsured in the nation. Rick Perry isn’t trying to make it any better – he is planning on making it worse. Perry and his fellow conservatives in the Texas Legislature are pushing a health care plan that would end health care coverage for more than 2.5 million Texans. Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act – signed into law by President Obama two years ago this Friday – would expand health care coverage to nearly 4 million more Texans.

Pastor Says Parents Should Punch ‘Girly’ 4 Year Olds – Sean Harris, pastor of a North Carolina Baptist Church, has been captured on audio urging parents to punch 4 year old boys if they ‘act girly’ and to ‘break their limp wrists’. Harris said:

“So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, ‘Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,’ you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.”

“Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”

In His Own Words: Romney Would Not Have Pursued Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – Romney’s own statements in 2007 make it plain and clear that he would not have pursued bin Laden or ordered the military operation that finally brought him to justice., When asked about bin Laden, Romney said, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just to capture one person.” He said the country would see “a very insignificant increase in safety” because another terrorist would rise to power.

Romney opposed taking action against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan, dismissing then-Senator Barack Obama’s promise to strike terrorist targets inside Pakistan if necessary. “I do not concur, ” he said, adding “I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort.”, Romney added that the President’s pledge to strike at al-Qaeda was “ill-considered. ”

Romney’s Record: Outsourcing American Jobs and investing Overseas – Mitt Romney’s record does not match his rhetoric when it comes to creating American jobs. The map at the link above shows where Romney outsourced jobs and where he opted to invest his own money.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 5-2-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 4-18-2012

Tea Party Activists Guilty of Voter Fraud – More than a year since a state district judge ruled 10 Montgomery County residents voted fraudulently in a Woodlands election, a grand jury last week indicted seven of those individuals for illegal voting., The indictments stem from the May 8, 2010, election of The Woodlands Road Utility District No. 1. Ten individuals listed their voter registration address as that of a hotel in order to take control of the RUD board., Former Montgomery County Judge candidate Adrian Heath heads the list of people charged with the third-degree felony. Heath is also a tea party activist, and (this is perfect) judicial candidate. The group decided that they were afraid that someday the Woodlands Road Utility District would decide to start taxing residents of the area, instead of just commercial businesses, so he engineered an electoral coup, and a conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

Kossack rm1948 says that the same crew of fraudsters was behind a local controversy to have a fig leaf placed strategically on a replica of the Statue of David that was on top of a sporting good store, where it could only be seen with binoculars. Oh, and putting plaques reading “In God We Trust” in county libraries, too.

Republicans Block Debate on Buffett Rule – Senate Republicans defeated a motion to take up Buffett Rule legislation the day before taxes are due. Democrats fell short of the 60 votes … 51 in favor, 45 against, with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) breaking ranks with their leadership.”

Republicans Push Tax Cut for the Wealthy – A Republican House bill would offer a tax cut to small businesses, but it is drawn so broadly that it would benefit anyone with income through partnerships and other ‘pass-through entities.’ Almost half the benefit would accrue to the households with income over $1 million…”

After Protecting Rich, Republicans Target The Poor – Republicans propose new cuts in food aid for the poor. Driving the latest cuts is a newer narrative, voiced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), that the social safety net is at risk of becoming a ‘hammock.’ … An average family of four would face an 11 percent cut in monthly benefits after Sept. 1 and, even more important, tighter enforcement of rules would require that households exhaust most of their liquid assets before qualifying for help. This hits hardest among the long-term unemployed, who would be forced off the rolls until they have spent down their savings to less than $2,000 in many cases.”

ROMNEY LIES: Claims John Kerry Released 2 Years Of Tax Returns But Kerry Actually Released 20 – In a CNBC interview with Larry Kudlow on April 17, Mitt Romney defends his decision to release only two years of tax returns — both filed after he decided to run for President — by claiming that 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry also released two years. In fact, John Kerry released not two years of returns, but 20 years of returns.

Thus far, Mitt Romney has only released one year of returns. Romney’s father, George Romney, released 12 years of returns, stating “one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.”

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 4-18-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 4-12-2012

Wisconsin Equal Pay Law Repealed Because “Money Is More Important For Men” – The Republican Governor of Wisconsin, with little notice or discussion, repealed the state’s Equal Pay law. For Scott Walker, it was no doubt the most logical step in his ongoing war on women and the working class, as the Equal Pay Law protected not just women but any protected class.

Republican state senator Glenn Grothman, who was an enthusiastic fan of repealing the law. According to Grothman, not only is there no actual pay gap between the sexes, if there was one it wouldn’t matter anyway. After all, men need money more than women do, since they have families to support. “You could argue that money is more important for men,” he told Goldberg. “I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

Grothman’s views on women in the workplace is very 1960s sitcom to start with, but his understanding of breadwinning is even more so. Many families have two breadwinners, as both partners either chose to or have to both be in the workplace. And the majority of families lead by just one parent have mothers at the helm.

Then again, when asked about his source for his figures that prove there is no wage gap between the sexes, Grothman stated it was Ann Coulter.

The Top 1% Had a Fantastic 2010 at the Expense of Everyone Else – In 2010, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. The bottom 90% of Americans lost $127, the bottom 99% of Americans gained $80, and the top 1% gained $105,637. This chart shows that the very richest Americans have seen the fastest bounce back in terms of income (the blue line is the richest 0.1 percent, while the red is the richest 1 percent):

Texas Schools Having to Make Do On a Shoestring – For public school districts in Texas, this has been the year of doing without. Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session, with the cuts taking effect this school year and next.

The budget reductions that districts large and small have had to make have transformed school life in a host of ways — increasing class sizes, reducing services and supplies and thinning the ranks of teachers, custodians, librarians and others, school administrators said.

Superintendents have been cutting back on everything from paper to nurses and have had to become increasingly creative about generating revenue. They are selling advertising space on the sides of buses and on district Web sites, scaling back summer school, charging parents if their children take part in athletics or cheerleading and adding periods in the school day so fewer teachers can accommodate more students.

In suburban Fort Worth, the Keller Independent School District eliminated 100 positions and some sports teams and no longer has uniformed officers providing security after it canceled contracts with local police agencies.

One Central Texas district, Dripping Springs, reduced its custodial staff and has relied on teachers to pick up the slack. Janitors now visit the classrooms every other day, leaving teachers to clean and sweep their rooms on the off days. Off day or on, teachers also must collect their trash and set it in the hallway, part of custodial changes aimed at saving the district $149,000.

In Hutto, a district with 5,600 students and one high school, administrators cut $4 million from this school year’s budget, eliminating 68 positions and taking the unusual step of temporarily shutting one of its elementary schools. The school, Veterans’ Hill Elementary, will stay closed for two years to save the district $1 million annually, and its 500 students, including two of the superintendent’s children, were sent to other schools. The only way to transfer the students was to take another unusual step: all fifth graders were moved out of elementary schools and into middle schools.

The district must trim an additional $1.2 million for next school year, and proposals include charging for bus service, canceling instructional field trips and eliminating music and art teachers in elementary schools.

“It’s almost like slow death,” said the superintendent, Douglas Killian, during a visit to Veterans’ Hill, where the classrooms are now used by adults as part of a higher education center run by Temple College and Texas State Technical College. “We’re being picked apart. It’s made a tremendous morale issue in the district. I’ve noticed that folks are a lot more on edge.”

From the previous school year to the current one, districts across Texas eliminated 25,286 positions through retirements, resignations and layoffs, including 10,717 teaching jobs, according to state data analyzed by Children at Risk, a nonprofit advocacy group in Houston.

However, several lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have played down the impact of the $5.4 billion in cuts on schools statewide. In an interview in February with The Dallas Morning News, Gov. Rick Perry said he saw no need for a special legislative session to restore some of the education funding that was eliminated last year and said the schools were receiving an adequate amount of money.

More Bad Deeds From State Board of Education Member David Bradley – The Examiner, a Southeast Texas newspaper based in Beaumont, calls the controversy over two State Board of Education campaign fundraisers last weekend “another embarrassment for David Bradley.” The editorial today recounts a list of shenanigans by a ringleader of the state board’s far-right faction over the years, including:

Bradley’s indictment on a charge of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act in 2002
Bradley’s support for new social studies curriculum standards in 2010 that even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has said are filled with “political distortions.”

Claims by a former state board member (and fellow Republican) that she felt so threatened by Bradley that her husband asked the Texas Education Agency to post an armed guard at board meetings.

And now someone who publishes instructional materials, David Barton, has been a featured speaker at two campaign fundraisers for Bradley, who sits on a body that approves instructional materials for use in public schools across Texas. The Texas Freedom Network has called on the district attorneys in Jefferson (Beaumont) and Harris (Houston) counties — where the fundraisers were held — to determine whether Barton’s fundraising help violated state law.

Republican primary voters will have a chance to end this embarrassment on May 29 by voting for Rita Ashley, a former teacher, Legislative Director for the Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, and Clerk for the House Public Education Committee.

Wisconsin Republicans Repeal Equal Pay for Women Enforcement Act – Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a bill repealing a 2009 law that that made enforcing equal pay laws easier, proving that Wisconsin remains among the most combative turfs in the war on women.

The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act allowed individual victims of wage discrimination to bring their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system rather than only in federal court as is typically the case with wage discrimination claims. Gov. Walker had until 5:00 p.m. Thursday to sign the repeal and he did, with as little hoopla as possible.

State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee), the authors of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, criticized Walker on Thursday for not informing the public of his actions on SB 202. “We are finally starting to see progress here in Wisconsin, yet like their counterparts across the country, Legislative Republicans want to turn back the clock on women’s rights in the workplace,” said Hansen.

Sign the DGA petition right now to tell Governor Walker that we will not let this latest assault on women’s rights prevail without a fight.

“Pro-Life” Republican Govornor Prefers Dead Babies Over Health Care For Illegal Immigrants – When Republican Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed the country’s first 20 week abortion ban back in 2010, he was eager to prove his stripes as a “pro-life” legislator.

That same session, he also vetoed Medicaid funds that would provide prenatal care for undocumented pregnant women, saying he couldn’t support any taxpayer dollars going to illegal immigrants, despite the fact that their children would in fact be citizens of the country.

When the unicameral legislature originally enacted the ban, they soon tried to find other ways to fund prenatal care for undocumented women rather than through taxpayer funds after learning how dire the consequences could be for the babies if a woman didn’t have access to health care. They were told about a “4 percent death rate during the first year of life for those babies whose mothers had no prenatal care at all. The high death rate has many factors, including that mothers who don’t get prenatal care may be less likely to take their children to doctors after birth. But prenatal care does play a role,” too, the health expert informed them.

Still Heineman’s threat to veto any bill that tried to get funding to these women kept the politicians at bay. This, despite the fact that doctors were reporting women who were choosing to have abortions rather than continue their pregnancies because they couldn’t afford prenatal care.

Koch Brothers, Worth $50 Billion, Sue Widow Over $16.00 of Nonprofit’s Stock – With the Koch brothers, it’s all about control. They reign over the largest private oil company in the U.S. with estimated revenues of $100 billion. They wield power over a sprawling network of nonprofit front groups with unbridled influence over everything from the Tea Party to economics professors at publicly funded universities. Forbes lists their personal wealth as $25 billion each. They own mansions in the toniest towns in America. And last week, in a decidedly Scrooge-esque maneuver, they filed a lawsuit against a widow who lost her husband to a stroke a mere four months ago over stock she inherited in the Cato Institute worth a measly $16.00. It’s part of the Koch brothers plan to take over the Cato Institute.

Millions in Texas State Jobs Program Funds Go to Only a Few Companies for Low-Wage, High Turnover Jobs – Millions of dollars in state subsidies designed to stimulate job creation have gone to a handful of Houston-area employers, mostly in industries where wages are low and employee turnover is high, a Houston Chronicle analysis shows. While 1,150 companies have signed up for the program – which provides up to $2,000 for each qualified worker hired – just 11 firms have claimed more than half of the $6.6 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Leading the list are Wal-Mart, which has collected $704,200 for hiring 404 employees, and ACS, which received $509,600 for bringing on 305 workers, according to data from the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. ACS operates call centers, information technology support, medical billing and human resource consulting services.

Rick Levy, legal director for the Texas AFL-CIO in Austin, questions the logic of subsidizing Wal-Mart. The giant retailer already has received 10 percent of the total funds and potentially can more than double that because it has another 459 employees enrolled in the program.

The second-biggest local user, ACS, a Xerox subsidiary, stands to receive as much as $462,000 more in wage subsidies – on top of the $509,600 it already has received – if another 231 employees who are enrolled in the program stay on the job for at least 120 days. While ACS was receiving wage subsidies in 2011, however, it also was handing out pink slips.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 4-12-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post

Bad Deeds for 4-5-2012

Supreme Court Rules That Routine Strip Searching Is Legal Even If You Haven’t Been Charged With Any Crime – No matter that you’re not actually guilty of anything, or that you haven’t even been charged. All they need to do is hold you. It doesn’t even matter that blanket strip-search policies are considered human rights violations in other, more civilized countries. The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Rick Santorum Falsely Claims California Schools Don’t Teach American History – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum claimed on Monday that most public universities in the University of California system do not offer American history courses.

That claim is false.

UC spokesperson Brooke Converse pointed out to ThinkProgress that every undergraduate at all 10 UC campuses are required to “study American history and institutions.” According to the UC website, each campus decides how its students may meet the requirement.

The only school in the UC system that does not offer American history courses is the San Francisco campus, which is a medical school.

Romney PAC Gave Money to Race-Baiting Anti-Gay Group – A state political action committee for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay group who it emerged last week had used race-baiting tactics in order to fight marriage equality. The HRC notes that Romney’s PAC did not disclose the contribution in its Federal Election Commission filings.

The Human Rights Campaign secured unsealed documents from a court case into NOM’s campaign funding in Maine. NOM had stridently resisted releasing these documents, and it soon became clear why. Page 13 of the document showed NOM at its race-baiting worst, saying:

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks–two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots …

Republican House Leadership Wants to Deny Lesbian Veteran With MS Full Disability Benefits – The Republican House leadership has announced it will intervene in a Defense of Marriage Act lawsuit that challenges the federal ban’s denial of full disability benefits for the spouse of a military veteran coping with MS.

Fox News Conducted Smear Campaign Against Chevy Volt Electric Car, Says … Fox News – Conservatives, led by Fox News, have been pushing a variety of lies about the Chevy Volt. They’ve falsely asserted that it is unsafe and a creation of the Obama administration, using absurd terms to discourage sales like, “exploding Obamamobiles.”

This relentless partisan campaign against American products and American jobs has been so successful that GM CEO Dan Akerson suggested it contributed to lower than expected demand, “We did not design the Volt to become a political punching bag and that’s what it’s become.”

Yesterday, in an astonishing burst of candor, Fox & Friends has set the record straight with its story, “Can the Chevy Volt help win the War on Terror?”

Their conservative guest, Lee Spieckerman, CEO of Spieckerman Media, a self-described “drill, baby, drill guy,” debunks every single right-wing myth about the Volt, noting:

“I love Fox news, and I feel like I’m kind of attacking my own family here. I love O’Reilly, I love Neil Cavuto, I love Eric Bolling, but like a lot of my fellow conservative, they seem to have kind of a fetish for demonizing the Volt.

They are perpetuating the myth that the Volt was some kind of Obama administration green energy fantasy that as you say was forced on General Motors during the bailout. It’d been in development two years before Obama was elected. And it was championed by … Bob Lutz, who is a conservative and a climate change skeptic. So you know it’s a myth. The tax break for buying the Volt was implemented by the Bush administration. It was not something that was implemented under the Obama administration. So unfortunately, there have been a lot of myths perpetuated.”

Fox debunking itself — now that is must-see TV, something I’m not certain you’re ever going to see again.

Republican Ryan Budget Gives to the Rich and Takes From Everyone Else – The Republican Ryan Budget provides an average cut for those with yearly incomes over $1 million (12.5 percent) six times greater than the cut for middle-income people (1.9 percent). The Ryan budget would also maintain current tax cuts only for high-income families; this plan would allow the tax cuts for working-poor and middle-class households to expire.

This budget imposes trillions of dollars in spending cuts, 62 percent of which would come from low-income programs that women and families rely on, like Medicare, Medicaid, and federal student aid programs.

Regards,

Jim

Posted in Bad Deeds   |   Comments Off on Bad Deeds for 4-5-2012   |   Email This Post Email This Post