Sunday, October 31, 2010

Remember ... and Vote Democratic

From Blue Girl:

Pass it on.

Cynematic adds exceptional value.

"This election won't end unless you vote"

Molly lives.

Not least because classics like this cannot be improved upon.

Look at it this way. Voting whitens your teeth, sweetens your breath and perks up your sex life. Voting is new and improved, stops the heartbreak of psoriasis and improves your gas mileage. Voting makes you feel virtuous, is your patriotic duty and entitles you, absolutely free, to four years of guilt-proof gritching about what's wrong with the country. Those who do not vote forfeit the right to complain.

Voting causes fat to disappear. Poof! Up to 10 pounds gone in just one trip to the polling place. Standing in the voting box improves your IQ, restores short-term memory and enables you to think of witty responses at the very moment you need them. Besides, if you don't vote, it will all be your fault.

Voting is a friendly thing to do. You get to meet your neighbors and catch up on their children. Also, romances have been known to start while standing in line to vote.
Voting prevents underarm stains, ring-around-the-collar, carpet odor and dust bunnies. Exercising your franchise will firm and tone both your abs and your glutes, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Casting your ballot makes that unsightly flab on your upper arms disappear, while toning the biceps. Using your suffrage takes weight off your thighs and makes you a more pleasant person all-around. There are countless recorded cases of people whose personalities improved dramatically after voting.

Voting improves your children's manners, renders your dog more obedient and prompts your spouse to take on more household chores. Also, voting is the only way to make political ads go away.

And it cures acne.

Politics is not about those people in Washington or those people at the state capitol. Politics is about us — you, me and the guy next to us. We run this country, we own this country, and we have a responsibility to hire the right people to drive our bus for a while.

The three great excuses are: "Sorry, I'm just not interested in politics." "Oh, they're all crooks." "Well, there's nothing I can do about it."

Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television program you can decide you just don't care for. Our entire lives are set into and written by the warp and woof of politics.

Political decisions affect your life every day in thousands of way — whether the food you eat is safe, what books your children read in school, how deep you will be buried when you die, if the lady who dyes your hair is competent, how safe your money is in stocks or banks, whether you have a job, whether your kid has to go fight in a war, who is qualified to prescribe your eyeglasses — that's all politics.

No, they're not all crooks, and most of them go into politics out of idealism, whether you like their ideas or not. Sure, the system is corrupted — by money, the usual suspect. But it can be fixed, and whether it is fixed is also up to us.

American politics has earned a heavy dose of cynicism from all of us, but the ideas behind our politics have not. It's our heritage, our political legacy, most of us get it free just for being born here:

"We believe these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it ..."

After 200 years, that statement is still so revolutionary people all over the world are willing to die for it. They died in South Africa, they died at Tiananmen Square, and they're dying today in Myanmar. A lot of Americans have died to preserve those ideas: Don't throw them away out of boredom or cynicism or inanition.

"There's nothing I can do about it." If the last election didn't teach you that every vote counts, you may want to consider assisted living. Of course, you don't have as much say in this country as the people who give big money to the politicians — but that can be fixed. As an American living today, your one vote means you have more political power than 99 percent of all the people who ever lived on this planet. Think about it: Who ever had this much power? A peasant in ancient Egypt? A Roman slave? A medieval shoemaker? A French farmer? Your grandfather? Why throw power away? Use it. Leverage it.

Besides, the election won't end unless you vote. Only you can stop it.

And after it's over, there's some great stuff out there. Did you hear about the scientists who just discovered this race of tiny humans? They lived 13,000 years ago and maybe as recently as 500 years ago on an island in the Pacific. They had tiny elephants, too! We'll never get to hear about them unless you vote to end this election.

Repeat After Me: This Election Is Great News for Democrats

I am reposting this from two weeks ago, because the repugs are frantically trying to dial down expectations after their premature victory dances started backfiring in the polls. So let's remind everyone how the repugs themselves defined victory.

It's not too early to start spreading liberal election memes. They need to be well-established before the election, so send these far and wide:

Jim Inhofe said just last week that republicans would pick up 14 seats in the Senate. Back in the summer, House minority whip John Boehner predicted that repugs would pick up 100 Democratic seats in the House of Representatives. He's since backed down from that, of course, but that's no reason to let him or his party off the hook.

Meme: If the repugs pick up fewer than 100 Democratic seats in the House and 14 in the Senate, the entire election is a MASSIVE FAILURE by republicans, a HUGE VICTORY for the Democratic Party, and an ENORMOUS MANDATE for President Obama to jam down Congress' throat every bit of his liberal agenda - repealing DADT and DOMA, passing ENDA, EFCA and a $3 trillion deficit-financed jobs/stimulus/infrastructure bill. And not just cancelling the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but increasing the rate to 75 percent for the duration of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This week, the DCCC started pulling out of marginal races, especially those of conservative Democrats in red districts. This supports the prediction of Digby, Down With Tyranny and others that the most likely losers among incumbent Democrats are Blue Dogs who vote with the republicans and are thus despised by both repug and Democratic voters.

Meme: However many seats Democrats lose in the House and the Senate, every single losing Democratic incumbent was a Blue Dog/DINO/traitor whose departure is good riddance and a terrific boon for the Democratic Party. The more Blue Dog (and for purposes of this meme, ALL losing Democratic incumbents are Blue Dogs) seats the Democratic Party loses, the STRONGER that makes the Democratic Party and President Obama, because the party has shed traitors who voted with repugs anyway. The fewer Blue Dogs, the more Democratic, cohesive, loyal and determined the Democratic Party is.

Many of those losing Blue Dogs are freshmen who beat repug incumbents by riding President Obama's 2008 coattails. President Obama is not on the ballot this year, which lowers turnout among the many new voters who turned out specifically for him in 2008 and will do so again in 2012.

Meme: No matter how many seats the Democratic Party loses in the House and the Senate, it is good news for President Obama in 2012.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate yet?

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Only One Way to Save Social Security: Create Jobs

Hey, Democratic Candidate: Down in the dumps because you're down in the polls? Here's a great last-minute winning pitch that repugs can't beat.

Digby on the stupidity of Democrats jumping on the kill-Social-Security bandwagon:

They both accepted the Peterson Shock Doctrine premise that now is the time to cut social security. (That's when people are confused and scared and will accept absurd, plutocratic "solutions" to problems that don't even exist.)

It would be interesting to see just one Democrat answer these question in the following way:

"I would love to know why people are obsessing about a possible, small shortfall in social security 30 years from now instead of the very real job shortfall we have today. If you're worried about paying the bills, the quickest and best way to deal with it is to get people back to work as soon as possible. More workers means more revenue means less debt --- everybody wins, now and in the future."

I know that's over simplified, but I think Democrats need to start challenging the illogical bumper sticker conventional wisdom that's developed that basically says the only way to fix this economic slump is to cut social security.It's utter nonsense that they are even talking about it right now when we have huge, immediate problems and our future problems will not be solved by doing this but will instead be made worse. (Does anyone think that having a huge generation of very poor old people who cannot work is going to make this country stronger?)

This is a very self-destructive act on the part of Democrats and they are playing with fire if they decide to "compromise" on this. If during an economic crisis, they go from being slow and ineffectual in their economic response to actively weakening the most important social program in America during, then the political consequences are likely to be significant.

Repug lies to the contrary, nobody cares about the deficit. Everybody cares about jobs, and everybody loves Social Security. Creating jobs will save Social Security AND eliminate the deficit. Promising to do so will attract votes.


The Rally to Make Things Worse

I was afraid this would happen. The very title - "Rally to Restore Sanity" - screamed the failure to grasp the real problem: that only one side is insane, and that nothing short of the complete destruction of the already sane side will satisfy the bloodlust of the crazies.

Add to that Steve M.'s insight that the rally was not about politics, but rather television ratings, and you had a recipe for failure.

I hope PZ is wrong about this:

But in the end, I was disappointed. It was also an afternoon of false equivalence, of civility fetishism, of nothing but a cry about the national tone, of a plea for moderation. And you can guess what I think of moderation.

"A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice." - Tom Paine

I don't want moderation, especially when the only people who will listen to Stewart and Colbert are the people on our shared side of the political aisle. I can understand where they're coming from; people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Andrew Breitbart are poison, Fox News is a propaganda organ without bounds working for the far right-wing, we've got evangelical Christians demanding the installation of a theocracy, and on and on and on. But who, exactly, do Stewart and Colbert regard as the equivalent of Beck and Limbaugh on the left? Is it Rachel Maddow? Amy Goodman? Keith Olbermann?

Once again, we have someone bravely standing up and telling the people on their own side to stop being dicks, while being vague on the names and specifics.

So I'm at a loss about what we're supposed to do in the world according to Jon Stewart. Hey, all you people working for gay and lesbian equality, all you women asking for equal pay, all you workers trying to unionize, all you peaceniks trying to end the war in Afghanistan, all you nurses and doctors and clinic workers trying to maintain reproductive freedom and keep women alive, all you teachers trying to teach science and history without censorship, all you citizens trying to build a rational health care policy, all you scientists and doctors who want our country to progress in medical research, all you damned secularists who want to keep religion out of our schools and government, hey, hey, HEY, you! Tone it down. Quit making such a fuss. You're too loud. Shush. You're as crazy as the teabaggers if you think your principles are worth fighting for.

Read the whole thing.

The Social Parasites Who Are Buying Congress for the Repugs

Never doubt whose side the real parasites are on; it's not yours.

Down with Tyranny:

About a year into Bush's second term, times started getting exceptionally rough, not just for the working poor-- after all Bush's economic and fiscal plans were designed to make them suffer-- but for the middle class as well. You can argue that things are slowly-- glacially-- turning around under Obama but most families will tell you nothing has improved. Most... but not all. For a few wealthy families everyone else's tough economic times has been a financial bonanza.

During the depths of the recession in 2009, as millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and life savings, the highest-paid earners in the United States saw their average incomes increase more than five-fold from 2008, according to new data from the federal government.

The 74 people who earned more than $50 million last year-- the highest income category measured by the Social Security Administration-- saw their average incomes skyrocket from $91.8 million in 2008 to a mind-boggling $518.8 million in 2009.

These 74 people earned an average of $10 million-- per week. Meanwhile, half of all American wage-earners, or about 75 million people, earned less than $505 per week.

Even though the absolute number of earners in the over-$50 million income category decreased from 131 to 74 in 2009, the combined wages of that group increased by an astonishing $26.5 billion, from $11.9 billion in 2008 to $38.4 billion in 2009.

These 74 people earned a combined $38.4 billion last year, or as much as the 19 million lowest-paid American workers, combined. In 2009, the average income earned by all Americans fell by $384 to $39,269 and the median income fell by $253 to $26,261.

Many of these people, if not all of them, are social parasites. They don't CREATE anything-- including employment (other than for servants and golf caddies); they suck the blood of working people. If most of them and their spawn were to die tomorrow, there would be no negative social impact on anything. In fact, the country and the world would be a far better place. David Cay Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winner NY Times journalist covered this story his blog, and he pointed out that many of them are "most likely Wall Street traders who earned bonuses or corporate executives cashing in deferred compensation that accumulated over the years, or even highly paid athletes," though not hedge fund managers "because much of their 'investment' [gambling] income is not counted as wages.

"This systematic destruction of the working class and middle class has come during an era notable for celebrating the super-rich just for being super-rich," Johnston wrote. "From the Forbes 400 launch in 1982 and Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in 1984 to the faux reality of the multiplying Real Housewives shows, money voyeurism has grown in tandem with stagnant to falling incomes for the vast majority. There has also been huge income growth at the top and the economic children of income inequality: budget deficits and malign neglect of our commonwealth."

"This orgy of money exhibitionism has created a society in which commas-- it takes three to be a billionaire-- count more than character," Johnston continued. "We have gone so far down this path that we bailed out bankers, allowing them to keep the untaxed wealth in their deferral accounts and, with a few exceptions, retaining shareholder value, while wiping out investors in General Motors and Chrysler as a condition of their bailouts. And while autoworkers had to take severe pay cuts, bonus time on Wall Street is at new record levels."

And now they're buying themselves a Congress to cement their power in place. That's the conservative way.

Ohio McDonald's Threatens Employees Unless They Vote Republican

Yes, McDonald's franchises are operated by local franchisees who are not all necessarily republicans. The biggest McDonald's franchisee in Lexington, KY, for example, is a Democratic party activist.

But until I see McDonald's corporate headquarters condemn this Ohio franchisee's behavior and impose the maximum punishment allowed under the franchise contract, I'll be passing on my favorite Big Mac and fries.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

Here’s a truly horrific story that shows the state the United States of Corptocracy circa 2010. A McDonald’s franchise in Ohio sent a note in the paychecks of their workers urging them to vote for Republicans in next Tuesday’s elections. And they implicitly threatened to stop all wage and benefit increases if those Republicans do not win, essentially tying the future economic fortunes of their employees to their vote.

This violates Ohio law in addition to federal election laws, and the lawyer is suing.

It’s completely predictable, and I’m sure not the first time, that employers have intimidated their employees at work to vote for a particular candidate. Because of the Citizens United decision, this employer can now spend money on behalf of their preferred candidates in an unlimited fashion. This letter itself is basically an in-kind donation. But this behavior, as Allen Schulman says, an outgrowth of the arrogance of corporate interests in the wake of Citizens United, to think they can bully and purchase their way to electoral glory. The intimidation of workers here reflects the intimidation of politicians they don’t like by donating heavily to attack them.

Click here to see the letter.

Steve Benen makes the point that while repugs whine and bitch about non-existent voter intimidation by democrats, when actual voter intimidation comes to light, as in this case, it's always committed by republicans.

Big Corporations Secretly Spend $8 Million Against Conway

Stephanie Steitzer at the Courier:

Groups that support Paul have outspent those that back Conway by a margin of more than 2-1 — and much of the money comes from donors whose identities do not have to be disclosed, records compiled by the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation show.

“Voters are being deluged with advertisements and spending from groups, (and) they don’t know … who is backing these groups,” said Paul Blumenthal, senior writer with the Washington, D.C., foundation, which analyzes Federal Election Commission records. “… This is a lack of transparency and lack of accountability for those who are spending money in our political system.”

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January opened the door to unlimited spending on elections by corporations, unions and other groups. The decision did not affect direct corporate or union contributions to candidates; those are still banned. Nor did it cover spending by political action committees run by special interests, which must disclose their donors.

As Greg Sargent explained recently, the ads purchased with money from corporations too cowardly to show themselves are overwhelmingly anti-Democratic and overwhelmingly false.

In other words, corporate criminals are secretly spending millions to spread lies about Democratic candidates.

Those cowardly corporate criminals and their repug front groups think you're stupid. They're counting on you either believing their lies and voting for corporate minions like Rand Paul, or calling a pox on both parties and refusing to vote.

Either way, the corporations and Wall Street win, and Main Street, the middle class and American Democracy lose.

The Courier won't give you a link to the source of its story, the invaluable Sunlight Foundation, but I will: Dark Money Donors.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

"Work together to solve problems"

I'd like to think President Obama is setting up the repugs with this expectation of cooperation, but I'm afraid the evidence of the last 21 months indicates a pathological refusal to acknowledge the facts: it's a zero-sum game to the repugs, and they will destroy the country and themselves before they lift a finger in cooperation.

Full transcript here.

Voting Information - Pass It On

From Digby:

1. Find Your Polling Place

2. Find a Local Progressive Voter Guide

3. Volunteer (partisan)

4. Election Protection

More aggregated resources (partisan)

More aggregated resources (nonpartisan)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vote to Save Yourself and the Country

Mad as you are at the Democrats, excellent as your reasons may be, it all pales to insignificance beside the catastrophe teabaggers will visit on this nation if you don't vote against them.

From Digby:

Voting isn't just about making good things happen for yourself and your family. It's about voting against things that will make your lives worse. And if this Republican party -- at this point in history --- wins big over the next two years, the lives of average Americans will definitely be worse.

Right now all that should matter to any of us is defeating the most radical, authoritarian, anti-intellectual Republican class in modern memory (and that's saying something.) They were thoroughly repudiated at the polls in the last two elections and they haven't learned a thing from those losses. Indeed, the lesson they took was that they hadn't been aggressively wrong enough. Instead of seeing where they went wrong and making adjustments, they've doubled down on their worst policies and are prepared to go even further.


The Tea Party candidates themselves are using violent rhetoric about "second amendment remedies" and violent overthrow as casually as most politicians talk about tax policy. Many of them are endorsing a far right social conservative agenda that even the most die-hard Republicans of a decade ago wouldn't have dreamed of and their view of government is nothing short of incoherent.

Most ominously, these same candidates are backed by billions of astroturfed dollars which are channeled through the tea party front groups. This fantastic article by Adele Stan called Tea Party Inc pulls the whole thing together in one place. It's a devastating portrait of a so-called grassroots political movement being guided and manipulated by plutocrats and oligarchs.

And that means that even aside from their radical views on government, their xenophobia and their hardcore social conservatism, their economic prescriptions will make this sick system much worse for average people (and naturally much better for the extremely wealthy people who are bankrolling it). Paul Krugman said it well in his column yesterday:

The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.

The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy. Tax cuts and deregulation are still the alpha and omega of their economic vision.
And if they take one or both houses of Congress, complete policy paralysis — which will mean, among other things, a cutoff of desperately needed aid to the unemployed and a freeze on further help for state and local governments — is a given. The only question is whether we’ll have political chaos as well, with Republicans’ shutting down the government at some point over the next two years. And the odds are that we will.

Is there any hope for a better outcome? Maybe, just maybe, voters will have second thoughts about handing power back to the people who got us into this mess, and a weaker-than-expected Republican showing at the polls will give Mr. Obama a second chance to turn the economy around.

There's nothing wrong with voting defensively. Republicans do it almost all the time --- they're always saving the country from ruin from their imaginary Terrible Commiesocialistliberalprogressives. Indeed, it's their primary organizing principle. It's harder for progressives to do the same because we tend to think in terms of using government to better the lives of the people rather than using it to stop something bad. But in this election, saving the country from ruin by the Terrible Tea Party Republicans should be the Democrats' organizing principle as well.


If you'd like to help GOTV, the PCCC has put together a great program and teamed up with DFA and Blue America to Call out the Vote for our favorite progressive candidates who need our help. Aside from voting, we can also help the good guys down the stretch. (And if we could pull off a surprise and help keep some of our endangered progressives in their seats while the Blue Dogs are sent to that lovely farm in the country (if you know what I mean) we might just be able to start changing the way this whole thing works.)

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How a Real Democratic Candidate Talks About Health Care

Via Jake:

As Media Czech wrote:

Ed Marksberry might not beat incumbent 2nd District Congressman Brett Guthrie, but any Democrat who proudly defends the great progress in the new health insurance reform deserves The Carrot. Here's his campaign site.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Don't Let the Fuckers Intimidate You

Are you going to let them scare you away from voting? Are you going to let anyone you know be scared away from voting?

Repugs cannot win if everyone votes. So they have to prevent people they're pretty sure will vote Democratic from voting at all.

David Dayen:

One thing is certain: the Republicans do have an X-factor in their get out the vote operations. That’s what they always use: intimidation and voter suppression. The Rand Paul curb stomping incident, seen this way, wasn’t just an expression of violence but a warning to those planning to hit the polls on Election Day.

In 2006, conservative activists repeatedly claimed that the problem of people casting fraudulent votes was so widespread that it was corrupting the political process and possibly costing their candidates victories.

The accusations turned out to be largely false, but they led to a heated debate, with voting rights groups claiming that the accusations were crippling voter registration drives and squelching turnout.

That debate is flaring up anew.

Tea Party members have started challenging voter registration applications and have announced plans to question any individual voters at the polls whom they suspect of being ineligible.

This has flown a bit more under the radar than in previous years, but it’s starting to elevate. Tea partiers in St. Paul, Minnesota are offering a $500 bounty for any voter fraud cases. In Texas, poll watchers have physically intimidated early voters. And throughout the country, allegations have been flying about voter fraud, including in Yuma County, Arizona, where the allegations proved without merit.

Publius Pundit, a supporter of the Republican challenger to Rep. Raul Grijalva, wrote that “voter fraud on a massive scale could be taking place,” claiming that 3,000 new voter registration applications were dropped off at once and 65 percent were invalid. (Neither of which, if true, would be evidence of fraud.) The blogger, Maria Carvajal, also noted the “statistical improbability” that most of the registrations were Democratic [...]

It appears the allegations are baseless. Mi Familia Vota, along with One Arizona, submitted about 3,000 requests to add voters to the permanent early voting list. They aren’t new registrations. Instead, already registered voters are asking to get an early voting ballot mailed to them every election cycle.

“Our goal was mainly signing Latinos up on the permanent early voting list. That way they become frequent voters,” Francisco Heredia, the Arizona state director for Mi Familia Vota, told TPMmuckraker. “We’re not telling people how to vote.”

The group only submitted about 300 new registrations, Heredia said. He also said that the requests were not submitted all at once, but on a weekly basis over two months.

Let’s make one thing clear: the goal is not to catch anyone for committing voter fraud. It has been well documented that there’s nobody to really catch. The goal is to intimidate poor, minority, or otherwise voiceless voters from the hassle of going to the polls. We’ve seen this with posters in minority-heavy precincts warning of immigration officials at the polls, or the wrong day put on voting fliers, or “Don’t Vote” campaigns on TV. And this plays into that. They want less people to vote, and they think that improves their chances.

Repugs don't want you to vote. They are so scared that the Democratic voters who turned out in 2008 will turn out next Tuesday that they've been reduced to actual physical violence - the likes of which we haven't seen since Bull Connor's Birmingham in 1963.

There is, in the end, only one way to stop them: Vote. Vote against them. Vote for the Democratic candidates who will fight them. Vote. Make sure everyone you know votes.

Nothing you can do - not even, or especially even, responding to their violence with more violence - will defeat and destroy them as quickly and effectively as voting against them.

Stride proudly into your polling place. Look the repug intimidators in the eye and stare them down. You have every right to be there. They are the un-American interlopers. You are the reason - the only reason - American democracy works. Because you vote.

Cast your vote with righteousness, knowing they cannot stop you.

Dare them to fucking try.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who's Crazy Now?

Via Media Czech, whose coverage of the curb stomper gets awesomer by the day, the Herald-Leader gets to the crux of it:

We keep hearing this is the year of the angry voter. But what motivates people to physically assault a woman who's carrying a political sign they don't like?

Certainly not respect for the Constitution, which enshrines the right of all citizens to express their opinions without fear. Not a belief in the rule of law. Not common decency.

Some members of Paul's Tea Party issue paranoid warnings that President Barack Obama and Democrats are totalitarians out to impose Marxist control over our country.

But look which side produced the goon squad.

Digby knows what's really going on:

What do you do with people like this? They just spent the last year and a half disrupting Townhall meetings like a bunch of crazed jackals. (They're still doing it.) Yet if anyone (even the press) asks unpleasant questions or holds a sign they disapprove of at one of their political events, they either have them restrained by private security or arrested by the police. And that's if their supporters don't assault them first and then demand an apology from the protester.

This goes way beyond hypocrisy. This is a group of people who truly believe that constitutional protections only apply to them --- in their minds, the founders wrote it to protect good conservative Christian people from the traitors who would challenge their supremacy.

Read the whole thing.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Win or Lose, Teabagger Violence Will Escalate

All I have to say is: Those Paulbots - what class. And thanks, guys, for demonstrating to the entire world exactly what Rand Paul and his Talibantastic repug friends plan to do to America.

Jake and Media Czech - who was there, and witnessed and recorded it - are all over it.

David Neiwert has the bigger picture, and concludes:

So I wonder when our liberal media are going to notice that we have a trend going here, eh?

-- Mentally unstable nutcases threatening liberal campaigners in Washington state, Illinois and Vermont.
-- A swastika-laden white-powder-terrorism attack on a Democratic congressman's offices.
-- Thugs hired by the Republican candidate in Alaska roughing up and handcuffing a reporter for asking questions at a public event.
-- Violent gunmen targeting liberal organizations after being inspired by right-wing talk-show hosts.
-- Republican congressional candidates who insist that a violent overthrow of the government is "on the table" if the 2010 Election fails to produce the desired right-wing takeover of Congress.
But of course, these are all "isolated incidents" that have nothing to do with each other, right?

Alex Seitz-Wald at ThinkProgress has more.

Read the whole thing and get the links here.

David Kurtz at TPM passes along a good analysis of the prosecution options for the curb-stomper.

But the description of Lexington/Fayette Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson as "tough, hard-nosed" is laughably understated. Ray Larson would hold public executions in front of the courthouse if he thought he could get away with it.

If you wanted someone to suffer enormously, you couldn't do much better than advise him to commit a felony assault in public, on camera, in Ray Larson's jurisdiction.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Liveblogging Kentucky Senate Debate

Morning Updates:

I don't care that Conway has flip-flopped on capntrade as much as I care that he's on the wrong side now, but Jake is right.

Read the Herald coverage here.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I suffered bringing it to you! Note to self: next time, start drinking at least 30 minutes before starting to live-blog.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

8:56 p.m.: Kentucky politican who most influenced you? Jack: Crit Luallen, Paul Patton, Wendell Ford. Rand: Jim Bunning. (!!!) Jesus Fucking Christ.

8:53 p.m.: rand: Social Security and Medicare are completely broke, and also cause AIDs! Privatize! Wall Street RULZ! Jack: His prescription wrong for Kentucky. If we'd privatized, be completely fucked today. Need to stand by Social Security. "Sick and tired of hearing about privatizing social security - I will never do that."

8:51 p.m.: Capntrade: Rand: It would be a disaster, Conway ambivalent. Jack: I am against capntrade. FUCK YOU JACK CONWAY.

8:48 p.m.: Rand: Ronald Reagan is GOD. Nuke the Department of education.

8:47 p.m. Rand: the Department of Education is full of Commies and causes AIDs!

8:46 p.m.: Jack: need early childhood education. "There's a role for federal government in helping young people get into college and graduate." WIN!

8:44 p.m.: Fucking idiot viewer has to bring up fucking abortion. But Jack rallies: "Abortion should be rare as possible, government shouldn't tell women what to do."

WIN! Jack Conway, I Forgive You Everything!

8:42 p.m.: Rand: you oversimplify everything, you don't listen, you just want to win, you are a BIG MEANIE! WAAHHHHH!

8:42 p.m.: Rand: tax people who own racehorses.

8:41 p.m.: Rand: "President Obama is a disaster!" Jack: "He's just making that up."

8:40 p.m.: Jack also has an unnamed "opponent." Stupid.

8:38 p.m.: Rand: PERVERSION! Obama is Perverted! Sick people who want health insurance PERVERT the market! And cause AIDs!

8:37 p.m.: Rand: when I said $2,000 deductible, I didn't mean NOW. (More LIES!) Lies upon lies upon lies about Medicare, about Obamacare, about whether the sun rises in the east ....

8:35 p.m.: Obamacare! Jack wants to fix it, but then goes on to praise all the popular stuff. Not perfect bill. Doesn't like deal cut with big pharma. Take that, Obama!

8:34 p.m.: Agreement on a myth: U.S. is very good at winning wars. Uh, not since World War II.

8:32 p.m.: What about returning vets? Jack: very important to take care of veterans - have to stand up for veterans, not cut vet benefits. Rand: That's dishonest (no, it's not you lying motherfucker.)

8:30 p.m.: Rand: I never said anything about segregated lunch counters - Jack Conway lies! Jack: Anyone can watch the videotape and see him say that.

8:28 p.m.: Goodman asked Rand, do you think social security is a ponzi scheme? Rand: Wahhh! Aqua Buddha! libtards! Wahhh!

8:27 p.m.: Rand: libtards lied about me - WAH!!!! Jack: I saw you embarass the shit out of yourself on Rachel.

8:25 p.m.: Viewer question about social security and Rand INSULTS HIM. Loser! Rand: Solution to deficit is to read bills.

8:22 p.m.: Jack: Should not have ignored Pakistan, need to have partners. Rand: I saw soldiers from Fort Knox go to Afghanistan. IN YOUR DREAMS, idiot! NO ONE from Fort Knox went to Afghanistan. Kentucky, do you want a Senator who doesn't know the difference between Fort Knox and Fort Campbell?

8:20 p.m.: Jack: not OK to stand back and say it's just too bad that people are losing their homes. HERO CONWAY! Need to find ways to keep people in their homes. Have to get back to sound practices in banking.

8:19 p.m.: Rand: if you got defrauded by your mortgage company, you deserve to die in the streets. Capitalism RULZ!

8:16 p.m.: Jack: TARP not success because no accountability. Holy shit - actual policy sense. Rand: TARP causes AIDs! And ass pimples!

8:15 p.m.: Jack: jobs, jobs, jobs. Rand: send less money to washington. BREAK! No chance for Jack to say Kentucky gets $1.50 back for every dollar we send to D.C. If we send less, we get less.

8:14 p.m.: Rand says Paul Krugman was WRONG! Why is he not burning for that blasphemy?

8:13 p.m.: Jack: we need prudent regulation. Rand: Regulation causes Ebola! And abortions! And a scary black man in the White House! Deficits make me shit my pants!

8:12 p.m. Rand: Regulations cause AIDs! Also, who is this "my opponent" of which Rand speaks? Why isn't that person on stage with Rand and Jack?

8:10 p.m.: Government Sux! Obama Evil Bad Big! Rand hates government! Jack has a jobs plan, and is a different kind of democrat. We know - you're the republican kind of democrat.

8:08 p.m.: Favorite state parks - Lake Barkley and Barren River. Boring. How about Rough River or Pine Mountain? Books: Poisonwood Bible and DaVinci Code. More boring.

8:06 p.m.: Rand Paul: "I'm not from Texas, really! I rode my bike all the way from Texas to Kentucky because I love Kentucky small towns!" (So fuck you, Louisville and Lexington. Also, I seriously doubt Bowling Green considers itself a small town.)

8:03 p.m.Jack Conway was born in a log cabin in Western Kentucky, where he studied lawbooks by firelight and split rails for fences ... the question was about you, Jack, not your ancestors.

8:01 p.m.: Jack Conway is from the DemocratIC party, not the Democrat party. Thank you, Bill Goodman!

7:50 p.m.: Via Media Czech, here is how you can submit questions during the debate:

* E-mail
* Call during the program toll-free, 1-800-494-7605.
* If you don't have e-mail, you can use the Kentucky Tonight Web message form.

7:45 p.m.: As for the usual teabagger/kochsucking lies, here's a smart-ass remark I'll give Conway free, gratis and for nothing:

"Wow, Rand. How do you keep your tongue from snapping right off its roller (bursting into flames, curling back and cutting off your windpipe ...) when you lie like that?"

7:40 p.m.: Watch the webcast live here.

Live-blogging begins as soon after 8 p.m. as I pour a stiff whiskey.

7:30 p.m.: Before the debate begins, here are the big questions:

Are the Villagers dead wrong about the Aqua Buddha ads that revealed Jack Conway as a real fighter and Rand Paul as a whining, pissing little bitch being bad for Conway, or are the Villagers Humongously, Galactically Wrong about the Aqua Buddha ads that revealed Jack Conway as a real fighter and Rand Paul as a whining, pissing little bitch being bad for Conway?

Will Conway keep playing offense, hitting Paul hard on economics, especially the 23 percent sales tax?

Will Paul stay defensive, either blowing up again or maybe even bursting into tears and peeing his pants?

Will Paul shake hands with Conway?

Will Kentucky's media mini-Village stay in the tank for Paul?

Does Conway have an adequate sound bite to swat down the idiotic but inevitable attacks about his brother?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stupidity: The Flesh-Eating Bacteria of Politics

Perhaps the biggest difference between the repugs' hysterical fearmongering about communism in the 1940s and '50s and the repug's hysterical fearmongering about terrorism today is the attitude of each toward science.

After the Soviets beat the U.S. into space with Sputnik, Americans demanded millions be spent on science and math education and technological research. Scientists, mathematicians and engineers became the heroes who took us to the moon.

But after a couple of cave-dwelling misogynists got lucky crashing planes into buildings, the fright-wingers demanded Americans turn moron and worship stupidity.

Steve Benen:

There's nothing quite as bewildering as listening to the right try to explain their hostility towards modern science.

On his radio show today, Glenn Beck pondered the significance of biology. "I don't think we came from monkeys," he told listeners. "I think that's ridiculous. I haven't seen a half-monkey, half-person yet. Did evolution just stop? There's no other species that is developing into half-human?"

This got me thinking about a story President Obama told about a year ago, after he returned from a trip to Asia. He shared an anecdote about a luncheon he attended with the president of South Korea.

"I was interested in education policy -- they've grown enormously over the last 40 years," Obama said. "And I asked him, 'What are the biggest challenges in your education policy?' He said, 'The biggest challenge that I have is that my parents are too demanding.' He said, 'Even if somebody is dirt poor, they are insisting that their kids are getting the best education.' He said, 'I've had to import thousands of foreign teachers because they're all insisting that Korean children have to learn English in elementary school.' That was the biggest education challenge that he had, was an insistence, a demand from parents for excellence in the schools.

"And the same thing was true when I went to China. I was talking to the mayor of Shanghai, and I asked him about how he was doing recruiting teachers, given that they've got 25 million people in this one city. He said, 'We don't have problems recruiting teachers because teaching is so revered and the pay scales for teachers are actually comparable to doctors and other professions. '

"That gives you a sense of what's happening around the world. There is a hunger for knowledge, an insistence on excellence, a reverence for science and math and technology and learning. That used to be what we were about."

Yes, it was. Now, one of the nation's most influential media personalities tells his minions, "I haven't seen a half-monkey, half-person yet," as part of an effort to get conservatives to continue to reject the foundation of modern biology.

We all hear talk from time to time about "American decline," but I hope people appreciate the ways in which stupidity spreads like a cancer, undermining our ability to thrive, prosper, and compete in the world.

What Profit It Liberalism to Save the World If Conservatism Gets All the Credit?

For a long time, Steve M. has been beating the drum of "making more liberals." He's always added that no, he doesn't know how to go about doing so.

But now, he's found something that I at first thought might just end up "making more liberals."

It made me twitchy, though, and I think I've figured out why. Steve's headline is "AT LEAST SHE'S TRYING TO SELL LIBERAL POLICIES TO NON-LIBERALS (unlike some administrations I could name)"

That's the problem: disguising liberal policies as conservative in order to sell them to non-liberals allows non-liberals to "buy" those policies without buying the liberal philosophy behind them. This is the self-destructive tactic that has allowed conservatives to co-opt every liberal accomplishment of the last century: Social Security, Medicare, even civil rights for fuck's sake.

But isn't it a good thing that opponents of a liberal policy come to embrace it?

No, not if that embrace and cooptation allows them to continue to demonize liberalism as destructive/impotent.

We have the perfect example right in front of us: President Obama's tax cut for 95 percent of Americans. Sending every taxpayer a check prominently labeled "President's Tax Cut for YOU!" as Smirky did would have garnered huge political credit but done little for the economy if people socked it away in savings. Obama chose to spread it out by adding a few bucks to each paycheck that people would likely spend rather than save.

Huge liberal policy victory! Catastrophic liberal political failure!

Every single government policy that majorities of Americans approve are liberal policies. Approved by Americans who call themselves conservatives and condemn liberals as evil.

That's what "Keep Your Filthy Government Claws Off My Medicare!" really means. Liberals won the policy battle and lost the political war.

You can't make more liberals by pretending liberal policies aren't liberal.

Steve M:

I have very mixed feelings about this story, but at least what Nancy Jackson and her colleagues are doing beats sitting around waiting for everyone in America to suddenly see reason:

SALINA, Kan. -- Residents of this deeply conservative city do not put much stock in scientific predictions of climate change.

"Don't mention global warming," warned Nancy Jackson, chairwoman of the Climate and Energy Project, a small nonprofit group that aims to get people to rein in the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change. "And don't mention Al Gore. People out here just hate him."

Saving energy, though, is another matter.

Last Halloween, schoolchildren here searched for "vampire" electric loads, or appliances that sap energy even when they seem to be off. Energy-efficient LED lights twinkled on the town's Christmas tree. On Valentine's Day, local restaurants left their dining room lights off and served meals by candlelight.

... Town managers attribute the new resolve mostly to a yearlong competition sponsored by the Climate and Energy Project, which set out to extricate energy issues from the charged arena of climate politics.

... If the heartland is to seriously reduce its dependence on coal and oil, Ms. Jackson and others decided, the issues must be separated. So the project ran an experiment to see if by focusing on thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity, it could rally residents of six Kansas towns to take meaningful steps to conserve energy and consider renewable fuels.

... The project's strategy seems to have worked. In the course of the program, which ended last spring, energy use in the towns declined as much as 5 percent relative to other areas....

Obviously, on the one hand, I would like to live in a country where vast number of people didn't reject solid science in favor of corporate and Republican noise machine propaganda. But we don't live in such a country. I'd love for someone to tell me how we can get heartlanders to change their views -- but until that person comes along, I can't reject this:


My feeling about just about every idea in progressive politics is that you've got to do something like this. You've got to work to get buy-in from the broad public -- in other words, you've got to get the consent of the governed. That means you have to stop assuming that everyone in America had college board scores in the 99th percentile and got a top-tier college education and maybe a graduate degree or two. It means learning to communicate with ordinary citizens, in part by learning what their beliefs and assumptions are, and starting more from where they are than from where you are.

Many of the advances we're most proud of came as the result of coalitions built with people who clung to some very bad ideas. The Constitution was possible only because of compromises wikth slaveowning states. The New Deal coalition included Southern Democrats who fought to preserve Jim Crow.

In order to make the transition away from fossil fuels, yes, I'll be happy to form a coalition with people who believe global climate change is a myth. Maybe, if we could make the transition effort seem like simple Americanism, the transition could actually take place -- and, ultimately, the skeptics might gradually lose their skepticism.

In any case, searching for ways to sell progressive ideas to non-progressives is what the Obama administration never does. It's what the Democratic Party never does. Left organizers don't do enough of it, either. And until we bring some of these heartlanders around, we're going to keep losing, on everything.

But achieving liberal policy goals by denying liberal politics is the path to destruction for liberalism. With each liberal policy victory that is stolen by conservatives, liberalism dies a little more, and the next liberal policy victory becomes that much more difficult.

Liberal policies can't survive without the support of liberal politics. We are rapidly approching the point that liberal policies will become impossible to sell because there will be no actual liberals to promote them.

Energy conservation and renewable energy are liberal, you Kansas mouthbreathers, and don't you forget it.

If You're Not Teabagging, You Must Be ....

New Yorker expose of the Koch brothers here.

Grist TV segment here.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Your Monday Evening Do Not Miss TV

First, the last Jack Conway - Rand Paul debate will air on Kentucky Educational Television tomorrow at 8 p.m. Eastern. Watch the webcast live here.

Yours truly will attempt to live-blog it right here. Not sure I can type and post while screaming incoherently, so no promises.

Then switch over to MSNBC to The Assassination of Dr. George Tiller.

As you watch, remember that Rand Paul, along with virtually every other republican running for election or reelection to Congress this year, is a misogynistic hard-liner who believes victims of rape and incest should be forced to give birth to their assailant's spawn.

See the preview here.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Be a Fighter Among the Lovers

Criticism of this ad telling Hispanics not to vote on Nov. 2 has focused mostly on the racism and anti-Americanism of discouraging any minority from exercising hard-won voting rights.

But the larger and long-term issue is the political stupidity of trying to influence the Democratic Party by refusing to vote for its candidates.

Digby explains why punishing the dems never works.

Robert Parry is a journalist who's been covering politics for many years. He has been clear headed from the beginning about the psychology and institutional imbalances that have led the country ever rightward for the past 40 years.

In this recent piece he takes us on a little trip down memory lane, explaining what anyone who has closely observed the way politics works in this era has long ago concluded: when the Democrats lose to Republicans --- for whatever reason --- they never, ever conclude that it was because they weren't liberal enough. Indeed, they take the opposite lesson.

The reasons for this are complicated and Parry explains them well. They have to do with money and media. But in my view this phenomenon is mostly due to psychology. The two political tribes in America attract different kinds of people. Let's call them the Lovers and the Fighters. (I think you can figure out who's who.)

The majority of people in those tribes tend to react to pain differently. When the fighters feel pain they instinctively hit back. When the lovers feel pain they instinctively withdraw. Both are very human reactions and I'm not placing a value judgment on it. There are times when each of those reactions lead to greater survival. But Parry's point is that for the last 40 years, the minority fighters in the Lovers tribe have thought that if they inflicted pain by withholding their vote that the leaders would understand that they cannot take them for granted. But that's just not the psychology of the Lovers. They feel that they are being hit from all sides and withdraw into what they feel is safer territory.

The opposite is true on the other side. The minority lovers among the Fighter tribe try to smooth things out and be accommodating and they are backed into the corner by the leaders in the Fighter tribe. (At this point they are being completely driven out of the party.)

None of this means the Fighters are always going to be the winners. They often suffer from arrogance and hubris and become so unpleasant that the majority rejects them. (Of course they, being fighters, don't go home and lick their wounds they come right back at the winners and start scrapping again --- something which the Lovers never seem to be prepared for.) The Lovers on the other hand, when they are led by smart people, understand that human beings actually prefer seduction to coercion and figure outways to make themselves loved (freedom plus groceries) and the other side feared ("I welcome their hatred".) Sadly, we haven't seen much of that in last few decades. (My suspicion is that money has compromised them so much that they no longer have any confidence.

Parry clearly lays out the case in his piece that this technique of "teaching the Democrats a lesson" has resulted in failure over and over again. They learn the opposite lesson we are seeking to teach them every time. And I guarantee you that once again, the lesson they will learn from this upcoming election will not be that they weren't liberal enough.

So, we activist types (who tend to be the fighters in the Lover tribe) can keep banging our heads against the wall and hoping that this tactic will work some day or we can figure out a new strategy.

You can't get what you want from Democratic candidates who lose the election. Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Repugs Want Impeachment? OK, Let's Impeach - Corporate Justice Roberts

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars:

I take back what I wrote last week. Apparently at least one Democrat does understand how to fight back against one of the worst corporatists on the Supreme Court:

With Democrats increasingly outraged over the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision that allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections -- a change conservatives have been more successful at taking advantage of -- a Democratic congressman is raising the prospect of impeaching the Supreme Court's chief justice over the issue.

"I mean, the Supreme Court has done a tremendous disservice to the United States of America," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "They have done more to undermine our democracy with theirCitizens United decision than all of the Republican operatives in the world in this campaign. They've opened the floodgates, and personally, I'm investigating articles of impeachment against Justice Roberts for perjuring during his Senate hearings, where he said he wouldn't be a judicial activist, and he wouldn't overturn precedents.

"In his 2005 confirmation hearings, Roberts famously said, "Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire."

According to DeFazio, Roberts hasn't stood by his own doctrine. He pointed to former Justice John Paul Stevens's dissent in the case, in which he said the Citizens United case was not properly brought before the Supreme Court. "This procedure is unusual and inadvisable for a court," Stevens said of the process. "Our colleagues' suggestion that 'we are asked to reconsider Austin and, in effect, McConnell," ante, at 1, would be more accurate if rephrased to state that 'we have asked ourselves' to reconsider those cases."

"Justice Stevens makes the point that Roberts decided a case that wasn't even before the Court, and invited the issue before the Court," said DeFazio. "It was the most extraordinary condemnation I've ever read of a perverted majority on the Supreme Court, at least in recent years."

The point, of course, is not whether impeaching Roberts would succeed. The point is getting in repugs' face with the flip side of their hysterical lies about President Obama. The point is pouring sand in their investigative gears. The point is getting the American people thinking and talking about what really constitutes an impeachable offense. Doesn't sacrificing the foundation of American Democracy to corporate profits warrant impeachment more than getting a blow job or extending health care to everyone?

The point - as it needs to be from now on, regardless of the results of the Nov. 2 election - is for Democrats to play on offense. Constantly. Down by 20 points in the fourth quarter, facing fourth and 25 on our own 15 yard line, we do not punt.

Sheriff Tells Fraudster Banks: Not in My County You Don't

Remember Tom Dart? A couple of years ago, the Sheriff of Cook County, IL (Chicago) made headlines for refusing to evict renters from apartments because the landlord was being foreclosed. Those families had paid their rent in good faith, and had done nothing to deserve eviction, he said. Now he's applying the same logic to homeowners.

From Think Progress:

As of last week, all 50 state attorneys general had opened investigations into the mortgage practices of some of the nation’s largest financial institutions, following the revelations that many of these banks had foreclosure documents approved by “robo signers” — employees who were signing thousands of foreclosure documents a day, without verifying basic information. Additionally, the banks’ incompetence and malfeasance extends to basing evictions on “lost and forged documents and, as Reuters’ Felix Salmon reported, knowingly selling investors mortgage bonds they knew were toxic.”

Responding to pressure from the media and progressive politicians, a handful of large banks, like JP Morgan Chase, have self-imposed moratoria on foreclosures. Bank of America amd GMAC Mortgage also self-imposed moratoria, but then lifted them shortly after.

Yet, one sheriff is not waiting for the big banks to correct their own behavior or for the government to step in and set things right. Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart recently assembled a team to investigate the foreclosures in his area. His team found that out of 350 cases reviewed, “only 17 of them had the proper paperwork.” Following the investigation, Dart announced Monday that he would be halting all evictions of homeowners — a step he took two years ago at the height of the financial crisis — and would not take part in any foreclosures unless the banks could provide the documentation to prove that the evictions were legitimate and legal:

Beginning Monday, and for the second time in two years, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is refusing to carry out evictions. The latest moratorium will apply to those people living in homes whose lenders aren’t able to provide documentation that the eviction is legitimate and legal. “All I am looking from them is an affidavit saying, ‘The cases you have in your system are all reviewed. All the documents were done correctly. They were all legally done. And you are not enforcing illegal orders,’” Dart said Tuesday.

He said his team recently reviewed 350 cases and found that only 17 of them had the proper paperwork. The banks involved included Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, GMAC/Ally Financial and their subsidiaries.” This is so outrageous. These poor people are being put through this day in and day out, by people who don’t do their jobs,” he said. “It’s so hard for me to stomach these people. This isn’t just we are taking their bike away, or their car away. This is their house.”

Dart held a press conference Monday to announce his decision. He told reporters, “This is not the lotto. This isn’t something where we roll the dice and say, ‘You know what? Possibly this has been done legally. Maybe it hasn’t, but in the meantime you and your children go find some place to live. There’s plenty of homeless shelters out there.’ We can’t do that.” Watch it here:

Republicans think if you were defrauded out of your house, it's your fault and you deserve to be evicted.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidates today?

Pomposity and Piety Among the Parasites

There's so much credulous crap about the teabaggers being broadcast despite - or perhaps because of - the tsunami of evidence that they are the same old racist assholes we've been fighting for 240 years, we can't post enough correctives.

And no one writes bracing correctives better than Matt Taibbi:

Quelle surprise! So it turns out that one after another of the Tea Party candidates is in one way or another mooching off the government. The latest series of hilarious disclosures center around Alaska’s GI-Joe-bearded windbag Senatorial candidate, Joe Miller, who appears to have run virtually the entire gamut of government aid en route to becoming a staunch, fist-shaking opponent of the welfare state.


Miller’s pomposity and piety with regard to government aid programs has all along been in line with the usual screechingly hysterical self-righteousness Tea Party candidates bring to such matters, railing against Obamacare and other “entitlement” programs and promising to end the “welfare state.”


I can’t even tell you how many people I interviewed at Tea Party events who came up with one version or another of the Joe Miller defense. Yes, I’m on Medicare, but… I needed it! It’s those other people who don’t need it who are the problem!

Or: Yes, it’s true, I retired from the police/military/DPW at 54 and am on a fat government pension that you and your kids are going to be paying for for the next forty years, while I sit in my plywood-paneled living room in Florida watching Fox News, gobbling Medicare-funded prescription medications, and railing against welfare queens. But I worked hard for those bennies! Not like those other people!

This whole concept of “good welfare” and “bad welfare” is at the heart of the Tea Party ideology, and it’s something that is believed implicitly across the line. It’s why so many of their political champions, like Miller, and sniveling Kentucky rich kid Rand Paul (a doctor whose patient base is 50% state insured), and Nevada “crazy juice” Senate candidate Sharron Angle (who’s covered by husband Ted’s Federal Employee Health Plan insurance), are so completely unapologetic about taking state aid with one hand and jacking off angry pseudo-libertarian mobs with the other.

They genuinely don’t see the contradiction, much in the same way that some Wall Street people genuinely can’t see the problem with their company, say, taking $13 billion in bonuses in the same year that they accepted $13 billion in state bailouts. You wave a pitchfork at them with little post-its of the relevant figures taped to the ends, and ask them to confess – and they can’t, because they literally don’t see your point.


In Tea Party legend the “parasites” would I suppose be people who don’t pay taxes, or pay few taxes, and receive government support in excess of what they pay. Maybe they mean the 39-odd million Americans (about 1 in 8) who are now receiving food stamps. In the Hobbesian jungle the Tea Partyers would prefer we all live in, it’s true, most of those 39 million people (including the just under 50% of all children, and 90% of black children, who will at some point in their lives eat a meal bought with food stamps) would indeed be sucking wind instead of eating cheese.

These are the parasites they’re probably talking about. You know, children.

Meanwhile, a slick grownup yuppie politician with a GI Joe beard and a breeder wife and eight kids, leeching off the state at every turn and gunning for a U.S. Senate salary and pension on an anti-welfare platform, he’s just a hardworking citizen who simply needed a lift during a “transitional” period. Man, did they break the mold when they made these assholes.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Why Vote Democratic? Here's Why:

From Digby, whom you should be reading every day:

Dave Johnson has written a very handy piece called: Eight False Things The Public “Knows” Prior To Election Day:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the "stimulus" was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the "stimulus" with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be "non-reviewable by any court or any agency.") The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn't work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is "going broke," people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on "welfare" and "foreign aid" when that is only a small part of the government's budget.

Click here for the links on each point.

Digby writes:

I've been having some interesting chats with mildly interested voters. And this is exactly the kind of thing that is really helpful in winning them over. They are busy, they are dealing with these issues in a very haphazard fashion and a lot of their ideas come from a sort of conventional wisdom osmosis. If you can present them with some simple explanations about why things are not as they think, they're receptive to it.

I'm not talking about the tea partiers, of course. They are "informed" by Glenn Beck and there's no getting to them. But your average independent voter or casual liberal voter is persuadable on this stuff.

Have you made calls for your Democratic congressional candidate today?

Republicans Will Repeal Financial Reform

"Our economy depends on a financial system in which everyone competes on a level playing field, and everyone is held to the same rules – whether you’re a big bank, a small business owner, or a family looking to buy a house or open a credit card."

Full transcript here.

Louisville Credit Union Partners with Freakazoids

Ordinarily, I am a strong proponent of credit unions. As member organizations rather than corporations, they usually avoid the Big Bank fees, frauds and failures.

But when a credit union steps forward to announce its support of freakazoid lies, superstition and war on reality, you probably shouldn't trust your money to them.

PZ Myers:

Kentuckians! Have you got money in the L&N Federal Credit Union? Do us all a favor and yank it out and invest it elsewhere. L&N is partnering with the Creation "Museum" in a 5K run. I have no objection to Ken Ham endorsing healthy exercise — presumably being a creationist dolt doesn't interfere with the functioning of your limbs — but jebus, respectable businesses should be embarrassed to be associated with those kooks.

That would be kooks who spent millions to advertise to the world that they think The Flintstones was a documentary.

Friday, October 22, 2010

GOP: "Vote for us; we'll reject everything."

I'm no longer worried by President Obama's stated eagerness to "work with" a new repug Congress.

Because the GOP has announced that they will categorically refuse to work with President Obama.

Steve Benen:

Republicans are already laying the groundwork, making clear they have no intention of compromising with anyone.

The third-ranking Republican plans to tell an audience in Florida on Thursday that GOP congresses of yesteryear compromised "too much" -- a warning to Republicans who are signaling that they'd be willing to work with the Obama administration on some issues.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana, in a clear jab at a Wall Street Journal story that indicated the GOP would look to avoid gridlock, plans to say that "there can be no compromise that allows more borrowing, more spending, more deficits and more debt."

"Now, the last few days there has been some talk about how Republicans could avoid the 'mistakes' of 1995 by seeking compromise with this administration," according to an excerpt reported by the conservative blog Redstate. "The last Republican Congress didn't suffer from too little compromise, it suffered from too much."

Pence's remarks come the same week as Ken Buck (R), the extremist Senate candidate in Colorado, insisted that he'll refuse to cooperate with those he disagrees with if elected. "I think it's wrong to compromise your values to fit in with the social climate in Washington, D.C.," he said. "When it comes to spending, I'm not compromising. I don't care who, what, when or where, I'm not compromising."


Eleven days before Election Day, high-profile Republicans want Americans to know that a vote for the GOP is a vote against compromise, against bipartisan agreements, and against powerful officials working together with a sense of common purpose.

If you want government to ground to a halt for the next two years, vote republican. I'm not saying that - republicans are.

Have you made calls for your Democratic Congressional candidate today?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An End to 300 Years of Forced Labor

If the takeover of our economy, our elections and our democracy by corporations and the obscenely wealthy have you on the verge of despair, find hope and inspiration in one unlikely victory of the poor and powerless over the exploiting owners.

Greg Kaufmann at The Nation:

It was an unlikely place to hear Abraham Joshua Heschel quoted, and the rabbi’s words came from an unlikely messenger.

At a news conference on a farm outside of Immokalee in southwest Florida, Jon Esformes, operating partner of the fourth-generation, family-owned Pacific Tomato Growers—one of the five largest growers in the nation with more than 14,000 acres in the US and Mexico—declared, “In a free society, few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And with that he announced an agreement with the 4000-member Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to implement a penny per pound pay raise—which stands to increase workers’ annual earnings from about $10,000 to as much as $17,000—and establish a code of conduct that includes an external complaint resolution system, shade and protective equipment in the fields, and a worker-to-worker education process on their rights under the new agreement.

“For us, you wake up and you realize that maybe this is something we could have done yesterday, but I am certainly not going to wait until tomorrow,” said Esformes.

For those who have followed CIW’s decade-long fight to raise farmworkers’ sub-poverty wages and remedy oppressive working conditions—including slavery—this agreement marks the moment when a wall of denial maintained by the Florida agricultural industry came tumbling down.

Read the whole thing.

If Early Voting Would Help You Vote, You're Out of Luck in Kentucky

In 32 states, early voting is helping Democratic activists prevail against both low turnout and republican attempts to prevent minorities from voting at all.

In those 32 states, people who have to work on election day, or who have trouble arranging transportation to the polls on election day, or who are the target of voter supression tactics, have two weeks or more before election day to cast their vote when it is both convenient and safe.

But not in Kentucky.

Kentucky is one of only 8 states that do not permit early voting for anyone who is not physically unable to vote on election day. Having to work for a living doesn't count. Needing help to get to the polls doesn't count. Needing support to assert your voting rights doesn't count.

From the Kentucky Board of Elections:

Q: What if I am unable to get to the polls on election day?

A: You may request an absentee ballot application from your county clerk's office in person, by mail, by phone, or by fax. The deadline for applying for a mailed absentee ballot is seven days before an election. You must fulfill one of these qualifications in order to request a mailed absentee ballot:

  • Due to advanced age, disability, illness or medical emergency
  • You are a member of the armed forces or the dependent of a member of the armed forces
  • You are military personnel confined to a military base on election day
  • You temporarily reside overseas but are still eligible to vote in Kentucky
  • You are a student attending school outside the county of your voter registration
  • You temporarily live outside the state but are still eligible to vote in Kentucky
  • You are incarcerated in jail and have been charged but not convicted of a felony
  • You work outside the county and are unable to either vote on the absentee voting machine in the county clerk's office or in your polling place on election day

A voting machine at the County Clerk's office is available during the last 12 (or more) working days before the election for certain qualified voters. If you do not qualify for a paper absentee ballot and meet one of the following conditions, you may vote an absentee ballot on a voting machine in the County Clerk's office.

  • You will be out of the county on election day
  • You are a pregnant woman in your third trimester
  • You are a member or an employee of the county board of elections, deputy clerk, alternate precinct officer or appointed to a precinct other than that in which you are registered
  • You are a member of the armed forces who will be confined to base within the county on election day and learn of that confinement within 7 days or less of the election
  • You are a student attending school outside the county of your voter registration who will be absent from the county on election day
  • You or your spouse who has surgery scheduled that will require hospitalization on election day

If you have a medical emergency, you or your spouse may apply for a medical emergency absentee ballot within 14 days or less of an election.

Believe me, those rules are interpreted as strictly as possible. A few years ago I tried to get an absentee ballot for a relative who had been hospitalized for emergency surgery. It was one week before election day. I was told - in the most disapproving tones imaginable - by the County Clerk that it was my fault I had been so irresponsible as to not anticipate a week in advance that my relative would require emergency hospitalization and that such irresponsible persons certainly deserved no exception from the rules.

Kentucky also requires an official photo identification in order to vote - something many urban-dwelling minorities, who don't need driver's licenses, don't have.

The fact is that in Kentucky, if you are not white and at least middle-class if not wealthy - or have a job that gives you time off to vote - you don't have the right to vote.

Call or email your legislators and tell them you want easy, convenient early voting for Kentucky.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Austerity Slippery Slope to Feudalism

The Austerity Vultures in Great Britain are attacking the wealthy, which appears to be the opposite tactic from the U.S. Catfood Commission, but in truth they both have the same goal: destroying the universal social safety net.

D.D. Guttenplan in The Nation:

Taking the child benefit away from the relatively well-off will indeed save money—about £1 billion a year. But the real point about the child benefit is that it, like the National Health Service, is universal—a part of the welfare state available to rich and poor alike. Turning universal benefits into services that cater only to the poor is the first step toward making them politically expendable (which might be why the right in the United States keeps trying to turn Social Security into a poverty program).

The tactic is to pick off the least defensible—or least popular—portions of the welfare state; the strategy is to slowly, stealthily dismantle the whole edifice. With their proposals to turn public schools into "free schools" detached from local government control (and in some cases turned over to private corporations) and allow hospitals to leave the NHS to become "not for profit" corporations (whose nonmedical services can then be contracted out to for-profit American corporations), a pattern begins to emerge in which the assets of the state are slowly but surely turned over to the private sector. The justification will be efficiency, not ideology, but the process is liable to prove irreversible. The latest announcement that the cap on university tuition fees will be removed, creating a market in higher education, fits this pattern—as does the Liberal-Democrat U-turn on what was one of the party's core policies.

This is why Social Security, Medicare and Veterans Affairs are the targets of the Deficit Vultures: drive a wedge between the poor and rich recipients of any of these programs, and it's a stake in the heart of the social compact.

Don't fall for it.

Organize and Fight Back Against Foreclosures

This isn't the first time bankers have used a housing crisis to throw working people out into the streets. Attempts at mass foreclosure are a huge opportunity for working people, if we can only organize. It worked before.

From Crooks and Liars:

Did you know that during the Greater Depression, communists and socialists organized people all over the country to stop foreclosures and evictions? Why aren't more of us doing it now?


The landlords continued their offensive and the judges rarely considered the neediness of the families. By December 1932 is appeared that the Bronx rent strikes had largely been crushed.

But then something happened.

in December of 1932 and January of 1933, the Unemployed Councils began a new wave of strikes that rapidly assumed far greater proportions than the last one. Beginning in Crotona Park East, the strikes spread into Brownsville, Williamsburg, Boro Park, the Lower East Side, and much of the East Bronx. In February of 1933, a panicked Real Estate News writer warned that "there are more than 200 buildings in the Borough of the Bronx in which rent strikes are in progress, and a considerably greater number in which such disturbances are brewing or in contemplation."

Yes, when you push people to the edge, sooner or later, they're going to fight back.

Wall Street and the bankers are on the ropes. They are looking at losing literally trillions of dollars in mortgages that they can't prove they own. We are on the verge of a massive reconstruction of the entire financial system - one that will leave financiers at the mercy of workers in a way that grows and supports the economy rather than exploiting it.

Don't give in to the thieves. Fight back. You have nothing to lose and a new world to gain.

Kentucky Masons Reject Bigotry

On this day of all days, when we wear purple to encourage gay teens to persevere and not give in to suicide, Kentuckians woke to this encouraging news in the Herald:

When the leader of a Winchester Masonic lodge recently told members he was gay, he said one man called him "a flaming faggot," insisted that he resign, and led several members in a walkout.

But John Wright refused to resign. Later, he stood firm when a Frankfort lodge proposed a change to the group's state constitution that would have prohibited openly gay men from being Masons in Kentucky.

At an annual statewide meeting in Louisville Monday, attendees turned down the proposal.

Wright said he believes this is a critical moment in the history of the Masons, which is said to be the world's oldest and largest fraternity.

"They said with a strong voice that they are not going to discriminate," said Wright, 26, master of the 151-member Right Angle Lodge in Clark County.

Wear purple with extra pride today, Kentuckians.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Fighter Wins

Uh, no.

Democrat Jack Conway’s aggressive television ad raising questions about opponent Rand Paul’s religious faith could hurt Conway more than it helps him at a crucial time in the U.S. Senate race, political observers said Monday.

Yep, that's exactly the kind of don't-upset-the-bullies advice that's been defeating Democrats for decades.

Here's a more realistic reaction:

Based on the emails we're getting it's fair to say that our readers, or at least the ones who are taking the time to write in (which is a lot), overwhelmingly, almost unanimously love Jack Conway's ad whacking Rand Paul over 'Aqua Buddha' and see resistance to that kind of politicking as a root flaw of the Democratic party.

As I commented at Zandar's place yesterday:

I have been as critical of Conway as anyone, and I also criticized this ad on Constitutional, not political, grounds.

Politically, this ad is FUCKING GENIUS. It also worked like a charm.

It got under Paul's skin to the point he came off looking like a whiny-assed titty baby AND a boor who wouldn't shake hands.

And it doesn't matter what Conway actually said or accused Paul of doing or being.

What matters is that voters see Conway FIGHTING ON OFFENSE. And Paul whining in defense.

The fighter wins. Every time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Repugs: If It Works, Kill It

Steven Benen questions the recent wingnut enthusiasm for privatizing the VA:

I'm not sure why the right decided to launch this anti-VA nonsense, but so long as conservatives are pushing this line, it's worth setting the record straight.

Why privatizie one of the most successful departments in the federal government?

Because it's successful, that's why. Like Social Security and Medicare, the VA proves that government can do things right. Big things, important things. Social security is cradle-to-grave welfare, Medicare is single-payer and VA healthcare is socialized medicine. All are hugely popular. All point the way to the kind of prosperous, peaceful socialistic paradise Europeans enjoy.

And Americans will enjoy that kind of effective, popular government over the repugs' dead bodies.

The repug plan here is simple: destroy successful, popular government programs through privatization, then point to failures as proof government can't work.

They've been doing it since 1981, picking off the low-hanging fruit like defense contracting. All that's left are the three behemoths of successful, popular liberal government: Social Security and VA.