Tag: Democrats

Mar 19

The Three Budgets

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Like the tale of the three bears, the congressional budget battle has three budget proposals one from the House Republicans penned by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee; another from the Senate Democrats that was worked out by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Budget Committee; and a third called the “Back to Work” budget presented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Each one has is proponents and opponents and, like that bear tale, it has one that’s too hard, one that’s too soft and one that’s just right.

Paul Ryan’s budget, which is getting the most press, the most negative reaction and is “dead on arrival” so to speak, is a rehash of his last two budgets only worse. The proposal would slash Medicare, Medicaid and repeals Obamacare, which even Fox News host Chris Wallace acknowledges, isn’t happening. It proposes balancing the federal budget with the usual draconian cuts to all non-defense spending and reduction of the already smaller federal work force by another 10%. The Ryan proposal would slash $4.6 trillion over 10 years. The budget plan includes no cuts in Social Security. Pres. Obama has suggested changing an inflation measurement to cut more than $100 billion from the program, which makes no sense since Social Security does not contribute to the debt or the deficit.

The there is the Senate Budget proposal which the Republican leadership insisted the Democrats produce even though, constitutionally, all budget and spending bills must originate in the House. That budget  would seek $975 billion in spending reductions over the next 10 years as well as $975 billion in new tax revenue, which Sen. Murray said would be raised by “closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code for those who need it the least.” It includes a $100 billion in spending on infrastructure repair and educational improvements and the creation of a public-private infrastructure bank.

Then there is that third budget proposal from the House Progressive Caucus that is just right balance of spending, revenue increases and spending cuts. The basic plan is the put Americans back to work, by as Ezra Klein explains fixing the jobs crisis:

It begins with a stimulus program that makes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act look tepid: $2.1 trillion in stimulus and investment from 2013-2015, including a $425 billion infrastructure program, a $340 billion middle-class tax cut, a $450 billion public-works initiative, and $179 billion in state and local aid. [..]

Investment on this scale will add trillions to the deficit. But the House Progressives have an answer for that: Higher taxes. About $4.2 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade, to be exact. The revenues come from raising marginal tax rates on high-income individuals and corporations, but also from closing a raft of deductions as well as adding a financial transactions tax and a carbon tax. They also set up a slew of super-high tax rates for the very rich, including a top rate of 49 percent on incomes over $1 billion.

But to the House Progressives, these taxes aren’t just about reducing the deficit – though they do set debt-to-GDP on a declining path. They’re also about reducing inequality and cutting carbon emissions and slowing down the financial sector. They’re not just raising revenues, but trying to solve other problems. But they might create other problems, too. Adding this many taxes to the economy all at once is likely to slow economic growth.

As for the spending side, there’s more than $900 billion in defense cuts, as well as a public option that can bargain down prices alongside Medicare. But this budget isn’t about cutting spending. Indeed, the House Progressives add far more spending than they cut.

On Sunday’s Up w/ Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes discussed the various budget proposals released by Republicans and Democrats in Congress this week with his guests Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ); Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Sam Seder, host of The Majority Report, co-host of Ring of Fire; and Heidi Moore, economics and finance editor for The Guardian newspaper.

Sep 21

“You’ll never see a squirrel trapped by a syllogism.”

Mr. Smiff is a genuine kick in the pants.  Dude’s worth listening to.

The fact that he got Buffalo Bill-ed by our psychopatho-genic society simply gives him more time to kick me in the pants, which is fine by me, as I appear to be a more-than-fashionably-late political bloomer.  If only he had gotten to me sooner.  I wish him the best in a long, wave-lapped retirement.

However, my eyebrows torqued when he claimed that [unlike humans], “You’ll never see a squirrel trapped by a syllogism,” while continuing his discussion on the “lesser evil” problem presented by Democrats, i.e., the neurotic yowling between advocates of lesser evilism (logic-trapped squirrels) and the “fuck all y’all and the horse you rode in on” camp (my people).

Mr. Smiff’s main point, to my mind, is that you can’t fucking tell Republicans & Democrats apart!  It takes such a fine-tuned sense of discrimination to reveal the iota, the remaining quantal unit of distinction, and even that discrete packet is suspect, that it drives one fucking nuts, neurotic, pissing oneself, snarling, hunkering in dark corners, clawing at the handlers, and falling down, sprawling and panting.  Be more squirrel-like, and reject the choice itself.

I am not claiming that my admiration for squirrels is any less or more than Mr. Smiff’s  (some of my best friends in Golden Gate Park are squirrels!), but mine is different, in that I think squirrels and humans have more in common than Herr Smiff thinks obtains.  To phrase my view in Clintonesque Obamanisms, there’s nothing right with our squirrels that can’t be fucked by what’s wrong with humans.

My good buddy and comrade, Ivan Pavlov — who was probably dead wrong when he apocryphally warned his underlings that “The revolution is not out there; it is in here, in this lab!” —  provided some relevant experimental evidence on conditioned conflict behavior in dogs, which he referred to as “experimental neurosis.”

Pavlov was toying with the borderline between competing conditioned responses, using a discrimination task (circles v. ovals as signals) to train responses, and then inducing conflict by making the discrimination ever more difficult.  

In experimental canine terms, the syllogism is expressed as:

IF circle, THEN respond (orient to the circle, and get food reward.)

IF oval, WITHHOLD response (do not orient to oval, or else!  Zappo! Electric shock.).

After training both competing response elements, the un-American commie bastard then proceeded to present increasingly oval-shaped circles, and increasingly circle-shaped ovals. The dogs, unable to tell the difference between reward and punishment, became progressively unhinged, and unmanageable (Yay, dogs!).  The same has been shown in cats.  Democrats and Republicans have merely demonstrated that such frustrating breakdowns in discrimination also occur in humans.  If that finding, “experimental neurosis,” does not also hold true in squirrels, I’ll eat my straw hat loaded with nasty brick dust.

My point is this: it is precisely the current non-difference between our formerly distinct expectancies of Republicans and Democrats (ovals and circles) that evokes our conflicted animal phenotypes.  The formulation, “You’ll never see a squirrel…” only works until you present the squirrel with a choice between Republicans and Democrats.

The confused frustration expressed under such confused signaling conditions in all mammals tested to date already indicates that the answer is “none of the above.”

Next week we’ll discuss flesh-ripping weasels.

Sep 07

Should We Vote for Democrats in a Post-Constitutional Country?

The contrast, stylistically, of the two Party Conventions stuck me very powerfully. The Democratic Convention had each evening main speakers offered one brilliant speech after another. These speeches were well-put together, well-delivered and proved to me that the Democratic Paty (DP) is fit to rule the Empire. Here are people with skillz–compared to the lame-ola speeches the Republican Party (RP) trotted out that could only appeal to the very stupid or the very greedy. The contest should be over right here right now but it isn’t. Why? Because we live in an authoritarian society that is in danger of devolving into tribalism and this seems to be the historical trend.

The contrast was clear. Exclusivity and tribalism on the right, inclusion and a constant plea for unity and civilized behavior on the “left.” Yes, I believe much of what the Dems were saying was clear bullshit but it was bullshit based on some facts even if they were cherry-picked. The Republicans had no argument to convince anyone to vote for them unless you were one of “them.” The Dems offered good reasons (even if most of those reason hid deep corruption) why any of us should vote for Obama and the Dems and this coming from someone that genuinely mainly revulsion for the DP.

There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.

Gore Vidal

What Vidal describes has been the case for much of our post-WWII history. But quite honestly, I think the quote no longer quite works for today’s Republican Party (RP) has changed dramatically since Vidal wrote the above though the essential political arrangements are the same-both are part of the Property Party and very specifically the Property Party of the very, very rich, not any of the rest of us who happen to won a little property. The Property Party is the only political party and will always be the political party barring environmental disaster of the worst kind with galloping positive feedback loops which is possible.

Aug 24

“Bashing Democrats”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

On numerous of occasions I have been accused of “bashing Democrats,” “hating Obama,” as well as, some outrageously, vile charges that won’t be repeated here. The accusations have been in response to criticism of President Barack Obama’s policies which have been not just disappointing for a Democratic administration but, in some instances, worse than any neo-con Republican. It’s baffling that the Republican party is bothering to oppose his reelection, he’s done most everything they would have done short of starting another war unless one considers the expansion of the “war on terror” to Yemen and Africa. My guess would be that the Republicans are jealous that Obama isn’t a member of the GOP.

I was asked the other day by my former precinct captain why I don’t criticize Republicans. My answer was that I do. It’s just that today they are called Democrats. On that note, I give you the Black Agenda Report‘s managing editor, Bruce Dixon, who says it quite succinctly:

[..] The fact is that 120% evil Republicans offer the only justification for our support of 100% evil Democrats. And with the dissolution of what used to be the black consensus for equality, civil liberties, full funding for public education, and opposing war spending and corporate privilege, Obama-era Democrats continue to flee rightward toward war, privatization and austerity.

This deformed puzzle is not the political logic of free and responsible people. It’s the cramped and twisted reasoning of someone trapped in a box urgently trying to convince himself that it’s not really a box, that pragmatic acceptance of the box as the whole of the great and free universe is really all that can be hoped, struggled and strived for. It’s not. Only a beaten, cowed and enslaved people can imagine their forbears sacrificed and struggled for them to choose among greater and lesser, but both still monstrous evils.

We at Black Agenda Report spend more time denouncing Democrats because they act like and enable Republicans. We don’t spend as much time denouncing the party of white supremacy because Republicans rarely bother to pretend to be anything else. African Americans haven’t voted Republican in 50 years. But we’re more unemployed than we’ve been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we’ve ever been.

That’s what choosing “lesser evils” has earned us. It’s time to chuck the fake choice between evil Republicans and slightly less evil Democrats. It’s time not just to think, but to climb outside the two-party, lesser-evil box, to breathe the free air and get ready for something new.

What Bruce said applies to all Americans regardless of race, gender, religion or national origin.

Actor and activist, John Cusack, in his conversation with Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley, questions where are the “lines” that the “progressive left” will not cross and what it means in terms of voting for Obama.

Now that the Republican primary circus is over, I started to think about what it would mean to vote for Obama…

Since mostly we hear from the daily hypocrisies of Mitt and friends, I thought we should examine “our guy” on a few issues with a bit more scrutiny than we hear from the “progressive left”, which seems to be little or none at all.

Instead of scrutiny, the usual arguments in favor of another Obama presidency are made: We must stop fanatics;-he’s the last line of defense from the corporate barbarians-and of course the Supreme Court. It all makes a terrible kind of sense and I agree completely with Garry Wills who described the Republican primaries as ” a revolting combination of con men and fanatics…the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office.”

True enough.

But yet…

… there are certain Rubicon lines, as constitutional law professor Jon Turley calls them, that Obama has crossed.

All political questions are not equal no matter how much you pivot. When people die or lose their physical freedom to feed certain economic sectors or ideologies, it becomes a zero sum game for me.

This is not an exercise in bemoaning regrettable policy choices or cheering favorable ones but to ask fundamentally: Who are we? What are we voting for? And what does it mean? [..]

The entire transcript of the conversation was posted in this article by poligirl. It’s quite long but quite thought provoking assessment of Barack Obama’s presidency and how many of our principles of law and the constitution the “progressive left” has compromised and abandoned supporting him.

The line for me was Obama’s vote, as Senator, to renew FISA with all its unconstitutional provisions, after saying that he would filibuster if it were not fixed. I knew then that the “we’ll fix it later” line was the grand lie to a tired, desperate electorate that was in need of relief from years of war and economic stress.

Along with Bruce Dixon, John Cusack, Jonathan Turley and others, I will continue to criticize Democrats for pushing a right wing agenda. I’m still not ready to make nice.

Aug 19

I Am You and You Are Me

It’s hard to say where it went wrong,

Decades before me and this song,

Through the banksters and the wars,

I just can’t take it anymore . . .

Aug 17

Every Banker Had a Good Time

As the leaders of the People’s Republic of Plutocracy, Inc. prepare for the corporate coronations of Romney and Obama in Tampa and Charlotte, they’re fervently hoping Occupy Wall Street won’t spoil all the fun by sending dangerous American citizens into the streets to tell the truth all over the place.  In Beltway offices, Homeland Security meetings, and conference calls with the militarized police departments of the One-Percent, the same questions are being asked about Occupy Wall Street. Who are those people?  Why are they going to the national conventions with protest signs and devious plans to say whatever they want about the government, right out loud, in broad daylight where other citizens might hear them?  What the hell do they think this is, a democracy?  

I’ve got a feeling it’s not going to matter how many riot police are in the streets, pepper-spraying everyone in the twilight’s last gleaming, Americans are going to hear what Occupy Wall Street has to say in Tampa and Charlotte about the “government” and the “job creators” and this trickle down train wreck they call an economy.

Oh yeah . . .

Oh please believe me, I’d hate to miss the train.  Oh yeah.

The chorus of our new national anthem is inspiring, isn’t it?  Feel free to sing along Fox viewers, low information voters, brainwashed birthers and cable pundits, pulpit pounders of the Westboro Baptist Church and Obamabots of the Great Orange Asteroid . . .  

Every worker had a hard year,

Every banker had a good time,

Every general had a wet dream,

Every fat cat saw the sun shine.

Oh yeah.

Aug 08

Somewhere Along the Way

He’s fifty, he lost his job three years ago, he won’t ever have a job again because American companies don’t hire the long-term unemployed parasites.  He wakes up Sunday mornings now, with no way to hold his head that doesn’t hurt.  And the beer he has for breakfast isn’t bad, so he has one more for dessert.  Then he fumbles through his closet for his clothes, and finds his cleanest dirty shirt, and stumbles down the stairs to meet the day.

Meet the day, parasite.  Welcome to the Brave New World of the Wall Street Gods, welcome to the Shock Doctrine Century, welcome to hunger games and drones in the sky and batshit ten feet deep in the halls of Congress.  Get ready to dodge bullets when you walk out the door, the NRA has turned America into a free fire zone, remember to salute the Job Creators and the police, bring three forms of photo ID if you’re going to cross the street.  Bring some courage along if you have any left, but leave your dignity behind, you won’t need it out here, hardly anyone in this shit storm that used to be America even remembers what it is anymore.

Aug 02

Like a Blowtorch Burning

Steadily increasing child poverty is exposing the moral bankruptcy of America’s political and economic systems and has ominous implications, for as child poverty increases, it’s igniting a destructive chain reaction of cause and effect, with dire long-term consequences for the stability of American society.  

Jillian Berman, “One In Four Young U.S. Children Living In Poverty” . . .

Children who are poor before age 6 have been shown to experience educational deficits, and health problems, with effects that span the life course.  Elevated rates of child poverty could have dire consequences for the country down the line, for child poverty is a leading indicator of a country’s future, nearly all of the social problems that we worry about are heavily correlated with child poverty.

They don’t realize it now, they probably never will, but through their relentless pursuit of policies that only benefit the top one-percent and punish everyone else, the alleged elites of this psychotic system are ensuring their own destruction.  The deceit traffickers in that cartel of criminals that used to be Congress can keep bulldozing piles of cash to the rich, they can keep building more prisons, they can keep militarizing the police, they can keep expanding surveillance, they can keep criminalizing dissent, but none of that’s going to matter when time runs out, when they have no legitimacy left, when poverty has become so pervasive that nothing can contain the bitterness of tens of millions of people betrayed by their own government.  And then betrayed again.

Week in and week out.

Month after month.

Year after year.  

Jul 24

Occupy Wall Street Targets the National Conventions

There’s room at the top they are telling you still,

But first you must learn how to smile as you kill.

The more you smile as you kill, the higher you go. In American politics. In American banking. In American business.  All of those smiling killers have been smiling even more in 2012, because they think the Occupy Movement is dying.  Dying like democracy is, dying like equality is, as dying like justice is.

William Rivers Pitt . . .

We are told that the Occupy movement is over, finished, and irrelevant, but I strongly disagree. It is relevant because it happened: the passion required to bring needed change to this nation is out there, all around you, and the evidence of that was there for all to see last year. That passion, that desire, and those numbers are still there, multiplying and gathering strength for the struggles to come.

Occupy, like all the other great movements in American history, is passing through its infancy. The civil rights struggle was an afterthought in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, until the slow and steady groundswell of popular support delivered the Civil Rights Act and the end of legalized Jim Crow racism in America. The anti-war movement was barely a blip on the screen of popular consciousness for many, many years, until it exploded everywhere, ended a war, and took down a president.

Occupy’s infancy will end, and when it does, we will be participants in and witnesses to another moment in history, a moment when the righteous tide will wash in and sweep away the filth that pollutes us as a people and a country.

Jul 05

When All the Towers Have Fallen Down

Thomas Wolfe . . .

For everywhere, through the immortal dark, across the land, there has been something moving in the night, something stirring in the hearts of the people, and something crying in their blood–where shall we go now, and what shall we do?

The Right is waiting for great destinies in the old, red light of evening, inhaling and exhaling paranoia like smoke from a crack pipe.  Awaiting great destinies like Reagan’s ninth term, like the destruction of the Usurper, like the banning of contraception, like the vaporizing of Iran.  Fascism is stirring in their hearts, white supremacy is crying in their blood, defying reality is their addiction, burning it at the stake is their agenda.

That’s where they’ll go now.  That’s what they’ll do.  

Jul 03

A Savagely Perilous Place

Steal 15 trillion dollars?  No problem.  

Violate park rules?  Riot police will splatter your blood all over the street.

William Rivers Pitt . . .

Buffalo Springfield was wrong. There’s something happening here, and it is exactly clear. We are, at this moment, in a savagely perilous place.

There are plenty of people out there who will flap the idiots currently running for the GOP in your face in order to dragoon you into supporting President Obama come November, and that’s fine. That’s their job, that’s what they do, and there is no doubt that the comparison favors them…but it is a stone-sharpened fact that, nationally, we are at this moment hedging true fascism as sharply as we were back in the ‘Bad Old Days’ of George and the boys, if not more so.

Some would argue that we are closer now to a true fascist America than we were then, because people of good conscience who fought against George W. Bush’s militant, media-succored fascism tend nowadays to be inclined to let this current happy-faced fascism slide. After all, it’s an election year, “Obama is better than Bush.”

Jun 01

What Has Happened To Democrats?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

   [I]t is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

   It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.

~Thomas Paine~, The Age of Reason

During the Bush administration the Democrats were opposed to the unitary executive powers that Bush assumed. When they realized how intrusive the government had becomes post 9/11 with surveillance, warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens, torture, indefinite detention, military commissions, Guantanamo and the general disregard for the rule of law, the Democrats railed against those policies. What happened that all these polices and now, targeted assassinations without due process have become acceptable? It is incomprehensible that under a Democratic president the right wing shredding of the Constitution is reasonable and defended by those who most vociferously opposed it.

In a New York Times Editorial, Andrew Rosenthal wrote this about President Obama’s “Kill Lists” and the use of unmanned drones:

Apologists for the president’s “just trust me” approach to targeted killings emphasize that the program is highly successful and claim that the drone strikes are extraordinarily precise. John Brennan, the president’s counter-terrorism adviser, said in a recent speech that not a single non-combatant had been killed in a year of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And today’s Times article quoted a senior administration official who said that civilian deaths were in the “single digits.”

But it turns out that even this hey-it’s-better-than-carpet-bombing justification is rather flimsy. The Times article says “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties …It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

The logic, such as it is, is that people who hang around places where Qaeda operatives hang around must be up to no good. That’s the sort of approach that led to the false imprisonment of thousands of Iraqis, including the ones tortured at Abu Ghraib. Mr. Obama used to denounce that kind of thinking.

So now just living in a village where the US thinks, there are insurgents, be they really Al Qaeda or just people defending their country from invaders, all men in the vicinity are enemy combatants, the President can have you killed and they can prove their innocence post mortem. As Cenk Uygur stated, “This is deeply immoral

“Memorial Day weekend brought news of more U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan as The New York Times raises new questions about President Obama’s so-called “Kill List” of terrorists targeted for assassination. An extensive report in Tuesday’s paper looks at the use of targeted attacks to take out terrorism suspects in other parts of the world, an increasingly important part of the government’s anti-terrorism policies that Barack Obama himself has taken personal responsibility for. According to the story, the President approves every name on the list of terrorism targets, reviewing their biographies and the evidence against them, and then authorizing “lethal action without hand-wringing.”

As the president has slowly drawn down American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of drone attacks to take out senior leaders of al-Qaeda

and the Taliban has become the primary tactic for fighting terrorism overseas. However, it raises a lot of legal and ethical questions about extra-judicial killings of individuals, particularly those who happen to be American citizens…”.

Will Bunch expressed his outrage in his Philadelphia Daily News column

{T]oday the harm that’s caused by raining death from machines in the sky down onto far too many civilians — including someone’s son, brother, or father who wasn’t “up to no good” at all — vastly outweighs any good. Righteous anger over the killing of civilians creates new terrorists faster than the killing of any old ones. As for the morally indefensible position that any male killed in such an attack is “probably up to no good,” isn’t the Obama administration saying the EXACT same thing that George Zimmerman said about Trayvon Martin? [..]

Actually, the similarity with Zimmerman is even greater than I first thought. What he said to the Sanford police dispatcher was that Trayvon Martin “looks like he’s up to no good.” Thank God Zimmerman didn’t have drones, huh?

Some of us on the left, many of whom supported President Obama in 2008, have some very serious issues with this President and those of his supporters who are choosing now to ignore all the horrendous violations of US and International law and the continued trampling of our rights and freedoms, but are now wholeheartedly accepting and defending these policies (Warning: link leads to a right wing Obama 527). They would love it if Obama’s critics would just sit down and shut up.

What has happened to Democrats who were willing to call for not just the impeachment but the arrest and prosecution of both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Now Barack Obama has taken those same policies a step further and made them acceptable to his loyal supporters but not to those of us who still hold to the same principles we did eleven years ago.

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